Saturday, December 19, 2009
A mysterious "UFO" seen in the sky over Moscow has sparked speculation that the city has been visited by an alien spacecraft.
The pyramid-shaped object was said to have remained for hours over the Red Square in the Russian capital. The fuzzy grey shape was apparently captured on film in at least two separate videos - one filmed during the daytime and another at night - which became an online sensation. But sceptics suggested there would be thousands of videos, rather than just two, if the object really had remained in the skies for hours.
Russian police have not commented on the alleged sightings. The reports of the pyramid come just days after a Russian missile launch set off a spate of UFO sightings in Norway.
The dramatic light spiral seen over the north of the country prompted theories that it was caused by a meteor, the Northern Lights or even aliens.
However, Russia later revealed that its test-firing of a new intercontinental missile had ended in failure - at the same time as observers witnessed the early morning light show.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Incest is rife among Kenyan teenagers, a new study has revealed.
According to the National Council for Children’s Service, adolescents admitted having sex with close relatives like uncles and aunts. Most vulnerable are girls aged 10-15, but older and younger girls are also defiled with most cases unreported.
The research, conducted between 1990 and 2008 in 45 institutions countrywide, says boys and girls engage in multiple sexual relationships, but their knowledge on strategies to prevent pregnancy and infection is limited. “Most students had unprotected sex with their peers and some have had sex with uncles, aunts and sugar daddies,” says the report.
The report says boys under the care of househelps and relatives are more vulnerable as many parents assume boys are not sexually abused. A report released by the Centre for the Study of Adolescents in October said teenage girls were selling their bodies for airtime, chips and even sanitary pads. They were also said to be sleeping with different partners — some admitted having as many as six in six months.
The research says that irresponsible sexual behaviour among adolescents may not be attributed to lack of adequate awareness of HIV and Aids, but to factors like assessment of one’s partner’s status and feelings of prestige.
Parents were again in the spotlight for delegating parental roles to institutions of learning and househelps.
Speaking at the official launch of the report in Nairobi, Gender, Children and Social Services minister Esther Murugi accused parents of poor parental care. “Responsibility is left to teachers and househelps and this is how our children are destroyed,” she said.
Ms Murugi said that although the report did not include children’s homes, her ministry had found that several of them were dens of child defilement and cash-cows for unscrupulous individuals. Ms Murugi said her ministry had stopped issuing licences to children’s homes until all the registered 800 are vetted.
Another report released by The Cradle last week said unmonitored use of technology was exposing youngsters to harm, with most accessing social networking sites through mobile phones.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
As one of the 30 official Government of Kenya delegates to the climate change conference, the experience here in Copenhagen, Denmark, is out of this world.
MONDAY: After arrival, the Danish sex workers association announced that they would offer free services to anyone who showed up with a UN badge and a postcard from the city’s mayor saying: “Be sustainable. Don’t buy sex.”
They are giving it all away for nothing, and quite honestly, it is so much better than sitting through the droll of the opening ceremony today. It appears, from talking to the eggheads from civil society, that this conference will only yield a political deal — power-sharing style — where no one is forced to do anything.
It is better for a civil servant to go heat up the winter with them Danish working girls! Why can’t Kenya’s version of working girls on Koinange borrow a leaf?
TUESDAY: The telephone rings at midday to interrupt sleep and provide the alert that members of the Kenyan delegation cannot be seen. Not even the five press officers? What do they think their job here is, if not to provide a body count?
After the exhaustions of last night, attendance could only have been in spirit. Just as well that the environment secretary is not here yet and those tree-hugging environment types were knocked off the delegates list. The 10 MPs were also excluded from the official Government of Kenya list. It would have been impossible to have a little shut-eye with those busybodies polluting the quietude of Europe with their politics.
At the Kenyan table, there is so much peace, you can see all the delegates sitting in a circle sipping tea. This is diplomacy at its best. Then someone sends out an alert that African civil society organisations are holding an embarrassing demonstration mourning the death of the continent, and Kenyans are in it! My word! When is a man to find the time to use all the postcards for entertainment?
The chair of G77 broke down and wept, apparently impressed by the strength of African delegations and their ability to lobby the Danish out of sight, out of light, and away from the conference and seminar rooms.
We used to think Kenyans are experts in leaking documents to the media. Obviously, the Danes provide useful lessons. The Danish Draft agreement has been leaked and the negotiations are in a tailspin.
WEDNESDAY: Anyone who says the climate is not changing has obviously never been to Copenhagen. It is snowing, so walking about is not very inviting. Impossible to find their flea market, and there is no way the per diem for the two weeks here is going to buying new clothes. Critical thing is to stay on the free side of things — postcards, UN hotel food, etc.
After a confrontation with some green Kenyan types who are demanding that the delegation puts in some work, you decide to mollify them by wandering into a meeting room.
If you stray into the ad hoc working group meeting on the Kyoto Protocol on reducing emissions, you might get a drift of what developed countries feel. They believe they signed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, in error and are looking for a way out.
They say countries like China, India, Brazil, and South Africa are emitting as much carbon into the air as any developed nation and should have as much responsibility as the US. All this is Greek to a humble civil servant.
African delegates with grey hair and beards are talking ceaselessly about a clean development mechanism that benefits their countries. They are also talking about carbon capture and storage technologies that cost billions of dollars. Any relation to biogas? Whatever, man. We will understand it when we need to. For now, time to find more of those postcards.
At some point, a strange fellow starts complaining and demanding a new protocol. Before you can say postcard, the Conference of Parties is suspended until tomorrow. Phew! Reading you must take away talks about the Bali Action Plan that was meant to create the second enhanced commitments after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. That is when we have an election in Kenya, silly. And where is Bali, anyway?
THURSDAY: Prime Minister Raila Odinga has arrived so have to wear suit-and-tie and show up on time. The Kenya delegation explains the difficulties developing countries are facing in the negotiations, especially since they have not travelled with translators to make their shopping easy. The eight MPs start whining again, and the Prime Minister gives them the time of day. Quite understandable, considering they can initiate a vote-of-no-confidence in Parliament.
The PM goes on to do his Africa delegation thing. Maybe he would like to succeed Gadaffi as President of the United States of Africa some day?
FRIDAY: It is downhill from here. The official talks have been suspended and delegates are informal talks — visiting the museum, using their postcards (Be sustainable. Don’t buy sex. Get it for free). Next week, Mzee — President Kibaki — will be in town, and on Friday, the party ends, sadly. Miss you already, Copenhagen!
Monday, December 14, 2009
True or false? You decide!
The Rev. Al Sharpton held a press conference last week to blast Tiger Woods for the lack of diversity among his mistresses. Sharpton claims that the lack of African-American women among Woods' harem will have a negative affect on the black community, specifically young black girls.
"Why is it that a man who calls himself black can't bring himself to cheat on his wife with a black woman?" said Sharpton, speaking to a group of supporters in Harlem. "What does it say to young black girls everywhere when you pass them over? Shame on you, Tiger Woods. What would your daddy say?"
Sharpton, who has long championed taking black women as mistresses, said that today's black athletes need to stop neglecting black women when it comes to extramarital affairs, and should follow the examples of positive black role models such as Jesse Jackson and Martin Luther King, Jr., both of whom cheated on their wives with black women. Sharpton also stressed that cheating with African-American women would help the black community financially by giving black girls the chance to sell their stories to tabloids and gossip magazines.
Added Sharpton, "I'm not asking you to not cheat on your wives, I’m just asking you to give back to your own community."
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
After golfing great Tiger Woods crashed a Cadillac Escalade against a water hydrant and an oak tree in the wee hours of a Saturday morning, the Press has had a field day, speculating that the accident happened after a bust-up with his comely wife Elin Nordegreen.
Apparently, his marriage to the Swedish model was getting crowded, with word having it that three more lookers had happened in the golfer’s life. There was also talk of cell phone text and voice messages which he denied, denied and denied. He would later—most likely on the advice of an image manager—own up to the indiscretions and apologise to his family and fans.
If I were Tiger Woods, I would have told the whole world that: “There comes a time when a man must succumb to temporary or permanent madness, which explains the small matter of the car hitting water hydrants and trees.”
But Woods is no villager like some of us. New York’s Daily News reports that he made US$117 million last year, and was the first sportsman to cross the billion-dollar mark in earnings. Out of the US$117 million, US$7.7 million was made on the golf course.
Woods is certainly not going Kobe Bryant’s way. The American basket ball wizard lost his biggest endorsements in 2004 after being accused of rape. He weathered the storm and made US$45 million last year. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps lost a to-kill-for deal with breakfast cereal giant Kellogg’s earlier this year after being photographed smoking pot. None of this will happen to Woods.
Corporate America is in no hurry to cancel his endorsements and "nearly all of them, from Nike to Gillette to video game maker Electronic Arts, issued statements backing the beleaguered golf superstar," reports the Daily News. Until word about his marital indiscretions went out, nothing unsavoury was sticking on this golfer. Maybe the tiger was waiting to pounce.
Evolutionary psychologists will tell you it happens when you are a successful male mammal. As you produce more testosterone as the other sex craves your super genes (who wouldn’t want a world champion for a daughter or son, besides your money?) And, this way, healthy species are propagated.
When it happens, you can’t rule out scratches on the face.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Former President Daniel Moi is a man of deep compassion.
For more than a year, he has been restraining himself even as his hormones have raged for action over the Mau Forest controversy. He has watched in quiet dismay as political upstarts picked apart his handiwork in Mau Forest, that wild bush he tamed by settling landless squatters to slash and burn it.
All the while, no one told Mr Moi that he was parcelling out gazetted forestland. He has previously said that if the land in the Mau Complex was allocated, it was because forest officers failed to do their job. Bent officials flew the then President blindfolded in a military chopper, landed him at Bararget and asked him to hand out title deeds to squatters. Now that the deed is done, everyone has realised the benefits of it all.
Mr Moi brought the Mau into the 21st Century by settling numerous other development-conscious individuals in the forest, where they have built schools, hospitals, mansions, country homes and other amenities, thus providing employment and livelihoods to 0.5 per cent of the entire Kenyan population. Of course, being a squatter of no mean repute himself, Mr Moi acquired a modest 2,000 acres—a miniscule 0.25 per cent of the entire forest area—for agricultural development. Other dictators take a bigger percentage of national resources than one per cent, but not him. He would live by the sweat of his brow.
He cleared the 2,000 acres of the trees in order to plant tea. Tea bushes, when tended by a man of Mr Moi’s talents, can grow to the height of a eucalyptus tree. The tea is so green that the chlorophyll attracts convectional rain. Even the grass and potatoes bring rain, and ensure it rains close to the ground — where it is needed — instead of being lost some place mid-air.
Now, people are whining about a mere 12 rivers drying up in Kenya and Tanzania because of the environmentally friendly actions Mr Moi initiated.
As the former president rightly observes, not all the water in the world comes from the Mau. In fact, people should harvest the water so readily available in large bodies like the Indian Ocean and Lake Victoria — where it is lying idle and obviously going to waste through evaporation — and bring it to irrigate land.
Another man would have been consumed by righteous anger at the mere suggestion of undoing this work. Yet, even with the threat of taking away the land Mr Moi now owns, has developed and uses to employ thousands of otherwise jobless youth, he is silent. Mr Moi has restrained himself because of his love for children. If he hated children, he would have organised a militia of his own, planted the warriors in the forest and started a civil war — but that would be against the law!
There would be a tonne of trouble over the evictions. Perhaps he would have led demonstrations in the forest, where residents would strip the barks off the trees and use them as placards. Alternatively, the thousands of squatters in the forest would have seized another 100,000 hectares of land in addition to the portion they already have.
Or, as a professed Christian, Mr Moi would have led all the landowners to start a month-long fast that would have embarrassed the Government into backtracking on its foolhardy course of action.
Then, perhaps, he would have taken some unspecified action to bring the whole world to heel. He would have caused trouble by refusing to sell his tea to the international market. Every tea drinker from Iran to Britain would be shivering in winter, begging him for just a cuppa — but he would not budge. Back at home, the economy would shrink and shrivel like a mushroom in the sun. Since Mr Moi is no racist, not even a tribalist, he will continue to permit people to drink tea all over the world. After all, tea is better than water — any day.
If Moi did not love children, women, and men of all tribes and races, he would withhold his immense wisdom about the workings of the environment, gained from his personal push to create Nyayo Tea Zones in every forest.
If Moi hated children, he would not be restraining the country from making foolhardy decisions like creating two centres of power. It just increases the cost of corruption because you have to bribe the two centres simultaneously to remain untouchable. He would not be the spiritual leader of the movement to preserve Kenya as it is – unchanged in all respects from the prosperous nation over which he presided.
If Mr Moi did not love people, he would point out that he is not the only person who has handed out title deeds in the Mau. He would, acting out of spite, return all the property his detractors claim he does not rightfully own. Then what would happen to it? It would fall into waste through mismanagement.
Why, he could return to being an idle squatter demanding social protection funds. It would collapse this country.
This is not me, though I wish I had someone to take it out on. For all of you who occasionally have a really bad day, and you just need to take it out on someone, don't take it out on someone you know; take it out on someone you don't know...
I was sitting at my desk when I remembered a phone call I had forgotten to make. I found the number and dialed it.
A man answered, saying, "Hello?"
I politely said, "This is Fred Kamau. Could I please speak with Susan Wairimu?"
Suddenly, the phone was slammed down on me. I couldn't believe that anyone could be so rude. I tracked down Susan's correct number and called her. I had transposed the last two digits of her phone number...
After hanging up with her, I decided to call the 'wrong' number again. When the same guy answered the phone, I yelled, "You're an asshole!" and hung up. I wrote his number down with the word 'asshole' next to it, and put it in my desk drawer. Every couple of weeks, when I was paying bills or had a really bad day, I'd call him up and yell, "You're an asshole!" It always cheered me up.
When Caller ID came to our area, I thought my therapeutic 'asshole' calling would have to stop. So, I called his number and said, "Hi, this is John Omollo from the Telephone Company. I'm just calling to see if you're familiar with the Caller ID program?"
He yelled, "NO!" and slammed the phone down.
I quickly called him back and said, "That's because you're an asshole!"
One day I was at the store, getting ready to pull into a parking spot. Some guy in a GREY Toyota cut me off and pulled into the spot I had patiently waited for. I hit the horn and yelled that I had been waiting for the spot. The idiot ignored me.
I noticed a "For Sale" sign in his car window - so, I wrote down his number. A couple of days later, right after calling the first asshole, (I had his number on speed dial by now), I thought I had better call the Toyota asshole too.
I said, "Is this the man with the Grey Toyota for sale?"
"Yes, it is."
"Can you tell me where I can see it?"
"Yes. I live at BuruBuru Phase 2, house number 398. It's a Blue house, and the car's parked right out in front."
"What's your name?" I asked.
"My name is George Mutua ," he said.
"When's a good time to catch you, George?"
"I'm home every evening after five."
"Listen, George, can I tell you something?"
"George, you're an asshole."
Then I hung up, and added his number to my speed dial too. Now, when I had a problem, I had two assholes to call.
But after several months of calling them, it wasn't as enjoyable as it used to be. So, I came up with an idea. I called Asshole #1.
"You're an asshole!" (But I didn't hang up).
"Are you still there?" he asked.
"Yeah," I said.
"Stop calling me," he screamed.
"Make me," I said.
"Who are you?" he asked.
"My name is George Mutua."
"Yeah? Where do you live?"
"Asshole, I live at Buruburu Ph2 Hse No398, a blue house, with my GREY Toyota parked in front."
He said, "I'm coming over right now, George. And you had better start saying your prayers."
I said, "Yeah, like I'm really scared, asshole."
Then I called Asshole #2.
"Hello?" he said.
"Hello, asshole," I said.
He yelled, "If I ever find out who you are..."
"You'll what, asshole?" I said.
"I'll kick your ass," he exclaimed.
I answered, "Well, asshole, here's your chance. I'm coming over right now."
Then I hung up and immediately called the police, saying that I lived at Buru Buru Phase 2, and that I was on my way over there to kill my gay lover. Then I called NTV and KTN about the Mungiki war going down on in BuruBuru Phase 2.
I quickly got into my car and headed over to BuruBuru Phase 2.
There I saw two assholes beating the crap out of each other in front of six squad cars, a police helicopter, and news crew. Now I feel better...
Friday, December 4, 2009
If Arabic has an equivalent to schadenfreude, it's probably being muttered in Abu Dhabi right now.
While Dubai has been the glamour emirate of recent years, expanding flashily and purposefully as a regional tourism and financial hub under its ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum on the back of foreign investment, it will be oil-rich Abu Dhabi that will be bailing it out. The state-backed investment company, Dubai World, is having to restructure and has asked creditors for a six-month "standstill" on repayments on $60 billion of its debt.
With that will come a quiet reassertion of the previous pecking order in the United Arab Emirates, of which Abu Dhabi is the capital.
A sign of that came early this year. Dubai's foreign investment fueled development was brought up short when the global credit crunch hit in 2008, sending property prices reeling. In February, Dubai was having trouble refinancing a $3.8 billion loan. The UAE central bank, backed by Abu Dhabi, bailed it out with a $10 billion bond, indicating that Dubai's troubles were deeper than apparent.
On November 24, just three days after Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al-Maktoum had told the World Economic Forum meeting in Dubai that the emirate's economy was "humming" and the chairman of Emaar Properties, one of Dubai's large property developers, told the same meeting that the emirate's economy was likely to grow by 5% in 2009, Abu Dhabi provided Dubai with an additional $5 billion loan.
The day after, Dubai made its restructuring announcement which itself came ahead of the refinancing of a $3.5 billion Islamic sukuk bond due on Dec. 14 by Nakheel, a subsidiary of Dubai World and the emirates largest property developer (it built the emirate's iconic palm-shaped artificial resort-island).
Abu Dhabi has little choice but to continue to bail out Dubai. A financial collapse of the emirate would make it unlikely that Sheikh Mohammed or Sheikh Hamdan could remain in power as the government and the ruling family's management of Dubai Inc. are so closely intertwined. That could be politically unsettling for the region as many of the states are likely to be tarred with the same bush by investors as Dubai. Following the restructuring announcement, credit default swap rate on Dubai debts rose by more than 100 basis points, taking it to 434 points, comparable to the level that Iceland incurred at the height of its crisis.
By continuing to underwrite Dubai, Abu Dhabi will be able to impose strict conditions on the emirate and to rein in the Dubai ruling family's autonomy. That low-key approach to political realignment with, no doubt, an eventual succession to power of an Abu Dhabi friendly member of the al-Maktoum family, would fit better with the Gulf States's culture. It would, though, leave Dubai a lesser, chastened place, resorting to its old role as a regional entrepôt, with its ambitions as a world city left in the sand.