Saturday, July 09, 2005


The following report is from the Australian State of Queensland and appeared in the "Courier Mail" newspaper on Friday, 8th July, 2005. Immediately below the report is another similar report from Britain from last year

Taking birthday cake to school to share with classmates could become a thing of the past under the State Government's sweeping new food and drink strategy for schools. Education Minister Anna Bligh said yesterday her department "would have to look at the nutritional calue of the cakes".

Whether a cake fell in the new amber "select carefully" or red "only two days a term" category of school food might tip the scales in the new food system designed to fight childhood obesity. It could prove a case of "carrot cake in but mud cake out". The healthy food and drink strategy, based on a green, amber and red traffic system, requires all state school tuckshops to have healthy menus in place by July next year.

The policy encourages fruit, vegetables, rice, pasta, noodles, milk, yoghurt, cheese, lean meat, fish, nuts and legumes. After a six-month phase-in period, tuckshops which do not follow guidelines will not be allowed to operate. Guidelines also will apply to any areas where food and drink is supplied in state schools, including fundraising ventures and sports days.

A school has banned pupils from bringing in cake and sweets on their birthday because they say munching on too many sugary treats is unhealthy. Aqueduct County Primary in Telford has sent letters home to parents asking them not to let their children take the goodies into lessons. Head teacher Beryl Mound said the school was hoping to get an award for being healthy. But parents say it's not fair on pupils who want to share their special day. One parent, Kevin Davies, told the Daily Mail newspaper that taking birthday cakes into school had been "a lovely tradition which encouraged sharing and giving". But Ms Mound said the ban was part of the plan to teach children how to eat healthily: "We have requested parents to refrain from sending their children to school with sweets and cakes on celebratory occasions and we know many parents are supportive of this."

Start by making robbery history

A comment from Scotland about the political correctness of THAT concert and its sponsors. The Gordon Brown referred to is the Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown MP, Britain's "Chancellor of the Exchequer" (i.e. Finance minister, Treasurer, holder of the British government's pursestrings)

Even Gordon Brown ducked out of using the "c" words. The Iron Chancellor opted for the softest of the "t" words . . transparency. Interviewed for Channel 4 News by Jon Snow, who was broadcasting from what looked like a Ugandan wasteland but was in fact a marketplace, the Chancellor agreed that cash on its own was not the answer to African poverty. But he didn't identify tyranny or theft as root causes of the worsening poverty in many African countries.

Nor did Big Broon [The Scottish pronunciation of "Brown"] tell it like it is by naming as corrupt crooks the people most responsible for the growing impoverishment amongst millions of Africans. Political correctness blunted the message, even from a man whose entire prejudice against his fellow men involves people who don't share his devotion to Raith Rovers [a football team], and whose understanding of what must happen in African economies isn't bettered by anyone.

But Gordon Brown hasn't been the only one to step back from naming and shaming, for example, the Nigerians whose looting of their country's resources, including aid money, has resulted in an estimated £80 billion of "private" money being held in UK bank accounts.

Bob Geldof is said to have warned off his troubador troops from overt criticism of Bush/Blair policies . . . but he didn't bell the African fatcats either. He and his supporting cast urge us to make our voices heard by the eight powerful men who'll get down to business tomorrow in Gleneagles Hotel . . . but he didn't show photographs of the eight greediest dictators in Africa.

The producer/driver/inventor of Live Aid and Live 8, for all his seeming fearlessness in facing down everyone in the world whom he holds responsible for the deaths of 30,000 children a day, says much less than Moeletsi Mbeki said this week about the endemic corruption in many African governments. The South African president's brother likened the tyranny of Robert Mugabe to that of apartheid, and identified the need for help and support to end his destructiveness as the immediate priority in the war against poverty in Zimbabwe. The well-meaning stars who urged us all to make poverty history missed a beat at the Hyde Park concert.

Let's hope the performers at tonight's concert who choose to make political statements hit the right notes in identifying the differences amongst African countries, the culpability of some of their governments, for waste and misappropriation of aid, whether they are dictatorships or ersatz democracies. And let's hope also that these unlikely pied pipers of public opinion inform the 60,000 inside Murrayfield and the millions elsewhere who'll tune into their message of the need for Africa's peoples to help themselves, in their own way....

Thanks to last week's strong statements from Bianca Jagger, Moeletsi Mbeke, the Institute for African Studies and a few others, more people are beginning to appreciate the complexity of the problems and challenges facing most parts of Africa. Even now, fear of causing offence prevents Bob Geldof and Gordon Brown from admitting openly that, even if debts are cancelled, aid doubled and EU and United States import tariffs slashed, without good, clean governments and honourable civil services, Africans will be no further forward than they were after Live Aid, 20 years ago....

As well as cancelling debt repayments and ending the protectionism practised by the EU and US, the G8 should let the countries worst affected by regime corruption know that nothing good will come their way until they clean up their act. African governments must know that G8 countries will keep their activities under close scrutiny and that thieving aid money won't be tolerated....

More here


On 6th., I noted that the Welsh Development Agency had banned its staff from using the words "Manila" and "nit-picking" because of their alleged connection to slavery. A reader comments:

"There is no evidence that "nit picking" has anything to do with slaves: the word "nit" dates back to the year 800 at least, and the phrase in it's current meaning is first recorded in the 1950s. See here.

And whilst manillas (from the Portuguese manilha) were indeed a form of currency used in West Africa for lots of things, including slaves, (see here), the "manila" of manila envelopes is from a quite different origin. It comes from Manila (capital of Philippines) hemp from which the brown paper is made. The ancient African currency word is so archaic that it is not listed in any standard dictionary, so it is quite disingenuous to suggest that the word manila in its current usage is offensive."

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