Collapsing New Amsterdam courthouse…
Attorney General directs all queries to judiciary
The recently refurbished New Amsterdam Magistrate’s Court. Attorney General Anil Nandlall in an invited comment yesterday explained that the issues surrounding the New Amsterdam Magistrate’s Court would be better answered by the Judiciary through the project execution unit. The Attorney General was responding to queries about the recently rehabilitated courthouse which is already showing signs of decay as a result of the substandard work done. Nandlall explained that projects are usually administered by the Ministry of Legal Affairs or the Judiciary. According to
Nandlall each agency has its own Project Execution Unit, which is responsible for the construction and maintenance of infrastructure. The Attorney General explained that the N/A court falls directly under the rehabilitation, repairs and construction of the physical work of court buildings, which is the responsibility of the Judiciary’s Project Execution Unit. That unit Nandlall said would be in a better position to have the issues clarified. Efforts to contact the persons who are heading the units proved futile. Last week this newspaper had highlighted the New
Amsterdam Magistrates’ Court, which was collapsing after millions of dollars were spent. The building was handed over to the authorities less than a month ago. Both staff members and litigants had to scamper for their lives after the ceiling started to fall apart on Wednesday. The rehabilitation cost more than $20M. The work lasted over two years. Residents and lawyers are saying that it is money wasted and an investigation should be launched immediately into the ‘slapdash’ work done on the facility.
Monday December 17, 2012
Govt. should stop ‘runaround’ and engage opposition “approach to OAS will get nowhere” - AFC
Leader of AFC Khemraj Ramjattan
AFC member Cathy Hughes
AFC Chairman Nigel Hughes
The Alliance for Change (AFC) has rejected government claims that the opposition was abusing its one seat majority, describing it as absurd and ludicrous. The party scoffed at the Government’s approach to the Organization of American States (OAS), with the complaint that “the opposition is destabilizing Parliamentary proceedings”. The AFC opined that the Government’s action is an attempt at regaining full control of the State, and thus urged the current Administration to, “Stop running around and engage the opposition.” The party’s leader, Khemraj Ramjattan said that, “the attempts by the Government to engage international bodies will get nowhere.” He posited that the Government must realize that they must engage the Opposition and other stakeholders in a “magnanimous climate” so that meaningful discussions could be held. He however indicated that such talks
would serve no purpose if the Government continues to seek total control. “The organizations have strong footholds in the country and know what is happening and whether cries by the government are genuine or crocodile tears,” Ramjattan noted. “The corruption levels,” he highlighted, “have risen beyond all expectations. The control that a minority government wants at the assembly is as if they are the majority government.” “For the government to say that the Opposition wants to destabilize the country is the furthest thing that any diplomat in the country would see as the real occurrence,” Ramjattan noted. Instead, he blamed the government for attempting destabilization, “by virtue of not acting in the norms of good governance and the rule of law.” He asserted that the same utterances were made by major critical commentators with tremendous credibility, such as Christopher Ram and
Anand Goolsaran. Those persons he said have been making damning remarks, comments based on analysis of the Government, while mainstream media have been highlighting it. Ramjattan further slammed government’s accusations that the opposition is using its one seat majority to dominate; calling that “propaganda” and “ridiculous.” AFC member Cathy Hughes also noted that the Government is confused with the role of the opposition, which is to endure “accountability of the public purse.” She said all the comments and extremism boils down to the Government not understanding that the opposition has a role in the interest of the population to ensure that the people’s money is well spent. She said that if the government wants to misinterpret the role of the opposition and claim that their acts are destabilizing the country, then they need training and re-education in that area.
Monday December 17, 2012
Letters... Where your views make the news... Letters... Where your views make the news
Guyana needs a caring, democratic and pro-working class govt. DEAR EDITOR, Being the bigger person in politics not only takes a big effort and wisdom but commonsense as well. Who won the most votes in the 2011 elections? The PPP won the most votes and that victory ought to have empowered them with some responsibilities. They have to take the responsibility to stop the bickering over the Rohee affair and make the first move towards cooperation if Guyana is to progress and the people’s business attended to adequately. But President Ramotar’s comments that the “…opposition missed a golden opportunity to work with the Government” are quite revealing and troubling and makes it is absolutely clear to us that he does not fully understand his job description. Further, by making the false claim to the international community that the majority opposition is threatening parliamentary democracy in Guyana undermines the democratic process and is most likely to impede political cooperation between the minority PPP government and the majority opposition. For the PPP cabal to say that the majority opposition is threatening democracy in Parliament is beyond silly. Such callous statements have driven a wedge between the minority PPP regime and the majority opposition. It also indicates to us that Mr. Ramotar continues to follow his immediate predecessor which makes him a follower and not a leader.. The duty of the largest political force is to make the first move towards cooperation. But the PPP will have none of that; rather they have passed the responsibility to the AFC to fill the leadership vacuum that exists in Guyana. The presumptive presidential Candidate Mr. Moses Nagamootoo’s positive statement that the “the time to talk is NOW” and his echo of the former leader of the AFC, Mr. Trotman’s comments that “The WAR is
over” were quite refreshing. These sober remarks indicate that the AFC is willing to make the necessary sacrifice on behalf of the people and is prepared to lead in the interest of the poor and the working class. The War can however only be over when the PPP “dogs of war” are pulled off the streets and the parliamentary opposition has equal access to the stateowned media—NCN, Chronicle and GINA. The PPP cannot continue attacking the AFC leaders morning, noon and night and then in the next breath telling them they missed a golden opportunity? That Jekyll and Hyde behavior belongs to a different regime from a different era. With President Ramotar caught in the sleep march to follow such a low standard of behavior, there is no golden opportunity to be had; rather there is an opportunity to play with mud and we know who is very comfortable in the mud. Therefore, we plead with the advisors and supporters of President Ramotar to please encourage him to be his own man and stop being a puppet. Great things will only happen to Guyana if he understands that there is a serious political, economic and social crisis in the country and it will only be resolved if he accepts the proposition that the “WAR is over and the time for talk is NOW.” The people are fed-up with this flip-flop cabal and their wishy-washy programs that seem to benefit only themselves, their friends and relatives. The first thing that has to be done to heal the wounds between the minority government and the majority opposition is for the President to reconvene the tripartite meeting between the PPP and the majority parliamentary opposition and widen that meeting to include some independent observers who have ZERO vested interest in politics, government or the opposition but whose only goal is to strive for the spiritual,
economic and social development and prosperity of all Guyanese. Therefore, we call on Mr. Ramotar to invite Bishop, the Rt. Reverend Cornell Moses from the Anglican Church, Swami Aksharnanda from the Hindi faith and Haseeb Yusuf, President of the Guyana Islamic Trust to the tripartite meetings. We believe that these men of the cloth with their talents would add credibility to the tripartite talks and restore confidence and trust in the people that the government is once again working on their behalf.
We want President Ramotar to succeed. But he must be prepared to make some drastic changes, perhaps revolutionary in nature, which in the end will benefit the people especially the poor and the working class. The PPP cabal can no longer continue their selfish and greedy ways of governance; they have to be selfless in order to make the following breathtaking changes: - Establish the Public Procurement Commission, Anti-Corruption Agency, Judicial Commission, the Ombudsman, etc;
- Allow equal access of the state media by all parliamentary parties. - Provide a 10% across the board salary increase for teachers, nurses, public servants, security forces, sugar workers and other employees of the state; - Provide electricity which has been denied to the residents of No. 30 Village on West Coast Berbice. - Reduce VAT by 2%; - Increase old age pension from the meager monthly amount of $10,000 to $15,000 immediately; - Reduce the toll on the Berbice River Bridge for motor
cars, mini-buses and small trucks from $2,200 to $1,000 per crossing. We believe that the country will not prosper unless these changes are made and the resources of the state are redistributed in a more fair and equitable manner to benefit the most vulnerable, children, the elderly and the poor and the working class. These policy actions will give the minority PPP regime the chance to be viewed as a mature and more caring party. Dr. Asquith Rose and Harish S. Singh
Monday December 17, 2012
Letters... Where your views make the news... Letters... Where your views make the news
This sluice at Hope Canal may Anthony suffering from insomnia entitled to ’its’ assets, subject not help Mitt Romney and it DEAR EDITOR, the contractual will not help you. Try some Mitt Romney flip flopped very well end up a white elephant his way out of a possibility to toarrangements between simple things like I made a DEAR EDITOR, I refer to the Consultants’ letter dated 9/12/12 in KN on the above subject and to respond as follows: After our visit to the Hope Canal Site inspecting the eight-door sluice and the bridge we met Mr. Latchmansingh at a meeting at UG and we expressed our concerns about the door sluice timber piling and he stated that it was not his problem and that the responsibility lies with the structural consultant SRK Engineering who are designing and supervising construction of all the structures. We had no alternative but to revert to the press to express our dissatisfaction with the driving mechanism of the timber piles and other concerns about the project generally. We are surprised that he has joined with SRK expressing dissatisfaction with us for going to the press. My calculation indicates the weight of the earth excavated between centers of the pile group is far heavier than the weight of the concrete slab and weight of
water being added and hence there is no requirement to drive any piles to support the structure whatsoever. Driving 520 piles 120ft. long will also displace some 8500 cu.yd of clay material upward, which will involve removal by the contractor to achieve the correct invert level of the sluice. There is no item in the bill for removal of this earth and this will be a genuine extra for the contractor. I would like to refer the Consultants to earlier letters in the press written by Engineers Ceres and Budhram on the subject of using timber piles for supporting structures in Guyana. The Consultants claim that foreign experts and GAPE have approved the design of the sluice and I would like to know if these experts approved the design of 520 piles 120ft. long to support this structure. Considerable savings to the Govt. could have been achieved by deleting these timber piles from the contract. SRK comments that the soil parameters for the 7- door
Abary Control Sluice were better than that for the 8-Door Hope Sluice are incorrect. Both soil conditions are about the same. No piling, however, was used to support the foundation for the Abary 7 Door Sluice. Mr. Alli was asked by Minister Persaud years ago to be an adviser to the D&I Board but refused the offer. I do not see what this has to do with the Hope Project. Mr. Alli’s comments also about the 3- Door inlet sluice were made when its location was closer to the conservancy dam. The sluice has now been re-located further north. It was also noted that the consultants did not comment on our concerns for the outfall channel for the 8 door sluice, which we feel would be very expensive to clear on a regular basis and the sluice may very well end up a white elephant like the Lesbeholden Sluice designed by Halcrows in the 50’s that has never worked due to continuous siltation of the outfall. You could have a similar situation here. Malcolm Alli
become the President of United States of America because he faced an opponent who was focused except for one debate and clearly honest. Romney even managed to cop the lie of the year award for his statement about Obama causing jeep to move operations to China. Minister Anthony seemed confused as to the real reason why he disbanded the GCB or as he wants us to believe why he acted on instructions to disband the GCB, a private unincorporated sports entity. He sometimes seemed at best confused about how sporting entities manage their business and ignorant of the rules and regulations that govern them. Recently, in the Wednesday 13th December edition of Stabroek News, the minister stated that he disbanded the GCB because of the Chief Justice ruling. Lie number one, as the Honourable Chief Justice Ian Chang ruling never give him the right to do so and he should read the Caribbean Court of Justice ruling in the case RAJENDRA SINGH & ROBIN SINGH v THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF GUYANA which states; “It is trite law, as stated in John v Rees, that a club or an association if unincorporated is not an entity separate from its members and so cannot sue or be sued. Nevertheless, it is also trite law, as stated in Hanchett-Stanford v Att-Gen, “that the members for the time being of an unincorporated association are beneficially
them”. He then tried to blame the ICC saying that their regulations give him the right to do so. Lie number two as the regulations gives you the right to investigate fraud, one would assume if any is found, the police lay criminal charges and the business of the Board moves on, no such evidence was found so certainly no charges were laid against officers of the GCB. He also said that the entire GCB had resigned. Lie number three, as this never happened and if I had resigned he should provide the evidence. He does have apparently a document from one officer which refers to state sponsored searches and harassment. That officer has clearly indicated that he has not resigned from the GCB. Mr Anthony also claimed that there is an injunction against the GCB, lie number four; we have the documents to prove otherwise. Your attorney general should not outsource his office but participate in these matters so that he will be better informed. Maybe, after all of this Mr. Frank Anthony should resign and I advise that he sends that resignation to President Ramoutar and not the Secretary or President of the GCB or WICB, it would not be valid. Lying, Mr. Minister did
mistake or I received the wrong information or even as Mr Jagdeo said, “I was busy and the boys gave the wrong advice but we need to move on.” Actually he (Jagdeo) had a solution which you definitely derailed with your legislation to take control of cricket administration claiming it is identical to the TTCB legislation. Well if they are identical I resemble Tom Cruise. You Mr. Anthony sent letters to all the officers of the GCB instructing that the board is disbanded and all assets must be handed over to you. You then placed locks on our doors, you then searched our homes and offices, you then seized our assets and documents which you still have despite a court order to return them, you then trumped up charges against our secretary for perjury when none exist and no response is forth coming to the high court challenge, you took the GCB to court claiming its assets as ownerless. At every stage we had to respond to your court challenge or go to court to stop you. I am an optimist, so when I read that you decided to write FIFA to solve the football issue, I said to a few people “he is learning”, I was told “FIFA is not the WICB, they ban you and talk later.” Fizul Bacchus President (ag) Guyana Cricket Board
Despite our complaints, Charity police taking no action to curb this noise nuisance DEAR EDITOR, There is an ongoing noise nuisance of music emanating from a business place used as a hotel and bar that affects me and many others at Charity, and which is located in close proximity to the police station there. Some measure of respect and relief to the abominable situation is only shown on Mondays during the period of sitting of the Magistrates’ court located on the other side of the public road. It could be verified at the station that several reports were made there and statements taken from the affected persons all of whom expressed the desire for the perpetrator to be placed before the court. All of us have indicated our willingness to attend court to give the evidence, but for some reason best known to the police, this
line of action is not being taken in the best interest of justice Quite manifestly, the neglect by the police to let the culprit face prosecution, which is the only way to serve as a deterrent is extremely baffling. The evidence needed by the police to institute prosecution is overwhelming and it should be seen not as a favour but a duty to do so. The discomfort being endured from the unbearable noise nuisance is not easy at all, with the police being the only source to whom those affected can turn to for protection. The police rank in charge of this station is clearly demonstrating from his lack of interest or concern that no court action will ever be taken against the perpetrator with him usurping the functions of the D.P.P and making it
even more frustrating for victims to provide further reports and statements. The same officer even advised me to meet the Divisional Commander at his office, which I did, only to learn that he received information that some ranks visited my location while the music was on and from their observation, it did not measure up to a nuisance. No rank ever visited my location and here again, this is yet another presumptuous “cover-up” ever so detrimental to the society. Money is well known to be a powerful influence and could it be that its use is responsible for the course of justice to be defeated here? Some form of positive action will have to be taken for this nuisance to be abated once and for all with the earlier the better Govind Nauth
Monday December 17, 2012
Chainsaw operator crushed by tree
A father of five died yesterday after being pinned by the tree he was cutting in the Clonbrook Polder, East Coast Demerara. According to reports, 43 year-old Deaplall Muakelall of 13 Section ‘B’ Clonbrook, East Coast Demerara died while villagers tried to remove sections of a fallen tree which had pinned him down after he had cut it with his chainsaw. The dead man’s relatives told this publication that he left his home at approximately 10:00 hours yesterday to cut wood in the backdam. However, at around 15:30 hours they received a phone call that he was pinned by the
tree he was cutting. This publication was told that by the time relatives and other villagers made it to the location where the incident occurred, other persons had already removed the man from under the tree. He was rushed from the back dam which is located some six miles from the actual village but he had already appeared dead. The man’s relatives said they took him to his home and made a report to the police while they awaited the arrival of a hearse to remove his corpse. Kuakelall is survived by his wife and their five children.
DEAD: 43-year-old Deaplall Muakelall
Govt. seeks December 20 sitting of Parliament Even as Government continues to lambast the parliamentary opposition for delaying the business of the government, efforts are being made to have parliament adjourn to Thursday. With tomorrow’s parliamentary sitting being designated the Opposition day, Chief Whip of the ruling People’s Progressive Party Civic, Gail Teixeira, is hopeful that Government will be able to actually get some business done in the National Assembly. Teixeira, who was at the time speaking at the most recent post Cabinet press briefing on Friday at Office of the President, said that Government’s parliamentary concerns have been brought to the attention of the Speaker of the House, Raphael Trotman, and the opposition. They were also raised at various meetings of parliamentary committees last week. “We have said to the Speaker and to the opposition that we will be calling for a sitting on December 20 and we have made it clear that we have a lot of items on the Order Paper that are just sitting there.” According to Teixeira, “We did make an attempt to try to get the sitting to allow the Government’s business that has been sitting there for three sittings now, October 22, November 8 and November 22, to be given preference. This was not accepted and opposition Chief Whip Amna Ally has insisted that December 17 is their day,” Teixeira vocalised. The Chief Whip accentuated her conviction that whether a Government is classified as a minority or majority, it must have the right
Gail Teixeira to bring its business to the House and have that business addressed. She expressed optimism, too, that the opposition will not seek to use its one-seat majority to vote against Government’s desire for the adjournment to Thursday. “...They have done it before. If that happens then I think we are in very serious waters because it means that they are obstructing the Government from doing its business,” Teixeira said. She alluded to the fact that there are a number of upcoming opposition Bills, among them one she described as “strange”, which will see A Partnership For National Unity (APNU) point man on finance, Carl Greenidge, seeking to raise concern with the President’s benefits and facilities Act of 2009. Government, according to
Teixeira, is of the view and has stated since October that Greenidge’s move towards such a Bill seems to indicate that he is trying to pre-empt the work of the Special Select Committee. A resolution was passed in the House by a majority to have a Special Select Committee examine the issue of the constitutional post holders, including the president and their benefits. Teixeira speculated that a number of things are likely to happen at tomorrow’s sitting, even as she expressed hope that “it will not descend further and there will be a further subversion of parliamentary democracy.” Government is expected to table supplementary financial papers for first reading tomorrow. And should parliament be adjourned to Thursday, Teixeira revealed that Government will seek to proceed to deal with seven Bills among them the supplementary financial papers, and a motion on the 40th Anniversary of the Guyana/Cuba diplomatic relations. This move, according to Teixeira, is aimed at having the National Assembly acknowledge and celebrate the long and fruitful relations Guyana has had with Cuba and “to express our gratitude as a people to the Cuba Government and people for the amazing and extensive support it has given to Guyana.”
When we pause and experience silence, we discover answers that activity does not have time to reveal. During your day, take threeminute “vacations”. Relax and re-energise. Take time out to feel the peace of silence.
Monday December 17, 2012
Monday December 17, 2012
A CHALLENGE FOR UNCLE DONALD The Guyana Office for Investment (GOINVEST) does not need to become more proactive. It needs a shift in focus from being an organization that facilitates business to one that establishes business projects and then invite investors, both local and foreign, to come on board. GOINVEST is always going to face huge challenges as long as it has to facilitate investments. Public officials protect their turf like security safeguarding the Crown Jewels. The public sector operates within the old authoritarian tradition in which public officials feel that they are doing the public a favour when the public goes to them for services. As such, even investors who are helping to keep the economy going are made to feel that they have to stoop to the whims and fancy of public officials. There is no better demonstration of this than the discomfort that the public has to endure just to apply for a passport. Even though passport applicants are paying for their travel documents, they are made to feel as if they are institutionalized and if you dare try making a phone call while in the passport office, they are liable to be
reprimanded or at worse, lose their turn. The passport office is not run as a business service. It is run like it was in the old days under an authoritarian culture. Very little has changed in twenty years. It is the same elsewhere. Many pensioners still face hassles at the NIS. Unless there are stronger systems to punish staff that do not provide timely service, the system will not get better. If these are the tribulations that the public face when trying to access normal services, imagine what happens to investors who may require tax concessions, land, licenses and permits. This is why facilitating investment is always going to be a frustrating exercise. Public officials know their authority and they do not easily yield that turf, at least not to any person representing an investment promoting agency. To make the investment facilitation work better, the Head of GOINVEST has to have the ear of the President and when confronted with problems should be able to have direct presidential intervention. This however, will politicize the investment facilitation process and defeat the objective of an institution-driven process. It is easy to speak about
Dem boys seh
Sonny getting wha he call for Dem got all kind of promotion going on. Dem promotion got people answering dem phone in some ways that does got de people who calling raising dem eyebrows. De Waterfalls boss man call one of he staff and de staff answer “I love to shop at Singers”. De boss man cuss because he want to know since when he is Singers. He seh that he can’t even sing. But people really want money and dem ain’t tekkin chance. GT&T got people answering dem phone “GT&T best value in Guyana.” People does forget that dem only got to answer dem phone that way round 12:30 but in Guyana nobody ain’t tekking chance wid money. Is Christmas. Is Christmas and people also calling all over de place. Some calling for money from dem relatives and some calling fuh complain. De other day dem boys see a van pass. This van encouraging people to call too. It had a big sign ‘CALL US’. A man end up calling de
US. He call and call. Dem boys wonder who he call and wha he call for. He call till he end up wid a big bill. De only person he didn’t call was Sonny. Sonny call though. He call Rosy and de Feds was looking fuh he. In de height of he call, de Feds tun up and knock pun he door. Dem got he now and he couldn’t even call he lawyer till de next day. As dem boys seh, he get wha he call for. Florida calling he and Aunty Dora listening. Bright and early Monday he in court and he gun get a chance fuh call pun whoever he does worship. But when he was hustling de hospital money he didn’t call nobody. He keep thinking that every day is Christmas because he convince heself that de hospital was giving he money. Well de people who got he in custody gun give he something. Dem got a pumpkin jumpsuit fuh give he. Talk half and wait fuh de call from Sonny.
institution-driven processes. But a precondition for such a process has to be changing the way government offices operate. Over the past twenty years little has been done to create a new culture within the public sector, one that is business- oriented and friendly rather than bureaucratic in nature. If the government was serious about creating business-oriented public services, it would have by now changed the entire accounting system with the public service and made all government services more business friendly. It has failed to do so because politicians derive much of their power and pleasure from being in control and they exert a great deal of control
through public officials. But these officials also have their own agendas and interests. GOINVEST should minimize its investment facilitation focus. If investment is to be institution-driven, there will be no need for an agency like GOINVEST. Investors would be confident that if they need land, tax concessions and permit, they know what the rules for these are and they should feel confident that applications for these things would be speedily assessed and processed without having to offer any inducements. There is however a more fundamental reason why GOINVEST should move away from investment facilitation towards investment creation. There is
a need for jobs in Guyana. Jobs will improve the lives of Guyanese and what are needed are investments that generate many jobs such as garment factories and telemarketing services. What GOINVEST should be doing is putting together business plans for large scale business operations that would employ large numbers of persons. It should then sell those proposals to investors in return for government backed tax rebates and incentives. This is what GOINVEST should be doing. It should be putting together major investment deals that would create mass employment. The problem is that the sectors where these jobs can be created are already in the
hands of friends of the business elite or these friends may already have plans for entry into the sector. As such, there is bound to be some political resistance from others who are likely to compete with the friends of the political elite. If the President is serious about GOINVEST becoming more proactive, he should allow them to immediately put together plans for five data centers, two communication service-providers and five clothing factories. Is the President of Guyana willing to take this gamble?
NIS debacle… Compliance Div. starved of resources to track defaulting 40% During a recent public consultation with the National Insurance Scheme, the Company’s Compliance Division came under fire after it was revealed that only 60% of Guyana’s workforce is paying contributions to the scheme. This is according to Head of the Insurance Scheme, Terry Thomas. During the meeting, some members of the public blamed the Inspectors for the shortfall which they claimed has contributed to putting the Scheme in the position it is today. One of the major issues highlighted by members of the public was the failure of inspectors to track down non-compliant employers. However on that issue, Thomas said while he is not being apologetic for the Scheme, he recognizes the need to get the remaining 40% of the workforce to pay their contributions as stipulated by the NIS laws. “We need to have the whole working population covered. It will be a larger percentage and our ability to fund our liability will be much
easier,” Thomas said. He further reiterated the need to increase the Scheme’s compliance percentage, while noting that the Scheme’s internal mechanisms must be strengthened. “We have to strengthen compliance and in terms where there are leakages, we need to do more,” the General Manager noted. However, the sentiments about the Inspectors’ failure to do their job were met with harsh heckling by some of the Inspectors themselves who were present at the meeting. Mr. Earl John, who has been around the NIS for decades said, in his opinion, the NIS Inspectors, ought not to be solely blamed for the current state of affairs of the NIS. “The inspectorate cannot stand up to the employers who are the powers that be, but at the same time, compliance is the essential exercise to be carried out but the inspectorates must be given the right tools to carry out their work, without political and other inference.” John’s statements were
also strongly supported by former Member of Parliament Mr. Mervyn Williams. “You cannot strengthen compliance at the expense of your travelling officers since they have been benefitting from the same rate of travel for more than 20 years. They have been promised duty free concession; those promises have been elusive,” Williams pointed out. According to Williams, the conditions under which the Inspectors are forced to work are less that conducive. “The commuting allowance which Inspectors used to receive has been stopped for more than 20 years…the necessary back up services such as transportation and communication is yet in the making,” Williams added. Further, there were some recommendations for Inspectors to be given powers to carry out arrests, during the execution of their investigations. To this end it was recommended that there be more collaboration between the NIS inspectors and the law enforcement agencies.
Monday December 17, 2012
US State Department honours Corentyne Parliamentarian
Dr Ramayya stands with the honourees including Justice Cecil Kennard (centre). Hailed by the community, his political colleagues and the President of the United States of America as a true community leader, Guyanese Parliamentarian, Dr Veersammy Ramayya was recently honoured by the U.S. State Department. Additionally, he was given a Presidential Commendation from U.S. President Barack Obama himself, signed and all, and copped the President’s Volunteer Service Award for his good works in that country over the past years. In celebration, Dr Ramayya gathered over 3,000 children from across Berbice at his home in Whim, Corentyne on Sunday and hosted a grand Christmas party and treat for the little ones. Each child received a gift, lunch as well as a monetary token. He was also surrounded by his friends, families and political colleagues from the Alliance for Change, including Leader Khemraj Ramjattan, Nigel Hughes, Moses Nagamootoo and Gerhard Ramsaroop. Also recognised at Sunday’s function were Krishnanand Jaganandan for his work in the Central Corentyne Chambers of Commerce (CCCC); several National Grade Six Assessment and CXC top
students and the main honoree of the afternoon, former Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Cecil Kennard. Dr Ramayya stated that the Christmas treat for the kids started way back in 1994. “I used to feed like 200300 elderly people, and then for the past five years, I find that there are so many underprivileged children, so then I started to ship clothes from overseas and I did a lot of work to build up and today you can see we have approximately 3,000 children here.” Dr Ramayya added, “this is the kind of gratification…and this programme basically is between me and my wife (Merlyn)…this is not where people collect money and do it…the selfless duty that I am performing here and the award from President Obama is because of the endless amount of work I did overseas as well.” The Alumni Association of the Corentyne Comprehensive School also awarded the good doctor for community service and academic achievements, “so what you have seen here today, is only the tip off the iceberg and this will continue.” His mentor and good friend, Moses Nagamootoo,
also a former resident of Whim, recalled how he got Dr Ramayya into politics in the 1960’s. “He has certainly distinguished himself…we went to school together and we lived in this community with our parents and foreparents, selling fish and so!” Mr Nagamootoo also noted that Dr Ramayya could very well be the first Guyanese to be honoured by an American President. “Quite an honour,” he noted. “Thank you for the devotion to the service and for doing all you can to shape a better tomorrow for our great nation,” President Barack Obama was quoted as saying in the commendation letter which was read by a close relative of Dr Ramayya, who collected the award which came directly from the White House. Dr Ramayya was born in Whim in a fishing family. He excelled in the fields of academia, real estate, ayurvedic medicine as well as cultural and religious work. His political history dates back to the 1960’s. Later, he campaigned in Florida, USA for Civil rights, and upon his return to Guyana, he reentered the political arena. He entered an independent slate for Local Government elections under the slogan ‘people helping people.
Ailing NIS introduces new increases Although it is reported that the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) could face financial difficulties in the next couple of years, the state insurance agency announced its new contributor friendly increases at a public forum held on the Scheme’s premises last Wednesday. Come January 1, next year, NIS said contributors will enjoy increases in three areas. Pensioners will see an increase in the minimum pension received. The
insurable earnings ceiling of contributors will be increased and the minimum insurable earnings ceiling of selfemployed persons, will also be levitated. The Old Age and Invalidity pension was increased by a little more than $1,200; from $16,604 to $17,932 per month. For persons, earning over $132,000 per month, the insurable earning, which is the upper limit on earnings that attract NIS, was increased by a little over $1,200.
The earning ceiling insurable now stands at $143,455 per month. Weekly earners of over $30,000 will see the insurable earnings raised to over $33,000 from $30,653. Self-employed persons will now see the insurable earnings ceiling move from $41,000 to over $44,000. That is, persons who were making contributions after earning over $41,000 per month will now make contributions after earning about $4000 extra.
Monday December 17, 2012
Monday December 17, 2012
GWMA hosts “much needed” Bartica clean-up By Abena Rockcliffe The Guyana Women Miners’ Association (GWMA), an organization that has visited and done outreach work in all mining districts across the country, has identified Mahdia and Bartica as the most polluted. With that being considered, the Association, with the help of selected inmates from the Mazaruni Prison, yesterday undertook a cleaning exercise within Bartica, which is considered the gateway to the interior. Approximately 19 females and two males from the GWMA and 40 prisoners combined in cleaning the market area and several other streets in the community. The Regional Chairman for Region Seven, Gordon Bradford, while overlooking the exercise, noted that the Region is “strapped” for resources to tackle the garbage situation. He said that there is neither enough equipment nor workforce to do what is needed. Bradford said however, that Barticians need to recognize the need to have a garbage free environment. He noted that at present, the community is driven by the mining sector. But, “those of
GWMA members and prisoners during the clean up exercise in Bartica
us who want to be realistic know that that will not be the key forever, so we need to start working on developing Bartica as a tourist destination.” Bradford said that the community is being faced with the dilemma of works not
being maintained. “This area could be cleaned today, and tomorrow somebody will dump things here.” He noted that at present, there is no system in place for garbage to be properly disposed of and therefore citizens, “especially those
business people, who have the most rubbish, they pay the people of unsound minds to dispose of the garbage for them and most times they just dump it in front the market.” “Some even take their garbage near the site and dump it on the road, so we
have to constantly be clearing the roadway there also.” This newspaper understands that the land currently being used as the dumpsite is privately owned; and according to reports, “the man wants them to stop using the land. He ready for
the land but they don’t have any other place to dump garbage.” Bradford yesterday disclosed that a contract was recently signed between the Ministry of Local Government, the Regional Democratic Council (Continued on page 16)
Monday December 17, 2012
Christianburg CDC and D&I groups clash over drain clearing contract Two groups involved in community work in the Christianburg area were over the weekend engaged in heated confrontations over drainage work that one group was executing, and which the other insists they had a right to do. In what clearly resembled a turf war, the Christianburg Community Development Committee contended that the Guyana Drainage & Irrrigation Authority workers from the same area were engaged in digging drains in the community, which was work that they (CDC) customarily did. Both groups have accused each other of being politically motivated. Chairman of the CDC group, Dolores Mc Donald even showed this newspaper the contract that she had signed with the Linden Mayor and Town Council, for execution of drainage works in the area. “Now we already have a contract to do some of these drains in this community, so I don’t understand how it is that they are saying that they were authorized to do them. I really would like to know who authorized them, because they are responsible for
cleaning roads and parapetswe deal with the creeks,” a disturbed McDonald declared. “We had the contract to do the drains from the cemetery, then Town Council had an extension for these additional drains that extends to Katabulli Creek, and so we asked them(Town Council), but they said that they were not doing them, that it was on another contract between the government and the CDC. But then all of a sudden we see they (D&I workers) doing the work and when we ask, they say that is the Town Council give them,” McDonald stated. Other members of the CDC group expressed frustration at what they say is a clear attempt by the D&I group to covet the work they are entitled to do. “We don’t know why they bullying we. Is we supposed to be clearing all these creeks”, they declared. The CDC group complained that the D&I group is operating illegally as the creek that they are clearing does not come under their scope of work. There were also complaints that the group had been recruiting child labour.
A few children armed with cutlasses were seen in the vicinity where the creek was being dug and persons claimed that the children were involved in helping to clear the creek. But Chairman of the D&I group Andrew Venture contends that it is the CDC group that is illegitimate as they were never registered. The CDC group has however refuted those claims, saying that they were recently registered, and that their group was endorsed by Regional Chairman Sharma Solomon. The group claimed that any drainage contracts within the community should by right go to them, as they are in the process of raising funds to execute community projects, which would benefit the entire community. They are presently engaged in pig rearing and expect to shortly resuscitate the old Christianburg School farm. The drain in contention lies adjacent to the said farm. The recent contract which was signed by Ms. McDonald and the Linden Mayor and Town Council was for the execution of works, which involved (Continued on page 14)
St. Helen University, St. Lucia, awards scholarships to Guyanese students
Kissandra Rehana Boodie
St. Helen University (SHU), based in Vieux Fort St. Lucia, announced today that it has awarded a full scholarship to Jaclynncia George and 50% scholarships to Kissandra Rehana Boodie and Andrew Cameron, to join their MD inaugural class which starts on Jan 7th 2013. President, Oma Sewhdat, in making the announcement, said: “St. Helen is very happy to have these three talented Guyanese students in the ‘class of Jan 2013’. We had many well qualified applicants competing for the scholarships, and Jaclynncia, Kissandra and Andrew were awarded as the winners based on the criteria laid out by the University”.
Commenting on the program and the University’s readiness, Sewhdat said “We look forward to bringing an exciting and innovative program to the class of Jan 2013. Our work to get our facilities ready is coming along really well, and we continue to assemble an impressive team of international faculty members.” The President went on to explain “SHU Faculty heads come from the US, Canada and the Caribbean, and include Dr. Max Hanoman from Guyana, Dr. Richard Van WestCharles, Dr. Alden Chesney and Dr. Dan Ramdath from Canada, and Dr. Colwick Wilson, Dr. Ameed Raoof, Dr. Stephen Carmichael and Dr.
Vishnu Seodat from the USA”. Sewhdat restated that SHU is also offering a one year 50% inaugural scholarship to all students currently enrolled in Medical Programs in Guyana and anywhere else in the Caribbean. He said “this opens up the opportunity for many more students to become part of St. Helen University as they start to build an exciting career in Medicine”. The SHU President invites potential students to visit the university’s website www.shu.com.lc “to learn more about our programs and faculty, and submit an application, or contact us at email@example.com
Monday December 17, 2012
GWMA hosts “much needed”... Man slashes wife with (From page 12) and Cevons Waste Management for the creation of a new landfill site. When the site is completed, he said, Cevons will be entering into a private contract with citizens so as to have their garbage removed from their respective locations. The Regional Chairman said that a price has been set at $300 per barrel. He said that the new system should be implemented by the second day in January next year. “As soon as the system kicks in, we will be clamping down on residents because they will have no more excuses.” Bradford said that collective works are being done to address the “outdated” fine for littering. The Regional Chairman said he welcomed the gesture by the GWMA to create a
healthy and safe environment but called on others to identify with their duties to maintain a clean environment as “it has an effect on all of us and can especially harm the children.” GWMA’s initiative was inspired by the national “Pick it up” campaign. One of the campaign’s representatives, Shawn Mendonza, who was at the location yesterday, said that the programme will be working with Bartica. He commended GWMA’s initiative and noted that he hopes that Barticians will sustain it. President of the GWMA, Simona Broomes, who orchestrated the outreach, said she was heartened by the support shown by the business community, especially Church’s, who provided two pieces of chicken and a drink each for all 40 of the inmates who participated in the clean up
yesterday. She also said that she appreciated the support of the Regional Chairman. However, Broomes said that she thought the persons from the “Pick it up” campaign would have been more physically involved but acknowledged the material donation. Broomes also expressed disappointment with the “no support” given by the Interim Management Committee (IMC). She said that a truck was promised “but it didn’t come and no one had the courtesy to call and say something.” She acknowledged that the Fire Service was willing to help to wash the streets but a car collided with the parked tender. “We need to raise awareness if not there will be an outbreak of some kind of disease and Barticians should allow that.”
axe and cutlass
Celena Butts, a 52-year old woman of HopeLowlands on the East Coast of Demerara is now seeking answers from her relatives as to why she is in pain and hospitalized with chops and bruises. However, relatives themselves are depending on a police investigation to answer these questions. Reports are that the woman was severely chopped at around 20:00hrs on Saturday evening last by her common-law husband of five years. The woman claimed that she is unable to recall Saturday night’s events that led to her receiving wounds to her head and right hand, but according to relatives, who had gathered at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) yesterday, Butts was in the process of preparing dinner when the man, Stephen Sukhram called “Eddie Grant” barged into their home and slashed her with a cutlass. Butts, a shop owner, reportedly managed to put up a fight during which she was able to pull away the cutlass from her attac k e r, w h o
t h e n p u s h e d h e r o f f, picked up an axe that was lying nearby, and continued to slash her about her body and head. Her relatives said that the attack stemmed from an argument that the couple had hours earlier, which resulted in Sukhram storming out of the home before returning to commit the act. The woman’s teenage daughter witne s s e d t h e entire ordeal. Yesterday the girl was s t i l l t r a u m a t i z e d and declined to speak with the press. Nonetheless, other relatives said that after Sukhram finished chopping the woman, he calmly walked out of the house. The woman’s stunned daughter began calling out to
neighbours who immediately rushed to the scene to render assistance to the semiconscious woman. Butts was wrapped up in pieces of cloth and rushed to the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Unit of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) where she was treated before being admitted a patient of the hospital’s High Dependency Unit (HDU). Relatives said that although she is fully conscious of her surroundings now, Butts is unable to recall anything from the brutal attack. Police yesterday reportedly recovered a bloody axe and cutlass from the couple’s home. However, Sukhram, a construction worker is still on the run.
Christianburg CDC... (From page 13) clearing and desilting of drains in the Christianburg community. Under the contract it was specified that both sides of the main drain leading to the cemetery, measuring some 750 ft be cleared. In addition six other drains measuring 1044 ft and interlotting into the main drain are included in said contract. It is the contention of the CDC group that the scope of work contained in the said contract, qualifies them to undertake any further drainage works within the community.
Monday December 17, 2012
New Year should bring consensus - YCT The Youth Coalition for Transformation (YCT) is not happy with the way a number of issues were played out in the year 2012. Speaking at a press conference last Friday, the group’s President Jermaine Grant said that like many Guyanese, many critical issues for the year were unaddressed and unresolved and they will still befall the nation in the coming New Year. “The question of Electoral Reform, Police Reform, Local Government Reform, combating corruption, transparency, accountability of public money, economic empowerment and development of Linden and Region 10 are among important priorities,” said Grant. He said that the YCT is dissatisfied like many
Guyanese that one year has passed with no significant development on the issues mentioned, to instill hope and comfort that the political system is working effectively. According to Grant, there was no political maturity displayed and this is seriously needed for compromise and consensus. Grant said that it is obvious that all political parties have contention with GECOM but there is no move for electoral reform and campaign finance reform. He said that these are major issues that many persons complained about. In regards to the police, Grant said that 2012 saw wanton police brutality and extra judicial killings by officers of the Guyana Police Force. He said that the relatives of the three Linden protestors, Shaquille Grant
and Damion Belgrave are still seeking justice whilst the political establishments behave like it is business as usual. Grant noted that no Commission of Inquiry, reward money, gifts, and visits by government officials to offer sympathies, can remedy the system and make Guyanese feel safe “until we see real institutional and policy reforms of the Guyana Police Force.” Moreover, he said that the installation of Interim Management Committees (IMCs) and dissolution of NDCs and municipalities will not remedy the needs in villages and towns across Guyana that need revenue and resources. He said that since the commencement of parliament, no piece of Local Government legislation has been passed. “How serious is the government when for more than 10 years,
Giftland spreads Christmas cheer in Tiger Bay Giftland Officemax in spreading the Christmas cheer visited the Tiger Bay community yesterday where they donated $300,000 in gifts. Present at the event assisting with distribution of hampers were songstress Michelle ‘Big Red’ King and comedian Kirk Jardine popularly known as ‘Chow Pow’. “In an effort to assist with their Christmas spending we decided to provide food items like last year, which we were successful in reaching two hundred children,” Compton Babb, Giftland Officemax Public Relations Officer said. The event was held at the West End Community Center, 34 Hope Street, South Cummingsburg, obliquely opposite New Thriving Restaurant. “The goal is to reach every Orphanage and shelter, making a renowned presence in their lives. It is heartwarming to demonstrate today that Giftland Cares, providing every home with Christmas Cheers. Everyone has their part to play in building a caring community. Virtually everyone at some point in their lives will need to be cared for by that community. The community is us. If it’s denied the nourishment it needs for survival, it will fail to flourish. A plant without water will die and so too will the spirit of our community,” Babb said. Giftland OfficeMax also launched their “12 Deals of Christmas” with donations to 12 Orphanages. The Homes that received donations were: Berbice
- launches “12 deals of Christmas”
Giftland Officemax Public Relations Manager, Compton Babb gives out one of the hampers to a family in the Tiger Bay community. Anjuman Orphanage, Camal Home for Battered Women & Children, Hauraruni Girls Home, Joshua Children’s Centre, Red Cross Convalescent Homes, Shaheed Girls Orphanage, St.
Ann’s Girls Orphanage, Dropin-Centre for Children, Cornelia I d a C h i l d r e n ’s Home, Ruimveldt Children’s Home, Divine Charitable Society, Enmore and The Palms.
discussions are yet to bring an end to reason on Local Government Reform?” asked Grant. Then there is corruption, which Grant said seems to be everywhere. He said that the recent ranking by Transparency International of Guyana being among the most corrupt countries in the world is embarrassing at best. “Rather than the government act to build its image and Guyana’s profile, it resorted to defile TI and discredit the Index.” Linden and Region 10 have been economically emasculated for many years. The removal of electricity subsidies and efforts to impose electricity tariffs exacerbated the problem that resulted in mass protests and the unfortunate deaths of
three young men, Grant observed. “The valour of Lindeners for economic justice was resolute in protest that resulted in landmark agreements signed by Chairman of Region 10 Sharma Solomon and Prime Minister Samuel Hinds. After more than three months all seems to boil down to naught. Surely Lindeners deserve better. Situations like these are premised on the lack of honouring contracts which puts Guyana on bad lists internationally,” he stated. YCT, he said, believes that progress starts with a conversation with all across the divide, who are committed to work and win for Guyana. “At least the government saw the detriment of noncooperation with the dollar
downed National Budget. Walking up court steps every other month with constitutional challenges against parliamentary decisions is not progress and will deepen the divide and stymie the work for the people. F u r t h e r, it undermines parliamentary democracy.” Grant noted that Budget 2013 will be interesting and YCT believes it is time for real consultation, especially with the parliamentary majority for a comprehensive budget and legislative agenda to be delivered to Guyana as a gift for the New Year. “That can be the New Year resolution for all Guyanese. We are almost three months away from Budget 2013 and the time to act is now.”
Monday December 17, 2012
Enterprise Road Safety Association continues to assist Cheshire Home President of the Enterprise Road Safety Association Chandrapaul Persaud has issued a strong appeal for road users, especially motorists to “spare the drinks and save lives on our roads” as the festive season heats up. Persaud made the appeal while making his association’s customary Christmas donation to the Cheshire home at Mahaica, East Coast Demerara yesterday. According to Persaud, there are more vehicles on the country’s roads and a lot of new young drivers; hence there should be greater care and caution while navigating traffic whether it is on busy city streets or on outlying carriageways where motorists are more inclined to speed. “I want to call on road
users to be extra cautious especially since we are in a season where there is expected to be a lot of drinking of alcohol. I want drivers to desist f r o m drinking and driving. We want them to be very focused,” Persaud said. The Enterpr i s e R o a d Safety Association has been a friend of the Cheshire Home at Mahaica for the past four decades, donating much needed items and food at this time of the year. This year members of the association with help from other groups, including the Enterprise Support Inc, USA, donated over $200,000 in supplies to the home which will certainly e n a b l e t h e entity to fulfill its mandate of caring for the i n c r e asing number of inmates.
Members of the Enterprise Road Safety Association, nurses and inmates of Cheshire Home with some of the donated items. “We believe that this home needs more attention from other organizations.
Family frustrated as elderly man remains missing The children of 79-yearold Vibert Wilfred Solomon also known as ‘Stove man’ and ‘Buggy’ remain frustrated as the man is yet to be found. It has been about two weeks and the panic in the Solomon household is increasing. Searches throughout the country have turned up no trace of the elderly man. According to the man’s daughter, about two weeks ago, she awoke at around 04:00 am only to find the front door of her Lot 11 Cemetery Road, Railway Line, Triumph, East Coast Demerara home open, and her father missing. Solomon’s family told Kaieteur News that he has a tendency of leaving home
without informing his family; however, he would always be spotted by a relative or friend and taken back. This family said that it has never taken them this long to find the former soldier. Solomon, who is said to be an active individual, is dark in complexion and is about five feet, four inches tall. He was last seen wearing a long sleeve blue and white shirt along with short khaki pants and a brown hat. The children and relatives of Vibert Solomon are making an even more desperate call for the public’s assistance to find him. Anyone knowing his whereabouts is asked to make contact with his family on telephone numbers-687-2657,
They still need a lot of work here, as well as people to donate items for its upkeep,”
684-2150, 629-8502, 601-0595, or the nearest police station.
the association, nurses and an inmate of the Cheshire Home.
Eight-year-old hospitalised with burns from Essequibo fire Eight- year-old, Denzel Conway, of Lima Sands, Essequibo Coast remains a patient at the Suddie Public Hospital, after sustaining burns about his body, when his parents’ two storey building was destroyed by a fire. Conway sustained burns to his feet and is said to be in a stable condition. The fire, according to
Missing: 79-year old Vibert Wilfred Solomon
Persaud said after a simple handing over ceremony attended by members of
reports, was caused by a candle the eight year old was holding while he was said to be attending to a customer in the lower flat which had housed a shop. Initial reports have suggested that the lighted the candle fell into the gasoline stored in the building. While neighbours were unable to lend assistance in an attempt to extinguish the
flames, the fire attendants at Anna Regina Fire station were summoned but they turned up after the house was almost destroyed. Conway and his 12-yearold brother were alone at home at the time. Their mother Susie Conway was at a meeting at Anna Regina, some seven miles from Lima Sands when she learnt of the fire.
Two-year-old suffers burns after falling into lighted garbage heap “If yuh play with fire, yuh gonna get burn” is a term that two-year old Akeem Thomas of Region Seven is not yet able to comprehend. He therefore continued to play around a burning garbage heap despite his mother’s warning. According to Felicia Cummings, she was on her way to remove the child from near the fire when he stumbled and fell palms down on the burning heap. He was unable to get up and by the time his mother rushed to his assistance, there were materials stuck onto his right palm. “When I picked him up, I tried to brush off the stuff that was in his hand, but it just mek it worst. The whole skin from inside his hand just tear off.” The child was treated at a health facility in Region Seven before being transferred to the Georgetown Hospital
An injured Akeem Thomas taking a nap in the Pediatric Ward of GPHC Corporation (GPHC) where he was treated at the Accidents and Emergency (A&E) Unit before being admitted to the Children’s Ward there.
The woman added that a Pediatrician of (GPHC) has said that while the child would be fine, his palm will take a while to heal.
Monday December 17, 2012
Monday December 17, 2012
Syrian VP says neither side can win war BEIRUT (Reuters) Syrian Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa has told a Lebanese newspaper that neither the forces of President Bashar alAssad nor rebels can win the war in Syria. Sharaa, a Sunni Muslim in a power structure dominated by Assad’s Alawite minority, has rarely appeared in public since the revolt erupted in March 2011. The newspaper, alAkhbar, released only limited excerpts on Sunday from the interview appearing in Monday’s edition, and it was far from clear that Sharaa’s comments represented the view of the government. But he is still the most prominent figure to say in public that the crackdown will not win. The paper, which generally takes a pro-Assad line, said Sharaa had been speaking in Damascus. In the first phase of the 21-month-old civil war, which has claimed at least 40,000 lives, Damascus was distant from the fighting. Rebels have now brought the war to the capital, without succeeding in delivering a fatal blow to the government.
But nor has Assad found the military muscle to oust his opponents from the city. In Paris, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius of France, one of the major powers most insistent that Assad has lost his legitimacy, told RFI radio: “I think the end is nearing for Bashar al-Assad.” On the ground, rebels said they were launching an operation to seize the central province of Hama to try to link northern rural areas of Syria under their control to the center. Qassem Saadeddine, a member of the newly established rebel military command, said fighters had been ordered to surround and attack checkpoints across the province. He said forces loyal to Assad had been given 48 hours to surrender or be killed. “When we liberate the countryside of Hama province ... then we will have the area between Aleppo and Hama liberated and open for us,” he told Reuters. The city of Hama in the province of the same name has a special resonance for anti-Assad activists. In 1982
Hafez al-Assad, father of the current ruler, crushed an uprising in the city, killing up to 30,000 civilians. In Damascus, activists said fighter jets had bombed the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp, killing at least 25 people sheltering in a mosque. The attack was part of a month-old campaign by Assad’s forces to eject rebels from positions they are establishing around the capital’s perimeter. Yarmouk, to the south, falls within an arc of territory running from the east of Damascus to the southwest from where rebels hope to storm the government’s main redoubt. Opposition activists said the deaths in Yarmouk, to which refugees have fled from fighting in nearby suburbs, resulted from a rocket fired from a warplane hitting the mosque. A video posted on YouTube showed bodies and body parts scattered on the stairs of what appeared to be the mosque. The latest battlefield accounts could not be independently verified due to
Demonstrators hold Syrian opposition flags during a protest against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. REUTERS/Raed Al-Fares/Shaam News Network/Handout tight restrictions on media access to Syria. Syria is home to more that 500,000 Palestinian refugees, most living in Yarmouk, and both Assad’s government and the rebels have enlisted and armed Palestinians as the uprising, which began as a peaceful street movement 21 months ago, has mushroomed into a civil war. Heavy fighting broke out 12 days ago between Palestinians loyal to Assad and Syrian rebels, together with a brigade of Palestinian fighters known as Liwaa alAsifah (Storm Brigade). After Sunday’s air strike, clashes flared anew between Palestinians from the proAssad Popular Front for the Liberation of PalestineGeneral Command (PFLP-GC) and rebels including other Palestinian fighters, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group. Some PFLP-GC fighters were killed, the Londonbased Observatory said. Opposition activists and the Observatory said many were trying to escape the internal fighting in Yarmouk. In the latest of a string of
military installations to fall to the rebels, the army’s infantry college north of Aleppo was captured on Saturday after five days of fighting, a rebel commander with the powerful Islamist Tawheed Brigade said. Insurgents first reported seizing the infantry college on Saturday, but the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said later that day there was still fierce fighting going on. The commander whose Tawheed brigade took part in the assault said the rebels had surrounded the college, located 16 km (10 miles) north of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, three weeks ago. “At least 100 soldiers have been taken prisoner and 150 decided to join us. The soldiers were all hungry because of the siege,” the commander, who spoke on condition he was not further identified, told Reuters by telephone. Desperate food shortages are growing in parts of Syria. Residents of Aleppo say fistfights and dashes across the front lines have become part of the daily struggle to secure a loaf of bread.
Violence continued across the country. Syrian forces killed 25 people in the town of Helfaya in Hama province when they shelled it with warplanes and artillery for the first time since February, opposition activists said. Ten fighters were killed in shelling in Deraa, the cradle of the revolt against Assad. Damascus has accused Western powers of backing what it says is a Sunni Islamist “terrorist” campaign to topple Assad, a member of the minority Alawite sect affiliated with Shi’ite Islam. It says that U.S. and European concerns about Assad’s forces possibly resorting to chemical weapons could serve as a pretext for preparing military intervention. In Lebanon, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Islamist Hezbollah militia group, said the rebels could not win in Syria. “The situation in Syria is getting more complicated (but) anyone who thinks the armed opposition can settle the situation on the ground is very, very, very mistaken.” Syrian rebels accuse Hezbollah, a Shi’ite Muslim group, of sending fighters to neighboring Syria to help Assad overcome the largely Sunni Muslim revolt. Hezbollah denies these accusations. Assad’s and Hezbollah’s main ally in region, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, cancelled a visit to Syria’s estranged neighbor Turkey a day after his military chief said the deployment of NATO missile defenses along its border with Syria could lead to a “world war”, Turkey’s staterun Anatolian news agency said.
Monday December 17, 2012
Conservative LDP returns with landslide in Japan TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party returned to power in a landslide election victory yesterday after three years in opposition, according to unofficial results, signaling a rightward shift in the government that could further heighten tensions with China, a key economic partner as well as rival. The victory means that the hawkish former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will get a second chance to lead the nation after a one-year stint in 2006-2007. He would be Japan’s seventh prime minister in six-and-a-half years. In the first election since the March 11, 2011, earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters, atomic energy ended up not being a major election issue even though polls show about 80 percent of Japanese want to phase out nuclear power. Public broadcaster NHK’s tally showed that the LDP, which ruled Japan for most of the post-World War II era until it was dumped in 2009, won 294 seats in the 480-seat lower house of parliament. Official results were not expected until Monday morning. LDP, the most pro-nuclear power party, had 118 seats before the election. A new, staunchly anti-nuclear power party won just nine seats, according to NHK. In the end, economic concerns won out, said Kazuhisa Kawakami, a political science professor at Meiji Gakuin University. “We need to prioritize the economy, especially since we are an island nation,” he said. “We’re not like Germany. We can’t just get energy from other countries in a pinch.” The results were a sharp rebuke for Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s ruling Democratic Party of Japan, reflecting widespread unhappiness with its failure to keep campaign promises and get the stagnant economy going during its three years in power. The DPJ won in a landslide three years ago amid high hopes for change, but won only 57 seats, compared to 230 s e a t s b e f o r e S u n d a y ’s election, according to the N H K t a l l y. A m o n g t h e casualties were eight Cabinet ministers, the most to lose their seats in an election since World War II, the Kyodo News agency reported. With Japan stuck in a
two-decade slump and receding behind China as the region’s most important e c o n omic player, voters appeared ready to turn back to the LDP. A serious-looking Abe characterized the win as more of a protest vote against the DPJ than a strong endorsement of his party. “I think the results do not mean we have regained the public’s trust 100 percent. Rather, they reflect ‘no votes’ to the DPJ’s politics that stalled everything the past three years,” he told NHK. “Now we are facing the test of how we can live up to the public’s expectations, and we have to answer that question.” Japanese TV stations compile their own tallies by adding all local government interim vote counts and are generally highly accurate. The central government does not provide a grand total until all the numbers are official the next day. Calling the results “severe,” Noda told a latenight news conference he was stepping down as party chief to take responsibility for the defeat. “I apologize deeply for our failure to achieve results,” he said. “It was the voters’ judgment to our failure to live up to their expectations.” The LDP will stick with its long-time partner New Komeito, backed by a large Buddhist organization, to form a coalition government, party officials said. Together, they now control 325 seats, securing a two-thirds majority that would make it easier for the government to pass legislation. Noda said a special parliamentary session would be held before year-end to pick a new prime minister. As leader of the biggest party in the lower house, Abe will almost certainly assume that post. The new government will need to quickly deliver results ahead of upper house elections in the summer. To revive Japan’s struggling economy, Abe will likely push for increased public works spending and lobby for stronger moves by the central bank to break Japan out of its deflationary trap. “The economy has been in dire straits these past three years, and it must be the top priority,” Abe said in a televised interview. He has repeatedly said in the past he will protect Japan’s “territory and beautiful seas” amid a territorial dispute with China over some uninhabited islands in the East China Sea that Japan calls Senkaku and
Japan’s main opposition leader Shinzo Abe, right, of the Liberal Democratic Party, and the party Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba yesterday. AP Photo/Junji Kurokawa) China calls Daioyu. “We must strengthen our alliance with the U.S. and also improve relations with China, with a strong determination that is no change in the fact the Senkaku islands are our territory,” Abe said in the interview. President Barack Obama congratulated Abe in a statement issued Sunday, declaring that the U.S.Japanese alliance “serves as the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the AsiaPacific.” Obama said he looked forward to working close with the new Japanese government “on a range of important bilateral, regional and global issues.” Some Japanese voters also said they supported the LDP’s vows to build a stronger, more assertive country to answer increasing pressure from China and threats of North Korean rocket launches. “I feel like the LDP will protect Japan and restore some national pride,” Momoko Mihara, 31, said after voting in the western Tokyo suburb of Fuchu. “I hope Mr. Abe will stand tall.” A dizzying array of more than 12 parties, including several news ones, contested, some with vague policy goals. One of the new parties, the right-leaning, populist Japan Restoration Party, won 54 seats, NHK said. The party, led by the bombastic nationalist ex-Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara and lawyerturned Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto — both of whom are polarizing figures with forceful leadership styles — could become a future coalition partner for the LDP, analysts said. Ishihara was the one who stirred up the latest dispute with China over the islands when he proposed that the Tokyo government buy them from their private Japanese owners and develop them.
The anti-nuclear Tomorrow Party — formed just three weeks ago — captured just nine seats, according to NHK. Party head Yukiko Kada said she was very disappointed to s e e L D P, t h e o r i g i n a l p r o m o t e r o f J a p a n ’s nuclear energy policy making a big comeback. Abe, 58, is considered one of the more conservative figures in the increasingly conservative LDP. During his previous
tenure as prime minister, he pursued a nationalistic agenda pressing for more patriotic education and upgrading the defense agency to ministry status. It remains to be seen how he will behave this time around, though he is talking tough toward China, and the LDP platform calls developing fisheries and setting up a permanent outpost in the Senkaku/Daioyu islands, a move that would infuriate Beijing. During his time as leader, Abe also insisted there was no proof Japan’s military had coerced Chinese, Korean and other women into prostitution in military brothels during J a p a n ’s wartime aggression in Asia. He later apologized but lately has suggested that a landmark 1993 apology by thenChief Cabinet Secretary for sex slavery needs revising. He has said he regrets not visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, which enshrines J a p a n ’s war dead, including top war criminals, during his term
as prime minister. China and South Korea oppose such visits, saying they reflect Japan’s reluctance to fully atone for its wartime atrocities. The LDP wants to r e v i s e J a p a n ’s p a c i f i s t constitution to strengthen its Self-Defense Forces and, breaching a postwar taboo, designate them as a “military.” It also proposes increasing Japan’s defense budget and allowing Japanese troops to engage in “collective selfdefense” operations with allies that are not directly r e l a t e d t o J a p a n ’s o w n defense. It’s not clear, however, how strongly the LDP will push such proposals, which have been kicked around by conservatives for decades but made no headway in parliament because of limited support among a group of rightwing advocates. LDP could push them harder this time as it and coalition partner now controlling two-thirds in the lower house, though they lack control of the other chamber.
Monday December 17, 2012
Egypt’s Islamists aim to build on constitution vote CAIRO (Reuters) President Mohamed Mursi has won initial backing from Egyptians for a new constitution that he hopes will steer the country out of crisis, but which opponents say is an Islamist charter that tramples on minority rights. A first day of voting in a referendum on the draft basic law resulted in 56.5 percent ‘Yes’ vote, Mursi’s political party said. An opposition official conceded that Egyptians voting Saturday appeared to have backed the measure. Next Saturday’s second set of balloting is likely to give another “yes” vote as the voting then will be in districts generally seen as even more sympathetic towards Islamists, and that would mean the constitution should be approved. But the apparent closeness of the early tally gives Mursi only limited comfort as it exposes deep divisions in a country where he needs to build a consensus for tough economic reforms. If the constitution passes, national elections can take place early next year, something that many hope
will usher in the stability that Egypt has lacked since the fall of Hosni Mubarak nearly two years ago. “The referendum was 56.5 percent for the ‘yes’ vote,” said a senior official in the operations room set up by the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party to monitor voting. A statement from the opposition National Salvation Front did not explicitly challenge the Brotherhood’s vote tally, saying instead that voting malpractices meant a rerun was needed. Rights groups reported abuses such as polling stations opening late, officials telling people how to vote, and bribery. They also criticized widespread religious campaigning that portrayed “No” voters as heretics. A joint statement by seven human rights groups urged the referendum’s organizers “to avoid these mistakes in the second stage of the referendum and to restage the first phase”. Mursi and his backers say the constitution is vital to move Egypt’s democratic transition forward.
Mohamed Mursi Opponents say it is too Islamist and ignores the rights of minorities, including the Christians who make up 10 percent of the population. The build-up to Saturday’s vote was marred by violent protests. Demonstrations erupted when Mursi awarded himself extra powers on November 22 and then fast-tracked the constitution through an assembly dominated by his Islamist allies and boycotted by many liberals. However, the vote passed off calmly, with long queues in Cairo and other places, though unofficial tallies
indicated turnout was around a third of the 26 million people eligible to vote this time. The vote is being held over two days because many of the judges needed to oversee polling staged a boycott in protest. The opposition had said the vote should not have been held given the violent protests. Foreign governments are watching closely to see how the Islamists, long viewed warily in the West, handle themselves in power. “It’s wrong to have a vote or referendum with the country in the state it is in blood and killings, and no security,” said Emad Sobhy, a voter who lives in Cairo. As polls closed late on Saturday, Islamists attacked the offices of the newspaper of the liberal Wafd party, part
of the opposition National Salvation Front coalition that pushed for a “no” vote. Violence in Cairo and other cities plagued the runup to the referendum. At least eight people were killed when rival factions clashed during demonstrations outside the presidential palace earlier this month. “The nation is increasingly divided and the pillars of state are swaying,” opposition politician Mohamed ElBaradei wrote on Twitter. “Poverty and illiteracy are fertile grounds for trading with religion. The level of awareness is rising fast.” A narrow loss could still hearten the leftists, socialists, Christians and more liberalminded Muslims who make up the disparate opposition, which has been beaten in two
elections since Mubarak was overthrown last year. They were drawn together to oppose what they saw as a power grab by Mursi as he pushed through the constitution. The National Salvation Front includes prominent figures such as ElBaradei, former Arab League chief Amr Moussa and firebrand leftist Hamdeen Sabahy. In order to pass, the constitution must be approved by more than 50 percent of those casting ballots. There are 51 million eligible voters in the nation of 83 million. The army deployed about 120,000 troops to protect polling stations. While the military backed Mubarak and his predecessors, it has not intervened in the present crisis.
Palestinian PM Fayyad hits back at Israel with boycott call RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad urged his compatriots in the occupied West Bank yesterday to boycott all Israeli products, upping the ante in a standoff with the Jewish state. Tensions between Palestinian and Israeli leaders have risen since the United Nations General Assembly voted to recognize Palestinian statehood last month, a move opposed by Israel and its ally, the United States. Israel retaliated by announcing last week that it would dock for four months the customs revenue it collects on the Palestinians’ behalf - money the Palestinian Authority needs to function. It had already withheld December’s revenues. “Today, I call upon citizens to boycott Israeli products as an answer to the aggression directed against us, to defend our right to survive,” Fayyad told reporters in the West Bank
Salam Fayyad city of Ramallah. “We will take the necessary steps to implement that.” Fayyad had previously angered Israel by issuing calls to avoid buying Israeli goods produced in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, but Sunday’s call extended the call to all Israeli goods. Israel has already accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of violating peace accords by
sidestepping stalled negotiations and securing a status upgrade at the United Nations. Fayyad’s boycott call may be tough to implement, as Israel is the Palestinians’ biggest trading partner, and Israeli food and manufactured goods are staples of the Palestinian market. The Palestinians imported goods worth around $3 billion from Israel in 2011, while exporting only $618 million worth, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. Trade within the occupied West Bank and with neighboring countries is largely governed by Israel, which controls the import of some construction and agricultural equipment that it says could have military uses. Earlier this month, Israel withheld its December transfer of customs revenue to the Palestinians, saying the money would be used to start paying off $200 million owed to the Israel Electric Corporation. Fayyad called on Arab countries to make good on pledges to make up for any funds Israel withdraws from the Palestinians as punishment for its decision to go the United Nations. “I call the Arab Safety Net to implement immediately its pledges to provide $100 million,” Fayyad said. “I call for an exceptional Arab League meeting to look into the needs of the Palestinians.” Arab countries have yet to provide the exceptional funds.
Monday December 17, 2012
Boehner opens door to tax hikes, shifts U.S. fiscal cliff talks WA S H I N G T O N (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner ’s offer to accept a tax rate increase for the wealthiest Americans knocks down a key Republican road block to a deal resolving the year-end “fiscal cliff.” The question now boils down to what President Barack Obama offers in return. Such major questions, still unanswered so close to the end of the year suggest, however, that no spending and tax agreement is imminent. A source familiar with the Obama-Boehner talks confirmed that Boehner proposed extending low tax rates for everyone who has less than $1 million in net annual income, meaning tax rates would rise on all above that line. Under current law, the 35 percent top tax rate is scheduled to expire on January 1, and would automatically go to 39.6 percent. Boehner’s proposal would allow that rate to rise as scheduled at a threshold of $1 million - putting it back to where it was during the Clinton administration. The White House has not accepted the proposal and the source could not confirm any additional talks were held on Sunday between Obama and Boehner. With just over two weeks before the fiscal cliff’s $600 billion in automatic tax hikes and spending cuts are triggered, threatening a new recession, there is little time to craft a comprehensive deal that will satisfy both
Democrats and Republicans. Until the latest Republican offer, made on Friday, Boehner had insisted on extending all of the Bush era’s lower tax rates, resisting Obama’s demand to let the marginal rates rise on income above $250,000. A rising chorus of business executives also had urged Republicans to agree to this. Some lawmakers and congressional aides had predicted that Republicans, once serious negotiations began, might try to raise the $250,000 threshold, say to $500,000 or $1 million. They also speculated that Republicans, if forced into a tax rate hike on the upperincome groups, might seek a smaller increase, say to around 37 percent. Although the White House has not accepted Boehner’s gambit, it could push negotiations away from entrenched, ideological positions. “Boehner has now accepted the premise of higher rates. So now we’re just arguing over details. I think it’s a significant step,” said Greg Valliere, chief political strategist at Potomac Research Group. A framework deal spelling out tax revenue and spending cut targets to be finalized in the new year could be possible, Valliere said. “Boehner’s offer to allow tax rates to go up for taxpayers earning over $1 million fundamentally transforms fiscal cliff negotiations,” added Sean West, U.S. policy analyst at Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy.
John Boehner In a note to clients, West wrote that it signals, significantly, that Boehner ultimately believes a deal to avoid the cliff is still possible. “The political burden is now shifted back to the president, who must be willing to take on his party in order to get a deal Boehner can ultimately pass. We do not think the president will overreach: Obama will work with Boehner to get to a deal.” There are still several critical elements to a deal besides a tax rate increase on the wealthy, including Republican demands to cut spending on social programs. Changes to the expensive Medicare and Medicaid health care programs for the elderly and the poor could be central to any deal, which must also include an increase in the federal debt limit needed by the end of February. Boehner conditioned his tax rate increase offer on Obama’s agreement to cuts in social program spending, often called entitlements.
France says Afghan officials to meet Taliban near Paris PARIS (Reuters) - France said yesterday officials from the Afghan government, the Taliban rebel movement and other factions would meet this week near Paris to discuss the country’s future as NATO troops prepare to pull out in 2014. Speaking on RFI radio, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, whose country withdrew the last of its combat troops from Afghanistan on Saturday, said Afghan President Hamid Karzai had given his green light to the meeting. “Discreet talks have been taking place between different factions for three years,” Fabius said. “If you want peace, it’s usually between people who don’t agree, and over there they don’t talk to each other. So there will be discussions,
but it won’t be negotiations.” Karzai’s government has failed to draw the Taliban into face-to-face-talks. The forthcoming event is the first time representatives from the Taliban, members of the Afghan High Peace Council and influential figures from the Northern Alliance who fought the Taliban for years are taking part. A Taliban spokesman said there would only be speeches at the conference and there would be no political commitments and no negotiations would take place. The officials are due to meet between Wednesday and Friday at a secret location to the north of Paris, which will be entirely closed off, said Camille Grand, director of the Foundation for Strategic Research, a think
tank which is organizing the event. “They have been invited on an individual basis,” he said. “The idea is to get them to talk freely and behind closed doors,” he told Reuters, adding that there would be 20 participants. He declined to name the individuals attending. Fabius said France had no direct involvement in the process other than hosting it. Sources said French officials would be present. Attacks by Taliban insurgents rose slightly during the main part of the Afghan fighting season this year as some U.S. forces withdrew and the transition to a lead role for Afghan security forces picked up pace, according to a Pentagon report released on December 10.
Many Republican lawmakers want to raise the eligibility age for Medicare to 67 from 65. They also want to link Medicare to the income of recipients, making wealthier retirees pay more for their care. Currently, Medicare does have some means testing, charging higher premiums for coverage of doctors visits and prescription drugs to individuals earning more than $85,000 and married couples earning more than $170,000. Only about 5 percent of recipients pay these higher premiums. Thus far, Obama has offered only about $400 billion in 10-year entitlement savings, mostly through small adjustments in reining in health care costs - not fundamental changes such as raising the eligibility age. And just as Boehner faces opposition in his own party to raising any tax rates, Obama faces opposition to cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security from Democrats, who pledged in election campaigns they would protect these programs. A major bloc of
congressional Democrats has already signaled they will not accept major cutbacks in Medicare as part of any fiscal cliff deal. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Maryland Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland are among the high ranking Democrats in the House who have come out forcefully in recent days against raising the age for eligibility for Medicare to 67 years of age. “Given the level of savings that is being talked about from Medicare, you can’t get it all from providers and drug makers,” said Paul Heldman, an analyst at Potomac Research, which tracks Washington policy for investors. “So opponents of raising the eligibility age have reason to believe beneficiaries will take some sort of hit if a megadeal is cut,” he said. If Republicans are not successful in securing entitlement program cuts in exchange for a tax-rate increase on the wealthy, they are adamant about using a debt-limit increase as leverage to overhaul Social Security
and Medicare. The U.S. Treasury expects to reach its $16.4 trillion statutory debt cap by year-end, and will exhaust its remaining borrowing capacity around mid-February, risking a potential default. Louisiana Republican Representative John Fleming, a member of the conservative Tea Party caucus who has never voted to increase the debt ceiling, said he would support a debt limit hike if it were part of a deal to make Medicare and Social Security sustainable. The pace of activity could pick up the coming week. House Republicans were told to prepare for a possible weekend session next week, potentially interrupting travel plans for the long Christmas holiday weekend. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor scheduled “possible legislation related to expiring provisions of law,” a reference to the expiring tax cuts, for the end of the week, portending a weekend session. Cantor has said the House would meet through the Christmas holidays and beyond.
Monday December 17, 2012
Colombia, rebels hope rising trust can yield peace HAVANA (AP) — While the angry rhetoric and bombs continue to fly back home, Colombian rebels and government negotiators in peace talks in the Cuban capital describe an increasingly collegial atmosphere and growing trust between otherwise mortal enemies. Negotiators for the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, kibbutz about the latest soccer results and tease the unofficial timekeeper of the talks when it’s time for a break. They share cigarettes and aromatic Cuban cigars, and even huddle around a computer screen to hash over design ideas for the website they’ve developed together for those seeking information about the negotiations. Participants say it’s arresting to see longtime foes who have spent the better part of half a century killing each other’s friends and colleagues behaving so cordially — and the best hope by far that they will find common ground. Rodrigo Granda, a senior
FARC commander who goes by the nom de guerre Ricardo Tellez, said the two sides “never forget that we come from opposing sides of a conflict which has not yet ended.” But he added: “There’s still room for a joke, or a smile ... We have been building confidence and that is extremely important.” In interviews with The Associated Press, five participants provided the most extensive peek yet behind the curtain of the secret negotiations, which formally began in Oslo, Norway, in October and have been continuing at a convention center in Havana ever since. In addition, the two main rebel negotiators Ivan Marquez and Rodrigo Granda have spoken publicly about the growing atmosphere of trust. Three of the participants who spoke to AP about specific details of the talks asked not to be identified because they did not want to risk destabilizing the fragile discussions, which are centered on halting the conflict, agrarian reform, drug
Ivan Marquez, right, chief negotiator for Colombia’s Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and Ricardo Tellez. AP Photo/Franklin Reyes trafficking, victim compensation and reinsertion of the rebels into society. There has been no agreement yet on any of the points. This is the fourth attempt since the 1980s to bring peace to Colombia, which has been at war even since before the rebels took up arms in 1964. A U.S.-backed military buildup that began in 2000
has reduced the FARC’s ranks to about 9,000 fighters and killed several top commanders, though the rebels insist they are still strong. Building trust is particularly important in these talks, given a history of betrayal on both sides. After a political wing of the FARC laid down its arms in the 1980s, 5,000 partisans were hunted down and killed. Meanwhile, the government accuses the rebels of taking advantage of a safe haven granted in failed peace negotiations a decade ago to strengthen themselves militarily and profit from protecting the drug trade. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has said the negotiations must bear fruit by November 2013 or he will call an end to the effort. The FARC and government teams, consisting of 10 primary negotiators and about 20 support members for each side, are living in luxury houses on opposite sides of a one-time country club called El Laguito that the Cuban government now uses as a heavily-guarded official compound. They have each others’ phone numbers and often call at night to arrange details of the next day’s agenda. At the meetings, both sides tap their wrists insistently to prod Jaime Avendano, a government negotiator who has become the unofficial timekeeper, when they get antsy for a break. Participants say these 15-
30 minute respites are when most informal interactions occur, with negotiators ducking out the back door of a pantry adjoining the meeting room to smoke and stretch their legs. They talk about everything from the weather to the fortunes of Colombian soccer clubs such as Bogota’s Millonarios, America of Cali and Medellin’s Atletico Nacional, with sporting allegiances crossing the political boundaries. “That’s when we shoot the breeze,” said one rebel negotiator at the table. FARC and government officials also huddle in small groups with Colombian experts on land reform and other issues brought in to advise the sides, and the informal talks are a good way for both sides to hint at their positions without making formal concessions. Former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, a driving force behind the U.S.-brokered Good Friday peace accord in Northern Ireland in 1998, said building personal relationships can help the process, but is not enough to wipe away decades of mistrust. “Getting to know their opponents as human beings is helpful as a predicate for getting into serious discussions,” Mitchell told AP in a phone interview. “But of course it doesn’t by itself resolve the differences.” Mitchell, who also served as America’s Middle East envoy from 2009-2011, cautioned that familiarity does not always lead to fondness, citing the IsraeliPalestinian conflict as an example. “When people got to know each other it validated and fortified their mistrust,” he said. “Rather than liking the other side they came to dislike them even more.” Rebels in the Cuban capital say that a small core of negotiators who spent seven months in Havana earlier this year secretly laying the groundwork for the peace process sometimes socialized with their government counterparts, including at cocktails organized by Norwegian diplomats acting as guarantors. The parties
also dined together in Oslo. But no such fraternizing has occurred since the talks returned to Havana, in part because of the large size of the groups and because it has taken time for relationships to develop between the newcomers. “Like always, at first trust had not yet been built and perhaps there was some distance, but with time the gap has been closing,” the rebel’s chief negotiator, Ivan Marquez, whose real name is Luciano Marin Arango, said at a Nov. 29 press conference. Tanja Nijmeijer, a Dutch woman who joined the rebels a decade ago and is one of the only women at the negotiating table, told the AP it was “not an atmosphere among friends, but it is pleasant.” That is a striking contrast to events back home, where the declaration of a unilateral cease-fire by the FARC has not brought a halt to hostilities. In late November a rebel front destroyed two energy towers; guerrillas later said the front had not yet received word of the cease-fire announced the previous day. A week and a half later the Colombian military bombed a cluster of FARC camps and said at least 20 guerrillas were killed. But even through those clashes, the negotiators have had kind words to say about each other. Multiple participants described a striking exchange between Marquez and hardline Colombian army Gen. Jorge Enrique Mora that has come to define the respect between battlefield foes helping drive the negotiations. While the two men were talking one morning, the former Colombian armed forces chief suddenly said to Marquez: “You know, we already know each other, you and I,” before rattling off the names of several battles they had fought in over the decades. The rebel commander agreed, but added the dates of several other fierce clashes. “You didn’t know I was there, but I knew you were,” he quipped, breaking the tension in the room. When asked at a press conference what it was like to face his nemesis across the negotiating table, Marquez said he respected Mora and a former national police chief as adversaries whose experiences as men of the sword would be valuable. “They have been good at war,” Marquez said. “Perhaps they know how to find the path to peace.”
Monday December 17, 2012
Fidel Castro nominated for Guyanese UN official seeks billions for region Cuban parliament seat HAVANA (AP) — Retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro has been nominated for a seat in the country’s parliament, authorities said Saturday. The afternoon TV news announced “the leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro Ruz heads the list of 25 candidates to the Cuban parliament from the municipality of Santiago de Cuba, approved by the delegates of this state body.” Castro was also named as a delegate in 2008, when he officially retired as president. It’s unclear whether he has played an active role in legislative duties in the years since. The current session of parliament held its last gathering last week and is due to reconvene with new membership in February following elections. It’s expected to rename to the presidency Castro’s younger brother Raul, who was also nominated as a representative of the municipality of Segundo Frente. Fidel Castro, 86, stepped down as president temporarily in 2006 due to a near-fatal illness and left the presidency for good two years later. Raul has been in charge since then. Today the elder Castro spends most of his time out
Fidel Castro of the public eye and has ceased penning his onceregular essays known as “Reflections.” In October, Castro mocked those who are anxious to see him depart this world after speculation that his health was dire once again made the rounds on the rumor mill. In an essay ironically titled “Fidel is Dying,” he explained that he decided to stop publishing the opinion pieces not due to poor health, but because the space that Cuban state media devoted to his words was needed for other purposes. This weekend he once again ended weeks of public silence in a letter that Venezuelan Vice President
Nicolas Maduro read to a ceremony marking the eighth anniversary of the ALBA block of Latin American nations. In it Castro praised his friend and ally President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who is recovering from cancer surgery in Cuba, and recalled the two men’s first encounter 18 years ago. “The name of Hugo Chavez is admired and respected throughout the world,” Castro wrote in the letter, which was dated Saturday. “Everyone and even many of his adversaries wish his quick recovery.” “The doctors are fighting with optimism for that objective,” Castro concluded. Also Saturday, a highranking Venezuelan official said Castro has been paying daily visits to Chavez since last Tuesday’s operation. “He always stops by to personally find out about El Comandante’s health condition and also to share his knowledge with all of us, and to give the family courage and encouragement,” said Science and Technology Minister Jorge Arreaza, who is also Chavez’s son-in-law. He spoke to Venezuelan television by phone from Havana.
Jamaica Govt. wants to revive train service
Jamaica Observer - A mere four months after pulling the brakes on the partially revived passenger rail service due to the fact that it was swimming in red ink, the Government last week insisted that it would be resurrected during the Administration’s current term in office. “This administration is actively pursuing the resuscitation of the railway,” Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips told Parliament last Tuesday, while seeking the House’s approval for the completion of the North-South Link of Highway 2000 by the National Road Operating and Constructing Company Limited. According to Dr Phillips, the Cabinet, on the advice of the Ministry of Transport and Works, has established an Enterprise Team to oversee this process. “It (Enterprise Team) is moving full speed ahead to entertain requests for proposals and consider these requests, and we expect a railway operation in the future of this country and indeed in the future of this Administration,” the finance minister said. The statement comes in the wake of the Government’s decision in August to end the passenger rail service that was reintroduced in 2011 under the Jamaica Labour Party Administration. The service, the current Government said, proving to be a drain on the finances of the transport and works ministry, which heavily subsidised the operations.
Earlier this year, Mike Henry, the transport and works minister in the former JLP Administration, had warned the current Government not to turn its back on the railway system which, he said, was critical to the country’s development. “Let us hope to God that we don’t think it is not viable or important in the development of the country, as no modern world develops without the railway system,” Henry told the Jamaica Observer in an interview. His warning came after an announcement by the transport ministry that the passenger train service, which operated between Spanish Town and Charlemont via Linstead, would be terminated on August 21. Partial rail service was reintroduced to Jamaica by Henry in April 2011, after being dormant for 19 years, to facilitate commuters during the closure of the Bog Walk Gorge and to minimise disruption of pipe-laying by the National Water Commission. However, the ministry’s current leadership said that with the works completed and the gorge reopened, the service had proven to be uneconomical. Transport Minister Omar Davies told the Observer then that the rail service had been operating at a monthly loss of J$2.5 million and, as a result, would be privatised as the Government does not have the resources to keep it afloat. He said the Enterprise Team was set up to explore privatisation.
ROME, Italy - CMC - A Guyanese-born United Nations official is seeking US$8.5 billion to fund emergency response programmes for humanitarian aid to millions of people in the Caribbean and around the world in 2013. “There is no let-up in humanitarian needs in the world,” the Under-SecretaryGeneral for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, told reporters here after she and other senior UN and humanitarian aid officials launched the appeal. “They are displaced from their homes, hungry, unprotected and vulnerable, living with the consequences of natural disasters and violent conflict,” she added. The funding call is made under the annual Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) that, since its launch by the UN General Assembly in 1991, has become a central tool used by the world body and other aid organizations to plan,
Valerie Amos coordinate, fund, implement and monitor their activities. Amos said the appeal is directed at governments, private individuals and businesses, among others, as she called on them to “contribute to saving lives in 2013.” She highlighted that 520 UN agencies, nongovernmental and other aid organizations have come together to launch the call with the aim to “deliver aid in
an effective and coordinated way.” The Under-SecretaryGeneral also noted how international responses both buttress and enhance local efforts, which she saluted, saying that communities, civil society organizations, businesses, local and national governments were the “first responders, and, throughout a protracted crisis, important providers of support and help.” Amos said that last year’s CAP appeal for US$7.7 billion to help 51 million people in distress remained 40 per cent underfunded. “This means that people in need in some parts of the world have not been able to get the help they would have had we got the money,” she said, adding that it was too early to tell how the global financial crisis might affect funding levels this year. She stressed that a “unified response can save lives and help communities become more resilient.”
Monday December 17, 2012
Monday December 17, 2012
Monday December 17, 2012 ARIES (March 21 - April 19): You might have a lot of false starts today, despite the fact that you were smart enough to think ahead and plan ahead. Your concentration just isn't strong now, and it won't be able to carry you through. ******************* TAURUS (April 20 - May 20): Your life is more intertwined with other people's lives than you realize right now, so don't think that your actions won't have dominolike repercussions. ****************** GEMINI (May 21 - June 20): Withholding your true feelings from someone is never a good idea, even if you are trying to save them from your anger or disappointment. You simply can't hold back important stuff -- and how someone makes you feel is definitely important stuff. ******************** CANCER (June 21 - July 22): You might have some extra money in your pockets right now, but you need to keep it there! Try not to overspend today. What you get for your money won't bring you any real joy anyway, so you are much better off keeping this money for a rainy day. ********************* LEO (July 23 - Aug. 22): Someone in your life has been running hot and cold on you, and today you should turn off the faucet and walk away. You have been working so hard at making a connection with them, but it's not worth it. ******************* VIRGO (Aug. 23 - Sept. 22): An unexpected change in your daily routine will put you smack dab in front of someone who you are starting to feel something for!
********************* LIBRA (Sept. 23 - Oct. 22): Are you feeling intimidated by someone who is really smart? Has it ever occurred to you that you are also smart? There is a strong possibility that this person is equally intimidated by you! ********************* SCORPIO (Oct. 23 Nov. 21): Today, it's important for you to devote serious energy towards finding a balance between your home life and your public life. ******************** SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22 Dec. 21): Your ability to connect well with others is very strong now, making this period of your life well suited for job interviews, dates, and any other situation where you will need to make a positive impression with someone you meet one-on-one. .********************* CAPRICORN (Dec. 22 Jan. 19): Do not let what other people are doing with their money influence what you do with yours. Even if their recent investments have turned out to be good ones, it might be too late for you to hop on the bandwagon. ******************** AQUARIUS (Jan. 20 Feb. 18):Your terrific mental energy should make for an easy day -- and a fun one! It's a really great time for you to tell your boss or mate your pie-in-the-sky ideas, as they are likely to say yes! ********************* PISCE S ( F e b . 1 9 M a r c h 2 0 ) : Be open to change today. Let your curiosity guide you to new and unknown places. Wondering if someone charming is romantically available?
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Monday December 17, 2012
Dispute between China’s CHEC and Jamaica brewing Jamaica Observer - A dispute is brewing between China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) and the two major trade unions — the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), and the National Workers Union (NWU) — which could create industrial relations problems when construction on the North-South link of Highway 2000 starts next year. On Friday, the two unions wrote to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security seeking its intervention to resolve the main issue of whether CHEC will observe the provisions of the labour agreement adopted by the Joint Industrial Council (JIC) for the building and construction industry. Specifically, they need to know if the Chinese firm will agree to pay workers a 16 per cent end-of-project bonus. Their concerns emerged after CHEC refused to pay the bonus to unionised workers who were employed in the construction of the Rio Grande Bridge in St Margaret’s Bay, Portland, which was opened in October.
NWU deputy island supervisor Owen Saunderson explained to the Jamaica Observer that the bonus is paid to permanently employed construction workers because there is no redundancy procedure when a project wraps up, and there is no certainty of reemployment on other projects. The bonus has come to be seen in the sector as a sort of ex-gratia payment. Both unions want CHEC to follow the precedent set by other foreign contractors including Pihl and Bouygues. The BITU’s vicepresident, Alden Brown, said that all foreign contractors who have done work in Jamaica have observed the JIC agreement because it sets out the local industry standards, but CHEC refuses to do so and only picks out certain provisions with which it is in agreement. “When we spoke to them about it, they referred us to the National Works Agency (NWA). The NWA referred us back to CHEC and now they have referred us back to the NWA. We can’t go on like this, so we have referred the
matter to the Ministry of Labour and requested a meeting to resolve the issue,” he explained. This isn’t the only issue that needs to be settled betwen the unions and the Chinese. The employment of skilled Jamaicans on the Highway 2000 project, payment according to JIC rates and recognition of the unions as representatives of the local employees are also on the list. Brown says the unions expect no dispute over their right to represent the workers who will be employed on the North-South link, because they have already established their presence at other CHEC sites including the Rio Grande Bridge project. The only uncertainty, he says is the ratio of Jamaicans to imported workers which, has always been 3:1 in favour of locals. The Sunday Observer sought a response from CHEC some weeks ago and was informed by the company’s legal department that while it is aware that there is a labour/ management JIC agreement, and while it respects and
Jamaicans employed to China Harbour Engineering Company work on this bridge in Portland. supports the work of the JIC, it should be acknowledged that it is not a signatory to the agreement. “CHEC and many other operators in the building and construction industry are not members of the Council. Likewise, not all unions are signatories to the agreement,” was the e-mailed response. CHEC said it complies fully with the laws of Jamaica in the making of all payments due to workers it engages on any project, but the bonus was a different matter. “The 16 per cent end-ofproject bonus to which reference is being made is a provision of the labour management agreement between the Council and unions that have assented to this agreement. CHEC is not a party to this agreement and is guided by the laws of
Jamaica in the payment of all wages or benefits due to workers,” the company said. The firm said that it will seek to employ skilled, qualified workers for North/ South Highway project. It is understood that the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing handed over a checklist of skilled Jamaicans who had been involved with Highway 2000 under French contractors Bouygues up to recently. “There is a possibility that former skilled workers employed by Bouygues on Highway 2000 will be among the persons seeking employment with CHEC for work on the North-South Highway project,” the engineering firms response. However, it said it had no specific knowledge as to the unionised status of the former employees of
Bouygues or the terms of their remuneration. “Rates and benefits payable to workers on a project usually impact the overall cost and price of the project and, as such, are mainly determined by the agreement arrived at between contractor and employer. “This is particularly the case where such rates or benefits may be more favourable than the requirements under law,” CHEC stated. It said, however, that it is unaware of any concern by unionised construction workers that it is planning to ignore Jamaican skills and import skilled labourers from China. “CHEC has always hired and will continue to hire local labourers to pursue project requirements,” the company insisted.
US and Caribbean reaffirm commitment to CBI partnership WASHINGTON – CMC - The United States has reaffirmed its commitment to the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative Partnership in the Third Caribbean-United States Security Cooperation Dialogue in Trinidad. In a joint statement, released here yesterday, the US Department of State said it and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries have also reaffirmed their “keen interest” in advancing their commitments in several initiatives. These include the Caribbean-United States Declaration of Principles; the Caribbean-United States Plan of Action on Security Cooperation; the Joint CaribbeanUnited States Framework for Security Cooperation Engagement; and the Joint Statement of the Second Caribbean-US Security Cooperation Dialogue held in the Bahamas in 2011l. The statement said the US and CARICOM have recommitted to the “priorities of substantially reducing illicit trafficking, advancing public safety and security and further promoting social justice as outlined in the Caribbean-United States Declaration of Principles.” Recognizing the work done by the Commission and the Technical Working Groups over the past year, as outlined in the Joint Implementation Report, the statement
said both parties acknowledge the requirement for enhanced regional cooperation and sustainability of efforts over the long-term to “effectively address security in the Caribbean.” The United States and CARICOM states declared their intent to strengthen their cooperation in the period 2012-2013 by recognizing, among other things, the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) as the “primary entity for the coordination of all regional security programs and projects” among the CARICOM states and with the Dominican Republic and by providing resources to CARICOM IMPACS. In addition, CARICOM and the United States plan to enhance mechanisms for training and counter narcotics coordination and operations by supporting the Technical Assistance Field Team Program (TAFT) and considering “all necessary agreements and arrangements” to facilitate the operation of the Cooperative Sensor and Information Integration (CSII) Programme. The US and CARICOM plan to promote social justice by instituting Youth Workforce Development programmes in the Caribbean to focus on life skills training, technical and vocational training, based on market needs, and private sector assistance with internships and job placements.
Monday December 17, 2012
Siddle mops up for Australia after Dilshan ton HOBART (Reuters) - Peter Siddle grabbed five wickets to help Australia to a 141-run lead at the end of the third day of the first test on Sunday but only after a brilliant 147 from Sri Lanka’s Tillakaratne Dilshan had stalled the hosts for much of the day. Openers Ed Cowan (16) and David Warner (eight) added 27 without loss to Australia’s first innings tally of 450 for five declared before the close of play, despite a rain disruption and some tight bowling from the Sri Lankans. Dilshan earlier put on 161 in a record partnership with all rounder Angelo Mathews (75) to drive the tourists to 336 all out after they had resumed in a big hole at 87-4 in the morning. Siddle finally separated them when he trapped Mathews lbw before tea after two sessions of frustration for Australia, which were compounded by an injury to seamer Ben Hilfenhaus. Opener Dilshan followed soon afterwards - the victim of a superb yorker from leftarmer Mitchell Starc - and Siddle then skittled the tail to finish with figures of 5-54. Hilfenhaus managed just two balls of the eighth over
Kountouris. Barring a couple of run-out chances and a few loose shots, the remaining Australian bowlers failed to create many opportunities before lunch on a good Hobart track. Dilshan, resuming on 50, had to temper his aggressive instincts but moved steadily towards his 15th test century, spending a nervous half an hour in the nineties before finally reaching the hundred with his 16th four. RECORD PARTNERSHIP The 36-year-old’s delight at completing his first century in Australia was made clear to everyone in the ground by the huge yelp he emitted as he skipped down the wicket in celebration. His hundred came off 148 balls and the scoring rate slowed even further after lunch as Australia’s bowlers took the
Peter Siddle trapped Angelo Mathews in front (Getty Images) of the day before pulling up with a side strain and being taken to hospital for scans. He was rated as “doubtful” to bowl again in the test by Australia’s physio Alex
Basketball player Juan Richardson succumbs after suffering stroke Members of the basketball fraternity, especially those in Albouystown, were thrown into mourning following the sudden passing of player, 37year-old Juan Richardson, who suffered what is been said as a heart attack and stroke while playing a game in Albouystown on Sunday December 9. In what should have been another Sunday afternoon of basketball on the Albouystown court, fate played a cruel hand. After about 2 minutes of game time, Richardson, better known around the basketball fraternity as ‘Joe’ was one of the players that started a whole-court run when he suddenly froze on the court, went down, losing ball possession in the process. At first no one knew that Joe had suffered a stroke when the ball went out of his control, but after a subsequent fast-break by the opposing team, the ballers, whom are all personal friends of Richardson, realized that it was something serious and so hurriedly rushed him to Georgetown hospital where he was diagnosed with suffering both a heart-attack and stroke that sent left the
right part of his entire body paralyzed. “This was certainly a stroke that was suffered by the most energetic and regular bouncer among those who usually played on that court,” said one of his friends. ”I would never forget this game for as long as I live,” remarked another friend. After approximately two days in the HDU of the GPHC and constant prayers by all whose lives Joe had touched with his usual friendless and jovial personality, his battle to recover was lost in the early morning hours of Wednesday, December 12. The 37 year old former employee of Brydens and Fernandes, Vinelli and KBR Engineering has left to mourn a wife and four children, his mother and eight siblings. Juan Richardson had recently represented Albouystown-Charlestown in the just concluded Mackeson Smooth Moves competition and was usually a constant participant for other competitions where the said team was involved. Richardson is expected to be buried tomorrow, Tuesday, 18 December, 2012.
new ball and made the batsmen work for every run. Siddle finally made the breakthrough when he sent down a delivery that caught Mathews on the back leg with the TV umpire confirming upon appeal that the ball would have clipped the top of the middle stump. The 161run partnership was the highest for Sri Lanka in Australia, beating the 144 Aravinda da Silva and Ravi Ratnayeke put on for the seventh wicket at Brisbane in 1998. Dilshan’s departure on the 273rd ball he faced precipitated something of a collapse for the tourists with the last four wickets tumbling for the addition of just 47 runs. Siddle removed wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene for 40 with another lbw decision that
Tillakaratne Dilshan derived from an Australian appeal to the TV umpire, and Rangana Herath followed for a duck after facing just three balls. The Sri Lankans were left ruing having used up their appeals as the TV pictures showed Siddle’s delivery clearly hit Herath’s bat before his pad despite umpire Tony
Hill’s lbw call. There was no doubt about Nuwan Kulasekara’s departure for 23 in the next over, however, and he was caught on the midwicket boundary by substitute fielder Jordan Silk attempting a second six in an over off Nathan Lyon. Siddle was determined to get his five-wicket haul and he achieved that goal in the following over when Chanaka Welegedara edged the ball to Mike Hussey at gully to end the innings. Dilshan said he thought the rest of Sri Lanka’s much vaunted top order would do better in the second innings after their failure in the first. Scores: Australia 5 for 450 dec and 0 for 27 lead Sri Lanka 336 (Dilshan 147, Mathews 75, Siddle 5-54) by 141 runs.
Monday December 17, 2012
Stunning Nicolette Fernandes continues to amaze at World Open - upsets former world number one Rachael Grinham
Nicolette Fernandes in action. (SquashSite) Representing her country, her region, her family and herself, world number 48 Nicolette Fernandes has done so with distinction and yielded unprecedented success so far at the Women’s
World Squash Open 2012 in the Cayman Islands. Fernandes fought her way out of the qualifying round and in her latest match yesterday, the fourtime senior Caribbean
champion toppled the number 16 seed of the tournament. Phenomenally, Fernandes came back from 02 against Australia’s former world number one Rachael Grinham who is currently
ranked number 16th in the world. The win was Fernandes’ third of the tournament and she has now advanced to the second round of the main draw. Grinham is a former World Open champion and held the world number rank in 2004 for 14 months. Grinham won the first two games in the gruelling first round match 11/3, and 11/6 as it looked like the end for Fernandes, but the 29-yearold Guyanese fighter managed to stay alive. Fernandes pulled off a stunning 12/10 win in the third, dominated the fourth 11/5 and stole the fifth and final game 11/9 for what may be viewed as the upset of the tournament. In her second match of the tournament in the qualifying round, Fernandes
upset Misaki Kobayashi of Japan who is currently ranked 42nd in the world. That match was reported as being the match of the tournament by the official tournament site, (www.worldopensquash.com) lasting 83 minutes with long rallies for nearly every point. Fernandes had prevailed 6/ 11, 12/10, 9/11, 13/11, 11/9 to qualify for the main draw where she took out Grinham. Fernandes, along with Mary Fung-A-Fat and Ashley DeGroot benefited from wildcard spots to compete in the tournament this year based on their performances at the respective Caribbean Area Squash Association’s (CASA) Caribbean Championships. The three Guyanese ladies had to battle in the qualifying round for a chance to make it to the main
draw of the tournament but only Fernandes succeeded. In her opening match of the tournament, Fernandes comfortably dispatched world number 44 ranked Coline Aumard of France 11/ 6, 11/1 and 11/4. DeGroot got a chance to go up against world number 29 Sarah Jane Perry and lost in three games 11/3, 11/7, 11/ 3. After a first round walkover win, Fung-A-Fat was humbled by world number 27 Lauren Briggs of England. In an interview on the tournament website, Fung-AFat said, “It’s completely different playing at this level compared to what I’m used to. It’s very serious and accurate. I see now what I have to do and how much training I have to put in to get to that level, challenge accepted.” Nicolette will continue to compete in the second round of the tournament in hopes of creating more upsets wins at the world most prestigious women’s squash tournament.
Usain Bolt wins BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year Bradley Wiggins takes Sports Personality award BBC Sport - Sprinter Usain Bolt has been named the BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year after winning triple Olympic gold for the second successive Games. The 26-year-old Jamaican starred at the London 2012 Games as he claimed 100m, 200m and 4x100m titles. Bolt became the only man to have retained both individual sprint golds and helped his team become the first to run under 37 seconds in the relay. His sixth Games gold made him the most decorated Olympic sprinter of all-time. It is the third time in the past five years he has been given the BBC honour. “It was a great Olympics, a great year and I worked really hard,” he said. Bolt triumphed despite hamstring and back problems that had placed his participation in doubt. After winning the 200m title, he said: “I’m a living legend. I was fast, but I was not fit enough.” Following the relay victory on the final day of action in the Olympic Stadium, he traded celebrations with Britain’s 5,000m and 10,000m gold medallist Mo Farah. Double Olympic champion Farah did Bolt’s ‘lightning’ celebration while Bolt mimicked Farah’s
Farah did Bolt's 'lightning' celebration while Bolt mimicked Farah's 'Mobot'. ‘Mobot’. Bradley Wiggins has been voted the 2012 BBC Sports Personality of the Year. The Tour de France and Olympic time trial champion beat 11 other contenders to the prestigious title. He became the first Briton to win the Tour, following that triumph with gold at London 2012, his fourth Olympic title, during what was a memorable summer for the 32-year-old cyclist. Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis was runner-up while US Open winner Andy Murray was third.
“I will say thank you to everyone who voted,” said Wiggins, upon receiving the main award. “We have had all that jungle stuff and X-Factor the last few weeks, so for people to pick up the phone and vote in half an hour, thank you very much. “What a year. To stand on this stage with the people next to me is incredible. I’d like to thank my team-mates - I wouldn’t be on this stage without them. I’d like to thank [British Cycling chief] Dave Brailsford, the coaches, British Cycling, Team Sky and all the Olympians.”
Monday December 17, 2012
Corinthians stun Chelsea to win world title
Brazil’s Corinthians captain Alessandro celebrates with the trophy after defeating Britain’s Chelsea during their FIFA Club World Cup final soccer match in Yokohama, south of Tokyo December 16, 2012. REUTERS/Yuya Shino YOKOHAMA, Japan (Reuters) - Paolo Guerrero poached a 69th-minute winner as South American champions Corinthians ambushed Chelsea to win the Club World Cup on Sunday, triggering wild celebrations in Yokohama. Chelsea, who had been under pressure to win the tournament after becoming the first holders to exit the Champions League at the group stage, missed a string of chances. “It doesn’t matter how skilful the opposition is, our players have the work-rate, energy and teamwork to overcome,” Corinthians coach Tite told reporters. “They have a great telepathy,” added the 51-yearold, who guided the Sao
Paulo club to the Brazilian title in 2011 and the Libertadores Cup earlier this year. Their smash-and-grab over Chelsea completed a remarkable turnaround after Corinthians were relegated at the end of 2007. “With this tournament and the Libertadores Cup we’ve now gone 16 games and conceded only four goals,” said Tite. “The way we managed the game was excellent.” Gary Cahill, sent off in the last minute, Fernando Torres and Victor Moses were denied by brilliant saves from goalkeeper Cassio in a game the English side largely dominated. Corinthians, who won the first Club World Cup in 2000,
caught Chelsea cold when Peru striker Guerrero headed home from close range after Danilo’s shot looped up off Cahill’s boot. “I’m delighted to have scored two goals,” said Guerrero, scorer of his side’s winner in their 1-0 semi-final victory over Egypt’s Al-Ahly. “But it’s more important for Corinthians to be world champions. “We knew that it would be extremely tough to beat the champions of Europe but we gave 100 percent and more. I think we deserved to win the cup.” Torres had a late effort superbly blocked by tournament MVP Cassio and a stoppage-time header ruled out for offside. The Corinthians players
Britton wins Table Association ‘C’ class competition Shemar Britton on Saturday won the Guyana Table Tennis Association ‘C’ class competition when he turned back the challenges of 47 other players to come out victorious when the tournament was held at the National Gymnasium on Saturday December 15. The players, who were divided into 12 groups, came from Berbice, Linden, Bartica, West Demerara, East Coast and East Bank of Demerara and Georgetown. After the first round of play, 32 players remained in the draw namely Stalin Kanhai, Theodore Demonic, Alex Hopkinson, Patrick Triumph, Kyle Edghill, Quincy Rice (Linden), Raynor Anderson (Bartica), David Duncan, Kevon Corbin, Bryton Murray (Berbice), Elishaba Johnson,
Floyd Conway (Berbice), Scott Garraway, Shemar Britton, Devon Richmond and Joshua Lalbachan (Berbice). After another round of play eight players made it to the quarterfinals with Stalin Kanhai, Patrick Triumph, Kyle Edghill, Raynor ‘Copter’ Anderson, Briton Murray, Floyd Conway, Shemar Britton and Devon Richmond being the survivors. In the quarterfinals, Patrick Triumph defeated Stalin Kanhai 11-9, 11-8, 11-9, Kyle Edghill succumbed to Raynor Anderson (2-3) the scores being 12-10, 11-5, 2-11, 5-11, 13-15. Briton Murray then defeated fellow Berbician Floyd Conway (3-0)11-5, 11-6, 11-8 with Shemar Britton winning from Devon Richmond (3-0) 1210, 11-5, 11-8.
The final round was played on a round robin basis with Anderson forfeiting his final match to Britton, Britton then defeated Triumph (3-1) 9-11,11-6,11-8,11-6 and Murray who also lost (3-1) at 11-7,9-11,11-6,11-8. Anderson copped second place after defeating Triumph (3-0) 11-8, 11-7, 1210 and Murray (3 0)11- 7, 117, 11-5. Triumph then disposed of Murray (3-0) 11-5, 11-9, 11-7 to cop third place. Trophies were donated by Ramesh Sunich of Trophy Stall, Bourda Market. The Tournament continued yesterday with action in the senior open competition. Cash Prize for the winners were donated by Hopkinson Mining of Bartica and Stephan Belle. (Samuel Whyte)
celebrated by dancing and hugging each other as fireworks exploded and some 15,000 travelling fans among the crowd of 68,000 began a fiesta set to go on all night. Chelsea’s interim manager Rafael Benitez refused to make excuses after his second loss in three appearances with three different clubs at the FIFA tournament. “They had one chance and scored,” said the Spaniard. “We didn’t take our chances. We had four clear chances and we didn’t take them. That was the difference.” THEATRICALTUMBLE Cahill’s red card, for kicking striker Emerson in retaliation for an elbow in the face, had no bearing on the result, said Benitez. “He lost his temper but it didn’t make a difference to the result,” said Benitez, who will be without Cahill for Chelsea’s League Cup quarter-final at Leeds United on Wednesday. Cahill expressed regret
but blamed Emerson’s theatrical tumble for convincing the referee to send him off. “I’ve tackled the guy, we tangled legs and he lashed out with his arm and hit me in the face,” said Cahill. “I’m angry about it, but also at my reaction. “I touched him in the shin - it probably wouldn’t have knocked over my oneyear-old daughter yet he’s rolling around five or six times.” Frank Lampard, captain in the absence of John Terry who was receiving treatment for injury back in London, failed to mask his frustration. “It’s a big disappointment to come all this way and not to win,” he said after making his first start since returning from a calf injury. “We knew it would be a tough game. “The game’s about scoring goals and unfortunately we didn’t take our chances. They were very organised and set up well to stop us playing. “Now we have to go back and win a run of games to keep ourselves in the title race
and push on in every competition.” European sides had won the last five Club World Cups, Benitez winning it with Inter Milan in 2010 and losing in the 2005 final as manager of Liverpool. The Spaniard, an unpopular appointment among Chelsea fans after the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo last month, could face a hostile return after the team’s failure in Japan. “We can take away positives from this,” said Benitez, whose decision to start Moses in place of Oscar surprised even his opposite number Tite. “You can see we’re improving. We have to play at Leeds and then we have Aston Villa. We have to be mentally strong. “ Oscar denied Brazilian media reports that he had called Benitez “crazy” to leave him out. “I respect the coach’s decision,” he said. “I’m just disappointed that when I came on we were 1-0 down and I couldn’t do anything to help the team.”
Monday December 17, 2012
Khan outclasses Molina to Caribbean T20 ticket sales register comeback victory start in Trinidad on Monday LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Britain’s Amir Khan returned to winning ways after two tough defeats with a comprehensive 10th round stoppage of previously unbeaten American Carlos Molina in a lightwelterweight contest on Saturday. Khan (27-3, 19 KOs) dominated every round and after telling Molina he was close to stopping the bout after the ninth, referee Jack Reiss waved off the fight at the end of the 10th following another one-sided round. Before the bout, the Bolton fighter suggested he may adopt a more conservative style under new trainer Virgil Hunter after an overly aggressive approach led to a stunning knockout at the hands of American Danny Garcia in July. However, it was business as usual at the Memorial Sports Arena for the Olympic silver medallist and former world champion from the opening bell, as Khan peppered Molina (17-1-1, 7 KOs) with his trademark blistering combinations. Occasionally, Khan lingered too long after landing a flurry of punches and Molina was able to land
Amir Khan was on top from the first bell as Carlos Molina found himself overwhelmed. (AP) a hard counter punch but the Briton shook off everything his opponent threw at him and went straight back to work. By the fifth round, Khan, sensing he had the fight under control, relaxed and worked more efficiently and effectively behind the jab, which he used to back his opponent towards the ropes before following up with solid combinations. “I thought I stuck to my game plan, which meant sticking to my jab,” Khan told reporters. “Carlos took some really good shots and was still coming forward, and that’s when I thought to myself I’d better stick to this game plan.”
When the end came, Molina had asked the referee to allow the fight to continue and sounded stunned in defeat. “I don’t know what happened,” the Californian said. “I wanted to pull the trigger but for some reason I couldn’t get my hands to go. He was fast in his jab and I was hesitant in trying to get in.” After picking up a muchneeded win, an ebullient Khan turned his attention towards setting up a rematch against the last man to beat him, who was sitting ringside. “In that fight, he caught me with a good shot but I’ll fight Danny Garcia again, anytime anywhere,” he said.
Port-of-Spain, Trinidad – Cricket fans will get the opportunity to secure earlybird tickets for the West Indies Cricket Board’s Caribbean T20 2013 when the ticket booths in Trinidad open on Monday at 9 am. Tickets have been set at TT$40 for all stands and patrons can make purchases at the ticket b o o t h a t Q u e e n ’s P a r k Oval as well as at the Trinidad & Tobago Cricket Board office in Couva. The two locations will open during normal business hours from Monday to Friday, but will be closed on public holidays. The first half of the preliminary round of matches will be played at the historic Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad. The tournament then moves to St Lucia for the second half of the first round, the play-off and grand finale to be played at the picturesque Beausejour Cricket Ground. “This is one of the most exciting stages of any sporting event for fans – when they get that golden opportunity to get their hands on tickets. It’s a big moment and fans who plan to be part of the tournament will no doubt be eager and waiting to purchase tickets for their favourite seats,” said Cindy McLean, the WICB’s Event Manager. “We are into the busy Christmas period and a perfect gift for a cricketlover would be a ticket for the Caribbean T20 2013. We will start with sales in Trinidad, which is our biggest and busiest venue for cricket. We want to see the stands filled for every match so we have made sure we have all systems in place for the start of ticket sales, and we anticipate a busy period from Monday morning onwards.”
In St Lucia, tickets will vary in price – EC$15 for the first round; EC$20 for the play-off; and EC$25 for the Final. Fans can make purchases at Beausejour Cricket Stadium as well as the Castries Ticket Office on Jeremie Street – opposite Old Fire Station. These two ticket offices will open on Monday, January 4. As part of the promotion for Caribbean T20 2013, children under age 16 accompanied by an adult purchasing a full price ticket, will be admitted free. FULL TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (AT QUEEN’S PARK OVAL, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad) Sunday, January 6 Opening Ceremony – 4 p.m. Trinidad & Tobago vs Jamaica – 8 p.m. Monday, January 7 Barbados vs Leeward Islands – 4 p.m. Guyana vs Combined Campuses & Colleges – 8 p.m. Tuesday, January 8 Jamaica vs Barbados – 4 p.m. Trinidad & Tobago vs Combined Campuses & Colleges – 8 p.m. Wednesday, January 9 Windward Islands vs Jamaica – 4 p.m. Trinidad & Tobago vs Leeward Islands – 8 p.m. Thursday, January 10 Combined Campuses & Colleges vs Windward Islands – 4 p.m. Guyana vs Barbados – 8 p.m. Friday, January 11 Leeward Islands vs Jamaica – 4 p.m. Combined Campuses & Colleges vs Barbados – 8 p.m. Saturday, January 12 Windward Islands vs Leeward Islands – 4 p.m. Trinidad & Tobago vs Guyana – 8 p.m.
(AT BEAUSEJOUR CRICKET GROUND, Gros Islet, St. Lucia) Tuesday, January 15 Guyana vs Jamaica – 4 p.m. Windward Islands vs Trinidad & Tobago – 8 p.m. Wednesday, January 16 Combined Campuses & Colleges vs Leeward Islands – 4 p.m. Barbados vs Trinidad & Tobago – 8 p.m. Thursday, January 17 Leeward Islands vs Guyana – 4 p.m. Windward Islands vs Barbados – 8 p.m. Friday, January 18 Combined Campuses & Colleges vs Jamaica – 4 p.m. Windward Islands vs Guyana – 8 p.m. Saturday, January 19 Play-off: 2nd Place vs 3rd Place – 8 p.m. Sunday, January 20 Grand Final: 1st Place vs Winner of Play-off – 8 p.m.
PM Hinds opens Banks Beer... From back page there is another tournament which ought not to be. I just hope that my remarks will be energizing to those who organize football”. He, however, said that sport should benefit all Guyana and not just one particular group which did not resonate well with Director of Sport Neil Kumar who in his remarks refuted the claims, citing that the government has over the years contributed
significantly to the development of sport in Guyana. Prior to the speeches there was the ceremonial march past of teams contesting the tournament. Twenty two teams were named to contest the tournament, but only sixteen will compete in the round of sixteen, which is the knock out stage. Meanwhile, GFA officials were consistent in their pronouncement that despite the persistent inclement
weather any water that saturated the outfield would be drained off the ground in order for the matches to be played as planned. However parts of the ground was still soggy, but that did not deter Sunburst Camptown and Houston Stars from playing the first match. Also, minutes before the start of the first game the crowd had begun to build up to witness their teams in competition.
Monday December 17, 2012
Controversy seems to be brewing in horseracing circle By Samuel Whyte Controversy seems to be headed for the horseracing fraternity and the blame is being laid at the feet of the government, with the Ministry of Sport coming in for special mention. With long running scenarios involving Guyana’s two major sporting disciplines Cricket and Football with no end in sight and the situation seem to be getting from bad to worse, horseracing, which has been doing well over the past few months, is getting into the mould. This is despite the formation of an IMC headed by former Chancellor of the Judiciary Justice Cecil Kennard. Two of the big horseracing clubs in Guyana, the Rising Sun Turf Club situated at Arima Park West Coast Berbice and the Port Mourant Turf Club on the Corentyne have scheduled their end of year multimillion dollar race meets for December 30. H o r s e r a c i n g knowledgeables stated that the RSTC would usually have the latter date for their end of year programme and what was customary was that
Stakeholders blame Government for present situation
Cecil Kennard the meet was held either on Old Years or New Years day or the Sunday closest. The PMTC will usually have a date on the first or second Sunday of December. How the situation has come to this, knowledgeables in the sport are blaming the government, mainly the Ministry of Sport, for the present scenario. They are saying that one of the reasons that the situation is heading into chaos is because of the sloth of enacting legislation to govern horseracing in Guyana by government, for which the Sports Ministry
has that responsibility. This creates anarchy where some clubs feel that they can do as they please. Only recently two of Guyana’s leading legal luminaries and veteran horseracing personalities, Senior Counsel Marcel Crawford and retired Chancellor of the Judiciary Justice Cecil Kennard, had both blasted the government for its non-support in the horseracing fraternity, especially with the Government’s non-response to the passage of the Horseracing legislation. Kennard, who is chairman of the Interim Management Committee (IMC), felt that more could be done and had blamed the lack of adequate legislation as the main reason for the sports still not being properly administered. “People are doing what they feel like, and we cannot nail them because there are no legislations,” he had stated. He is still unsure why the Government has not acted on
the draft document which was handed to the Minister of Sport, Frank Anthony, a long time ago, saying that its non-implementation remains the biggest humbug towards the development of horseracing in Guyana. He had hoped to lead a delegation to meet with the Minster before the end of the year to sort out the hindrances. But that meeting still remains a hope. Senior Council Marcel Crawford was more candid in his assessment and is very disappointed with what passes as horseracing. He feels that things are done in a haphazard way, with plenty of indiscipline and too much greed. “Persons do not have any concerns for the horses; they are only interested in make a profit,” He had opined and had stated that persons should be charg e d w i t h cruelty to animals. His major disappointment however is with the government in that the
Marcel Crawford horseracing legislation has not been passed as yet. He had stated that he personally drafted the document and gave it to the Minister of Culture Youth and Sports Dr Frank Anthony a long time ago, and since then nothing has been done. The minister he noted had given a commitment to have it tabled in Parliament. He said that, “For things to get better the government must come on board and work with the GHRA, they must give concessions and pass the legislation, which will help to regularize the sport so that law breakers will be punished.
Some of the persons coming into the sport are not interested in learning to do things properly and if there are no rules things will not be done properly.” He had opined that Guyana can once again be the centre of horseracing in the Caribbean, but the Government must assist. ”They cannot continue to sit on their hands and play this laid back game. They must table the legislation so that it can be debated and passed. In any country where sports are dominant the Governments play a leading role in assisting. They do not control, but assist.” He had stated that in Guyana it’s only talk and politics. Both gentlemen had given their commitment to help the sport gets back to some respectability. But first the government must help to pass the legislation. Colin Elcock had also recently echoed similar sentiments concerning proper laws governing horseracing and the breeding of racehorses here citing several variables. It is left to be seen how the whole situation will pan out.
Published on Dec 17, 2012