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This little village in Zimbabwe is a long way from the Holy Land, but DNA evidence says that the Lemba tribe which lives here are direct descendants of an ancient line of Jewish priests who fled the middle east over 2000 years ago.
According to Lemba Pastor Perez Hamandishe, the DNA tests have legitimized their long-claimed ancestry.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) LEMBA MAN, PEREZ HAMANDISHE:
“Our history unfortunately hasn’t been recorded. Unfortunately there are no written documents on our history, but our ancestors, our forefathers have been telling us about our history, they say that we come from Israel.”
The findings are the work of a British scholar who spent two decades researching the Lemba.
Professor Tudor Parfitt of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London says that though the genetic link is remarkable, one of the Lemba’s holy artefacts might be an even more important discovery.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR TUDOR PARFITT, SCHOOL OF ORIENTAL AND AFRICAN STUDIES:
“Well, it was an extraordinary moment to see that these oral traditions which seemed so unlikely and so dodgy were actually confirmed by hard science. And it was at that moment that I realised that their stories about the ngoma, which they associated with the Ark of the Covenant and in terms of its functionality was exactly the same thing. I thought: ‘Well, they said that their priests brought it from the Middle East…these priests share the signature with Jewish priests, who are now shown to be descended from the Jerusalem priests — there must be a connection.”
Professor Parfitt found the ngoma collecting dust in the Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences.
It is now on display in Harare, though the Curator of the Ark, Farai Chibata cautions that further proof is needed to confirm its legitimacy.
(SOUNDBITE)(English) FARAI CHIBATA, ARK CURATOR, SAYING:
“We are not saying that people believe that this is the real one or don’t believe…We are just saying we want to tap into the views of different people as part of the process of generating more and more information.”
Carbon testing dates the ngoma to about 700 years old, though Lemba tradition says that it is a reconstruction created using fragments of the original lost Ark of the Covenant
WASHINGTON – MARCH 02, 2010: Center for Auto Safety Executive Director Clarence Ditlow (R), Toyota Motor North America, Inc. President and CEO Yoshimi Inaba (2nd R), and Toyota Motor Corporation Executive Vice President Takeshi Uchiyamada (3rd R) testify during a hearing on the recall of Toyota before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee March 2, 2010 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Three top officials of Toyota testified for the second panel of hearing to answer questions from legislators on the recall and safety records of auto maker. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images).
(Reuters) – Lawyers seeking civil damages against Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) (TM.N) on behalf of U.S. consumers for diminished resale value of recalled vehicles are broadening their cases to add racketeering claims against the automaker.
Using federal racketeering laws to amend the consumer class-action complaints, which have grown in number to more than 80 suits in at least 40 states, exposes Toyota to much greater potential liability.
Under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, a commercial enterprise can be found liable for triple the damages for any harm caused by its fraudulent activities.
As a result, litigation that originally stood to reap more than $2 billion in damages for Toyota owners could end up costing the cash-rich Japanese automaker in excess of $10 billion, said Tim Howard, lead counsel for a team of law firms handling about half the cases.
Each of the revised lawsuits is “a much more robust and thorough complaint than the first rounds because of how the evidence has evolved since then,” Howard said.
A Toyota spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment on Wednesday. The automaker has declined to comment on pending litigation to date.
The updated complaints draw on numerous documents and congressional testimony by Toyota executives to make the case that the company was aware of unintended acceleration problems in its vehicles for several years, even as it continued to promote defective cars as safe and reliable.
One suit in Florida cites a technical service bulletin it says the automaker issued in August 2002 “concerning an engine surge or acceleration problem with the new 2002 Camry, with the solution to recalibrate the Engine Control Module.”
Toyota has insisted that electronics have nothing to do with sudden, unintended acceleration in its vehicles, pointing instead to entrapment of the gas pedal by ill-fitting floor mats or sticky gas pedals themselves.
Those two problems were singled out for correction in recalls of more than 8 million Toyota vehicles to date, the largest such action ever taken by the automaker.
The consumer lawsuits assert that Toyota’s alleged concealment of defects in its vehicles while advertising them as safe constitutes criminal fraud and thus falls under the definition of “racketeering activity.”
Howard said his consortium of law firms had updated existing consumer cases in eight states as of Tuesday, and filings were planned in at last 12 more by week’s end.
All those and others around the country are to be consolidated into a single class action in the next couple of months, following a hearing before a panel of judges set for next Thursday in U.S. District Court in San Diego.
Litigation against Toyota has mounted quickly in the weeks since the recalls began for a problem linked to more than 50 crash deaths in Toyota and Lexus vehicles under investigation over the past decade.
Lawsuits related to injuries and deaths are the most obvious cases being brought against Toyota, and a class-action suit was filed in Los Angeles last month on behalf of U.S. shareholders accusing Toyota of misleading investors.
The consumer class actions are based on the premise that the resale value of Toyotas has dropped substantially as a result of the company’s safety crisis.
Major automobile valuation services have downgraded the resale value of Toyotas, Howard said.
Toyota has long boasted one of the industry’s highest resale values for its vehicles, one of the major factors in its success in the U.S. market.
(Editing by Richard Chang)
16 March 2010
Mangere Youth MP Nominations Close
Nominations for the Mangere Youth MP position closed yesterday and a total of 15 young men and women living in Mangere and attending local schools including Mangere College, De La Salle, Seventh Day Adventist High School, Aorere College, Onehunga and McAuley High have applied.
Labour MP for Mangere, Su’a William Sio says he’s excited by the number & strength of young people that have applied.
“It takes a lot of courage and personal belief to put yourself forward to be scrutinised by others for public office and I’m pleased we have a strong group of contenders,” says Su’a William Sio.
“Personally, I’m proud of the 15 individuals that have come forward, and it makes me very confident about the future leadership that have stepped forward now.”
Final selection will take place on Monday 22 March 5-7pm at Nga Tapuwae Hall, Mangere, where a Selection Panel will listen to each student give a speech to a public audience.
The Mangere MP says parents, families and supporters are all invited to attend and would like to encourage the community to support and get behind our young future leaders of tomorrow.
“This will be a valuable opportunity for these young people to experience a real live political selection process, if they chose this career pathway,” says Su’a William Sio.
The Youth MP for Mangere will attend Youth Parliament on 6-7 July 2010 in Wellington and will experience the day to day operations of Parliamentary Select Committee work, Parliamentary debates, and will get a glimpse of what its like to work as a Member of Parliament.
The Selection Panel will involve school prefects or leaders from the participating schools.
16 March 2010
More Inappropriate Behaviour From National Government and Pasifika Events
The National Government has again behaved in a completely inappropriate fashion regarding Pacific Island events, Labour MP for Mangere Su’a William Sio said.
“This weekend the National Government and John Banks had Labour MPs banned from speaking at the Pasifika Festival and this week they have offended Pacific people with their refusal to support the Pacific Youth & Sports Conference
Su’a William Sio extended warmest congratulations to a successful opening at the Pacific Youth & Sports Conference.
“This conference focused on the biggest population growth in our Pacific region, our Pacific youth and their needs. As a parliamentarian, and representing one of the largest Pacific populations in the country, I came to support, listen and learn from those at the coalface of youth health and sports.
“It was a personal pleasure for me this morning to see representation from across the Pacific region, from island nation governments as well as sports and health bodies, in the name of our young people, that’s exciting. It tells me we care enough to be here.
“Fifteen sports ministers from nations including Fiji, Cook Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia and Solomon Islands were present. Yet New Zealand, the country this youth event is being hosted in, are completely absent. That’s disgusting from a Pacific perspective.
“I am advised that the New Zealand Government declined to support this Pacific Youth and Sports Conference. Later, once the sports conference was set up, and invitations were sent out to governments, New Zealand initially declined the invitation. Then, out of the blue, it later changed its mind closer to the opening date.
“But given the offence they had already caused, their request to attend the conference was not accepted.
“For the National Government to reject an invitation from Pacific hosts, and then change its mind and expect people to run around and accommodate them at the last minute, is the height of rudeness and bad manners in any culture and country. It causes gross offence.
“Also, to do this on an event for Pacific youth is like saying that they don’t matter to this National government.
“This has turned out to be another disappointing experience with National Government and their involvement with Pacific events.
“This is what Pasefika communities can expect from a National Government that pretends to befriend our communities but is no closer to understanding us now than they were decades ago. That’s why if we don’t vote at the upcoming local body elections, expect more of this.
The Pacific Ocean is the largest single geographic feature on our planet. It represents half the world’s ocean area, occupies one-third of the earth’s surface, and helps support complex ecosystems, ocean-based economies, and hundreds of millions of people.
That is directly quoted from the Center for Ocean Solutions which is affiliated to Stanford University:
The Pacific is also the engine room of Earth’s climate and the storeroom of its ocean biodiversity.
However, the people from around the Pacific Ocean, from the Arctic to Antarctic, from countries populous and sparse, are witnessing a decline of the Pacific Ocean’s vast resources and in the ability to use those resources. Pollution, habitat destruction, overfishing, climate change, and invasive species emerge repeatedly as the major causes. These threats interact with each other to damage natural ecosystems, reduce biological and human economic diversity, destroy productivity, and encumber human use of the sea.
(Center for Ocean Solutions, USA)
It identifies the following threats to the Pacific Ocean:
We hope others, in and outside of the South Pacific region, will take up the challenge and write about these threats to our environment and survival, particularly for small island nations. Due to scarce resources and available time, we aren’t able to do justice in covering these stories . Wish we could. For example, do people, other than governments and environmental groups, in the Pacific region realise the impact of overfishing for the region? I think not. What role have island governments played in protecting those assets? Can they? This is a big business story, not just a marine story. Who are the biggest contributors to the depletion of these natural marine resources? And what role is international legislation doing, or not doing, to protect the vast resources of the Pacific Ocean.
To give us a perspective of sizes, look at a map of the oceans of the world. The smallest is the Arctic Ocean, followed by the Indian Ocean, then the North and South Atlantic Ocean. Then there’s the North and South Pacific Ocean. Yes, it is the largest biggest ocean out there. It covers a wider geographical area bigger than all the other oceans combined.
We hoped to bring you information direct from Fiji’s Meteorology Centre but we are having trouble opening its page in a timely way. This morning’s update from Fiji Times
Update: 9:19AM HURRICANE Tomas, the Category 4 Tropical Cyclone (TC), is on its final 12 hours of intensity, and is currently hammering the Lau Group.
The eye and core feature of the cyclone with destructive Storm Force to very destructive Hurricane force winds are now moving over Northern Lau Group and are expected to affect Central and Southern Lau later, said director of meteorology, Rajendra Prasad in a brief issued at 9am today.
The Northern division which has been pounded by hurricane force winds and effects since Sunday evening should now see winds decreasing slowly today with rain easing, he said.
In the Central division, including the capital city Suva, damaging gale force winds with gusts to 85km/hr can be expected today with periods of rain.
Mr Prasad said some flash flooding was possible in the Central division but not on a large scale.
For a festival that’s been running for 18 years, this is the first time political interference has been allowed to happen. Last year, when National MPs appeared at Pasefika (before 2008, the year of New Zealand’s General Election, they were noticeably absent from Pasefika and other PI events over the years). This incident below happened behind the scenes unbeknown to the rest of the community at large on the day.
Two officials, whom pacificEyeWitness.org have n0t yet named, say they were emailed the instruction mentioned in this release. Not surprisingly, Auckland City Council reps including Auckland City Councillor and National MP for Maungakiekie Sam Lotu-Iiga say they have no knowledge of this instruction to bar Labour MPs from the stages. Lotu-Iiga was welcomed onto the stages without hindrance.
Where were the Pacific Islands Advisory Board for Auckland City Council in all of this? Let us know.
NEW ZEALAND LABOUR PARTY
MP FOR MANGERE
SUN 14TH MARCH 2010
LABOUR MP OBJECTS TO AUCKLAND CITY COUNCIL’S BLATANT BREACH OF POLITICAL NEUTRALITY AT PASEFIKA FESTIVAL
Auckland City Council officials have woefully breached political neutrality by issuing instructions to Pasefika village organisers that Labour MPs not be allowed on the main village stages, says Labour MP for Mangere Su’a William Sio.
It was embarrassing and humiliating to see our people treated with such contempt by this council, says Su’a William Sio.
“In all my years of attending the Pasefika Festival, this is the first time it has ever happened.
In this Festival, it should be Pacific people, not a National-led government, that dictates who can stand up and speak at Pasefika.
“My heart goes out to the village organisers who were visibly uncomfortable carrying out these orders
“We (Labour MPs including Carmel Sepuloni, Chris Carter, Carol Beaumont, Jacinda Ardern,) were aghast at what was happening.
“I will be making my objections very clear on this matter to Auckland City Council and its Organising Committee.
“As an electorate MP, I represent a constituency with one of the largest Pacific populations. We come here to celebrate our cultures. It is our Pacific custom to get up on stage and offer our gratitude, encouragement and support to the wider Pacific communities.”
Some village stages, such as Tokelau, Fiji, Tuvalu and Tahiti, kept to Pacific etiquette and protocol amd invited us on stage.
“But I could tell village organisers were torn between following proper Pacific protocols, or adhering to the instructions of a National-led Auckland City Council and its sensitivities about seeing Labour MPs at our own Pasefika community events.”
“As one of the Pacific MPs, I said to one of the organisers, after they had informed me of the instruction from council: ‘how can you let them do that to Pacific people here? These are Pacific villages, these belong to Pacific communities, not them’, referring to the National-dominated Auckland City Council led by Mayor John Banks.
“This council, led by National’s John Banks, are already acting out the model of autocratic leadership that we don’t want in a SuperCity, says Su’a who sits on the Auckland Governance Legislation Select Committee reviewing the super city bills before the House and the hundreds of public submissions.
“This is a small, but significant, example of how power concentrated in the hands of one individual, such as the Mayor, can lead to abuses like this.
“Today’s example at the Pasefika Festival abused the goodwill of Pacific people and council and village organisers need to take heed, says Su’a who is also a Samoan matai.
Pasefika organisers say the reason for the ban was that Auckland City Council did not want politics discussed at the Festival.
Yet that ban on talking politics, in practice, only applied to Labour Party MPs, says Su’a.
From 1pm, National Party MPs, including Prime Minister and Auckland City Mayor John Banks were taken from stage to stage making political announcements and promoting National Party MPs on villages main stage.
FIFA World Cup winner and former Real Madrid star Christian Karembeu has today arrived in Auckland, New Zealand, and will play a major role in this week’s inaugural Pacific Youth and Sports Conference (PYASC).
Hailing from Lifou in New Caledonia, Karembeu enjoyed a glittering 18-year career that included 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2000 successes with France, and two UEFA Champions League titles with Real Madrid.
Karembeu will be involved in the traditional Maori Powhiri on Monday morning before speaking the following day on the topic of fair play.
Organised by Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) together with the Manukau City Council, the PYASC conference will bring together hundreds of 16-25 year olds from across the Pacific region to interact and address youth-related issues with a specific focus on sport.
Tai Nicholas, OFC General Secretary and PYASC Chairman, believes the two-time Oceania Player of the Year will provide plenty of inspiration for young people who attend the event.
“Karembeu has an amazing story. From humble beginnings growing up in New Caledonia, he went on to reach the pinnacle of his sport and played at the top level for almost two decades,” says Nicholas.
“Since retiring, Karembeu has actively served as an ambassador for the game, showing that the power of football can be used to help those less privileged. We are delighted he can attend the conference and look forward to hearing his powerful message.”
Although based in Europe, Karembeu says his Pacific roots are extremely important to him.
“I played for France and won many medals and I am proud of the team and what we achieved together. But I am also Oceanian, born in the South Pacific, and it is logical for me to acknowledge this part of my heritage and speak to young people about my experiences so that hopefully they can be inspired to achieve their dreams,” says Karembeu.
Consisting of workshops, seminars and roundtables, the Pacific Youth and Sports Conference aims to establish action plans that will increase participation of young people in society through sport and build stronger networks between youth associations, government institutions and sports organisations.
To download the complete programme [English] click here
One of Monday Morning Speakers: Prof. Jiri Dvorak
FIFA Chief Medical Officer Prof. Jiri Dvorak spoke at the Pacific Youth and Sports Conference this morning, sharing examples of FIFA initiatives that address non-communicable diseases such as obesity and diabetes.
oceaniafootball.com is pleased to bring you the following profile including Prof. Dvorak’s academic history and some personal details.
Prof. Jirí Dvorák currently works as FIFA’s Chief Medical Officer and as a Senior Consultant for the Department of Neurology Spine Unit at the Schulthess Clinic in Zurich. He is also Chairman of the FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre.
During his time with football’s world governing body, he has been instrumental in setting up FIFA Medical Centres of Excellence to ensure that players on all continents know where to go for expert care in football medicine. He has also spearheaded the ‘Football for Health’ programme including FIFA’s 11+ initiative to prevent injuries and promote physical activity.
Born in the Czech Republic, Prof. Dvorák gained a Medical Degree in 1976 from the Medical Faculty in Zurich and became a Professor in 1995. He has picked up numerous awards, including the “Venia Legendi” of Zurich University for original work on the subject of the “upper cervical spine” for the speciality “Neurology, i.e. spine disorders.”
After working as a consultant and visiting Fellow at Christchurch School of Medicine in 1987, he became Honorary Advisor in Musculosceletal Medicine for the university in 1994. He has also been a visiting Professor at Yale University and various other Medical Schools.
Married to Babette Kisling, Prof. Dvorak has four children.
Photo courtesy FIFA Media