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Was it a crime for Barack and Cuba’s Raul to shake hands at Mandela’s funeral?

December 13, 2013

In Africa we have striven to remain non aligned observers in many categories of the world arena, we also tend to look at men for who they represent, a meeting of tribal elders brings out all sorts of folks and in that capacity, elder Raul represented all the Cuban people, regardless of past family history and any baggage he left on his home turf!
He came like all the others in that Stadium to pay his final tribute to a man whose calloused hands had broken so many rocks in his 27 years of jail, it must have felt good to shake a real person’s hand regardless of station in life.
In such a state of mourning as we find ourselves, Barack a true son of Africans, did the proper thing in honouring the non discriminate spirit of our dear departed elder Tata Madiba!
If diplomacy still exists in the international community, Raul like Barack is just an inheritor of past policies of nations that need to be adjusted and revisited time Ad Infinitum, to carry new sense in a modern global community.

The cold war is over, though there is still work to be done, including easing of nerves of folks who still carry the legacy and mentality of yesterday. If Barack can shake the hand of Putin – who is also a recipient of reigns of a nation that was a chief architect of the Cold war, without raising eyebrows he ought to be able to forge a new day with Cubas’s Raul castro, and what an ennobling place and time to be reaching out to sworn enemies.

Tendo Kaluma
Ugandan in Boston

From Obama for America, Some of President Barack Obama’s achievements let the record show.

November 1, 2012

Tendo —

Every now and again, the other side likes to claim President Obama doesn’t have a record to run on. They’re wrong. Here’s a taste of why:

(Just a couple of) the Obama Administration’s accomplishments:

1. The first bill President Obama signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, to help women fight back when they don’t get equal pay for equal work.

2. His Recovery Act supported millions of jobs and helped to stave off a second Great Depression.

3. He pushed for and won middle-class tax cuts that benefitted every American worker, and saved the typical family $3,600 in taxes over the last four years.

4. President Obama rescued the auto industry, and now GM and Chrysler are healthier than they’ve ever been. The American auto industry has added nearly a quarter of a million jobs since June 2009 — and they most likely wouldn’t exist right now without President Obama’s leadership.

5. He doubled funding for Pell Grants, helping to make college more affordable for nearly 10 million families.

6. His student loan reform ended billions in subsidies to banks serving as middlemen and reinvested those savings directly into students.

7. The President established the American Opportunity Tax Credit, worth up to $10,000 over four years of college.

8. His Race to the Top Initiative helped spur nearly every state to raise academic standards.

9. His tax cuts, social-welfare programs, and economic policies lifted nearly 7 million Americans above the federal poverty line in 2010.

10. President Obama has signed 18 tax cuts for small businesses since taking office.

11. We’ve seen 5.2 million new private-sector jobs over the last 31 months.

12. The unemployment rate is at the lowest level since President Obama took office.

13. Health care reform — passed after decades of failed attempts by every previous President — provides affordable health coverage to every American and will lower premiums by an average of $2,000 per family by 2019.

14. Obamacare expanded access to lifesaving preventive care such as cancer screenings and immunizations with no out-of-pocket costs for 54 million Americans.

15. Obamacare ends insurance discrimination against the 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions.

16. Because of Obamacare, over 3 million more young adults have health insurance today than would if the new law hadn’t passed.

17. The parents of over 17 million children with pre-existing conditions no longer have to worry that their children will be denied coverage.

18. President Obama has ordered the overhaul of federal government regulations to make them smarter, practical, and more efficient. Just a fraction of these commonsense initiatives will help save businesses $10 billion in the next five years alone.

19. His historic investments in clean energy have helped more than double the amount of electricity we obtain from wind and solar sources and helped increase biofuel production to its highest level in history.

20. President Obama is doubling fuel efficiency standards, which will save drivers more than $8,000 at the gas pump, not to mention lessen the impact of automobiles on our environment.

21. President Obama has taken unprecedented action to address climate change, reaching historic international agreements to curb carbon emissions, and taking action here at home to reduce carbon pollution from our vehicles and promote clean energy production.

22. He has taken historic action to protect our environment — signing one of the largest expansions of protected wilderness in a generation and putting in place standards to reduce toxic air pollution that will save thousands of lives.

23. President Obama fought for and won landmark Wall Street reform that reins in the abuses that led to the financial crisis and ends the era of taxpayer bailouts and “too big to fail.”

24. Wall Street reform created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the nation’s first federal agency focused solely on consumer financial protection — and the Bureau is already protecting families from unfair and abusive financial practices from Wall Street banks and shadowy corners of the financial industry.

25. As part of President Obama’s commitment to transparency, the White House has posted its visitor records online for the first time ever.

26. President Obama’s all-of-the-above approach to energy has helped cut the United States’ dependence on foreign oil to its lowest level in 20 years.

27. President Obama responsibly ended the war in Iraq.

28. He announced a plan to end the war in Afghanistan and transition security responsibility to the Afghan people.

29. President Obama sent the largest security assistance package to Israel in history and funded the Iron Dome system, which is protecting Israeli homes and schools from rocket attacks.

30. President Obama rallied the international community to implement the toughest sanctions on Iran in history.

31. Through the President’s historic increases in Veterans Affairs funding, he has expanded and improved healthcare and job training access for our returning veterans.

32. President Obama negotiated the New START Treaty with Russia to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in both countries. At the same time, he also secured commitments from dozens of other countries to lock down nuclear materials.

33. His administration naturalized 11,146 military service members as U.S. citizens in 2010; more than in any year since 1955.

34. President Obama set a bold new plan for the future of NASA space exploration, using the skill and ability of the private sector for short trips to the International Space Station, while building a new vehicle for exploration of distant space, and doing everything in his power to support the economy on Florida’s Space Coast.

35. President Obama recognizes that tourism is one of America’s largest economic engines; he’s worked to encourage international visitors to come here, maintaining our security while keeping millions of Americans in good, paying jobs.

36. He has affirmed his personal support of marriage equality, directed the Justice Department to stop defending DOMA in federal courts, and took the practical and compassionate step of extending hospital visitation rights to same-sex partners.

37. He fought for and won the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, allowing gay and lesbian members of the military to serve openly for the first time in history.

38. When Congress failed to fix our broken immigration system, his administration did everything in its power to improve it, streamlining the legal immigration process and announcing a policy that lifts the shadow of deportation from hard working young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

39. Oh, and he gave the order to send troops in after Osama Bin Laden — and has decimated al-Qaeda’s senior leadership.

On the American political front

October 17, 2012

When all the pundits have said all they can, and the TV cameras begin to roll, for today’s presidential debates, both candidates have to give us their greatest performance ever. There is little wonder why some greater men have been driven to steroids in search of a performance edge; the pressure to deliver is enormous in this town.
Who needs the gladiators’ arena in this era, when we can demand of folks to do the impossible, like jumping from the highest point of earth’s gravitational pull and making it look easy! Governor Mitt Romney has got to get a lesson of being naturally engaged and not appear so wired, he needs to come out and tell his story to the American people in the calm style of former President Bill Clinton.
There were many pundits, who told President Ronald Reagan, that he was too old, that he needed some Ginkoba or something to reduce his “senior moments”, we all hope that he did not heed to such advice which could have affected his later quality of life. There is a reason why President Barack Obama was completely turned off during the first debate; perhaps the governor was simply too animated!
As for the President, he needs to catch his “Yo” moments, and give us the numbers with minimum pause. The president’s story is simple he can come out tonight and state the obvious, that he was working with a tough congress, in the words of his predecessor Ronald Reagan, who effectively said that most of his bills to congress were “dead on arrival”. He now has the numbers to back up his claims that congress passed only 190 something bills as opposed to the usual 400 during a normal legislative session. With such a backdrop, he can frame his narrative by listing all the lost jobs opportunities with his American Jobs Dream Act and tell us why the jobs numbers are not where most economists projected them to be.
He also has to backup Secretary Hilary Clinton’s statement regarding Benghazi, if he leaves it the way it is now; he risks the danger of both him and the vice president looking very weak and not in control.

To avoid dead silence, here are a few talking points for President Barack Obama on foreign policy

October 10, 2012

To avoid dead silence, here are a few talking points for President Barack Obama on foreign policy.
The president needs to take full responsibility of the Benghazi, loss, like Ronald Reagan, did with the Beirut Marine loss. He has to assure the American people that he will beef up security and require a high level escort detail to all his Ambassadors around the globe- even if it means drones being in close proximity to their entourage in some of these tougher neighborhoods.
Since many natural disasters have happened under his watch, he has to speak to the world about disaster preparedness; consultation with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, to put in place a disaster preparedness agenda to be met by most UN members, would be a great start. There is a standard level of preparedness which could have saved lives in Haiti, Japan, had it been implemented. It might simply be the use of FEMA, to share and train other similar organs in indigenous countries – JFK would have done it that way, if he’d witnessed such natural disasters during his presidency.
On the training of Iraqi and Afghanistan soldiers and police forces, this is a job that could be accomplished under American supervision in a friendly Arab nation such as Saudi Arabia, or even South Africa, it is not that sophisticated to train fellows who are going to keep the peace – sending them our best trainers to be sacrificed, is not working out well at this juncture. The president needs an alternative plan on this very issue.
On issues of World Order and security, there was a great speech given by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, before he left office; President Obama, ought to look through that speech and pick out the elements of his new security footprint around the globe as mapped out by this sage. He needs to maintain his foreign policy strength in the eyes of the Democratic Party conservative base, which wants to contain China’s foot print and the spread of fundamentalism around the globe. Whether he stands with Japan on the recent spate with China or talks about standing with Taiwan like all his predecessors, it is entirely up to him.
Since he has used drones more than any other president on the global scene, he needs to talk about how effective they have been, as well as talk about the unfortunate collateral damage associated with this. The objective here is to give us all a sense of security and comfort that he is still on the frontlines. He also has to draw out his compassion for women who are being raped in the DRC, the one hundred troops and other joint missions in Africa clearly draw out, that which has been coined well by his predecessors, “walk gently but carry a big stick”, it shows American compassion around the globe, and this ought to be the axis of his foreign policy.
Some elements of his foreign policy appeal might be taking hold, in the fight against terrorism. Something within his policies is working and his experts and Secretary Hilary Clinton know best – but he ought to take credit for it. The dictators around the world are in check, he needs to go a step further in a professorial manner, to explain the evils of dictatorship and the impact it has on ordinary citizens.
The American audience needs to know that being oppressed is similar to putting a person in prison without rehabilitation and expecting them to come out reformed. He needs to speak to how freezing the assets of these dictators, is making it difficult to do business as usual. Support for Syrian freedom fighters ought to be on his radar screen. A message has to go to world dictators stating clearly that they have overstayed their welcome – whether that is accomplished by freezing their assets after years of dictatorship, or any new policy from his camp which refutes rewarding dictators. A plan to join the International Criminal Court ought to be work in progress as we envision the end of these immediate wars. The American voice and years of experience in these matters is sorely missed in the expedition of justice and in the promotion of improved human rights the world over.
President Barack Obama should stand firm on non nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, but he has to lead a coalition of nations – coalitions have been used effectively by all his immediate predecessors. His commitment to the survival of Israel should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind where America stands. Although he may not always agree with the quick approach of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, they have more in common on matters of security for the two nations than any of his predecessors.

Of expired, sub-standard and toxic products from Asia sold to the African market.

May 27, 2011

The relationship between China and Africa is one which has to be determined by speaking out and letting them know through boycotts and other means of protest that it is not acceptable to sell toys to our kids that are laced with lead or high levels of BPA – it is not going to fly if the appliances sold to us are fire hazards and electrocuting our children – we need to call the Chinese and Indian embassies and log our complaints when such products show up in Uganda. It is not acceptable that African women are sold makeup and other feminine products that are sub-standard, burning to the skin and causing toxic shock syndrome. Our sick should not be subjected to the double jeopardy of dealing with the illness and the prolonged pain of utilizing ineffective and expired drugs.
If we have managed to see some of these harzards with just the naked eye , what of those hidden chemicals, such as plastic food wraps which carry a cancer causing agent when heated to 80 degrees urea – formaldehyde and many other chemicals found in plastic wraps and bottles. We need to let folks at the other end know that we are also human and we deserve better.
The equivalent of the FDA(Food and Drug administration) in Uganda, has to be vigilant in discovering these consumer products and banning them at the ports of entry. The last I checked, they had a few employees and had already lost the battle of expired drugs from India – it is a mess out there and if we are not careful an entire generation could become retarded due to lead poisoning and dependent on China and India for all our brain trust. It is an economic war that we must win, because our best resource at this moment is the brilliance of our kids. We need to form a consumer group to act as a watch dog for such products.

Museveni has lost the legitimacy to lead the people of Uganda

April 30, 2011

Having witnessed the brutality unleashed on the citizens of Uganda today, young men being shot indescriminately through the eyes by snipers too ready to do his biding, it is ironic that he wants to continue with the invitation of the heads of states to come and congratulate him on a presidency won through the buying of votes from poor people.

The Ugandan people have stomached too much violence and death at Museveni’s watch- from the Luweero triangle killing fields to the encapment of the Acholi people, where multitudes were relegated to these camps to perish. Every institution that was once vibrant and working in the nation has become stunted, orphaned or corrupted under his auspices.
He has failed to strike a working discourse or dialogue with the opposition and those in the progressive camps to provide joint practical solutions to a myriad of problems facing Uganda. He has become insular and far removed from the main stream, where he would rather spend the little resources in the treasury to buy additional instruments of war, torture and repression, while those stricken by poverty are left to die due to lack of medicines supplies, services and other essential commodities.

He has definitely failed to impress it upon himself, his security operatives and those in his immediate sphere of influence to govern the country through constitutional means. His continued disregard of the constitution as the supreme law of the land has caused the country to revert back to tyrannical days- where the judiciary and the legislature provided no checks or balances to an executive that had run amok.

Our common aspirations and hopes for a better Uganda will never wane – these continued acts of torture, death and violence against the citizens of Uganda under Mr. Museveni, can only serve to strengthen our resolve to have him out of office, and to further emphasize a well established fact that he has completely lost the legitimacy to lead the people of Uganda.

Tendo Kaluma
Ugandan in Boston

This is a matter of indiscipline within the PGB’

February 15, 2011

Fellow Ugandans,

The moment we let our military police collapse or become secondary in protecting the public, we run the danger of loss on all sides, and the consequences become dire as witnessed here. The American police is made up of former MPS-who are called upon at an instant to lift up such fellows and throw them in the slammer to cool off, the minute such utterances or threats to the public are heard by colleagues of the soldier or any citizen for that matter.

We ought to invest in a special police unit, well armed and capable of dealing with such incidents, militarily.
Major Felix Kulayigye, has missed the point here, by blaming the victims of this veteran, who had clearly run amok, I wish he had used a different choice of words, that took responsibility and showed some sensitivity towards the grieving families of those whose lives were violently taken, due to lack of proper safe guards and training that would have prevented such an incident from occurring.

This is not the first incident of indiscipline with the Ugandan Presidential Guard Brigade, the person in charge has to take full responsibility and needs to remind those who have frayed, that they are citizens first and within the confines of the law of Uganda. Guarding the president and visiting dignitaries is a privilege and a professional job, extended to the elite within the security organs, just like being a minister or the president for that matter.
If the president they are supposed to guard: can’t go around prostituting, getting violently drunk or on shooting sprees, every time he is upset, what makes them think that they can do this with impunity?

Major Felix Kulayigye, should leave no wavering doubt in the minds of those on this elite force, that they are not immune to prosecution or public scrutiny and they cannot bring shame to a unit that prides itself in being the best in the world-for it’s job is to protect the president and visiting world leaders.

A test of sobriety should be the first qualifying measure of any would be Guard to the president, to avoid danger to the president or any visiting world leader.
If a man or woman cannot control his or her liquor or is seen prostituting, what makes you think that he won’t sell out the president or a visiting world leader he or she is supposed to protect?

I have not seen the elite men of the secret service in this country bar hoping, prostituting, threaten the public or causing such mayhem as we see in Uganda.
I’m sure the unit has such good men of integrity, but one bad apple can taint the whole Unit, so it is the job of the person in charge of the elite unit to take the matter very seriously, by admitting full responsibility and weeding out fellows of this caliber from the PGB, before it is too late-carry out random urine tests, if you have to but, keep them professional.

Members of this unit are supposed to have passed an high level psychological profile, random sobriety tests, picked from a very intelligent elite class of security, the cream of the crop and exemplary to all other security professionals.
Intolerance to fraternization, non-professionalism, individual acts that put it to shame, and avoidance through due diligence such monstrous acts by it’s members ought to be the order of the day. The key here is proactively; teach them how to tread softly while carrying big sticks.

That said, we also have to look at the issue of not properly caring for our returning soldiers or those who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I wonder whether the person who is charge of the PGB, is fully aware that such Rambos exist within his special unit? If they do exist, he needs to seek help for them; today we have all sorts of pills, therapies that can help out soldiers in crisis. I truly believe that this fellow was somehow deranged, and had been suffering for a while, and we should start helping our soldiers deal with PTSD.

We cannot afford to expose the president or any visiting dignitary to such dangers, remember Indira Gandhi, Anwar Sadat were all killed by a person from their presidential guard. My condolences to all the families, lets make no excuses please raise the bar, and keep them professional.

Tendo