Month: December 2018

As Parliamentarians Pay Tax:We Still Need Tax Reforms

Even as MP’s start paying taxes, Kenya Revenue Authority[KRA] needs a Lesson in some simple economics.To help them here is a simple lesson.Suppose that every day,  ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes  to 100 KSH…If they paid their bill the way we  pay our taxes, it would go something like  this.The first four men (the poorest)  would pay nothing.The fifth would pay 1KSH.The sixth  would pay 3KSH.The seventh would pay  7KSH.The eighth would pay  12KSH.The ninth would pay 18KSH.The tenth  man (the richest) would pay 59KSH.

So, that’s  what they decided to do..The ten men  drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with  the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a  curve ball.”Since you are all such good  customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of  your daily beer by 20KSH”. Drinks for the ten men would  now cost just 80KSH.The group still wanted to pay their  bill the way we pay our taxes.So the first  four men were unaffected.They would  still drink for free. But what about the other six  men?The paying customers?

How could  they divide the 20KSH windfall so that everyone would get  his fair share?They realised that 20KSH divided by  six is 3.33KSH. But if they subtracted  that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the  sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his  beer.So, the bar owner suggested that it  would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by a higher  percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle of  the tax system they had been using, and he proceeded to  work out the amounts he suggested that each should now  pay.And so the fifth man, like the first  four, now paid nothing (100% saving).The sixth  now paid 2KSH instead of 3KSH (33% saving).The seventh  now paid 5KSH instead of 7KSH (28% saving).The eighth  now paid 9KSH instead of 12 KSH(25% saving).The ninth  now paid 14KSH instead of 18KSH (22% saving).The tenth  now paid 49 KSH instead of 59KSH (16% saving).Each of the  six was better off than before. And the first four  continued to drink for free. But, once outside the bar,  the men began to compare their savings.”I only got  a dollar out of the 20KSH saving,” declared the sixth  man.He pointed to the tenth man,”but he  got 10KSH!””Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the  fifth man. “I only saved a dollar too. It’s unfair that  he got ten times more benefit than me!” ”That’s  true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get 10KSH  back, when I got only 2KSH? The wealthy get all the  breaks!”

“Wait a minute,” yelled the first  four men in unison, “we didn’t get anything at all. This  new tax system exploits the poor!”The nine men  surrounded the tenth and beat him up.The next  night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the  nine sat down and had their beers without him. But when  it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something  important. They didn’t have enough money between all of  them for even half of the bill! And that,  boys and girls, journalists and government ministers, is  how our tax system works.The people  who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the  most benefit from a tax reduction.Tax them too  much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may  not show up anymore.In fact, they might start drinking  overseas, where the atmosphere is somewhat  friendlier.We need to reduce  the amount of Tax we pay particularly the amount paid by investors local and foreign,industry and other job creators

For those who understand, no explanation  is needed.For those who do not understand, no  explanation is  possible.The Tax brackets maybe slightly off but the concept is the same

X-Men: First Class Review & Edi Gathegi As Darwin

In 1962, at the height of the Cold War, two men from different backgrounds pool their resources to bring attention to the plight of those with genetic mutations, some that give them extraordinary powers, others that make them look different. Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is an academic in genetic mutations, while Erik Lehnsherr (Mike Fassbender) is a Holocaust survivor bent on getting revenge against those responsible for his parents’ death in the concentration camps. In particular, he’s after Klaus Schmidt (Kevin Bacon) who years later has turned up as a wealthy power broker known as Sebastian Shaw, who has become involved with playing both sides of the conflict between the United States and the Soviets.

Fans of Bryan Singer’s work to bring Marvel’s not-so-merry mutants to the big screen should be thrilled by his return to the franchise, this time overseeing the prequel as a producer while allowing “Kick-Ass” director Matthew Vaughn to bring his own creative personality to the mix. Together, they’ve created a movie that fits well into the context of the other films without worrying so much about continuity, making for a satisfying prequel.

This is a true origin story showing how Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr first met and how they worked together until the formation of their divergent ideologies led them to create warring mutant factions. In his movies, Singer used mutants as an analogy for the persecution of homosexuals, but here they’re thrown into the context of the Cuban Missile Crisis and impending Space Race between the US and the Soviet Union with the government playing just as an important part as Charles tries to work with them to find and train mutants. There is a certain feel and language Singer created in the original “X-Men” in 2000 that helped set the standard for all the superhero movies that have come since then, and Vaughn thrives in the prequel’s 1962 setting to create something that incorporates influences ranging from James Bond to “Mad Men” to “Dr. Strangelove.”

The first half hour cuts between Charles and Erik each making their way in this world following their early epiphanies, Erik essentially turning into “Erik Lensherr: Nazi Hunter,” as his anger drives him to violence in order to find the man who killed his mother, while Charles focuses on his studies to become a professor of genetics.

Casting for any comic book movie is crucial and Vaughn could not have done much better than having James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender playing the roles made famous by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. There’s little question that the conflict between Professor X and Magneto is the core both of the comics and earlier movies, and the rapport between McAvoy and Fassbender is certainly on par. McAvoy brings a great deal of charm to the table showing younger Xavier to be more of the ladies’ man we’ve seen in the comics; Fassbender oozes a far more dangerous “bad boy” energy, as he turns to Charles to help control his anger-driven magnetic powers. The way this relationship is established and evolves over the course of “First Class” is absolutely perfect, and the thought of seeing Magneto when he was still young and vibrant plays a large part in what makes this such a strong reboot (of sorts). (It’s fun to watch Fassbender’s mastery of languages, but it’s unclear why a Polish Jewish immigrant would have a British accent… or an Irish one, as Fassbender’s own accent sometimes slips in.)

Another revelation in casting is Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkholme aka Mystique, Charles’ earliest mutant discovery and childhood friend who plays an enormous role in the division of the friends. Lawrence is a stronger actor than Rebecca Romijn, so we can actually see her transform from a fairly innocent teenager to the seductress she’ll later become. The fourth cog in the wheel is Nicholas Hoult as Dr. Hank McCoy, not quite in his blue and furry phase just yet, but he is already the group’s genius inventing things like early incarnations of Cerebro and the Blackbird. Hank adds an intriguing dynamic to the love triangle because Raven finds a kindred spirit in a mutant who must hide his mutation to be accepted. This subplot introduces the early vestiges of McCoy trying to find a cure for mutation, a brilliant tease for some of the comic storylines as well as the main plot of “The Last Stand.” The casting works well because you can truly believe these are the four characters that will go on to be the ones in Bryan Singer and Brett Ratner’s movies.

I wasn’t as thrilled by Kevin Bacon’s portrayal of Sebastian Shaw, maybe because other than his powers, he’s nothing like the character from the comics and more like a stock comic book villain. Likewise, January Jones gives a fairly lifeless performance as Emma Frost, though her deliberately cold delivery may be what’s necessary for the character. Jason Flemyng’s Azazel has cool teleportation powers that will appeal to fans of Nightcrawler – it’s not a coincidence but who knows if they can connect the two characters with what’s been established in this movie?

On the other hand, creating a connection between Shaw and Magneto by having the former being the Nazi who killed Erik’s mother doesn’t make a lot of sense, especially once Shaw shows up with no accent and with mutant abilities that were nowhere to be found during his earlier scene. It makes you wonder why bother including the Hellfire Club in there at all, because here, they’re just another group of mutants with none of what makes the group so distinctive in the comics.

At times, the movie tends to drag, because it takes so long to get to the part most X-Men fans will be waiting to see, which is Charles and Erik joining forces to assemble and train the first team of young mutants. Due to decisions made in earlier films, the movie X-Men are already a mish-mash of characters and storylines from the comic books, and “First Class” follows suit, pulling together mutants from all fifty odd years of the books, some more esoteric than the others. The two mutants that will bring comic fans the most thrills are Lucas Till as Havok and Caleb Landry Jones as Banshee, and they offer some of the best moments in an extended montage showing them learning to hone and control their powers. The decision to include Darwin and Angel (the Grant Morrison one) are both odd choices, especially since they’re characters who don’t seem that necessary to the story.

Oddly missing is the international diversity of the group that was so prominent in comics. Banshee isn’t Irish, for instance, nor is Rose Byrne’s Moira McTaggert Scottish. In fact, she isn’t even a genetic scientist, instead being the CIA agent who first discovers the existence of mutants and becomes Charles’ government liaison. Byrne’s character thrives in the first section of the movie when it’s all about secret agents and “Mad Men”-like settings, but she is almost forgotten once Charles and Erik join forces.

Despite introducing so many characters, Vaughn somehow manages to keep the story tightly focused using a slightly conventional structure broken up into four distinct sections. In fact, it’s fairly impressive what he’s created in terms of the scope of this world and the scale of the set pieces considering the comparatively short production window. With FX designed by John Dykstra, who performed similar duties on “Star Wars” and “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” they find cool ways of depicting the mutant powers with Emma Frost’s crystalline form being one of the few that just doesn’t look right. Even so, they do clever things to make what may seem like the more innocuous psychic powers of Frost and Charles Xavier interesting to make up for them not being as visual. Some of the practical make-up also looks a bit funky at times.

Placing the movie firmly in the early ’60s creates its own set of problems because none of the younger actors really look or act like kids of that era, instead bringing their own MTV-influenced teen angst to the movie. This is a fairly minor quibble, but it does show inconsistencies in Vaughn’s attempt at setting the story within a realistic historical context of the times, essentially building up to a reworking of the Bay of Pigs invasion to include a battle between the two groups of mutants.

The Bottom Line:
Fans of the comics may be confused by how disparate elements from the books have been tossed together, but fans of the movies should appreciate how Matthew Vaughn has established characters they love in a unique setting with a strong cast and set pieces just as big and impressive as the other movies. It may not quite reach the level of perfection of “X2,” but it does a far better job introducing the characters than Singer did in his first movie, and that alone is something worth commending.

Edi Gathegi as Armando Muñoz / Darwin

Edi Mue Gathegi (born March 10, 1979) is a Kenyan-American film, stage and television actor. He is best known for his recurring character Dr. Jeffrey Cole (aka “Big Love”) in the television series House, as Cheese in the 2007 film Gone Baby Gone and as Laurent in the films Twilight, its sequel The Twilight Saga: New Moon and Darwin in the new film X-Men: First Class.Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Gathegi grew up in Albany, California.As an undeclared undergraduate at the University of California, Santa Barbara, he was more interested in playing basketball and was good at it, until he injured his knee; This plunged him into a depression so he took up an acting class as an “easy course”. That is where he discovered his love for acting.Afterwards, he attended the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University for a graduate school acting program.Gathegi’s career began in theatre,and his stage credits include Two Trains Running at the Old Globe Theatre, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, Othello,A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Cyrano de Bergerac, among others.

Gathegi’s first professional role was the Haitian Cabbie in the 2006 film Crank. Though he had originally auditioned for the role of Kaylo, the producers gave the role to Efren Ramirez and instead offered Gathegi an appearance as the Haitian Cabbie. He was dubious at first about performing a Haitian accent, but was coached by a Haitian friend. In 2007, after guest-starring on Lincoln Heights and Veronica Mars, Gathegi went on to star as Bodie in Death Sentence, Darudi inThe Fifth Patient and Cheese in Gone Baby Gone. He later had a recurring role as Mormon intern Dr. Jeffrey Cole on the television medical drama House, and guest-starred on CSI: Miami, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Life on Mars in 2008 before being cast as Laurent in Twilight. When Gathegi first auditioned for the 2008 film, adapted from the same-titled first book in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, he had not heard of the series and was not aware that his character was a vampire.He now has read the whole series and calls himself a hardcore fan.He will play A-Guy in Son of Magnet. He portrays Eddie Willers in Atlas Shrugged (2011), based on Ayn Rand’s novel of the same name.

Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea PDF

Following are some other highlights from the report:


Somali rebel group al Shabaab earns money from taxation and extortion; commerce, trade and contraband; diaspora support and external assistance, the report said.The UN Monitoring group conservatively estimates that al Shabaab generates $70-$100 million a year from duties at ports, taxes on goods and services, taxes in kind on domestic products, “jihad contributions” and extortion.Al Shabaab also earns millions of dollars a month trading charcoal, sugar and other contraband. The trade cycle is dominated by Somali businessmen in Gulf Cooperation Council countries, notably Dubai, the report said.”In a very real sense, al Shabaab is becoming a business: a network of mutually supportive interests in Somalia, Kenya, the Middle East, and even further afield. Even businessmen who are not ideologically aligned with al Shabaab have little incentive to see the Islamists displaced by a predatory and corrupt Transitional Federal Government,” the report said.


Ethiopian troops entered Somalia in late 2006 to fight Islamist rebels holding the capital. Addis Ababa has supported the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia since it was established in 2004. It also supports authorities in Somaliland and Puntland, all eligible for help under UN resolutions.The report states that Ethiopia also supports the sufi militia Ahlu Sunna, and while this is a group that could be considered eligible for assistance, Addis Ababa has never sought authorization from the Security Council to do so.The Monitoring group also said that Ethiopian troops have frequently crossed into Somalia to help government troops and pro-government militias fight al Shabaab. In March, Ethiopian troops set up a base with Ahlu Sunna fighters inside Somalia.

“Whereas Ethiopian support for Somali security sector institutions should be addressed as a compliance issue within the context of Security Council resolution 1772 (2007), the presence of Ethiopian military forces on Somali soil constitutes a violation of the general and complete arms embargo on Somalia.


The report includes evidence that weapons and ammunition supplied to the African Union peacekeeping force in Mogadishu, known as AMISOM, are sold on the capital’s main Bakara Market, which is in an area controlled by al Shabaab.”Diversion of arms and ammunition from the Transitional Federal Government and its affiliated militias has been another significant source of supply to arms dealers in Mogadishu, and by extension to al Shabaab,” the report said.”Of the 11 varieties of ammunition observed in Bakara market, 8 bore the same lot number as those found in AMISOM ammunition stocks. Moreover, among the six varieties of ammunition seized from Al-Shabaab, four were of the same lot number as AMISOM ammunition.”The study of the weapons was carried out between January and April 2011.


The report states that a group of fighters from the Ethiopian rebel group, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), captured in Ethiopia in September 2010 had weapons originally supplied to Eritrea by Bulgaria.Rocket-propelled grenades seized by the Ethiopian authorities were assembled in Bulgaria in 1990-1991. Bulgaria confirmed they were part of a consignment sent from Port Bourgas, Bulgaria, to Eritrea in March 1999. The end user certificate is included in the report.UN investigators questioned the captured ONLF fighters. The ONLF rebels said they had been trained in Eritrea and deployed to Ethiopia via Somaliland.


A Lebanese-registered company called Saracen International has significantly violated a U.N. arms embargo on Somalia and represents a threat to peace and stability in the country, the UN report concludes.Between May 2010 and February 2011 Saracen provided military training and equipment and deployed armed, foreign security personnel on Somali territory. The report includes pictures of a Saracen base, vehicles and personnel in Bosasso, the main city in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland.”The most egregious violations of the arms embargo during the Monitoring Group’s current mandate were committed by the Hong Kong-registered company Southern Ace, and by the Lebanese-registered company Saracen International, together with affiliated companies registered in South Africa, Australia and Uganda,” the report said.”Saracen’s presence has increased tension in north-eastern Somalia because its operations are perceived as a military threat by Puntland’s neighbors, as well as by some parts of the Puntland population.

Full report:

Kenya Shilling Back On The Ropes

Kenya’s shilling is likely to fall against the dollar, and may even hit a new record low, after the central bank’s surprise decision this week to keep its main interest rate on hold at 6.25 percent despite galloping inflation.The import of more than 230,000 tonnes of maize at a cost of more than $100 million to ward off the worst effects of a food crisis in east Africa’s largest economy will also put pressure on the currency, traders said.”At the moment, all signs are that the shilling is on a downward trend against the dollar. We expect it to continue depreciating,” Solomon Alubala, head of trading at Co-operative Bank, said.At 1200 GMT, the shilling traded at 90.80/91.10 against the dollar, weaker than last Thursday’s close of 89.95/90.05 and closing in on a record low of 91.90 plumbed on June 22.

Even though it expressed concerned about inflationary pressures, the central bank said on Wednesday it considered any further tightening of monetary policy counter-productive.”If you do maintain a low interest rate regime, then you would expect depreciation of the currency,” Alubala said. “For now I think we’ll look to 92.1. It will attempt to touch the year’s highs,” Alubala said.The end of the month typically sees elevated dollar demand, putting further pressure on the currency.The only respite might come from revenues from tourism, which is now at peak-season, although early bookings mean some of those flows may already have been accounted for.

“We expect some compensation from the tourism sector so I really don’t see a weaker or strengthening shilling. I see it in a range of 90.30/91.30,” said Kennedy Butiko, deputy head of treasury.