November 25, 2014

Fall of the Wall

Two weeks ago, it was the 25th anniversary of an event that had profound implications for the entire world – including Guyana. But surprisingly, it elicited little interest in even our political elite.

The event was “the Fall of the Berlin Wall” and the disinterest suggested that perhaps we had definitely arrived at the end of an era. The Berlin Wall was erected in 1961 and it was 28 years later in 1989 the process began that finally brought it tumbling down.

The 28 years that the Berlin Wall was up, eerily signals the nexus that it actually had with our own infamous “28″ years: both were consequences of the Cold War between the USA and the USSR. Partitioned between the two occupying powers after WWII, Berlin was a symbol of that war between “capitalism and communism”, which was very hot indeed in other parts of the world such as Guyana.

After witnessing more than five million of its citizens crossing over to West Berlin, which was an enclave within East Germany, the East Germans claimed to have erected the Wall to keep out the western “fascists” but actually it was to achieve the opposite end.

It was the same dynamics in 1961 that launched the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba by US-backed forces and the subsequent decision by the US government of John F Kennedy to remove the newly elected People’s Progressive (PPP) Government in the then British Guiana. Kennedy promised that he would not “allow another Cuba” – meaning another communist Government – in the Western Hemisphere.

Jagan’s equivocation, in his estimation, as to whether he was a “communist”, convicted him to effect regime change here.

On June 26, 1963, just months before he was assassinated, Kennedy made one of his most famous speeches in West Berlin in front of a crowd of almost half a million, to show solidarity to West Berliners and his commitment to “fight communism”.

Kennedy declared, “2000 years ago, the proudest boast was civis romanus sum ["I am a Roman citizen"]. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is “Ich bin ein Berliner!”… All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words “Ich bin ein Berliner!”

By then, the CIA had already opened up the Pandora Box of violence in the political struggle between the two major groups in Guyana. On February 16, 1962, in another of the Black Fridays that Georgetown experienced, many Indian-owned businesses in the downtown district were burnt down by rampaging mobs of People’s National Congress (PNC) and TUF (The United Force ) supporters, organised by CIA proxies.

While Kennedy made his peroration in Berlin, Guyana was in the throes of its infamous “80-day strike” by the Public Servants that eventually led to widespread ethnic violence in other parts of the country. His inability to exert any control over the security forces helped convince Jagan to accept a change of voting rules from the constituency system (under which he was guaranteed a victory, to the Proportional Representation (PR) system that would oust his regime.

Burnham was ensconced into office by the US-British combine in 1964 and his party remained in office until 1992 through rigged elections.

But that latter event is also related to the Berlin Wall: its fall three years before in 1989. This fall signalled to the US that communism was not the threat that it had once considered accepted and consequently that it was prepared to countenance regimes in its “sphere of influence” that were once verboten.

“Free and fair” elections for Guyana moved from being an aspiration to being a reality with several members of the US Congress and the Carter Centre lobbying for it. The “Fall of the Berlin Wall” in this way presaged the fall of the PNC and the return of the PPP.

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Making an effort to manage your diabetes

Dear Editor,

I must congratulate my fellow Guyanese on their eagerness to know about their health. Based on feedback from the readers, I am motivated to continue to write in order to continue to educate my fellow Guyanese on their health.

For those of you who were diagnosed with diabetes recently an many years ago, it was not easy to face the facts, however acceptance is the first step toward controlling your diabetes, feeling better and living a longer and a healthier life. Below are tips to get started on the path toward improved health and wellbeing after you are diagnosed with diabetes.

There is good news and bad news for diabetics. The good news is that controlling your diabetes, which means keeping your blood sugar at healthy levels and reducing your chances of diabetes complications ranging from heart disease to foot damage, is something that you can do.

However the bad news is that keeping your diabetes under control is up to you, and it’s not always easy.

Many people with diabetes have found out after having a major complication such as a heart attack, stroke, or diabetic coma etc. Or you could have experienced symptoms such as blurry vision or excessive thirst, or just happened to find out from a routine blood test during a check-up.

In whatever way you are diagnosed, it’s difficult to make sudden lifestyle changes. Most people need to gather their wits, talk to the experts and get up to speed on a confusing array of medical terms. However there are a few things you need to do right way.

Please Don’t let the past haunt you. Type Two diabetes is partly genetic and many people may have childhood memories of grandparents or other relatives with diabetes who died after amputations, blindness, heart attacks, or strokes. In recent years a lot have change due to the advances in technology.

Our fore parents had no way to test their blood sugar at home, little or no medication options, and limited knowledge about the benefits of diet and exercise. We can count our blessings and acknowledge that there are lots of options/tools to control diabetes.

Understanding what is meant by the term moderation and consistency. These are important words for diabetic patients to understand. You need to learn how to eat at consistent times, limit your total calories, and space your carbohydrate intake throughout the day.

Even exercise needs to be done on a routine, because it can help to lower blood glucose. People who do not take control of their diet and does not exercise have a lot of difficulties in controlling their blood glucose.

Don’t beat yourself up because you are diagnosed with diabetes. Many people may ask the question – “What did I do?” What you need to do is to move past this. You could feel bad or guilty, but the more quickly you move on to “What can I do about this?” the better it is for you.

Please Do not panic. Many people are horrified when they hear the word diabetes. It could be the idea of using insulin needles, pricking their finger to test blood sugar, or never eating a piece of cake again.

There are a lot of myths floating around about type diabetes (such as you can never eat cake). Seek professional help from a diabetes educator or other people living with diabetes and enquire what you can eat, whether insulin hurts, or how difficult it is to prick your own finger. You may find that these aren’t as bad as you expected.

Don’t be too rigid about treatment options. Many diabetics may feel that they never want to take oral medication or insulin. Or they may think they could never control diabetes with diet and exercise.

According to the American Diabetes Association patients can initially treat type 2 diabetes with lifestyle changes (improved diet, more exercise, and weight loss) and the oral medication metformin.

What works best will depend on your individual circumstances. Once you take control over your blood sugar levels then you are on the way of lowering your risk for diabetic complications.

These are words of encouragement to help people accept their illness and make an effort to control it. The management of diabetes will be further discussed in the next publication.

Please feel free to send an email to kumarsukhraj@yahoo.com or call 622-8032 for further enquiry and discussion on the topic. Patient education plays an important in the diagnosis and management of diabetes and any other illness.

Submitted by

Dr Kumar Sukhraj

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No one, whatever their behaviour or dress, deserves to be raped

Dear Editor,
The Guyana National Youth Council has noted with great concern the statements made by ‘A’ Division Commander Clifton Hicken concerning what he sees as a correlation between women’s attire and their likelihood of being raped.

In a press release, Guyana Police Force Public Relations and Press Officer Ivelaw Whittaker followed this statement by affirming that the press and the general public had taken Commander Hicken’s statement out of context.

Commander Hicken stated that our society creates an atmosphere for committing the crime of rape and that women should “embrace an attire that would be morally acceptable” as a deterrent to rape.

While only Commander Hicken can truly say what the intent of his words were, the effect of those words is clear: to express the sentiment that women bear a significant proportion of the blame for sexual assaults committed against them.

Even if we are to give Commander Hicken and Mr Whittaker the benefit of the doubt that no moral judgment was being passed on women and how they choose to dress, and that the Division Commander was making practical recommendations for how women might protect themselves, the recommendation by Commander Hicken is not grounded in research concerning how and why rape is committed.

According to Mr Whittaker, Commander Hicken based his argument on “discussions among elements of criminal groups regarding sexual assaults they would have committed”.
Regrettably, it would seem as though Commander Hicken gives a great deal of weight to the testimony of rapists, men possibly seeking to explain away, lessen and/or justify their own crimes.

One wonders if provocative attire was a contributing factor to the rape and murder of 90-year old Cove and  John resident Millicent Adriana Cummings, as reported by the Guyana Times on April 13, 2013, or the numerous young children and teenagers who are raped.

Were they dressed in a provocative or “morally unacceptable” manner? Both women and men of all ages can be victims of rape and sexual abuse. Though most reports in the media highlight the fact that women are victims of such violence, we must remind ourselves this is a problem facing both sexes.
If it is suggested that the way women dress has anything to do with the likelihood they will be met with such violence, is it being suggested the same is true for the men and boys who are victims of rape?

There have been several accusations and charges levelled at members of the Guyana Police Force, including a former Commissioner with the most recent case reported on November 8 another media.

This report shared that Police Corporal Hufford David was being sentenced to four years’ jail for raping and forcing a 14-year-old girl into prostitution.  As Division Commander in a Force already trying to deal with the sexual misconduct of its own ranks, those looking to Commander Hicken for guidance should be met with a more positive and supportive message.
Guyana is signatory to more than 15 international agreements on human rights with the same number of legislative acts and amendments locally designed to enshrine and preserve the rights of women.

These include the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW – 1980) and the Sexual Offences Act 2010. The National Policy for Women also sets out the inclusion of the issue of gender equity on the national agenda.

It is condemnable that we live in a society which can be so recklessly uninformed of circumstances surrounding sexual assault, that some would wholeheartedly support the idea that there is a direct correlation between provocative dress and rape.

We must not default to a culture of victim blaming which both prevents persons from speaking out about sexual abuse as well as adds miles to the road of recovery and the search for justice.

In considering Commander Hicken’s statement and the resulting public outrage, what is less talked about is the manifestation of a larger problem. Cases are dissimilar in their implications, but similar in that the men exhibit gross disrespect for and objectification of women.
Perspectives such as these exist for many historic and cultural reasons which include inherited structural conditions, gender role expectations, and the fundamental exercise of power in a patriarchal society.

Confronting rape myths demands a critical examination of the data and re-evaluating knowledge in the face of social facts. Research has found that the vast majority of rapes are planned. Rape is the crime of the rapist, not the fault of the victim. Rapists look for victims they perceive as vulnerable.

Where we cannot fault Commander Hicken is in his observation that our society does seem to be creating the atmosphere where the crime of rape flourishes. Where Guyana’s rape conviction record stands at 1.4 percent, in an environment where proper investigative work is uncommon, and in a justice system which does not offer adequate protection to a rape victim, we must pause and examine the other factors that contribute to the creation of a rape culture.

Take into account a male-dominated local entertainment industry that promotes songs such as, “Kick In She Back Door”, and the myriad of obscene dancehall songs, there is a relentless stream of images and music encouraging the sexual objectification of women.

What impact does this have on rape culture? Does it promote the necessary attitudinal change in men and boys highlighted by the National Policy on Women? Let these be the conversations we have, to alter the trends that we can – let’s not indulge in victim blaming of any form or fashion.

No person, whatever their behaviour or dress, deserves to be raped. Women deserve to live in a society free of fear in this regard, and we must all work together to promote a rape-free society.

As we near International Elimination of Violence Against Women Day on November 25, the Council calls on the Commissioner to not only retract his statement but to also issue a public apology to the women of Guyana.

It is necessary that a commitment to protecting our women (despite their choice of dress) is reaffirmed, particularly from an institution that is sworn to protect and serve.
Further, the Council calls on all, particularly all the relevant Government authorities, to implement and enforce the Sexual Offences Act 2010, to safeguard and protect the rights of women.

Submitted by
Guyana National Youth Council
A Network of Youth and Youth Organization

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Political parties and civil society have a critical role to play

Dear Editor,
On November 20, I met a delegation of the Alliance For Change (AFC) in my office.  This meeting was at my request and follows my earlier letter on the proroguing of Parliament, and subsequent meetings with President Donald Ramotar and Leader of the Opposition David Granger.

The AFC was represented by General Secretary David Patterson, MPs Valerie Lowe-Garrido and Kathy Hughes, and Treasurer Dominic Gaskin.
Representing the Catholic Church were myself and Mssrs Gino Persaud, Lawrence Lachmansingh and Albert Rodrigues.

The AFC outlined the timeline and associated details that led to their tabling of the Motion of No-Confidence, while inquiring as to the future steps that the Church would be taking to assist Guyana through this difficult period.

We discussed the Christian obligation to promote justice and peace in both word and deed, and the specific measures that the Catholic Church would be taking, as outlined in my earlier letter.

Our discussions delved into the challenges that lead to lowered levels of political trust in Guyana and its impact on the people.
We agreed that both political parties and civil society have a critical role to play, through dialogue and respectful engagement, in promoting reconciliation and trust in our beloved nation.
I remain grateful to the AFC and its delegation for taking the time to meet with me and my delegation from the Church.

Bishop Francis Dean Alleyne
Bishop of Georgetown

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President Obama’s immigration reform initiatives

Dear Editor,
I applaud President Barack Obama for the bold reforms to the nation’s broken immigration system, albeit temporary.

Immigration reform does not only impact our Latino brothers and sisters. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the Caribbean, South America and Africa now qualify for relief from the threat of deportation and will become eligible for lawful employment.

Almost all undocumented immigrants from the Caribbean and Guyana enter the United States lawfully, but overstayed their visas and thus are out of status. A large percent has children and/or spouses who are either US citizens or permanent residents.

Thousands more arrived before their 16th birthday, but are ineligible for DACA because they are currently above age 31. They have all lived here for a long time “decades in some cases”, and are law abiding. America is their home.

They deserve a shot at the American dream. Thanks to President Obama’s initiates, they can now emerge from the shadows to pursue that dream, once they pass a criminal background check and pay any back taxes accrued.

This is a historic day for America : “A nation of immigrants”. Millions of families will remain united and millions of people will without fear begin to contribute to society and the US treasury. Economists forecast that this could boost GDP by over $1 trillion.

Republicans are not only opposing President Obama. They are attacking the relatives of millions of US citizens who vote, as well as millions of US permanent residents who will soon become voters.

When these millions of Americans go to the polls to exercise their franchise, they will remember who stood with them and fought to keep their families united and who fought to tear their families and the nation apart!

Submitted by
Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy

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Making an effort to manage your diabetes

Dear Editor,
I must congratulate my fellow Guyanese on their eagerness to know about their health. Based on feedback from the readers, I am motivated to continue to write in order to continue to educate my fellow Guyanese on their health.

For those of you who were diagnosed with diabetes recently an many years ago, it was not easy to face the facts, however acceptance is the first step toward controlling your diabetes, feeling better and living a longer and a healthier life. Below are tips to get started on the path toward improved health and wellbeing after you are diagnosed with diabetes.
There is good news and bad news for diabetics. The good news is that controlling your diabetes, which means keeping your blood sugar at healthy levels and reducing your chances of diabetes complications ranging from heart disease to foot damage, is something that you can do.

However the bad news is that keeping your diabetes under control is up to you, and it’s not always easy.
Many people with diabetes have found out after having a major complication such as a heart attack, stroke, or diabetic coma etc. Or you could have experienced symptoms such as blurry vision or excessive thirst, or just happened to find out from a routine blood test during a check-up.

In whatever way you are diagnosed, it’s difficult to make sudden lifestyle changes. Most people need to gather their wits, talk to the experts and get up to speed on a confusing array of medical terms. However there are a few things you need to do right way.

Please Don’t let the past haunt you. Type Two diabetes is partly genetic and many people may have childhood memories of grandparents or other relatives with diabetes who died after amputations, blindness, heart attacks, or strokes. In recent years a lot have change due to the advances in technology.
Our fore parents had no way to test their blood sugar at home, little or no medication options, and limited knowledge about the benefits of diet and exercise. We can count our blessings and acknowledge that there are lots of options/tools to control diabetes.

Understanding what is meant by the term moderation and consistency. These are important words for diabetic patients to understand. You need to learn how to eat at consistent times, limit your total calories, and space your carbohydrate intake throughout the day.

Even exercise needs to be done on a routine, because it can help to lower blood glucose. People who do not take control of their diet and does not exercise have a lot of difficulties in controlling their blood glucose.

Don’t beat yourself up because you are diagnosed with diabetes. Many people may ask the question – “What did I do?” What you need to do is to move past this. You could feel bad or guilty, but the more quickly you move on to “What can I do about this?” the better it is for you.
Please Do not panic. Many people are horrified when they hear the word diabetes. It could be the idea of using insulin needles, pricking their finger to test blood sugar, or never eating a piece of cake again.

There are a lot of myths floating around about type diabetes (such as you can never eat cake). Seek professional help from a diabetes educator or other people living with diabetes and enquire what you can eat, whether insulin hurts, or how difficult it is to prick your own finger. You may find that these aren’t as bad as you expected.
Don’t be too rigid about treatment options. Many diabetics may feel that they never want to take oral medication or insulin. Or they may think they could never control diabetes with diet and exercise.

According to the American Diabetes Association patients can initially treat type 2 diabetes with lifestyle changes (improved diet, more exercise, and weight loss) and the oral medication metformin.

What works best will depend on your individual circumstances. Once you take control over your blood sugar levels then you are on the way of lowering your risk for diabetic complications.

These are words of encouragement to help people accept their illness and make an effort to control it. The management of diabetes will be further discussed in the next publication.
Please feel free to send an email to kumarsukhraj@yahoo.com or call 622-8032 for further enquiry and discussion on the topic. Patient education plays an important in the diagnosis and management of diabetes and any other illness.

Submitted by
Dr Kumar Sukhraj

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Int’l Hindu conference declared opened in Delhi

Dear Editor,

Delegates of Hindu organizations from Guyana and around the world gathered for an international conference in New Delhi on Friday and Saturday at the posh Ashoka Hotel in the heart of the diplomatic centre of the city.

Several other representatives from Guyana and the Hindu Guyanese Diaspora are also attending the conference that is being organized by the World Hindu Foundation; some of the Guyanese are presenting papers. Several Trinidadians and Surinamese are also presenting papers at the conference.

The conference was declared opened by the Dalai Lama of Tibet and the heads of the parent Hindu organization in India, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, and the ruling Bharatya Janata Party (BJP).

The head of RSS Mohan Bhagwat told the delegates that the ideological inspiration of the ruling BJP in India inspired Hindus to be “strong and fearless so that anybody wishing ill for the world could not stop their work aimed at everybody’s welfare”.

Sri Bhagwat-ji was speaking on the subject of “Right time for global Hindu re-emergence and collective efforts of Hindu society” at the World Hindu Conference.

Sri Bhagwat said Hindus should “rise in unison and show the world leadership based on values”.

He said: “This (rise of Hindus) would not be in reaction to anything or against anybody, but in keeping with Indian values which have been a teacher to the world”.

Bhagwat noted that the world had experimented with various models for over 2000 years and was looking upon Hindu values to show it the way. He called on Hindus “to start our walk in all areas of life including academia and media”.

The Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, a Buddhist, said Buddhism and Hinduism were “spiritual brothers”. He said the ancient Hindu values of non-violence and religious harmony can play a big role in spreading harmony in the world.

He said “ancient Indians were ‘modern Indians’ while today’s ‘modern India’ is too much westernised”.

In Indian towns, Dalai Lama pointed out, “One can find temples everywhere but not centres of study and discussion”.

The Dalai Lama called on Indians to pay more attention to their ancient knowledge which they neglected while Buddhists have preserved it.

The head of the VHP Ashok Singhal, who visited Guyana some years ago, urged that the Government make Sanskrit compulsory in school. Sanskrit is the mother of all Indian languages and many European languages. It is also the language of computers.

Singhal said Sanskrit has been the language of India. “Everything was written in Sanskrit thousands of years ago. If you want to eliminate it, you want to eliminate this country,” he told delegates.

The conference concludes on Sunday.

Sybmitted by

Vishnu Bisram

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GTU 2014 Swimming Nationals 2014 a blast

Dear Editor,

When I was informed that the Guyana Teacherss Union (GTU) Track and Field Championships 2014 was billed for the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Ground (Ayangana), I was furious for many reasons.

One, being that it was too late and the rainy season was upon Guyana, and two, the event not having access to the Guyana National Stadium for this year due to a cricket tournament.

It is also sad in many ways not to have witnessed athletes from all ten Administrative Regions in Guyana compete in Track and Field at Guyana’s most prestigious sporting event (the Nationals) as in any other global location.

On the brighter side of the situation, I managed to attend and did photography coverage of the Swimming aspect/segment of Nationals 2014 at the Aquatic Centre, Turkeyen and it was a blast.

Perfect weather, well supported, highly competitive, fun, etc. Attach is an image of a kodak fun moment.

 

Yours faithfully,

T Pemberton

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Can Granger say who are the criminals?

Dear Editor,

I read an article in another section of the media on November 18 under the headline, “National unity Gov’t would not include persons guilty of wrongdoing – Granger”.

Mr Granger, Leader of the Opposition, said in the article that “if he is elected the next President of Guyana he will not allow suspected criminals associated with the incumbent People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) to be part of his administration”.

Firstly, let me inform Granger that he is correct to have used the word “if”, since his People’s National Congress (PNC)/A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) party will receive a sound trashing at the next General and Regional Elections by the PPP/C led by President Donald Ramotar. This time by an overwhelming majority.

I only hope therefore that Granger did not get swell-headed at the PNC-Alliance For Change (AFC) coalition “rally” at the square of the revolution on November 14, and when faced with a massive electoral defeat, he will resort to post elections disturbances just to cover his shame.

In the article, Granger had nothing complimentary to say about former President Bharrat Jagdeo and Minister of Finance Dr Ashni Singh, two prominent patriots who continue to make the Guyanese people proud as a result of their hard work.

Just to remind Granger that Mr Jagdeo continues to be nationally and internationally recognized, having formulated and launched Guyana’s Low-Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), which immensely boosted Guyana’s international profile as a developing country in the forefront in the fight against global climate change.

And as a result of Guyana’s LCDS in partnership with Norway, millions of US dollars are currently provided toward the implementations of LCDS projects for Guyana’s social and economic development.

Mr Jagdeo was appointed the Champion of the Earth by the United Nations and continues to receive international appointments based on his dynamic leadership on climate change. He has received four honorary doctorates from international universities. Is this the reason why the former President is not liked by Granger and his Opposition cabal?

The Minister of Finance continues to competently and successfully manage Guyana’s economy ensuring the continued good health of our national Treasury. Dr Singh was also constitutionally and judicially in order when he restored funds cut from the 2014 National Budget by the combined parliamentary Opposition from the Considated Fund.

And now the PNC/APNU and AFC badly want to be the watchdogs of Guyana’s Treasury which had nothing left inside when the PPP/C took over from the illegal PNC regime in 1992.

Can Granger say in this regard who are the criminals?

 

Yours sincerely,

Peter Persaud

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PPP/C, AFC-APNU seeking to end 10th Parliament; both cannot be right

Dear Editor,

Kindly allow me to respond to Brynmor Pollard’s letter. Would the Opposition “killing” of Bills in Parliament make it halal, which guides Mr Pollard’s “impartial” observations that the PPP/C Government’s proroguing of Parliament is an otherwise “sacrifice”, probably even harami by their actions?

Mr Pollard cannot be insincere about the alleged quashing of Bills before Parliament by the President’s proroguing of Parliament as advocated in his letter. He wrote:

“In these circumstances, I can only surmise that President Donald Ramotar was not properly advised when considering whether to issue the Proclamation (to prorogue Parliament). Surely, the Attorney General ought to have known of the consequences for these Bills, upon a prorogation.”

The learned Senior Counsel should also consider that the joint Opposition had pledged to move the No-Confidence Motion, constitutionally triggering national elections within three months.

Should Parliament be reconvened, they have also pledged to again move the No-Confidence Motion. That is their right as, is the President’s.

In effect Mr Pollard seems to prefer the Bills’ killers to come from the Opposition, but in Parliament. Tradition? Apparently the PPP/C Government as the usual target may have dodged the bullet and this is considered to be wrong.

Forever wrong for 1000 years? My respect for Mr Pollard is diminished somewhat, but not shattered in the least.

He can assure Guyanese that he has no preference for one killer compared to another.

The Opposition’s “killing” does not make it halal whatsoever, which compares any such “impartiality” to paint the Government’s sacrifice as otherwise, even harami.

Sincerely,

Sultan Mohamed

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