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How Fake News is Destroying Credibility, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 22nd September, 2017

Fake News

When the US Elections were being held last year, the then presidential candidate Donald Trump made lots of noise about and still does, for example recently on June 13th he tweeted “The Fake News Media has never been so wrong or so dirty. Purposely-incorrect stories and phony sources to meet their agenda of hate. Sad!” What is Fake News? According to Wikipedia, they have defined it as “Fake news is a type of yellow journalism or propaganda that consists of deliberate misinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media.

Fake news is written and published with the intent to mislead in order to gain financially or politically, often with sensationalist, exaggerated, or patently false headlines that grab attention. Intentionally misleading and deceptive fake news is different from obvious satire or parody which is intended to humor rather than mislead its audience.” Almost everyday we are receiving news via our Whatsapp and while you might be quick to share that you have interesting content, take a second to look at it again and check if it is legitimate. This is the new way of spreading rumors, the sad part is that everyone thinks they have become a reporter and this “fake news” ends up spreading like wildfire.

Recently in light of our own General Elections of August 8th, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission’s Commissioner Dr Joseph Nasongo has said, “we are not interested in Fake News per se, but the content. There are those that have been deliberately designed to stir ethnic emotions or violence. We want the online community to help us stem hatred that is being spewed on social media.” While citizens may use fake news to misdirect each other, even politicians or those in power can do that to suit their agenda. A classic example when after the immediate kidnapping of Chibok girls in Nigeria the politicians told media it is a fake story. The price we are paying for the real story not getting to where it needs to is getting higher. They can use it to spread an agenda they like, for example during the Second World War the Nazi Germany used this propaganda machine to further their mission. You must remember these tips when spotting fake news: consider the source, read beyond, check the author, supporting sources, check the date, is it a joke, check your biases and ask the experts.

Fake news is meant to cause harm or even topple a Government. Don’t fall victim to it. Even if it is a family or friend’s story, always get to the real source before you share unconsciously and let an untruth get legitimacy. You are responsible for what you read and say, so do it mindfully and responsibly. When you are in charge of information have the honesty to use it effectively and not for your personal gain. Fake news is here to stay for a long time mostly because of the social media and technology chatting tools that are available to us.

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Posted by on September 22, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Getting Listed on the Road Traffic Exchange, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 1st September, 2017

Kenyan traffic

Kenya’s population is over 47 million and Nairobi has over 4 million residing in the capital city. There is no doubt that we face traffic jams every day and almost every hour, especially the main Uhuru Highway which for being short is the bottlenecked hold of our traffic.

The National Transport and Safety Authority are going to implement a Third Licence Sticker as per The Traffic (Registration Plate) Rules, 2016 (Legal Notice No. 62) gazette on 15th April, 2016. The authority notifies members of the public that with effect from 1st July, 2017, all NEW and SECOND HAND MOTOR VEHICLE REGISTRATIONS will be required to acquire this Third Licence Sticker.

The motive is to reduce road crashes, monitor/count the number of vehicles and curb crime especially tax evasion and smuggling. This sticker will be linked to your insurance and tax details. In the end it all comes down to whether you are legitimate citizen of the country and are paying your share of the taxes. Indeed it will be a great way to remove the fake licence drivers and those who are causing carnage on the roads. This is also an excellent way to curb terrorism. Of course there might be those who will come up with counterfeit stickers, thus the Government’s role on fighting counterfeits will have to be increased.

From the vehicle arriving at the Mombasa Port and then heading to different parts of the country, the Kenya Revenue Authority and Customs will certainly have to get things in order there too because the chances of manipulation are higher there. An average citizen will be more encouraged to rely on buying the vehicle from the car yard or showroom, but prices surely need to become friendlier too. The burden of this sticker, inspection and other regulations should not be borne by the car buyer.

Just like our SIM card on our mobile phones can give the Government access to our information and conversation, so will this sticker with the chip do for our vehicle. They will be able to track the vehicle whenever and whatever time but then again, even if the NTSA will be well equipped and trained to do so, so should the Kenya Police. After all they are the first contact at the point of an accident, we need an abstract, witnesses and reports. They need to have access to this tracking equipment or data immediately to support the smooth running of the entire program.

What will be interesting to see will be, that if the Insurance companies may get roped in to replace their stickers with this one from NTSA then what about those who have purchased cars on vehicle asset finance and are unable to pay their loan instalments. Will the car be taken back by the bank, since data is now readily available. This will also allow statistics to be used for traffic monitoring and improvements. This can give more information on which other modes of transport to invest in the country and how much will the best one cost. This is so far a great improvement in the step of monitored development. It may look very controlled and big brother type but sometimes that is what it takes to get things organized, observe and then make the move, just like chess.

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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What Use Are the Peace Prizes? Point Blank with Asian Weekly 15th September, 2017

bigstock-international-day-of-peace-71171305-555x370 (1)

The world is going gaga over a new iPhone X and on the other side dealing with hurricanes wiping out homes and livelihoods. These are the contrasting times we are living in and with the global warming hitting the ever high it looks like this is what it will be like for the coming decades.

With a new administration in the United States, while there might be talk of another war, so far things are in control. For once in a long time we are battling with civil wars and some ongoing situations that are still not changing. Over 1 million people known as the Rohingya are being persecuted in Myanmar and the Nobel Peace Prize Aung San Suu Kyi remains silent. She is the leader of the National League for Democracy party and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990, she was released from house arrest in 2010. But since then her voice actually in the Government office is more silent than ever. Even Novel laureate Desmond Tutu sent her a passionate appeal via a public letter on social media, saying, “my dear sister: if the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep. A country is not at peace with itself, that fails to acknowledge and protect the dignity and worth of all its people, is not a free country.”

The International Day of Peace (“Peace Day”) is observed around the world each year on 21 September. Established in 1981 by unanimous United Nations resolution, Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace. The theme this year is: Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All. But the question is how together are we?

We are at the cusp of our own Presidential Re-Election and everyday there is some accusation spinning from party to the other. While credit should be given that the tribal card has not been slung around, when you read between the lines, some things are obvious. Our economy is suffering and jobs are getting scarce, who will put the food on the table for the family, who will pay the bills, who will create the next industry?

Peace facilities possibilities but it does come at a steep price. If a human being himself is not at peace, he can’t spread it or share it with another. A stunning example is by Sadhguru who cites “What is peace? People say that sitting on the mountain and meditating is peace. Somebody else may drink alcohol and become very peaceful and so on. Whenever your ego is satisfied, you are very peaceful. Wherever you go, in that place, if people are willing to support and boost your ego, in that place you are very peaceful. Only in those places where your ego takes a thrashing, that is where you are not peaceful, isn’t it?”

What is this peace for you? Why should it matter? And most importantly why should we all feel it and be together in it? Remember as we are more connected than ever before we are also disconnected and it will take one viral message to mislead us and act unconsciously on something we are not really aware of in the full context. Thus, presence of mind and knowing your rights are very important, only then can you also understand if your peace has been disturbed because sometimes chaos looks like peace to you but it is violence for another.

The youngest country in the world, South Sudan has a devastating state where according to UNICEF, “more than two million children have fled their homes to escape vicious fighting; and last month the one millionth child became a refugee. More than two thousand children have been killed or injured, and many more have witnessed horrific violence. The numbers are staggering and yet each represents the ongoing misery of a child.”

bigstock-international-day-of-peace-71171305-555x370 (1)You decide what kind of world do you want to give your child today, because today’s peace is tomorrow’s peace too.

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Live For Today, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 8th September, 2017

September-10th-World-Suicide-Prevention-Day-Text-Hand-Picture

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Mahatma Gandhi

According to the International Suicide Prevention Association, “every year, more than 800,000 people die by suicide and up to 25 times as many make a suicide attempt.”

According to the World Health Organization:

  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15–29-year-olds.
  • 78% of global suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Ingestion of pesticide, hanging and firearms are among the most common methods of suicide globally.

While Sri Lanka is on top of the list with the highest number of suicides, India comes at 24, USA 48 and Kenya at 84.

Almost 90% of those who commit suicide have known to have had a mental illness, the leading one being depression. But why are people depressed?

The challenges differ from country to country. In the USA 50% of all suicides are committed using firearms and it is the highest amongst white men middle aged due to depression.

In Kenya the highest suicide rate is amongst the students because of financial problems, HIV/AIDS and depression.

In Japan, Aokigahara which is also known, as the Sea of Trees is their suicide forest, where once upon a time up to 105 suicides were documented yearly.

The causes of suicide range from mental illness, which includes depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Then there are the traumatic experiences, which include war and sexual abuse. While poor financial circumstances, unemployment is also common, weak family ties, relationship issues and nowadays loneliness has become very high risk factors.

The case of children feeling neglected in a divorce or separation can also cause them to take their own lives.

Any human being neglected is at high risk of being attacked or losing their mind enough to defy life. This vulnerability unfortunately is growing despite the huge advances in communications. We can see each other whenever and wherever but when we cannot touch and feel, we can loose sense of feeling, being and love. We can give up and we can get lost in darkness which can lead to severe depression and then subsequently suicide.

Drug abusers are not saved from this situation either because even depression leads them to take that puff to feel high and happy. In the end, what matters most are where is your happiness coming from? What is the value of happiness are you giving yourself, what is the value of life and people around you? What is your value? There are now more than ever the spread of positive attitude and learning curves on how to make your life better, stronger and meaningful and no even religion cannot save you from this hellhole. You alone have to come out of this thing called, loss, and the loss of life.

Saving a life is the greatest gift. Try and detect early, for example a tantrum may not be the sign of a suicidal but a pattern of tantrums can be worrying. Seek immediate counselling because the victim is causing self harm and you probably have no idea and remember self harm can be emotional or physical. The signs are light but if you are empathetic you can easily get a hold of them and compassionately save a life.

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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The Secrets We Don’t Tell, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 25th August, 2017

The Secrets We Don’t Tell

Cyber Bullying

The word Sarahah is an Arabic word and it means “honesty”. This new word is also an App that has gone viral because of its purpose, which is to send “honest” but anonymous messages to whomever you like. But guess what it is not the first app to exist and do so; there was the Secret in 2014 and then the Whisper in 2012.

Whisper still exists and on their website they have stated the following: “if would you like to prevent your child from having access to the Whisper app, you can do so by placing restrictions on their device.”

After the break out story of Edward Snowden there have been several attempts to have secret chats, for example the Telegram offers self-destruct option for your chats and end-to-end encryption where only messages are read by the its intended recipient.

Sarahah was designed so that employees could freely give feedback but when the teens caught on it became viral. The ironical part is that it was created in Saudi Arabia by a developer called ZainAlabdin Tawfiq and he did it because he thought it was the best way to share “constructive feedback”.

These secret apps are weapons of cyber bullying. In a recent survey titled “Eleventh National Poll on Children’s Healthy” by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in the US parents recognize cyber bullying as serious health and threat issue to their children to up to 30% of the cases.

According to the research done by the University of Birmingham, children and young people under-25 that become victims of cyber bullying are more than twice as likely to enact self-harm and attempt suicide than non-victims.

Just when we thought the Blue Whale Challenge is under control, India has been reporting a few cases across Mumbai, Delhi and Indore. This is an Internet game where after playing it for 50 days the player has to commit suicide. To show his progress, the player is asked to share photos at every level where there is also a sign of self-harm as that is part of the game.

However there are claims too that there is no conclusive evidence that this game really did result into suicides in Russia. According to a watchdog site SNOPES; they claim “The reasons teenagers commit suicide are well researched. According to data from the General Prosecutor’s Office, in Russia 62% of suicides among adolescents are associated with family conflicts and general distress, conflicts with teachers, classmates, friends, and also with the fear of violence by adults and callousness of others. From a report on the topic from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the increase in the number of suicides “occurs in times of economic crisis and sharp social change.” For example, in Russia there was an increase the number of suicides from 1987 to 1994, when the USSR collapsed. As soon as the company adapted to its new socio-economic conditions, the number of suicides stabilized.”

This actually also opens up a very serious problem that is probably being ignored over the hype of these “secret chat apps”. Why are teens and children gravitating to these to share their feelings and have conversations?

Fear should run down your spine because girls from 6 years of age are body and image conscious and dieting according to the Journal of Adolescent Health UK.

Also according to Young Minds UK one in 10 children and young people aged 5 – 16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder –around three children in every class.

These are not related to Western or developed countries, because of the Internet accessibility worldwide even 3rd world countries are showing serious signs of children mental disorders and suicides. According to the World Health Organization “the burden of depression and other mental health conditions is on the rise globally. A World Health Assembly resolution passed in May 2013 has called for a comprehensive, coordinated response to mental disorders at country level.”

The main agenda should be to focus on the well being of children. They need secure and a healthy environment for their upbringing. However it is not that possible to have the parents or their extended families carry these responsibilities. The Government needs to step up the mental health policies and childcare. Even if the United States has that set up then why is there such a significant rise of suicides in children and mental disorders with the young ones? It is also about sharing culture and maintaining grassroots parenting. This is a vicious generation cycle, which will probably take another generation to fix. The danger is that technology is moving faster than we can control it or us.

 

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Who’s Got The Last Say? Point Blank with Asian Weekly 18th August, 2017

Who’s Got The Last Say?

Baby Courtesy GeeksLP

Baby Courtesy GeeksLP

Today’s babies are growing up surrounded by iPads, smart phones and the YouTube network. Let’s go back to the Millennials who were born from 70s to 90s and are probably your parents. They grew up in the Cold War that probably did not affect us in Kenya that much except the regime of former President Daniel Arap Moi. Kenyans were living in their bubble of extended families, gatherings, small businesses and peace and harmony. This was also the time some of these ventured out of the country for travel/holiday/settlement/education or business purposes. Though some succeeded a few stayed back and while they did not opt to get employment in the service industries they created their own businesses which for those who have lasted long enough, have become empires. The empires were laid down by strong foundations of the baby boomers born after the Second World War who really worked hard and honestly and left a legacy for their generations to come.

You must recognize the difference; the millennials while being born from 70s to 90s were slightly conservative because at the same time there was the Generation X being born from 60s to 80s that defined the next generation Z. This generation Z is considered to be born after the 2000s and the dotcom era and those born after 2010 are being called Generation Alphas. Age is just but a number what is however interesting and possibly of concern depending on whose side you are the social trends taking place over these years and generations.

Your mum and dad never spoke up to their parents and listened and followed society norms, they probably did not know any better or there was thorough respect for their elders. After that this very mum and dad decided to give their kids slightly more freedom and fulfilment in choice of career and education especially. By then it was becoming obvious that status and good income were necessary. Some of the kids here eventually became robots and while they may not have excellent public relations they have fat bank accounts. This mum and dad had arranged marriages and till death do us part vows that for very obvious reasons have lasted their marriages. The divorce rate is negligible and love happened along the way. They also knew the value of family, friends and even though material things were still slightly hard to get, they valued every little piece of furniture or clothing item.

Then come their children who have grown up knowing simple things, for example playing outdoors, cousins birthday parties, tending to grandparents, working hard and being as good people as possible. A few have gone on to become successful in their careers or kick start in the service industry of finance, medicine or law. A few have gone on to settle down in relatively wonderful arranged marriages and are bringing up their kids fairly well. Finally, thankfully only a few have had massive failures and turned to the other side of life, the danger of drugs or poor social habits. Naturally they wanted to give their kids further freedom and to make choices as they please.

The big flop is coming now. Children born after 2000 have gone down the alley of poor social habits mostly and less focus. They need more parenting and extra vigilance on issues regarding depression, suicide, pedophilia and they remain vulnerable. They have become the victims of a very open society and the race to become western, stylish and upper class. This race has cost money, time and even lives. They will most likely not even be able to handle their civic duties of building a society and a nation. They will have the broken marriages and lack of purpose in life. Only a very few will see light at the end of the tunnel, because of strong family links, foundations and support from good minded friends too.

The Generation Alphas are an interesting bunch. They have all the gadgets, they have no idea what a trunk call means, or owning only one car and not having instant coffee. They cannot do without their digital weapons because as much as they are devices a few are converting them into anti-social activities. While some parents are over working to meet the little kids demand, there are those who are getting them quite easily because of old wealth and quite frankly taking it too easy. Their kids are being looked after by iPads and robots will not surprise them. There is not much human reality in their lives, except again for those families who have kept their grandparents close and extended family members and friends involved. It does take a village to carve out a relatively balanced human being. The last word will belong to the generation that outlives all.

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Powder Women vs. Powerful Women, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 4th August 2017

Women Age

“Dressing up is a bore. At a certain age, you decorate yourself to attract the opposite sex, and at a certain age, I did that. But I’m past that age.”

Katharine Hepburn

Born in 1930, Sister Madonna Buder nicknamed “Iron Nun” was the oldest person to finish the Ironman Triathlon at 82 years old.

Born in 1936 Ernestine Shepherd has been declared the oldest competitive female bodybuilder in the world 2016 by the Guinness Book of World Records.

These women are prime examples of powerful women, who have decided not to give up and lie around in saggy figures and wait for death. They are living every moment and defying the odds of social norms.

When Jane Fonda started her Workout videos in the early 80s, it created a sensation for baby boomers wanting to stay in shape. Jane is still in the prime of her career at the age of 79 years old and she did not shy away from admitting recently that she has undergone plastic surgery and has a fake hip, knee and thumb but can still do Pilates.

You can argue that Jane did not grow in our social media age and right now it probably does not affect her career opportunities as much. We have to agree the 80s fashion was terrible and thankfully millennials have improved in that, we are kicking it in the fashion trends now more than ever.

Therefore then, why is it that today’s woman is shy about her age? If men can grow handsome as they get older (only some by the way) then why shouldn’t women take this up gracefully, anyway they live longer than the opposite sex.

Let’s take you into a film, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button where the hero Benjamin has been diagnosed with age reversal and he falls in love with Daisy:

Daisy: Would you still love me if I were old and saggy?

Benjamin Button: Would you still love ME if I were young and had acne? When I’m afraid of what’s under the stairs? Or if I end up wetting the bed?

Be like Shakespeare when he writes, “Age, with his stealing steps,

Hath clawed me in his clutch.” Hamlet (5.1.73-4)

Yes, women generally get offended when they are asked about their age. It depends from person to person, remember your information can be easily be obtained or deduced from social media so how far can you run. It depends in which context are you asking a lady her age, for example for a hand in marriage, be honest, for a one night stand you are clearly perverted. For the woman, I would say embrace your age like a flower, your body will wilt at some point but it is up to you to give it the tender care to keep it blossoming. When the inside is peaceful it will shine outside no matter how many wrinkles or white hair catch up. Oh yes, another drama about colouring the hair, you have the prerogative but remember don’t look like a 70 year old powder faced grandma with a bright red lipstick and charcoal black hair, you will scare even the Adams Family members.

Be kind to yourself and be charming, be you. Men are the hypocrites who get away with age. They can be podgy and ugly at 23 and then suave and Bond like at 43, be careful they have much to hide. A man who is careful about his looks but not obsessed like a narcissist will appreciate his lady no matter what her age.

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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