Monday, May 31, 2010

Hacker posts Hitler photo on State House website

KAMPALA - The official website of State House was last evening pulled down after unknown people hacked into it and posted a picture of the Nazi German dictator Adolf Hitler. The image stayed on the site for more than 24 hours having been posted on Saturday until about 4:00pm on Sunday when the site was finally pulled down.

The hacker claiming to be called Kaka Argentine posted the photo of Hitler with a Nazi Party symbol on his chest on Saturday. The controversial posts, conspicuous on the home page, were posted below the picture of President Museveni greeting the Masaka Municipality MP, John Kawanga during a meeting at Munyonyo Resort on May 25.

This is not the first time strangers have hijacked the government departments’ website.  Last year, hackers calling themselves 'the Ayyildiz team' posted pro-Palestine items on the website of the ministry of defense, accusing Israel of killing innocent Palestinians.

The presidential press secretary, Ms Linda Nabusayi, said they had received information that the posts were a result of an internal wrangle within the company that had been outsourced to manage the website. “I have been told that the external service providers have issues within their company and that one workers who has since left could be the one behind this,” she said.

ICT Minister Aggrey Awori said State House has been a target of such attacks and blamed the cyber crime on opposition elements both within the country and outside whom he said were in the business of “electronic harassment” against State House and the government. He said a new set of cyber laws that the government is pushing forward will help “track them and put them away”. Ms Nabusayi said State House would terminate the contract of the service provider.

Arsenal line up Fabregas replacement

Arsene Wenger is lining up a £21.8m bid for an international star to replace Cesc Fabregas, according to reports. >>Who?

Photo of the week

It's only Monday, but I think we've got it in the bag...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Kiss of deaf

A young Chinese woman was left partially deaf following a passionate kiss from her boyfriend.

The 20-something from Zhuhai in Guangdong province arrived at hospital having completely lost the hearing in her left ear, said local reports. The incident prompted a series of articles in the local media warning of the dangers of excessive kissing.

"While kissing is normally very safe, doctors advise people to proceed with caution," wrote the China Daily.

The doctor who treated the girl in hospital was quoted in the paper explaining what had happened: "The kiss reduced the pressure in the mouth, pulled the eardrum out and caused the breakdown of the ear."

The chorus of warnings was echoed by the Shanghai Daily, which wrote: "A strong kiss may cause an imbalance in the air pressure between two inner ears and lead to a broken ear drum."

The young woman is expected to regain her full hearing within about two months.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Kalonzo squarely to blame for his tribulations


I’ve been accused of being “too hard” on Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka. I will be “fair” today. Allow me first to state the obvious: Mr Musyoka is a deeply frustrated man these days.

He cannot seem to catch a break. Cartoonists frequently lampoon him. Crowds gleefully heckle him. Kenyans seem to have a hard time believing any word that comes out of Mr Musyoka’s mouth. Are these self-inflicted wounds or, as Mr Musyoka intimates, is Prime Minister Raila Odinga, his main rival, behind his woes?

What went awry for the dapper and articulate presidential hopeful from Mwingi North? A week, let alone a year, is a lifetime in politics. 2012 is way off in the distant horizon. That’s why it’s premature to write Mr Musyoka’s political obituary. Many a politician has come back from the dead. President Mwai Kibaki himself lost twice before winning on his third try. Mr Musyoka is going through a rough patch that threatens to dim his hopes. The credibility gap with the electorate could be fatal to his ambitions.

Being labelled wishy-washy, or untrustworthy, is a kiss of death for any politician with presidential ambitions. These labels are virtually impossible to overcome once they stick. Mr Musyoka seems to think that Mr Odinga’s supporters and ODM are behind the public’s hostility towards him. He hopes to make hay, and win public sympathy, by pointing the finger at Mr Odinga.

But this strategy won’t work because Mr Musyoka’s problems go beyond Mr Odinga, his nemesis. My two cents worth is that Mr Musyoka is solely to blame for his tribulations. Kenyans did not suddenly discover his flaws. They know his chequered political history. It is on this balance sheet that his foibles poignantly stand out. He made his name as a Kanu hawk at the height of repression. He only abandoned former President Daniel arap Moi in 2002 just before Kanu got shipwrecked.

But Kenyans are a forgiving people. They welcomed Mr Musyoka into Narc and gave him a second chance. Many were disappointed when he and Mr Odinga split ODM and opened the door for Mr Kibaki’s second term. Mr Musyoka has remained close to Higher Education minister William Ruto and Mr Moi, two rabid anti-reformers. He talks reform when it suits him, but often reverts to his anti-reform Kanu mould where he feels more at home.

Nowhere is this duplicity more poignant than in the quest for a democratic constitution. As a Kanu mandarin, Mr Musyoka never supported the struggle for a democratic constitution. He doesn’t believe in people power and the democratisation of the state. Mr Musyoka likes to run with the hare and hunt with the hound. During the day he is with Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga supporting the 'Yes' camp. At night he will be with the Christian clergy, Mr Moi, and Mr Ruto signalling his support for the 'No' camp.

The latter is his natural political home. He wants to have his cake and eat it too. That’s why the hoi polloi, the wananchi, accuse him of kuyumbayumba — doing the yo-yo dance with the constitution. This doublespeak has created a credibility gap for him. He wants to pander to the clergy and Mr Ruto’s 'No' camp and yet walk with Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga. Unless he is a miracle worker, Mr Musyoka cannot be in two places at the same time. It matters how Mr Musyoka comports himself in public. He comes off as too calculating and scripted to be believable. One wonders whether he is saying what he is thinking. Watch his mouth and face as he speaks and you get the impression that he’s either spinning you, or telling you what he thinks you want to hear.

Leaders must lead from the front, not walk with a tail between their legs, afraid to offend on matters of conscience and conviction. Mr Musyoka should categorically oppose the proposed constitution if he doesn’t like it. Being “in-between” only reinforces his duplicity and widens the credibility gap.

Mr Musyoka holds himself out as a God-fearing, born-again devout Christian. That is a matter between him and his God. But it is an image that he has parlayed to his political advantage. He has amassed a devoted coterie of right-wing Christian fundamentalist supporters from America’s Bible Belt. Some of these American evangelicals have been pumping money into the 'No' campaign through Kenyan churches. This partly explains why Mr Musyoka cannot untether himself from the 'No' campaign. It’s fair to presume that much of the largesse for his presidential run will come from them. He will need the grassroots networks of the 'No' clergy. He’s also counting on the Kalenjin vote.

Can the son of Tseikuru be faithful to all these interests and support the 'Yes' camp? This realpolitik has him boxed in. That’s why his credibility is on the line. I doubt that Mr Odinga has anything to do with Mr Musyoka’s hecklers. Mr Musyoka needs to look in the mirror instead and decide who he is.

Makau Mutua is Dean and SUNY Distinguished Professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School and Chair of the KHRC.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Scientific breakthrough: Woman "got pregnant after watching porn movie"

A white American woman who had a black baby claims she fell pregnant whilst watching a porn movie in 3D. According to reports, the child's father, who is white, was serving in the military in Iraq when she became pregnant.

His wife Jennifer told him the child was conceived whilst watching a porn movie in 3D. “I see it as suspicious. The films in 3-D are very real. With today’s technology, anything is possible “he said.

Jennifer claimed she went to watch a porn film with her friends in New York, and doesn’t usually watch porn movies, and that she went to watch it to experience the effects in 3D. Jennifer says the child looks like the black actor in the movie. “A month after watching the movie, I started feeling dizzy and the results were positive.” she said. Jennifer admits her marriage could be in trouble. “Even though my husband believed in me, my marriage could be at risk. But he knows I’m faithful,” she said.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Abortion debate: We are dealing with hypocrites and parasites

Most of the churches leading opposition to the new constitution on the grounds that it "allows abortion" shockingly have rules allowing the procedure where the life of the mother is in danger.

The Anglican Church, the Presbyterian Church of East Africa and the Seventh Day Adventists in their rules all make allowance for abortion on medical grounds. Although not specific on allowing abortion, the Catholic Church has rules allowing for “all necessary treatment” to save the life of the mother — provided the procedure is conducted by a trained doctor or doctors. Bishop Maurice Crowley of the Catholic Diocese of Kitale has been quoted as saying that a pregnant woman is entitled to receive all necessary treatment if her life is in danger.

While he emphasises that Canon Law is clear against abortion, Bishop Crowley said: “Every effort should be made to save the life of the child also. This medical care should be undertaken by a doctor or doctors who have the necessary training not just a ‘trained health professional’ though unfortunately not all areas of the country have the proper doctors.” Canon 1398 of the 1983 revision of the Code of Canon Law reads: “A person who actually procures an abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication.” Latae sententiae means a judgment or sentence, which has already been brought; in other words, a type of excommunication which is automatic and does not need a future additional judgment from someone in authority.

Segemik parish priest Ambrose Kimutai agrees that the Catholic church allows abortion when the life of mother or child is endangered. Fr Kimutai, who has broken ranks to support the proposed law, says the church remains very strict against abortion done for birth control or other reasons not related to life-threatening situations. While Canon Law provides excommunication for anyone who participates in abortion, he says, “abortion is allowed under the moral teachings of the church when the life of the mother or child is in danger.”

The priest, who was among the agitators for the second liberation, says what the church fears is the likelihood of abuse given the phrasing of the abortion clause. “What the churches really fear is the open manner in which the subject was treated. It seems it would be open for manipulation.”

SDA Church East African Union President Paul Muasya says his church is not dogmatic against abortion where a pregnancy endangers the mother’s life.“The SDA Church does not support abortion, but when the health of the mother is in danger, then a window should be left for the doctors. That is our stand,” Pastor Muasya says.

Abortion, according to SDA church guidelines, is never an action of little moral consequence; prenatal life must not be thoughtlessly destroyed. The guidelines that were approved and voted by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Executive Committee at the Annual Council session in October 12, 1992 forbid abortion for reasons of birth control, gender selection, or convenience.

Moving along, Anglican Church of Kenya Archbishop Eliud Wabukala is categorical that his Church cannot support abortion. “We all have said that God values life and life begins at conception. That is a principle and we all seem to agree on that aspect,” he said last week as the church officially joined the ‘No’ campaign. However, the ACK mother church, the Church of England, has provisions allowing termination if pregnancy endangers the mother’s life.

Meanwhile, PCEA moderator David Gathanju insists they do not allow abortion. But the PCEA Practice and Procedure manual makes allowance for medical advice. Reading from it Rev Gathanju quoted: “Abortion shall remain illegal except on strict medical advice”.

Report collated from The Nation.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The 10 critical errors Wako’s staff failed to slip into the draft law

As a people who fear only God, hot porridge and electricity, Kenyans should be dismayed that after 30 days, the staff at the Attorney General’s office could only insert one miserable error in the proposed constitution.

Since it is an established fact that the people of Kenya do not know what is good for them, the institutions that think on their behalf, such as the National Security Intelligence Service and the Church, should have worked in concert to ensure that the next constitution does not give create dangerous loopholes that could lead them into self-destruction. Having failed to pump sense into the public so that their submissions would stand up for what is good, having failed to intimidate the Committee of Experts on the constitution review into doing right, and having failed to persuade Parliament to make the changes desirable for the creation of a truly Christian nation, editorial insertions appeared to be the last option left to the Church and the NSIS.

The Christians at the AG’s chambers particularly failed their faith by neglecting to insert these 10 little alterations in the proposed constitution in the course of editing:

1. International treaties that Kenya has signed and ratified — without ever intending to honour them — should not become law. This would mean that Kenya cannot be bound by the requirements of the international law on crimes against humanity, protecting children’s rights and the requirement that women be treated as full human beings.

2. The clause stating that there shall be no state religion should have been changed to read, ‘The State shall treat all religions equally’, meaning that if Christian churches are required to be registered before starting operations, even atheists would have to have a constitution and articles of association. The same would apply to Dini ya Musambwa, Tent of the Living God and Hinduism.

3. Stating that the State shall treat all religions equally also means it shall have licence to favour some and victimise others. Thus, this clause should have the word ‘not’ inserted to negate its import.

4. The whole article on freedom of conscience, religion, belief and opinion should have disappeared and no one would have missed it. By allowing all manner of people to exercise the freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion, the proposed constitution limits the opportunities for Christians to evangelise, to make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit. Muslims, Hindus, heathens and other people should be open to baptism and conversion.

5. In place of the foregoing article, the editors at the AG’s chambers should have inserted a clause allowing Christians to convert people of other faiths to their religion – even if doing so necessitates harassment, intimidation and trespassing on their rights. The same article should have allowed for institutions run by Christians to deny access, employment and other benefits to people who do not confess Christ as their personal saviour.

6. The article on freedom of religion takes away the right to discriminate the issuance of medicine and relief food to only those who profess the true faith. It is so open, as soon as it passed, sword-carrying Sikhs would start queuing at the High Court demanding to be appointed as Praise and Worship Leader at the most successful churches. The next thing we know, Muslims will be demanding to produce the next Pope. We cannot have that.

7. The clause that places the kadhi’s courts as a junior court in the constitution should have been dropped entirely. Although the current constitution allows the kadhi’s courts to operate all over Kenya, or what was known as the former protectorate, it does not hurt anyone to keep repeating that they have been limited to the 10-mile coastal strip. Nairobi, where there are kadhi’s courts, is in the 10-mile coastal strip.

8. Because the draft allows people who choose to go before the Kadhi’s courts to have their marriage, divorce and family inheritance determined according to Muslim law, that makes them more equal than other Kenyans. Christians cannot allow that to happen until they are able to have their own court.

9. For the avoidance of doubt, mortuary attendants and First Aid volunteers should be recognised as trained health professionals so that when anyone reads the constitution, and the fact that these individuals might make decisions about the health of the mother, they would be horrified. Since the church has always spoken out against the death penalty, extra-judicial killings and police execution squads, its voice on the taking of human life while still in formation would remain unchallenged.

10. The section on amending the constitution has the capacity to absorb a small typographical error that would reduce the 1 million signatures to 100,000. It only requires the omission of one zero. Since the Bible says that God helps those who help themselves, and the Christians at the AG’s chambers have neglected to their duty, all Christians soldiers should use every opportunity to make Kenya a safer, more prosperous and moral nation by putting the truth about the proposed constitution on an austere sliming diet. Why would the church let a little thing like the truth get in the way of a good fight?
(The logic and much of the material in this article was generously supplied by the Kenya Christian Church Leaders,, who have more ‘facts’ about the draft constitution.)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New country to join the Euro

The European Commission has given its approval for the 17th country to join the shared Euro currency. >> Which one?

Friday funnies: The pastor's missing poultry

The priest in a small Irish village loved the rooster and ten hens he kept in the hen house behind the church. One Sunday morning, before mass, he went to feed the birds and discovered that the cock was missing. He knew about cock fights in the village,  so he questioned his parishioners in church.

During mass, he asked the congregation, "Has anybody got a cock?" All the men stood up.

"No, no,"  he said, "that wasn't what I meant. Has anybody seen a cock?" All the women stood up.

"No, no," he said, "that wasn't what I meant. "Has anybody seen a cock that doesn't belong to them?" Half the women stood up.

"No, no," he said, "that wasn't what I meant. "Has anybody seen MY cock?" Sixteen altar boys, two priests and a goat stood up.

The priest fainted.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Racist Flight Attendant Gets Out Of Pocket With Don Cheadle

Despite being an Oscar nominated actor who also just happens to be featured in this weekend’s biggest blockbuster Ironman 2, Don Cheadle was just another “black man trying to sneak into first class” to some out of pocket flight attendants he recently encountered.

On his way back to Los Angeles from a concert, Cheadle encountered rude airline staff who thought he was trying to sneak into first class to sit next to his partner Bridgid Coulter.

He recalls, “We get up to the ticket counter and we’re trying to get our seats together. As we walk up to the counter there’s a crowd and we hear, ‘Everybody just back off! Just back off!’ So I walk up to her (airline worker) and say, ‘Don’t you mean back up?’ And she goes, ‘Yeah, you’re right. Back up and back off!”
Cheadle decided to try a different approach and ask a stewardess when the couple boarded the aircraft – but he was shocked to find she was even ruder.

He explains, “I go up to a flight attendant on the plane and say, ‘Ma’am, we’re seated in different seats…’ and she says, ‘Well I can’t change seats on the plane.’ I said, ‘No, I’m aware of that,’ and she goes, ‘What you (sic) want me to do about it?’ (I said) ‘Nothing, that’s fine.’

“So later I go up to her (again) and ask her what was the problem. She went, ‘Well, what did you want me to do about it?’ So I said, ‘I just wanted you to attend, help me.’ So I turned around (to sit down) and she goes, ‘Don’t you turn your face to me. I will get you thrown off the plane.’ The woman had to be on some drug, I imagine! So I used a colourful expression to her and kept moving to my seat…”

The flight attendant finally came to her senses and apologized to Cheadle: “Right before the end (of the flight) she puts two bottles of Courvoisier (cognac) between our seats. I said, ‘What is that? Why are you giving it to me?’

“She said, ‘I’m sorry, this is my way of apologising. I was told there was a black guy with a hat on sneaking into first class and I thought that was you.’ So that’s just racism? That’s cool!”

Cheadle said the airline crew member also mistook him for comedian Tim Meadows.
What’s worse? That they assumed he had to be sneaking because he was “a black guy” or that they figured he’d accept cognac as a form of apology? This is pretty bad, but most of us have experienced the same thing one way or another. Most flight attendants are straight a$$holes these days.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Oil Diplomacy 101 (As taught by China)

China's influence and profile as one of Kenya’s top bilateral partners is clearly on the ascendancy. The new relationship is being brokered at the very highest level – by President Kibaki himself.
What exactly is going on? Is the new relationship going to be based on aid or trade? Or is this China’s oil diplomacy? My sense is that in the coming months, we will be hearing more and more about China in the field of oil exploration.

It is instructive that President Kibaki’s visit came against the backdrop of high expectations about what the Chinese are doing on what is known as the Bhogal well in northern Kenya. I don’t want to raise expectations prematurely, but there are just too many things happening that make me suspect that the Chinese are up to something dramatic on this well.

First, there was the news that they had found what experts described as a high concentration of gas. In Toronto, the stock of Canadian firm AfricaOil, which has a 20% stake in Bhogal, has been rising steadily. The stock of Vanoil, another Canadian Company that owns a block next to Bhogal, has also shot up. Right now, the rumour mills are on overdrive. Speculation is rife that the Chinese are about to start drilling test wells, a signal that a discovery of gas or oil may be in the offing.

Then you have the two-day East African Petroleum conference which opens in Nairobi on today. All the big names in the oil exploration business , including CEOs of major fund managers from the United States, Canada and Europe, are trooping to Nairobi for this meeting. Interest in oil exploration in Kenya has never been higher. Tullow Oil and Heritage, the two firms behind sensational oil discoveries in Uganda, are currently negotiating farm-ins and may enter the fray very soon.

In Beijing a fortnight ago, the Chinese were taking advantage of President Kibaki’s visit there to announce interest in the development of the proposed Lamu Port. In the event that Bhogal happens, the proposed Lamu Port could become even more strategic for the Chinese.

Because of Lamu’s location, the proposed port will be a strategic link to southern Sudan where gas discoveries by Chinese exploration companies cannot be put to commercial use due to the lack of an export outlet. Depending on what happens in Bhogal in the coming months, there will be opportunities for building gas pipes or a refining plant in the Lamu area.

The Bhogal well was identified several years ago. But the point of departure is that the Chinese have dug deeper than anybody else has attempted in the past. At 5,600 metres, the well is the deepest ever in Kenya.
Neighbouring Uganda, with confirmed deposits of an estimated 2 billion barrels of crude, has been hitting oil at a mere 800 metres.

President Kibaki made his first visit to China in 2004 when he signed a memorandum of co-operation covering many areas including trade, education, and infrastructure development. That visit is what set the stage for China’s designs for a foothold in the oil exploration sector in Kenya. Indeed, East Africa has emerged as an appealing region for Beijing’s international strategy of securing and diversifying its sources of energy. The clue that it was all part of China’s oil diplomacy was to emerge when, on President Kibaki’s return from that first visit, the first thing the government did was to give the state-owned China National Offshore Company (CNOOC) exclusive rights to a total of six out of 11 oil exploration blocks. European oil exploration companies that had been hankering after oil exploration licences were caught flat-footed. The only recourse for them was to negotiate farm-ins with CNOOC.

As a matter of fact, there was a time CNOOC put out adverts in the international media inviting farm-ins from interested oil exploration companies. There were loud murmurs especially from Spanish and Swedish firms that had been waiting in the queue for exploration acreage. After two years, the Chinese gave back four blocks to the government, retaining Bhogal where they are currently drilling.

We must thank the Chinese for the unprecedented interest by foreign investors in the oil exploration sector in Kenya. I am no China-basher, but at the rate at which activity by the Chinese is rising in Kenya, it will not long before we see a China Town in Nairobi.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Citizen Moi should shut up or tone down


Although it is true that wisdom increases in tandem with age, it is not like Ferdinand Lassalle’s “iron law of wages”. Otherwise, Daniel arap Moi would now be among the wisest of men.

But we do not see any Daniel in his utterances. Perhaps his problem is that, for a quarter of a century, he was a whole nation’s centre of attention. He may thus be a victim of powerful nostalgia. Even a decade on the peripheries of power and influence, he may still be dreaming of the time when human beings would scurry about — like the Myrmidons of Achilles — whenever he merely sneezed.

Especially at a moment as critical as this, he may be powerfully tempted to draw attention to himself by making sharp-cornered comments on every issue at all. No, that is not the problem. All citizens enjoy that right. And a citizen does not lose such a right whenever “former president” becomes his title. The only rider is that contributions should be knowledgeable, and courteous. And a former president should know a little more than most of us and express it with a little more savoir faire. If that former president is Daniel Toroitich, this need may become acute because many of the issues over which we are now wrangling can be traced to actions which were committed or omitted by himself or his regime.

The perils of the present constitution are to be traced, of course, to London’s Lancaster House. Salient in it are the so-called “imperial presidency” and clauses that perpetuate some gross agrarian incongruities set up by the white settler regime. Neither Jomo Kenyatta nor the son of Moi can be blamed for these constitutional wrongs. What they must be condemned for is that they perpetuated and used those constitutional wrongs to perpetrate grave political and economic wrongs.

Begun by Mzee Kenyatta’s tribal clique of Home Guards and intensified by a new tribal clique hand-made by Mr Moi, there was a vast stampede for public land; banks were looted bare; and real estate was dished out to sons, nephews, cousins and other tribesmen. Tribal discrimination was shameless. Development stood still. Poverty deepened. Educational standards slumped (as reports showed last week). Morality took a nosedive (as the pace and depth of corruption continue to indicate — as a holier-than-thou Church watches). Kenya was launched onto the path of free fall into the abyss of immorality, hunger, ignorance, disease, nakedness, shelterlessness, rapacity, graft, crudity and cruelty which neither the coalition government nor the “holy ones” seem to know how to arrest.

Thus, although, as a citizen, Mr Moi has a right to comment, even adversely, on the contents of the present constitutional draft — including on tribalism and the land question — a little reflection should caution him to choose his words with extraordinary care — or to keep quiet.


Because, while it has taken us upwards of 20 years of struggle for a new constitution, the Nyayo regime put roadblocks in our way for a whole 15 years of those two decades. Nobody says that the present draft cannot be faulted. But, because, for so long, his system is what frustrated our efforts to craft a better document, he should drum up some humility to ask himself whether it is correct and just to tear to shreds what has taken us profuse sweat to produce.

Is it proper to demonise people for coming up with a document — however faulty — when the land injustices of your own government were among the things that provoked the demand for a new constitution, and when you yourself even failed to facilitate the making of it? When you have deployed so much power for so long, wisdom demands that you retire quietly because the attention you crave may prove negative.

The victims of the Nyayo House basement may demand to know where your own socio-moral monuments are to be seen. When you have been a denizen of State House and have reached a certain age, it is imperative to consciously carry yourself with utmost dignity. You may advise, but you cannot shout because, if you do, you may merely give the age-mates of your grandsons the excuse to hurl disrespectful words at you. Mr Moi’s life has been eventful and full of great social lessons for posterity. That is why, instead of howling, he should spend his time more thoughtfully in the production of a book on his life.

If he must, let him gloat over his successes. But let him freely admit his failings because, as the philosopher says, it is often our failures, rather than our successes, that determine our ideals. A candid, self-critical and even humorous autobiography would endear Mr Moi to Kenyans and contribute to our future much more positively than bandying words with political successors.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Man 'Survives Without Food' For 70 Years

AHMEDABAD - Indian doctors are studying a remarkable 83-year-old holy man who claims to have spent the last seven decades without food and water.

Military medics hope the experiments on Prahlad Jani can help soldiers develop their survival strategies.

The long-haired and bearded yogi is under 24-hour observation by a team of 30 doctors during three weeks of tests at a hospital in the western city of Ahmedabad. Two cameras have been set up in his room, while a mobile camera films him when he goes outside, guaranteeing round-the-clock observation. His body will be scanned and his brain and heart activity measured with electrodes.

"The observation from this study may throw light on human survival without food and water," said Dr G. Ilavazahagan, who is directing the research. "This may help in working out strategies for survival during natural calamities, extreme stressful conditions and extra-terrestrial explorations like future missions to the Moon and Mars by the human race." Since the experiment began on April 22, Jani has neither eaten nor drunk, and has not been to the toilet.

"The exercise of taking this yogi under the medical scanner is to understand what energy supports his existence," Dr Ilavazahagan added. "Jani says he meditates to get energy. Our soldiers will not be able to meditate, but we would still like to find out more about the man and his body." Jani, who dresses in red and wears a nose ring, grew up in Charod village in the Mehsana district in Gujarat. He claims to have been blessed by a goddess when he was aged eight, which has enabled him to survive without sustenance.

Stealing elections just to end up bankrupt: the financiual agony of losing a parliamentary seat

It is no secret that Lawmakers who suddenly lose their seats in election petitions face a rough financial ride into ordinary citizenship. Dick Wathika is just about to discover this, as he joins Chirau Ali Mwakwere (Matuga), Omingo Magara (South Mugirango), George Thuo (Juja) and Joel Onyancha (Bomachoge) on the list of petition casualties. Isaac Njuguna, the head of Investment at Zimele, a financial consulting firm, says, "Unless MPs consider their five-year term as temporary jobs then they’d be in for a rude shock."

With Parliament's recent disclosure that dozens of MPs take home less than Sh10,000 a month from a salary of more than Sh1 million, and that more than 80 take home less than Sh100,000, the financial blow for those kicked out can be telling. "Banks normally look at MPs’ payslips and indeed the payslips look very healthy," says Muriuki Karue, a former Ol Kalou MP, and the architect of the Constituency Development Fund. "So they are ready to dish out loans. Add that to the average of Sh200,000 in mortgage … it can be hectic if you just lose your seat."

The former MP says the take-home pay for an average member of Parliament is usually Sh150,000, despite the huge income. Parliament gives MPs a mortgage of up to Sh8 million each, payable in less than 50 months. "If you lose your seat midway with such a mortgage, Parliament will take the house. It’s just like a bank," says Karue. The monthly salary of an MP is Sh200,000, plus allowances running up to Sh800,000 a month – enough to build and equip two classrooms in a rural primary school.

These mouth-watering perks are in the form of car maintenance allowance (Sh75,000), entertainment (Sh60,000), house (Sh70,000), responsibility (Sh30,000) and constituency allowance (Sh50,000).  Add to these Sh366,000 transport allowance and the daily Sh10,000 for MPs who belong to committees, and the financial shock that awaits an ousted MP once outside the precincts of the august House is complete.

However, all of them get to keep the high-end fuel-guzzlers which they get for free through a Sh3.3 million grant as soon as they enter Parliament. These then act either as a memory aid of days gone by, or a constant reminder of the fall from grace, moreso in these days of ever-increasing fuel prices.

As a former assistant minister for Public Works, Dick Wathika not only loses Sh100,000 in ministerial allowance, but also gives up the government-fuelled car and security. The clout of controlling the Sh180 million disbursed to constituencies in the current budget also disappeared as the Makadara MP was shown the door. Zimele’s Njuguna contends that with such huge incomes, the MPs have to be "smart" not to end up begging in towns.

The financial consultant said MPs who lost their seats would have to adapt to a lower lifestyle. "The initial impact should force such a person to adjust their budgets downwards, to the bare minimum, says Mr Njuguna, adding that, as any other person who suddenly lands big money, the MPs must have taken on board extra commitment, such that when the money taps are turned off, they are left holding the baby.