News from around the country, within the region and across the globe
NAMIBIA STRIKES OIL
The government of Namibia announced that they had found oil off the coast of the country.
The government together with a Brazil oil company HRT announced that they had found what they termed as "two well-developed source rocks" and "several thin-bedded sandy reservoirs that are saturated by oil".
This is the first such discovery in the country although the oil is not in commercial volumes. Though the country does not have proven oil reserves it has proven gas reserves of two trillion cubic feet.
Source: Africa Review
OSAMA BIN LADEN’S PICTURES WILL REMAIN SECRET
A federal appeal court in the US has ruled that the pictures of slain terrorist Osama Bin Laden’s dead body remain in the custody of the government.
The court agreed with the Obama administration that, “that the images are so potent that releasing them could cause riots that would put Americans abroad at risk.”
The case was filled by the Judicial Watch which wanted the government to release the over 50 photographs and videos taken during his capture and slay.
In a statement, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said that the ruling “would allow terrorists to dictate our laws."
The organisation has said that its lawyers are considering what step to take next.
BRITISH HEIR’S KILLERS STILL AT LARGE
A year since British Heir Alexander Mason was killed in Kenya, the family is yet to get justice. The 28-year-old son of Baron Nicholas Mason died on May 18, 2012 after being arrested and detained by police for what they claim to be possession of drugs.
He is believed to have died from injuries sustained from either being beaten by police or by fellow cell mates. A year after his death his family marched to Diani police station demanding for justice for their son.
His mother, Hillary Martin asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene and help the family and others facing the similar situations to get justice.
“I am a Kenyan mother suffering like many others. The loss of my beloved son at the hands of murderers, who are living amongst us free to kill again, is unwarranted. A year has gone and nobody has been charged,” she said.
An autopsy on Alexanders body showed that he had died from blunt force trauma to he head.
The family has set up a petition to Justice for Victims of Police Brutality. To participate please log onto :http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Justice_for_Victims_of_Police_Brutality_in_Kenya/?pv=1&fb_source=message
Source: The Standard
FRAUDSTERS STEAL SH 1.5 BILLION IN ONE YEAR
Bank fraudsters have stolen KSH 1.5 billion in one year from Kenyan banks alone. The main perpetrators of the crimes are tech survey bank employees who use their knowledge to rob the banks. Half of the fraud cases reported in banks are linked to bank employees.
Data from Banking Fraud Investigations Department (BFID) reports that KSH 1.49 billion was stolen from customer accounts between April, 2012 and April, 2013. Only 530 million was recovered with officials saying that the figure is only a small portion of the money that is lost by banks.
This is because many banks chose to deal with matters of fraud or attempted fraud internally so as to protect their reputation.
Benjamin Nkungi, CEO at the Association of Microfinance Institutions said that active accounts are the most affected as people rarely keep track of their transactions.
“Financial crimes have become a huge risk to institutions. The losses are substantial,” he said.
Source: The East African
POLICEMAN IMPLICATED IN PORNOGRAPHY RING IN NAIROBI
An Anti- Banking- Fraud unit officer and a senior city policeman in Nairobi have been linked to the pornography industry in the city.
Police say that the officer is a major investor in the sector and uses the police officer to protect his interests. The investor is purported to have given the police officer KSH 140,000 as protection money in the last four months. The pornography business is thriving in the city with many blue movies being shot and duplicated along ‘River Road’ in the central business district. The street is also said to have a “recruitment agency” for blue movie actors.
The news comes just a few days after police busted a Swiss man and 11 girls who were allegedly committing bestiality in the coastal town of Mombasa. The group has a case pending in court.
Source: The Nairobian
VARSITY MAKES ZULU COMPULSORY
All first year students attending the University of KwaZulu-Natal will have to study the Zulu language. The University has said that starting next year Zulu will be compulsory at the institution.
This is in a bid to promote nation-building and bringing diverse languages together. South Africa has 11 national languages. About 23 per cent of the population speak Zulu with the language being spoken by 83 per cent of the people living in KwaZulu-Natal.
The University’s Deputy-Vice Chancellor Renuka Vithal said that this would help build the communication skills of the students.
This is the first time a University in the country is making it compulsory for students to learn a local language.
Source: The Standard
PRINCE HARRY IN THE US
British Royal Prince Harry is in the US for a seven day official tour where his first day saw him join American First Lady Michelle Obama in honoring military mothers. He visited the White House to meet the First Lady as well as a group of children who were making mementoes to honor their mothers.
Among the things on his agenda include promoting British interests in the country, promoting his charities as well as attend the Warrior Games.
Source: The Guardian
TANZANIAN CONTROVERSIAL MUSLIM CLERIC FREED
A controversial Tanzanian Muslim cleric has been freed by a court after seven months in custody, to the jubilation of his funs. Sheikh Ponda Issa Ponda was acquitted together with 49 others for trespassing, conspiracy, criminal possession, theft of building materials and occupying land owned by Agritanza Company Limited. He allegedly committed the acts on October 18 2012.
Resident Magistrate Victoria Nongwa stated lack of enough evidence by the prosecution as the reason she released the cleric. She however sentenced him to a 12 month suspended sentence for forcefully entering a property owned by Agritanza Company Limited.
Ponda and his followers were arrested following clashes in October sparked by rumors that a 12-year-old boy at a Christian school had urinated on the Koran.
Source: Africa review
STARS SUPPORT ANGELINA JOLIE’S DOUBLE MASTECTOMY
Just a day after Angelina Jolie wrote to the New York Times informing the world that she had undergone a double mastectomy, celebrities, women and breast cancer survivors have come out in large numbers to support her decision, most notably musician Sheryl Crow who is a breast cancer survivor. She wrote, “I commend Angelina Jolie for her courage and thoughtfulness in sharing her story today regarding her mastectomy. So brave!"
Others who commended her were Kristen Bell, Nina Dobrev, Elizabeth Banks, Octavia Spencer and Giuliana Rancic.
Her partner Brad Pitt termed her decision to undergo the procedure as heroic.
"All I want for is for her to have a long and healthy life, with myself and our children," he said.
In her write up Jolie said, "I choose not to keep my story private, because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options."
Source: Los Angeles Times
DEMONSTRATION AGAINST KENYAN MP’S PAY RISE DEMANDS
On Tuesday May 14th, civil society activists in Kenya staged a protest outside Parliament buildings to campaign against Kenyan MP’s who are demanding a huge pay rise.
They used pigs branded “MPigs” to protest the demand by the MP’s who have rejected the salary of KSH 532,000 that was proposed by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission. The MP’s also want the commission to be disbanded.
President Uhuru Kenyatta had asked them to drop the demands for higher wages saying the recurrent expenditure is unsustainable.
The protestors caused a scene outside Parliament by pouring animal blood on the tarmac and releasing the pigs to feed on it. The pigs appeared to be undeterred even when police fired tear gas to dispel the protestors. Ten of the demonstrators were arrested by police.
Source: Standard Digital
Developments and containing the virus have seen rapid improvement in treatment and life expectancy for infected patients with access to antiretroviral drugs that essentially stop HIV from developing into AIDS – as long as they are consistently taken. But scientists are also working on a cure, at least a functional cure, that would allow HIV-positive people to stop taking daily medication, and there have been exciting developments in the last few years.
Going back to 2008, there was the ‘Berlin Patient’, Timothy Ray Brown, who received a risky stem cell transplant to treat both his Leukaemia and his HIV-positive status. The donor for his new stem cells was a person who was naturally resistant to HIV – a rarity estimated to comprise only half a percent of all HIV-infected persons. While Brown is still HIV-positive, his immune system now contains the virus on its own. This breakthrough, while incredible, had limited application in the real world due to the price of the procedure and the rarity of naturally resistant donors.
More recently, in March this year, a baby who was born HIV was functionally cured of it by heavy doses of antiretroviral drugs early in her life – a development that is extremely promising for other infants born with the disease.
This newest development, however, looks to help infected adults. The virus typically entrenches itself on ‘reservoirs’ in cells, where it hides out from the body’s immune system. This treatment would flushes the virus out and, due to a separate vaccination, makes the patient’s immune system stronger and more able to cope with it. Trials on human skin cells have already proven successful, and the treatment has moved into the human trial stage.
The researchers are confident that the virus will be flushed out of the cells’ reservoirs, the issue is whether or not the patients’ immune systems will be able to deal with the virus. While they are hopeful, sceptics maintain that even if the initial trials are successful, a cure within months may be a bit optimistic as most clinical trials last five to eight years.
Samsung Launches New Smart Phone
Ever since Apple’s announcement and release of its first iPhone, Samsung has been working to undermine their stronghold on the mobile industry. It hasn’t been a pretty fight either, with copyright infringement battles being in the courts for years now. But Samsung has clearly established itself as the leader in the smart phone market, with sales increasing to nearly 80 million in the first quarter of 2013, compared to Apple’s 37.4 million.
Experts have attributed Samsung’s success in the smart phone world to their range of phones, including low-end models that allow a wider segment of global populations to access their products. The iPhone, however, has typically outshone their higher-end models due to a reputation for innovation and the Apple aesthetic.
With the S4, however, Samsung hopes to corner the high-end phone market. While Apple’s iPhone 5 left many customers unsatisfied due to incremental developments, the S4 promises sweeping technological changes, including a bigger screen, a better camera, a faster processor and improvements to the Android operating system via Google.
Additionally, Apple is not planning to release their next instalment of the iPhone until September or October and are notoriously tight-lipped about the developments they’ll be offering. While this tactic builds excitement among their incredibly loyal fan base, it also means people trying to choose between the S4 now and the next iPhone later don’t know what they’d be waiting for.
All in all, Samsung has an excellent opportunity to take even more of the market share from Apple, though the profit margins on their phones remain far below Apple’s with the iPhone.
Tablets on the Rise
Apple, which started the tablet frenzy with their iPad in 2010, still remains at the top of the game with 19.5 million units shipped in the first quarter. Those numbers, however, are eclipsed by a loss of market share – while Apple is still holds the largest portion of tablet owners by a handy margin, they’ve dropped from 58.1 percent to 39.6 percent. The iPad Mini, sized between an iPhone and a traditional iPad, has been given some of the credit for this spike in tablet sales. Their closest competitor is Korea’s Samsung, which has 17.9 percent of the market cornered and increased sales from last year’s first quarter by 6.5 million.
This increased demand certainly has many contributing factors, but it appears now that tablet and smart phone users are relying on their easily transported hand held devices for all their needs rather than simply using them on the go. Another factor is the increased attention spent on developing tablet technology. Apple has put out four generations of the iPad in two years, and even Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 8, was designed to give its users more of a tablet experience. According to IDC’s press release, “Unfortunately it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market.”
US Offers Reward for Kony
American Secretary of State John Kerry has offered an award of USD $5 million for Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony. The leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army is wanted for human rights violations including kidnapping children and forcing them to be soldiers.
Thought to be hiding with between 200 and 500 soldiers in the Central African Republic, Kony has been wreaking havoc in Uganda and its environs for two decades. He claims to be possessed by nine spirits that advise him, and his stated goal is to turn Uganda into a theocracy based on the Ten Commandments and his Acholi tribal traditions.
Since the founding of the LRA, Kony and his chief aides have been accused of various human rights violations, including the use of child sex slaves and child soldiers. In 2005 the International Criminal Court indicted him on charges of crimes against humanity and there have been multiple operations designed to catch him since then.
The Ugandan Army, backed by other African nations and US special forces, has recently stopped their African Union mandated pursuit of Kony, citing hostility from the Ugandan government. Kerry has no misconceptions about catching the warlord, admitting that he “will not be easy to find.”
UN Upgrades Nairobi-Based UNEP
The United Nations has upgraded the United Nations Environmental Programme, re-naming it the United Nations Environmental Assembly. The agency, based in Nairobi’s Gigiri neighbourhood, previously limited its membership to 58 nations and was a programme rather than an agency, limiting its powers. The upgrade opens membership up to the UN’s full 193 member countries and will be eligible for more funds, both from the UN and independent donors.
UNEP was originally founded following the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, which widely considered the beginning of the modern era of environmental awareness. The 1972 conference paved the way for international environmental agreements like the Kyoto Protocol.
Today, UNEP focuses on climate change In addition to the Nairobi headquarters, the organisation currently has six regional offices and eight liaison offices spread throughout the globe. The upgrade commends Nairobi and solidifies its position in the international world. The monetary implications of more delegates at the agency’s headquarters and visiting dignitaries also look to be a huge plus for the city. Additionally, President Uhuru Kenyatta has vowed to continue increasing the nation’s security and has created the Diplomatic Police Unit, which should work to pull more high-level international conferences into the country.