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Guyana cannot abandon sugar
-- acting President stresses
By Neil Marks
ACTING President Mr. Samuel Hinds yesterday repeated the government’s pledge not to abandon sugar even though he said the industry has to balance sustainability and profitability with the need to pay workers a “living wage” and afford them acceptable working conditions.

“Sugar matters to every Guyanese”, he said, in addressing a small crowd at Enmore, East Coast Demerara, which gathered to mark 59 years since five sugar workers, who became known as the Enmore Martyrs, were gunned down while protesting the “cut and load” system on the plantations under British rule.

Mr. Hinds noted the absence from the ceremony of former President Janet Jagan, whose husband, late President Dr. Cheddi Jagan, was spurred by the sacrifice of the workers to dedicate his life to the struggle of Guyanese people against bondage and exploitation. His party, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) survived 28 years in opposition to win the seat of government at the first democratic elections, held on October 5, 1992.

Mrs. Jagan, who fought side by side with her husband in the struggle towards independence and was elected to the Presidency in December 1997, nine months after Dr. Jagan died, was not at the ceremony at Enmore, but was at a wreath laying ceremony at Le Repentir cemetery in Georgetown, to honour the memory of martyrs.

The five Enmore sugar workers killed were: Lallabagee Kissoon, 30, who was shot in the back; 19-year-old Pooran, who was shot in the leg and pelvis; Rambarran, who died from bullet wounds in his leg; Dookhie, who died in hospital later that day; and Harry who died the following day from severe spinal injuries.

The monument at Enmore, a short distance from the sugar factory bears their names on brass plates adjoined to cutlasses.

Mr. Hinds said Guyana is what it is because of the sugar industry, which accounts for half of the total input plugged into the economy by the agriculture sector.

Far from just being important for the livelihood of the 18,000 workers employed under the Guyana Sugar Corporation, which manages the state-owned operations, the industry provides various community services, including health services, drainage and irrigation, and has been the catalyst for the development of countless rural communities, he said.

However, with the loss of preferential markets to Europe, which has now imposed a drastic cut in the price for sugar which would lead to an eventual 36 per cent at the end of 2010, Mr. Hinds said the industry has to battle keeping afloat while still guaranteeing a “living wage” for workers and acceptable working conditions.

“We cannot abandon sugar”, he said, noting that Guyana’s plans for the industry mean that it can better handle the drastic price cuts dumped on Guyana and 19 other sugar producing nations of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) grouping.

He said the government’s foresight of the price cuts has resulted in the undertaking to diversify the sugar industry with the $110M Skeldon Modernisation Plan.

The factory is scheduled for completion next year and will facilitate a shift towards value added production in helping to reduce the cost of production of sugar.

The factory will produce about 110,000 tonnes of sugar annually and will be integral to national production rising eventually to 450,000 tonnes.

Guysuco has projected projects spending $11.7B on its capital programme in 2007, the bulk of which will be used to complete the factory.

President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) Mr. Komal Chand said the factory is likely to become operational at the end of the first quarter next year.

Chand said the union does not support the closure of any estate.

His address was marred by loud outbursts from a group of young men, and another bearing a placard that said he was victimised twice by Guysuco and had complained to the company and the President but was never given any satisfaction. The placard bearer who was stopped by the Police from walking up and down beside those who had gathered for the ceremony claimed that his father died while working at the Enmore factory.

Chand, undisturbed, said that the union, recognised in 1976 when the sugar industry was nationalised, said would do “everything” to protect the industry.

Also addressing the ceremony, which was punctuated with cultural performances by the Guyana Police Force band, the National Dance Company and the Indian Cultural Centre, were representatives of the Guyana Teachers Union and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG).

Among those at the ceremony were Agriculture Minister Mr. Robert Persaud, other government ministers and members of the Diplomatic Corps.

Muslim cleric shot
A MUSLIM cleric shot in the shoulder outside his Corriverton, Berbice home Friday night, was in stable condition in the New Amsterdam Hospital yesterday, police reported.

According to police, Afsier Hussain, 36, who teaches at the Berbice Islamic School at Number 74 Village, Corentyne, was attacked by two men and shot outside his home in Queenstown.

Police said investigations were under way and no clear motive had yet been established for the shooting.

Hussain and his son Abdusalal, nine, arrived home in his car at 20:10h after praying at the Number 74 mosque.

Police said Hussain had driven on to the bridge outside his yard when he was attacked by two men, one carrying a gun.

The attackers pulled the boy from the car and the gunman shot Hussain as he ran towards the house, police said.

He was hit in the shoulder and the two men fled, police reported.

Hussain was taken to the Skeldon Hospital and later transferred to the New Amsterdam Hospital, police said.

New applications for passports on hold
THE Police Immigration Department yesterday announced it will not be accepting new applications for passports until the machine readable passport system has been implemented.

It said the machine readable passport is due to be launched Tuesday and no new applications for passports will be accepted until the system is implemented.

“This is to facilitate the speedy completion of all outstanding applications for passports pending the introduction of the machine readable passports”, the Police Force said.

It said information related to the machine readable passports will be released to the public soon.

The machine readable passport is in keeping with international requirements and is designed to improve and modernise the issuance of passports by the Immigration Department and to strengthen its capability to control illegal immigration.

Officials have said that the aim of obtaining machine readable passports is to protect against multiple issuance of the travel document to persons under fraudulent identities by maintaining and checking all passport applications against a database of biometric information for all passport holders.

The new passport system will also assist in the fight against terrorism, immigrant smuggling and trafficking in persons. 

The contract for producing the machine readable passports was awarded to Canadian Bank Note of Canada.

No 'begging bowl' mission to U.S.      
BRIDGETOWN -- The Caribbean Community is "not on a begging bowl mission" to 'Uncle Sam" (the U.S.) this week.

That was the clear message yesterday from the CARICOM Secretariat as government and business leaders, diplomats and top technocrats of the community head for Washington this weekend for a unique three-day meeting in the U.S. capital starting Tuesday.

President Bharrat Jagdeo, who has lead responsibility in CARICOM for expansion and diversification of the region's vital agriculture sector, is heading Guyana's delegation to what is officially titled the "Conference on the Caribbean -- A 20/20 Vision".

Speaking separately but reflecting a similar message, Community Secretary General Edwin Carrington and current CARICOM chairman Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, told the "Sunday Chronicle" that the "primary purpose" was not to plead for more aid -- though needed -- but in forging a "new strategic and dignified relationship" for social and economic advancement.

For the first time in its 34-year history, the 15-member regional economic integration movement would be engaged in separate discussions with the President of the United States, representatives of Congress, State Department as well as officials of the business sector and international financial institutions, consistent with the envisaged "new relationship" between CARICOM and the U.S.

"Security" and new initiatives in the areas of trade and investment to boost economic development "for Caribbean prosperity", are expected to be at the core of discussions, particularly for the scheduled two-hour summit Wednesday at the White House between President George Bush and CARICOM leaders.

Also scheduled for Wednesday is a meeting with representatives of the influential U.S. House of Ways and Means Committee which is headed by Congressman Charles Rangel, viewed both on Capitol Hill and within CARICOM, as one of the "longtime friends" of the Caribbean.

The CARICOM Heads of Government expect that the Bush administration would refer to the uncovered "terrorist plot" to blow up JFK airport to place a new emphasis on mutual cooperation on crime and security.

However, according to the CARICOM perspective, as expressed by some leaders and officials, the new strategic relationship being sought with the U.S. would place security "firmly within the overall objectives of social and economic development" and with a special emphasis on alleviating poverty and protecting the environment.

At the discussion that focuses specifically on combating international terrorism, the CARICOM delegation is expected to raise the outstanding issue of the failure by U.S. authorities to bring to justice the Cuban emigre, Luis Posada Carilles for his role in the 1976 bombing of a Cubana aircraft off Barbados in which all 75 people on board perished.

This week's Washington Conference on the Caribbean includes a major initiative to strengthen ties with the expanding Caribbean diaspora in the U.S. and for which various activities have been planned.

The groundwork for what has been described officially as a "landmark event", was laid with a series of preparatory meetings involving the CARICOM group of ambassadors in the U.S. capital, working with the Community Secretariat, which has provided a significant "briefing paper", as well as the cooperation of the Secretariat of the Organisation of American States.

Approximately 100 Caribbean representatives would be involved in a multiplicity of meetings organised for the conference for which Heads of Government are due to meet for special caucus tomorrow to finalise common approaches and priorities based on briefing documents.

The official plenary session for the three-day conference begins on Tuesday morning at the Preston Auditorium of the World Bank with the theme: "CARICOM Development in the 21st Century -- Economic Growth with Social Equity".

Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur, who has lead responsibility for arrangements for the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) will deliver the keynote address on behalf of the community, while United States Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, will do so for the U.S.


Saints scouts distribute clothing to destitute
SCOUTS of St. Stanislaus College Explorer Scout Unit, under the guidance of their Assistant Scout Leader Elaine Andrews, recently carried out a Community Service Project involving the distribution of clothing to the destitute in Georgetown.

They said 25 bags of clothing were distributed to adults and children in the Demico area, Regent and Robb Streets, North Road, St. George’s Cathedral area, and outside Fogarty’s.

The scout group said some passers-by had high praise for the work by the scouts who interacted with street children outside Fogarty’s and listened to some “real touching, sad stories”.

The group said it has embarked on another Community Service Project – raising funds to help 12-year old Stephen Phillips of St. Gabriel’s Scout Troop undergo surgery for a tumour in his cervical spine.

Brooklyn hospital donates ambulance to Guyana
By Lenny Armogum
THE Brooklyn Hospital Center (TBHC) has donated an ambulance for The Davis Memorial Hospital (DMH) in Georgetown, Guyana.

The ambulance was last week presented by Mr. Samuel Lehrfeld, President and Chief Executive Officer of TBHC, to Mr. Bertie Henry, Chief Executive Officer of Davis Memorial Hospital. DMH is affiliated with the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

At the ceremony in Brooklyn, Lehrfeld said, “We serve a large Guyanese population, plus we have a lot of Guyanese employees at TBHC.”

He added that Mr. Todd Miller, President and Chief Executive of Trans Care Ambulance, facilitated the donation of the ambulance. TBHC leases ambulances from Trans Care Ambulance Company.

Dr. Stephen Carryl, Chairman of the Department of Surgery at TBHC, who is also on the Board of Trustees at DMH, was instrumental in getting the donation.

Carryl said, “The Brooklyn Hospital Center has been very aggressive in helping the Caribbean community. TBHC and Trans Care have donated ambulances to Grenada, Haiti, Barbados and now Guyana.”

He added that Lehrfeld is very committed to working with the Caribbean community.

Carryl plans to visit Guyana later this month on one of his Overseas Medical Assistance Team’s (OMAT) mission.

He said he will perform surgeries at DMH and Linden Hospital.

The CEO of DMH stated that a training programme for Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) was recently started at the facility in Georgetown.

He added that patients should get treatment on the way to the hospital by an EMT. People’s lives often depend on the quick reaction of EMTs.

Incidents, such as automobile accidents, heart attacks, child-birth, knife and gunshot wounds, require immediate medical attention and this type of service is lacking in Guyana, Henry pointed out.

TBHC employs many Guyanese associates in human resources, dietary, x-ray, respiratory therapy, laboratory, and environmental services departments.

Among the top Guyanese doctors: Drs. Carryl and Albert Duncan who were named as “Top Black Doctors in NY,” by the Network Journal magazine; Noel Blackman, a Senior Attending Thoracic Surgeon and a former Minister of Health in Guyana; John Mitchell, Director of Surgical Intensive Care Unit; Francis Williams and Dhanraj Etwaru, Urologists; George Jhagroo, Internal Medicine specialist, and Gary Stephens, Cardiothoracic Surgeon and CEO of The Caribbean Heart Institute in Guyana.

Loaders to boost RDCs’ programme
SOME of the loaders procured by the Ministry of Public Works and Communications for the city enhancement programme that started last year, ahead of Guyana hosting Cricket World Cup 2007 matches and the Rio Group Summit, are being deployed to help the work of seven Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs) across the country.

The skid-steer loaders were formally handed over to the councils Friday when Local Government and Regional Development Minister Kellawan Lall explained that his ministry had had requests for the machines to help their development works.

The handing over was done in the ministry compound in Georgetown and, according to the Government Information Agency (GINA), Mr. Lall emphasised that it is important for the RDCs to have a work programme for the machines so that there would be no ‘down-time’ and the communities can make maximum use of them.

The agency said Lall stated that the equipment would enhance the capacity of the regions and would benefit the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils and municipalities that fall within the geographical areas.

This is a continuation of the enhancement programme, it said.

According to the agency, Chief Regional Development Officer, Seewchan, said Minister Lall saw it fit to sustain the full utilisation of the equipment which was done with the cooperation of Minister of Transport and Hydraulics Robeson Benn.

Regions Two, Three, Five and Ten will receive one loader each and Regions Four and Six will get two. Region Seven has already received a loader and one will remain in Georgetown, GINA reported.

Regional Chairmen, Ali Baksh (Region Two); Clement Corlette (Region Four); Harinarine Baldeo (Region Five) and Zulfikar Mustapha (Region Six) were at the handing over.

GINA said they expressed gratitude for the machines and pledged to ensure their maximum utilisation and proper maintenance.

The loaders were handed over to Lall recently by the Public Works Ministry to maintain the level of environmental cleanliness and the maintenance of roads by Local Government bodies, the agency said.

They were procured at a cost of $70M from MACORP and AINLIM under the Miscellaneous Programme of the Ministry of Public Works and Communications.

The operational and maintenance costs will be borne by the RDCs in the regions, GINA said.

Gift wheelchairs for health sector
THE Ministry of Health on Friday received 250 wheelchairs from the Church of Latter Day Saints of the United States.

The chairs, worth $4M, will be used mainly for regional hospitals and health facilities, the Government Information Agency (GINA) said.

It said Minister within the Ministry of Health Dr. Bheri Ramsaran, receiving the donation at the ministry’s Materials and Management Unit in Kingston, Georgetown, welcomed the kind gesture.

“These chairs are well needed and we thank you for supporting our health sector and look forward for your continued cooperation. They will be of good use for our regional hospitals, especially the ones that are likely to be completed shortly,” Ramsaran said.

“It’s our privilege to make such a donation. This is all part of our mandate. All of our humanitarian donations are made possible through the sacrifice of families,” Elder Phillips, Welfare Services Officer of the Church of Latter Day Saints said.

Enmore Martyrs remembered
MINISTER of Human Services and Social Security, Priya Manickchand, yesterday urged young people to make an earnest effort to learn lessons of the past that would influence appropriate decisions in the present and future.

The Government Information Agency (GINA) said her call came in an address at the 59th wreath-laying ceremony at the graveside of the five Enmore Martyrs in Le Repentir Ceremony, Georgetown.     

The agency said Ms. Manickchand urged youths as well as elders to promote an awareness of the events surrounding the sacrifice by the five sugar workers, noting that, “Only if we remember we can commit to further developing Guyana.”

She said the sacrifice by the martyrs was immeasurable and much of what was attained as a result of the struggle was not conceived by the five heroes.

While the martyrs were fighting for an escape from the inhumane conditions which prevailed in that era, benefits derived from the struggle have extended throughout several decades to the present day, she pointed out.

In addition to greater recognition of the labour movement, general living conditions of those in the sugar industry and workers as a whole were significantly improved.

In addition, the world became more aware of the horrible conditions under which those in the sugar industry existed.

Manickchand said the working conditions which exist today should be attributed largely to the struggles of the Enmore Martyrs and others before them, including Cuffy, Damon and Kowsilla.

The five Enmore sugar workers were shot dead on June 16, 1948 by police on the orders of the the colonial masters during protests for better livng and working conditions.

The five were Lalabagee, 35, Surujballi, 34, Rambarran, 30, Harry, 30, and Pooran 20.

Vendors on government reserve at Vreed-en-Hoop to relocate 
- Phoenix Park identified for temporary vending  
VENDORS on government reserve along the Vreed-en-Hoop roadway, West Coast Demerara, will have to relocate as the administration moves to regularise and develop the area, the government announced yesterday.

The Government Information Agency (GINA) said that during a visit to the area yesterday, Minister of Transport and Hydraulics Robeson Benn said notices will be given to the stallholders and action will be taken within a week.

“What we want to do is to allow them for another week while we review some property issues in the area before any action is taken,” Mr. Benn said.

GINA said the minister, who visited at the invitation of the Regional Administration, explained that this is a countrywide problem facing the government and the regional administrations.

“The difficulty we have is very unusual because we have people who have been there for a number of years in an illegal condition, and this situation cannot continue any longer,” Benn said.

He explained that the ministry is invoking its legal rights to have the people removed from government reserves to try to restore some order and safety in the area.

GINA said he called on Guyanese, particularly stallholders in the region, to cooperate with the government in the ongoing development process, adding that those who are in violation of the laws will be dealt with accordingly.

According to the agency, the minister said there are large containers on the road and some derelict structures attached to the main Transport and Harbours Department building which pose a fire threat. This will have to be dealt with as soon as possible, he said.

Region Three (West Demerara/Essequibo Islands) Chairman, Julius Faerber, said the Regional Administration will be working with the relevant ministries and bodies in removing the vendors from the roadways.

He said that the vendors will be relocated to Phoenix Park, opposite the West Demerara Secondary School until the same area is developed into a market, GINA reported.

The agency said he noted, too, that consultations were held on several occasions with vendors and they have expressed their willingness to be relocated, but requested some time.

Guyana-Suriname border dispute:
Tribunal decision tentatively set for August
PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo has indicated that August is just a tentative date being advanced for handing down the much-anticipated ruling on the Guyana-Suriname border dispute.

Alluding to the fact that only the United Nations International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, based in Hamburg, has the sole discretion and power to decide what decision to make and when to announce it, the President last week said the ruling on the case has been “shifted to a tentative date in August”.

It was earlier anticipated that the decision would have been given during the first quarter or thereabout of this year but there has been some reported delay in bringing conclusion to the matter.

“The latest I heard is that it may be shifted to August of this year…and that again is a tentative date,” President Jagdeo told a news conference at the Office of the President Thursday.

“We had just done an assessment of what we thought was a reasonable timeframe (and) it is now up to the tribunal,” he said.

Following the forceful eviction by Suriname of the oil exploration company Canada-based CGX in June 2000, claiming that the company had encroached Surinamese territorial waters in its offshore drilling, Guyana resorted to take the matter to the tribunal after bilateral and other negotiations failed to resolve the issue in a mutually satisfactorily way.

Guyana’s legal team pursuing its case at the tribunal is being spearheaded by Sir Shridath Ramphal, a former Foreign Minister; and comprises Mr. Paul Reichler of the Washington law firm of Foley Hoag and Dr. Payam Akhavan of Yale Law School.

Sir Shridath had assured that the decision of the tribunal will be binding and final, ending uncertainty on a matter which, if allowed to continue, could be detrimental to the development of natural resources and the economic development of both countries.

The Government of Guyana officially informed its Surinamese counterpart on February 24, 2004 of its decision to pursue the matter at the level of the tribunal to give a binding decision on the maritime boundary between the two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) neighbours.

Anna Regina Council conducting 2008 budget consultations
DEPUTY Mayor of Anna Regina, Mr. Darshand Persaud reported Friday that the Town Council has started discussions on its 2008 budget.

He said several meetings have already been held with residents of various communities in the township to discuss proposed projects.

Persaud indicated that more consultations will be conducted to hear the concerns and suggestions of residents and address them for inclusion in the budgetary proposals.

Meanwhile, the municipality has upgraded streets at Lima and constructed concrete culverts but there have been calls for more action to keep stray animals off the main public road and market area, as well.

Tri-Lakes Farmers Association formed in Region Two
TRI-LAKES Farmers Association, a new grouping, has been formed by the Amerindian communities on Mainstay/Whyaka, Tapakuma and Capoey in Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam).

The membership has come together to promote agricultural development, said Captain Yvonne Pearson of Mainstay/Whyaka.

She explained that the formation was with assistance from the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).

Its aims include to stimulate economic, social, technical and cultural growth, by striving to initiate creative, purposeful and objective ventures and changes which will benefit the membership and communities throughout the three lake areas, Pearson stated.

She said they have already established a revolving fund from which farmers can access small loans to help them extend their activities or get involved in poultry rearing.

VAT registrants under returns check
THE Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has indicated that its Value Added Tax (VAT) and Excise Tax (ET) Department is assessing VAT registrants for non-submission of VAT Returns.

Acting Commissioner of the VAT and ET Department, Ms. Hema Khan said Friday the move is “in accordance with Section 33 1 (a) of the VAT Act where the Commissioner may make an assessment of the amount of tax payable in the event that persons have failed to lodge a Return by the specified time.”

“Estimated Assessments were sent out to persons who have still not filed a return for periods 1 and 2 and we are in the process of sending out assessments for persons who failed to file Returns for Period 3,” she said.

GRA, in a statement, said the notices dispatched requested payment of tax assessed forthwith and that taxpayers were advised in the notice to file the missing return which would cancel the Estimated Assessment.

It said the Acting Commissioner further explained that following the issuance of these estimated assessments, the VAT Registrants will have a period of 20 working days to object. Following this, the VAT and ET Department will embark on the next phase of taking necessary action to recover the tax assessed.

The revenue body also indicated that The Total Revenue Integrated Processing System (TRIPS) allows the VAT Department right after the due date to generate estimated assessments for persons who have failed to file their returns.

Khan emphasised, however, that the VAT and ET Department makes every effort to ensure that as much assistance as possible is offered to registrants before this action is taken.

GRA also noted that the percentage of Returns filed for Periods 1 and 2 has increased from that on the due date and as of last week, the compliance rate for persons who have filed Returns for periods 1 and 2 was more than 95 per cent.

This may be due to the fact that registrants are still not aware that they are required to file a NIL return even though there are no transactions in the month, the revenue agency said.

It warned that persons who fail to lodge a return by the due date are liable to a penalty which is the greater of $1,000 per day or 10% of the tax payable.

GRA said VAT Registrants and non-Registrants can contact the VAT and ET Department at Lot 10 E Charlotte and Albert Streets, Georgetown should they require assistance, or call the VAT Department on telephone number 227-7929.

Public assistance review under way
THE Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security is reviewing public assistance to determine whether recipients should be given additional assistance and to verify whether others should be discontinued.

According to the Government Information Agency (GINA), Deputy Probation and Social Services Officer Dindyal Singh said the review, which commenced earlier this month, is done twice yearly as mandated by the laws of Guyana. 

Singh said reviews are conducted primarily to keep track of persons receiving the grants.

From the review, the ministry would be able to determine recipients’ social status; whether there is still need for government’s support and reveal the number of persons who would have passed the age of eligibility, he explained.

This information is used to update the ministry’s Public Assistance database which has about 18,000 recipients, an increase of more than 2,000 from last year.

Singh said persons are now more aware of the services provided by the ministry and are coming forward seeking assistance. Public Assistance recipients currently get $2,740 monthly.

During the reviews recipients are asked to present documents such as their national identification card, passport, birth certificate and other supporting documents.

The provision of social services from the ministry is done through its Difficult Circumstances Unit (DCU). Persons can access free spectacles, prostheses, school uniform vouchers, finance to start small business, assistance in funeral expenses and other social services.

The ministry is also responsible for issuing Old Age pension coupon booklets.

GINA said there are more than 36,000 persons on the ministry’s pension database receiving a monthly grant of $3,675.

Mediators end training programme
A MEDIATION training programme hosted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Guyana Democratic Consolidation and Conflict Resolution Project and the Supreme Court ended yesterday.

At the closing ceremony at Hotel Tower in Georgetown, Chief Justice Carl Singh underscored the importance of mediation and pledged his commitment to developing mediation in Guyana.

"Mediation will become a major part of the judicial system in the country,” he said, adding that “it will be mandatory".

The Chief Justice also emphasised the need for confidentiality to be maintained as an essential attribute of the mediation process.

He urged participants to maintain the same level of energy and enthusiasm he saw at the beginning of training programme, and said committed efforts should be made to advance the mediation process in Guyana.

Chief of Party of the USAID/GDCCR project, Ms. Gloria Richards, said the training programme succeeded in signalling to the facilitators, the crucial and fundamental need to modernise the justice system.

Eighty three mediators have been trained and Richards hoped they will use their new-found knowledge as the catalyst to promote and develop mediation in Guyana’s judicial system.


A refreshing wind
LAST week’s agreement by the government and parliamentary opposition parties to cooperate for the creation of a new national register of eligible voters in time for next year's Local Government elections marked a defining moment for fostering a new culture in Guyana's party politics.

The deep-rooted distrust and suspicions, rooted in a long dispensation of "party paramountcy" and rigged elections, prior to the restoration of electoral democracy in 1992, have often resulted in the pattern of both governing and opposition parties being more prone to justify their respective positions on various social and political issues of national importance.

Instead, that is, of patiently and methodically striving for compromise with a middle ground that serves for healthy cooperation -- in the national interest. 

It is against that background, therefore, that the agreement reached for compilation of a new voters register, based on house-to-house registration, is a most welcome, refreshing political wind.

Much credit goes to President Bharrat Jagdeo and the governing PPP/C for taking the initiative for such a major development in the body politic, particularly since difficulties to fund the house-to-house registration had threatened to prevent such a development.

This observation does not, of course, diminish the significance of the efforts also played by the major opposition PNCR and its leader, Mr. Robert Corbin, which finally led to last week's meeting of all the parliamentary parties in the historic consensus for the way forward in preparation for the conduct of the long overdue Local Government poll.

The Guyana Elections Commission is naturally quite pleased over the agreement reached as it confirms with its own advocacy for a new register of voters.

The challenge for the commission itself is to work harder to overcome polarisation resulting from partisan politics by its membership that have often impaired efficiency and raised questions about its integrity.

Since 1992 there have been incremental confidence-building measures to elevate the stature of the commission in the conduct of free and fair elections, the results of which have met with favourable endorsements by local, regional and international observer missions.

Now is not the time to revisit an old argument in favour of a new Elections Commission, more along the lines of what exists elsewhere in CARICOM.

For now, the government and the opposition parties are to be congratulated on the agreement reached for compilation of a new electoral register.


India: The Price of Choice
By Gwynne Dyer
CHOICES usually involve a price, but people persist in believing that they can avoid paying it.

That's what the Indian government thought when it joined the American alliance system in Asia in 2005, but now the price is clear: China is claiming the whole Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, some 83,000 sq. km. (32,000 sq. mi.) of mountainous territory in the eastern Himalayas containing over a million people.

China has claimed Arunachal Pradesh for a century: during the Sino-Indian border war of 1962 Chinese troops briefly occupied most of the state before withdrawing and inviting India to resume negotiations.

However, most Indians thought the dispute had been more or less ended during Chinese premier Wen Jiabao's visit to New Delhi in April 2005, when the two sides agreed on "political parameters" for settling both the Arunachal Pradesh border dispute and another in the western Himalayas.

Indians assumed that the new "political parameters" meant that China would eventually recognise India's control of Arunachal Pradesh. In return, India would accept China's control of the Aksai Chin, a high-altitude desert of some 38,000 sq. km. (14,000 sq. mi.) next to Kashmir. And that might actually have happened, in the end -- if India had not signed what amounts to a military alliance with the United States.

Informed Indians knew perfectly well that Wen Jiabao's visit was a last-minute attempt to persuade India not to sign a ten-year military cooperation agreement with the United States. Two months later Pranab Mukherjee, then India's foreign minister, went to Washington and signed the thing. Yet most people in New Delhi managed to convince themselves that Wen's concessions during his visit were not linked to India's decision about the American alliance.

In June 2006 I spent two weeks in New Delhi interviewing Indian analysts and policy-makers about India's strategic relations with the U.S. and China. With few exceptions, their confidence that India could "manage" China's reaction to its American alliance was still very high.

"India knows what it is doing," insisted Prem Shankar Jha, former editor of the Hindustan Times, citing confidential sources close to Prime Minister Singh. "It is not going to make China an enemy."

On the face of it, India got a very good deal in the lengthy negotiations that led up to the military cooperation agreement. It got access not just to current U.S. military technology but to the next generation of American weapons (with full technology transfer).

The Indian military are predicted to buy $30 billion of U.S. hardware and software in the next five years. They got all sorts of joint training deals, including U.S. Navy instruction for Indian carrier pilots. And Washington officially forgave India for testing nuclear weapons in 1998.

This was the only part of the deal that got much attention in Washington, where the Bush administration waged a long struggle (only recently concluded) to get Congress to end U.S. sanctions against exporting nuclear materials and technologies to India. Stressing the military aspects of the new relationship would only rile the Chinese, who would obviously conclude that it was directed against them. Especially since America's closest allies in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan and Australia, have also now started forging closer military relations with India.

It took a while, but China was bound to react. Last November, just before President Hu Jintao's first visit to India, the Chinese ambassador firmly stated that "the entire state (of Arunachal Pradesh) is a part of China." This took New Delhi by surprise, defence analyst Uday Bhaskar told the Financial Times last week: "The Indians had taken the (2005) political parameters (for negotiating the border issue) as Chinese acceptance of the status quo." They should have known better.

It's mostly petty irritants so far, but they accumulate over time.

Last month, for example, Indian Navy ships took part in joint exercises with the U.S. and Japanese navies in the western Pacific, several thousand kilometres (miles) from home and quite close to China's east coast.

Admiral Sureesh Mehta, chief of naval staff, said the exercise had "no evil intent," and two Indian warships also spent a day exercising with the Chinese navy to take the curse off it -- but Beijing knows which exercise was the important one.

Also last month, India cancelled a confidence-building visit to China by 107 senior civil servants. Why? Because Beijing refused to issue a visa to the one civil servant in the group who was from Arunachal Pradesh, on the grounds that he was already Chinese and did not need one.

A year ago, Indian foreign policy specialists were confident that they could handle China's reaction to their American deal. In fact, many of them seemed to believe that they had taken the Americans to the cleaners: that India would reap all the technology and trade benefits of the U.S. deal without paying any price in terms of its relationship with its giant neighbour to the north.

But there was confidence in Washington, too: a quiet confidence that once India signed the ten-year military cooperation deal with Washington, its relations with China would automatically deteriorate and it would slide willy-nilly into a full military alliance with the United States. Who has taken whom to the cleaners remains to be seen.

(Gwynne Dyer is a London-based independent journalist whose articles are published in 45 countries.)

Towards a safer society
By Ron Cheong
PHYSICAL safety and security is an essential element in any society’s sense of well-being.

Many factors contribute to well-being – things like health care, schooling, employment and even the weather. But outside basic needs for food and shelter – safety and security is the most vital.

Moreover, not only is freedom from violence essential, it is a basic right in law abiding societies.

But achieving this is no easy task.

No country is entirely free from its share of violent behaviour. Even the harshest and swiftest punishments effected by the most totalitarian regimes have not stamped out their problems with violent crime. Nor have democratic governments been able to stop murders with the death penalty.

The situation is the same with lesser non-violent offences. In Saudi Arabia for example, the possibility of losing an arm has not completely deterred stealing. And in Singapore, judicial caning of vandals has not completely deterred vandalism. This was clearly demonstrated in the widely publicised 2004 case of American student Michael Fay who, despite the intercession of the American government, was sentenced to four months and six cane strokes for vandalising two cars with aerosol paint.

Caning in Singapore, like the cat o’ nine tails in Guyana, was introduced by the British during the colonial era. And countless numbers have felt the pain of their lash.

Whether administered to punish or to change behaviour, corporal punishment has a history not only in judicial matters but also in school settings.

But Guyanese are now seriously examining the points for and against continuing corporal punishment in schools - with the principals on both sides of the controversy each making the argument that the decision has consequences that eventually show up in the overall level of violence in society.

Advocates of corporal punishment point out that they themselves have felt the lash in school and that it has had no lasting negative effects on them. Some point to studies that draw a correlation between failure in school and later violent criminal activity, and make the point by inference, that corporal punishment motivates students to do better and not slip through the cracks.

They also argue that: punishment maintains discipline in schools; there would be chaos if it were removed; there is no effective alternative to it; and there are strict restrictions that guide its use. Besides a number of states in America and provinces in Canada still permit corporal punishment.

Opponents say that corporal punishment amounts to institutionalised violence against children. And by its own example, leads to more violence as children learn that it’s okay for adults to use violence against them, they in turn start inflicting harm on children smaller than themselves. Although the majority of children may pass through the experience unscarred, a number of traumatised children turn to criminality. 

These are not clear-cut issues. And sometimes the conclusion we arrive at can seem contradictory. For example, notwithstanding the issues with the brutality of older forms of corporal punishment, their questionable results in altering behaviours, and whether corporal punishment in a school setting ought to be discontinued – none of this negates the ultimate form of punishment, the death penalty, as a tool of retribution if that is the reasoning behind it.

We would like to believe that we live in a more enlightened time and that rehabilitation is given adequate consideration. But when it’s all said and done, the safety and security of society must take precedence. Communities have to be protected against criminal acts in general and violent criminal acts in particular. Whether perpetrated through random acts or organised criminal activity, violence eats away at the underpinnings of society.

What then, are some of the influences that contribute to deterioration in law and order and increase the number of violent criminals and gun toting gang members?

The globalisation of culture is one factor - I remember as a young boy hearing stories of a sort of honour among thieves. The line of the stories was that it was a source of pride among burglars to be able to boast of the times they broke into some house at night without a single sound to wake anyone and robbed its occupants blind. And how there would be a big commotion the next morning when the residents woke up to the shock that they had been robbed.

I also heard stories of pickpockets being trained by older accomplices who hung pants on clotheslines and had their charges practice removing a wallet from the trousers without shaking the leg.

Whether these stories were completely true or not, these are the type of legends that indicated the society was generally of a mind to uphold some restraint. And it indicated that this attitude permeated even the levels on the fringe of the law. Crime existed then, just as it does now, but it was generally of a less violent nature.

The story is very different now. A part of the problem is that technology and globalisation has spawned a move towards a single global culture of the lowest common denominator, which is exemplified by repetitive gratuitous TV violence. Those most at risk are seduced into equating the good life with the glamourised violent lifestyles portrayed - and into emulating the same behaviours.

The situation is further exacerbated by a seemingly abundant supply of semi-automatic guns and assault rifles that enables the violence. One deranged gunman on the campus of Virginia Tech could not have killed thirty-two students and wounded many others in April of this year, if he was not armed with two pistols while the students were unarmed.

Most of the details of the large-scale carnage in the above case were revealed by the extensive media coverage. It more often happens, however, that one or two victims are gunned down at a time and the gunmen remain at large and unknown, until they strike again.

What the Virginia Tech incident helps to highlight is the disproportionate harm a single gun in the hands of a hardened criminal can do, whether the shooting is done all at once or in several separate assaults. And when the violence is factored upwards by the number of weapons out there, the havoc that can be inflicted on a community is mind-boggling.

Another problem is the illegal drug trade. The question is not whether drugs should be legal or not. Given than the laws of the country deem them illegal, those laws have to be enforced.

Once a ready market exists for the illegal drugs (or any commodity for that matter) the underworld will step in to do what legitimate businesses will not. And this soon erupts into turf wars to eliminate competitors and grab more of the huge amount of money at stake. Flush with tax-free cash from the trade, dealers are able to arm themselves to the hilt with powerful weapons that law enforcement officers can barely keep up with.

Poverty is also a factor. The consequences of poverty feed directly into crime and violence. The inability to find jobs or opportunities produces frustrations that often result in conflict and violence between people trapped in the same circumstance and clustered in impoverished living conditions.

It is a vicious cycle. People just barely able to provide for themselves can hardly provide for the schooling of their children, who drop out of school early and in turn are unable to find decent jobs for themselves. This produces fertile hunting grounds in which to find recruits and foot soldiers for illegal activities.

These are some of the issues, among others, behind violence in society. They are complex and difficult to deal with.

Governments approach the problems on many fronts including: economic policies to encourage growth and increase the number of jobs available; providing schools, employing teachers and designing programmes to turn out students ready for the workforce; police and gun control; sponsoring local culture and values; and many other initiatives.

But all these efforts are constantly being undermined by one of the very things the efforts seek to alleviate - violence in society.

It seems that human nature is such that some level of violent acts will persist regardless of the consequence that perpetrators face. The challenge is to keep the levels of violence as low as possible. Various organisations are helping through their programmes and by raising the level of public discussion.

It is in the interest of all law-abiding citizens to contribute in any way they can – to help protect the aspirations of the greater part of the community from being hijacked by those who seek to perpetuate violence on the society.

Shock and awe
By Linda Hutchinson-Jafar
TWO weeks ago, who would have thought that our simple, happy-go-lucky countries of Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago would have been plunged into the deep throes of a mystery of conspiracy, plots, intrigue, FBI undercover and deadly geriatric wanna-be terrorists?

Maybe John Grisham might have given himself a self-inflicted kick, not having the literary creativity or imagination to conjure up a plot as thick as the one that is being perpetuated to the world by the FBI with the protagonists being some grand-fatherly type Muslim men who were conspiring to blow up fuel lines in the hope of killing thousands of Americans.

Needless to say, the alleged involvement of our nationals in an alleged plot in New York has taken many of us by surprise. It has shocked us, left us in awe and sending ripples of disbelief every time we turned on our televisions, to hear CNN, FOX and the domestic networks in the U.S. reporting on the suspected terrorists from the Caribbean.

So, it was with much suspense that I sat in the Port of Spain Eighth Magistrate's Court along with local, regional and international journalists and scores of Muslim-outfitted men and women awaiting the arrival of 56-year old Guyanese Abdul Kadir and 62-year old Trinidadian Kareem Ibrahim, friends of over two decades, into the prisoner's dock.

As soon as the court cleared a case where a drug trafficking suspect agreed to be extradited and be tried before a U.S. court, Chief Magistrate Sherman McNichols called for Kadir and Ibrahim to be brought into the prisoners dock.

And there before me, were the two suspected terrorists - two harmless looking elderly men, bound together by a pair of silver handcuffs.

To me, they looked like they couldn't harm a fly. Then came the reading of that very serious charge that they were accused of conspiring to commit a terrorist act in the U.S.

Nah, couldn't be, was my initial thought. Who? These men? They look nothing like that scary Bin Ladin guy who, if alive, may be hiding out in one of the caves in the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan.

But then again, I'm hardly an expert on terrorism or terrorists so who I am to judge anyone?

In the court, Kadir, wearing a cream-coloured shirt-jack and matching pants stood straight and tall before the magistrate. No signs of emotions, no cowering, just a certain calm over him as though he has put this whole thing in the hands of God.

Also wearing cream-coloured Muslim outfit including cap was Ibrahim, short in stature who looked a wee bit confused about his presence in the court as he tried to communicate with attorney Rajiv Persad, one of his defence lawyers.

With the formalities over, Kadir and Ibrahim were taken out the court, awaiting their transportation to the Remand Yard.

Outside the court house, dozens of television cameras and photographers tried to squeeze into the small spaces that would allow them to capture the two men being led into a heavily dark-tinted van.

Half an hour later, Kadir and Ibrahim, still calm and showing no outward emotion made their way down to the van, accompanied by police officers, as the cameras zoomed in on them.

Curious onlookers shook their heads seeing the two so-called terrorists who made the international news.

Many expressed doubt that they could be terrorists...but they never know...

A day later, more drama as Guyanese national Abdel Nur surrendered to the police after he was confronted by the person living next door to the house where he was staying in Deigo Martin in the Western region as the person whose picture was splashed all over the newspapers and on television.

In comparison to Kadir and Ibrahim, Nur, in his over-sized T-shirt and a huge grin on his face, actually seemed to have been enjoying being the centre of attention of the throngs of television cameras and photographers.

And with him being the focus of all, he took the opportunity to let each and everyone know that he was "set up."

Later, in the court, he told the Magistrate that he was too poor to afford a lawyer and it was agreed that he would be given legal aid by the state.

While his case was taking place in the court, Ibrahim's 21-year old daughter Huda was bringing a joint statement to the media on behalf of the Imam-e-Zamana Mission and the Guyana Islamic Information Centre.

According to Huda, the groups believe the persons responsible for the arrest of Kadir and Ibrahim did so to shore up a "lame duck" presidency with the aim of helping to increase the chances of the U.S. Republican party being returned to power in November 2008.

"Unfortunately, innocent persons, with no connection whatsoever to the political and military disputes between the U.S. and the Middle East, save and except that we are Muslims, have been used as pawns in an international game of subterfuge to further the interests of the Republican party," according to Huda, the picture of simplicity and femininity in her hijab.

Some more details about Kadir emerged: A civil engineer by training, he has never travelled to the U.S. but as a Shia Muslim, travelled to Iran on more than one occasion and was on his way to the Iranian Embassy in Caracas for a visa when he was arrested. As Shia Muslims, they are attracted to Iran, the religious and cultural centre of Shia Islam.

Ibrahim, converted to Islam at the age of 21, visited the U.S. three times and has not travelled by air since 1979 after a visit to Guyana because he was seriously claustrophobic, a phobia that prevents him from performing Hajj to the Holy City of Mecca.

According to Huda, Ibrahim did not know Russell De Freitas, the Guyanese national, the alleged mastermind of the plot who was arrested in the U.S. on terrorism charges, nor Nur whom he met for the first time four weeks ago when they visited his home.

Kadir also met De Freitas earlier this year for the first time when he visited Guyana.

As the extradition proceedings get going in the coming weeks, more details will emerge on this so-called plot which U.S. authorities claim could have had more serious consequences than the 9/11 disaster of the World Trade Centre where over 3,000 people including many Caribbean nationals died.

We will also hear about Terry De Souza, a U.S. citizen, a convicted drug dealer who was offered a reduced sentence in his latest drug dealing conviction in exchange for going undercover, part of which was befriending De Freitas.

Huda makes it clear that De Souza, who called himself Anas bin Naddar, visited the "brothers" with the specific intent to entrap them in activities "they know nothing about, never agreed to and did not participate in."

And as the extradition proceedings continue on, I hope all of us would remember that these four Caribbean nationals are innocent until proven guilty by a court of the law, despite the current labels that the U.S. has placed on them.

Given what is happening, practically every other month where the U.S. is claiming some terrorist plot, I intend to have an open mind on this one.

Credibility factor in three coming polls            
Examples: Barbados, T&T, Jamaica
WHEN what is cynically referred to, at its beginning, as "the silly season", but really an unofficial national election campaign, the electorate of the country can expect all manner of accusations, boasts, hilarious talk and quite surprising developments to capture the attention of and, hopefully, persuade voters.

While no dates have been announced for elections in three CARICOM states where they are expected later this year -- Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados -- there are examples of this fun, or 'silly' political season being in full swing with varying manifestations that also raise the issue of political credibility:

BARBADOS: In this Eastern Caribbean state, where Prime Minister Owen Arthur is studiously avoiding signalling his option of a snap poll before Christmas, Opposition Leader David Thompson has officially launched the Democratic Labour Party's campaign to prevent a fourth-term victory by the incumbent Barbados Labour Party -- whether the election is held this year or delayed for early 2008.

Whenever the election bill rings, it would be the final duel between Arthur and Thompson. If the former succeeds in securing a history-making successive fourth-term for the BLP under his leadership, or fail to achieve the coveted prize, it would be his swansong in Barbadian party politics.

For Thompson, only victory for the DLP could secure him a more memorable place in the country's parliamentary politics and governance. Defeat at the polls, third time around with him at the helm, could translate to permanent loss of his leadership of the party.

Much is, therefore, at stake for both Thompson and Arthur. For all the bravado rhetoric, there are discernible elements of insecurity, if not desperation, in the public talk, some say abuse, flowing between the 'Dems' and 'Bees'. Two examples, both originating with Thompson are offered:

First, his stinging salvo at Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development, Mia Mottley, last month at a DLP meeting at which he made the hyperbole claim that she was "the highest paid idler in Barbados".

Whatever else she may be, the combative Mottley I know does not deserve to be so lampooned. However confident Thompson may feel about a coming change in government -- a confidence his opponents scoff at -- Mottley has chosen not to dignify that personal attack on her with a response. Not yet.

In contrast, the Rev. Joseph Atherly, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, may have done himself and Arthur a serious disfavour by unnecessarily rushing to defend the Prime Minister against a verbal blast earlier this month from Thompson.

For caricaturing the Prime Minister as a tired politician, seemingly exhausted by a long tenure in office, and comparing him to an "old carton of milk", whose 'sell-by-date' had long expired, Thompson was strongly denounced by Atherly.

In a clever bit of political distortion, Atherly equated Thompson's assessment of the 57-year-old Arthur as an open attack against all "senior folks" in Barbados, those in their 50s who, he said, the DLP leader views as "a spent force". What a self-serving interpretation at this unofficial 'silly season'.

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: Across in Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Patrick Manning, who could jump ahead of his Jamaican counterpart, Portia Simpson-Miller, in being the first to announce an election date, has found himself in an embarrassing defensive position.

It relates to the incident I reported on this past week that was forced upon him by the public statement of the 20-year-old daughter of Kareem Ibrahim, one of the accused trio of "terrorists" in the claimed plot to blow up fuel tanks and pipe lines at JFK airport.

While her dad fights his court battle, along with his two other co-accused, against extradition to the U.S., Hud Ibrahim wss to declare in a press statement that he was a known "acquaintance" of the Prime Minister, as she sought to defend the accused as a Muslim man of integrity.

In a hasty response, evidently intended to deflect unfavourable speculations, Manning wittily told an election campaign rally last weekend of his People's National Movement (PNM): "I knoweth not the man...I tell you again, I knoweth not the man..." His supporters were amused.

No so Hud Ibrahim, who felt she was being implicitly accused of falsehood by the Prime Minister. She went on the offensive with a response that gave details of meetings, places and events, including her father's support for a successful PNM candidate at the last election.

Ibrahim was a then known activist supporter of the PNM. Now he is identified with the new Congress of People (COP) party -- a breakaway faction of the United National Congress, headed by ex-Central Bank Governor Winston Dookeran.

At the time of writing, there was silence from Manning and the PNM to Hud Ibrahim's challenge of the Prime Minister's claimed ignorance of her 57-year-old shopkeeper father. 

One may well ask whether this is a case of nervousness over a very sensitive security matter at an election season or, by extension, an aspect of the duel between the PNM and COP to score political points.

JAMAICA: The third example has to do with a very surprising party political development which, like the previously mentioned cases in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, also raises questions about credibility.

There, where the incumbent People's National Party (PNP) is facing the enormous challenge to secure an unprecedented successive fifth term in government, has surfaced the curious case of a former international beauty queen being endorsed as a candidate for the coming election -- even before her party membership was approved by the National Executive Committee.

With successive opinion polls revealing a very tight race between the PNP and its traditional challenger for power, Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), sloppy public political statements and manoeuvrings on both sides are reported as being on the rise.

But the case of Lisa Hanna, "Miss World" 1993, stands out as exceedingly clumsy when one thinks of the key seasoned political players involved in her endorsement, including a former and current Prime Minister.

Showing surprising insensitivity to the expressed wishes of the constituents of South-East St.Ann -- a traditionally loyal and safe PNP seat --to have a representative who lives in that constituency to command their support, it appears that the Prime Minister -- admirable 'Sister P' -- is not only anxious to keep alive her "religious base".

She is anxious also to play, to its fullest, the "gender card" that may already have been strengthened by last month's historic appointment of justice Zalia McCalla, as Jamaica's first woman Chief Justice.

Nevertheless, by identifying ex-beauty queen Hanna -- viewed by informed Jamaican social commentators as lacking political savvy and credibility -- for the South-East St Ann constituency, BEFORE officially approved as a party member, the PNP could well be perceived as engaging in the politics of expediency at a cost of undermining its own credibility in a crucial election season.

A new colonialism?
EU trade demands and ACP countries
By Sir Ronald Sanders
(The writer is a business consultant and former Caribbean diplomat)
THE European Union (EU) has been pushing African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries to conclude Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) by the end of the year, claiming that preferences which they now enjoy will not be approved by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) come next year.

Now, at last, some government representatives in Africa and the Caribbean are refusing to be pushed, recognising that the terms of the proposed EPAs could make their countries worse off than if they relinquished the preferences.

In any event, preferential access to the EU market for two important exports, sugar and bananas, has already suffered from significant changes to the terms of entry. Preferences, therefore, while still important to small and vulnerable economies, do not have the same worth as they did before.

If, on top of this reality, the EU insists on the further opening up of the markets of ACP countries to give European companies the right to competition and government procurement, local companies could be squeezed out of their own domestic markets.

The EU also wants trade in goods and services opened up on a reciprocal basis. This means that the African, Caribbean and Pacific regions would be treated as if they were the equals of Europe in trade and investment terms despite the huge differences in the level of their development and their financial capacity.

In short, the ACP countries could be swamped by Europe for despite the talk about “reciprocity”, it simply is not possible for ACP companies to compete within their own countries (let alone in Europe) with much larger and well resourced European companies.

Indeed, in as much as the EU countries may not want to hear it, and they would strenuously deny it, these EPAs could well be the start of a new era of colonialism in which the economies of ACP countries are held in thrall to European companies.

The EU has to recall that as it is busy fortifying barriers to migration from ACP countries, it should not at the same time be contributing to conditions of dislocation and displacement in which more and more people have to try to get into Europe to eke out a livelihood.

Lest it be said that I am unmindful of the circumstances of poor governance in many ACP countries, and that I am ignoring the need and importance for adjustment in the economies in all of them, I acknowledge these circumstances fully. But, even with the best will in the world to address these issues, ACP countries will be hard-pressed to do so if they are not given the breathing space and helped with the capacity to effect the changes that are necessary.

The Trade Minister of Barbados, Dame Billie Miller, who is a seasoned campaigner in all of the trade negotiations in which the Caribbean has been involved, particularly with the EU and the WTO, made a telling observation recently. She declared that regional negotiators remained firmly convinced that preferential treatment must be given to small vulnerable economies and developing countries, as there is a need to protect sensitive sectors and industries from rapid liberalisation.

She went on to say: “"Europe and the other OECD countries gave themselves since the Second World War - virtually the better part of 60 years - to arrive at where they would like us to be. And they expect us to do this in 10 to 15 years. It is just a human and physical impossibility”.

Then, a Namibian trade analyst, Wallie Roux, lost his job because he suggested that the EU was trying to browbeat southern African governments into signing an EPA before they had a chance to analyse its consequences. Roux had urged the SADC governments not to capitulate to demands that they sign an EPA swiftly. He wrote: "If you are unwise enough to rush for a deadline without looking at the content of the agreement, then you are signing away your life".

Both Dame Billie’s remarks and Mr. Roux’s observations point to the growing unease of ACP countries with the hurried pace at which the EU wants to complete the EPAs. There is clearly a need to pause and to reflect more deeply on the implications of the proposed agreements. If they are concluded in haste, they may lead to a long and troubled period of repentance.

It is not sufficient for the EU to dangle the threat of the WTO not extending preferences over the heads of the ACP group. The WTO is a creature of its member-states, and surely if the four regions of Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific were to make a case for the extension of current conditions to allow them more time to conclude agreements, other countries in the WTO would listen.

And, if they don’t, then perhaps Russian President Vladimir Putin may be right that today's international economic organisations "look archaic, undemocratic and awkward" and a new system is necessary – one that is more sensitive to development and less obsessed with globalisation.
(** Responses to:


Chanderpaul, Bravo halt England progress
… Chandi becomes seventh West Indian to pass 7 000 Test runs
IT was once again left to Shivnarine Chanderpaul to rescue West Indies who struggled in the gloomy, murky conditions on the second day against England at Chester-le-Street, losing four early wickets. Ably supported by Dwayne Bravo, the pair put on an unbeaten fifth-wicket stand of 77 before bad light curtailed the day's play.

At the close Chanderpaul was on 44 not out and Bravo 43 with the West Indies on 132 for four.

Play didn't get under way until 14:00 h but Ryan Sidebottom immediately took advantage of the humid conditions and granite skies, nipping out Daren Ganga with the first ball of the match. Even the most hard-nosed supporter must feel a tinge of sympathy for Ganga. With the captaincy thrust upon him, he has looked completely out of sorts at the crease and, today, he clipped Sidebottom's first delivery straight to Alastair Cook at short-leg.

Sidebottom's exemplary opening over was matched by Matthew Hoggard, making a welcome return following his niggling groin injury, who bowled full and straight in Headingley-like conditions, swinging the ball away from the right-handers. Chris Gayle briefly threatened to bulldoze his way into form with three fours and an audacious six, before he too fell victim to the swinging delivery.

Most depressing of all, though, was the wicket of Devon Smith who shouldered arms to Sidebottom, losing his off bail in the process. It was an artful display from a very intelligent bowler, cutting one back into the left-hander after testing him with away-swingers, but it demonstrated just how bereft of experience, and skill, West Indies' top-order is.

Runako Morton briefly threatened with several bossy drives but, as he has failed to do all series, lost his concentration. The top four blown away, West Indies were again relying on Chanderpaul and Bravo to dig them out of another sizeable hole. The two most technically adept of their top six remained characteristically calm, the former driving and cutting a wayward Harmison while Bravo nudged, nurdled and scampered quick singles.

Chanderpaul was given a let-off, however, when on 9 he edged Hoggard to Ian Bell's right at third slip. It was a tricky, but not impossible chance, the type England would have snaffled two years ago with ease and further evidence, should any be needed, that this is a team very much in a phase of redevelopment.

Talking of such things, Bravo is as instrumental to the rejuvenation of West Indies cricket as anyone. Though always keen to demonstrate his multi dimensions - bowling, fielding and even keeping wicket - batting is his primary strength and today his natural skill shone through. Whereas West Indies' top four struggled to the swinging delivery - almost appearing to give up hope of laying bat on it - Bravo played back and across, nudging singles to the leg side and rotating the strike with Chanderpaul. And when England dropped it short, as Harmison and Sidebottom both did, they were clinically dispatched.

Chanderpaul was his usual resourceful self punishing anything short and wide and sliding anonymously past 7 000 Test runs, becoming only the seventh West Indian to do so.

He really ought to be sponsored by a spade manufacturer, such is the frequency with which he digs his side out, and he has done it again today.

Bad light forced the players off an hour after tea, before the rain put paid to any hope of playing in the late Durham sunshine and a familiar gloom enveloped the ground.

Chanderpaul and Bravo, inevitably, hold the key for West Indies - and the forecast for tomorrow is encouragingly bright. However, as England well know, not a lot else lies beyond this pair. (Cricinfo)

WEST INDIES 1st innings
D. Ganga c Cook b Sidebottom 0

C. Gayle lbw b Hoggard 28

D. Smith b Sidebottom 4

R. Morton c Sidebottom b Harmison 6

S. Chanderpaul not out 44

D. Bravo not out 43

Extras: (lb-6, nb-1) 7

Total: (four wkts) 132

Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-32, 3-34, 4-55.

Bowling: Sidebottom 11-5-34-2, Hoggard 15-4-35-1, Harmison 10.4-0-46-1, Panesar 2-0-6-0, Collingwood 2-0-5-0 (nb-1).

Amateur boxers seeking help of the Nation
By Allan La Rose
PRESIDENT of the Guyana Amateur Boxing Association (GABA), Affeeze Khan is pleading with the nation to assist in sending Guyana’s Boxing team to the Caribbean Amateur Boxing Association’s (CABA) Championships scheduled for St Maarten June 20 to 30.

According to Khan, letters have been sent to the Ministry Culture, Youth and Sport and Director of Sport Neil Kumar has advised that funds are unavailable. A letter was also dispatched to the Office of the President and GABA awaits a favourable response.

The Amateur Boxing head stated that the team selected for the CABA championships has been training twice daily over the last three months and if no funds are available for Guyana’s participation at the tournament “the enthusiasm of the youngsters and the Sport in Guyana will be destroyed”.

“Guyana has been the most successful country in the 30-year history of the Event, winning over 17 championships. It shows that we are the real Champions of the Caribbean in a sport we continue to dominate regionally,” Khan reminded.

The cost to send the 17 boxers and three officials to St Maarten is $2.8M and at present GABA possesses only $28 000 in its bank account. In addition the Government has agreed to waiver the airline tickets and departure taxes for the trip.

Since assuming the top position of GABA in April of 2006, Khan has ensured that every two months a tournament is held with sponsorship from the Private Sector. The sport has also been introduced into twelve schools and this coming September 50 schools across the country will each receive a punching bag.

Another prized initiative of GABA is the establishment of the first Amateur Boxing Academy in the Caribbean which is housed at the National Gymnasium on Mandela Avenue.

The Academy is being managed by National boxing coach Carl Franklin and his assistant is Evan Parris.

“Since the opening of the academy it has been very active in the afternoons with children from the schools and surrounding communities,” Khan stated.

With the championships three days away from the opening bell the chances of Guyana participating seem remote unless the necessary financial support is obtained.

In Khan’s words, “Failing to support amateur boxing will cause it to die slowly”.

FIDE official dubs visit a success
CHAIRMAN of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) Commission for Assistance to Chess Developing Countries (CACDEC), Allan Herbert, feels that his two-day official visit to Guyana was successful.

Herbert was tasked with meeting key stakeholders on Friday and yesterday to develop the sport of chess. The meeting was coordinated by the Reds Perreira Sports Foundation.

The chess official had fruitful talks with Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr Frank Anthony, president of the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) K.A. Juman-Yassin and members of the local chess community.

According to Herbert, Dr Anthony agreed to make a facility available to the Guyana Chess Federation to be used for practising.

The Minister also expressed great interest in establishing a chess-in-school programme and committed to provide the trophies for a school championship. Herbert will jump-start the event with the donation of 200 chess sets to facilitate the launching of the programme through FIDE.

In relation to the GOA, Herbert said that Yassin saw no obstacles to affiliate the GCF once the body is properly reconstituted and recognised by FIDE.

In the late 1970s Guyana was the leading chess-playing country in the English-speaking Caribbean according to FIDE research but the game has since slid from that level.

U.S. to meet Canada in Gold Cup semis
BOSTON, Mass. (Reuters) - Hosts United States will face Canada in the semi-finals of the Gold Cup after the two teams beat Central American opposition yesterday.

The U.S. overcame Panama 2-1 after Canada had booked their place in the last four with a 3-0 quarter-final victory over Guatemala, Ali Gerba scoring twice.

Bob Bradley's U.S. side, who won all three of their group games, reached their eighth semi-final in nine editions after being set on the path by a Landon Donovan penalty in the 59th minute.

Donovan had been brought down by Panama defender Carlos Rivera.

Three minutes later the U.S. doubled their advantage when Carlos Bocanegra rose well at the near post to head in an inswinging corner from DaMarcus Beasley.

The visitors had Manuel Torres sent off for a second bookable offence in the 76th minute.

Panama pulled a goal back thanks to a fine solo effort from Blas Perez in the 84th.

Canada, Gold Cup winners in 2000, had little trouble against Guatemala.

Gerba opened the scoring when he latched on to a through ball in the 16th minute.

He doubled the advantage with a confident side-footed finish from a Julian de Guzman pass after a superb flowing move in the 32nd.

The third goal came two minutes before the break when a De Guzman shot was deflected off Guatemala defender Henry Medina.

The U.S. and Canada meet in Chicago on Thursday.

In today’s two quarter-finals, Mexico face Costa Rica and Honduras play Guadeloupe.

WICB, BCA seem to be at a loss over missing report on Hinds
By Keith Holder
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) – The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) seem to be at a loss on the whereabouts of the disciplinary report on Barbados captain Ryan Hinds which was apparently sent to the BCA office.

This comes as the region awaits word on whether a proposed two-match ban will be confirmed on the 26-year old Hinds for disciplinary infractions arising from the Carib Beer Challenge final against Trinidad & Tobago last February.

WICB chief executive officer Bruce Aanensen told CMC Sport on Tuesday that a report on the matter was sent from the Board’s headquarters in Antigua to Bridgetown after he “followed up” with Deryck Murray, the president of the Trinidad & Tobago Cricket Board and a WICB director and executive member.

But BCA president Tony Marshall, who is also a WICB executive member and director, indicated his office had not yet received the information when interviewed live on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation Sports programme here on Wednesday.

And by the close of business on Friday, office staff at the BCA said they had still not received any mail from the WICB on the matter.

Hinds and team-mates Floyd Reifer and Dwayne Smith were hauled before match referee Clarence Shaffralli for their behaviour on the field during the ill-tempered match at Guaracara Park in Pointe-a-Pierre.

Well-placed sources told CMC Sport that all-rounder Hinds was expected to be banned for the first two matches of the next regional first-class season which starts in early October, while Reifer and Smith were reprimanded.

Aanensen indicated the report had been “mislaid” as he outlined a sequence of events, having spoken with acting WICB Chief Cricket Operations Officer, Tony Howard.

“The report has been sent to the board and we have forwarded the report, I am told by Tony Howard, to the Barbados Cricket Association,” Aanensen said.

“It was very late. I had been following it up with Deryck (Murray) and Deryck kept telling us it was sent. We could not locate it. It eventually was located and we got it in the office here and as I said we have sent it to Tony Marshall and the BCA for their advice and guidance.

“I am not in a position … I even spoke to Tony Howard yesterday (Monday) about that again, that the result of this thing must be made public, but I believe the Barbados Cricket Association want to discuss it at a meeting of their association and I am going to have to try and find out from Tony Marshall how soon that can be done,” Aanensen said.

Asked to outline the procedure for the hearing of charges of indiscipline, Aanensen said: “The match referee is the person with the responsibility to interview the players, to interrogate the players and make a decision and then the match referee is the person with the authority to sanction players as he deems fit.

“The report is then sent to the local board which in this case would have been the Trinidad & Tobago Cricket Board, and then the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board would send it on to the West Indies Board, who in turn would pass it on to the cricket committee, the selectors and any other boards which would be involved, which in this case would be the Barbados Cricket Association.

“What happened as I said with this report is that it got mislaid somewhere between Shaffralli (who) gave it someone else to get it to the board and the board said they didn’t get it and the guy said he delivered it and they were searching the office for it and eventually located it,” Aanensen said.

Hinds, Reifer and Smith have all represented West Indies in both Tests and One-Day Internationals with Hinds and Smith still currently in line for international selection.

Barbados lost the Challenge final by 49 runs on the fourth morning of the scheduled five-day game, but felt they were cheated by telling umpiring errors and there were several acrimonious verbal exchanges between opposing players.

The umpires were Dominican Billy Doctrove, who is on the International Cricket Council panel, and Norman Malcolm of Jamaica.

In his second year as Barbados captain, Hinds was hoping for double success after the regional powerhouses convincingly won the Carib Beer Cup – stretching the island’s record first-class titles to 20 since sponsored championships started 41 years ago, in addition to two International Challenge cups.

Well-placed sources said the pending penalty worked against Hinds as he was rejected as vice-captain of the West Indies ‘A’ team for the forthcoming tour to Zimbabwe, by the WICB executive at a meeting in Port-of-Spain on June 3, after the selection panel of chairman Gordon Greenidge, Andy Roberts and Clyde Butts had recommended him for the job.

Instead, the executive decided to appoint Guyanese batsman Narsingh Deonarine as deputy to retained captain Sylvester Joseph for the tour which runs from June 30 to July 26 and includes three four-day and two limited overs matches.

Although the ban looms over Hinds’ head, it was decided he would still be in the 14-man squad for the visit to Zimbabwe, the sources said.

The behaviour of players from both teams during the Challenge final, which attracted big crowds throughout, was strongly criticised by Murray, who is also a former West Indies wicketkeeper/batsman and vice-captain.

In a post-match speech, Murray said the authorities should move swiftly to address the problem.

“Here are the best two teams in the region, role models for our cricket in the future. We need in the West Indies Cricket Board and the West Indies Players Association to address that issue and ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Sir Ian Botham…
Ian Botham honoured with knighthood
IAN Botham, one of the greatest cricketers of the modern era, has been knighted by the Queen in her Birthday Honours.

As a player Botham was one of the rare breed who emptied bars whether he was bowling or batting as he almost always made something happen. Since retiring he has raised more than £10 million for Leukemia Research with 11 walks in the UK and Europe.

"I'm delighted that I've been honoured, not only for myself but for the people that have helped me get there," he told the Press Association. "My wife Kath organised most of the walks and this will be very much a family celebration.

"I have been fortunate to go to the Palace on previous occasions and I'm excited about the prospect of going there. To go there under these circumstances will be a very proud moment; it's very nice to be recognised for what we have all achieved.

"Tom Cartwright had a lot to do with my career as did Brian Close, but there are two people who I am sad are not here to enjoy this.

“My father Les passed away 18 months ago and it would have been a proud moment for him and also Ian Wooldridge, who was another long-standing friend and would have been pleased to raise a glass tonight. There are a lot of other people out there who I hope will enjoy this moment with me."

Looking back to his early years when he was a young player starting out at Somerset with Sir Viv Richards, who was knighted in 1999, Botham smiled. "How many people would have thought that Viv and I would be here when we started out in his flat as teenagers and used to go across the road to Roy Marshall's pub?

They would make us feel very welcome and give us some tea because Viv and I were not the greatest in the cooking stakes.

"Who would have thought that all these years later that those two young guys would be honoured like this!” (Cricinfo)

New knight Botham provides inspiration for Bravo
By Richard Sydenham
DURHAM, England (Reuters) - West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo gained immediate inspiration from pre-match advice given by England's new knight Ian Botham yesterday during a rain-affected second day in the fourth Test.

Trinidadian Bravo was 43 not out at the close in partnership with Shivnarine Chanderpaul (44 not out) as West Indies reached 132 for four at the close. The first day was washed out.

Botham was knighted in Queen Elizabeth's birthday honours list published yesterday for his services to cricket and charity.

"I saw him at Manchester (in the last match) and said if it's possible could I have a word but we didn't get a chance so we chatted this morning while it was raining," Bravo told reporters.

"I asked him how he balanced batting and bowling and whether he has seen anything in my game that he could help me with. He said to me 'don't let the situation of the game take away your natural style' and always be positive.

"I'm really pleased to have met him. You read about these great players growing up and it's nice to speak to them and know what they used to do. I chose Mr Botham because he was an all-rounder like me and I would like to emulate him."

Bravo needed to demonstrate his growing maturity after coming to the wicket with his team in trouble and then faced 20 balls before getting off the mark. His partnership with Chanderpaul is worth 77.

"I was not really too concerned about getting off the mark," Bravo said. "Coming in at 55 for four, I said to myself here's my opportunity to get a big one and put on a partnership with Shiv.

TTCB launch high performance centres programme
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) – Cricket authorities will launch the high performance centres programme, a highly sophisticated and massive youth development programme initiative which will be unveiled at eight centres throughout the country here yesterday.

The ‘live-in’ camps will be conducted over six weekends and will cater for 16 selected Under-15 cricketers at each centre.

These camps will be located at the Queen’s Park Oval, El Dorado Secondary School, North Eastern College, Presentation College, Chaguanas, San Fernando Secondary, Vessigny Government Secondary, Princes Town Senior Comprehensive and Shaw Park in Tobago.

“This exercise is a very sophisticated one with the aim being to refine the skills of these young cricketers,” Forbes Persaud, the Trinidad & Tobago Cricket Board’s chief executive, said.

“And as a result we have appointed highly qualified and experienced coaches to undertake this exercise. This exercise will also be used to prepare these youngsters who will be eligible to play in our zonal and regional Under-15 competitions next season.”

Two West Indies Cricket Board Level II coaches, along with two coordinators, will be attached to each centre and will be responsible for the implementation of the programme.

The participants will report to the centre on Saturday mornings at nine o’clock and will overnight and leave after lunch on Sunday. At the end of the six weekends the cricketers will be awarded certificates of participation.

Each centre will be provided with a camcorder, DVD set, television set, first-aid kit, coolers and cricket kits, etc.

Persaud said there would be a follow-up programme starting in September when the players will assemble on alternate Saturdays until January, before entering their schools, zonal and regional tournaments.

He pointed out that much emphasis would also be placed in other areas such as leadership, discipline, goal-setting, time management, diet and nutrition, interfacing with the media, the history of the game and sport injuries.

“A lot of emphasis will be placed on other areas in order to assist in the all-round development of these youths,” Persaud noted.

“We see these youths as the future leaders of our society and even our country and therefore every opportunity will be used to assist in their holistic development.”

A similar high performance exercise will be conducted for Under-17 cricketers beginning in September.

Several resource personnel have been invited to assist in key areas including Dr Monica Davis, Dr Anil Gopiesingh, Dr Terry Ali and leading CMC CricketPlus presenter Fazeer Mohammed.

Former West Indies stars Larry Gomes, Bernard Julien and David Williams will also be involved in the programme, offering assistance to coaches as well as delivering motivational speeches to participants.

PCB invite three former Aussie players to interviews
KARACHI, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistan cricket authorities have shortlisted three former Australian players for the job of coaching the national team, a senior official said yesterday.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is searching for a foreign coach to replace former England player Bob Woolmer who died during the World Cup in the West Indies.

"We have shortlisted Dav Whatmore, Geoff Lawson and Richard Done for the coaching position," Zakir Khan, director of cricket operations on the board, told Reuters yesterday.

Khan said Done had already arrived in Pakistan for an interview today while Lawson was due on June 18 and Whatmore around June 22.

"We are confident we will finalise our coach before the Pakistan team goes to Scotland for the one-day matches against India and Scotland in early July," Khan said.

"The feeling is we need a foreign, qualified and energetic coach who can motivate our team and realise its potential," he said.

Whatmore has been coach of the Sri Lankan team leading them to the 1996 World Cup and also the Bangladesh team.

He had been a candidate to take the vacant post of India cricket coach, after Greg Chappell quit following the team's shock first-round exit from the World Cup, but was eliminated from contention last week.

Lawson is with the New South Wales team. Done, who has worked with the Australian Cricket Academy, replaced Woolmer as the International Cricket Council's (ICC) high-performance manager when the Englishman joined the Pakistan team.

Pakistan regional teams can start using overseas players
KARACHI, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistan, keen to improve the standards of domestic and international cricket after their poor showing at the World Cup, are allowing their regional teams to recruit overseas players for the first time.

After a meeting held yesterday to review the domestic game, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced that regional teams would be permitted to sign one overseas player each.

"The idea behind this incentive is two-fold," said Zakir Khan, the PCB's director of cricket operations.

"(We want) to raise interest in domestic cricket ... and to lift the competition level so the standard of talent available for the national team also improves in the near future," he told Reuters.

There has been much criticism of the standards of domestic cricket in Pakistan after the national team were eliminated in the first round of this year's World Cup in the Caribbean.

Hamilton seizes second pole position in a row
By Steve Keating
INDIANAPOLIS, (Reuters) - British rookie Lewis Hamilton seized his second pole position in the space of a week at the U.S. Grand Prix yesterday to put more pressure on McLaren team mate Fernando Alonso.

The 22-year-old, who took the first pole and win of his Formula One career in Canada last weekend, beat the double world champion to the top slot on another sizzling day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Today’s race will be the third in a row with an all-McLaren front row.

Championship leader Hamilton, triumphant in Montreal as the first black driver to win a grand prix, leads Alonso by eight points in the championship after six races.

"I'm quite surprised to be honest," he said of his afternoon's work.

"I just had to pull it all out and my two last laps were spot on ... so I couldn't be happier.

"Getting my second pole is even better than last week."

After struggling in the last two races, Ferrari returned to form by sweeping the second row with Brazil's Felipe Massa third fastest and Finland's Kimi Raikkonen fourth.

The Brickyard has traditionally provided a happy hunting ground for Ferrari, having captured six of seven races staged at the Speedway since 2000.

BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld was fifth with Renault's Heikki Kovalainen sixth.

German teenager Sebastian Vettel, who will make his Formula One race debut today in place of Robert Kubica after the Pole failed a fitness test following his big crash in Canada, will start seventh for BMW Sauber.

Vettel's effort, however, was overshadowed by another brilliant performance from Hamilton.

The Briton, whose only experience of the track before Friday was from video games, quickly came to grips with the 2.6-mile (4.1-km) layout after some early near brushes with the Brickyard's infamous walls.

After dominating all three free practice sessions and topping the first two rounds of qualifying, Alonso appeared poised to shake off his Brickyard jinx.

Indianapolis has never been kind to the Spaniard -- the Speedway being the only circuit on the current calendar where he has yet to stand on the podium.

"It's been a good weekend for me, no doubt," said Alonso. "I was fastest in P1 (first practice), P2, P3, Q1 (first qualifying), Q2 but not the important one, Q3.

"But being fastest all weekend gives me a lot of confidence for today. I think we can have a strong race and I'm totally confident."

Ferrari looked sharper but were still not satisfied.

"We are a bit closer but not enough, we should be in front," said Massa. "The situation looks a little bit better compared to Canada. But it needs a little bit more.”

Shoaib, Younis in Pakistan team for Scotland
PACEMAN Shoaib Akhtar and batsman Younis Khan have been named in Pakistan's 15-man squad for one-day matches against India and Scotland.

Injury-plagued Shoaib missed the World Cup because of a hamstring injury but proved his fitness at a training camp.

Younis turned down the captaincy and opted to play for Yorkshire rather than take part in a one-day series against Sri Lanka, but is back in favour.

They face Scotland in Edinburgh on July 1 and India in Glasgow on July 3.

"Shoaib has bowled with fire and showed his fitness in the training camp. It is a good omen for Pakistan cricket that he is back," said chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed.

"Younis made himself available for the coming matches since he is already in England and given his experience we had no hesitation in selecting him.”

Pakistan squad: Shoaib Malik (capt), Shahid Afridi, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Yasir Hameed, Fawad Alam, Salman Butt, Imran Nazir, Abdul Razzaq, Kamran Akmal, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Sami, Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul, Iftikhar Anjum. (BBC Sport)

Woods moves into title hunt with 69 at Oakmont
By Mark Lamport-Stokes
OAKMONT, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Twice champion Tiger Woods achieved his primary objective in the U.S. Open third round yesterday with an immaculate display from tee to green.

The world number one reached 17 of 18 greens in regulation on the way to a one-under-par 69 at Oakmont Country Club to climb ominously into contention for his 13th major title.

"I didn't drop a shot today until 18, and that's ultimately what you want to have happen in the U.S. Open," Woods told reporters after finishing a stroke off the early lead on four-over 214.

"You have to grind it out and I put myself into position to have a lot of pars today, which is good. Pars are never going to hurt you.

"I feel like I controlled my ball all day, whether it was in the air or on the greens.

"It could have been a really low round, but on these greens? This golf course doesn't lend itself to a lot of birdies."

Woods birdied the third and fourth before parring the next 13 holes, and was desperately unlucky not to pick up further shots when several attempts narrowly slid past the cup.

He ran up his only bogey of the round at the par-four 18th after missing the fairway to the left of the tee.

"I played so hard all day not to drop a shot and didn't quite get it done on the last hole," said the 31-year-old American, U.S. Open champion at Pebble Beach in 2000 and at Bethpage Black in 2002.

"But I'm right there with a shot at it. Today it was awfully important to keep myself within range and stay close to the lead. I'm right in the mix."

Woods, who has won two of the last three major championships, is well aware of his psychological advantage going into the final round of the big events.

"They're going to be dealing with emotions that they've probably never dealt with before," he said of his rivals at Oakmont.

"It helps to have experience. I've been there and I know what it takes.”

Politics to blame for stalled Goal Project - FIFA official
By Kevin Pile
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) – A top FIFA official has blamed internal politics in the Jamaica Football Federation for the lack of progress behind Jamaica’s FIFA Goal Project.

Austin ‘Jack’ Warner, a FIFA vice-president and president of the Caribbean Football Union, told CMC Sports the project, which includes a national football academy, should have been finished a long time ago but had been thwarted by politics.

“A lot of politics in my view played a part in that project not having come to fruition,” Warner told CMC Sports while in New York recently.

“In the first case, it was wrong to be moved from where it was. Mr (Sepp) Blatter (FIFA’s president) flew down from Zurich with me and we opened a place for that project somewhere in the city.

“When Captain (Horace) Burrell (previous JFF president) lost office, the thing was scrapped and moved in the interior and the whole focus was changed and then a lot of politics ensued and so on which we have now been able to address.

“Having done that I believe at this point in time, they are now on the threshold of completion but this should have been done four years ago. It is internal politics which affected this.”

The project was launched in 2003 but was stalled after a debate ensued over a change in location from the site proposed initially.

After the project was relocated to Jamaica’s south-western parish of St Elizabeth, it was further plagued by several extensive delays which hindered progress. It is now expected to be completed by August this year.

Last year, FIFA warned the Crenston Boxhill-led JFF it would cancel funding for the project after being left in the dark over a change of venue to the new St Elizabeth location.

Financed by FIFA at a cost of JAM $27.2 million (US$400 000), the project also includes a Training Centre and is expected to fuel the development of the sport in the island.


Demerara Rum Heritage Centre
- Preserving a proud legacy
By Clifford Stanley
The Demerara Rum Heritage Centre recently launched by Demerara Distilleries Limited (DDL) is being developed as a museum which celebrates the history of rum making in Guyana by taking visitors on a journey in time from the early days of production in 1732 to the present.

The Demerara Rum Heritage Centre is located at DDL’s Complex at Diamond East Bank Demerara and showcases equipment used in the production of rum from the beginnings at Port Mourant Estate in 1732 to date and is open to the public on request.

“Demerara Rum is regarded as the best rum in the world and the history of rum making in Guyana is one of which all Guyanese can be proud,” Carl Kanto, DDL Chemist and Curator at the Museum told Chronicle.

The exhibits range from equipment, and models of equipment used in rum making from the 18th century to date, and display the evolution of the technology used in making Guyana’s international award winning rums.

Many exhibits are actual equipment which had been used on estates up to the 1940s and were discarded and which have been spruced up to give visitors an idea as to how the rum production process has developed over the years, Kanto explained.

They range from the old-time one-at-a-time batch production of rum stills to the technology of continuous production stills which were developed in recent years.

Among the major exhibits are the Coffey Still first built in 1832 and still being operated and maintained by DDL to produce its single barrel aged rums with the attractive aroma and flavor which has won many international awards for years in succession.

Experts credit the aroma and fruity flavor of rums such as the twelve year old and the fifteen year old Demerara Eldorado rums to the original wooden Coffey Still in which they are blended.

The old wooden coffey, made of green heart wood, continues to be used in the production process to this day. This is the last operating still of its kind in the world today, and rum connoisseurs attribute the uniqueness of the Demerara rums, to this still, Kanto said.

In addition, the distillery makes use of a wooden pot still for the production of the very aromatic, flavorful, heavy rums that are widely sought the world over. This still is again the last operating of its kind in the world, and the resultant rum, is so very distinctive that rum experts opined that it is the wood of the still that lends the flavours and congeners to the rums.

There is also the Savalle Still built around the same time which is an exhibit in the Centre as another important heritage asset in the history of rum production in Guyana.

Kanto said that the technology of rum production had changed but the method of production of Demerara rum remained the same as it was done three hundred years ago.

The unique and traditional production process of these Demerara rums have made them award winners several years in a row, Kanto said.

These include the Eldorado range such as the 15 year old special, the twelve year and five year olds, the superior white rum, golden rums, cream liqeurs and the chocolate cream liqeur.

“The whole idea of our opening the Heritage Centre is to enable Guyanese to go back in time and look back at our long and proud history of rum production in Guyana. We want to show and tell our young people where we came from,” Kanto said.

Exhibits at the air conditioned Museum/Heritage Centre also includes former products produced by the DDL and now no longer in production.

Bottles of Old Kaie Whisky, the 12 year old President Special, the Carambola Liqeur provide interesting contrasts with the innovations in packaging which have been made since they went out of production.

Newer exhibits include well packaged single barrel rums, aged in oak barrels and placed in attractively shaped bottles with labels in both English and Spanish.

Other exhibits include photographs of the processes used in batch and continuous rum production and other events of historical interest to the DDL.

The museum also includes an Amphitheatre which is used to show films of the process of distillation of rum from the by product of molasses.

“The purpose of the amphitheatre is to show visitors how its done without taking them onto the production floor,” Kanto said.

The Heritage Centre has been accommodating visitors since its opening two months ago, he said, adding that interested persons can contact DDL Staff Ms Nayara Singh at 265-5019.

Kanto said that the DDL objective is not merely to preserve historical assets of rum production but also to make the museum a tourist attraction where people can visit, can sample rums and other products; to add a new dimension to tourism.

Kanto said that the DDL envisages a time when one afternoon each week can be designated as Open afternoon and visitors can sample the various rums and other products for a small fee.

He stressed that the Heritage Centre is a work in progress and he appealed to members of the public who have any item of relevance to the history of rum production to donate this material to make the museum more comprehensive.

He said that DDL is interested in items such as bottles of products which were made years ago but are no longer in production.

Stuff like those Old Russian Bear rum bottles, bottles of the President Special 12 year old, things like these that will help us to make a clearer presentation of our proud history of rum production.

He said that DDL will acknowledge these donations by placing the names of the donors on the exhibits very much like how it is done on exhibits donated to the National Museum.

The Plaza Side: GT’s Glamorous Cinema Fans (Part 3)
By Terence Roberts
BY the age of seven, which is also the age of reason, our small group of boys and girls who shared friendship in the neighbourhood of Shell Road and Barr Street, Kitty, came to the pleasant realisation that our views, or world, was not defined or going to be defined alone by what was made or taught in BG/Guyana, but by whatever we saw or read or heard that was made anywhere, yet inspired us to admit its beneficial relevance beyond whatever our racial origin.

Film posters, brightly designed comic book covers and pages were like that. We lived daily in a world of public art. Our first art galleries were the exciting Hollywood Cinema lobby and Singh’s Drug Store on Shell Road with its lines above the wooden counter laden with a staggering display of colourful Dell and DC comics overlapping each other.

Sometime in the late half of the 1950’s when as eight year children we were allowed to attend Hollywood, by ourselves, in groups of two and three, I found my attention riveted in the turquoise Hollywood lobby by one of the many big colourful film posters on the surrounding walls.

The poster was from a film about the unknown wild American West, it was called “The Far Horizons” and starred Fred MacMurray, Donna Reed and Charleston Heston. On the huge brilliant poster MacMurray wore buck-skin clothes and a fur hat, he held his old time flintlock rifle and stared somewhere far away beyond the poster. The poster suggested he was staring at “The Far Horizons”, and his stare became my stare.

We stared together, this paper image and I, and what we stared at is an imaginary place, a blank space to be filled in with what would become the exciting and ambitious prospect of making something of my life.

Did anyone earn a living by making such a poster? Of course they did. Decades later, in the 1980’s when studying the history of the Hollywood Film Industry I learnt that hundreds of artists were employed in huge studio warehouses to create various imaginative posters for endless film coming from several Hollywood Film Studios. Did this innovative creative business process have any relevance to life in Guyana? Or was it only about some irrelevant affluent foreign lifestyle not meant for us? Who would think that?

Maybe one of the benefits of being a child who had achieved the age of reason is that what one experiences is grasped directly, without any interference or procrastination causing doubt when our commonsense offers us a justified truth.

The glamorous culture of Georgetown cinema fans began to thrive from an awareness that they belonged to a film society of pleasure. Each cinema, day and night, gave us opportunities to become carefully and chicly dressed, to meet other fans, to be curious of each other’s thoughts and feelings about the films we had seen together, perhaps first as anonymous fans, then as people who became acquainted with each other because of films we saw at cinemas where we met.

We began also to admire and feel sort of camaraderie with management and cinema staffs. We could never grow tired of the appealing social atmosphere which greeted us when we walked down cinema aisles as Paul Anka sang “That’s the story of my love” or Paul Mauriat conducted an instrumental melody like “Love is Blue” etc.

Nothing was disturbing to our ears, our feelings, or our senses, as our anticipation grew when those cinema windows began to slam shut one by one (something unique to tropical cinemas in BG/Guyana) and the huge building grew darker and darker.

In Kitty’s Hollywood when the cinema windows were opened as dusk fell, we would usually smell hot curry or black pudding cooking, hear the bleat of sheep trotting home along a side street as we watched huge figures and reduced landscapes on the screen before us create and communicate a specific relationship to the world at large.

Of course the glamorous culture of film society does not begin and end with dressing a certain way to enjoy the various pleasures of cinema going. Observation of the innovative creative processes of keeping cinemas attractive and exciting places taught us additional values which led to practical social progress.

At Hollywood cinema in Kitty the dark Madras Indian care-taker, named Beer, became an unorthodox teacher to young admirers of his various skills. The way Beer dressed in his white short pants, sports shirt, a cigarette dangling at the side of his lips, his silence and stern no-nonsense attitude to us which suddenly changed to jokes and smiles, his wild uncombed hair, his beer drinking and interest in the opposite sex, kept us attentive.

We watched as Beer would sometimes carefully create his own poster for a film by tearing and cutting posters from other films, then the way he wrote an adjective or adverb in italics to enhance his compositions.

Beer made the first modern collages I ever saw; here was a humble proletarian artist naturally in tune with his nation’s modern necessities. Should Beer only have been interested in the Oriental Art of his ancestry?

Not to us or him. Beer in fact was using a modern art form called collage, which represented the essence of our local society that is made from diverse cultural fragments put together harmoniously.

He had become a truly modern Guyanese with the help of cinema’s influence, and we as young onlookers became his students in tune with Guyana’s future.

Headmaster sacked over exam papers leak
- GTU did not represent member, breached contract
IN 1991, the Guyana Court of Appeal allowed an appeal from sacked headteacher Mohamed Ali after finding that the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) had neglected to represent him in an allegation of misconduct.

Ali was dismissed by the Teaching Service Commission in July 1983 for alleged misconduct relating to students being in possession of examination papers before examination date.

After being accosted, Ali who declared his innocence, approached his union GTU for representation but got none. He then approached a High Court judge, who dismissed his motion.

This resulted in him appealing to the Guyana Court of Appeal for redress.

The Court of Appeal was constituted by Justices of Appeal, Cecil Kennard, Aubrey Bishop and Maurice Churaman.

After hearing arguments from Mr. Ashton Chase, S.C., for the Appellant and Martin J. Stephenson for the union, the Appellate Court allowed the appeal and granted judgment for Mohamed Ali in the sum of $7, 500,00 with costs to be taxed.

In allowing the appeal the appellate Court opined that a successful challenge of the termination might have led to an end of the contest. However, the union remained inactive, when it should have been bargaining conscientiously for him. Explaining the duties of a trade union, the Appellate Court had said:

“A trade union has a contractual duty to protect the interests of a paid-up member by conscientiously pursuing any complaint and instructions by such members to the extent that reasonable persons would conclude that the relevant issues had been genuinely examined and investigated in the best interests of that member.

If the efforts of the union to protect the interests of a member are neither reasonable nor conscientious in the light of the particular facts, the union will be in breach of contract.”

Over 35 decisions have been considered by the Appellate Court before handing down its ruling.

The judgment of the Court was delivered by Justice of Appeal Mr. Aubrey Bishop, who later became a Chancellor of the Judiciary.

According to Justice of Appeal Bishop, on July 14, 1983, the appellant (Mr. Mohamed Ali), then the acting head teacher of the Bush Lot Secondary School, West Coast, in the county of Berbice, received a letter from the Teaching Service Commission terminating his services, but it disclosed no reason for the precipitative course.

Quite naturally, the appellant, who had been a teacher for some 19 years, was distraught and, two days later, went to the headquarters of his union, the respondents. He protested his innocence and demanded to be represented.

Justice of Appeal Bishop referred to a narrative of events, pointing to the existence of a certain state of affairs, and to the state of mind of the union officials in the light of the prevailing factors.

The Justice of Appeal then quoted the words of Mr. Richard Persico, Secretary of the union, who had said:

“In July1983, (the appellant) came to the union with a letter purporting to terminate his services. We had heard that students of that school had been found with exam papers before the examination and that teachers were involved. I had contacted the Superintendent of Examination, the district education officer, and the Teaching Service Commission before the (appellant) came to us.

From these bodies, I learnt that the Teaching Service Commission had terminated the services of the [appellant] on the recommendations of the Ministry of Education, on the grounds that he had knowledge of the scandal.

“The [appellant] met the president, 1st and 2nd vice-presidents, treasurer and myself, all officers of the union at out office. He told us what had happened and of the allegations made. We told him that we had investigated the matter and because of the nature of the allegations, it would be a very difficult case, but we agreed to represent him.”

Justice of Appeal Bishop disclosed that one year after the union promised to represent him, the appellant again met its officials and, on that occasion, a Minister of the Government, Mr. Salahuddin, was present. The evidence does not disclose what portfolio, if any, he held at that time, or in what capacity he was there, but the appellant’s evidence is to the effect that the gentleman thought that he had a claim for the payment of a gratuity, and advised him to await word from the union.

The appellant’s disappointment, leading to the present litigation in which he claims (inter alia) damages for breach of contract, is summarised this way in his evidence-in-Chief.

“I went to them [the union] on several occasions up to two and a half years later. I was never-re-instated. I went to the Teaching Service Commission on my own. The [union] never entertained me.”

Justice of Appeal Bishop said that it was not clear what the appellant meant in his last sentence, but it is necessary in an action of this type to ascertain what the union actually did, having promised to represent him. Then there is rule 27 of the union’s constitution, upon which I shall dwell presently.

He added, “Two portions of testimony (one from the secretary, and the other from the treasurer, Mr. Dhanpaul Tiwari) reflect the union’s inertia.

First, the secretary: “We again spoke with the Ministry of Education, Teaching Service Commission and the Superintendent of Examinations and we were assured that the [appellant] would be heard if he had a case. I do not know whether he was heard. The Ministry of Education gave us a copy of a report of investigations carried out by the police…The [appellant’s] services were terminated and he was paid in lieu of notice.”

Under cross-examination, the treasurer, had said: “I do not know whether the [appellant] received any benefits on the termination of his services. I never attempted to find out. My job as treasurer involved general representation as well as accounting.”

That said the Justice of appeal fairly reports the extent to which the union bestirred itself, or omitted to do so, in the interest of a professional teacher whose career was in jeopardy. He had turned to his sole bargaining agent for assistance, but there were good reasons why, in this modern world which acknowledges the fact of awesome union power and influences, he should have done so.

to commence with, he was a member in good standing, and (had the report purporting to have been submitted by the police been examined by a competent lawyer, not necessarily one who specialises in industrial relations litigation) he would have seen straight away that the document which the educated executive members of the union, by laymen as respects knowledge of the law, considered damnifying, was innocuous in a legal sense.

It contained the investigator’s paraphrase of statements he had taken from several persons , including one Jane Campbell, who addmitted that she had unlawfully broken the seal of two packets of examination papers, in two different “Ordinary” level subject areas, namely physics and West Indian history, and distributed them to persons whom she named. She claimed she was influenced by the appellant.

The police investigator, in his full length, five-page, close-typed report, devoted only three lines to the teachers alleged to have been involved. He disposed of them in a less than summary manner that manifestly assumed their guilt.

From all appearances, he never considered the real possibility that the self-confessed culprit, Jane Campbell, would have had good reason to direct blame to others, in order to extricate herself, minimise her involvement , or win the administration’s favour in her moment of anguish.

She would have been seen, in law, as possibly having an interest to serve or protect , especially against the background that the teachers denied complicity in the affair.

After taking all the circumstances, into consideration, the Appellate court allowed the appeal and granted judgement in favour of Mohamed Ali.

The Guyana Teachers’ Union was ordered to pay taxed costs to the Appellant.

Justices of Appeal Kennard & Churaman concurred with the judgment of Mr, Bishop..

Preserving our literary heritage
Egbert ‘Leo’ Martin
-Guyana’s first major poet: 1861 – 1890
by Petamber Persaud
A caution not to judge a book by its covers could be applied to a recent Guyanese publication.

The front cover of this particular publication cannot be discerned by reading, words are absent; it has to be interpreted for on it bears a painting, an intriguing abstract, at that.

All of this is by design for that painting is meaningful to the book – its contents, the author of the work and the editor who prepared the material for reprint. However, for all of the publication data, one needs to turn to the flyleaf, title page and blurb. The painting on the front cover is titled “Redemption Song”.

This publication in 2007 which comprises selections from two collections of poems first published long, long ago, in 1883 and 1886 respectively, is just that - a redemption song.

The editor of this book who is a world renown writer, a cultural historian and academic is no stranger to current trend of reprinting rare and out of print books. He was instrumental and has collaborated with various publishing houses on such ventures.

“Selected Poems of Egbert Martin” edited by David Dabydeen is significant in a number of ways. Straightway, this publication is the revival of the poetry of the country’s first major poet by the country’s foremost contemporary poet.

Egbert Martin died young but in his short life and still shorter writing career he was able to produce a body of writing so significant to cause a stir more than a century later.

In fact, his “Themes of Song” is frequently performed today. That apart, and despite efforts by N. E. Cameron and A. J. Seymour, Martin is a forgotten poet from another era. Martin was writing in the late nineteen century, a Victorian poet who was a master at employing the metrical forms of the time, and, oh, what songs he composed. But he was also ahead of his time for much of his writing is post-modern in concept as he explored various aspects of spirituality.

Martin knew what was expected of a poet and he delivered: “The poet is a magician/The philosopher’s stone is his/He takes into his hands the clay/All shapeless, black, and dull/A mass of baseless mould/Transformed to purest gold”.

He also knew the role of the poet in relation to the society. His first published collection of poems was criticized on the ground of being universal, containing too much “goody-goodiness” and the poet acknowledged “that the opinions were not without foundation”.

In response, he produced his second volume, “Leo’s Local Lyrics” which was published in 1886. He said that he hoped this collection was “more in accordance …with public taste”, producing such locally flavoured pieces like “The Sorrel-Tree”, “The Creek”, “The Locust Tree” and “The Swallow”.

In the poem, “Patria Mea Te Amo”, he went to great lengths in responding to patriotic impulses: “Demerara! dearest country/Thou art dearest to me/Tales of hills and streams of beauty/Cannot steal my love from thee/…Conscious of thy native charms”.

The criticism of his first book of poems worked in his favour; it spoke of a fan club, an audience anticipating further offerings. The criticism also spoke of an output affecting a wide range of people. And there is evidence of his influence on the society especially from the local press. The Daily Chronicle published in Demerara described Martin as “the ablest of the poetical writers of whom British Guiana can boast” while the Berbice Gazette reported Martin to be “one whose works plainly bespeak talent and ability of the highest order”.

Further afield, Martin’s poetry was admired by Lord Tennyson. Additionally, he had at least two patrons, men of great influence in the colony; James Thompson, editor of “The Argosy” newspaper, and George Anderson Forshaw, mayor of Georgetown. Another source of support could be found in the preface to “Leo’s Local Lyrics”, where Martin mentioned ‘a poet friend of mine whose opinion I value very highly’.

Egbert Martin was said to be born around 18 61 and supposedly in Georgetown. What is known about Martin was that while he lived in East Street, he was confined to an invalid’s bed.

At 19, his poetry was first published in a local journal, “The Colonist”. He was a frequent contributor to “The Argosy” and “Echo”.

He died on June 23, 1890. So this reprint and re- launch of his poetry in June 2007 is marking his 117th death anniversary.

Responses to this author telephone (592) 226-0065 or email:

Literary update
Books to be launched: ‘Selected Poems by Egbert Martin edited by David Dabydeen, a Derek Walcott book, UK,

Information needed on Edwina Melville, Rosetta Khalideen, C. E. J. Ramcharitar-Lalla, Angus Richman, O. R. Dathorne, Randall Butisingh, Meiling Jin

The tenth anniversary issue of THE GUYANA ANNUAL is under production, submissions are invited to various competitions offered and articles of local interest are also welcomed. This Guyanese literary and cultural tradition started in 1915. It was dormant for a few years until it was resuscitated in 1998 by Dr. Tulsi Dyal Singh. For further information, please contact Guyenterprise or the editor, Petamber Persaud.


By Sherry Dixon
THERE is only one person you really need to listen to when you’re faced with making a decision – YOU.

Remember the last time you were faced with a difficult decision? Did you agonise over it? Perhaps you talked it over with friends, or even wrote a list of “for” and “against” to help you decide. If you had to go through all this before reaching the right decision, chances are you were not tuning in to your most powerful and accurate guidance tool – your inner voice.

“We all possess instinct and intuition, which we use daily, even in the simplest circumstances,” explains psychologist Tony Nelson. “If your boss seems unusually short with you one morning, you’re using your intuition when you decide now is not a good time to ask her to sign off your holiday request. Learning to listen to your inner voice is an extension of using this intuition.”

“You’re most likely to be used to this voice surfacing in the form of unexplained hunches” says Ellen Hall, author of Listen to Your Inner Voice (Vega Books). “It will often come through as a though you can’ seem to shake off an unsettling sensation in your stomach. And that hunch can guide us on snap decisions through to the big choices we face over love or career.”

Simone Braithwaite, a 30-year-old media executive was glad she listened to an unexplained hunch, even though it meant ending a great night out. “I was enjoying a delicious meal with my new boyfriend when I got a call from my best friend on my mobile. She said she just fancied a chat and told me not to worry and to get back to my date.

But something about her voice really niggled me. I knew that tomorrow would be too late. Plus, my stomach felt so odd. So after dinner, I drove straight to her house, where I found her in floods of tears, contemplating ending her life. Her fiancé had just dumped her for the second time.  I never would have forgiven myself if I hadn't listened to my inner voice.”

The niggling sensation that had worried Simone was more than an explained, spooky coincidence. New research by Dr. Michael Gershon, author of The Second Brain: The Scientific Basis of Gut Instinct (HarperCollins) reveals that we have a large knot of nerve cells in our stomachs that cause internal reactions to an emotional situation or decision.

It’s as if we have a second brain making our unconscious decisions. These later become conscious in our main brain, which is why you feel subconsciously you knew something all along.

We don’t listen to our inner voice as much as we should.

If your self-esteem is low, it’ likely you won’t believe you’re worth listening to. Instead, you’ll let external factors or other people decide what’s best for you. But listening to your inner voice is the key factor in making decisions. “Often, your stomach subconsciously registers danger before your conscious brain does, and it consequently seeks to protect you,” explains Dr. Gershon.

“You might jerk backwards slightly without understanding why or just feels a rumbling in the pit of your stomach.”

Ann Johnson, 27, regrets not listening to her inner voice one evening.  “I had to work late, so I didn't’ reach my bus stop until about 10.15pm. I deliberated for a minute over which road to walk down – the busy main road or the quiet residential street I normally took,” says Ann.

“Something kept telling me there was a risk on the quiet road but I forced myself into believing I was just being neurotic. I was wrong because seconds after I started walking down the quiet road a man cycled past, ripped my bag from my shoulder and I fell and broke my hand and two fingers. I was disabled for months.”

“Being in love can make trusting your inner voice much trickier” says Tony Nelson. “When you’re pressured by external influences, such as physical attraction, you’re more likely to quash your inner voice. 

You can forget to ask yourself if he’s really treating you well or making you feel good inside.”

Being able to tune in to your intuition is a useful asset when it comes to relationships. But how do you turn up the volume on our inner emotional guide?

Start by creating more silence in your life.  For one week, set aside five minutes each day to sit still with an empty mind. Build up to ten minutes and finally 15. The meditative silence will give you a sense that you’re looking after yourself, since within that space you’re not worrying about anything except peacefully gathering and focusing your thoughts. Give yourself space and time to make the choices you want.

Use an affirmation as a way to tune in to your inner voice. Try repeating “I believe in me” or “I trust my own feelings” ten times first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

Do these for a total of 21 days to re-program yourself, and you should start hearing your inner voice louder than ever.  It will help you believe in yourself, which means you’ll trust your own feelings more and start trusting them to guide you well.

“Becoming completely engrossed in an enjoyable activity is, paradoxically, another way to hear your inner voice” says Nelson. 

“The more you do something you enjoy, the more you’ll gain an improved sense of what makes you feel good – and more so what decisions will make you feel good...” Also you should pay more attention to your dream content. If you have a dream in which you see yourself in a difficult situation, the answer may be spoken by yourself or someone else in the dream. Recalling this on waking can tap you into your subconscious instinctive guidance.

Imagine never again finding yourself in a situation that you feel you were pushed into or never feeling you have wasted your time on a job or man who wasn't worth it. Once you’ve taken the time to let your intuition be heard, this is just what you can begin to expect from life.

Acknowledging and responding to your inner voice means you’re putting all your choices within your control.

Of course, it doesn’t mean that only good things are guaranteed to come your way, but it does mean you’ll feel perfectly equipped to handle whatever happens.


New thinking on Gum Disease
OCCASIONALLY, topics in the field of dentistry are discussed and new ideas are ventilated at international fora.

I have attended several international learning activities over the years but I distinctly recall a few years ago for example, leading dentists in Europe met at the first European Workshop on Periodontology to update themselves on the latest on periodontal (gum) disease.

Some of what came out of that activity was examined.

Periodontal diseases which is commonly called gum disease and which is the principal cause of tooth loss, represent inflammatory lesions mediated by host-parasite interaction in loss of connective tissue fiber attachment to the root surface.

Since the cause- effect relationship has been established between the accumulations of bacterial plaque on the teeth and the development of gingivitis, there is no doubt that plaque is the essential factor for initiation of periodontal inflammation and disease.

If plaque is allowed to accumulate for prolonged periods of time, it will mature ecologically in a predictable pattern. This maturation process may in many, but not in all individuals, lead to progression of some lesions from a localized to a chronic inflammatory response, the response is characteristic of adult periodontitis.

Local factors, for example, oral hygiene standards, tooth anatomy and position, and the presence of fillings with and without overhanging margins may influence the maturation process of plaque by changing the ecological conditions in the sub gingival environment.

Changing conditions in the eco-system may influence the colonization of specific bacteria. So, your diet has a strong bearing on your oral health status. In some societies, the population has relatively healthy mouths, not because they observe good oral hygiene, but simply because of type of food commonly eaten.

Systemic factors, such as hormonal changes during pregnancy, puberty and in diabetes, and impairment in the immune status (AIDS etc.) may also affect the rate of progression of gum disease.

Finally, smoking habits and stress have also been discussed as possible factors of influence. While smoking is known to certainly affect the health of the gums, it has not been actually proven that stress causes gum disease.

Chronic adult periodontitis is obviously a disease with a multifactorial cause and may be considered as an opportunistic infection. As opposed to classical infection, the germs are associated in low proportions with the type of organisms’ characteristic for healthy tissue conditions.

If a change in the ecological environment in the mouth occurs favoring the disease producing bacteria, opportunity is given to those germs capable of eliciting the disease process.

Treatment of an opportunistic infection is, therefore, not only directed at the elimination of an infectious agent but rather, at the alteration of the ecological niche, thereby reducing the proportion of pathogenic bacteria below the individual’s threshold for disease.

It is with this concept in mind that diagnoses of different conditions were discussed. Consequently, it was envisaged that a certain degree of periodontitis may even be considered normal in certain patients.

Based in part on age of the patient, four categories were suggested. These are: gingivitis, adult periodontitis, early on-set periodontitis and necrotising periodontitis.

Each of these conditions do not in general terms cause patients to panic as they may not cause significant discomfort like say a toothache.

But the overall picture indicates that it is the single most threatening disease for teeth.


With Aplomb
My story is long, but to make it short, I am in the process of grey divorce.  My marriage lasted 30 years, with three adult children I adore.

To start with, there are many differences between my husband and me, culturally and educationally. But I helped him finish his college education while working on my master’s and Ph.D. degrees.

I helped him establish his own business.  Slowly and with my support the business grew.  He became famous here.  Four years ago he went to a conference outside the country and came back changed. 

One day I caught him e-mailing a girl there and asked him about her.  He said, “Don’t worry.  She is younger than our daughter.”

Well, somehow I believed him.  I discovered nearly four years ago he married her.  I was devastated, so I asked him to leave the house and I asked for a divorce.  I can’t stand seeing his face.  Ever since my life has changed.  I am no longer the woman I used to be. I am still teaching in the university, but I lost that zest for life. 

His wife is expecting a baby this summer, and we are not happy about it.  My children and I are worried this woman will give us trouble in regard to our business. 

After all, she didn’t marry a man her father’s age out of love.  I managed to change the ownership of the business to five equal shares.  If my ex chooses to give her and her child anything, it has to be his share.

How can I deal with the stigma of divorce?  So far I am avoiding socializing as much as possible because I am not looking for sympathy from anyone. I attended some counseling meetings which helped me, but what shall I do when I am alone?  I am now 63, and this is terrifying me.

Nadia, everything bad thrives in secrecy.
Abuse, addiction, torture, betrayal, embezzlement . . . bigamy.  You have nothing to hide.  Hiding from the world might make people think you did something wrong, when he did.  Most people, though, will feel, I hope nothing like that happens to me.  And for those in a relationship with someone who doesn’t love them, it will make them very nervous. 

You aren’t alone.  You will always have your children, and your husband has damaged his relationship with them.  The best thing you can do for the sake of your children is finish this off. 

There is only one way to live life, and that is to look reality square in the face every day.  You have two choices.  You can bury these events in your mind, tell social lies to others, and hide out in your home, or you can commit to living each day with passion.

If you do the former, you will get nervous tics and twitches, and a tummy that always acts up.   If you do the latter, you will regain the zest for life you had as a small child newly arrived on the planet.

Divorce is a stigma only to the extent you allow it to be.  Another woman might take these events and turn them into a hilarious story she tells at parties.  There is no stigma attached to things which are beyond our control, and there is no stigma attached to us from the decisions of another.

So it is time to begin again.  All the possibilities of life are before you.   You have more financial freedom than most.  The only things which can hold you back are between your ears.  By all means, if you feel counseling is useful, then find a good counselor. 

And never forget one lesson about your husband.   You cannot trust him.  Deal with him from a position of legal strength.  Some people are entitled to the benefit of the doubt.  He is not.
Wayne & Tamara

Authors and columnists Wayne and Tamara Mitchell can be reached at

Send letters to: Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield, MO 65801 or email:


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