Saturday, April 28, 2007
JO - A devilish problem: The Caribbean between Bush and Chavez
A devilish problem: The Caribbean between Bush and Chavez
Sir Ronald Sanders
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Battle lines appear to be firmly drawn between Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the George W Bush administration in Washington. It is a battle from which small Caribbean countries would do well to distance themselves.
Sir Ronald Sanders
President Bush is not a favoured person in many Caribbean societies. His election to office in his first term on the strength of ballot boxes in Florida when many African-Americans were said to be disenfranchised set him off on a wrong foot. The invasion of Iraq without UN Security Council approval and the subsequent catastrophe that Iraq has become, together with his poor handling of the disaster in New Orleans that left poor people, 'many of them black,' homeless and distressed increased Caribbean distrust of him.
But, more than anything else, it is his ideology that the US is the policeman and law enforcer of the world with the right to stomp around the globe imposing upon other countries the limited and jaundiced vision of his neo-conservative advisers that has worried Caribbean societies the most.
Against this background, there are more than a few persons who enjoy the barracking that Venezuela's President, Hugo Chavez, doles out to President Bush.
However, President Chavez is a very volatile man whose policies towards a number of Caribbean countries should be analysed beyond his anti-American rhetoric and the supposed largesse of his Petro Caribe initiative to supply oil to several countries.
Chavez's government has not moderated the claim to a large tract of Guyana, and maps of Venezuela, paraded to school children, continue to show the disputed Guyana territory as part of Venezuela.
Similarly, Venezuela continues to claim Aves Rock, near the island of Dominica, as its territory and, in this connection, can measure its exclusive economic zone not from the Venezuelan coastline, but from Aves Rock, depriving many Caribbean islands of their maritime entitlements.
The Petro Caribe initiative is itself worrying. For, while it has the veneer of a good deal, all that it offers is deferred payment of a portion of the world price for Venezuelan oil. It may help the governments with immediate cash-flow problems, but it is increasing their national debt and mortgaging the future of their countries to Venezuela.
BUSH. plans a March visit to several Latin American countries including Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico
And, Chavez has been in the forefront of the effort in the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to keep oil prices high.Indeed, it is the high price for oil and the earnings from the industry that has compensated Venezuela for his high spending and largesse. If oil prices fall, the Venezuelan economy will decline and whichever government is in office, will not be rescheduling or writing-off Caribbean debt.
Mr Chavez may be able to get away with his anti-American rhetoric while his surplus oil dollars last. But it is not a productive game.The governments in Brazil and Bolivia claim to be as socialist as Chavez's regime, but they have maintained a civilised relationship with the US while being critical of those aspects of America's policies with which they disagree.
For his part, although the US Government is the number one purchaser of Venezuelan oil and the links between the two countries have been strong at the levels of commerce, investment and people, Mr Chavez judges it desirable to maintain a high profile and very personal anti-American stance.
He is doing so at a price. Foreign investment in Venezuela is down 81% up to November 2006 in comparison with 2005. And, according to its own analysis, Venezuela needs $50 billion in foreign investment in the oil industry through to 2012.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration is stepping up its efforts to lure Latin American support away from Chavez. They have accused him of links with North Korea, supplying arms to the Colombian FARC guerrillas, funding the "subversive" MAS in Bolivia, forming an axis of evil with Cuba's Castro starting an arms race in Latin America.
Now President Bush plans a March visit to several Latin American countries, including Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico.
Mr Bush can be his worst ambassador, but if he carries off this visit well, he may indeed succeed in convincing some of these Latin American leaders that the Chavez course of a return to socialism, nationalisation, control of central banks and autocratic government is not the way to go.
However this relationship between the present administrations in the US and Venezuela turns out, it is not in the interest of small Caribbean countries to side with either of them, or to give them a platform which may be interpreted as support.
Caribbean countries have suffered for decades from the imposition of the will of the United States, it is right that they should try to resist it. But, they must also be careful of the ambitions of another potential hegemon.
Sir Ronald Sanders is a business consultant and former Caribbean diplomat
JG - India extends US$9m line of credit to Jamaica
India extends US$9m line of credit to Jamaica
published: Monday February 19, 2007
The Indian Government has agreed to make a US$9 million (approximately J$608m) line of credit available to Jamaica through the Ex-Im Bank of India.
The loan will facilitate the purchase of equipment to support Jamaica's rural water development programme.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller secured the line of credit on Saturday during bilateral talks held with India's Minister of State for External Affairs, Anand Sharma, who is in the island on a two-day visit.
A release from the Office of the Prime Minister said the money would also be used to provide equipment and machinery for the small business sector.
India has also agreed to assist in the training of Jamaicans in areas of information technology.
The Indian junior minister has also expressed interest in supplying Jamaica with medication for serious illnesses, as well as partnering in the modernisation of the sugar industry.
During the meeting, an invitation was issued to Prime Minister Simpson Miller to visit India, and for Jamaica to open a diplomatic mission in New Delhi.
Friday, April 27, 2007
JO - Look the part
Look the part
Career & Education
Sunday, February 25, 2007
DRESSING down for work is not likely to propel you up the career ladder. "The old adage about dressing for the position to which you aspire still holds true," said Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam. "A polished appearance lends credibility and may help employers envision the staff member in a role with greater responsibility."
When executives were asked to what extent someone's style of dress at work influences his or her chances of being promoted, the response was:. significantly (33 per cent).. somewhat (60 per cent).. not at all (7 per cent).
The survey was developed by OfficeTeam, a staffing service placing administrative professionals, and included responses from 150 senior executives at the nation's 1,000 largest companies.
"Attire is not the only thing workers are judged on, but it is part of the equation. While a proper wardrobe alone won't earn you a promotion, dressing inappropriately could cost you one," Domeyer said.
More and more, firms nationwide are likely to institute new and more stringent dress codes, even going so far as to establish employee uniforms, according to John A Challenger, chief executive officer of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.But Challenger noted this could backfire.
"When you take away people's individuality, you greatly diminish their creativity and ability to think outside of the box. Uniformity in appearance tends to lead to uniformity of thought, which is detrimental to any organisation that is trying to expand," Challenger said.Some experts contend that the movement toward uniform and formal dress codes is in response to the relaxation of these policies during the dot-com boom.
"In fact, many dot-commers, some of whom set the bar relatively low when it came to workplace wear, consistently put in 10 to 12-hour days, and even those who did not start the business still worked like entrepreneurs. If anything, we should be emulating these workers and their work styles, not shunning them," Challenger said.
There does seem to be a middle ground, however, if you just use common sense. OfficeTeam advises people to ask themselves these questions when selecting work attire:. would managers at my company wear this? If not, don't wear it;. is it a distraction? Unless you're in a creative industry, flamboyant or overly trendy attire can detract from your credibility;. does it give me confidence?
When you're dressed sharply, you'll be more self-assured;
. is it clean and in good condition? Avoid clothes that are torn, wrinkled or messy. Sloppy attire may prompt your manager to question your attention to detail; and
. is it comfortable? You want to look good, but you don't want to be distracted by clothes you're not used to. Find clothing that fits well and allows you to move freely.- Copley News Service
JG - Harris wants reparation to be part of national agenda
Harris wants reparation to be part of national agenda
published: Monday February 19, 2007
Member of Parliament for Northern Trelawny, Dr. Patrick Harris, wants the issue of reparation to be part of the national agenda and focus.
Dr. Harris was making his contribution just over a week ago to a debate on a private member's motion on reparation, brought to the House by Central Clarendon MP, Mike Henry.
"Reparation cannot be about any segment of our population. It has to be about a people and if there are any benefits, it cannot be to any individual, it has to be to a whole people," he stated.
The motion called for the Parliament to develop a common position on the impact of slavery and the matter of reparation for the countries of the "displaced descendants of slavery".
According to Dr. Harris, reparation involved a combination of moral, economic, and social issues.
"No money on earth could compensate our forefathers for the degradation and the human suffering they went through," said Dr. Harris adding that as part of the truth and reconciliation process, reparation offers all of us the platform to reserve long-standing issues.
Dr. Harris noted that while many arguments were being put forward in support of reparation, the most convincing of them must be the economic aspect.
"Slavery has become recognised as one of the worst crimes committed throughout the course of human history. Historically, slavery was viewed as a means to achieve cheap labour to enhance development at the cheapest possible cost," he said.
The Member of Parliament also noted that countries adversely affected by slavery should establish a campaign to inform the public about its negative effects.
"Until Africans and the African Diaspora can all invest our resources to combat the negative effects of slavery, we would not have done our ancestors any justice. We need to resolve the issues over slavery as we all owe it to those who came before us and especially to those who will follow us," said Dr. Harris.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
re: "Rudy: Democrats Want A 9/10 World"
"Giuliani called the war on terror "the defining conflict of our time," and that cuts many ways. The conflict will define political parties and movements based on how they approach it; it will define nations based on whom they support; and it will define an era based on who eventually prevails."
"We imprisoned those we caught after the first World Trade Center attack, and the terrorists kept coming. After the Khobar Towers attack, we sent the FBI after the terrorists, and found out that our law-enforcement writ didn't extend to Saudi Arabia. The same held true after the African embassy bombings, as well as the attack on the USS Cole. None of these attacks prompted the US to use its military power to defeat the terrorists except in one-off missile attacks that did nothing to slow the enemy down."
"The war will define our era and our politics. Either we continue taking the war to the terrorists, wherever we find them -- and we've found them in abundance in al-Anbar -- or we declare defeat and return home, awaiting the next attack."
JO - Trains may never roll again. Highways, greater number of cars cast doubt on future of rail service.
From my archive of press clippings:
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Five years after investors - first the Indians, then the Chinese - submitted impressive plans to put Jamaica's moth-balled railway back on track, the country remains without a passenger rail service.
And it was beginning to appear at the weekend that the familiar dark and light blue locomotives of the Jamaica Railway Corporation (JRC), which excited school children as it drew into Balaclava and Catadupa stations, will no longer dot the rural landscape.
Both the Indians and the Chinese have blamed the Jamaican Government for foot-dragging, and officials at all the relevant state agencies skilfully ducked Sunday Observer efforts to determine what, if any, was the future of the rail service.
A rotting Jamaica Railway Corporation locomotive sits on the company's track downtown Kingston.
Calls to the JRC general manager, Owen Crooks, were referred to the Ministry of Transport. Then the questions to Permanent Secretary Dr Alwin Hayles of the transport ministry were in turn referred to the director of policy, Valerie Simpson, from where the newspaper was pointed to the Development Bank of Jamaica, to no avail.
"They are the people doing the negotiations," was the dismissive response. In the midst of the uncertainty, knowledgeable Sunday Observer sources suggested two compelling reasons for the lack of interest the Government was showing in reviving the passenger rail service.
First, commuter trains stopped running in Jamaica 15 years ago and coaches now lay rotting at the downtown Kingston station, yet the Jamaica Railway Corporation is still making a nice profit.The JRC earns approximately J$40 million per year - the bulk of it from mining companies through track user fees for the hauling of alumina and bauxite.
The Kingston Railway Station head office at Darling Street, West Kingston.
"The balance of its earnings are derived primarily from the rental of real estate and its three operable locomotives," Leo McEwan, communication officer at the transport ministry confirmed.
So profitable is the corporation that it has continued to pay a staff of 76, who were retained when the JRC ceased commuter operations in 1992.
The staff fulfills contractual obligations to users of the facilities - real estate tenants and bauxite companies - although the wage bill figure of $1.6 million given to the Sunday Observer appeared minuscule.
The staff members include artisans, train controllers, track staff, technicians, administrative workers, accountants, secretaries and auxiliary workers. Engineers are employed when the need arises."Right now, they are earning their own keep and are responsible for their own operations," McEwan insisted.
According to the ministry, expenditure of the JRC has to be kept within earning, as the Corporation does not receive a subvention from the Government of Jamaica budget. The JRC, as at December 2006, had a book value excluding land holdings, of $178.48 million, according to Ministry of Transport figures.
Wages made up 42 per cent of its expenditure; maintenance and rental accounted for 18 per cent and security cost was 15 per cent. The remaining 25 per cent is broken down for travel and subsistence at eight per cent; motor vehicles, three per cent; utilities at six per cent; professional fees, three per cent; staff welfare, one per cent; records management, one per cent; and a miscellaneous cost of two per cent.
Moreover, railway stations across the island have not been maintained and the JRC, with a total of 215 miles of railway, shares the maintenance of 59 miles of the operational lines with the bauxite companies. Lines not used for hauling bauxite ore are left unattended for the most part.
The ministry declined to reveal the exact amount that the JRC earned from the various bauxite companies for the use of its railway lines, saying that track user agreements between the JRC and individual bauxite companies were "confidential between the parties".
The Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI), the agency charged with overseeing activities in the bauxite industry, also refused to divulge any amount paid by bauxite companies to the JRC for the use of railway lines.
"These questions should be addressed to the Railway Corporation," the JBI said in an e-mail response.The second reason for the Government's laissez faire attitude, one economist suggested, was uncertainty surrounding the viability of a commuter railway system, given the radical change in the transportation landscape since the closure of the JRC passenger service 15 years ago.
"The Highway 2000 project has made road travel more convenient and quicker, at least from Kingston to May Pen," the source said. "Additionally, with the advent of a new motor vehicle policy in 1997, the motor-car population has grown tremendously, reducing reliance on the public transportation system." Cargo transport, it is argued, is where the JRC could play a more significant role, both along the existing route, and with additional lines along the north coast.
The JRC, established under the Jamaica Railway Corporation Act, remains a corporate body and can transact rail-related business other than transporting passengers and cargo. It has the power to purchase, hold and dispose of land and other property of whatever kind for the purposes of this Act.
With complaints mounting about the poor public passenger transport system, the Government, in 1999, began talks with overseas investors regarding the privatisation of the JRC, starting with an India-based rail company.
The National Investment Bank of Jamaica (NIBJ), in January 2002, announced that negotiations with Rail India and Economic Services (RITES) were completed and work would begin soon. But one year later, in 2003, India's top diplomat in Kingston suggested that the Jamaican Government was dragging its feet on the proposed joint venture.
Transport Minister Robert Pickersgill fired back, pointing the finger at the Indian consortium for the long stalemate, indicating that they were demanding far more than Jamaica was prepared to give. In 2005, the Government, having apparently given up on the Indians, again signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the operation of the railway, this time with the Chinese.
The Chinese are now echoing the cry of the Indians, saying that the Jamaican Government is delaying the project that could see rail movement of cargo and passengers resumed in the island.
"People should be given the choice of the highway and railway. Some people don't like to drive long distances and some people don't have cars," the Chinese ambassador was quoted as saying in an Observer report late last year.
re: "Southern Maryland Celtic Festival"
JG - Do I have to give my child his father's surname?
Do I have to give my child his father's surname?
published: Monday February 12, 2007
I am pregnant for a young man who is very irresponsible. He has given me little money or support. Do I have to put his name on the birth certificate?
The short answer to your question is 'No'.
A child who is born out of wedlock is called an 'illegitimate child' in the Registration (Births and Deaths) Act, and the name of the father of that child will only be inserted in the general register of births if:
i) He acknowledges that he is the father of the child and signs the registration form;
ii) He signs a declaration stating that he is the father of the child; or
iii) The mother signs a declaration naming a person as the father, and sends that person a notice requiring that he object within three months after the date he receives the notice and he then admits paternity, or does not deny it.
For these reasons, you could chose to give your child any surname, including your own. However, if you were married, your child would automatically be given your husband's surname, unless your husband consents to have the child bear some other name.
The expenses associated with childbirth and care can be quite substantial. So, if J reconsiders her decision to exclude the father from the child's life, or finds that she requires financial support from him, she may wish to note that she could enforce the father's obligation to maintain the child pursuant to the Maintenance Act. An order such as this could entitle her to receive a sum of money in respect of the child's prenatal care and birth from the father.
If this mother omits the father's name from the register of births, it could hamper her attempts to enforce the payment of maintenance from him in the future.
This is because one of the obvious ways in which the court is able to establish that a person is the parent of a child is on proof that the person's name is entered as a parent of the child in the register of births. In the absence of this evidence, it could become quite costly and difficult to establish paternity.
It is my view that the decision to exclude the father's name from the birth certificate should not be taken lightly, as there are many cases in which adult children have to obtain declarations as to paternity in order to prove their lineage, simply because the father's name was omitted from the birth certificate.
Sherry-Ann McGregor is an attorney-at-law and mediator with the firm of Nunes, Scholefield, DeLeon & Co. Do you have a pressing legal question? Send it to: Lifestyle@gleanerjm.com.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
re: "Matthew LaPorte Memorial Scholarship"
Checks should be made payable to the Virginia Tech Foundation, memo VTCC Matthew La Porte Sch., and mailed to:University Development902 Prices Fork Road (0336)Blacksburg VA 24061
re: "The surrender party flexes its . . ."
"They have positioned themselves so thoroughly as the anti-war party that there is no turning back."
"The American people are reluctant to send their nation to war, but once troops are on the ground they like to win. Years of distorted reporting by a media which has taken the conscience decision to act as a propaganda service for the enemy has convinced many people that the war is not being won or may even be unwinnable. If a victory is won and the American people give themselves a collective dope slap and exclaim "What were we thinking!?!" this will not go well for the people who have been selling defeatism at wholesale prices.
The American people hate being lied to almost as much as they hate losing."
S&S - CNFJ dress code praised, hated, strictly enforced
From my archive of press clippings:
Stars and Stripes
By Allison Batdorff, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Sunday, February 25, 2007
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — When Hassan Jenkins walked through the main gate at Yokosuka Naval Base, security checked his pant-to-leg ratio.
If the leg inside was too skinny, the pants would be considered overly baggy and a violation of the Commander, Naval Forces Japan civilian dress code policy — a ticket-worthy offense.
But he showed enough leg for security to let him through, said Jenkins, a petty officer first class.
“I’m a big guy — I don’t wear my pants tight or form-fitting,” Jenkins said. “I am a grown man and I should know what fits me.”
After almost two years since the CNFJ policy went into effect, some sailors, such as Jenkins, and civilians think the dress code shows a “cultural bias.” Others say the policy helps people dress the part in their role as “ambassadors” to Japan. Still others say they aren’t affected by it at all.
The five-page CNFJ policy applies to anyone over age 10 — civilians or military — throughout Japan, on base and off. It sets out rules for proper attire from head (do-rags are restricted, female conservative headscarves are not) to toe (sandals are OK, shower shoes are not). Clothing policy posters dot the base and slides are shown in the movie theaters and on the base’s television channel.
Clothing is a “hard battle to fight,” said USS Kitty Hawk Master Chief Petty Officer Ashley Smith, who helped craft the policy in 2005.
“They may have a belt on and their shirt tucked in with their pants pulled up but as soon as they cross the gate, the pants come down to the ankles and the shirt comes out,” Smith said. “Civilian clothes are a privilege, not a right. We work hard on the Japanese perception of sailors and it’s very important that we look acceptable.”
If caught, either out in town by shore patrol or on base, all rule-breakers earn an “MOR” — minor offense record — which goes to the command or sponsor.
Kitty Hawk added more enforcement a year ago by putting MOR sailors before a disciplinary review board. If the claim is substantiated — and it usually is, Smith said — the sailor loses the ability to don civilian clothes for 30 days, severely restricting his or her movement around town. The board sees about 10 cases a month, Smith said.
“People keep doing it because they don’t think they’ll get caught,” Smith said. “It’s impossible to get your arms around it. They want to follow the styles and look like their age group, plus the businesses out in town sell the clothes.”
Yokosuka’s Navy Exchange also used to sell the clothes before the NEX ousted tens of thousands of dollars of banned clothing items from its inventory and brought buyers in line with the policy, said base commander Capt. Greg Cornish.
“We’re aware of the styles and what people are wearing on the television shows,” Cornish said. “But there’s a fine line between individual expression and what is appropriate. Some of the types of clothes that are popular today go past those boundaries.” It’s not about a cultural bias, Cornish contended, as the working group that created the policy was multicultural.
Examples from the policy include micro-mini skirts, “wife-beater” tank tops, excessively oversized basketball jerseys or shirts exposing more than an inch of bare belly. But officials agree that most MOR go to those wearing baggy or frayed jeans.
This ban on baggy — and the tough enforcement of it — appears to zero in on the “urban” population, Jenkins said.
“Certain cultures dress differently from others,” Jenkins said. “But someone can walk through dressed like a vampire with tight pants with chains hanging off them and it’s not an issue.”
Spouse Thomas Rhoads said he stopped wearing baggy clothes when he realized security was on the lookout. “I think they target the hip-hop style of dress — I don’t agree with that part,” Rhoads said. “They also hit frays pretty hard, which are mostly just wear and tear.”
Petty Officer 3rd Class Bryan Shepner agrees with the policy, saying he had “no problem with it.”
“I agree with the Navy standards — even public schools have rule against piercings,” Shepner said. “We should have a clean appearance and represent ourselves professionally.”
Petty Officer 1st Class Chrystal Littleton said the policy didn’t affect her, as she mostly stays on base. But, she said, she’d like the policy and the slides to be brought in accord with today’s fashion.
“They need to update the picture with the woman’s g-string hanging out of her pants,” Littleton said. “Nobody does that anymore.”
JG - Declaring political independence
Declaring political independence
published: Monday February 12, 2007
The Editor, Sir:
Against the background of the sovereignty of the British Parliament, legal independence from Britain is a myth even in the face of international law which provides that freedom, once given, cannot be recalled and the strength of public opinion which is supposed to be a deterrent to such recall, because constitutions have been repealed and public opinion ignored. In other words, the dominant characteristic of the British Constitution is the sovereignty of Parliament.
In the context of the foregoing, the Constitution of the United States was born out of a unilateral declaration of independence. It follows that if our politicians are really serious about our independence, our political parties, which are unknown to the Constitution, must join in a declaration of independence and take it from there. There can, however, be no objection to both Government and Opposition proceeding with commendable proposed amendments to the Constitution as an indication of our intention to be free of that disrespectful legal link with Britain.
Let our politicians free us instead of continuing to pretend that we were freed 200 years ago or even as late as 1962. Let us be respected as a true nation, not forgetting of course our duty to maintain principled relations with all nations and to be forever grateful to Britain for all its goodness since Emancipation.
I am, etc.,
OWEN S. CROSBIE
3 Hotel Street
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Va Tech deployed
re: "Virginia Tech"
S&S - An American dream for local translators
An American dream for local translators
By Megan McCloskey, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Sunday, February 25, 2007
Megan McCloskey / S&S
During a 9th Engineer Support Battalion project near Fallujah in December, "Sam" was the unit's translator at the worksite. Lt. Col. Mark Menotti, commanding officer of the 9th ESB, said Sam is "insightful on the job site" and "mitigates problems with the locals."Policy offers space for up to 50 translators
A little-known immigration policy enacted last year gives Iraqi and Afghan translators working for the U.S. military an opportunity to live in America. But the number afforded the chance is small — no more than 50 each year.
The new immigration category, created by the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2006, “allows translators and their families to gain admission to the United States, apply for permanent residency and eventually acquire U.S. citizenship,” according to the Department of Homeland Security Web site.
They need to have worked for the U.S. military for at least a year and have a recommendation from a general or flag officer.
“Henry,” a former human- rights activist who is now a translator with the 9th Engineer Support Battalion, is hoping to be one of those select few. He’s desperate to get his wife and three daughters out of Iraq.
Henry, whose real name can’t be used, is like many people who want to immigrate to the States — he wants a better life for his family.
But he, like the other translators, stands out in the vast pool of potential immigrants. Henry has spent the last year of his life helping Americans in the Iraqi war effort.
“If you ask me how many times I face death I couldn’t count,” Henry said. “The nasty militias, they threaten us but we keep working.”
Translators leave family behind to live with military units. Henry didn’t bring any photos of his wife or daughters, to prevent insurgents from finding them should he be captured.
“You make more money but increase risk,” said “Sam,” another translator with 9th ESB. “You sacrifice a lot. You’ll not live a normal life.”
The translators get one week of vacation for every three months of work.
“I keep moving from city to city to keep myself safe,” Sam said of his leave time. “I split my time among siblings and parents.”
“I had a girlfriend. I had friends,” Sam said of his old life. “It’s difficult now to trust.”
Both say they’re proud of their work with the U.S. military and consider the 9th ESB family.
An unassuming, gracious man who is quick to offer tea, Henry was shy about asking the 9th ESB’s commander for help with an immigration package. It took him a couple of months, even with Lt. Col. Mark Menotti’s encouragement.
The 36-year-old is a little weary of the process to gain admission to the United States.
“What do they think after three years?” Henry asks about the U.S. government’s view of the translators. “They still don’t trust us?”
“We consider ourselves a part of them,” he said. “We can’t imagine our life in Iraq when they leave us. I want to see [my girls] out of this country.”
— Megan McCloskey
CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq — He’s got the strut, the confident Devil Dog swagger.
He peppers his speech with “awesome” (and more than occasionally drops the F-bomb). He’s definitely gung-ho.
After three years of working with the U.S.-led coalition, “Sam,” an Iraqi translator for the 9th Engineer Support Battalion, has adopted the mannerisms of a typical young Marine.
Now, he wants to be one.
The 25-year-old is hoping to immigrate to the United States, enlist in the Marine Corps, become an American citizen, and then join the officer ranks.
“I love to be a military guy,” he said.
A recent policy that affords a small number of Iraqi and Afghan translators special resident status might just give him the chance.
The dream, Sam said, took hold when he was a child.
He said he became fascinated with the U.S. military when it trained the Jordanian army in the 1980s. He searched out newspapers from Jordan and Saudi Arabia to read about American servicemembers, and he fantasized about being one of them.
“But it was just a dream. I never thought it would happen one day,” Sam said. “Under Saddam, just thinking about that could get you killed.”
Despite being drawn to military life, Sam didn’t want to join Saddam’s army. But the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq presented a different opportunity.
“I started thinking my dream is getting closer,” Sam said.
With a civil engineering degree, he began working as a translator for the U.S. military.
For safety reasons, Sam’s real name isn’t used by the unit, and his photo was not taken for this article.
A unit he worked with previously called him “Al Pacino,” but when he got with the 9th ESB, he chose “Sam.”
“Like Uncle Sam,” he said, grinning.
He hit up the 9th ESB’s commander to get the immigration paperwork started for him as soon as the unit came to Camp Taqaddum in August.
“I told him ‘I’ve got to get to know you first,’” Lt. Col. Mark Menotti said, laughing.
Sam seems in awe of the U.S. military, the Marines especially.
“I love them. How they’re brave to do whatever the mission is, to always keep fighting,” he said. “I’ve seen many Marines get killed and injured for people that are not his people. Guys 18, 19 years old. They protect me.”
In turn, Sam is their cheerleader with the local community.
“Some people have the wrong idea about Marines,” he said. “I tell them, ‘The engineers are here to help you.’ Some Iraqis don’t understand that right now, but I guarantee they’ll understand some day.”
Menotti, who calls Sam trustworthy and insightful, recommended him for the special immigration status. The package was approved by Menotti’s boss and now rests with a general.
“Sam is a bright guy with an even temperament, someone who mitigates problems with the locals,” Menotti said.
Cpl. Angel Figueroa, 9th ESB’s linguist manager, describes Sam as “more Americanized than the other translators.”
“He uses the F-word excessively,” Figueroa jokes. “I was like, ‘You’ve definitely been with the military too long.’”
Sam insists that before hanging around the military he rarely cursed, a new habit that gets him chided by a fellow translator.
He laughs at how, when he started, he thought he had a good grasp on English, but was constantly saying “What?” to the military slang.
“They can’t just call a room a ‘room,’” he says. “It’s a ‘hooch.’”
“I want to be an American citizen, be a Marine, have an American wife,” he said with his trademark enthusiasm. “Even my car will be American.”
Asked how he pictures the United States, Sam responded without hesitation.
“Almost heaven,” he said. “My loyalty to America [doesn’t start] when I get the Marine job. I have it already.”
For those who don't know, this is the annual movement among posts and between posts and Washington, D.C. of something like a fifth to a quarter (SWAG) of the U.S. Foreign Service each and every summer.
One obvious reason it's a popular time of year to transfer is that it lessens the impact on children if families can move during the summer vacation from school.
The summer transfer season means a lot of work has to get done both in preparing for and accomplishing both the outgoing and incoming personnel moves as well as maintaining post operations during what becomes the busy season just when there are the most disruptions in staff.
For CAA, it means that posting will be sporadic, if not wholly episodic, for the next several months, beginning May 1.
re: "Citing "terror" threat, U.S. boosts security in Germany"
JG - CTO group lobbies for US visa waiver
CTO group lobbies for US visa waiver
published: Monday February 12, 2007
Janet Silvera, Senior Tourism Writer
Another attempt will be made to have the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) extended as the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) leads a regional team to a "tentative" field-hearing with the United States Congress in upstate New York next month.
The WHTI is a new law requiring airline passengers traveling between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda to present a valid passport when re-entering the United States. Cruise ship passengers were given a one-year exemption until January 2008. The CTO is hoping to have the initiative extended another 12 - 24 months.
The meeting resulted from the efforts of Bahamas' Tourism Minister, Obie Wilcombe and recently elected Democratic Congressman, Bennie Thompson, the committee chairman on Homeland Security to have the visa regime pushed back.
Congressman Thompson two weeks ago obtained a 30-day waiver on the WHTI, which took effect January 23.
Since the Congressman's intervention U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have continued to allow Americans to re-enter the country by showing government-issued photo identification, such as a driver's licence or a birth certificate. This grace period will continue for about another month.
The Congressman has since convened a meeting at his Washington, D.C. office with Minister Wilcombe and other officials, where he expressed concerns that there was no "real feedback" from the Caribbean at the earliest stages. He noted that the cruise industry and Canada made intensive representations.
The Gleaner understands that the cruise lines spent more than US$2 million to have lobbyists represent their cause in Washington.
Congressman Thompson in the meantime is urging the region's governments to formulate a working group to intensify the pressure on Congress.
He also promised that prior to a Homeland Security committee meeting last Tuesday, he would have sought a meeting with Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff to obtain a period of flexibility for the minimum 90 -120 day peak tourism period.
These latest developments have vindicated Minister Wilcombe who came under heavy criticism last week when his credibility was scrutinised for circulating word of the 30-day easement in the media.
He was chastised by the U.S. Ambassador to The Bahamas, John Rood who wrote to Bahamian newspaper editors emphasising that the WHTI was "in full effect" despite what he described as misleading reports that there was a 30-day easement.
Monday, April 23, 2007
S&S - Lawmaker to challenge ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy
Stars and Stripes
Lawmaker to challenge ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy
By Leo Shane III, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Sunday, February 25, 2007
WASHINGTON — A Massachusetts Democrat plans to reintroduce legislation to overturn the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, a move his supporters hope will lead to lengthy debate on the issue in the new Congress.
The bill — to be introduced Wednesday by Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass. — failed to pass out of committee last year. It states that military officials may not bar any servicemember or recruit from the armed forces on the basis of sexual orientation.
It would also allow any troops kicked out of the services under the “don’t ask” policy to reapply for military duty.
Last session, three Republicans — Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, Christopher Shays of Connecticut and Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland — and nearly 120 Democrats signed on to co-sponsor the legislation. Many of them, including the GOP trio, have publicly stated they will support the bill again.
Current policy, put in place in 1993, prohibits openly lesbian, gay and bisexual citizens from serving in the military. The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network claims that over the past 13 years the Defense Department has discharged more than 11,000 servicemembers under the regulation.
Steve Ralls, spokesman for the network, said he expects the issue to get its first serious debate in Congress in years now that Democrats control both chambers.
In addition to Meehan’s bill, he said his group has spoken with several senators about introducing companion legislation in their chamber by April, which would be the first time the Senate wrestled with the issue.
“It’s a chance to begin a real debate, and we’re much more optimistic about its chances,” he said.
But Robert Maginnis, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who helped develop the current policy, said overturning the ban on openly gay troops would be “political suicide” for lawmakers.
“We’re in a war, and the public has no stomach for a battle on a contentious issue when it’s not clear this would help the war effort,” he said.
Maginnis, who still works as a consultant for the Army, said allowing homosexuals to serve openly would hurt unit cohesion, and compared that ban to rules barring recruits without high school diplomas or with poor physical fitness from serving.
“You want someone who can be part of a team and work effectively,” he said. “Someone on the outside could cause problems with that teamwork.”
Ralls disagreed, calling hearings on the issue a “important educational opportunity” to dispel myths that openly gay servicemembers would hurt other troops’ morale.
Aaron Belkin, director of the University of California’s Michael D. Palm Center, which “promotes the interdisciplinary analysis” on the issues of gays in the military, said he thinks the conflict overseas will have little factor on the debate.
“The assumption there is that integration will be a big deal,” he said. “But this was a non-event in Britain when they integrated. No one (in the military) will notice a difference.”
Belkin also said he thinks overturning the ban is inevitable, as public acceptance of homosexuals increases.
Meehan will speak at several events this week about his bill, including a speech at the Boston College Law School on Monday.
JG - More overseas cops to be interviewed for post in JCF
More overseas cops to be interviewed for post in JCF
published: Monday February 12, 2007
Shelly-Ann Thompson, Gleaner Writer
Six to eight international police officers (IPO) are expected in the island within a week to be interviewed for the rank of assistant commissioner of police to head the Internal Affairs/Anti-Corruption Division.
Commissioner of Police Lucius Thomas said the majority of officers within the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) were good cops and he would not allow the few corrupt officers to mar its integrity.
Commissioner Thomas disclosed the information at a press conference held recently at the Police Officers' Club on Hope Road in St. Andrew.
"I can further state that we are doing our best to rid the JCF of miscreants who continue to hurt our good name," he said.
Commissioner Thomas outlined that during 2006, the Professional Standards Branch (PSB) investigated a total of 168 cases of corruption. Of the 168 reports, 67 case files were completed, with 101 still under investigation. Sixty persons, 58 police personnel and two civilians, were arrested for various corruption breaches.
"Don't be afraid, you have my word that the incidents reported will be investigated by the PSB. Come forward and take a stand, help us to find those policemen and women who are corrupt," Commissioner Thomas urged.
The new recruitment forms part of efforts by the JCF hierarchy to bolster measures to identify and weed out corrupt police personnel from the JCF, as well as to improve its image.
If an IPO is accepted, this would bring to five, the number of foreign officers working within the JCF.
Foreign nationals currently working in the JCF are ACP Les Green, who heads the Organised and Serious Crime unit; ACP John McLean, in charge of community safety and security; ACP Paul Robinson, who heads firearm training and coastal security; and Deputy Commissioner of Police Mark Shields who is in charge of crime.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
JO - Stop that noise
Stop that noise
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Unfortunately I did not see the letter written by the German ambassador but empathise with his situation. Ken Jones, like me, cannot tolerate the noise coming from deejays and their "entertainment", and like me he wonders why our law enforcers do not enforce the laws.
Stanford Bean calls for enforcement of misdemeanour laws. When my sleep is disturbed until 3, 4 or 5 am and the police station is closer to the source of the noise, why do I have to make a complaint to the station?
Why do the officers on duty need the breach of the law pointed out to them?
If the minority can make life hell for the majority and break laws, just let me know which laws I can break without any summons. Yes, zero tolerance. That is what is required in this country. New York introduced it to great effect: crimes were eliminated overnight.
re: "Not the Problem"
"(I)ncreasing tour lengths for Army personnel in Iraq will not solve the underlying problem--we don't have enough soldiers (or Marines, for that matter)."
"(F)orce structure decisions made under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton left us with the undersized ground forces we have today. . . . Bush #41 developed a plan for cutting at least six Army divisions from our active forces, and implemented that strategy. His successor, Mr. Clinton, followed it through to completion. As a result, the Army lost upwards of 160,000 soldiers, leaving the service stretched thin as it fights simultaneous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."
"(N)o one has fully explained the decision-making process that prompted such wholesale force cuts. Getting rid of that many Army divisions requires approval from a lot of folks outside the Oval Office. In researching those cutbacks, we've been hard-pressed to find significant resistance to that drawdown, even within the Army's ranks. Many of the retired generals who have recently emerged as war critics were in leadership positions when the cuts were made. Someone needs to ask them where they were when so much combat capability was placed on the chopping block.
Excessive force reductions in years past don't forgive the Bush Administration's mistakes in prosecuting the Iraq War. But they do explain many of the Army's current personnel issues"
JG - Ship of migrants heads for port
Ship of migrants heads for port
published: Sunday February 11, 2007
A battered ship crammed with hundreds of Asian and African migrants headed into a Mauritanian port yesterday after days of diplomatic wrangling with Spain over which country should take it in.
"The order has been given for the boat to sail towards Nouadhibou. It is currently on its way," said Ahmedou Ould Haye of the Mauritanian Red Crescent by telephone from a meeting with Spanish officials.
Mauritanian officials said earlier they had not agreed to accept the migrants Spain insisted they had.
Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Mara Teresa Fernndez de la Vega told reporters on Friday Mauritania had agreed to the Marine 1 cargo freighter being towed into its northern fishing port of Nouadhibou where Red Cross and Red Crescent workers were waiting.
Spain's interior minister said on Saturday there was a deal, which involved the ship docking in Nouadhibou and Spain taking responsibility for repatriating the migrants, Spanish state radio reported.
Spain, which is on the frontline of Europe's efforts to stem an influx of illegal job-seekers, has been lobbying Mauritania to take responsibility for the stranded migrants.
Over 300 people aboard the Marine 1 claim to be from Indian Kashmir, and therefore eligible for asylum status, according to the Red Cross. Others say they are from Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Sri Lanka and Liberia, it said.
The 50-metre vessel is thought to have set sail from Guinea on its way to Spain's Canary Islands. The ship sent out an SOS signal on February 2 after its motors broke down off Senegal.
It was intercepted the following day by a Spanish coastguard vessel which towed the freighter to its position off Nouadhibou.
That began a row over who should take in the ship and its passengers, with Spain, Senegal and Mauritania refusing to take responsibility.
The ship has become a test case for Madrid, which launched a diplomatic offensive in West Africa last year to try to stem soaring illegal migration from the poverty-stricken region to the Canaries.