Author Ben Carson sets sight on US presidency

Renowned neurosurgeon and author, Dr Ben Carson. PHOTO | FILE

Renowned neurosurgeon and author, Dr Ben Carson. PHOTO | FILE

Renowned neurosurgeon and author, Dr Ben Carson, has indicated he is planning to run for the US Presidency when President Obama’s term come to an end in 2016.

Dr Carson, who became popular for his widely read books, Think Big andGifted Hands, indicated on Monday that his chances of vying for the most powerful office in the land were “reasonably good.”

Dr Carson, now 62, has been credited with separating the first conjoined twins at the head and his entrance in politics would be a vital turnaround for the respected neurosurgeon who retired from the theatre last year.

Speculations have been rife about the possibility of Dr Carson following in the footsteps of President Obama, the first black US President to run and win the presidential race.

But until Monday, Dr Carson had not come out clean on the possibility of him joining politics.


Although he has not revealed which party he will run on, the Republican Party could be his destination considering his conservative connections.


While talking to the ‘The Hugh Hewitt Show’, Dr Carson made clear that there was a high possibility he will be in the race. The radio show is broadcast in the state of California by more than 75 radio stations.

When asked by Mr Hugh Hewitt, the host of the show, on the likelihood of him vying, Dr Carson replied:

“I think the chances are reasonably good of that happening. I’m waiting for a few more months. I want to make sure that it’s clearly something my fellow Americans want me to do. And I’m also waiting to see what the results are in November, because if the people indicate that they truly do want a nation that is for, of and by the people, then I, along with many other people, would be willing to give it everything we possibly have.”

Dr Carson has, however, said he will not make an official statement before May 2015. But there is already a Facebook account, ‘Dr Ben Carson for President’, in support of his ambitions.

The two books were popular in the 1990s and at the beginning of the millennium. Other than the two, he has other four bestsellers.

Dr Carson was credited with being the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins joined at the head in 1987. In 2008, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush.

At 33, he became the youngest director at Johns Hopkins hospital, when he was appointed Director of Paediatric Neurosurgery. He was also a co-director of the Johns Hopkins Craniofacial Center. He has since retired from the theatre.

Ben Carson
Ben Carson by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg

Carson speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2014.
Born Benjamin Solomon Carson
September 18, 1951 (age 63)
Detroit, Michigan, United States
Fields Pediatric Neurosurgery
Institutions Johns Hopkins Hospital
Alma mater Yale University (B.S.)
University of Michigan (M.D.)
Known for Separation of conjoined twins
Conservative political commentary
Notable awards Presidential Medal of Freedom(2008)
Spouse Candy Carson (m. 1975)
Children 3 sons:

Benjamin SolomonBenCarson Sr. (born September 18, 1951) is an American author and retired neurosurgeon. He is credited with being the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins joined at the head. In 2008 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by PresidentGeorge W. Bush. After delivering a widely publicized speech at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, he became a popular conservative figure in political media for his views on social and political issues, spurring talk of his becoming a Republican candidate for the 2016 presidential election.

Early life

Carson was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Sonya (née Copeland), a Seventh-day Adventist, and Robert Solomon Carson, a Baptist Minister. His parents were both from rural Georgia. When he was 8 years old, his parents divorced and he and his 10-year-old brother, Curtis, were raised by their mother. He attended Southwestern High School in Southwest Detroit and graduated from Yale University, where he majored in pre-med with a minor in psychology. He received his M.D. from the University of Michigan Medical School.

Awards and honors

Carson is a member of the American Academy of Achievement, and the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans. In 2000 he received the Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards. In 2008 the White House awarded Carson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. In 2010, he was elected into the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine. Carson has been awarded 38 honorary doctorate degrees and dozens of national merit citations.

By ochiengxavier Posted in Bloggs

Garbage collector ventures into plastic recycling business


Mr Jared Okong’o at his garbage collection centre in Kisumu town last week. He bought and installed a Sh800,000 plastic waste crusher at the premises. PHOTO | JACOB OWITI | NATION MEDIA GROUP


  • Despite many challenges, the venture has grown to create employment opportunities as well as help keep Kisumu clean.

Leaving the tedious garbage collector’s job at the City Council of Nairobi turned out to be the greatest decision in Jared Okong’o’s life. The decision opened his eyes to the great wealth that lies in waste collection, particularly in recycling plastics.

The decision, he said, was driven by tough working conditions which pushed him into considering turning garbage into a worthwhile investment. Mr Okong’o said he does not regret quitting the job.

After a short stint at a plastic recycling plant in Nairobi, in 2010 Mr Okong’o, 35, acquired a site near Kibuye open air market in Kisumu town and recruited garbage collectors from among street children. Despite many challenges, the venture has grown to create employment opportunities as well as help keep Kisumu clean.

“My former boss, who hired me at Premier Industries after I left the city council job, taught me that one can make money from the trade. ‘‘I travelled to Kisumu to seek ways of exploiting the opportunity,” he said.

Mr Okong’o said that he rented land on which he installed electricity and set up a collection centre. “I spent more than Sh200,000 from my savings on the venture and recruited 10 street boys to collect plastic refuse for me.” He pays them Sh15 per kilo of recyclable plastic.

After realising that transporting bulky raw waste all the way to Nairobi for processing was too expensive, Mr Okong’o bought a crusher at Sh800,000.

“Over time it became difficult to hire vehicles to transport raw materials to Nairobi. I made losses from rejected products, too, so I decided to buy a crusher which has enabled me to save on space for storage and make money.” He now packs the waste in guinea bags which are transported to plants in Nairobi’s Industrial Area and processed into buckets, troughs, water tanks and other products.

He now employs more than 20 people at his yard. “I have also recruited agents in some parts of Kisumu, Kakamega, Luanda, Kisii, Kericho and Oyugis towns. Each collects more than a tonne of raw plastics per day,” he told the Business Daily.

Kisumu town has turned out to be a viable centre for Mr Okong’o’s venture since its high population has boosted consumption of items bottled in the raw materials that drive his trade. He plans to acquire a larger piece of land and expand his business.

“I am ready for expansion. With bigger space, I can set up a recycling plant with more sophisticated machinery,” he said. He crushes more than 40 tonnes of plastic per month which is sold to various companies in Nairobi and Kisumu.

Unstable demand and poor payment by companies are some of the challenges he faces. Mr Okong’o said that his monthly salary is between Sh30,000 and Sh40,000. “The venture has enabled me to pay school fees and maintain three of my siblings in secondary school. I hope bank lending rates will come down so small scale traders like me can access to loans and expand.”

He also complained that small enterprises were yet to benefit from government programmes such as the Youth Enterprise Development Fund. The money should be given to traders, he said, adding that the requirement that entrepreneurs should seek loans through groups was a stumbling block.

Members of the National Assembly’s Committee on Implementation, while on a visit to his yard in August, urged Mr Okong’o to seek funds from alternative lenders.

Think outside the box

“We ask young people who are engaged in entrepreneurship to think outside the box while seeking money to grow their businesses,” said Mr David Gikaria, vice chairman of the committee, when it visited Kisumu on a fact finding mission on challenges to waste management.

Mr Gikaria said that creating a suitable environment for doing business was key to expanding job opportunities through self-employment. “The cost of electricity has been cited by a number of traders such as Mr Okong’o as a barrier to business growth. Our government must think on how to integrate them in programmes which can boost their funding base,” he said.

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Even with Mr Okong’o’s efforts, management of solid waste still remains a big problem for urban centres in Kenya. County governments, charged with the responsibility of cleaning up towns, lack capacity to manage waste yet experts say there are a lot of benefits from waste, including energy.

By ochiengxavier Posted in Bloggs

Is Abbas’s UN trip Israel’s last hope for peace?

Declining support from Palestinians and Hamas put pressure on PA leader’s trip to UN General Assembly.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will arrive in New York for the United Nations General Assembly and is expected set a time limit for Israel to withdraw from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, in exchange for a peace deal.

It is the latest example of Abbas’s attempt to seek international recognition for a Palestinian state, after US-brokered peace talks failed to achieve any progress.

“President Abbas has a tough mission ahead of him and he is going to be facing some serious obstacles from the United States and its allies in Europe and from Israel,” Palestinian journalist Maher Abu Khater told The Media Line.
Abbas at UN General Assembly (Photo: EPA)
Abbas at UN General Assembly (Photo: EPA)

Since he took office in 2005, he says Abbas has become frustrated with negotiations with Israel. “His only choice is to try this new avenue, the United Nations, with the hope that he may be able to sway the vote in his favor,” he said.

Earlier last week, Abbas said Palestinians would continue their resistance and struggle in all legal ways and international conventions.

“We will head to the Security Council to present our cause and find a solution to our people who seek freedom and a state with east Jerusalem as its capital,” Abbas said, adding that if this fails, he plans to join all international agencies and treaties.

Prior to the outbreak of this summer’s war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, the Palestinian Authority joined 15 UN organizations, namely in a bid to get Israel held accountable for possible war crimes at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Herzog and Abbas in Ramallah
Herzog and Abbas in Ramallah

The Israeli Foreign Ministry strongly disapproves of Abbas going to the UN saying that the only way to achieve substantive progress is through bilateral talks.

“A unilateral strategy of Palestinians has not brought them any results until now and there is no reason to suppose it will bring results in the future,” Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told The Media Line.

He also says that Israel still believes peace with the Palestinians is possible.

“The only way to achieve peace is through negotiation and compromise and not by evading the tough issues by going to international bodies,” he said, not elaborating on what the ‘tough issues’ are.

Abbas adviser and Deputy Secretary General of the Fatah Revolutionary Council Dr. Sabri Saidam says Israel should be the last state to talk about unilateral actions.

“Maintaining the longest occupation in modern times is a unilateral Israeli oppressive decision, so a unilateral reflection of dismay and wish to solicit UN support should be seen as a natural protest against decades of oppression,” he wrote to The Media Line in an email.

The United States has said it would use its veto in the Security Council against what is it also considers a “unilateral move.” Two years ago, the UN General Assembly granted “Palestine” the status of non-member observer state after Washington vetoed his petition at the Security Council.

Journalist Abu Khater says Abbas is a deep believer in non-violence, and wants a peaceful solution with Israel.
Abbas and Netanyahu in Washington, DC (Photo: Getty Images)
Abbas and Netanyahu in Washington, DC (Photo: Getty Images)

“When he took office, he took a very strong stance against militants, lawlessness until he was able to restore law and order to the West Bank because Abbas knows that lawlessness is not the way to liberate Palestine,” he said.

But he says he thinks Israel is becoming more of a rejectionist to peace than before because it keeps putting demands on the Palestinians that are difficult to meet.

By refusing to show any flexibility on issues, like the future of Jerusalem and Israeli control of the Jordan Valley and wanting to keep its army on the borders and control airspace, he says Israel will never allow the Palestinians to have a sovereign state. “I don’t think there is much more that Abbas can do. If Israel cannot make peace with President Abbas, I’m not sure who else can make peace with it,” he said.

Director of One Voice movement in Gaza, Ezzedine Masri agrees.

One Voice movement is an international movement with an objective of ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict based on the vision of two states for two peoples.

“Unfortunately, he did not get his chance. He’s the best thing that’s happened to the Palestinian peace camp. We have Nelson Mandela, and the Palestinian side, but on the Israeli side, there is no Frederick De Klerk and we are waiting for that,” he said, comparing Israel to South Africa.

At the same time, Abbas is unable to reassert control over Gaza, where 1.8 million Palestinians live. Gaza reconstruction will cost billions of dollars and the international community is unlikely to come up with the money if Hamas remains in control there. Abbas is finding it difficult to get Hamas to agree to disarm in order to allow his presidential guard to return to the Gaza Strip. A unity government formed earlier this year has so far failed to make any changes on the ground.

While unifying the Palestinian security forces was a key item on the agenda of the consensus government, it has yet to be addressed. The lack of support the Palestinian Authority President is facing is not giving Abbas the vote of confidence he needs to take on Hamas.

During the war, popularity ratings for the PA chairman dropped while Hamas’ popularity soared. Abbas was seen among many as keeping too low a profile despite his formation of a negotiations team compromised of Fatah and other parties to work out an Egyptian mediated cease-fire deal with Israel.

“So unless something happens in the peace process with Israel, with declaring a Palestinian state, I think Abbas’ popularity will remain low,” said Abu Khater.

Political analyst George Jaqaman shares those sentiments, saying the PA is under a great deal of pressure from its people and therefore results in New York are a must. He talks of a “political vacuum.” The lack of talks between the sides is dangerous for the Palestinian leadership’s reputation. “It raises the question of legitimacy of the existence to administer Palestinians without gaining sovereignty,” he told The Media Line.

PLO Executive Committee Secretary General Yasser Abedrabbo told journalists this week that Palestinian unity provides political strength to break the political siege both between Hamas and Fatah, and between Israel and the PA. “There is an opportunity now, after the war. Hamas is more pragmatic than before,” he said.

Article written by Abdullah H. Erakat.

Reprinted with permission from The Media Line .

By ochiengxavier Posted in Bloggs