By Brian Tracey Business Editor
msnbc.com
updated 2/9/2006 4:11:47 PM ET 2006-02-09T21:11:47
COMMENTARY

Celebrities from U2's Bono to actress Angelina Jolie have long urged companies to take a more active role in helping the world's less fortunate. But one entrepreneur's pet project to feed the hungry in Africa has been met with howls of protest after Kenya dismissed as "culturally insulting" an offer to feed starving children with powdered dog food.

"Kenyan kids are not so desperate as to eat dog food," Kenya government spokesman Alfred Mutua told Reuters in response to a front-page story in the east African country's leading daily.

Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper said Christine Drummond of the Mighty Mix company in New Zealand had offered to send dog food powder to hungry children in western Kenya.

The information appeared to be coming from a New Zealand newspaper, which said Drummond had been moved to make a donation of 6,000 emergency packs of dog food mixture after the daughter of a friend visited the drought-hit country.

When mixed with water, the powder would provide sustainable meals, said an article posted on the web site of The Press newspaper, helping to ease a growing problem of food shortages.

"I made it out of ingredients they (children) are used to eating, so the main bulk product is corn," Drummond was quoted as saying.

But government spokesman Mutua said it was unacceptable.

"The offer was very naive and culturally insulting given the meaning of dogs in our culture," he said. "We understand where she was coming from, and we appreciate, but it is culturally unacceptable."

Apparently Drummond was not aware that being called a dog is one of the worst insults in Africa, where people generally do not keep the canine critters as pets.

Not-so-bad ideas

  • Stubbing your toe on a door frame or tripping over a chair on your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night is usually a painful event. But now Georgia inventor Doug Vick has created a way to take the agony out of those necessary nocturnal missions.

    BrightFeet slippers
    Brightfeetslippers.com
    BrightFeet slippers make night-time trips safer, but you better keep an eye out for low-hanging light fixtures.
    BrightFeet are non-skid slippers with powerful mini-flashlights in each toe. The footwear is fitted with sensors that only allow a slipper’s 25-ft beam of light to come on in the dark. A weight sensor turns the lights on when a foot is placed inside. After removing the slipper, a built-in timer delays shut-off to allow you time to see your way safely back to bed. (No word on whether it tucks you in too.)

Vick reportedly stumbled on the idea a year ago after hitting his head on his four-poster bed in the middle of the night. (Wouldn't a miner's hat work better for that?) Already available in the U.S., BrightFeet’s lighted slippers are about to illuminate night-time bathroom journeys in the U.K., where presumably Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will put her foot down and order a pair.

  • Crammed into subway cars with hundreds of other commuters during the morning rush, New Yorkers have cultivated all kinds of fantasies about what they would rather be doing — but acting on them is another matter.

Officials are axing advertisements that playfully urge subway riders to pretend they're on vacation — showing cartoon figures fly fishing on the tracks and lounging across subway seats.

The ads, plastered throughout as many as a quarter of the city's 6,210 subway cars, are part of a Bahamas Ministry of Tourism campaign that "advocate behavior that is clearly unsafe" and will be replaced, said Jodi Senese, a spokeswoman for CBS Outdoor, the company that distributes advertising in New York's underground.

Under the heading "Instant Escape No. 2: How to Fly Fish with a Scarf and a Cellphone," one ad seems to instruct riders to fish for trash on the tracks by putting something sticky on a cellphone and attaching it to a scarf. Just watch out for that third rail!

Another sign in the series, "How to Turn a Subway Seat into a Hammock," shows a figure draped over several seats.

Track fishing and seat hogging are both forbidden by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's official rules, so riders apparently will have to make their wacky vacation plans somewhere else.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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