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Meet the British Woman behind some of the most fiery Uhuru speeches as presidential candidate

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A high-profile Brexiteer and Member of the European Parliament has admitted that she secretly worked for Cambridge Analytica in the 2017 election campaign in Kenya.

Brexit Party MEP Alexandra Phillips made the admission to the UK’s Channel 4 News after initially denying any involvement with the disgraced data firm, and pressuring journalists to drop the story.

BACKTRACKED

She backtracked only after Channel 4 News obtained a recording of an interview from 2017 in which she confirms she had been “employed by Cambridge Analytica to work for Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta”.

Cambridge Analytica, created around 2013 with an initial focus on the US elections, denies meddling in the 2017 Kenya polls, even though Mr Mark Turnbull, then MD of the firm, had been quoted by CNBC as saying they “rebranded the entire (Jubilee) party twice, wrote their manifesto, and conducted two rounds of 50,000 (participant) surveys”.

The admission by Ms Phillips will further dent the digital marketing firm’s controversial image.

In a statement released to Channel 4 News, Ms Phillips admitted working for SCL, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, on President Kenyatta’s re-election campaign.

“In Kenya, I worked as a freelance contractor – focusing on speech writing – with the team of President Kenyatta. This work was sub-contracted out to me by SCL, which went on to become a different company,” she said.

Cambridge Analytica was exposed by an undercover Channel 4 News investigation last year in which company bosses were filmed boasting of dirty tricks and influencing elections across the world.

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They were caught bragging about smear campaigns, bribing politicians, and seeding “unattributable, untrackable” propaganda onto the internet in a bid to sway campaigns for clients.

MISINFORMATION

The 2017 poll was marred by misinformation, with fake news spread across the country via the internet and on smartphones. Mr Kenyatta’s opponent Raila Odinga was smeared with a series of viral videos, including one notoriously depicting apocalyptic scenes if he were to emerge victorious.

No one in Kenya seemingly knew who was behind the video. Cambridge Analytica denied any involvement with the content, and any role in negative political campaigning in Kenya. But a few months after the election, Mr Odinga accused the firm of tarnishing his name, and even threatened to sue it and Facebook for “devilish propaganda”.

“I have been a victim of fake news. The international community has failed to rein them in,” Mr Odinga told participants in an address at Chatham House in the UK.

“I am disappointed that Facebook agreed to cooperate in this clandestine enterprise… we are actually contemplating legal action.”

“Cambridge Analytica was running a platform you would see my picture with very negative stories every time you opened a page. Once the campaigns were over, you could not see those pages, making it difficult to seek legal redress.”

Mr Kenyatta came to power in 2013 and won a second and final term in 2018, defeating Mr Odinga by 1.4 million votes. The Supreme Court nullified the vote, citing procedural irregularities, and ordered a second election.

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HEFTY FINE

Facebook already faces a Sh500 billion fine in the US over the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved the hefty fine, which needs approval from the Justice Department. Since March 2018, FTC has been investigating allegations of the political consultancy firm improperly obtaining data of up to 87 million Facebook users. If approved, the fine will be the biggest penalty against a technology company by the federal government. In 2012, Google was fined Sh2.2 billion for privacy violation.

When initially questioned by Channel 4 News on camera, Ms Phillips denied working for Cambridge Analytica or even knowing anyone on its political campaign team.

“I didn’t work for them at all. That’s libellous,” she said. “I’m being very serious now. You’re actually propagating a load of misinformation that’s been put online…based on nothing,” she said.

“If you want to talk about the Cambridge Analytica campaign, speak to them, not me. I don’t know them. I really don’t know the people.”

Ms Phillips pressured the journalists to drop the story, before calling her lawyers.

“And if you use this online, it’s going to be very difficult. And actually, please don’t pursue that because there’s going to be a lot of things that might be happening over the next weeks… months…which is going to make life very difficult. I’m being serious. I’ve never been employed by Cambridge Analytica in my life,” she threatened.

However, Channel 4 News obtained an audio recording of an interview from 2017 in which Ms Phillips told how she was secretly employed by Cambridge Analytica to work for Mr Kenyatta’s Jubilee party.

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‘AIR HOSTESS’

“I’ve not been able to speak to you because I’ve been under my contract, which finished yesterday,” she says in the recording.

“So now I’m able to talk. But whilst I’m under contract with Cambridge Analytica, if they’d found that I’d spoken to a journalist about them, then, you know what I mean non-disclosure agreements and all the rest of it? I wasn’t working for Jubilee. I was employed by Cambridge Analytica, who had the contract with Jubilee.”

“I was brought on as a political communications consultant for the Kenya project. I’d be writing the President’s speeches and his talking points for rallies and State House statements. I trained their communications team; they’re all sort of journalists who came together to create a press office, so I had to train them.”

She said the work was so sensitive that she was told if anyone asked what she was doing in the country, she must tell them she was working as an air hostess.

In the interview, Ms Phillips also said the contract was valued at £300,000 (about Sh3.8 million) a month, and would add up to around $6 million (Sh600 million).

In a statement released to Channel 4 News last night, Phillips said: “Out of respect for those whom I served, I will continue to respect the confidentiality agreements that I signed upon accepting the role in Kenya. And I will not be bullied by agenda-driven, guilt-by-association reporting.”

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Uhuru announces end of public commemoration of his father’s death

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President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday announced the end of a 41-year-old tradition that was upheld by former President Daniel Arap Moi and his predecessor, the third President Mwai Kibaki.

President Kenyatta declared an end to public observation of August 22, as the day Kenya’s founding President, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta died.

The President stated that the decision had been arrived at following consultations with the larger Kenyatta family.

President Uhuru spoke while accompanied  by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta during the laying of a wreath at the mausoleum of  Mzee Kenyatta as part of activities to commemorate the 41st anniversary since his death in 1978. Present too was Deputy President, William Ruto.

More to follow…

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Reprieve for families in Ethiopian Airlines crash as renowned US lawyer takes up case 

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Kenya was the worst hit when Ethiopian Airlines plane Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed near the town of Bishoftu on 10th March 2019 killing all 157 passengers on board. A total of 32 Kenyans died in that crash, making Kenya the most affected country.

It has been five months since the deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash, affected families have been locked in a legal tussle with US plane manufacturer Boeing for close to half a year now.

Families who lost their kin in the deadly crash can now breathe a sigh of relief as renowned US-based lawyer Manuel von Ribbeck has filed additional lawsuits against Boeing.

For starters, Manuel von Ribbeck is a lawyer who focuses on representing victims of catastrophic incidents, including aviation disasters from human or mechanical errors.

Manuel von Ribbeck (left)Manuel von Ribbeck (left)

Lion Air

Ribbeck is basically the hope of many aircraft accident victims throughout the world. He also represented families who lost their kin in Indonesian carrier – Lion Air Flight 610, which is the same model with Ethiopian Airlines plane Boeing 737 MAX 8. The October 29th 2018 Lion Air crash killed all 189 passengers and crew on board.

Ribbeck’s law firm – Ribbeck Law Chartered and its co-counsels Global Aviation Law Group and Igeria and Ngugi Advocates filed additional lawsuits against Boeing in the case involving Ethiopian Airlines plane crash.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: New Chinese ambassador to Kenya presents her credentials to Uhuru

A total of 66 affected family members are seeking $1 billion/Ksh 100 billion in compensation for damages from the American plane manufacturer.

The renowned lawyer seeks to consolidate the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines cases if no settlement is reached soon for his clients. The law firms argue that consolidating the two cases will solve the issue of contradicting orders if the cases are handled by different judges.

By Ghafla

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Catholic doctors oppose cervical cancer vaccination

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The government is set to roll out mass vaccination of girls against cervical cancer in two weeks, even as doctors affiliated to the Catholic Church have contested the move citing a myriad of health complications.

The Ministry of Health will give 10-year-old girls two free doses of the vaccine against the cancer-causing human papilloma virus (HPV), six months apart, at about 9,000 public, private and faith-based facilities countrywide.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends vaccination of all girls and screening, at least once every year, for older women to reduce cancer risk, and the vaccine is most effective when administered between the ages of nine and 14.

There are about 100 types of HPV, of which at least 14 cause cancer. Two HPV types (16 and 18) cause 70 per cent of cervical cancers and cervical lesions.

The ministry met its partners Tuesday morning in preparation for the HPV national roll-out and to touch base on the local cancer landscape.

“The HPV vaccine is an extraordinary vaccine. It is the most effective means of preventing cervical cancer and is very safe. I am also a father of girls and all of them have received the vaccine. By vaccinating our girls against HPV we are preventing the disease for life. They will be able to grow, live up to their full potential and prosper,” said WHO Kenya Rep Dr Rudi Eggers, during the briefing.

MoH targets to reduce cases of cancer of the cervix — the second most common in Kenya after breast cancer, according to recent statistics released by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

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The disease claims about seven women in Kenya every day, about 3,000 per year, according to statistics from the MoH.

There are about 40,000 new cervical cancer cases annually. Globally, it is the fourth most frequent cancer in women.

“It is unfortunate that we lose seven women to cancer every day. This is preventable through vaccination. If you prevent HPV infection then you can prevent cervical cancer,” said the Ministry of Health Head of Immunisation, Dr Collins Tabu, during the stakeholders meeting held Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the Kenya Catholic Doctors Association (KCDA), in a 19-page document, questioned the decision to have 10-year-old girls vaccinated against HPV.

The doctors said their objection to the roll-out of the vaccine was backed by “studies” that indicated that the HPV vaccine was harmful to humans. “At 10 years, our children are not sexually active. They are not at risk of contracting HPV or other STDs. This applies also to other individuals who are not sexually active. It also includes those who are sexually active but faithful to their partners,” said the KCDA chairman, Dr Stephen Karanja, in the statement.

“It therefore makes neither logical nor scientific sense to expose children to a vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease that they are not at risk of contracting. These children must be protected by everyone including the government from promiscuity and helped to remain chaste.”

Top health experts, however, termed the claims “sensational and unfounded.” Kenyatta National Hospital’s (KNH) top gynaecologist and surgeon Dr Alfred Mokomba said past clinical researches showed that the vaccine was effective and safe for use on children.

He said the vaccine was a preventive measure and was cheaper than cancer treatment, and would bring down the local cancer burden.

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“The work of a vaccine is to provide cushion before exposure and that is how they work better-because the body builds up defence against the virus. I have taken my daughters for the vaccination; it is safe. Those opposed have no case at all, they need to come up with better evidence to show the risks,” he said.

“What we know so far is that the vaccine provides 90 per cent defence against cervical cancer. Two researches conducted at the KNH showed that the HPV vaccine was effective in dealing with the HPV types 16 and 18 virus — the common causes of cervical cancer locally,” added Dr Mokomba.

According to the Catholic doctors, the virus, like sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), affected those “whose lifestyle involves irresponsible sexual behaviours”.

They, therefore, recommend that the government should ensure parents are empowered to “protect their children from contamination socially, mentally, spiritually, and physically from a world full of pornography.

“STDs are diseases of behaviour. When people of whatever age respect sexual discipline, chastity, abstinence and faithfulness in marriage, they are not at risk of contracting STDs and other diseases of perversity. These behaviours are the universal pillars of prevention of STDs, not vaccines,” said Dr Karanja. However, Mr David Makumi, the vice-chairman of Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance of Kenya and patron Oncology Nurses (Kenya), said the KCDA’s claims were not backed by facts and that they did not represent every Catholic’s position.

“We have a golden opportunity and if we can fix this then we will have done a great job. We owe it to our children,” said Mr Makumi. Rumours of potential harm from vaccines are not new and continue to spread even as scientists refute the claims. Locally, select groups affiliated to the Catholic Church have in the past opposed polio and tetanus vaccination drives. In all instances, the government has carried on with its plans. However, a number of people fail to take their children for vaccination for fear of the “risks” pointed out by the church — which is an authority — putting others in danger.

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Mistrust in vaccines, for instance in America, has led to the worst Measles outbreak in 25 years.

As Kenya targets girls with the HPV vaccine, countries like Australia are also targeting boys to totally wipe-out the circulation of the cancer causing virus from its population.

Since HPV is transmitted sexually, vaccinating boys works in reducing its circulation of the virus linked to five per cent of cancers.

It is also a preventive measure for penile, anal and genital cancers and those of the head and neck.

Multiple studies in Australia indicate that the HPV vaccine has proven sufficient in providing protection. Australia’s Cervical Cancer screening programs ambitious plan includes wiping out cervical cancer by 2035.

Cost and access remains the greatest impediments towards early screening and treatment of cancer in Kenya to date.

Screening cost from about Sh3,000. Treatment too is costly with charges ranging Sh172,000 ($1,720) to Sh759,000 ($7,590) to treat cervical cancer without surgery in Kenya and Sh672,000 ($6,720) to Sh1.2 million ($12,500) if an operation is carried out, says the National Cancer Control Programme

by nation.co.ke

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