Women on trial for sexual assaults to steal semen

A favored spot near Harare

Three Zimbabwean women have been accused of a series of sex attacks on male hitchhikers, purportedly to steal their semen for use in ritual practices. In a case that has gripped media and public imagination, the gang appeared in court to face charges of aggravated indecent assault.

Sophie and Netsai Nhokwara, sisters aged 26 and 24, along with 28-year-old Rosemary Chakwizira, are the first suspects to be arrest since accounts of women gang-raping men in Zimbabwe emerged two years ago. They were charged along with Thulani Ngwenya, 24, who is Sophie Nhokwara’s boyfriend.

The gang’s alleged 17 victims identified so far include a soldier and a police officer whom they allegedly forced to have sex without condoms, the Herald newspaper reported…

The women were arrested when they were involved in an accident and police reportedly found 31 used condoms – three half-full of semen – in the boot of their car.

James Sabau, a spokesman for Harare police, told state media that preliminary investigations suggested a ritual link to the collection of victims’ semen.

We are still trying to figure out why semen was collected,” he was quoted as saying. “Information we have gathered so far links the entire female rapist issue to rituals that make people rich. It is, however, still unclear how the supposed rituals work.”

RTFA. Honestly – I haven’t a comment for this one. What do you think?

Who will God vote for in the Republican primaries?

Vote for me or burn in hell. I can’t imagine someone running for office saying that. And yet four candidates — Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum — have said they had a sense that God was leading them to run.

How far can we be from “vote for me or burn in hell” when it seems we’re already comfortable with “vote for me, I’ve been called by God”?

There was a time when if a candidate wanted to inject faith into a campaign he or she would be photographed going to church or shaking the Rev. Billy Graham’s hand.

Now it seems many GOP campaigns aren’t complete without claiming God’s seal of approval, which suggests the other candidates may be running without it. Such a sentiment is an ideological piñata for comedians like Bill Maher and Jon Stewart, but for conservatives trying to secure the GOP nomination, it’s a highly manipulative campaign tool…

But why aren’t we questioning the candidates who make these kinds of statements the same way we would question whether God actually wanted a particular athlete to win a game?

I do believe a person’s faith is personal, but I’m not the one using it to get votes. Four candidates have claimed a level of divine intervention with their campaign, which either means the creator of heaven and Earth is hedging his bets or somebody’s mistaken…

If I could trade places with Anderson Cooper, who is moderating Tuesday’s debate, I would ask, “Now which ones of you were really called by God and which ones are hearing voices in your head?” then let them discuss among themselves.

God-baiting each other is probably something the nutball right-wing does in private, anyway. In public, they save it for the Democrats – who are only a smidge less opportunistic at pulling the same stunt.

The smartest line Obama came up with was the tag he started partway through his campaign for the presidency: “God bless you – and God bless the United States of America.”

You could practically see the Technicolor sunset fade away while WW2 fighter planes passed overhead in a salute to this courageous nation saving the world once again.


Malaria vaccine passes first large-scale human trials — could save millions of children’s lives

Joe Cohen started work on malaria vaccine at GSK in 1987

Millions of small children’s lives could be saved by a new vaccine which has been shown to halve the risk of malaria in the first large-scale trials across seven African countries.

The long-awaited results of the largest-ever malaria vaccine study, involving 15,460 babies and small children, show that it could massively reduce the impact of the much-feared killer disease. Malaria takes nearly 800,000 lives every year – most of them small children under the age of five. It damages many more.

The vaccine has been in development for two decades – the brainchild of scientists at the UK drug company GlaxoSmithKline, which has promised to sell it at no more than a fraction over cost-price, with the excess being ploughed back into further tropical disease research…

GSK’s chief executive, Andrew Witty told the Guardian he was thrilled for the scientists who were thought by many of their peers to be attempting the impossible when they started work on a vaccine 25 years ago.

“When the team was first shown the data, quite a number of them broke down in tears,” he said. “It was the emotion of what they had achieved – the first vaccine against a parasitic form of infection. They were overwhelmed. It says something about the amount of heart that has gone into this project…”

Witty says he is exhorting everybody involved in the vaccine’s production to pare their costs to the bone. “We are absolutely dedicated to making it as low as possible,” he said.


Damned few corporations – especially in pharmaceuticals – are willing to work on solutions for low-profit markets, low-return investments. GSK and Mr. Witty deserve special credit for joining forces with WHO and the Gates Foundation.

Eat meat from Mexico and you, too, can fail a drugs test

Smart enough to skip the local meat

Contaminated meat in Mexico led to traces of the banned drug clenbuterol being found in urine samples given by more than 100 players involved in the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in June, the world governing body’s medical chief has revealed. Of the 24 squads involved, 19 – possibly including England’s youth team – had several players showing the presence of clenbuterol but at concentrations lower than the prohibited level.

Positive tests for five players from the senior Mexico squad had alerted FIFA to a possible issue, and when four more positive tests emerged from the youth tournament the governing body decided to reanalyse all the 208 urine samples taken.

A laboratory in Cologne discovered the presence of the steroid in 109 of those samples – 52.4% – but most in concentrations lower than the banned level so they had not been reported. Clenbuterol is banned in farming in most countries but is used to speed up growth and increase muscle mass in cattle…

FIFA ordered meat samples to be collected from team hotels and 30% of these showed the presence of clenbuterol.

The Mexican government have made a number of arrests and closed down several slaughterhouses in recent weeks after being alerted to the issue, according to Mikel Arriola, an official from Mexico’s health ministry.

Mexico’s victorious under-17 team did not have a single adverse finding; after the positive tests for the senior players they were only allowed to eat fish and vegetables.

No kidding.

We actually buy a fair range of certified organic vegetables from Mexico. They ain’t coming from the Big Brands; but, generally, from farms owned and run by Mennonite communities.

Mexican meat? We have a couple of carnicerias in Santa Fe. My wife won’t let me prepare a recipe with meat from them. She’s probably right.

Oh, and the closing of slaughterhouses in Mexico? Looks good in the newspapers. Mail me a penny postcard when the Mexican government offers more than window dressing.

Trying to break even on corruption, lies, a political boondoggle

Available: Mountain property. Convenient to nowhere. Accessible via deteriorating roads. Features one mountain containing a 5-mile U-shaped tunnel, going nowhere. Use the railroad tracks in the tunnel at your own risk. On-site buildings do not meet OSHA standards. Must be willing to deal with three government landlords. Property encumbered by lawsuits galore.

That, in essence, is a description of Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

For 30 years, the mountain was the presumed site of the nation’s nuclear waste repository. Billions were spent studying and preparing the mountain to receive used fuel from the nation’s 103 commercial nuclear power plants.

But after the Obama administration killed plans for the nuclear dump — and here is some of why it was killed — Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, asked the Government Accountability Office to look for other uses for the 230-square-mile site a two-hour drive from Las Vegas.

On Monday, the GAO released a list of 30 alternative uses for Yucca Mountain…

— A commercial energy park for nuclear, solar and wind power generation.
— A command center for unmanned aerial vehicles.
— A training site for first responders.
— A secure data storage site.
— A strategic petroleum reserve for the western part of the country.
— A facility for research on highly infectious diseases.
— A university to teach mining techniques…

Any agency with an interest in Yucca will find one other obstacle: getting into the facility. When the government shut down the site, it closed access and shut down utilities and a system used to ventilate radon gas. GAO investigators decided to forgo a visit to the mountain after learning that reopening the tunnel for a day would cost $20,000 to $50,000.

The Department of Energy development of this project could serve as an historic example of the inherent corruption of political management of national tasks in the United States. Decades of stealing from taxpayers, ignoring safety concerns, lying about studies, distorting and forging scientific studies to suit politicians and greedy developers. I don’t think they left anything out.

Australians apparently need to be warned about eating raw slugs

A 21-year-old Australian will likely be more cautious after accepting a dare to swallow garden slugs infested with rat lungworms and spending a month in intensive care.

The parasites, found in uncooked snails and contaminated water and even vegetables, invade the central nervous system and cause a form of meningitis, a serious condition that can lead to death or permanent brain damage…

The unidentified Sydney man is expected to recover, and will surely start cooking his food…

The lifecycle of the rat lungworm is so gross it bears repeating. Adult worms live in the lungs of rats, who cough up and swallow the parasites’ eggs. Rat feces, which harbors lungworm eggs, is then eaten by snails or slugs. Once the larvae is in a human, the adult worms take up residence in the brain and begins burrowing around looking for a way to the lungs. They are trapped and die in the brain, but more larvae are on the way. Eventually, the brain swells to the point of death.

So – remember to boil your slugs. A lot!