Mugabe wins battle, loses war in sham election

When Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe unleashed a wave of terror on his fellow Zimbabweans after his ZANU-PF party was soundly defeated in the March 29 elections and he himself gained fewer votes than opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, he was calculating that he could still steal another election and add another five years to his 28 years in power.

Mr Tsvangirai’s recent withdrawal from the run-off election to save the lives of his supporters, followed by his advice to MDC supporters to even vote for Mugabe if necessary to avoid paying with their lives for an honest vote, all but ensures that Mugabe will be soon be proclaimed the winner by his own officials. However, it will be a Pyrrhic victory, because the means by which it will have been achieved will have been so extreme that Mugabe has destroyed all chances of being able to claim legitimacy for his government.

For a start, according to the Zimbabwean election law, since officially neither of the candidates gained 50% or more of the votes, a run-off had to be held within 21 days . That did not happen. It took an astounding 5 weeks for the results to even be announced, raising suspicions of last minute ballot-stuffing to push Tsvangirai’s result under the 50% margin. When the government then announced the run-off for June 27, almost another two months later, it clearly violated that law, under which, if no run-off takes place within three weeks, the highest placed candidate from the first election automatically is the winner (see two papers on the website of the South Africa Litigation Centre for details).

Legally, Morgan Tsvangirai, who according to the official count got 47.8% of the vote compared to Mugabe’s 43.2%, became the elected president of Zimbabwe in April, when the 21 days expired without a re-run.

Mugabe used the three months between the two elections for a war on anyone opposed to his rule. Whole villages and neighbourhoods were forcibly marched to public assemblies where known or suspected MDC-supporters were viciously tortured and mutilated in front of the stunned crowds. Some 200,000 Zimbabweans are reported to having fled their homes to escape torture or death.

One of the most recent victims of the terror campaign was the wife of the newly elected mayor of the capital of Harare, who was kidnapped by ZANU-PF supporters along with her four year old son. Her battered dead body was found later, so badly disfigured that her family found it hard to identify her.

The world has finally taken notice of what’s going on. Presidents and well known voices from Africa, ranging from Kenyan Prime Minister, Raila Odinga to ANC leader Jacob Zuma have condemned Mugabe’s campaign of terror in no uncertain terms. An open letter signed by dozens of former heads of states in Africa, including several former close allies of Mugabe, called for an end to the violence.

Mugabe will survive this sham election only as a pariah, unwelcome anywhere in Africa or most of the rest of the world (North Korea might still support him, given that he relied on North Korean instructors for his infamous Fifth Brigade during atrocities in the 1980s). It looks like African leaders have been shocked into breaking any remaining political ties.

One notable exception is still South African president Thabo Mbeki, who finds himself increasingly isolated in his own party for it.

Zimbabwe is at a breaking point. Literally anything could happen now. It is not clear how a government of national unity can come about. Will it take a military intervention by fellow AU or SADC members to convince the hardliners around Mugabe, the JOC, that there is no way for them to hang on to power? There are moderate elements in ZANU-PF who would negotiate a change of power, but they don’t control the army and the thugs. Will it come to a Rwanda-style genocide before regime change?

The person, next to Mugabe himself, who carries the biggest responsibility for the further hellish chaos that Zimbabwe could descend into is Thabo Mbeki. If he recognizes Morgan Tsvangirai’s right to form a new unity government to organise a transfer of power in Zimbabwe, based on the outcome of the legitimate election results in March, there is no way Mugabe could hang on much longer.

Since the 1950 the ANC had struggled against racist violence for the principle of One Man, One Vote. This elementary right has now been stolen from Zimbabweans by Mugabe, who says “only God” could remove him from power. It reminds me of Rhodesian prime minister Ian Smith, who stubbornly said that “not in a thousand years” did he believe in majority rule in Zimbabwe. Mugabe has become what he hated most, and worse.

In the 1970s, when the illegitimate minority government of then Rhodesia was fighting a war to maintain its racist system, it relied primarily on South African support. The sudden withdrawal of South African police troops from “Rhodesia” and later a cutback in fuel supplies was the beginning of the end for the white regime. Mugabe can not go it alone any more than Smith could before him. If anything, Zimbabwe is in a much weaker situation economically than Rhodesia was then.

I am hoping that the second liberation of Zimbabwe will become a watershed event for democracy and human rights in Africa, a continent that has suffered so much already.

The “run your car on water” scam

Every crisis can also be viewed an opportunity, or so it seems. As many motorists are having trouble making ends meet with rising fuel (and food) prices, various websites are popping up (usually with affiliate schemes) that make tempting promises such as:

  • “…use water as fuel and laugh at rising gas costs…”
  • “double your mileage”
  • “…cooler running engine…”
  • “no knocking”
  • “one quart of water provides over 1800 gallons of HHO gas which can literally last for months”

You will find numerous websites if you google for “water fuel car” or similar terms. Mostly the websites that make these claims sell e-books and other kits with instructions on building your own hydrogen generator from glass jars, electrodes and tubes to hook up to your existing engine.

Such kits draw power from your car’s electrical system (the battery and the generator charging it) to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gas, which is then fed into the air intake of the engine, so the hydrogen-oxygen mixture will be burnt along the air/gasoline mixture in the car’s combustion chambers. How well can such a system really work?

If a a “water-engine” as described above were to produce extra power beyond the power obtained from burning gasoline it would violate fundamental laws of physics. The First Law of Thermodynamics states that no energy is ever lost or gained, it just changes form, such as chemical energy to heat when you burn wood or heat to mechanical energy in a steam engine. An engine that uses only liquid water to produce water vapour (i.e. water plus heat) in its exhaust while providing mechanical energy violates this law of energy balance. It outputs energy with no energy going it. It would be a perpetual motion engine, which is physically impossible.

The sad fact is, people who buy these systems usually have a very rudimentary understanding of science. They take these unverified claims at face value, or are at least prepared to give them the benefit of doubt and spend money on testing unverified claims.

The “water-fuelled car” in detail

To split water (H2O) into its constituent elements hydrogen and oxygen takes electric energy. While the engine is running that energy will come from a generator driven by the engine via a belt. Just like running with your headlights on or your radio blaring will cause your engine to work a bit harder and burn more fuel, so will an electrolytic “hydrogen generator” take its toll on your gas tank.

Assuming an efficient setup, about 50-70% of the electrical energy provided will end up as chemical energy in the explosive hydrogen-oxygen mixture fed back into the engine, the rest will just warm up the water. A gasoline engine manages to convert up to 20% of the chemical energy contained in its fuel into mechanical energy, which is then available for driving the wheels or a generator. That generator converts maybe 90% of its mechanical input into electrical power. Altogether this means that burning the hydrogen returns only around 1/10 of the power originally invested into generating the hydrogen from water. It’s like you just burnt 10 litres (or gallons) of fuel in order to avoid burning one litre (or gallon).

What this of course means is that a “water-powered car” actually burns more gasoline and gets worse mileage than an unmodified car. However, the output of the “hydrogen generator” is so small and its practical negative effect on fuel mileage is so minor, you are unlikely to actually notice that, even if you accurately measure fuel economy. For example, a setup that draws 3 amperes of current from your generator (as claimed in one of the websites we’ve studied) will only use 1/20 of one horsepower (3 A x 12 V = 36 W = 0.036 kW = 0.050 hp). The difference in fuel usage is smaller than the difference between say driving with a full or a half empty fuel tank, which also changes fuel economy as a heavier car takes more power to accelerate.

The advertised fact that the “water-powered car” uses so little water (“one quart lasts for months”) is actually a give-away that the system is a hoax. If you produced hydrogen at home from tap water and a solar panel on your roof and stored it in a pressurized tank in your car to run it on only hydrogen, you would find that the amount of water used to make the hydrogen is still in the same order of magnitude as the amount of gasoline used, maybe something like a third by volume (I’d have to look up the exact numbers on relative energy content of hydrogen and hydrocarbons). In a water car that uses virtually no water (no matter where the electricty to make the hydrogen came from) the hydrogen can not be making any significant contribution to running it because there’s too little of it!

Less pinking / knocking?

I don’t know how many of the people who sell these useless plans are simply ignorant about science and how many are fully aware they’re scamming people. In any case, their other claims are equally baseless as their claims about improved fuel economy. Hydrogen has a higher energy content but also much lower octane rating than gasoline because it burns faster, more violently. This means your engine is more likely to start knocking or “pinking” than when run on gasoline (or gasoline / ethanol mixtures), not less. This is a problem that BMW had a hard time dealing with when they converted the engine of a 7-series saloon car to run on hydrogen. In practice this problem doesn’t matter in a “water car” because those “hydrogen generators” output so little hydrogen that it makes almost no difference to the engine, unlike real hydrogen cars with hydride or high pressure hydrogen tanks.

Cooler running engine?

Also, a hydrogen / oxygen mixture does not burn “cooler” than a gasoline / air mixture. Ask the space shuttle designers: The only reason the space shuttle’s hydrogen-oxygen engine doesn’t melt itself is because it’s cooled with liquid hydrogen (at -253 C / -423 F). Hydrogen / oxygen flames burn so hot they can be used for cutting steel like butter. First, hydrogen release more energy per unit of weight than does gasoline. Secondly, while the oxygen used for burning gasoline in a car engine is diluted with nitrogen (which makes up 80% of the air we breathe), the ogygen / hydrogen mix from the generator has not been diluted with anything inert, which is another reason why it burns so hot.

The vater vapour in the “water car” exhaust has no cooling effect whatsoever, because it’s not derived from liquid water, hence there’s no cooling effect from evaporation heat. Again, in the “water car” setup it makes no difference because there’s too little hydrogen involved.


In reality a “water as fuel” car is a placebo. Technically it doesn’t make any noticable difference to the amount of gasoline you use per kilometre or mile, but it may change the way you think about driving. If you do see any drop in fuel usage, it may be simply that you’re thinking more about fuel usage because of the investment you’ve just made and now drive less aggressively than before and that can indeed result in a modest reduction. Beyond that, any claimed changes are either due to wishful thinking, a vivid imagination or a cruel hoax to deceive unsuspecting customers.

The only way you’ll really see a 50% drop in your monthly fuel bill is if you basically cut your driving in half or if you change to a significantly different kind of car, such as from a bulky V6 to an economical Toyota Prius.

The number one factor that affects fuel economy around town is weight: A lighter car uses less fuel. Don’t get a more powerful engine than you really need. A more efficient setup, such as a hybrid or a new clean diesel can make a big difference too. Use public transport, ride a bicycle or walk wherever you can. It’s good for your health too 🙂

UPDATE: Here is a good page that explains in more detail why the claims for “HHO” don’t add up (use Ctrl+A to mark the text as it’s difficult to read as dark text on dark background).

Media fall for “car that runs on water”

Nikkei and Reuters report about an announcement by Japanese company Genepax of a car that supposedly runs on only water. One litre will keep the car running at 80 km/h for about an hour, reports Reuters.

Genepax CEO Kiyoshi Hirasawa is quoted by Reuters as stating that the car requires no external inputs but water. As long as water is available, it will keep running.

Reuters states things a bit differently:

Though the company did not reveal the details, it “succeeded in adopting a well-known process to produce hydrogen from water to the MEA,” said Hirasawa Kiyoshi, the company’s president. This process is allegedly similar to the mechanism that produces hydrogen by a reaction of metal hydride and water.

The uncritical reports by these two sources barely scratch the surface of this story. Hydrogen is not an energy source, it’s an energy carrier as there are no natural sources of it on earth. It always has to be produced through physical or chemical processes that require external energy input of some source, either fossil natural gas or coal or biomass or electricity generated from some source.

The Genepax website does not shed much light on how the hydrogen is produced for their fuel cell. The description of their technology on the company website consists of all of two sentences and one diagram of a fuel cell.

If you produce hydrogen in a chemical reaction of metal hydride and water, you use up not only water, but also metal hydride. Typically, metal hydrides take a lot of energy to produce. Substances such as alkali metal hydrids or aluminium that easily release hydrogen when reacting with water consume huge amounts of electricity in their manufacture — hardly a case of “no external input”.

The car uses a 300W fuel cell, presumably only to supplement a conventional battery, as 0.3 kw is far too little drive a car. That fuel cell sells for about 2 million yen ($19,000), almost enough to buy a Toyota Prius (the base model of which costs 2.3 million yen here in Japan).

Even if the “hydrogen generator” could produce hydrogen indefinitely with no external input (otherwise known as a perpetuum mobile), 300W is not enough power to keep even a small car running at 80 kp/h. It would take at least tens of kW, or the output of maybe 50 of these fuell cells. The concludion is that the demo car ran on a set of batteries previously charged from the mains grid, with no assistance from the Genepax fuel cell that was either significant or sustainable.

While we are not sure about all he facts behind the announcement by Genepax (such as whether they happen to be selling stocks to science-challenged would-be investors right now), we’d suggest taking any of their announcements with considerably more than a pinch of salt.

The domain was registered only on May 8, 2008, a mere five weeks ago. That seems awfully recent for a company that claims to have spent years developing this technology.

Whichever way you look at it, the story quickly falls apart, but the journalists hardly seem to notice. With rising fuel prices people will be interested in such “news” and that seems to be all that matters.

Spammers hitch a ride on Google Earth

I recently came across spam that was offering “Google Earth 2008”. In case you don’t know, Google Earth is a free beta product by Google that lets you view satellite images of our planet, probably including a view of your own rooftop.

“Why would someone other than Google promote Google Earth, a product that makes no money?” I asked myself. A little digging soon provided the answer: It’s a scam.

If you search for “Google Earth 2008”, the peculiar product name used by these people, you will not find it on any website owned by Google: There is no product called “Google Earth 2008” by Google. Unlike Microsoft, Google does not include year numbers in any of its product names. The official name of the real product is “Google Earth beta” (there are also Pro and Plus versions, which are not free).

The links in the spam email take you to “” and ““, which have no connection to Google. Both had only just been registered. Clicking on these links will take you to “” and on to “” where you get a choice of several subscription plans, ranging from one year at $2.49 per month to three years at $12.97 per year — for downloading a free product that these people don’t even own the copyright to! If you read the small print you’ll find that you’re buying technical support for a free product that basically doesn’t need any support.

Other domains used with this scam:,,,,,,,,,

By the way, you can get the real Google Earth beta download for free at and it’s a great product.

Sample spam:

Secret Images from Space. Real Photos from a Orbiting Satellite.

Go here to watch video

Search and find different star constellations.
Locate and find comets, asteroids and other heavenly bodies.
A new perspective from our tiny planet.

Explore the universe & our galaxy here

Find your way around town – Search schools, parks, restaurants, & hotels. Also included, driving directions.
Searchable geographic maps – Search and then zoom in! Save and share your searches with your family and friends.
View in 3D and 2D – View the entire world in 3D! Tilt and rotate 3D terrain and buildings.

Go here to visit website

Have a Great Earth Day!

Thank you for your interest,
Steven Nantel
Sales VP

To unsubscribe from’s list, you may click on the link below:

Plaza Neptuno, local #7
Via Vicardo J Alfaro, Tumba Muerto
Panama Ciudad
Republica de Panama

Update 2008-06-15:
The same people also run a scam in which they promise you can watch 3000 TV channels on your PC. When you sign up and pay a $19.95 “activation and software fee” (and various subscription fees on top) they apparently send you to a website to download LimeWire and Kazaa.

Example email:

Cable & Satellite bills are becoming more and more expensive these days.
Why pay high monthly fees to watch TV?

What if I were to tell you that there is a TV to PC product which offers you thousands of channels and does not charge you a monthly rate?

Online TV Networks is an easy-to-use computer program that legally accesses thousands of television channels from all over the world and sends them to your computer through the internet!

Have you recently missed any of your favorite shows? With our Satellite TV to PC software you can get right back on track and pick up where you left off.

Never miss a show again!

No cable box or TV card is needed. There are no reoccurring charges.

Are you out of the loop on current events from around the world? Have you been following the election and other political news? Now you can on your own time and at your own pace. Watch TV when you want to.

The Most Watched TV Shows Online:

Family Guy
One Tree Hill

Enjoy News, Sports, Weather, Educational Broadcasting, Children Channels, Home & Gardening, Cooking, Shopping & a wide range of multimedia content.

Watch all of your favorite shows, with satellite television on your computer!


Steven Mathews
Customer Relations

To unsubscribe from’s list, you may click on the link below:

Domains used:,,

And a video download version:

New anticipated summer releases for this weekend
Don’t forget the popcorn!

Weekend Premier:
The Incredible Hulk (Action/Fantasy)
Fugitive Dr. Bruce Banner must utilize the genetic accident that transforms him into a giant, rampaging hulk to stop a former soldier that purposely becomes an even more dangerous version.

You Don’t Mess with the Zohan
Adam Sandler stars in this new film about a Mossad agent fakes his death so he can re-emerge in New York City as a hair stylist.

Kung Fu Panda
Po the Panda is the laziest animals in all of the Valley of Peace, but unwittingly becomes the chosen one when enemies threaten their way of life.

Here are the current top movies at the box office:

Sex and the City
Carrie Bradshaw returns with her friends in the much-awaited film version of the hit TV series.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull-
Famed archaeologist Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones is called back into action when he becomes entangled in a Soviet plot to uncover the secret behind mysterious artifacts known as the Crystal Skulls.

The Strangers
A young couple staying in an isolated vacation home are terrorized by three unknown assailants.

Iron Man
When wealthy industrialist Tony Stark is forced to build an armored suit after a life-threatening incident, he decides to use its technology to fight against evil.

Here’s our picks for the newest released DVD’s of this week:

Rambo, The Golden Compass, 27 Dresses, Paranormal State – Season 1, Cloverfield

Thank you for your interest,

Steven Nantel
Sales VP

To unsubscribe from’s list, you may click on the link below:

Plaza Neptuno, local #7
Via Vicardo J Alfaro, Tumba Muerto
Panama Ciudad
Republica de Panama

UPDATE (2008-10-23):

They’re running the same scam with OpenOffice (a great product that is free software):

Open Office Suite 2009
Open, Create & Edit Your Files

Download Office Suite 2009??Here

Edit Word, Excel & Power Point files- 100% MS Office Compatible.
Read and write PDF files just like Adobe.

Here’s how to download Open Office 2009:

1. Go to: Download Page
2. Download Open Office 2009
3. Receive access immediately

This software package is the best way to edit your documents.
Publish all of your documents online in the HTML format.

Thank you for choosing us, the worldwide leader in Open Office 2009.

For More Information Visit our Website

Thank You,

David Matthews
Office Solutions

The domain used is, one of many spam domains hosted at and that are used for this scam.

Zimbabwe: Mugabe trying to torture his way to victory

A recently released report by Human Rights Watch about the situation in Zimbabwe before the second round of a presidential election makes for grim reading. The eyewitness reports of brutal beatings, torture and mutilations of suspected supporters of the oppositional Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) show in sickening detail how president Robert Mugabe is unleashing a campaign of terror on his own people to scare them into re-electing him, especially in rural areas that used to be bastions of support for the ruling ZANU-PF party.

28 years after Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain under black majority rule, Mugabe has squandered the respect and admiration that he had earned as a fighter against Apartheid during the 1960s and 70s. Now he is only fighting to preserve power and privileges for himself and his cronies in the army and police. His wife is known as “Gucci Grace” or the “First Shopper”. Many farms taken from commercial farmers were distributed to senior members of ZANU-PF.

It all could have been so different. At Independence, Zimbabwe had one of the best infrastructures in the region and had a well-developed agricultural and mining industry. There was racial reconciliation and many whites stayed on after Apartheid ended. Now one quarter of the population has fled abroad (mostly to South Africa), inflation is sky-high and people are starving.

Already a few years after Independence a brutal counter-insurrection campaign in the southern region of Matabeleland known as Gukurahundi was a first ominous sign how unscrupulous Mugabe could act if he saw a challenge to his power. At least ten thousand people were killed when former members of the ZIPRA guerilla force of rival nationalist party ZAPU and other members of the southern Ndebele tribe were hunted down by the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade of the Zimbabwe Army, given carte blanche to violate human rights on a massive scale with impunity. The campaign ended in 1987, when ZAPU leader Joshua Nkomo agreed to his party effectively being swallowed up by ZANU.

What I find most disheartening about the situation in Southern Africa is the hands-off attitude of fellow African leaders such as South African president Thabo Mbeki. When black democracy activists were persecuted by the white Apartheid regime in South Africa, all of Africa provided support to their brothers and sisters in need, often at great cost to themselves (such as in Angola and Mozambique, where South Africa supported rebel groups to destabilize these countries). Now that Africans are being tortured, beaten and killed by fellow Africans, many of these African leaders are turning a blind eye.

The victims of torture and violence at the hand of Mugabe’s gangs of thugs deserve solidarity every bit as much as the victims of the South African police and army did before Liberation. By betraying powerless Zimbabwean victims, the current leadership in South Africa and other nations in the region is betraying the ideals of the generations who fought and eventually brought down Apartheid.

What you can do: Find the address of the embassy of the Republic of South Africa in your country and write a letter or a fax to the Ambassador to urge President Thabo Mbeki to use his influence with the government of Zimbabwe to get them to halt the violence now!

Further reading:

An Obama-Clinton ticket would be a bad idea

For months there has been talk about an Obama-Clinton or Clinton-Obama “dream ticket” (in the words of its proponents), that supposedly would draw in strong support from all the electoral groups that supported either Democratic candidate. It now looks unlikely to happen, for a number of good reasons.

As former President Jimmy Carter points out, it would be more likely to combine the perceived weaknesses of both candidates than their strengths:

“That would just accumulate the negative aspects of both candidates,” Carter told the Guardian, saying that both candidates’ vulnerabilities could overshadow that the ticket if the two team up together.

“If you take that 50 percent who just don’t want to vote for Clinton and add it to whatever element there might be who don’t think Obama is white enough or old enough or experienced enough or because he’s got a middle name that sounds Arab, you could have the worst of both worlds,” he said.

In late 2007 Hillary Clinton was widely seen as by far the most likely choice of the Democrats for the presidential election. Then came the primaries and she stumbled. Clinton would have us believe that she was ready for the highest office in the US “from day one”, but she wasn’t ready when Super Tuesday didn’t deliver a knockout blow to Obama as she had expected.

Despite being accused of lacking in political experience, Obama had managed to recruit and build an effective organisation that delivered a string of 11 victories in a row and he out-fundraised Clinton.

After she hit her drought, Clinton kept reinventing herself until she finally managed to find an image that resonated with enough voters. Meanwhile Obama remained himself.

What’s more, he showed class and character thoughout those months, from when he addressed racial issues after the Pastor Jeremiah Wright controversy to partially accomodating Clinton in her unreasonable demands about the disputed primaries in Florida and Michigan. I shook my head in disbelief when Clinton claimed all the Michigan votes for herself, even though voters in Michigan had not even been able to vote for Obama, as he had not been on the ballot, following rules agreed upon by all candidates beforehand.

She was fighting to win at all costs, prepared to take no prisoners. Even when Obama had reached the majority of pledged delegates and super delegates, she did not have the grace to concede his victory and join hands for November. She had to be pushed by senior party leaders.

If there is one thing Barack Obama is good at, it is listening to advice from experienced people. I trust he will listen to those who understand it’s time to turn a new page for a Democratic party no longer under the spell of the Clintons and their political and personal baggage.