Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Sudan and Human Rights Commission

I recently came upon a very interestingcartoon (Daily Nation - kenyan daily - 6th May 2004). The Cartoon showed two smoldering huts, a bleeding body sprawled on the ground and a pile of human skulls and bones, a sign was posted on the skulls: "Darfur Southern Sudan" The skulls were busy talking to each other, one asked:"Any Reaction from the International community about our plight." And another responded: "OH! NEVER AGAIN!"The cartoon illustrated the plight of Back Muslims ofWestern Sudan. According to the Human Rights Watch, anestimated 50,000 Black Muslims have been killed and afurther 1 million displaced by marauding government-backed militias known as the "Junjaweed".

The U.S government has been raising a stink about the issue: The President, Secretary of State andNational Security adviser have all called Khartoum to express their displeasure, the Senate majority andMinority leaders (and other senators) have also voiced great dissatisfaction with the situation and the House of Representatives has held committee meetings on the issue. The human rights community has also chimed inon the issue.

However, the most interesting reactionhas been that of African countries. At a time when one of our own has been accused of gross violations of human rights, we do the logical thing: we help elect them to the UN Human Rights Commission. Why not reward human rights violations with a seat at an organizationthat aims to uphold human rights. Well, it would seem that "Outwitting America" (as one Kenyan Daily put it,(East African Standard May 5th) is more important to Africa than stumping out human rights violations. We surely have our priorities right. The skulls should have asked:"What are our African Brothers doing for us?"

Monday, November 15, 2004

SpongeBod SquarePants Movie

I do not watch Nickelodeon and I hardly watch cartoons, apart from Family Guy, Futurama, the Simpsons, King of the Hill and... Okay, I watch cartoons, but I do not watch Nickelodeon, when at the top of the hour I flip through TV channels to see what is on, I hardly give Nickelodeon a 5 second look, I quickly move on to the next channel. However, I do spend a few moments checking out Channel 2 or MTV U and will on occasion watch the music videos, School productions or movies. I have never seen a cartoon shown on this channel, so I was quite suprised last night (Sunday) to see an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, at first I thought it was just another of the moview adverts, then I thought my school was actually showing the movie, I did not stay long enough to see that it was indeed an episode of the cartoon.

This afternoon (in between classes) I was in my room channel surfing and once again I landed on MTV U, once again there was SpongeBob, (about to write an 800 word essay). A few secinds after the show begun, the ticker (scroll) informed me that I was not hallucinating and that I was actually watching SpongeBob (and would be doing so for the rest of the week). This perplexed me. Why would MTV be showing a cartoon? what is going on? And then it dawned on me. This must be a marketing ploy. Is it a coincidence that Spongebob is showing on MTV a couple of days before the movie comes out (Nov 19th)? I think not. This must be an attempt to (and it has worked in my case) attract young college age kids to watch the movie. Kudos to whoever, came up with the idea.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

MOU's and KANU elections


This really got my knickers in a bunch. I was really dissappointed that a whole PoliSci professor would be talking such nonsence. Look the country is already suffering from these pre-election agreements. What guarantees do we have that the "Consensus line" will hold after the election? We should let party members declare their support for one or the other. If KANU wants to prove that it has reformed and that it is dedicated to democracy and transparency, it should be willing to hold open and fair elections. It should not fall into the false trap of believing that pre-election MOU's will hold firm. As we have seen with NARC, we should ensure transparency and democracy within our parties, to avoid unnecessary turmoil and in fighting.

If KANU is amature party, with mature structures and a mature Constitution, then Dr. Anangwe should not be afraid that the party will collapse. If the elections are free and fair, then their is no reason to fear disintegration. Dr. Anangwe should have more faith in his party's ability to hold elections and allow the domocratic process unfold.

Friday, November 12, 2004

CBS and Arafat

CBS NEWS interrupted the final minutes of Wednesday night's episode of CSI: NEW YORK in order to air a special report about the death of Yasser Arafat. CBS has apologized and says it will rebroadcast the episode, in its entirety FRIDAY at 9PM CENTRAL TIME.

"An overly aggressive CBS News producer jumped the gun with a report that should have been offered to local stations for their late news. We sincerely regret the error. The episode of CSI: NEW YORK will be rebroadcast Friday, Nov. 12."

I am troubled, is a TV show more important than breaking news. Are Americans so absorbed with the fantasy world, that they can not have a moment for what is going on in the world. The death of Arafat is a very important issue that has wide reaching implications for peace in the middleast, America's continued involvement in the area, as well as, the worl wide scourge of terrorism. Those five minutes did not matter that much, and CSI: NEW YORK, is not that important in the wider scheme of things in this world. Those who complained, should stop whinning and see that their is more to the world than "fantasyhood".

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Dan Rather and Ohio

I staid up last night, like many folks in America and the World, waiting for the results of the presidential election to come in. I would constantly flip through the various channels to see who had called what and who had not yet called what. In the early hours of the morning, FoxNews and MSNBC called Ohio for Bush, based on their projections, CNN, ABC, NBC and CBS remained cautious, saying it was still too close to call - and pointing out the the Democrats were to mount a challenge to the results. However, while all channels and pundits seemed consigned to the fact that the democrats had little hope of winning the election, CBS Dan Rather remained adamant in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary, that Kerry still had a chance. The most interesting thing was his reaction to Ed Bradley's calculation. Bradley argued that Bush had an over 100,000 vote lead, most of the uncounted votes were in predominantly Republican areas, and even if the provisional ballots were to be counted, the democrats would need over 80% of the tally to even have a minute chance of winning the state. However, Rather continued to insist that Kerry could win, to the point that he tried to belittle Bradley's math acumen (Bradley reminded him that he once taught math). If this was not enough to show those who do not think he is biased, I do not know what would. His performance was rather disappointing.

Off Presidential Debates and Stalin

I probably should have written this a while back, but I totally forgot about it. I am talking about the incessant focus on aesthetics prior to the first presidential debate. The focus at the time seemed to be more on how the candidates would look, then what they would say. The famous 38 page MOU specified things like lighting, height of podium, temperature of the room, lighting in the room among other things that had little to do with what the debate would be about. Pundit after pundit reminded us that Nixon lost due to his "Sweating" during the first debate. Dukakis used a lift to look taller than he was etc. One would be forgiven for thinking that Americans are shallow bustards who care more about appearance than substance. During the debate, the cut away shots clear showed an elevated podium for the president and the post debate analysis focused on the President's scowling and other physical attributes, not what was said. I for one watched the whole debate, but I did not realize that Bush was scowling etc. I focused on what the candidates were saying, at the end of the debate I could not comprehend why sow much attention was paid to the aesthetics of the whole debate.

Where does Stalin come in. Well, last night I was watching a documentary on the "History Channel" titled Stalin Man Of Steel. Of particular interest to me (apart from the Gulags and carnage) was Stalin's use of imagery to create the illusion that all was fine. He would were boosts to seem taller, manipulate pictures to have larger shoulders, manipulate pictures to get rid of his double chin and forms of propaganda. He tried to pull sweeps wool over the eyes of his people. Much like the candidates manipulate images to suit their idealized view of themselves (to the point of manipulating pictures to increase the number of troops in attendance at a Bush rally). It is quite interesting that what Stalin did is considered propaganda, what candidates do (which is no different) is called "Stage craft". They both essentials lie to the viewer, and better picture that truly exists. It is quite unfortunate that we continually fall for such manipulations.