Setting the record straight

first_imgDear Editor,Minister of State, Mr Joseph Harmon, has now entered the arena in defence of his colleague, Attorney General Mr Basil Williams. The Attorney General has been the subject of repeated public onslaught in the media for the constant loss and/or settlement of cases, which are costing taxpayers billions of dollars.In relation to the cases that have been lost, the Attorney General’s modus operandi has been to blame me, former Solicitor General Ms Sita Ramlal, former Deputy Solicitor General Ms Prithima Kissoon, lawyers at the private bar, the junior lawyers currently working with him at his Chambers; and, in some cases, even judges have not escaped his net.Logic and common sense, without more, will militate against a conclusion that all those persons are at fault, and he is not. But, then again, common sense is not as common as we may think.Since I am being blamed for the tragic performance of the Attorney General, I feel impelled to share some information which may enlighten the public on some of these cases which have been lost and/or settled during the tenure of Mr. Williams.I must emphasise that every Attorney General in Guyana over the last one hundred years inherited incomplete cases from their predecessors. These cases are not the personal matters of the holders of the office, but are filed against the State, and it is the duty of the holder of the office to defend them to the best of his/her ability. This has been the long and sacrosanct tradition of the office of Attorney General.In its history, no other Attorney General is on public record, on even a singular occasion, blaming his predecessor for cases inherited. In breach of this scared tradition, the incumbent has converted blaming yours truly into a fine art form.Minister Harmon’s sudden entry into the muddy waters to assist the drowning Attorney General was precipitated by a statement made the Leader of the Opposition at his last Press Conference, when he estimated that the “Treasury has lost G$85 billion (425 million USD) through the decisions of the Attorney General’s Chambers to settle ‘winnable’ court cases, some of which have been pending for several years.’’ It is this humongous burden that Minister Harmon seeks to cruelly place upon my tiny shoulders. He says that these settlements were necessary “because of the failure of the former Attorney General to prosecute.”Firstly, I am surprised that learned Counsel Harmon fails to appreciate that when cases are filed against the Attorney General, his responsibility is to “defend”, and not to “prosecute.” That faux pas aside, let us examine the matter a little closely for some details.The Leader of the Opposition made reference to the settlement of a case filed by DDL. This case was filed against the Guyana Revenue Authority and the Attorney General almost a decade prior to my appointment as Attorney General. Since it involves the challenge to the computation of certain taxes, naturally the GRA assumed the lead role in the case; the Attorney General was a nominal defendant. The matter has a long history in the court system, but what is relevant here is the GRA obviously felt they had a strong case, and retained eminent Senior Counsel from the private bar to represent them. The trial was ongoing before Justice Roxane George. A few months after the 2015 General Elections, the matter was suddenly settled on terms that the Leader of the Opposition estimates to have cost the Treasury 80 billion dollars. As Attorney General, I had absolutely no input in the case, and because of the nature and stage of the proceedings, there was no need for an input from me. By what process or principle am I to be blamed for this settlement which caused the Treasury to lose this 80 billion dollars?As a result of this settlement, negotiated and concluded under this administration, Banks DIH Limited, who have paid the same regime of taxes as DDL, have sued this Government, claiming a write-off of the taxes they paid which were written-off for DDL under their settlement. This case, if Banks DIH Limited succeeds, will cost the Treasury further tens of billions of dollars. How am I to be blamed for this disaster?I, as Attorney General, terminated B.K. International Limited’s contract in respect to the Haags Bosch project for multiple breaches of the contract. B.K. International Limited challenged the termination. After I left office, a High Court Judge ruled that the termination of the contract was unlawful. The Judge made no order to pay B.K. International any compensation. Any lawyer worth his salt would have appealed the decision of that judge, because B.K. was guilty of flagrant breaches of the contract. The Attorney General refused to appeal.B.K. International then sends a letter demanding compensation, and indicating that if he’s not paid, he will sue. Any competent lawyer, armed with the facts of this matter, would have either ignored that letter or responded by challenging the company to sue. Instead, the Attorney General settles the case by the payment of 5.7 million US dollars!!! How can I be blamed for such punctilious incompetence?The case filed by HN Sugrim, which the State settled recently for 226 million dollars, is yet another of the many cases which the State should not have lost. The case was filed in June, 2015 (after I left office), and was concluded in April, 2017. In this case, the contract required that a performance bond be lodged by the contractor to the tune of 15% of the contract price within a specified time frame. The contract further provided that a failure to lodge the said performance bond shall be a basis to terminate the contract. The contractor never lodged the performance bond within the time specified, or at all, despite being informed in writing to do so. The contract was duly and lawfully terminated on this specific ground.This should have been an unassailable defence, yet the Attorney General lost. On two different occasions, he wrote to the Learned Trial Judge in the matter, indicating that he would personally assume conduct of the matter. He requested specific dates for the matter to be fixed, so as to be present. The Judge accommodated him on all the dates he requested. He copied to President Granger one of his letters sent to the Judge. Only he can explain the reason for so doing. Yet he failed to appear on the dates he requested. When he lost the case, he blamed Prithima Kissoon, the former Deputy Solicitor General.He then filed an appeal. Rather than proceed with the appeal, he settled the case. How can I be blamed for this?In the TPL case in which 1.7 billion dollars in compensation was awarded against the State, the case was filed in 2008 against the Attorney General and NICIL (3 years before I was appointed). Eminent Senior Counsel from the private bar was retained to represent the Attorney General.When I assumed office, the case was ongoing. Unsolicited, the Senior Counsel visited me and updated me on the matter. Knowing that gentleman, I have no doubt that he extended similar courtesies to Mr. Williams. Staff of the Attorney General’s Chambers have informed me that Mr. Toolsie Persaud visited Mr. Williams on more than one occasion at the Chambers, while the case was pending. Yet, when the judgment was handed down, Mr. Williams is quoted in the Stabroek News as saying that not only was he unware of the case, but that the Attorney General was not a party to the proceedings.How can I be blamed for such levels of ignorance!!!In the case filed by Dipcon Engineering Limited, the Attorney General claimed that he became aware of the High Court decision three months after it was delivered. He took another 3 months before he filed an application to appeal out of time. He provided no good reason for the delay. The Court of Appeal dismissed his application. Again, he blamed Prithima Kissoon. He then personally drafted an appeal to the Caribbean Court of Justice, which that Court threw out on the ground that it was procedurally wrong. The Attorney General’s signature appears on those documents. As a result, the State was left with a 450 million dollars’ judgment. How can I be blamed? I was long out of Government.I can go on to list and detail many more cases, but space and time will not permit me. I hope I have disseminated sufficient facts to set the public record straight.Yours faithfully,Mohabir Anil Nandlall MPFormer Attorney Generallast_img read more

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Set election date immediately

first_imgDear Editor,David Granger needs to set the date for elections so that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) can work on the fast track to meet the March 21 deadline for new elections. Apart from the People’s National Congress (PNC)/Alliance For Change (AFC) diehards who would see their good life evaporate before their eyes, everyone else knows that the PNC has been using delaying tactics to postpone their day of judgement. Decent people are ashamed at the PNC’s shenanigans. The failure of Granger and GECOM to act with the required haste is creating a timeline crunch problem of their own making. They cannot not do anything and then turn around and say they don’t have enough time for preparations. I am glad Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo said he would not be flexible with the March 21 deadline as that would be rewarding the PNC’s bullying behaviour. We call on Jagdeo to take whatever action to force the PNC and GECOM to comply with the Constitution of Guyana. We need an urgent assembling of civil society groups and interests, the Bar Association, trade unions, all churches, NGOs and all business associations to make a joint resolution asking the PNC to set the election date. A joint statement from the ABC/EU would also be helpful. For 28 years, the PNC Part 1 “riggeritis” era threw the whole country into a fight for democracy. The PNC is threatening democracy again. In 2015, for the first time in its history, the PNC became a legal Government, and there is a question mark on that as the PPP’s election petition has not been heard. As Freddie Kissoon indicated, in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni), the PNC won by one vote and no recount was allowed. Just three and a half years into their new reign, the PNC has backslidden into its old bullying ways threatening the international image of Guyana and refusing to follow the Constitution.Granger must think the Chief Justice must be making optional suggestions, unless he has no respect for the CJ. Both the Speaker and CJ – his nominees – ruled against him. There are some who give Granger a pass for the iniquities of his coalition. However, the buck stops with the President. Right now, he seems quite out of touch and is like that bra advertised on TV – he is “barely there.”The tragedy right now is the silence of the good men. The churches have been quiet as a constitutional crisis looms. I do not know what it will take to get the churches to stir themselves up. I know the Christian churches believe Granger is a good, honest, godly man. However, the failures to fulfil election promises, and the various transgressions have occurred under his watch. Granger should care about his reputation and do the right thing now!Sincerely,Jerry Singhlast_img read more

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Guyanese wins 2016 Distinguished Research Award from Trent University

first_imgOne of the world’s foremost authorities and leading scientists in the groundbreaking field of biomaterials, Trent University alumnus, professor in Physics and the director of the Trent Centre for Biomaterials Research, Guyanese Dr Suresh Narine has been announced as the recipient of the 2016 Distinguished Research Award, one of the university’s top honours.Vice President, Research and International at Trent University, Dr Neil Emery in congratulating Professor Narine said that the incredible biomaterials research Narine and his team is conducting, will not only impact at local, national and global levels, but also pivotallyDr Suresh Narine and colleagues in the research laboratorycontributes to Trent’s standing as a leading research university.Meanwhile, Dr Narine in speaking about the award said Trent University is an institution which has a deep-seated place in his identity, as it has played an immensely important formative role in his early academic life and continues to be pivotal in his professional career as a professor and researcher.“This award also is a recognition of the contributions of students, research associates, technicians and collaborators with whom I have had the privilege of working over the past 15 years, and I am pleased to share the honour with them,” he noted.Prof Narine has had notable success since starting at Trent University in 2009. In February 2010, he was awarded a $1.25 million Ontario Research Chair in Green Chemistry and Engineering from the Council of Ontario Universities, in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.In November of that same year, he was awarded a $3 million senior industrial research chair in biomaterials from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) in partnership with Elevance Renewable Sciences, Inc and the Grain Farmers of Ontario which was recently renewed for a third consecutive term.Professor Narine also developed the National Institute of Applied Science and Technology in Guyana.A talented teacher, Prof Narine has also won numerous teaching awards, including the Students Union Award for Leadership in Undergraduate Teaching from the University of Alberta, an award from the former President of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo, for his contributions to Science and Technology in Canada and for his contributions in this field towards the development of Guyana and more recently he was named laureate for the Anthony N Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence in the Science and Technology category.last_img read more

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Police capacity boosted with newly inducted batch of officers

first_imghe outstanding performers among the graduating batches, along with senior officers of the ForceThe capacity of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) has been strengthened as two batches of new ranks were inducted into the system on Friday.Some 56 recruits from two batches who underwent an intense four-month training programme at the Felix Austin Police College and will now embark on a career of serving and protecting the Guyanese public.The training comprises; basic and essential principles of Policing, physical exercises, self-defence techniques and firearm training, as well as guidelines in human rights, moral, domestic violence and communication.Delivering the feature address at the graduation ceremony, Head of the Presidential Guard Service, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Brian Joseph, told the new recruits that as members of the Force, they will be required to do tasks that are outside the remit of basic policing.“In additional to enforcing the laws, you will be required to enforce several functions and witness events, some of which will be decided unpleasant. You will observe, and when necessary, tend to victims of accidents and to deliver the news of suicides, accidents and murders to next of kin,” he stated.Joseph went on to say to the new members of the Force that like social workers, they will have to help persons to come to terms with the loss of their loved ones. “You will the elderly and children who are most vulnerable in society and sometime during your career, you will save a life or many lives while putting your own on the line because this is what you were called to do,” he stated.Furthermore, Joseph outlined that no one is compelled to join the Force, but those who choose to do so are obliged to uphold the standards of the Police Force. He called on the new ranks to be true to themselves and the principles they would have obtained prior to and during the training.“You have chosen to purse a noble profession that faces many challenges and in so doing, have dedicated yourself to the service of justice. You are on the threshold of your law enforcement careers and all I asked is that you keep justice as the forefront of your mind. Be just, fair and open-minded, even-handed and professional… your job is not to judge or convict,” he charged.Moreover, the Assistant Commissioner further urged the ranks to be service-minded and trustworthy, noting that these qualities will help them to maintain relations.Meanwhile, a few of the new recruits were awarded for their outstanding performance during the course. There were two Best Students – one from each batch, two runner-up Best Students and two recruits who were awarded for being the most improved student.last_img read more

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Jagdeo’s office highly suspicious of delayed swearing in

first_imgPublic Procurement CommissionThe Office of the Leader of the Opposition on Tuesday said that the Government’s seemingly deliberate manoeuvres at delaying the swearing in of the five-member Public Procurement Commission (PPC) is “highly suspicious”.Opposition LeaderBharrat JagdeoThe National Assembly on August 8, 2016, in a historic two-thirds majority vote, approved the appointment and establishment of the Commission which will comprise of Emily Dodson, Carol Corbin, Ivor English, Sukrishnalall Pasha and Dr Nanda Gopaul.But, almost two months later, Jagdeo’s Office said the Commissioners are still to be sworn in and Government continues to make all sorts of excuses as to why the Commission has not been in place.It singled out a recent statement by Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo that the delay is due to the Government fixing the salary and office for the PPC, while President David Granger on October 1, 2016, was quoted as saying that while a date and time for swearing in had been announced, concerns about the drafting of the Term of Reference (ToR) is being delayed.The Opposition Leader’s Office pointed to Article 212 of the Guyana Constitution which makes the independence of the Commission clear regarding the election of the Chairman and deputy by the members; the establishment of the Secretariat and hiring of the CEO and staff by the Commission; the approval of the National Assembly of the terms and conditions of the CEO and two senior staff. The emoluments and allowances paid to Commissioners being determined by the Public Accounts Committee after consultation with the Commission.“The parliamentary Opposition reiterates that the setting of the Terms of Reference [ToR] is not the remit of Government but of the Commission and Commissioners itself where only the National Assembly and the Public Accounts Committee have specified roles,” Jagdeo’s Office stated.President David GrangerIt said therefore that it will “vehemently oppose” the involvement of the Government or any of its agencies in setting up the TOR of the Commission, the hiring and setting of salaries of staff for the Secretariat in the absence of the properly constituted and sworn in PPC, which will be a violation of the Constitution.“There is no acceptable reason for further delay in the swearing of the Commissioners,” Jagdeo’s office said, adding that “When the recess is over the PAC chaired by the PPP will be ready to carry out its responsibilities as outlined in the Constitution.”Jagdeo’s office reminded that while in Opposition, the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) used its majority to remove Cabinet’s “No objection” role in the award of contracts and subsequently holding the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing for Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2013 “ransom” in the ninth Parliament until, PPC was appointed and established, therefore, “this delay is not just inexplicable it is immoral belying their rhetoric over the last 13 years and election promises.”The Opposition said that it expects the PPC when sworn it will make investigating the several corruption scandals level against the Government a priority.“With 25 scandals and corruption listed over the last 16 months, the parliamentary Opposition expects that one of the first things the Commission would have to investigate is the drug bond scandal and other questionable contracts which are in violation of the Procurement Act and regulations implemented by all levels of Government and State agencies.” The Public Procurement Commission is expected to reduce or prevent corruption in procurement by monitoring procurement and the procedure to ensure that the procurement of goods, services and the execution of works are conducted in a fair, equitable, transparent and cost effective manner.Its functions include monitoring and reviewing all procurement systems; procedures of ministerial, regional and national procurement entities and project execution units; monitor performance with respect to adherence of regulations and efficiency in procuring goods and services and execution or works; investigate complaints; investigate irregularities; initiate investigations etc.last_img read more

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2 arrested for pensioner’s murder

first_imgTwo persons are now in Police custody in connection with the murder of a Cornelia Ida, West Coast Demerara (WCD) pensioner, who was brutally stabbed to death.The body of Bibi Keniez, 65, was found in her home on Monday just after midday.According to Police’s D Division (West Demerara) Commander, Leslie James, the two men were arrested and are being interrogated by Police.Based on information reaching Guyana Times, Keniez was found with stab wounds to her abdomen.From all indications, the killing of the woman was as a result of a robbery gone bad as her small wooden house was ransacked.The Police are continuing their investigations.Only recently, acting Police Commissioner David Ramnarine disclosed that during the period of January 1 to September 23, serious crimes had declined by 19 per cent compared to the same period last year.This, he noted, was as a result of an 11 per cent decrease in murder – 99 cases so far this year compared to 111 last year over the same period.last_img read more

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Gov’t Issues Position on Central African Republic

first_imgThe Government of Liberia (GOL) has expressed concern at the deteriorating security, humanitarian, and human rights situation in the Central African Republic (CAR), characterized by intense and devastating religious and communal violence.According to an Executive Mansion release quoting a dispatch from Addis Ababa, the Liberian Government, in a Statement issued Friday, January 31, at the ongoing 22nd African Union Summit in Ethiopia, asserts that the current state of peace and security in the CAR is a cause for concern and should therefore trigger concerted, robust, and expeditious actions by the international community, with the aim to restoring the country on the path of peace, stability and democracy at the soonest.The Liberian Government welcomes the recent election of Her Excellency Catherine Samba-Panza as Interim President of the Central African Republic, and the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2127 (2013) authorizing the deployment of the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA), which in December 2013 assumed authority over the ECCAS Peace and Consolidation Mission in CAR (MICOPX).The GOL Statement said that in spite of these laudable developments, it is of the view that the persistent climate of violence and instability requires a stronger and more robust international peacekeeping presence in the CAR. The GOL supports the recent decision emanating from a meeting of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), held on January 29, 2014, endorsing the transformation of MISCA into a multi-dimensional peacekeeping mission under the aegis of the United Nations.Liberia believes that such transformation represents the most viable means of securing political stability and dealing with the complex and urgent situation in the Central African Republic.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Bassa Association President Blasts County Leadership

first_imgThe president of the Grand Bassa Association in the Americas, Jerome Gaymen, has blamed leadership of the county for the abject poverty and low esteem facing citizens therein.Making the statement to the Daily Observer in an internet message exchange, Mr. Gaymen said leaders in developing countries attach seriousness to quality education for their youth to prepare them for a better future.According to Mr. Gaymen, the same would work in Grand Bassa case if leaders of the county use their influence to use development funds and seek assistance from other sources to develop the county.He observes that because of political parties’ interests, lawmakers and other leaders of the county are not collectively working in the interest of Grand Bassa, noting, “To ensure that life gets better for the young and old in Bassa, lawmakers from the county need to give preference to the affairs of the county.“Forming partnerships and collaboration, and working across party lines are key aspects of collaboration,” he said.“If these opportunities are given our people, I believe the youths will be able to realize their full potential and see how best they can adequately contribute to the society,” he noted.The GBAA president added that in such societies, young people look forward to a better future.“Contrary to this philosophy that drives countries to a better future, I am not seeing this in Grand Bassa County for the young people. Young people in Bassa seem to have no faith in their leaders,” he said.“The proof is clear. Do we have quality schools, as the second oldest and most powerful county in the nation? Are the citizens benefiting from our people including Gbezongar Findley the Pro Temp, Hans Barchue the Deputy Speaker, Julia Duncan Cassel, Gender and Development Minister, T. Nelson Williams, Managing Director for the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company, and Matilda Parker, Managing Director of National Port Authority and others who hold prestigious positions in government?  Is it only to have Bassa connection but Bassa not to have their benefits?” Mr. Gaymen questioned.Although praised the establishment and funding of the Bassa Community College, he also identified three areas he says need to be addressed.He named Community/youth development Center, Job creation and services to the elderly as areas of concern.Disclosing development plan the US based Grand Bassa organization has for the county; Gaymen said the organization is constructing a hospital in Deso Town.“We are working with the Community College to build the capacity of students. We also have scholarships at Mother Pattern College of Health Sciences,” he further acknowledged. “We have interest in doing more only as a partner to the county and its people,” he assured.He clarified that his comments are not meant to set the impression that he wants a political position in the county.“I don’t believe in seeking political glory before performing my duty as a lawful citizen. When we brought the books and computers, the speculation grew that I want political office. That’s not true. I do not have to do these things to qualify me for a political office,” Mr. Gaymen stressed.However, Grand Bassa Senator and Senate Pro-Temp Gbehzohngar Milton Findley told the Daily Observer that he would continue to work with the Grand Bassa Association in the Americas to ensure that development be the first priority of the county.T. Nelson Williams, Managing Direct of the Liberian Petroleum Refinery Company dispelled discrediting statements made by Gaymen and noted that there are prominent sons and daughters of Grand Bassa, who are contributing to the growth and development of the County.He said he has personally contributed to private sector and government-owned institutions in the county through partnership with his friends.“I am personally supporting the private sector. I also have a foundation in Buchanan and a Hotel which have about 27 employees in both institutions. I have scholarships for both junior high students and those of the Grand Bassa Community College. My foundation has a feeding program that caters for the old, blind, crippled and the underprivileged,” Mr. William said.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Cyvette’s Yellows Win Anti-rape Kickball Derby

first_imgThe recent string of rape cases in the country, which have resulted to the brutal deaths of children, has not only been described as rape and evil but also, a virus, known as ‘Rapebola.’In the fight to successfully curtail the rising numbers of rape cases, six Liberian women launched the Concerned Women of Liberia (CWL) with a Charity Kickball Event wherein two kickball teams were interestingly interspersed with males.The charity kickball match was sponsored by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation, (NASSCORP), FiBank Liberia, Cemenco, Mr. and Mrs. Macdonald Wento and U-Foundation.There were food and drinks on sale as part of the fundraiser event.The theme of the charity kickball event was “Kicking for a Cause,” and was held at the Blue (BYC) field at the PHP Community, in Monrovia, on Saturday, March 7.The Yellow Team was captained by the Mayor of the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC) Cyvette Gibson, and some of the players included Betty Blamo, Ellen Pratt, Musa Bility, Israel Akinsaya, Sebastine Muah, Kelvin Sebwe, Jonathan Sogbie and Yoquai Lavala.The Blue Team’s skipper was Dr. Wilhemenia Jallah, and some of her players were Stephanie Duncan, Charlene Carey, Musa Shannon, Axel Addy, Macdonald Wento, Cypha G.S. D’King, Clarence Moniba, Elias Shoniyin and Gabriel Greaves.In the first inning, both sides have nil home-run, but in the second inning, the Cyvette Gibsons’ side pulled up a strategically fight that resulted to two wins.The Yellow carried on the fight in the defense, and sustained the two-nil score. The Blues, also impressively adopted and mended their defense as well as the Yellows, and there were also no home-run for both sides in the third inning.In the fourth (last) inning, there were entertaining kickball, with Yellows increasing their tally to 5-0, but one of their players, Jonathan Sogbe was booked and thrown out of the pitch for not kicking on the side-of-his-feet.The Blues reconsolidated and made three home-runs during the untimely celebration of the Yellows, which compellingly made to refocus and take the day, 5-3.Prior to the kickball derby, Vice President Joseph Boakai, hailed the six Liberian women for their wholesome approach to help stop the menace of rape in the country.The Vice President said rape isn’t only a disgrace, but also it hampers development of girls.Justice Minister Benedict Sarnoh and the Deputy Minister for Administration at the Ministry of Gender and Social Development, Peter Roberts pledged their Ministries’ support to combat rape from the country.The President of the Liberia Football Association (LFA) Musa Bility said: “The LFA supports the government and the Concerned Women of Liberia to kick rape out of the country — rape is undoubtedly terrible, and evil.”Meanwhile, the CWL was founded by Madam Charlyne Brumskine, Charlene Carey, Salamartu Duncan, Cyvette Gibson, Wadei Powell and Ellen Pratt.The goals of the CWL include to identify and support any organization that has a proven record of providing stellar services to victims of rape; produce public service announcement to sensitize and raise the consciousness of Liberians and foreigners about the pervasiveness of rape in our society and its far-reaching impact on the socio-economic and political development of the country and establish a trust fund to support victims and families of rape during prosecutorial process.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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She’s Vogue and Ready to Turn Fashion into Something Else

first_imgFashion is a quality of life that’s mostly mastered by people of sophistication, importance and drawn to high grade and quality. But with preparation, focus, money and above all, hard work, anyone can become a thriving asset or a fashionmonger.“My passion is promoting creative arts in Liberia.”The founder of Liberia Fashion & Arts Council and Liberia Fashion Marketing, Junda Morris – Kennedy’s work over the years has grown a following, many customers and social media platforms fond of her services. She’s been able to keep up with today’s prevailing styles and the needs of those who want to stay up- to -date.Quite recently Mrs. Junda walked into an opportunity that could reform the Liberian fashion industry forever, at least for now.“I was named this year as the Liberian representative for West Africa Fashion Awards. I am in the process of nominating Liberian fashion professionals for the 2016 West Africa Fashion Awards,” Junda shared via Facebook.Having Mrs. Junda participate in such an endeavor could make her Liberia’s biggest fashion icon. It also gives her an opportunity to showcase Liberia’s ‘eye for style’ and encourage further stake holders and fashion designers. With the much needed exposure in the fashion setting, Mrs. Junda plans on magnifying the art and business of fashion in Liberia. “My goal is to create awareness about the Liberian fashion industry,” Mrs. Junda announced. Meanwhile, being the owner of JMKPUBLICIST PR/ Marketing Company, Mrs. Junda says she has experience in making things happen and has represented several fashion brands and musicians. “Some of my clients include: Tekay Designs, Semoner Designs, 1847 & Co, L’Amour Ameer, Jodi, Jon Bricks, DSP, Bennie OX, Miss United Nations Pageant, Mama Afrika Festival, Atlanta Kids Fashion Week, Chris Collins. The list is so long,” she says.Furthermore, Mrs. Junda believes the passion that she has for promoting creative arts in Liberia comes from her earlier years.“I attended the Lewis Nelson Sewing School and Lott Carey Mission Cooking Class. My love for music comes from my grandfather, the late Rev. J.D.K. Baker who wrote music. I also started singing in church choirs at the age of 11 and was one of the youngest to ever sing in the Episcopal Church Mass Choir. I also took piano lessons under Dr. Nyema Jones, a renowned Liberian musician,” Mrs. Junda shared.A wife and the mother of three says she has been organizing events since she was 13 years old in Liberia and accredits her success to her late mother, Grace Baker Morris, former head of (WAEC).“My mom told me an idle mind is the devil’s workshop, so every vacation I’d put something together for the neighborhood,” she shared.In the meantime, Mrs. Junda has plans for all those who have been working endlessly towards perfecting fashion in Liberia. With her big seating for the upcoming 2016 West African Fashion Awards, fashion designers have something to celebrate.“I plan on teaming up with many creative Liberians to produce Runway Liberia 2016, showcase of Liberian Fashion, Music and Arts all on a major international platform. Look out,” she said.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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CICO Donates US$8,000 Agricultural Materials to 4 Communities

first_imgChongqing International Construction Corporation (CICO) on Tuesday, December 22, donated a large consignment of agricultural materials worth over US$8,000 to the Township of Caldwell, Louisiana, King Gray and the City of Kakata as part of the company’s corporate social responsibility. Welcoming the delegation to the Township of Caldwell, Commissioner Alexine Howard expressed gratitude to the management and staff of CICO, noting that Caldwell, Louisiana, King Gray and the City of Kakata are in need of the assistance. She recounted the difficult days when the country was hard hit by the Ebola outbreak when CICO took the initiative to collaborate with members of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce who later distributed a consignment of rice and stationary materials to the Caldwell Orphanage Home.“I have worked with many investors in Caldwell but CICO has always responded to the needs of residents of the Township of Caldwell, for which we have always been grateful. Because of their good work, today residents of Caldwell can boast of having the best road in the country,” declared Commissioner Howard.Responding, Mr. Pang Hanzhao from the Embassy of the Peoples’ Republic of China, said his government is extremely delighted that more and more Chinese owned companies are helping to better the lives of Liberians.He described the recent outbreak of Ebola as a very dark period in the country’s history and noted that several Chinese investment companies and institutions stood firm with the Government and people of Liberia as a true partner in progress to helping in kicking out the disease from the country. He expressed thanks and appreciation to CICO for the donation and stressed that as the country enjoys peace and security more and more Chinese owned companies will invest in the country’s economy.Mr. Yang Zantao, Managing Director of CICO, said the donation included a generator, wheelbarrows, rain gear, cutlasses, sprayers, rice seed, shovels, diggers, among others, which he said were CICO’s way of identifying with the four communities as part of its corporate social responsibility.He also listed the construction of the Monrovia City Streets, the Vai Town Bridge, Caldwell Road as well as the Red Light to Gbarnga road projects, which have and continue to create employment opportunities for scores of Liberians. “Despite the difficult situation as earlier stated we will not forget our responsibility to the people of Liberia. We will always try to perform our corporate social responsibility as much as we can,” Yang said.Mr. Charles McClain, Deputy Minister for Planning and Development, Ministry of Agriculture, expressed appreciation to CICO for the donations, adding, “We want to see more and more Liberians getting involved in agriculture. The development of agriculture in Liberia is not just the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture,” said McClain.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Monrovia Football Academy Attracts 500 Kids at Tryouts, Exam

first_imgMonrovia Football Academy’s American director Will Smith, not the actor, is bringing a new way of combining playing soccer with education.“We are combining the game with education,” Smith told the Daily Observer last Saturday at the BYC Field in Monrovia during a tryout and examination for prospective students to be selected to attend the ever popular program. The program attracted 500 kids.Presently using rented facilities, Smith said MFA is working out modalities to build their own structures to cater to their students, as the MFA attracts more kinds.At Saturday’s program, MFA volunteers registered hundreds of kids, identified and numbered them, before they were put in groups of five to play against each other, while other volunteers, with pen and notebooks on hand, graded the kids on their individual skills.Smith said though the program costs US$100 per student, those who are unable to pay are considered and offered scholarships to attend the program.“This is not one of the initiatives that are announced and later disappeared,” Smith said, “so while we have had support from the Liberia Football Association, we are hoping that in the future we can get additional support to be able to help many more Liberian kids.”The one day tryout on Saturday was part of MFA’s recruitment exercise for boys and girls who not only played for 20 minutes during the rating system but also took an entrance exam comprised of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades test questions.MFA selected 60 kids from both male and female groups and carried out individual interviews to select 50 kids to take part in a one-week MFA camp to be held from August 15-19. “This creative addition will enable our staff to see the applicants operating in the MFA system; and most importantly, we will be able to assess academic performance within our classroom environment, allowing us to see the true academic potential of our applicants,” Smith said.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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836 Inmates Await Trial, Correction Bureau Alarms

first_imgOf the approximately 1,094 inmates at the Monrovia Central Prison (MCP), about 836 of them account for 76 percent of the number of people who have been awaiting trial for at least a year, making it a higher percentage than the jail’s overall population, according to the Bureau of Correction and Rehabilitation at the Ministry of Justice (MOJ).In some extreme cases, some of the inmates have been held without trial for more than four years, Varney G. Lake, prison superintendent, said on Thursday, April 12, during an acquaintance visit by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean.Lake informed Cllr. Dean that the remaining 258 of the prison’s population are serving post-conviction sentences, and the rest are still waiting for trial or to be sentenced.Most of the inmates are awaiting trial for multiple charges of violent crimes such as murder, rape, assault or armed robbery, according to Lake.“At least 375 of the 1,094 are those charged with only rape,” the MCP Superintendent stated.He said the prison was built to hold a little over 300 inmates, with the current population now two times the number of convicts held at the facility.Most of the 22 female inmates interviewed by Minister Dean explained that nearly half of them have been held not because they have been deemed too dangerous for release, but simply because they couldn’t post bonds.After some pretrial inmates told Minister Dean that they could not afford even a small bond, he immediately mandated some of his female lawyers to begin arranging for their release.“Prison is not a place to destroy people, but where they can be rehabilitated,” Minister Dean declared. “And so, we are going to work along with relevant justice actors, to empower them with skills that can make them useful members of their communities upon release.”Dean told journalists that a complicated host of factors contribute to trial delays and that his office would shortly launch a series of initiatives to study the problem and take remedial action based on best practices.He agreed that complex criminal cases may legitimately take a lot of time—sometimes years—to adjudicate.Despite the numerous challenges, Assistant Minister for Rehabilitation, Eddie S. Tarawali, said they were providing educational opportunities for prisoners to take responsibility for developing their vocational skills and social completeness in order for them to become contributing, productive members of the prison community and also of their communities upon their release.“If the needed funding is available, we are committed to providing technical and workplace skills training for prisoners to enhance their ability to acquire and maintain jobs upon release,” Minister Tarawali said.But, according to Tarawali, maintaining the program would entail support by securing a contract to sew all public school uniforms, which would provide more funding for the upkeep of the training.But poverty is not the only cause of prolonged pretrial detentions. The Daily Observer’s investigation established that dozens of attorneys, court administrators, and inmates interviewed for this story, as well as a highly critical report from the Bureau of Correction and Rehabilitation, paint a gloomy picture of a court system plagued by unnecessary delays.“Court systems around the country are crippled by overwhelming public defenders and over-scheduled courtrooms, and the lack of a state of the art crime lab, which can take the prosecution up to a year to turn around basic DNA samples, especially during a rape trial,” a lawyer indicated.Nevertheless, the consequences for defendants of such lengthy trial delays are severe and raise troubling questions about the unequal application of justice in the country.Extended trial delays deprive defendants of their liberty for months or years as they await trial, causing them to lose jobs, incur debt, fall behind on schooling, and endure separation from loved ones, a defense lawyer noted.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Police Chief Clears Sewage Spill on Busy Water Street

first_imgPolice Inspector Sudue arrives at Water Street, where the sewage eruptedBy Samuel G. DwehCrowds of traders at the intersection of Mechlin and Water streets in Monrovia yesterday, February 22, welcomed the new Inspector General (IG) of the Liberia National Police (LNP), Patrick T. Sudue, with heroic chants as he marched towards a spillage of sewage that had erupted in the middle of Water Street. “Welcome, police boss! Welcome, police boss…!” some of the traders shouted and others sang, “No hands for the IGP? No hands for the IGP?”In local parlance, the ‘hands’ for someone means ‘applause.’The LNP boss had come with the Liberia Water & Sewer Corporation’s waste collection tanker marked GSA-LWSC 05-5, with plate number (LB) 0767.The stench from the sewage filled the air. “Remove those barricades!” the IGP shouted to some of the men with him, pointing to two ropes tied around a heap of what appeared to be fecal matter that had erupted through the sewage manhole in the middle of the street. The guys rushed toward the ropes and cut them.As the men worked, the Inspector General told this reporter that he was acting on a plea from the chairman of the Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (PATEL) to have the sewage unclogged and the area cleaned.“Mr. Presely Tenwah of PATEL called me yesterday, told me about feces pumping out of the ground in a market area and begged me to assist him on its clearance,” he said.As the LWSC truck arrives, a trader explains to LNP Inspector Sudue and the PATEL’s Tenwah (3rd from right) what has been going onAs to why he personally showed up at the spot of the hazardous spill, instead of giving orders to some of the many junior officers of the LNP, the IGP responded that he came because he is “a servant of the people.”While the LWSC workers were desludging the manhole by pumping the excess sewage into the tanker, the LNP boss gave some money to one of the men and another amount to the driver of the tanker.“For your cold water,” he said, and marched out of the throng of traders and passersby who had stopped to watch the scene. The gesture sparked a rush of excitement among the young traders.“That’s sixty U.S. dollars!” a male trader exclaimed to his colleagues. PATEL’s chairman, Tenwah, told this reporter that some officials of his institution had informed him about the sewage problem four days prior to the day the IGP followed him there.Tenwah said the sewage problem in a market area worries him “because I am a leader in the business community.”None of the men clearing the sewage had a nose-mask, including one who identified himself as Joe Davies, 22, an employer of the LW&SC.“I’m used to it now; I’ve been doing this since I joined Water and Sewer in 2013,” he said.LWSC workers de-sludging the man-hole on Water StreetMany traders had been conducting their daily activities, including sometimes eating, in the nauseating scent of the feces.One of them, Mercy Miatta Mulbah, 23, whose shower slippers table was a few yards away from the sewage problem, said she and other traders cannot abandon their wares when they are eating because, “When you leave your market table to eat at another place, somebody will steal your market.”The rope-barricade was erected by some young traders as a means of calling the government’s attention to the feces, some of them disclosed.“I was one of those who blocked the road,” Edwin Kollie, 39, whose made-in-Ghana slippers table was situated just a few feet from the sewage eruption, said. “If we had not done that, the government would continue ignoring this. Government officials pass through pupu water here every day.”Two days prior to Sudue’s visit to the scene, some police officers came in a police car to pass but met the barricade, said a trader who sells imported sneakers.“They came down with pistols but we dared them to cut the rope,” he said.The presence of spilled sewage in market areas in many parts of the nation’s capital, Monrovia, has been a recurrent scene since the exit of Madam Mary Broh, Acting Mayor of the City of Monrovia.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Senate Still Awaits Letter of Recall, Proclamation

first_imgThe Capitol Building, the Seat of the LegislatureSince its November 4, 2019 communication requesting the return of the Legislature for extraordinary session, authoritative reports from the Senate say that body is still awaiting President George Weah’s proclamation that will legitimize such return.Besides the proclamation, the Senate source told this newspaper that the President needs to write another letter that will outline reasons necessitating the lawmakers return for the extraordinary sitting; and that the letter will have to be accompanied by a proclamation, which the Legislature will use to inform the citizens as reason for their return.The source told the Daily Observer on Wednesday, November 27 at the Capitol Building that a good number of senators are willing to attend an extraordinary session, but they argued that the question still remains on what is so urgent that constitutes reason for emergency to warrant the return of Legislators for their intervention.The secretariat of the Senate confirmed that since the first letter from the Executive Mansion, efforts are being made to work along with the Executive for “the proper procedure,” and that a communication has already been forwarded to the Executive branch of the government.While at the Capitol Building yesterday, our reporter also noticed the presence of Lofa County Senator George Tamba Tengbeh, chairman of the Senate Committee on Lands, Mines, Energy and Environment, and House Speaker Bhofal Chambers, both of whom had reportedly held separate closed door meetings with President Pro Tempore Albert T. Chie.Even though the lawmakers are yet to receive both the letter and proclamation, the Senate secretariat remains optimistic of the return of the lawmakers for the “extraordinary session,” which among other issues, will ensure the confirmation hearings on the new Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Executive Governor-designate, and the printing of the new banknotes.“We hope the team of Legal Advisors will get to work by crafting the necessary documents that will be convincing for the senators return,” the Capitol Building source said.Pro Temppre Chie, last week told this newspaper that the senate leadership was in receipt of the President’s letter, but was waiting his return to issue the proclamation.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Carpenter charged for $2M robbery

first_imgA father of two from Beterverwagting, East Coast Demerara (ECD) was on Friday brought before the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts slapped with five counts of robbery under arms.Lloyd Saffon, 36, of Lot 6 Quamina Road, Beterverwagting denied the chargesRobbery accused Lloyd Saffonread to him by Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan.He is being charged with carrying out an armed robbery on Merwin Gobin at Caneview Avenue, South Ruimveldt, Georgetown. In that instance, it is alleged that he carted off with the man’s cellphone, cash, laptop and other items with a total value of $220,000. He is also accused of robbing Gary Primo of items amounting to $1.9 million.Saffon was also charged for robbing Neelan Jacqueline on December 31, 2017, at South Ruimveldt of items valuing $65,000; and Norwel Bowen of items amounting to $85,000.Additionally, he was charged for robbing Maxwell Bowen of items valuing $140,000 on December 31, 2017, at South Ruimveldt, Georgetown.In court on Friday, Saffon told the Chief Magistrate that he was at home at the time of all the robberies and has surveillance footage at his home to attest to his alibi.He noted that he explained the same thing to the Police, who refused to even view the footage.The defendant further told the court that the Police are also yet to visit his home to inspect for the stolen items which he supposedly possesses.Police Prosecutor Gordon Mansfield however objected to bail based on the seriousness and prevalence of the offences. He also revealed that the defendant was identified by one of the Virtual Complainant’s (VC) in an identification parade.As such, Saffon was remanded to prison and is expected to return on February 2, 2018.last_img read more

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DPP recommends more investigation in “Otisha” case

first_imgThe Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has returned the file with regard to accusations of paedophilia against popular cross-dresser, Otis ‘Otisha’ Pearson, to the Guyana Police Force advising that additional work be conducted.The Police said the file was returned on Monday with the advice that additionalCross-dresser, Otis ‘Otisha’ Pearsoninvestigative work be done. They have since released Pearson who was in custody since March 6.Pearson was taken into Police custody on March 6 after the Child Care and Protection Agency (CC&PA) forwarded the findings of its investigation of paedophilia claims against the sex worker. The Police’s investigation is still ongoing and the file is with the DPP for legal advice.However, on Friday last, the Police sought an extension to detain the sex worker for an additional 72 hours as they await legal advice and wrap up their investigation.The CC&PA’s investigation stemmed after Pearson went on national television, after he was released from Police custody for another incident, and claimed that he has “a little boy” for every day of the week. Following that claim, photos of the cross dresser and a teenaged boy were leaked to social media site, Facebook, sparking outrage.To pacify the situation, Pearson, in the presence of Joel Simpson – founder of the Society Against Sexual Orientation and Discrimination (SASOD) explained that the term “little boy” is usually thrown around in the transgender community and denied being involved in sexual relations with any underage boy. This view was supported by Simpson who said his organisation does not condone such relations and that he was aware of the “little boy” euphemism.The surfacing of the photos and subsequent response led to several persons calling for an investigation into the incident and accused Pearson of being a pervert.Back in February, the CC&PA closed its investigation into the alleged misconduct by Pearson. It was discovered that the boy was below the legal age of consent, which is 16 and became a victim of bullying after the photos were leaked.According to CC&PA’s Director, Ann Green, the Agency has gathered statements from a number of persons, including the young man at the centre of the controversy, and as such, it is expected to move ahead with the case.last_img read more

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Police recover dead man’s car

first_imgLinden robbery/murderPolice have recovered the car which was stolen from murder victim, Romel Edison Gomes’ home on Monday evening.Reports are Gomes, called “Eddie”, 32, of Lot 53 Wismar Housing Scheme, Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) was found at his business place with a gunshot wound to his head and his throat slit.Dead: Romel Edison GomesGuyana Times was told that the incident occurred at about 17:30h on Monday.E Division (Linden-Kwakwani) Commander Anthony Vanderyden confirmed that the Toyota car with registration number PVV 2057 was recovered at about 09:00h on Tuesday in an alleyway at One Mile, Wismar, Linden, about seven minutes away from the scene of the crime. Gomes was allegedly killed by two males, onewho was armed with a handgun. Investigations revealed that the victim and the suspects were seen arguing inside of the shop and shortly afterwards, a loud explosion was heard. Soon after, the suspects were seen fleeing the scene in the victim’s motor car which was parked in front of his shop. The victim, who lived with his three-year-old son, was discovered in a pool of blood with his hands bound in front of his boddy and a kerchief (bandana) tied around his mouth. He was rushed to the Linden Hospital Complex (LHC) but was pronounced dead on arrival. AThe recovered carsuspected gunshot wound was seen on the right temple, a small laceration on top of the head and another lacerated wound to the neck. The scene was processed and a spent shell of a small calibre weapon was found along with a kitchen knife with bloodstains.The victim’s bedroom was ransacked. No arrests have been made. A post-mortem examination is expected be conducted on the victim today.Meanwhile, a neighbour recalled seeing two males, both sporting braided hair, standing outside Gomes’s shop some time before the incident. The men were reportedly wearing bandanas over their faces and caps pulled down to shield their identities. According to a neighbour, the deceased and his son were at home at the time of the incident, as they recalled seeing Gomes exit the shop and asked a neighbour who was about to enter the shop to take his son away.“A brown skin one was standing at the gate… but he had a hat on he head pulled down in he face and plait hair,” a neighbour recalled. The neighbour reportedly left the scene with the child. Gomes, a former national footballer reportedly moved to Linden from Georgetown about two years ago to live with his wife, who now resides overseas.last_img read more

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Lance Corporal to stand trial for raping 15-year-old boy

first_imgAlmost two months after Lance Corporal Clifton Pellew was charged for raping a 15-year-old boy while he was custody, Senior Magistrate Leron Daly found that there was sufficient evidence for him to stand trial before a Judge and jury at the High Court.Clifton PellewFollowing his committal, Pellew was granted bail in the sum of $500,000 pending the High Court trial.The City Constable was charged back in February with the indictable offence, which alleged that on August 15, 2017, at the Constabulary Outpost at City Hall, he engaged in sexual activity with the minor.According to reports, the incident had occurred when the then 15-year-old boy was taken into custody for wandering.At some point during his detention, the minor was reportedly transferred to the Regent Street Outpost, where the alleged incident occurred.It was only after allegations made its way into the public domain that City Hall acted.In the aftermath of the public allegation, Pellew and another officer, Corporal Quacy Baveghems, were sent on leave pending the outcome of the matter.There were also accusations that authorities at City Hall have been trying to cover up the issue, with calls being made by rights activists for actions to be taken against the Mayor and Town Clerk.However, as an investigation began into the matter, it was discovered that Baveghems did not make a written entry of the incident in the station’s diary.Pellew and Baveghems were fired, after receiving a letter signed by the Town Clerk.Mayor Chase Green had said the decision to dismiss the officers came following the discovery of new evidence.Following protests by activists in Guyana and calls for Pellew to face the courts for his crime, the matter was handed over to the Police who sought legal advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions .last_img read more

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59 residents displaced, remain in shelters

first_imgRegion 9 flood aftermath…environmental health personnel offering guidance – CDC HeadBy Shemuel FanfairThough the floodwaters in sections of Lethem and surrounding areas have largely receded, the 59 residents who were evacuated from their homes for safety reasons remain in shelters after nearly two weeks.The flood situation reached a worrying level when several persons were evacuated from their homes in Region Nine almost two weeks ago (file photo)This was confirmed by both Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) Vice Chairman Karl Singh and acting Head of the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig – who related to Guyana Times on Sunday that the affected areas were being monitored.While it is not clear when the various households will be able to return to their places of abode, Vice Chairman Singh stated that the residents were being allowed to clean their surroundings.“Persons are in the shelter as of today [Sunday]; we are still monitoring the situation. We have cleaning agents, including Jeyes fluid, to give to the affected people to clean their homes and disinfect the surrounding areas before they can go back home,” Singh told this publication.Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Craig told this newspaper that as the water around Lethem has been receding, there have been no reports of disease outbreak.“There are no outbreaks; what we try to do is use preventative measures such as bleach in water and water purification tablets…we monitor the situation continuously and we are in contact with the regional administration under the regional disaster risk management system,” Craig pointed out.He also informed that the Public Health Ministry has a team targeting the affected areas with community outreaches by its environmental health personnel who have been providing guidance on the necessary measures persons can take to prevent diseases.Meanwhile, additional flooding remains a cause for worry since the water level could rise again with another heavy downpour. The affected areas included Deep South Rupununi communities such as Karasabai, which was cut off from Central Lethem.Regional Chairman Brian Allicock noted earlier this month that a group of Toshaos had travelled into the area via boat, using a different route.It was reported several days ago that Deep South Rupununi’s main access road en-route to Aishalton was partly washed away.Food security is another concern that was recorded since the floods in the Deep South had also destroyed farms. Regional Chairman Allicock noted in early July that some 20 farms were inundated with over three feet of water.The flooding was caused by several rivers, particularly the Takutu River, overtopping because of heavy rainfall in the region and over in neighbouring Brazil, which had resulted in overtopping of the Rio Brancho River. The CDC had delivered supplies which included water purification tablets, collapsible bottles, detergents and other cleaning supplies, beddings and blankets, among other materials.last_img read more

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Likelihood of NIS collapse, bailout possible – economics professor

first_imgGiven the recent disclosure by the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) that it stands to lose $414 million in earnings this year due to a combination of factors, including the closure of sugar estates, Economics Professor Tarron Khemraj has said that could increase the likelihood of a possible collapse.He told Guyana Times in a recent interview that the NIS has had serious sustainability issues even two to three years ago, and this was stated in the last actuarial report. As such, he feels that with this recent news, it could only compound the sustainability of the Scheme and further decrease its viability.NIS Headquarters Brickdam, Georgetown“The last actuarial review predicted a negative reserve. From a general standpoint, all of these things will definitely imperil the capacity of the Insurance Scheme to have a growing portfolio. It could only be able to serve its members when it stacks its portfolio up with revenue,” he explained.But the economics professor noted that the NIS has been getting problems from many directions, with one aspect being the treasury bills and the fact that the Berbice Bridge Company Incorporated (BBCI) is not earning large profits. “If anything, it does increases the likelihood of a possible collapse, where it may require a bailout sometime. It shows how everything in the economy is connected,” he added.However, Khemraj explained that NIS is expected to incur losses not only on the basis of downsizing within the sugar industry and the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo). He said, “…all the other industries…are contracting right now…dwindling contributions, which is very troubling.”NIS Finance Controller Jacqueline Scotland, who along with other senior officers appeared before the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Social Services, revealed the information on impeding losses. Scotland disclosed that the Scheme’s current fund stands at $31.9 billion as at June 30.It was also noted that GuySuCo is one of the largest defaulters, owing in excess of $1.5 billion to NIS. However, NIS General Manager, Holly Greaves, told the committee that the sugar company had paid off the debt, except for $250 million in accumulated interest on the outstanding amount.Greaves said the Scheme plans to take legal action against GuySuCo to recover the money. It has served a demand notice. “We intend to move to the court to get it,” Greaves stated.NIS has also implemented a debt management section to pursue persons who owe them. But, even with this new system, there are fears about continued slippage of contribution, as against the payment of benefits. This year, NIS is expected to pay out $23.6 billion, with contributions projected to reach $23.2 billion.With the closure of the Skeldon, Rose Hall, Wales and East Demerara factories, which saw close to 5,000 workers being severed, NIS could see significant loss of contributions. And with an aging population, NIS has incurred an increase in payments of at least $2 million each year.It was disclosed in the last actuarial report that the life of the Scheme should come to an end in 2021/22 unless strategic plans for revenue earnings and expansion of the investment portfolio are effectively implemented. The NIS could move to recommend an increase in payments soon.last_img read more

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New dental clinic launched

first_img…MP, NDC Chairman laud initiative to improve ECD serviceA new dental clinic on Sunday officially opened its doors to the public by offering citizens living on the East Coast of Demerara and in Georgetown and its environs a higher quality of dental service; one unmatched by others within the field of dentistry.The launching ceremony of ‘Idental’ saw in attendance close to fifty persons from all walks of life, including Peoples Progressive Party/Civic Member of Parliament Neil Kumar; Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Health, Shabana Ally; and Neighbourhood Democratic Council Chairman for the Better Hope to La Bonne Intention District, Zaman Shaw.Addressing the audience, the PPP Parliamentarian said he was happy that the group of young business executives and medical professionals had teamed up to accomplish their common goal of providing better dental care to residents of Georgetown and the East Demerara Coast.He said he was personally attended to by the chief surgeon attached to Idental, and was able to have a very satisfactory experience despite his fear of having work done orally.Kumar said small initiatives like Idental go a long way in rebuilding the confidence of young people in their ability to work hard and accomplish their overall goals and life’s aspirations.The Parliamentarian congratulated the young medical team, and urging them to work very hard over the existence of the business to maintain their standards and high levels of professionalism.NDC Chairman Shaw also echoed similar sentiments as he gave the NDC’s blessings to the operationalisation of the new dental clinic. Shaw said the building that now houses the Clinic has a history of its own within the Montrose community, as it was once the location for FoodTown.He urged its owner and dental surgeon to first look to the community to recruit and train staff that may be needed to man the facility before looking elsewhere for skills.Shaw reiterated that the NDC is committed to working with new entrepreneurs in order to boost the economic fortunes of communities within the Better Hope to Montrose District.In response, businesswoman Karen Manifold, who owns the Dental Clinic, promised she would work closely with all involved to maintain the standards of the entity, while delivering the best dental care possible with the equipment installed at the new facility.Manifold said the idea to open the clinic was birthed during conversations with Dr Steve Baul, who is the Chief Surgeon at Idental. “We had this idea two and a half years ago; and I am a perfectionist, so I kept wanting to ensure that everything was in order before the launch or startup of the clinic”, Manifold told the audience.As the ceremony climaxed, Dr Baul also delivered key remarks, as he underscored the importance of oral health and dentistry in any developing country that is serious about the ‘health and strength’ of its citizenry and human resources.He spoke about his concept of ‘no fear dentistry’, before explaining that it was designed to be patient-centred and ensure that almost all who visit Idental for medical care would be treated professionally and warmly.The state-of-the-art dental clinic is located at Lot 11 Montrose, East Coast Demerara, minutes away from Apex Educational Academy. It is housed on the middle floor of a three-storyed building.Services offered include: night guard, sealants, dental veneers, fixed bridge, teeth whitening, dental crown, removable dentures, cleaning & polishing, root canal therapy, extractions (simple & surgical) and filling.last_img read more

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Man remanded for pelting ex-lover with brick

first_imgA man, who admitted to fracturing the nose of his ex-male partner after an argument, was on Monday charged and appeared at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.Leon MurrayThirty-five-year-old Leon Murray appeared before Magistrate Faith McGusty after he was slapped with two charges.The first charge alleged that on September 5, 2019 at Georgetown, he maliciously damaged one spectacle valued at $30,000 property of Shawn Solomon. The second charge alleged that on September 5, 2019 at Georgetown, he inflicted grievous bodily harm on Solomon.The unrepresented man pleaded not guilty to the first charge; however, he pleaded guilty to the second charge with explanation.In his pleadings to the court Murray stated that Solomon pulled out two knives and started to fire chops. “It cut my hand, he then pick up a big wood and throw it on my neck. After he throw it, I got angry and picked up a big brick and throw it in his face,” Murray said.Police Prosecutor Quinn Harris informed the court that on September 5 at about 22:30h, the Virtual Complainant (VC) went home from work and saw Murray, after which an argument ensured. According to the Prosecutor, the defendant armed himself with a brick and pelted the VC to his face. The matter was reported and the defendant was arrested.The Prosecutor objected to bail since the VC suffered a fractured nose and the seriousness of the offence.The Magistrate, after listening to both sides, remanded the father of one to prison. The case will continue on September 10.last_img read more

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Conductor dances on moving minibus: Police probing viral video

first_imgJust 10 days after a video went viral, which showed the reckless behaviour of a minibus driver and his conductor, another video surfaced on social media on Friday showing a conductor dancing on top of a moving minibus at the minibus park at the Stabroek Market area. Additionally, passengers were seated inside the bus and the music emanating from the moving vehicle was preposterously loud.Conductor dancing on the top of a minibus at the bus park near Stabroek MarketThe video went viral just minutes after it was shared on several social media platforms. When contacted, Traffic Chief Linden Isles said ranks from the Guyana Police Force are in search of the conductor.“An officer called me, and he said that the owner [of the minibus] is coming to Eve Leary and they are still trying to get the bus to tow the bus in,” the Traffic Chief said.Meanwhile, in the previous incident, a minibus conductor was seen in a video which went viral, dancing to music in a moving minibus with its door wide open, and the driver of the same bus was seen placing his feet outside of the moving vehicle as he was driving.Commenting on that issue, the Traffic Chief said that the driver in that incident was arrested. However, Police are still searching for the conductor.“That person was arrested, that person was in custody as of yesterday (Thursday)…I don’t know if he attended court already, but I know he was in custody. The driver was arrested but we didn’t get the conductor,” he stated.Following the incident, President of the United Minibus Union (UMU), Eon Andrews had said that based on the Terms of Reference and Code of Conduct that is enforced by the police, the men were committing an offence.“What is very concerning is that the commuters were cheering them on, obviously too, the music that was being played there was lewd music, and I would like to believe that those persons were mostly the younger generation”, he explained.last_img read more

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Exposing…

first_img…PNC’s panicEven without the benefit of all the fancy-schmancy psychological verbiage that’s thrown around so glibly nowadays, even five hundred years ago, they’d figured out that when you jump up and down carrying on about something you insist ain’t true, you’re just confessing that, in fact, it IS so!! “Methinks thou protest too much,” said the Bard!! So when the PNC issues an official but hysterical press release about a report in an online news portal that headlined: “PPP ‘likely’ to win next elections” is flawed, you know that they’re shell-shocked that an influential outsider has revealed that they’re electorally naked!! They protested too much!!It’s not that they don’t KNOW their days are numbered – counting down from March 2!; their own internal polls showed they’re in trouble. Why else do you think they’ve been making fools of themselves with the hare-brained contention that 33 isn’t the majority of 65?? So how do they respond to the reported assessment of their imminent ouster? Another giveaway!! They started out by defaming the messenger – insisting that he’s an “ASSET” of the lobbying firm the PPP has hired in Washington!! Now if you’ve seen any one of those spy movies, you’d know that declaring the fella to be an “ASSET” of the lobbying firm, is to say they’ve bought him and he’s their agent!!Now here it is, the writer lectures at the UN National War College – which declares that its “mission is to educate future leaders of the Armed Forces, Department of State, and other civilian agencies for high-level policy, command and staff responsibilities by conducting a senior-level course of study in national security strategy.“The curriculum emphasises the joint and interagency perspective. Reflecting this emphasis, 59 per cent of the student body is composed of equal representation from the land, air, and sea (including Marine and Coast Guard) services. The remaining 41 per cent are drawn from the Department of State and other federal departments and agencies, and international fellows from a number of foreign countries”. And the PNC’s insisting that this fella – with access to the movers and shakers in Washington – has been BOUGHT!!Your Eyewitness knows that the PNC knows when someone at this level puts out the kinda analysis he did – especially with its damning conclusion – it would’ve been vetted by folks way up the food chain. And this is what got the PNC so rattled. They’ve been going around telling their supporters that the US administration prefers them to be in charge of the oil economy – which, not so incidentally, was the assessment of the same analyst back in February!!But the PNC has just dug a deeper hole to bury the dead meat they’ve become like the AFC!!…the PNC’s bluffBut the PNC shouldn’t be worried about the analyst’s opinion on who’s gonna win the next elections. They should be worried that a top-level strategic military analyst has ripped apart their pretentions on being better qualified to take on Guyana’s security – one that encompasses Exxon’s massive investment in oil. Not to mention being next door to Venezuela – which is really the BIG enchilada!!What are these security challenges?? There’s Venezuela on the west and Suriname on the east claiming huge chunks of our territory. Granger boasts of getting the army back to “battle strength” – including the revived Peoples Militia. “Guns not butter” he implicitly tells sugar worker folks. But for what?? The War College expert says even Suriname could take us on!! He bemoaned the PNC inability to take on the syndications, money laundering, narcotics production and trafficking, human smuggling and trafficking, (esp Cubans and Haitians); Chinese penetration etc.Imagine if the fella knew the PNC would then completely degut our Foreign Service!! How can the US trust them??…the end resultThe analyst warns, “While Guyana has already been prejudiced…by a lack of capability to respond to its existing internal and external security challenges, without the ability to protect its oil…development will ultimately be unsustainable”.last_img read more

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Deteriorating state of Charity Wharf worrying – vendors

first_imgVendors plying their trade on the Charity Marketing Centre Wharf on the Essequibo Coast in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) on Wednesday raised concerns about their safety as a result of the deteriorating state of the facility.A section of the wharf which poses danger to vendors and commuters alikeThe area houses numerous businesses. Vendors told this publication that their major fear is that the structure, if not repaired, will collapse into the Pomeroon River. They added that this will not only result in millions of dollars in losses but the lives of persons will be under threat.A visit to the structure by this publication shows that the Marketing Centre, which is built with solid concrete and sits on wooden piles sink about 12 inches below the wooden wharf which is built around it to facilitate the mooring of boats to on and offload produce.A look under the structure when the tide is low revealed the dangers posed by the rotting wooden piles that were driven into the river bed to hold the concrete structure.Vendors and residents who spoke with this publication noted that several promises are being made but nothing is being done to repair the structure.last_img read more

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Money changer shot during attempted robbery

first_imgA brazen daylight attack has rocked a family to the core after a late afternoon shooting left a Stabroek Market money changer in a critical state.Vishwanauth Nawbatt, called VishalOn Sunday, Vishwanauth Nawbatt, called Vishal, of C Field Sophia, Greater Georgetown, was rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital, where he was, up to press time, undergoing major surgery to treat the injuries he sustained after being shot once to the abdomen following an attempted robbery.According to reports gathered, the 35-year-old man and his girlfriend were sitting and enjoying a meal at the Popeyes fast food restaurant on Water Street, Stabroek about 16:15h when a lone gunman walked up to him and demanded cash.“Where de money deh?” the bandit demanded, but according to an eyewitness Nawbatt told the gunman that he did not have any money. This angered the gunman who then shot the money changer to the left side of his abdomen. This newspaper understands that the gunman then proceeded to calmly walk out of the restaurant and jumped on to a waiting motorcycle.Meanwhile, Police in a statement confirmed that they were investigating the shooting, noting that the suspect was male and armed with a handgun.According to early Police reports, the suspect approached and demanded that the money changer hand over his day’s earnings, but he refused. Police stated that no arrests have been made.Senior Superintendent Calvin Brutus told Guyana Times late Sunday evening that investigators were reviewing surveillance footage at the establishment.In early September, a fellow Water Street money changer, 40-year-old Mahendra Deonarine was shot at the Georgetown Stelling moments after disembarking from a speedboat. He was also robbed of a quantity of local and foreign currency.last_img read more

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Duncan backs down, Chase Green re- elected Georgetown Mayor

first_imgMoments before the results of Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) elections were announced, a number of vendors attached to the Guyana Market Vendors Union (GMVU) staged a peaceful protest in front of City Hall on Thursday, throwing their support behind Deputy Mayor Sherod Duncan. However, in the midst of the protests and in a twist of events, the Deputy Mayor withdrew from contesting the mayoral elections.Separated – Mayor Patricia Chase Green returns to her post, while Sherod Duncan shockingly withdraws from the raceThis paved the way for incumbent Mayor Patricia Chase Green to return to her post for 2017, after she was unopposed by other council members.It was Town Clerk Royston King who opened the floor for nominations of mayor. Councillor Griffith Fraser was first to nominate the incumbent mayor, while his nomination was seconded by councillor and veteran People’s National Congress (PNC) General Secretary Oscar Clarke.Meanwhile, Councillor Junior Garret requested that nominations be closed. As this move was seconded by another councillor, the Town Clerk then declared that Chase-Green was, in effect, re-elected Mayor of the capital City.It was explained that she will take up her post come March 2017. Earlier this month, it was announced that the Deputy Mayor would have been running for the Mayor’s post but after the elections of Chase Green on Thursday, he cited political interference as justification for his withdrawal.Unlevel playing field“I think there was an unlevelled playing field. When you have interventions by members of central Government, more or less coercing Council on a position they should take in terms of voting for mayor, the process is not a democratic one. We are then not electing a mayor, we are selecting a mayor and I am very firm on that,” Duncan told the media.Additionally, Duncan also declined in returning to his post as Deputy Mayor next year. In this light, Councillor attached to the Alliance for Change (AFC) faction, Lionel Jaikarran, who also serves as President of the Georgetown Cricket Club expressed gratitude after he was elected to the Deputy Mayor post from March 2017.Jaikarran won 24 votes to be elected new Deputy Mayor. He spoke to the media afterwards.“I’m beyond words, I came here today to support the Deputy Mayor but when my name was called…it shook my very foundation,” he noted.The incoming Deputy Mayor stated that despite the post being thrust upon him, he has accepted the challenge. He vowed to stand by his beliefs and execute his duties with integrity.Meanwhile, Guyana Times was told that Duncan will be serving in the capacity of the Deputy Mayor until his tenure is up on March 31, 2017.Vendors speak outMeanwhile, at the earlier protest which had supported the replacement of Chase Green, it was noted that Duncan was more suited to be elected mayor. According to President of GMVU Ian Andrews, this was because vendors felt that Chase Green was incapable of her capacity as Mayor.“We have a mayor that is more a traveller and a tourist than anything and all she is bringing back from all her sojourns is [the] corrupt, confusing parking meters that even now we don’t know what’s going to happen,” Andrews disclosed.He added that the Deputy Mayor understood the concerns of the vendors’ plight more than Chase Green.“The things that he would say to us and how he expresses himself, tells us that he understands the problems of this city and the problems of the vendors and stallholders that are a part of the city,” the union head noted.Other representatives and vendors also vented concerns. Vice President of the GMVU, Carol Carter, expressed disdain for the way in Chase Green has executed her duties. “Presently we have a mayor that oppresses the vendors and stallholders with certain decisions that they just wake up and decide to oppress people and we need these things to finish.” Another protestor and Stabroek Market stallholder, Allan Bidajhar also complained of the mayor’s style of ruling and even drew religious parallels to the plight of the vendors.“She’s very arrogant, she doesn’t know how to speak…grievous words stir up anger. The poor has nowhere to go and as it seems in a wide perspective, that the poor is at the point of the Red Sea nowhere on the right or on the left and the Egyptian pursing from behind. For me, she is an Egyptian,” the frustrated man noted.It is not clear if these protests will continue following the results of Thursday’s elections. (Shemuel Fanfair and Ramona Luthi)last_img read more

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Heavy rains leave Berbice flooded

first_img…Hope Canal saves Mahaica/Mahaicony farmersBy Andrew CarmichaelA deluge which started on Thursday afternoon and continued until Friday morning has left residential areas along the 85-mile length of Region Six (EastOne of the shopping areas in New AmsterdamBerbice/Corentyne) inundated with more than 12 inches of rainfall.Farms in backland communities have also been adversely affected, and some schools in the region were closed as a result of the rainfall.New Amsterdam, in the heart of the region, saw businesses in the main shopping area flooded and business persons pointing accusing fingers at the Mayor and Town Council for not doing enough to prevent flooding from being so extensive.Some of the areas hardest hit were Numbers 47, 51, 52 and 54 villages on the Corentyne Coast, along with Black Bush Polder. Farmers on the East Bank of Berbice were frustrated at their cash crops being endangered by the flood waters, and a canal which should have been dug earlier this week remains blocked.The regional administration, having met with farmers, decided to employ a contractor to excavate the blocked canal with three machines. However, a person who has no equipment was given the contract, and he, in turn, subcontracted the job, thus only one machine is being used.One farmer, Carlos Chrisom, said the Lighttown Crown Canal is blocked, and thisA parking spot at the Berbice High Courtis preventing water from draining out of the backlands. He noted that apart from Thursday night’s rain, farmers at Lighttown have been suffering for some time, thus the meeting was arranged with the regional administration.Guyana Times visited farms in the area and saw sweet potatoes and other vegetables under several inches of water.According to one resident, Mohan Sookoo of Juditcum, the flooding in that village is due to silting of the canal.Meanwhile, residents in East Canje were under several inches of water up to late Friday night. Regional Chairman David Armogan, who visited several of the flood-hit areas, explained that the regional administration is not able to get the services of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), which in the past assisted with drainage and irrigation whenever there was heavy rainfall.He explained that villages such as Canefield are low-lying and hence would be the first to flood.He noted that several pumps have been put into operation at villages along the Corentyne Coast. He explained that during Friday morning, the regional administration was depending on gravity drainage, but as the tide rose and sluices were closed by midday, pumps were put into operation.“We are hoping that, with no more rain, places like the Black Bush Polder will be drained in another day or two. The thing is (that) once you get that intensity of rainfall, it becomes difficult to get all of the water off the land within four hours. We are only allowed three to four hours of gravity drainage, because of the tide… Maybe for the twenty-four-hour period, you will get about eight hours gravity drainage,” he explained.At New Forest in East Canje, more than 200 acres of rice are under threat. According to Mahace Rupert, the rice is about two weeks old, and will be destroyed if the water is not removed shortly. He said there is no drainage to allow the water to get into the Canje River. However, he noted that it was the farmers who benefit from the infrastructure, but he said he was still pleading with the regional administration to assist.Region FiveMeanwhile, in Region Five, a similar situation existed on Thursday night. Rainfall, punctuated with lightning and thunder, resulted in flooding of both residential and farming areas.Among the hard hit areas were Bush Lot, Trafalgar, Bath Settlement, Kingelly, Rosignol and Tempie villages. Farmer have lost crops, especially those in Bath Settlement and the Mahaicony areas of Airy Hall, Huntley, Dundee and Novar.Rice farmers in the Mahaica/Mahaicony/Abary area have also experienced flooding.Regional Chairman Vickchand Ramphal told this publication that the Hope Canal has played a great role in reducing flooding in those communities.“In the past, when the East Demerara Conservancy would have reached its maximum level, water would normally be channelled to the Mahaica Creek area and flood that area. However, since the canal was dug and is fully operational, it would have helped tremendously with (draining) the farming communities within the Mahaica/Mahaicony/Abary area,” Ramphal noted.He said the Region 5 Administration has sought assistance from the NDIA to acquire pumps, but only one has been made available to the region.Other flood-hit areas are also calling on the NDIA to assist with pumps. According to Ramphal, the Regional Democratic Council is not doing much to assist.The chairman explained to the Guyana Times that the regional administration is faced with difficulties at the regional level because of lack of cooperation from the council.last_img read more

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Child rights advocate calls for its early passage

first_imgJuvenile Justice Reform BillWhile Government has announced a further delay in passage of the Juvenile Justice Reform Bill, to be laid in the National Assembly, Child Rights Advocate Nicole Cole is urging Government to work expeditiously to ensure that the Bill isChild rights advocate Nicole Cole.presented in Parliament by the new deadline.Cole, who sits on the Rights of the Child Commission (ROCC) representing the Women and Gender Equality Commission (WGEC), expressed disappointment that the Bill has not yet been laid in Parliament when Government had earlier promised to have it presented this month.“We have to get this important Bill passed. If the Bill remains on the shelf, where it has been for almost 10 years now, then we will not get anywhere. Children are still being charged for wandering, and that bothers me. That is something we need to address immediately,” she urged.The outspoken rights advocate told Guyana Times on Sunday that the Bill contains some “revolutionary ideas” that would assist with the overall protection of children. She also referred to the Bill seeking to address the abolishment of truancy and wandering as crimes.“The revolutionary thing in this Bill is it will take into account the child’s mental health to evaluate before you institutionalise a child. It takes into account the rights of the child,” she asserted.Cole said this is important — so that the child gets the required care and attention that he/she needs. Further, she said it puts the family and/or relatives of these children to better respond to their children’s needs.Asked whether she thinks the Police may target certain communities where they arrest children for truancy, the ROCC official told this publication that while she does not think that might be the case, she thinks children who fall in the poor and underprivileged bracket are mostly charged.Overall, Cole said, the Bill helps to create a more modern system of dealing with juvenile justice, and will ensure that Guyana confirms with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that no one should be allowed to punish children in a cruel or harmful way.“Children who break the law should not be treated cruelly; they should not be put in prison with adults. They should be able to keep in contact with their families, and should not be sentenced to death, or life imprisonment without the possibility of release,” Cole said, while quoting the UN Convention article.Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, who is responsible for the Bill, had said that jails are not the place where young people who have committed offences should be placed. He said the Bill will make sweeping changes to existing legislation, including raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 years.The minister has said that once the Bill is made law, magistrates and the Magistrates’ Courts will have to be trained on juvenile justice matters. Halfway houses and a number of infrastructures to take care of juveniles will also be a priority, and social workers will have to be employed in these institutions.Some of the measures the Bill is also expected to contain are an emphasis on alternatives to detaining delinquents. More alternative sentencing has, for some time, been advocated by rights groups and international organisations.In 2016, a Commission of Inquiry into a deadly prison fire had recommended strong programmes for alternative community-based sentencing to be put in place, because of rampant overcrowding in the prisons and the risk of first time offenders being corrupted by hardened criminals.The draft Bill was conceived in 2004 under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration with support and input from UNICEF. The first draft was produced in 2007 after a series of consultations and submissions by stakeholders, inclusive of the ROCC; however, progress was delayed and efforts to revive the process began in 2014. The 11-part Bill makes provision for establishment of facilities to enable the rehabilitation and education of juvenile offenders.last_img read more

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Lone gunman attacks, robs hotel owner

first_imgThe owner of Caesar’s Palace Hotel is now counting her losses after she was attacked in the hotel’s lobby and robbed by a gun-toting bandit in the wee hours of Sunday morning.Fifty-two-year-old Roxanne Rollex was reportedly sitting in the lobby while a relative was working as the receptionist when the robbery occurred.Guyana Times understands that at about 00:15h, a man entered the building and approached the receptionist and enquired about a room.However, the man subsequently left but sometime after returned brandishing a shotgun in his hands. He pointed the gun at Rollex and demanded that she hand over her handbag which was nearby.The fearful woman complied and handed over the $10,000 handbag which contained three mobile phones, totalling $145,000, $65,000 in cash and several important documents.The perpetrator quickly exited the building and escaped in an unknown direction. The matter was reported to the Police and an investigation was launched. Guyana Times understands that the Police have retrieved CCTV footage to help them with their investigation.Up to late Sunday evening, the detectives were still to make an arrest.last_img read more

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Exchange of data between registrar, GECOM can resolve list concerns – attorney

first_img“House-to-house” manoeuvre…Opposition threatens legal action to stop disenfranchisement…as GECOM meeting ends in drama over Chairman’s limiting agendaPeople’s Progressive Party nominated election’s Commissioner, Robeson Benn, has moved to the law to prevent house-to-house registration from denying a substantial bloc of citizens from exceeding their franchise, with his legal representative saying a court order will be sought if necessary.Legal storm clouds are gathering over the Guyana Elections CommissionIn a correspondence seen by Guyana Times, the Party threatened to move to the courts if the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) persists. Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall, who is representing Benn, explained in an interview with this publication that this could potentially disenfranchise overseas-based voters, who normally return home to exercise their franchise.“In relation to dead people, I concede readily that that process of removing dead persons from the list should be one that should be pursued, but that shouldn’t require house to house registration. That can easily be accomplished by an exchange of data between the registrar of deaths and the GECOM.”“Because the registrar of deaths will be able to say how many persons have been recorded as dead over the past few years… And that data can be juxtaposed against the list and those persons removed by a very simple engagement, with relative speed and ease in this technological age.”Nandlall explained that when GECOM staff go house to house and cannot find persons on the list living in Guyana, such persons will be de-registered. The former Attorney General noted that Articles 59 and 159 provide for everyone to vote at General and Regional Elections once they are qualified and registered.“What I have a problem with is the process that will remove persons on the list who are resident overseas,” he said, adding that Guyana’s Constitution does not require residency in Guyana as a qualification to be registered to vote. “Our Constitution is very clear. Once you are 18 years or over, Guyanese and registered, you can vote. So you have Guyanese citizens, thousands of them, who are registered but when this exercise is completed, they will not find themselves in the new list and they will become disqualified through no fault of their own.”Asked what legal remedies he will be seeking from the High Court, Nandlall said should GECOM push ahead and disregard the legal correspondence they will seek a legal order or injunction to stop the house-to-house exercise.Recently, former Minister of State, Joseph Harmon had said overseas-based Guyanese may lose out if they miss house-to-house registration. He had noted that they would not be included on the new list if they are not present to register.DramaEven as legal storm clouds gather over GECOM’s Secretariat, another statutory meeting ended in drama on Tuesday with Commissioners walking out complaining of attempts by GECOM Chairman, retired Justice James Patterson, to block discussions about criticism from the outside world against his tenure.In addition, the Opposition-nominated Commissioners complained that Patterson refused to permit discussions regarding the threat of legal proceedings against GECOM, as well as the ongoing legal proceedings at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), where the Commission was recently added as a party to the proceedings.“Chairman Patterson in the most autocratic manner was seemingly intent on only allowing continued discussion on “elections” arising out of house-to-house registration, a matter on which discussion ended abruptly at the last statutory meeting of Tuesday, March 26, 2019,” a statement from the PPP read. “It is evident that the Chairman in collusion with the Government-nominated Commissioners intended to avoid any references to the following matters.”“The scathing Editorial by Stabroek News in its April 1, 2019 edition, which exposed the Chairman’s preference and behaviour relating to the Vishnu Persaud matter which engaged the attention of the Ethnic Relations Commission;  a letter proposing legal proceedings, under the hand of Mohabir Anil Nandlall, attorney representing Commissioner Robeson Benn, requesting that GECOM… refrain from proceeding with this unlawful and unconstitutional exercise…,” that being house-to-house registration (and) the ongoing legal proceedings at the Caribbean Court of Justice, arising out of the No-confidence Motion.”The Party explained that in view of the Chairman’s attempts to avoid comments and to proceed with an agenda item it noted was not listed or agreed to, Commissioners Sase Gunraj and Benn walked out of the meeting in protest.last_img read more

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Local barn to host riding clinic

first_imgMills, a long time riding instructor, will be making his way to Fort St. John along with his two stallions, Hugh and Scar, putting on a riding clinic featuring lessons in western riding, barrel racing, jumping, dressage and much more.The event will be featuring multiple lessons from Mills along with added performances from those from the Lesson Barn.Organizers are encouraging anyone who wishes to attend to do so, as the event will be free of charge.- Advertisement -The event will be held at 11399 269 Road and will begin at 6:30 p.m.last_img read more

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Huskies aiming for second win in a row tomorrow night

first_imgA win would also bring the Huskies within three points of the Dawson Creek Junior Canucks.The Blades come to Fort St. John still in search of their first win this season. They do have an overtime loss to their credit so far, giving them a single point in the league standings.In their last game the Huskies edged the Sexsmith Vipers 3-2. After tomorrow evening’s game, the next time the Huskies will be in action is on November 28 at home against the Dawson Creek Junior Canucks.- Advertisement -Opening faceoff tomorrow is scheduled for 8 p.m.last_img read more

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Trackers to take on Storm tonight

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The N.E. B.C. and Yukon Trackers will be back at it tonight when they renew acquaintances with the Grande Prairie Storm. The two clubs last met on January 3rd in Grande Prairie where the Trackers came away with a 3-1 win.Heading into the game the Trackers trail the Storm by five points for first place in the Bear Slashing Division. The Trackers have a game in hand on Grande Prairie. They also trail Peace River by two points for second spot.It’s a light weekend for the squad with just the one game on tap. Next on their schedule is a double header on the road next weekend against the Big Lakes Thunder.- Advertisement -Faceoff tonight at the Pomeroy Sport Centre is at 6:45.last_img read more

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Americans take home the gold after a 6-4 win over Canada Red

first_imgUnited States head coach John Wroblewski added, “We got contributions from everybody throughout the tournament. And what can you say about Jack and Cole they are two special players who have unbelievable skill sets. I’m so proud of our accomplishment after so much work and dedication went into it.”Canada Red assistant coach Luke Pierce said, “We gave up too many goals in the first. Then in second, we scored one and then scored two and just started to gain confidence and all of a sudden found the back of the net. We needed to feed off the energy of the crowd in the first period as we came out flat-footed.”Canada Red captain Peyton Krebs added, “Give credit to the American’s they were the best team in the tournament as they just proved. I am very proud of the guys in the locker room as we all learned and gained a ton of experience from such a great event.” DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – The United States captured the gold medal after jumping out to a big lead early and hung on to defeat Canada Red at the Encana Event Centre on Saturday night 6-4.The Americans dominated the first period as Cole Caufield opened the scoring at 7:43 of the first period after working a two on one rush with Jack Hughes to perfection. Nearly seven minutes later Hughes found the back of the net to make it 2-0. Matthew Boldy had the lone assist. Owen Lindmark capitalized on a Canadian turnover for the 3-0 goal. Alex Turcotte and Matthew Boldy were the setup tandem. Cole Caufield scored his second of the game 21 seconds before the first intermission buzzer. Domenick Fensore and Jack Hughes set up the Caufield tally. The American’s skated into locker rooms with a 4-0 after 20 minutes of play.Caufield scored his hat trick goal 1:19 into the second stanza. Matthew Boldy and Jack Hughes worked the puck around to the slot where Caufield made no mistake for the 5-0 goal. The Canadian’s got on the board at 9:02 of the second period as Nick Wong fired a wrister past the American goaltender after taking a feed from Evan Brand. Nearly three minutes later Bowen Byram ripped a shot from the high slot to the top corner to make it 5-2. Peyton Krebs and Dylan Cozens got the assists on the powerplay marker. At 15:16 Alexis Lafreniere wired a shot past the American netminder to make the score 5-3 after taking a pass from Ryan Suzuki and Bowen Byram. The Canadian’s found themselves down by two going into the third period.- Advertisement -Canada Red took it to the visitor’s in the third but could not find the back of the net after a couple of powerplays. Alex Vlasic collected a Canadian pass attempt in his own zone and150-foot 150 foot shot into the empty cage to put the States up 6-3 at 19:09. Ryan Suzuki got one back after a high shot hit found the top part of the net on a feed from Brandon Coe at 19:27 of the final period. That’s all the Canadian’s could muster as the American’s won the gold with a 6-4 final score.Canada Red goaltender Luke Cavallin made 28 of 33 saves, while Cameron Rowe stopped 21 of 25 pucks fired at him.United States captain and points leader of the tournament with 15, Jack Hughes said, “This is a big win for us. The last time the States won was three or four years ago. We have been working so hard for this and it feels great to bring the gold back home.”Advertisementlast_img read more

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Laurie Cardinal finishes 125km Canadian Death Race

first_imgCardinal mentioned that prior to this race the longest she’s ever ran was 62 kilometres and it took guts for her to attempt this feat.“Its a challenging race for everybody and everyone really finds themselves during the race. It takes guts for every single person to step up to the plate to try it… If you’ve done the training and you have the courage to show up then you’ve already won.”Cardinal at the beginning of the race. Photo by Laurie CardinalUp next for Cardinal is the 50 kilometre Mount Robson Marathon in September, a couple of local marathons and then training for the Canadian Death Race once again. Cardinal’s goal is to shave roughly three minutes off her time to medal come next year.Advertisement GRANDE CACHE, A.B. – A Fort St. John resident managed a nearly-impossible feat last weekend.Laurie Cardinal finished the 125 kilometre Canadian Death Race in Grande Cache.The race included three mountain summits, one major river crossing and 17,000 total feet of elevation.- Advertisement –Laurie Cardinal battling the mountain terrain. Photo by Laurie Cardinal.Cardinal finished with a time of 24 hours, two minutes and 50 seconds, missing out on a medal by just over two minutes.“Nothing about the race is smooth sailing, absolutely nothing,” said Cardinal. “I kept a pretty good mind frame throughout the whole race.”Advertisementlast_img read more

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The Fort St. John Elks are hosting a Short Track Interclub Meet tomorrow

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Fort St. John Elks are hosting a Short Track Interclub Meet tomorrow at the Pomeroy Centre on the east rink.“Short track racing is exciting to watch as the skaters move at high speed around a small track. This is a great opportunity to see speedskaters from around BC and Alberta compete and the club would love to invite spectators down to watch! Great event for the family to enjoy watching together, no cost just come down and cheer on the skaters”, says Christina Hogarth of the Fort St. John Elks.All ages will be racing including the younger Learn to Skate members as well as the accomplished Juniors.- Advertisement -The races will begin at 9 a.m. and will continue throughout the day until 4:30 p.m.last_img read more

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BC Hydro Announces LiveSmart Program

first_imgBC Hydro Power Smart is investing $6.5 million into a program that offers home audits and product rebates for homeowners to conserve energy and improve the comfort of their homes.The LiveSmart BC: Efficiency Incentive Program is a comprehensive energy assessment and retrofit program that includes rebates and incentives for weatherproofing, insulation, windows, ventilation, as well as space and water heating – all of which can help reduce heating costs and overall energy use.“LiveSmart BC puts tools and resources into the hands of British Columbians, making energy conservation practical and achievable,” said Richard Neufeld, Minster of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. “Little changes can go a long way for families in B.C. wanting to reduce their energy costs and carbon footprint.”- Advertisement -To participate, homeowners can arrange for a subsidized energy assessment with a certified energy advisor to identify how they can improve their home’s energy performance. Families can then choose which upgrades to implement and receive related financial incentives. More details are available at www.LiveSmartBC.ca.last_img read more

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Enerplex ceremony to celebrate official opening

first_imgAfter some delays, the Fort St. John residents can begin lacing up their skates for the official opening of the Enerplex.The recreational facility will have its grand opening on Oct. 13 with a ribbon cutting ceremony starting at 6 p.m.- Advertisement -Wednesday’s event will include live entertainment from the band ‘Folky Strum Strum’ and a group of local artists that will be performing a song written especially for the Enerplex’s grand opening, says Recreation Programmer Serena Warkentine.She says there will also be F18s that will fly over the building and a fireworks exhibit.The following day, there will be a spot for the facility’s biggest sports user groups – minor hockey, speed skating and figure skating – to have demonstrations and workshops, which she says will probably include learning how to speed skate or figure skate.Thursday’s festivities will include free food and free admittance to the Enerplex between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.Advertisement Residents can get more information about the event by calling the City at 250-787-8150 or by visiting the City’s website.last_img read more

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Local area precipitation update

first_imgJune’s total was even worse, and at 14.3 millimeters represented only 20 percent of the 71.4 average.It all adds up to another agricultural drought year, with the three month total to date at 98.2 millimeters, and only 46 percent of the 211.5 average.Ironically, to add insult to injury, farmers now need sunny weather to finish taking off what crop there is to get, and after today the forecast calls for five straight days of some shower activity. There’s still a chance Fort St. John could finish the month by reaching or exceeding the August precipitation average.The local airport recorded 11.5 millimeters, during the last three days of last week, but there was none yesterday.There’s also none in today’s forecast, but there’s a good chance we’ll get some rain tomorrow afternoon and evening.- Advertisement -However, it will need to total 11.1 millimeters to match the August norm of 56.9, and officially we haven’t recorded that much in any one day since May 22nd, when we recieved 23.8.So it remains quite likely August will be the third consecutive month of below average precipitation…but at 45.8 millimeters it’s already the best of the three.July’s total was 38.1, and that’s less than half the average of 83.2.Advertisementlast_img read more

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Former US Congresswoman hopes Guyana’s elections date “will be set soon”

first_imgFormer US Congresswoman Ileana Ros-LehtinenFormer US congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in her column for the Orlando Sentinel said on Tuesday that following the series of appeals and months of legal battles following the passage of the No-Confidence Motion in December 2018, setting the stage for future elections, hopefully, a date will be set soon.Ros-Lehtinen, a politician and lobbyist from Miami, Florida, in her column said that Guyana has roughly the population of her former congressional district, but noted that the size of the country’s population should not fool anyone.“Today it (Guyana) is on the verge of an economic and cultural boom. Guyana’s offshore shelf is home to massive energy reserves, as ExxonMobil discovered in 2015. Thirteen additional strikes later, Guyana looks poised to become one of the world’s largest oil producers per capita by mid-2020. Some experts expect Guyana to generate up to $5 billion in production revenues by that time, more than tripling its GDP,” the former Congresswoman said in her column.She noted that it has been a long road for Guyana, adding that prior to the major discovery, oil exploration had come up blank again and again.“The situation was so dire that in 2014, Royal Dutch Shell sold off its acreage for $1. The streak of finds seems to suggest huge potential for future prosperity in the small nation. Nothing is certain, however, as development is taking place alongside a fractious and protracted political battle which threatens to stall the country’s progress”.She added that in December of 2018, the country’s governing coalition — led by President David Granger — lost a vote of no-confidence in the National Assembly. After a series of appeals and months of legal battles, the Caribbean Court of Justice made a final ruling in July that the no-confidence vote was valid, setting the stage for future elections. Hopefully, a date will be set soon.“As the campaign gets underway, I urge both major political parties in Guyana to seize this opportunity to lay out a bold vision for the future. The Guyanese people want reforms to education, infrastructure and healthcare. Additional reforms to increase transparency and the effective management of energy revenues will also be key,” Ros-Lehtinen added.While the future is Guyana’s to decide, the US and its regional partners have a role to play as well, she added, pointing that “I know our Guyanese-American communities are up to the challenge. It’s in everyone’s interests to help build a strong, prosperous Guyana where rule of law, good governance, and opportunity shine as a beacon throughout the region,” US Congresswoman added.Ros-Lehtinen represented the 27th District of Florida in Congress from 1989 to 2019. By the end of her tenure, she was the most senior US representative from Florida.Caretaker President David Grangerlast_img read more

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College roundup: Pepperdine baseball gets by USC

first_imgJunior shortstop Danny Worth and freshman first baseman Ryan Heroy collected three hits each to lead a 16-hit attack in Pepperdine’s 8-3 nonconference victory over USC on Tuesday. In the bottom of the third, the Waves (5-2) scored three times to take a 4-2 lead. Freshman designated hitter Mark Tracy singled in two runs to break a 2-2 tie and give Pepperdine a 4-2 lead. The Waves broke the game open with a three-run fifth, highlighted by a run-scoring single from sophomore second baseman Denny Duron and a two-run single from Worth. USC fell to 5-4. UCLA 3, UC Riverside 2: Ryan Babineau had twoRBIs, and the Bruins (3-4) staved off the Highlanders’ two-run rally in the ninth to get the win at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Jason Nowak (1-0) went four innings and struck out seven, and Brant Rustich picked up his second save for the Bruins. SOFTBALL UCLA 14, UC Riverside 0: Senior second baseman Lisa Dodd hit a first-inning grand slam and Kaila Shull and Jaisa Creps also added homers as the third-ranked Bruins (3-3) captured a five-inning, run-rule victory in their home opener. Junior pitcher Anjelica Selden allowed just one hit for UCLA, retiring the first 11 batters. WOMEN’S TENNIS center_img USC 7, San Diego State: The No. 5-ranked Trojans (5-0) swept all six singles matches and won all three doubles matches in the victory over the Aztecs. UCLA 7, UC Irvine 0: The No. 15-ranked Bruins improved to 5-2 with the victory at home over the Anteaters (5-2). WOMEN’S GOLF Northrup update: Pepperdine was in first place, USC was in fourth and UCLA was in 10th place after the second round of the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge at the Palos Verdes Golf Club. Sophomore Jayvie Agojo shot a 2-over par 73 for the Waves, who are four shots ahead of Arizona State heading into today’s final round. USC’s Paola Moreno and Belen Mozo are both tied for fourth individually, and UCLA’s Hannah Jun is tied for sixth. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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Feeding the Spiritually Hungry

first_img“People who come to Religious Science like a more intellectual approach to religion. Religious Science is a philosophy and a way of life,” said Lauer of the Center of Spiritual Awakening. “We ask people to be more responsible. We ask them to think. People come to us spiritually hungry. We don’t dictate to them. We challenge them.” Among the many questions Lauer said she is asked is whether Religious Science is based on biblical teachings. “Yes and no,” she said. “We use teachings of all sacred texts. There is a golden thread of truth in all religions and you can take that thread. That’s one of the advantages of Religious Science.” And while the center’s umbrella organization is Burbank-based United Church of Religious Science, many congregations do not use the word “church” in their names. “Using the word `center’ embraces everyone from any religious background. Spiritual Awakening came about because we found most of us were trying to awaken ourselves in that way,” said Judy Duncklee, a Religious Science practitioner at Center of Spiritual Awakening. Center of Spiritual Awakening’s Sunday service includes music, prayer, Lauer’s message and congregational singing. Meditation is an important spiritual tool in Religious Science and the center holds a 20-minute meditation before the service. “Religious Science changed my life. It’s given me a purpose in life, a relationship with God and confidence,” said Duncklee, who grew up attending a Unity church. “Rev. Carrie, my friend and mentor, has a way of touching people’s hearts. She is an excellent teacher.” “Always Enough,” a message about health, will be the topic delivered by the Rev. Carrie Lauer, 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Center of Spiritual Awakening, meeting at the Radisson Hotel, 9777 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Chatsworth. Meditation: 10 a.m. “The Secret” will be screened, 2-4 p.m. Sunday. Free. Call (818) 709-1451 or see www.centerofspiritualawakening.com. holly.andres@dailynews.com (818) 713-3708160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “Rev. Carrie is a light and bright person. Her sermons come from the heart. They’ve even made us cry.” But finding the Center of Spiritual Awakening, which celebrates its sixth anniversary this month, can be tricky. The center’s primary outreach to potential new members is its Web site. And no signs mark the congregation’s meetings at the Radisson Hotel on Topanga Canyon Boulevard. Spiritual seekers also must make an initial connection with Religious Science or Science of Mind, which often are mistakenly believed to be affiliated with Scientology or Church of Christ, Scientist. Rather, Religious Science was founded by Ernest Holmes in 1927 in Los Angeles. Holmes explained his philosophy in a 1926 book, “The Science of Mind.” In essence, Holmes believed that “the laws of science, the opinions of philosophy and the revelations of religions” can coalesce and be used to create a positive life. CHATSWORTH – For members of the Center of Spiritual Awakening, finding the congregation was like finding the spiritual community of their dreams. And it’s a feeling they want others to experience at the Chatsworth-based affiliate of the United Church of Religious Science. “Immediately, we were accepted. It was amazing to me. People hugged and smiled at us,” said Lauren Sperber, who with her actor-husband, Scott Sperber, had sought a congregation closer to their Chatsworth home after enjoying a Religious Science congregation in Lancaster. Lauren said she was encouraged to attend the Chatsworth center when she saw a picture of the Rev. Carrie Lauer on the center’s Web site. last_img
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Spector jury may hear of gun incident

first_imgRobitaille told Spector to “knock that off and put that away,” and he eventually let her leave. A similar incident occurred a decade later when she claims Spector again put a gun to her head in the foyer of his home after a night of drinking. At the time, Robitaille had taken a job as Spector’s part-time assistant. An after-hours phone call to Spector’s attorney was not immediately returned Tuesday. An April 10 hearing was scheduled to consider the prosecution’s request. Prosecutors already plan to present testimony from four other women who claim Spector threatened them with a gun. In a separate motion, prosecutors also asked the court to admit into evidence a conversation Spector reportedly had with a retired New York City police officer at a holiday party at the home of Joan Rivers in 1995 or 1996. Prosecutors in the Phil Spector murder case have asked a judge to allow testimony from a former employee and one-time girlfriend who said the famed record producer pointed a gun at her head in two separate incidents that occurred decades ago. In court documents filed Tuesday, Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson said the testimony demonstrates a “long history of gun-related violence directed at women” and should be admitted as evidence during Spector’s upcoming trial on charges he killed actress Lana Clarkson in February 2003. Devra Robitaille, who worked at Warner Spector Records from 1974 to 1977, told investigators that one night Spector placed a shotgun or rifle against her forehead when she tried to leave the producer’s home after a party. “Spector, who was drunk, made some sort of joke and then said, `Just so you know, I’ll blow your (expletive) head off’ or `If you try to leave, I’ll blow your (expletive) brains out,”‘ according to the court documents. Vince Tannazzo, who was working security at the party, said he was asked to escort Spector out after a commotion. While they were leaving, Tannazzo said Spector made numerous profane, disparaging and threatening remarks about women, according to the court filing. “They all deserve to die. They all deserve a bullet in their (expletive) head,” Tannazzo quoted Spector as saying. “That’s why I got permits for all over. Wherever I go, I always keep a gun, because these (expletive), they’re all no (expletive) good.” Tannazzo told authorities a similar episode occurred at the same party the following year.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img
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High court to rule on cleanup

first_imgSANTA CLARITA – The U.S. Supreme Court will rule in June on a lawsuit involving voluntary cleanup of contamination, and that ruling could affect Santa Clarita as work continues to clear chemicals from a former munitions plant. The Castaic Lake Water Agency, the wholesaler serving the Santa Clarita Valley, has filed a friend of the court brief, supporting the plaintiffs’ arguments in the case. At issue is whether a federal law that provides a means for recovering cleanup costs will be upheld in those types of cases. “A favorable result will help promote cleanups all across the country,” said Fred Fudacz, a partner with California-based Nossaman Guthner Knox & Elliott LLP, which represented the water agency and others in the friend of the court brief. The case was argued Tuesday before the Supreme Court. Atlantic Research Corp., a subsidiary of Sequa Corp., had sought to recover cleanup costs from the federal government. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals supported the company’s right to do so; the government appealed. A decision is expected in June. Earlier, Nossaman Guthner filed the amicus brief backing the lower court ruling on behalf of the CLWA and several state and national water agencies. Groundwater contaminated by perchlorate and other chemicals – at the Whittaker-Bermite site in the heart of Santa Clarita and other locales – is costly and time-consuming to clean up. “The relevance to us is, if there’s additional contamination from the Whittaker-Bermite site, it enhances our ability to pursue action and obtain financial remuneration, much in the same way we did on the perchlorate litigation,” said Dan Masnada, general manager of the CLWA. Contaminants in the soil and groundwater remain from five decades of weapons manufacturing and testing on the 996-acre Whittaker-Bermite site in the middle of town. Bermite, its insurer and others are paying for the cleanup. Perchlorate, a chemical residue from rocket fuel that has been implicated in thyroid problems, is the major contaminant left from the Bermite business. In March, the state Department of Toxic Substances Control began overseeing cleanup of soil at the site where explosives were manufactured and tested from 1934 to 1987. The Bermite property, now eyed for development, is bounded by Soledad Canyon Road, Golden Valley Road and San Fernando Road. The Circle J development is to the south. Off-site cleanup of tainted groundwater will begin in 2008 after pipelines and a treatment plant are built during the next year, Masnada said. The plant will join the agency’s other facility near Bouquet Canyon Road and Valencia Boulevard. A nearby plant that treats water from Valencia Water Company’s Q-2 well will be decommissioned after the new plant is built, its treatments integrated into the newer facility. The CLWA augments the local groundwater supply with water purchased from the State Water Project in Northern California. The agency supplies local retailers, among them Valencia Water. The new plant, which will also treat water from Saugus 1 and 2 wells, should stop the Saugus Formation’s migrating perchlorate contamination plume, Masnada said, adding that customers need not worry. “All drinking water is tested to ensure it is 100percent potable and safe,” he said. “Customers are not receiving any water with perchlorate in it and never will.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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Higher fees pushed to help city budget

first_imgFacing a projected $30 million shortfall in next year’s budget, the Los Angeles City Council moved to quickly impose higher fees Thursday for everything from trash collection to brush clearance. In the first day of hearings by a council panel on the $6.8 billion budget, aides to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he is proposing that monthly trash-collection fees increase from $22 to $26 in January. Aides said the mayor also is seeking to speed other fee increases as a key part of adding 1,000 Los Angeles Police Department officers by 2009. “We are in a different position this year and our (focus) has to be to try to get full funding from any increase of a 12-month period rather than waiting for the money to come in later,” said Councilman Bernard Parks, chairman of the council’s Budget and Finance Committee reviewing the spending plan. Deputy Mayor Sally Choi said the mayor is also concerned about the shortfall in revenue and submitted a conservative budget to reflect the city’s fiscal realities. “This budget is about continuing the transformation that began last year with teamwork with the City Council and better management,” Choi said. “It is about managing within our resources.” Police Chief William Bratton said the city already expects to hire 730 officers this year, 80 more than anticipated. The LAPD is expected to have 9,700 officers by June 30. “We have had momentum going in hiring, and I would hate to see it stopped,” Bratton said. The department is budgeted to hire 780 officers this coming year at an estimated cost of $8 million. Bratton also submitted a laundry list of proposals he would like to see funded, including hiring more specialized staffers and purchasing new equipment. He said his office is working with City Controller Laura Chick on an audit to determine if more civilians can be hired to free up officers for patrol duties. In a related move, the council panel said it was sympathetic to City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo’s plea to avert up to $3 million in cuts projected for his department. But while Delgadillo emphasized the need for more gang prosecutors, the council focused on programs in which prosecutors work with schools to reduce crime and truancy. “I think you find that parents respond more when they get a letter from the City Attorney’s Office than they would if we transfer this to the Children, Youth and Families Commission,” Councilman Greig Smith said of one of the proposals in Villaraigosa’s budget. Delgadillo said his office cannot afford any reductions, particularly with the LAPD increasing. “It all goes hand in hand,” Delgadillo said. “If you hire more police officers, we need more prosecutors. If you hire more police officers, we are handcuffed. If we are going to increase public safety resources, we believe we need a corresponding increase in prosecutors.” Council members also expressed concern that the budget not scrimp on public services such as street and sidewalk repairs. “We got in serious problems a couple of years ago by ignoring the infrastructure,” Smith said. “That’s why we have a backlog of 83 miles of streets that need repairs. We have to move very carefully if we are going to get away from the basics.” — Rick Orlov, (213) 978-0390rick.orlov@dailynews.comlast_img read more

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Eatery manager worries about crime, crowding in poverty-marked area

first_imgCynthia Cisneros and her husband were working as veterinarians in a Guadalajara, Mexico, clinic when the economy crumbled in the early 1990s. Desperate to stay afloat, the couple immigrated legally to California a decade ago and rented a simple, two-bedroom apartment in Arleta for $800 a month. Cisneros landed a $4.25-an-hour job at a fast-food restaurant in Panorama City, while her husband juggled similar work and a second job as a valet parking attendant. “We came here to study something else, but my first opportunity was Carl’s Jr. I worked hard and it got better and better,” said Cisneros, now 39 and the manager of the local eatery, where she makes about $30,000 a year. But despite her husband’s seven-day work schedule, the couple still doesn’t make much more than $40,000 – just slightly more than average for the Panorama-Arleta community, according to the most recent Census Bureau figures. The Cisneroses are among an influx of immigrants in the San Fernando Valley and their economic situation highlights growing gaps that have begun to emerge among the region’s communities. Just two miles to the south of the Cisneros family – in Encino and Tarzana – the median household income is nearly $70,000. But the Cisneroses aren’t particularly bothered by their situation. They’ve worked hard to learn English by taking classes, watching television and asking co-workers for grammar advice. And they’ve saved enough money over the years to buy a couple of cars, take their 7-year-old son on outings to the beach and mountains, and buy an annual pass to Universal Studios. Cynthia Cisneros says it’s values that matter, not money, ethnic or cultural differences. “Maybe the people have money, but if they can’t think about the other person or feel about the other person, maybe that’s a problem, too,” she said. But the Cisneroses are concerned about what Cynthia describes as an erosion of the quality of life in her community. The Panorama City-Arleta area – where one in four people lives in poverty – has grown more crowded and traffic has worsened. While she’s satisfied with her son’s school, she worries about more crime, including robberies, auto thefts and hit-and-run crashes late at night. “Right now, I don’t really like living in the Valley,” she said. The couple has grown so frustrated that they even are considering moving to Ojai in Ventura County. Cisneros also is concerned about what she considers some people’s unfair and uninformed attitudes about Mexicans and other immigrants. She said her family contributes in many ways to the economy, including by paying their taxes, their bills and rent. “We don’t want anything for free,” Cisneros said. “We don’t do nothing bad. We’re good people. We work … We do everything.” beth.barrett@dailynews.com (818) 713-3731 Panorama City-Arleta Median household income: $37,354 Percent of people below poverty level: 23.4% Percent of renters: 52% Average household size: 3.8 Hispanic: 73.2% Non-Hispanic white: 8.9% Asian: 14.1%160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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