April 24, 2014

Soul searching…

…by AFC’s Ramjattan

While old Sigmund Freud might be out of vogue at the moment, the eponymously named “Freudian slip” – when you blurt out something similar to what you really didn’t want to reveal –  survives as one of the best indicators as to what’s on a person’s mind.  Take Khemraj Ramjattan, who’s still leader of what’s left of the AFC.

As the “go to” guy for the MuckrakerKN to get a quote on anyone who they’re “vex with” (Adam Harris’ word; he admitted Mohan Lall’s always vex with Jagdeo and his friends), Ramjattan took a swing at NEW GPC.

He accused the Government of using “sole sourcing” to favour NEW GPC in the procurement of drugs. Not the type of “white powdered” drugs that the AFC financier was caught smuggling in achar with – he meant “pharmaceuticals”, this time.

But surely, Ramjattan as a leader of a party that receives so much of its funding from his friend’s “cake-shop”-like pharmaceutical outfit that’s trying to compete with NEW GPC, he would know that NEW GPC is just one of seven international companies that are bidding to supply Guyana’s pharmaceuticals.

Trinidadian giant ANSA McAL entered the fray this year as well as his buddy’s fly-by-night outfit. So he couldn’t very well mean “sole sourcing”. Unless, of course, he’s conceding the obvious that NEW GPC is so many light years ahead of his friend’s huckstering outfit that the bidding will be “no competition”.

But what we think Ramjattan meant to say was he’s engaged in some serious “soul searching”, and not  imagining any “sole sourcing” of pharmaceuticals. And damned time he did! Your Eyewitness is moved to ask you, Dear Reader, “How long shall be the cry?”

As Rodney said of Burnham, everything the fella touches turns to sh*t. It ain’t pretty. A fella got to wonder when and where it’ll all end, no?

Take the case of funding of his party, and not so incidentally of himself. Apart from the aforementioned drugs-in-achar smuggler who’s in the clinker, there was the wholesale walkout of his New York support group.

Ramjattan didn’t mind the departure of the Donkey Cart economist and the Thunderbolt Thief, but what hurt him to the quick (and more to the point, his pocket) was the NY financiers flying the coop. The loss of those greenbacks wasn’t easy.

Then there was the implosion of the AFC in Guyana. There’s the steady outward procession of Trotman and Hughes and so many fellas, he just can’t bring himself to say their names out loud.

All he has left are those wankers from Whim: the Bush Doctor and the Bush Rum drinker. And the Bush Tea Pharma owner.

…by GT&T

Seems the Government and GT&T aren’t seeing eye to eye on the 911 issue. Which should’ve never been an issue. From its protestations, even GT&T accepts we need a functioning 911 system in Guyana.

Minister Rohee says that his consultant gave him a rather technical evaluation of the system presently in place and that the non-response by police to cries for help is the fault of GT&T.

GT&T on the other hand stoutly maintains what most people in the country believes – that the police just sit there, twiddling their thumbs, when the 911 number rings. But we have a simple solution that doesn’t need any cryptographer to break the foreign consultant’s code. Just have a few fellas sit next to the 911 operators, have some hired help dial 911. And observe what happens.

But on a not-entirely-unrelated matter, some advice for GT&T. Hey…give up on the monopoly. March with the rest of the world.

…and PNC on Rodney CoI

C’mon PNC…do some soul searching as to whether you want to have the Rodney assassination hanging over your party’s head ad infinitum. Just confess. It’s also good for the soul.

GM foods

The brave new world of GM foods or Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) is about to reach Guyana.

And in preparation for this eventuality, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, along with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is in the process of drafting bio-safety/bio-technology legislation, which is expected to be concluded by June month-end after which it will be sent for approval by Cabinet and then to Parliament.

We agree with Natural Resources and Environment Minister Robert Persaud who stated that for many people bio-safety and bio-technology are very complex issues and because of the lack of familiarity in various areas, additional work has to be done to lift awareness and understanding of the threats and opportunities.

He emphasised that there are opportunities in biodiversity, but those cannot be explored if there is not the necessary framework to guard against the potential problems that can come about. Towards this end, we believe that we can benefit from the debate on GMOs in other countries.

GM foods made a big splash in the news as long as a decade ago in Europe and the US, but the issue is still up in the air. India, for instance, banned a Monsanto GM ‘bigan’ (eggplant) over health concerns a year ago. European environmental organisations and public interest groups have been actively protesting against GM foods and controversial studies about the effects of genetically-modified corn pollen on monarch butterfly caterpillars have brought the issue of genetic engineering to the forefront of the public consciousness in the US.

Some of the benefits of GMOs include increased pest resistance. Crop losses from insect pests can be staggering, resulting in devastating financial losses for farmers. Farmers typically use many tonnes of chemical pesticides annually. Consumers do not wish to eat food that has been treated with pesticides because of potential health hazards, and run-off of agricultural wastes, from excessive use of pesticides and fertilisers, can poison the water supply and cause harm to the environment.

Another touted benefit is herbicide tolerance. For some crops, it is not cost-effective to remove weeds by physical means such as tilling, so farmers will often spray large quantities of different herbicides (weed-killer) to destroy weeds, a time-consuming and expensive process, that requires care so that the herbicide does not harm the crop plant or the environment. Crop plants genetically-engineered to be resistant to one very powerful herbicide could help prevent environmental damage by reducing the amount of herbicides needed. Drought tolerance/salinity tolerance is yet another benefit that might transform, for instance, our savannahs.

But there are also the downside risks of which “allergenicity” looms large. Many children in the US and Europe have developed life-threatening allergies to peanuts and other foods. There is a possibility that introducing a gene into a plant may create a new allergen or cause an allergic reaction in susceptible individuals. In addition, there are unknown effects on human health. There is a growing concern that introducing foreign genes into food plants may have an unexpected and negative impact on human health. A decade-old article published in Lancet examined the effects of GM potatoes on the digestive tract in rats. This study claimed that there were appreciable differences in the intestines of rats fed GM potatoes and rats fed unmodified potatoes.

There can also be unintended harm to other organisms such as when pollen from a GM species blows into neighbouring fields of “normal” plants. The aforementioned monarch butterflies were affected in this manner.

Finally, even though GMOs are supposed to reduce the use of pesticides, they can also result in the reduced effectiveness of pesticides. Just as some populations of mosquitoes developed resistance to the now-banned pesticide DDT, many people are concerned that insects will become resistant to crops that have been genetically-modified to produce their own pesticides.

Let the debate proceed in Guyana.

Eyes on the sky…

…after Easter

Guyanese are fond of boasting that they’re lucky: no hurricanes to deal with!! Well, you’d be hard pressed to prove that point after viewing the debris your humble Eyewitness saw in the parks, on the sea wall, and…well…EVERYWHERE…on his way to work yesterday. If your Eyewitness didn’t know better, he’d swear the hurricane belt had just shifted several degrees latitude to the South.

What’s it with we Guyanese? Don’t we ever look downwards? Don’t we see how the garbage we dumped so nonchalantly on the ground, looks? Yesterday was Easter: the day that, even if you’re not Christian, you’re aware that God had visited earth. And is this how we honour that memory? By dropping on that earth our plastic bags, Styrofoam containers, plastic bottles, spoons and forks – and whatever else that we didn’t want to take back home!?

The mind is boggled to think how the revellers put up with the garbage while they were picnicking. Or is it like being in the old pit latrines: after a few minutes, you just don’t notice the stench?

Now your Eyewitness is sure there’ll be the retort that the “organisers” didn’t provide bins for the garbage. But let’s get real: would it really have mattered? Fact of the matter is most of us have such a low self esteem, we treat ourselves as garbage. And of course, the place our “selves” happen to be from.

It’s like the old Groucho Marx gag: “I wouldn’t belong to a club that’ll have me as a member!!” But interestingly, the moment we decamp for “overseas” we walk for miles to find a garbage can. This shows that it’s not that we don’t know better but we just project our poor self image onto our country.

Keeping the surroundings clean is for “foreign”. And the claim about garbage cans doesn’t hold up also because if Guyanese are in “foreign” and there’re no cans, like the other natives they’ll put it in their bags.

OK? Now that your Eyewitness has gotten that off his chest, he has to ask what’re we going to do about this dropping of our garbage behind us like Gretels leaving trails in the jungle? Well, this is one Eyewitness that doesn’t believe in just moral exhortations to “do the right thing”.

Sorry, but we have a very bleak view of human nature. Unless there’re some real heavy sanctions for littering in this country, we’re going to have our parks looking like after Hurricane Gilbert it struck.

We say, if people litter, name them, fine them and shame them. Especially the shame, like with pictures in the papers.

…with bauxite

We’re glad the Government finally woke up to Bosai’s foot dragging on the billion-dollar alumina plant promised back in 2008. OK…they did say that they had to do a feasibility study. But it was quite insulting to be told that because of heavy overburden the project wasn’t feasible. From the moment we began to mine bauxite here back in 1917, everyone and their uncle in the bauxite business knew that “overburden” was our reality.

But Block 37, which is what Bosai’s been lusting for – and the Government’s now pulled – after all isn’t your run -of-the-mill bauxite. It has one of the largest deposits of RASC bauxite in the world – high in aluminium oxide and low in iron.

It’s used as a “sweetener” to up the aluminium content of metal grade bauxite (MAZ) but more importantly, is used to produce the bricks that make the furnaces that keep the world’s metallurgical industry going.

No alumina plant: no Block 37. And we hope the Opposition don’t have their eyes in the sky and start backing foreign interests again.

…on LEAD

Even if the Government doesn’t want to call in UNASUR right now, shouldn’t it at least bring the LEAD programme to the attention of Caricom?

The day after…

…budget storm

This is being written on Easter Monday. The kites haven’t yet taken to the skies and the birds are chirping and tweeting outside your humble Eyewitness’ windows. Like the Commodores crooned (well, Lionel Ritchie, actually) back in the day, it’s “easy like Sunday morning”. And so maybe it’s as good a time as any to look back at the budget debate (such as it was), but “not in anger”.

We hear a lot about Parliament being the “people’s representatives” and the need for them to be given more authority. Some have even asked that they work yearround.  But think about it: the budget debate’s the longest stretch of time MPs spent on the country’s business. Think they’ll survive a year?? We might just have to call in the army to “part” them.

All in all, it wasn’t a redeeming spectacle – barring a few star appearances, such as the Finance Minister’s. You’d hope others would take notice…but that’ll be like throwing pearls before swine. Most of the others appeared more than willing to grovel in the garbage.

Can we hope to match, for instance, the wit of Winston Churchill’s retort to Liverpool socialist MP Bessie Braddock, who told him, “Winston, you’re drunk.” Without missing a beat, Churchill came back: “Bessie, you’re ugly. And tomorrow morning I’ll be sober, but you’ll still be ugly.” The reply was as cutting as you’d want it to be…but the wit took off the edge and even the recipient had to smile.

Another irritation was that even old, “hard-backed” MPs continued to read their “speeches” – and still got mixed up. You didn’t have to wonder who wrote those speeches. It looks like some thought since the Finance Minister gets to read his hours long speech…they can follow suit. But, of course, what took centre stage was the “Chain Saw of Granger” that was hung over the budget.

But as had been shown in the previous two years, no “Sword of Damocles” was this rusty Chain Saw. The Sword suspended over the courier’s head by a single strand of horse hair, after all, created in the mind of the poor fellow an existential fear of being impaled. In Parliament, however, what was the Finance Minister to fear when he knew all he had to do after the “chopping and hacking” by the Chain Saw, was to return later with Supplementaries.

It was just another episode of “Wankers with Chain Saws”!!!

…a three-day appointment

Just walking past City Hall has to make any citizen depressed. Your Eyewitness surely can’t be the only person who thinks this Gothic structure is such a wonderful inheritance from the British. He might be brainwashed with all those heroic tales from the European Middle Ages and all that. But that doesn’t mean the structure should be allowed to collapse, should it?

How can any self-respecting Mayor accept such conditions? What happened to all his plans for refurbishing City Hall? Weren’t millions already collected? But we all know why nothing will be done to refurbish much less repair City Hall: those in charge are solely consumed with filling their own pockets. The devil can take the hindmost – which is the position of City Hall.

Take the latest revelation of financial skulduggery. Royston King, the PR flack for Green was Town Clerk for just three days. And it was just discovered he signed off on a $36 million tax write-off for Beacon.

What other sins were committed in that three day interregnum? The mind boggles.

…the plane grounding

Fly Jamaica just set a new record for insouciance. Or is it disrespect? Commenting on his plane’s grounding on account of a defective radar, owner Captain Reece said that the consequent delay “wasn’t  something travellers should be worried about as delays and cancellations come with the territory”. Only “Guyana’s territory”, that is.

Intimations…

…of mortality

Whenever you point an accusatory index finger at others, you’re pointing three fingers at yourself. You can’t do otherwise. So it’s a good idea then, to consider what your physiology’s forcing you to acknowledge about your own transgressions. And hypocrisy.

Take the editor over at the MuckrakerKN. Seems he’s having intimations of mortality with his old school buddies dropping like flies around him. His latest wake-up call was the announcement by one of those school friends, Dr Roger Luncheon, that he’s stricken by cancer. And that very stoically, he wasn’t going to have “invasive interventions”. Meaning “no operations”.

Everything that’s born will die. But lots of people live like they’re immortal sons of Zeus. Look at the mischief Harris has been creating with “spinning” the news, first at the New Nation and Chronicle… and then at the MuckrakerKN. With his “Dem Boys Seh” column he concocts with his “boss man” Mook Lall, he scatologically maligns anyone who his boss fingers. He became a hired pen for libel and calumny.

In what was obviously an attack of conscience on Easter Sunday, Harris confessed that Mook Lall “always vex wid Jagdeo”. He didn’t go as far as revealing why the Mook behaved worse than a woman scorned, as Jagdeo didn’t give him the freebies he lusted after. One lesson Harris should’ve learnt from his intimation of mortality is that the green-eyed monster named “greed” is insatiable. And it ends up consuming its host. And his house-slaves.

So imagine Harris talking about his old school friend and his tragic condition and in the same column, gloating about going with a “ten-inch pole” at one of his boss’s targets. You’d think Harris, contemplating his meeting with his Maker, which is, in his own words, “sooner than later”, would’ve acknowledged that no one’s infallible. And that his “boss man” could be wrong about what he’s accusing others of – including the head of NICIL. And that he, Harris will not be received into the Big House just because his excuse will be “me boss man tell me fuh do dat”.

Hey! There’s nothing wrong about doing investigative journalism and publishing findings. But the down-low, nasty way Harris and his boss man personalises the issues crosses the line of human decency. How can one hear that a former President of the country is stricken ill – and then cackle that he should die?

We hope Harris (we have no hope for his “always vex” boss man) realises that only the Big Guy decides when we’ll go. And pray that “death does not find him wanting”.

…of big stick

Back in the day – when colonialism was still in full flow and big powers flexed their muscles with impunity to keep vassal states in line – U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt came up with a new line: “talk softly and carry a big stick”. He was acknowledging the rising moral force that militated against the big-power law of the jungle doctrine of “might is right” – even if it only extended to “talk”.

Since then, the U.S. has had to mount a torrent of verbal gymnastics to “talk softly” to justify its “big stick” protection of its “national interests”. So we’ve had a “good neighbour” policy and an “alliance for peace” and so on…even as the interventions kept coming. Those were explained as necessary for our “own good”. “Fighting Commies”, defending democracy, indicting drugs,

…whatever.

Now there’s the present U.S. LEAD project that’s supposed to entrench “democracy” here. But the U.S. Government’s had to admit and swear to Congress that whatever it spends abroad must “promote American interests”.

The political parties, whether for or against LEAD, must reveal what that interest is.

…of remorse

We note the effort of ex-Speaker Ramkarran to appear even-handed in bashing the Opposition on the Budget. But does one who denounces rapists expect kudos?

For your own “good”…

…whether you like it or not

Roger “the Dodger” Luncheon (have you ever heard the chap answer a question directly?) dragged himself out of his sickbed to protest the U.S. Embassy giving the Government a “Bronx Cheer” on their complaints on the LEAD programme.

(You don’t know what’s a Bronx Cheer, otherwise known as “giving a raspberry”? Stick your tongue between your lips and blow hard to produce a “fart-like sound”. It’s supposed to signify derision. Now wipe the spit off your face.)

But seriously folks, don’t you think this is eyepass?  And the Opposition’s aiding and abetting it. If it’s one thing the PPP did when it was in Opposition and Burnham was in power (through rigging the elections to boot) was to show solidarity with the Government when outsiders tried to meddle here.

When the Venezuelans rattled their sabers at our border right after Independence, Jagan and the PPP went shoulder to shoulder with the PNC: Not a blade of grass!!!

When Burnham called the IMF, “International Mother Fu**ers” and refused to follow their outlandish demands, the PPP and Jagan gave support – even though their supporters were pi55ed.

But here it is, a foreign government – the U.S. in this case – tramples on the position of the Government in charge of our state and the Opposition not only goes along with the foreign power – but actually helps it.

As we’d written earlier, the APNU Region Nine Councillor Carl Parker wrote to the the Stabber News announcing he was tasked with organising a “democracy workshop” in the Rupununi. He hasn’t denied it was on behalf of the IRI who are executing the USAID programme. Parker was teed off PPP/C supporters didn’t show up! Talk about chutzpah!

When political parties inside a country allow a foreign country (no matter how friendly) to violate the country’s directives, they’re acting in an anti-national manner. Especially when they’re aided by the foreign government’s action. They’re now agents of the foreign government. Political parties vie for control of the state and they have a duty not to undermine that state. We’re witnessing Yeats’ second coming:

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

The U.S. was founded on principles that have inspired persons as diverse as Bolivar and Ho Chi Minh. We hope they don’t insist on pushing down our throat a programme because they insist it’s for “our good”. That’s how three centuries of African slavery was justified.

…less houses for more money

USAID’s in the news again for the housing programme they executed in Haiti in the aftermath of  that devastating earthquake. Reuters has a report so anodyne that it almost makes you lose faith in the “free press”.

Promising to build 4000 houses (actually it was originally supposed to be 15000, but Reuters used one of the intermediate reduced goal) between 2010 and 2012, the agency managed to complete a measly 906 houses, while the funding skyrocketed from US$55 million to US$90 million. That’s at US$100,000 a pop. You’re talking about G$20 million for a two-bedroom house!!!

But the press-bias of Reuters was further exposed in how they “explained” the rip-off. They quoted the audit’s assessment: “The agency widely underestimated the cost and complexity of building homes in Haiti.” They forgot to mention that the fundamental reason was the agency’s  refusal to use local contractors. Food for the Poor in Haiti, for instance, churns out comparable houses at US$6000 each.

USAID insisted on using foreign contractors – for instance, the Minnesota based Thor Construction. But it’s only money.

…liquor crash

It could be clash of the liquor Titans. A DDL and Banks truck ran into each other and crashed. The spirituous cargo was hopefully destroyed?

Carrot and stick…

…in inner city

Reading of the latest effort to get some changes going in Albouystown, your Eyewitness was overwhelmed with the famous song by the King. (You young whippersnappers don’t know who’s “the King”? There’s only one King, friends….Elvis Presley, who still rocks!) We have to print the lyrics in their entirety:

As the snow flies

On a cold and gray Chicago mornin’

A poor little baby child is born

In the ghetto

And his mama cries

‘cause if there’s one thing that she don’t need

it’s another hungry mouth to feed

In the ghetto

People, don’t you understand

the child needs a helping hand

or he’ll grow to be an angry young man some day

Take a look at you and me,

are we too blind to see,

do we simply turn our heads

and look the other way

Well the world turns

and a hungry little boy with a runny nose

plays in the street as the cold wind blows

In the ghetto

And his hunger burns

so he starts to roam the streets at night

and he learns how to steal

and he learns how to fight

In the ghetto

Then one night in desperation

a young man breaks away

He buys a gun, steals a car,

tries to run, but he don’t get far

And his mama cries

As a crowd gathers ‘round an angry young man

face down on the street with a gun in his hand

In the ghetto

As her young man dies,

on a cold and gray Chicago mornin’,

another little baby child is born

In the ghetto

For “snow” just substitute “rain” and for “Chicago” substitute “Albouystown” and you’ll have a glimpse of what life’s like “in the ghetto”. Point is, life in Albouystown’s not going to be changed by well-meaning people handing out hampers and what not. It won’t be changed also by the police charging round the neighbourhood like bulls in a China shop – as has been recently charged by residents.

Albouystown’s problem is Guyana’s problem writ large. Just as we were mired in poverty for so long we’re now regarded as scum of the earth by even neighbours like Trinidad (you think a Bajan would’ve been harassed with a “pink form” while having a heart attack?) Albouystown has been mired in a culture of poverty that is very difficult to break.

We’re going to have to come up with programmes that address the root question of “culture” which makes the problem systemic and structural – “another baby born” into the same poverty-stricken world with all the same upbringing and expectations of failure.

…on Linden Radio Station

The Opposition politicians are so hungry for power, they just don’t care about who they trample over. Take the wannabe warlord of Linden, Sharma Solomon. He and his cohorts in APNU – locally, regionally, and nationally – have been screaming bloody murder that the Government’s controlling the airwaves in their town. They need a new, independent outlet.

But when the Opposition says “independent” you know they mean “Opposition” right? Look what they just did in the mining town. An upstanding member of the community scraped together all that he can muster, applies for a radio licence and begins broadcasting. He then runs into problems paying for the radio licence fee, much less run a profit.

But because the fella tries to stay neutral in the Opposition’s quest for seizing power, Solomon declares the man is about to lose his licence!!!  But the Broadcasting Authority never said such a thing. Business, of course, falls off and deepens the downward spiral. But most viciously of all, Solomon withholds regional payments owed to the station – and denies this was the case!!

It’s been stick all the way for the Linden fella. Isn’t it time for a carrot, Solomon? Is he not a man and a brother?

Misdirection…

 …on AG’s salary?

As they promised, the Opposition parties continue to behave like they’re filming a tropical version of the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. But somewhere along the line, they seem to have forgotten that like in all movies, all they’re doing is “make believe”. Nothing changes in the end. The chopped-off hands of the actors remain at the end of their arms; the spilled guts are so much spaghetti and the sauce for the latter does come in useful as “blood”.

Fact of the matter is that at the end of the day, the Opposition parties can’t really “chop” anything. They can plead. They can suggest. They can threaten. They just cannot cut the estimates. So it really doesn’t matter that they’re jumping up and down like a “fowl-cock” on steroids – nothing will change. It all depends on which way the Government wants to return the items that would be “not approved” by the Opposition. “Supplementaries” and such like.

But suckered in by an “insider Internet news” site that’s sprung up like a jumbie umbrella, (they grow on dung), the editors of this newspaper headlined the AG’s and a Presidential Advisor’s salaries. This, of course, wasn’t any real news – just the jealousy of a rival. As a matter of fact, just last month, an ex-AG, Bernard De Santos, commenting on the (vexed) matter of the possible nexus between the qualifications of magistrates and their pay, reminded all and sundry of the origins of the super-salary of our AGs.

And this is where the irony of the PNC-dominated APNU castigating the AG’s salary’s gets so rich: it was Burnham who set up this salary. While not quite in the “As I lay dying” mode described by Faulkner, Burnham was approaching the end of his days and did a nasty thing to the profession of law – which he claimed to love.

The man took Keith Massiah – Chancellor of the Judiciary and the highest judicial official in the land – and decided to make him his Attorney General. Now we know – because the Opposition has been screaming long and loud enough about every AG the present Government’s appointed – the AG’s   the legal hound of the Government. He HAS to be partisan. But what was Massiah to do against the wishes of a petulant and vindictive dictator?

He demanded that the AG’s salary be equivalent to his much more stellar Chancellor’s remuneration. Burnham, of course, could do as he wanted. And the next day Massiah was AG with a salary that was put into law.

And this was what APNU wanted to “cut”? Can’t be done…because of Burnham!!! But imagine the treachery of the “insider”!!! What strange bedfellows does ambition make!

…on democracy

Last week, a PNC councillor from Region Nine complained that he was organising a “workshop on democracy”, but the big bad PPP didn’t want to attend. They spoiled things, because they told their people to do the same. But we’re a bit confused, why should the PPP and their supporters attend a workshop conducted by their political opponents?

And more to the point, why would APNU expect that the PPP would show up at their workshop? But hold it!!! Maybe it wasn’t an APNU workshop? Could it be those fellows from the IRI who’re doing much to teach us benighted natives about the real meaning of “democracy”? After all, USAID pocketed a cool US$7 million in funding for this sacrifice and we guess they have to spend that dough.

          Thing is, how come they’re working through an Opposition official to spread the good word on democracy? But we’re assured that all is kosher: Amit Shah, the head of USAID that’s doling out the funding, said apropos another (secret) project to spread democracy (in Cuba): “the operation isn’t covert…it’s just discreet”.

…on inner-city youths

The police want to institute change in Albouystown. Too much crime emanating from there. But shouldn’t the police lead by example? Let’s stop those traffic shakedowns!

New thinking…

…from Granger on Federalism?

One of the most intriguing utterances from David Granger, Leader of the PNC, Leader of APNU,  Leader of the Combined Parliamentary Opposition (and not so incidentally, the opponent of Carl Greenidge and sideliner of Aubrey Norton), was his take on the Budget.

No. We’re not talking about his promise to “chop the Budget viciously”…that might have something to do with fending off Greenidge, more than anything else. You think?

What intrigues us is his cry that even though the hinterland’s producing so much wealth with gold, timber, bauxite, diamonds and what not…they’re not getting a proportionate share of the budgetary allocations. Now here it is, silly us, we thought we’re an indivisible state and no matter where the revenues come from, we’re supposed to spend them to increase the “national wealth”. Emphasis on the “national”.

So, for instance, if 90 per cent of the population lives on the Coast, we oughtn’t to be surprised if most of the road-building projects are located there. But Granger, the old-time military strategist, thinks otherwise. He feels that since we’re, say, digging up so much of the gold from the Pakaraimas, the folks up there ought to be getting pitched roads also. It’s their money.

Never mind it’ll ruin that big tourist attraction we’re building for the rugged he-man tourist type – the Pakaraimas Safari, Granger’s insistent we ought to be tooling around the mountain passes with panache.

But we detect from this utterance something revolutionary from the old soldier: when you examine his thrust, the fella’s calling for federalism. Each state has first dibs on their own revenue streams and all that.

And here we thought that crackpot idea had sunk into oblivion along with its originator Ravi Dev! But like your Eyewitness said, Granger’s a strategic thinker. Didn’t he play chess with Odo himself? So what’s he up to?

Well, one theory that immediately springs to mind is he’s given up on believing he can break the PPP/C’s stranglehold on coastal politics and believes he can do better in the interior.

Then again, with Greenidge yapping at his heels (that Greenidge does remind you of a terrier, doesn’t he?), it could be that if the Pakaraimas and the other parts of the Highland Region are separate states, Greenidge won’t be able to keep up with him on the campaign trail. You don’t see Greenidge rappelling down the sheer face of Ayanganna, much less Roraima, do you?

But it’s encouraging that at his age, (he’s about 80, no?) Granger can change his thinking. Who knows? Maybe he’ll soon be calling for “balancing the forces”!!!

…on ganja

Well, Dear Readers, those of you who’ve been following this column would know your Eyewitness’ take on this legalisation of marijuana business. And it is a business. Here it is, cigarettes are a known cause of lung and laryngeal cancer and yet they are legal.

Sold everywhere:  with warnings – but sold. Making billions in profits for the cigarette makers in the First World that’re busy shipping the death sticks to Third World countries like Guyana.

And let’s not even talk about alcohol and its effect on the liver. That’s nothing compared to the damage it does to the social fabric of our country. But up to now we’ve been going along with the U.S. line on outlawing the use of marijuana – even though they’re pushing the entire trade as the largest consumers.

So we’re very happy that we’re backing the region’s efforts, led by Jamaica, to legalise the herb – especially for medicinal purposes. Not to mention its religious use. It’s irie, no?

…on “units”

The Muckraker’s fussing about Minister Rohee saying there’s a “kidnapping unit” in the Guyana Police Force versus the new Commissioner claiming there are individuals distributed within the force that perform this function.

The turds over at the Muckraker obviously think a “unit” has only a physical attribute and not also a functional one.

Straining out a gnat…

…and swallowing a camel

The Stabber News gave its take on what’s playing out in Parliament. They called it “vulgarity”. “Damn right!!” you, dear readers, are probably snorting in indignation. Trouble is, it has missed the real vulgarity because of the blinkers firmly affixed over it’s eyes, and like the mad Don Quixote of yore, ended up tilting at old Kokers.

It strained out a gnat and swallowed a camel. It was an amazing feat. Here it is, the Opposition’s defying the Courts of the land and committing an illegality every time it  attempts to “cut” a Budget Estimate and the Stabber thinks it’s vulgar that some MPs from the Government benches aren’t raising their pinkies when they sip their tea! Talk about confusing form and substance!

Let’s get this straight, we aren’t advocating for MPs to behave like louts at a mud-wrestling contest. (Even though that’s their default setting when they line up for the $1.7 million of free food at every sitting.) But the point is, the niceties of parliamentary etiquette are geared towards achieving the ends MPs are supposed to be working towards –  the betterment of the people of this country.

So what’s the point if fellas in Parliament keep bowing and scraping and “sirring” each other to death, when one side’s busy screwing the country?

Let’s get down to some brass tacks. What’s really vulgar? Manickchand’s heckle illustrating the subject of child molestation or the Opposition chopping the entire Amerindian Development Fund? Who’s really interested in stopping child molestation rather than merely mouthing platitudes?

When those thousands of Amerindian boys and girls in the interior are forced to continue grovelling at the bottom of the economic barrel because of no development projects, doesn’t that make them susceptible to all sorts of exploitation and molestation?

And what’s more vulgar? Lumumba speaking frankly about the ethnic consequences of race-baiting (and speeches about “bailing out” sugar workers are nothing less than this), or the sick minds that further that project in the media in search of power for “their” group? But the most vulgar comment was about former President Jagdeo. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times: these fellas have Jagdeo on their brains.

What gets their drawers in a knot is that he not only saw Guyana through the most deadly assault the Opposition ever launched to remove the PPP/C from office, but actually broke the back of the armed gangsters and their handlers.

Hell hath no fury like a thwarted Guyanese Opposition caught with their pants down. Ouch!!!

…and producing filth

And talking about “vulgarity”. Can anyone beat the “vulgarity” the MuckrakerKN printed as Freddy Kissoon ridiculed Hindus for “worshipping rats”? Some will blame Freddy Kissoon. But they miss the point: there are some people who can’t be held responsible for their actions. Morons and such like. But not for the Muckraker that’ll allow the largest religion to be insulted in this fashion.

Mook Lall knows full well that Hindus don’t worship rats. His father was a Hindu, no? And his wife? And as for Adam Harris – who would’ve had the last word on what’s being published – he knows it was through this kind of standing libel on Africans that their indigenous religions were beaten out of them and today are mocked as “obeah”.

As in African and Indian and in all original religions, what is more profound than seeing God in all his creation and respecting all in the great chain of being created by Him?

But don’t tell that to Mook Lall – who’ll desecrate his mother’s grave to sell another newspaper.

…swallowing Larwah

Another vulgarity of immense proportions that’s been swallowed by the Opposition is, to use President Ramotar’s apt expression, the “Larwah” of killing all mega-infrastructure works, and expecting the country to develop.

It’ll develop, all right – right back into  the old  PNC’s basket case.