What I’m reading

The President Keepers by Jacques Pauw

“Perhaps the greatest wound that Zuma has inflicted upon our republic is that he has buried decency and accountability under rubbish heaps of sleaze and corruption.”

 

The President’s Keepers

What Happened When It Was Published

Within four days of the book’s publication it was cited in Parliamentary questions directed at the president by the opposition Democratic Alliance. On the 3 November 2017 the State Security Agency issued a cease and desist order to prevent more books being sold, arguing that the book contravened the Intelligence Service Act. SARS also stated that they would investigate initiating criminal charges against the author for publicising confidential tax records. The actions by the State Security Agency and SARS were criticised as censorship by the civil society organisations the Right2Know Campaign and Corruption Watch as well as by the South African Communist Party. Book stores and publishers refused to obey the cease and desist order arguing that the book was factual and its information was in the public interest. (The President’s Keepers, n.d.)

The Threat Of Censorship

The threat of censorship caused a spike in sales of the book causing it to sell out of its first print run of 20,000 books within 24 hours of State Security Agency’s cease and desist order as readers sought to get a copy before it possibly being banned, making the book an international best seller. The resulting shortage of books combined with the public fear of censorship resulted in a digitally pirated version of the book being widely shared in the few days following the cease and desist order. A launch of the book on the evening of Wednesday 8 November 2017 was cancelled after a power outage. During the launch, Pauw told attendees that he expected to spend years fighting legal battles. (The President’s Keepers, n.d.)

Who is Jacques Pauw?

Jacques Pauw is a South African investigative journalist who was an executive producer of the Special Assignment current affairs programme on SABC.

What is this book about?

The book details the creation and functioning of a “shadow mafia state” created by and surrounding President Zuma. It makes a number of serious allegations concerning the South African president such as that he did not pay taxes during his presidency, that he was illegally paid R1 million (US$70,000) a month by a private company whilst president, that he failed to pay back loans and that he has poor financial acumen.

The book also makes a number of accusations concerning associates of the president, such as: that the Gupta family groomed the children of African National Congress (ANC) politicians to gain political influence; that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s 2017 campaign for ANC president is funded by a cigarette company engaged in corruption; and that a significant proportion of people appointed to power by the Zuma administration have been convicted, or have allegations against them, of engaging in criminal activity. It also contains details of the state capture of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and the wasteful creation of a one billion rand (around US$ 70,000,000) spy agency within the State Security Agency that engaged in widespread corruption. (The President’s Keepers, n.d.)

Reference

The President’s Keepers. (n.d.). Retrieved 4 6, 2018, from Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_President’s_Keepers

What I’m reading – The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes

The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes is a groundbreaking expose of of sugar and the powerful lobbies backing it.

“I am not prepared to look back at my time here in this Parliament, doing this job, and say to my children’s generation: I’m sorry, we knew there was a problem with sugary drinks, we knew it caused disease, but we ducked the difficult decision and we did nothing.”

– George Osborne, U.K. chancellor of the exchequer, announcing a tax on sugary beverages, March 16, 2016

I’m a huge fan of Gary Taubes, an award-winning science and health journalist, with three Science in Society Journalism Awards from the National Association of  Science Writers, and is the recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research. Gary is co-founder of the Nutrition Science Initiative. When I first began my journey into low carb, healthy fat living, Gary’s books Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It and Good Calories, Bad Calories, made it all plain for me. He has also written Bad Science: The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion as well as Nobel Dreams: Power, Deceit and the Ultimate Experiment.

Gary Taubes’ introduction

In his introduction to The Case Against Sugar, Gary says the following:

The purpose of this book is to present the case against sugar – both sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup – as the principal cause of the chronic diseases that are most likely to kill us, or at least accelerate our demise, in the twenty-first century. Its goal is to explain why these sugars are the most likely suspects, and how we arrived at the current situation: a third of all adults are obese, two-thirds overweight, almost one in seven is diabetic, and one in four to five will die of cancer; yet the prime suspects for the dietary trigger of these conditions have been, until the last decade, treated as little worse than a source of harmless pleasure.

After studying Gary’s case for the prosecution, which begins with the early domestication of sugar in New Guinea about ten thousand years ago; the discovery of sugar crystals by Indian farmers in 500 B.C.; it’s distribution to China and Japan by Buddhist missionaries; carried by the Muslim expansion into the Mediterranean countries; the further introduction by Columbus into the New World, and ends with the modern times, where Americans currently eat between 150 lbs and 170 lbs of sugar per person annually; where half a billion adults and 40 million children on the planet are obese, and diabetes is a worldwide epidemic, there can be little doubt that the hypothesis is correct.

The Case Against Sugar is a challenging read with a bibliography that extends to 35 pages and with 281 notes, but, in my opinion is well worth the effort.

Conclusion

Gary’s earlier books helped change the way I eat but The Case Against Sugar disturbs deeply. In its pages I learned:

  • That sugar and tobacco are married. Who would know that soaking Virginia and Burley in a sugar sauce would encourage inhalation of smoke from blended cigarettes, and addiction. Gunpowder and nuclear weapons have killed fewer people.
  • That sugar and slavery went hand in hand. When Muslims began growing sugar in the Middle East in the seventh century, they imported black slaves from East Africa to work the fields.
  • That the present epidemic of obesity, diabetes, gout, heart disease, cancer is probably not possible to reverse.

Published: Portobello Books, 2016

ISBN 978 1 84627 637 8

Photo credit: Myself

What I’m reading – The Art of the Start 2.0

The Art Of The Start 2.0 by Guy Kawasaki

“When it comes to startups, I’ve been there and done that several times over. Now I’m doing what techies call a “core dump”, or recording what’s in my memory. My knowledge comes from my scars – in other words, you will benefit from my hindsight.”

– Guy Kawasaki

So, who is this guy?

An entrepreneur who has started three companies and advised organisations as small as two people and as large as Google. He has worked for Apple twice, and is currently the chief evangelist of a startup called Canva.

Guy’s guide, The Art of the Start 2.0, is pitched as the time-tested, battle-hardened guide for anyone starting anything.

Book divisions

I’m working my way through the divisions; Conception, Activation, Proliferation, and Obligation and implementing as I go along.

For example, The Art of socializing, turns what for me was a confusing, minefield of what to post where and how often, into a system, by using a social media content calendar where I can collate content and schedule what need to be done each day.

Conclusion

You can see the effect of Guy’s influence on my frequency of posts; using bullet lists more often; diverse subjects for my posts and not just writing about health and weight loss (just like this post); and sharing my ideas across multiple social platforms.

Photo credit: Myself