Raj News

Raj News

Archive for January 2013

Double Trouble: UK doubles funding to Syria and Israeli jets strike in Syria

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The UK’s Prime Minister, David Cameron three months ago was in Jordan where he met with HM King of Jordan  (Abdullah II) and also took time to meet with displaced Syrian refugees at the border, who had fled the conflict within Syria, which has been going on since March 2011 and is known as the Syrian Civil War.

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Mr Cameron was discussing the sinister situation within Syria with the King , which sees fighting on a daily basis. There was a UN – proposal of a four day ceasefire during the time of the Muslim festival, Eid, in October 2012, this was however broken, after a car bomb exploded and killed many people, according to reports from within the country. Images have appeared on all platforms of the media revealing the devastation there and the immense number of casualties (60,000 dead according to the UN, although much more than this number are thought to have died).

There is currently an ongoing UN appeal and $1.5 billion has already been pledged to help the refugees with food, water, sanitation, shelter, medical care and supplies. The following statement is from Mr Panos Moumtzis from the official United Nations Human Committee for Refugees.

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“Over half a million refugees have now fled the escalating violence in Syria and around 3,000 new refugees are crossing the border into neighbouring countries such as Turkey and Jordan every day. It is estimated that up to 1 million Syrian refugees will need help by the end of the first half of 2013.

“We are constantly shocked by the horrific stories refugees tell us. Their lives are in turmoil. They have lost their homes and family members. By the time they reach the borders, they are exhausted, traumatised and with little or no resources to rely on.

The refugee crisis has seen the UK pledge £21 million to Jordan and the UK are pledging £50 million more than doubling the amount of funding to the UN for Syria.n refugees. This funding was announced by the UK’s International Development Secretary Justine Greening whilst attending a joint emergency conference by hosts Kuwait and the United Nations who set the appeal target at $1.5 billion and received in excess of this from Countries such as the US and Germany and other organisations.

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Justine Greening said “In Jordan on Saturday, I saw for myself the human cost of this conflict and the massive effort by NGOs to deal with huge numbers of refugees.” The UK is currently providing a total of £139.5 million to the crisis.

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General Secretary of the UN Ban Ki-Moon was at the emergency Kuwaiti conference (held on 30/01/2013)  too, he is quoted as saying: “The situation in Syria is catastrophic and getting worse by the day … And every day Syrians face a cascading catalogue of horrors: unrelenting violence, dwindling supplies of food and medicine, and human rights violations including sexual violence and arbitrary arrests and detention.”

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Prime Minister David Cameron is currently in Algeria after the savage hostage situation which took place there and where six Britons were killed. From 1st January 2013 the UK have been holding the G8’s Presidency and one of the issues on the agenda is tackling Terrorism; Mr Cameron’s visit to Algeria is addressing this issue at hand, whilst the problem of Syria is sure to remain on the agenda too.

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The latest development within Syria is the air strike that has taken place in Syria by Israeli jets; Syria has confirmed the air strikes although negates the target (which is said to be lorries carrying weapons, near the border of Lebanon). The BBC has reported that “Lebanese security sources, Western diplomats and Syrian rebels say an arms convoy was hit near Lebanon’s border.” This is contrary to what the Syrian Government has reported, they claim that a scientific military facility  was hit by the air strike in nearby Damascus, they also said that this facility was being attempted to be taken over by rebels also frequently referred to as terrorists by President Assad’s regime in Syria. Controversy follows president Assad and his regimes references to national terrorists operating within the country. Russia and China have backed Syria so far, although much of the World and the UN are opposed to China and Russia’s support for President Assad.

The situation is an intrinsic one, the US and Israel have not commented on the incident and it is said that Israel struck with their jets to ensure that anti-aircraft missiles did not fall into the hands of Hezbollah a militant group within Lebanon. Syria is believed to have acquired these weapons including anti-tank missiles from Russia, after a nuclear reactor was taken out by Israel in another air strike in 2007. Israel and the US are concerned that countries such as Syria, Iran, and Lebanon will use chemical weapons in a conflict and therefore Israel have stepped up their security in the North of the country.

Syria’s double – trouble is a problem, the world is watching and also trying to help the refugees, however the country is in need of dire help to sort the problem out peacefully. Finally, the United Nations have warned Syria to not use any chemical weapons as has the US.

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Additional Information:

The UNHCR are still taking donations towards the Syrian crisis: http://donate.unhcr.org/syria-uk

India, trying to solve the sensitive problem of Rape – Are the Indian Government doing enough?

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I’ll start with a quote on this difficult and complex topic from a simple and caring man, a man of peace and love, the Dalai Lama, he says of the Rape case that saw a mass protest in India “I have been noticing crimes in big cities like Bombay and Delhi… when these kinds of things happen people take it for granted. Now the time has come that we must make efforts for special protection to women, physically.”

The Dalai Lama spoke of the case at India’s Jaipur Literature Festival in Jaipur, on 24/01/2012 when he was asked by a reporter as to what his thoughts were on the rape of the victim which happened in December 2012, New Delhi. He was also questioned about his views on the death penalty and went on to say “Since many decades Amnesty International started a movement banning the death sentence. I signed it. I do not like the death penalty but it is up to the country’s law to decide”.

India has shown a unity in the form of mass protest and there were many men and women who all came out in their numbers to voice their outrage and view that this kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable, I for one believe that there is no excuse for rape let alone the brutal way in which the young lady who was a medical student was brutally abused. The media in India have covered this story on an unprecedented scale and it has been taken world-wide, due to the mass protests held by the Indian public in the aftermath of the attack on the young victim.

The majority of the protesters were peaceful and voiced their view that the corruption will not be tolerated from the behaviour of the police with the victim to the delay in the courts handling the situation. Anand Mahindra, chairman and managing director of Mahindra and Mahindra summed up the situation regarding the protesters and the government well, he said “There’s not going to be any Tahrir Square in India because we have democracy, people have a voice”, he also went on to conclude on the topic commenting firstly on how the rape of this woman highlighted a new shift in the voice of the youth of India “very interesting demographic shift. We all know the statistic that 50% of the population is under 25. Everyone knew that statistic, they didn’t know they had a voice. I think what we are seeing is people are saying, ‘We’re not going to take this any more — we’re young, we’re impatient.’ It’s a change in the zeitgeist, in the mood, and the government is listening, I think — it has to.”

Many people would agree with this outlook and the Indian government and the people have been sparked into action like a super lengthened Indian bangers firework that has been set off since the protests, everyone has been rightly making a ruckus from the people to the media and even the government has had to concede to pressure and fast track the court procedural system involving the trial of the accused party. Will all this noise made by the people of India bring about change or will it simply fizzle out like a firework, only time will tell, although if they have made enough noise, the governments ears will still be ringing for a long time to come and action will be there only option.

The voice of the people has only grown day by day and as has the reporting in the media, people will remember the reaction of the public, which has taken up a stand and is not moving from it. As for some figures 76% of the Indian public want the minor involved in the rape and murder of the unfortunate victim to be hanged for his actions, whereas the rest of the public voted for a life sentence for the accused. (IndiaToday.in).

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The public are adamant that the law should be changed to ensure that minors are given a life-sentence too for the atrocious crime of rape and murder. As the law stands at the moment, being a minor he is even entitled to bail at his parents request. He is alleged to have been the most violent from reports and the one who lured the unsuspecting victim and her friend to the bus. The argument is that he was old enough to allegedly commit the crime of rape, and help to others raping, and using an iron rod to torture, in addition to subjecting the victim to 2.5 hours of torture, so he is old enough to be treated as an adult, by the courts in relation to being given the same full sentence that his peers are facing, of being hanged if found guilty. He has so far been in court as a minor, and as he is being looked upon as a minor, so there is the possibility of a punishment of maximum of a three-year stay in children’s remand home, if he is proved to be below 18 years, a punishment which will be light compared to what his other five accomplices are facing.

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The Indian President Pranab Mukherjee  referred to India as an emerging India and said of the rape case “Does our legislature reflect emerging India or does it need radical reforms? These doubts have to be set at rest.” He also spoke of the youth protests and their agenda (for protection of Women’s security and rights alongside a reformed India without rape and corruption) saying “Elected representatives must win back the confidence of the people. The anxiety and restlessness of the youth should be channelised towards change with speed, dignity and order.” The President was speaking on the 64th Republic Day of India, he was also firm in talking about equality for Women and referred to the issue as a “national commitment”.

16th December 2012 is being referred to by protesters as India’s ‘Black Day’, thousands of protesters held placards with serious messages on them as well as caring ones, they lay on the ground in protest mourning the death of the victim, this was in direct contrast to the previous protesting, which saw shouting to rid India of such crimes and was in outrage to the abuse the victim endured. Protesters gathered in a unified force to demand protection of Women and their rights and security with candles too.

The victim who was 23 years old and a medical student has lost her life after two weeks, from when the attack took place, whilst in a Singapore hospital (where she was flown to for medical attention, she was pronounced dead, and her  dead body was flown back, she died of organ failure due to septicemia). It has been reported that she provided a statement before her passing, which is to be presented in court.

India is now said to have come alive to the sensitive problem of rape, and the issues, surrounding this matter that need to be solved are many, such as:

  • Police and other officials’ (including hospital staff) behaviour towards victims of rape
  • The Law, Judges and Court hearings to be more objective, impartial, and unprejudiced
  • The treatment of Women within India
  • Corruption in the form of gender bias from officials and others involved in the support process
  • Lack of support for victims and fair sentencing from the courts
  • 95,000 rape cases pending in Indian courts
  • Inaction and degradation
  • Accordance to Human Rights Law
  • Resolving immunity aspects for Officials accused of rape
  • Prevention of rape
  • Tougher rape laws
  • Reform of the Police
  • Rape involving the Military
  • Traumatic Rape examinations
  • Patriarchal attitudes leading to views that violence and gender bias is acceptable
  • The court proceeding taking place under a gagging order
  • A need for fast-track courts to deal with issues regarding rape of women (five fast-track courts created to deal with sexual crimes).
  • The lack of Women reporting rape
  • Societal Stigma of rape and prejudice
  • Cowboy courts – where they try to justify rape as a reason for marrying their rapist
  • Rape as a means to resolving issues – (villagers of rural India is where this happens)
  • Lawyers not willing to take on rape victims cases

A government panel has been set up in the wake of this tragic event to provide suggestions as to how the Indian Criminal Justice system can work towards creating an improved service in relation to cases where women have been subjected to violence. The panel has received 80,000 suggestions from ordinary citizens and Women’s Rights groups. Although no Indian State Police Chiefs had sent in a recommendation.

The Justice Verma Committee released its recommendations and amongst these were “enhanced sentences, faster trials, better implementation of existing laws and gender sensitization of lawmakers”(world.time.com).

The committee was led by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Verma, the committee was made up of two other people and they produced a 657 page report in 29 days (as they were only given a month to produce the report). The report concluded that every case of reported rape should be registered by the police and called for acts such as stalking and sexual harassment (currently not crimes) to be punished with prison terms. “What is needed to enforce laws is the sensitivity on the part of those who implement it,” Verma told reporters. “The state’s role is not just punishing criminals but also to prevent crimes against women.”(world.time.com) The government also are planning on having a compensatory scheme for victims of rape although it has not come into action as yet.

The latest on the situation is that a representative for the accused is asking to be tried in a court outside of Delhi, he said ““We are sure we will not get justice in Delhi.” The family of the victim have said they want the hanging sentence for all six if they are convicted.

The Indian government may not have previously given this issue much importance on their agenda, however after the furore in the form of the public’s protesting, the government are finally giving in, to the pressure to start acting on the issue and bringing rape onto the agenda. In addition to creating five fast track courts the government is also said to have made promises on ensuring more of a police presence and improving the lighting on streets and public transport. Whether these promises are kept and whether rape is kept on the agenda is something the public will continue to demand, for women like the 23 year old victim.

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Most recently there has been another case reported in the media by NDTV and The Daily Mail.co.uk : “(Indian gang rape victim takes poison in court after six year case is adjourned again.

  • Victim drank poison in courtroom as case was adjourned til next month
  • Her boss and his friends allegedly gang raped her in a factory in 2007
  • She says police refused to file her complaint
  • Police say her allegations don’t add up)”

This goes to show a typical example of how Women are being oppressed in a country which is seen as democratic, sacred and a super-power, surely this should not be happening, the country needs to be reliable and supportive of Women through organisation and a positive, corrupt-free, progressive attitude accompanied by action on this matter which obviously matters to everyone very much. India are going to have to really TRY and solve this problem of rape, so far it does not look as if they are trying.

A concern posed by the public due to this lack of trying by the government, is an erratic sense of vigilantism, it has recently been reported that groups have been handing out knives to counter the security fears on the streets and also the use of guns against those that are feared on the streets is being encouraged.

Surely this is the role of the government, has the country really come to the point where they feel they need to take the law into their own hands, or is this a sense of panic and erraticness or simply a phase that will pass, once the law has become effective in putting a halt to criminality in every standing of society?

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The Indian government have so far been fighting the protesters, they will now need to bring back the faith in the public, how they do this, is still yet to be awaited and seen. The protesters however will not stand by and watch, and are sure to voice their views if the governments handling of this situation is not suffice.

To conclude, I have found a reasonable and realistic quote from a Woman on what should be done now, “with politicians and the public at last giving sexual assault the attention it deserves, the time has come for action—and for dignified treatment of survivors of sexual assault.” (Aruna Kashyap, Women’s Rights Asia researcher – Human Rights Watch.)

Condolences to all rape victims and their families and especially to the medical student’s family and her friend

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Additional Information & Links

Delhi High Court orders all hospitals within the city. Hospitals state-run and private must abide to order  to provide treatment to all rape/road accident victims.

Delhi rape case: Verma committee report dredges up old stereotypes

http://blogs.reuters.com/india/2013/01/25/delhi-rape-case-verma-committee-report-dredges-up-old-stereotypes/

Rape is a world-wide problem and high numbers of cases are also a problem in South Africa and countries such as the UK and US.

BBC Documentaries Funded by China & Sir Attenborough refers to Humans as a Plague…

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BBC Worldwide

It may come as a surprise but China has been funding BBC Factual Documentaries since 2008 and as a result has full rights over the footage and this material can be further used to be broadcast by the Chinese state run Broadcaster China Central Television9 (CCTV9), which is exactly what is scheduled for this year in China.

The relationship between the BBC and CCTV9 began in 2008 in the run up to the Beijing Olympics, which was being broadcast by the BBC, in the UK, also airing in the UK was a documentary on China, which you may recall was called ‘Wild China’.

There have been approximately four projects which have been invested in by CCTV9 for the commissioned BBC programmes such as ‘Africa’ which have seen the world renowned Sir David Attenborough front as presenter and narrator.

The Africa series will be sold to channels Chinese and non for rights to television airing and for any broadcast on a mobile devices and to video-on-demand services. The Independent newspaper reports some figures: “BBC executives expect it will be sold to more than 200 countries and are hopeful that it will exceed the popularity of Attenborough’s Planet Earth which was bought in 245 territories, a BBC record.”

Africa

The Chinese will be certain to purchase these rights too and the BBC has kept a permanent representative in Beijing (China) as the business partnership continues to grow with CCTV9 and future projects come to light. This does not however mean that the BBC has stopped working with other partners, in fact Sir Attenborough is heading to China for the BBC’s latest documentary series in 3D called the Rise of Animals (the title is still provisional and subject to a change), Atlantic Productions another partner of the BBC is producing the series. Other major investors include their long term partners of DISCOVERY and The National Geographic.

A good quote to put matters into perspective is from a BBC Spokesman who spoke of the relationship with other investors aside from CCTV9, “Co-production funding on big natural history, science and drama programmes is the way TV is made now. The BBC has a global sales team in all different markets and if you relate it (the partnership with China) with the work we do with other broadcasters around the world the amount is not that great.”

The names of the other three programmes that CCTV9 have invested in are ‘Wild China’ (presented by Bernard Hill), ‘Generation Earth’ (which shows how life has been transformed on the planet by humans) presented by Dallas Campbell (from Bang goes the Theory) and The Wonders of Life’ presented by Brian Cox which looks at the relationship between life and physics. The Chinese State-run broadcaster also invested in BBC1 science series ‘Supersized Earth’, presented again by Dallas Campbell, and aired in November 2012 looking at humans and the making of the modern world.

These have all been large projects and are on the schedule to be broadcast in the UK and China, under the category of Factual/Documentary programming. The Director of the Factual department at BBC Worldwide, Mark Reynolds said of the partnership between the BBC and CCTV9 that they are “really quite an important partner in terms of factual programming”. Mark Reynolds also commented on future investment for the BBC from China, “We are going to talk to them about other projects coming up in the future because with the cost of these big productions we are always looking to bring in new partners where it’s the right editorial fit for them.”

CCTV-9 channel director Liu Wen said: “The BBC is world-renowned for its factual programming, and we’ve had great success (showing) titles such as Human Planet and Frozen Planet, so we’re very pleased to be partnering with them.” Recently CCTV (which has a 22 channel network including CCTV9) opened 60 new bureaus worldwide, in a race to be an influential presence in the world and are competing with the BBC to do this as well as Arabic, and Russian broadcasters.

Chinese cable channels Chunghwa and Wasu have signed digital deals with BBC Worldwide to air their shows, and BBC Worldwide have Chinese video-on-demand sites Qiyi and BesTV  also airing their shows.

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China’s economy is currently slowing and they have been viewed as a country built on steel (as they are number one in the world for producing steel), the problem now is they are producing so much of it that they do not know what to do with it and also do not have enough to pay workers, yet cannot let them go, due to China’s governmental laws. Africa is a developing Country and China is playing a massive role there in working to build up development in all areas, they are investing a lot of money there since the past 10 years; Africa has 54 countries and is one of the places where nature flourishes so openly and freely in good numbers.

China is being opportunistic and resourceful in how it continues to keep the country together whether it be through steel or broadcasting. China have often come under criticism for the way that they invest in Africa (providing loans to Countries within the Continent and then with this money outsourcing work to Chinese companies to help with the building of infrastructure within Africa).

Jo Sermon is also a Director of the Factual department at BBC Worldwide who commented on CCTV9’s approach to airing many documentary programmes on their channel; “They are pitching for the best of the world’s factual they really are astute what they take. They regularly get audiences of 90 million.”

Chinese influence in BBC’s Africa documentary is not looked at, it is solely focused on the Natural aspects of Africa and aims to be groundbreaking in showing Nature in Africa, Sir David Attenborough’s passion for Nature really shines through as usual, in this Documentary. 

So the question that may be raised now: Is China being opportunistic in investing in world conservation Nature programmes, in particular BBC’s Africa for their own money making plans or are they showing a responsible approach to conserving the world through Documentary projects aiming to raise awareness? Whatever the answer, China is certainly being a competitor amongst competition and raising its profile globally through its bureaus.

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Moving swiftly on to another partner of the BBC, Sir David Attenborough aged 86, has been in the news recently for referring to Humans as a Plague. Sir David Attenborough was speaking to the Radio Times (RT) Magazine and put the matter seriously to the RT, and his exact words were ““we are a plague on the Earth” he went on to say, “We keep putting on programmes about famine in Ethiopia – that’s what’s happening. Too many people there. They can’t support themselves – and it’s not an inhuman thing to say. It’s the case.”

Sir David Attenborough stressed in the interview the importance of the environment, population numbers, and climate change. This of course is not something new, as Sir David has always promoted the need for preservation of the Earth and preventing Climate Change especially the issue of polar bears and ice-melt. He said of these issues “It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so.” He is also a patron of The Optimum Population Trust which is an organisation promoting its agenda of limiting population numbers and one of their campaigns is “stop at two” pleading to people to only have a maximum of two children.  

Sir Attenborough got specific in explaining the problem that is posed by humans in their mass numbers, talking about the need for space and implied that there will not be enough space to grow food for humans, whom he referred to as being an “enormous horde”.  Sir David offered a solution saying “Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now.” His final point on the subject was a daunting yet serious one, “Until humanity manages to sort itself out and get a co-ordinated view about the planet, it’s going to get worse and worse.”

The presenter hailed as a super star worldwide went on to comment on the future of his presenting style which involves being in shot with his animal subjects behind him and presenting to the camera, he said it is soon to be extinct. “I’m not sure there’s any need for a new Attenborough. The more you go on, the less you need people standing between you and the animal and the camera waving their arms about.”

Although this may be the case the style of his will always be remembered and he for one will not be forgotten by his fans of whom I am one and I would hope that the style is used from time to time too!

Sir David Attenborough

SNAP! Reptile! and Croc! Thousands of Crocodiles ESCAPE!

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Nile Crocodile

You may catch more than a big fish when you go fishing in the Limpopo River, Johannesburg (South Africa). You may wish that this one would have got away as what you may catch may not be a big fish, but a sharp toothed Nile Crocodile! There is more chances of you catching a crocodile there than ever before, or rather a crocodile catching someone, and of course let’s hope that is not the case!

Approximately 15,000 crocodiles escaped from nearby Rakwena Crocodile Farm on 24/01/2013, due to torrential rains and flooding in Johannesburg, the Rakwena Crocodile Farm owner had to open their floodgates so the property would not be obliterated that is the official reported version and this opening is how the crocodiles escaped! Another rumoured version story is that the farms dams broke due to the flooding and the crocodiles escaped soon after.

The opening of the flood gates was necessary to prevent devastation to their property in the form of a storm surge; the crocodiles escaped and now a lethal predator is out in the local communities where it would present a very real and fatal risk to them.

The South African Army and the Police had to be enlisted to protect the local residents from this infestation. Warnings have been issued to the locals to stay indoors and away from the crocodiles.

The whole scene must have looked something like a scene from the movie Jurassic park, with panic and chaos spreading rapidly amongst everyone due to the presence of the crocodiles being everywhere.

As for the River Limpopo there were a few crocodiles living there already before the epic crocodile escape from the Rawkena Crocodile Farm but now there are many within the river.

Thousands of people were at risk not only from drowning but from being eaten alive by the crocodiles; some of these large reptiles have been reported to have turned up 75 miles away at Musina, more particularly at a school ready and waiting for Rugby players who would have been unfortunate enough to venture out to the Rugby pitch where one was sighted, fortunately no one was involved in an attack by the escaped party.

Some of the frightful sharp teethed reptiles have been captured but many are still at large and the locals must feel as if these hungry crocodiles are on a terrible rampage; Read on to find out more:

There are no reports of any fatalities reported involving the reptiles but 10 people are reported to have lost their lives due to the torrential rain and flooding, many have lost their homes, and many have been reported as missing. Some people climbed up on the roofs due to the flooding, this may be the safest place to be under the circumstances; taking into consideration that a crocodile may just be swimming by and may fancy someone as their dinner, the situation may have been a bit like jumping from a frying pan in to a fire. Some local residents had to be rescued by motor boat from their roof; and below them in the water were crocodiles circling around them looking for a tasty meal, the residents were however rescued from their roof. Thankful, no doubt, of their lucky escape!

The son-in-law of the crocodile farms owner, Zane Langman, informed, that the local farmers have been phoning them when they see the Crocodiles, Mr Langman says that they would then have the task of going there and catching the crocodile, not a job for the faint hearted. Much of the capturing of the Crocodiles is taking place at night when the reptiles are easier to spot due to their eyes shining red at night and reflecting back any light shone onto them.

The police, army and the local people are also assisting in recapturing the crocodiles. The owner Mr Johan Boshoff has said he has “caught a few thousand”, although that means that more than half are still at large. Mostly farmers keep the crocodiles in captivity to harvest them for the horrible trade of selling their skin and their meat, many of the crocodiles would be turned into handbags, jackets and other prized luxury outfits and products.

The floods have also hit neighbouring Mozambique where thousands of people have been affected by the weather. Mozambique is hundreds of kilometres downstream from the Limpopo River. The people there had to be evacuated from their homes in order to protect them from the extreme weather conditions.

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Additional Information

Nile Crocodiles can grow up to 16feet long and can swim at up to 22mph and run on land at a speed of up to 8mph.

Of the escaped Crocodiles many have been seen caught in trees due to the flood waters having dropped.

Recently the Limpopo area has been hit by a series of floods.

“The Nile crocodile or common crocodile is an African crocodile which is common in Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Egypt, Tanzania, Burundi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Gabon, South Africa, Malawi, Sudan, South Sudan, Botswana, and Cameroon.”

The BMW Z4 Zagato Roadster!

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*This article is soon to be featured on Autoraiders.com

Read on for more on the BMW Z4 ZAGOTO ROADSTER BELOW:

BMW-Zagato-Roadster-and-Coupe-01

Initially BMW had a stint with Zagato one of the worlds finest craftsman of cars (Zagato is from Italy) and they produced for their first partnership together the BMW Zagato Coupe` for The Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este held at Lake Como in northern Italy; the car showcased there on May 25th 2012 and what a beauty the partnership produced! (See above photo featured in red)

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Three months later (August 2012) saw the alliance join together for the second time, between the two they showcased the BMW Z4 Zagato roadster! An even more beautiful showpiece and showstopper! The venue was Pebble Beach (California) and the Z4 Zagato Roadster was a commodity that everyone wanted to see!

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The prestigious Concours d’Elegance (California) 2012 was a perfect pit stop for this car to be showcased and you know it will only go on to attract more and more attention wherever it goes. This is the second collaboration between BMW and Zagato and I for one, hope it will not be the last. (See photo below featured in silver)

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Zagato is known for their handscraftsmanship and this fiery roadster was made within six weeks, from design to finished product, and it does not succumb to its predecessor in any ways. Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design said of the partnership “It was only with the expertise of both companies in the manufacture of high-end one-off cars and another display of outstanding teamwork that we were able to finish the car on schedule.”

Andrea Zagato says of the six week process “BMW is a high-achieving carmaker boasting a vast well of knowledge and technical capability in this area. When you combine that with our expertise in the creation of micro-series cars and our streamlined production processes, everything is in place to produce a beautiful model like the BMW Zagato Roadster in double-quick time”.

The Z4 Zagato Roadster and the BMW Zagato Coupe` will undoubtedly be collectors items as all Zagato models are, and of course the BMW Zagato Roadster has its distinctive trademark of a silver ‘Z’ on its sides near the front wheels. Alfa Romeo were the first to work with the Zagato coach builder and since then Zagato have made more than 200 Vmax concepts, special editions and micro-series, they focus on the shell of the body and incorporate their traditional measures of ensuring aero-dynamicty and lightweight construction as initial body designer Ugo Zagato learned his trade in aviation. The company has a family heritage passed on from Ugo Zagato to Andrea Zagato and Marella Rivolta-Zagato, who are now the third generation of Ugo’s family to continue with the Zagato studio and creations. Zagato was founded in 1919 by Ugo Zagato. (See Photo Below of Ugo Zagato)

Ugo_Zagato

The Roadster is a convertible two door and a two seater car, obviously a car for the hot countries where there will be no rain to soak up only sun, although there is always the Z4 Zagato Coupe` which has a double bubble roof for those countries where there is torrential rain and the soft-top of the Zagato Roadster just won’t cut it although it too has a double bubble roof feature in a traditional Zagato hallmark, which will add to the value of the car in appearance and price. Unfortunately there is no price being given because this concept is not to go on sale, also BMW have not released any photos of the BMW with the roadster’s soft-top roof up, they have however raised the bar, standard, and the roof, metaphorically speaking, with this concept model.

BMW-Zagato-Roadster-05

There are many features about the Zagato Roadster which are endearing to everyone and anyone, here are the most prominent of them:

  • The large yet elegantly stitched beige letter ‘Z’ on the headrests of driver and passenger, giving further association to its designer specification. Behind the headrests are beige shadow headrests which incorporate roll bars.
  • The BMW has its trademark kidney grille and it is an exquisite grille made up of small letter ‘z’s.
  • The front of the car has McLaren styled scoops although smaller in size, giving this Zagato roadster a racer look.
  • The lights are shaped finely and compactly and they are attractive to look at, directly above the headlights are razor-light LED’s.
  • The lights are twin and circular shaped.
  • The bonnet has been made with three-dimensions to it and has V lines from the BMW logo at the front creating the letter V, and gives the car further impressiveness about it.
  • Beautiful leather finish on the interior seats and roll-bars and side doors.
  • There is a small lip at the front of the car and this fits in with the look of the car and it adds to the cars racing appearance.
  • The alloy wheels are 19″inch in size and star-shaped with five spokes and include a matte finish to complement the rest of the paintwork on the body.
  • A meshed grille is present on the front of the car and are contained within the air scoops and above the lip at the front.
  • The seating is low and the driver sits down in a race like position inside the cockpit, making this car a real roadster.
  • There are futuristic concept styled indicators on the wheel archs, yellow at the front and red at the back.
  • The rear of the car has eloquent matte finished exhausts, one on either side, however BMW decided to be subtle in this aspect as they do not protrude from the car.
  • The lights on the rear of the car are one long strip with a black tint all across this strip and the lights cannot be seen, providing the roadster with a sense of mysteriousness about it.
  • There are also sporty looking scoops on either side of the car, behind the front wheel archs and on the bonnet on either side.
  • A curvaceous line is visible occurring from the rear of the door and reaching to the rear of the car.
  • The rear of the roadster features a diffuser ensuring smooth airflow.
  • Long wheel base.
  • The roadster is based on the  Z4 sDrive35is there are no specifications as to the engine under the bonnet or top speed, however estimates are that it has a 3.0-liter six speed engine. With this engine it would take a time of 4.7 seconds to go from 0-60mph and the top speed is said to be the same as the Z4 sdrive35is which has been electronically-limited at a maximum speed of 155 mph.

The rear is smartly created, it is smart, prim and proper with no sharpness about it and smooth curves around the edges, it is sculptured rather than chiseled. BMW had this to say about it: “Taken as a whole, the rear of the BMW Zagato Roadster has a very broad, low-slung appearance, giving the car a wide stance and planted muscularity on the road. Beneath it, the dark diffuser gives the BMW Zagato Roadster a squat, powerful stance. The body-colored surfaces between the tailpipes draw the final lines in the distinctive, low-to-the-road and broad-set looks of the rear end.”

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The interior is particularly worth mentioning in some detail, BMW says that the exterior and the interior both compliment each other well by blurring the two together: “The BMW Zagato Roadster consciously allows the boundaries between inside and outside to blur.” The interior is beige in colour and there is evidence of fine stitching everywhere, use of curvaceous brown lines on the inside of the doors and lights for both driver and passenger above the windscreen; attached to the windscreen is the rear-view mirror in a neat way.

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The left hand drive steering wheel and the seats make use of the colour beige and black and the armrest between the driver seat and passenger seat is beige and can be flipped up to conveniently store whatever is necessary; it leads forward to the idrive dial (controlling the on-board computer/display) and the gear shifter which has been richly doused in the beige colour too, providing this car with an expensive look to match its exterior outfit. The idrive display is hidden in the dashboard and rises from out of nowhere for the driver to view. 

The gear shifter allows you to drive the car in manual although the car is an automatic. There is also a switch which can be used to put the car into park, other switches that can be accessed with ease are the sport and comfort mode switches placed close to the gear shifter. There is a cd-slot to listen to music as you cruise along in this wonderful machine. The Zagato roadster has a start/stop engine button which is neatly placed to the right of the steering wheel on top of a metallic finished strip, alongside this button are four large dials which allow you to control different functions such as fan heating or cooling all laid on top of the same metallic strip. The Speedometers are large and shaped in a futuristic racing style, yet again an attractive feature of the car.

BMW says of the interior colours featured and the ‘Z’ for Zagato: “The interplay of colors and composition of details bathes the interior of the BMW Zagato Roadster in a sumptuous ambience, while the brown “z” embroidered into the seats is a further clue to its origins.”

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BMW also go on to mention the interior design and say “The interior itself boasts the clear structuring one would expect from BMW and invites the driver to give the machine around him a thorough workout. Details such as the sweeping horizontal lines along the inside of the doors and the full-length center console lend a rarefied sense of exclusivity to the sporty promptings and driver focus of the interior.”

BMW have mentioned that the Zagato Roadster is like its partner the Zagato Coupe` by being able to drive well at high speeds and also intended for these speeds.

The best quote from BMW on the Zagato Roadster is the following from the official press release: “The taut hallmark BMW surface treatment and Zagato’s clearly defined distribution of visual mass lend the BMW Zagato Roadster an athletic appearance – poised and eager, demanding to be driven.”

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Whether the Zagato Roadster will go into production remains to be seen although BMW have not ruled it out as yet! The same is to be said about its counterpart the Zagato Coupe`. Everyone will be wondering if their is soon to be another collaboration and many including myself will be keeping are eyes open for the next showstopper from these two companies.

The Zagato Roadster and the Zagato Coupe` may be celebrated pieces, yet they are still a matter of argument, as to whether they are different pieces when compared or whether the Roadster is the Coupe` with the roof off, some argue that they have different features and that what makes them different, others say there features are similar and they look alike. I personally would add to the debate by saying that the Zagato Coupe` is not as attractive as the Zagato Roadster and the roadster is exactly what it should be, which is a fine specimen of a roadster!

The Zagato Roadster was launched in California and it seems only right to provide some additional information about BMW’s presence in America:

BMW own the Rolls-Royce brand as well as the MINI brand and the figures for the car dealers in the USA are as follows:

“The BMW Group sales organization is represented in the U.S. through networks of 338 BMW passenger car and BMW Sports Activity Vehicle centers, 139 BMW motorcycle retailers, 114 MINI passenger car dealers, and 32 Rolls-Royce Motor Car dealers.”

BMW of North America, LLC has been around in the United States since 1975 and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars began distributing vehicles in 2003.

“The BMW Group in the United States has grown to include marketing, sales, and financial service organizations for the BMW brand of motor vehicles, including motorcycles, the MINI brand, and the Rolls-Royce brand of Motor Cars.”

In South Carolina, is part of BMW Group’s global manufacturing plant, for all X5 and X3 Sports Activity Vehicles and X6 Sports Activity Coupes. BMW in 2010 announced that it would spend $750 million to expand operations at the Spartanburg plant. This investment will produce around 240,000 vehicles a year, making Spartanburg the largest car plant in the United States through its number of employees. All signs that BMW are doing well and BMW will be wanting to continue to develop their standing further in the USA.

I’ll conclude by saying that this BMW Zagato Roadster is an exclusive concept model and if it does not go into production, it will, many would hope, have some influence on the design of future production models.

See Below for a Video of The designers of the BMW Zagato Roadster – Karim Habib, head of exterior design at BMW and Norihiko Harada, Chief Designer Zagato, where they touch upon the relationship with Zagato, the six week deadline, the launch for Pebble Beach and the design of the Zagato roadster.

   

Feel free to leave comments!

Raj Mehta

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