A lot has been written regarding the appointment of 52 Government boards whose members were, as The Gleaner columnist Gordon Robinson puts it, “considered, vetted and approved in absolute secrecy”. It goes without saying that ideally, in a modern democracy, such appointments would be subject to scrutiny from the very people who would be affected by an unsuitable (incompetent) appointee. But the reality is that we have to live with it until we the people, understand and use our power to force elected representatives to govern on our behalf, not theirs or their ‘pardies’. In the popular sport of horse racing, there appeared in the Track and Pools publication of April 13, the results of an appeal heard by the Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC). This appeal was held on April 7. The facts outlined in the report of the appeal were that a horse, PRINCE OSHAUN, trained by Colin Blair and ridden by the apprentice jockey, Bebeto Harvey, won the fourth race on the 28th November 2015. At the conclusion of the race there was a Stewards Inquiry, where the film of the race was reviewed. After the review, the winner, PRINCE OSHAUN, was disqualified for intimidation and interference to horses #5, MONEY NEVER SLEEP and horse #15, ROMAN SPY. Therefore, all those punters on and off the racetrack who had backed PRINCE OSHAUN, lost their money as second-past-the-post GRAND CORAZON was now declared to be the winner. However, at the appeal, the aggrieved trainer submitted that his horse (PRINCE OSHAUN) came down from the outside after the interference occurred and could not have intimidated any other horse or jockey. Mr Blair further submitted that if his horse, PRINCE OSHAUN, was not in the race, the infractions that happened would have still occurred. The trainers’ submissions at the appeal reflected the opinions of fans of racing who were present in the North Lounge at the Caymanas racetrack on that fateful day. UPHELD THE APPEAL The appellate body reviewed the film of the race and listened to evidence from Harvey and Operation Steward Robert Clark. Its conclusion was that PRINCE OSHAUN could not have intimidated any other horse or jockey, and upheld the appeal. Thus, the new results would reflect that PRINCE OSHAUN was, indeed, the winner and directed that the appropriate adjustment to the purses be made. Unfortunately, those knowledgeable punters who had selected PRINCE OSHAUN to win the race (and who witnessed PRINCE OSHAUN winning the race) have absolutely no possibility of being rewarded for their correct decision, while those responsible for this error is allowed to say, “oops”, and continue to adjudicate on races ostensibly to keep making these errors with absolutely no possibility of any sanction, while punters are actively encouraged to “come on down to the track and support the sport of kings”. Here now is an opportunity for the new commission to inject some long-lost confidence in the administration of the sport by taking decisive action against any member of staff whose actions repeatedly are found (on appeal) to have no basis in fact. Those responsible for these (numerous) errors only serve to turn off punters (the lifeblood of the sport) as there are many alternatives for the betting dollar. Racing cannot afford to keep alienating those whose money keeps the sport alive. For even though there was no parliamentary vetting and public comment on their suitability, competence or integrity, the sport of kings, horse racing, needs board members to do the right thing.
ROME (AP):Singles was the easy part for Venus Williams yesterday. The difficult part came with younger sister Serena in doubles.After Venus comfortably beat CoCo Vandeweghe 6-4, 6-3 in the first round of the Italian Open, the Williams sisters lost to Andreja Klepac and Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia 6-1, 7-5.It was the first time the sisters played doubles together since the 2014 US Open. They are preparing for an attempt at a fourth Olympic gold medal in doubles in Rio de Janeiro.”We didn’t play our best at the same time,” Venus said. “That’s not typical. Usually one of us is playing well. That helps the team a lot. Two of us are playing well, it usually goes our way.”In other first-round matches, Sara Errani was slowed by physical problems in losing to Heather Watson of Britain 6-4, 3-6, 6-0 and Lucia Safarova of the Czech Republic defeated former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 6-2.On a rough day for the home players even in the men’s tournament, Fabio Fognini of Italy was beaten by Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 6-1, 7-6 (2).Also, Milos Raonic overcame two breaks of his serve to get past Italian wild card Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.Raonic will next face Nick Kyrgios, who eliminated Salvatore Caruso, another Italian wild card, 6-1, 6-2.Seventh-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga withdrew because of a muscle problem and was replaced in the draw by fellow Frenchman Lucas Pouille. He doesn’t have much time to recover before the French Open, which begins in two weeks.”It’s not something good to be a little bit injured before this event,” Tsonga said. “I hope I will have the chance to recover.”
According to an impeachable source, an intense debate looms in the Senate Chamber when a Bill proposed during the 2nd Session of the 53rd Senate calling for the allotment of 15% of the National Budget as County Development Fund (CDF) re-appears this week.The Bill was sponsored by River Cess Senator Jay Jonathan Banney, and signed by 15 Senators of the joint committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Budget in a prepared report.The report recommended that 15% of the fiscal national budget be appropriated annually for the development of the 15 political subdivisions of the country, and that such be passed into law.Counties are currently receiving an amount of US$200,000 annually as CDF, which all the Senators agreed was inadequate to address their (the counties’) many development needs.Although every Senator present at last year’s debate agreed to the need for an increment in the CDF, some argued the recommendation for a 15% allotment was too much.Senators Frederick Cherue and Abel Massalley welcomed the recommended increment, but suggested an annual allocation of US$1 million and US$2 million rather than 15 percent; which they argued was too much and called for an amendment. Senator Dallas Gueh contested that anything below 15% of the national budget would be far too small.The return of the 15% National Budget Bill comes in the wake of recent proposal by House Speaker J. Alex Tyler and subsequent approval by the House of Representatives that an amount of 73 million United States Dollars be placed in the 2014/2015 National budget for direct district impact projects.Speaker Tyler, who was making remarks at the joint program held in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building during a joint session for the opening of the 3rd Session of the Legislature on January 13, 2014, did not say who would manage the funds (Legislature or Executive). However, some lawmakers have been saying that the money is going to be managed by district residents by expended by the Executive. He explained that the appropriation for infrastructural development should be in what he referred to as a “ballpark figure” and that implementation of each project identified would be clearly and specifically vetted on a project-by-project basis and approved by the Legislature before final appropriation and implementation is made.Speaker Tyler said the allotment would be distinct from the County Development Fund, saying; “this is one of the ways we believe that much needed development can reach and impact our people in rural Liberia.”Speaking on a radio talk show Monday, January 20, Senator Dallas Gueh said he would rather discuss the 15% Bill proposed in the Senate because according to him, it is more feasible.Meanwhile, there are indications that that first piece of legislation passed by the Lower House will soon be transmitted to the Senate for concurrence.However, with a more controversial Bill before that august body for action, many legislative commentators foresee the constitution of a conference committee to help reconcile the two Bills drafted “in the best interest of our citizens.”In related development, the Senate committee authorized to handle financial and currency matters is expected to make a written report to the Senate plenary on its findings responsible for the continuous rise in the exchange rate between the Liberian Dollar and the United States Dollar, when that body convenes in Chamber for its third day sitting.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
There was a tragic irony to the discussions in Washington last week between President Obama and African leaders. The meeting took place even as the Ebola virus was brutally exposing the lack of capacity, antiquated health systems, and dearth of governance in one corner of the continent. The outbreak is gathering pace. Over 1,000 people have now died in West Africa. Hospitals and health clinics are overflowing and anger is rising as dead bodies are being left to rot in the streets.The governments in the region and the international community are finally getting serious about a coordinated response to Ebola. Sadly, however, these measures only treat the symptoms and not the causes of the problem — which at their core are issues of corruption, mismanagement, and a lack of accountability of those in power to their people. There are parts of Africa that have made incredible progress in the past two decades. Think of Mozambique, where poverty levels have been cut by almost 15 percent since 1996. Or Senegal, where equal numbers of girls and boys are now enrolled in primary school. In Liberia, one of the countries worst hit by Ebola, successful elections have been held twice and economic growth has averaged over 7 percent in the past 10 years. The Ebola crisis is quickly exposing how rapidly progress can be undermined, however, when it is not grounded in a fair, inclusive social compact between governments and their citizens. It is no coincidence that, in the countries at the heart of the outbreak, large groups of people have been systematically excluded from power and decision-making at all levels for decades. This means many citizens are unwilling to believe that the government can serve their interests. The health system in Liberia is a case in point. Despite millions of dollars of investment in the decade before the Ebola outbreak, there were only 150 trained doctors in the entire country of 3.5 million people. As a result, access to services is inevitably exclusionary, lending itself to networks of corruption as patients do anything they can to receive care. In recent years, kleptocratic and nepotistic behavior by the ruling elites have led to long civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone; deep ethnic tensions, a coup d’etat, and civil strife in Guinea; and a low-level insurgency and the rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria. These are places where the social fabric has been ripped apart, and trust between those in power and ordinary people is almost absent.Sadly, by some measures governance in Africa is getting worse, not better. In 2009 there were 12 African states ranked in the lowest 30 countries of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index; last year this increased to 15 countries in the bottom 30 of the list. The Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, awarded to democratic leaders of integrity in Africa at the end of their mandated terms, has only been awarded three times in seven years. The aid system has become part of the problem as African governments have often focused on international funding flows rather than efforts to generate the confidence of their own people.There is a clear link between this governance failure and the current health crisis. In places where governments are so rarely willing or able act in the interests of their citizens, we can begin to understand why the disease continues to spread. Health services, which barely exist in many places, are shunned because the unsanitary conditions of hospitals and health centers have made them hubs for the spread of the virus. Many hospital staff — already underpaid and ill-equipped — have become victims themselves. Foreign health workers sent to help are ignored and even chased away by scared locals. A group of Liberians explained to us recently that they think Ebola is a ploy by the government to steal even more money from Western donors.As a result, the Ebola challenges are now evolving into larger problems of instability in the region. Economic activity has ground to a standstill as borders have closed, movement is restricted, and flights are canceled. This is happening in countries where up to 50 percent of the population already earns less than 50 cents a day. Mistrust, misunderstandings, and ill-will are growing as people continue to die. In Liberia, the president has declared a national emergency and the vice president has stated that Ebola is threatening the progress made since the end of the civil war. The use of riot police to put down a recent protest against the government’s failure to deal with the crisis does not bode well.Public outreach campaigns, infection control measures, and coordinated international technical support will control the virus in the short term. But in the longer term, we must empower the governments and people of the region to build mutual trust with each other and get to grips with the corruption, mismanagement, and capacity issues that prevent effective management of these types of crises.This requires support to ensure that laws against graft are enforced fairly and are matched with institutions mandated and resourced to do their jobs. The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), for example, has just two lawyers — something that makes prosecuting corrupt officials extremely difficult.Finding solutions also means encouraging administrative bodies to allow people to have a greater say in how they are governed. Decentralization — delegating decision-making to local governments — can help with this, as can processes like participatory budgeting where citizens can decide how public funds are spent. Finally, it requires a clear emphasis on funding for flexible, grassroots mechanisms for holding governments to account for the delivery of services. These kinds of prescriptions are difficult and time-consuming, and they rarely generate front-page news. But they can allow for a process through which governments in West Africa can begin to build the trust that is essential in times of emergency. This is the real cure for Ebola.About the authors:Blair Glencorse is Executive Director of the Accountability Lab. Brooks Marmon is an accountability architect for the iLab in Liberia. This article was originally published on Foreignpolicy.com on August 14, 2014.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
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President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has written the House of Representatives (HOR) on the creation of the organizational structure to combat the deadly Ebola virus, which has claimed over 400 lives and led to the quarantining of about 560,000 citizens in five counties.The Liberian leader said the overarching group of the structure is called the National Consultative Group (NCG), but the prime leadership, is the National Task Force (NTF), headed by herself.The Chair of the Task Force is responsible for overall programmatic and financial decisions for the Ebola Trust Fund, including approving budgets submitted by implementing agencies and organizations.In her letter dated 12 August 2014 to the Speaker and Members of the HOR, the President explained that the NCG includes non-restrictive members from a wide cross-section of the society, who would be briefed and provided inputs on the status of the anti-Ebola campaign.“The NCG will meet bi-monthly at 12 midday on Thursday, in the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” the President said.President Sirleaf further stated in her communication that the members of the control body, NTF, comprised of representatives from the National Legislature, the US Government, the European Commission, the Ministers of Defense, Justice and Information, Cultural and Tourism.Other members, according to the President, are the Inter-Religious Council, the Labor Congress, the Transport Union, the Press Union, the Liberia Business Association, Youth and Women.“The NTF will meet each week at 12 noon on Friday in the Cabinet Room at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” President Sirleaf wrote.The President’s letter expounded that the NTF would provide overall oversight of the work of the National Technical Team (NTT), jointly chaired by the Ministers of Health and Social Welfare and the Internal Affairs.She named members of the NTT as representatives from Government, Non-Governmental Agencies, Partners and Professional Volunteers.“The NTT will undertake general planning for implementation by all units of the government’s response and decisions and coordination of the national preparedness and response will be taken at this level,” the President said.According to the Liberian leader, the technical team will meet daily separately and directly under the leaderships of the Co-chairs at their respective headquarters and jointly bi-weekly at 9 a.m. at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.The President also told the House of Representatives that a National Response Center (NRC), which is headed by Mr. Dorbor Jallah as the National Response Coordinator, will coordinate the day-to-day response of all units, to include the Call and Logistics Centers.The Call Center is regulated by Ms. Wadei Powell, while the Logistics Center is headed by the Coordinator and the Office of the Special Comptroller, Mr. Andre Pope.“The NRC will serve as the Central Point for all Ebola response related activities and all financial transaction accordingly,” the President said, “The NRC is a 24-hour operating center.”The President said: “Needless to say, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Legislature are urged to participate appropriately in all the bodies.”Meanwhile, members of the House of the Representatives voted unanimously for the acceptance and acknowledgement of the letter.It can be recalled the House also voted unanimously for the State of Emergency and let-go the President to use US$20 million in the fight against Ebola.Howbeit, amidst the Ebola outbreak as part of its preventive measure, the leadership of House and the Liberian Senate has sent home nearly 85 percent of their staffers on compulsory leave.The Legislature has sealed all entries to the Capitol Building except the door that faces the Executive Mansion. Hand-washing buckets have been placed at that entry for regular washing of hands.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Guyana’s small population has been hit with the growing epidemic of human trafficking cases, with statistics demonstrating that some 156 cases were recorded for 2018 only.This was divulged during the Social Protection Ministry’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) workshop on Wednesday where the Counter Trafficking in Persons Unit provided training to shelter managers and operators.Participants and coordinators of the training session on human traffickingCoordinator of the programme, Tanisha Williams-Corbin shared some of the alarming statistics which were recorded for last year as she stated that the ministry has seen notably high statistics in these cases. Out of the 156 persons that were assisted, some 93 were transferred to shelters and similar agencies for additional support.“We find that this training is very important and its timely. Over the past few years, the Ministry of Social Protection has recorded quite a significant increase in trafficking in persons. For 2018, we recorded and assisted 156 victims of trafficking in person. Out of the 156, 93 were referred to the facilities,” said Williams-Corbin.According to her, this trend has continued into 2019, with some eight cases reported in less than two months. For this, provisions were made for other countries and entities to contribute in these investigations.“For 2019 so far, [it’s the] same thing. To date, we have recorded eight cases of suspected trafficking in persons. 45 victims were identified on the soils of Guyana and we’re working closely with a Caribbean island and the International Organisation for Migration to repatriate one victim who was recruited in Guyana but trafficked to a Caribbean country,” she stated.The coordinator is of the view that these interactions will increase their strength in the fight against this type of human captivity.Throughout the session, stakeholders were provided with information and systems in places which were set up to combat trafficking by understanding the nature of these crimes. Moreover, they are briefed on how to communicate with victims. Meanwhile, Probation and Social Services Officer, Denise Ralph gave a backdrop of the importance of these sessions to shelter operators as she stated that these agencies are the first exposure to the victims after they’re rescued.It was mentioned that these persons should not be placed in environments where they feel unsafe or vulnerable.“We targeted these persons because when the victims are placed in protective care, [they] are the ones that have direct contact with those persons. Those persons are placed there for a reason. They’re placed there to be protected from perpetrators who threaten them. When these victims have to go to court, they need a safe place where we can have them housed so that they wouldn’t have other members there to influence them,” said Ralph.The Guyana Police Force has also played a role in locating trafficked persons and preventing such incidents. In its 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report, the US-State Department noted that although the Guyana Government meets the minimum standards, it did not provide adequate protection and shelter outside the capital, or for child and male victims.It said the number of trafficking investigations and new prosecutions decreased, and the number of successful convictions remained low.
In the A Division, Leo Felix defeated Glen Godberson to emerge victorious. In the B event, Paula Maloney beat Dan Weber for the final win and finally in the C event, Ryan Harvey def. Ken Thompson for the win.For more information on the Fort St. John Curling Club, visit the club’s official website.- Advertisement –
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Fort St. John Senior Flyers will be hosting the Grande Prairie Athletics this Saturday for their home opener.The Flyers will also be unveiling their 2016 Coy Cup Championship banner, which will be hung from the rafters of the North Peace Arena.The Flyers take to the ice at around 7:30 on Saturday night for the warm up. The puck is set to drop at 8:00 p.m.- Advertisement –
A spokesman for the Communciations, Energy and Paperworkers Union has confirmed a tenative agreement has been worked out, with Glacier Ventures, the company operating the Alaska Highway News.Rob Munro says the deal covers about 120 employees at six BC papers…three in the Kootenays and others in Fort St. John, Dawson Creek and Prince Rupert.They have been without a working agreement, since the end of April and, they voted in favor of strike action to back their contract demands, on September 4th.The Union then filed 72-hour strike notice yesterday morning, prior to confirming the tentative deal this morning.Mr. Munro says details of the pending agreement will not be released, until separate rank and file ratification votes have been completed, at all six newspapers.He expects the votes in Fort St. John and Dawson Creek, to be held early next month.- Advertisement –