Saturday, June 28, 2008
S&S - New USAREUR, 7th Army chief of staff named
New USAREUR, 7th Army chief of staff named
Stars and Stripes
European edition, Saturday, June 21, 2008
The Army announced Wednesday that Maj. Gen. Byron S. Bagby has been assigned as the new chief of staff for U.S. Army Europe and 7th Army.
Coming to Germany from his current position as commandant of the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va., Bagby is replacing Brig. Gen. Russell L. Frutiger, who has been USAREUR and 7th Army’s chief of staff since January 2007.Frutiger also has been serving as deputy commander, U.S. Army NATO.
Bagby received his commission through the ROTC program at Westminster College in 1978. A career field artillery officer, he has held positions in the 101st Airborne Division, the U.S. Military Academy, the Pentagon, in Afghanistan as director of the Combined Joint Staff for Combined Joint Task Force-180 and in Egypt as chief, Office of Military Cooperation.
Word on Frutiger’s next assignment was unavailable.
Just Read: Death and Honor; by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV; An Honor Bound Novel, 470 pp.
Death and Honor; by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV; copyright (c) 2008 by W.E.B. Griffin; G.P. Putnam's Sons; 470 pp. hard cover.
Printed in the United States of America
"W.E.B. Griffin's Honor Bound saga of World War II espionage in Germany and Argentina has long been immensely opular. "Enough derring-do, romance and action to satisfy Griffin's legion of fans and bring him new ones" (Rocky Mountain News); "Cletus Frade's services to his countries, his fealty to honor and his courage in the face of danger lift this thriller right off the bookshelf and onto the nightstand" (Newark Star-Ledger).
The year is 1943, and Argentina is officially neutral but crawling with every kind of spy, sympathizer, and military official imaginable. The hero is Cletus Frade, a Marine fighter pilot ace recruited as a spy by the Office of Strategic Services. He has strong family ties to Argentina, and in Death and Honor--- Griffin's fourth book in the series, his first since 1999---Frade has got a lot on his hands.
OSS chief "Wild Bill Donovan has asked him to set up in Argentina his own official-but-really-OSS airline using "loaned" Lockheed Lodestars.. Of even more concern are two interwoven, highly secret German operations. The first is a Nazi scheme for German Jews outside the Fatherland to purchase the freedom of their relatives in concentration camps. The second has to do with where all that dirty money is going: a plan called OPERATION PHOENIX, which will establish safe havens in Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay for senior Nazi officials who fear they've all but lost the war. Needless to say, the OSS is very interested in both operations---which is to say, President Franklin Roosevelt is very interested---and Frade must somehow find out a little more . . . without getting killed, that is. And Frade, whose father's murder was ordered by the Nazis, knows that's damn easier said than done.
Filled with the special flair that Griffin's fans have long come to expect from him, Death and Honor is another "immenselhy entertaining adventure" (Kirkus Revies) from one of our finest storytellers."
While I wouldn't quite say it was quite as "all-that" as all that, it was a pretty good read. CAA began reading W.E.B. Griffin's "Brotherhood of War" series back when he was a young PFC and the first one, The Lieutenants, first came out in paperback.
Griffin's son is now co-authoring his latest books with him, and is getting better at doing that with each successive volume. Currently, they've got thre, perhaps four-or-five, different series in production.
Those who've read, and loved, the earlier books in these series will still spot errors in terms of consistency with the stories that have come before, but this latest effort seemed to have fewer than usual. And perhaps it's just that I'm getting older and can't just read one of these in an all-nighter (and still function the next day), but it did only take me two days to finish it. Griffin really does write books that you hate to put down, he leaves you wanting to know what's about to happen on the next page, and the one after that.....
JG - Court to review Gonsalves' rape charges February 28
Court to review Gonsalves' rape charges February 28
published: Sunday February 17, 2008
Dr. Ralph Gonsalves Ian Allen/Staff Photographer
KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (CMC):
A high Court judge has set February 28 as the date to hear an application for leave for a judicial review of the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Colin Williams, to stop the prosecution of Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves on rape and indecent allegations charges.
Last month, a 36-year-old female police officer swore to a statement before Chief Magistrate Sonia Young, that on January 3, she was raped by Dr Gonsalves at the prime minister's official residence.
But the prime minister, who was scheduled to appear in court on February 22 to answer the private criminal charge, has categorically denied the allegations, describing them as "false and malicious".
allegation not likely to stand up in court
Williams said he had "wholly discontinued" the charges against Gonsalves, saying that the allegation was not likely to stand up in a court of law.
"What I have done is in the best interest of justice," Williams told the Caribbean Media Corporation, adding: "When we look at it dispassionately, the question is, could the allegation stand up?"
Justice Gertel Thorn set the date on Thursday after hearing submissions from lawyers for the woman, the DPP and the attorney general.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Schultz Dining Hall (II)
JO - Caribbean leaders: The right to denounce Mugabe
Caribbean leaders: The right to denounce Mugabe
Sir Ronald Sanders
Sunday, June 22, 2008
"Treachery, tribalism and mass murder are all that can result from a false solution. To accept such a Zimbabwe would be a betrayal of our people, of our principles and quite simply (since dead and detained men can neither canvass nor cast votes) a betrayal of ourselves."
Those were the words of a joint statement by Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo spoken at the 1979 London Conference that led to the independence of Zimbabwe and the election of Mugabe as president.
In his sanctioning of wanton killings and detention of his political opponents, Mugabe has long since forgotten those words.
The joint statement went on to state: "We must remember here that it has always been, and it remains, the basic objective of the Patriotic Front to ensure that government of a genuine free Zimbabwe is based upon free and fair elections."
Now in a betrayal, not only of that pledge but of all the persons and nations that stood up for an independent Zimbabwe based on majority rule, Mugabe has rigged one election after the other and has sworn not to accept the results of an election on June 27 if it goes against him.
Mugabe has disappointed his most ardent supporters; he has treated with contempt those who reposed confidence in him in the face of many doubters; and worst of all, he has destroyed his own country and devastated his own people, thousands of whom have fled the country to neighbouring states especially South Africa where in recent times they have been beaten by resentful and unwelcoming South Africans.
The current atmosphere in Zimbabwe is not conducive to a free and fair election. Fifty-three deaths have been confirmed, 2,000 people have been injured and 30,000 people displaced during the campaign. UN reports say four million people are in need of food aid and they are being denied help by the Mugabe regime. The deputy leader of the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Tendai Biti, is in police custody.
Soldiers have been ordered by their high command to vote for Mugabe or lose their jobs and villagers all over the country have been threatened with death by the army. Ordinary people are brutally chopped to death as an example to others.
The governments of some neighbouring African countries have now spoken out against the glaring atrocities of the Mugabe regime. Tanzanian foreign minister, Bernard Membe, whose government is the current chairman of the African Union, said: "There is every sign that these elections will never be free or fair." His conclusion has been reached on the basis of reports from 211 election observers inside the country, some of whom had seen two people shot dead in front of them on June 17.
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki could have done much more to bring an early end to the destruction of Zimbabwe and the wanton killings, by imposing a trade embargo on Zimbabwe, closing the border between the two countries and stopping financial transactions. Instead, he handled Mugabe with kid gloves and sought to reason with him long after Mugabe had manifestly shown that he was beyond reasoning. The elections on June 27th are now a huge farce.
If Mugabe wins the presidential election, no one anywhere in the world could possibly accept it as credible. Zimbabwe's economy - already a basket case, except for the help of China - will deteriorate even further and Zimbabweans will suffer and die even more. Undoubtedly, the US, Canada and the European Union countries will rightly apply strict sanctions against the regime.
The Chinese government will have to decide whether in the face of Mugabe's glaring atrocities it will continue to prop him up. It would be sad for the Zimbabwean people if they took such a decision.
If, by some miracle, Morgan Tsvangirai wins this deeply flawed presidential election, Mugabe has sworn not to accept the result.
Calling the Opposition "traitors", he said "Should this country be taken by traitors ... It shall never happen ... We are prepared to go to war for it". The response of the EU, US and Canada and many other countries will be the same - the isolation of the regime and sanctions.
Caribbean governments have a right and an obligation to condemn the Mugabe regime in the most vigorous terms and to send a clear message now that they will join an international effort to isolate his regime.
Caribbean persons such as Shridath 'Sonny' Ramphal, as Commonwealth secretary-general, played a crucial role in the achievement of majority rule, and the independence of Zimbabwe. Other Caribbean leaders, at the time, Jamaica's Michael Manley, Guyana's Forbes Burnham and Barbados' Errol Barrow also played their part in overturning the Unilateral Declaration of Independence by the white, minority government of Ian Smith. They all argued for free and fair elections based on majority rule, and an end to state sanctioned killing of people who opposed the government.
Today, Mugabe is no better than Smith. He has spurned the efforts of more recent Caribbean leaders - most notably P J Patterson, the former prime minister of Jamaica, who as chairman of a group of six Commonwealth heads of government, tried his best to persuade Mugabe to honour the path to democracy.
By the time Caribbean heads of government meet for their annual conference in July in Antigua, the result of this farcical June 27 election will be known, and Zimbabwe will be plunged into a deeper morass of dictatorial rule and atrocities than it now is.
At that meeting, Caribbean governments should unhesitatingly join other countries in imposing the strongest measures against the Mugabe regime including intervention by the United Nations. But even before then, Caribbean governments at the highest levels should let Mugabe know publicly that they condemn his actions and that the elections on June 27 are not credible.Tyranny in any colour must be firmly rejected.
Sir Ronald Sanders is a business consultant and former Caribbean diplomat
JG - For you, Madame Ambassador!
For you, Madame Ambassador!
published: Sunday February 17, 2008
Daviot Kelly, Staff Reporter
Barry Watson (not in picture) has the attention of (from left) Robert MacMillan, George Fatta (background), US Ambassador Brenda LaGrange Johnson, her husband Howard, Governor General Sir Kenneth Hall, Justice Ian Forte, former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson and Justice Marlene Malahoo-Forte
When one of Jamaica's most famous artists and a well-liked diplomat couple invite you out on Valentine's Day, the offer is simply not refused.
Last Thursday, members of the diplomatic corps and art lovers turned up Old Hope Road's Gallery Barrington at the request of Barrington Watson and United States Ambassador Brenda LaGrange Johnson and husband Howard, for a Valentine's party and portrait unveiling. Unknown to some, the Johnsons and Watson have quite a friendship, and it is from that rapport that the portrait emerged. The subject: Ambassador Johnson.
With a simple pull of a string, the curtain was rolled back and the stunning work depicting Ambassador Johnson was revealed. The 'aaahhs' followed split seconds later, and all agreed it was a great work. Watson aptly described the moment by saying those in attendance had best get their view of it because the Johnsons might just take it home. Jokes aside, Ambassador Johnson thanked Watson, saying the work would be cherished by her children and her grandchildren. Guests took the rest of the evening to view other masterpieces in the gallery.
Guests out included: Chinese Ambassador Chen Jinghua and wife Xiao Linhua, Argentine Ambassador Mario Jose Pino, Spanish Ambassador Jesús Silva and wife Sara, Russian Ambassador Victor Zotin, Colombian Ambassador Emilio Ventura Diaz-Mejia, Panamanian Ambassador Ricardo Moreno, Maurice and Valerie Facey, Dr Jonathan Greenland and Dr Rebecca Tortello, Robert and Judy Levy, Robert MacMillan and Jennifer Stannigar, Morin and Verla Seymour, Justices Ian and Marlene Forte, Godfrey and Odette Dyer and Joan McDonald.
Photos by Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer
Wearing her trademark red, US Ambassador Brenda LaGrange Johnson beside her new portrait at its unveiling on Valentine's Day.
Artist Barry Watson (right) chats with Prime Minister Bruce Golding and US Ambassador to Jamaica, Brenda LaGrange Johnson, at Watson's Valentine's party and portrait unveiling.
Barry Watson listens as Pat Ramsey makes a point.
Hmm, should I buy this one? ... might be what Audrey Marks is thinking as she views one of Barry Watson's pieces.
From left: Tamara Scott-Williams and husband Louis Williams in pleasant discourse with Jamaica's leading painter, Barry Watson, at his Valentine's Day party and portrait unveiling of US Ambassador Brenda LaGrange Johnson, held at Old Hope Road on Thursday, February 14.
Howard Johnson (left) tells the gathering how he and wife Brenda LaGrange Johnson came to meet noted Jamaican artist Barry Watson, who smiles as the story is related.
Mexican Ambassador Leonora Rueda (right) and Lorna Golding view one of Barry Watson's masterpieces.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
S&S - German photographer: Wives sending sexy shots to spouses downrange
German photographer: Wives sending sexy shots to spouses downrange
By Seth Robson, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Sunday, June 22, 2008
Seth Robson / S&S Grafenwöhr photographer Natascha Hegewald has been taking sexy photographs of the spouses of American soldiers spouses for five years.
GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — The woman in the photograph sprawls across the floor in a provocative pose that exposes her cleavage.
It’s not a shot from a naughty calendar or the latest Maxim magazine. It’s a sexy photo that an Army wife took to send to her husband downrange. And according to Grafenwöhr photographer Natascha Hegewald, many wives of American soldiers take photographs like this to give to their deployed husbands.
Hegewald, 25, said she was surprised when she heard about the recent controversy surrounding a sexy calendar made by a Katterbach, Germany, spouse.
Alessandra Bosco, who’s married to Sgt. 1st Class Edward McCoy of the Katterbach-based 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, is selling a 2009 calendar that includes 12 photographs of her wearing a mixture of lingerie and military items. This month, the Italian model said the couple has been the target of threats, abuse and vandalism. Bosco blames jealous Army wives.
But Hegewald doesn’t see the big deal.
She said she regularly takes sexy photographs of U.S. soldiers’ wives wearing lingerie, sexy outfits, or nothing at all. She even photographed one wife in a dozen sexy poses for a calendar made just for the woman’s deployed husband.
"Army spouses are a big part of our business. If we have 10 customers, nine will be Americans," she said.
Germans would not be offended by a sexy calendar, the petite blond photographer said.
"In Germany it is more usual to buy a sexy calendar. Even if you buy a magazine you might have a calendar in it," she said.
The photographs Hegewald takes are not as provocative as those that appear in Playboy, she said.
"Playboy is more showing the person. Our thing is more like art. We don’t have the whole person in every shot," she explained, pointing to an image of a carefully sculpted leg that hangs in her studio, outside Grafenwöhr’s Gate 1.
It costs 83 euros, plus extra for prints, to pose in the studio, which features a marble column and a large U.S. flag (used for formal photographs of soldiers in Class A uniform) or outside in a large, secluded garden, she said.
During the photo shoot, the spouse can change into two outfits. Often women pose in lingerie such as lacy bras, stockings and garter belts, but many Americans often like to wear cheerleader outfits, Hegewald said.
All of the photographs are retouched before they are printed, she said.
Most customers take the photos for their husband, but some take them for themselves, she said. "They say: ‘I’ll get older and my body won’t look like this for a long time,’ so they just take the pictures for themselves," she said.
None of Hegewald’s U.S. customers wanted to talk to Stripes about their experience.
"Germans are more used to it," she said. "In Germany, it is usual to go to a photographer and get pictures taken like this. In the States you don’t see that and people don’t tell you they have taken this kind of photograph."
JG - Clinton vs Obama - impact on Jamaica
Clinton vs Obama - impact on Jamaica
published: Sunday February 17, 2008
The political race between two US senators, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, for the nomination of the Democratic Party to contest the US presidential election in November, is buzzing with the excitement of a neck-and-neck two-horse race with the second horse taking over the lead from the first.
The two contestants are very different from each other, but in some ways they have similarities.
Hillary Clinton is a former first lady, wife of former President Bill Clinton. She is a senator who is seeking to become the first female president of the United States.
Barack Obama is an African American, son of a Kenyan father and American mother. He is a senator who is seeking to become the first of his race to be elected as president of the United States.
Both are attorneys by profession and both married attorneys they met in law school. The Obamas both attended and graduated from the best law school in America, the Harvard Law School. The Clintons did the same at Yale which is not far behind the reputation of Harvard. This positions the two couples in the middle of the most renowned classical college rivalry in America - Harvard/Yale, adding a little spice to the contest.
But deeper socio-political differences exist. Clinton is a white woman who, in the setting of the historic racial prejudices of the American society, should be a clear favourite. The "race card" has been a historic determinant in voting preferences at this level. But in the presidential contest of 2002, Colin Powell, former US secretary of state, a black man with Jamaican roots, was a favourite in the polls, until he decided against contesting, because of a fear of assassination, it was said. So maybe the "race card" has not been as strong as assumed and a change in race relations has been taking place without being fully recognised. If so, this would be a great development. Maybe it took Barack Obama to bring this out into the open. But this won't be fully known until Obama faces the southern horde of Republican voters many of whom normally vote along racial lines.
(Oddly, I've never before heard the "a fear of assassination" given as a reason for Sec. Powell not ever seriously seeking the presidency.)
Hillary Clinton has much political experience; Barack Obama does not. She has policies which she presents without excitement. Obama has a populist leaning which he presents in a more exciting package. The contrast is between sound and sober arguments, on the one hand, and charismatic presentations which can cast a spell of visions to fill dreams with hope.
most important factor
U.S. presidential hopeful Senator Hillary Clinton and United States Senator Barack Obama - File photos
None of this scenario, however, has fully taken into account the expected condition of the US economy over the next few years. This is perhaps the most important factor in the race.
The American economy is not on the mend. There is nothing that suggests that a recession can be avoided unless the recent package of tax rebates approved by President Bush works, or the fall-out in the economy works its way out without too much damage.
Ronald Reagan, faced with the worst recession in 50 years, used the same tax rebate strategy to restore stability to the economy at the beginning of the 1980s and it worked then. So maybe this recession will go the same route. It is now a question of wait and see.
But there is a big difference this time. The destabilising factor is not just the huge sub-prime mortgages (bad loans) which are weighing down the financial system in America and also across the globe. This time there are two other factors - the frightening escalation in the price of oil and the reduced inflows of foreign investment into the US because of the depreciation of the US dollar which reduces investor returns. The American economy depends on foreign inflows to provide financial liquidity to support consumer spending, since US savings are traditionally very low. If consumer spending falls, economic growth will decrease because of the extent to which consumption drives the economy.
The bottom line is that the US dollar has to be depreciated in the American economy to provide a competitive edge against Chinese goods for the improvement of export earnings, but it also has to keep the value of the dollar strong to attract foreign inflows. Damned if you do; damned if you don't !
As far as the escalating price of oil, another driver of the economy, is concerned, the solution so far has been to switch from oil to ethanol produced from sugar-based or cereal crops. But this is no real solution. If all the land available in the US capable of planting corn were to be put into corn production, it would only suffice as a substitute for 12 per cent of US demand for oil. It appears that a network of nuclear power stations could be only real solution, as has been done in France. But this has not been a popular option in the US.
increased food prices
A further problem is that the switch to ethanol causes increased food prices and, consequentially, inflation, which is another sensitive barometer of economic health.
What do the candidates say about this interlocking web of conflicting economic factors? Unbelievably, they are promising to make the United States self-sufficient in energy, and are competing with each other as to who can offer more health care and a bigger minimum wage. None of them is saying that solving the crisis will require fundamental structural adjustment of the US economy to improve savings in order to reduce dependency on foreign inflows. None are talking about the reduced standard of living which Americans will have to endure, or the lay-offs to reduce expenditure. Welcome to Jamaican politics!
A destabilised American economy would be catastrophic to Jamaica at this time - higher food prices, increased inflation, reduced bauxite/alumina export earnings, decreased tourists inflows. This spells lower growth, less employment, cuts in welfare benefits and increased crime.
S the US economy concerns American citizens, it concerns Jamaicans and the rest of the world too because of the devastation it can cause. It appears that this is a time for decisions of the mind, not the heart. Welcome to the Jamaica of the 1970s and 1980s - déjà vu.
Edward Seaga is a former prime minister. He is now a distinguished fellow at the UWI. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
S&S - Navy seeking enlisted for ‘Old Ironsides’
Navy seeking enlisted for ‘Old Ironsides’
By Jeff Schogol, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Sunday, June 22, 2008
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy is looking for enlisted sailors to serve aboard the oldest commissioned ship afloat in the world, the USS Constitution.
The deadline for applications is July 15, and selection results will be announced by July 31, the Navy announced in a message.
Nicknamed "Old Ironsides" during the war of 1812, the ship is permanently berthed in Boston and receives about half a million visitors per year.
The Constitution is also where the Navy receives senior officers, high-ranking government officials and heads of state.
"The crew is tasked with promoting, protecting and preserving the ship," the message said.
Normal tours aboard the Constitution last three years and are counted as shore duty for rotational purposes, according to the Navy.
"In addition to the in-depth study of the history and construction of the ship required to give public tours, Constitution sailors must also learn 18th-century square-rigged sailing from line identification and setting and furling sails, including climbing up and out on her yard arms," the message said.
Sailors on the Constitution must also learn how to operate the ship’s 5,600-pound guns in 18th century gun drills, the message said.
Those sailors interested in volunteering for duty aboard the Constitution must:
Not have a fear of heights or public speaking.
Not have a record of nonjudicial punishment or alcohol-related incidents in the past 36 months — a drunken driving conviction in the past five years is an automatic disqualification.
Not have excessive debt or a record of financial instability within the past 36 months.
Not have evaluation or fitness report traits below 3.0 within the past 36 months.
Be in strict compliance with the Navy’s tattoo policy.
Be fit for duty and within current body composition standard.
Have not failed any physical fitness assessment in the past year, and have not failed more than one physical fitness test ian the past four years.
Interested sailors who are not petty officers must be unmarried and not have any dependants to qualify for duty aboard the ship, the Navy said.
A list of open billets for the Constitution is available at Navy Administrative Message 168/08 available at: www.npc.navy.mil
JG - Kern Spencer and the PNP
Kern Spencer and the PNP
published: Sunday February 17, 2008
Don Robotham, Contributor
Kern Spencer has done the right thing. He should have stepped aside earlier, but better late than never. But his actions only highlight the utter failure of the People's National Party (PNP) to take a firm stand on the corruption issue. As everyone one knows, the reason for this paralysis is that the efforts by one section of the PNP to take a firm stand have been blocked by a faction.
Why is this faction blocking firm action on issues of corruption? Some of them pretend that they are doing this out of solidarity with Kern. Well, by his own actions, Kern has now deprived this faction of that flimsy excuse. This is not about hounding Kern Spencer - far from it. I know him quite well. Kern is a very personable young Jamaican who means his country well. Kern, Basil Waite, Ronald Robinson and Andrew Holness are all products of the University of the West Indies (UWI) who have much to contribute to the progress of Jamaican society. It is good that they are in politics and we must encourage more of them - sons and daughters of the soil - to come forward. They are not perfect and will make serious mistakes. When they do, we must not brush these mistakes under the carpet. We must help them to face up to them squarely, to correct them and to move on.
Kern is not the devil incarnate. I hope very much he is vindicated in this case. I hope that, whatever the outcome, Kern finds a way to continue to play a role in the political life and public affairs of Jamaica. His decision to step aside improves his chances. But if it turns out that he has done something wrong and is severely punished, would I turn my back on him? Never!
But one must be able to distinguish between one's personal feelings of friendship for Kern and the fundamental issue of principle before us. The issue before us is the corruption of the Jamaican state. Such an issue supersedes by far any particular personality, including Kern. Confronted by an issue of such vital national importance, personal friendships and party loyalty must take a distant second and third place. This kind of sentimentality is not, of course, the real reason why this faction is blocking all efforts to get the PNP to take a firm stand on the corruption issue. For one thing, Kern's political ties with the leadership circle are not particularly strong. The faction would drop Kern in a minute if they felt this would bring them political advantage.
The real reason for this faction's stonewalling on the corruption issue has nothing to do with wishing to protect Kern Spencer. The problem for them is the other scandals which plague the PNP - which may turn out to be far larger than the light bulb saga. In the Trafigura case, for example, the allegations point directly to key members of the personal circle of the leadership. The faction is fearful that if they give ground on the light bulb case, this will open the floodgates to Trafigura and more. As far as this faction is concerned, that is to be avoided at all costs. The danger for this faction is that any serious pursuit of the corruption allegations will loosen their grip on power. What this faction is doing by stonewalling on the light bulb issue has nothing whatever to do with protecting either Kern or the PNP as a whole. It's their own skins which they are protecting.
Some in this faction make the argument that if the PNP were to take a firm stand on the light bulb issue it could lead to a by-election in the St Elizabeth constituency represented by Kern which they could lose. This argument is specious. PNP loyalists in this constituency are unlikely to switch to the JLP in a by-election. Who could switch is middle-of-the-road voters who are not captives of any party. But the longer the PNP dilly-dallies on the corruption issue, the greater the chances that the political centre in St Elizabeth and Jamaica as a whole becomes alienated from the PNP. Therefore, the current stonewalling on the corruption issue is in fact endangering and weakening the PNP politically from every point of view. Kern's decision to step aside helps the cause of the PNP. But it is a blow to the schemes of the leadership faction.
This faction belongs to a broad trend in Jamaican society which has developed an entire philosophy of corruption. These philosophers of corruption think that too much fuss is being made around the corruption issue. Were the PNP to regain power, they would calmly resume their practice of ripping off the state in which they have become true experts. After all, if nothing was wrong with corruption in the past, what would be wrong with it in the future?
Philosophers of corruption are by no means confined to the PNP - they are also well-represented in the uptown lumpen sections of the JLP who Bruce Golding is struggling to subordinate. This trend argues that corruption is a middle-class and media-created issue and is being blown out of proportion. They point to polls which suggest that less than 10 per cent of the Jamaican people regard corruption as an issue to which political priority should be given. In this line of thinking, all the talk about corruption is so much hullabaloo. They point to wealthy families in Jamaica who got huge breaks from the state in the past and who now pose as paragons of respectability with all manner of national honours. To them, all the fuss about corruption is so much hypocrisy or motivated by racial, political or social envy. What the masses are interested in, according to this trend, is the price of gas, flour, chicken and rice. You can't eat ethics, they cynically proclaim.
This tendency in Jamaican society which thinks that nothing is wrong with corruption is not, of course, confined to political parties. Indeed ironically, the light bulb saga has its counterpart in the light-stealing saga from which the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) and the media continue to run, like the devil from holy water. There are obviously strong ethical reasons why we should firmly oppose corruption in any quarter of Jamaican society - public or private. But the main reason to sternly fight corruption and uphold ethical conduct is a practical one. Here is the reason:
Since the era of globalisation dawned in the mid-1970s, Jamaican society has fallen into deep crisis, like many other countries in the world. The old import-substitution development strategies which worked under Norman Manley and in the immediate post-colonial period could work no more. Drastic changes in the world economy left the Jamaican economy stranded. The inevitable liberalisation and deregulation in the 1990s only made clear what had always been the case: We could not support and maintain the mass of our people at an adequate standard of living. Only a small minority at the top could prosper. In the mad scramble for survival which has ensued, all manner of subterfuges, corruption and survival strategies have been resorted to but to no avail. We have simply bounced from pillar to post while the society continued to spiral downwards. The enormous increase in our murder rate is the clearest expression of this failure. The deep alienation of our frustrated youth is another. The crisis in values - the hedonistic pursuit of bling, skin-bleaching, carnival and dancehall - is a third. The corruption of our police force is a fourth. The corruption of the civil administration of the Jamaican state is the final straw which will break the camel's back.
final nail in our coffin
'The collapse of the state would be the final nail in our coffin. At the moment, you could reasonably describe Jamaica as a fragile state. If the corruption is left unchecked and we do not get a grip on our affairs, we will move into another column. We will become a failed narco-state. We must get a firm grip on our affairs and get it urgently.
If the corruption of the Jamaican civil administration is not reversed, then we can kiss goodbye to any attempt to fight crime. We can forget about reforming the police force. We can forget about economic development, improving education, health, public transportation and housing. We can forget about improving values and attitudes. This practical threat is the crucial reason why a strong and uncompromising stand has to be taken on the corruption issue. What we are really dealing with here is the survival of Jamaican society and keeping alive the possibility of a better society for ourselves and our children. This is the practical reason why we cannot tolerate corruption no matter who is involved. The PNP must take a firm stand and take it now.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Schultz Dining Hall
S&S - Military orders trump new airline baggage fees
Military orders trump new airline baggage fees
By Jennifer H. Svan, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Sunday, June 22, 2008
U.S. military personnel and Defense Department employees won’t have to pay new fees for checked baggage as long as they’re traveling on official government orders in most instances, according to military officials.
The fee exemption applies to permanent-change-of-station and temporary-duty travel, according to Staff Sgt. Erica Hix, Transportation Management Office passenger travel specialist at Yokota Air Base, Japan.
"As long as you have a set of orders and present it at the counter, they’ll waive the baggage charges," she said.
Several U.S. carriers charge or will soon charge a fee for checked bags.
This month, American and United airlines began charging domestic travelers $15 for the first piece of checked luggage and $25 for the second, each way. US Airways will begin collecting $15 for the first checked bag starting July 9. The airline, according to its Web site, already charges $25 for a second checked bag and $100 for a third. The new fees apply to all flights to and from Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as flights within the United States.
The airlines will waive the baggage fee for flights that are booked using government contract fares, Hix said, noting that applies to nearly all official travel.
People traveling on emergency leave orders also should be able to get the checked baggage fees waived, said Staff Sgt. Hon Mac, TMO passenger travel supervisor at Misawa Air Base, Japan.
Family members also don’t have to pay the fee, whether they travel with the servicemember or separately, as long as their names are listed on the PCS orders, Hix said.
A few airlines don’t offer any baggage fee waivers. JetBlue and Midwest do not exempt any government travelers from their $20 fee for the second checked bag, according to information from the General Services Administration.
Mac advised passengers to check airline Web sites for information about baggage fees. Airlines also are charging for excess luggage weight. The government will reimburse those fees only if reimbursement is specified on one’s official orders.
Active-duty servicemembers and government employees must pay the checked baggage fee for commercial air travel while on leave.
Some airlines cite rising fuel costs for implementing the new baggage fees.
American, for example, expects to increase revenue by more than $350 million annually with the fee, according to the Wall Street Journal, but also expects to pay $2.6 billion more for fuel this year than in 2007.
JO - No Black in The White House: Part 2
No Black in The White House: Part 2
Sunday, February 17, 2008
In the years that I have been writing a widely published weekly commentary, I have never received as many responses as I did to my commentary last week on Barack Obama's quest for the White House.
I concluded in that commentary that, despite his vision and the wide appeal of his message, he would not succeed in occupying The White House, because, in the end, the fact that he is what the Americans call "an African American" would cause a majority of that small portion of the US electorate who actually vote, to vote against him. For, in the American society it is his part blackness that many whites will reject; it is not his part whiteness that they will celebrate.
Having said all that, I am bound to reveal that, if the more than 100 responses I have had are a straw poll, Obama will not only win the Democratic Party nomination, but he will romp home with the presidency.
Whether it is wishful thinking or an indication of gale force winds of change blowing through America, I do not know. What I do know is that Obama has captured the minds of many in the US who are fed up with the war-mongering, bullying stance of the George W Bush regime and, by close association, the Republican Party. They appear to be equally jaded with the slick but flawed aura of the Clintons. Obama is a welcome oasis in a desert of distrust.
Here is a voice from Illinois: "The United States needs this man. We need him to unite a divided nation and a divided world. We need him for us to believe that this country can rise and be great again. We need him to lead us in regaining the respect that we have lost under this sorry administration. We need him to show us that we can have strength without the need to continuously flex our muscle."
On the matter of race, there are some who believe that part of the reason for Obama's success in the primaries so far is precisely because he is "part white".
Here is a white man in Florida: "No one will admit it, but I believe Obama's mixed racial background has caused many whites to vote for him, they see him as acceptable."
And a mixed-race person from America , now living in the Caribbean, adds: "I am convinced because of my own experiences and acceptance in parts of Pennsylvania, where the closest whites came to seeing a black man was on television, that white Americans are more likely to accept and vote for a qualified person of mixed ancestry than for a full-blooded black American for president."
A professor from Wayne University in the US summed up the race aspect of this campaign in the following way: "If only the media could have championed the reality that Obama is as white as he is black, what a statement that would make for progress of race relations in the US and to the world! Overtly perpetuating the notion that 'purity' is reserved for a single race does more damage to any 'gains' we have made towards equality... my latent wish is that America would seize the moment and make a statement to the world that it really does accept its citizens regardless of colour or ethnic combinations."
What all this seems to emphasise is that race and colour remain deeply motivating factors in American society, and especially, with regard to the person to whom will be entrusted enormous power over ordinary people and over nations.
So, if this is so widely known and felt, there should be no assumption that the race card will not be played as subtly and carefully as the Republican Party dares when the contest reaches the home stretch and the finishing line draws near.
Indeed, there are keen Washington observers who firmly believe that Obama's phenomenal success in raising huge campaign funds is part of a dastardly Republican scheme to make him the Democratic Party's nominee for the Presidency on the basis that, ultimately, the majority of the white electorate will fall back on an atavistic racial prejudice when they cast their vote.
One of them contends: "My gut instincts for some time have told me that somewhere in the DC area Karl Rove has a dirty-tricks boiler room getting Republicans to give to Obama financial help to defeat Hillary, relying on the racist attitudes nationally to reject Obama over any of the clowns in the original GOP presidential candidate line-up."
Note should be taken that, despite Obama's remarkable success, he is unlikely to gain the 2,025 delegates needed to secure the nomination outright. But neither will Clinton. The so-called 796 "super-delegates" - members of congress, governors, former presidents and office holders - may well decide who wins, and so far Clinton has more committed votes.
Assuming he wins, however, many of those who responded to my commentary last week -and these are people who fervently support Obama and desperately want him to triumph - are fearful that his song will be abruptly ended, and his vision dimmed in the same way that Martin Luther King Jr was silenced and John F Kennedy stopped.
In championing his quest for The White House, many of his black supporters want to assert their own legitimacy as true equals in a society that has squashed them underfoot; others pray that he can remould America into that society of liberty, generosity and fraternity that has always been more imagined than real.
A heavy burden of hope has been placed on the shoulders of Barack Obama. He will need divine help not only to stride into The White House, but also to satisfy the great expectations now reposed in him - if he occupies it.
(The writer is a business executive and former Caribbean Diplomat). Email responses to: email@example.com
JG - Drop the 'garrison' label
Drop the 'garrison' label
published: Sunday February 17, 2008
I am often amazed at how casually Jamaicans use the word 'garrison' to refer to our communities. Do we really understand what it means, and even more important, what it represents? Originally, the word garrison meant a "fortified stronghold","body of troops in fortress," or "military stations".
To name our communities garrisons is to say that we are somehow a stronghold, with troops defending or fighting for a territory.
The name garrison creates a separation and the stigmatisation of a community. To say garrison is to say that one community is separate and apart from another community. After years of separation because of political affiliation, do we want to continue this corrosive culture of separation among our communities? Doesn't a man have the right to interact with his brothers and share for the common good?
A man in Jamaica has the right to live in a community together with all the other communities around him and not be separated by a name. We are all brothers who have to strive together to achieve the common good of the country.
Besides a separation created by the name garrison, there is also stigmatisation. Calling a comm-unity a garrison is a way of creating a certain type of lifestyle and presenting the lifestyle as true because the lifestyle now goes with the name. We have seen the lifestyle and the consequences of the lifestyle of the so-called garrisons in Jamaica.
This lifestyle is very different from a regular community. Since it's a garrison, 'a military station', people have the right to take the law into their own hands because a garrison is supposed to be independent and able to carry out its own style of law. These communities bear record of the consequences of a self-governed community.
I am, etc.,
Monday, June 23, 2008
re: "And Where Are The Golden Boy Officers?"
"(L)ook at what Navy’s doing. We’re sending who we think we can afford to lose, much of the time, instead of who’s good."
"The Navy guys doing the hard job in the only shooting war we’re fighting are guys who aren’t on the fast track–one of the readers here did a job that Army thinks is significant command, but Navy doesn’t and said guy is done in uniform."
"I’ve railed in my earlier career against the dumb practice of putting only guys we think are not-fast-track (and who we then don’t select and dump) in forward deployed, sensitive jobs that have more real world use than many of the jobs that historically go to fast track “obvious star potential” officers. This is more of that problem, magnified a little because we’re, you know, being shot at.
You get the people you pick. The force is shaped by who you pick. We’re by and large not picking guys who are actually doing the wartime job, save a few tokens with high visibility. "
re: "Before you Pack your Bags and Move to the EU..."
"(I)t is true that as a US Citizen, you only have the right to work in the US, but what is left out is that the US is an immensely large country, while many of the EU states are toy-sized countries. Eighteen of those 27 states have a population of less than eleven million. Eleven of those have a population of under six million. This is in line with many US States. So it would be fair to say that the EU is like a United States of Europe. It is just formed with 27 states instead of 50."
"(O)n the surface, the European Union and the United States are two labor markets. A US Citizen can legally work in any of the fifety states and Washington, DC and most EU Citizens can work in any of the twenty seven EU States."
"This would seem like a great opportunity for those who can gain the right to work in both labor markets, but it is only that simple in the US."
"Living in the US, I am living in a union of states where I have the same right. I can move to any of the 50 states (and DC) and live there for work and be equal to those that have lived there their whole lives. This mobility of the workforce is a very important part of reducing unemployment. If the population is mobile and has the freedom to move from region to region, they can move to where the work is.
In the EU, most citizens can move to wherever they want in the EU for work, or for any reason without much restriction. There was talk of restricting citizens from new member states to prevent them all from moving to the higher paying countries. But the funny thing is, the EU did not need to enact barriers to keep people from moving from one country to another, as there are already natural barriers in place."
Read the whole thing.
re: "Left Claims Scalia Lied in Stating That Terrorists Released from Gitmo Went Back to Terrorizing"
"(T)hey phrase it in a carefully-limited way: No released terrorists, they say, have been proven to have attacked Americans, claiming that this refutes Scalia's claim, though Scalia actually said they had "returned to the battlefield," and did not specify the exact nationality of innocent civilians murdered by released terrorists. That allows them to ignore or pretend to not have noticed this Washington Post report of a former Gitmo detainee who just recently murdered innocent Iraqis in a Mosul suicide bombing."
"Even taking their deceptively limiting claim about "attacks on Americans" at face value (and I don't see why we should), there is that little problem of released detainees re-joining the Taliban to take part in "anti-coalition militant activity." In case the left hadn't noticed, America is part of the coalition in Afghanistan."
re: "State Dept vs Colonial Office?"
"(T)wo pretty basic questions:
1) Should State go all-in in Iraq (and to a lesser extent Afghanistan) with its newly "transformed" diplomats or should it keep its eye on longer term relationships and concerns elsewhere in the globe?
2) What, exactly, do we want from a 21st Century State Department?"
"Charlie has yet to hear a good reason why we shouldn't double the number of FSOs (there's currently a significant shortage of officers at a myriad of posts as a result of staffing shortages and the behemoth Embassy Baghdad)."
"Unlike the Pentagon, currently benefiting from rare, gifted leadership by Secretary Gates, State suffers under Secretary Rice (to the point that Gates is a much better advocate for State than she is)."
"A little strategy goes a long way. (And oh, btw, don't forget that most of the things we want "civilians" to do in Iraq and Afghanistan aren't core competancies of the Foreign Service either. If you want a Colonial Office, you're gonna have to build a Colonial Office.)"
"State needs to. . . . do the job in Iraq (and Afghanistan) if only because it won't be the last time they're asked to work closely with the military or in a conflict environment."
"(W)e absolutely need State's core diplomatic skills, something that doesn't exist anywhere else in the government (except for the rare 4-star like Gen Zinni). Diplomacy isn't appeasement; it's the process by which we convince others of the correctness (or at least utility) of the American position."
TE - Beauty and the Geek
Beauty and the Geek
Jun 19th 2008 NEW YORK
From The Economist print edition
A new bill proposes more visas be allocated to fashion models
IT'S not often that fashion models are paired with IT workers, except in the lurid fantasies of computer geeks. But because of a decision made back in 1990 they must compete for the same over-subscribed H-1B, a temporary work visa for specialised occupations. Until 2004, when the government lowered the cap on the number of H-1Bs it issued, it didn't matter so much. But now demand has far outstripped the limited number of visas available, and many foreign models are being denied the chance to sashay down America's catwalks.
Anthony Weiner, a New York congressman, wants to fix this tragic glitch. He has proposed a bill amending the rules so that the models will be reclassified into their own special immigration category. This would free up more visas for the nerds; and it would allow 1,000 models to strut their stuff in America each year, compared with just 349 in 2007, half the annual number admitted between 2000 and 2005.
Only 65,000 H-1B visas are awarded annually and they get snapped up within days of becoming available, most of them going to tech workers. Companies like Infosys and Microsoft were among the top H-1B users in 2007. But even these companies are being constrained. Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman, testified to a Senate committee last year that the only way to solve the “critical shortage of scientific talent” was to open up the country's doors.
Steve King, an Iowa congressman, thinks the bill should be called the “Ugly American Act” because it implies there are not enough beautiful people in the United States. But Mr Weiner, a bachelor accused by the tabloids and his fellow politicians of using the visa issue to get himself a glamorous date, says he's only thinking of New York's economy, which is heavily involved in the fashion industry.
The business generates thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenue: the average photo-shoot costs about $100,000. If a foreign model is denied entry, he says, the production is likely to be lost to other countries. New York's skyline or California's hills can be easily photoshopped in later. This “beauty drain”, as the newspaper Politico calls it, affects make-up artists, stylists and photographers as well as media companies and advertising agencies.
The visas for models bill is still far from becoming reality, and comprehensive immigration reform is a distant dream. Luckily though, supermodels like Gisele Bündchen are in the clear. They are eligible for O-1 visas, given to those with “extraordinary ability,” like Nobel laureates.
JO - The PNP's shame is our own
The PNP's shame is our own
Sunday, February 17, 2008
I can think of only a few circumstances in which the word 'orgy' as a description would be ideally suited.
When we hark back to the moral depredations which, it is said, walked hand in hand with the fall of the Roman empire, we conjure up festal excesses and carnal extremes when men locked with little boys, women gave up their bodily treasures to the nearest taker and in their orgy of sex and waste, the walls of empire were shaken to the ground.
A pack of sharks in a fight for food is often described as a feeding frenzy. Considering that if one shark rips a piece out of another in a misdirected bite, the wounded shark will continue to feed and will even eat its own bowels, it would be appropriate to also describe it as an orgy of madness.
We have not fully determined to the extent to which the PNP's run from 1989 to 2007 (and especially in the last term) encompassed enough of a feeding frenzy among the loyal and the committed comrades to allow it be classified as an orgy of corruption. But we are getting there because it seems that the files are too bulging to keep them contained for much longer.
In recent times when no-nonsense minister of Mining and Energy Clive Mullings made accusations on Kern Spencer, former junior minister in that ministry under the PNP government, the young Spencer sobbed openly, no, bawled while every time he attempted to rise to address Parliament, his colleagues, more versed in what the PNP as government and party had become in the eyes of an apathetic and ignorant public, urged him to sit down and say nothing.
SPENCER... at the centre of light bulb scandal
Some of us saw the crying and Spencer's attempts to speak as an attempt on the part of the young man to purge something from deep inside of him that was too painful to contain. Or, it could be that the accusations themselves comprised a scenario that in all of his political chess playing was never considered and hence, he had no countermoves. In one fell swoop we saw the real politics of the PNP - the type which told us that 'people' and 'vote' could be used to empower the chosen few.
When young (and apparently very busy on all fronts) Kern Spencer bawled and the tears flowed freely, another voice was drowned out even as it cried too. It was the voice of Norman Manley crying out from the grave and being drowned out amid the ringing of PNP cash registers. "And what is the mission of this generation now I quit my leadership?...I can only hope that comrades will be guided by a far-sighted understanding of the difficulties of the future and the state of the country, and the demands that will be made on new leadership."
The contractor general's report on the Cuban light bulb fiasco is one of the most damning reports I have ever read. While the PNP is now concerned with how the media got hold of it before it was tabled in Parliament, one segment of the report made the PNP's present focus redundant just as how the party will become if it does not soon secure new, viable leadership.
"The circumstances of the matter are compounded by the fact that Senator Spencer has admitted to the use of his public office to facilitate the award of the said contracts. In such circumstances, it is the OCG's considered view that, at a minimum, a criminal investigation into the matter is warranted to determine, inter alia, if corruption charges should be brought against Senator Spencer."
EXPECT NO MORE EXUBERANCE FROM PAULWELL
As one of Portia's most favoured in the latter part of the PNP's administration, Phillip Paulwell was no stranger to controversy, the kind that good, decent leadership could do without. The NetServ scandal has never been sufficiently aired publicly. Solutrea was an embarrassment that crept away quietly. We are therefore overjoyed that as the senior minister (Mining and Energy and Telecommunications) in charge of Kern Spencer, Paulwell had so much faith in the abilities of his state minister to execute such an important project that at no time, no time at all, did he say to his junior, 'How is the light bulb project going?'
The contractor general in his report states, 'Besides the fact that Minister Paulwell was then minister with primary ministerial portfolio responsibility the OCG has been shown no evidence which would directly and conclusively implicate him for the lapses which have occurred in the project's accounting, financing and administrative controls during its implementing and execution phases.'
Having previously met with Fidel Castro in Cuba in 2005 at which time the Cuban people had made a gift of 73,000 energy-saving, fluorescent light bulbs, Paulwell used his constituency as a pilot project to one which would be eventually spread over the entire country. This was facilitated by the Cubans increasing the quantity of bulbs to four million.
Come budget time 2006 and minister Paulwell announces with fanfare the new, bigger gift from the Cubans and the real potential of the project to reap big savings in energy (oil usage) for the country. This was no 'dibby-dibby' project of cleaning a gully or bushing a few lots on crown lands. It was a showpiece not only of cooperation between the Jamaican and Cuban government but, in light of the fact that the JLP had not had cordial relations with the administration of Fidel Castro, Paulwell and the PNP must have seen in the project political negatives for the JLP, especially in light of the fact that elections were not that far off.
With all of that, one would have thought that even though Paulwell would have wanted to delegate something to his junior to cut his teeth on, at the very least, based on his budget presentation and the publicity attached to it, he would have considered it worthwhile to monitor this project and 'drop in' on the junior minister at regular intervals.
With such an important project on, Paulwell later told the contractor general that he 'cannot recall any formal document that was reviewed and mutually agreed by both parties.' In other words we simply said to the Cubans, 'Thanks, we don't need any heads of agreement, nothing formal.'
Minister Paulwell takes the cake for planning and organisation, and it is brought out in his statement to the contractor general when he is probed on the type of instructions given to his junior minister Kern Spencer. In November of 2007, he told the OCG that he was 'unable to provide documentary evidence of these directives which were given orally'.
Further in the contractor general's report it is stated that, 'To date the OCG has seen no evidence of any written contract between the government of Jamaica and any of the suppliers which have been paid by the PCJ pursuant to the execution of the 4M project.'
In a project in which $126 million was paid out with a whopping $153 million still owing, seemingly nothing was written down on paper. No minutes of meetings, nothing. As example of the 'fatness' of the project, the amount paid out for meals, the biggest item on the bill was $44 million. Of the amount still owing, the claim for meals was $73 million! Some menu!
In any private-sector company which operated that way, the general manager (Paulwell) would have been long fired. In August of 2007, just before the elections minister Kern Spencer had, according the OCG's report, 'By way of letters which were dated 2007 August 31, Mr Kern Spencer wrote to various suppliers indicating that their respective invoices had been approved.' The amount? $153 million, which would likely have been paid out had the PNP got its fifth term!
In Spencer's statement to the OCG he names then minister Paulwell as chairing one of three 'ad hoc' monitoring committees. According to him, that group met five times between June 2006 and June 2007.
In a most interesting part of the OCG's report the following is stated, 'Minister Phillip Paulwell, in his statement of 2007 November 12 stated that, "There was an implementation committee chaired by Minister of State, Hon Kern Spencer."'More. 'When asked "From whom did each oversight body receive its directives?" Mr Paulwell stated that it was "Minister of State, Kern Spencer."'
Let me understand this. Spencer states that then minister Paulwell chaired one of the monitoring committees/oversight bodies and it met five times in the year following June 2006. At the same time Paulwell tells the OCG that all the oversight bodies received their orders from Spencer.
Something does not add up.
REV ROPER AND MAMMON
In PNP and media circles it has always been thought that Rev Garnet Roper is more PNP than the PNP itself. In other words, as far as commitment goes, the reverend gentleman is quite sold on the PNP's cause and its mission, that is, whatever that mission has become in the last 10 years.
Now comes the revelation that Rev Roper has been the beneficiary of government lands, known as crown lands. So far, nothing has been revealed to indicate that Roper acquired a 25-year lease on a five-acre property, flat farming lands, at Bernard Lodge illegally.
Rev Roper is luckier than most of us. For the lease he pays $15,000 per year. That converts to $3,000 per acre per year. Which is $250 per month per acre. And if you are really international in these times when land is at a premium, the Rev Roper is paying US$3.52 per month per acre!
And the taxpayers of this country will have to be bound by this legal agreement for the next 25 years. No, that's not quite true. Every five years the rates are reviewed.
Good going Rev, you lucky, savvy holy man.
WILL SINGING FOLLOW THE CRYING?
At the time when JLP minister Mullings had ex-minister Kern Spencer over the coals, young Spencer cried in parliament. It is thought that should the ex-junior minister decide to up the ante from using his lachrymal glands to engaging his vocal cords in singing, he may find that other persons may unwillingly find themselves accompanying him in the choir.
I myself was never a good singer, but occasionally whenever I sing in my bathroom I imagine myself on stage at the Royal Albert Hall or some such place, accompanied by a mass choir.
Spencer may not need a large choir. No more than about four or five will provide an adequate backup. But I ought to warn him. Singing, no matter how horrible it comes across, takes long hours of practice. The time to begin is now.