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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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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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It is Time to Step Up, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 28th July 2017

17023684 - abstract word cloud for tribe with related tags and terms

At the brink of our General Elections, the Asian Community was recognized as the 44th Tribe of Kenya on 22nd July as per the gazette notice issued by the President Uhuru Kenyatta. The term Asian will refer to those who are descendants of Indian and Pakistani origins.

While this marks a long time needed recognition it also means many other things. The counting of the Asians will be taken more seriously and their contribution has been notably large to the Kenyan economy. However it will be under further scrutiny and most of all, it is time they stepped up their participation in the running of the nation. These General Elections will probably see the highest ever proposals of various candidates of Asian origin proving that they can be the next Member of County Assembly or begin to play a role as the voice for the community in the Government.

Their results and more so their performance will set the standards and expectations from the rest of the nation as to what this 44th tribe is really capable of when in office. A larger representative can strengthen the image of the community. Becoming a 44th tribe is a tremendous opportunity for the Asians to further reiterate their Kenyan loyalty and to protect, defend and earn for the sovereign nation. For some it can be an opportunity and others can be a responsibility. Yes, the responsibility to do more and speak up about issues and really make that change for one and all and not for one estate or area.

According to Wikipedia: “A tribe is a group of distinct people, dependent on their land for their livelihood, who are largely self-sufficient, and not integrated into the national society.”

Also, the word Asian is different in the United Kingdom and United States.

In the UK it refers to South Asian ancestry, those from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

In the United States they say East Asian.

Asians have worldwide been known to also include Japanese, Chinese and others from East Asia. Thus, in a way things may go ahead and get complicated and others may want their status recognized too. This, brings the question that is there any benefit for this recognition? The most important classifications should actually be based on age and income levels, then the demographics can be more effective in producing change. When you start dissecting which tribe is outperforming or underperforming then you are certainly working on the divide-rule factor. Then, where can the country progress too? All should be one, and one passport can mean just that. It is the constitution that holds the power and a strong judiciary to put the balances right.

Kenyan Asians are starting a new chapter of their millennial history since 1963 and what the youth do will certainly set the pace of what it means to be one, just like British Asians have so far done. We may not be as diverse as India itself, but Kenya certainly is setting up for the new way of governance in the coming decades, where youth of all tribes are bringing in new ideas to shape the country. How tribal it will get only time can tell, what is more important is always the candidate’s capability and performance, all words and no action will never create a Rainbow Nation.

 

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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The Power of the National Language, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 21st July 2017

Kiswahili

Kenya gained independence in 1963 and the young country is learning to cope with its challenges. From the upcoming General Elections to the everyday living of school, work and life there is a lot to look forward too.

The Kenyan history has been rich with historical figures from Tom Mboya, Makhan Singh, the Mau Mau Movement and much more. Subsequently it is important to keep it on the mind and especially so for the younger ones who will go on and becoming earning and voting citizens of the Nation.

Kenyans hail from the Bantu peoples who come from the African Great Lakes region and today we know them as for example Kikuyu. When it comes to the languages, while the Southern Bantu speak Zulu, the Eastern Bantu or the Swahili people speak Swahili. Swahili comes from the Arabic word Sawahil meaning coasts and it quickly took form in the Coastal region of the Indian Ocean. Around 1700 there is evidence of Swahili letters and it was not until June 1928 that an inter-territorial conference took place in Mombasa. This included representatives from Kenya, Tangayika, Uganda and Zanzibar to formalize Swahili for those areas.

In 2016 Kenyan Government made Kiswahili mandatory for all Kenyan schools and in a recent move the former Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i announced that it would also become part of the curriculum of all the international schools from September onwards after the August General Elections. They must also include Kenyan history as part of their learning subjects.

In almost all countries the national language is part of the national education curriculum. For example in India students learn in the Hindi medium and neighbouring Tanzania adopted Swahili at all its levels of education as the language of education from March 2015. However this move seems drastic especially in the times of increasing globalization. Having Kiswahili as part of the curriculum for all Kenyan schools is smart, since it is the main language of communication. But to try and shut out from the world which is speaking hundreds of languages and trading mostly in English, French and Chinese. According to one list, the top ten most spoken languages are (in order of first to last):

Chinese, Spanish, English, Hindi, Arabic, Portuguese, Bengali, Russian, Japanese and Punjabi.

Bringing national history across all schools is also an important move especially because it will make the younger ones and in some cases parents aware of what has transpired in the Nation. A good national lesson in history is always useful. International schools may argue that they do not have allegiance to any nation, but if you are based in a particular country then that country is hosting you. Thus, it is important to respect their culture and history too.

There might be a school of thought that why should be keep the adopted language of the colonial nation? Well, English being the 3rd most spoken language is necessary to get work done, education earned and relationships built. A complete isolation will only leave the population behind in every way.

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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The Wise Words of Pushy Politicians, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 14th July 2017

Political Manifesto

“This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember it or overthrow it.”

US President ABRAHAM LINCOLN, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861

The United States Declaration of Independence is one of the most cited manifestos in the world. The word manifesto comes from the Latin word manifestum, meaning clear or conspicuous. Thus, political manifesto therefore becomes the views and intentions of what the Government will do and its people are expected to follow. It is done within the political party framework, for example the Tory party in the UK or the Republican party in the US. In the case of Kenya, recently the Jubilee Manifesto was released with much pomp and fare. It is made up of Three Pillars: Transforming Lives, Transforming Society and Transforming Nation.

The manifesto aims to capture the transformation and pledges the political party is making in terms of education, security, infrastructure, economy and culture.

For example in the ruling party BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) of India, their Election 2014 manifesto including a reform in the Police force, where it stated, modernize the Police force and give special emphasis on the working conditions and welfare of police personnel. Recently last year the Mein Kampf was republished since 1945 and this was Adolf Hitler’s collection of the policies he wanted for Germany. Libya’s former ruler Muammar Gaddafi also wrote one, called The Green Book.

The oldest manifesto known is that of Baghdad Manifesto of 1011 where it states that majority of Arabs and Muslims do not view the Fatimids as their legitimate descendants from Ali.

Thus, a manifesto can be a declaration of a belief that needs to run far in the country or faith.

The best example of how a manifesto can literally change an election, is the concluded US General Election. When the presidential candidate adorned caps with the slogan “Make America Great Again” he was creating history. The message from his opposition candidate Hillary Clinton of “Stronger Together” did not hold any power in the end and break the glass ceiling. This election campaign was also an excellent example of how the slogans, marketing gimmicks and the political debates took away the attention from the intricacies of the party manifestos. If the party is weak and falling apart even its own manifesto can not support the candidate. It is easy to write promises but difficult to fulfill them. There then needs to be a section of corporate like responsibility on productivity and efficiency. The most important being transparency, for example the government can put the live BOQ (Bill of Quantities) on their site for all to monitor cost and items used to build a railway. It may sound extreme but there can be several other measures to put in the place to check the accountability of these pledges, just like the sales teams get KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Instead of politicians lashing out in the parliament or senate and having a blame game match, it is time for some more sophistication of saying what work needs to be done and getting it done and checking how it was done.

According to the World Bank Governance indicators, they check out:

Voice and Accountability

Political Stability and Absence of Violence

Government Effectiveness

Regulatory Quality

Rule of Law

Control of Corruption

An example from the World Bank Governance and The Law Report of 2017 says:

“The past 20 years have seen enormous progress around the world in socioeconomic indicators. The rapid diffusion of technology and greater access to capital and world markets have enabled economic growth rates that were previously unfathomable, and they have helped lift over 1 billion people out of poverty. And yet increased flows have also led to rising inequality, both within and across borders, and to greater vulnerability to global economic trends and cycles. Indeed, although the global spread of capital, technology, ideas, and people has helped many countries and people move forward, other regions and populations appear to have been left behind, and they are still facing violence, slow growth, and limited opportunities for advancement.”

Ultimately the power of the constitution still matters but it can fail if the judicial process is not allowed to function to its proper level of authority and transparency. Then, a large manifesto will remain nothing but a marketing campaign for the political party.

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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