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Thursday 5th December 2013

A great Man South African former president Nelson Mandela dies


Jacob Zuma announces death of anti-apartheid politician in live TV address

Former South African president Nelson Mandela smiles as he formally announces his retirement from public life at his foundation’s offices in Johannesburg in this June 1, 2004 file photo.

Former South African president Nelson Mandela has died in his Johannesburg home aged 95.The anti-apartheid icon had been ill with a lung infection for a prolonged period before he died peacefully tonight, president Jacob Zuma said.In a televised address, Mr Zuma said: “Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father. “What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.”A towering figure in 20th century history, Mr Mandelaemerged from almost three decades in the prisons of apartheid-era South Africa to become the first black president of a country still struggling to overcome its divisions.

Born in a small village in the eastern Cape, Mr Mandela first became involved in activism against the white minority regime as a young law student. Joining theAfrican National Congress (ANC) in 1942, he co-founded itsYouth League two years later.

After the ANC abandoned its policy of non-violence following the shooting dead of 69 black protesters by police at Sharpeville in 1960, Mr Mandela helped establish its military wing, the Umkhonto we Sizwe.

This turn to arms led to the banning of the ANC, and after 17 months on the run, Mr Mandela was arrested and charged with attempting to violently overthrow the government.

In a speech from the dock during his trial, Mr Mandela spoke of his vision for South Africa. “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities,” he said. “It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

The man many in South Africa refer to by his clan name “Madiba” was sentenced to life in 1964. He spent most of his imprisonment in Robben Island, a notorious maximum security facility on a small island off the coast of Cape Town.

Such was the apartheid regime’s animosity towards Mr Mandela that South African prime minister John Vorsterfamously said in 1975: “Anyone who wants to talk to me on the basis that Mandela is the leader of black South Africa can forget it.”

In the 1980s, Mr Mandela’s incarceration became a central theme in the global campaign against apartheid as defined by the slogan “Free Nelson Mandela” which was incorporated into several protest songs.

In 1990, the government of then president FW de Klerk responded to growing international pressure by releasing Mr Mandela and lifting the ban against the ANC. Mr Mandela and Mr de Klerk were later jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

After his release, Mr Mandela led the ANC in the multi-party negotiations that resulted in South Africa’s first multi-racial elections. Elected president with an overwhelming share of the vote, he went on oversee the country’s delicate transition from minority rule and apartheid.

As Mr Mandela outlined in his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, his prison experience helped him reach the conclusion that there could be no democracy without reconciliation. He earned plaudits for his leadership and his willingness to reach out to his former opponents. His lack of bitterness over the long years he spent in jail drew admiration from across the world.

After stepping down as president in 1999, Mr Mandela continued to travel the globe as South Africa’s highest-profile son, meeting leaders and working on conflict resolution elsewhere in Africa.

The fight against Aids was a major concern for him, particularly after his son Makgatho died of the disease in 2005.

Mr Mandela also formed The Elders, a group of prominent figures including Ireland’s former president Mary Robinson, to address some of the world’s most intractable problems.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner had been at ease with his own mortality for many years.

“Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity,” he said in an interview for the 1994 documentary, Mandela.

‘Nelson Mandela one of history’s greatest leaders’

Says Irish President Michael D. Higgins


President D. Higgins: “It is with deepest sadness that I have learned of the death of former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela.”

President Michael D. Higgins as paid tribute to the late former South African president Nelson Mandela.

President Higgins said this evening, “It is with deepest sadness that I have learned of the death of former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. On behalf of the people of Ireland, I offer sincere condolences to his family and the people of South Africa.

“Nelson Mandela is one of history’s greatest leaders; a man whose unprecedented courage and dedication broke down the cruel barriers of apartheid in South Africa and led the nation into a new and democratic age.

“The immense moral force that was Nelson Mandela was built on his commitment to all of the people, and was motivated by a deep humanity and limitless compassion that was delivered with modesty and a powerful simplicity,” he continued.

“His journey to the ending of apartheid and into a new chapter in South African and world history was long, hazardous and involved considerable self-sacrifice.”

President Higgins also mentioned Nelson Mandela’s years in captivity;

“Despite incredible obstacles and numerous sanctions, including many years of imprisonment and isolation, he never lost belief or gave up fighting for the equal rights of all South African citizens. He inspired so many people at home and abroad who shared in his dream, and who chose to walk beside him on that long and difficult road to freedom.

 Nelson Mandela passed away peacefully this evening. 

“He had a gift of extraordinary grace and his life was completely and unselfishly given over to his people and future generations. His tenacity, bravery and extraordinary vision bore fruit for all when he saw his dream of a fair and united South Africa become, within his lifetime, a wonderful reality,” he said.

“During the course of his presidency, Nelson Mandela continued his work of building unity through reconciliation by uniting socially segregated racial groups. He unceasingly toiled to remove the deep rooted social and economic inequalities which remained as challenges in South Africa, and was a tower of inspiration for all those struggling for justice all over the world.”

He added; “Nelson Mandela will be remembered for all time as one of the greatest and most heroic leaders the world has ever known; a brave campaigner who changed the course of history; and a symbol of hope and inspiration to those who continue to struggle against oppression and domination.

“Lives around the world have been changed forever, and hopes kindled, by his transformational life and enduring legacy”.

TDs accused of ‘opportunism’ after copying year-old Bill


Penrose clashes with Flanagan over plan to use wind turbines Bill

Independent TDs Mick Wallace, Luke “Ming” Flanagan andClare Daly have been accused of “naked political opportunism” after they copied a year-old Bill from another deputy and tabled it in their own names.

The Bill, on wind turbines, was first tabled last November by Longford-Westmeath TD Willie Penrose.

Mr Penrose was an Independent TD at the time, but he has now been readmitted to the Labour parliamentary party.

However, Mr Wallace, Mr Flanagan and Ms Daly just last week tabled the same Bill word for word in their own names.

The only differences were in the titles, which updated the Bill from a 2012 Bill to a 2013 Bill, and slight changes in how it was presented.

The accompanying explanatory memorandum was also replicated in its entirety, aside from changes to the date.
No permission
Mr Penrose told The Irish Times Mr Flanagan informed him a number of weeks ago he intended to use the Bill.

“He was on to me and he said: ‘I’m going to use your Bill’,” Mr Penrose said. “There’s nothing on the order paper that can be used to stop him. I was disgusted, I see it as nothing but naked political opportunism.

“I didn’t give anyone permission or authority to use my Bill. He said he looked forward to my support.”

Mr Penrose said he had carried out a substantial amount of work and research preparing his Bill, which aims to regulate the locations of wind turbines, and is angry other people are passing it off as their own.

He also said that although Mr Flanagan was in contact with him last month, he was completely unaware Mr Wallace and Ms Daly would also be publishing the Bill until they were distributed by Oireachtas authorities last Friday.

Mr Flanagan accused Mr Penrose of displaying “an unhealthy ownership of an issue”.

Backbench TDs from all sides of the Dáil can table so-called Private Members’ Bills, which are any Bills not introduced by the Government.

Under recent changes to Dáil procedures, TDs can publish their own Bills which may then be picked out of a lottery system and debated in the Dáil.
Numerous names
Mr Flanagan said copying the Bill, and tabling it under numerous names, increased the chances of it being selected.

In a statement, Mr Flanagan acknowledged the Bill had been drafted by Mr Penrose.

“The deputy is well entitled to feel astounded at my doubling up on his Bill, as this is indeed an unusual route to take,” Mr Flanagan said.

Half of Ireland’s lung cancer patients were ex-smokers

An audit research finds


Statistics released from a ten-year cancer audit report published by St James’s Hospital in Dublin

Nearly half of the patients treated for lung cancer in the country’s largest hospital St James’s Hospital in Dublin in the last decade were ex-smokers.

The rest were current smokers while around one in ten who developed the disease never smoked.

The statistics emerged in a ten-year cancer audit report published by St James’s Hospital in Dublin which treats more than one in four patients in the country with various forms of the disease.

Cancer specialist Prof John Reynolds said while quitting smoking lowers risk and has other major health benefits the message is to never start taking up the habit.

There were 700 patients diagnosed with lung cancer at the hospital last year.

The hospital found that more patients with lung cancer are coming for treatment early and their chances of cure are much higher.

The report revealed:

  1. *In 2012, almost 4000 new cancer patients were diagnosed and/or treated in St. James’s Hospital. Excluding non-melanoma skin cancer, this is almost a doubling of new cancer referrals over the decade.
  2. *They survival rate for breast cancer patients is now nearly 82pc.
  3. *There has been a 100pc increase in new referrals for lung cancer, oesophageal cancer, stomach cancer, head and neck cancer, and malignant melanoma.
  4. *The average age of patients diagnosed and/or treated is 60 years
  5. *Regarding skin cancer, here has over a doubling of new diagnoses of malignant melanoma since 2003, with 152 patients diagnosed and managed in 2012, and a five year survival rate of 87pc.
  6. *The number of urology cancers have risen 2.5-fold increase and there has been a  5-fold increase in prostate cancer alone.

Prof Reynolds said: “The ultimate objective in terms of the delivery of cancer care is that those in receipt of services experience outcomes on a par with best international standards.

“All cancer patients want to know if they can be cured, and five-year survival rates, a proxy for cure, is easily the most important outcome metric in evaluating cancer services.

“These audit data enable us to provide actual rather than inferred outcome data to our patients – they will know stage for stage what the actual cure rate is in this Centre.

“In the future, on-going audit of all cancer activity at this Centre will underpin continuous quality improvement in cancer clinical care aligned to clinical trials, and state of the art translational cancer research.”

The 2011 Japan Tsunami Was Caused By Largest Fault Slip Ever Recorded

 A ship is washed onto the city center of Kesennuma after tsunami in Japan 

Clay lubricated the fault zone in the Japan trench, producing the devastating tsunami, researchers say

The largest fault slip ever recorded produced the devastating 2011 Japan tsunami, according to three studies published today.

Two years ago, the sea off the coast of Japan reared up and swept away tens of thousands of lives in a devastating natural disaster.

The 2011 earthquake has been the subject of intense study ever since, and the trench that produced it is the best studied in the world. (See “Japan Tsunami: 20 Unforgettable Pictures.”)

Now, three papers published today in the journal Science reveal the magnitude 9 earthquake off the east coast of Japan still has the capacity to surprise.

Experts calculate the fault—or the boundary between two tectonic plates—in the Japan trench slipped by as much as 164 feet (50 meters). Other similarly large magnitude earthquakes, including the 9.1 Sumatra event in 2004, resulted in a 66-to-82 foot (20-to-25 meter) slip in the fault.

“We’ve never seen 50-meter [slips],” said Kelin Wang, a geophysicist with the Geological Survey of Canada in British Columbia.

The next largest slip would probably be the Chile earthquake in 1960, said Wang, who was not involved in the research. Based on the limited data recorded from that earthquake, the fault slipped by 98 to 131 feet (30 to 40 meters).

Most of the movement occurred horizontally, he explained. But because the plates are wedged together at this trench, that horizontal displacement still managed to thrust up enough seawater to produce the killer tsunami that hit Japan.

Greasing the Wheels

Lubrication, specifically involving clay, is the key to such massive movement, said Frederick Chester, a geophysicist at Texas A&M University in College Station, and lead author of one of the studies.

The two tectonic plates involved are the Pacific plate, on which the Pacific Ocean resides, and a portion of the North American plate, on which parts of Japan sit.

A thick layer of clay sits atop the Pacific plate, which is getting dragged under a portion of the North American plate. As the Pacific plate dives into a trench off the coast of Japan, small portions of the clay get smeared along the plate boundary, Chester explained.

That clay traps water, rendering it quite slippery, he said. “We think that’s responsible for allowing the incredibly large slip we observed near the trench.”

  Normally, when two plates collide, there is friction. You can think of friction like a brake, Chester explained. “But clay almost removes any braking properties.”

Not a Lot of Heat

The unprecedented data haul that enabled Chester and colleagues to figure out what happened during the 2011 earthquake is courtesy of a rapid response by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, said Emily Brodsky, a geophysicist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a co-author of one of the studies.

The Japan Trench Fast Drilling project enabled researchers to get out to the fault zone about a year after the earthquake and drop instruments down to measure temperature anomalies—the sudden slips during an earthquake can generate vast amounts of heat—and to bring up samples of the fault zone itself for analysis.

Experts were able to take core samples of sediment and rock from the trench—located in 23,000 feet (7,000 meters) of water—thanks to a sophisticated drilling ship.

“[This] was right at the edge of what engineering could do,” Brodsky said.

Not only did they find evidence of this thin layer of lubricating clay, but experts were also able calculate how much heat and friction was involved.

Even though the earthquake produced a 1,100° to 2,200°F (600° to 1,200°C) temperature increase, the amount of friction that had to be overcome to produce the fault slip wasn’t as large as researchers expected, said Brodsky.

This helped confirm the fact that something else was going on—namely the clay lubrication.

It’s difficult to say whether something like this could happen elsewhere, said Wang, because no other submarine trench has as many instruments monitoring it.

“Nowhere else do we have such a massive monitoring system.”


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