Archive for June, 2012

NEW TERROR ATTACKS REVELATIONS A WAKE UP CALL TO THE GOVERNMENT

The country’s security systems came to the limelight yet again. The last two days has seen some people arrested in Mombasa and Nairobi after they were found to be in possession of chemicals believed to be used in making explosives. The United States government has also come out clearly saying it has enough proof to believe terrorists are planning a terror attack at the coastal town in July. It even went ahead to warn its citizens and government officials residing in Kenya to avoid the town at all costs.

This new revelations should send a very strong message to the government and Kenyans in general. It should also leave us, as Kenyans a very worried lot. All this terror alerts are attributed to the ongoing war on Somalia by our Kenya defense force to wipe out the alshabaab terror group which has claimed responsibility for previous attacks in various parts of the country

It is however so sad that while the KDF is doing all it can to wipe out this terror group, there are sympathizers who are working with this group.  The people arrested with the chemicals are Kenyans and one only wonders why they should do that.

But even as we try to come to terms with these new expositions on terrorism one question is how much are we prepared and what mechanisms have been put in place to the ensure the said attacks do not take place. Are we going to sit down as a country and wait to see what will happen? What is the government and the citizen doing to ensure he/she is safe? Those are the questions that should be going through the mind of every Kenyan right now.

As a country we have suffered enough in the hands of terror groups. Innocent lives have been lost, properties of unknown value destroyed and Kenyans should not sit down and wait.  The back stops with us as citizens of this country. As much as it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that enough security measures are put in place, we as citizens also have a role to play.  We should be aware of our surrounding and suspicious characters around us. People entering crowded places, building housing businesses, hotels and even churches should be seriously be checked. We should see more of what we are seeing now where some of the gadgets used by security officers even don’t work.

The country is also approaching the tourism season where tourists from across the world visit the country with Mombasa always being their destination. With the new warning from the United States government, tourist are going to be scared of visiting the country which might be a very big blow to the country’s tourism sector.  The government should therefore deploy more security officers at the coastal town to ensure tourist of their security.

We should also put in mind that we are approaching an electioneering period and security is of utmost importance. The government should start working to ensure that the country is safe and sound from now to the election year. And it starts with clearing such terrorism activities in the country

More investigations should also be done on the confiscated explosive making chemicals. There just could be more of it out there and the police should also dig deeper into finding where the explosives are made and what there intended purpose really was.

The acting security minister, who is also the defense minister Yusuf Haji therefore has a tough job ahead and should ensure that he doest his best to ensure the country, is safe from terror attacks.

Nixon Kanali, Nairobi

 

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A major shake-up is expected in grassroots politics following the failure of a plan to let Members of Parliament without university degrees defend their seats.

There are also fresh fears of academic fraud as desperate MPs and other hopefuls present fake academic papers to remain in the game.

The final version of the law passed Thursday locks out dozens of political players who had expected an easier than usual ride with the creation of new positions and constituencies. Parliament reinstated higher academic qualifications in the electoral laws a day after scrapping them when they were warned it may affect how the Salaries and Remuneration commission determines their pay.

The requirement of a university degree to hold positions in the National Assembly and the Senate is set to trigger fresh political calculations in regions where incumbents are locked out of March General Election. That the move has sent shockwaves across the political class was evident Friday at a meeting of MPs in Nairobi.

Lawmakers caught on the wrong side of the new rule accused colleagues who passed it of having ulterior motives. Some promised to fight back, including challenging the requirement in court as unconstitutional.

That is the only option available since nominations are less than five months away – not enough time to obtain a degree, unless one is completing their programme.

Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto Friday said the move would turn Parliament into what he termed “a senior common room” for dons and not a House of Representatives.

“Parliament should be a house of representatives regardless of academic qualifications,” said Ruto.
Water Minister Charity Ngilu told The Standard On Saturday she is about to complete her studies. The Kitui Central MP is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Administration and Leadership. She expects to graduate in October.

“I am doing my last examination paper today. In fact I am in the examination room now,” she said. In the past, Ngilu has come under fire from opponents over her academic background.

After the 1997 General Election, in which she took the political landscape by storm as the first woman presidential candidate, she got into trouble with intellectuals in the Social Democratic Party, Anyang Nyong’o, James Orengo, and the late Apollo Njonjo. Stung with their losses, they insisted that someone with a degree must lead the party.

Others whose academic backgrounds have been questioned now claim to have university education although their alleged training overseas cannot be independently confirmed. Authorities will have their work cut out to verify some of the newly minted degree certificates.

Authenticity
Inconsistencies about the dates they attended university programmes and graduation also raise doubts on the authenticity of the qualifications. Moreover, some cite apparently questionable institutions, which are either unknown or that ceased to operate years ago.

At least one MP claiming a degree certificate from an Indian university said he “could not remember the name of the institution”.

Likoni MP Mwalimu Masoud Mwahima is among those set to be locked out by the new rule. Mwahima sat for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination as a private candidate in 2007 at Kwale High School.

But the one-time Mombasa mayor performed dismally and has not furthered his education since. Gatundu North MP Clement Waibara, who got a reprieve last year when the Court of Appeal overturned a High Court directive nullifying his election, will also be denied opportunity to defend his seat.

Mudslinging characterised the hearing of the Gatundu North petition. The petitioner insisted Waibara is a school dropout who cannot articulate himself in English and Kiswahili and does not possess requisite academic qualifications. But the MP turned the heat on a friend who claimed to have sat proficiency test on his behalf in 2007, portraying his own academic background as questionable.

Information posted on the personal website of former Tourism Minister Najib Balala indicates he attended Serani School and Kakamega High School. The website states Balala has an “international education background” in Business Administration, International Urban Management, and Leadership from the University of Toronto and the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. He does not hold an undergraduate degree.

Transport Assistant Minister Ali Hassan Joho, according to his secretariat, is a holder of a Bachelor of Commerce degree in business and human resource management. It is, however, not clear though when he attended university after leaving Serani Secondary School in Mombasa.

Personal details on Parliament’s website state Joint Government Whip Johnson Muthama graduated in 1991 in Gemologist & Diamond Grading System from the Gemological Institute Of America. Molo MP Joseph Kiuna holds a Diploma in Aircraft Engineering from the Kenya Armed Forces Technical Engineering College.

Assistant minister Asman Kamama is indicated to have acquired a certificate and BA in International Studies & Diplomacy from the Kennedy School, Washington Internal University. The ‘degree’, however, was pursued between May 2010 and May last year, making it two years shorter than the shortest full-time undergraduate courses recognised globally.

Nyakach MP Pollyns Ochieng’ whose profile on Parliament’s website states “soon graduating with BA Insurance and Economics by correspondence,” told The Standard On Saturday he holds a degree from an Indian university.

Ochieng’ supported the amendment to raise the academic ceiling saying: “It is not a bad idea. It will help enhance quality of leadership and increase sense in every decision made.”  Lands Assistant Minister and Kinango MP Samuel Gonzi Rai holds a diploma in Theology while his Medical Services colleague Kazungu Kambi has an Advanced Diploma from Kenya Polytechnic.

Criticised
Rai said Parliament has spoken and must be followed, even as he criticised it for turning itself to a club of graduates. “We passed a Constitution not understanding that elections will be for graduates and not for popularity. So be it. I am ready for it and the public will speak for themselves,” said Rai.

Others who may be affected include nominated MP Shakila Abdallah, who holds a diploma in house keeping and laundry operations from Kenya Utalii College. ODM nominated MP Sheikh Muhammad Dor obtained Kasneb qualifications after his ‘O’ level at the Aga Khan High School in Mombasa, according to Parliament’s official website.

The educational background of Msambweni MP and a one-time Kwale County Council chairman Omar Zonga is unknown.

Imenti North MP Silas Muriuki who declined to state whether he met the new threshold said: “Most MPs in the larger Meru region will not be affected by the new demand. The few who are remaining will be graduating in August and will, therefore, not have a problem come the election time.”

Last year, MPs Ngilu, Rai, Kambi, Balala, Ms Shakila Abdalla were among lawmakers who voted against an initial attempt to impose a university degree for parliamentary aspirants on August 26, last year, when the House passed the Elections Bill. The proposal was defeated after MPs voted 56-39.

 

The US government has warned of an imminent threat of a terrorist attack in Mombasa and asked all their government personnel to leave the coastal city.The embassy said in a statement that all U.S. government travel to Mombasa is suspended until July 1, 2012.

“U.S. private citizens are not subject to the same restrictions, but should consider this information in their travel planning,” read part of the statement.

This is the third such travel advisory being issued by the US since Kenyan troops crossed to Somalia to hunt down Al Shabaab militants who have been blamed for various insecurity incidents.

But acting head of civil service Francis Kimemia said there was no cause for alarm adding security agencies are ahead of events. He said police have been thwarting several terror attempts in the country linked to the terror groups.

“We work with even the FBI in this war. We are ahead of the criminals.”

Commissioner of police Mathew Iteere too said police are working round the clock to ensure the country is safe from such threats.

The advisory came days after police said they had arrested two Iranians after they seized chemicals they suspected were going to be used to make explosives in Mombasa, which has been hit by a series of attacks.

The port city, the capital Nairobi and other parts of Kenya have suffered a series of grenade attacks since Kenya sent troops into Somalia last year to try to crush Al Shabaab insurgents it blames for a surge in violence and kidnappings threatening tourism.

Police arrested the Iranians on Wednesday in Nairobi and impounded a container in Mombasa originating from Iraq and suspected to be carrying explosives.

On Thursday, police flew one of the suspects to Mombasa, where he led police to recover 15 kg of powder, which security experts took to their laboratory for testing. So what is our Kenyan government doing about this?

Image

Environmental activists march during a demonstration against the forest code and the Belo Monte Hydroelectric plant construction on June 18, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro. Negotiators are nearing a deal on fixing the environment problems and easing poverty ahead of the Rio+20 summit, Brazil says. AFP

 

Rio deal on draft paper a big step forward, says US

A US envoy hailed as a “strong step forward” the agreement reached by UN member states on a draft document slated to be endorsed by world leaders at the Rio+20 summit.

After haggling that went deep into the night, delegates attending the UN conference on sustainable development agreed a 53-page statement designed to serve as a blueprint for a greener world for the next decade and beyond.

It spells out steps for tackling the planet’s many environmental ills and lifting billions out of poverty through policies that nurture rather than squander natural resources.

“I think it was a good strong step forward,” US Climate Change Envoy Todd Stern told reporters. “I think the outcome that we finished today will help advance goals in this area.”

He highlighted the document’s reference to the need to strengthen the role of the Nairobi-based United Nations Environment Program, including through “secure, adequate and increased financial resources.”

Stern said the draft document slated to be formally endorsed by world leaders Friday was unlikely to be altered. “I believe this document is done,” he added, pointing out that host country Brazil, which shepherded the negotiations, had “no plan or intention to let the document open up.”

Stern also rejected charges by some NGOs that the US delegation had been trying to block progress toward a deal to protect marine diversity on the high seas.

“We are very committed to progress with respect to oceans. there is good language, paragraphs in this outcome document that involves sustainable fisheries,” Stern said. “So the US is not seeking to block progress, just the opposite.”

The Rio+20 summit, coming 20 years after the first Earth Summit, opened yesterday with UN chief Ban Ki-moon, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and some 100 other world leaders due to take part.

But US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron will not attend.

The high-profile event comes 20 years after Rio’s first Earth Summit, when nations vowed to roll back climate change, desertification and species loss.

Seal deal

Some 191 speakers are expected to take the floor until Friday, when leaders will close the 10-day UN conference by giving their seal of approval to the 53-page document.
Not everyone was upbeat about the hard-fought draft.

“Nobody in that room adopting the text was happy. That’s how weak it is. And they all knew,” EU commissioner for climate change Connie Hedegaard said on Twitter.

Principles of Journalism

In 1997, an organization then administered by PEJ, the Committee of Concerned Journalists, began a national conversation among citizens and news people to identify and clarify the principles that underlie journalism. After four years of research, including 20 public forums around the country, a reading of journalism history, a national survey of journalists, and more, the group released a Statement of Shared Purpose that identified nine principles. These became the basis for The Elements of Journalism, the book by PEJ Director Tom Rosenstiel and CCJ Chairman and PEJ Senior Counselor Bill Kovach. Here are those principles, as outlined in the original Statement of Shared Purpose.

 

A Statement of Purpose

After extended examination by journalists themselves of the character of journalism at the end of the twentieth century, we offer this common understanding of what defines our work. The central purpose of journalism is to provide citizens with accurate and reliable information they need to function in a free society.

This encompasses myriad roles–helping define community, creating common language and common knowledge, identifying a community’s goals, heroes and villains, and pushing people beyond complacency. This purpose also involves other requirements, such as being entertaining, serving as watchdog and offering voice to the voiceless.

Over time journalists have developed nine core principles to meet the task. They comprise what might be described as the theory of journalism:

 

1. Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth

Democracy depends on citizens having reliable, accurate facts put in a meaningful context. Journalism does not pursue truth in an absolute or philosophical sense, but it can–and must–pursue it in a practical sense. This “journalistic truth” is a process that begins with the professional discipline of assembling and verifying facts. Then journalists try to convey a fair and reliable account of their meaning, valid for now, subject to further investigation. Journalists should be as transparent as possible about sources and methods so audiences can make their own assessment of the information. Even in a world of expanding voices, accuracy is the foundation upon which everything else is built–context, interpretation, comment, criticism, analysis and debate. The truth, over time, emerges from this forum. As citizens encounter an ever greater flow of data, they have more need–not less–for identifiable sources dedicated to verifying that information and putting it in context.

 

2. Its first loyalty is to citizens

While news organizations answer to many constituencies, including advertisers and shareholders, the journalists in those organizations must maintain allegiance to citizens and the larger public interest above any other if they are to provide the news without fear or favor. This commitment to citizens first is the basis of a news organization’s credibility, the implied covenant that tells the audience the coverage is not slanted for friends or advertisers. Commitment to citizens also means journalism should present a representative picture of all constituent groups in society. Ignoring certain citizens has the effect of disenfranchising them. The theory underlying the modern news industry has been the belief that credibility builds a broad and loyal audience, and that economic success follows in turn. In that regard, the business people in a news organization also must nurture–not exploit–their allegiance to the audience ahead of other considerations.

 

3. Its essence is a discipline of verification

Journalists rely on a professional discipline for verifying information. When the concept of objectivity originally evolved, it did not imply that journalists are free of bias. It called, rather, for a consistent method of testing information–a transparent approach to evidence–precisely so that personal and cultural biases would not undermine the accuracy of their work. The method is objective, not the journalist. Seeking out multiple witnesses, disclosing as much as possible about sources, or asking various sides for comment, all signal such standards. This discipline of verification is what separates journalism from other modes of communication, such as propaganda, fiction or entertainment. But the need for professional method is not always fully recognized or refined. While journalism has developed various techniques for determining facts, for instance, it has done less to develop a system for testing the reliability of journalistic interpretation.

 

4. Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover

Independence is an underlying requirement of journalism, a cornerstone of its reliability. Independence of spirit and mind, rather than neutrality, is the principle journalists must keep in focus. While editorialists and commentators are not neutral, the source of their credibility is still their accuracy, intellectual fairness and ability to inform–not their devotion to a certain group or outcome. In our independence, however, we must avoid any tendency to stray into arrogance, elitism, isolation or nihilism.

 

5. It must serve as an independent monitor of power

Journalism has an unusual capacity to serve as watchdog over those whose power and position most affect citizens. The Founders recognized this to be a rampart against despotism when they ensured an independent press; courts have affirmed it; citizens rely on it. As journalists, we have an obligation to protect this watchdog freedom by not demeaning it in frivolous use or exploiting it for commercial gain.

 

6. It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise

The news media are the common carriers of public discussion, and this responsibility forms a basis for our special privileges. This discussion serves society best when it is informed by facts rather than prejudice and supposition. It also should strive to fairly represent the varied viewpoints and interests in society, and to place them in context rather than highlight only the conflicting fringes of debate. Accuracy and truthfulness require that as framers of the public discussion we not neglect the points of common ground where problem solving occurs.

 

7. It must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant

Journalism is storytelling with a purpose. It should do more than gather an audience or catalogue the important. For its own survival, it must balance what readers know they want with what they cannot anticipate but need. In short, it must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant. The effectiveness of a piece of journalism is measured both by how much a work engages its audience and enlightens it. This means journalists must continually ask what information has most value to citizens and in what form. While journalism should reach beyond such topics as government and public safety, a journalism overwhelmed by trivia and false significance ultimately engenders a trivial society.

 

8. It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional

Keeping news in proportion and not leaving important things out are also cornerstones of truthfulness. Journalism is a form of cartography: it creates a map for citizens to navigate society. Inflating events for sensation, neglecting others, stereotyping or being disproportionately negative all make a less reliable map. The map also should include news of all our communities, not just those with attractive demographics. This is best achieved by newsrooms with a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives. The map is only an analogy; proportion and comprehensiveness are subjective, yet their elusiveness does not lessen their significance.

 

9. Its practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience

Every journalist must have a personal sense of ethics and responsibility–a moral compass. Each of us must be willing, if fairness and accuracy require, to voice differences with our colleagues, whether in the newsroom or the executive suite. News organizations do well to nurture this independence by encouraging individuals to speak their minds. This stimulates the intellectual diversity necessary to understand and accurately cover an increasingly diverse society. It is this diversity of minds and voices, not just numbers, that matters.

a parliamentary session. MPs passing of the bill to allow those who loose in the next general elections to be nominated to the senate and parliament borders on selfish interests

Parliament is on course to amending a key component of the constitution, to allow presidential and deputy presidential candidates who lose in the elections to find their way back into parliament. Garsen MP Danson Mungatana, who is the proponent of the amendment has intimated that the amendment seeks to strengthen the opposition in parliament….well, is this a matter of self political interest?

It is so sad that the constitutions which Kenyans overwhelmingly voted for seems to be only serving the political class. The same parliament has been very slow in implementing some of the crucial bills in parliament and the urgency ans pace with which they want to pass this bill send a very signal to Kenyans.

Our Kenyan politicians should stop being selfish and ensure that crucial clauses in the constitutions are not changed for their benefits.

Nick

Posted: June 21, 2012 in Politics/Current issues

Nick

A busy morning working on my stuff