Obama Visits Kenyan Family, To Launch Youth Centre

Former US President Barack Obama paid a visit to his extended family in Kenya on Monday.

This is his first trip to the country since 2015 where he is set to will a youth centre.

Obama arrived in his father’s native Kenya on Sunday, where he paid courtesy calls on President Uhuru Kenyatta and main opposition leader Raila Odinga.

On Monday he flew to the west of the country, where under extremely tight security he paid a visit to the home of his step-grandmother Sarah Obama in the village of Kogelo, an AFP reporter said.

He was expected to meet a number of members of his extended family, before launching the Sauti Kuu (Swahili for “Strong Voices”) centre set up by his half-sister Auma Obama.

Addressing the media last week, Auma said the state-of-the-art centre would give local youth access to books, internet and sporting activities.

They will also be able to benefit from classes on work ethics, civic education, environmental conservation and financial literacy.

The centre includes an international standard size football pitch sponsored by the German ministry of development cooperation, a basketball court funded by the Giants of Africa Foundation, and a volleyball/netball court and other facilities, including a library and IT lab.

The centre is set to also offer adult education.

When Obama visited Kenya in 2015, he was unable to visit his father’s village due to security concerns, and vowed to return when he was no longer “wearing a suit” and contribute to the development of young people.

After his visit to Kenya, Obama will fly to South Africa where he will deliver the annual Nelson Mandela lecture.

AFP

The Comparison Between Trump And Obama Continues

President of the United States, Donald Trump is currently on a tour in Asia where he met with the Japanese emperor, Akikihito.

 

Obama ignited a firestorm of controversy when he bowed deferentially to the Royal with many criticizing the move.

 

Trump on the other hand offered a plain diplomatic handshake and a slight nod.

 

 

Obama Says ‘yes we did’ in Emotional Farewell Address

President Barack Obama addressed America and the world for the final time as president Tuesday, in a speech that was both a tearful goodbye and a call to arms.

Capping his eight years in the White House, Obama returned to his adoptive hometown of Chicago to recast his “yes we can” campaign credo as “yes we did.”

Listing landmarks of his presidency — from the Iran nuclear deal to reforming healthcare — much of the speech was dedicated to lifting up supporters shaken by Donald Trump’s shock election.

Obama called on them to pick up the torch, fight for democracy and forge a new “social compact”.
“For all our outward differences, we are all in this together,” he said warning that partisanship, racism, and inequality all threatened democracy. “We rise or fall as one.”

“All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions.”

The incoming Republican president has smashed conventions, vowed to efface Obama’s legacy and hurled personal insults left and right, while in a virtually unprecedented move US intelligence has accused the Kremlin of seeking to tip the election in Trump’s favor.

Democrats, cast into the political wilderness with the loss of the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives plus a majority of statehouses, are struggling to regroup.

Obama painted the task ahead as a generational challenge.

– Emotional finale –

“A faith in reason, and enterprise, and the primacy of right over might” he said, had allowed the United States to “resist the lure of fascism and tyranny during the Great Depression, and build a post-World War II order with other democracies.”

In comments that resonate as Americans ponder whether Russia helped to put Trump in the White House, Obama said “that order is now being challenged.”

“First by violent fanatics who claim to speak for Islam; more recently by autocrats in foreign capitals who see free markets, open democracies, and civil society itself as a threat to their power.”

“The peril each poses to our democracy is more far-reaching than a car bomb or a missile. ”

Obama’s last trip on Air Force One was a pilgrimage to his adoptive hometown, where he addressed a sell-out crowd of some 18,000 not far from where he delivered his victory speech eight years ago.

Diehard fans — many African Americans — braved Chicago’s frigid winter to collect free tickets, which were selling for upwards of $1,000 a piece on Craigslist.

They were joined by First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill — who the president described as “family” in an emotional finale to his speech.

Wiping a tear from his eye, Obama paid poignant tribute to his own family, his daughter Malia who was present and Sasha who was not, and the first lady who he addressed as his best friend.

“You took on a role you didn’t ask for and made it your own with grace and grit and style and good humor,” he said. “A new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model. You’ve made me proud. You’ve made the country proud.”

– Life after White House –

With an approval rating hovering around 55 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll, Obama still carries considerable political weight.

Some 51 percent of Americans polled believe that Trump is doing a bad job as president-elect.

Trump’s unorthodox politics have thrown the 55-year-old Obama’s transition and post-presidency plans into flux.

Having vowed a smooth handover of power, Obama has found himself being increasingly critical of Trump as he prepares to leave office on January 20.

After that there will still be a holiday and an autobiography, but Obama could find himself being dragged backed into the political fray if Trump were to enact a Muslim registry or deport adults brought to the United States years ago by their parents.

Having vowed to take a backseat in politics, Obama’s second act could yet be as politically engaged as Jimmy Carter — whose post-presidency has remade his image as an elder statesman.

Many Obama aides who had planned to take exotic holidays or launch coffer-replenishing forays into the private sector are also reassessing their future and mulling a return to the political trenches.

Obama’s foundation is already gearing up for a quasi-political role — funneling idealistic youngsters into public life.

AFP

Obama’s Says Goodbye in Last Presidential Speech

Barack Obama closes the book on his presidency Tuesday, with a farewell speech in Chicago that will try to lift supporters felled by Donald Trump’s shock victory.

Obama’s last trip on Air Force One will be a pilgrimage to his adoptive hometown, where he will address a sell-out crowd not far from where he accepted the presidency eight years ago.

Diehard fans — many African Americans — have braved Chicago’s frigid winter to collect free tickets, which now sell for upwards of $1,000 a piece on Craigslist.

The First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden will come along on for the ride.

Obama’s cross-country trek would be a sentimental trip down memory lane, were it not slap-bang in the middle of a tumultuous presidential handover.

Trump has smashed conventions, vowed to efface Obama’s legacy and hurled personal insults left and right.

The 2016 election campaign has raised serious questions about the resilience of US democracy.

In a virtually unprecedented move, US intelligence has accused the Kremlin of tipping the electoral scales in Trump’s favor.

Democrats, cast into the political wilderness with the loss of the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives plus a majority of statehouses, are struggling to regroup.

With an approval rating hovering around 55 percent, Obama will hope to steel them for new battles ahead.

Lead speechwriter Cody Keenan said the address will be about Obama’s vision for where the country should still go.

“It’s not going to be like an anti-Trump speech, it’s not going to be a red meat, rabble rousing thing, it will be statesman-like but it will also be true to him,” Keenan told AFP. “It will tell a story.”

– Life after White House –

Trump’s unorthodox politics has thrown 55-year-old Obama’s transition and post-presidency plans into flux.

Obama, having vowed a smooth handover of power, finds himself being increasingly critical of Trump as he prepares to leave office on January 20.

After that there will still be a holiday and an autobiography, but Obama could find himself being dragged backed into the political fray if Trump were to enact a Muslim registry or deport adults brought to the United States years ago by their parents.

Having vowed to take a backseat in politics, Obama’s second act could yet be as politically engaged as Jimmy Carter — whose post-presidency has remade his image as an elder statesman.

Many Obama aides who had planned to take exotic holidays or launch coffer-replenishing forays into the private sector are also reassessing their future and mulling a return to the political trenches.

Obama’s foundation is already gearing up for a quasi-political role — funneling idealistic youngsters into public life.

– Presidential precedent –

Presidents since George Washington have delivered a farewell address of sorts.

Washington’s final 7,641-word message — which is still read once a year in the Senate by tradition — contained warnings about factionalism and interference by foreign powers that seem oddly prescient.

But speechwriter Keenan sees few obvious templates: “Bush and Clinton did theirs from here (the White House), George H.W. Bush went to West Point, gave a foreign policy speech,” he told AFP. “They are all totally different.”

The trip to Chicago is not just for nostalgia, Keenan indicated.

“The thread that has run though his career from his days as community organizer to the Oval Office is the idea that if you get ordinary people together and get them educated, get them empowered, get them to act on something, that’s when good things happen,” he said.

“For him, as someone who started as a community organizer, whose campaign was powered by young people, ordinary people, we decided we wanted to go back to Chicago.”

“Chicago is not just his hometown, it’s where his career started.”

And now it is also where Obama’s presidential career will effectively end.

AFP

Cuba Rolls Out Red Carpet For Obama

President Barack Obama arrived to small but cheering crowds on Sunday at the start of a historic visit to Cuba that opened a new chapter in U.S. engagement with the island’s Communist government after decades of hostility between the former Cold War foes.

The three-day trip, the first by a U.S. president to Cuba in 88 years, is the culmination of a diplomatic opening announced by Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro in December 2014, ending an estrangement that began when the Cuban revolution ousted a pro-American government in 1959.

“It’s a historic opportunity to engage directly with the Cuban people,” Obama told staff at the newly reopened U.S. Embassy who were gathered at a hotel, his first stop after arriving in the afternoon.

Groups of Cubans watched the motorcade from balconies and backyards as Obama was driven downtown, where a small crowd of Cubans braved a tropical downpour and tight security. They chanted: “Viva Obama, Viva Fidel,” as the president and his family left after eating dinner in a rundown neighborhood.

Obama, who abandoned a longtime U.S. policy of trying to isolate Cuba, wants to make his policy shift irreversible even if a Republican wins the White House in the Nov. 8 election.

But major obstacles remain to full normalization of ties, and the Democratic president’s critics say the visit is premature. U.S. officials concede the trip may not yield immediate concessions from Cuba on rights and economic freedom.

On Sunday, one bystander shouted: “Down with the blockade,” in reference to the U.S. embargo in place for 54 years that remains the top irritant for Cubans. Obama, who responded to the shout by raising his right hand, has asked Congress to rescind the embargo but has been blocked by the Republican leadership.

Underscoring the ideological divide that persists between Washington and Havana, Cuban police, backed by hundreds of pro-government demonstrators, broke up the regular march of a leading dissident group, the Ladies in White, detaining about 50 people just hours before Obama arrived.

AIR FORCE ONE IN CUBA

Obama arrived at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport in Air Force One, the presidential jet with “United States of America” emblazoned across its fuselage, a sight almost unimaginable not long ago on the island, just 90 miles (145 km) off the coast of Florida.

U.S. officials appeared unfazed by Castro’s absence from the airport welcome, even though he personally met and greeted Pope Francis in September. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump tweeted that Obama’s visit was a “big deal” but that he got “no respect.”

Obama will hold talks with Castro – but not his brother Fidel, the revolutionary leader – and speak to entrepreneurs on Monday. He meets privately with dissidents, addresses Cubans live on state-run media and attends an exhibition baseball game on Tuesday.

The trip carries both symbolism and substance after decades of hostility between Washington and Havana.

Traveling with first lady Michelle Obama, her mother and their daughters, Sasha and Malia, Obama took in the sights of the colonial-era neighborhood and was given a tour of Havana’s 18th century cathedral by Cardinal Jaime Ortega, who played a role in secret talks that led to the rapprochement 15 months ago.

The Obamas dined at the San Cristobal restaurant, run by an Afro-Cuban as part of a cautious opening to private enterprise since Fidel Castro handed power to his brother in 2008.

Reuters

Meet Nigerian professor Who Will Receive America’s Highest Research Award

Deji Akinwande, a professor at the University of Texas Austin, is one Nigerian scaling hurdles, pushing boundaries and breaking stereotypes.

Akinwande has been identified by President Barack Obama, as one of the recipients of “the highest honour bestowed by the US government for science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers”.

Alongside 104 researchers, he will receive the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers in Washington DC later in the year.

“These early-career scientists are leading the way in our efforts to confront and understand challenges from climate change to our health and wellness,” Obama said while announcing the winners.

“We congratulate these accomplished individuals and encourage them to continue to serve as an example of the incredible promise and ingenuity of the American people.”

WHO IS DEJI AKINWANDE?

Akinwande is an associate professor in electrical and computer engineering and the Jack Kilby/Texas instruments endowed faculty fellow in computer engineering in the Cockrell school of engineering at the university of Texas at Austin.

EDUCATION

Akinwande graduated from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, bagging a double degree (B.S/M.S) in electrical engineering and applied physics.

His master’s research in applied physics pioneered the design and development of near-field microwave probe tips for non-destructive imaging and studies of materials.

He had his PhD degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 2009, conducting research on the synthesis, device physics, and circuit applications of carbon nanotubes and graphene.

INVENTION

According to Akinwande Nano Research Group, the professor is known for his groundbreaking research on nanomaterials, sensors, devices and flexible technology.

He is considered one of the top researchers in the world in the areas of graphene, silicon electronics and 2-D nanomaterials for use in flexible electronics.

In 2015, Akinwande created the first transistor out of silicene – the world’s thinnest silicon material – and he is continuing to advance the capabilities of computer chips and other electronics.

He is a co-inventor of a high-frequency chip-to-chip interconnect and an electrically small antenna for bio-electronics.

HONOURS AND AWARDS

Prior to his presidential award listing, Akinwande has been known as a man of many caps, working with US department of Defence in taking academic quantum leaps.

He has the following honours and awards to his name:

IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Nanotechnology Early Career Award, 2015

Engineering School Nominee for Texas System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award, 2015

TI/Jack Kilby Endowed Faculty Fellowship, 2013-present

IEEE Senior Member, 2013

IEEE NANO Geim and Novoselov (Inaugural) Graphene Prize 2012

NSF Faculty CAREER Award 2012

DTRA Young Investigator Award 2012

3M Nontenured Faculty Award 2012

Army Research Office Young Investigator Award 2011

Office of Naval Research Grant Award 2010

Stanford Future-Faculty DARE Fellow, 2008-2010 (12 fellows selected out of 110 senior Ph.D Candidates from all the Schools at Stanford University)

Ford Foundation Fellow, 2006-2009 (60 fellows out of over 1000 applicants)

Alfred P. Sloan Scholar, 2006-2008 (Selected Stanford Ph.D Candidate)

“Design Award” for outstanding Low-Noise Amplifier Designs by Prof. Thomas Lee (1 of 3 out of a class of ~150 students at Stanford University.

The Cable