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Archive for June 15th, 2009

One neglected detail can be disastrous – If there is an industry that has countless checks and balances, it is the aviation industry

Posted by African Press International on June 15, 2009

By John Magangi

It has been said that it is safer to fly across the oceans than to cross the road. If there is an industry that has countless checks and balances, with still more back-up checks and balances, it is the aviation industry. Which is why the crash and subsequent plunge into the ocean of the Air France jet, flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, is such a tragedy.

This disaster was compounded by the fact that the aircraft disappeared, which meant that no quick rescue efforts could be made. Our condolences go to the families and friends of all those on board.

Because of the meticulous procedures that govern air travel, every commercial flight is always in communication while en route to its destination. Messages from the ill-fated aircraft shortly after 11pm Brazilian time indicate it was passing through particularly heavy cumulo-nimulus clouds, well known to be thunderous. Soon afterwards, the planes autopilot disengaged and the system that monitors speed, altitude and direction failed. The main computer and the wing spoilers also failed. The final message that came from the plane was at 11:14pm indicating a complete loss of cabin pressure as well as complete system failure. By then, experts think, the plane was already plunging into the ocean. In the space of a few minutes, 228 people lost their lives.

Potentially deadly mistake

What actually happened is yet to be conclusively established. The authorities concerned however say their investigation is increasingly focused on whether external instruments on the Airbus A330 may have iced over, confusing speed sensors and leading computers to set the planes speed too fast or too slow a potentially deadly mistake. Small angular tubes called pitot probes sticking out from the side of the aircraft measure airspeed based on pressure. Their measurements, however, can be halted or skewed if they become blocked. Indeed the French agency investigating the disaster has admitted that airspeed instruments on the plane had not been replaced as the maker, Airbus, had recommended, but cautioned that it was too early to draw conclusions about what role that may have played in the crash. It may be too early to draw conclusions but the very real possibility exists that something as small as a blocked pitot probe could be this deadly.

Reflecting on this the other day, I learned an important life-truth from this incident: a little detail in our lives left unattended can lead to the loss not only of our own lives, but indeed the lives of our families. Ultimately, the system that sets the speed, altitude and, most importantly, the direction of our lives relies on a simple part of our lives that we often neglect and leave unattended because its a minor part of who we are our conscience. If ice in stormy weather blocks the probes on the A330, they transmit faulty information that puts the aircraft in jeopardy, similarly, if our conscience is seared and we can no longer sense Gods gentle nudge and tug or hear his voice in these stormy times in which we live, then our lives are set on a course that will almost certainly end in disaster unless a major and quick mid-course correction occurs. That mid-course correction is called repentance and it means turning wholly to God and asking for his forgiveness and salvation. Does your conscience bother you anymore when you do something you know is wrong? If not, youd better stop and seriously ask yourself where your aircraft headed and make the necessary correction today.

sundaymemo@yahoo.com

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Madagascar’s government quits crisis talks – President Andry Rajoelina said there was no scope to negotiate the homecoming of the exiled Ravalomanana

Posted by African Press International on June 15, 2009

ANTANANARIVO,

Madagascar’s government has quit internationally mediated talks to end its political crisis, rejecting a political amnesty deal that would allow ousted leader Marc Ravalomanana to return to the island.

President Andry Rajoelina said there was no scope to negotiate the homecoming of the exiled Ravalomanana, who he overthrew with support from dissident soldiers in March after weeks of civil unrest.

Although sources close to the talks have said it would be possible to continue dialogue with three out of four political movements, it was not immediately clear how any deal would stick without the government’s signature.

Political turmoil has gripped the Indian Ocean island since the beginning of the year, shattering its $390 million-a-year tourism sector, alarming foreign investors and stunting growth.

“The people will not accept an amnesty which makes way for a discussion over the return of Ravalomanana,” Rajoelina told supporters on Saturday while touring isolated provinces.

His comments were broadcast on state radio on Sunday.

The African Union’s (AU) mediator, Ablasse Ouedraogo, told Reuters he was not aware of the government’s withdrawal.

Regional leaders and foreign powers, who generally branded Rajoelina’s power-grab a coup, have urged the formation of a consensus government to lead Madagascar into presidential elections as soon as possible.

Shared power?

On Sunday, Ravalomanana’s allies called for a return to real-politik and said Ravalomanana could share power with Rajoelina under an interim authority.

“We are absolutely prepared to divide the powers of the executive body,” said Raharinaivo Andrianantoandro, spokesman for Ravalomanana’s political party.

The multiparty talks have faltered repeatedly as the various delegations set conditions and jostle for position ahead of any eventual pact.

Mediators from the AU and United Nations have failed to broker a compromise on amnesty for political prisoners — a condition set down by another former leader, Didier Ratsiraka.

Ratsiraka, who fled to France after hotly contested elections in 2001 but remains a kingmaker in Malagasy politics, demanded all politically motivated charges from then until December 2008 be annulled.

Ravalomanana’s camp said the amnesty should be active up until the signing of a new charter — which would shield the self-made millionaire from investigation into alleged crimes committed during this year’s uprising.

Earlier this month, the government announced Ravalomanana had been sentenced in absentia to four years in jail for abuse of office over the purchase of a presidential jet.

Experts have questioned the constitutionality of such a verdict but former DJ Rajoelina — who labelled the ex-leader corrupt and dictatorial — has said more cases are pending. (Reuters)

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Is that your dripping towel?

Posted by African Press International on June 15, 2009

By Joyce Meyer

For years I had low self-esteem and did not like myself. I hated my personality and I hated the way my voice sounded. Somewhere along the line, through the abuse I had endured growing up, I internalised the shame. I was no longer ashamed of what was happening to me I became ashamed of me. I was hurting and, consequently, was hurting other people.

Did you know that if you dont like yourself, you are never going to like anybody else, and you wont be able to help your spouse like himself or herself? You will spend all your time trying to prove your own value. Healing first comes by accepting yourself, knowing that where you are today is not where you will end up, and knowing that God is continually perfecting you, too. We all need to accept the unconditional love of God and acknowledge the fact that God doesnt love us because of what we do but because of who we are.

One morning, as I sat in my pyjamas praying, God said to me, “Joyce, I really cant do anything else in your life until you do what I have told you to do concerning your husband.”

God had been dealing with me because I was having problems listening. I had such a strong will and was still caught in my defensive attitude from being abused as a child. I was missing out on the blessings God was eager for me to enjoy.

After praying, I got up and went to take a shower in the new bathroom my husband Dave had just installed off our bedroom. Since he had not yet put up a towel rack, I laid my towel on the toilet seat and started to step into the shower.

Dave saw what I was doing and asked me, “Why did you put your towel there?”

Right away I could feel my emotions getting stirred up.

“Whats wrong with putting it there?” I asked in a sarcastic tone.

“Well, since we dont have a floor mat yet, if you put your towel in front of the shower door, when you get out you wont drip water on the carpet while reaching for it.”

Wrong attitude

“Well, what difference would it make if I did get a little water on the carpet?” I asked in a huff.

Sensing the mood I was in, Dave just gave up, shrugged his shoulders and went on his way.

As it turned out, I did what Dave had suggested, but I did it by angrily slamming the towel onto the floor. I did the right thing, but I did it with the wrong attitude.

As I stepped into the shower after throwing my towel on the floor, I was filled with rage. “For crying out loud,” I ranted to myself. “I cant even take a shower in peace! Why cant I do anything without somebody trying to tell me what to do?” In my frustration, I went on and on.

Although I was a pastor and had been teaching others for some time, I lacked control over my own mind, will and emotions. It was three full days before I calmed down enough to get over that bath towel incident.

Love is the highest form of maturity. It often requires a sacrificial gift. If love doesnt require some sort of sacrifice on our part, we probably dont love the other person at all. If there is no sacrifice in our actions, we are most likely reacting to something nice they did for us, or simply pretending to be kind to gain some control over them. Love is almost always undeserved by the person who receives it.

Our decisions should always have our spouses interests in mind. Even a mediocre marriage requires sacrifice. It is important to understand that true love gives of itself.

Sacrifice means you are not going to have your way all the time. This means both the husband and wife are called to love each other with unconditional love. There has to be sacrifice of selfish desires if a couple is going to enjoy a triumphant marriage. As for me, every day when I get up, I choose to have a good marriage. Im not leaving that one for chance to decide!

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Posted by African Press International on June 15, 2009

JOHANNESBURG, Sunday

Asian champions Iraq put a damper on South Africas opening party at the Confederations Cup, holding the hosts to a 0-0 draw in a preliminary dress rehearsal for next years first World Cup finals in Africa.

South Africa, whose fans produced an ear-splitting crescendo of noise for much of the game, failed to match their aspirations, carving out and missing a series of chances, notably in the second half.

Iraq, who will not have the chance to show their skills at next years World Cup as they are already eliminated, did not make the most of the opportunity the Confederations Cup afforded, defending resolutely but offering barely a scrap of adventure. The Bafana Bafana squandered three gilt-edged chances in the space of five minutes late in the game, the worst in the 84th minute when midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi headed across goal after Iraqi keeper Mohamed Kassid had missed a cross.

The ball seemed destined for the net but it hit striker Bernard Parker on the heel as he attempted to knock it over the line from point-blank range and bounced away as the crowd of 48,837 at Ellis Park prematurely celebrated the winner.

Over the bar

Substitute Katlego Mashego and Parker had both missed great chances only minutes earlier and striker Thembinkosi Fanteni had headed narrowly over the bar in the 72nd minute.

South Africa and Iraqs Group A rivals at the eight-nation tournament of continental champions, Spain and New Zealand, were meeting in the second game in Rustenberg later yesterday.

The South African team showed some neat touches in midfield in which MacBeth Sibaya was outstanding but they over-elaborated while strikers Parker and Fanteni failed to hold the ball up with any regularity.

But though they dominated play against a lacklustre Iraqi team, the performance did little to ease fears that as hosts to the World Cup next year, they could struggle to make an impact.

The match was watched by South African president Jacob Zuma, who welcomed the world to Africa at the end of a colourful pre-match opening ceremony.

Meanwhile, the United States will get more value out of using the Confederations Cup for confidence building than actually chasing the title at the World Cup test event, goalkeeper Tim Howard said on Saturday.

Howard said building on momentum towards next years World Cup was the top priority for the Americans.

Reuters

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We want local tribunal says Raila the PM, – Does he know who may be in the list inside the secret Annan envelope?

Posted by African Press International on June 15, 2009

But all Kenyans know that a local tribunal can easily be manipulated by influential politicians in favour of what they want. The international court will not be influenced in any way and that is the best place to try those who are involved in the killing or financing the killings. (API)

By Peter Opiyo and Boniface Gikandi

Prime Minister Raila Odinga says Government is committed to the setting up of a special tribunal to try post-election violence suspects.

Raila, in what appeared to be a response to Chief Mediator Kofi Annans August deadline to either set up the tribunal or have the names of suspects handed over to the International Criminal Court, said the Government was doing everything in its power to ensure the tribunal is set up.

Even as he said this, Gichugu Member of Parliament Martha Karua warned that the new attempts would not yield much unless President Kibaki and Raila reined in their troops.

“Let them marshall their troops and form the tribunal,” she urged.

The PM gave an assurance that the Government would soon bring back the Bill to Parliament in its second attempt to establish a domestic court to try the culprits.

The Bill was defeated by Parliament in February, with MPs expressing fears that a local court would be manipulated.

Weight of infuence

Those for local tribunal say it will be faster and more efficient while those goaling for the Hague say here the Kenyan politicians will not be able to manipulate the process.

On Sunday, Speaking at Kibio Primary School in Kiharu constituency in Muranga East District during a funds drive for Kahuro ACK church, Raila said the Bill would be brought back to Parliament soon after the National Assembly completes debate on the Budget speech. Debate on the speech takes three days, meaning the Bill could be introduced as early as next week.

The envelope containing names of suspects that was handed over to Dr Annan by Justice Philip Waki who chaired the Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence (Cipev) is believed to contain names of ten prominent personalities, including Cabinet ministers.

Hague option

Speaking in Muranga, the PM said it is the Governments desire to have a local tribunal but said Parliament would have the last say, noting that if this fails, then there would be no option left but for Annan to hand over the envelope to the ICC in The Hague, Netherlands.

During Madaraka Day celebrations, President Kibaki enumerated the establishment of a local tribunal, as one of the reforms the Government was keen on implementing.

On her part, Karua, who was speaking during a fundraising at Thika ACK Cathedral yesterday, urged the President and the PM to rein in politicians to ensure Parliament passes the Bill this time.

“There was nothing wrong in the Bill that was rejected; there was something wrong with the politics,” said Karua, the former minister for Constitutional Affairs.

She said a local tribunal was the best option, as The Hague would only deal with high profile suspects, leaving out the majority who committed the crimes.

“Why people do not want local tribunal is because they believe The Hague will take too long. (But) again The Hague cannot take care of the many people who committed atrocities. It only takes care of the people who funded and incited the top level offenders,” she argued.

Pressure has been piling on Kenya to implement the necessary reforms, especially as enumerated in the Reconciliation Accords Agenda Four. US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Jonnie Carson recently said his government was keen on seeing reforms including the formation of a local tribunal implemented.

Justify donor support

His compatriot and Congressman Russell Feingold, last week, challenged Kenya to justify official donor support by implementing key reforms. He threatened to lobby Congress to cut military support to Kenya if corruption and impunity were not eradicated. He particularly singled out the formation of a special tribunal as a way of ending impunity.

In Muranga, Raila called for unity, urging Kenyans to embrace one another regardless of tribe. He said he is enjoying cordial relationship with Kibaki, yet they were rivals in the 2007 election.

“Kibaki and I are together despite the fact that we contested for the Presidency. Elections are like a football match where you lose or win and dont keep enemies. Lets all forget what happened since Kenya is bigger than Raila or Kibaki,” he said.

He praised last weeks Budget saying it was done after consultations between PNU and ODM.

“One of the successes of the Government is that this years Budget was done after a consultation by both PNU and ODM” said the Prime Minister.

Raila, who was accompanied by Co-operatives Development Minister Joseph Nyagah and Trade Assistant Minister Omingo Magara, said the Budget was done with the spirit of devolved government in mind in efforts to empower communities at the grassroots.

Nyagah said Agenda Four of the National Accord that stipulates the various reforms that need to be implemented should be fast-tracked.

Magara called for concerted efforts between the Church and the Government to fight corruption.

Earlier Mt Kenya Central ACK Bishop Isaac Nganga said there was corruption in the Government, which, if ignored, would ruin the country.

“Only Raila and Kibaki can stop this before the country is milked dry by some people including some clerics,” said the bishop.

Additional reporting by James Ratemo and Wairimu Kamande
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