Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ja Rule jets into Sydney and trouble

SYDNEY - After months of battling immigration officials for permission to enter Australia, US rapper Ja Rule has jetted into Sydney - and straight into trouble.

Not long after touching down with his blinged-up entourage, the rap artist with sales of 20 million albums to his name hopped in a car and terrified motorists in Pyrmont by driving on the wrong side of the road.

Ja Rule, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, had gone to radio station Nova 969 to promote his show at the Big Top event at Luna Park on August 29. After chatting about cars, radio host Kate Ritchie offered the rapper a drive in her mum's Toyota Seca, which she had driven to work that morning.

"I think he was more interested in looking at the view of Sydney than he was keeping his eyes on the road," a Nova 969 spokesman said. "He powered out into Pyrmont with Kate in the front and the show's other hosts Merrick and Rosso in the car and onto the wrong side of the road.

"They were all shouting at him to get back on the right side.

"I think there were a few people ducking out of the way.

"He obviously thought he was still in America. Luckily there was no damage."

The rapper was due to arrive in Australia in July but faced lengthy delays securing a visa, thought to relate to an arrest for gun possession in 2007.

The Pyrmont episode was recorded by Nova 969 and will be played on air early on Friday.

FaceBook embarrassment


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Muslim leader hits out at Mourinho

A Muslim leader in Italy criticised Internazionale coach Jose Mourinho for comments the Portuguese made about Ramadan at the weekend.

Muslims around the world are fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, during which faithful followers abstain from eating or drinking during daylight hours. One of those followers is Inter's Ghanaian midfielder Sulley Muntari, who Mourinho hauled off after just half an hour of Sunday's 1-1 home draw against Bari due to the former Portsmouth man's poor performance.

Afterwards, Mourinho suggested Muntari had played badly due to a lack of energy associated with his fast. But Mohamed Nour Dachan, president of the Union of Islamic communities and organisations in Italy, claimed the coach has gotten it wrong. "I think Mourinho could do with talking a little less," he told Sky. "A practising (Muslim) player is not weakened because we know from the Institute of Sports Medicine that mental and psychological stability can give a sportsman an extra edge on the field. A player who is a believing Christian, Jew or Muslim is certainly calmer psychologically and that improves his performance."

"Ramadan has not arrived at the ideal moment for a player to play a football match." - Mourinho.

That is an opinion that Mourinho did not share on Sunday and he was clearly irked with his player after the match. "Muntari had some problems related to Ramadan, perhaps with this heat it's not good for him to be doing this (fasting)," said Mourinho. "Ramadan has not arrived at the ideal moment for a player to play a football match."

Mourinho even suggested that Muntari would be dropped for this weekend's crucial Milan derby due to his diminished condition, saying the club would try to work out a solution with its medical staff. Saturday's derby kicks off at 8.45pm local time, but with sundown occurring at just before 8pm, it would not give Muntari much time to rehydrate and get some energy into his body. Muntari is not the only player in Italy to be faced with this problem, although many other Muslim footballers choose not to practise Ramadan.

Siena striker Abdelkader Ghezzal, who scored in the 2-1 defeat at home to Milan at the weekend, revealed he simply cannot fast and play at the same time. "I observe the fast during my days off, when there are no games or training," said the Algerian. "I've always observed Ramadan but I have had to change my habits for health reasons from the first year that I became a professional. I was at Crotone (then in Serie C1 and now in Serie B) but after two weeks I felt ill and had to stop."

Udinese's Swiss midfielder Gokhan Inler, a Muslim of Turkish origin, is another who is not fasting this month, while Genoa's Moroccan midfielder Houssine Kharja does respect Ramadan. Tellingly, both Ghezzal and Inler played 90 minutes at the weekend, Kharja never got off the bench.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Let’s not export our stupidity, let’s wallow in it

By Mutuma Mathiu

I am amused by the outrage expressed by MPs over the Cabinet decision to try election violence suspects in the High Court. Why are MPs pissed off? They got what they wanted, didn’t they?

Parliament rejected a special tribunal in March. MPs have also made it very clear that if the government tries to have the same laws passed, they will reject them. Without those laws, a tribunal can’t be formed.

Even before the warlords in the Cabinet put their hooves in, Parliament had already killed the tribunal concept.

The option left was the International Criminal Court. Now, I know the ICC is a very popular and fashionable notion in political circles. But, if what I have been reading is accurate, the ICC shares an important quality with Attorney-General Amos Wako: Its record of successful prosecution is zilch. It hasn’t put any warlords in the slammer as yet.

Of course it is very professional and very thorough and, therefore, the pace of justice is glacial.

My biggest problem with the ICC, and that’s why MPs love it, is because it is a wholesale shop. It will try four of the biggest warlords, tops. So what happens to the matchete artists, the arsonists, the rapists and other animals hiding in our midst? Do we say that so long as we take out those who gave the orders and the money, then justice is properly served?

In the Cabinet, the warlords were not going to make it easy for the rest of us. They were not going to cooperate in putting in place mechanisms that would ensure that they are punished for their crimes. Question is, what are the warlords doing in the Cabinet in the first place? And how can you expect justice in a country where suspects take decisions about their own punishment?

The concept of official responsibility was also a fat, big worm in the broth.

The unspoken fear among President Kibaki’s allies is that he, as President and Commander-in-Chief, could be held responsible for the breakdown in law and order and the subsequent bloodshed in the control of lawlessness. After all, if the security services killed rioters, as is being alleged, who gave the orders? So they were not just going to take their man, tie his hands behind his back and hand him over to some Australian judge, were they?

One minister called me and, after about an hour of name-calling in which the term faeces featured, explained to me that I was part of a tribal conspiracy to have him removed and the job given to someone from my tribe. For the first time in that exchange, I was completely lost for words.

I was just criticising the guy for not doing his job; I neither liked nor disliked him, I was just saying he was not doing his job right. His interpretation of that honest motive was such an exercise in paranoia, invention and deconstruction that I was totally lost.

Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo is a cunning, forceful and clever politician. You’d have to be after a lifetime as the legal adviser of an African dictator.

I wonder whether he saw how the Bills he had authored would play out among the inventors, conspiracy theorists and deconstructors of the Cabinet. I can bet you that there are politicians in that Cabinet who were asking themselves: Why is this man insisting on the removal of immunity? The short answer is of course that in the context of international crimes, the concept of immunity is a dead one.

But they must have looked around the Cabinet room and realised that if the President and the Prime Minister are allowed no immunity, and all the suspected criminals are carted away for processing and repackaging by an Australian judge, and all those with official responsibility are similarly dealt with, one man will be left with a clear run to the presidency: Vice-President and leader of Mr Kilonzo’s party Kalonzo Musyoka.

The inventors, deconstructors and theorists of the Cabinet must have nodded at their own wisdom and political cunning and said: Aha, so this man wants everyone taken to jail so that his man can be handed power on a platter? And the Bills were dead in the water.

Kenya wants to be a country that does not take any hard decisions or bear the pain of its own weaknesses. It wants someone else to come and clean up its own messes. Always on the lookout for a short-cut to avoid the hard choices. You have an AG who does not prosecute corruption? Form an anti-corruption commission. Police are corrupt and do not investigate crime properly? Why, form another police force, as recently suggested. You have corrupt and slow courts? Send the suspects elsewhere and let them be somebody else’s problem. Politicians and their crook friends have looted the economy? Form a commission, give its report to the Judiciary to tear up and flush down the toilet.

We deserve the society we have created. Let’s not export our stupidity, let’s wallow in it, let’s choke in it.

I do know, though, that someone somewhere can pick up the phone and say: I want every fool involved in this nonsense arrested, I want each and everyone of them prosecuted. And it will happen, and there will be no transfer of judges, injunctions or delays.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Anyone want to "airlift" Kibaki speeches?

Even after the landing of two fibre-optic cables – Seacom and Teams – it appears that old habits are going to be hard to break.

Last Wednesday, the Office of the President put out a tender notice inviting bids for various supplies and services. Top of the list was OOP/PA/001/2009 – 2010, which requires someone to bid for “Airlifting of Presidential Speeches”.

Let us examine the options. Scenario One: The President travels separately from the speech he is giving away from State House – in some remote part of Kenya, even abroad -- so that should something interfere with the one, it should not affect the other. It makes perfect sense to airlift his speech.

Scenario Two: the President is delivering his speech on a national holiday, say Moi Day on October 10. The speech needs to be read in real-time at the provinces as the Head of State delivers it. Thus, eight speeches are required in each of the eight provinces. Quite some bit of flying there, and all absolutely necessary.

Scenario Three: Email the darn thing. Information and Communication permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo can tell you it will cost less than Sh5 to get the President’s speech anywhere in the world. Dr Ndemo is one of those people who sound like a prophet preaching in the wilderness. He has seen the glory of the coming of the fibre-optic cable – the super information highway. By his reckoning, if the government were to step away from paper by accepting e-applications, sending e-speeches and doing just a fraction of its work on the internet, the Kenyan taxpayer could save Sh50 billion – just like that.

That is the kind of money that can pay everyone who has encroached on a forest in Kenya to leave, plus change. It is the equivalent of what it costs to build 100 new schools, or what the ministries of Public Health and Medical Services received in the budget this year. The government has sunk over Sh4 billion in the fibre optic cable. Let it be the first to demonstrate how life can be faster, cheaper and more efficient by turning to e-governance.

Scenario Four: Someone needs to make money off the government, and an avenue is being created here to eat. Airlifting presidential speeches indeed!