Don’t Vote …

Leonardo DiCaprio
Tom Cruise
Cameron Diaz
Snoop Dogg
Harrison Ford
Julia Roberts
Ben Stiller
Will Smith
Steven Spielberg
Justin Timberlake
Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat
Zach Braff
Colin Farrell
Neil Patrick Harris
Scarlett Johansson
Shia LeBeouf
Tobey Maguire
Ryan Reynolds
Jason Segal

…. encourage you to vote


These public service announcements to encourage American youth to vote were created in partnership with Google, YouTube, Declare Yourself, and MySpace. The non-partisan PSAs, produced by DiCaprios Appian Way, were created to engage and inspire young people to vote and participate in the upcoming election.

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Calvin and Hobbes on War

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On Victory Gardens in San Francisco and what’s wrong with the American Green Movement

When I first read about San Francisco’s Victory Garden, I was elated. Victory gardens were first planted in North America during World War I and World War II to reduce the pressure on the public food supply brought on by the war effort. In addition to indirectly aiding the war effort these gardens were also considered a civic morale booster where community gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce grown.

San Francisco’s Victory garden was started this summer in front of the City Hall as part of the privately sponsored “Slow Food Nation” festival. Once the food fest ended in late August, however, the mayor decided to keep the garden going as part of his drive to turn the Civic Center into a model of green sustainability.

Here is where dear ol’ Gavin Newsom lost the plot:

Pricey security’s at S.F. ‘Victory Garden’

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is paying thousands of dollars a week in city money for private security guards to play scarecrow over the “Victory Garden” growing in Civic Center Plaza.

Only in this case, it’s not birds that are being shooed away, but the homeless people and the drunks who drift into the plaza once the sun goes down.

The garden is a collection of veggies and herbs planted over the summer as part of the privately sponsored “Slow Food Nation” festival. At first, it was protected at night by volunteers.

It’s amazing how quick we are to adopt “models of sustainability” but fail to encourage the community to build upon the initiative. Rather than spend thousands to keep the homeless away, the city should encourage all residents of that neighborhood, including the homeless to adopt the gardens. It has been done before in places like inner city Detroit an Kibera in Kenya. Detroit’s gardens have no fences and greed has not been a problem as people take only what they need; many of the regular gardeners come from rehabilitation programs linked to the county jail; and offenders say they have earned self-respect, as well as local thanks, for literally doing the spade-work.

I had the privilege to work a block away from the San Francisco City hall for 3 good years; I have known some of the less fortunate who line those streets; and have seen them struggle to maintain the little dignity they can salvage in these harsh streets — I appreciate all that the Mayor’s office has done to highlight their plight but when it comes to the victory gardens, Newsom needs to rethink his stance.

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the BULL is King …

BBC NEWS: A woman makes flower offerings before the statue of a bull outside the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on 22 October 2008. Indian shares have lost nearly half their value this year as the global financial crisis has rippled around the world.

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Gearing up for BarCampAfrica in San Francisco

Dates: October 11, 2008
Location: Pending – Bay Area, CA

Yes we finally have a date BarCamp Africa for the San Francisco Bay Area. BarCamps allow for open environments where attendees contribute in some way to support the event.  The objective of our event is to bring technologists and non-technologists working to promote Africa under one roof for a lively discussion.

Stay tuned and join the discussion via our a wiki and a twitter

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Of Marathon Golds, Closing Ceremonies and Kenya’s best Olympic performance ever

Deriba Merga of Ethiopia, Jaouad Gharib of Morocco and Samuel Kamau Wanjiru of Kenya compete in the mens marathon during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games [Reuters]

Deriba Merga of Ethiopia, Jaouad Gharib of Morocco and Samuel Kamau Wanjiru of Kenya compete in the men's marathon during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 24, 2008 - Reuters

In a conversation with a @jollyrulez yesterday, he just made me realize that the only Olympic medals given out during the closing ceremony were all claimed by African Marathon runners – ensuring that all 3 National Anthems were sang to a crowd of 91,000 and televised to millions more globally. This was Kenya’s best Olympics to date. What could make you more proud? Smiles all around.

Billions worldwide watched and applauded on Sunday as International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge presented Kenya’s Samuel Kamau Wanjiru with a gold medal for winning the men’s marathon race that brought the curtain down on a highly successful Beijing Olympic Games, both for the Chinese hosts and for Kenya.

The Kenyan flag was raised at the brand new 91,000-seater Beijing National Olympic Stadium and the Kenyan national anthem played after Belgian Rogge, accompanied by International Association of Athletics Federations’ president, Lamine Diack of Senegal, also presented bouquets of flowers to the 21-year-old Wanjiru, Morocco’s silver medallist Jaouad Gharib and Ethiopia’s Tsegay Kebede who won the bronze in the 42-kilometre race.

Wanjiru’s winning time of two hours, six minutes and 32 seconds was an Olympic record and also marked the fifth Kenyan gold medal at the Beijing Games that were the country’s most successful ever.

The win was also Kenya’s first in the marathon at the four-yearly Olympics.

Kenya finished the competition as the top African nation and an impressive 15th overall with 14 medals – five gold, five silver and four bronze.The performance surpassed the previous best of nine medals

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winning

“My one aim was just to be a champion. That is what I came here to do”

– Jamaican 100m champion, Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt breaks away from the pack leaving them a considerable distance behind, to win gold in the men’s 100m final and break the World Record in style.

More here

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Kenyan swimmer Jason Dunford and his 7 minutes of glory

A Kenyan swimmer overshadows American swimming sensation Michael Phelps for 7 glorious minutes.

For seven memorable minutes, the world stood up and watched as brilliant Kenyan swimmer Jason Dunford held the Olympic 100 metres butterfly record that he shattered on the way to making it to Friday’s semi-finals of his speciality at Beijing’s National Acquatic Centre.

Stunned swimming analysts froze in awe inside the 18,000-seater “Water Cube”, one of Beijing’s architectural masterpieces, as the 21-year-old student of human physiology at Stanford University swam 51.14 seconds to break American Michael Phelps’ old mark of 51.25 that he set at the Athens Games four years ago.

Jason was swimming in Heat Seven which he won by 0.23 seconds ahead of second-placed Australian Andrew Lauterstein.

Source: nation.co.ke

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Dial 1298 for a World-Class Ambulance Service in Mumbai

How do you provide a city like Mumbai and its 22 million residents an efficient Ambulance service? The Acumen Fund’s Sasha Dicheter, talks about their latest investment, “Dial 1298” service with its 51 ambulances, each fitted with intensive care service combining world-class operational skills with a social mission.

Patients who want to go to a private hospital in a full-service ambulance – staffed with a doctor – pay 1,500 rupees (about US$35). Those who go to public hospitals pay either half price or nothing. 1298’s leadership is committed to having 15-20% of the company’s calls be serviced free or at reduced cost. This simple logic takes away the cumbersome process of identifying who can afford to pay and who cannot.

As such, anyone in Mumbai who needs ambulance service can dial 1298 and, thanks to the magic of GPS and Google Maps, one of 51 world-class ambulances arrives in about 15 minutes to provide care and transport. The service is world-class, modeled on London Ambulance Service

Source: blog.acumenfund.org

The British Medical Journal estimates that for every 5 minutes saved in ambulance response time, the survival rate doubles for cardiac arrests. Consider that before 1298, Mumbai had just 12 ambulances – with 9 out of 10 trips made to transport the dead.

Currently the model is being replicated in 2 other Indian cities – It’s time someone took the initiative and replicated the model in Lagos, Accra or Capetown that have a huge population density and a mix of private and public health care.

Update: The Acumen fund did a wonderful follow up story on Meridain Medical.  Nairobi-based Meridian Medical Centre has been profitably operating three outpatient clinics with one-third of its clients earning only $4 a day. They will open 5 more clinics over the next 3 years in higher density, lower income areas. Meridian is part of a larger trend of companies recognizing the market potential of the BoP.

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Sailing around Africa in a Phoenician boat

On Arwad Island off the coast of Syria, a group of 20 sailors-to-be are preparing for a voyage their captain believes has not been undertaken for two and a half millennia.

They plan to set off on Sunday on a journey that attempts to replicate what the Greek historian Herodotus mentions as the first circumnavigation of Africa in about 600BC.

Their vessel, the small, pine-wood Phoenicia, is modelled on the type of ship the Phoenician sailors he credited with the landmark voyage would have used. Phoenicia route map

The Phoenicians lived in areas of modern-day Lebanon, Syria and other parts of the Mediterranean from about 1200BC and are widely credited with being both strong seafarers and the first civilisation to make extensive use of an alphabet.

Mammoth project

Celebrating Damascus as a capital of Arab Culture for the year 2008, event organisers sponsored the British-run expedition project to mark their festivities.

The year-long voyage will take the crew into some of the most dangerous waters in the world.

As well as sailing round the southern most tip of Africa, they are preparing to deal with pirates and long periods of waiting for favourable winds.

The skilful shipbuilders in Arwad are familiar with construction techniques dating back 200-300 years, but shipbuilder Orwa Bader, 28, says this is the first time they have ever tried to build in the Phoenician style.

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