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Inspire. Motivate. Laugh. Love….. Your Guilty Pleasure. ♥


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Meryl Does it Again!

After a record 17 nominations Meryl Streep has done it again!

She has just won the Oscar for Best Actress, for her brilliant portrayal of the first female British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, in The Iron Lady.

Despite being nominated as many times as she has, this is only her third time winning, but not the first time she has walked away with the highest accolade for an actress in Hollywood, this being her 14th nomination for the Best Actress Oscar. She achieved the same feat exactly 30 years ago, when she won the award for Sophie’s Choice in 1982, but as they say, it is an honour just to be nominated, no?

Meryl has always been criticised as being cold and far too technical of an actress, which we all saw to be utter nonsense in the warmth and life she showed in roles like the one in Mamma Mia!, also keeping in mind that the same people who have nominated her so many times in her career, are her own peers and rivals. So, to those critics, we collectively say, Bah Humbug!. Let me add that the difference between her and those in second place (for nominations that is) is huge, as  Katherine Hepburn and Jack Nicholson have only been nominated a paltry 12 times in comparison.

We say congratulations to Miss Streep and may we see many, many more of your brilliant creations.

P.S.: I absolutely loved your delicious devilishness in The Devil Wears Prada!


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Head Over Heels

Did You Know: A woman’s buttocks protrudes 25% more when she is wearing high heels…

And don’t you just luuurve the way your legs look in them? The way you feel when you’re strutting down your own imagined runway?

On that note, here’s a little inspiration…

      

       

                

        

– Mandi


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Van Persie’s Future

Arsenal striker, Robin van Persie is about to enter the final year of his contract this summer, and unless the Gunners can convince him to sign a new deal, the Holland striker could be moving to Spain.

It seems both Barcelona and now Real Madrid have their eye on the 28-year-old, with Jose Mourinho telling his bosses that Van Persie would be a perfect fit to play as an imposing No 9 or take a place on either flank.The deal, however, is still contingent on Gonzalo Higuain leaving, with Chelsea being a possible destination for him.

On the other hand, Barcelona, who are also interested, have hinted that they were preparing to make him their No 1 summer transfer target. Barca vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu has neither denied nor confirmed these rumours, simply stating that it is not the right time to start talking about Van Persie as Barca need to focus on their performance on the pitch.

How do you think Van Persie would fare at the Bernabeu?


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Bugatti goes ‘Bumblebee’

At the recent Qatar Motor Show 2012, Bugatti revealed their latest baby, a yellow and black version of the Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport.

Although it was previously shown at the Dubai Motor Show in 2011, Bentley is rolling it out again so they can present it on an exclusive stage and introduce it to the greater public. For those not in the know, the Veyron Grand Sport boasts a top speed of 252mph with the roof on and 217mph with it off. In other words…it’ll literally blow your top off, lol.

The new 1,001hp Veyron (though no faster than the standard Grand Sport) is the world’s fastest and most powerful open-top car, and with it’s distinctive paintwork, you almost expect it to transform right in front of your eyes and go all ‘Bumblebee’ on your toosh. The body is finished in bright yellow, framed in deep black carbon and set off by black-tinted wheels. Apparently, this is combination is a blend of Ettore Bugatti’s two favourite colours.

                         

    

The interior further increases this contrast effect with seats that are trimmed in yellow leather, black stitching and a middle section in black carbon. Both the dashboard and steering wheel are in black leather, also with yellow stitching.

The car now-nicknamed “Bumblebee” doesnt actually have a specific name, but was in fact created to show off the level of personalisation which is available to buyers. The idea is that since you’re already paying more than all your organs are worth on the black market, they (and you) can afford to offer you limitless personalisation.

Though production for the core model ceased in June 2011, the Grand Sport is still on sale. Prices for the sole remaining Grand Sport start at  €1.35million…before taxes, and as if that wasn’t exclusive enough, the ‘Bumblebee’ version will set you back a cool €1.59m. Did I mention, before taxes?

So which colour scheme are you going to get?

                      


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Penelope Cruz Does PETA

Penelope Cruz Does PETA

Penelope Cruz has joined a long list of Hollywood A-listers who have lent their bodies and faces for a PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) anti-fur campaign, which has been running for as long as anyone can remember. The billboard was unveiled just ahead of the start of New York Fashion Week (a word of caution to the designers perhaps?). Similar campaigns are planned for fashion week in London and in Milan

Here are some of the most memorable PETA ads over the last decade or so…

  • Christy Turlington was the first supermodel to strip for PETA’s anti-fur in fashion campaign

              

  • Eva Mendes stripped off for their winter campaign in 2007
  • Pamela Anderson lent her name to PETA in 2004
  • Khloe Kardashian stripped for the “We’d rather go naked than wear fur” campaign 2008

             

  • Anna Nicole Smith dressed up as Marilyn Monroe for her ad campaign
  • Olivia Munn was shot by celebrity photographer, Emily Shur
  • Olivia also did a campaign with PETA to fight circus cruelty

             

  • Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s campaign, shot by Mary McCartney (daughter of Sir Paul and sister to fashion designer Stella), was the most raw
  • Angela Simmons’s Adam and Eve inspired shoot promoted vegetarianism
  • Kimberley Wyatt decided to showcase the ugly side of the makeup industry in her campaign against animal testing in the cosmetics industry

             

  • Sadie Frost did a very provocative shoot with long time vegetarian, Bryan Adams
  • Kesha worked with PETA to campaign against the clubbing of baby seals in eastern Canada
  • Joanna Krupa starred in a campaign for the adoption of animals (rather than buying them)

                               

  • Stephanie Pratt went naked to save the bunnies in the “Be nice to bunnies” anti-cruelty campaign
  • Elisabetta Canalis bared all just last year for PETA
  • Alicia Silverstone tried to convince the public to choose to go vegetarian

                             

  • Kelly Brooke took part in a campaign last year to protest at how snakes, lizards, alligators and other exotic animals are skinned alive for fashion
  • Natalie Umbruglia also campaigned for PETA, showing that even a little ‘fur trim’ was very harmful to animals
  • In what is most likely the most famous PETA ad campaign yet Naomi Campbell and fellow supermodels joined together to campaign against fur


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From Caretaker to Educator

This Wednesday’s Inspiration is taken from the story of Peter Hendricks, the father from Hanover Park who went from being a caretaker to being an educator, simply because he saw the need in his little town.

In a community best known for gang violence and the high levels of unemployment, Peter Hendricks is determined to make a difference.  Mr Hendricks worked two jobs to realise his dream of empowering and uplifting his community, and at the age of 45, the school caretaker finally got his teaching degree from the University of the Western Cape.

His first job was as a pest controller, ridding ships of rats, lice and cockroaches. He then went on to work his way up in the clothing industry from being a driver to a trims store supervisor, this until he was retrenched in 2004.

He spent two years looking for a job before he decided to take matters into his own hands, so he approached a local high school and asked if he could help out with any extra work that might crop up. He helped out by answering phones, looking after classes when teachers were not around and was involved in the setting up of their computer lab. After nine months, he got a contract job as a cleaner in a local primary school, which was followed by a full-time caretaker position at a school in Ottery for the next two years.

He was acting as a relief teacher when he discovered that a lot of the children in Grade 9 and 10 couldn’t actually read or write. This inspired him to become a teacher immediately so he could help the children who needed him. His dream wasn’t just about teaching the children to be literate, but to teach them to never despair. “Alcohol, drugs and gangsterism are taking over people’s lives in Hanover Park. We can’t put everything at government’s door – we as parents and teachers need to empower our young people because that’s how you change communities.”

As a ‘mature’ student, he struggled to find funding to pay for his studies, and ended up having to take a second job to pay for his studies. So he worked as a cleaner during the day and did part-time classes at night, then went on to sell juices on the weekends. He did a BA in Social Sciences, majoring in Geography, Tourism, English and History, also managing to coach his school’s under-9 soccer team to an unbeaten run in 2011.

Though working as a simple caretaker, Peter says his family has always encouraged him, even though they have had to sacrifice a lot along the way, and says one of his proudest moments was hearing his little girl shout “Go Daddy” when he was collecting his degree at his graduation last year. Armed with his degree, the knowledge that Peter is most eager to impart to his students are his life lessons. He would like to teach them how to turn their negatives into positives. “Our young people can make a success of their lives if we help them identify what they want to be and offer them sound advice and support to get there.”

 

So now that he is finally a qualified teacher, he is looking forward to working off his tuition fees so he can take up a full-time teaching post and begin changing lives in earnest.

“I’ve realised there’s no easy road, no hand-outs in life,” says Peter, “We’re not out of the woods yet, but this journey has taught me to run for what you believe in – and to go for it no matter who or what is in your way. I’ve built up abilities in myself that I never knew existed.”

 

Mandi


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State of the Nation Debate

We recently had our State of the Nation Address, and out of that address, our parliamentarians got together to debate and throw some more pointless banter back and forth. The point of this debate was so parliament could get together and debate the points made by Pres. Jacob Zuma and to share their own ideas, however, as usual, the get-together gave rise to some comedy, some unruly behaviour and more than a few opportunities of catcalling, booing and the like.

One of the two people who seemed to be talking sense during the ensuing discussions was the Democratic Alliance’s Lindiwe Mazibuko, who shared her alternative view for South Africa and our own Trevor Manuel.

Below is the speech Lindiwe delivered:

In our country today, we often talk about two South Africas: the rich and the poor; the white and the black; the rural and urban, and many more besides. These stories reflect divisions in our past that, until now, we have been unable to properly bridge.

But, today, while we are reflecting on the State of the Nation, I believe we should be talking about how the South Africa we live in differs from the South Africa we dream about.

In the South Africa we live in, we face hard realities. Millions of our people lack the means to live lives of their own choosing; communities are brutalised by violent crime, the burden of disease robs our citizens of opportunities, and young people without education or employment wake up day after day to a gaping void of hopelessness. In the South Africa that we live in, our problems are all too real and grow bigger every day, their solutions moving further from our grasp.

But we do not have to accept this. I don’t want to live in a South Africa in which you are locked into a particular kind of life forever, simply because you were born into it. And I believe there can be an alternative; another country of our making.

My fellow South Africans, our best years are ahead of us, and the party I lead in Parliament offers a vision to get us there.

People are wounded in post-Apartheid South Africa. And it is difficult to focus on the future when the pain of the past can still be felt today.

But as much as the past has shaped us, we cannot keep living in it. We need avenues to the future.

So our vision is to heal us.

Our history doesn’t just remain in the past; it speaks to us and informs our decisions. And so we must be guided by our history but not imprisoned by it.

So our vision is to free us.

Our inability to achieve real reconciliation through economic redress is at the heart of our national discontent.

So our vision is to build that opportunity.

To bring people together, we need to build a bridge across the divide between privilege and poverty that divides our people along racial lines. We have to help people where they need it and provide real opportunity that will break down these inequalities. When we do that, we will achieve a real and lasting reconciliation.

But our vision will mean little if a DA government does not offer the means to reach the future.

Mr Speaker, I stand here today as the proud new leader of an opposition which is also a government-in-waiting. Over the coming months and years, we will exercise oversight, draft legislation and hold the governing party accountable for its outcomes. We will speak for the millions of South Africans whose voices have gone unheard in this Parliament, and we will sketch for every one of them a picture of a growing and prosperous South Africa under a Democratic Alliance national government.

We know that we face tremendous challenges of crime, violence and abuse. I believe that, in many ways, these social disruptions have at their heart a lack of real opportunity in society.

But we know that there are other causes to these problems too. We know that the menace of crime, which keeps our people hostage to fear, is aided by the weaknesses in the very systems that are meant to protect us.

We cannot hope to keep our streets safe when the shadow of corruption stalks the highest levels of our police service. We cannot take the fight to the criminals that plague us when we lack experienced management at all levels of our police service. And we cannot hope to have an effective service that complements an open and free democracy when our police are militarised, in name and in their actions.

South Africans will not feel safe until they hear an honest discussion about crime at the highest levels of government.

Nor will they have confidence in our health system, let alone in a National Health Insurance scheme, until we face the fundamental problems that threaten it.

Because the problem in health is not the principle of access. The problem in health in South Africa is that our existing network of care is not adequately managed.

What we need are competent and professional hospital managers who are not accountable to a bureaucracy but to the hospitals themselves. Real accountability and professionalism will go a long way toward addressing the deficiencies in healthcare.

If these capacity problems are not addressed, our health system will deteriorate even further, with or without an NHI and it will be the poorest South Africans who suffer.

So our vision is to address their plight.

To implement a real programme of redress that will build reconciliation and change our society, we must also have the tools of change at our disposal.

To do that, a DA government will focus on the two things that can truly create opportunity: education and the economy.

The two are intertwined with each other, as they are with our failure or success as a country.

Since the beginning of our democracy, much has been achieved in education. We have historic levels of access, a standardised curriculum for all our learners regardless of race, and exceptional levels of budgetary investment year on year.

But as much as we have invested, education is seldom the vehicle for opportunity that so many of our children need it to be. Too many of them become lost in a system that seems to have a measure of failure hard-wired into it.

South Africans don’t have to live in that country if they choose not to.

I don’t believe that we should just celebrate access. We should celebrate children completing their education. Over a million learners enrolled for grade one in 2000. But only half that number wrote matric last year, and just over 348 000 passed.

That means just 33% of the children who started school in grade one finished matric.

Why is this?

In disadvantaged schools, teachers work on average three and a half hours a day compared to six and a half in advantaged schools. In disadvantaged schools, a fifth of teachers are absent on Fridays and almost 30% of students are taught maths by teachers with no maths qualification.

If we compromise on our children’s education, we accept a two-tiered school system as an unchangeable fact of life.

Education is the only way out for most people who want to work to have a better life than the one they were born into.

I do not believe that we should accept that there will always be schools that are terminally dysfunctional or that there will always be some teachers who will not or cannot teach. There should be no such thing as compromising on a child’s future.

So our vision is not to compromise.

Because education is the foundation of an economic strategy that seeks to build opportunity, I believe that we should give schools that are performing more power to manage their own affairs.

We will direct maximum resources to the first three years of schooling and ensure that there is compulsory testing of all learners from grades one through six.

We will maximise resource spending on schools that have gone without for decades, supplying them with text-rich content and books, delivered on time, before using money on bloated administrative functions.

And we won’t just make schools a place where our children are evaluated. They need to be taught by people who demonstrate not only their capacity but also their passion for education. We will give those with this calling that chance.

Most teachers deserve our thanks for their dedication and the work they do. But just as teachers have rights, so do children.

Our government will pass legislation that would respect teachers’ right to strike but subject to certain limitations. Before a strike can happen, there will need to be consultation and agreement between the government, the unions and school governing bodies.

In education, we need partners who are truly willing to help our children, every step of the way. So we won’t forget about the majority of teachers who want to be part of our pact for the future.

But in the dream of our future, fixing the schools is just one part.

If we can ensure that our children get the best education they possibly can, then we must ensure that they can enter an economy where they can find a job.

In several ways, South Africa’s economy has flourished in the democratic era, free of the shackles of sanctions, restricted trade access and warped internal economic policies.

But the country we live in today has some very harsh economic realities. We applaud any gains in the fight against unemployment and real indicators that show victory in this struggle.

However, an expanded definition of unemployment – which includes those who have given up looking for work – shows that more than 100 000 jobs were lost last year. Furthermore, the last decade has produced only 624 000 jobs, meaning that total employment has only increased at a rate of 0.5%.

This means that the rate of job creation would need to rise by nearly 10 times in order to meet the most optimistic projections of job creation for the end of the decade.

In contrast, one of our fellow BRICS countries, Brazil, has an unemployment rate five times lower than ours.

And we continue to experience lukewarm economic growth. Last year we grew at 3.4% while Africa, the continent we claim to lead, experienced a growth rate of 5.5%. And countries in our region like Angola and Botswana are growing at 9.4% and 7.8%.

I believe that South Africa’s major challenge lies in its competitiveness. We are less efficient than many of our emerging market competitors. Turkey, for instance, withdraws more value out of every rand from taxation than we do. Other governments simply develop higher returns.

South African labour is uncompetitive. Labour productivity is much lower than the rest of the developing world. Our competitiveness has slipped in key sectors such as mining, agriculture and manufacturing.

In mining especially, South Africa is not as profitable or as desirable as elsewhere in Africa. So, in the midst of a commodity price boom, we saw investment in the mining sector drop off.

Expensive and highly regulated labour kills competitiveness and it kills jobs. And increased state intervention in the economy bloats the public sector and creates inefficiencies.

A commitment to intervention for intervention’s sake means that we have too many voices saying too many different things. If investors wanted to predict what South Africa’s economic policy was going to look like in three years’ time they would have to consult: The New Growth Path, the National Development Plan, the Industrial Policy Action Plan and the budgeting process, and try to understand the many contradictions between them.

I propose that we take our economy from being an average performer with massive potential, to one that capitalises on our advantages to grow faster and assume the economic leadership role in Africa we should have.

As part of our vision for South Africa, we will ease labour market entry to include voluntary exemptions for designated economic areas. This will create a competitive niche entry point for first-time workers.

Complementing that strategy, we would introduce a targeted youth wage subsidy for jobseekers between 18 and 29 years old earning below the personal income tax threshold; a policy that the Finance Minister would like to implement, but likely cannot.

Opportunity will be extended to those wishing to start their own businesses. We will create a one-stop-shop for business registrations where prospective entrepreneurs may register a company name, lodge their documentation with the Companies Commission and register with SARS and the Department of Labour.

Opportunity must take stock of those who have been systemically and historically disadvantaged. One of the ways to do this is to ensure that there is true financial redress for those who were blocked from accessing economic opportunities in the past.

That means making economic empowerment truly broad-based. I think that our current model, reliant on arbitrary quotas, has done little more than expand the size of the financial elite by creating a special category of beneficiaries who are empowered again and again.

Our vision is to do more to help the average worker become an owner of capital. That means building into contracts the need for real partnerships between business and employees and incentivising share ownership across the economy.

And we will invest in infrastructure. This investment, when coupled with a sound financial strategy and real capacity in implementing agents, is the best way the state can create the economic enabling environment for growth.

But I think that we should also realise that the state cannot be the final determinant in the economy and that as much as we invest in infrastructure, the state cannot have a holistic plan for every sector, especially when marred by incapacity.

As such, a DA government would replace the current Industrial Policy Action Plan 2 with a streamlined Industrial Development and Growth Strategy (IDGS) that would focus on specific activities rather than whole sectors, create targeted financial incentives for new enterprises and develop a dedicated state Venture Capital Fund.

And we will address one of the most divisive legacies of our past, the legacy of the 1913 Land Act. We know that people who once made their living off the land were driven from it and forced into an economy for which the compounding sin of Bantu Education deliberately provided limited skills. But land reform in our country is not working because of the incompetence and incapacity of the very institutions that are supposed to drive it.

So our vision is to make right that wrong.

We will use the mechanisms at our disposal to create truly diverse rural ownership. And that diversity is not about empowering a segment of society that is already empowered. It is about giving new opportunities to those who are without resources and who want to farm.

But, Mr Speaker, this vision will fade if we serve ourselves and not the country.

We will restore dignity to public service; a dignity in which politics is governed by the aspiration to serve, not the desire to accumulate.

As the custodians of the state, we will ensure that we limit opportunities for corruption. I think that as public servants, we should be an embodiment of what’s best about those who wish to work towards the future, faithfully and honestly. That doesn’t mean having the courage of our convictions only for the cameras. It means working each day with integrity.

Key to our vision will be bigger penalties, and better enforcement of punitive clauses in the Public Finance Management Act. We will introduce a National Business Interests of Employees Act to ensure that partnership between the state and business is not channeled through the businesses of those who work for the state.

Mr Speaker, the South Africa that we want is not born of false promises.

Our vision will end the expectation that some generations will be lost. We will only be satisfied when we know that our children will have more than we do.

The government must empower, not prohibit. It must provide opportunity, not encumber.

We do not have to resign ourselves to this country that we live in today. When we start accepting that we have the means to realise our deepest hopes and ambition, we can make the country of our dreams a reality.

That is the vision we offer South Africa today. We demand the future we dreamed of in 1994. And in our future, we will make it together.

I thank you.”

 

Mandi