Tuesday, July 17, 2007


SAN FRANCISCO - For years Dr. Victoria Hale could see the problem. The world's poorest people — from India to Africa — were dying from curable diseases while big drug companies did little to help.

Then one day she admitted to a cab driver, an African immigrant, that she worked for a big drug company.

"He rolled his head back and laughed and said, 'You all have all the money!'" she recalls.

Hale quit her job, took out a loan and began working on a crazy dream — a nonprofit drug company.

"I wanted to do something that would put the world in a new place, put it on a new path," she says.

Hale began searching for drugs whose patents had expired, or that were sitting on a shelf because there wasn't enough profit in them. And she found one.

She brokered deals and organized a drug trial in India to combat deadly black fever.

"All these patients (in this room), if they don't get treatment, will die within six or eight months," says Dr. C.P. Thakur, India's former Minister of Health.

Including 10-year-old Dilip. But Hale proved an old, neglected drug will inexpensively cure black fever. Dilip walked out 100 percent cured. Her efforts could save 200,000 lives a year.

And then Hale met Dr. Jay Keasling, a Berkeley professor who helped invent a cheap way to synthesize a drug already proven to cure malaria. Their new partnership — his for-profit company Amyris Biotechnologies with her nonprofit Institute for OneWorld Health — could soon help save (we're not making this up) millions of lives.

"Amyris will make no profit, and OneWorld Health will make no profit," says Keasling.

"She had a vision," says Tachi Yamada. "Most people who are visionaries start out with a vision."

Yamada works for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which decided along the way to give OneWorld Health $150 million.

"I actually think she's a real hero," says Yamada.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Kelly Rowland Collapses in Nigeria

O ga o! Click on the title for more. I guess Beyonce forgot to tell her sister that Nigeria is damn hot!


Go here to see the collapse. Sandra Rose, an ATL celebrity news blogger, seems to think it was a publicity stunt. Whatever! It looked painful.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Just a quick one........

I've been meaning to update that the so-called militants released the little girl I talked about here. Thank God. But they've since kidnapped a few other oil workers. We need a resolution, a revolution......something sha.

On to lighter matters though. I found out that I met Dolapo, the designer of the fabulous UrbanKnit bags and scarves after the fact! LOL. I was in London earlier this year as my avid readers know, and I went out to dinner with a group of fabulously young and talented Nigerian folks. Dolapo sat across from me at dinner and was just mad cool and unassuming. We all had great conversations going on around the table but I chatted with her specifically about her career as an architect. I had absolutely NO clue that I was sitting across from a cool fashionista and I mean that in the best way possible...LOL. I've been coveting one of those bags since I saw a feature on either Bella's or Icy's blog....I can't remember so I'm open to being corrected. I definitely plan to buy one once I extract myself from all the gbese that my GMAT prep is costing me....LOL. Or better yet, my birthday is coming soon....HINT, HINT. And by soon, I mean September!!!! LOL. More on that another time. So anyway, you guys support UrbanKnit o. I love it when I see my Nigerian sisters doing the damn thing.....an architect who also has a love for fashion and uses her technical skills to develop beautiful, sturdy, pieces in traditional fabrics. Nothing like it man!

I meant to put up another Changing the World piece today but I haven't had the time to look up anything but I will soon so that the series actually can be a series...LOL. So bear with me.

Finally, anyone else loving Chrisette Michelle?!!!!!!!!!! That young woman can SAAAANNNGGG! I love Golden and If I Have My Way. I'm about to go download the rest off I-Tunes this weekend. Here's the video for If I Have My Way. Have a fab weekend everyone. Love Y'all!

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Really, WHY?!!!!!

I have watched as the weeks and the months have passed with more and more stories of kidnappings, and death in this region. In fact, I'm almost surprised when I don't hear anything about the Delta region. I have waited for the booming voice of the new government to speak loudly against these occurrences and possibly present a plan of action but alas, she remains quiet.

When will our government even begin to take some responsibility and attempt to address some of the issues in this region?!!!! Will it perhaps be when a child dies? Even though all human life is valuable, for some reason a child's life seems to be more valuable. But still, would it be enough to mobilize our ass of a government to do anything? I doubt it, and it saddens me.

For some reason, this story conjures up the movie "Man on Fire" in my mind. With the recent spate of child kidnappings, will the targets in that region need armed guards to protect their families, or simply lock them up so home becomes a prison? If the government doesn't do anything, perhaps we need a "Man on Fire" to go and take out all these militants. I am not a proponent of violence but maybe in this case......hell, I don't know.

I have to ask myself sometimes, are these militants really going about getting what they want in the best way? Hasn't their mission and message gotten lost in all the kidnappings for ransom and killings? What do they really hope to acheive with all this?

As much as I try to be optimistic about Nigeria, it is moments like this that almost successfully overshadow my optimism.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


I am a strong believer in the philosophy that one person making a difference in the life of one person or more in their community is making a difference in the world. Everytime I see or hear about people doing this, it inspires me and also reminds me that good people exist in a world where we hear more about the evil that men do. As a result, I've decided to start the CHANGING THE WORLD series. I'll be putting up stories, articles and the like about people who are making a difference in their corners of the world. I hope you get inspired as well. Peace y'all!


Jinan, Shandong Province – "You see," Wang Liqiang gestured through the windshield at a taxi that had cut our car off at the traffic light. "This is what I'm talking about."

Wang, an otherwise laidback Shandong native sporting a small potbelly, was working up to his argument.

"China's changing all the time," he continued. "People used to behave okay. Now with all this development, it's chaotic all the time, and the young people have lost a sense of who they are."

He turned to me. "Baseball will bring that sense of order back."


"It teaches people manners," Wang was hitting his stride now. "Baseball is a nine-person sport. Everyone has a position to play. Everyone knows what he needs to do. Everyone has to work together."

‘Baseball is like life’

Spend time in Wang's company and you soon discover how impassioned the 38-year old is about making America's pastime into China's too.

The former businessman runs the Shandong Zhanwang Baseball and Softball Club from a tiny office in the Shandong capital of Jinan. His goal is to increase China's exposure to the ballgame by bringing the sport to young boys across his hometown province.

Wang's zeal for baseball originated when he first saw it played in 1990 – "at the National Games," he said. "The national team wasn't very strong. But the sport was rather quiet and peaceful."

Wanting to learn more, he went out in search of a book explaining baseball. Then he began following the Chinese national baseball team across the country to watch their games. Before long, other aspects of the sport clicked with him: not just the emphasis on mental aptitude but also courtesy. "Players are required to bow when they meet their coach!"

As China stepped up the pace of its rapid economic development in the 1990s, Wang came to the conclusion that baseball was essential. "Life is like finding your position on a baseball field," he said. "The rules of baseball can help you regulate your life and find your goal. Many people don't have goals. Baseball trains the Chinese people…to fight for their goals, fight for their whole life."

So Wang quit his job in marketing and advertising. He sold his home. He sold his car. And on April 18, 2002, he founded the Shandong Zhanwang Baseball and Softball Club.

‘One ball, one soul’

Slogans like "One ball, one soul" in Chinese characters decorate the walls of Wang's office, housed in a school where baseball isn't played and where he says he might be evicted from since the authorities don't see any benefit to having him there.

Wang shrugged and batted away the suggestion that he’d ever leave – an attitude that has served him well in overcoming challenges during the five years he's run the club.

These challenges – the sport’s lack of visibility, coaching/instruction, fields, equipment – stem from baseball's patchy history in China. Although it arrived as early as 1863 (four years before Japan), it never gained the same foothold here as it did with neighboring countries, particularly as baseball was banned during the Cultural Revolution.

The game has since flourished in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, where leagues for all different levels of play have developed and from which strong talent has emerged – but has languished in China.

Take equipment. Although Chinese factories manufacture mitts and baseballs for foreign companies, those products aren't widely available to buy in China. So the resourceful Wang has worked relations with potential sponsors and connections to other baseball clubs in Japan and South Korea to obtain bats, balls, and mitts – often well used and broken in.

"Mr. Wang is crazy about baseball," said Harry Shi, a Hong Kong-based businessman who met the club owner four years ago. Shi was so impressed by Wang's passion that he persuaded his employer at the time, American sporting goods company SSG, to sponsor the club. SSG donated 120 baseballs, 24 bats, and one pitching machine – all of which were extremely difficult to come by in China, let alone a small coastal city like Jinan.

Wang also has had to find different ways to fund the club apart from his own money --he's sunk more than $130,000 since 2002. He just doubled the $10 annual dues to enroll their boys in his baseball club. It's a nominal training fee he uses to help pay for basic office expenses, playing in competitions, and, of course, travel.

The club's teams try to travel around China, as well as South Korea and Japan, to see ballgames since they're rarely broadcast on Chinese television. (In fact, we "discovered" Wang and one of his teams in Tianjin. The team had driven five hours by bus to the port city as soon as the boys had finished school at 2 p.m. that Friday in order to catch the Tianjin Lions play the Shanghai Eagles.)

An uphill battle

It's also been tough trying to raise the profile of baseball in schools. In a country where there are only 60 full baseball diamonds, one of Wang's tasks has been to persuade school authorities in Jinan just to provide a small space for boys to practice catching. That means vying with basketball courts and soccer fields – two sports that are far more popular in China.

Wang said 2005 and 2006 were tough years.

But whenever he considered quitting, he thought about the boys. "I see the kids love it so much," he said. "How could I do that to them?"

His perseverance has paid off. One of his club's teams won third place in the 2004 national junior competition. And while only two schools in Jinan had baseball in 2002, there are now about a dozen participating in his club. Wang hopes one of the club’s alumni, just about to finish university, will come back to help coach the teams.

Roughly 200 boys, ages six to 17, play on the 14 teams – including his 14-year-old son, a nephew, and a cousin. "It's a family business!" he laughed.

Team sports a good thing single child China

In fact, Wang has found staunch support from the Parents' Association to develop the club. At a practice session that afternoon in Jinan, parents came out to watch their sons play in a concrete schoolyard.

"Each kid is the only child in the family [and] they often get lonely," said Jiang Ai-xia, the mother of 12 year old Zuo Shou-qie, who just started playing baseball this year. "Letting them play baseball helps cultivate their team spirit and encourages them to play with other kids."

Zuo's performance as first baseman may have been a little erratic, but it didn't diminish his enthusiasm. "Baseball teaches us the power of cooperation…and skills," he said. "Although my skills are not that good."

The boys grin bashfully when they're being interviewed, only allowing their enthusiasm to shine off the field when they talk about baseball's future here, "China is just starting…. Once we start loving baseball, we definitely will beat the other countries," said one boy.

Another explained why they like the Yankees, "Their pitchers throws super fast. They hit also very hard and very far!"

Wang, who is normally stern coaching his team from the sidelines, beamed with pride.

"Five years ago, when I started [this] baseball [team], many people thought I was crazy," he said, especially since he wasn't in it for the money. "Five years later, many people think we are the best in Shandong."

Monday, July 02, 2007

One Of Those Days

It has been one of those days when I really miss my family. I have lived away from my mom and dad to varying degrees since I was 10 but except for about 2 years, until 2005 my sister has always been on every journey with me. We haven't necessarily always been in the same place but at least she's been close by. I certainly treasure my alone time and acknowledge that I've been forced to be more outgoing, more social, more personable, more open and more of a lot of other things that I probably wouldn't be because I've been and lived alone. Still, every once in a while I have moments, sometimes fleeting and other times, like today, prolonged, that my alone becomes lonely.

The days that I could pick up the phone and have marathon conversations with my sister when she lived in Dallas are gone. Now I have to catch up with her life through short and sweet text messages, 5 minute phone calls, or juicy tidbits on her blog. I talk to my mom and listen to stories of them hanging out, and doing fun things without me. Lots of "wish you were heres" and "we missed you today at....". I feel like I am missing out on important moments. Not just in my sister's life but with my parents and brother too. There was some comfort when there were two of us here but now, it's me, myself and I and most times it's fine but today is just one of those days when it hurts.