Posted by: jkirkby8712 | July 23, 2011

Saturday, 23rd July 2011 – a son’s birthday, while an atrocity in Norway overshadows famine!

  

It is elder son James’ 30th birthday today, just where have all those years gone to? I think he has his usual ‘pub going’ celebrations planned for most of the weekend, however there is a late afternoon family gathering planned for today in the usual manner, just a little earlier than is usual. Of course, that has been determined by a certain football match which is happening tonight. More on that later!

 

I got up this morning to hear the disturbing news from Norway – the following online news report, tells the story…………………………………….”Blast victims lying bleeding on sidewalks sprinkled with shattered glass from disfigured buildings; normally peaceful Oslo resembled a war zone on Friday after a powerful bomb tore through its core. At least 17 have been killed in attacks in Norway, a bombing in central Oslo and a series of shootings on an island just outside the capital, and the figure could rise, a senior police officer says. Police also found explosives on the island of Utoeya, where a gunman opened fire on young people at a summer camp organised by the ruling Labour Party, Sveinung Sponheim, acting commissioner for Oslo police, told reporters. The explosion that ripped through government buildings in Oslo killed seven people and seriously wounded another nine, said Sponheim. The shootings a little later on Utoeya killed 10 people, according to provisional figures. But he added: “It is very likely that this figure will rise even more.” Sponheim said the suspect arrested on the island was a 32-year-old man who had Norwegian nationality and was of “Norwegian origin”. In the blink of an eye the city of half a million, where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded every year, became a picture of urban desolation with building skeletons left standing after an explosion heard kilometres away. The windows of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s office were blown clear out – the imposing government tower badly damaged on all sides so that one can see right through the building. Surrounding buildings were also mangled. According to the Norwegian tabloid Verdens Gang, whose editorial team have a clear view of the devastated government building, a body was seen dangling from a blown-out window shortly after the explosion. the normally bustling neighbourhood, which houses several government ministries, is much more quiet at this time of year with many people away on holiday”.

 

As indicated above, not the part of the world that you would normally expect to hear this kind of news coming from, but it seems no where is secure from the actions of crazed and fanatic people!

 

Sadly, this occurrence is going to generate enormous media interest – and this, to the detriment of news from Africa [already poorly covered] of the terrible famine threatening to engulf millions of refugees in Somalia. On Wednesday, the United Nations declared famine in two regions of southern Somalia [the first such declaration in two decades, meaning it’s been determined that many are dying from a lack of food],and in doing so, warned that the crisis could spread within a couple of months in the war-ravaged Horn of Africa. It warned that action needed to be taken immediately or famine will spread to all eight regions of southern Somalia within two months, due to poor harvests and infectious disease outbreaks. With up to 2.8 million Somalis living in the south, a spokesman said that “Every day of delay in assistance is literally a matter of life or death for children and their families in the famine-affected areas.” One report indicated that years of drought, that have also affected Kenya and Ethiopia, have hit harvests and conflict has made it extremely difficult for agencies to operate and access communities in the south of the country. Much of southern and central Somalia is controlled by Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda who imposed a ban on food aid in 2010, which the UN and the United States said had exacerbated the crisis. The rebels lifted the ban this month. In the worst-affected areas, half the children are malnourished. “It is likely that tens of thousands will already have died, the majority of those being children,” a relief spokesman said.

 

This drought – it’s one of the driest years in the region since 1950-51 – has combined with increased food costs to put more than 11 million people across the Horn of Africa in need of humanitarian assistance. Many are in Somalia, though most are in Kenya and Ethiopia, countries where aid agencies have worked for decades. I’m concerned that over the next week or so, the urgency of this situation is going to be completely over shadowed by the events in Norway, as serious and tragic as they are. The pictures and reports coming out of that part of the world are indeed, heart rending and disturbing.

 We had the normal family ‘Birthday Dinner’ at the Goonawarra house tonight– an early meal, and short presence of the ‘birthday boy’, James,  who was heading into the city soon afterwards  to watch Carlton versus Essendon at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Only family member missing on this occasion was Susan, who was up in Bendigo of course.  James himself had planned a birthday meal himself for all of us who wished to join him, at one of the inner city pubs  – one of my old ‘drinking spots’ in the early days. –    next Friday night!!

It was disappointing to hear on the news later this evening, of the massive increase in the death toll from the attacks in Norway overnight. From reports noted,   police said they were questioning a Christian fundamentalist on Saturday over twin attacks on a youth camp and the government headquarters that killed 91 people in Norway’s deadliest post-war tragedy. As harrowing testimony emerged from the holiday island where scores of youngsters were mown down by a gunman dressed as a policeman, Norway’s premier said the country would emerge stronger from the “cruel act of violence”. Their latest death toll on the island stood at 84 while seven people died in the Oslo bombing. While there was no official confirmation of the suspect’s identity, he was widely named by the local media as Anders Behring Breivik.  According to information the suspect posted online, he is an “ethnic” Norwegian and a “Christian fundamentalist,” police spokesman Roger Andersen said, adding his political opinions leaned “to the right”  Sad news indeed!   A terrible experience on the island, where I imagine that most of those 84 deaths were of innocent teenagers, enjoying a youth camp and break from their families.  

Interestingly, earlier this afternoon, shortly after I returned home from a late morning walk, I received a phone call from a Philippines friend [currently working in an accounting role in Singapore]  – Denia had seen my brief note in Face Book about the tragedy in Norway, and she rang me to me to find out exactly what had happened. We have been occasional long time friends on Yahoo mainly, and I in fact the other day, re-downloaded Yahoo on my computer after previously suffering virus trouble, mainly coming from Yahoo I think. Anyway, after putting the system back on, I immediately began to have some more problems, so with 24 hours had deleted the program again. A pity, as I had made a number of friends through Yahoo, but have seldom used it over the past year or so, just seems to risky a medium!!

I returned home later to watch the game on TV, and Jodie joined me a little later.   It turned out to be a good night for us Carlton supporters. After a tight first half which saw little between the two teams [remembering that when we played each other earlier in the season, the match was drawn – looking like that kind of outcome again], the Carlton team really turned on the tap in the 3rd quarter, and before long, the result was no longer in doubt – love watching the Blues when they are in this dominating kind of form, just wish they could apply it on a bit more of a consistent basis!  However it was a good outcome, and for James at the football ground, a rather pleasing ‘birthday present’ no doubt.  As indicated by the quarter by quarter scores below, Carlton powered away with the game in the second half, scoring  15 to 4 goals!  Included 8 goals to

Carlton Blues:                   5.3.33         9.4.58       17.8.110         FINAL:   24 9.153

Essendon Bombers:          4.2.26          8.3.51         8.4.52           Final:       12.7.79    

Tour de France, Stage 20: Time Trial of over 40 kilometres.  I imagine the planned ride of Cadel Evans will be on quite late in the evening’s racing , and as the coverage commenced, wondered if I would be able to remain wake long enough to see his ride! Ahhh, just discovered he heads off at 12.12 am, our time [4.12 pm in France], an eight hour time difference between our two nations. Cadel and the two Schleck brothers will be the last three riders to push off, and while there may be faster times than they can achieve, the battle is really between those three men – Evans is 57 seconds behind Andy Schleck with the other brother in between them. He has to ride his time trial a minute faster than them both to win the overall event – assuming that there is not a miracle ride by one of the other competitors who are placed behind those three at present. Ironically, both Andy Schleck and Cadel Evans  have finished 2nd on two occasions in the Tour de France. One must expect that one of them will break ‘the drought’ over the next hour or so, because, at the time of writing, they are both out on the course, racing the clock and their own abilities!

Cadel Evans is flying – in incredible form, literally flying around the course, has taken the lead overall with one third of the course to go, he is crushing the times of the Schleck brothers, just has to make sure he gets around without safely and without incident now.  As a viewer, yes, I’m getting quite excited!!   Evans comes into the finish to gain 2nd place, about 13 seconds behind the Time Trial winner, while the brothers are coming through behind him, both having lost their overnight advantages to Evans.

Yes, he’s done it – Cadel Evans  is Australia’s first winner of the Tour de France, in it’s 108 year history:

  • 1 Cadel Evans
  • 2. Andy Schleck
  • 3. Frank Schleck

 

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