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Beto and Ted — Who’s Ahead? – Opinion –




Ted Cruz versus Beto O’Rourke! In verbal combat! Yes, people, we just had the first big debate of the election season.

The super-cool El Paso congressman versus the U.S. senator so unbeloved that his own party is moaning about the likability problem.

Challenged to say something nice about his opponent, O’Rourke praised Cruz for his hard work, and thanked him for his public service. In response, Cruz said O’Rourke was “absolutely sincere” and compared him to that socialist Bernie Sanders.

And so it goes.

No one had really anticipated the Texas race would be a contest — the Democrats haven’t had a senator there since the year Britney Spears joined the Mickey Mouse Club.

But O’Rourke has way overachieved expectations. He’s raised tons more money than Cruz, and none whatsoever from PACs. While the polls are all over the place, some have shown him closing in fast.

During the first minute of the debate, O’Rourke managed to point out that he’d visited all 254 Texas counties during his campaign. (Hitting every single county at least once is a classic political ploy, but try doing it in Texas.) He was, inevitably, asked about a drunken-driving arrest in his past and managed to veer into both a salute to his family and a tribute to second chances.

Cruz has a long experience as a debater, and Republicans are generally cheered when he gets out of their faces and onto the podium. On Friday he pushed very hard on gun rights — he staunchly took a stand that no Texan should be “shot and killed in their own home.” When O’Rourke talked about the danger of assault weapons, Cruz said the real problem was “removing God from the public square.”

Whatever else you feel, you’d have to admit this race has been darned interesting. Beside the normal fights over guns and health care and immigration, at one point the Cruz campaign called O’Rourke a “Triple Meat Whataburger liberal who is out of touch with Texas values.” The state is still not entirely clear on what that means. Whataburger is a popular fast-food chain, and it seemed a lot like announcing your opponent was a left-wing Big Mac.

O’Rourke responded by eating a Whataburger and then skateboarding around the restaurant parking lot. We definitely need more of this kind of cheery diversion in politics. People are already talking about a presidential run if he wins. Actually, Beto is so hot that people are speculating about a presidential run if he loses.

Immigration was naturally a big issue in the debate; O’Rourke defended the Dreamers while Cruz implied that his opponent loved illegal immigrants more than Texans. It will be interesting to see how this all pans out in November. Outsiders tend to underestimate Texans’ rationality on the subject. You may be shocked to hear that most of them want well-trained border guards who do not separate children from their mothers. Also, they aren’t necessarily crazy about having a monster wall in the backyard.

The debate, unfortunately, did not get around to the first-name flap: When O’Rourke won the nomination in March, Cruz instantly ran a radio ad claiming “liberal Robert” had changed his name to Beto for political purposes.

Inquiring minds quickly noted that Cruz had morphed his own name from Rafael Edward to Ted.


Cruz’s explanation was to remind the world that he was “the son of Rafael Cruz, an immigrant from Cuba who came to Texas with nothing and had $100 in his underwear.”

Not precisely to the point. But the underwear story has always been a staple in Cruz’s political career. Less often mentioned is the fact that Dad actually emigrated from Cuba to Texas to Canada, where little Rafael/Ted was born.

Ethnic politics in Texas is very important, and in this race we have a non-Hispanic Democrat who was born near the Mexican border and was called Beto as a kid. Running against a Cuban-Canadian with an Anglo nickname. Only one of them speaks fluent Spanish, and it is not the one whose father had $100 in his skivvies.

Republicans have complained for years about how irritating they find Cruz. Do you remember when Lindsey Graham said that if Ted Cruz was murdered on the floor of the Senate “and the trial was in the Senate, nobody could convict you?” But that was long ago, before the party had to protect a 51-49 majority. Right now, if Attila the Hun was their candidate they’d be running ads about his great skills in horsemanship.

Cruz, you’ll recall, ran for president in 2016, against a “sniveling coward” named Donald Trump, who insulted Cruz’s wife and claimed his father was connected to the Kennedy assassination. Now all that’s all forgotten. Well, at least ignored.

“I have worked hand in hand with the president on substance,” Cruz said during the debate, veering very quickly into tax cuts and an argument that holding a grudge would be “selfish.”

Meanwhile, Trump is promising to hold a big rally for Cruz in October. And he dispatched Ivanka to tour the space center in Houston with the senator.

Imagine spending the week listening to your father trash Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser and discussing the future of space exploration with Ted Cruz. Sometimes you have to feel sorry for Ivanka. Even if she does refer to herself as The First Daughter.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

Gail Collins © 2018 The New York Times



Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’




Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –




Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised


“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard




Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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