November 1, 2014

US, West destabilising the world

Dear Editor,

Vladimir Putin has lashed out at the United States for destabilising the world order of checks and balances for its own gains. He also accused the West of inflaming the situation in Ukraine and said Russia was not interested in building an empire.

The Russian President delivered a fierce broadside aimed at the United States at a speech for the Valdai Club in Sochi, which is an informal group of scholars. He hit out at Washington for behaving without regard to the rest of the world’s interests.

“The system of international relations needed some changes, but the USA, who believe they were the winners of the Cold War, have not seen the need for this.” He added that the US has been trying to create the world “for their own gains”. The Russian President added that because of this, regional and global security had been weakened.

Putin also touched on the issue of the growth of Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, while also accusing the West of “turning a blind eye,” to the encroachment of international terrorism into Russia and Central Asia.

Putin believes the US has played a considerable role in sponsoring the growth of Islamic extremism, using the example of Washington’s funding of the Mujaheddin in the Afghan-Soviet war in the 1980s, which eventually gave birth to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

“It never ceases to amaze me how our partners have been guilty of making the same mistakes time and again. They have in the past sponsored Islamic extremists who were battling against the Soviet Union, which took place in Afghanistan. It was because of this the Taliban and Al Qaeda was created,” the President added.

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) is the latest terrorist organisation, which is destabilising the world and Putin was scathing of countries that have been helping to fund the Islamist militants by buying the cut-price oil they are selling.

“Terrorists have been selling oil at really low prices and those countries who have been buying it and then selling it on, are financing terrorism, which will eventually come back to bite them,” the Russian President said.

Relations between Russia and the US have been plummeting for months. Putin also accused the US of using the EU to further their own gains against Russia. He hit out at the numerous sanctions that had been imposed on Moscow, saying, “This was a mistake, which has a knock-on effect on everyone.”

“The USA, which has implemented sanctions against Russia, is cutting down the branches, upon which they are sitting,” President Putin added.

The reduction of nuclear arsenals was another issue, which was high on the agenda for the Russian President and once again, he was not afraid of having a dig at Washington for their reluctance to cut the number of nuclear missiles. He mentioned that unfortunately many countries see the only way to preserve their sovereignty is, “To make a nuclear bomb.”

The reduction in nuclear arsenals was initially proposed by the Obama Administration and Putin admitted it had potential, before talks about decreasing weapons stockpiles collapsed.

“Russia has been all for the continuation of talks about the reduction of nuclear arsenals,” and according to President Putin, “Moscow is ready for serious talks, but without “double standards”.

Perhaps Putin’s harshest criticism was reserved for the West’s creation of colour revolutions and “controlled chaos,” which he likened to “letting the genie out of the bottle”, with particular reference to Ukraine.

“We have been trying to discuss the Ukraine issue with the EU for a long time, but we were told this was none of other business. They then put two countries against each other, which has led to countless destruction of infrastructure. When I asked ‘why did they do this?’ they just shrug their shoulders and don’t have an answer,” Putin added.

The Russian President said that there is no truth whatsoever in claims from the West that Russia is interested in Empire building and that Moscow is looking to destabilise the world order. With relations between Russia and the West at a very low ebb, Putin also hinted Russia will look to develop allies further afield.

“Russia has made its choice – we want to develop our economy and develop democratic values. We work with our counterparts in the Shanghai Cooperation, the BRICS union for example. We want our opinions to be respected likewise. We all need to be cautious to not make hasty and dangerous steps. Some of the players on the global front have forgotten about the need for this,” he said in another barb directed at Washington.

Submitted by,

Denis Kopyl

Press Attaché

Russian Embassy

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More Diwali celebrations in America

Dear Editor,

While Diwali celebration may be over in Guyana, in the US, the celebrations continued over the weekend with a Diwali Yatra and cultural variety concert in West Palm Beach held by organisers of Guyanese descent on Saturday.

In Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry celebrated Diwali with the Indian American community on October 23 at the US State Department for the first time. “Diwali is a time for the revitalisation of mind and spirit,” said Kerry.

He added: “It affords a chance to reflect on how we can bring light to others. It is an opportunity for us all, regardless of our own traditions, to renew a shared commitment to human dignity, compassion, and service — and it is a commitment, I think, at the heart of all great faiths.”

A report said Kerry was joined by Indian Ambassador S Jaishankar who stated: “As the days grow shorter, Diwali reminds us that spring always returns — that knowledge triumphs over ignorance, hope outlasts despair, and light replaces darkness.

Some 300 guests, including a large number of eminent Indian Americans and envoys from other South Asian countries, were present to celebrate Diwali for the first time at the State Department’s historic Benjamin Franklin room, which was lit with many small diyas and candles.

The report stated top Indian American officials working for President Barack Obama, including Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal and USAID Administrator Raj Shah, attended the function. Kerry greeted guests with, “Saal Mubarak.”

Kerry told the gathering: “We worked hard to prove that we were, in fact, natural partners, which I believe we are. We are two optimistic nations who believe that history doesn’t shape us, but that we have the power to shape history. And that spirit of hope and optimism is really at the centre of the Diwali celebration.”

The report noted that Diwali was the only major world festival that had been missing from the State Department’s celebration of festivals.

“I want to thank all of you for joining us at the State Department’s first-ever Diwali celebration. I guarantee you it will not be our last,” Kerry said amid applause.

President Obama had also greeted the community with a ‘Happy Diwali’ to all those who were celebrating the Festival of Lights.

Priest Narayanachar L Digalakote from the Sri Siva Vishnu Temple in a Washington, DC suburb in Maryland presided over the ceremonial lighting and presented Kerry with a traditional shawl.

The guests were served with the traditional Indian dishes — including sweet dishes like jalebi, gulab jamun, different varieties of burfi, kaju katli and kheer. Some of the dishes were in fact made inside the State Department kitchen, while other dishes were procured from a popular Indian restaurant in Washington, DC.

It was also one of the rarest occasions that no alcohol was served. It was all soft drinks, juices and, of course, the traditional mango ‘lassi’.

Kerry praised the Indian American community. He said: “The South Asian diaspora is a pillar of every aspect of American society. South Asians sit in the executive suites of some of the country’s most successful companies, or at the very helm of all of them.

“They launch startups and earn graduate degrees at several times the national average. They are a driving force behind American leadership and science and innovation and in the history of our nation – and we are a nation of immigrants – it is hard to find any group of Americans who have achieved more in such a relatively short period of time.”

Supermodel Naomi Campbell also observed Diwali by sporting a lovely sari at a handbag launch on Friday. She wished her friends and fans a happy Diwali.

She tweeted: “Happy Diwali wishing you an amazing New Year on this special moon.”  She surprised reporters and fans when she donned the black lace sari with a red border.

Yours truly,

Vishnu Bisram

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Pinnacle was incorporated to enter the green business sector in Guyana (Part 2)

Dear Editor,

Climate

Leucaena leucocephala is a tropical plant with a pan-tropical presence. The claim that it requires a dry climate is simply erroneous.

There have been specific studies done on this species in Guyana. As recently as 2002, two studies were done on Leucaena as a potential source of plant nutrients in the Intermediate Savannahs of Guyana, and this report was published by the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, CARDI (Leslie A Simpson and Claudius V Wikham).

They are “The Performance of Leucaena and Glyricidia and their potential as sources of plant nutrients in the Intermediate Savannahs of Guyana, in Review: a compilation of CARDI research papers”, 2nd Edition, August 2002, and Leslie A Simpson and Claudius V Wikham, “The Performance of cowpea, maize and sorghum in an alley cropping trial with Leucaena and Glyricidia in the Intermediate Savannahs of Guyana, in Review: a compilation of CARDI research papers”, 2nd Edition, August 2002).

Although in these trials Glyricidia grew more prolifically than Leucaena, there were no problems encountered in growing Leucaena.

Furthermore, Leucaena was also specifically recommended for agro-forestry in Guyana in a study published by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, IICA (Thorwald Geuze and Pauline van den Ende, Agroforestry in Guyana: Guidelines for Establishment and Management of Agroforestry Practices, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, 1996).

Leucaena has been specifically recommended for the tropics; for example, a joint report in 1977 by the Philippine Council for Agricultural and Resource Research and the United States National Academy of Science, titled, “Leucaena: Promising Forage and Tree Crop for the Tropics”, heralded significant cultivation of Leucaena in tropical countries, including India where Leucaena is commonly called “Subabool”.

Indeed, from our studies, we expect that Leucaena grown in the Pomeroon will provide a fuel wood yield of 30 MT/acre, which is why we required a minimum of 5000 acres of land, because we require 90,000 MT/annum of dry wood to supply our proposed 200 TPD pellet plant.

Additionally, Leucaena is already present in many regions of Guyana, and is also specifically growing prolifically in this tropical climate in acidic peaty soils. Indeed, because of its proliferation in the wild in Guyana, the wild type species of this plant is listed as a potential invasive species in the Guyana Fourth Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity (www.cbd.int).

Invasive potential

Leucaena in the wild poses a threat to biodiversity, as it proliferates, particularly in tropical climates. In Guyana, the wild species is present and is not controlled and can be found in a diversity of areas and a diversity of soils.

However, the cultivated species are used in many countries around the world, and worldwide Standard Operating Procedures have been developed for the safe, non-proliferating cultivation of certain sub-species of Leucaena, which we shall be using.

For example, an exhaustive report done by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Mines of the Queensland Government of Australia (CS Walton, “Leucaena Leucocephala in Queensland, in the Pest Review Series – Land Protection”, published by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines, Queensland, February 2003), clearly establishes the best practices and degree of manageable risk associated with the cultivation of this species.

Another website which provides guidelines on the safe and non-proliferating cultivation of Leucaena is www.daff.qld.gov.au.

Leucaena seeds through a pod. The pod dehisces and releases a much heavier than air seed immediately below itself. Because the seed is not dispersible by air, it does not travel very far and thus does not proliferate to even small distances.

This is why wherever there is a Leucaena plant, it is always present in bunches. One plant is originally grown and a bunch develops later around the original plant.

This is why controlled cultivation is possible and safely practised in so many countries in the world. One can physically ensure that the plant does not go beyond the defined boundaries of the farm. Our proposed plantation shall go through all required permits and regulatory processes required by the Guyanese Government, before cultivation is started.

IAST

We wish to lastly comment on our collaboration with the Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST). Firstly, the IAST is not, as far as we are aware, an institute expert in agriculture, or cultivation of energy forests, and we did not seek them out for such expertise.

We were introduced to the IAST through our enquiries with GO-Invest and the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce.

We approached GO-Invest to specifically invest in the growing of Leucaena leucocephala or any other suitable energy crop, for the specific purpose of producing energy pellets for export to Europe. Our MoU with the GO-Invest was completed before we were introduced to the IAST.

The Director of IAST, Professor Suresh Narine, provided convincing arguments to Pinnacle’s principals Manish Gupta, Manu Bansal, and Rajneesh Mehra on the merits of Pinnacle additionally investing in facilities to produce activated carbon from waste coconut shells and for the production of 8 megawatts per hour MW/h of electricity from waste biomass already present in Guyana.

We were not only impressed by Professor Narine’s cogent arguments, but were immensely impressed by the technologies developed in these and other areas by the Institute.

We were also impressed by the state-of-the-art laboratories, pilot facilities, and the competence of the IAST’s staff.

As a foreign company which was convinced by a local institute to invest an additional US$18.5 million, beyond the US$16.5 million we already had earmarked for investment, I can assure your readership that we performed careful due diligence.

Furthermore, we feel that our access to the IAST’s knowhow, expertise and developed technology warranted providing the Institute with a five per cent stake in the paid up equity of our entire investment portfolio in Guyana and a prominent place on our Board of Directors.

We operate in many countries around the world, and wish to express our admiration for the unusual level of professionalism, competence and cutting-edge science that we witnessed at the IAST. It is an institution of which Guyanese should be proud.

In closing, we would like to thank Dr Janette Bulkan for raising questions about our proposed investments, and would like to extend to her and any other concerned Guyanese, our collaboration in answering your questions.

Copies of all of our agreements with the Guyanese Government can be procured by simply requesting same, to mbansal@pinnaclegreen.sg.

Yours sincerely,

Manu Bansal,

Executive Director

Pinnacle Green

Resources

(Guyana) Inc

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Peter ain’t deny, but Ron runnin

Old people seh it got some tings whah even a blind man can see, except David Blind of course. De ting bout David Blind is that some times he don’t see at all, some times he does only see half of whah he supposed to see, and now people realise he does some times see doubles.

David Blind does only see half way when he reading de fallin paper and de stabber paper. But he does see doubles when he readin de Times paper. And he don’t see a ting when a certain set of people attackin another set of certain people. That is certainly when David Blind does turn blind.

Old people also seh it got some tings whah even a deaf man can hear. All dem people who don’t hear good done hear that de Speaker, who is Uncle Rafeel, ain’t got de power to re-convene the House.

But Lalloo and M&Maxwell got hard ears, so dem ain’t hear that. Or dem hear, but dem play dem ain’t hear. That mean yuh can never be sure when dem hear from when dem don’t hear, or whah dem hear and whah dem ain’t hear.

None of dem ain’t hear when de lil boy call Uncle Rafeel name. Yet, all of dem hear when a big man start bawlin after he get ketch red handed. And de more de big man bawl is de more dem bawl too. It look like dem prefer big man than lil boy, unlike Uncle Rafeel.

And talkin bout lil boy, some body seh Ron play both blind and deaf when de lil boy come out wid he story. And it look like he get dumb too, because day after day pass and he ain’t seh nutten.

Ron run and sign a paper wid UNICEF to protect lil boys and lil gyurls. Yet, de more de lil boy talk is de more Ron run. Good ting Peter Hugh gotta huge heart and he ain’t blind, deaf or dumb like Ron.

Ting-a-ling-a-ling…friend tell friend…mattie tell mattie! Although one Peter deny Christ, this Peter ain’t deny de lil boy rights!

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Vedanta Academy

About a month ago, I was sent a photograph (a pic we call it these days) of a new lab built for a small school in Bush Lot, West Coast Berbice (WCB). It was a small space with a sink and a table of wood, a “chemistry lab”.

The school is Vedanta Academy, headed by Mr Rampersaud. Miss Shazeena sent me the pic and asked me to do what I could to help. She also promised that she will MAKE me come to visit the school.

I said I would, and like people of honour, we kept our promise. We helped as much as we could and we visited.

We were welcomed with grace by Mr Rampersaud, members of the Board of Governors, a good Pandit-Ji, parents, and teachers. We met the entire school of students, dressed in the Academy’s orange uniform.

The school is a two-storey building, L-shaped, neat, with nice land space at the back and front. The desk-type chairs are polished and there is a burnished podium. Downstairs is an auditorium, aback of which is the chemistry space. It is all aligned, neat, clean.

The headteacher, Mr Rampersaud informed me that the school was set up by donors from within and without the country. Salaries and expenses are dependable. Clearly, there are people who care enough to make things well for our children.

The reward is a future for the children that I met and spoke with. It is a future wrought from generosity, vision, effort, dedication, and discipline. The hallmark of the school is discipline.

It is a school dedicated not only to academic performance but also to moral values and ethics. The headteacher, the teachers, the Board, and the supporters understand that academic performance can be measured rather easily.

But they also realise that moral substance, not measured easily, is even more important. Vitally, the children seem to understand this as well. As Miss Shazeena and Mr Rampersaud said to me: “The concern is for the WHOLE person!” I could not agree more.

Vedanta Academy is built upon moral foundations established in the Vedic texts. Those texts are inclusive instead of exclusive. They embrace good habits rather than rule by brute force and ignorance.

When I entered the Academy, I was told by the headteacher that they were honoured and thankful that I could come down and visit and so on. Mr Rampersaud is clearly a good man, but he was wrong in this instance.

It was a simple soul like me that was honoured to have been asked to be a part of something special. I was honoured and quite a bit shy. They all set me at ease with their welcoming embrace. I have no words to say except thank you and Shanti.

This Vedanta Academy took me back to the days when Mrs J C Chandisingh and Mr Haroon Samad created Corentyne High School. I was a child then, as I became again when I visited Vedanta.

This school shall be a model for many, I am confident of it.

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Self-fulfilling prophesy…

…on stunted development

One phenomenon that’s unremarked in Guyana is “self-fulfilling prophesies” (SFPs) by the Opposition. In an SFP, a person or group describes a situation in a way that is quite untrue…but the statement is followed by actions ensuring that the original description comes into being.

As the scholar who popularised the term said, “This specious validity of the self-fulfilling prophecy perpetuates a reign of error. For the prophet will cite the actual course of events as proof that he was right from the very beginning.”

Let’s look at what the Opposition’s been saying about Guyana. From the time the PNC were thrown out of their illegal occupation of office, they insisted Guyana wouldn’t develop under the PPP/C. And everything they’ve done since is to make that prophesy come true.

First, there was the incitement of “ethnic cleansing” by Hoyte when the new Government removed some of the “square pegs in round holes” from the Government. Tempers frayed as the political temperature rose. Hoyte came up with his “shoot to kill directive” on some land issue. The Government was transfixed with “outing” PNC fires and it was only due to superhuman efforts by the Administration that the economy grew.

After the PNC’s violent street protests following the 1997 elections, what the SN called “Terror in the City” unfolded as ethnic violence, and was brutally inflicted on presumptive “supporters” of the PPP/C. The Government had to truncate its term of office by two years even though no electoral impropriety had been found. This was development delayed.

A wave of robberies and kidnappings by the notorious “Blackie” London gang then terrorised sections of the country, but Hoyte draped a flag of Guyana over his coffin at the Square of the Revolution.

It should surprise no one that after Hoyte unleashed his “slow fyaah, mo’ fyaah” strategy of violent attacks against the Government, “Blackie” London’s lieutenant Andrew Douglas continued with the “Buxton Insurrection”.

Another six years of marking time ensued as the PPP/C – under a new leader Bharrat Jagdeo – continued to struggle heroically to stave off the waves of attacks by the bandits, while trying to continue with their development programme for Guyana. But the success of the Jagdeo Administration in both areas didn’t stop the PNC from pushing their self-fulfilling prophecy for stymieing Guyana’s development.

Under Granger, they’ve merely changed the approach. Now it’s more subtle: economic sabotage like derailing the Amaila Falls Hydro, raising political risk factors to Bosai in Linden, blocking the AML/CFT Bill, etc.

As Burnham taught his acolytes, there are many ways to kill a cat.

…or inexorable logic

But, of course, not everything happens as “self-fulfilling prophesies”. There are those situations where folks will jump up and down and deny something’s going to happen, but then, lo and behold, it does!!

Not being Marxist or anything like that, this Eyewitness doesn’t know about “dialectics” acting out, but there’s always the inexorable logic of some situations that lead to inevitable conclusions.

Just take a look at the AFC. We know with all that’s going on in that House of Sleaze, you’d want to avert your gaze…but bear with us. As even their new comrade David Hinds pointed out, the AFC began by promising to remain untethered to either of the two big parties – the PPP/C and PNC. They’d support or oppose both of them depending on their stand on specific issues.

But the moment the AFC declared war on the PPP/C –it was only a matter of time they’d be in bed with the PNC. We hear there’s a coalition/marriage in the works – with Nagamootoo as the PM/bride.

The marriage kiss will be the “kiss of death” for the AFC!

…denial

Harmon says reconvening Parliament’s not on the table in the Ramotar-Granger talks. So exactly how are the two heavyweights able to ignore this elephant in the room??

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Crossing boundaries

Professional boundaries are probably one of the most challenging ethical skills to practise, though they’re easy to understand. It is so important to have a clear understanding of our limits, especially when we are in positions of power.

Generally speaking, boundaries are usually put in place to keep us focused on the work we are doing with the client, for those of us who are constantly in contact with a client for example. The thing is, without any sort of boundaries, there is that chance of us overstepping our obligations when providing support to our clients.

In a professional relationship, we can certainly be friendly with our client, but we cannot be their friend – a key factor to remember. Once we understand this and put it into practice, then we are making life easy for everyone.

Some poor boundaries would be a situation where we find ourselves discussing the client and his/her case with our family and friends or if we are having discussions with the client about other workers or staff members at the workplace.

It could even be things like exchanging gifts with the client between us and the client, or worse yet if we are revealing personal information that is not relevant to our client’s case. These are all things to consider when we are working with a client.

To avoid any conflict, it is best to explain our role as the helper and the limits of our availability to the client outside of business hours right from the beginning of the first meeting.

Once it is understood that the client will only be able to contact us at an arranged location and that our personal life is not up for discussion, then that should help. If we are in a situation where a client crosses the professional boundaries, it is so important to take quick action to redirect it right away to clarify our role and the limits of our relationship with them.

The bottom line is to avoid having a dual relationship with a client.   And basically, a dual relationship is when we have a therapeutic relationship with our client and soon after find out that we both attended the same school and had the same teachers for example.

In a situation like this, it is best to end the professional relationship by referring him/her to another worker. Mentioning the situation to our co-worker or the person we report to is not a bad idea.

It is key for us to know the consequences of poor boundaries, because without it we may not be able to provide a relationship boundary in an appropriate manner to our client.   Actually, we may make it difficult for the client to present their problems: if we are acting as a friend, the client might want to see us in the helping role.

So being their friend isn’t really helping.   Believe it or not when we fail to set professional boundaries, we can cause ourselves to burn out from caring for our client beyond what is required of us as a professional helper.

If professional boundaries are not maintained, we may find ourselves acting in an unethical manner.   For example, if a student is having sex with his/her teacher, this is unethical, but it can happen. Professional training can help to prevent this, so let’s do our part to avoid any unethical situation.

For questions, comments or feedback, email them to mcnarine@rogers.com.

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Death of an intellectual

Ali Al’Amin Mazrui passed away on October 12, in Binghamton, New York and in accordance with his wishes, his body was returned to his native Kenya and interred in the family cemetery.

It is unfortunate that the death of this world-famous intellectual, Islamic scholar and Pan Africanist could have been so unremarked here. Especially when a Commission of Inquiry is investigating the murder of Walter Rodney, with whom Mazrui is always remembered.

Born in 1933 in a prominent Muslim family in Mombassa, Mazrui was a full decade older than Rodney, but also subjected to the pressures of a British colonial environment. Like the father of Barack Obama, Mazrui was of that generation that was identified and assisted with their education in the expectation that they would be fifth columnists for colonial interests when they returned to their native land.

Mazrui was sent off to the University of Manchester in England for his Bachelor’s (1960); Columbia University in New York, for a Master’s (1961); and Oxford University for a PhD (1966).

Rodney completed his PhD the same year, from the School of African and Oriental Studies, but there is no indication that their paths crossed in England. Part of the reason was that at this time they not only held completely different ideological beliefs, but their perspectives were as a consequence completely disparate on the nature of the anti-colonial struggle.

Returning to Africa to teach at Uganda’s Makerere University in 1966, Mazrui articulated the classic liberal perspective on the “progressive” role of capitalism and capital for development in addition to an emphasis of individual political rights, etc. He criticised leaders such as Nkrumah and Nyerere. Mazrui was famously articulate and regarded as the best debater in East Africa.

In 1970, Walter Rodney, who was teaching in Tanzania, challenged the Liberal from a Marxist perspective. As told by John Otim, the Editor of Nile Journal:

“Those who followed his (Mazrui’s) career and knew him well remember that the only occasion he ever lost his cool was at a debate with Walter Rodney, the famous author of How Europe Underdeveloped Africa.

“On that occasion, Rodney refused to swallow Mazrui’s customary bait, which was to lure his interlocutor into a frontal engagement with him before an audience he had already softened through the magic of his oratory. That time, however, Rodney side-stepped the bait. In the process, he skilfully implied that, concerning the colonial issue which was the topic of their debate, Mazrui was at best a daydreamer and at worst, a collaborator.

“There was no commonality of interests between the coloniser and the colonised, Rodney said. Mazrui who prided himself on his African and nationalist credentials was suddenly stung. Worst of all, it was before his home audience at Makerere University.”

But it is a mark of the intellectual integrity of Mazrui that when he was forced to leave Uganda in 1973 after he criticised Idi Amin for his dictatorial policies that drove out Asians, he wrote against the Burnhamite dictatorship in Guyana denying Rodney a job in 1974.

By that time Mazrui was teaching at the University of Michigan, where he remained until 1989, before moving on to the University of Binghamton, where he died. In the US, he staunchly defended the need for Pan Africanism and offended many when he also defended the cause of the Palestinians. On the other hand, he defended a greater role for women in Islam.

He condemned the murder of Rodney in 1980, and when he was invited to Guyana on the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in 1988, he publicly asked Hoyte for Rodney’s seminal role to be acknowledged.

In 1998, he was appointed by Dr Jagan to the First Walter Rodney Chair of History at UG. In 2005, he travelled to Guyana to participate in the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Walter Rodney.

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Ebola scare in Guyana: We passed our first test

A health worker checks the temperature of a baby entering Mali from Guinea. The global number of cases in the Ebola outbreak has exceeded 10,000, with 4922 deaths, according to the latest estimates by the World Health Organisation released on Saturday (Joe Penney/Reuters)

A health worker checks the temperature of a baby entering Mali from Guinea. The global number of cases in the Ebola outbreak has exceeded 10,000, with 4922 deaths, according to the latest estimates by the World Health Organisation released on Saturday (Joe Penney/Reuters)

On October 24, rumours spread wildly that Guyana had its first Ebola patient. It was amazing how quickly it seemed that all of Guyana knew of the case. Fortunately, it turned out not to be.

One could sense genuine fear in the population and the story was not just a wicked rumour. There was a basis for the story. A woman showed up with certain symptoms and it happens that she had travelled to a West African country on the border of Guinea, one of the most affected countries. She was discharged from an isolation unit and sent home after doctors had determined that she did not have Ebola.

There is a sense of worry whether we are truly ready to deal with a real Ebola case. Important questions are being asked and the Ministry of Health must provide comprehensive answers.

Kudos to the health-care staff that responded to the possibility that Guyana might have had its first Ebola case. The statement from the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) was timely and allayed the mounting fears. A private physician acted with urgency in alerting the GPHC and President Donald Ramotar ensured that all necessary personnel and expertise were gathered to respond.

The Ministry and the GPHC must meet with other experts for a forensic and clinical audit of the case to determine what improvements, if any, might be needed for future response.

Check for weaknesses

The President must insist that such a detailed step-by-step analysis be made to identify any weaknesses. This will help to ensure that should a real Ebola case occur, Guyana will be ready.

The GPHC immediately extracted the patient away from the physician’s office and directly to an Ebola isolation unit. But was the emergency team that did the extraction properly equipped? Was the team Hazmat-ready? Any response must assume that the patient has Ebola and must act in accordance with this assumption.

Even as the doctors were engaged in determining the cause of illness, certain actions had to be taken assuming that this was an Ebola case. For example, what happened at the private doctor’s office? Were this doctor and his staff subject to any kind of quarantine, voluntary or imposed? Was a tracking team in place? Was any sanitisation initiated for the doctor’s office and the ambulance? Was there protective equipment for the staff at the GPHC?

Ebola has appeared in about six countries outside Africa. Where infection occurred outside of Africa, it has been health workers affected. It kills health workers by exposing them to patients who, by the end, exude up to 10 litres of virus-laden fluids a day. Were the medical personnel properly equipped for the Ebola response? What kind of testing service was available?

The GPHC statement failed to answer some of these questions. The authorities may have taken these factors into consideration, but such information should be provided to allay fears and uncertainty. Ebola has stirred great fear; hence, information on processing possible cases must be provided.

Communication focal point

As rumours circulated and fears mounted on October 24, no one at the Ministry or at the GPHC was in any position or willing to talk to the media and to other interested parties. This compounded the problem.

The Ebola Readiness and Response Programme must have a communication focal point that could answer questions and provide information to prevent wild rumours from becoming the story.

The medical and clinical team at the GPHC appeared competent in their response and their first test in a possible Ebola case. This should allay some of the fears and Guyana is particularly proud of the team. But the communication component of the response was almost non-existent.

After the case was determined, the Ministry failed to hold a full media briefing to inform and assure the nation of Guyana’s readiness. Questions as to how the woman came back from a West African country and was never screened were not answered.

The Ministry also failed to convene a mandatory assessment of the overall response. For countries like Guyana, and given that the possibility of Ebola is a new experience, an audit of the response is vital.

Overall, Guyana passed its first test. The 2014 Ebola outbreak is raging on. While Senegal and Nigeria have been declared Ebola-free, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are reeling. Mali is now another West African country that has declared a case of Ebola.

Guyana has in place a policy of no visas for visitors from West Africa. Guyana is also advising against travelling to West Africa. But one citizen did not heed the advice and was the subject of a close call.

This close call provided Guyana with an opportunity to examine itself and answer the question: Are we ready in case Ebola comes?

Readers are invited to send their comments by email or Facebook to times.notebook@gmail.com.

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Disciplinary action taken on Albion players demonstrates BCB’s unprofessionalism

Dear editor,

The Albion Community Centre Cricket Club wishes to respond to a Press Release from the Berbice Cricket Board (BCB) that was printed in last Thursday’s edition (October 23rd) of the Guyana Chronicle Newspaper titled “Permaul heads list of players that were reprimanded by BCB”

This Press Release has once again demonstrated the high level unprofessionalism of the BCB and its utter disrespect that it continues to display toward the Executives and Members of the Albion Community Centre Cricket Club.

According to the Press Release, Albion cricketers Veerasammy Permaul and Anthony Bramble were fined $15,000 and $10,000 respectively and were also both paced on a one-year’s good behavior bond while Jonathan Foo was issued with a Warning Letter while two cricketers from the Rose Hall Town Youth and Sports Club were also sanctioned.

The Press Release further stated that the players were penalized as a result of their poor sportsmanship displayed during the final of the recently concluded Berbice Bridge Company 50 Overs First Division Cricket Final that was played at the Albion Community Centre Ground.

While the Albion Community Centre Cricket Club at no time will endorse poor sportsmanship from any of it members, the club is very much dissatisfied with the way in which the BCB has opted to pronounce on the alleged misconduct of the cricketers since the Club nor its three cricketers Permaul, Bramble and Foo were not allowed an opportunity to be heard and only learnt of the Board’s decision via the press.

On October 14 at 10:24h to be exact, an email was received by the Albion Community Centre Cricket Club Secretary from the BCB Secretary seeking help with respect to the contacting of three players (Permaul, Bramble and Foo) who as the email stated “are summoned by the Board to attend a Meeting on Wednesday October 15 at 16:00h”.

The Club’s Secretary responded by asking what the meeting was about and the BCB Secretary responded by saying “The umpires that did the match on Saturday made a complaint to the Board about the players misbehaving on the field during the game. We would be having an Executive meeting on Wednesday so I was advised to invite all of the players involved at the meeting to deal with the matter.”

In reply, the Club’s Secretary questioned why the Club (Albion Community Centre Cricket Club) was not invited to attend this meeting since the allegations of misbehaving were during a Club match and it was the norm that in such cases for the Club to also be invited. The Club’s Secretary further stated in his email that no player from Albion will attend this meeting unless the management of the Club is also invited to attend.

On the October 15, at 10:09h, the BCB Secretary response was “This email was sent to you as an Executive of the Albion Cricket Club and it was expected that the Management of the Club would be present to defend their players as usual.  If you did not interpret my email as an invitation, please consider this an invitation.”

Immediately, the Albion Community Centre Cricket Club Secretary replied as follows: “Thanks for officially inviting Albion to attend this meeting; however, your email sent early simply put it, did not say that. Unfortunately, we (the management of the Club and the three cricketers) will not be able to attend the meeting this afternoon since the notice is too short and we have prior commitments. Grateful for this meeting to be rescheduled for another date, preferably not on Wednesdays and Saturdays.”

There was no other communication received from the Board pertaining to the meeting until October 18, despite the Club’s Secretary had sent two other email to the BCB Secretary on October 16 and 17, respectively enquiring as to when will be the new date for the meeting.

On the October 18, the BCB Secretary wrote “The Board met on Wednesday with Members of Disciplinary Committee, other club members, officials and the umpires. The Executives decided to go ahead with the matter and a decision was taken. Copy of same will be sent to the Club and to the players in writing by Chairman of the disciplinary committee.”

The next day (October 19) the Club’s Secretary responded as follows “It is mindboggling to have learnt from your email below that the meeting was held despite the Albion Community Centre Cricket Club’s request for same to be rescheduled via email dated October 15.

Additionally, it is quite strange that this “matter” as you have called it, was pronounced upon by the “Board” whom I can only assume to be the “Executives of the Board” together Members of the Disciplinary Committee since the Albion Community Centre Cricket Club is never aware that both the Executives and Disciplinary Committee of the Board or any other Sub Committee of the Board for that matter, can simultaneously pronounce on an issue.

Further, it is against “Natural Justice” and “Procedural Fairness” for a pronouncement to be made on an issue or on issues pertaining to discipline in particular without the person or persons alleged to be involved and in this case, Albion cricketers Messrs. Veerasammy Permaul, Anthony Bramble and Jonathan Foo “not been given” an opportunity to be heard.

As you are very much aware, and the email below dated October 15 can clearly testify, the Albion Community Centre Cricket Club had requested for the date of the meeting to be rescheduled since the management of the Club and the three cricketers were not available to attend the meeting on the afternoon of October 15, since the notice was too short and both the management of the Club and the three cricketers in question had prior commitments.

Nevertheless, as you had advised, the decision(s) taken will be communicated by the Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee to the cricketers and the Club in writing, which the Albion Community Centre Cricket Club is eagerly awaiting to receive.”

No correspondence was since received from the BCB on the issue and the Club and the three cricketers (Permaul, Bramble and Foo) were only aware of the decisions taken via the BCB’s Press Release in the October 23, edition of the Guyana Chronicle.

Therefore, Club’s questions to the BCB are:

1. Why the BCB did not respond to the request of the Albion Community Centre Cricket Club to reschedule the meeting that was set for Wednesday, October 15, to a mutually agreed date?

2. Why did the Executives of the BCB deal with this matter in conjunction with the Board’s Disciplinary Committee when the matter should have been addressed firstly by the Disciplinary Committee?

3. Why the rules of “Natural Justice” was breached and the Albion Community Centre Cricket Club and its three cricketers (Permaul, Bramble and Foo) were not allowed to be heard or is it a case of the BCB’s Executives being the Judge, Jury and Executioner?

The Albion Community Centre Cricket Club hereby request that the BCB rescind its decisions and allow “Due Process” to prevail. Failing to do so and this matter is not expeditiously resolved to the satisfaction of all concern, legal action will be sought.

The Albion Community Centre Cricket Club also found it strange that the BCB in its Press Release stated “The BCB is worried about the poor and hostile relationship that exists between the Rose Hall Town Youth and Sports Club and the Albion Community Centre.” This statement in the opinion of the Club can be deemed fictitious since the two clubs enjoy a cordial relationship; however, as expected in any professional sport, there is always a high level of competitiveness between the two Clubs.

Imtiaz Baccus

Acting President

Albion Community Centre Cricket Club

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