Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Members of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will be in the United States to learn and share views on the issue of Diaspora registration and voting. They will meet with the International Foundation of Elections Systems (IFES), representatives of embassies of countries whose Diaspora in the US votes, Maryland State Board of Elections, Federal Elections Commission (FEC). In addition, they will meet with Kenyans in the Diaspora in the following areas: Washington DC, Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, Raleigh and Boston.

When:Dec 4 – 15, 2011

Where: Washington DC, Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, Raleigh and Boston. (map)

Description:(For further details: please visit: http://kenyaemb​assy.com/news11​252011iebc.html

Saturday, November 26, 2011


December 4 – 15, 2011: Members of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will be in the United States to learn and share views on the issue of Diaspora registration and voting. They will meet with the International Foundation of Elections Systems (IFES), representatives of embassies of countries whose Diaspora in the U.S. votes, Maryland State Board of Elections, Federal Elections Commission (FEC). In addition, they will meet with Kenyans in the Diaspora in the following areas: Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, Raleigh and Boston.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Battle for Diaspora votes gathers pace


The fight for Diaspora votes appears to be gaining pace as Kenyans head into an election year with a Constitution that guarantees citizens leaving abroad the right to cast their ballots.

Among those already seen strengthening links with Kenyans living in foreign lands are Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka.

The PM has retained strong networks in the Diaspora going back to the campaigns for the ill-fated 2007 elections, when his presidential bid was partly funded by contributions from supporters living and working in countries like the US, Canada and United Kingdom.

As the PM was on an official trip to Israel last week, where he sealed a security deal for the Government, the VP was also busy in nearby Cyprus a few days later. Sources close to Raila said he had managed to develop a close working relationship with key leaders around the world.

"He can today reach out to very influential leaders in almost all powerful western counties and that is a hallmark for a serious presidential contender," said a close ally.

Apart from developing their profiles, it is whispered that the four main contenders for the presidency are also developing strong networks outside Kenya.


Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Eldoret North MP William Ruto, Assistant Minister Peter Kenneth, Gichugu MP and Narc Kenya chairperson Martha Karua, Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa and former Foreign Affairs Minister Raphael Tuju have also sought to cast their nets beyond Kenya’s borders.

Raila and Musyoka are the most widely travelled leaders in the Grand Coalition Government, which has seen them go to Europe, the Middle East, Asia and African countries.

Both have in their trips sought to cut deals on behalf of the country, with varying success.

Raila was in Israel, where he met both the president and the prime minister who agreed to support Kenya in beefing its homeland security through a memorandum of understanding signed at a resort on Mt Zion in Jerusalem.

The PM also won the consent of Israel to help build an irrigation scheme in Turkana and to have Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visit the country.

"Raila was in London months ago where he met Prince Charles. He was also the first African leader to meet Prime Minister David Cameron after his election," said a Cabinet minister allied to the PM’s party, the Orange Democratic Movement.

Prince Charles is helping restore Lake Naivasha through the Imarisha Naivasha programme, which is being coordinated by the PM’s office.

Raila has tried to use new tools of diplomacy including environmental conservation, climate change and trade, as he moves strategically to build his global profile and stand out as a statesman.

He has also been to the White House, where he met Vice President Joe Biden and secured US support for Kenya’s efforts to restore order in Somalia.

As a result of the PM’s strong push on climate change, France and Kenya last year hosted the Paris-Nairobi initiative on clean energy that brought together 40 African nations.

Raila was last year appointed by the African Union (AU) to mediate in the Ivory Coast, where he secured landing rights for Kenya Airways in Lagos, Luanda and Angola in the process.

Mr Ruto also travelled extensively when he was the Minister for Agriculture, and later Higher Education. More recently, he embarked on regional travels with Wamalwa.

Kalonzo has lately been to Malaysia, India, Namibia, and United Kingdom, where he met Kenyans and used the opportunity to push for donor support for the country.

While in the UK, the VP opened a Party of National Unit (PNU) coordinating office for Europe before heading to Cyprus on the invitation of President Dimistris Christofias.

Musyoka used the opportunity to impress upon Christofias to present Kenya’s case against Al Shabaab to the European Union, and secured scholarships for 60 university students, in addition to the 28 aided by the Kalonzo Musyoka Foundation, to study in Cyprus.

The prestigious Limkokwing University of Technology also agreed to set up a campus in Nairobi, which would be the second in Africa after another one in Botswana.

Musyoka was accompanied by Special Programmes Minister Esther Murugi, Assistant Minister Kabando wa Kabando, and Mathira MP Ephraim Maina.


"The VP was in India recently where he convinced the 47 sea ports operating there to attend an investment forum in Kenya to enable investors to explore trade opportunities in the Lamu Sea Port," said his spokesperson, Mr Kaplich Barsito.

He said Kalonzo also met officials and members of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in India and Malaysia, and asked them to invest in Kenya.

"Some of the trips to meet presidents and heads of various states across the globe have been delegated by President Kibaki to the Vice President," Barsito said on telephone yesterday.

He was quick to emphasise that the VP’s trips abroad were public engagements.

Kangundo MP Johnstone Muthama said that rather than use such forums as fundraising events, the VP stuck to his itinerary in a bid to elevate Kenya’s diplomatic engagement at the international level.

On instructions from the President, Musyoka also led a futile diplomatic shuttle early this year to seek support for Kenya’s bid to get the International Criminal Court (ICC) to refer the crimes against humanity cases facing six Kenyans at The Hague, Netherlands to the local judicial system.

But Muthama said: "As a result of the diplomatic engagements by the VP, which were frowned upon by others, the UN Security Council now appreciates Kenya’s position because we are not a failed State."

Uhuru’s engagement with foreign governments, though both intensive and extensive, has been more within the country than abroad.

In fact, one of the longest periods he is remembered to have been out of the country was recently, when he travelled to The Hague for the confirmation of charges hearings in the ICC case.

Mr Munyori Buku, who is Uhuru’s Director of Communications, yesterday told The Standard the Finance Minister does not need to travel out of Kenya to seal development deals, as such matters are part of his daily routine at his Treasury office.

"Quite often, Uhuru by virtue of his position as the Finance Minister, holds meetings with delegations from the World Bank, European Union (EU) International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other development partners funding various programmes in the country," said Munyori.

"In fact at Treasury there is a desk that deals with international leaders and foreign relations. You will remember that the IMF mission left the country recently after a meeting with Uhuru," Munyori added to illustrate his point.


Reliable sources confided in The Standard that in the search for support from the 2.5 million Kenyans in the Diaspora, Uhuru’s friends and supporters have opened offices in Los Angeles, New York and the United Kingdom with fully operational secretariats.

"The volunteers have set up offices using their own resources and they are meeting once a month to deal with issues on recruitment and mobilisation, which they communicate to Uhuru," an MP close to the Gatundu South MP told The Standard on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak on behalf of the Deputy Prime Minister.

Another secretariat is being set up in South Africa, Australia and the Middle East, according to the MP.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Why Diaspora vote could be game-changer

Why Diaspora vote could be game-changer

Updated 22 min(s) ago
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Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, former VP Moody Awori (right), Standard Group Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Paul M

By Alex Ndegwa

Presidential aspirants are competing to woo the Diaspora voting-bloc constituting a third of eight million unregistered voters the electoral commission is eyeing.

In its exit report, the defunct Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) recommends that its successor register more than eight million eligible voters.

These include people with special needs and the estimated three million Kenyans in the Diaspora; a voting-bloc analysts suggest could be a swing vote in the General Election.

Once the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) enroll the additional eight million voters, the total number is expected to hit 20 million. The exact number of eligible voters abroad is unclear, with the IIEC exit report variously citing two and three million.

However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is understood to have compiled a report profiling Kenyans living abroad and how they are distributed.

It has reportedly been turned over to the IEBC to help in preparation for voter registration outside Kenya.

Presidential aspirants are paying more attention to the new voting bloc, which would constitute 15 per cent of the total registered voters, enough to tilt the scales in a closely contested election.

Leaders jostling to succeed President Kibaki are increasingly turning to foreign capitals to market themselves.

In the past week, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and Planning Assistant Minister Peter Kenneth were in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.

Abdikadir Mohammed, the chairman of the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee, says the size of the Diaspora vote is large enough that no serious presidential aspirant can ignore.

Massive vote

Mr Abdikadir suggests that most of the voters are concentrated in Western Europe and North America, adding that the various presidential camps are scrambling to map out the vote-rich regions.

Budalang’i MP, Ababu Namwamba, described the Diaspora vote as a "huge pool" that could prove decisive in the elections due next year.

"This is going to be the swing vote. It could be the turning point especially in a tight contest.

I expect the number of visits by presidential aspirants abroad to increase as we hit the homestretch," Mr Ababu said.

Political analyst Adams Oloo concurs that the Diaspora constitutes a "massive vote that can tilt the vote either way".

Office in London

"The importance of this untested voting bloc cannot be gainsaid for politicians, because they haven’t voted before, you can’t exactly tell their voting pattern," he adds.

The PNU Alliance took the battle for the Diaspora vote a notch higher when Kalonzo announced the opening of an office in London.

It became the first political party to set up shop in the United Kingdom, hoping to use the London office as recruiting centre for Kenyans in Europe.

Addressing Kenyans at the Crystal Hall, Ilford, East London, Kalonzo termed the move the first step towards co-ordinating the search for the crucial Diaspora vote.

The VP spoke on a stopover en-route to Nicosia, Cyprus, at the invitation of the Cyprian President Dimitris Christofias.

In Japan at the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kenneth held talks with Japanese officials and addressed Kenyans living in the world’s third largest economy.

Kenneth’s weeklong visit saw him address Kenyans at Nishitetsu Grand Hotel in Fukuoka city.

The previous day, he had spoken to a gathering of Kenyans at Rhiga Royal Hotel in Kyoto.

On a weeklong visit in Israel, the PM held talks with President Shimon Peres and Premier Benjamin Netanyahu.

Raila had an unscheduled meeting with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. The ODM leader and his wife Ida also paid a pilgrimage to biblical sites.

Raila, Kalonzo and Kenneth have in the past addressed Kenyans in the United States, as has Gichugu MP, Martha Karua, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, and Eldoret North MP William Ruto.

There are 12.4 million registered voters. Based on the 2009 census, the IIEC report notes: "A lot needs to be done to ensure that the more than eight million eligible voters not registered are registered as provided for in the Constitution."

The Elections Act provides that there shall be a Principal Register of Voters, which shall include a register of voters abroad.

Those willing to participate are required to register at centres that the electoral body plans to establish in the Kenyan embassies and consulates.

More discerning

Ababu said voters abroad could inject freshness because they were "more discerning, critical and eagle-eyed to pick the best (leader) from the pack".

"Due to exposure to different democratic views, most are well aware of issues and might be different from the average Kenyan voter persuaded by ethnic and political affiliations," observed Ababu.

But Abdikadir differed arguing that comments posted on online media suggested that some were still captive to ethnic viewpoints.

"One would hope the Diaspora vote injects positive energy devoid of ethnic chauvinism to head towards issue-based discourse.

But judging from comments on blogs, one feels disappointed," he said.

Ababu, however, cautioned that the voting by Kenyans abroad presented enormous logistical challenges.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Droughts and Famines in East Africa: From man-made problems to man-made solutions

Droughts and Famines in East Africa: From man-made problems to man-made solutions
Submitted by Wolfgang Fengler on Tue, 2011-09-20 10:32

How can droughts and famines be avoided? This is the big question many conferences and summits have grappled with in recent weeks. Unfortunately, it will be very difficult to avoid droughts in future because climate change will put more pressure on scarce land and extreme climate events, both rains and floods, will likely occur much more frequently — and even more unpredictably.

The first famine I remember was brought on by the horrible drought in Ethiopia in 1984. At that time, I was a boy in high school and one of Germany’s most famous actors, Karlheinz Boehm, visited our school to mobilize funds to help the suffering Ethiopians. He had previously established the charity, People for People. One of the silver linings of today’s suffering is the outpouring of financial support by ordinary Kenyans who have been moved by the intense suffering of their fellow citizens.

So how can we avoid this same crisis two years down the road? Or as my Kenyan friends say: How do we keep from begging again for money?

While droughts cannot be avoided, famine can. There are many countries in the world which face extraordinary climatic conditions and others that hardly produce any food. Countries in the Arab peninsula face continuous droughts. Yet, the people in these countries seem to be doing fine, as does Singapore, which hardly produces any food and has never faced a food crisis. This is why this current crisis, which started as a result of harsh weather, is really a man-made crisis, especially here in Kenya, where food prices are unnaturally high.

Kenyans pay much higher prices for basic food commodities when compared with prices in international markets because of limited trade within East Africa and Kenya’s agriculture policies. East Africa can easily feed itself. Tanzania and Uganda have surpluses of basic food commodities, and even within Kenya, there seems to be enough food in some regions. Kenya’s maize policy is particularly problematic. Significant parts of the country enjoy ideal conditions for growing maize. When developing countries have efficient agriculture sectors, local food prices are normally below international prices. In Kenya, maize prices are still more than 60 percent higher than world market prices.

Exceptionally high and volatile maize prices are the result of policies which make it unclear for the farmer to know what price he will receive, and thus, he keeps his grain off the market hoping to optimize his revenue.

* Erratic import arrangements add uncertainty into the market. Too much discretion is left in the hands of policy makers and few business men.

* In practice, this high price policy amounts to distributing resources from the poor to the rich.

* The poor pay higher prices than they would under a market-based system while a small number of well connected large-scale farmers benefit from artificially high prices.

While this crisis has been aggravated by man-made factors, the solutions will also be man-made. Three areas seem critical to reducing the risk of another such crisis:
First, Kenya’s agriculture sector can be globally competitive. The country is a world leader in tea and horticulture. Both sectors are managed by private entrepreneurs and, together with tourism, account for the lion’s share of Kenya’s foreign exchange. In Kenya there has never been a shortage of tea and flowers. As you would expect, tea and flowers cost less in Kenya than in England and Holland, the destination for many of these exports. But Kenya’s poor, who eat Ugali every day, pay more than an American would pay for a bag of maize (see figure).

Second, opening up trade within East Africa would make a significant difference. With the current export bans, especially of maize from Tanzania and Uganda, which are still in surplus, the poor are hit hard throughout the region: in Kenya and Southern Sudan, the poor pay higher prices than they would need to. In Uganda and Tanzania, the farmers get lower prices than they would if they could freely export maize to Kenya and other deficit countries.

Third, once a drought hits, the poor need to be protected effectively and efficiently. Learning from the painful experience in 1984 and subsequent droughts, Ethiopia developed a social safety program which is performing well. Kenya and other countries in the region can learn from Ethiopia’s success and build similar social protection programs that can be activated and scaled up quickly in times of need. Sometimes, a crisis is a turning point for a better future.

* This blog is also being published as part of a weekly column with Marcelo Giugale in Kenya’s Saturday Nation.

Monday, July 18, 2011



Posted Tuesday, July 12 2011 at 00:00

The Central Bank of Kenya is for the first time targeting the diaspora with a Sh36 billion infrastructure bond with the twin aims of boosting currency reserves and plugging State budget deficit.

With what is expected to be double-digit returns, the product is likely to force banks to raise yields on hard currency accounts of Kenyans living abroad and attract larger inflows.

World Bank recently noted that countries, including Kenya, had overlooked the role remittances could play in dealing with financial shocks, eradicating poverty and improving access to finance. Countries like Ethiopia and Egypt have for years established formal systems for dealing with the diaspora inflows.

“World Bank estimate indicates that the diaspora holds up to $1.8 billion in chequing accounts earning zero interest and the proposed infrastructure bond will therefore provide an attractive alternative investment,” said CBK governor Njuguna Ndung’u.

But Bonds Traders Association yesterday said market leaders had held meetings with CBK but were not aware the instruments were to be issued soon. They noted the market players had requested that CBK keeps them updated early enough for effective marketing but that they welcomed the development.

“This would avoid conditions associated with a sovereign bond like in the case of Ghana where the state is fed up enough to the extent they would want out,” said Fred Mweni who is also the managing director of Tsavo Securities.

“The diaspora is holding hard currency of hundreds of millions in current accounts which are earning 0 to one per cent. A double-digit return will bring in even more hard currency.”

The government wants to raise Sh119.5 billion in 2011/12 from the domestic market, as it seeks to plug a Sh184.4 billion deficit, of which Sh36 billion or a third would come from infrastructure bond issues. The State has raised Sh88 billion through infrastructure bonds since early 2009.

In the current financial year, massive infrastructure projects including airport and road upgrades and a peri-urban railway system are in the works.

“Modalities to achieve this (diaspora participation) are being worked out but it is anticipated that the Foreign currency amounting to approximately $400 million will be retained by Central Bank and the shilling equivalent passed on to Government for implementing the infrastructure projects targeted,” said CBK.

The bank said after the pilot diaspora marketing, it would target the same Kenyans with long-term bonds including the 30-year Savings Development Bond.

In all, it hopes to raise $600 million from the bond issues by the end of this year, the CBK governor said. The bank industry regulator has been holding an average of $3.9 billion which is below the statutory four-month and has been fighting to increase this to four months. Commercial banks hold another $1.2 billion.

“The Central Bank has resumed its plan to build up international reserves over time with the view to reach coverage of four months of imports of goods and services within the programme period,” IMF said last week in its assessment of the country.

Targeting commercial bank current accounts comes weeks after the governor engaged in a bitter war with the commercial banks accusing them of arbitrage and speculation that has caused the Shilling to fall to record lows. Apart from asking banks to punish the culpable dealers, it has also opened bidding for its hard currency to all banks and forex bureaus.

The Kenya diaspora this year has averaged $66 million in monthly remittances and overall has overtaken tourism as the most important source of foreign currency, with substantial improvement expected over the $641 million total recorded last year.

“The increase in remittances in 2011 reflects economic recovery in source markets, and a favourable domestic economic environment,” says Charles Koori, the director of research at the CBK.

Apart from the diaspora, foreigners are expected to invest in the infrastructure bonds due to various incentives, boosting the flagging Shilling apart from contributing to de-bottlenecking Kenya infrastructure.

“Foreign investors usually participate because there is no withholding and capital gain taxes on the issues,” said Mr Mweni. Past issues have all been fully subscribed.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Invitation to Partner with Fellow Kenyans: Kenyan Embassy in Washington, DC

On behalf of fellow Kenyans, you are hereby cordially invited to partner with fellow Kenyans in Washington DC at Kenyan Embassy, on Tuesday July 26th, 2011 at 1:00pm.

The main objective of the meeting is to register our protest to the continued refusal by Members of Kenyan Parliament to pay their taxes like all other Kenyan do. It is with great concern that Kenyans have noted the MPs unrelenting stubbornness, arrogance and total disregard of the welfare of fellow citizens. As they continue to allocate themselves from the coffers, it is only fair that they pay all their back taxes to enable the government to provide most needed services to citizens. Other key issues such as corruption and insecurity will be addressed.

We hope that you will encourage your membership to join fellow Kenyans so that together we can speak truth to power in one voice!
Please feel free to contact me for more information and let me know if you would like an opportunity to address fellow Kenyans during this event.

Best Regards,

Dan Mbuthia
Director, Congress of Africa

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Kent County/Grand Rapids Grassroots Planning Session and Training (Grassroots Planning Session)

Kent County/Grand Rapids Grassroots Planning Session and Training (Grassroots Planning Session)

Grassroots Planning Sessions are starting now—and we need you to join us for these critical strategy meetings. Your input will shape our roadmap to victory, since it’s going to take meetings all over our state to spread the word about this campaign and our movement. Now is the time to get involved to take real action for President Obama and democrats up and down the ticket, since your ideas and feedback will determine our organizing in your community. This session (recurs the 3rd Saturday of each month) will also hone our skills in knowledge of issues, reaching voters through effective communication, holding house parties, building Neighborhood Teams, canvassing door-to-door and small businesses, and registering voters. You will be energized and pleased that a small investment of your time can mean so much to our community !

Start: Saturday, June 18, 2011 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
End:Saturday, July 16, 2011
Gail Collins
Contact Phone:
Contact Phone:
Kent/Ionia Labor Council Building (Grand Rapids, MI)
918 Benjamin NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

From Fuller NE (north of I-96 and south of Leonard NE) turn east on Mason NE by Burgett Floral. Go 1 block to the corner of Mason & Benjamin.

East Grand Rapids for Obama, Grand Rapids Community College for Barack!, West Michigan is In!

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Saturday, June 18, 2011 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
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Saturday, July 16, 2011

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Sunday, May 22, 2011


For any democracy to thrive there must be justice. For justice to thrive there must be impartiality within the justice system. For impartiality to thrive there must be men and women who understand the law and are capable of applying it while asserting their independence from executive control.

Kenya, like most developing countries, lacks an independent judiciary mainly because of the lack of judges who are incorruptible, firm and independent. Time and again atrocities have been seen to be perpetrated by the judiciary and government officials against the weaker members of the society. As a result the citizens of Kenya fail to accord the much-needed respect to this very important organ of the nation. They continue to display their disgust and anger at the judiciary because of the open injustice that is continually carried out by the judicial system and government officials against the innocent and mostly poor citizens. Many a time the judiciary has appeared to be doing the dirty work for the corrupt politicians, businessmen and wealthy who seem to be holding the whole country at ransom.

With the nomination of Dr. Willy Mutunga and Ms. Nancy Baraza to serve as Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice respectively, Kenyans are seeing an opportunity for them to be served with justice. They are seeing great judges, a man and a woman of courage, who are incorruptible and prepared to accept the consequences of their decisions. They are seeing judges who will consider the law and the feelings of all parties with sympathy and understanding. They are seeing a man and woman whose knowledge of the law and human affairs is so extensive that they will experience little difficulty in grasping the main issues of any dispute. Their past records display their impartiality, an attribute that is so rare in Kenya and it inspires the confidence of the citizens in their ability and sense of justice.

It is against this background that we implore our politicians to be more mature and to have more depth as they deliberate the nominations of these two judicial nominees. Kenyans are deeply disturbed that some of our politicians, regardless of their political parties, prefer to dwell on trivial issues. Pointing out the stud that a person wears as being a factor in his ability (or lack of it) to carry out his duties displays a dangerous lack of wisdom, knowledge, maturity and genuine leadership qualities. Such leaders are harping on issues that have no relevance to the judiciary and the country at large. With the national judicial crisis that we are facing, one would expect them to focus their energy and resources on how best they could help Kenyans and their judiciary face this dangerous uncertainty and weakness in the justice system. The issues that these politicians are bringing up are trivial, disappointing and retrogressive. They are calculated to play on the minds and emotions of the simple-minded people with the aim of exploiting religious and cultural divisions for their own selfish agenda. Kenya belongs to all Kenyans irrespective of their religious, cultural, sexual, racial, political or ethnic affiliations. Kenyans should reject all leaders who try to play the religious, cultural, gender or ethnic card. They should focus on the most important issue that confronts all of us and that is restoring the image and dignity of our judicial system by giving a chance to a man and woman who have earned the right to be at the helm of our judiciary.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


"How many deaths will it take till they know that too many people have died?" sang Bob Dylan of the civil rights struggle and the war in Vietnam. But the same might be said of efforts to cut, curtail or curb the rate of growth in Medicare.

Count the corpses:
1. Hillary Clinton's healthcare proposals led to the Democrats' loss of Congress in 1994.

2. Newt Gingrich's proposed cuts in the rate of growth in Medicare led to Bill Clinton's reelection in 1996.

3. Obama's and Pelosi's cut of $500 billion in Medicare led to the Republican victory in the House in 2010.

Now, the GOP, unmindful of the odds, is falling into the very same trap. As George Santayana said, "Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it."

Having defeated Nancy Pelosi in 2010 over the Medicare cut, the Republicans marched right back into the House of Representatives -- now under their management -- and voted to affirm the cut in their budget. All $500 billion of it. The House Republicans took their signature issue and broke their pledge to stop the Medicare cut. They took the noose they had fashioned for Nancy Pelosi and put their own necks into it. They fell into a trap of their own making!

It will make no difference to the voters that the $500 billion will be kept in the Medicare trust fund to prolong the program's existence. Especially when one's life is at stake, funding for tomorrow's medical care is scant comfort today. Except for a tiny $10 billion restoration of funding for Medicare Advantage programs, the entire cut that got the Republicans elected in 2010 is still there. And now they have added to it a plan to replace Medicare with a voucher in 10 years.

The voucher plan might well work like the prescription drug benefit did -- companies might well bring down their costs to fit within the parameters of the voucher. But voters will have 10 years to worry about it and to vote Democratic to prevent it.

And the Medicare cut is totally unneeded and gratuitous. It is not Medicare that got us into this budget deficit. And, until the boomers start to retire in droves in the next decade, we do not need to reduce Medicare spending to get out of it.

Medicare has only gone up by 16 percent since Obama took office.
Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment compensation, Section 8 housing, AFDC and other welfare entitlements have risen by 54 percent. And regular discretionary domestic spending has risen by 41 percent. By directing the nation's attention to Medicare -- as opposed to these other programs -- the House Republicans have totally played into Obama's hands.

The leadership has it backward. The Tea Party does not demand cuts in Medicare. It opposed them in 2010 and opposes them now. It wants welfare spending slashed. The watchword must be welfare, not Medicare. Medicaid, not other entitlements. Discretionary government spending, not aid to the elderly.

By making all but four of their members vote for the Medicare cuts in the Ryan budget, the House Republicans have set the stage for their own demise. The leadership, if it wishes to be known by that moniker in the future, must offer its members a chance to backtrack on that vote. Wisely, the budget negotiators have indicated that they will not put Medicare on the table in their talks with the White House and the Senate. But the House freshmen, if they wish to become sophomores, must demand that Speaker Boehner set a vote that permits them to undo their support for the Medicare portion of the Ryan budget.

Kenyans in the Diaspora will field a presidential candidate in the 2012

Kenyans in the Diaspora will field a presidential candidate in the 2012 general election, a forum has announced. More than three million Kenyans who have attained the age of voting, but live outside the country, have never participated in elections.

The co-convener of New Vision Kenya Movement Shem Ochuodho said the Kenya Diaspora Alliance is supporting former MP Bonny Khalwale in the May 23 Ikolomani by-elections.

Speaking at a Nyeri Hotel during a sensitization workshop attended by youth, grassroots leaders, civil society groups and opinion leaders from the six constituencies of Nyeri County, Ochuodho said the movement encourages leaders to have integrity and openness. "We are supporting the chairman of Bull Fighting whom we believe is not corrupt and is non-violent. He is selfless and tolerant," said Ochuodho.

Ochuodho said the leadership in the country is unable to unite Kenyans.

The workshop which drew 60 participants was organised by the New Vision Kenya Movement, the Kenya Diaspora Alliance and the Nyeri Social Forum.

Nyeri Social Forum coordinator David Ngige said they will support vision-driven servant leaders who aim to economically empower their constituents to earn a sustainable livelihood.

Among the speakers were the former president of Kenya Community Abroad Gichane Muraguri, the president of Diaspora Movement of Kenya based in Salt Lake City Robinson Gichuhi, Kenya Dairy Board MD Machira Gichohi and Omieri Angima from the Centre for Multiparty Democracy.