Keen observations being given to the operations at GECOM (Pt 1)

first_imgDear Editor,Recent published statements by representatives of the international community highlight the keen observations being given to the operations of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). The implicit and justified attention are no doubt related to the many mixed signals that have emerged from the organization, in particular, those from the dubious and challenged imposition of the Chairman, Justice ‘retired’ James Patterson.Given the circumstances of his unilateral appointment, which most Guyanese and observers are convinced is a constitutional breach, it was hoped by many that his performance would allay their fears of these dictatorial actions by President Granger. It is becoming even more frightening now, as, with each passing day, there is broader public conviction that Chairman Patterson’s contentious stay is more destructive than complementary.Instead of improvements to correct the many known problematic imbalances and areas of abuse existing within GECOM, Chairman Justice (retired) James Patterson’s watch is realising greater uncertainty. There have been countless biased and lopsided decisions compounding the less-than-transparent image required of the organisation. At the same time, we continue to witness the emergence of irrational and futile defences by the Chairman of efforts tantamount to the suppression Guyana’s democracy.Among the latest widely published geriatrics emerging from GECOM’s Chairman is the now infamous headliner: “quality trumps race” in hiring workers. The reported reactions of many readers of all ethnic persuasions inform a number of hair-raising questions. Among these are:1. Is the current GECOM staff composition reflective of the best skill set or academic quality reflected by the results of national education demographics?2. Given that the Chairman previously reported the staff make-up of GECOM consisting of 48 per cent of one ethnic group, is there a special quality or characteristic contained in that ethnic group which makes the group best suited to ‘trump’ the requirements of the organisation?3. Is GECOM not responsible for training all staff employed, or do we have persons being employed with all of the skill sets?4. What are the criteria established by the organisation’s policy for the selection of permanent and temporary staff? And,5. Is the principle of objectivity or being a good Judge in implementing the intent of the Constitution one that is negatively impacted by age?The ominous signs of underhand and surreptitious happenings beacon brightly under a weakened and infiltrated system.These must serve to impress upon and justify for the awareness of all citizens a strengthened keenness of enquiry, and objection where required, to protect citizens’ rights.Sincerely.Neil Kumarlast_img read more

No fair?

first_img“We cannot increase attendance at Hansen Dam,” Honda said. “We’re wasting the taxpayers’ dollars, and I’m trying to be responsible by making us self-sufficient. If we’re going to do that, we need to move to where people are at. This isn’t a backyard barbecue.” Last year, the event at Hansen Dam drew 14,000 attendees, down significantly from the 40,000 to 50,000 who attended when the fair was held in Burbank. And after losing parking facilities at the dam last year, the fair’s board decided to look for a different location. Woodley Park, close to freeways and the Orange Line, seemed an ideal solution. Last December, organizers said they negotiated a deal with the Department of Recreation and Parks to hold the fair there each June through 2009. But in early February, Honda said the department changed the terms of the deal, citing traffic hazards, hours of operation and community concerns. “… a decision has been made to amend the condition of allowing the Valley Fair to be held at Woodley Park in the Sepulveda Basin,” wrote Ron Berkowitz, a department superintendent. “The Valley Fair will be allowed to continue to conduct the Fair at Hansen Dam, as it has done in previous years.” Berkowitz was unavailable for comment Wednesday, but Jim Combs, assistant general manager for the department’s west operations, said he was unaware of any problems with the fair moving back to Hansen Dam. Honda said that, after he received the department letter, Cardenas’ office sent him a message suggesting that, to be held at Woodley, the fair would need to close at 7 p.m. and not serve alcohol, shut down streets or make noise after 6 p.m. Representatives of Cardenas were unavailable for comment Wednesday. The fair’s chief executive, Catherine Garcia, said she is willing to compromise but that conditions suggested by Cardenas’ office would make the event impossible. A noise curfew of 6 p.m. would prevent night concerts, which Garcia said have been a significant draw. Most fairgoers attend from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., so a 7 p.m. closure would have a severe impact. “It’s devastating, and it’s unacceptable,” she said. “Those types or requirements are financially devastating to a fair. This would hit our attendance and our bottom line. It’s crushing.” On Friday, Honda and his supporters will go before the City Council to plead for help. Glenn Bailey, an Encino resident who’s a representative of the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Area Steering Committee and a member of the Encino Neighborhood Council, called the fair “an asset to the San Fernando Valley.” Bailey said he initially was concerned about the increased traffic the fair would generate at Woodley Park, but believed the issue could be worked out. “This seems totally unfair to the San Fernando Valley Fair,” he said. “It’s a good event for the Valley, so it would be a real shame if it were canceled.” (818) 713-3738160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! A fight over where to locate the longtime annual San Fernando Valley Fair could put a crimp in the cotton candy as organizers threatened Wednesday to call off the event. The 61-year-old affair has bounced from the Burbank Equestrian Center to Hansen Dam to Lake Castaic and back again in recent years in a struggle to maintain attendance. Seeking to boost the number of fairgoers – and keep the budget in the black – organizers signed a deal to move the fair this year to Woodley Park in Encino. But fair President David Honda said the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and City Councilman Tony Cardenas’ office have pressured organizers to keep the fair at Hansen Dam in a move that could mean the four-day June event might be canceled altogether. last_img read more

Delight as Tucker and Thomas get home safe

first_imgAfter Tucker and Thomas went missing two days ago in Glenalla, their owner Lara launched an appeal with us.Tucker is a blue roan cocker spaniel, and is five years old. Thomas is a black cocker spaniel, and is four years old.Five hours after the article went live, Lara updated Donegal Daily by saying that they had been reunited. The dogs had wandered to the Water’s Edge in Rathmullen.Lara said; “I’m so happy that they were found and returned to us. Thanks for all your help. Someone saw the Facebook post and called us.”Lara wants to extend a very special thanks to Siobhán Friel and her family.Delight as Tucker and Thomas get home safe was last modified: August 10th, 2016 by Elaine McCalligShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:found dogsMissing Dogsrathmullentucker and thomaslast_img read more


first_imgIndependent MEP Marian Harkin has said that ADHD is “one of the most neglected of all mental health disorders, and it is high time Irish society took the diagnosis and treatment of it as seriously as it deserves”.Having co-hosted earlier this week a high-level Brussels meeting on ADHD, Harkin noted that “it is clear that we must do more to raise awareness of the condition and its societal, economic and personal impact”.“The Expert White Paper on ADHD launched in Brussels this week makes a clear case for increasing diagnosis rates, particularly in younger children. Evidence suggests that early diagnosis of ADHD can have a radically stronger positive impact on the individual. “To achieve this goal, some joined-up thinking is urgently required. This means standardised tools – including appropriate training – across the board in mental health service providers.“It also means targeted awareness campaigns in schools, so that parents and teachers have the knowledge to identify potential ADHD sufferers among the very young.“Early intervention is money well spent because of the personal and economic savings down the line,” the Ireland North & West MEP concluded.  HEALTH: ADHD ‘MOST NEGLECTED MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS’ – MEP was last modified: April 26th, 2013 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:HEALTH: ADHD ‘MOST NEGLECTED MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS’ – MEPlast_img read more

MEASURE Y PRO: Still need more new schools

first_imgLos Angeles Unified officials and other supporters of Measure Y say the nearly $4 billion bond issue is needed to finish the school construction and renovation projects the district began with Proposition BB nearly a decade ago. The $3.985 billion bond measure would be used to add 20,000 classroom seats through the construction of 25 new schools, including five in the San Fernando Valley. As the fourth in a series of district school-construction bond measures, it also would bring spending in Los Angeles Unified’s recent building campaign to $20 billion, including state matching funds. “We have frankly neglected this for 30 years, and we have been responding to the need to reduce the overcrowding. We’re very aware that the overcrowding has hurt our ability to do good instruction,” said the district superintendent, Roy Romer. “In addition, we need money to fix and refurbish older buildings, particularly the secondary schools that are going to become small learning communities.” Smaller class sizes will lead to higher test scores for students, Duffy expects. Rosaura Arroyo, a kindergarten teacher at Dyer Street Elementary School in Sylmar, noted there is a cap of 20 students per class in kindergarten through third grade, and she would like to see smaller classrooms in all grades. “It really is true that smaller learning communities help instruction,” Arroyo said. Lisa M. Sodders, (818) 713-3663 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Since 2002, the district has opened 23 new schools and 15 early-education centers, built 39 additions to other schools and added 21,353 classroom seats. An additional 38 schools are planned in the district by the end of this year. Romer said declining enrollment has been taken into consideration, but additional schools are still needed to ease overcrowding. If the bond measure passes, enrollment at middle schools would be capped at no more than 2,000 per campus and all schools would be converted to traditional calendar-year instruction, instead of multitrack, year-round schedules. The bonds also would be used to continue major repair projects, ensure all schools have up-to-date fire-alarm and air-conditioning systems and complete removal of lead and asbestos. “We have to build 160 schools, and the projection is that what we have in the bank is not going to be enough,” said A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, the union that represents the district’s teachers. last_img read more

Buena Vista fined in price-fixing case

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake Buena Vista Home Entertainment was fined 3.1 million euros ($3.7 million), Carrefour 5.7 million euros ($6.8 million), Casino 3.2 million euros ($3.8 million) and SDO 2.4 million euros ($2.9 million). BVHE and Casino officials could not immediately be reached for comment. A Carrefour official had no immediate comment. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! PARIS – France’s antitrust regulator on Tuesday slapped a 14.4 million euro ($17.2 million) fine on Buena Vista Home Entertainment Inc., a unit of The Walt Disney Co., and three French retailers for fixing home-video prices between 1995 and 1998. The antitrust watchdog said the four companies were guilty of “particularly serious infractions.” The retailers fined are Carrefour SA, Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA and Selection Disc Organisation SA, the Competition Council said in a statement. “BVHE initiated a vertical collusion with retailers Casino and Carrefour, as well as with wholesale company SDO, aimed at setting the retail price of Disney home videos artificially high,” the regulator said. last_img read more

Warner Named to Buck Buchanan Watch List

first_imgThe award, which is named after the former Grambling State and Kansas City Chiefs great, recognizes the defensive player of the year in college football’s Division I subdivision. CHICAGO, Ill. – Drake University defensive back Will Warner is one of 16 players named to the STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award Watch List, the organization announced Thursday. Warner has recorded 26 tackles and four interceptions this season. Print Friendly Version Warner was a finalist for the Buchanan award last season after tying the Drake record and finishing second in the nation with eight interceptions. He was named a first-team All-American. A national panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will select the winner of the Buck Buchanan award after the conclusion of the regular season.last_img read more

Grasses Ratchet Their Seeds Into Distance Travelers

first_imgJohn Muir said we should not pity plants as prisoners to one spot.  In their own ways, they travel the world as we humans do.  Anyone who has walked through wild dry grass may have been annoyed at how many foxtails get buried in their socks and how hard it is to get them out.  The seeds were not engineered for socks, but for animal fur.  Once embedded, they become successful hitchhikers.  The shape of the seeds, along with tiny barbs pointing backwards, ensure that the seeds work their way deep into the fur.  The seed may find itself the pioneer of a new land far from where it was born.    Charles Wolgemuth [U of Connecticut) talked about this in Current Biology.1  Many plants do more than just cast their fates to the wind; “some grasses, at least, are not so cavalier and have engineered their seed carrying appendages (spikelets) to increase dispersion and facilitate seed burial by converting periodic or random oscillations in the environment into directed motion.”  Foxtails may look like dead, dry, inert things, but they can hitchhike, walk along the ground and even bury themselves into the soil.  On the ground, they can take advantage of diurnal cycles of moisture and temperature.  Their spikelets, called awns, expand and shrink, ratcheting the seed forward.  Some of them even have spiral tips that can drill the seeds into the ground.    Wolgemuth noted other instances where nature has used ratchet mechanisms to good advantage: snakes, whose skin moves their undulating motions in one direction, and jellyfish and bugs that can use water or air motions to achieve unidirectional travel.  Even inside the cell, molecular motors like myosin, the flagellum and ATP synthase (05/25/2009) ratchet up the random Brownian motion in their environment into linear or rotary motion.  His discussion of ratchets in nature led Wolgemuth to speculate about ratcheting as a general principle of biology.  Unfortunately, this won him Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week :Biology has thus repeatedly found ways of producing net work by rectifying fluctuations with ratchets, and it is interesting to speculate on other areas where this mechanism may play a role.  Evolution is one directly analogous system and a comparison between it and Brownian ratchets has been drawn previously.  Clearly, random mutations in an organism’s genome lead to fluctuations in phenotype.  Reproduction can lock in these variations, and natural selection then acts as a ratchet, reducing the likelihood of maintaining a population that is less competent at reproducing while increasing phenotypic populations that are fitter.  A more tenuous comparison, though, comes to mind when I consider my own thoughts, which all too often seem quite random.  I must consciously work to rectify these thoughts, plucking out the good ones and discarding the bad, in an attempt to construct an understanding of the world about me.  Could my own thinking be working by trapping useful ideas from a pool of noise?  One of the not-so-useful ideas, right?  But, it has been suggested that certain nuclei in the basal ganglia act as a random motor pattern noise generator.  If our brains can create noise, maybe they can ratchet it too.Wolgemuth did not make a distinction between purposeful choice in matters of truth and falsehood, and mindless mechanisms without purpose or goal.  He also did not distinguish between physical ratchet mechanisms and conceptual ones (argument from analogy), and ended up personifying biology as an engineer.  On fitness as a ratchet for progress, see 10/30/2002, “Fitness for Dummies.”Tip: To get foxtails out of your socks, don’t try to pull them out backwards.  Push them through the cloth in the direction their natural ratchet wants to go.1.  Charles Wolgemuth, “Plant Biomechanics: Using Shape to Steal Motion,” Current Biology, Volume 19, Issue 10, 26 May 2009, Pages R409-R410.One of the best videos of the motion of grass seeds is in volume one of Moody’s DVD set Wonders of God’s Creation.  Time-lapse photography shows the seeds moving around like bugs and even burying themselves in the soil.    It’s a shame Wolgemuth had to turn an otherwise interesting scientific discussion about plant engineering into another shallow Darwinian speculation.  If he is unable to separate his own thoughts from noise, why should his readers try to do so?Tip: To get Darwinian foxtails out of your brain, don’t try to pull them out backwards.  Push them through to their logical conclusions, where their blunt pointlessness becomes evident to all.(Visited 11 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

It is not easy to own a gun in South Africa

first_imgIt takes at least 5 kilograms of pressure to fire a Glock handgun – the same handgun that Oscar Pistorius discharged at Tasha’s, in Rosebank, Johannesburg.“I don’t believe Pistorius when he says he did not apply any pressure to the trigger.” John Welch (Image: Richard)Sulaiman PhilipIt takes at least 5 kilograms of pressure to fire a Glock handgun – the same handgun that Oscar Pistorius discharged under a table at Tasha’s, a popular family restaurant in Rosebank, Johannesburg.Pistorius’s claims that the gun allegedly went off by mistake as it was handed to him seems farfetched and improbable says South African Gun Owners spokesman Advocate John Welch. “In my book Pistorius and [friend Darren] Fresca were negligent and reckless. Locked and cocked [when showing off a handgun] is ridiculous. I don’t believe him when he says he did not apply any pressure to the trigger.”Or, in the words of New Yorker magazine journalist Amy Davidson: “Guns behave strangely in Pistorius’ hands. As he tells it, they have an eerie autonomy.”Testimony by witnesses, and now Pistorius, has highlighted a macho, reckless attitude to gun ownership. There seems to be a sector, a small percentage Welch stresses, whose idea of masculinity is tied up in not just owning but showing off their guns. It is a way of life that mirrors the gun culture in the United States, whose one-time slogan was, “You can have my guns when you pry them from my cold dead fingers”.There have also been 220 school shootings in the US since Sandy Hook – in December 2012 Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six staff at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut – most not even making the news because they have become so commonplace. After the Sandy Hook shootings there was a push by the gun lobby for even less gun control. They argued, as they did after the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999, that an armed teacher could have ended the shooting spree and saved lives.Right to bear armsIn the United States, there is an enshrined right to gun ownership. The Second Amendment of the US Constitution guarantees every citizen the right to bear arms – in a well-regulated militia. Attempts by the government to control gun ownership, even an act as simple as requiring a fee for a licence, has been met with outrage and protest, led by the US gun lobby.This is not the case in South Africa, where legislation is aimed at limiting handgun ownership rather than encouraging it. The Firearms Control Act of 2000 has as its stated aim a protection of the constitutional right to life and bodily integrity. This has meant that any applicant for a gun licence has to show an overriding need before a licence is issued.The intention is to make it difficult to own a handgun, especially important in a country where from 2011 to 2014 civilians lost between 15 and 28 guns every day and police officers lost between 2 and 5 guns every day.The first hurdle after a licence application is a background check, which includes interviews with a partner or spouse as well as two other people, friends or relatives. The competency requirement involves training and a criminal record check. Finally, the applicant is interviewed at a police station where they have to explain their reason for needing a firearm.According to Welch, it can cost R10 000 and take about four months from the beginning of the process to the point where you can walk out of a gun shop with a weapon. You are allowed to obtain four licences and the full process is repeated for each licence. “That’s about a thousand rand for applications and licences and training, depending on the number of sessions you need. The biggest cost is the gun itself. If you get a decent German or American gun you are looking at at least R7 500.”Included in the training that goes hand-in-glove with a licence application, is testing on familiarity with the law. Sean Rens, Pistorius’s instructor and the manager of International Firearm Training Academy, testified that Pistorius knew and understood the requirements of the law as it pertained to discharging his gun. Rens also testified about Pistorius’s enthusiasm and love for guns and how he wanted to build his arsenal by using Rens to bend the law. The athlete had asked Rens if he could use a collector’s licence to buy a semi-automatic assault rifle, three shotguns, another self-loading rifle and two Smith & Wesson handguns.Self-defence is no motivationPistorius was originally denied a gun licence on the grounds that his stated reason was a need to defend himself. Self-defence is not sufficient motivation to be granted a gun licence according to the Act. Welsh argues, however, that self-defence is a sound rationale and should be considered as grounds. The South African Police Service argument that awareness of your surroundings and to actively avoid areas of danger makes no sense, he says. “The law is very clear. You need to prove a need but that is a very complicated thing. You can argue that no-one needs a gun for self-defence because we can rely on the police. However, policing in South Africa is pro-active; they will not be at your home in 10 or 20 minutes to protect you or your family.”During cross examination in his trial, prosecutor Gerrie Nel pushed Pistorius on his reason for not firing a warning shot before shooting blindly into the toilet, where his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was killed. The question was put to him often, and phrased differently. Each time, Pistorius answered “I don’t know” or refused to answer.In the transition to democracy in 1994, there was a surge in gun sales in what amounted to panic buying. It is difficult to determine how many guns there are in South Africa today but Gun Free South Africa (GFSA) estimates that, as of August 2011, there were 1.8 million legal gun licence holders, or 5,9 guns for every 100 people in the country.GFSA’s Claire Taylor says implementation of the legislation has, over time, pushed the number of gun deaths down; it has especially had a positive effect on the number of women killed with a gun by an intimate partner. Women are still especially vulnerable in homes with guns, but where there was one death every four hours in 1999, there are three deaths a day now. “In 1999, 34% of women murdered by their intimate partner was killed with a gun; in 2009, this figure dropped to 17%. Research shows that implementation of the Act has saved the lives of 5 000 women, at least.”An applicant for a gun licence needs to be at least 21 years of age with no history of alcohol or substance abuse. The licence, once it is awarded, is valid for five years; renewals are usually rubber stamped. Taylor says that GFSA has been campaigning to raise the barriers even higher, especially when it comes to renewals.Psychological testingFor some opponents, the mention of psychological testing is controversial but Taylor says that her organisation’s experience has shown that it is necessary. Each month the NGO helps at least one woman in her attempt to have her partner’s gun licence rescinded. “Most women who have been threatened by an intimate partner do not know they can go to their local police station to ask for a hearing to have a gun owner declared unfit to own a gun.”For men like Pistorius – and it is most often men – gun ownership is a proxy for a high-risk lifestyle that can include reckless and drunk driving or alcohol and substance abuse. Taylor does concede that for most of South Africa’s 1.8 million licenced gun owners, having a firearm in the house is about protecting themselves and their families. However, research in South Africa and internationally shows that you are four times more likely to have your gun used against you than you are able to use it to defend yourself. “Owning a gun is not a protective factor: rather it is a risk factor for suicide, accidental death and injury, and murder.”Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

Indian Social Groups Launch Help Desk For Amnesty Seekers in UAE

first_imgA large number of social workers and Indian community associations have come forward to help expatriates who are seeking visa amnesty in the UAE. Indian associations in Sharjah, Ajman, as well as the Consulate General of India in Dubai have promised to assist amnesty seekers, especially families, to return home.Read it at Khaleej Times Related Itemslast_img