Thursday, November 26, 2009

One year ago: The Cry of Blood - Report on Extra-Judicial Killings and Disappearances

Do you think we have improved? You be the judge...

Released November 1, 2008


Since mid-2007 the Kenya Police has engaged in an orgy of extra-judicial killings and disappearances. In the last year and a half, with the connivance of Kenya's political leadership, over 500 young men have been killed or disappeared. This September 2008 Kenya National Commission on Human Rights report, The Cry of Blood, is an account of these crimes and a call for the United Nations to intervene.

Despite being submitted to the authorities in Kenya and to the United Nations Committee Against Torture, the Report is not publicly available in Kenya, even on the official website of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

The Report contains evidence of a high-level policy to assassinate Kenyan citizens with impunity. This policy is still in effect, hence the urgency of getting this report to a global and Kenyan audience.

The Report contains annexes which detail the names of the men executed by the Kenya Police and those who have been disappeared. It also contains medical forensic evidence implicating the Kenyan Police, morgue records and post mortem examination reports.

Some of the key findings drawn from the KNCHRs investigations are:

a) That the evidence gathered by the KNCHR establishes patterns of conduct by the Kenya Police that may constitute crimes against humanity.

b) That extra-judicial executions and other brutal acts of extreme cruelty have been perpetrated by the Police against so-called Mungiki adherents and that these acts may have been committed pursuant to official policy sanctioned by the political leadership, the Police Commissioner and top police commanders.

c) That whereas initially the police mainly used firearms to execute the suspects, they subsequently changed their modus operandi and have since been using such methods as strangulation, drowning, mutilation and bludgeoning. The change of strategy was to make members of the public believe that rival Mungiki gangs are responsible for the killings. As such, the cause of death for majority of the latest victims has been blunt trauma, strangulation, drowning or mutilation using sharp objects as illustrated by post-mortem reports attached hereinafter (Refer to Annex 4). Several witnesses told the KNCHR that the killer squads carry machetes, iron bars, ropes and other crude weapons in their vehicles.

d) That the police spokesperson Mr. Eric Kiraithe has on several occasions attributed the wave of killings to rival Mungiki gangs. He claims that there is a schism within the Mungiki movement pitting Maina Njenga and Ndura Waruinge. This may be a ploy to divert public attention and conceal the grotesque illegal conduct of the police.

e) That the disappearances and extra-judicial killings heightened following public statements made by top government officials suggesting an official policy to ruthlessly deal with suspected Mungiki members and other criminals. During Madaraka day celebrations on June 1, 2007, President Mwai Kibaki warned that Mungiki sect members should expect no mercy. Two days later, on June 3, 2007, about three hundred suspected Mungiki members were arrested and at least twenty killed when they were reportedly caught administering oaths to recruits. After this incident, Michuki publicly remarked that Tutawanyorosha na tutawamaliza. Hata wenye wameshikwa kwa kuhusiana na mauaji ya hivi majuzi, siwezi nikakwambia wako wapi leo. Nyinyi tu mtakuwa mkisikia mazishi ya fulani ni ya kesho — "We will pulverize and finish them off. Even those arrested over the recent killings, I cannot tell you where they are today. What you will certainly hear is that so and sos burial is tomorrow".

f) That on 20/9/07, the then Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon Raphael Tuju, during the Loius Otieno Live program on Citizen TV, said that For the past few months, up to 400 people were killed because they were Mungiki. The KNCHR is in possession of the TV clip of Minister Tuju making the admission, which was transmitted live.

g) That these acts were ordered, directed or coordinated by the top leadership of the Kenya Police acting jointly with a common purpose.

h) That by the time of compiling this report, the KNCHR had compiled at least three hundred names of persons who have either been killed or disappeared. Additionally, there are at least two hundred other persons whose identity the KNCHR was unable to establish since they were merely booked in mortuaries as unknown. Many of these bodies were subsequently disposed by the respective mortuary authorities after they remained unclaimed by their relatives for long.

i) That the KNCHR continues to receive complaints from families of persons who have disappeared including allegations of people arrested by police and who have not been heard of since the date of arrest or where persons arrested by police have later turned up dead in mortuaries.

j) That the Kenya Police appears responsible for the abduction and killing of Kimani Ruo who was arrested outside Nairobi Law Courts in June 2007 moments after he was acquitted by the court for charges of being a member of Mungiki.

k) That the police may be involved in an extortion racket where they arrest individuals and demand for money from their relatives to secure their release. The KNCHR has successfully intervened on a number of occasions and secured the release of individuals held by the police.

The report needs to be widely read because the Kenya press will not discuss this evidence of crimes committed by the Kenya Police for political reasons - the victims are mainly alleged members of the Mungiki sect which because of sustained political propaganda is regarded by many Kenyans as a terrorist cult.

When the crimes of the Kenya Police are widely known, there will be pressure to commit the Kenya Police Commissioner and other high ranking Kenyans to the International Criminal Court. They have been able to avoid justice and enjoy impunity in Kenya. Until now.










Wednesday, November 25, 2009

22 days and counting...

Your comments count! Do you have a copy of the draft constitution? Get one here and READ IT FOR YOURSELF before listening to the so-called experts' views.

Einstein's theory of Relativity explained...

It turns out that there's a scientific and logical explanation for why people (mostly men) spend so much time in pubs and only get home in the early hours of the morning. The reason for this odd behavior is based on Einstein's famous Relativity Theory. It works like this:

It is a well known fact that the more you drink, the faster you move.

After about 8 beers (or 4 double brandies & coke, etc), you're moving at close to the speed of light, and this is where Einstein enters the picture. According to his Relativity Theory, any body moving at, or close to the speed of light, undergoes Time Dilation, i.e. time for you in the pub passes slower than for an observer outside the pub.

Complicated calculations have shown that the pub becomes a type of time machine: For every half hour spent inside the pub, something like two hours pass outside the pub. A typical situation is: "OK guys, it's 8 O'clock, I'm gonna surprise the family and get home early!" However, the moment this person steps outside the pub, the time travel effect is negated by negative radiation from the environment, and he/she then goes: "Why is it so quiet? OMG! It's half past one! WHAT HAPPENED!?

And the answer, of course, is Time Dilation.

I've tried to explain this to outside observers, but so far nobody (except fellow time travelers) have been able or willing to understand the sound scientific basis of this phenomenon. Please let this be known to fellow time travellers - maybe we can prove this theory by sheer overwhelming force of numbers!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

In the name of God...

MOGADISHU - A judge for an Islamic militant group in Somalia says a woman has been stoned to death and her boyfriend given 100 lashes for having an affair.

Sheikh Ibrahim Abdirahman, the judge for the group al-Shabab, says the woman was killed last Tuesday in front of a crowd of some 200 people near the town of Wajid. Abdirahman says the 20-year-old woman had an affair with a 29-year-old unmarried man and gave birth to a stillborn child.

The militants that control much of southern Somalia and have links to al-Qaeda have instituted a conservative reading of Islam's Sharia law. The stoning death was at least the fourth for adultery in Somalia over the last year. It was the second time a female has been killed.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Facebook does it again - Canadian woman loses benefits over FB photo

BROMONT, Quebec – A Canadian woman on long-term sick leave for depression says she lost her benefits because her insurance agent found photos of her on Facebook in which she appeared to be having fun.

Nathalie Blanchard has been on leave from her job at IBM in Bromont, Quebec, for the last year. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Saturday that she was diagnosed with major depression and was receiving monthly sick-leave benefits from insurance giant Manulife.

But the payments dried up this fall and when Blanchard called Manulife, she says she was told she was available to work because of Facebook. She said her insurance agent described several pictures Blanchard posted on Facebook, including ones showing her having a good time at a Chippendales bar show, at her birthday party and on a sun holiday.

Blanchard said Manulife told her it is evidence she is no longer depressed. She's fighting to get her benefits reinstated and says her lawyer is exploring what the next step should be. Blanchard told the CBC that on her doctor's advice, she tried to have fun, including nights out at her local bar with friends and short getaways to sun destinations, as a way to forget her problems.

Manulife wouldn't comment on Blanchard's case, but did say they would not deny or terminate a claim solely based on information published on sites such as Facebook.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hollywood's most overpaid star named

A list of Hollywood stars who are paid more than they are worth has been released.

Who tops the list?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hulk knocked the EFF out in press conference

SYDNEY - Wrestling great Hulk Hogan came out worse off in a bloody brawl with rival Ric Flair at a promotional press conference in Sydney yesterday.

The event at Star City Casino, to promote the Hulkamania wrestling tour later this month, veered violently out of control. However with wrestling a form of "entertainment" is must be questioned if the fight was legitimate and not staged.

Hulk and ring rival Ric Flair let their animosity break into what appeared to be a full-scale bloody brawl. Media was shocked as Hogan began bleeding profusely from the head and was unable to get to his feet.

It was a dramatic twist as the event had started well with the stars professionally discussing their careers and plans. Photographers stood in horror as Ric Flair used his trouser belt to whip anyone within range. The Daily Telegraph reports one photographer had equipment broken when Flair threw a table off the stage and into the press before diving onto photographers.

The Hulkamania tour hits Sydney's Acer Arena on November 28th.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

One for the pensioners

Working people frequently ask retired people what they do to make their days interesting.

Well, for example, the other day my wife and I went into town and went into a shop. We were only in there for about 5 minutes. When we came out, there was a cop writing out a parking ticket. We went up to him and said, "Come on man, how about giving a senior citizen a break?"

He ignored us and continued writing the ticket. I called him a Nazi turd. He glared at me and started writing another ticket for having worn tyres.

So my wife called him a shit-head. He finished the second ticket and put it on the windshield with the first. Then he started writing a third ticket. This went on for about 20 minutes. The more we abused him, the more tickets he wrote.

Personally, we didn't care. We came into town by bus. We try to have a little fun each day now that we're retired. It's important at our age.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

When I was an idiot

I had barely sat down when I heard a voice from the next toilet saying:
"Hi, how are you?"

I'm not the type to start a conversation in the restroom, but I don't know what got into me, so I answer, somewhat embarrassed:
"I am doing just fine!"

Then the other guy says:
"So what are you up to?"

What kind of question is that? I'm thinking this is too bizarre so I say:
"Uhhh, I'm just like you, nature dictates!"

At this point I am just trying to get out as fast as I can, but nature hadn’t let go as yet, when I hear another question:
"Can I come over?"

Gosh... whaaaat!? This question is just too weird for me but I figured I could just be polite and end the conversation. I say:
"No... you know I am busy right now, I guess you are busy too!"

Then I hear him say nervously:
"Listen, I'll have to call you back. There's an idiot in the next toilet who keeps answering all my questions."

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Revolution has failed, but we will televise it anyway

Listening around, I don’t hear lots of buzz about Big Brother Africa 4. Have you heard anyone mention a favourite housemate in passing? Or something someone in the house said?

Is it the annoying voice of Big Brother who turns out to be Big Sister and sounds more like a strict school matron than anyone you'd want to confide in? (Was this the "revolution" promised?) Is it the new robotic host from Nigeria who’s about as interesting as watching paint dry? Was it the ridiculous decision to have a house filled just with men in the first week? Or was it because in their quest to have a "revolution" they forgot the basics?

First of all, allowing housemates to conspire about nominations ensures that that's ALL they talk about. All the bloody time! So and so nominated me, so and so has an alliance, so and so may leave on Sunday... Come on now, talk about something, anything else!

Secondly, and this one took some time to register because it's so discouraging… they scrapped shower hour! Why, pray tell? The show is rated 18 and is on cable television, what’s the problem? Wasn’t that really the whole point of Big Brother? No place to hide? If a show ever had a hook, then shower hour is to Big Brother what bad singing is to Idols... aren’t the auditions the funniest part of the show?

Think about past BBAs. Weren’t people thrown off the show depending on how much, or how little, they chose to reveal during the highly rated hour? Remember Bruna, the gorgeous talented Angolan singer who was evicted because of showering in a bikini? It seems that Africa wanted to see more. Gaetano made it all the way to the last three and I’m pretty sure that it had a lot to do with shower hour. He is legendary because of winning the genetic lottery, if you know what I mean. Talking of which, a little bird told me that the Nigerians are to be blamed for the scrapping of shower hour. And it seems they were rewarded with 3 slots in the show as penance for exposing them to that brand of "immorality".

Reality shows are known for different things. Fear Factor is like the name suggests. On this show, the rule of thumb is the more slippery, slimy and disgusting it is, the higher the chances that it will be served up for dinner. Watching people eat creepy crawlies really works for some people, apparently.

The Apprentice is best known for its famous host. Let’s face it: Without Donald Trump, there is no Apprentice. Martha Stewart gave it a go and it was a total flop. Trump fell out with her after she said his show is a hit because of him and that she could never hope to match his success. He even trademarked his famous line, "You’re fired!" Arrogant, but so true.

Back at the ranch, did you watch The Apprentice: Africa a couple years ago? It was the saddest thing to ever make it on television. Please don’t do that to us again!

Yes, every show has its selling point. America’s Next Top Model would lose its spark without Tyra Banks, and what's Idols without Simon Cowell? And true to cycle, I suspect that as Big Brother Africa winds down, we're set for another serving of that old comedy show, Idols Africa...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Gen. Kazini killed in domestic spat

KAMPALA - Former Ugandan Army Commander, Major General James Kazini, died in the early hours of Tuesday morning after a domestic incident.

He died after his girlfriend allegedly hit him with an iron bar.

Family and security sources say General Kazini was killed at the woman’s home in Namuwongo, a Kampala suburb on 8th Street, Industrial Area. The girlfriend has been arrested and taken for questioning at Kampala Central Police Station. Mourners, among them military officers and relatives, arrived at the Namuwongo home as the shocking news spread.

The country is preparing for the burial later on Tuesday of Vice President Prof. Gilbert Bukenya’s son, Bryan, who died at the weekend after suffering serious head injuries in a car accident.

Major General Kazini’s body had not been removed by 8.00 a.m. Senior Police detectives arrived shortly after to take notes and examine the crime scene. A large crowd gathered outside the home.

Further details regarding the incident have not been released by the police. Lt. Col. Felix Kulayigye, the army Spokesman, says the former commander, who was facing trial for various alleged offences, was a "victim of domestic violence."

He had, among others, been accused of creating the 409 brigade in West Nile allegedly to topple President Museveni's government. He is reputed for fighting the Allied Democratic Forces rebel group in western Uganda as well as the Lord’s Resistance Army in northern part of the country. The United Nations later named him as one of the Ugandan military officers that pillaged the Democratic Republic of Congo resources during 1997 - 2003 invasion.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The butcher of Naivasha

Can somebody please ensure that Tom Cholmondeley never comes near a gun again? If not for the poor residents of Naivasha, who currently serve as shooting practice for the aristocrat, then surely for his own sake.

Next time he gets himself into trouble, it won’t be another five-month joyride in Kamiti or an easy prison life playing with computers. Not even a nolle prosequi from Smiling Wako will save him, I suspect.

Despite the aristocratic airs he projected in court, it’s impossible since his trial to erase a sense that he is a phony, at least going by the way he very deliberately tried to fix blame on the Njoya killing to a very close friend of his, rally driver Carl Tundo.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

We're up against more than we care to think

When Johnnie Carson was announcing that Amos "Smiling" Wako was the latest victim of their visa bans, he commented that the official frequently travelled overseas on "business and pleasure".

The pleasure bit was amusing, but probably unnecessary. It brought to mind images of a blissful Wako rollicking across Western capitals consorting at night with gorgeous women as glasses of wine flowed.

On a less pleasurable note, many Kenyans—especially those in government—have come to the puzzled realisation that having a "kinsman" in the White House may not be a great idea after all. For some reason, Barack Obama is determined to show Kenya his meanest face possible.

I believe he wants to do this to counter any notion in Kenya and at home that he is going to play favourites with Kenya merely because he has a family connection with our country. He comes across as being absolutely unyielding on this. The need for domestic reforms is, therefore, something he has seized on handily.

Granted, he is a political animal who has no wish to see this success soiled by the genocidal tendencies of his father's homeland. In today's wired world, whatever happens here will be instantly relayed globally. Questions will be asked far and wide on what he is doing about it.

Let’s face it: a lot of Americans are uneasy with their President’s African roots. For Obama, that is bad enough without having his fellow Americans see on television pictures of Kenya as a country where people chop off their neighbours' heads with pangas during (stolen) elections.

The usual “strategic” reasons that are cited as to why Kenya must not fail certainly have their validity. Yet for Obama personally, such a failure would no doubt affect him in a different way than it would careerists like Johnnie Carson and Michael Ranneberger who have no particular attachment to Kenya and who should not be expected to care either way how we fare.

To compound our problem, the youthful President displays an odd messianism that is unsettling even to some Americans. He dreams of changing the world, and fast. And he is spot-on is on the state of our top leadership, or rather, the lack of it.

Fortunately or unfortunately, Obama has hit the global stage at a time when Kenya is at its most vulnerable, burdened with a hopelessly weak leadership that, in a very short time, has done unparalleled damage to our country’s sense of self-worth.

Obama’s own assessment seems to tell him that unless this leadership is pulled by its ears, there will be worse trouble ahead for this country. The iconic status he believes he enjoys with Kenyans leaves him in no mood to defer to our wretched whining about sovereignty.

If, indeed, it is true that he has held meetings in Washington centred on Kenya with one Luis Moreno Ocampo, then we could be up against a lot more than we care to think.

Still, I know what it means when the raw power of the office he occupies is brought to bear. No country is immune, not even Britain, which likes to describe itself as America’s best friend. Britain’s old oppressive policies in Northern Ireland have had to be overhauled under pressure from a succession of US presidents with Irish roots, starting with J.F. Kennedy and on to Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. If anything, Kenya has a far weaker hand to play than Britain.

Friday, November 6, 2009

UPDF role in Uganda's 2011 elections clarified

KAMPALA - The army will only be involved in the 2011 general elections to provide security, the Government has said.

The Minister for Information and National Guidance, Kabakumba Masiko, yesterday said reports that the NRM was plotting to use the army in the 2011 election were wrong. "The NRM is not planning any unconstitutional use of the army in the 2011 elections," Kabakumba said during a press conference at the Media Centre in Kampala. She said the Government would meet its constitutional mandate of providing a good environment for peaceful, free and fair elections.

Kabakumba added that the army would be involved where it is called upon to keep law and order. "It must be emphasised that the army offers supplementary support to the Uganda Police in maintaining security," she said.

The Cabinet, she added, had approved most of the reforms proposed to amend the Electoral Commission Act, Presidential Elections Act, the Parliamentary Elections Act and the Political Party and Organisation Act. She noted that this was an indication that the Government wants a free and fair election in 2011.

The minister also asked the media to help in shaping the public attitude towards the army, saying it is a public institution that has been professionalised to respect civil rule and consolidate good governance. Kabakumba also defended the closure of some radio stations.

She blamed them for inciting violence and coordinating riots that took place in Buganda in September. "This means that they violated the terms upon which they were set up and licensed to broadcast," Kabakumba said. She said the critics of the Government should also point out the mistakes of the radios.

Central Broadcasting Service (CBS FM) and Ssubi FM remain closed much as the management of Ssubi on Wednesday apologised for airing comments that could have incited violence. Kabakumba cautioned the media against abusing their freedom.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A gold digger creeps out of the woodwork... in Shenzhen!

He is younger with sports close-cropped hair and a gold stud in his left earlobe, but the slim build, the loping gait and the high-set cheekbones give him a striking resemblance to his more famous half brother, President Obama.

Mark Okoth Obama Ndesandjo, a 43-year-old businessman and musician, has lived in southern China for seven years, the last one assiduously attempting to avoid publicity. But he broke his silence Wednesday, making a public appearance to publicize an autobiographical novel.

The self-published "Nairobi to Shenzhen" follows Ndesandjo's peripatetic life. He was born in Kenya to Barack Obama Sr., the president's father, and his third wife, Ruth Ndesandjo, the daughter of Jewish Lithuanian immigrants. The couple later divorced and Ndesandjo moved to the United States, earning degrees in physics from Brown University and Stanford and an MBA from Emory University.

He was married last year to a Chinese woman from Henan province.

As with the president's best-selling memoir, "Dreams From My Father," Ndesandjo's book delves into growing up as a mixed-race child and into a psyche shaped by an erratic father. "My father beat my mother and my father beat me," Ndesandjo told the Associated Press in an interview released Wednesday. "I remember situations when I was growing up, and there would be a light coming from our living room, and I could hear thuds and screams, and my father's voice and my mother shouting."

At a news conference in Guangzhou, organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for Southern China, Ndesandjo said it took a long time for him to become "proud to be an Obama."

Mark Okoth Obama Ndesandjo says he wrote his autobiographical novel in part to exorcise the bad memories of his childhood and his violent father

He said he wrote the book in part to exorcise the bad memories of his childhood and to publicize the issue of domestic violence. He said he plans to donate 15% of the proceeds from the book (published by Aventine Press, a self-publishing firm based in San Diego) to a charity for children.

Since moving to China in 2002, Ndesandjo has worked as a business consultant in Shenzhen. He also is a partner with a Chinese friend in a small chain of restaurants called Cabin BBQ. A classical and jazz pianist, Ndesandjo also volunteers as a piano teacher in an orphanage. In his only other public appearance since the U.S. election, he gave a charity concert in January to raise money for orphans, playing a selection that sampled a variety of artists, such as Chopin and Fats Waller.

Although most guests knew of his family connection, he did not use the Obama name on the promotional posters, only the surname Ndesandjo, taken from his mother's second husband. He reportedly has turned down offers from Chinese companies to be a product spokesman.

The Chinese press has lavished Ndesandjo with praise for his modesty as well as his fluent spoken and written Chinese. "Mark is very smart and multitalented," wrote one state news agency.

Although strictly autobiographical, the novel skips over the part where the protagonist's half brother is elected president of the United States. "I didn't want to take on any strong political themes in this book," Ndesandjo said. His mention of the president: "I think my brother's team is doing an extraordinary job."

Barack Obama Sr. died in 1982 and the half brothers did not know each other as children. They have met a few times, including the inauguration, which Ndesandjo attended. He said he expects to meet the president during his trip to China this month and to introduce him to his wife. He also expressed a willingness to pass on some advice gleaned from seven years in China. "I would encourage not only my brother President Obama, but also American people, [to understand] that China is about family. Family is always a recurrent theme here," he said.

Smiling Wako is no longer smiling

Kenya's Attorney General Amos Wako has signalled his intention to sue the United States for defamation.

Mr Wako said that he had "received notification that my visa has been revoked for blocking reforms," more than a week after the US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Jonnie Carson said his country had banned a senior Kenya Government official for blocking reforms.

Mr Carson, however, withheld the name of the banned official only saying he was of "influence" and his duties required extensive travel.

Addressing a news conference at his Sheria House office on Wednesday, Mr Wako said the ban due to "engaging in corrupt actions which have adversely affected the national interests of the United States of America," were off the mark and amounted to defaming him.

The AG said that he will seek legal redress in the US adding: "I will take the fight there."

"Although I am totally indifferent to the revocation of the visa and I have absolutely no desire to visit the United States of America, nevertheless; in view of the reasons given, which are defamatory, it is my intention to seek legal advice with a view to institute legal proceedings in the US," said Mr Wako.

He dismissed claims that he was an obstacle to reforms saying that he had overseen changes in the country including the transition from a one-party state to a fully fledged multi-party democracy.

He said that he has always "kept the fire of reforms within government" adding that he was an "adviser and not a decision maker."

He added: "During the period, I initiated an ambitious Legal Reform Programme by appointing over 17 Task Forces which resulted in re-drafting of many areas of law resulted in many legislations which have already been enacted."

"The enacted legislations have all enhanced democracy, the Rule of law, Human Rights, Transparency and Accountability."

He rejected notions that he had obstructed reforms under Agenda 4 saying that "if anything he had facilitated the said agenda."

"I am pleased to state that only yesterday (Tuesday), as a member of the Task Force on Police Reforms we handed over the Report of the Task Force to the President and the Prime Minister. I am particularly delighted and proud that as a member of the Committee of Experts, we have more or less finalised the drafting of the harmonised new Constitution."

He posed: "Are these the activities of a man who is accused of being anti-reform?"

He questioned Mr Carson's expectation on the AG to "successfully investigate and prosecute" Anglo Leasing-type cases when America's security agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) cannot do so because of "the law in the US to secure the cooperation of key suspects and /or witnesses in the Anglo Leasing-type cases."

Mr Wako was categorical that his office was not among those earmarked for reforms during the Serena Talks that yielded Agenda 4 listing them as: police, parliamentary, judicial and civil service reform. "The target on individuals and the Office of the Attorney General is therefore an American or foreign agenda and not part of our own Agenda 4," he said.

He concluded that the visa revocation was not done in "good faith in support of Agenda 4 reforms, which I, as Attorney General, and as a patriotic Kenyan, a proud African and simply as a human being, I am totally committed to playing my role to ensure that the Agenda 4 reforms are achieved and realised."

Speculation had been rife that Mr Wako was the latest US target, after Mr Carson's announcement coming on the back on US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Kenya visit, where she impressed upon the Kenya leadership to push for reforms. She is understood to have said told Kenya's principals- President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga- that changes were required in the police, judiciary and the State Law Office.

Former Police Commissioner Major General Hussein Ali has since been transferred to the post office while Chief Justice Evans Gicheru remains in office. "For 15 years, grand corruption has reigned such as Anglo Leasing but not one top officer has been found guilty. Millions of dollars that could have been used to build schools have disappeared and the Attorney-General and the Judiciary are responsible," Mr Carson said at the time.

Then, Foreign minister Moses Wetangula dismissed the US action as "megaphone diplomacy."

Mr Wako has served for a record 18 years since he was appointed AG by former President Moi in 1991. He has been widely criticised for his handling of cases involving corruption. The infamous Goldenberg and Anglo Leasing scandals, where the government lost billions of taxpayers' money, occurred during his watch. The cases have never been successfully prosecuted.

Only recently, he entered nolle prosequi in a case involving outlawed Mungiki sect leader Maina Njenga. Mr Njenga was accused of killing 29 people in Mathira, Central Kenya in a revenge Mungiki attack earlier in the year.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

All Uhuru Kenyatta is doing is transferring Government business to the family business

Many are cheering and supporting as government mandarins surrender “fuel-guzzling” motor vehicles for “cheaper” Passat cars. In his Budget speech of June 11, 2009, Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta ordered that all ministers, assistant ministers, provincial commissioners, chief executives and all other public servants allocated cars, surrender those that exceed 1800 cc. As always, the government throws dust into our faces with such mass display of “cost-cutting” measures and we applaud.

The deadline for the said surrender was Friday, October 30, 2009 and, like all government edicts, it was never met. We are still awaiting confirmation that other than the President, Prime Minister and Vice-President, our government no longer owns Mercedes Benzes, Prados and Nissan Patrols. And we don’t mean mere removal of GK-plates and putting in place private ones. We demand full accountability.

But is this surrender of any significance? With confidence, I dare say that this policy is hot-air and of no value whatsoever. As the world reeled in economic depression and, in some instances, recession, countries singly and collectively implemented measures to correct the fall. Stimulus packages were put in place with the US leading with its domestic stimulus budgetary allocation of $787 billion.

The main objectives of stimulus plans are to save or create jobs, increase consumer confidence and to protect and attract investments. One by one, the strongest economies are climbing out of recession. France and Germany led and the US has done it this week.

In his speech, Uhuru was clear that he intended the Budget to be a “stimulus package”. If it be so, how does the use of 1.8L Passat TSi by our leading officials assist our economy? The argument of engine capacity has been touted as the main line in the Government switching to the Passat. Yet fuel efficiency isn’t all engine capacity! A vehicle is chosen for, smong others, fuel efficiency, safety, cargo capacity, its purchase price, and re-sale value.

Above all, governments are now supporting vehicles that are “green”. Developed economies are giving tax incentives and rebates to car manufacturers and researchers that are investing in the next generation green-cars. Green cars are those that are energy efficient and safe to the environment.

Such green cars are not necessarily small in engine capacity. Fuel consumption is influenced by such factors as the weight of the vehicle, its engine transmission system and level of the car technology. What will we report in Copenhagen in December? That we bought Passat because it is eco-friendly?

Further, our leaders, by virtue of their leadership, deserve a car that fits their class. All of us cannot be ministers or CEOs and those who become must have incentives to work for us. A leader’s car must be one that gives the best in refinement, elegance, safety and viability.

We cannot buy a car because it is cheaper than a Mercedes or Prado. Passat isn’t the cheapest car after all. A Mercedes Benz C-180 costs Sh5,544,000 whilst a 1.8L Passat TSi Comfortline is Sh4,295,000. Is a price difference of Sh1,249,000 going to stimulate our economy?

And, by the way, how did our Government settle on Passat and not Toyota AE100 or Vitz? The Public Procurement And Disposal Act, 2005, is very clear that all public procurements must be subjected to a transparent process. In it, transparency means that the entire world must be told what the Government wants to purchase and every one invited to bid.

A successful bidder is one who wins both in the technical specification which normally is 70 per cent pass-mark and then the pricing which is a mere 30 per cent. The only exception to this public invitation is urgency and sensitivity of the purchases. Replacing the vehicles is neither an emergency nor a state secret.

Why wasn’t the process subjected to the procurement rules? Why isn’t the Public Procurement Oversight Advisory Board annulling the purchases? Why isn’t KACC taking people to court? Or, the stones are too big to be turned? Then, who said driving a small car by our leaders will increase efficiency or reduce corruption? Inefficiency and corruption are the siamese twins of our government.

I know some of our richest civil servants driving creaky cars to avoid detection. Small cars will not stop public servants from fiddling with the IDP resettlement funds or CDF. Anglo-Leasing and Goldenberg weren’t because our leaders drove big cars.

With deference to the authors of the Passat car policy, the same is devoid of economic logic. We have not been told how much it will cost us to buy repair, service and re-sale the Passats vis-a-vis the competition. And, for sure, we will not be told how many vehicles will be surrendered, their valuations and disposals. Government operations, when it comes to assets disposal, are deliberately opaque.

Until we are told how Passat was chosen, why it and not all other motor vehicle brands, who owns CMC Motors and whether they are related to the President or Prime Minister or the Finance Minister, and whether any commissions were paid, we should let our ministers drive their Mercedes Benzes. And we cannot all be the same class. Kenya is not a communist state. Ours is a capitalist society that rewards its best and its leaders. Frugality is not always prudence.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Shocking details of sex abuse in Kenyan schools

Shocking details have emerged on the extent to which school girls fall prey to sexual predators—their own teachers.

Up to 12,660 girls were sexually abused by teachers over a five-year period, reveals a government report that was to be launched today.

The report by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) says that in some cases, teachers abused as many as 20 girls in a single school before they were reported.

The survey, which captured data between 2003 and 2007, said the 12,660 girls estimated to have been abused in schools over the period were enough to fill 79 single-streamed primary schools that have an average of 40 girls a class.

According to the report, done jointly with non-profit Centre for Rights Education and Awareness, some teachers were serial sexual offenders and molested girls from one school to another because when caught they were simply transferred and no action was taken against them.

The report found that only 633 teachers were charged with sexual abuse in the five years covered by the study, but that was only the tip of the iceberg — most cases went unreported. Records at the TSC were not clear on the number of school girls abused.

On Sunday, Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association Cleophas Tirop acknowledged the magnitude of the problem but called for a nationwide study to establish its true extent. He said the TSC had only based its findings on the reports that reached the commission but it needed to interview teachers and students to establish more about the problem. “It is not a well-researched report since they did not get to the ground,” he said. “The problem is there and we need the facts so that we can confront it.” Although the number of teachers was small compared to the 240,000 working for the TSC, the report warned that the actual cases of abuse were quite high because some teachers abused as many as 20 pupils.

So bad is the situation that data collected from the survey showed that majority of TSC staff perceived sexual abuse in schools as pervasive. One officer said: “Hiyo kitu imekuwa too much lakini report hazifiki TSC (sexual abuse of school girls is rampant but the reports do not get to TSC.”

Yet another respondent said: “The whole business is disgusting and annoying ... the offenders should be castrated.” Another male participant made a simple verdict on the molesters: “Just execute them. They are useless alive.” The survey, an overview of TSC procedures, systems and policies for addressing girl child sexual abuse in schools, established that the vice was “rampant and endemic”, but majority of the cases were getting to the TSC on average three months after the offence had been committed.

The report also faults the TSC over the punishment given to guilty teachers — dismissing and removing a culprit from the register irrespective of whether he molested one or 10 girls. “Teachers charged with multiple molestations, therefore, get the same punishment as those with a single one,” it said.

Data collected from questionnaires indicated that 53 per cent of the respondents viewed sexual abuse of girls by teachers as very high. Only 13.3 per cent of the respondents thought the vice was uncommon.

The report questioned why some teachers would regard the existence of the vice as low when local media were awash with reports of sexual abuse of girls. The report found out that more than 90 per cent of sexual abuse cases never reached the TSC, meaning the cases were higher than thought.

Failure to report the cases to the TSC was attributed to collusion between teaching staff and education officials who often resorted to cover-ups. In some cases, education officials and the offenders intimidated victims. Parents were also ignorant of TSC disciplinary procedures, and sometimes preferred to hush up the abuse for fear that their daughters would be stigmatised.

Scientists bring snow to Beijing

Chinese meteorologists have brought about Beijing's earliest snowfall in a decade, after seeding rain clouds with silver iodide to ease a drought.

The Weather Modification Office had sprayed clouds with 186 doses of the chemical to bring rain for the wheat crop, the Beijing Evening News said.
But the arrival of a cold front caused heavy snow to fall, disrupting road, rail and air travel.

Cloud seeding is often used in China to bring on rain.
The country's north is prone to droughts, while the south is often flooded.
In Anhui province, which has been having a drought since September, there was 4cm (1.5in) of rainfall at the weekend.

Much of the country's farming still relies on rainfall as many of its communities have a poor irrigation system.

In February, the authorities created artificial snowfalls over Beijing in an attempt to alleviate the dry conditions. In addition to cloud seeding, the government is building a huge network of tunnels and waterways that will funnel water from the south to the north, but the project is still five years from completion.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

McJob for burger King

There is nothing funny about Marlon King's conviction for sexual assault and ABH on a female student in a Soho nightclub, which saw him jailed for 18 months on Thursday.

The Wigan player struck the woman with enough force to break her nose after she rejected his "disgusting" advances, in what the prosecution called a fit of "completely gratuitous violence".

Sentencing him, Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith placed him on the sex offenders register for seven years and said: "You have shown not a hint of shame for your disgraceful and arrogant behaviour."

And to top it off, the offence took place on a night out to celebrate his wife's pregnancy. Way to make your kids proud, Marlon.

There is nothing funny about it. Or rather there wasn't until King's agent piped up yesterday afternoon and started touting his services to other clubs about a nanosecond after Wigan said they would sack him.

Tempting as it sounds, Siasa Duni does not go along with those who believe King should be tied to a lamppost and kicked repeatedly in the testicles by this woman until he dies of old age. It takes a limp-wristed liberal view and thinks he should serve his punishment then be allowed to return to football - despite the repeat nature of his offending (King has 13 previous convictions, including two for attacks on women).

You might think that even a football agent would be a little circumspect on the day his client was jailed. Not a bit of it. Over to you, Tony Finnigan: "Let's say he does his time and comes out afterwards. Do you expect him to work for McDonald's? Someone - you trust me on this - will sign him to score goals, because that's what he does best."

It is hardly the most sensitive comment at the best of times, with its crass assumption that footballers have a right not to toil for a living like everybody else. But it reaches a stratospheric level of idiocy when it seems precisely this kind of arrogance sparked King's attack.

His victim claimed King demanded: "Don't you know who I am?" (Unless she is one of the few people who watches Match of the Day all the way through without nodding off, she probably missed his scraps of action for Watford, Wigan and Hull.)

On discovering she either didn't know who he was or didn't care - either possibility is equally plausible - King sneered: "You're not even in my league, love - I'm a multi-millionaire."

King's league, obviously, is the Championship, which is the only place he has ever been remotely prolific; his Premier League record is 15 goals in 69 games.

If, as Finnigan claims, scoring goals is what King does best, he may not find that job at McDonald's so easy to come by; I doubt anyone would fancy having their burger flipped by a man whose greatest skill is to stick a football into a net every five games or so. The trials and tribulations of Joey Barton show teams are willing to take a chance on damaged goods if they possess a modicum of talent (although Barton is now slogging away in the Championship).

However, King is just a run-of-the-mill striker and his days as a top-flight footballer are surely numbered.