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Archive for November 4th, 2009

AirTran adding new service to Dallas, partnership to serve six other cities

Posted by Administrator on November 4, 2009

By Tom Daykin of the Journal Sentinel

Posted: Nov. 4, 2009 10:58 a.m.

AirTran Airways, the second-largest airline at Mitchell International Airport, will add new service to Dallas, and is entering a partnership with another carrier to add regional flights to six new destinations, including Des Moines, St. Louis and Indianapolis.

The new flights bring more choices for people flying from Milwaukee, where competition among airlines has been increasing. AirTran made its announcement Wednesday, three days after Southwest Airlines started new service from Mitchell International.

AirTran will begin flying twice daily to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on April 6, said Kevin Healy, senior vice president of marketing and planning. AirTran in April also will add another daily flight to its current service to Washington, D.C.’s Reagan National Airport.

In addition, Orlando-based AirTran announced a marketing partnership with SkyWest Airlines.

St. George, Utah-based SkyWest will offer new regional jet service between Milwaukee and six destinations: Pittsburgh; St. Louis; Akron/Canton, Ohio; Indianapolis, Des Moines, Iowa; and Omaha, Neb. Tickets will be sold though AirTran’s reservation system, and revenue will be shared between the two airlines. The SkyWest flights will be added in December, January and February.

AirTran’s arrangement with SkyWest is unusual. Typically, larger airlines contract with airlines like SkyWest to operate regional flights under the larger carrier’s brand, such as Midwest Express or American Eagle.

Healy said the company didn’t want to create an “AirTran Express” because of concerns it would hurt the brand developed by AirTran, which makes a point of not using smaller regional jets on shorter routes. The partnership with SkyWest allows AirTran, a low-fare airline, to expand its Milwaukee hub in a cost-effective manner, he said.

“Our biggest objective is to build and support the Milwaukee hub in a way that is effective for us, consistent with our pricing structures,” Healy said.

Midwest Airlines, owned by Republic Airways Holdings Inc., is Milwaukee’s No. 1 carrier, with 35.5% market share, followed by AirTran with 24.5% and Delta Air Lines/Northwest at 19.9%, according to airport data.

–Milwaukee Sentinel

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Kenyan politicians uneasy as prosecutor arrives to investigate election violence

Posted by Administrator on November 4, 2009

Move by international criminal court could lead to politicians facing charge of crimes against humanity over violence that left more than 1,100 dead

The prosecutor of the international criminal court is due to arrive in Nairobi tomorrow for “decisive” consultations that could see some of Kenya‘s most powerful politicians indicted for crimes against humanity.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo will meet the president, Mwai Kibaki, and the prime minister, Raila Odinga, to seek permission to investigate last year’s post-election violence, in which at least 1,133 people were killed during ethnically motivated attacks or by the police.

The request has been prompted by the government’s refusal to establish a special local tribunal to try those most responsible for the deaths, a group that includes cabinet ministers from both sides of the coalition, according to the state-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR).

News of Ocampo’s impending arrival has generated huge interest locally, where many people see international intervention as the only way to end decades of high-level impunity and prevent further election violence in 2012. It has also caused consternation in the government, which would probably have rebuffed Ocampo were Kenya not a signatory to the Rome statute of the international criminal court.

In rejecting a local tribunal, Kenyan ministers gambled that the Hague-based court would not pursue a case driven neither by civil war, nor rebellion – factors present in all the current ICC prosecutions involving Sudan, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic – and where the death toll was comparatively low.

Instead, Ocampo has made the case a priority, saying last month: “Kenya will be a world example on managing violence.” Civil society groups and foreign diplomatic missions have assisted him by providing protection to numerous witnesses who may eventually be called to testify.

“There is significant panic in government over this issue,” said Maina Kiai, the former head of the KNCHR. “Ministers are squirming.”

The worst of the ethnic violence that followed Kibaki’s dubious election victory echoed similar politically inspired – and subsequently unpunished – attacks that occurred around elections in 1992 and 1997. In negotiating a peace accord between Kibaki and Odinga, the former UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, included a mechanism to address this impunity.

The official commission of inquiry into the violence, adopted by parliament, recommended the establishment of a local tribunal to try high-level perpetrators. As a safeguard, it said a list of the main suspects would be handed to Ocampo if a special court was not set up.

Kibaki and Odinga presented a bill to parliament in February, but it was so weak and poorly drafted that MPs rejected it. An improved bill was later shot down by cabinet ministers – some of whom are now openly campaigning for president and talking of ethnic alliances – on the premise that a newly established truth and reconciliation commission could handle the issue of justice.

Few Kenyans believe it can. The local judiciary is neither independent nor capable, with a backlog of 800,000 cases. Police investigations are notoriously poor; the four men accused of burning to death 35 civilians in a church in the worst attack of the post-election chaos were acquitted by the judge due to shoddy prosecution work.

“The government wants to delay this issue until the next election,” said Gitobu Imanyara, an independent MP who will next week introduce a private members bill in a last-ditch bid to establish a local tribunal. “If ministers see eye to eye on nothing else, they do on this.”

Although Ocampo, who was handed the list of a dozen or so suspects by Annan in July, along with six boxes of evidence, is seeking the go-ahead from Kenya to pursue the case, permission is not necessarily required. The ICC’s pre-trial trial chamber has the power to authorise investigations where a country appears unwilling or unable to pass justice domestically.

Ndung’u Wainaina, director of the International Centre for Policy and Conflict, in Nairobi, said that at the least Ocampo needed to receive written confirmation that Kibaki and Odinga would not block investigations.

“ICC involvement is critical for Kenya – it’s our first opportunity to deliver a blow to impunity,” he said.

Some are more cautious. Wycliffe Muga, a columnist with the Star newspaper, said that indicting a few people could inflame ethnic tensions, and that institutional reform, however slow, was the only effective way to end the abuse of power.

Among victims, however, there appears to be overwhelming support for Ocampo’s mission.

“If there is no outside intervention I just wonder what will happen in 2012,” said Lillian Atingoh, 25, whose family home in the Rift Valley was burnt down last January. “There has been no reconciliation. It’s like, this thing is not over.”

Source: The Guradian

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Kenya AG to sue US over travel ban

Posted by Administrator on November 4, 2009

Kenya’s Attorney General Amos Wako has signalled his intention to sue the United States for defamation.

Mr Wako said that he had “received notification that my visa has been revoked for blocking reforms,” more than a week after the US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Jonnie Carson said his country had banned a senior Kenya Government for blocking reforms.

Mr Carson, however, withheld the name of the banned official only saying he was of “influence” and his duties required extensive travel.

Addressing a news conference at his Sheria House office, Mr Wako said the ban due to “engaging in corrupt actions that have adversely affected the interests of the US,” were off the mark and amounted to defaming him.

The AG said that he will seek legal redress in the US adding “I will take the fight there.”

“While I am totally indifferent to the revocation of my visa and have absolutely no desire to visit the US, my intention is to seek legal action with a view to institute legal proceedings in the US,” said Mr Wako.

He added that he has always kept the fire of reforms burning within government adding that he was an “adviser and not a decision maker.”

Speculation had been rife that Mr Wako was the latest US target after Mr Carson’s announcement coming on the back on US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Kenya visit, where she impressed on the Kenya leadership to push for reforms.

She is understood to have said that changes were required in the police, judiciary and the State Law Office.

Former Police Commissioner Major General Hussein Ali has since been transferred to the post office while Chief Justice Evans Gicheru remains in office.

Source: Daily Nation

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Kenya sect leader now turns the hunted

Posted by Administrator on November 4, 2009

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 4 – Mungiki leader Maina Njenga who was recently released from jail now fears for his life after he received threatening calls and text messages warning him that he would be killed in 30 days.

In an interview with Capital News on Tuesday, Mr Njenga said a stranger telephoned and warned him against denouncing the Mungiki, a criminal sect known in the past for beheading its victims among other criminal activities including running extortion networks across the country.

“Somebody called and said that even if I have announced an end to Mungiki, they would gang up and continue with it,” Mr Njenga told Capital News at his Kitengela home.

“I was not able to know who it was, but he said they had already killed two people in Karatina. He said they have given me 30 days, after which they would finish me,” he said.

Mr Njenga had not reported the matter to the police when he gave the interview, but said he would do so by Friday.

“I will inform you when I will be going to report the matter at the CID headquarters,” he added.

“Some people have even been daring me to go to Kirinyaga and retaliate and hold meetings. I will not hold any meeting. They have been threatening me and saying that if I am man enough I should go to Kirinyaga .  I want to make it clear that there are no plans to retaliate, we are now for peace,” he said.

The self-styled leader said:  “some powerful forces were unhappy with his recent announcement to transform Mungiki sect members into Christians.”

“There are those who have been benefiting from it (Mungiki) and are now getting frustrated, but as I said Mungiki is a thing of the past,” he maintained, citing Christianity as his new way of life with his over five million members.

Below are the excerpts of the interview.

Q.
You have talked about Mungiki being a thing of the past. Does that mean you have disbanded the Mungiki?

A. I am saying Mungiki is a dead thing. We are going to organise for the burial ceremony of this organisation and it is going to die and die forever.

The things we are going to start are bible studies, and other sustainable projects like farming and planting trees.

Q
. But even after you announced last week that it is dead, we still hear police saying they have arrested suspected Mungiki members involved in criminal activities!

A. All those people who are calling themselves Mungiki are not real Mungiki, these are criminals.  They are doing that intentionally because they want to cause chaos.  They want to build a parallel thing to show the public that the organisation is still there.  They are those people who want to disturb peace but they are not Mungiki.

Q. Mungiki is known to have membership of five million people or more, how do you plan to reach out to them and dismantle the gangs.

A.
One way is to try and talk to these men, to try to encourage them to end all that madness. We start civic education and I want the churches to support me so that these young men can come to church and get religious education to help them so that they can do their own things without depending on any person.

Q. Being a leader of the Mungiki which has been associated with crime, murder, extortion and other criminal activities, many people are finding it extremely difficult to believe you when you say you are now saved.

A. What I would like them to believe is that my salvation is final and my salvation comes from God. God is the one who saves souls of people. They do not have to judge me, they should stay and watch.  I will not go back, I have gone to church. My work will be to preach the gospel. I am in the process of learning what I don’t know, and we are going to work together with church leaders so that we can be able to get more of my members into salvation.

Q.
How do you plan to end these extortion rings?

A. You know people have been having this notion that Mungiki are the people who collect money. Those who collect money along the roads and at the premises do not do that as members of Mungiki.  We are appealing to the government to provide leadership to these youth who are going to be saved from time to time.  Even money that was meant for the Kazi Kwa Vijana they can be used in funding these people so that they can develop their activities.

Q
. Even after you announced that you are saved, we still hear reports from places like Kirinyaga where some eight men were arrested while taking an oath in Makuyu. Does it mean you are still recruiting?

A.
I don’t have any association with that.  When I leave something, I leave it forever, and I don’t have to go back again.

Q. There was a person who was beheaded and his body dumped in Eastleigh on Tuesday. Police and residents blamed it on the Mungiki. Do you have anything to say about that?

A. People should know that Mungiki is no more, those activities and killings are the work of criminals not Mungiki.

Q.
Do you ever regret forming the Mungiki, because it turned out to be the largest criminal organisation which has been blamed for murder and other serious crimes in the country?

A.
I don’t regret forming such an organisation, but for the blames that have been there, most of them have been propaganda.  I have been in jail for five years.  I was not responsible for what was happening outside.   When you are in prison for such a period of time, you cannot be in control of people and everything that is happening out there.

Q.
Does it mean there are people who took control of your organisation and transformed it into a criminal gang?

A.
Most of the things that I see, have gone out of hand, I am seeing activities happening, even when I was in prison, I am urging my people to stop doing criminal activities.

Q. What did you aim to achieve when you formed this organisation which has been demonised for its activities.

A.
When I was forming Mungiki, I wanted it to be like a merry-go-round.  That was my original idea so that people can come together, farm together and pray together. The aim of the organisation was not to kill, it was not to hijack, it was meant for the good of the community.

Q.
You’ve talked of bringing your members together for income generating activities, what is your source of revenue in this new venture?

A.  I am going to work with church people and civil society organisations. I am also going to work with the government people. We are even planning to look for NGO’s to support us.  I am even planning to start creating cities so that the youth can get jobs.

Q. Tell us more about these cities.

A. One way of creating jobs to these young men is to build cities. I want to build seven wonderful cities.  I am starting with putting up a hotel here in Kitengela and later in other areas.  You know if I put up a hotel.  Someone else will come and put a shop, another person will put other facilities.

Q. You have also formed a political party, the Kenya National Youth Alliance, what do you aim to achieve? Does it have anything to do with the 2012 General Elections and your political ambitions?

A. Let us not talk about that at this point, may be you can ask Njuguna Gitau.

Q. When are you getting baptised?

A. Definitely I will be baptised soon, but that cannot happen until such a time when I am through with baptism lessons, I am being taught about baptism and what it is all about.

Q. You are also arranging the burial of your wife Virginia and the other relatives whose bodies are still lying at the mortuary. How far are those arrangements?

A. You know when I came out of jail, I was told the mortuary fees have accumulated to Sh5 million, I am just arranging those preparations so that we can do the burial.  There is also the baptism plans for myself so once that is sorted, the whole issue will be taken care by the church.

Q. Should we expect to see you confessing about your past and about Mungiki now that you are saved?

A. I have said that I started preaching about the God of the tradition when I was only 20.  I used to say about the God of Mount Kenya but now I know about God of the Universe. That is confession.  And I want to pass that message to all my members.

Q. What are some of the challenges, you oversee in trying to reach out to them?

A. There are no challenges at all because there are churches in almost every village in the country. The church leaders will help us.

Source: Capital FM

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Kenya poor to get monthly pay

Posted by Administrator on November 4, 2009

Needy Kenyans will soon get a monthly income to meet their basic needs in a programme similar to those carried out in welfare states.

However, before the programme dubbed Saidia Jamii (help the family) is rolled out, the government will first disburse Sh600 million to a group of vulnerable people living in the slums as a test project.

“The outcome of the pilot programme will inform the roll-out of Saidia Jamii programme in July 2010, Prime Minister Raila Odinga told journalists Wednesday at his Treasury office after receiving an interim report of a task force formed to come up with a food subsidy scheme to cushion the poor from increasing food prices and effects of famine.

The pilot programme, he said, will be implemented in three phases by the government and its development partners.

In the first phase, a group of 100,000 people drawn from 20,000 households in Mathare, Korogocho, Mukuru and Kibera slums in Nairobi will benefit.

“Each household will be receiving Sh1,500 per month delivered through mobile phone transfer and electronic card system,” the PM said.

The phase is expected to end in June next year.

The second phase of the programme, which will also end in June, Mr Odinga said, will be extended to Kisumu and Mombasa. This will be in the month of March next year.

In the two towns another 100 people, he added, will benefit before it extended to other parts of the country.

Beneficiaries of the project will be identified through community participation, said the PM.

The taskforce was formed in response to escalating food prices, which some of the poor cannot afford.

The entire Saidia Jamii programme, which the taskforce has developed, is aimed at protecting the vulnerable and poor households in urban and rural areas from the negative impacts of food insecurity.

Mr Odinga said the report will first be adopted by the Cabinet before it is taken to Parliament for debate.

If approved by Parliament, it will become law.

The Premier said that through the report, the government has emphasised its commitment to solving poverty across the country.

“A lot of emphasis has been put in the past to the rural poor, but we know that many Kenyans out there have difficulties in making ends meet. The urban poor, for instance, get seriously affected by fluctuations of food prices and need assistance,” Mr Odinga said.

He gave assurances that the programme would succeed.

The task force members, in their report, say that the government and its partners will first set up internal administrative mechanisms to deliver cash to the beneficiaries.

They will also test the design and implementation of a cash-transfer programme.

The programme will be evaluated, the report continues to say during a mid-term review planned for March next year.

Mr Odinga, however, pointed out that out of the Sh600 million 30 per cent of it will be used on administration.

Apart from the task force members, others present during the press briefing were ministers Dr Naomi Shaban (Special Programmes) and her Planning counterpart Wycliffe Oparanya.

Finance assistant minister Dr Oburu Oginga was also present as well as permanent secretaries Prof Karega Mutahi (Education) and Dr James Nyikal (Gender).

Source: Daily Nation

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