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Archive for September 24th, 2009

Obama disappointed in Kenya

Posted by Administrator on September 24, 2009

The public issuance of travel bans on Kenya’s ruling elite by the Obama Administration reflects the White House’s frustration with an African government of which it expects far more — and a half-Kenyan President who believes his father’s country can do much better.

Unlike some other African nations that have degenerated into catastrophic poverty and corruption, Kenya has long been the West’s mainstay in East Africa and is Washington’s top partner in the region. After the bloodshed that followed the disputed 2007 election which threatened to split Kenya along ethnic lines, the US brokered a power-sharing deal but since then has repeatedly warned that it wants faster reform.

Mr Obama believes that Kenya is one country in Africa that should be performing far better, especially after pro-democracy hopes soared following the ousting of Daniel arap Moi in 2002.

Mr Obama’s decision not to visit his father’s homeland on his first presidential trip to Africa earlier this year was meant to convey his deep displeasure with the Kenyan Government. On Wednesday, at the UN General Assembly, Kenyan officials were excluded from meetings with Mr Obama. Last month Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, made it clear that Washington expected action.

US intelligence services are also increasingly concerned about the prospect of Kenya, without reform, becoming a base for Islamic extremists. Already al-Qaeda’s presence is fast expanding further north in the Horn of Africa.

SOURCE: TIMES ONLINE

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Family finance: Women and their secret accounts

Posted by Administrator on September 24, 2009

To have a secret account or not?

The moment was tense with a heavy sense of betrayal. Eddy* looked at his wife Terry* from across their bedroom then fished some document from the drawer.

It was her bank statement for Sh307,000. She suddenly froze and was lost for words. Eddy didn’t have to say anything, Terry recalls the moment, as the hurt and surprise were clearly written in his eyes.

The secret was out. It had started when he picked her up when she was suddenly taken ill at work. None of them had imagined that after her recovery, their marriage would also be in need of repair.

The damning document had been in the handbag she forgot in the car after she fell sick.

Not so uncommon

This phenomenon is rarely talked about among couples, but it is so widespread in marriages that analysts say if it came out there would be many divorces.

“It is common for spouses or partners to hold back from each other when it comes to finances,” says Mr Jeremiah Ireri, a pastor and marriage counselor at Zion Baptist Church, Nairobi.

“Of all the issues couples seek help or intervention for, the most common has to do with money.”

Men and women keep financial secrets in different ways, though, he notes, “men tend not to reveal how much they are making to their wives while women tend to want to put money aside without the husband’s knowledge just in case he abandons the family or does not provide for them or something goes wrong.”

This is more common among couples who have children together, but are not officially married and thus in the event of a separation, the man will be under no obligation to support them.

Pastor Ireri recalls a time when he had difficulty reconciling a couple after the wife found out that the husband had been unfaithful and had been spending a lot of money on the mistress for whom he paid for everything, including clothes, shoes, trinkets and rent.

Until then, she took care of her part of the household expenses and put most of what she had left into their joint account as they accumulated towards a down payment for a mortgage.

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She was bitter and hurt that while she did that, the bulk of her husband’s income went to his mistress.

“It took months to get her to go back to her matrimonial home and even now, the repair work to regain trust is going on through individual and joint counseling sessions,” says the Pastor.

In the first case, Terry worked as an office administrator, while Eddy ran a hardware business that was steadily growing. He had them move from their one-bedroom to a two-bedroom house two months before their first child was born.

All through, he took care of house rent, bills and shopping, while Terry did the groceries and paid the house-help. The couple had also opened a joint account and invested in stocks after a while.

When illness in the family or larger family came up on either side, or if either of their parents and younger siblings needed help, Eddy helped. The previous week Eddy had made a payment of Sh15,000 for her younger sister to start an accountancy course.

Men have always wondered why women keep secret accounts — whether it is an emergency fund or because of sheer mistrust.

Starting out

So what advice does Paster Ireri give couples who come to him with their unions at risk due to financial disagreements?

“All couples who want to formalise their union through marriage at our church have to go through pre-marital counseling on a number of issues, including financial matters.

Pointers couples starting out get include:

  • Don’t make love the only thing you consider when settling on a life partner. Look at compatibility including financial; consider what ideals you consider absolute and which differences you have that you could compromise on.
  • Be clear about what you can and are willing to do as far as finances are concerned.
  • Be open about what you have rather than doing things to impress. You will, for one, not be able to maintain the lie for long and you may be in trouble once the truth comes out. Don’t, for example, borrow or take out loans for a lavish wedding to impress people and then live financially unhappy ever after.
  • Make financial plans together, including plan B and even C. That is what you would do if one of you lost his/her income or if extended families need financial help. Thinking it out before it happens helps make it manageable when it does happen.
  • Seek help or advice from a neutral third party — not from a bitter aunt or mother. In fact, keep your financial issues away from family members and friends, their advice will be out of their own experiences and might not have your interests at heart.

For incidences where trust has been breached, financial or otherwise, the Pastor advises to:

  • Decide whether you still want to continue with the relationship or have no chance of reconciliation. Some incidents, he notes, have such a serious breach of trust that one party immediately decides to stop the relationship.
    If unsure, do not make any move before deciding what happens to the marriage. Do not, for instance, go and clean out your joint-account, move out and take everything with you including the children. It is, however, wise to take time alone away from the matrimonial home with a relative to think things through.
  • Express how you feel and why. The pastor says he never ceases to be surprised by men who defend their actions by comparing them to men of God like Abraham and Solomon who they say did the same thing.
  • Whatever decision you arrive at about the relationship, work on forgiving the other person. Hating someone, Pastor Ireri warns, is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.
  • Refocus, be it on rebuilding the relationship or starting your life alone, or with children.
    Do this through a neutral third party. Work on coming up with a plan that works for both of you that reassures the betrayed person that total honesty and trust can be regained if a reconciliation is the goal.
  • If there is a reunion, don’t overdo things like monitor each other.
  • Stay on track with frequent checks but do not make these grilling sessions. If you are staying in the relationship, give it a real chance and desist from raising issues or nagging unless urgent, until the monthly session.

Eddy and Terry

His advice for Eddy and Terry and everyone in a similar situation, regardless of who is holding back, is to agree that things must change and how to go about it.

“A situation where one partner is angry and uncommunicative makes for a great possibility for infidelity as a means to hurt back or seek acceptance and comfort,” he says.

The neutral third party comes in here, but decisions need to be made and action to reinforce them before the reaction to the what is perceived as betrayal becomes habit and then character.

Take it to the doctor

Ms Diana Gachukia’s take, a financial consultant with Zenith Financiers and Advisors, says the approach should be “direct, methodical and if at all possible, detached from the lovey-dovey feelings.”

“The thing with couples,” she says, “is that they believe that this warm, caring and giving person will have the same financial personality, and this is not always, in fact, hardly ever, the case.”

For example, she says, a man may want to spend time with you but his idea of quality time would be to cook for you at home and rent out a few movies every weekend, while the woman’s idea of a good time would be dinner at a fancy place and dancing afterwards.

“They are seemingly small differences but they have to be dealt with every weekend or become apparent about other issues like where to live or school the kids based on spending, a big clash is inevitable.”

“Take care of joint-financial issues like you are taking them to the doctor. What you are after at a doctor’s is a remedy, perhaps with a prescription, an injection or something practical to do or a check up to confirm that all is well,” she says.

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Do this by:

  • Putting everything on the table with documentary evidence like pay slips and bank statements.
  • Treating this like a contract — you put in something and expect something back for both parties. State your individual goals, such as going back to school and joint ones like owning a home, then together make a plan on how you will achieve them.
  • Making appointments with your financial advisor regularly, say every six months or when things that touch your finances change. Do not change your plans alone.
  • Having written records of your progress, such as statements on your returns and documents for assets you have bought under your name gives you a sense of guarantee of joint-ownership.
  • Accompanying your spouse or partner to their work-related functions and getting to know their colleagues is also a way to be open about finances. If they have been promoted, got a raise or bonus, you are likely to know about it.
  • Giving each other space. Based on your income(s), pool your resources and put family needs and obligations first and have individual accounts for your own use.

“Whatever you decide to do with your own funds, which the other person is well aware of from what is left over after you have joined finances, is not or should not be subject to scrutiny by the other person,” she says.

“Putting away money that the other person does not know you have, however, is different and things can crumble when it comes to light.”

A partnership between a couple, means giving all of yourself, including financially, she further explains.

“That means that if rent or school fees for the children goes up and there is nothing for you to keep for yourself in your account, so be it.”

Eddy, Terry and others

To Eddy and Terry and all couples, Ms Gachukia’s advice is to be truthful with yourself.

“A man may be uncomfortable or feel short-changed when he has to put all his earnings on the table and seek approval on how to spend it or a woman may believe a man’s role is to fully provide for the family and her income is hers to use.”

“Tell the other person how you feel when things start getting serious rather than playing along and then fight about money all the time.”

Ms Gachukia also insists on seeking professional financial advice rather than talking to friends and relatives.

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Give all, get more

“True partnership is when you put all of what you are and have on the table and walk away with more than you started with,” said US media mogul, Oprah Winfrey.

As you pool as a couple for more and better, don’t forget the other returns apart from shillings and cents — the trust, the faith, the dependence, the confidence of a life partner to whom you give, so you can both come out with more.

If your goal is get the most, the only way is to put in the most that you can.

*Names have been changed to avoid embarrassing the couple.

jkagendo@yahoo.com

SOURCE: DAILY NATION

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George Onyango killed in US by teens flown home

Posted by Administrator on September 24, 2009

The body of a Kenyan who died from injuries suffered in an attack by two teenagers under his care in the US has been brought home.

Distraught friends and a relative turned up at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to receive the casket bearing the remains of George Onyango, 43, who died from head injuries during the attack at a juvenile home in California.

Led by his brother, Mr Kennedy Omondi, the mourners expressed shock and disbelief at the sudden and tragic death of their kin on August 22.

“We are indeed very sad. We feel really shaken… it is something we were really not prepared for but it has happened. We have to move on,” said Mr Omondi, who was accompanied by Rev Dr Willie Kiilu and Mr Bosma Khakali from the US.

The body of the late Onyango was to be airlifted to Kisumu Thursday evening before being ferried to his rural home in Asembo, Rarieda District a day later on Saturday for burial.

Police reports indicate that Mr Onyango, a father of two, was an overnight counsellor at Yucaipa, a home for delinquent youths in California.

He was attacked by two youths under his care with an iron bar and a wooden rod after he denied them permission to leave the facility.

The two youths tied him up and left him paralysed and suffering brain damage.

He was later rushed to the Loma Linda University Medical Centre, where he succumbed to his injuries.

After the attack, the assailants, who now face murder charges, fled in Onyango’s car. Police officers chased them up to Fontana, where they crashed and were captured.

Mr Onyango won a US green card, leading to his move to America in 2006. But a few months after the family settled in Yucaipa, his wife, Beatrice, fell ill and died, leaving him a widower and a single father of two boys, now aged 11 and 13 years.

After the death of his wife, Mr Onyango turned his energies to caring for his sons and working part-time as a counsellor at night in a home for troubled youths. During the day, he took courses for the California State Bar examination.

“This has left the family devastated. Nobody expected this to happen so soon after he lost his wife. We are yet to come to terms with the terrible news,” Mr Omondi told the Daily Nation.

The two youths charged with the killing – Carlos Dubose, 17, of Oakland, and Davion Whitmore, 16, of Long Beach.

Rev Kiilu said investigations over the savage beatings had already started and that the two delinquents had already been charged with murder in the Superior Court of San Bernardino.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION

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The untold suffering of Kenya’s Children

Posted by Administrator on September 24, 2009

Jonathan Rugman reports on the child sex trade plaguing Kenya’s pristine white beaches, amid fears that up to 20,000 children are engaged in some form of under-age sex work – often with “muzungus”, white men.We have been on a harrowing journey – from nightclubs where European men pick up 12-year-old Kenyan girls; to an orphanage where children as young as six have found sanctuary after sexual abuse by foreign tourists.

Kenya’s beaches represent the best in tropical paradise, mutually beneficial for both the thousands of Europeans who head there and the locals who thrive from their tourism.

But Kenya’s coast has a seedier face – visiting white men who pay children, some as young as three years old, for sex. In a country where ten million people are going hungry, there are fears that this abuse is spiralling.

Foreign affairs correspondent Jonathan Rugman journeyed from around the villages of Mombasa, and then onto Mtwapa and Malindi.

Extracts from Jonathan Miller’s blog

Kenya’s beaches are the stuff holiday brochures are made of – mile after mile of glistening white sand, kissed by equatorial sun. Tourism is a major money spinner for one of the world’s poorest countries, but Kenya’s tropical paradise hides a dark secret.

We have been on a harrowing journey – from nightclubs where European men pick up 12-year-old Kenyan girls; to an orphanage where children as young as six have found sanctuary after sexual abuse by foreign tourists.

A journey into a world of cruelty and desperation, a world we could scarcely have imagined. And both talking and filming with children brutalised and traumatised by their experiences has not been easy.

WATCH VIDEO HERE: http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1184614595?bctid=41847358001Our journey began in the nightclubs on the outskirts of Mombasa. Visit the Mtwapa suburb after midnight, and white male European tourists are busy ogling and fondling teenage girls.

The teenagers wear high heels, or pay a bribe at the club door to get in. The ultimate prize is a “muzungu ” or white man, who will pay for sex five times what a Kenyan labourer can earn in a day.

But the price these girls are paying is nothing less than a stolen childhood.

Anastasia says she’s 13 now, and has been prostituting herself since she slept with a British tourist at the age of ten, a crime which in Britain would be classed as rape.

Her parents couldn’t even afford school shoes, so she set out for a better life amid the bright lights of Mombasa. That life is sharing a flat with a fellow prostitute, Leyla, who is 14. And both girls say the number of children involved is growing.

“When I started at the age of 12, I could go into a nightclub, and maybe I can get 10 or 20 girls,” Leyla told me.
“At least you could count and say, ‘that one and that one, they are prostitutes’. But now there are many, all over the place. Sometimes I get stressed. I ask myself, or God, what I have done wrong? I am still a child and I am doing this.”

At that point in our interview, Leyla dropped her head in shame. Anastasia was crying.

Three years ago, a study by the UN children’s agency UNICEF warned that there were thousands of girls like Leyla.

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HIV breakthrough as scientists discover new vaccine to prevent infection

Posted by Administrator on September 24, 2009

A medical trial in Thailand has raised hopes of a major breakthrough in the fight against Aids after scientists said an experimental vaccine had reduced the risk of HIV infection by a third.

The world’s largest HIV/Aids vaccine trial of more than 16,000 volunteers was the first in which infection has been prevented, according to the US army, which sponsored the trial with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

A combination of two vaccines was tested on HIV-negative Thai men and women aged 18 to 30 at average risk of becoming infected. All the volunteers were given counselling and condoms to help them avoid HIV. Then half were randomly picked to receive the vaccine, while the other half got dummy shots. Until the trial ended, nobody knew who had been given the genuine vaccine and who had not.

A relatively small number of people became infected with HIV – 51 of the 8,197 people given the vaccine, and 74 of the 8,198 who received dummy shots – but the difference was statistically significant, which means scientists believe it could not have happened by chance. It worked out at a 31% lower risk of infection for the vaccine group.

Colonel Jerome Kim, who helped to lead the $105m (£64m) study for the US army, said it was “the first evidence that we could have a safe and effective preventive vaccine”.

Recent failures had led many scientists to believe that such a vaccine might not be achievable. In 2007, the drug company Merck abandoned what had looked at the time like the most promising avenue of research after disappointing trial results. Today the National Institute’s director, Dr Anthony Fauci, warned it was “not the end of the road”, but said he was surprised and very pleased by the outcome.

“It gives me cautious optimism about the possibility of improving this result,” he said. “This is something that we can do.”

Every day, 7,000 people worldwide are newly infected with HIV; 2 million died of Aids in 2007, the UN agency Unaids estimates.

The Aids Vaccine Advocacy Coalition, an international group that has worked towards developing a vaccine, welcomed the results of the trial – the third major study since 1983, when HIV was identified as the cause of Aids – as “a historic milestone”.

The executive director, Mitchell Warren, said: “There is little doubt that this finding will energise and redirect the Aids vaccine field.”

Frances Gotch, professor of immunology at Imperial College London, said the results appeared to be statistically significant and may have been the effect of the two different vaccines working in tandem to more powerful effect.

“The fact that they have seen a response with people with such a low incidence of infection is impressive,” Gotch, who is also the principal investigator for the International Aids Vaccine Initiative, told the Guardian.

“Of course it’s not 100% of people [protected] but 31% could make an enormous difference in the world. I think this is something we can work with.”

Thailand’s ministry of public health conducted the study, which used strains of HIV common in Thailand.

Scientists stressed it was not known whether such a vaccine would work against other strains elsewhere in the world. The study was done in Thailand because US army scientists carried out pivotal research in that country when the Aids epidemic emerged there, isolating virus strains and providing genetic information on them to vaccine makers.

The study tested a two-vaccine combination in a “prime-boost” approach, where the first one primes the immune system to attack the HIV virus, and the second one strengthens the response.

Alvac uses canarypox, a bird virus, altered so it can’t cause human disease, to ferry synthetic versions of three HIV genes into the body. AidsVax contains a genetically engineered version of a protein on HIV’s surface.

It is unclear whether vaccine makers will seek to license the two-vaccine combination in Thailand. Before the trial began, the US Food and Drug Administration said other studies would be needed before the vaccine could be considered for US licensing. The full results of the trial will be presented at an international Aids vaccine conference in Paris in October.

The executive director of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, an alliance of research bodies and funders like the Gates Foundation, said the results showed a vaccine was an achievable goal. “This is a historic day in the 26-year quest to develop an Aids vaccine,” said Dr Alan Bernstein. “This trial is the first demonstration in humans that, with more research, it will be possible to develop a vaccine that is fully protective against HIV.”

Deborah Jack, chief executive of the National Aids Trust in the UK, said a vaccine, by far the most effective way of tackling serious infectious diseases, was desperately needed. More work was needed, but the promising findings “justify the continuing investments and efforts of the international community, including the UK government, to develop a vaccine.”

The Terrence Higgins Trust said it was treating the results with “cautious optimism”.

“This is the first step on a very long road,” said the policy manager, Vicky Sheard.

“There’s a lot of research needed into how a vaccine can be rolled out, how costly it’s going to be, whether it’s going to be effective against different strains.”

SOURCE: www.guardian.co.uk

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Charges dropped for cop who had sex with cows

Posted by Administrator on September 24, 2009

By JASON NARK
Philadelphia Daily News

narkj@phillynews.com 856-779-3231

If animals could talk, a few cows in Burlington County might ask state legislators to hurry up and outlaw bestiality.

During a bizarre hearing there yesterday, a Superior Court judge dismissed animal-cruelty charges against a Moorestown police officer accused of sticking his penis into the mouths of five calves in rural Southampton in 2006, claiming a grand jury couldn’t infer whether the cows had been “tormented” or “puzzled” by the situation or even irritated that they’d been duped out of a meal.

“If the cow had the cognitive ability to form thought and speak, would it say, ‘Where’s the milk? I’m not getting any milk,’ ” Judge James J. Morley asked.

Children, Morley said, seemed “comforted” when given pacifiers, but there’s no way to know what bovine minds thought of Robert Melia Jr. substituting his member for a cow’s teat.

“They [children] enjoy the act of suckling,” the judge said. “Cows may be of a different disposition.”

Burlington County Assistant County Prosecutor Kevin Morgan was certainly irritated by the ruling, claiming the grand jury didn’t see the videos of the alleged incident, including one in which one hungry calf allegedly head-butts Melia in the stomach.

“I think any reasonable juror could infer that a man’s penis in the mouth of a calf is torment,” Morgan argued. “It’s a crime against nature.”

Although a bill was introduced in 2005 to ban bestiality, New Jersey still has no explicit ban on the sexual penetration of animals, which is why the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office charged Melia with animal cruelty.

Morley said it was questionable whether Melia’s alleged crimes against cows, although “disgusting,” fit the definitions in the animal-cruelty statute.

“I’m not saying it’s OK,” Morley said. “This is a legal question for me. It’s not a questions of morals. It’s not a question of hygiene. It’s not a question of how people should conduct themselves.”

Sex with cows is the least of Melia’s problems, though.

He and former girlfriend, Heather Lewis, of Pemberton Township, are also accused of sexually assaulting three young girls over a five-year period, sometimes in Melia’s Cottage Avenue home in Moorestown, where he was a patrolman, authorities said.

Melia has been suspended from the force, said a spokesman with the Prosecutor’s Office.

Melia and Lewis were both arrested in April 2008, shortly after one of the girls told her stepfather of the alleged abuse.

During the course of the investigation, authorities also discovered child pornography on Melia’s home computer as well as videos of him with the cows.

Morley also ruled yesterday that the prosecution must turn over copies of images and videos from the computer to the defense, including one video that allegedly shows one of the girls being “subjected to sexual activity.”

Lewis, who also appeared in court yesterday, is also accused of sexually assaulting a juvenile male. Morley denied a defense motion to have Lewis’s individual sexual assaults separated from Melia’s case.

Melia, Lewis and their attorneys declined to comment after the hearing.

Morgan, the prosecutor, said in court that the owner of the cows was “very upset” by the incident.

Source: www.philly.com

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