Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Astrologers starry-eyed for Obama
By William Porter
Denver Post Columnist
Article Last Updated: 05/20/2008 11:33:03 PM MDT

In a presidential campaign where we have gauged candidates based on the color of their pantsuits, the health of their skin and the ability to throw a bowling ball, one critical test has been overlooked.

I am, of course, talking about how their astrological charts stack up.

Lucky for us, the United Astrology Conference was in Denver this week, with 1,500 devotees from 44 countries. On Tuesday, seven top forecasters took the stage in the downtown Sheraton and made like television political pundits, minus the screaming.

I'll cut to the chase: Six panelists predicted the election will go to Barack Obama, thanks to a Saturn-Jupiter conjunction spelling change. The seventh, Shelley Ackerman, saw an Obama win, but worried about Neptune doing something funky in January, endangering his chances of actually taking office. Her colleagues agreed the stars did look dicey in this respect.

Panelist Sandra-Leigh Serio ran it down for me.

"Obama's chart and the United States' chart are very much alike," she said. "From an astrological standpoint, he's a man of destiny. (John) McCain also has a strong connection to the U.S. chart."

Hillary Clinton? Eh, not so much, apparently. "There's a little more confusion with her and the U.S. chart," Serio said.

Me, I'm not into astrology. I'll occasionally scan my horoscope, but only if it shows up on the same newspaper page as the crossword puzzle I'm working. The advice is always beyond generic. "Today's a bad day to antagonize your boss/spouse/Doberman."

One breathless woman came up and asked how I felt about Mercury in August. I told her I was generally a Ford man, but given that I was in the market for a new car this fall, would keep an open mind.

So the general star-chart enthusiasm was lost on me.

Still, the panelists were impressive. They sounded like astronomy majors who had paid attention in poli-sci class.

Before announcing their predictions, panelists discussed how they did their charts. There was some distress about the methodology in this election year.

"We don't have a single solid birth chart," panelist Robert Hand told the crowd. "If those dates are wrong, everything I say is garbage."

And Serio said the panel was "doing this in the shadows of Mercury and Neptune — this might not have any validity at all in a few months."

I didn't quite know what that meant, but gave her points for hedging her bets as deftly as any CNN analyst.

Hand ominously noted there would be an eclipse of the sun in August, with Mercury ascending for George W. Bush. The crowd gasped. This seemed to portend election-day shenanigans.

Gloria Star noted that Clinton has looming problems with Neptune. While signs indicate she will be gone from the scene on Election Day, other signs "indicate she's fighting somewhere."

"Probably in her kitchen," a woman behind me said.

Don't tell me astrologers lack a sense of humor.

For the record, McCain is a Virgo, Obama is a Leo and Clinton is a Scorpio.

"Leos and Scorpios are historically at odds," Serio told me. She nodded knowingly. "Bill Clinton's a Leo."

So there it is, courtesy of our top astrologers: Obama wins, probably.

Hey, have we heard anything better from the pundits?

William Porter's column runs Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Reach him at 303-954-1977 or wporter@denverpost.com.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

On Maina Njenga’s Release & Why not sue for defamation?

To say that am surprised will be an understatement.
Calls for Maina Njenga’s release by the so called Central Kenya
Elders are very unfortunate to say the least. Maina Njenga is yet to be charged for his association with the Mungiki. He is behind bars for the simple reason that he was found in possession of a firearm (without a license). So, if he is to be released, then why don’t we release all those
behind bars on similar charges? Maina isn’t special as far
as the law is concerned hence incase he is released then I demand that
we release all those caught with fire arms.

I rest my case.


Alan E Masakhalia
Why not sue for defamation?

Our defense minister continues to baffle many with his unwavering
notion that it is the civilians who are torturing their brothers and then
handing them over to the harmless army officers. If this is the case then I would ask that the military shows to the world one of those civilians that has been supplying them with already tortured SLDF suspects.

Alternatively, since more people are blaming the military for their
injuries then I would ask that our good minister Hon. Yusuf Haji takes
legal action against them. Why then is he allowing them to taint the
good name of the armed forces?

Over to you bwana minister.


Alan E Masakhalia.


The National Science Foundation (NSF) is proud to announce that 32-year-old Terence Tao, a professor of mathematics at the University of California at Los Angeles, will receive its 2008 Alan T. Waterman Award. Called a "supreme problem-solver," and named one of "the Brilliant 10" scientists by Popular Science (October 2006), Tao's extraordinary work, much of which has been funded by NSF through the years, has had a tremendous impact across several mathematical areas. He will receive the award at a black tie dinner program at the U.S. Department of State on May 6.

The annual Waterman award recognizes an outstanding young researcher in any field of science or engineering supported by NSF. Candidates may not be more than 35 years old, or seven years beyond receiving a doctorate, and must stand out for their individual achievements. In addition to a medal, the awardee receives a grant of $500,000 over a 3-year period for scientific research or advanced study in their field.

Terence Tao was born in Adelaide, Australia, in 1975. His genius at mathematics began early in life. He started to learn calculus when he was 7 years old, at which age he began high school; by the age of 9 he was already very good at university-level calculus. By the age of 11, he was thriving in international mathematics competitions. Tao was 20 when he earned his doctorate from Princeton University, and he joined UCLA's faculty that year. UCLA promoted him to full professor at age 24. Tao now holds UCLA's James and Carol Collins Chair in the College of Letters and Science. He is also a fellow of the Royal Society and the Australian Academy of Sciences (corresponding member).

Nicknamed "the Mozart of Math," Tao's areas of research include partial differential equations (PDE), combinatorics, number theory and harmonic analysis. Harmonic analysis is an advanced form of calculus that uses equations from physics. Some of this work involves, in a colleague's words, "geometrical constructions that almost no one understands." Tao also works in a related field, nonlinear partial differential equations, and in the entirely distinct fields of algebraic geometry, number theory and combinatorics, which involves counting.

In addition to the prestigious Waterman award, Tao has received a number of other awards, including the Salem Prize in 2000; the Bochner Prize in 2002; the Fields Medal, often touted as the "Nobel Prize for Mathematics" and SASTRA Ramanujan Prize in 2006; and the MacArthur Fellowship and Ostrowski Prize in 2007.

Through the years, Tao's research has often been funded by other NSF grants. His current research is funded by NSF Award #0649473, "Global Behaviour of Critical Nonlinear PDE."


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Matatu Operators Suffer Blow As Ruling is Reversed.

LAW REPORT: Matatu operators suffer blow as ruling is reversed

Publication Date: 5/12/2008
Republic vs Permanent Secretary, ministry of Local Government & Four others ex-parte, Immaculate Transporters Ltd & 17 others [2008] Eklr (www.kenyalaw.org)
High Court At Nairobi
J. G. Nyamu (J)

Matatus at the new Muthurwa Bus terminus. Photo/FILE
Mr Justice John Nyamu on May 5 gave a ruling setting aside an earlier order given on March 31, 2008, by a fellow judge, which had allowed matatu operators to file a substantive application for several reliefs.

The High Court, in the earlier application, had also ordered that the leave granted was to operate as a stay of the decision reached by respondents who were named as the Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Local Government, the Transport Licensing Board, the Attorney-General, the City Council and the Commissioner of Police.

Matatu operators Bernard Goko, Elizaphan Wahome, Duncan Ngugi, Michael Kinyua and Joe Macharia had applied to have their matter certified as urgent and for it to be heard instantly. They also sought leave to apply for a judicial review order to quash the decision of the respondents barring several motor vehicles belonging to the applicant from entering Nairobi central business district and from using Landhies Road. Among the cars barred were motor vehicle registration numbers KAL 560 C, KBA 009 C, KAQ 910 U, KAT 860 U and KAN 514 H.

The applicants further wanted to bar the respondents from continuing to block the said motor vehicles from entering the city centre or using certain routes.

At the same time, the respondents brought an application to set aside the order issued on March 31, 2008.

The respondents put forward several grounds among them that their decision ordering matatus to drop and pick up passengers at Muthurwa market was lawful having been taken through all the statutory requirements prior to being effected.

It was their contention that the decision had been reached through a council resolution. This had been followed by the ministerial approval which was gazetted on March 20, 2008.

The City of Nairobi (Omnibus Stations) Amendment By-Laws 2008 at section 23 clearly designated special parking spaces for all vehicles plying route number 58. This amendment was operationalising earlier City Council of Nairobi (Matatu Termini) By-Laws 2007 section 9 which provided that the council could from time to time declare any area within the city to be a matatu terminus, and that the terminus declared in accordance with these by-laws would indicate the route number of the matatus to use it.

Route 58

Matatu owners through their counsel responded by submitting that section 72A(j) dealt with parking, whereas the issue before the court was where matatus plying route 58 were to end their itinerary.

They also contended that under the Nairobi (Matatu Termini) By-Laws 2007, no parking was allowed and that the vehicles were to be on the move at all times. It was their stand that the Traffic Act regulated parking.

The matatu owners felt it was in the greater public interest to have the stay order continue because the traffic situation would be chaotic if the matatus were not allowed back into the city centre.

It was also their contention that the orders were in the interest of the majority instead of favouring a few.

They claimed the three operators who had been allowed to enter city centre had been favour and this constituted discrimination of the other operators.

Related to this had been the issue of licences issued to the applicants for a period of one year by the Transport Licensing Board on the basis of known routes, a result of which was that their legitimate expectation to so operate throughout the whole year had been thwarted.

Further, the applicant felt that sufficient notice had not been provided, contrary to the rules of natural justice.

On the issue of notice, the High Court felt that in retrospect, it was to be viewed from the standpoint of the due process provisions relating to the passing and making of laws as set out under section 201 of the Local Government Act.

It was the court’s view that attention of the previous court had not been drawn to this section and was instead informed that the respondents had made an oral decision.

On this, the court held the failure to disclose the existence of the by-laws as the real subject matter constituted a serious non-disclosure on the part of the matatu owners which would have affected the grant of orders they had sought.

Mr Justice Nyamu also found on the claim of legitimate expectation that the court had not been adequately briefed on how this had been resolved.

Further, he held there had been no decision under attack at the time of the grant of the order for leave and stay. Instead what had formed the so called decision had been the By-Laws L.N 37/ 08, which were in turn not brought to the attention of the court then.

Mr Justice Nyamu was of the opinion that, had the attention of the court hearing the matter at the time been drawn to the by-laws, the chances of the applicants succeeding on obtaining those orders would have been apparently non-existent.

The court referred to various decided cases in ruling on the issue of material non-disclosure. The cases of Kenya Bus Service versus Republic and Justus Nyangaya versus Republic reiterated the courts stand that leave was only provisional and that it could be set aside for material non-disclosure or if wrongly entered.

Second stage

At the leave stage, the court grants or refuses leave by answering the question whether or not an applicant is likely to succeed at the second stage.

It was his opinion that the leave and stay would not have been granted on the same terms had the by-laws been exhibited.

Concerning the issue of public interest, Mr Justice Nyamu ruled that on a tentative basis, there could not be a greater public interest concerning traffic matters than achieving the smooth flow of traffic, order and discipline on the roads.

It was for these reasons that the High Court set aside that particular part of the order given on March 31, 2008, by the vacation Judge directing that leave operate as stay.

The writer is an advocate of the high court of Kenya


Monday, May 12, 2008

Pardon for poll chaos ruled out!

There is a story in the Daily Nation that says; "Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and two Cabinet ministers Sunday said those who committed crimes against humanity during the post-election violence should be punished". Let’s get to the basics. We all need to understand that in criminology, a political crime is one involving overt acts or omissions, which prejudice the interests of the state, its government or the political system. In such circumstances it is to be distinguished from state crime.

In the Kenyan situation, during the course of the counting of the votes in the last General election, it is the state that broke her own constitutional and criminal laws first. Considering what transpired and putting into perspective all what happened and what is being pushed by a certain group of politicians, it looks like those politicians are trying to overlook their own colossal crimes and define as political and criminal crimes any behavior that was carried out by certain people perceived as having been a threat, real or imagined. Common logic dictates that such criminalization and victimization may not lead to a range of human rights, civil rights, and freedoms being curtailed or abused.

Detaching the motive and reasons that triggered what happened in Kenya is in itself a calculated but ill-conceived move that in the short run may be convenient for those who hold power but it will lay a dangerous precedence that will in turn breed acrimony and ethnic tension which may in turn trigger another round of ethnic violence. In fact it goes against the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation that is being advocated by those who are working hard to resettle the IDPs. Thus, while a number of those who support the current regime may consider criminalization of politically-motivated anti-social behavior while ignoring the fact that majority of the offenders were driven by more extreme political, ideological, religious or other beliefs, there may be a question of the morality of laws or prosecutions which simply criminalize ordinary political dissent.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

It's over: Obama closes the deal in Indiana and North Carolina!

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - Sen. Barack Obama has won the Democratic presidential nomination with his convincing win in the North Carolina primary.
The primary election that Sen. Hillary Clinton said would be a "game changer" has become a "game ender."
While Obama hasn't completely put to rest the concerns raised by Clinton about his ability to woo white working-class voters, his strong showing on Tuesday in North Carolina and, to a lesser extent in Indiana, will likely push even more Democratic super delegates into his camp.
Soon, in a few weeks or early next month, Obama will have the endorsements of a majority of Democrats to the Denver convention. And then it will be time for Clinton to step aside and step behind the man who has beat her under every conceivable standard: most delegates, most votes and most states.
It's no secret that Obama has had a very tough couple of weeks, as he's been dogged by intemperate statements made by the candidate and by his former pastor.
But his victory in North Carolina shows that he's survived the worst, perhaps, that can be thrown at him. If she is a fighter, then what is he?
A respected member of his own party has essentially campaigned against him as a Republican would -- questioning his patriotism, his aloofness, his manhood, and his judgment - and has failed in a key, big, swing state.
North Carolina proves that Obama isn't a loser, that he can still connect with a majority of Democrats, and that he can win a big state.
Clinton campaigned as the economic populist, but Obama won a majority of the votes in North Carolina cast by those most concerned about the economy, according to exit polls for the networks. He won a majority of voters with less than a high school education, and won among all white voters under 65.
The economy is becoming a bigger issue as winter turns to spring. At the beginning of the race in January and February, Obama scored big wins by appealing to voters who believed ending the war was the biggest issue. Clinton came back by emphasizing the economy as the calendar turned to Ohio and Pennsylvania.
But North Carolina also shows that Obama can appeal on pocketbook issues too. Those voters who see the economy as the biggest issue - two-thirds in North Carolina -- are highly likely to stick with the Democrat in November in the race that matters against McCain.
Clinton, of the hundred-million-dollar income and the Ivy League education, put on a corn-pone accent and accused Obama of being one of the "elite." But strong majorities in both North Carolina and Indiana said they believed Obama reflected their values and cared for them.
In his victory speech, Obama directly addressed the fire that nearly engulfed him, saying that ending the old politics of exploiting fears and the fake controversies was the very reason he was running.
"The other side can label and name-call all they want, but I trust the American people," Obama said.
And for their part, the Tuesday vote show that enough Democrats trust Obama to beat McCain in the fall.