Wednesday, June 30, 2004

T&T - We've Got It, They Want It…Oil. Williams: TT must move to keep oil $$

According to Eric Williams, Minister of Energy and Energy Industries, one of the challenges facing TT's growing economy and petroleum sector is how to keep the revenue IN TT. The governing is planning to increase participation in the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) market by "getting into" LNG receiving, shipping and re-gasification terminals. "Between 1975 and 2001, the compounded annual rate of gas production was 8.2 percent, and this increased in the years 1996-2000 to 19 percent."

Williams said today’s oil production has surpassed the “oil boom years” and, by 2008, it is projected that TT will produce one billion barrels of oil equivalent, comprising mainly natural gas. He said the increase is tied to large gas-based products with long-term contracts. Williams also said prices are expected to rise in the future. “Our challenge is to convert this production into revenues with value for our people in a win-win combination for the investor and the people of TT,” Williams said at the opening of the two-day Latin America and Caribbean conference at Hilton Trinidad. Williams said the challenge is more acute because despite growth in TT’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (6.7 percent) and petroleum sector (9.5 percent), there is a growing gap between GDP and Gross National Product (GNP). “The gap is in the vicinity of $2.7 billion in 2003. This signals that while we are growing, much of the funds generated from that growth are still being repatriated overseas.”

The United States is a major market for LNG from Trinidad, accounting for 77 percent of its total exports in 2003 and reaching 80 percent for the first quarter of this year. Williams outlined sone of the "growth areas" for the TT petroleum industry.

We'll buy it where we can get it and it's close to home. More power to TT!


This prayer request was forwarded to me by a friend from Trinidad and Tobago. The "Indian businessman" was a close friend of her late mother.

Crime has taken the sweetness out of our TnT existence. We feel
powerless,scared, worn and battered. Every day it gets closer and closer to
home. The government of the day is clearly incapable of dealing with the
situation.They have even turned their backs on their perceived core supporters -
Every day youth are gunned down in Lavantille and Morvant. The opposition
had yet to offer anything constructive or proactive to the debate. We simply
cannot depend on them for support, compassion, even basic attention. They
are too engrossed in their game of political football, but its like we are the ones inside the football. In the process they have pounded and kicked and thrown us into a state of disbelief and fear. The headlines are desensitizing us to the issue, and some of us have adopted an air indifference as a coping mechanism. "Those youths in the inner city are killing themselves
off." "That was drug-related ,for sure!". "They're only kidnapping Indian

Clearly, we all need to take charge of the situation as a country, and in
the absence of the support those in charge, we must do what we can as
individuals. Start with your spirit. Pray for our country with all your
heart for our country. Say the rosary. Do a puja. Have a reading in your
home. Ask your parish priest to dedicate a service. Or simply spend
some quiet time meditating on the issue, and visualize our country being cleansed
of these disturbing elements.

July 2004 will be the 14th year since our 1990 Abu Bakr related trauma. We
are calling on all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago to dedicate the month of
July as month of prayer for our country. Whenever we hear of crime,
whenever we feel powerless to the outside forces, surrender the feeling to God
with a prayer. Get together in small groups in your homes. Speak to your
Priest, Pundit and Iman. It can be an organized affair, or it can be private
And personal. Just pray, meditate and visualize. Ask that the lessons we
Must learn from this low point in our history be revealed to us, and that
we may come away from it with our lives intact. Let us turn the month of July into an unending prayer session. Do your part to keep the communication
open with God.

Trust that He will hear our collective call.

Pray for TNT in July

U.S.: Enough of this Judaeo-Christian bigotry!

RALEIGH, N.C.: The state Supreme Court ordered a judge Tuesday to restore references to God in the words used when he enters the courtroom and when witnesses swear to tell the truth.

The high court sided with angry officials from two counties who complained that District Judge James M. Honeycutt had taken it upon himself to change courtroom procedures.

The high court ordered Honeycutt to stop using a revised oath missing the phrase "so help you God," and administer the witness oath as spelled out in state law. The court also ordered the judge to allow bailiffs to begin court sessions with a proclamation that includes "God save the state and this honorable court."

Honeycutt had threatened to hold several bailiffs in contempt of court if they continued to use the phrase, according to a complaint by court officials in Iredell and Davidson counties.

Honeycutt told officials in March he was revising the oath in his courtrooms because of the increasing number of non-Christians and people of diverse beliefs served by the court system.

Though the standard oath includes the reference to God, state law allows witnesses themselves to decide to "affirm" their intent to be truthful rather than take the oath referring to God.

Honeycutt did not immediately return a message Tuesday afternoon seeking comment.
Read the rest. This country was founded on Judaeo-Christian principles, and, as de Tocqueville said, the day America forgets God is the day America comes to ruin. Welcome those who hold to other beliefs, yes, but let us never forget the Judaeo-Christian foundation that made this country great.


U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, blasting Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday for allegedly using the "F" word during an argument with Sen. Pattrick Leahy last week, said he needed to enroll in an "anger management" course.
Hillary ought to learn to pick her fights.

So, Hillary, what does Bill need to enroll in? After all, he didn't just use the word, he did the action of the verb in a little room off the Oval Orifice, er, Office.

How 'bout a "cigar management" course?

The irony is that Hillary has used lots of profanity in the White House.

Panama - The Panama Canal Might Be In Danger of Being Blown Up

Is the Canal in danger? Officials won't confirm the Agence France-Pressereport stating that a member of al-Qaida, Adan Guishar El Sshuknjumah, or Jafar al-Tayar, has targeted the Panama Canal.

El Shukrijumah is wanted in connecttion with possible threats against the United States. He speak English and has Miramar, Florida address. He carries a Guyanese passport, but could "attempt to enter as a Saudi, Canadian, or Trinidadian." He and others might have been implicated by the Honduran government. The FBI is offering a reward for"up to $5 million for "for information leading directly tto the capture of the 29-year-old "possible terrorist."

Hmm. Offering $5 million for a "possible terrorist." That confirms irt for me!

Hon: Al-Qaeda Sought to Bomb Panama Canal, Honduran Security Says

June 30 (Bloomberg) -- The al-Qaeda terrorist network plotted to bomb the Panama Canal, one of the world's most important shipping routes, Agence France-Presse reported, citing Leonel Sauceda, a spokesman for the Honduran security ministry.

Sauceda confirmed Security Minister Oscar Alvarez's report to local media that Adnan El Shukrijumah, or Jafar al-Tayar, a suspected al-Qaeda operative was in the Central American country late last month and ``planned to plant explosives in the Panama Canal to hamper boat traffic in the area,'' AFP said.

While Alvarez didn't say when Shukrijumah entered or left the country, or when he passed through it, Sauceda said the suspect was in Honduras on May 27, AFP said. The Panama Canal Authority says at least 35 ships pass through the canal daily, and more than 60 percent of that cargo originates in ports on the East Coast of the U.S.

The U.S. last month said Shukrijumah is a trained pilot and may be trying to use trucks as weapons. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation said Shukrijumah has a driver's license with a Miramar, Florida, address and may try to enter the U.S. with a passport from Guyana, Saudi Arabia, Canada, or Trinidad.
Newsflash found Via: Drudge

Cairo, Egypt - Islamists Kidnap Christian Girl to Force Conversion

Rape is a power crime that uses sex as its weapon. As we have read, rape is presently being used as genocide in the Sudan in order to make "light babies." All through history, rape has been used in this way. There are many instances of trying to overcome an ethnic group by "breeding them out of existence," as one fourteen-century English king said about his northern enemies, the Scots. But in this case,rape is being used to force religious conversion as it has been many times over the centuries.
The victim, a seventeen-year-old girl has been abuducted again. During her last abudction she was drugged, sexually abused, and mutilated: a tatoo of a cross was removed from her hand, in order to force conversion to Islam. Her abductor claims to "be her husband," all though, under Egyptian law, she can't legally marry until the age of 21 without parental permission. Local Muslim leaders have put pressure on police to support the abuduction.
The girl's family has been threatened and their car sustained a crash so that they could not return her to their home after she was given over to them. They were forced to take refuge again at the police station. "Unfortunately, the forced convesion of young Christian girls in Egypt is a recurring theme."
Other time-honored methods of intimidation and forced marriage and conversion go on. Girls are raped and marriage is the "honorable" conclusion of a rape "for which no one is charged."
The Barnabas Organization believes that they abductors will require her to convert when she reaches the age of eighteen. Many young girls are put in this same position. It is difficult to resist.
This fate also befalls boys.Although this article does not specifically state that boys are raped during abduction, rape of young boys does happen in some Muslim areas. In this case, the youth was taken to a madrassa where he was beaten. He was trained with guns and grenades to fight. Apparently he, too, converted, and told a judge that he "would only come home if his mother also converted." The judge refused to allow her to speak again to her son before he was sent to Kashmir to spread Islam. However, he did get a quick reprieve before the trip, at which time he told his mother the wole story.
If this story isn't enough, consider the plight of Cecilia John Holland, 27,a southern Sudanese Christian that was given 40 lashes for ' "standing near a gardeen at night" and not wearing a scarf on her head.' The government insisted that all Sudanese citizens "residing in Khartoum would be under Islamic law." She had been displaced by the 21-year civil war, but "not even a non-Muslim" was excempt from the Islamic dress code.
Rape and torture are the stuff of Islam as mandated in the Koran. It behooves us to make sure that the creeping Islamization of our culture does not bring us to this.

USVI: Cracking the Taino-Arawak-Carib code

Here's a snip from an interesting (if short) news item about a new theory being developed regarding our regional and blog namesake inhabitants.

Oh!..and those other tribes.
When many people think of the early inhabitants of the Caribbean, they think of the Arawak Indians. But the "Arawak" label more correctly refers to a language group, Wild says, like saying the "Southwest Indians," which would cover a variety of tribes.

Wild's beliefs put the Virgin Islands on the edge of the Taino civilization, an edge that was about to run into the expansion of the Carib Indians from the south. Wild says there is a recorded case of Caribs kidnapping Tainos at the time of Columbus.
For a deeper read into current info on the real native Caribbean inhabitants, you could do worse than to check this link page - should any of you be so interested.

Sudan: Rape as genocidal theft of a country

GENEINA, Sudan, June 29 -- At first light on Sunday, three young women walked into a scrubby field just outside their refugee camp in West Darfur. They had gone out to collect straw for their family's donkeys. They recalled thinking that the Arab militiamen who were attacking African tribes at night would still be asleep. But six men grabbed them, yelling Arabic slurs such as "zurga" and "abid," meaning "black" and "slave." Then the men raped them, beat them and left them on the ground, they said.

"They grabbed my donkey and my straw and said, 'Black girl, you are too dark. You are like a dog. We want to make a light baby,' " said Sawela Suliman, 22, showing slashes from where a whip had struck her thighs as her father held up a police and health report with details of the attack. "They said, 'You get out of this area and leave the child when it's made.' "

Suliman's father, a tall, proud man dressed in a flowing white robe, cried as she described the rape. It was not an isolated incident, according to human rights officials and aid workers in this region of western Sudan, where 1.2 million Africans have been driven from their lands by government-backed Arab militias, tribal fighters known as Janjaweed.

Interviews with two dozen women at camps, schools and health centers in two provincial capitals in Darfur yielded consistent reports that the Janjaweed were carrying out waves of attacks targeting African women. The victims and others said the rapes seemed to be a systematic campaign to humiliate the women, their husbands and fathers, and to weaken tribal ethnic lines. In Sudan, as in many Arab cultures, a child's ethnicity is attached to the ethnicity of the father.

"The pattern is so clear because they are doing it in such a massive way and always saying the same thing," said an international aid worker who is involved in health care. She and other international aid officials spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they feared reprisals or delays of permits that might hamper their operations.

She showed a list of victims from Rokero, a town outside of Jebel Marra in central Darfur where 400 women said they were raped by the Janjaweed. "It's systematic," the aid worker said. "Everyone knows how the father carries the lineage in the culture. They want more Arab babies to take the land. The scary thing is that I don't think we realize the extent of how widespread this is yet."

Another international aid worker, a high-ranking official, said: "These rapes are built on tribal tensions and orchestrated to create a dynamic where the African tribal groups are destroyed. It's hard to believe that they tell them they want to make Arab babies, but it's true. It's systematic, and these cases are what made me believe that it is part of ethnic cleansing and that they are doing it in a massive way."
Despite a stigma among tribal groups in Sudan against talking about rape, Darfur elders have been allowing and even encouraging their daughters to speak out because of the frequency of the attacks. The women consented to be named in this article.

In El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, about 200 miles east of Geneina, Aisha Arzak Mohammad Adam, 22, described a rape by militiamen. "They said, 'Dog, you have sex with me,' " she said. Adam, who was receiving medical treatment at the Abu Shouk camp, said through a female interpreter that she was raped 10 days ago and has been suffering from stomach cramps and bleeding. "They said, 'The government gave me permission to rape you. This is not your land anymore, abid, go.' "
"The man said, 'Give me your money, slave,' " she said, starting to cry. "Then I must tell you very frankly, he raped me. He had a gun to my head. He called me dirty abid. He said I was very ugly because my skin is so dark. What will I do now?"
"Very frankly, they selected us ladies and had what they wanted with us, like you would a wife," said Mohammad, 46, who has five children. "I am humiliated. Always they said, 'You are nothing. You are abid. You are too black.' It was disgusting."
At times like these, I am strongly tempted to believe abortion is the right thing to do because there are no emergency rooms available to flush this barbarian demon seed from these women.

U.S.: NYC's Former Mayor Ed Koch reviews Fat Boy's Fahrenheit 9/11

I am a movie critic, so I went to see “Fahrenheit 9/11.” The movie is a well-done propaganda piece and screed as has been reported by most critics.

It is not a documentary which seeks to present the facts truthfully.

The most significant offense that movie commits is to cheapen the political debate by dehumanizing the President and presenting him as a cartoon.

Newsday reported some of Moore’s misstatements as follows: “At the start of ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,’ filmmaker Michael Moore shows a clip of CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin saying that if ballots had been recounted in Florida after the 2000 presidential vote, ‘under every scenario Gore won the election.’

“What Moore doesn't show is that a six-month study in 2001 by news organizations including The New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN found just the opposite. Even if the Supreme Court had not stopped a statewide recount, or if a more limited recount of four heavily Democratic counties had taken place, Bush still would have won Florida and the election
. . . Moore suggests Bush's conflict of interest was manifest shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks when the White House ‘approved planes to pick up the bin Ladens and numerous other Saudis’ who, fearing reprisals, were flown out of the United States. Embellishing the well-known scenario, Moore interviews a retired FBI agent who says authorities should have first questioned the bin Ladens.

“But the bin Ladens were questioned. The commission investigating the attacks reported in April that the FBI interviewed 30 passengers: ‘Nobody was allowed to depart on these six flights who the FBI wanted to interview in connection with the 9/11 attacks or who the FBI later concluded had any involvement in those attacks.’”

It is clear to me from the tenor of the film’s off-screen commentary by Michael Moore that he would have denounced WW II.

Did he support the United States and NATO going into Bosnia to save the Muslims from ethnic cleansing and destruction?

Would he agree that we should have attempted to save the Muslim men from death at the hands of the Serbs in Srebrenica?

Should we now be going into the Sudan and saving perhaps a million black Christian and Animist Sudanese from Arab marauders who are murdering, raping and starving the blacks and even selling some into slavery?

Weren’t we right to go into Iraq on the basis of United Nations Resolution 1441 which stated the Iraqis had weapons of mass destruction and that was a cause for war unless they accounted for them and destroyed them, which they refused to do?

Now that no WMDs have yet been found, was the invasion to end the reign of Saddam Hussein, who had killed and tortured hundreds of thousands of his own citizens, still supportable? Moore thinks not.

I think, yes.

The movie’s diatribes, sometimes amusing and sometimes manifestly unfair, will not change any views. They will simply cheapen the national debate and reinforce the opinions on both sides.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

U.S.-Florida – Say Good-bye to Carefree Ship Travel. Ports Prepare for Global Security Deadline

Ports all over the world are scrambling to meet the July 1, 2004 deadline to bring in line
with new regulationsand restrictions to counter implied threats. Port masters, cruise and cargo ships have been informed of tough new regulations that already have cost billions of dollars to implement and millions of training hours, audits and efforts since 2002. And still, many are not ready.

Ships move 80 percent of the world’s trade, and 30 percent of the U.S. economy relies on ship traffic. Florida relies heavily on trade with the Caribbean basin and Latin America and about 14 millions passengers and $46 million worth of goods pass through Florida ports yearly.

The problem isn’t with U.S. registered ships. Most vessels have complied or are near, but many ports in smaller and poorer nations lack the technical resources and funds. The U.S. Coast Guard had broad powers to stop ships off the coast if they can’t prove 24-hour advanced certification of goods, crew, and passengers. This means that ships must inform who and what is on that ship before it enters U.S. waters or it will not be permitted to enter port, or even possibly turned back.

The United Nations discussed the issue through the International Maritime Organization, IMO, and approved a two-part plan. The IMO required all member nations to draft security plans and to meet certain standards, but some of the guidelines are recommended, not mandatory. Some developing nations are not happy with the guidelines as they “protect the United States from terrorists attacks,” but are “an unfunded mandate on the backs of the developing world.”

Finding the money to meet the new rules is a struggle for all, even for U.S. ports. The Coast Guard estimates the cost of compliance in the United States alone to exceed $7.35 billion over 10 years. The federal government has handed out $516 in port security grants, less than 10 percent of that estimate, and final outlays may be to be higher because of “hefty recurring expenses for guards and other services.”

Many developing countries are having a harder time.
Many of their ports often start out lacking such basics as access controls and alarms. Plus, with their governments cash-strapped, they must scramble to seek funds elsewhere, including the World Bank.

Still, facing U.S. reprisals, many nations have found the means to comply. In the Caribbean, for example, Jamaica has met the deadline, as will ports in Trinidad-Tobago, St. Kitts and Barbados, among others, the SeaSecure audit found.

Ports in politically troubled Haiti and elsewhere remain unlikely to meet the deadline, executives said.

Ports that miss the grade will be able to implement an “alternative program” with some “temporary security measures, such as armed guards where a fence should be,” but it is understood that such standards will eventually have to be improved.
The Coast Guard is not going to throw the equivalent of a barbed wire fence across U.S. ports on July 1, 2004, “but for specific ports and specific vessels, there may be a slowdown, a curtailment.”

World shipping is concerned with maritime terrorism because the al-Qaeda network has attacked and sunk vessels in recent years or tried and planned to do so, and has shown unusual interest in learning how to maneuver vessels of all sizes, leading those concerned with port security to believe that tankers or other ships could be used as a bomb to shut down major ports or choke points, such as the Panama Canal or Suez Canal. Shipping commerce could be stifled or stopped for years or decades if they were successful.

Other concerns deal with the 15 million containers that criss-cross the globe by sea and make over 230 million journeys each year. Some 7 million containers arrive annually to the U.S. by sea. It is impossible to check each one. Worldwide, less than 1% of shipped cargo is screened for explosives, radioactive substances or other dangerous materials. by use of X-ray and gamma-ray devices. Human traffic has been known to be smuggled in these containers..Officials and counter-terrorism experts have warned that the next step may be an attack using chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapons. The most dangerous possibility is that the terrorists might use a powerful radiological bomb or even a nuclear explosive device, concealed in one of these millions of cargo containers.

The costs of such an attack would be enormous and would bring world trade to a halt as well as eliminating the use of port. In human terms, the cost would be catastrophic. Although the new regulations are expensive and annoying, they are more than necessary to counter the threats of those that would destroy us and our way of life.

U.S.: If Democrats win the election, we're going to tax your arse, says Hillary

Forget all the flip-flopping BS that Kerry spouts. The real power in the Democrat party has spoken. Here's what Hillary Rodham Clinton had to say recently.:

Headlining an appearance with other Democratic women senators on behalf of Sen. Barbara Boxer, who is up for re-election this year, Hillary Clinton told several hundred supporters -- some of whom had ponied up as much as $10,000 to attend -- to expect to lose some of the tax cuts passed by President Bush if Democrats win the White House and control of Congress.

"Many of you are well enough off that ... the tax cuts may have helped you," Sen. Clinton said. "We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."
Now some of Hillary's supporters could cough up $10K to hear her break oral wind. That's cool. I'm glad for them. That's what capitalism is all about.

What sticks in my craw is the Democrat belief that they know better than us what to do with our money; therefore, they will not let us keep it ... "on behalf of the common good"! Are we the Soviet Union? Is that where the Democrats want to take us?

Take this, for instance. The federal government recently sent out a warning to states to spend that $2B of federal funds for education or they'll lose the money in the next budget. Since when does a state have to be reminded to spend money? Under what conditions will such a reminder be issued? Right. Such a reminder will be needed if the state is not spending because it has a surfeit of money and can't waste what it has fast enough to burn new cash. Here's an excerpt from the report:
WASHINGTON States are getting a reminder from the federal government: Make plans quickly to spend more than $2 billion in education money or be ready to lose it.

The Education Department has found that all the states, the District of Columbia and eight territories have high cash balances left from 2002, including money meant for poor children, disabled students and limited-English learners.
Yet, liberals have been sqawking that GWB has insufficiently funded No Child Left Behind. How much taxpayer money must that bottomless pit, government, blow for it to be enough? In spite of this over-funding, Democrats still want to take our money. Why?

When Hillary Clinton -- out of some infinite wisdom that the intelligentsia is supposed to posses more than the dumb grunts who actually work for the money -- says Democrats plan to take our hard-earned dollars for some "common good," she is talking communist, redistributive politics. Take from the working man, and give to the slacker. Is Kerry of a different mind? No. He has a higher liberal rating in Congress than Ted 'Chappaquiddick' Kennedy.

Frankly, I don't care if a guy makes $1 or $1M. What he earns is his. He paid his dues and did what he had to to get that pay check. No government has the right to tell him you're going to have to give up your hard-earned money for some "common good." If the guy wants to give to charity, that's his affair. That's the thing with Democrats -- they always know better than you what ought to be done with your money.

If Democrats win the White House and Congress, expect the U.S. economy to become like those lousy economies in Europe. The principle at work here is this -- when taxes are increased, people will either work less to pay less taxes, or they will find ways, legal and illegal, to hide their money so that the government can't take it from them. Either way, the amount of revenue available for the "common good" will be far less than if taxes were cut. When taxes are decreased, capital enters the economy because a low tax rate is less punitive when assets are sold. In the 1990s, a Republican Congress saved Clinton from his boondoggle of the most massive and retroactive tax increase in U.S. history. The best revenue maker for the U.S. is a 10% across the board flat tax. That will simplify the tax code, increase government revenues, and will provide massive incentive for investment. Watch the economy boom. It's happening in Russia.

If Democrats control both the White House and the Congress, nothing will stand in the way of the bandits who will be controlling the government.

US: credit where Credit is due

My favorite incendiary blogger - Molotov of Booker Rising - posted an interesting link to a commentary piece by one Jerry Brooks of the Conservative Western Alliance which goes some way towards debunking the common leftist plantation meme wherein Ronald Reagan is charactarized as a some "stupid white man" who stood in opposition to African-American civil rights goals.

I wholeheartedly agree with Molotov's sentiment and his choice of money quote from the author who states that although he wasn't fond of Reagan during his presidency, Reagan's accomplishments helped "turn me around and realize who had my best interests at heart rather than a vote that was simply taken for granted."

MLK's vision of a colorblind society was advanced and is still championed by conservatives such as Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush - who hires on merit, not some condescendingly racist quota which weakens the recipient and undermines achievement to make some cuba-libre sipping limosine liberal feel better for having done nothing arm's length.

I suspect that MLK would roll over in his grave to see the degeneration of the mainstream liberal civil rights movement into a self-limiting fiefdom of the DNC, where the balkanization of race is encouraged and whole voting blocs of color are taken for granted based on the libelous premise that any person of color who doesn't tow the party line - Too 'tink he white...A movement which cheerfully excoriates two of the most respected and powerfully effective people on the planet as Aunt Jemima and Uncle Tom "house slaves".

This from...Belefonte who tiefed his fame from the Caribbean and apparently wants to keep us all on his political banana boat, singing to nanny government for our soup.

Cuba: 'Puros' not so puro in Havana

...Much like their Peoples Revolution®.

Yup Cuba travellers, you just might be smoking hacking on fake commie cigars
Tourists might expect to get counterfeit Cuban cigars when they buy them on the streets of Europe, Mexico or New York City.

But Havana?

Yes, admit officials in Cuba. The black market in fake Havanas is alive and well even in Fidel Castro's own police-state back yard.

"In Cuba, when you buy cheaply priced counterfeit habanos, you really don’t know what you’ve acquired," says a report in Granma, the official news organ of the Cuban state. "Only the street seller is aware of the deception. When, on your return to Europe, Mexico or Moscow, you open the box in the hope of smoking a good cigar, it’s already too late."
Dastardly plotting free-market counterfeiting capitalist!

Anyway, it's been my somewhat limited understanding that many of the worlds better-quality cigars are now produced in the Dominican Republic, where many Cigar makers fled to after the bearded dictator's revolution and subsequent nationalization of privately owned business.

Even stalwart Davidoff have hustled their Swiss arses on over to the DR having ceased production of their blue-ribbon cigars in Cuba since 1990 as the soil quality of Cuban tobacco growing regions continued to diminish through over-farming.

Overall, it really sucks to still see millions of Cubans suffer under the tired clenched fist of a doddering old communist tyrant..

Viva la revolución contraria!

UPDATE: Check out this post from Keith at Alcohol Was A Factor for his first-handSmoke account of an encounter with a guy who embodies the effects the revolution has had on the people who were the Cuban cigar industry...great photo too.

Vzla: Denying its way to communism

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) President Hugo Chavez denied Monday that he was trying to impose communism in Venezuela, insisting he would not try to hide any such plans.

"If there was a communist project here, I would be the first to say it. I would have no qualms about it. But that's not the plan," Chavez said.

Chavez opponents accuse the former army paratrooper of amassing power and steering Venezuela toward Cuba-style dictatorship, criticizing his tight friendship with Cuban President Fidel Castro.
Chavez has not nationalized any private companies or seized private property but has threatened to do so. Critics say his "revolutionary" rhetoric keeps investors on edge and fuels class strife.

Supporters insist Chavez has done more than any previous president to bring social justice to Venezuela's poor majority, including initiatives to bring Cuban doctors and teachers to work for the disenfranchised.

Critics have accused the Cuban doctors and teachers of trying to indoctrinate the poor with communist ideology. But some opposition leaders have backed the allegations as recent polls show a majority of Venezuelans support the programs.
Is that what they are doing throughout the Caribbean, also?

TT: Freedom didn't reign

The United States yesterday went through with the sham of appearing to transfer sovereignty to Iraq, two days before the long promoted June 30 deadline. The reason advanced for the bringing forward of the handover was that disruption of the transfer ceremony had been planned by insurgents. The abrupt bringing forward of the date had been designed partly as a move to pre empt plans by groups opposed to the governing council. The make-believe Iraqi government is being offered up by the United States as in control of Iraq subject to any emergency situations created by rebel groups. As an added precaution, the ceremony which was covered by major international television networks was held at an undisclosed location.
Regardless of what Prime Minister Allawi’s administration may believe and/or offer for domestic and international consumption, theirs is a puppet government with neither constitutional nor moral authority. At best yesterday’s handover of sovereignty has qualified for the award of the farce of the year if not of the century. In turn, for yesterday’s installed government to work with the United States and Britain while seeking to assure the Iraqi people that it indeed has moral authority to even exist, it will have to walk a diplomatically correct tightrope. Time will tell if this will be possible.

TT: The Hindu argument against abortion

A foreign based pro-abortion group over the past year has set-up shop in the nation and begun a lobby to make abortion a legal alternative. The aspiring activities of this group have to be deemed as successful to date as they have managed to put abortion in significant quarters of the national agenda. The traditional defender against these pro-abortionists in the Western Hemisphere over the decades has been the Roman Catholic Church. This remains so today and indeed so in Trinidad and Tobago on this latest assault. This is not to say that other religious traditions support abortion. Indeed the reverse is true, as all major faiths abhor abortion. Despite this aspiration of the pro-abortion group the Inter Religious Organisation has yet to make a bold public declaration on the position. Abortion can be defined as the deliberate termination of pregnancy. Selective sex determination and dowry in an India cultural context, the French abortion pill, stem cell research and cloning issues have made Hindu scholars, theologians, and activists over the years develop a well defined Hindu response to abortion.
Read the rest.

I wonder if Caribbeanites are aware of the true purpose of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood?
Sanger created this program in 1939, after the organization changed its name from the American Birth Control League (ABCL) to the Birth Control Federation of America (BCFA).1

The aim of the program was to restrict—many believe exterminate—the black population. Under the pretense of “better health” and “family planning,” Sanger cleverly implemented her plan.
Margaret Sanger aligned herself with the eugenicists whose ideology prevailed in the early 20th century. Eugenicists strongly espoused racial supremacy and “purity,” particularly of the “Aryan” race. Eugenicists hoped to purify the bloodlines and improve the race by encouraging the “fit” to reproduce and the “unfit” to restrict their reproduction. They sought to contain the “inferior” races through segregation, sterilization, birth control and abortion.
Part of Sanger's strategy was to enlist Black doctors and ministers who would enthusiastically support her Eugenics policies, and act as liaisons between the Planned Parenthood Federation and the Black communities. At one point in her letters, she worries that more sinister intentions might be discerned in her "Demonstration Project."

"We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of the more rebellious members."
Is abortion really a woman's health matter or does it pertain to genocide and the decline of Western civilization?

TT: Prison guards should be behind bars too

Yet another problem at the country’s troubled prisons was highlighted in the Sunday Guardian, when a former inmate spoke about collusion between prisoners and their guards.

For a fee, he said, guards will bring in cell phones, drugs, and even sheets and ropes for prisoners who want to escape.

If this story is true, then not only are prisoners not being rehabilitated, but on the contrary, the authorities are actually assisting them in criminal acts inside the prison, and, by bringing in cell phones, even helping them to continue their criminal activities outside the prison walls by the most modern and high-tech methods. For the ex-inmate said that by this means they are able to carry on gang warfare and organised crime, including issuing death threats to or even arranging the murders of state witnesses.

President of the Prisons Officers Association Claudius Gulston was honest enough to say that he could not deny that some of his colleagues might be involved in drug trafficking and trading in cell phones in the prisons.

If this is the case, no doubt the demoralised state of prison officers, who have to work in the same appalling conditions under which prisoners are kept, may have something to do with it.

Prisons officers are now expressing their grievances by a form of work-to-rule which has affected the courts, where prisoners have been arriving hours late.

TT: TSTT shooting itself in the foot

Long-distance rates to the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom have been slashed by half, in an aggressive move by telecom provider TSTT to help position the company as the leading service provider in a competitive environment.

However, CEO Sam Martin hinted that domestic phone rates would soon be rebalanced upwards to compensate for the loss of revenue, as calls to the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom come down to $2 a minute from today, down from $4.

He said the question of rate rebalancing was a “top priority” for TSTT.

“The WTO agreement clearly implies all rates should be cost-based and we have been engaging the Government to adjust its domestic rates based on the principle of cost,” he said.

“Twenty three cents unlimited is clearly not a cost-recovery price.”
Martin is crazy. The way to increase revenue is not to drive costs up, but to drive them down and so increase usage. More usage means more money. The average TTian is going to be less likely to use TSTT overall because their international call rates are 100% higher than that of call centers, and their local call rates are going to rise. End result? TSTT will raise rates again to get more revenue, and they'll wonder why that isn't happening.

But, then, TT is perverse. People like knowing they've paid an arm and a leg for a good or service, so TTST just might reap big bucks from their costlier domestic and international service.


Economics 101, dude. The more you charge for a thing, the less of it is purchased.

TT: Local ports ISPS compliant

Local ports are now awaiting certification from the Coast Guard to confirm they are ready to meet Thursday’s deadline for the implementation of an international security code.

Officials at the Port Authority, which manages the Port-of-Spain and Scarborough ports, and the Pt Lisas Industrial Development Co port said the nation’s 14 ports should have received their certificates from the Coast Guard yesterday.

The International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code has been mandated by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for all ports and ships in response to the perceived maritime threats in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

The ISPS will take effect on July 1 and ships can by-pass ports not compliant with the code, which could result in millions of dollars in losses to port facilities.

The Coast Guard was responsible for inspecting the nation’s State-owned and private ports to see if they are ready for the ISPS.

TT: No more electoral deadlocks

The one problem that won't arise again if the country agrees to add five new constituencies to the existing 36, making it a total of 41, is that of an electoral deadlock such as resulted from the 2001 general election.

Nor, of course, will the President of the country then be placed on the horns of a dilemma by having personally to decide who will be Prime Minister - as former President Robinson had to do in the case of Messrs Manning and Panday in 2002.

To this day, former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday blames former President Robinson for the relatively early demise of the UNC government.

It is also a critical decision that Mr Robinson himself has never gone into any great detail to explain, though for certain it was an unprecedented situation.

That apart, however, public sentiment on adding five new seats to our Parliament as proposed by the Elections and Boundaries Commission appears relatively mild, and certainly more in favour than against.

TT: TSTT cut international phone rates 50%

Telecommunications provider TSTT has cut calling rates to most international destinations by 50 per cent.

Customers calling the Caribbean will receive a 40 per cent discount on the rates after four minutes, chief executive officer Samuel Martin announced yesterday.

New international rates mean that the $4 per minute cost of calling the US, Canada and the UK will from today cost $2 per minute. TSTT had previously reduced rates in 1990, 2000 and 2001.

"With this further rate reduction we are delivering on a commitment we made to customers to reduce these rates," Martin told reporters at a media round table discussion at TSTT's Edward St, Port of Spain offices.

The latest reduction comes in the midst of call centres having set up business around the country which charge $1 per minute for calls.

It also comes two months after the Regulated Industries Commission (RIC) said the phone rates should come down.

But Martin said the reduction had nothing to do with the RIC and the reduction was not driven by the RIC although it was not ignoring the Commission.

Martin said TSTT was able to bring down the rates because it had negotiated lower settlement rates with overseas providers.
It's a step in the right direction but doesn't go far enough. $2 per minute is still 100% more than $1 per minute. That means that TSTT will still lose revenues to call centers, and rightly so.

The name of the business is competition, and if TSTT wants to remain a viable company, they'll cut rates even more to give the call centers a run for their money. In that highly competitive environment, the interests of the consumer will be best served.

Now, I'm waiting to see what TSTT does with its ridiculously high internet rates.

PR: Judges benched

SAN JUAN (AP) - Judges Berta Mainardi, Mirinda Vicenty and Maritza Ramos, who wanted to adopt a Lithuanian boy who was being claimed by his biological family in his home country, were temporarily relieved from their job by Puerto Rico Supreme Court Chief Justice, Miriam Naveira.
“According to the duties of Chief Justice, I have proceeded to provisionally relieve judges Maritza Ramos, Berta Mainardi and Mirinda Vicenty from their judicial duties until the Disciplinary Commission of Judges makes it final ruling,” Naveira said.

Ramos, who administered the Carolina Tribunal, is being charged with 23 violations of 12 rules of Judicial Ethics by exercising improper influence in the handling of the case by the Department of the Family and by the Department of Justice.

The report also determines that Ramos is guilty of abuse and child endangerment.

"In a malicious manner, and knowingly, she abused the child by exposing him to obscene language and violent acts, when she attack representatives of the Department of the Family,” reads the report.

The report also states Ramos hired psychologist Nydia De Lucca without informing the courts, who presumably induced the child to say he had been sexually abused.

Against Vicenty, TAO filled charges of improper influence, using her post for personal gain, acting without regard to the judicial branch, and acting outside the bounds of her position.

Judge Mainardi, faces disciplinary action for ethics violations such as improper conduct and not following regulation governing the behavior of judges.
I can't quite figure out if these three women were competing with each other and the birth family to adopt the boy, or if the boy was going to have three mommies.

Ja: Latorture is a con man

That's how the editorialist wraps up his piece.

It's a decent enough piece of work that is thoroughly tilted against Latortue. The writer is quite properly demanding accountability of the interim Haitian leader. However, I can't help wondering if he demanded the same of Aristide.

The editorialist's position is that Latortue's failure to institute democratic reforms immediately should prevent his administration from being recognized by Caricom and Haiti from being regarded as a "member in good standing." Yet, Haiti was a member in good standing under Aristide -- however, only one Caribbean leader attended Haitian independence celebrations in 2002 because of doubts about the legality of his re-election. Yet, Aristide still sat at the table with the other heads of Caricom.

The writer closes his piece by demanding that Latortue "must not be allowed to get away with any three-card tricks." Only three-card trick I know is the con man game three-card monte.

Ja: The dons have MPs in their gunsights

THE government announced yesterday that a number of parliamentarians and other professionals have been warned by the police that they may be under death threat from drug 'dons'.

There were immediate rumours tourism minister and South West St Ann representative Aloun Assamba was among the first persons around whom security has been stepped up, but information minister Burchell Whiteman stopped just short of confirming this.

"That may well be so. I won't go any further than that," he said.

PHILLIPS. chairs meeting of public order cabinet sub-committee next week

Whiteman declined to name names.
Assamba's constituency, in the hilly regions of northern Jamaica, is an area believed to be one where several top drug dealers live. In one St Ann community recently, residents demonstrated when the police arrested alleged drug kingpin, Norris "Dedo" Nembhard.

The complaint was that Nembhard, who runs a haulage and heavy equipment business, provided jobs in the community and that these would dry up with his arrest.

Whiteman had earlier told reporters that senior police officers had briefed the Cabinet about the dangers in the face of the recent string of arrests of alleged top-level drug dealers, most of whom the Americans want to have extradited to stand trial in the United States.

Ja: Woman killed in church

ENA Grant, 56, was shot dead and another elderly woman injured as they worshipped at the Bethel Born Again True Faith Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ in St Andrew at about 9:30 pm Sunday night.

The gunman opened fire as the pastor delivered his sermon in the small wooden building in the Land Lease community.

An eyewitness to the incident, too scared to be identified, told the Observer that the assassin went to the altar as the pastor preached and was warmly greeted by the man of cloth.

"Him walk up to the altar while the pastor was preaching and pastor tell him say may God Bless him. Him stop little before him take out the gun and point it at the lady," the eyewitness claimed.

The armed man pulled the trigger twice but his gun jammed and Grant valiantly tried to use her Bible to hit the weapon from her attacker's hand. She almost disarmed him, a church member said.

Funeral home staff carrying the body of 56 year-old Ena Grant who was shot dead inside the Bethel Born Again True Faith Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ as she worshipped on Sunday night. (Photos: Garfield Robinson)

"The gun stick and the people start bawl out 'The blood of Jesus is upon you'. She use her bible and lick him and the gun drop," the eyewitness told the Observer.

But the gunman, determined that Grant must die, simply went outside, fixed his jammed weapon and walked back into the house of worship where he pumped three shots into her body.
Why did nobody pick up the gun when it fell? Why did nobody try to seize the gunman when he was disarmed? Why did the pastor run and abandon his flock? Faith, yes, but faith without works is dead. The congregation had a chance to back up faith with works; they didn't, now Ena Grant is dead.

U.S.: When hatred is the primary value

Thanks to Muslim clerics in Nigeria, polio is once again spreading through the African continent.

Polio — a very debilitating but equally preventable neuromuscular disease — was never completely eradicated from the globe (only smallpox has this distinction).

But officials from the World Health Organization say they could have nearly wiped polio off the map by the end of 2005.

However, according to reports, Muslim clerics in the Nigerian state of Kano and elsewhere in the northern part of the country convinced government officials to stop providing vaccines months ago.

The clerics said the vaccines made in the West were tainted, containing anti-fertility drugs designed to depopulate the area

Voice of America news reported, "An activist from a human rights group based in northern Nigeria, Nasir Abbas, says local Islamic leaders like Alhaji Datti Ahmed of the Supreme Council on Sharia continue to play a large role in influencing policies in Kano State."

Local, anti-Western Muslims allowed children contract polio rather than allow the government to provide the medicine to prevent it, no matter the source.

And, by waiting for a vaccine to be tested and found "safe" in Indonesia, that's just what happened.

The World Health Organization says the Nigerians' stoppage of the immunization program has caused a resurgence of polio cases all across Africa, from nearby Ivory Coast to Botswana in southern Africa.
Here's the Botswana story:
JOHANNESBURG -- A child in a village in Botswana has been paralyzed by poliomyelitis, the strain of the virus from northern Nigeria that has been spreading because Muslim religious leaders there refuse to allow vaccinations for the disease.

Botswana, thousands of kilometres from Nigeria, has been polio-free for more than a decade. The new case has epidemiologists warning of the globalization of disease and the World Heath Organization says it is a graphic illustration of the importance of immunization.

The 7-year-old boy in the Ngami district of northwestern Botswana developed paralysis in early February. Health workers in Botswana, a comparatively prosperous country in southern Africa with good surveillance for polio, recognized that he might have the virus even though the disease was eradicated there in 1991.

Lab results confirmed in March that he does have polio; genetic sequencing of the strain of the virus with which he was infected showed it came from northern Nigeria.
In 2003, Muslim leaders spread the word that the U.S. government had tainted the vaccine drops with either the AIDS virus or infertility drugs....

The Nigerian strain of the virus has spread with astounding speed. In the past 18 months, viruses shown by genetic analysis to have originated in northern Nigeria have caused new cases of the disease in eight previously polio-free countries: Ghana, Cameroon, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, the Central African Republic, Ivory Coast and Togo.
There is another issue that might have a bearing on this absurd refusal of these Islamic clerics to immunize children against polio. Jonas Salk, the doctor who developed the polio vaccine, was Jewish. If this is part of the anti-West reason for refusing the vaccine, bad cess to these Islamic clerics. To paraphrase Golda Meir, [w]hen Muslims start loving their children more than they hate the West there will be improvement in the Islamic world.

More of the blame the West variety:
The “Arab Human Development Report 2002,” compiled by Arab scholars and published by the United Nations, reports that one in five Arabs still lives on less than $2 per day, and one in every two Arab women still can’t read or write. Only sub-Saharan Africa ranks worse in terms of gender equity. Infant mortality in the Arab regions is twice as high as in Latin America, and income growth is lower than anywhere in the world except sub-Saharan Africa.

Freedom of expression is sharply limited, independent thought is discouraged, the media isn’t genuinely free, elections are primarily bogus and education is in steep decline. In Saudi Arabia, universities churn out more “religious scholars” than engineers and physicians, and Spain translates as many books in a year than the Arabs have translated in the past 1,000 years.

For the militant Islamists, this societal failure across the Muslim world is all the fault of the West, especially America. Instead of looking inward, their solution to “humiliation and despair” is that we should die. That’s the message of September 11, the message in Paul Johnson’s murder.
Read the whole eye-opening piece.

U.S.: It's a child, not a choice

A new type of ultrasound scan has produced the vivid pictures of a 12 week-old foetus "walking" in the womb.

The new images also show foetuses apparently yawning and rubbing its eyes.

The scans, pioneered by Professor Stuart Campbell at London's Create Health Clinic, are much more detailed than conventional ultrasound.
Professor Campbell has perfected a technique which not only produces detailed 3D images, but records foetal movement in real time.

He says his work has been able to show for the first time that the unborn baby engages in complex behaviour from an early stage of its development.

Professor Campbell told the BBC: "This is a new science for understanding and mapping out the behaviour of the baby.
The images have shown:
* From 12 weeks, unborn babies can stretch, kick and leap around the womb - well before the mother can feel movement

* From 18 weeks, they can open their eyes although most doctors thought eyelids were fused until 26 weeks

* From 26 weeks, they appear to exhibit a whole range of typical baby behaviour and moods, including scratching, smiling, crying, hiccoughing, and sucking.

Until recently it was thought that smiling did not start until six weeks after birth.
Abortion cannot be the way.

Here's more:
in the photos, which were first released yesterday:
* An unborn baby boy, when positioned upright in his mother's womb, instinctively appears to try to "walk" forward.

"This is the first time we have ever seen this kind of movement this early," said obstetrician and scan pioneer Stuart Campbell....

"It is typical of what newborn babies do as a reflex. If you hold a newborn under the arms and put its feet to a table top, it will make stepping movements, and this is what the baby is doing in the womb."

* A 22-week-old unborn boy scratches, rubs and pats his cheek, then his nose, indicating that fetuses are capable of fine finger movements from an early age.

* Fetuses as young as 11 weeks not only sucked their thumbs, but one brought his toes to his mouth, then searched around until he found the biggest to latch onto.

* At 12 weeks, some fetuses were already yawning and rubbing their eyes.

* Fetuses as young as 18 weeks were seen opening their eyes. That's about eight weeks earlier than they were previously thought to be able to do so.

* After 26 weeks, the fetuses behaved like typical newborns to an extent, scratching, crying and smiling.
"These are essential reflexes we are seeing," Campbell said. "It is the baby learning about its body."

U.S.: Democrat motto -- vote early, vote often

Some might be planning to take the motto to heart.

The Smoking Gun reveals that Michael Moore is registered to vote in two states: New York and Michigan.

Although he has claimed to be an "independent” and not a Democrat, records from the New York City Board of Elections show that in reality he registered as a Democrat, the Web site reported.

"Now here's the good part: Moore is simultaneously registered to vote in Michigan, where registrants aren't even given the option of party affiliation (so he's not an Independent there either)."

And there's more: "as a New York City voter, TSG can tell you it's hard not to realize you are registered, since a voter's mailbox is regularly bombarded with candidate mail, official voter guides, and Board of Election notices about upcoming elections and reminders about the location of your polling place."
H'tip to I guess fat boys have big appetites for everything ... including voting.

Now I'm off to bed.

Ja: Damned if you do,...

...Meanwhile with characteristic aplomb, US President George Bush told the NATO summit in Istanbul, Turkey yesterday that the Iraqi people had got back their country. The questions remain: Which Iraqis and in what kind of country?

The slate of problems is staggering. The economy is in a mess, unemployment is high, the infrastructure is in a mess and the threat of further insurgency attacks remains. Bush administration officials are pushing the line that any attacks against the new regime should be seen as Iraqi versus Iraqi violence. That, of course, is only partially true. Since the new regime is a US-approved one, there is little distinction to be made between them and the previous one, not only in the minds of ordinary Iraqis but in the minds of the insurgents as well. As some analysts have noted, to Iraqis, members of the new regime may have independent thought, but not independent action. In reality, little has changed.

As part of the restoration to normality in Iraq, the U.S. should seek to draw on the cooperation of those countries which have demonstrated an interest in the rebuilding effort. The defiant and headlong push to occupy Iraq in furtherance of narrow geo-political interests, has proven, to date, to be an unqualified diplomatic failure. There is still opportunity to make amends.
In reading this piece, I feel as though I'm having a conversation with the Mad Hatter. All I need now is for the Cheshire cat to disappear and leave his toothy grin. Read it all for yourself.

Here, go deeper into Wonderland by reading this next piece and this one.

Some nights, you read stuff that just sends you off to bed. This is one of those nights. Sheesh.

Gya: GWB's presidential proclamation cleaning up corruption in the Caribbean

US President George W Bush earlier this year signed a Presidential Proclamation, under the Immigrationand Nationality Act, suspending the entry into the USA as immigrants or non-immigrants certain corrupt public officials, those who corrupt them, and their dependants. According to the US embassy in Georgetown, "Corruption fundamentally threatens public trust and the integrity of basic institutions, therefore undermining both democracy and security. This Proclamation enables the United States to demonstrate that its commitment to combating corruption and preventing the corrupt from evading justice by hiding within our borders is serious. It is also in keeping with other recent changes in US law that recognizes the large role of foreign corruption in hindering international law enforcement efforts."

The US proclamation is intended to be used in the cases of "persons whose corruption is so egregious and so harmful that it has or had serious adverse effects on the international economic activity of US businesses, US foreign assistance goals, the security of the US against transnational crime and terrorism, or the stability of democratic institutions and nations."

The War on Terror declared in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the USA has effectively taken the place of the Cold War as the USA's main national and international security concern. It also prompted changes, embodied in the new Patriot Act, evincing US sensitivity to national security threats from aliens and migrants.

Corrupt government officials from the Caribbean, Latin America and elsewhere have often been involved in narco-trafficking, money-laundering, extra-judicial killing, people-smuggling and other crimes. Countries such as Guyana where these crimes have occurred, could provide a platform to enable terrorists and other illegal aliens to enter the USA. As in the notorious 'Thomas Carroll Affair,' local law enforcement agencies and the criminal justice system have been incapable of punishing persons involved in many offences which the USA is most concerned about. As a result of this change in policy, some prominent Guyanese government officials have recently had their US visas withdrawn or their conditions of issue modified substantially. Members of sports and cultural organisations who commit certain offences can now look forward to having their visas withdrawn, and would-be migrants who are convicted of crimes can expect to be deported from the USA.

By this new approach, America, hopefully, can terminate some of the abuses that Guyana seems willing to tolerate.

Gya: Sugar and the EU on C aricom's agenda

This EU gambit is likely to hit Jamaica and Belize really hard because both are banana and sugar producers, and they have already been socked by the EU's cutting of the banana regime.

Stating that some interesting, legal and political questions are going to arise, [Caricom Secretary General, Edwin] Carrington said that the worrying thing about the sugar protocol is the guaranteed price for the region's sugar being negotiated annually and linked to the price being paid in Europe for beet sugar.

He said if the Europeans cut their price by 40% "the question then is what is your legal case against your price, which is linked to it being similarly diminished." If the EU can provide income support for their farmers because of the loss of income, he asked, "do we [in the Caribbean] have an equal case to that income support where it is not defined as a part of the price of sugar?"

Cuba: But we have the best health care in the region!

HAVANA, June 24 (Moisés Leonardo Rodríguez, Grupo Decoro / - Residents of Madruga say they are disgusted by the insufficient level of medical services offered the population lately by the local polyclinic.

Among the reasons for the lack of services that previously were widely available they cite the scarcity of resources and the wholesale shipment of doctors and other medical personnel to Venezuela and several other countries. Even the doctors left behind are overworked as a result of the government's policy.

As a specific example, residents say the polyclinic in Madruga has not rendered optometry services for about two months now, allegedly because their equipment is broken. The problem has been a constant off and on for most of the last year.

During the last year, residents say they were able to make do in neighboring Güines, but that option is no longer viable because the technician there was mobilized for military service.
Is Castro planning an invasion of some country?

Cuba: But we have the best health care in the region!

HAVANA, June 24 (Moisés Leonardo Rodríguez, Grupo Decoro / - Residents of Madruga say they are disgusted by the insufficient level of medical services offered the population lately by the local polyclinic.

Among the reasons for the lack of services that previously were widely available they cite the scarcity of resources and the wholesale shipment of doctors and other medical personnel to Venezuela and several other countries. Even the doctors left behind are overworked as a result of the government's policy.

As a specific example, residents say the polyclinic in Madruga has not rendered optometry services for about two months now, allegedly because their equipment is broken. The problem has been a constant off and on for most of the last year.

During the last year, residents say they were able to make do in neighboring Güines, but that option is no longer viable because the technician there was mobilized for military service.

U.S.: Kerry's got mice in his pockets

Watching Fox news, and Kerry's blathering on about how little of the $18B "we" approved for Iraq has been spent.

Last I heard, Kerry voted for the fund allocation before he voted against it. I guess now that he wants an issue of which to make hay, he's happy to flip-flop and say "we." Only thing is, who is "we"?

Must be the mice in his pockets.

Bmda: PM trying a different tack on independence

The PLP is not about to force Independence down people’s throats, Premier Alex Scott yesterday told The Royal Gazette.

Instead, the party is focused on opening a national dialogue to allow Bermudians to make a reasonable and informed decision on the Island’s sovereignty.
“We knew that most Bermudians were not in favour of independence, and of far greater concern, half our supporters were not in favour of independence,” he said.

“The party decided to play down the issue of independence but, more importantly, we would oppose any policy that would give voters an opportunity to express themselves on the issue. What we had hoped was that the Party could win power and introduce independence in spite of the electorate ...Since the people did not know what was good for them, they shouldn’t be asked for their input.”
However Mr. Scott said the party was taking a different tack in 2004.

People had little knowledge of what sovereignty entailed in the past, he said, and when the issue was brought to the fore in a referendum under former Premier Sir John Swan they responded “emotionally, not factually”.

Now, however, the goal is “educating the populace on just what our current status as a dependent territory entails, and what sovereignty entails.”

Mr. Scott said the goal of educating the public so they could make an informed decision was made first at the party’s Founder’s Day luncheon in February and at a symposium held this weekend at Elbow Beach which Government Ministers, backbenchers and the party’s executive attended.

“We are really just creating a national forum,” he said, so that if and when the question is formally put to Bermudians, the answer can be informed and educated.

That question is “not near the point” where it would be put to voters or Parliament, Mr. Scott added.

“The problem is the lack of information rather than a disposition against it ...Folks may find they are quite surprised at how unthreatening self-determination can be.”

“Self-determination”, he added, is “a more current view of what people used to refer to as independence”.
The breathtaking arrogance of Scott's remark that "[s]ince the people did not know what was good for them, they shouldn’t be asked for their input"!

Monday, June 28, 2004

Bdos: Boys can't handle the Common Entrance jamming

The Common Entrance Exam is a large part of the reason why boys are no longer out-performaning girls in the island’s schools.

And veteran educator and Principal of Coleridge and Parry School, Alwin Adams, said society had to be disabused of the idea that girls always outperformed boys in education.

Reflecting on the good track record of all-boys schools in the past, Adams said: “Traditionally and historically in Barbados boys did better than girls ... In fact, it is the onset of the 11-plus that brought the death knell of the boys in Barbados.”

He made this point while moderating a Coleridge and Parry Old Scholars Association/Mens Educational Support Association (MESA) discussion on the effects of the education system on male students. The discussion took place at the University of the West Indies Saturday night.

Panellist Anthony Walrond of MESA said the exam set the framework which continued throughout the secondary schools with the top pupils, who were usually girls, being cared for while others, usually boys, were left behind as unworthy.
In looking at how the trend could be reversed, both educators suggested major revamping of the present education system including doing away with the 11-plus, re-instituting more single sex male schools, and reducing the both primary and secondary schools to a more manageable size.

Adams noted that research showed the ideas behind the establishment of the 11-plus exam were “bogus”, having been devised by English education consultant Sir Cyril Burt in the 1940s to perpetuate an intellectual elitism.
Time for reform.

Bdos: The way things ought to be!

NOTTINGHAM – Opener Chris Gayle hit an unbeaten 60 to lift the West Indies to a comfortable seven-wicket win over England in the international one-day cricket tri-series at Trent Bridge yesterday.

It was the first result in the series with New Zealand after the first two matches were washed out.

Gayle slammed nine fours in 90 balls as the visitors raced to their modest victory target of 148 off just 32.2 overs. The West Indies’ path to victory was set up by its seam attack, which bowled out England for 147 in 38.2 overs. Andrew Strauss topscored with 43, while wicketkeeper Geraint Jones hit 35 on debut in England’s lowest total in 15 one-dayers at the ground, undercutting 157 against Pakistan in 1987.

Allrounder Dwayne Bravo earned the man of the match award after collecting three for 26 off ten overs of testing medium pace. Left-armer Ian Bradshaw (2-32), Ravi Rampaul (2-34) and Jermaine Lawson (2-36) supported well.

Gayle and fellow left-hander Shivnarine Chanderpaul added 62 for the first wicket to give the West Indies chase a solid backbone. Both batsmen were dropped while in singles figures off Darren Gough in England’s below-par, all-round performance as the sun finally allowed an uninterrupted contest.
The West Indies dominated most of this contest, with Bradshaw removing both openers in the first three overs after England was sent in.

U.S.: The true face of atrocity in Iraq

Ibrahim Idrissi has mixed feelings about the recent uproar caused by the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib under the US occupation. "As a humanitarian organization, we oppose this," he says. "But these are soldiers who have come to Iraq to fight, not to be prison guards. It was to be expected. Of course, if there are innocent people in there ... it is possible, I guess, that some of them are innocent."

If Idrissi seems a bit callous about the fate of the Iraqis in US-run jails, he has probably earned the right to differ. He recalls a day in 1982, at the General Security prison in Baghdad:

"They called all the prisoners out to the courtyard for what they called a 'celebration.' We all knew what they meant by 'celebration.' All the prisoners were chained to a pipe that ran the length of the courtyard wall. One prisoner, Amer al-Tikriti, was called out. They said if he didn't tell them everything they wanted to know, they would show him torture like he had never seen. He merely told them he would show them patience like they had never seen."

"This is when they brought out his wife, who was five months pregnant. One of the guards said that if he refused to talk he would get 12 guards to rape his wife until she lost the baby. Amer said nothing. So they did. We were forced to watch. Whenever one of us cast down his eyes, they would beat us."

"Amer's wife didn't lose the baby. So the guard took a knife, cut her belly open and took the baby out with his hands. The woman and child died minutes later. Then the guard used the same knife to cut Amer's throat." There is a moment of silence. Then Idrissi says: "What we have seen about the recent abuse at Abu Ghraib is a joke to us."
The brothers hope to get compensation for the families, who have often lost all their belongings in addition to their loved ones. One day, they hope, the executioners will be put on trial. But most of all, they want recognition for what they, and thousands of others like them, have been through. And that people would stop saying "things were better under Saddam."

"Only criminals could say such a thing. The victims deserve better than this," Idrissi concludes.

US: Congratulations!

...Are in order for Val Prieto of Babalu Blog on the occasion of Val's one year Blogiversary.
The Caribbean-centric corner of the sphere is a better place for Val's presence.

His sub-header slogan says it all: "an island on the net without a bearded dictator"

U.S.: Dumb as a box of rocks

The leftist Democrats on the Ninth Circuit Court in California think that blacks are too dumb to take an IQ test.

What will the denizens of the plantation say, I wonder?

U.S.: Now Muslims are laying claim to Australia


Don't the 9th and 10th Commandments say something about not coveting?

U.S.: Buy ecosandals

Give Kenyan sandal makers a boost. These sandals have soles made of used tires. Plus, you get unique Kenyan designs. At $29 US a pop, you not only get an excellent product, you also help Kenyans struggling to develop a small business economy.

Ecosandals. Here's the accompanying story.

TT used to sell leather sandals made with tire sols, and they were well designed and durable. No, I have no share in Ecosandals.


President Bush's take on the news that the transfer of sovereignty to Iraq was effected.

H'tip to the Corner.

Sean Hannity will be especially pleased at the president's words.

U.S.: Sitting on the river-bank and talking the river bad

WASHINGTON The FBI long has contended that not one al-Qaida operative in the United States collaborated with the 19 hijackers in the Sept. 11 attacks. Yet the commission investigating the attacks has identified two Muslim men who might have had advance knowledge of the plot.

The commission found that two hijackers got substantial help from Mohdar Abdullah and Anwar Aulaqi after settling in California in 2000. The bipartisan panel created by Congress said it could not discount the possibility the men knew the hijackers' plans.

Abdullah, who recently was deported to Yemen, helped the hijackers get driver's licenses. He bragged, while in U.S. custody after the hijackings, that he had known the attacks were coming.

Aulaqi, a cleric who left the United States shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, introduced the two hijackers, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, to other people who helped provide living arrangements in this country.

The previously undisclosed information about Abdullah and Aulaqi was contained in one of the commission reports released this month.

The FBI is seeking to find and interview Aulaqi about his contacts with al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar. It is unclear if U.S. officials know where Aulaqi is.
We have a proverb in TT, 'don't sit down on the river-bank and talk the river bad.' In a nutshell, observe the rules of courtesy and be a good guest to anyone's who's hosting you.

For the most part, and that qualifier is with slavery past in mind, the U.S. has been a good host to peoples of many nations. Those who have sought refuge or relocation here have an obligation to contribute to the body politic and not rend its fabric. If the U.S. is so repugnant a host country, then the people in question have the choice of remaining in their home country or relocating elsewhere. Coming to this country with intent to destroy bespeaks a lack of integrity and a vicious hatred of the host and its inhabitants. Those who come with such intent have no assimilationist goals in mind; instead, their purpose is conquest, not by judicial means, but by brute force advanced through the judiciary, if necessary.

The beauty of the U.S. is that the Constitution grants the right of protest and address of grievance to all, citizen and non-citizen alike. Those who have a complaint have legal channels for such. However, when the complainant has only hatred and the desire for conquest, legal avenues are disregarded until there is a need for them to advance the agenda. Thus, there is simultaenously contempt for the law and an amoral abuse of the law as a tool of destruction. This latter is the one right that the Constitution does not grant; however, the successful manipulaton of the law can further the goal of destruction of the society.

So, we have a fifth column in this country, immigrants whose intent is not benevolent but destructive for the sake of conquest, ultimately. How many Abdullahs and Aulaqis there are in this country, nobody knows. However, the sub-host Muslim community do know and are silent. The legal maxim is 'silence betokens consent.' In the wake of the beheading of Paul M. Johnson, there may have been a rise in anti-Muslim activity; however, that is questionable because, upon investigation, many such incidents have been found to be bogus or contrived by Muslims for the sake of a financial payout, or to gain sympathy, or for some such reason. See here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Muslims in America would do well to internalize that TT proverb, 'don't sit down on the river-bank and talk the river bad,' or return to their point of origin.

U.S.: Are we doing the right thing in Iraq?

Damn straight, skippy!

Caribbean journalists would do well to look to news sources other than the Biased Broadcasting Company (BBC) and the Communist News Network (CNN).

H'tip to Omar at Iraq the Model.

U.S.: An historic day

For Iraq. Ambassador Paul Bremer returned sovereignty to PM Iyad Allawi three hours ago. President Bush sent a formal letter to President Al Yawer recognizing the new government of Iraq and requesting diplomatic relations with that country.

Capping off the goodness of the day, Fox News is reporting that Abu Musab Al Zarqrwi may have been captured in Hilla, Iraq. Reports are conflicting.

Hti: Aristide's goon, er, Haiti's former PM arrested

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haiti's former prime minister was detained yesterday on suspicion of orchestrating killings during the February rebellion leading to the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, authorities said.

Yvon Neptune was detained at his home in the capital, Port-au-Prince, Police Chief Leon Charles told private Radio Vision 2000.

"There was no resistance," Charles said.

An official of Aristide's Lavalas Family party, former legislator Gilvert Angervil, said Neptune turned himself in because he knew authorities were looking for him.

Neptune is being held in connection with the February killings of Aristide opponents in St. Marc, a northern port city where violence flared during an armed rebellion that pushed Aristide from power and killed at least 300 people.

Neptune is the highest-ranking official to be detained since Aristide's Feb. 29 departure.

U.S.: We will not be silent about Arab atrocities in Darfur

ABU SHOUK, Sudan, June 27 -- The Sudanese villagers in this western region of Darfur were bombed. They were raped. Their huts were burned and their grain pillaged. Now, those who fled the chaos say they are being silenced.

The Sudanese government dispatched 500 men last week to this sweltering camp of 40,000 near El Fashir, capital of North Darfur state, the refugees and aid workers said. The men, some dressed in civilian clothes, others in military uniforms, warned the refugees to keep quiet about their experiences when Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan visit the region next week.

Darfur has been the scene of more than 16 months of conflict between residents of the region and Arab militiamen backed by the government. Aid workers say 30,000 people have been killed by the militia and more than 1 .2 million forced to flee their homes.

"They kicked us and said, 'Stop talking,' " said Malki Ali Abduallah, 25, who fled the fighting six months ago with six children and a cooking pot. "I said, 'No, no, no. I am angry. I am tired. I don't want to be quiet.

"You already stole my life. What else can you take?" she recounted saying, sweating in the 115 degree midday heat as 40 people gathered around her in support, many telling similar stories.

Near the crowd, however, stern-faced men wearing safari outfits, pilot sunglasses and leopard-skin slippers listened in and made calls on cell phones. The villagers and the aid workers said the men were among those dispatched by the government.

The men also told the villagers that they would impersonate victims when the U.S. and U.N. delegations arrived and tell them that the government had done nothing wrong and that rebels operating against the government in the region were to blame, the villagers and aid workers said.

Sitting under the shade of plastic sheeting strung around branches, Tarni Ahmed, 35, mimicked the pose the militias make when they point their assault rifles. Then she raised her arms and turned up her palms.

"They took the food from my mouth. They grabbed the clothes from my body," she said, drawing a cheering crowd whose members started to say, "yes," in Arabic. Her voice grew louder and tears streamed down her face. "These things are very bad in my heart. I won't stop speaking. Let them shoot me."
This weekend, all across the Arab world, there were millions of people marching in support of the people of Darfur and to protest the Islamic genocide of Christians and animists in the south of Sudan. Police said the marchers were peaceful and that the protests went well; there were no bombs or other explosives, and nobody was killed. The government of Sudan has agreed to allow aid organizations to enter the country to help Darfur and ....

Oh, shucks, I can dream, can't I?

TT: Biased down to the bone

Unable to deal with the chaos that ensued, and having given the terrorists an open arena for slaughtering American troops, they are now not only anxious to clear out but are earnesly soliciting the assistance of the UN and other countries after contemptuously dismissing UN and world-wide opposition to their ill-conceived invasion. While our hearts go out to the Iraqi people, we are doubtful whether the “sovereignty” their interim government will soon assume would make any difference, at least in the near future.The invasion and resultant agony of their country has only served to increase the bitterness and hatred among radical elements of the Islamic world for the United States and, it seems to us, the violence and instability will continue as long as there is a US presence or a perception of continuing US influence in Iraq’s affairs.

The abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, with the suspicion that it resulted from US policy after the September 11 bombing, has also served to fuel this hatred. It is likely to take a long time, several years perhaps, for Iraq to fully recover from the disaster of George Bush’s war; the country itself is divided among several different groups harbouring traditional suspicions and with some having aspirations of hegemony or self government. In this context the process of achieving a viable democracy will be a serious challenge. Inspite of George Bush, the world would wish them well.
The editorialist must get his news from the BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, the UK Guardian or some such outfit. If not, then he must have a dog in this fight, and nothing the U.S. does in an Islamic country will change his deep and abiding hatred of GWB and the U.S.

Sometimes, it's like that.

TT: The poor ye have always with you

President Richards can't make up his mind if poverty is a disease or a jail. Really pedestrian thinking.

Poverty in this country is a debilitating disease that must be eradicated, says President George Maxwell Richards.

“Poverty is one of the worst possible attacks on human dignity,” he said.

“It is also a prison that keeps its victims from getting to the place to which human potential is designed to take them. It strips them of a sense of self so that self-esteem has no place in their understanding.”

Richards was speaking at the handing-over ceremony of the Rotary Club of St Augustine at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Port-of-Spain, on Saturday night.

He said education was key, but while the State may provide books and meals, some children were so poor, their parents were unable to provide clothing or transportation and they were kept home.

However, the President said, poverty should not be an excuse for not attaining an education.

“Was there not a time in this country when poverty was not a reason to steal or to keep children home?

“I seem to recall that somehow, poor parents understood that school was the place for their children. Some walked to school without shoes sometimes,” Richards said

“What happened to that drive and determination?

“How did we come to this, in a country that boasts of considerable revenue from our energy industry and others. Is the gap between rich and poor widening? If so, why? What are we doing about it?”

Although the State must play its part, so must all citizens, Richards said.
It would really help if the government would get out of the way so that small businesses could proliferate.