Incompetence within the Ministry of Education

I am writing this article because I have had enough of the stupidness that goes on in the Ministry of Educatioan. I often think that the Ministry of education was designed to frustrate Teachers. Their system is one that rarely gives justice and if any justice is given, it’s when the teachers are old and grey or they have lost the passion to fight for their causes any more. This is beyond sad. It is outrageous!

This ministry is disorganised! Further, it is rare to find someone within those “educational” walls who knows what he or she is doing. The majority of the workers seem to not have the answers to anything, and the few who do have answers, cannot do anything about it because their voices are muffled by the overwhelming sea of mediocre people who operate there.

The majority of the workers in the ministry (not all) seem to have no regard for other people. They seem to think that teachers are objects that they can cast aside and not be bothered with. Year after year, teachers request transfers, assignments/secondments, re-appointments, job letters, information etc. and they are not attended to. The ministry doesn’t even have the manners to respond to transfer requests and say that the request was seen and that it was denied or approved.

Teachers just sit in wait, expecting something to happen and nothing takes place. Assignments/secondments are worse – it’s either, they lost the related documents, it never went to the appropriate department, it was passed on to someone who just couldn’t be bothered and that person discarded/disregarded it, and the list can go on and on.

Re-appointments are just as terrible, as teachers have to wait in limbo, to find out whether they have a job or not. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE! What it all boils down to is that teachers are suffering and dissatisfied under this ministry. WHY IS THE MINISTRY SO SLOW AND UNCARING?

The Ministry needs a shake up the way someone who is making up a bed would shake a sheet. They need a wash and rinse, the way a washing machine would handle clothes and spit them out nice and spotless and smelling good. I am appealing to the Prime Minister to take a walk through the Ministry of Education and really see what is going on.

Honourable Prime Minister, send spies in there if you have to, to gather accurate information on how sloppily this ministry is run. When you phone the ministry and the call is put through, the person you want to speak to rarely answers the phone. The phone keeps ringing and ringing and ringing…..nonsense! (Poor Minister Boatswain, he is probably unaware of all this nonsense).

Teachers have to be mothers, doctors, lawyers, uncles, aunties and nen nens to children and yet, they don’t get treated with appreciation by this ministry. It is outlandish! I refuse to sit back any longer and let this crap go on. I am going to expose them for who they truly are.

In light of all this, I must commend the security at the front and the ladies who deal with the signing in process before you go further into the ministry. These people are probably the most pleasant persons the ministry has. The worst are the persons with the titles; sitting in their “high end”, air conditioned offices, pretending that they have work to do and telling their secretaries to tell people that they are in meetings when they call for them, when in truth or in fact, the majority of the times, they are sitting in their offices staring at the walls, wondering how in the world they got into such a position and they don’t have a clue as to how to go about it.

These high titled people in the Ministry of Education are ‘GREAT PRETENDERS’; I can literally hear the old time song playing in the back ground as I write this article.

They must be shaken up! They must be exposed! Maybe then, things would run the way they should be run. I am encouraging teachers to write in about their unfavourable experiences that they have had with this ministry.

Let us keep writing articles and exposing their nonsense until we see change take place.

A voice in the wilderness

 

In the spirit of our trade union stalwarts

The history and development of the Trade Union Movement in Grenada must be researched, documented and be included in the curriculum of our schools. The Trade Union Movement itself ought to ensure that Trade Union history becomes a main subject at Educational Seminars.

Knowing our history is very important in order to ensure a strong and vibrant movement. We must know where we came from in order to determine where we intend to go and how to get there.

In general the membership of the seven Trade Unions in Grenada seems to have taken a back seat. This is a worrying situation because it gives the leadership a freehand to take or not to take action on issues.

Members will have to accept responsibility if the top down approach takes precedence over the accepted bottom up method that is the hallmark of the Labour Movement the world over in dealing with the day to day Trade Union issues.

As a result of the lack of Trade Union Education in Schools we have thousands of potential employees entering the Labour force each year with little or no knowledge of what the Movement is all about and what are their rights and duties as workers. In fact, the average worker knows very little about their Union’s history and in some cases their leaders are no better off.

Who are the men and women that left their footprints in the sands of time in the struggles to bring the Labour Movement to where it is today and the benefits that workers now enjoy?

The 1951 Revolution led by Eric Gairy brought major gains in the areas of wages and hours of work for Agricultural workers.

The Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) was formed one hundred years ago on June 20, 1913, the very first Trade Union to be formed in Grenada. If the membership remembered this important landmark, they were rather quiet about it.

T.A. Marryshow, Marasse Donavan and George Otway formed the Grenada Association in 1920 and led the struggle that brought about Trade Union recognition in Grenada in 1933.

On March 13, 1955, the General Workers’ Union and the Grenada Workers Union formed the Grenada Trade Union Council in the town of Gouyave, St. John. Its first President was Clarence Ferguson.

An educational booklet was produced by the Grenada Trade Union Council in 1991 which covers some aspects of our Trade Union history but there is a need to further develop this document.

There should be a Policy in how we honour our passed Trade Union Heroes. The passing of Lucy Agnes Stroude for example on 3rd August 2013 (Buried on 14th August, 2013) appeared to be one of the best kept secrets within the Commercial and Industrial Workers’ Union (CIWU), the Union she helped to establish.

Lucy as she was affectionately called by Trade Union colleagues was a founding member of CIWU. As a member of the Clerks Union, a branch of the Grenada Workers’ Union, she played an active role in the formation of a breakaway faction led by Eric Pierre that subsequently formed the Commercial and Industrial Workers’ Union on 7th December, 1956.

She led the fund raising committee of the Union in those days together with Gloria St. Bernard, another foundation member.

In 1984, she was elected 1st Vice President of CIWU, the highest elected position ever to be held by a woman in that organisation. It is therefore not surprising that Lucy Stroude is featured prominently in the book: “IN THE SPIRIT OF BUTLER.”

Lucy was not given the honour and recognition she deserved from CIWU at her funeral. The presence of a few Executive members, brief acknowledgement by the President, wreathes followed by a “happy hour” showed poor judgement on the part of the leadership.

The entire Executive of fifteen together with at least one Shop Steward from each of the over thirty work centres represented by the Union should have been in attendance. The Union could have requested time off which is a normal practice. The Union banner was not there and it appears that a black flag at the CIWU Headquarters was not erected. Members should see to it that something like this never happens again.

When the total and comprehensive history of the Labour Movement in Grenada is finally written, the works and contribution of Women must be a prominent feature.

Let us all remember our Trade Union history and give our Trade Union stalwarts the honour they deserve.

 

ELLIOT BISHOP

Former President of CIWU

 

Who are governed by the laws of our country?

The Psalmist David, a prominent poet song writer and musician wrote, “Lo children are a heritage of the Lord and the fruit of the womb is his reward” Ps 127:7.

Children have been the main source of my livelihood and as a past teacher and lecturer I have grown to love them. They are so full of life, fun and vitality. They carry freshness and joy everywhere they go. Like a breath of fresh air they spread a fragrance that is so invigorating.

Now that I am retired I can spend more time encouraging, helping and counseling children in my community. Thus on Friday 30th August, I took two children to St. George’s to purchase school material for them. While we were walking along the side of Grenville Street a vehicle drove over the little girl’s left foot, the driver was both disrespectful and uncaring and had to be chided by onlookers who gathered around before he finally put the child in his vehicle and took her grudgingly to the hospital.

After two weeks, the driver failed to report the accident to the police. He didn’t even have the courtesy to call to find out about the child’s welfare. On our way to the hospital, I remarked to the driver that he should report the incident, but he rudely replied, “what for?”

I told him that if he didn’t I would and he responded “and what would happen?” His answer baffled me for a while and although he told me that his name was ….. I still did not comprehend the full importance of his words.

Later as I investigated the matter I discovered that his father is …. a top man in the Royal Grenada Police force. It was then I grasped the true meaning of the question, “And what would happen?”

Therefore, I ask these questions, for whom are the laws of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique designed? Are our law men and their families above the law? Or are they governed by its dictates?

As I reflected on these pertinent questions I further asked, what do people of the law tell their boys and girls? Do they give them the impression that “Big daddy is the boss, you don’t have to worry, the law is behind us”.

Can policeman like Inspectors, Commissioners of Police and their offspring and the various rank and file within the force use the law to suit their purpose?

The son of this senior police officer was driving no ordinary vehicle. The van which rolled over ten year old Menen Phillip’s foot was an expensive vehicle. A Lexus if you please, with the registration number PAE…..

I am a free thinker and my mind usually runs ahead. Since I identified myself to the young man as an ex-lecturer at T.A. Marryshow Community College and he quickly recognised me, I have been wondering, is this youth studying abroad? And has he returned to Grenada on vacation? If this is so, will this case be swept under the carpet?

Already the injured child has missed the first two weeks of school because of the pain in her foot and the back slab she is wearing.

In the United States of America, a person is fined for neglecting his dog, and is imprisoned for abusing any dumb animal. Should we do less in Grenada? Should our children be treated with disdain or less than dogs, especially by these who believe they are superior because they drive expensive cars and are the children or parents who are in a position to thwart justice?

As I conclude this article, I strongly suggest that this piece be used in the classroom for comprehension, discussion and analysis by students, trainees in the Police Training School Special Unit and all those who are entering the field that deals with the protection of life and property.

 

Quiet Observer

From golden opportunity to galling oppression

2014 will be the YEAR OF ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL OPPRESSION in Grenada!

From Hurricane Ivan in 2004 to the IMF in 2014, a decade of “tests, trials and temptations” has beset the ‘Greenz’. One senses that God is speaking! He has written a message to Grenadians and the time has come to ask and to answer the question, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

The coming economic and social oppression has its roots, not in the IMF, but in the kind of economy we empowered Keith Mitchell to create between 1995 and 2008. The real monster is not the IMF, it is the Mitchell economy.

Any Government that has taken its people and country from creditworthiness to bankruptcy cannot pretend that it has the solutions to our problems and that it will deliver. Now the time has come for Grenadians to bear the burden of the thirteen (13) years of NNP’s economic and financial recklessness.

Building the ‘monster’ happened through the following policy measures which, on any reasonable account, amounted to historic mistakes of governance:

 

The removal of personal income tax

 

Extensive and unsustainable borrowing to underwrite that measure and to finance non-productive infrastructural projects

 

Borrow, beg and spend for the vote philosophy

 

Wasteful and unwise public guarantees of private ‘paper’ projects

 

The virtual abandonment of the agricultural sector.

 

When we were growing up, we learned a number of sayings derived from the experiences and knowledge of our fore-parents, among them were:

 

Never hang your hat where your hand can’t reach

 

When you borrow you must pay back

 

If you cyan hear you go feel!

 

What is done in the dark must come to light

 

All that glitters is not gold!

These truths are directly applicable to the ‘cement and asphalt economy’ that was purposely fabricated by Mitchell and the NNP, between 1995 and 2008.

The great power of folklore is that it helps us to understand what we are reading. Accordingly, let us examine briefly some of the issues surrounding the ‘monster’ that is now living amongst us.

We will not deal with the massive wastage and reckless Government guarantees, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars which today form part of the national debt.

Firstly, the Grenada economy under the NNP was dominated by Government spending based, not on budgetary surpluses, but on high-cost borrowing and budgetary support up until 2005, mainly from Taiwan.

During that period of ‘gold dust’ living, both the private sector and the small man were happy! Neither group stopped to think of the fruits of those seeds in the years ahead. Today, painfully for us all, the fruits have arrived. It’s our Season of grief, bitterness and despair! ‘Gru gru’ days are here again, harder and more tasteless than before.

Secondly, the removal of personal income tax (under$5000 per month) might have led to increased consumption and savings, but not to productive investment by businesses. Much of this money left Grenada to pay for consumer goods and the rest was lodged in overseas bank accounts by the business class.

Thirdly, the policy of granting concessions (foregoing revenues to attract or encourage investment) proved to be a drag because the main beneficiary industry, i.e. tourism, due to inefficiencies and uncompetitiveness, remained highly dependent on Government funding to finance airlift projects, marketing, product development and maintenance. The net result is that while some jobs have come, not much revenue has found its way to the Treasury.

Lastly, the statistic of economic growth was embraced and worshipped at the altar of theory without any regard for the revenue impact of that growth. Very significantly, the measurement actually related to infrastructural change and not to productive investment which would normally provide sustainable jobs and increased revenues to the Treasury. This point is critical because it is the Treasury that must service the debt, not business profits or gifts from various other sources.

Exposing these historic mistakes of governance helps us to understand that we were badly mis-managed through poor economic policies and a reckless abuse of the public purse for those thirteen years.

With this understanding, Grenadians now know who and what have created this economic and social monster. The people now know who is personally responsible for the pain we must all undergo.

Everybody knows who squandered our creditworthiness. We the people are crystal clear as to who and what have brought us to our knees, from whence to bear the onerous sacrifices needed to fix the mess and to put Grenada back on its feet.

Yes, this is a time for patriotic commitment and action, but it is also a time to face reality. True, the public finances collapsed under the NDC, but the forces behind that failure were literally on the loose since 1995.

Just a few short months ago, thousands of our people actually misled themselves into believing that ‘when Keith come money go flow’. Their belief was their reality. Sadly, those who knew better did not tell them the truth

The transaction was defined in simplistic terms; ‘give me the vote and I will deliver to you’. Soon the youth will understand that the promised delivery is far, far, far away! The church leaders, who delivered their congregations for a promise or a package which was not from God, must now bruise their knees.

The line of investors, if ever there was, must now be worried about Grenada’s economic instability. The business people, who don’t care where Government gets money from as long as they bring it and spend, must now understand that the economy will be depressed for a number of years.

When you hear the Prime Minister utter the words, “when the juices begin to flow”, you must understand that he is well aware that ‘gru gru’ doh make juice! He must therefore be taking the public on another ride down the slippery slope of ignorance.

So this is our reality check, Grenadians! What Ivan failed to teach us, perhaps the IMF will. Let us pray that this time God will deliver us from ourselves so that we could understand what we are reading. The gall will burst with the 2014 budget!

 

CONGO PEPPER FILES

The ‘toothless tiger’ in Grenada lies again!

By the time the not-so-new administration of Dr. Keith Mitchell picks up the pieces and meaningfully restarts the UWI Campus project, St Lucia may have secured all arrangements with them and Grenada lost its chance.

These are not “my” words. In fact, these are words of regional people in the know – who seem pissed off at the pettiness of Grenadian politics.

It is generally felt that if “the leader” wants to make politics with the UWI project, he should not impute improper behaviour on the part of the landowners of the property earmarked for the project – for fear that he implicates the institution as participating in questionable dealings.

This is the same thing he has done early in the aftermath of his major victory with the Commissioner of Police issue, when he imputed improper behaviour on the PSC in the process of choosing and appointing a new Commissioner. That level of pettiness needs to be rejected by the Grenadian people.

Some time ago someone in the local media had asked the question: “Is the leader speaking too much?” It is believed that he is, especially as more Grenadians are beginning to join the sensible category upon realising that he just cannot deliver. With the benefit of time, it can be concluded that his deliberate move to fabricate negatives about the last administration is starving out Grenada and, more importantly, Grenadians of important goodies, at a time when he promised so much and already the writing is on the wall that he cannot deliver.

The fact that he and his Education Minister, together with Leader of Government Business in the Senate, put out to the general public that some “bubbul”/ “insider trading” went down regarding the sale of approximately 88 acres of land in St. Andrew for the UWI Open Campus project is yet another desperate attempt to fabricate improper behaviour on the Tillman Thomas administration.

Whether this was alluded to in the Parliament, during a post-Cabinet briefing, on a friendly morning radio programme or through one of his recently reconvened face-to-face village meetings that is just totally unacceptable.

The Internet makes it possible for everything anyone says – and more so government ministers and operatives – to be instantly available worldwide.

Many of us anticipated some big bombshell to come and so we are still waiting with bated breath. Based on what was said by “the leader” and others, one would have thought that members of the last administration knew what was going to happen and so they went quickly and bought the said land from government and quickly making same available for the UWI project in order to make “a killing”.

This must have shaken up many Grenadians at home and abroad – as the Tillman Thomas administration purported itself to be of a different and straight dealing stock.

One important fact here, with the benefit of hindsight, is that the Tillman Thomas administration was not capable of doing anything wrong as they were not able to do anything at all – LoL! This was an administration which was slow off the starting blocks and became paralysed by the sabotaging inner clique who sat in the Cabinet and, within a short space of time after marking time, they ended up where they belong – out of office. LoL!

Thorough research revealed that the said property in St. Andrew was purchased by Spring Valley Corporation Ltd from Hope Development in 1989. The only member of the last government who was a shareholder of that company (Spring Valley Corp. Ltd) was Michael Lett. This company (Spring Valley Corp.) never purchased this property from government.

When the UWI Open Campus project came up, officials of the Ministry of Education and UWI went around the island to look at different locales and they (the UWI officials) selected the Hope property. It is interesting that, although then Prime Minister Tillman Thomas would have liked UWI to choose a spot in St. Patrick, he did nothing to influence their choice and so the Hope property in St. Andrew was chosen.

The 88-odd acres of land were sold at not more than $2.50 per square foot – yet for all “the leader” (Keith Mitchell) calls that making “a kill”. It is a known fact that the cost of land is usually influenced by the purpose for which it is bought. And even if it were bought for a university, the Spring Valley Corp. Ltd agreed to sell the land to government at a modest price. Where is “the kill” and “who died”?

The kill is on the nasty lie on the dead people, to include Mr. Ben Jones, a former Prime Minister; Mr. Joachim St. John; Mr. Carlyle John, Mr. Michael Lett and others (the on-record shareholders of the Spring Valley Corporation Ltd).

Mr Michael Lett was the only one who ended up in the last government and when the transaction was going through, he was known to be on his sick/dying bed. What a nasty lie on decent citizens! Is this the way one behaves when he seeks to repair his legacy?

Could you imagine two other ministers of “the leader’s” Cabinet repeating this nonsense while alluding to possible insider trading? Imagine dead and dying men purchasing property in 1989 doing insider trading in 2012 to make a kill on the backs of poor Grenadians. LoL!

“The leader” would be well advised that old people say: when you lie on dead people, “cuss muss take you”. LoL!

Could you imagine in 1976 – shortly after we gained independence – if Sir Eric had played similar games with Mr. Modica when he came here to hold talks about starting the St. George’s University School of Medicine (today St George’s University) what would have happened?

“The leader” must stop playing games with the country’s development while he seeks to tarnish the reputation of good decent citizens. The residents and property owners in Hope, St. Andrew and surrounding areas may very well have missed a wonderful opportunity because of a man with an irreparable legacy who sets out to accuse dead men of insider trading in 2012 – long after they died.

Could you imagine “the leader” talking about the previous government passing land to the university without finally paying the former owners? “The leader” seems to forget that we, unlike him, remember the several deals he presided over when he as leader of government passed several properties on to investors without one cent ever being passed to the national treasury.

We need to find out if the owners of the Levera property ever got paid when “the leader’s” administration passed the property up there to two different investors. The facts are there to support the first as suing “the leader’s’” government and being awarded millions of dollars against the government, and the second claimed to have given government the money to pay the poor owners (one of whom died of grief) who to date has not received one cent.

Imagine “the leader” has the nerve to talk about property being passed to investors without paying owners.

You hear lie – that is lie!

 

Deliverance Now

Don’t be a fool and show it!!!

When I was a student in Cuba

I walked almost every hour after midnight

In part of old Havana and Havana City and I did not have

To look over none of my shoulders………

We must be mad or very crazy to continue robbing our own citizens in the first instance, secondly foreigners and most fundamentally the students at St. George’s University located at True Blue, St. George.

Reading the New Today front page story, “Strokes for Medical Student Robbers” for the week ending Friday, 23rd August, 2013, I felt duty bound to write to the Editor of the leading weekly, the New Today to express my opinion on the subject matter.

No one should not have to read and spell to anyone about the educational and most fundamentally the economic impact the SGU is making to our country on a daily basis. For starters, it is in the tune of millions of dollars.

Let me say to some of our disoriented young people who continue to engage in this act we could well do without.

The St. George University was awarded an extra term because of our better behaviour over a sister island to the north of us. Because in that country the students experiences were not the same as in that country, as in our lovely Grenada.

It was reported that they had a very rough time in that country. Experiencing unprecedented petty crimes which no one was brought to justice for or even arrested. In that regard the Student Government at the St. George University voted to terminate that term in that island and awarded it to the the True Blue Campus. This allowed millions more to remain here in our economy.

After the voting, the authorities made several trips to True Blue, including opposition politicians to see if they could reverse the decision of the students, because they came to understand that their economy would suffer tremendously to the tune of millions of dollars. It was too little too late.

As I understood it the students who went to that island had to rent an apartment, a vehicle and to buy food among other things which came to millions of dollars at the end of the term.

Automatically we became the beneficiaries of millions of dollars more in the twinkle of a vote by the student government and that must be respected, and we must treat those students with great respect. And don’t make the mistake as the people in that island.’

I know some people who wish that the St. George University was located in Tobago. Because of the economic impact that outstanding corporate citizen is making here to our country on a daily basis for many years.

We must understand that vote by the students was a vote for the love of our country, because those students really love our country. Even if that is very true we must not take nothing for granted.

The love for our country by visitors was pointed out in a document by me in 2010 called, “Overwhelmed in More ways than One.” To drive home my point, I made a return to Club Bananas, during the carnival season in 2013, after an absence for more than two years.

While on duty there, a group of students was coming in my direction, one of them was saying oh Grenada, oh Grenada, in fact it was the 14th of August, 2013. When they reached me, I asked the young lady a question, which was, What up with my country? She replied,” Grenada is very lovely”, she went on, ” I love your beaches”, and also your ocean is very clean”. I asked her where did you came from, she said Florida, USA. For me that was a major compliment for our country.

Another group of students were playing pools, and on their out one of them asked me if I was from Grenada. ( I do not know why visitors always ask me if I am Grenadian). I said yes, she went on “everyone here is so nice and friendly”.

So please my brothers and sisters, please do not change that perception by the visitors on our lovely island – they mean a lot to us.

In that respect, I will like the authorities to increase police patrols to compliment the SGU security patrols, especially after midnight. After all it is in our interest to do so because the St. George University is located in our country.

So don’t be a fool and show it by robbing and attacking the students at SGU because they are our guests and they should be treated as such. In fact anyone, doing so, you are helping to bring down our good name as a people.

Also as I said in the beginning I walked almost every hour after midnight in parts of old Havana and Havana City and I did not have to look over none of my shoulders while I was a student there. The foreigners on our island should feel the same way.

In closing, I must say also that the students and the foreigners should also take away the opportunity from those people by taking a taxi every now and then. Walking in groups is also a good way to take away the opportunity from those people who are few and far between in our population.

Also, all incidents should be reported as soon as yesterday to the relevant authorities in order for the perpetrators to be brought to justice in a speedy manner.

Brian Lindsay Campbell

Our Intellectual Property fiasco

Right in your backyard a multimillion dollar treasure could be waiting to be discovered by somebody, anybody. Generations of our people have taken home-grown “bush” medicine for granted, ignorant of its enormous potential economic value in the world of pharmacology.

But to harvest our hidden “mother lode”, first we have to claim ownership of it officially or we could lose it because this is intellectual property (IP) where oftentimes the principle of “finder’s keeper” is the winner.

IP is the product of mental work, intelligence, and creativity like the discovery of genetic resources (GR), the creation of computer software, inventions, music, and song. Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are exclusive ownership rights to these properties, legally granted to prevent infringement by people stealing them, taking credit for them, and making massive profits while the true owners get nothing.

IPR examples are patents for discoveries, copyrights for songs, and trademarks for business.

For the purpose of brevity and relevance we focus patents and discovery of plant genetic resources. A patent provides monopoly ownership allowing the owner to dictate prices and collect royalties for use of the property.

Discovery is a mental exercise but genetic resources per se are not creations of the mind; they are nature’s base materials for patents in medicine, agriculture, and industry that attract IPRs.

Genetic resources contain the DNA gene materials, the foundation building blocks of all living organisms, man, plants, animals. Modern biotechnology uses genetic engineering to manipulate genes of living organisms for scientific research and commerce.

In industry, genetic enzymes enhance textiles, detergents, and chemical processes. In agriculture, it increases productivity with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), hormone-treated animals and seeds, and disease-resistant plant strains.

The pharmaceutical industry extracts chemical compounds to develop medicinal drugs. The global pharmaceutical industry is an estimated US$400 billion annual business projected to peak US$1.1 trillion by 2014.

Giant corporations like Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, and Bristol-Myers lead the fight against epidemics, pandemics, and incurable diseases like HIV-AIDS and cancer, and modern pharmacology cannot exist without genetic resources.

In research and development (R&D) to find cures transnational pharmaceutical companies are attracted to the vast biogenetic and ethnobotanical diversity of Third World countries like Grenada.

Our forestry is a gene reservoir for bioprospecting insects, plants, and animals for extracting and isolating active ingredients to discover new drugs, and biopiracy takes place.

Biopiracy is the appropriation (stealing) of indigenous biologic/genetic material for patenting and commercialisation without permission or compensation to the owners.

Two notorious cases of biopiracy illustrate. For centuries the rural people of India used the neem tree bark as a natural pesticide, medical therapy, and other uses. A U.S. pharmaceutical company identified the active neem ingredient, patented it without permission, and made multi-millions with the drug.

In the fifties, the Eli Lilly Corporation surreptitiously patented Madagascar’s rosy periwinkle plants for drugs that treated leukemia and Hodgkin’s disease and made US$100 million annually from it. Not a cent was paid to these indigenous people.

There is a perception that wild genetic resources are “global commons” freely accessible to all because it is for the good of mankind. Our forestry is a potential repository of valuable genetic plant resources that are sitting targets for industrial espionage, examples, balata, lemon grass, bois bande. They constitute a missing market of public goods that needs government intervention for protection if we are to capitalise on their economic benefits.

Our 1973 Constitution makes provision for protection of intellectual property and Grenada is signatory to several bilateral and multilateral treaties and conventions. Under the Patents Act we have bilateral agreements with the United Kingdom and United States. We are party to CBD Conventions on Biodiversity recognising sovereign rights of States over their genetic resources that require “prior informed consent” for access.

We accord with WTO/TRIPS Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights and are signatory to the Paris and Berne Conventions under WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organisation.

However, treaties and conventions won’t save us in the hostile multilateral environment of obfuscation and double standards.

Grenada remains open and vulnerable to rogue transnationals searching for new genetic discoveries. A 2010 WTO trade review revealed that our IP legislations are out-of-date badly in need of amendment because we lag far behind in meeting TRIPS standards.

This was confirmed by the U.S. 2011 Bureau of Economic Affairs report. And biotechnologist Dr. Malachy Dottin found lack of gene banks, databases, and resource mapping information systems of our plant genetic resources.

Patent regimes were created by industrialised countries with asymmetries and biases for the protection of industrialised countries while ignoring the legitimate rights of Third World countries.

It is bioimperialism and to beat them at their own game in any multilateral patent litigation forum we have to evolve as their laws evolve.

Our priorities should be (i) lobbying WIPO to resolve existing legal anomalies (ii) strengthening our legal and institutional framework (iii) researching and publishing findings in academic journals and (iv) creating a genetic resources registration system.

To continue lagging further and further behind is reckless negligence.

 

Jay Bruno

 

Global warming /Global cooling

The advocates of global warming seem to be rather quiet these days. I suppose that deep freezing in Britain and China in the past three years has caused them to do a double take. But something more shocking has been observed even more recently. I happened to be thumbing through the ample pages of THE MALL, a British periodical, when an interesting article caught my attention.

The headline highlighted global warming and went on to reveal that an Arctic icecap had increased by sixty per cent in one year. It stretched from the border of Canada all the way to Russia. Spatially it is equivalent to half the size of Europe. How’s that for global warming! The author made the observation that the public has been conned by the global warming “experts.”

The U.N. will be meeting in session to consider this new “crisis.” The so-called findings on global warming in thousands of pages of documents will have to be re-considered. The computer simulations will also have to be discredited. Some experts will be in for big trouble. Some heads will surely be rolling.

The U.N. should have heeded the opinion of some 29,000 experts who opposed the popular ideas on global warming rather than embrace the views of the 4,000 proponents who were like the prophets of Baal that counseled Ahab.

The global warming concept has been one of the grounds of contention in the cultural war. Anti-global warming was considered counter-cultural. To resist the idea was to be anti-establishment or anti-political correctness. In governments, in schools, other institutions and every where else green was emphasized and the mantras of global warming were recited.

Even world population increase was seen as a cause of global warming, an idea that fitted well with the objective of Family Planning and other genocidal groups. We were blamed for carbon emissions and some felt that our numbers should be parred down to a comfortable 500 million from the current seven billion plus.

I wonder what Al Gore and his minions are thinking now. They must have known all along that they were taking people for a ride even as they pushed the concept of globalism. I wonder what new crisis they would now concoct in order to dupe the public and draw funds for their pet causes?

There are a number of lessons to be learned with the blowing of the global warming cover.

 

(1). We need to think for ourselves and not let the media or big-name politicians and authors do our thinking for us.

(2). We should listen to truth rather than to rumours and evaluate what we hear.

(3). We should ask ourselves what is the catch when certain matters are so highly esteemed among men. When big money is involved and freedoms are being eroded something has to be radically wrong.

(4). We need to realise that science is no longer just science for scientists have become the agents of political correctness and have their own presuppositions and agendas.

The Holy Scriptures warn us time and again about the duplicity of men. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked who can know it?” Lust makes men duplicitous. The whole world is driven by lust and lust drives men to pursue gain and glory. They will use any means to achieve their goals even by trampling on the brains of others. They will manipulate truth, rewrite history, reconstruct ideas, and deconstruct reality in order to accomplish their purposes.

Jesus knew what was in men and warned us to beware of them. We need to deconstruct the ideas of those who do the deconstruction. Two can play at that. As the saying goes, “Unfair game play twice.”

Well, what is our response to global warming and global cooling? We must never forget that there is a sovereign, all-powerful God in control of a world which he has made. He has designed it the way he wanted it. He has established the constants of the seasons and the rhythm of the weather patterns. He has assigned to man the task of guarding or caring for the garden of the earth. Man should do his part but he must trust God with the rest.

Global warming and global cooling are God’s business and not man’s. God has designed the earth to take care of its warming and cooling system. He has placed within it a natural thermostat which functions according to his will.

Weather patterns move in cyclic fashion so we should not allow so-called experts to get us excited by pointing out matters which they consider to be unusual. Let us live by faith and not by sight.

 

Alfred Horsford

Where is the justice?

I have been sitting at home quietly but every day viewing the TV stations and on weekends buying the local newspapers to monitor the feedback about a series of stories that was carried in your newspaper about alleged sexual misconduct on the part of a few senior police officers against a female Woman Police Constable who resigned from the force and left for the United States.

Quite frankly, the people of Grenada have not let me down – they have played true to form.

If this young Constable was from Lance Aux Epines or came from a prominent family in the country the whole of Grenada would have felt the earthquake as her family would have used their money, influence and power to seek justice for her.

The Conference of Churches of Grenada and Rev. James are busy at work in trying to help put out the economic and financial fire now sweeping through the land.

The little girl from the country who said that she was raped by a senior police officer is turning out to be a nobody in the country.

I have asked some of my police friends in the force if an investigation is really taking place, and all of them have said words to the effect: Do not expect anything to happen, they will do a cover up as usual for the boys at the top.

As a matter of fact, one of the them told me that one of the officers who allegedly engaged in sexual misbehaviour against the young WPC is not new to such crimes since he did a similar thing to another female officer when he was stationed at the Grenville Police Station.

What was interesting is that all the policemen whom I engaged are pretty sure that the WPC is not lying on any of the senior officers and that they are guilty as hell.

But then again the young lady is not the daughter of Prime Minister Mitchell or Gregory Bowen or Elvin Nimrod or as a matter of fact one with a lot of money and whose wife is an attorney-at-law, Nikki Steele.

If it was Steele’s daughter, his wife would have been using her legal skills to file all kinds of lawsuits against the police officers. And if she won the State would have had to find thousands of dollars that it ain’t have already to pay to these rich people in compensation.

But the WPC comes from a poor family and does not have the financial means to go after the sex predators in court.

In Grenada, there is a saying that when you are poor, you are really exposed.

It is still not too late for the voice of justice and the voice of reasoning to come forward in this country and demand a free and independent investigation into the alleged sexual impropriety of the three senior police officers.

Mr. Prime Minister, come forward and stand up like a man to be counted among those who are committed to justice and fair play.

Mr. Tillman Thomas – where is your voice these days? You have always been promoted as Mr. Integrity, Mr. Decency and Mr. Accountability and Transparency.

Now is the time Mr. Thomas to demand from Mr. James some kind of transparency in the so-called investigation that the Acting COP told the nation was launched into the allegation made against the senior police officers.

I have my own doubts about Dr. Mitchell and transparency but he has a chance now to prove me wrong.

As Minister of National Security he is responsible for the police and has a duty to ensure that the bad eggs are uprooted from the force.

The churches also have a moral responsibility to put their money where their mouths are and come out and let justice prevail either in favour of the former WPC or the three accused police officers.

Justice Seeker

The dark side of the Electronic Crimes Bill

The Electronics Crime Bill is now the law of the land of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique subject to the affirmation of the Governor General Dame Cecile La Grenade.

There are many lessons to be drawn from the process which saw the enactment of this legislation. There is no doubt that legislation is required to deal with Cyber crime, Identity theft, Child pornography and Electronic stalking in this evolving Electronic age.

However, the Keith Mitchell-led administration again displayed its deceptive character by “slipping in” some aspects of the bill that will effectively hinder free expression and compromise legitimate political activity by those opposed to the NNP.

The Universal Declaration on Human Rights says in Article 19, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without reference and to seek receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”

The Grenada Constitution Order of 1973 states in Article 10 (1), “Except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression including freedom to hold opinions without interference, freedom to receive ideas and information without interference, freedom to communicate ideas and information without interference (whether the communication be to the public generally or to any person or class of persons) and freedom from interference with his correspondence”

The government of Grenada removed “Criminal Libel “from the books in 2012, a move widely acclaimed by the regional and international press.

A barrage of criticism from the international press about aspects of the bill caused the Prime Minister to make a commitment to relook the offending sections. He said that no aspect of proposed legislation should “undermine or infringe public debate”.

The Bill was passed unanimously in the Lower House and it seems that any amendment was left to the Upper House or Senate to effect. In the face of strong arguments by the independent and labour Senators, not even a single line or even a comma was changed.

The Keith Mitchell administration showed clearly that public opinion cannot stop them from passing any legislation that they choose to enact.

The President of the Media Workers Association of Grenada (MWAG) said that the legislation will only affect “a few people”. Who are these few? Some apologists for the NNP have said that the intention is noble and now that Prime Minister Mitchell is ‘kinder and gentler”, there is nothing to worry about.

It is a known fact that between intent and execution lies a shadow – the human factor, therein lies the possibility of abuse and misuse.

There appears to be when reference is made to the ‘Police’ as distinct from ‘Law Enforcement Agencies’. The legislation speaks to ‘Law Enforcement Agencies’ being able (to) demand information from Digicel or Lime in respect to mobile communication between individuals without a warrant or a court order.

This is frightening because the politicians in the ministerial positions of the Ministry of Legal Affairs or the Ministry of National Security will be in a position to so do.

These positions are now occupied by Hon. Elvin Nimrod and Prime Minister Mitchell. Can we trust that these individuals will not use these powers for their political benefit?

Hon. Elvin Nimrod indicated that the law is intended to protect citizens against defamatory remarks on social media sites.

The draconian nature of the law is seen in section 6(1). The penalty for posting information that is ‘grossly offensive or has a menacing character’ on social media is a fine of $100,000 or imprisonment of up to one year.

How does one define “offensive” in law when it is extremely difficult to gauge that phenomenon from one individual to the next? Lawyers may well have a field day arguing on the demerits of the law and how it violates the fundamental rights of citizens.

The Act goes further to state that its application can apply to persons ‘visiting or staying in transit’ in Grenada. Visitors beware!

The stark truth is that the misuse or abuse by the NNP of its monopoly in the Parliament can have dire consequences for the stability of the country and the exercise of Freedom of Expression in the country.

The Electronic Crimes Act” is the first of many.

Arthur Kellick