Thursday, November 30, 2006

NARC-otics in a Plastic Bag

The NARC government has come up with a new scheme to control the plastic bags that are polluting our environment. The Nation reports that the Kenya Bureau of Standards will revise regulations to increase the thickness of plastic bags. The price of these bags will more than double in mid-January. One might reasonably expect that this will reduce the public's appetite for these bags. However, one would be wrong.

In a typically self-defeating move, the cost will only be passed on "indirectly" to the consumer. This essentially means that commodity prices will be marked up to reflect the increased cost of the plastic bags.

Instead of asking shoppers to pay directly for the bags when and if they want them, the government has chosen to charge all consumers regardless of whether or not they make the environmentally sound decision to reject the bags. This is unlikely to result in fewer people asking for the bags at the supermarket counter. For that to happen, consumers who make environmentally foolish choices would need to bear the full cost of those choices, not share the burden with those who chose otherwise.

A direct, and thus voluntary, payment for these bags would automatically result in fewer plastic bags coming out of the shops and even fewer ending up in the garbage dumps. After all, one is unlikely to throw away something that he/she has paid good money for.

An involuntary charge has the effect of subsidising bad behaviour and punishing responsible choices. And this at a cost of 2000 badly needed jobs. Way to go Kivutha Kibwana.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Has Corruption been Legalised in Kenya?

"The AG as the principal legal adviser of the Government entered into a contractual agreement with the Nedermar Technology BV. This in essence locked out all agencies from the deal. KACC cannot move in now to investigate the security contract."

So declared Mr Justice Joseph Nyamu of the High Court when he stopped the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) from investigating businessmen Andrew Burnard Pritpal Singh Thetty, who are suspected to be harbouring crucial information relating to the Kshs 2.7 billion Anglo-Leasing security contract.

Now, I'm no lawyer but that sounds like the High Court is saying that any deal that meets with the AG's approval cannot thereafter be investigated by other agencies. Since the AG advises the government on all deals, the verdict essentially means that no government contracts can be investigated. If I'm right, then the doors of hell have just been kicked wide open. Any lawyer who can help decipher this?

Theatre of the Absurd

Guess who's the new Official Leader of the Opposition? None other than Nicholas Kipyator Biwott. Yesterday afternoon, following the Registrar's acceptance of his list of KANU officials, the "Total Man" sauntered into Parliament and, to applause from the Narc Government's front bench, sat in the seat formerly reserved for Uhuru Kenyatta. In a shocking turnaround, the man who more than any other personified the corruption of the Moi era is now the one to lead the way in vetting the Kibaki administration.

According to the Standard, the Registrar of Societies, Bernice Gachegu, had initially turned down the request to ratify the election of Biwott as Kanu Chairman but succumbed to pressure from an unnamed Cabinet Minister. The registration thus appears to be the culmination of meetings between Mo1 and Kibaki and amounts to a Government attempt to appoint the Leader of the Opposition.

This needs to be opposed by everyone, not because we have love for KANU, but because it represents an existential challenge to our hard-won democracy. If the Government is allowed to get away with determining the leadership of opposition parties, then we are on our way back to the days of de facto one party rule. The ridiculous vista of government ministers applauding the (s)election of the man supposed to lead the way in scrutinising their actions speaks volumes. The government seeks a free hand to do as it will without the encumbrance of a parliamentary opposition.

The unnamed Cabinet Minister (Uhuru in his press conference implied it could be Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua) should be prosecuted for abuse of office and relieved of his/her position. The Registrar of Societies should likewise go. If she cannot stand up for what is right, then she doesn't deserve the job. The President should come clean and tell us what was discussed in the meetings with Mo1. If indeed this was on the agenda, then Kibaki should also go. The blood of the many who died in the cause of democratic governance calls out for this.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Donde Daughter Released?

There's a report over at Mashada that Donde's Daughter has been released by the Malaysian authorities. No word on her less well connected associate.

MPs Hitch Another Ride on the Gravy Train

It's all snouts to the trough as MPs prepare to change the misguided Constituency Development Fund Act to give themselves more power over the management of the Fund. According to the Nation, not content with appointing their wives and relatives to the CDF Committees, the legislators
"have proposed the removal of the fund's national management committee, which has an oversight role in running the scheme and want it replaced with a new team to be under their control. The committee is responsible for disbursing the money to constituencies, ensuring prudent management of the fund and vetting annual reports, among other duties.
If MPs have their way, the committee will be replaced by a nine-member National Constituencies Development Fund secretariat comprising officials they have employed."
But surely we can count on the Comatose-in-Chief to veto the bill, eh? Ha!

Is Judith the new June?

Remember when Mo1's family and his Cabinet Ministers were always in the news, involved in one scandal after another? Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same. First there was the alleged non-daughter's association with the Arturs saga. Now, the Nation reports:
President Kibaki's daughter, Ms Judith Wanjiku, and Defence minister Njenga Karume yesterday lost their bid to be excluded from a Sh40 million suit in which allegations of fraud have been made against them.
We have already several reincarnations of the "Total Man" (including a "Total Woman"). I'm just waiting for Kibaki's version of Gideon.

Safaricom, The Bitter Option

A new twist to the Safaricom saga. According to the East African, Mobitelea Ventures Ltd. was, at least till 2000 a non-trading arm of Telkom Kenya. It would seem then that Mobitelea acquired a stake in Vodafone Kenya Ltd. (which by then was wholly owned by Vodafone Plc) sometime between March 2001 and May 2002. This implies either of two things.

One, that Telkom, through Mobitelea and using public money, bought shares in VKL thus increasing its effective shareholding in Safaricom to 70% without informing the public. It then sold the equivalent of 5% of that shareholding back to Vodafone Plc generating $10 million and again failed to report this. It would also mean that contrary to its declarations, Telkom actually effectively owns 65% of Safaricom and is trying to hide that 5% from us.

Or two, Telkom had by then quietly sold (or given) Mobitelea to someone who then managed to convince Vodafone Plc to sell them a piece of VKL on the hush-hush. This begs many questions. Whom did Telkom sell (or give) Mobitelea to (a search conducted by The EastAfrican at the Company Registry to determine ownership or directorship of Mobitelea Ventures came up with nothing), why and for how much? Were the proceeds declared in the company's accounts? Can Telkom so easily dispose of a public asset without informing anyone? Why doesn't the company come clean and reveal whom it sold (or gave) Mobitelea to?

The fact that Mobitelea is now said, again according to East African, to be associated with Mo1 and his clique suggests that the latter may be the case. If so, then there is a clear suggestion of solicitation. According to Justin Muturi, chairman of the Public Investments Committee of parliament, Vodafone Plc acquired the stake in Safaricom without going through a competitive bidding process. Was this because they forged a thieves' bargain to subsequently sell (or give -I haven't come across any evidence that Mobitelea actually paid anything for a stake in VKL and neither has Muturi) some of those shares to Mo1 and his crew? Why did Vodafone agree to buy back its shareholding in VKL so soon after disposing of it?

Whichever way one looks at this, and contrary to pesa tu's protestations, it stinks to high heaven. His extremely simplified shareholding structure, which leads him to conclude that "only the shareholders of the involved parties VKL, Vodafone Plc and Mobitelea Ventures ( as opposed to Telkom shareholder, Joe public) can. . . . be aggrieved", is only fit for simpletons.

A Positive Moody on HIV

Are you HIV-positive? Then this is your lucky day. According to a report in the Standard, Moody Awori has given you carte-blanche to commit any crime without fear of incarceration. Apparently, the wisdom born of age (I choose to call it senility) leads him to believe that a "stay in prison would incarcerate [you] twice." And it doesn't stop there. If you are already resident in any of our prisons and have more than two years of your sentence to serve then your release shall be prioritised so you can "spend time with your family." Of course your HIV status obliterates any chance of you re-offending or otherwise posing a threat to society. Whoever heard of HIV sufferers committing crimes? Why do you think they are called HIV-positive? It is an obvious reference to the peculiar effect the virus has on the conscience. Or so the VP would have us believe.

Another Kenyan Busted for Drugs

When it rains, it pours. Last week brought news of two Kenyan students, Ms Deborah Donde (former MP Joe Donde’s daughter) and Ms Maureen Gathoni arrested in Malaysia for drug-related offences (they are due in court on Friday). Now the Standard reports that another young Kenyan female student has been convicted of drug trafficking in Guangzhou, China and sentenced to life imprisonment. Ms Oliviah Singaniabe Munoko, 26, was convicted on her own guilty plea for trying to sneak 1.896 kg of heroin from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to China. She was lucky to escape with her life considering that the offence carries the death penalty and China leads the world in state sponsored executions.

Considering that Kibaki was in Beijing recently, could this be the reason for what Foreign Affairs Minister Raphael Tuju described as a "lenient but tragic" sentence? Did the President raise the issue with his Chinese hosts? It is also unclear whether the GoK supplied her with legal aid as it is currently doing (according to a Majonzi comment on kipepeo) in the case of Donde and Gathoni. It does not escape me that having a prominent relative in Kenya entitles one to unmitigated public sympathy and also confers the "right" to certain state benefits. Those of poorer stock are mostly abandoned to the fates.

Shadow Boxing: Kilonzo vs Wako

Amos Wako has just received a black eye from the Shadow AG Mutula Kilonzo in the first round of their legal bout over Kenyan nominee to the East African Legislative Assembly. Sitting in Arusha, The East African Court of Justice granted an interim injunction restraining the clerk of the Kenyan National Assembly and the Attorney-General from recognising the nine nominees from Kenya, whose names were forwarded to EALA in Arusha "as duly elected members".

The suit was filed last month by Kilonzo Advocates and Associates. During the hearing before a panel of five judges, the plaintiffs from Nairobi said they were aggrieved by the procedure applied in the nomination of the Narc candidates and wanted the selections revoked. Their legal team was led by Kilonzo, while Wako stood for the defendants.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Looking Back

Remember the good old days? Days of the "Unbwogable" NARC? January 2003 seems like a whole ice-age ago. Here's an excerpt from the article Kenya Elections Hailed Worldwide written by Ghanaian journalist Ofeibea Quist-Arcton way back when. Brings tears to my eyes.
..."The positive thing about Kibaki is that he is very strongly against corruption. (Here) everything depends on what the president says and does over the next 100 days," said political analyst John Githongo. "The most important thing is to restore the confidence of Kenyans in their own institutions," said Githongo, echoing a widely held view that placing honest and capable people in top jobs and public institutions must be a top priority for Kibaki to restore public confidence.

"The past regime was all about corruption and repression, physical repression, causing fear - people in Kenya have always feared government. If Kibaki can change that, he will have done very well," Githongo concluded.

Kenyans appear to be ready to give Kibaki the benefit of the doubt and the chance to honour his promises. The world community is certainly wholeheartedly behind Kenya's new president. The African Union hailed the 'political maturity' of Kenyans and their leaders for their peaceful and democratic election. The former colonial power, Britain, the United States and others have lauded the conduct of the polls and pledged their support.

Kenya's success has been praised as an important example to other African countries...
However, almost presciently, she asks:
'Has Kibaki bitten off more than he can chew in promising a new Kenya?... The obvious answer is 'of course'. But what else could he have done? Kibaki has inherited a country, saddled with an economic recession, riddled with corruption, dogged by insecurity and home to old and poorly performing infrastructure. Surely Kibaki had to promise the Kenyan people he would change all that. What option did a veteran opposition leader have as he campaigned to occupy the country's top job?

...Of course, whether Kibaki can deliver on even half of his plethora of promises is another question. Only time will tell. But if he can raise the morale of Kenyans, boost the economy, provide free primary school education, restore confidence and transparency in the government, the judiciary and other central institutions, honour his pledge of zero tolerance on corruption - and sanction all those who transgress - then the new government will have made an encouraging start.
It's now time to bring out the score card.
Raise the morale of Kenyans_______Fail
Boost the economy______________Pass (I'm being generous here)
Free primary school education______Pass (I'm being very generous here)
Restore confidence and transparency in the government____Fail
Honour his pledge of zero tolerance on corruption and sanction all those who transgress___Fail

2 out of 5. That dog don't hunt.

The Rattled Snake is still Biting

The Standard reports on yet another example of Kibaki's idea of expanding democratic space. Not satisfied with conducting illegal raids on the Standard Group's premises and confiscating or destroying private property, the NARC government is now trying to drive them out of business.

This pathetic attempt at censorship now puts NARC in the same league as the youth league of Namibia’s ruling party South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) which in September 2002 asked state authorities not to buy advertising space in The Namibian because it ran a cartoon portraying President Nujoma as a dog attacking British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Birds of a Feather...

Believe it or not, Bro. Paul Kamlesh Pattni is taking the leap into Kenyan politics. According to The Standard, he is set to take over the chairmanship of the Kenya National Democratic Alliance (Kenda) party during the party's Delegates Conference in December. You just can't keep the pigs away from the muck. President Pattni, anyone?

The Gospel according to Michuki and Mungatana

More idiocy from the NARC government. As reported by The Standard, Internal Security Minister John Michuki and Justice and Constitutional Affairs Assistant minister, Mr Danson Mungatana, think that allegations of "massive corruption" are "falsehoods". Mungatana went on to claim that "The alleged corruption incidents attributed to Kenya are just mere press reports."

OK. I guess Anglo-Leasing really is "the scandal that never was", 3 Cabinet Ministers were forced to resign for nothing and President Kibaki's own anti-corruption czar was imagining things when he published his dossier and fled the country. Mungatana's boss, Martha Karua is investigating people based on nothing more than "press reports" and VP Moody Awori was off his rocker when he said that there was "grand corruption at the highest levels" of the government.

Where can I get whatever it is that these guys are smoking?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Iraq: The War of the Imagination

Just read a fantastic, if lengthy, exposition on how the situation in Iraq got to be where it is. The funny thing is, the whole idea of Saddam's WMD, the reason given for the invasion (and the reason I supported it) hardly merits a paragraph. Neither does oil, the reason many I consider conspiracy theorists think the war was waged. Apparently Bush and his advisers were getting high on their own supply.

We are well down the road toward this dark vision, a wave of threatening instability that stands as the precise opposite of the Bush administration's "democratic tsunami," the wave of liberalizing revolution that American power, through the invasion of Iraq, was to set loose throughout the Middle East. The chances of accomplishing such change within Iraq itself, let alone across the complicated landscape of the entire region, were always very small. Saddam Hussein and the autocracy he ruled were the product of a dysfunctional politics, not the cause of it. Reform of such a politics was always going to be a task of incalculable complexity.

Faced with such complexity, and determined to have their war and their democratic revolution, the President and his counselors looked away. Confronted with great difficulties, their answer was to blind themselves to them and put their faith in ideology and hope - in the dream of a welcoming landscape, magically transformed. The evangelical vision may have made the sense of threat after September 11 easier to bear but it did not change the risks and the reality on the ground. The result is that the wave of change the President and his officials were so determined to set in course by unleashing American military power may well turn out to be precisely the wave of Islamic radicalism that they had hoped to prevent. Read the full article.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Another Krammy Celebrity Meltdown

To Tom Cruise's couch jumping and Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic rant, you can now add this. Ladies and Gentlemen, for your viewing displeasure I give you Seinfeld's "Kramer" (Michael Richards) self destructing on stage.

Monday, November 20, 2006

More Veiled Threats to Bloggers

Just as I was beginning to think that perhaps I had overreacted in this case, the following spam comment was posted on this and other blogs (including Alexcia's).
Egypt arrests another blog critic
Ayyoub's blog has posted criticism of the government
Police in Cairo have detained a blogger whose posts have been critical of the Egyptian government.
Rami Siyam, who blogs under the name of Ayyoub, was detained along with three friends after leaving the house of a fellow blogger late at night.
No reasons have been given for Mr Siyam's detention. The other friends were released after being questioned.
Human rights groups have accused Egypt of eroding freedom of speech by arresting several bloggers recently.
BBC Arab Affairs analyst Magdi Abdelhadi says blogging in Egypt is closely associated with political activism in a culture where democratic freedoms are severely restricted.
Bloggers are at the centre of Egyptian political activism
In recent weeks, bloggers have been exposing what they say was the sexual harassment of women at night in downtown Cairo in full view of police who did not intervene.
Mr Siyam's host on Saturday night, Muhammad Sharqawi, was detained for several weeks earlier this year.
The most recently detained blogger, Abdel Kareem Nabil, was detained in Alexandria on 6 November and was charged with disrupting public order, inciting religious hatred and defaming the president.
Amnesty International says Mr Amer appeared to have been detained for expressing critical views about Islam and Egypt's al-Azhar religious authorities.

I find it hard not to believe that there is a concerted campaign to intimidate bloggers who are critical of the Kibaki government. It seems that the above comment is meant to serve as warning. The same guy (or gal) who posted it also posted other spam comments portraying Kibaki in a positive light.

I refuse to be cowed by such underhand tactics and will continue to express my views plainly. I urge all other bloggers to do the same.

I am growing weary of all these pro-Raila/Kibaki spam comments. Any suggestions on how I can stop them without making it too hard for legitimate readers to comment?

Whitewashing Moody Awori

In February, the Law Society of Kenya said it would act if the AG delayed in prosecuting those named by John Githongo and demanded that VP Moody Awori resign over his role in the Anglo Leasing scandal. Nine months later and despite Wako's inaction on the Githongo dossier, the LSK's words have proven to be an exercise in verbosity. The LSK's hypocrisy was further exposed today when the VP was an honoured guest at the launch of their Legal Awareness/Legal Aid Week.

Inviting tainted politicians to preside over such functions, as we see almost daily on our TV screens, sends the wrong message. The government may be unwilling to prosecute them but that is no reason for the rest of us to acquiesce in the plunder of our resources. What the LSK has done is tantamount to whitewashing the VP. It is shameful and deserves to be condemned by all.

I call upon all bloggers and lawyers to make some noise about this. At the very least, let us force them to explain themselves and thus pass an unmistakable message: We will not distinguish between the corrupt and those who harbour them.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Man Bites Dog...

Interesting stories courtesy of Headlines on Things that Matter:

Do you have the balls for a kidnapping? This guy no longer does.

Who needs a dentist when there's superglue? Not him!

Wanna join the International Order of Old Bastards? You're too late to see the strippers though!

Why finding porn on the net is not as easy as you might think.

Warning: Old Bastards and Internet porn addicts may be on this flight. No breastfeeding!

Is your wife driving you potty? Why you should always keep her in the loop.

I knew it. The Ref's always to blame.

Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome

A disease all sexually frustrated women would die for? This from Mainichi Daily News:
(By Ryann Connell)
November 16, 2006
Growing numbers of Japanese women are afflicted with an illness that gives them orgasms virtually 24 hours a day. And with suggestions that it could be deadly, the women hardly know whether they're coming or going, according to Shukan Post (11/24).
"If a guy simply taps me on the shoulder, I just swoon. Even when I go to the toilet, my body reacts. I'm a little bit scared of myself," one woman sufferer tells Shukan Post.
Another adds: "When I got on the train one day, I could feel blood gushing toward a certain part of my body and it felt so good I almost let out a moan. It was sheer murder when everybody got pushed into the carriage."
Yet another woman has her say. "Even the vibration of my mobile phone is enough to set me off," she says. "My friend said there's something called Iku Iku byo (Cum Cum Disease). I guess I've got that."
What may be afflicting these women, the best-selling weekly says, is an ailment called persistent sexual arousal syndrome (PSAS). Read More
Artificial insemination, sperm banks, single parent families, working mothers.... and now this! Are men becoming irrelevant?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Wagging the Nuclear Dog

A follow up to my post on Nuclear proliferation. According to truthout Guest Contributor Bill Quigle:
Three men protesting the presence of weapons of mass destruction in North Dakota were sentenced to federal prison terms of over three years and ordered to pay $17,000 in restitution by a federal judge in Bismarck. The three dressed as clowns and went to the Echo-9 launch site of the intercontinental Minuteman III nuclear missile in rural North Dakota in June 2006. They broke the lock off the fence and put up peace banners and posters. One said: "Swords into plowshares - Spears into pruning hooks." They poured some of their own blood on the site, hammered on the nuclear launching facility and waited to be arrested....During their trial, the men openly admitted to trying to disarm the nuclear weapon. They pointed out to the jury that each one of these missiles was a devastating weapon of mass destruction, a killing machine precisely designed to murder hundreds of thousands. Testimony by experts about the illegality of these weapons of mass destruction under international law, and their effects, were excluded by the court and never heard by the jury. Read More.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which the US loves to quote in relation to the nuclear activities of North Korea and Iran also states in Article VI:

"Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control."

When, in the closing years of the last century, India called attention to the requirement for complete nuclear disarmament by all under this provision, the Clinton Administration said its implementation was "unrealistic" though the collapse of the Soviet Union a decade earlier had ended the nuclear arms race. The US (and all other nuclear powers) therefore is also in breach of its "international obligations" in this regard and has little moral authority to demand that others comply with the NPT. However, instead of taking steps to remedy this, the US is locking up citizens who are bold enough to point out the inconsistency.

But this is far from an isolated incidence of non-compliance. The NPT has been repeatedly violated by the nuclear states in pursuit of narrow political interests.

According to a report by John Burroughs, Executive Director Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy the 2000 NPT Review Conference came up with an "unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapons States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament to which all states are committed under Article VI." Don't hold your breath though. The report states that "during the Conference, diplomatic talking points released by The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists revealed that US negotiators advised Russia that keeping its nuclear forces on alert is a good idea". Why? "Under 'any possible future arms control agreement,' the talking points say, Russia, could maintain on 'constant' alert a 'large, diversified, viable arsenal', sufficient to mount an 'annihilating counterattack' in response to a US first strike, regardless of any 'limited' US national missile defense system." Of course, the US could then use the same argument to justify its arsenal's continued existence. We thus have here the nuclear powers colluding to eliminate the possibility of their ever having to comply with their "unequivocal undertaking".

Under Article I of the NPT "each nuclear-weapon State undertakes not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly; and not in any way to assist, encourage, or induce any non-nuclear weapon State to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, or control over such weapons or explosive devices." However, in 1976, a US Senate committee uncovered secret US heavy water exports to India which paved the way for India's nuclear weapons programme. According to Wikipedia, in March 2006 The UK's Foreign Office admitted that in the 1950s and 1960s, Britain made hundreds of secret shipments of restricted materials- including samples of fissile material (uranium-235 in 1959 and plutonium in 1966) as well as highly enriched lithium-6 which is used to boost fission bombs and fuel hydrogen bombs- to Israel. A BBC Newsnight investigation also showed that Britain shipped 20 tons of heavy water directly to Israel in 1959 and 1960 to start up the Dimona reactor, constructed with French help in 1956.

The UK and France are both declared Nuclear States and signatories to the NPT. Their conduct simply proves that the NPT is a byword for global domination by the nuclear powers; a scheme to keep such weapons, and the political power they convey, in their hands and in the hands of their friends. They never intended it to "facilitate the cessation of the manufacture of nuclear weapons, the liquidation of all their existing stockpiles, and the elimination from national arsenals of nuclear weapons."

Created, in Paul Leventhal's words "for a world of thousands of nuclear power plants and of multi-billion-dollar deals (French plans to export reprocessing plants to Pakistan, South Korea and Taiwan; Germany's pact to supply reactors, enrichment and reprocessing plants to Brazil; U.S. and European plans to provide the Shah of Iran with all the reactors and reprocessing plants he wanted; and Japan's plan to achieve energy independence by acquiring more plutonium than contained in the arsenals of the superpowers)" the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ---with its seamless arrangement of assured nuclear supply built upon pledges from the non-weapon states not to produce nuclear weapons and from the weapon states to negotiate in good faith to get rid of theirs---was supposed to take care of all problems. That world has not materialised. I repeat the assertion in my earlier post that the NPT is obsolete and we need a new treaty to govern the use of fissile material for the benefit of all humanity.

Nuclear weapons cannot be disinvented. That much is plain. However, a situation where a few countries countries are allowed to continue to develop, possess and threaten the rest with these weapons is just as "unrealistic". The continuing proliferation and the duplicity of the nuclear states has proven this. Any new treaty must ensure that all states are treated equally and must disband the so-called Nuclear Club. All existing WMD must be consolidated under control of a central, international authority with the legal obligation and mandated to to fire in retaliation immediately a nuclear attack on any country, for any reason by any other country is confirmed.

As fantastical as this might sound, it is the only sure way to temper the global appetite for WMD. And because terrorists lack the capacity to develop WMD and rely on "rogue" states to provide them with the material and technology, such temperance would no doubt reduce (and hopefully eliminate) the possibility of nuclear-armed terrorists. On June 26, 1946, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, soon to be India's first Prime Minister, declared: "As long as the world is constituted as it is, every country will have to devise and use the latest devices for its protection" including nuclear technology. The NPT has achieved little more than the attempted stratification of the prevailing order. It needs to go.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Sudan Wakes Up and Smells the Koffi

UN peacekeepers may finally be headed to Darfur! However, the devil is in the "clarifications".

ADDIS ABABA, 17 Nov 2006 (IRIN) - The Sudanese government has ‘agreed in principle’ to the deployment of United Nations peacekeepers in the western region of Darfur alongside African Union forces, officials said after a high-level meeting in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. Read more.

Kibaki Must Go

Received this email from a friend in Germany.
Today, while waiting for a lecturer, some africans almost laughed me out of town for kibaki's actions!!!!!!! Apparently, they have all read and seen on BBC how Kibaki has brought back to power Saitoti and [Kiraitu].....right at the front and [in the] face of international top-dogs!!!!! Apparently, NEPAD recently chided him for not doing much on corruption....and then this!!!!! Very interesting how being Kenyan no longer elicits " you guys can run..." or "habari....." or "jambo....."!!!! Only pity and curiosity [over] how such non-sense spouts out of Kenya. They know all the scams...Goldenberg, Anglo, you name it. I was really surprised. I wonder if Obaks can gain anything from Saitoti...Do you think he has a voting block???????? naja....Kenya politics.....And I read the Daily Nation editorial.....Woefully acquiescent.

It's hard to disagree with the sentiment that Kibaki has made Kenyans a laughing stock. And I fully subscribe to the outrage and sense of betrayal evident in the email. Kibaki must go. It is the only way to rescue our country from the jaws of these crocodiles and teach whoever comes after him that we will not tolerate such shenanigans from a government that promised so much and delivered so little. I am normally not one for sloganeering but I'm increasingly partial to the tune of "Yote Yawezekana Bila Mwai."

Overheard in a Bar

A few of the things I overheard at the bar yesterday. I am not vouching for the truth of any of these statements.

"When Kibaki arrived the UN headquarters with Koffi Anan, he ignored Wangari Maathai's outstretched hand of greeting. Later in the day, she learnt that she had been fired from Cabinet."

"There's this lady who intends to bribe the judge and prosecutor in a court case where she is accused of being found in possession of illegal timber. Apparently, she claims she bought the timber from another judge and that the matter only got this far because the Forestry officer who arrested her refused her Kshs. 20,000 bribe."

"London-Harare is British Airways most profitable route -but they don't want you to know that!"

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Islamofascism in Kenya

Just came across this report on some Christians who were charged in a Nairobi court of inciting Muslims to violence.
NAIROBI – A Nairobi court has acquitted two U.S. evangelists and their Kenyan counterparts of charges of inciting Muslims to violence.
Orisio Andrew Saucier and Paul Eddie Garcia of Calvary Baptist Church were declared free men by Kibera Principal Magistrate Hellen Wasilwa, who noted that the anti-Islamic literature used by the defendants was similar to anti-Christian literature in Muslim bookstores that, neverthless, did not cause Christians to raise charges of “incitement to violence.”
I find the idea that Islam is somehow immune to criticism to be an affront to secularism and applaud the Kibera Principal Magistrate Hellen Wasilwa for standing up to the demagoguery of the fanatics. It is a pity that the police and prosecutors could not do the same.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Broken News

Just watched NTV news and heard Sophie Ikenye declare that "police suspect [Kshs. 200,000 worth of Bhang recovered from a newspaper delivery van enroute from Kisumu] was being transported to an unknown destination." To suspect that contraband found in the back of a van at a police roadblock is being "transported" seems to me to be the height of inanity.

But Ms Ikenye is in good company. Today's Standard tells us:

[In an exclusive interview on Monday, Raila Odinga] named eight prominent personalities he claimed are co-plotters in a 'conspiracy' to take out the Opposition politicians ahead of next year’s General Election. He named one of the Artur brothers, a senior Cabinet minister, a Member of Parliament for a Nairobi constituency, a political activist, a senior police officer, two unfamiliar people and a recently retired senior police officer.
Wow! Could they be any more specific? Now we have been unquestionably informed. When I think of all the lives sacrificed for press freedom...

On a lighter note, anyone remember the howlers on KBC (or the then VOK)? A newscaster once referred to the late Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu as "Chausiku". Another presenter spoke of the "rallying ass" Patrick Njiru (he meant "rallying ace"). Leonard Mambo Mbotela commentating on a soccer match: "Goooooal!! Mpira umetoka nje!"

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Intimidation or what?

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Today I received 24 spam comments (which I promptly deleted) highlighting the purported achievements of the Kibaki goverment accompanied by the following warning:


Now is this an attempt to stop me expressing my contempt for the NARC government? Is there a campaign underfoot to silence bloggers who might be critical of the Kibaki government? Keep in mind that as Chris recently reported "Internal Security Minister John “Standard Raid” Michuki ... booked a full page advertisement in the East African Standard to warn all those who are reporting “sensationally and arrogantly on the country and the government to tone down."

I for one will not give in to Gestapo tactics. Kenya is my country and this is my blog. I will not allow anyone to curtail my right to freely express myself. I totally agree with the American writer Edward Abbey's sentiment: “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”

So Mr. Anonymous, you know who I am, what I do and probably where I live. I am sure we can continue this conversation in the privacy of your torture chambers. Till then, I would be happy if you performed an unnatural sexual act on yourself and stayed away from my universe.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Donald and the (Lame) Duck

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By replacing Donald Rumsfeld after Tuesday's electoral "thumpin'" by the Democrats, President George Bush has unwittingly confirmed his lame-duck status. Coming just a week after declaring that the Defence Secretary would remain for the full term of the Bush administration, the move shows that the end has come much sooner than anticipated.

The loss of the House of Representatives, and perhaps the Senate, will put the brakes on the President's legislative agenda and herald an era of Congressional witch-hunts. The knives are already being sharpened. The Democrats will demand their full pound of flesh and I don't think Rumsfeld (though undoubtedly a heavyweight) measures up. Subpoenas will soon be making their way to Administration officials inviting them to bare their breasts for the monumental failures in Iraq.

And for Republicans looking to the 2008 elections, Bush has become the millstone around their necks. During the just concluded campaigns, the President found himself shunned by many Republican candidates, his endorsement considered akin to the "kiss of death".

I expect the White House will be a very lonely place for the next two years.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Getting Away with Genocide for Dummies

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is expected to take 17 years and cost an estimated $100million per year prosecuting war criminals who killed 200,000 people.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is only expected to take 14 years and cost a relatively measly $24 million per year prosecuting those responsible for the genocide of 800,000 - 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

The Khmer Rouge Tribunal (KRT), will only take 3 years and cost about $20 million per year to try those responsible for the deaths of 3 million Cambodians.

The more people you kill, the lower the incentive the international community has to spend time and money prosecuting you. Or just don't kill people in Europe.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Selective Amnesia in International Justice

The death sentence handed out to Saddam Hussein, while fully deserved, is just the latest chapter in the sorry history of the selective application of international law.

The charge of “crimes against humanity” was first articulated in reference to the Armenian Genocide of 1915-18. According to Wikipedia:

"On May 24, 1915, the Allied Powers, Britain, France, and Russia, jointly issued a statement explicitly charging for the first time ever another government of committing "a crime against humanity". This joint statement stated:

"[i]n view of these new crimes of Turkey against humanity and civilization, the Allied Governments announce publicly to the Sublime Porte that they will hold personally responsible for these crimes all members of the Ottoman Government, as well as those of their agents who are implicated in such massacres".
However, the Turks were never formally prosecuted under international law. The failure to hold them to account paved the way for the Nazi Holocaust. In 1939, just before the Nazi invasion of Poland and the beginning of WW2, Adolf Hitler told his generals, “The aim of war is not to reach definite lines but to annihilate the enemy physically. It is by this means that we shall obtain the vital living space that we need. Who today still speaks of the Armenians?”

Following WW2, war crimes trials were organised at Nuremberg and in Tokyo to prosecute the surviving Nazi and Japanese leaders. One of the charges they faced was, ironically, crimes against humanity. Chief Prosecutor Robert Jackson described them thus: “Four great nations, stung with injury, stay the hand of vengeance and subject their captive enemies to the judgement of the law … one of the most important tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason”. However, according to Cesare Romano, of the New York–based Center on International Cooperation, "[the trials'] ultimate legitimacy rested on the victor’s right to decide the fate of the defeated enemy rather than on law”. The London Charter of the International Military Tribunal, the decree that set down the laws and procedures by which the trials were to be conducted, defined that only crimes of the European Axis Powers (Italy, Germany and Japan) could be tried. It was also held that it would not constitute a defense to argue that the Allies had done many of the same things the Axis Powers were being accused of. In fact, "one of the most important tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason” turned out to be nothing more than revenge cloaked in a veneer of international jurisprudence -victors' justice.

More recently, though the systematic persecution of one racial group by another, such as occurred during the South African apartheid government, was recognized as a crime against humanity by the United Nations in 1976, not one of the apartheid era leaders was ever sent to the Hague. While ad hoc tribunals were set up to try those responsible for the genocide in Rwanda and "ethnic cleansing" in the former Yugoslavia, none was established for SA. In fact, the "Great Crocodile" P.W. Botha, who oversaw some of the worst atrocities, died peacefully last week without ever so much as apologising for his crimes. In fact, South African national flags are flying at half-mast and the government offered to grant him a state funeral inspite of his pooh-poohing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up to probe apartheid abuses and the fact that the defunct flag of apartheid South African still flies outside his home (According to Wikipedia, the symbolism of the flag defines South Africa as an inherently white nation, recognizing the country's British and Dutch ethnic roots, but offering no symbolic recognition of the black majority).

Widespread colonial era abuses in Africa have similarly not merited investigation by the international community. Neither have the massacres in Mao's China, Stalin's Russia, Pinochet's Chile. According to Niko Kyriakou, the Cambodian government has since 1997 sought the UN's help to create an international tribunal to bring to justice about a dozen living suspects, most in their early 70s, for their roles in the starvation, forced labor, arbitrary killings, and torture that were the hallmarks of Khmer Rouge rule. However, nine years later, no Khmer Rouge figure has stood trial for the deaths of up to 3 million Cambodians between April 1975 and January 1979.

As reported by the UN's IRIN, in the aftermath of the First World War French and British moves to try Kaiser Wilhelm II were successfully opposed by the USA which feared a breach of head-of-state impunity. While nowadays this idea of impunity is discredited, there are still a few former leaders who seem immune from prosecution. As former Liberian strongman Charles Taylor languishes in a cell at the Hague, Ethiopia's Mengistu Haile Mariam, who directed the ``Red Terror'' of the 1970s lives comfortably in exile in Zimbabwe and Indonesia's Suharto, widely believed responsible for the deaths of twice as many people as Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic combined, lives free in a posh residential district of Jakarta. Closer to home, Kenya's Daniel Arap Moi, whose tenure saw ethnic cleansing campaigns affecting thousands in parts of the Rift Valley, continues to enjoy his well-padded retirement package undisturbed by thoughts of answering to any international tribunal while many of his victims languish in refugee camps awaiting resettlement by the new government.

And, 60 years after Nuremberg, no US President will ever stand trial for waging what many experts on international law consider to be "a war of aggression" in Iraq nor for the bungled occupation that has cost, according to recent estimates, well over 650,000 Iraqi lives (this is more than double the number of Iraqis killed by Saddam). No General, Cabinet Member, Senator or Congressman will ever be held to account for the torture (a war crime) of both Iraqi and suspected Al Qaida detainees even when this is now the declared and congressionally approved policy of the country.

One would truly have to be blind to believe that international justice is blind.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Stating the Obvious

Some mind-numbingly obvious facts:
Bush may be faking it.
Kambas need not fear competition from the Germans.
Women are grumpier than men.

Lowering the Standard?

The Standard reports:
The Controller and Auditor General released a damning report on how billions of shillings of public funds were lost in dubious deals in the 2004/2005 financial year.
Billions they said. In the relevant paragraphs, the paper then offers details of how that money was siphoned off:
In the Controller and Auditor General’s report, the Office of The President and the Ministry of Water are indicted for paying out Sh21.3m for the installation of lifts that was never done...
The ministry [of Water, presumably], too, is under pressure to explain how it paid Sh57.8 million for a case in which it had been sued by a laboratory firm, although it did not provide details of the case...
The report also faults the Office of the President for overpaying the contractor engaged for projects at Administration Police College at Embakasi and General Service Unit at Kibish.
The report details how the Government lost Sh26 million after the two contractors in the separate projects, were overpaid...
In the same ministry, the auditors discovered that Sh674,000 was paid to various officers as monthly meal allowances for working to reorganise the office of the Public Communication Secretary. The report points out that the duties the officers performed were the same as those under their substantive appointments and were done during normal working hours.
Now do the math. I make it Kshs. 105.774 M lost in underhand deals. This is not a pittance but neither is it "billions." I have no love for the Kibaki Administration but if we are to change the way things are done in Kenya, we have to start with ourselves. Sensationalising and falsifying news reports is a definite no-no. I hope that it was an honest mistake or that perhaps a paragraph containing the rest of the scandals was mislaid (you never know with these snake-rattlers!)

A No-Brainer for No-Brainers

The Daily Nation reports:
Next year's General Election may have to be delayed if a referendum on a new Constitution is held in September, the Electoral Commission said yesterday.
ECK boss Samwel Kivuitu said if the proposed Constitution is ready by October next year, it would affect the big poll.
"Parliament will have to decide whether to sit for a few more months. If we get a constitution by October, then Parliament will either postpone its implementation or they delay the election."
With humongous tax-free salaries for a job with absolutely no work involved and the very real possibility that voters will be baying for blood, Kenyan MPs have everything to lose and nothing to gain by insisting on a timely General Election. I wager that the pigs (apologies to pigs) will keep their snouts in the trough for an extra year.

Surprise, Surprise!
MPs [shamelessly] united in pouring cold water on a report which evaluated their work in the House. Nyatike MP Ochola Ogur (Narc) caused some comic relief when he said not all MPs could speak in Parliament at a go. "Sometimes we stand here, ready to contribute, but fail to catch the Chair's eye. Listening also amounts to doing work," he said as members roared with mirth.
A merry band of thieves they are. Laughing hyaenas (apologies to hyaenas).

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Sleeping with the Enemy?

Ever wondered where Iraqi insurgents are getting their weaponry? Well, according to the Associated Press, a new report to Congress says the Pentagon cannot account for 14,030 weapons – almost 4 percent of the semi-automatic pistols, assault rifles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and other weapons it began supplying to Iraq since the end of 2003. Looks like Uncle Sam is still in the business of ensuring America's enemies are well armed.

Who Dares Rattle The Kenyan Oligarch

According to the Daily Nation, less than 3 days after Internal Security Minister John Michuki's home was attacked by gangsters, 43 suspects have been arrested and an entire security team, including the Kangema district officer, the officer in charge of the local police station, and all regular and Administration police officers from the division, has been transferred.

If only the security machinery would be as quick when dealing with crimes against the taxpayers who fork out for their salaries. When was the last time anyone heard of a mass transfer of officers after any of the all-to-frequent rapes, murders, carjackings or robberies? But an attack on the home of one chap who has already been provided (at our expense, mind you) with GK issue bodyguards, a GK issue firearm, who pays no tax on his GK issue salary. . . . and all hell breaks lose. Kenya is truly an oligarchy.