Why Kenya Will Rout Al Shabaab Through Its Operation Linda Nchi.

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Why Kenya Will Rout Al Shabaab Through Its Operation Linda Nchi.




By Marcel Masaga.


I have been inadvertently drawn into this huge and seemingly raging debate in western liberal media and blogs that is predicting that Kenya's Army  is not up to the task of removing or neutralizing the Al Shaabab threat from Somalia. I wish to put the record straight in light of the facts at hand and to dispel this erroneous notion once and for all. 


God Bless Kenya.




First and foremost they liken Kenya's Operation Linda Nchi to the doomed American Invasion Operation Gothic Serpent  of the early 90's that resulted in the shooting down of Two Black Hawk helicopters and the killing of some 19 odd American Army Rangers as proof that Kenya, having a vastly less endowed Army will not fare any better.


 I want to dispel this wrong comparison once and for all, America at that time had a handful of soldiers numbering 160 combatants  intent on securing a city with more than 1 million "hostile inhabitants" intent on removing a popular warlord Farah Aideed and his Habr Gidr Clansmen from combat operations in the first battle of Mogadishu. In practical terms this was tantamount to a suicide mission, the Americans were outnumbered by a ratio of 1: 10,000, and they were fighting man-to-man in an urban setting of Mogadishu a city they were grossly unfamiliar with,  the odds were heavily stacked against them and their mission was doomed right from the word go.


Second America's intervention lacked one critical ingredient that Operation Linda Nchi has, namely the relative distances between Kenya and Somalia measured in hundreds of Kilometers vis the distance from the USA to Somalia measured in the thousands of kilometers. Therefore Kenya has immense flexibility in deciding the number of forces to deploy to the war front, it can deploy, in theory anywhere from a company to 75,000 soldiers (our entire armed forces) to the theater of combat by road, air and sea in under 72 hours anywhere in Southern Somalia. 


Therefore to compare these two outcomes the failed American adventurism Operation Gothic Serpent in  early 1993 and Operation Linda Nchi an evolving conflict and to base the former as a benchmark for the latter is not only illogical but is scientifically unsound to say anything but the least.It is similar to comparing the number of ants in Antarctica and the number of goats in Garissa and trying to draw a one-to-one co-relation between the two without any more information supplied to the model, which is a useless exercise.


History Is Not Good At Predicting Outliers.




Similar arguments are used with reference to Ethiopia's similarly failed mission in the mid 2000's to argue that Kenya will fail, the same argument as above suffices. Two Kenya is bearing the brunt of Al Shabaab as it has trained its nefarious eye on hapless Kenyan youth who it has recruited in its jihadist ministry. Therefore Kenya is at zero option but to engage these criminals wherever they are to safeguard its sovereignty, Kenya"s entry into this war is the Black Swan nobody had predicted but one which will have a very marked effect in the future direction of Somalia as a country . 


Three the Daadab Refugee Camp is unofficially Kenya's fourth largest city with 600, 000 inhabitants largely displaced from unstable Somalia. They are here largely due to the misadventures of outfits like Al Shabaab who have pushed them into our territory, therefore it follows logically that if we remove the factor, Al Shabaab, which is impeding the safe return of these somali peasants back to their farms not only will we dismantle Kenya's city number four but we will have rescued the livelihoods of our fellow human beings as good neighborliness dictates.


 Four, the quality of our intelligence on Al Shabaab operations and locations  within and without Somalia so far has been spot on which greatly enhances our tactical effectiveness in the war. And finally we have a written commitment and broad support from the Somali government and the "liberated" people of Somalia which significantly tips the odds in favor of Kenya's Operation Linda Nchi, we have won the heart and minds of the international community with IGAD pledging unconditional support, AMISOM pledging to increase its troop numbers in Somalia, Tanzania, Rwanda and South Africa supporting Kenya  in its drive to stabilize and pacify Somalia Pax Eterna.


Al Shabaab Have Woken Up A Sleeping Giant.



Heading To The War Front.




  Another argument being banded about which has become necessary to rebuff,  is the term that is being used with much abandon, inexperienced, when talking about the Kenya Army. This argument also needs to be shot out of the  water, it is a fact that our Armed Forces are among the top five  best trained professional forces in Africa. Our Armed Forces have won many accolades and have historically provided the bulk of troops in UN Peace Keeping missions from Yugoslavia to Sierra Leone.The fact that we have been to such missions has exposed our forces to sufficient experience in combat and pacifying a subdued populace. And for the record I have never heard of a National Defense College that exclusively teaches Peace Keeping in its curriculum, Armies are trained to wage war. Our troops are well trained in combat and superbly operational, this is evidenced by the speed with which we marched into enemy territory.


A Remarkable Parallel To Pearl Harbor


Therefore to try and rely exclusively in the past to predict the future is fraught with dangers and tends to oversimplify the situation at hand. And for you good students of history you will recall that before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7 1941 without any  provocation, thus drawing the reluctant American's into World War 2, America had not fought any major war so there was no precedent against which one could measure the effect of America on the outcome of the war, suffice to say this small bombardment marked the beginning of the end of World War Two, as America's entry into this war turned the odds against the axis forces of Germany, Japan and Italy. It is said that the Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto the Japanese Naval Marshall and C-I-C of the combined Japanese Fleet in World War Two remarked after the bombing of Pearl Harbor the culmination of Operation AI, that they, the Japanese "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve." And regret they did, Hiroshima and Nagasaki was enough testimony of this error, the same can be said of Al Shabaab picking a fight with Kenya.


To parapharase our Right Honorable Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga we have the reason , means, capability and determination to see this Operation Linda Nchi through, (even if need be on our own), with resounding success  . God Bless the Republic and The Proud  People of Kenya.


Marcel Masaga :The Writer Is A Polymath and Freelance Writer Writing About Most Topics Under The Sun.

Second Al Shabaab Bomb Goes Off Within 24 Hours At OTC Nairobi Kenya Killing At Least 2 People

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Second Al Shabaab Bomb Goes Off Within 24 Hours At OTC Nairobi Kenya Killing At Least 2 People

By Marcel Masaga,

God Bless Kenya.


The news wires are reporting that a second grenade attack within 24 hours has been reported within Kenya's Capital City Nairobi. This second grenade went off at the OTC Bus terminus, next to Jack And Jill Supermarket  at 7: 56 P.M local time,  instantly killing at least 2 rush hour commuters, on their commute back home and leaving scores injured. The OTC Bus terminus is a popular spot for city dwellers to catch the minivans, known as Matatu's heading towards the populous easterly suburbs of Nairobi City.

Kenya Army Convoy Heading To Somalia.


The first bombing, was in the form of a grenade attack that was lobbed into a popular pub in downtown Nairobi, Mwaura's Pub in the wee hours of Monday morning injuring at least 13 revelers. The Al Shabaab are quickly living up to their threat to disrupt Kenyan life by launching terror attacks on Kenyan soil in response to Kenya's on going military operation in lawless Somalia code named "Operation Linda Maisha".

As a patriot I aver here on this blog that we the Kenyan People stand hand in hand with our men and women in uniform as they continue forth in their quest to route this Al Shabaab rubble from the face of the planet. And that no amount of suicide bombings or threats of terror attack will sideline this country and its proud people, I being one of them, from going the full course and taking this just war to this bunch of cowards on to their Waterloo. God Bless Kenya.

Isaiah The Old Testament Prophet Had Predicted The Death Of Muamar Gaddaffi Two Millenia Ago.

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How The Prophet Isaiah Predicted The Death Of Colonel Muammar Gaddaffi Two Millenia Ago.

Isaiah The Prophet.


The cruel king has fallen! He will never oppress anyone again!5 The Lord has ended the power of the evil rulers6 who angrily oppressed the peoples and never stopped persecuting the nations they had conquered.7 Now at last the whole world enjoys rest and peace, and everyone sings for joy.8 The cypress trees and the cedars of Lebanon rejoice over the fallen king, because there is no one to cut them down, now that he is gone!

 9 The world of the dead is getting ready to welcome the king of Babylon. The ghosts of those who were powerful on earth are stirring about. The ghosts of kings are rising from their thrones.10 They all call out to him,
         Now you are as weak as we are! You are one of us!11 You used to be honored with the music of harps, but now here you are in the world of the dead. You lie on a bed of maggots and are covered with a blanket of worms.
     

 12 (A)King of Babylon, bright morning star, you have fallen from heaven! In the past you conquered nations, but now you have been thrown to the ground.13 (B)You were determined to climb up to heaven and to place your throne above the highest stars. You thought you would sit like a king on that mountain in the north where the gods assemble.14 You said you would climb to the tops of the clouds and be like the Almighty.15 But instead, you have been brought down to the deepest part of the world of the dead.
 16 The dead will stare and gape at you. They will ask,
         Is this the man who shook the earth and made kingdoms tremble?17 Is this the man who destroyed cities and turned the world into a desert? Is this the man who never freed his prisoners or let them go home?

 18 All the kings of the earth lie in their magnificent tombs,19 but you have no tomb, and your corpse is thrown out to rot. It is covered by the bodies of soldiers killed in battle, thrown with them into a rocky pit, and trampled down.20 Because you ruined your country and killed your own people, you will not be buried like other kings. None of your evil family will survive.21 Let the slaughter begin! The sons of this king will die because of their ancestors' sins. None of them will ever rule the earth or cover it with cities.

NB:-Please Feel Free To Replace The King Of Babylon In The Above Passage With The Very Dead King Of Libya Gaddaffi.

Isaiah 14:9-21


Cautionary Tale: That is what you get when you blaspheme and dare call yourself "King Of Kings" a title solely reserved for  Yeshua Ha-Masiach, Jesus Christ Our Lord And Saviour.


Lesson: Never Ever Blaspheme. Jehovah El Kano Is A Jealous God.

'You've got to find what you love,' Steve Jobs Once Famously Said

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This is a prepared text of the Commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005.

Video of the Commencement address.
I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.
The first story is about connecting the dots.
I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?
It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.
And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.
It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:
Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.
None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.
Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
My second story is about love and loss.
I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.
I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.
I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.
I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.
My third story is about death.
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.
I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.
This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.
Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
Thank you all very much.

Stanford University News

Apple Founder Steve Jobs Dies at 56: RIP

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Steve Jobs, the Apple co-founder who pioneered the PC industry andtransformed the way people consume music, movies and mobile media, died Wednesday at the age of 56.

The Ubiquitous Apple Logo.

“Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being,” said Tim Cook, his longtime deputy, in a letter to employees. “We will honor his memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work he loved so much.”
The Cupertino, Calif.-based company didn’t specify the cause of death, but a friend of the family said Jobs died of complications from his battle with pancreatic cancer. Several years ago received a liver transplant, and in August, Jobs resigned as chief executivehanding the reins to Cook.
In 1976, Jobs, along with partner Steve Wozniak, started Apple with a focus on personal computers, releasing the Apple II a year later. The Apple II became the benchmark for PCs and helped jumpstart the desktop computer revolution.
Despite Apple’s early success, an industry-wide downturn and a deteriorating relationship with then-CEO John Sculley forced Jobs out of the company he started in 1985.
But Jobs returned in 1996, and turned Apple around from the brink of bankruptcy. He set up standards for design and user-friendliness — combining efficiency and aesthetic elegance — and led the creation of the iPod, changing not just the MP3 player, but the entire music industry.
But the most productive chapter in Jobs’ career came near the end of his life, with a string of successful products like the iPhone and iPad. The products changed the way people use mobile devices and consume digital-media, helping to turn Apple into a pop-culture phenomenon.
Cook is expected to continue Apple’s momentum, and Wozniak believes Jobs has left behind a well-oiled machine.
“He really has had to sacrifice a lot to run Apple,” Wozniak said. “Everyone wants you day and night, that’s what I mean by sacrifices. It takes so much out of anyone to be under just constant pressure and demands like that.”
As Jobs said when he lured then-Pepsi CEO Sculley to lead Apple in 1983, “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life or do you want to come with me and change the world?”
Courtesy Forbes
Rest In Peace Polymath, Till We Meet Again.

Medical Team Remove 12 Centimeter Pin From Man's Privates

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A four-member medical team at the Tamale TeachingHospital on Saturday successfully removed a 12-centimeter safety-pin from the penis of a 32-year old man.

Safety Pin.

The team, comprising two doctors, an anaesthetist and a nurse, used a surgical procedure called ‘open ureterolithotomy,’ which lasted for about 30 minutes.
Dr. Akis Afoko, a surgeon/urologist, who led the operation, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Tamale that for the sore to heal quickly the urinepassage had been diverted for a few days.
He said on September 12, the patient was admitted with the condition of a pin in his penis.
When asked about the cause, the patient, he said, initially said the pin was fixed in his bed spread but upon further query, he later confessed that he was masturbating with the safety pin.
Dr Afoko said the patient revealed that in the process of masturbating the pin moved deeper and close to the bladder.
He explained that the patient tried to get it out but the pin pierced the cavernous body, the opening of the genital.
Dr Afoko said the team also discovered that the patient was suffering from a psychological condition which needed immediate attention.
He advised those engaged in dangerous practices of masturbation to stop because they could end up impotent when their injuries were not properly treated.

RIP:Kenya's Nobel Peace Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai Is Dead

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NAIROBI — Kenya's Wangari Maathai, who won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her environmental work, has died of cancer, the campaigning movement she founded announced Monday.

Professor Wangari Maathai  April 1-1940-September 25-2011

"It is with great sadness that the family of professor Wangari Maathai announces her passing away on 25th September 2011 at the Nairobi hospital after a prolonged and bravely borne struggle with cancer," the Green Belt Movement said in a statement.
Born in 1940, Maathai became a key figure in Kenya since founding the movement in 1977, staunchly campaigning for environmental conservation and good governance.
Since its founding, her organisation has planted some 40 million trees across Africa. In the 1970s, she also headed the Kenya Red Cross.
Maathai won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her environmental work and reforestation in her native Kenya.
She was the first woman in east and central Africa to earn a PhD, and also the first African woman and Kenyan to receive the Nobel Peace prize.
Aside from her conservation work, Maathai was in 2002 elected an MP then named the environment assistant minister, a position which she held between 2003 and 2005.
Outside Kenya, Maathai was involved in efforts to save central Africa's Congo basin forest, the world's second largest tropical forest.
Maathai, who was divorced, leaves behind three children and a grandchild.

Tens Feared Dead In Another Oil Tanker Explosion Tragedy Along Suo River, 20 Kilometres From Busia Town Along The Kenya-Uganda Highway.

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By Marcel Masaga, 9:30 PM Tuesday, September 20, 2011.


File:Trailer Tanker On Fire.

Yet another fire tragedy has hit Kenya in the wake of the Sinai accident, as an out of control tanker carrying Super a highly inflammable petroleum product, explodes along a bridge on  River Suo in Busia County, Kenya. The 9:30 P.M accident  occurred at Suo River 12 kilometers from Busia Town, Busia County Along The Kenya-Uganda Highway on the frontier of Kenya  and Uganda.

At least four people have been confirmed dead .So far fifteen people with severe 3rd degree burns have been rushed to the nearby Busia District Hospital, the Busia Police Division OCPD Mr Micheni Muthamia has confirmed to a local FM station .So far the trailer is Still Burning and it  is feared that some fuel compartments might yet ignite.


                                                  File: Huge Oil Tanker Explosion

The trailer is said to have lost control while maneouvering through the notorious blackspot, that has claimed hundreds of lives in the recent past. Many more people, who had come to partake in the free fuel,  are now feared dead in the surrounding bushes rescue operations are still ongoing. We will keep you updated with this breaking story.

Offer Khweza Bed & Breakfast-A Top Accommodation Venue In Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa. Kenya Ngara Nairobi

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Gamers Solve AIDS Cure Puzzle Which Has Stumped Scientists For 20+ Years and In Under 10 Days.

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Game of life: Foldit players can use different tools to interactively twist, jiggle and reshape proteins

Videogame players have solved a molecular puzzle that stumped scientists for years and could hold the key to finding a cure for AIDS.

A team of gamers needed just ten days to produce an answer to an enzyme riddle that had eluded experts for more than a decade.

The feat was accomplished using a collaborative online game called Foldit, which has been likened to Tetris and encourages players to fold a protein into intricate shapes.

'This is one small piece of the puzzle in being able to help with AIDS,' Firas Khatib, a biochemist at the University of Washington, the institution which invented the game, told MSNBC.

Mr Khatib is the lead author of a research paper on the project, published on Sunday by Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, which credits the gamers, mainly non-biologists, for the breakthrough.

The news is a boost for so-called citizen science, which enlists internet users to work on large-scale scientific tasks that sheer computer power cannot accomplish easily.

'People have spatial reasoning skills, something computers are not yet good at,' Seth Cooper, a UW computer scientist who is Foldit's lead designer and developer, explained. 'Games provide a framework for bringing together the strengths of computers and humans.'

For more than a decade, an international team of scientists has been trying to figure out the detailed molecular structure of an enzyme from an AIDS-like virus found in rhesus monkeys.

Such enzymes, known as retroviral proteases, play a key role in the virus' spread - and if medical researchers can figure out their structure, they could conceivably design drugs to stop the virus in its tracks.

Scientists know the pieces that make up a protein but cannot predict how those parts fit together into a 3D structure. And since proteins act like locks and keys, the structure is crucial.




                                                          
                                                         Breakthrough: The gamers have solved a puzzle which could help cure AIDS



There are millions of ways that the bonds between the atoms in the enzyme's molecules could twist and turn. To design the right chemical key, you have to figure out the most efficient, lowest-energy configuration for the molecule.
No computer in the world is big enough for the challenge, and computers may not take the smartest approach. 
Tens of thousands of players have taken on the challenge of Foldit, which awards points based on the internal energy of the 3-D protein structure, dictated by the laws of physics. 

When someone playing the game comes up with a more elegant structure that reflects a lower energy state for the molecule, his or her score goes up.

The author list for the paper includes an acknowledgement of more than 57,000 Foldit players, which may be unprecedented on a scientific publication.

The monkey-virus puzzle was one of several unsolved molecular mysteries that a colleague of Mr Khatib's at the university, Frank DiMaio, recently tried to solve. 

'This was one of the cases where his method wasn't able to solve it,' Mr Khatib told MSNBC. So he and his colleagues put the puzzle to Foldit's teams to work on. 'This was really kind of a last-ditch effort,' he recalled. 'Can the Foldit players really solve it?

'They actually did it in less than 10 days,' Mr Khatib told MSNBC.





One piece in the puzzle: Firas Khatib, a biochemist at the University of Washington, the institution which invented the game said it was a boost for citizen-science

The final decisive move was performed by a player going only by the name 'mimi', who told MSNBC in an email that she had been playing the game for nearly three years since its inception in 2008.

'The game is not only an interesting intellectual challenge… but it also provides a unique society of players driven by both individual and team rivalry with an overall purpose of improving the game and the results achieved,' she wrote.
'I had looked at the structure of the options we were presented with and identified that it would be better if the 'flap' could be made to sit closer to the body of the protein… when I applied the same approach to the evolved solution that had been worked on by other team members, I was able to get it to tuck in.

'We were all very excited to hear that we had helped to find the answer to this crystal form, especially since it had been outstanding so long.'

Foldit has been well known in the scientific community for some time, even if it was not seriously thought of as a ground-breaking tool. 

But Principal investigator Zoran Popovic, a UW associate professor of computer science and engineering, told UW Today: 'I hope this paper will convince a lot of those people who were sitting on the sidelines, and the whole genre of scientific discovery games will really take off.'

Scientists are aware of the need to keep the game fun, though. 'Let's be honest, proteins aren't the sexiest video game out there,' Mr Khatib told MSNBC.

Source Daily Mail.