Be sure to get enough shut-eye

The continued lack of restful sleep may lead to some detrimental physical and emotional health consequences.

The South African Society of Sleep Medicine describes Insomnia as an experience of inadequate or poor quality sleep that may include; difficulty falling asleep or maintaining sleep, waking up to early or having non refreshing sleep.

Nearly 30 to 40% of adults in South Africa will experience difficulty sleeping at least once during any given year. According to SASSM “one third of patients seen in the primary health care setting experience difficulty sleeping, and 10 % of those may have chronic sleep problems”.

Cornelia Scholtz, a Clinical Psychologists says that “anxiety and stress are some of the biggest triggers that cause sleeping disturbances. Increased levels of stress and anxiety often lead to a heightened sense of arousal that hinders people from getting enough good quality sleep during the night”.

Scholtz adds that it is very important to remember that certain medical conditions can also cause sleeping problems. “I always send my clients to a medical doctor for a full blood count to eliminate the possibility of a medical condition that may be causing their sleep disturbances before I continue with therapy.”

Medical conditions that may lead to difficulty sleeping include arthritis, cancer, an overactive thyroid, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. People that suffer from chronic pain, the need to urinate frequently during the night or breathing difficulties may also experience insomnia.

According to Scholtz, it is important to make your bedroom a ‘safe space’ in your home. “Make sure that your bedroom is clean, uncluttered and dark. Turn off electronic clocks or equipment with flashing lights that are in your bedroom so that you are not exposed to any kind of sensory stimulation during the time that you are supposed to sleep.”

Poor sleeping habits and working irregular shifts may also hinder people from getting adequate sleep. “I strongly recommend that you have a ‘switch off time’ at least half an hour before you go to bed where you do relaxing breathing exercises to prepare your mind and body to enter a stage of rest and calmness,” says Scholtz.

Sleeping disturbances may become more prevalent with age. The use of over the counter drugs such as painkillers or weight-loss supplements that contain stimulants and caffeine can also cause sleep disturbances.

Dr. Gerhard Schoonbee, a medical doctor says the importance of enough sleep has to be emphasised. “When you sleep your body releases hormones that you need to think, concentrate and remember. Many people struggle to concentrate during the day because they do not get enough sleep during the night. A lack of sleep may also lead to moodiness, weight gain, irritability and even depression.”

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Your Body, Your Choice

For many new parents circumcising their new born baby boy is a given. In many cases not much thought is given to the idea and the actions of parents are guided by cultural or religious practices.

Circumcision may have some clear health benefits. The World Health Organization has published results on research that indicate men who engage in heterosexual sex has a 60% less chance of acquiring or transmitting HIV. There is also compelling evidence that show that the transmission rate of other STI’s and cervical cancer in females are significantly reduced when their male sexual partner is circumcised.

This explains that reason why so many countries, especially in Africa, have engaged in nationwide circumcision campaigns in an attempt to curb the spread of HIV infection.

On 2 December 2013 Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, at the launch of the government’s medical male circumcision campaign on World Aids Day said that “Our target is to circumcise one-million men over the next 12 months and cumulatively four-million men by 2016. Medical male circumcision had proven to be an effective component of the government’s HIV prevention package. Once 80 percent of South African men had been medically circumcised, half-a-million new HIV infections and 100 000 deaths over the course of the next decade would be prevented.”

Circumcision may also reduce the risk of developing a urinary tract infections and cancer of the penis. Male circumcision can also potentially reduce the risk of female partners developing certain sexually transmitted infections, such as bacterial vaginosis andtrichomoniasis.

However, many medical practitioners argue that there are much more effective as well as less invasive ways of preventing these conditions. This includes practicing good hygiene to prevent urinary tract infections as well as using a condom to prevent STIs.

 Most healthcare professionals uphold the idea that that the potential benefits of circumcision is not compelling enough to rationalize routine childhood circumcision.

 There are also many disadvantages of circumcising male infants. One of the most common disadvantages is the reduced sensitivity of the penis.  An uncircumcised penis is more sensitive than a circumcised penis, meaning that circumcised men could possibly experience less pleasure during sex. Circumcision also include complications such as excessive bleeding, post-operative infection and, in rare cases, injury to the urethra. These complications are thought to outweigh any potential benefits.

 Furthermore, there are critics who argue that routinely circumcising baby boys on medical grounds violates the principle of consent to treatment and bodily autonomy and sovereignty. Thus, circumcision should be a choice made by an individual and not by the parents or medical doctor.

 Circumcising the healthy foreskin of an infant male, who is not sexually active, has absolutely no health benefits and is an absolute denial of that person’s bodily sovereignty and autonomy.

 Circumcision should only be performed when a boy is old enough to make an informed decision about whether he wishes to be circumcised or not. This includes cultural and religious practices where infant boys are circumcised without their consent. it is their body and should thus be their choice to make if they want to make a permanent change to their body.

From Print to Pixels

The face of traditional print media is changing  rapidly. In their current form, print publications can no longer keep up with the 24 hour news cycle. If a story breaks during  the evening the merciless and fast paced news cycle will deem a front cover ‘news break’ the next day as futile. The story that breaks via social media demands greater insight and a new angle by the time you have your morning coffee the following day. Therefore, traditional print publications have to re-think the way in which they break stories, interact with their readers and establish a credible online presence.

At first glance the move from print to online journalism may predict a grim future for journalists and newsrooms. But the move to online platforms also ushers in a new era of story telling and contentedness. The tools that journalist use to gather information, tell stories and break the news are becoming more accessible and interactive to readers and audiences across the globe.

There will always be a need and a desire for good journalism, whether that be for print or digital platforms.

With new and innovative ways of sharing news and information it is sometimes best to stop and demand quality rather than quantity. Markham Nolan, a journalist, explains in this Ted Talk how journalist and the public can filter through online information to distinguish fact from fiction.

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Social media platforms allow people to become citizen journalists in their own right. Online citizen journalism empowers ordinary people to break the news, share their lives with the world, and hold those in power accountable.

This story of police brutality broke after someone recorded it and posted it on Facebook and YouTube.

This serves as an interesting info-graphic on the power and influence of social media in the USA. It also provides some insights into the way people consume content and news. Many South African newspapers that come from a traditional print background are harnessing Facebook and Twitter to connect with their readers.

Social Media: The New News SourceCourtesy of: http://www.schools.com

Although the journalistic principles and ethics remain the same whether one writes for online or print, there are some key differences in style and outcome.

– Online journalism is more interactive than print. Readers can interact with the each other as well as the journalist in real time instead of having to send their letters in to be published in the letters column. Online journalism is also interactive through the use of video and other multimedia mediums along with the copy.

– Online journalism is more accessible and can be updated faster. Readers can get a live blow by blow account as the events unfold and stories can be updated on websites and blogs as they develop. This also means that journalist are expected to get it first AND get it right!

 – Online journalism keeps it short and sweet.

’n Kortstondige verhouding met ‘Lady Luck’

Terwyl die sogenaamde goed opgevoede jong dames van Stellenbosch op ʼn Sondag oggend op pad kerk toe is, is Helené Bam op pad casino toe.

My hare is ge-tease, ek het my helderste rooi lipstiek aan en… moet nie vergeet van die ‘lucky underwear’ wat ek aanhet nie. Vir ʼn hele week voor ek my uittog na die casino by Grand West maak ek seker ek voldoen aan die streng reëls van geluk en bygelowe. Ek maak nie my sambreel in ʼn vertrek oop nie, trap nie op die lyntjies tussen teëls of bakstene nie en knyp my oë styf toe as ek ʼn swart kat oor die pad sien loop. Niks gaan keer dat ‘Lady Luck’ en hare trawante breed vir my glimlag nie.

Op pad na die casino toe bel my ouma my om te hoor of ek na kerk gaan kom tee drink by haar. Ek dink ʼn flou verskoning uit en probeer my bes om enige verdere vrae oor waarheen ek op pad is en wat ek die dag gaan maak te vermy.

Ek sidder om te dink wat my ouma sal sê as sy moet weet haar geliefde kleindogter is op pad casino toe. En dit op ʼn Sondag. As kind was ek nie eers toegelaat om by die kermis se tombolatafel ʼn draai te gaan maak nie. By Bybelstudies was daar vertel oor die euwels van lotto speel en dobbel. Wanneer ek en my ma wel die dag ʼn lotto kaartjie of twee gespeel het, het ons seker gemaak ons gee dit by die kafee in waar die ouderling nie sy brood en melk gaan koop nie.

Met my aankoms by die casino voel ek effe verbouereerd. Dit is ’n doolhof van ligte en klank. Die slot masjiene se elektroniese deuntjies skree soos honger babas vir geld en aandag. Ek is dadelik teleurgesteld toe ek ʼn plakkaat sien wat aandui dat ek ‘Jackpot Tuesday’s’ mis geloop het.

By die Black Jack tafel groet Lloyd Mveso my met ʼn groot glimlag en se “vandag is jou gelukkige dag, ek gaan ʼn goeie hand vir jou probeer gee”. By die Black Tafels raak een ding duidelik, om te dobbel vereis nie net ʼn vet beursie nie maar ook ʼn kop vir wiskunde. Die kaarte word vinnig uitgedeel en nog voor jy regtig weet wat aangaan word nog ʼn skuifie van jou weggeneem.

Jy moet kophou. Jou oog moet op jou kaarte bly, én op jou geld.

Ek wen ’n paar rondtes en verloor ’n paar rondtes, ’n hele paar. Ek groet liewer vir Lloyd en beweeg aan na die Roulette tafels. Sy Black Jack tafel het my nie veel geluk gebring nie. Hy lag agterna en sê “onthou verloorders weet waar die kitsbank is”.

By die Roulettetafel is die manne met stywe doppe en borshare wat teen hul nek opkrul min gespin met die groentjie wat by die tafel kom sit.

ʼn Man met ʼn dik snor en wenkbroue wat aan mekaar raak gluur my aan toe ek net ʼn R50 skuifie op die tafel plaas. “Neewat dogter, as jy wil speel moet jy speel, sit nog ʼn skuifie neer!”

Ek sit my geld op ʼn paar nommers en hou my asem op terwyl die balletjie histeries in die rondte draai. Ek verloor. Alweer.

Met my moed laag in my skoene oortuig ek myself dat ek beter sal vaar by die slot masjiene. By die slotmasjiene hoef ek nie heeltyd my kaarte dop te hou nie en daar is selfs ʼn stelling waar die masjien outomaties speel. Dit klink darem makliker.

By die masjiene maak ek myself lekker gemaklik. Die stoele is toegerus met sagte kussings. Hier kan jy lank sit. Daar is kort-kort mense wat die rondtes doen om eet en drink goed aan jou te verkoop. Een ding is seker, hierdie plek is toegerus om mense vir so lank as moontlik begeester te hou. By die masjien oorkant my is daar tot ʼn man en vrou wat ʼn piekniekmandjie gepak het vir die dag.

Ek raak totaal gehipnotiseer deur die prentjies wat voor my dans op die masjiene. Op die hele vloer is daar nie ʼn horlosie in sig nie. Tyd word irrelevant. Ek voer die masjien geld sonder om twee keer te dink. Daar is nie tyd vir dink nie. Daar is net tyd vir wen. Ek speel ʼn paar rondtes ‘Wild Western Cash’ en dan weer ‘Lucky Pin ups’. Ek wen vir ʼn slag.

Toe ek eers ʼn paar rondtes by die masjiene gewen het, kan ek nie genoeg kry nie. Ek maak meer gewaagde weddenskappe en op een stadium oorweeg ek dit selfs om al my geld op een weddenskap te speel.

Op die vloer praat niemand met mekaar nie. ʼn Dame wat langs my sit snou my toe met ʼn koue “ons is nie hier om vriende te maak nie” toe ek haar uitvra oor wat die beste slot spelletjie is.

Daar word ou mense met rolstoele voor die masjiene geparkeer en ander loop met die hulp van ʼn loopraam van masjien tot masjien. Die vloer blink, nie met geld nie, maar met grys koppe wat wanhopig hul pensioen geldjies wil laat groei. Die Parkinson hande haal vinnig nog geld uit ʼn maer beursie uit en sukkel-sukkel om die knoppies te druk.

My geluk maak ʼn skerp draai en toe ek meer as die helfte van my geld in die honger monde van die slotmasjiene verloor, besluit ek dit is dalk beter om huis toe te gaan terwyl ek nog iets in die bank en ’n bietjie waardigeheid oor het. Ek moet immers nog kos koop vir die week.

By elke masjien en tafel staan is daar ’n blou stikker wat met die woorde “wenners weet wanneer om op te hou”. Miskien moet dit eerder lui “verloorders weet wanneer om huis toe te gaan”.

Toe ek na 8 ure by my kar aankom groet ʼn vreemde vrou my en se “toemaar my kind, ons almal voel maar so na die eerste dag”.

Wie weet, dalk is ek terug vir die week se ‘Jackpot Tuesday’?

The ANC boat will not be rocked

Stellenbosch – ANC supporters in Stellenbosch are confident that neither the decreasing popularity of President Jacob Zuma nor the Nkandla scandal will have a lasting negative impact on election results.

The Media Officer of the ANC in Stellenbosch, Ntombende Landingwe, believes that the party is resilient enough to be successful at the polls on 7 May, “when we go door to door, house to house, region by region people support the ANC because they have a background with the ANC. When you walk around in Kayamandi and Klapmuts you see the yellow t-shirts queuing to vote for the ANC. We are very positive about these elections.”

According to Landingwe many ANC supporters do not believe the findings of the Nkandla report that Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, compiled. The report indicates that President Jacob Zuma wrongfully used public funds for upgrades to his private home in Nkandla.

“Yes there are these allegations, I would call it, but they actually have not been proven so they cannot stop voting ANC. People are voting for the party that they like not the face that they see. Nkandla is just being used by the opposition parties. No one writes about the wrong that the DA and other parties have done.”
The Election Manager of the ANC Stellenbosch branch, Cameron Mcako, contends the party is a broad church with many different facets, “the ANC is a collective and that is how we maintain the morale and standard of the ANC”.

Mcako says that people who think the ANC is just an individual does not understand the party, “the ANC is not Jacob Zuma. The ANC is alive”.
The Community Operations Manager of the DA in Stellenbosch, Odette Slabbert, says that “the people in Kayamandi specifically do not believe the report of the public protector. It has changed a few people’s minds to vote for a different party, but not necessarily for the DA. The conversations that we have had with ANC supporters indicate that they trust and believe their leader, no matter what anyone else says.”

One of the focus points of the election campaign of the DA was to highlight the abuse of power by the ANC and that of President Jacob Zuma.
Slabbert says “the DA wanted to make people aware of the facts and wanted to break open the scandal and tell people what is going on. I think the DA just decided that they are going to be aggressive with their campaigning and not stand back. We said what we wanted to say”.

Media Freedom Protects Democracy

Stellenbosch- Although freedom of the press is enshrined in the South African Constitution and guaranteed by Article 6 of the Bill of Rights, “the Secrecy Bill hangs like a hungry vulture over the South African media landscape”.
That was the argument of Jo van Eden, from Volksblad, and the other panel members at the International Press Freedom Day panel discussion that was hosted by the Journalism Department of Stellenbosch University on Friday 2 May.
The importance of responsible journalism was highlighted numerous times by van Eden, “ethics is the backbone of journalism.” Van Eden argued that journalist need to get it right for the right reason and that freedom of speech should not merely be used to make controversial statements; free speech should be used to make meaningful contributions to the national dialogue and to strengthen our democracy.
Tim du Plessis, from Media24, referred to media freedom as a parachute, “you only miss it when it is no longer there”. Tim argued that even under Apartheid media freedom was seized by courageous journalist and editors.
“Our current government has very little appetite for the free flow of ideas, especially ideas that they do not like.” According to du Plessis the digital revolution will make it very hard for government to completely snuff out media freedom.
Mark Weinberg, from the Right2Know campaign, emphasized the importance of educating the public on the role of a free media in a democracy, “the media must serve the public and produce constructive dialogue”. Weinberg continued saying that the Secrecy Bill is a “worrying symptom of a much deeper problem in society”. The Secrecy Bill has “no public domain defense” in its current form.
Media ownership came under fire from Weinberg saying that “media owners are not in the business of serving democracy but in the business of business and selling advertisers to audiences”. Weinberg had no kind words for journalist whose “interests get conflated with media ownership”.
Weinberg contended that if we agree that the media is a public good then it must be publically funded in order to develop the three tiers of media; public, community and commercial tiers.
Weinberg spoke passionately against the current form of media ownership and the importance of plurality and triangulation of the media. Weinberg proposed that there should be regulations in place that keeps a person from owning more than two newspapers in a town in order to enhance the plurality of ideas in the media.
According to Weinberg and du Plessis, the high entry level costs in opening a printing press and newspaper also places a limit on new players entering the market and significantly reduced plurality.