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Archive for December, 2010

Kenyan Canadian puts together a portable FM radio station

Posted by Administrator on December 30, 2010

A Kenyan Canadian has put together a portable FM radio station that fits in a briefcase that he hopes to use to reach remote parts of Africa.

Peter Onguti helped develop and is bringing to Africa the 18-kilo FM radio kit that can be powered by solar, battery or conventional electricity

He got the idea for a portable radio station after Kenya’s last election, when violence erupted across the country. People in rural areas especially were experiencing an information blackout.

Onguti turned to a Canadian friend and business partner to design a portable radio station with good range.

“I asked him — he’s a telecommunication engineer — if he could come up with something which was suitable for this market, especially Kenya and the rest of Africa,” Onguti told CBC News.

Then he used his own savings to build and market the portable radio stations.

The government of South Sudan will be using about a dozen of the units to educate rural voters in the upcoming referendum on separation from North Sudan.

And dozens more are being used to broadcast health and education programming in Western Africa.

Depending on the unit, the stations can broadcast anywhere from 30 to 100 kilometres.

“You can do a lot with this unit, not necessarily just focus on war and violence and such,” Onguti says.

He envisions his portable radio stations in use all over Africa. Radio is a good choice for Africa, where many people are illiterate and cannot afford television.

He has yet to turn a profit on sales, with units ranging from $10,000 to $70,000, but that doesn’t discourage him.

“It’s not about the money actually — it’s just about information, that is the key drive for me. It’s just that I want people to have access to information.”

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/arts/media/story/2010/12/29/portable-radio-africa.html#ixzz19bXNZJM1

Posted in Diaspora News | 5 Comments »

US Issues Travel Advisory For Kenya Over Terror Threats

Posted by Administrator on December 30, 2010

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Kenya.  U.S. citizens in Kenya and those considering travel to Kenya should evaluate their personal security situation in light of continuing threats from terrorism and the high rate of violent crime. 

This replaces the Travel Warning of July 24, 2009 to note areas of concern now include portions of Lamu district and provide additional cautions to U.S. citizens regarding potentially threatening circumstances.

The U.S. government continues to receive information regarding potential terrorist threats aimed at U.S., Western, and Kenyan interests in Kenya.  Terrorist acts could include suicide operations, bombings, kidnappings, attacks on civil aviation as evidenced by the 2002 attacks on an Israeli airliner, and attacks on maritime vessels in or near Kenyan ports.  Many of those responsible for the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in 1998 and on a hotel in Mombasa in 2002 remain at large and continue to operate in the region.  Travelers should consult the Worldwide Caution for further information and details.

In July 2009, three NGO workers were kidnapped and taken into Somalia by suspected members of a terrorist group that operates out of Somalia.  In November 2008, armed groups based in Somalia crossed into Kenya near the town of El Wak and kidnapped two Westerners.  The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi has designated a portion of Kenya bordering Somalia and Ethiopia as “restricted without prior authorization” for purposes of travel by U.S. Government employees, contractors, grantees, and their dependents.  Travelers should be aware that U.S. Embassy security personnel recently expanded the restricted area to include portions of Lamu district.  This designation is based on reports of Somali-based armed groups known to have crossed into Kenya to stage attacks or to commit crimes.  This restriction does not apply to travelers not associated with the U.S. government, but should be taken into account when planning travel.  The restriction is in effect for the following areas: 

-All of Mandera District.

-The entire area north and east of the town of Wajir, including travel on Highway C80 and areas east of C80 and an 80-kilometer (about 50 miles) wide band contiguous with the Somalia border.  Travel to and within the towns of Wajir and Moyale remains unrestricted.

-Within Garissa District, an 80-kilometer (about 50 miles) wide band contiguous with the Somalia border.  Travel to and within the town of Dadaab remains unrestricted.

-Within Ijara District, an 80-kilometer (about 50 miles) wide band contiguous with the Somalia border; Boni National Reserve.

-Within Lamu District, a 60-kilometer (about 40 miles) wide band starting northeast of Pate Island to the Somalia border.  Towns and resorts within/contiguous to the Kiunga Marine Reserve are now included in the restricted area.

Violent and sometimes fatal criminal attacks, including armed carjackings, home invasions/burglaries and kidnappings can occur at any time and in any location, particularly in Nairobi.  As recently as spring 2010, U.S. nationals were victims of carjacking and kidnapping.  In the short-term, the continued displacement of thousands of people by the civil unrest of 2008 combined with endemic poverty and the availability of weapons could result in an increase in crime, both petty and violent.  Kenyan authorities have limited capacity to deter or investigate such acts or prosecute perpetrators.

U.S. citizens in Kenya should be extremely vigilant with regard to their personal security, particularly in public places frequented by foreigners such as clubs, hotels, resorts, upscale shopping centers, restaurants, and places of worship.  U.S. citizens should also remain alert in residential areas, at schools, and at outdoor recreational events. 

U.S. citizens should avoid demonstrations and political rallies of all kinds.  Most political gatherings are peaceful, but they can turn violent with no notice.  In the run-up to the constitutional referendum in June 2010, six Kenyans were killed and 100 injured at a prayer meeting/political rally in Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi.

U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Kenya are urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive the most up-to-date security information.  By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.  U.S. citizens without Internet access may enroll directly with the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.  The U.S. Embassy is located on United Nations Avenue, Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya; telephone (254) (20) 363-6000; fax (254) (20) 363-6410.  In the event of an after-hours emergency, the Embassy duty officer may be contacted at (254) (20) 363-6000.  Travelers may also consult the Embassy home page for more information.

U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State’s Country Specific Information for Kenya and the Worldwide Caution, which are located on the Department of State’s website.  Travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. or outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

Posted in Diaspora News | 1 Comment »

Sacrifices that made room for more

Posted by Administrator on December 30, 2010

"The suffering that we have gone through and what we have done for other people was like sowing a seed. It is now time for us to reap,” Stanley Mureithi

"The suffering that we have gone through and what we have done for other people was like sowing a seed. It is now time for us to reap,” Stanley Mureithi

“I have gone from one challenge to another, but in almost all of them, I have come out stronger,” the outspoken woman says in a matter-of-fact way.

She’s referring to her long and hard journey to financial freedom that began right after she completed her secondary school education in 1994. 

Wangui recalls her first job as a 21-year-old salesperson in Kiambu town, a job that fetched her Sh20 a day. She was only able to negotiate her pay rise four years later. All this time, what the single mother took home on payday left her with more month at the end of the money. Her salary was finally raised from Sh600 to Sh700.

Handsome

Perhaps what cooled her heels was the everyday sight of a handsome young man who would come by the market where she worked. Stanley Mureithi, now 36, worked as a turn-boy for a pick-up that regularly delivered fruits and vegetables to business owners in Kiambu town. 

 “He carried the bags of fruits and vegetables from the van and that is how we met at the market,” Wangui says.

And he certainly had a way of lifting Wangui’s spirits every time he showed up. So much so that he managed to get her attention and keep it all through their humble dates in the market mkahawas.

 “He would occasionally take me out for tea at hotels. It cost about Sh5. But in 1996 he took me to Thompson’s Falls in Nyahururu for our first outing,” she says flashing an ageing photograph that recorded their time together.

Wangui had no way of knowing that Mureithi would be her husband but that did not stop her from enjoying his company.

In 1997, they got married and the following year, the couple had a baby girl. Wangui had to stop working for several months when she realised that she wasn’t juggling things so well.

Later that year, she and her husband decided to start their own fruit business with the little savings they had stashed away.

“We did not have enough capital and this appeared to me to be the only way we could start earning steady income since I had some expertise in it,” says Mureithi.

And so when they heard about a businesswoman with a vacant stall to dispose off, they were quick to approach her. The woman offered them the stall for free, allowing the couple to spend their money on stock.

Their business flourished and Wangui was able to join several women’s groups. Her husband continued to participate in several saving schemes.

Little did they know that they would come to suffer one blow after another. When Wangui’s ailing mother died in 2001 after three years of illness, the couple found that they had burial expenses to take care of.

“We consulted on the need to give our mother a decent burial even if it meant making sacrifices,” Mureithi explains.

Months later, the couple decided to do something for themselves, and their children. Through their savings and credit society, they managed to purchase a plot which they were to pay for in instalments.

That was in 2002. Four years later, they had a four-bedroom house for them and their children Alice Wamuyu, 12, Joan Wacuka, 10, and Anthony Ngugi, six.

Wangui describes the house as a big blessing.

“We had initially begun life in a rented room for which we paid Sh100 a month. Then we moved into a two-bedroom house for Sh600 rent before living in an old three-bedroom house that saw us pay Sh3,000 a month. We will eternally be grateful to God that we have a place not far from Nairobi to call home,” she explains.

But her smile quickly fades with the memory of losing her father. Once again, the couple had to dip into its pockets to cater for the burial expenses.

Then came another blow. Wangui’s younger brother, a diabetic, died.

“He had lost his eyesight. Because of this, I was responsible for him. When he died, we took care of all the burial expenses,” she says.

By this time, the couple was going through what seemed like a devastating cycle of saving up only to spend all the money on loved ones’ funerals. Still, they continued “trusting that God will provide”.

Soldiering on, Wangui and Mureithi picked themselves up after each blow, strengthening themselves and their business, smiling in front of the children with a “this-too-shall-pass” attitude.

And just when they thought that their business was picking up, the Kiambu County Council demolished their stall to pave the way for road reconstruction.

Suddenly the month of July was a lot colder with their only source of income reduced to ruins.

But something had happened before the demolition that would help the couple rebuild their lives.

 Wangui recalls one morning when a man visited her stall. He wasn’t interested in their fruits. He said he had been sent by the makers of the washing detergent Ariel to carry out product research.

“I could have easily dismissed him, but I found myself agreeing to be interviewed,” she says. After a series of phone calls, interviews, and rehearsals, Wangui ended up being the woman in the Ariel television advertisement who shows off her neatly dressed husband.

“To take part in this contest, I had to commit my time and leave my family whenever need arose,” she points out. The seven-month preparation period was demanding.

The Sh3,000 allowance Wangui got during the interviews motivated the otherwise jobless couple to go on.

“That’s what we survive on. Had we missed out on this opportunity, we would have had to return to the village as city life would have been too costly,” Wangui explains.

Mureithi soon joined in the final preparation stages and when it became obvious that the couple was the best among the other contestants, the shoot began.

To their surprise, the contract offered Sh150,000 for the on-air advertising and another Sh100,000 for the billboards. Mureithi recalls how surprised he was as he signed the contract. But upon cashing the cheque at the bank, his family’s changing fortunes dawned on him.

The couple took some time to decide what to do with the money.

“We settled for investment as this seemed to be the option that would create a steady income for the family. And from a list of options, we decided to buy a passenger vehicle because we saw it as a reliable source of daily income,” Mureithi says.

He topped up with some of the money he had invested in a savings scheme to enable them to purchase a 14-seater vehicle that now operates between Kiambu and Nairobi.

“I went for a second-hand Toyota and I am giving it my all, determined that one day, I will be in a position to purchase a bigger one,” an optimistic Mureithi says.

On her part, Wangui now has a new kiosk where she sells fruits. She plans to set up another retail stall to stock household  items. 

We are now settled and can do something for ourselves. My wife did not get it (the advertising contract) by chance. I think it is God’s time to bless us. The suffering that we have gone through and what we have done for other people was like sowing a seed. It is now time for us to reap,” concludes Mureithi.

Source: Daily Nation

Posted in Features | 1 Comment »

Olympic champion Wanjiru charged over threat to wife’s life

Posted by Administrator on December 30, 2010

Olympic marathon champion Samwel Wanjiru has been charged with threatening to kill his wife, Tereza Njeri, using an illegal firearm December 30, 2010. FILE

Olympic marathon champion Samwel Wanjiru has been charged with threatening to kill his wife, Tereza Njeri, using an illegal firearm December 30, 2010. FILE

Olympic marathon champion Samwel Wanjiru has been charged with threatening to kill his wife, Tereza Njeri, using an illegal firearm.

The two-time Boston marathon winner was also charged with threatening to kill their househelp, Nancy Njoki, and wounding a security guard, William Masinde.

Mr Wanjiru denied the charges in a Nyahururu court and was released on a bond of Sh300,000 with a similar surety.

He is said to have been committed the offences on Wednesday at his Muthaiga estate home in Nyahururu town.

Prosecutor John Ruto told the court that the renowned athlete hit Mr Masinde with a rifle butt on the cheek and on the right hand.

The court heard that investigations were complete and five witnesses would testify.

The firearm has been forwarded to ballistics experts for analysis to determine whether or not it was used to commit other offences.

Senior Resident Magistrate Alice Mong’are set January 9, 2011 for mention and the hearing on March 14.

The athlete, who is also the Chicago and London marathon champion, said through his lawyer Ndegwa Wahome that he had been framed.

Mr Wanjiru spent Wednesday night in custody as a special team from Central Provincial Police headquarters conducted investigations.

Source: Daily Nation

Posted in Kenya | 3 Comments »

Dallas man loses 5 family members in car crash in SA

Posted by Administrator on December 29, 2010

Phyllis Wanjiku Njuguna and Agnes Muthoni who perished along with their two children in South Africa on Christmas day.

Phyllis Wanjiku Njuguna and Agnes Muthoni who perished along with their two children in South Africa on Christmas day.

A Kenyan man in Dallas has lost five family members who died in a car crash in South Africa.

George Mbugua who moved to Dallas earlier this year from Kansas, lost two cousins, two nephews and a niece

The tragedy occurred on Christmas day when a car they were traveling in lost control, hit a post and rolled killing the five. The driver who was from Burundi survived the crash with minimal injuries.

The accident happened as the family was going to a park for a family gathering.

The Kenyans who perished in the accident are Phyllis Wanjiku Njuguna, 40 and her children Roger William Njuguna and Kamau Phyllis, Agnes Muthoni, 36 and her daughter Joy Marine Wambui.

The family hails from Kwamaiko, Githunguri District. The deceased are daughters and grandchildren of a former Nyaga primary school head teacher.

They are survived by their father William Njuguna Kimani, their mother Monica Wanjiru Njuguna, brothers Daniel Kahuro of Johannesburg, South Africa, Abraham Kimani Njuguna and Agnes Muthoni’s daughter, Monica wanjiru.

Friends and well-wishers are meeting daily at their father’s residence at Kwamaiko, Githunguri and at Daniel Kahuro Njuguna’s place in South Africa.

The bodies are still in South Africa and the family is trying to raise money to enable all the 5 to be shipped in Kenya for their final resting place.

Family members in the US are asking for help, you can send you contributions to:

Bank Name: Bank of America

Account # 488028666145

Account Name: George Mbugua

There will be prayers on Sunday Jan 02 2011 at the following venue

12500 Merit Drive # 1101

Dallas, TX 75251

For more information you can contact:

Daniel Kahuro (South Africa) + 27 731270379

George Mbugua (Dallas, TX) 214 463 3583

John Kimani (Tacoma, WA) 253 241 1642

Ann W. Kimani (Houston, TX) 832 202 7061

Ruth Wairimu (Federal way, WA) 206 931 1304

RELATED VIDEO:

Posted in Announcements | 3 Comments »

Real estate magnate Gerishon Kirima is dead

Posted by Administrator on December 29, 2010

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 29 – Real estate business magnate Gerishon Kirima is dead.

The controversial businessman passed on Tuesday at a South African hospital after a week of coma according to family sources.

The former Member of Parliament and Assistant Minister died at the age of 88.

His death comes at a time when members of his extended family are in a big tussle over control of his multi million shillings estate.

Drama pitting the Kirima family started about five months ago when his daughters from the first wife stormed his home in Kitisuru and demanded that he be taken to hospital.

After two weeks of unsuccessful attempts, they engaged top government officials and a cabinet minister who helped get Kirima taken to the Nairobi Hospital.

Once at the hospital, members of Kirima’s first wife sealed all the entries to the hospital to block Kirima’s third wife Teresia, son and daughters from visiting him.

A few days later, Mrs Teresia moved to court where she sought orders to visit her husband but by the time she went to serve the hospital, Mr Kirima had already been flown out to the United Kingdom for treatment.

The court cases are still pending.

More details to follow….

Read more: http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/Kenyanews/Real-estate-magnate-Gerishon-Kirima-is-dead-11001.html#ixzz19YCKW1A2

Posted in Kenya | 2 Comments »

Kenyan woman killed in crash

Posted by Administrator on December 28, 2010

BELLEVUE (KPTM)- A Bellevue Woman died at the hospital late last night after crashing her car.

Sarpy County Sheriff Investigators say 35-year-old Teresia Mwangi lost control of her vehicle near Hwy 75 and Plattview Road. Her car crossed the median and hit a pick-up truck driven by Robert Schroeder of Omaha.

Schroeder and his passenger were treated at Creighton University Medical Center for minor injuries.

Lt. Russ Zeeb said slick roads are believed to have played a role in the crash. Alcohol is not suspected.

VIDEO ON THE STORY 

Posted in Diaspora News, Kenya | Comments Off on Kenyan woman killed in crash

Ngugi wa Thiongo endures travel nightmare in the hands of Virgin Atlantic

Posted by Administrator on December 28, 2010

By Ngugi wa Thiong’o

I did not know that a one day dream flight from Nairobi to Los Angeles would turn out to be a five-day nightmare.

I had pestered the hosts of the Kwani Literary Festival to ensure my seat on Virgin Atlantic Flight VS672 that left Jomo Kenyatta airport on December 18 for London to connect with another Virgin Flight VS007 to Los Angeles the following day.

My wife was scheduled to have surgery at the Douglas Hospital of the University of California, Irvine, on Tuesday, December 21. I would be back to my home at the University Hills, Irvine, by Sunday.

The festival, a conversation among generations of African writers, particularly those of the 1960s represented by Micere Mugo, Rebecca Njau, and Philip Ochieng’ and the current, represented by Binyavanga Wainaina and Billy Kahora, among others, had gone remarkably well.

My sunshine memory was rudely interrupted by the flight captain announcing that a snowstorm had taken over Heathrow, we were going to land in Lyon, France, and spend the night there.

Then it was announced that only Schengen and European Union passport holders would be allowed out of the terminal to spend Saturday night in a hotel courtesy of Virgin Atlantic.

Kenya passport holders were specifically singled out and isolated from the rest. Our bus was escorted by armed French police into a separate building at the airport into which we were locked. The three stewardesses in charge of us were ushered into a separate room, clearly not a paradise, but it had cushioned chairs for beds.

CEMENT FLOOR

The rest of us, all Kenyans, except for a Jamaican and a couple of British passport holders who stayed in solidarity with their Kenyan wives, were each given tiny low red plastic bedlets with aluminium foils for blankets.

The cement floor was cold and dreary. It was a winter night after all. The French authorities would not even make an exception for Imani, a one-year-old, who had to share the cement floor with her parents, Brenda and Colin.

We raised many questions: why were we, bonafide passengers, who had had no say in the decision to land in Lyon, treated as if we were terrorists and refugees about to take over France? The captain, our captain, had abandoned ship. Not a word from him. The stewardess tried their best to cope, care and calm nerves.

They seemed equally helpless. Ironically, it was Imani, with her smile and energy, who kept our spirits alive. She never once cried through the night and she shone her smile on all.

I witnessed an incredible display of unity and solidarity among the Kenyan Asians and Africans of all ethnic backgrounds and religions. Humour, stories, laughter, kept us going, under our aluminium sheets. I learnt more about Sikhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity and the humanism they shared, from those stories than I had learnt from books. People offered support to each other.

BREAKING BARRIERS

Barriers of race and class and gender had broken. There were some touching stories, like that of the “just married”, Oliver Apunda from Ahero and Agnes Kahindi from Kikuyu, whose love had withstood the inter-ethnic tensions of the post-poll chaos.

Simon Onderi, a medical student at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York, acted as our unpaid doctor, attending to our different ailments. Somebody had the presence of mind to alert Kenyan embassy in Paris.

I don’t know if it was her intervention, or our near riot protests, but on Sunday, we were moved into a hotel to join the other passengers.

It was not until Monday evening that we eventually left Lyon for Heathrow where this time, those of us with connecting flights were allowed into a hotel.

My Virgin Atlantic flight would now leave for Los Angeles, on Tuesday.

I would not be able to accompany Njeeri for the surgery, the very purpose of my having to leave Kenya on Saturday, but at least I would be with her in the evening.

I went to terminal three, Heathrow, three hours before my scheduled flight. Alas, all Virgin Atlantic flights to Los Angeles had been cancelled. Heathrow was a mass of endless chaos.

I looked for a Virgin Atlantic office, to see about my options. I found none.

I approached Virgin Atlantic ground crew attending the long queues the few flights to other destinations. No help. No information about the Los Angeles route. After dragging my luggage around through the muddy snow, I eventually bumped into a frantic Virgin Atlantic official, who thrust some papers in my hands but would not otherwise answer questions.

When I raised my voice in protest, he threatened to call police, with implied but unmistakable hints that he would not hesitate to brand me a terrorist menace. I dared him to go ahead. He vanished in the crowd.

Dispirited, I returned to the Holiday Inn where I had spent the night but now under my own care.

Fortunately I found some of my fellow Kenyans still there, awaiting later flights, among them Simon Onderi, who had acted as our unofficial doctor through out our plight. I was freezing.

My asthma was back. I was wheezing. Dr Onderi took over and eventually got through to a switchboard and spoke to a human voice representing Virgin Atlantic.

The next possible flight would be on December 28.

Alternative flight

And even then, it was not certain for sure. He pleaded with them to offer me an alternative flight.

He told them about my wife in hospital, my own condition, asthma, high blood pressure, to no avail.

Dr Onderi had to rush for his flight. For me it was another night at the Holiday Inn.

My wife was in hospital, my two teenagers in the house. My asthma acted up.

I had undergone severe attacks of asthma in the past, once in Senegal in 1969, and again, years later in New Zealand in 1984.

And in both cases, I actually had to be rushed to hospital in the middle of the night. I feared the same.

It was then that I called Barbara Caldwell, my research assistant at the University of California, Irvine. She was on a Christmas break.

But within a couple of hours, from her home in far away South California in the US, she did what the Virgin Atlantic could not.

She got me a seat on a British Airways flight to Los Angeles for the following Day, Wednesday.

It was a one-way ticket but with the price tag of a return business class.

I flew back to California on Wednesday, December 23, five days after I left Nairobi, to take Njeeri home from the Douglas Hospital.

Dr Karen Noblett and her team had successfully carried out the four-hour surgery on my wife.

She was in much pain, but at least, we would have a Christmas reunion with our children. 

Posted in Kenya | 14 Comments »

Kenyan in Dallas faces frustration over his Wylie slaughterhouse

Posted by Administrator on December 28, 2010

Alex Macharia owner of ANM's farm in Wylie, Texas fights to save his slaughterhouse. Photo courtesy of Alex Macharia

Alex Macharia owner of ANM's farm in Wylie, Texas fights to save his slaughterhouse. Photo courtesy of Alex Macharia

More than 50 goats chomp on hay and mill around at ANM’s Farm, a small slaughterhouse near Wylie.

In a 1,200-square-foot metal building, owner Alex Macharia kills three to five animals a day and sells the fresh meat to customers. He opened six months ago next to a used car lot on State Highway 78.

“This is my American dream,” said Macharia, 34, a native of Kenya. “I’m trying to feed my family.”

His dream, however, has become something of a nightmare for Collin County officials, who fear his rural meat processing plant could pose health and environmental dangers. No one has documented any problems, but some wonder if he is handling meat safely and containing runoff from the slaughtering process.

County officials acknowledge that they have no authority to shut down Macharia’s operation. The state, not the county, governs meat processing plants, and Macharia’s meets Texas Department of State Health Services standards. So does a similar slaughterhouse outside Farmersville.

“We’re powerless to do anything,” County Commissioner Jerry Hoagland said.

State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, has filed a bill in the legislative session that begins next month that would let counties block slaughterhouses. Cities can keep them out through zoning, but counties have no broad zoning authority in unincorporated areas.

“It’s a regulatory loophole they’re slipping through,” said Laubenberg, whose district includes both processing plants. “It looks like the eastern part of Collin County has become a dumping ground for these under-the-radar operations.”

Her bill would not force existing slaughterhouses to close. Macharia said he has invested $85,000 in his building and equipment, including hooks, knives and band saws. He said he chose his 3-acre location in a commercial area to avoid upsetting residents.

“I’m here legally, and I have a right to make a living,” Macharia said.

Customers come from throughout Collin County and from as far as Mansfield, more than an hour away, he said. He said the county’s growth and cultural diversification helped persuade him to open the plant.

For Eid al-Adha, a Muslim holiday last month, he slaughtered 82 goats over three days, he said. He sells slaughtered goats for $140 to $170, depending on size, he said.

Besides goats, he slaughters chickens and cattle. On a recent evening, a 1,000-pound cow carcass was suspended from a hook, waiting to be cut up.

Macharia said he taught himself to slaughter animals by visiting processing plants and reading. He willingly gave a reporter a tour of his business.

“I have nothing to hide,” he said.

‘I like all my neighbors’

Macharia said he knows his competitor, Alan Wali, who began a similar slaughterhouse on County Road 656 northeast of Farmersville four months ago.

Wali’s business, called Ryan’s Farm, has homes on all sides. The lots are large, and the closest home is more than 100 yards away.

A neighbor complained to county officials soon after the slaughterhouse opened. Tomie Herod wrote that she and others had “witnessed numerous offensive tactics.”

In an interview, she said she had seen goats being dragged into the building for slaughter.

“My daughter told her two children not to look over there,” Herod said.

Wali said residents normally can’t see goats being taken into the slaughterhouse on his 18-acre site. He installed metal siding on a wire fence to block the view.

“If anybody has any issue, I can talk with them,” said Wali, a Bangladesh native. “I like all my neighbors.”

State oversight

The Department of State Health Services periodically makes unannounced inspections of slaughterhouses for code compliance, said Dr. Butch Johnson, director of the agency’s Meat Safety Assurance Unit.

“If we see a band saw that isn’t clean, we’ll hang a tag on it,” he said. “That means they can’t use that particular piece of equipment until they get it cleaned up.”

Another state agency, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, licenses retention ponds outside the processing areas. When operators hose down floors after a slaughter, the water goes into underground tanks. After being filtered, it flows into an evaporation pond.

Slaughterhouse owners must submit plans for the ponds to the environmental agency, said Chris Linendoll, wastewater permitting section manager. Once the plans are approved, the state does no onsite inspections, he said.

“We would inspect it if we got a complaint,” Linendoll said.

Third facility in works

A third person, Tien Vo, intends to open a slaughterhouse about eight miles south of Wali’s plant, according to paperwork filed with the county. He plans to slaughter goats, chickens and quails, records show.

County Commissioner Joe Jaynes said he worries that runoff from the slaughterhouses might contaminate nearby Lavon Lake, a drinking water source for North Texas.

He said he hopes Laubenberg’s bill passes and prevents any more operations from opening.

“It’s a health issue and a quality-of-life issue,” he said. “People move to the country to experience country life, not to live near a slaughterhouse.”

Source: Dallas Morning News

To visit Macharia’s slaughterhouse website, click here

Posted in Diaspora News | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Airline Tickets Scam Persists as another Kenyan duped

Posted by Administrator on December 28, 2010

Too good to be true

A Sammamish man called police Dec. 17 to report that he had been duped into buying fake plane tickets by a 46-year-old Issaquah man who was acting as a travel agent.

The victim was trying to fly a family member from Kenya to Seattle and could only find tickets online for upwards of $2100.

Friends suggested he talk to the suspect, who allegedly promised to find a ticket for around $1100.

The victim then transferred money into the man’s bank account, according to the police report. When the victim double checked the status of the flight they discovered that the booking didn’t exist. The case remains under investigation.

Posted in Diaspora News | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

 
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