Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lady D and Mama ASID's Political Susu for Wednesday August 27, 2008

Lady D and Mama ASID's Political Susu for Wednesday August 27, 2008

Political Susu for Wednesday August 27, 2008
Click Here to Go to

This weeks' focus is on Caribbean and European Games; Economics and Empowerment. Jamaica is a Myriad of Issues and then we add Trinidad.. OOOOOOOOoooohhh-LAWD !

This show promises to be a battle of the issues - Love Caribbean Stylie.
Tune in at 3:45 - 4:45 pm on Wednesdays to check out the real politics with Lady D and Mama ASID on Political Susu - hosted by Lady D's Drive Time Show -
Live Weekly on

Obama Leads McCain Among Single Women

According to a recent poll, Senator Obama leads McCain 61-29 among single women in battleground states. We wonder why???

BTW - Michelle Obama looked simply smashing when she delivered her speech - what do you think ?

A Hurricane Watch for the Caribbean Watch is ON.

Gusty Gustav! - Jamaica braces for heavy rains after hurricane hammers Haiti - Island on full alert
published: Wednesday | August 27, 2008

The island's disaster response machinery is now ready for action, as Jamaica prepares for a brush from Hurricane Gustav.
The country is not expected to get a direct hit as the centre of Gustav is projected to pass several miles off Jamaica's north coast sometime this afternoon into tomorrow morning.

However, the Government is taking no chances and, with a hurricane warning already in effect, national emergency operation centres and parish emergency operation centres were activated late yesterday and early this morning.
Yesterday, Gustav barrelled into Haiti, toppling trees, dumping rain and sending global fuel prices soaring on fears the storm could become "extremely dangerous" when it reaches the Gulf of Mexico.

The hurricane roared ashore about 40 miles from Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, with top sustained winds near 90mph, bending palm trees and kicking up surf along waterfronts of dilapidated wooden buildings.
Oil prices shot up by US$5 a barrel yesterday after the National Hurricane Center predicted Gustav could enter the gulf as a major hurricane this weekend. But even as news trickled out of Haiti about the devastation being caused by the Hurricane it was a confident Prime Minister Bruce Golding who provided the update on Jamaica's preparations after a meeting of the National Disaster Committee yesterday.
This is the first time that Jamaica will face a major battle with Mother Nature since the Golding administration took the reins of power just under one year ago.

The prime minister told journalists during a press conference at Jamaica House that there was no reason for alarm.

"We are guardedly optimistic that we won't suffer anything of the damage that we have experienced in recent years but we cannot afford to be complacent," Golding said.

He announced that all the necessary precautions were being taken at the national and parish levels and urged all Jamaicans to do their part.

"There are particular areas that do not need more than a Category One or a Category Two hurricane to come under severe stress and, therefore, what we want to say to the people of Jamaica is don't take this one lightly. Let's not be careless," Golding added.

He noted that despite the projections that Jamaica would not suffer a direct hit from Gustav, hurricanes have been noted to make sudden significant changes in direction.

Flood-prone areas
According to Golding, with Gustav projected to move off the north coast, special attention is being paid to flood-prone areas such as Ocho Rios in St Ann where last-minute mitigation measures were continuing yesterday.

In the meantime, Golding announced that the Government has already contacted private sector entities to ensure that heavy duty equipment will be available if needed to clear blocked roads and deal with other emergencies.

The private sector entities will provide support for the National Works Agency (NWA) which has already put its disaster response teams on stand-by.

Equipment ready
Stephen Shaw, manager of communication and customer services at the NWA, says contact has already been made with contractors who will be key partners in the disaster response efforts. He says equipment is being positioned in key areas including the Junction Road in St Mary and in Roselle, St Thomas, to ensure quick response in the event the island is significantly impacted by Gustav.

According to Shaw, the NWA has spent $100 million on drain cleaning and flood mitigation in the last three months with critical drains already cleaned in several communities.

The NWA spent yesterday focussing on reopening several drains in the parishes of St James and Clarendon.

As hurricane Gustav moves closer to Jamaica, residents in Papine, St Andrew, stock up on kerosene yesterday. - Norman Grindley/Acting Photography editor

Assign roles/responsibilities for hurricane preparedness and evacuation to each member of the household long before actual storm. Establish an evacuation plan and map out exit strategy and route.
Review emergency plans monthly.

Ensure all doors and windows are properly secured to make break-ins difficult.

Alert parish disaster coordinator and police when evacuating premises.
Place furniture on raised platform, e.g. building blocks, to prevent flood damage.

If not carrying all important documents, such as passports and ID cards, lock them in a watertight container.

A graphic showing the projected path of Hurricane Gustav at 8 p.m. yesterday.

Community policing to help dismantle gangs, says MacMillan
Kimmo Matthews
Tuesday, August 26, 2008

NATIONAL Security Minister Colonel Trevor MacMillan says the police will, over the next few months, place greater emphasis on its community initiative to help dismantle criminal gangs and arrest the country's spiralling crime rate.

MacMillan made the remarks at a community meeting in Avon Park, Kingston, on Wednesday which was organised by member of parliament for South St Andrew, Dr Omar Davies. Dr Davies had organised the meeting to give residents a chance to speak with security officials and to relate some of the problems they face daily.

"The nation continues to be affected by the fast-rising murders, and we believe that community policing is the way to solve this problem," MacMillan said.

"It is not only aimed at establishing a greater relationship between the police and residents, but I believe that it is one of the only solutions to fighting crime," the minister said.

He said as part of the approach, he and the police commissioner were working on a plan to assign at least one cop from each station to be in constant contact with residents of the community in which the station is based.

"This special police officer will be responsible for going into the area where his station is located to hear from the people and to keep close contact with the people as a way of building the relationship between the police and citizens in each community," the minister explained.
He said other plans include programmes to improve the cops' human relations skills.

As for his reasons for targeting criminal gangs, the security minister said gang violence was responsible for the majority of the over 950 murders that have occurred since the start of the year.

"There are more than 150 criminal gangs in Jamaica and these gangs are responsible for the majority of the murders," he told the Observer.

Holness favours searching students for weapons

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Education Minister Andrew Holness says his ministry has endorsed the position that teachers have a right to search students to ensure that they are not carrying weapons.

"We are going to be signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the police where the police will be assisting you in searching your school and your students. It cannot be that weapons such as knives, guns and other forms of offensive weapons are allowed to easily enter our school campuses without any form of consequences," minister Holness said in his address at the 44th Annual Conference for the Jamaica Teachers' Association.

The conference, which concluded on August 20 at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort in Ocho Rios, St Ann, was held under the theme, 'Building a Culture of Learning in Schools: Enabling Independent, Enthusiastic and Successful Learners'.

"Let me use this medium to warn parents and to warn students who are inclined to take weapons to schools that if you are caught you will not be treated as a student," Holness said and encouraged parents to check their children before sending them off to school.

The school, he said, was not a war zone, hence the possession of weapons in schools would not be tolerated.

"The teaching and learning environment is under threat. It adds to the frustration of our teachers and makes education a futile endeavour and what we intend to do is take back our schools from criminals and criminals-to-be," he stressed.

He also encouraged principals to take charge of their schools as they have the authority to ensure a safe and secure environment.

Police to investigate burning of Vybz Kartel's car

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

THE police yesterday promised a thorough investigation into the burning of a Honda motor car belonging to dancehall entertainer Vybz Kartel at his home in the upscale Norbrook community in St Andrew after it was allegedly firebombed.
This, despite a press release from the entertainer - whose real name is Adijah Palmer - that the vehicle was burnt to a crisp because of an electrical problem.
The Honda motor car belonging to Vybz Kartel on fire at his Norbrook, St Andrew home Sunday night.
Residents of the upscale community reported hearing an explosion and a motorcycle speeding off before the vehicle was seen on fire in front of the entertainer's home.

But in a release yesterday, Palmer maintained that "the Honda had an electrical problem and the fireman came and extinguished the blaze".

"That's all, my car was not firebombed," he said.

The police were, however, not impressed.

"This is not something that we are going to take lightly. The investigation is ongoing as the forensic and Scene of the Crime units went to the scene to ascertain the cause of the fire," head of crime for the St Andrew North police division, acting Deputy Superintendent Altermoth 'Parra' Campbell, told the Observer yesterday.

An auto electrical engineer, who did not wish to be named, said it would be unusual for a parked vehicle to burn unless it had just been driven.

"It is unusual for that to happen when it is standing still, but it is possible if it was being used," the engineer told the Observer.

Yesterday, in commenting on the incident on his website, Palmer said he had nothing against fellow dancehall entertainer Mavado - an obvious reference to speculation that there is bad blood brewing between both artistes.

Both DJs have penned songs about each other and their respective family members.
"At the end of the day, Jamaicans should know it's just music, no physical altercation," Palmer's publicist stated. "Mi no have nothing against David. If he does against me, I don't see it."

D-DAY - Walker to swing axe at customs cheats
published: Wednesday | August 27, 2008

Walker ... accuses citizens of being just as guilty as offending customs officials in perpetuating corruption. - Ian Allen/Staff Photographer What should be done to clean up corruption in the customs industry? Email recommendations to
September 1 D-Day

September 1 will mark three months since I have been at the Customs Department. We have had two demonstrations so far, or maybe I should say I have had two demonstrations. There's never a dull moment at Customs. Someone once said, be careful what you pray for because you might just get it. Well, I got what I prayed for - a challenging job.

Because of the nature of our economy, our natural resource mix and probably our proximity to the United States, we import a great deal of all we consume and the inputs of the precious little we manufacture. This means that the Customs Department is a very important cog in our national wheel and, therefore, can cause great frustration or great support for the hopes and aspirations of those who depend on imports.

Trade facilitation
Facilitation of trade, believe it or not, is not just a buzzword of Jamaica Customs but a major policy position of the World Customs Organisation (of which Jamaica is a member). For many importers I have spoken to, trade facilitation appears to mean one thing: "Accept the invoice with the price I am giving you and shut up, you silly bureaucrat."

They do not consider underinvoicing by up to 70 per cent of the true value, a corrupt practice, that's 'smart' business. They also don't see not declaring all the goods on the pallet, or describing them fictitiously, as corruption. Further, they see selling counterfeit goods as smart, because who can tell the difference anyway? And, if the buyer doesn't know, why is there a problem? "Pesky custom officers, get a real job, cho, if it wasn't one t'ing yuh see."

The abuse that customs officers suffer is really shameful. At the Norman Manley International Airport, I received a report last week that a customs officer was so shaken up when an Informal Commercial Importer (ICI) took off her shoe and said: "If you charge me duty on everything, I'm going to bus' your head with this (expletives deleted) shoe." Those words to an employee of the Government just doing her job. In the United States, if you harm a public servant doing his or her job, the penalties are higher than if you harm another citizen. We should protect all our public servants similarly. I can assure that the ICI did not see her behaviour as corrupt.

I am amazed, daily, at the volume of persons purchasing motor vehicles, claiming to have bought them at an auction at a bargain and when, from our investigations, we get the price that the auction house bought it for (because auctioneers' don't make cars), we find that the original purchasing price was higher than the importer's declared price. We are expected to believe that it was sold to the importer at a loss.

When we question the uneconomic nature of such a transaction, we are told that a previous buyer could not complete the purchase and, therefore, they only had to pay the difference. I guess used-car dealers have found religion. When we refuse to accept this 'version', we are seen as wicked (I paraphrase), and we are told that if it was for our friend, we would "do a t'ing". These persons don't see themselves as corrupt. They are just "trying a thing" and, if caught, then I guess we all live to try again in the future.

The person who bribes or seeks to bribe a customs officer. to allow any of the above does not see himself as corrupt. He sees it as paying for a service. It always amazes me how quick those persons are to describe those customs officers as corrupt and how they have personal knowledge of these things, with an air of being street-savvy. But they don't see themselves as corrupt. Even more unfortunately, the customs officer, who has taken money to allow an importer to jump the line or evade duties payable, does not see himself as corrupt either. It's just the "runnings", influenced by insufficient salaries. Really? All are equally unacceptable.

We must begin to put down these corrupt practices. You are all too comfortable branding the police and politicians as such. When the roads are not fixed, projects not completed on time or if the schools start to complain about funding, quickly from some self-constructed pedestal of moral authority, so many described above point out corrupt politics but never include themselves.

When caught, the explanations always include claims of innocence, ignorance or an inability to pay the penalty. One of my nephews, a young man whose dad and I served in the army together and who remains a close personal friend, brought in a damaged car prior to my appointment. When I presented the proof to him that he paid more for the car, he apologised and asked if he could just pay the correct duty, but avoid the penalty. After he explained how the apparent authenticity of the fraudulent invoice is achieved, I told him to view the $500,000 penalty atop the recalculated duties as tuition and that he was learning a valuable business lesson early.

I am of the unshakeable view that when caught deliberately evading customs duties, persons should pay the penalty of three times the value of the goods. There are even some cases where these goods should also be forfeited. Mitigation and leniency only lead to the perception of corruption in Jamaica. My managers tell me they have been taught to suggest a penalty that encourages payment; all that does is encourage more corruption or the perception of corruption.

A customs agent and parcels unit team examining contents of incoming parcels to determine the extent of customs duty (if any) that the addressee may be required to pay. Parcels are checked by a team rather than an individual to ensure transparency. - Contributed

We will be taking a tougher stance on those persons who insist on pursuing corrupt practices in importation. Customs brokers need to publicise the new approach of the Customs Department to their importers so they are not seen as facilitating these corrupt practices. We have noticed a high correlation between some customs brokers and these practices and some of you are prostituting your licensees to broker agents and then claiming that your signature was forged and expecting the department to swallow these vapid excuses in your pleas for leniency.

Ordinarily I do not announce these things, I usually wait for a volunteer to come forward so that an example can be made of them, but I have decided to give fair warning. We have already started to apply the penalties but come September 1, we will go even further. Yes, we have some cleaning up to do in our own house and we intend to do that. Corruption robs us all - you of your dignity, the State of its revenue, and all of us of our reputations. All of us at the Customs Department have our jobs to do. It's a tough job but we're going to do it.

Danville Walker is the commissioner of customs.

MiPhone, Digicel at odds over towers
published: Wednesday | August 27, 2008

Susan Gordon, Staff Reporter

MiPhone and rival Digicel Jamaica are blaming each other for the breakdown of a reciprocal agreement brokered by government that allows telecommunication companies to share cell towers, with the Mexican company claiming that the Irish mobile operator was denying it access.

Digicel dismissed the claim, and countered that MiPhone was not conforming to the rules, as market rivalry heats up.

The idea behind the so-called 'co-location' agreement in effect for several years is to limit the amount of land needed to build the multiplicity of cell towers to blanket the island with signals, while allaying public concern about the environment and their health from the radiation.

But last week, the companies told Wednesday Business, that essentially the arrangement was struck as 'a gentleman's agreement' between the three big firms, the other being Cable and Wireless Jamaica, under the umbrella of the Ministry of Technology.

Digicel has more than 1,000 cell towers spread across the island; MiPhone wants to establish towers on some 600 sites.

MiPhone's chief operating officer Colin Webster said the arrangement, though not contractual, was working up to 2007, the point at which America Movil acquired the company from Oceanic Digital.
"The sad thing is that the relationship we've had with Digicel where you could go and fix your antenna, has broken down very badly because we have been actively blocked almost from the development that we are doing and the use of their towers," Webster told Wednesday Business last Friday in an interview.
"It was disappointing. Up to then, we had a very cordial and cooperative sharing arrangement," said Webster.

But Digicel's Technology Director Rohan Pottinger, denies reneging on the arrangement, and charged that it was MiPhone that has failed to meet the requirements laid down earlier this year by the Ministry of Energy, Mining & Telecommunications.

"There has been an arrangement between Digicel and MiPhone for co-location from as far back as 2003 which is still in use," said Pottinger.

"There is also a similar arrangement between Digicel and C&W," he said.
The company said it faces no such problems with Cable and Wireless. Sources tell Wednesday Business that C&WJ and MiPhone are sharing about 90 cell towers.

The older telecom had not responded to queries on the matter to press time.

MiPhone latest troubles follow behind its run in with planning authorities for failing to secure approval for the towers it is building.

MiPhone has blamed its Chinese contractor Huawei Technologies Jamaica Limited for the mix-up, which has delayed the planned roll out of its 3G service.
The company plans to build out about 600 towers to accommodate its 3G network, while retaining its 100 CDMA towers.

C&WJ is also on a massive build out of cell sites to accommodate its 3G network, a job contracted to Ericsson for over $2 billion.

Digicel's Pottinger said it was surprising that MiPhone had raised the tower sharing arrangement with Wednesday Business, but not with his company.

"Incidentally, we have had several meetings with MiPhone in recent months and it is interesting to note that they have not even once mentioned the issue of tower sharing in that time," said Pottinger.

MiPhone has not yet declared the markets that it plans to launch here, but it sources have told Wednesday Business that it was one of four companies to express interest in the 2.5 GHz spectrum to be auctioned.

That spectrum allows for subscriber television, mobile 3G service and wireless broadband internet.
Webster said the company was "undecided" about going after one of the three licences to be issued, but also said the company does not necessarily require the 2.6 GHz spectrum to enter the STV market.

"America Movil has this service, so it's just a matter of replicating it here," said Webster.

MiPhone, he adds, has applied to the Broadcasting Commission for a cable licence.

"Our immediate interest is through satellite - direct open satellite - essentially Direct TV..." he said.

Bauxite institute joins adult illiteracy fight
published: Wednesday | August 27, 2008

Up to 70 per cent of Jamaica's workforce does not have a high school education, according to Edward Shakes, executive director of the Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL). The JFLL is partnering with the Jamaica Bauxite Institute to address adult illiteracy in areas affected by mining.

The two organisations met at the JFLL central Kingston offices to sign the memorandum of understanding yesterday. In sealing the partnership, Shakes said the initiative would facilitate remedial training in improving the literacy and numeracy of citizens in mining areas over the next five years.

Pilot programmes
He also emphasised the impact of literacy has on national development and stressed that it was imperative to increasing human capital labour productivity and therefore economic growth.

"This partnership fits in with our strategic plan," he said. "We must increase the number of adults who go through our programme to increase adult literacy, which is way too high in comparison to our neighbouring Caribbean society."

Communities from St Elizabeth, Manchester, St Catherine, Clarendon and St Ann will be represented by 17 selected persons from the joint bauxite community councils, in addition to other organisations.

Sixty participants are expected to benefit from the two pilot programmes due to get under way in St Elizabeth and St Ann.

Gov't pays out big bucks to store the dead
Private funeral homes collected $86 m in 2007/8
BY ALICIA DUNKLEY Observer staff reporter
Tuesday, August 26, 2008

GOVERNMENT during the 2007/8 financial year paid out a whopping $86,405,961 to private funeral homes to collect and store the bodies of persons who die violently or 'under mysterious circumstances'.

The Government has over the years been forced to make large payouts to these funeral homes because the state is without a public morgue, while those at public hospitals are either run-down or overburdened.

The Kingston Metropolitan Region (KMR) - the Corporate Area, Spanish Town and the Municipality of Portmore - which has the largest number of violent deaths in the island is currently covered by Madden's Funeral Home.

The administration is, however, hoping that by the year 2010 the money paid to private funeral homes would be drastically reduced as it is expected that the public morgue to serve the KMR would be completed by then.

The estimate for building that facility has been put at $450 million.

According to Gilbert Scott, permanent secretary in the national security ministry, the high amount being paid out to funeral homes was one justification for the construction of the public morgue. He said it was expected that the cost to construct the facility would be recovered in about five years from its commissioning.

Plans for the construction of a public morgue in Jamaica's capital, Kingston, have been pending since 1989, but Scott said tenders were being examined and a contractor should be selected within another six to eight weeks. Work, he said, should begin by the end of December. He told the Observer that work had already started on a perimeter fencing for the state-of-the-art facility, which will be located at 149 Orange Street in downtown Kingston.

"Once we have assessed and selected what we consider to be the successful bidder then we have to get the approval of the National Contracts Commission before going to Cabinet for approval; only after that can we award the contract," Scott told the Observer. He said a 2010 completion date was envisioned for the building which should take about two years to construct.

"The decision to build the morgue is also related to our commitment to improve our criminal investigations through the application of new technologies and better access to the forensic evidence that will be facilitated with new modern facilities," Scott said. The Government in April of this year announced that it had allocated $200 million to begin construction of the long overdue public morgue for Kingston.

The former People's National Party Government in June of 2007 announced plans to allocate $80 million dollars for the construction of a state-of-the-art morgue in Kingston, in the aftermath of the exposure of the gross inadequacies of the island's pathological capabilities after the suspicious death of former Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer.

According to police statistics, in 2006 Jamaica's murder rate stood at 1,340, rising to 1,574 in 2007. Since the start of the year well over 900 persons have died violently.

T&T PM holds talks with Golding
BY BALFORD HENRY Observer writer
Tuesday, August 26, 2008

TRINIDAD and Tobago's Prime Minister Patrick Manning is scheduled leave Kingston for Haiti this morning, after overnighting in Jamaica where he discussed the implications of his country's proposed political union with three smaller Caribbean Community (Caricom) states.

A Jamaica House press advisory yesterday invited only photo coverage of a meeting between Manning and Prime Minister Bruce Golding at Jamaica House in the evening. But, while the advisory stated that the two leaders would discuss the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Europe, it was evident that the crucial issue was the proposed political union.

Trinidadian newspapers reported yesterday that Manning had taken off on a "whirlwind tour of the Caribbean" in which he was scheduled to visit five countries, including Jamaica, where he would overnight, travelling approximately 6,000 miles in 36 hours.

The tour was scheduled to include the Bahamas, Belize and Suriname, as well, to discuss the proposed union. Manning is due to return to Port-of-Spain this evening.

On August 14, Trinidad and Tobago signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with three other Caricom countries - St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia, and Grenada - indicating their intent to establish a political union by 2013.

It was also confirmed that Manning would meet with the leaders of Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts, and Montserrat last Wednesday to discuss those initiatives.

But while Golding's administration has remained committed to the goal of a Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), it has raised concerns about Manning's attempt to orchestrate a political union within Caricom, without discussions at the level of the Heads of Government within the regional unit.

Last Monday, Jamaica House warned that the proposals would have implications for the structure and future of the regional union.

Jamaica said it would request discussions on the issue among regional Heads of Government, at which point it would evaluate its position on the issue.

However, Manning continues to enjoy strong support from Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Stephenson King of St Lucia and Tillman Thomas of Grenada.

It is understood that a key aspect of the proposed political union is an oil and gas exploration policy.

There was concern, however, how a proposed common regime for the procurement of fossil fuels for energy and transportation by the members of the proposed union would sit with the current PetroCaribe agreement with Venezuela, which involves 13 Caricom countries.

MORE SCRUTINY: Bruce Golding
Jamaica Prime Minister Bruce Golding has told Prime Minister Patrick Manning that his country will not participate in the political union now being pursued by the governments of Trinidad and Tobago and three other Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries by 2013.

Golding did so when he met Manning at the Office of the Prime Minister, Jamaica House, Jamaica, on Monday evening.

Foreign Affairs Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon, who was part of the delegation that travelled with Manning to Jamaica, confirmed yesterday that Golding expressed his administration's position that the implications of the proposed union on Caricom had to be carefully examined.

"Jamaica was concerned about how it would work and how it would affect the OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) and how it would affect Caricom," Gopee-Scoon said in a brief interview last evening.

A statement from the Office of the Prime Minister in Jamaica stated yesterday that Golding said he looked forward to the study on the modalities for the proposed union now being undertaken.

Manning's office said last night that he and Gopee-Scoon will be holding a news conference this afternoon to discuss his visit to Jamaica, which was part of a two-day trip to that country, Belize, the Bahamas and Suriname that ended yesterday.

Manning, who turned 62 on August 17, just three days after he signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the political/economic union proposal, undertook the two-day trip to meet with the heads of government of the five Caricom countries not represented when the document was signed.

The Jamaica Prime Minister's Office added yesterday said that Golding, in his meeting with Manning, reiterated his administration's position that the political union proposal needs to be discussed at the level of the Caricom Heads of Government conference.

Last week, Manning told reporters during the post-Cabinet news conference he had "no doubt that a special meeting of Heads will be called in due course".

Manning then said, "But as an initiative which I led myself, I have a responsibility to sensitise my colleagues."

Jamaica pushing for EPA

published: Wednesday | August 27, 2008

The Government is pressing for the signing of the Cariforum-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), despite a warning from Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller to think carefully before inking the deal.

Kenneth Baugh, deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, told Parliament yesterday that it was important for Jamaica to sign the EPA, even though there were concerns regarding the agreement.

"There is a need to depoliticise the issue. We are not in the business of ascribing blame, we are here for continuation," said Baugh.

In her contribution to the debate, Simpson Miller said negotiations were not concluded by her government because there were deficiencies with the EPA. She noted that, the PNP did not agree with the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) clause, which obliges African Caribbean and Pacific countries to extend to the European Commission on a line by line basis, any treatment they might negotiate with third parties.

ole mas: Trinidad and Tobago's midnight robber has the attention of the audience on Monday night at Carifiesta X festivities at Georgetown City Hall, Guyana. -Photos: MICHEAL BRUCE
From one island to another island.

The words of Nadia Batson's calypso resonated through the more-than-a-century-old Guyana City Hall on Monday evening as traditional characters from Trinidad and Tobago Carnival and members of the very diverse audience took a joyful jump together to Batson's music and Black Stalin's "Caribbean Man".
The event was the finale of D'Masquerade, a play put on by members of the Trinidad and Tobago theatre contingent.

Children in the audience hid their faces as the blue devil spat his fire, the jab-jabs cracked their whips, and the midnight robber blew his shrill whistle.

The interactive play, written by Felix Edinborough and Happy O'Connor of Tobago, uses the traditional characters to make a statement about some basic problems common to Caribbean societies-illiteracy, irresponsible parenting, and the culture of violence. The character of the midnight robber took an unusual turn as he was used to represent the gun culture. Early in the presentation he rapes the baby doll character and she produces a child (a doll which she carried throughout the production) for which he denies paternity.

The audience really got into it when Pierrot Grenade (Felix Edinborough) walked around with the baby doll character trying to find the baby's father, even among members of the audience, while the Midnight Robber stood in the shadows. "Look him over there", members of the audience took delight in shouting as the search continued with a crowded and fast-paced array of performances from wild and fancy Indians, a moko jumbie who took a tumble, fancy sailors, stick-fighters, burrokeets and other traditional characters.

The evening began with a "journey" to D'Masquerade and included performances from Digicel Rising Star 2007 Kay Alleyne; Tobago wedding dancers; extempo artiste Black Sage, who had Guyanese in the audience singing along to Guyanese calypsonian King Fighter's "Come Leh We Go Sukie"; rapso artiste Immortelle, "when I say rap, you say so"; second-place Groovy Soca Monarch winner Chucky, who got a young lady from the audience to demonstrate how to "Turnaround", Guyanese style; Chutney Soca Monarch Rooplal Girdharrie, who sang "Pagahallo, I'm Crazy for You"; and Tobago Soca Monarch Princess Adana, with a steamy version of Stalin's "Black Man Feeling To Party".

Guyanese in the audience said they were happy to have seen D'Masquerade. "Our mas is not like this, we have only one day on February 23 and it's mostly floats, this was fantastic," was the verdict.

Trinidad and Tobago contingent member Norvan Fullerton said he felt the audience got the message. "From one island to another island, we are sharing the same problems. We can't depend on the politicians, it is we the people who have to make it happen," he said.

nightmare: Stephen "Shines" Sampson speaks to the Express from his home yesterday.
Laventille resident Stephen "Shines" Sampson, who is under investigation by police for his part in a violent "FBI" video, yesterday described himself as a peace-loving citizen who does not battle anymore in rap.

Acting Police Commissioner James Philbert said on Monday that the individuals who took part in the video preaching violence against the police, which was posted on YouTube, were to be investigated.

Up to yesterday, no warrant had been issued for the arrest of 39-year-old Sampson.

However, Philbert was said to have issued instructions for his investigating officers to consult the Director of Public Prosecutions on the matter, to see whether the police can proceed with any action.

Speaking exclusively to the Express yesterday, Sampson said he had not been contacted by police. He said the whole affair was "a nightmare" and described the song and video as "a mix-tape track and experimental video that was never supposed to be seen by the public".

He said, "Anyone in the local hip-hop industry can tell you that those lyrics I used on that song are from verses I used when battling in a rhyme cipher. Those lyrics were used to humiliate my opponents and defeat them in lyrical battle, but I never recorded them.

Then, a Guyanese friend of mine called Zagga B came up with the hook, which talks about 'cochore' and Babylon, not Cudjoe! Because I needed another track for my latest mix-tape at the time, we put it together, but that song was done quite back in 2004 when I just started growing my ras."

"Cochore" is a Guyanese slang which is used to refer to a police informant. Sampson said he was acquainted with recently executed gang leader Merlin "Cudjoe" Allamby because they lived in the same area. He recalled that Allamby had been interviewed by him and featured in Part One of the "Real Talk" DVD Magazine.

The "Real Talk" DVD Magazine features interviews and testimonials from local artistes and entertainment industry figures, as well as ordinary citizens concerning pressing issues in society and the industry. After three successful editions, the creators of the DVD, Grassroots Entertainment, spawned a popular television programme of the same name, which airs weekly on Gayelle The Channel. Sampson is the host of both the popular DVD and this television programme.

At the time of the "FBI" video, Sampson had a dispute with the members of Grassroots and also called their name in the song. Today, they work together to produce film and edit the "Real Talk" series for broadcast on Gayelle. Sampson said this is indicative of the difference between the imagery depicted in the video and reality.

"Yes, I know that this video is not a positive reflection of my character, my neighbourhood or the hip-hop community in general, which is why it was never released in any form or fashion. It was one of my first attempts at creating a video and I tried to make it as interesting as possible with what I had at the time.

"Today, I am a much more responsible citizen, and I try to help and uplift the youths in my community by teaching them some of the skills I have learnt and encouraging them to get involved in music and the arts, instead of liming on the block or doing illegal things that can get them in trouble."

Admitting that the guns used in the video were not real handguns, Sampson said he was not even present during the taping of those parts of the video which featured the St Barb's Police Station in the background.

He said, "That video was done four years ago, when I was just learning how to edit videos, so I was happy to get any kind of footage. We shot one part on one day with a cyber-cam I borrowed for my computer, but Saga was not there at the time. When he came, he complained about the fact that we shot the video without him, so they went and shot that scene the next day.

"I am a peace-loving citizen now, I don't even battle anymore in rap and if my family get in trouble, who would I have to call, not the police? This is a lesson I have learnt and I hope others will learn from it as well to be careful what you do and say when you're young and reckless because it can come back to haunt you."

About one year ago, Prime Minister Patrick Manning brought to his Cabinet a letter, signed by former Grenada prime minister Dr Keith Mitchell, seeking an association between that country and Trinidad and Tobago, which, if accepted, would have made Grenada "a virtual colony" of Trinidad and Tobago.

Grenada wanted free access to Trinidad and Tobago's education system, health system, transportation system, et cetera.

"The only thing that the letter didn't speak of having access to was the Trinidad and Tobago treasury. But, of course that was an unspoken word. But clearly we would have been in effect minding Grenada," one former minister noted yesterday.

Another former Government minister stated that several members of the Cabinet felt that Mitchell was at the time looking for someone "to pay his (Grenada's) bills" and was "mamaguying" Trinidad and Tobago. Accordingly, the member said, the Cabinet totally rejected the idea.

Two weeks ago, Grenada's new Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, along with Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonzales, Stephenson King of St Lucia and Manning signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Port of Spain, committing themselves to economic union by 2011 and political union by 2013. The MOU comes at a time when Trinidad and Tobago's revenues are high and Grenada's treasury empty. On Monday, the Finance Minister of Grenada stated that that country's treasury was empty and that the Government might not be able to pay its public servants.

Furthermore, questions have been raised that Trinidad and Tobago would not be able to enter into such an arrangement without fundamental constitutional amendments.

"How can you do this without the sanction of the people?" one political observer asked.
However, one leading scholar and experienced regionalist stated yesterday that the question of whether any law seeking to give effect to political/economic union required a special parliamentary majority or a single parliamentary majority, depended on what sort of union was being contemplated.

"If you want to have a union that in effect impinges on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country, that is another matter. So it really depends on what sort of relationship you are talking about," the scholar said.

The expert added, "As far as the (current) Constitution is concerned, it does not say you may or you may not (have a union).

"At this stage one hasn't a clue what is being considered. And I am not worried. Two years ago everything was constitutional reform. Two years later everybody has forgotten it. Everything now is 'integrate or disintegrate' and two years hence, everybody would have forgotten about this.

"These things are very complex. It takes a lot of talking, to-ing and fro-ing because each side would want to protect its own interest. So now you are just flying kite... It is a straw in the wind. You haven't begun to get the building blocks yet."

Black Woman Thinks...Religion, Politics, Race, Atheism and more...: Here's a Jamaican Joke!

I found this joke today on a blog that I read and advertise on from a fellow Jamaican woman. It was too good to pass by and nah show uhnu.. pass by her blog and big her up cau she well intelligent and feisty ta rass.


Black Woman Thinks...Religion, Politics, Race, Atheism and more...: Here's a Jamaican Joke!
10 January 2008 - Here's a Jamaican Joke!
Anyway, here's The Jamaican Lawyer Joke:
In a recent trial, a Mandeville prosecuting lawyer called to the witness stand his first witness, a grand motherly, elderly woman named Miss Ivy.

The lawyer approached her and asked, "Miss Ivy, do you know me?’’

She responded, "Why, yes of course me know you, Mr. Williams. Me know yu since yu was a likkle pissen tail pickney, and wata big disappointment yu is to yu fambily. Yu is a ole liard, yu cheat pan yuh wife, yuh chat people bizniz, and yuh red-eye, grudgeful and licky-licky. Yu tink yu is a big shot now but yu no realize seh yu will never amoun to nuttin more Dan a Two-bit paper pusher! Yes, me know yuh very well alright!!"

The Lawyer was stunned! Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, "Miss Ivy, do you know the defense lawyer?"

She looked over at the defense lawyer and replied, "Of course, me know Mr. Bradley since him was a likkle bwoy too. Him lazy, and good-fe-nutten, him boasy, and him always a gwaan like him white. Him caan build nuh normal Relationship with any ooman. Fe him law practice a di worse eena Jamaica. Him chat nuff, him a ole teef, him dutty and narsty. A tree different ooman an four man me hear seh him a grine undah covah, an one a di ooman dem a fi yu missis (points at juror member)!!

Yes sah, me know him well."

The defense lawyer almost died of embarrassment.

The judge ordered both counselors to approach the bench, and in a very quiet voice, said, "If eeda of you rassclaat bastard arks har if she know me, a gwine lock up oonu bumbo-claat eena jail fi contempt!."

No comments: