Thursday, October 31, 2013

Kenya goes hi-tech in bid to protect rhinos

With poachers getting more sophisticated in their approach, Rhino conservation has gone high-tech and will now employ specialised rhino horn tracking systems combined with forensic DNA technology to strengthen rhino monitoring. This will protect the animals on site and also support anti-trafficking mechanisms nationally and regionally.
With the support from the WWF Kenya, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) says that with the use of microchips and scanners, there will be 100 per cent traceability of every rhino horn and live animal within Kenya.
KWS Director William Kiprono says that with the technology, every rhino horn will be tracked globally and matched to the rhino from which it was taken. In this way, investigators will be able to link any poached case to a recovered or confiscated horn.
These technologies are now being used internationally in support of criminal justice responses to wildlife crime as well as strengthening inter-agency collaborations (between customs, police, justice, wildlife agencies and defense).
This new technology will ensure that every marked rhino in the country is traceable.

Will enlarged DNA database help SA police in crime fight?

   Men of the South African police         (c) foxnews
Matching a human being’s distinct genetic blueprint, the person’s DNA, found on a crime scene, to a profile found on an extensive DNA database of offenders seems like a simple exercise these days. Done on almost every American cop show on television, and at law enforcement agencies in numerous countries around the world, it is hard to believe that it is not such an easy task in South Africa.
Not yet, anyway. Should the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill clear the final hurdle and receive President Jacob Zuma’s signature and be promulgated, it will allow for the South African Police Service (SAPS) to finally establish such an extensive DNA database in South Africa.
Working tirelessly for nine years to see this database become a reality, following the murder of her father – a crime where every scrap of DNA evidence was lost – Vanessa Lynch says the President’s signature does not mean the job is done.
Lynch spent four years lobbying government to pass DNA-specific legislation and, once that was achieved, it took another five years to pass it through Parliament.
An attorney by training, she formed nongovernmental organisation The DNA Project to pursue this goal.  “When the Bill is actually promulgated, only then will I breathe a transitory sigh of relief, because that will be when the real work begins,” says Lynch.

Edward Snowden lands tech job in Russia

Ed Snowden
To some he is a hero, a whistleblower and an apostle of open society.  But Edward Snowden is not viewed that way in government circles in the United States.  Snowden is a fugitive on the run from his own country for leaking guarded secret government data which he got during his time at the National Security Agency (NSA).
His leaks created significant problems of trust for the Obama administration among US traditional allies.  Germany is particularly irked by the revelation that Angela Merkel is being spied on by the NSA. Same annoyance is obvious in France, Brazil, Mexico and others.
But that's not the news today.  The latest is that Snowden has got a new job in Russia, two months after he was granted temporary asylum by Putin.
His attorney, Anatoly Kucherena, told Russia's state-owned RIA Novosti that his fugitive client will start his new gig Friday at one of Russia's largest websites, but reportedly declined to identify the site for "security reasons."
"Edward starts work in November," attorney Kucherena said on Thursday, according RIA. "He will provide support for a large Russian site," he explained, declining further statement.
Snowden, 30, who disclosed secret US internet and telephone surveillance programmes, fled to Hong Kong and then to Russia four months ago.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why car companies are running to Africa

Porsche showroom in Lagos
Wonder why the car companies are rushing to Africa?   Africa has seen remarkable economic growth in the last few years.  That's partly the reason.  But added to that is the fact that more and more Europeans are opting for bicycles rather than cars.  Sounds funny?  Not at all.  Check out the statistics below.
Bicycle sales outpaced new-car sales last year in every one of those countries, except Belgium and Luxembourg, reports NPR. Car sales hit a 20 year low last year in Europe.
New data from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, new vehicle registrations continued to slip with a decline of 6.3 percent in June 
According to BMW CEO Nobert Reithofer in an interview with a German publication, "Little will change."

Monday, October 28, 2013

Blatter got it right; Africa deserves more World Cup slots

Fifa president, Sepp Blatter
No matter the intention as being speculated in some western media, I think Fifa president Joseph Blatter got it right.  "From a purely sporting perspective, I would like to see globalization finally taken seriously, and the African and Asian national associations accorded the status they deserve at the FIFA World Cup," Blatter wrote in an article in a Fifa magazine.
Africa, the confederation with the most member associations (54), is woefully under-represented at the World Cup with just five places...This flawed state of affairs must be rectified
"It cannot be that the European and South American confederations lay claim to the majority of the berths at the World Cup (18 or 19 teams), because taken together they account for significantly fewer member associations (63) than Africa and Asia (100)."

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Are mass murderers using Twitter as a tool?

An injured shopper being helped out of Nairobi's Westgate
Mall during the attack last month

It was the first major terrorist attack in history in which the group that mounted the operation used Twitter to announce to the world it was responsible.
The group then quickly tweeted what its rationale was for the attack and also gave operational details of the assault -- all in real time.
Last month a group of armed gunmen stormed the upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, shooting at shoppers and mall staff with automatic weapons, killing at least 61 civilians.

Several hours into the assault a Twitter account used by the Somali terrorist group Al-Shabaab tweeted: "The Mujahideen ('holy warriors') entered Westgate mall today at around noon and they are still inside the mall, fighting the Kenyan kuffar ('infidels') inside their own turf."
It was the first confirmation that the attack was the work of Al-Shabaab, and journalists around the world quickly reported this.

How Al-Shabab mastermind 'White Widow' tricked SA, UK and Kenya

Samantha Lewthwaite, alias the ‘White Widow’
Britain and South Africa both issued new passports to Samantha Lewthwaite in the months before she went on the run.
Lewthwaite, the widow of the one of the July 7 suicide bombers, received a new British passport in 2011 from the British High Commission in South Africa's capital, Pretoria. Days earlier, on January 31, 2011, Lewthwaite had also been given a South African passport in the name of Natalie Faye Webb, a nurse then living in Essex whose identity she allegedly stole.
Naledi Pandor, the South African home affairs minister, insisted this document was cancelled "in February 2011" and placed on an Interpol "stop list".
'White Widow' Lewthwaite has now evaded arrest for almost two years
That should have alerted all 192 members of Interpol to detain anyone found carrying the passport. Instead, the Kenyan authorities gave Lewthwaite new tourist visas – or renewed old ones – on five separate occasions: February 26; March 28; May 3; August 25; and November 21. All these stamps were placed in the supposedly cancelled South African passport. The last visa was issued just weeks before Lewthwaite went on the run in December 2011.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Why the world’s technology giants are investing in Africa

"I don't understand. Why is it that the media only seems to talk about Africa when bad things happen?"
The man behind the counter at my hotel in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, was talking to me about my job, and why I was visiting.
He looked genuinely pained. He told me he is a big fan of the BBC - in west Africa the World Service and language services have a big following - but it seemed to him that the media outside the continent often only noticed when bad things happened.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How technology is driving terrorism and cybercrime

A bomb hidden inside a microphone killed Arsala Jamal, a popular Afghan politician and the governor of Logar, a province near the capital Kabul yesterday as he spoke after prayers celebrating the Islamic holiday, Eid.  It's yet another reminder of how criminals and terrorists are using technology.  It reminded me of when Dele Giwa, a popular investigative journalist in Nigeria was killed in his dining room via letter bomb.  This week is the 27 years anniversary of the death of Giwa, a thoroughly bred investigative journalist, and founding editor of Newswatch, the pioneer in insightful magazine journalism in Nigeria.
The exponential growth the world has seen in technology offers great prospects for fighting crime and terrorism. But there is a flip side.  Technology is increasingly making us unsafe and overly exposed.
"In the hands of the tech community, these are awesome tools which will bring about great changes for our world, but in the hands of suicide bombers the future can look quite different," says Marc Goodman, a security expert.
"We consistently underestimate what criminals and terrorists can do. Technology has made our world increasingly open and for the most part that's great.  But all of this may have unintended consequences," Goodman said.
"Whether or not you realize it, we are at the dawn of a technology arms race, an arms race between people who are using technology for good and those who are using it for ill.  The threat is serious and the time to prepare for it is now."

Terrorists prayed as Westgate massacre took place

Terrorists who attacked the Westgate Mall last month took turns to pray in between their bloody mission, new footage shows.
Video clips seen by the Nation show one of the terrorists taking time off to pray as two of his accomplices stand guard inside what appears to be a store inside the Mall.
A separate clip shows five of the terrorists taking position inside a supermarket within the mall during the attack.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fat discrimination could be as common as racial bias

Weight discrimination, especially against women, is increasing in U.S. society and is almost as common as racial discrimination, two studies suggest.
Reported discrimination based on weight has increased 66% in the past decade, up from about 7% to 12% of U.S. adults, says one study, in the journal Obesity. The other study, in the International Journal of Obesity, says such discrimination is common in both institutional and interpersonal situations — and in some cases is even more prevalent than rates of discrimination based on gender and race. (About 17% of men and 9% of women reported race discrimination.)

Westgate: A damage so heartrending

An Indian man prays by the grave of Kenyan journalist
Ruhila Adatia Sood, who was killed by gunmen at the
Westgate mall, during her funeral in Nairobi (c) CNN
We can't really quantify the human and material damage caused Africa and the world by the terror attack last month in Westgate Mall, Nairobi: 68 innocent lives wasted and another 175 deformed in varying degrees.
Victims were not just Kenyans, but Ghanaians, Brits, Indians, and nationals of several other countries. The pains in the heart of family members is unimaginable.
The New York Times and CNN have put together a collection of pictorials to show what transpired during those four days of gross wickedness and heartless killings by Al-Shabab, the Somali-based terrorist group.
As never before, it is vital to unite forces of the entire world community against terror
What the Westgate experience reminds us is that terrorism is by its nature international.  It happened in Kenya, but the loss and pains caused is global.  President Obama puts it right when he said that "in the war on terror, we cannot possibly succeed without extraordinary international cooperation. Effective international police actions require the highest degree of intelligence sharing, planning and collaborative enforcement."
According to Vladimir Putin of Russia, "terrorism has once again shown it is prepared deliberately to stop at nothing in creating human victims. An end must be put to this. As never before, it is vital to unite forces of the entire world community against terror."

Check out New York Times and CNN to see the heartrending fallouts of the Kenyan attack.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Physics Nobel Prize goes to 'God particle' scientists

The 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics has gone to Britain's Peter W. Higgs and Belgium's Francois Englert, the Nobel Committee announced in Stockholm on Tuesday.
They were jointly awarded the prize for their work on a theory that offers an explanation for how the fundamental particles of the Universe acquire mass.
Last year, the pair's work was confirmed after the discovery of the so-called Higgs particle — known also as the Higgs boson and the God particle — at a laboratory in Geneva.
"I am overwhelmed to receive this award and thank the Royal Swedish Academy," Higgs said in a statement released by the University of Edinburgh. "I hope this recognition of fundamental science will help raise awareness of the value of blue-sky research."
Englert told the committee he was "very happy" at winning the award.

How Instagram and Pinterest can get you to eat less

When next a friend points you to beautiful photos of food on Instagram or Pinterest, tell him/her you will look at them after dinner.  Why?  Looking at many photos of food on Instagram can make the actual eating less enjoyable.
The message is: “If you want to enjoy your food consumption experience, avoid looking at too many pictures of food.”
Researchers at Brigham Young University say looking at many photos of food before eating may actually ruin your appetite “by making you feel like you’ve already experienced eating that food.”

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Terrorists ain't poor people - Nigerian president

Terrorists ain't poor people.  Listen to President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria disagree with President Clinton that Boko Haram exists because of poverty.  Interesting interview by Arise TV(another big move by Nduka Obaigena. By the way, Nduka said nice things about his vision for Arise in an interview with New African magazine.  I think it's a big leap.)