Chinese National in Prison

A Chinese National visiting Grenada has found himself in trouble with the law.

Daobo Xu - charged with money laundering

Daobo Xu – charged with money laundering

Daobo Xu who was staying at a hotel in the south of the island was pulled in by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) last week on charges of fraud and money laundering.

A source close to the police investigation confided to THE NEW TODAY newspaper that Xu came into Grenada with US$5000.00 in his possession.

The source who did not wish to be identified said the sole intention of the Chinese man was apparently to operate a scheme of cashing in on people’s money in the bank with the use of false credit cards.

Xu who was brought to court, unrepresented by counsel last week Thursday in front of Chief Magistrate Tamara Gill informed her that he intends to defend himself.

However, Magistrate Gill pointed out to the accused that the charges slapped on him are serious and went at lengths to inform him that the maximum penalty for money laundering is seven years while the charge of fraud carries a maximum penalty of five years.

With the help of a court interpreter and a female Chinese National who is working on the stadium project, the suspect told the Chief Magistrate that he cannot understand why he is being prosecuted.

Xu claimed that he was given the money by a friend in China for the airfare and to conduct business in Grenada.

Magistrate Gill remanded Xu to custody at the Richmond Hill Prisons, and set November 21st as the trial date for his matter.

The Chief Magistrate advised the prosecution department to provide Xu with the statements of the witnesses so that he can study them in time for the case.

Head of the Police Prosecution Department, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Godfrey Victor informed the court that Xu has already been served a Chinese version of the charges.

OUR CONSTITUTION REFORM: GENUINE ACT OR “RACHIFI”?

We have captioned this article with this Caribbean word “rachifi”, specifically to highlight the significant role it plays in oura society and to show its connection with politics and demagogy.

The word has many synonyms in proper English, namely: underhandedness, skulduggery, trickery, crafty deception and deceitful, dishonest or unscrupulous behaviour.

As we move into the final countdown towards a clearly anti-democratic and highly partisanised Constitution Reform, our caption bears greater relevance. Therefore, it is essential that we leave a historical reference to some tough questions before the probable consummation of a “Constitutional Coup d’état” scheduled for November 24th, 2016.

As citizens and co-owners of this nation we are obligated to ask ourselves: why it was the Cabinet and an ad-hoc hand-picked clique of “selected people from special interest groups” which unilaterally took the decision to manage the reform and “restructuring” of the national Constitution?

Where did they get this authority from; who owns the sovereign and constituent power of the nation; why the vast majority of the recommendations made by “the people” were rejected; why more national “hearings” of submissions both oral and written from nationals at home and abroad were not held; why other alternatives for genuine democratic constitutional reform were not considered; why people representing interest groups of other countries are on our Reform Committee; why the Advisory Committee and the Cabinet are openly campaigning in favour of the bills; amongst other things.

Whereas a national Constitution is a living and vibrant contract between the people (the governed) and their legitimate leaders (those who govern), said document has to be prepared integrally and mutually between both parties and has to reflect the aims, desires and aspirations of “the people”.

The Constitutional Reform process has to make maximum efforts to chart a consensual vision for the future of the nation, to help to heal the divisions among the population, to stimulate national unity, to create a collective societal bond among the people, to reinforce the representative component of democracy with direct, people-led and people-driven participatory aspects to guarantee the maximum exercise of all fundamental rights and freedoms for all and sundry citizens of the nation; as well as to establish crystal clear guidelines for accountability in public office, to set fixed and defined boundaries against excesses, to clearly layout stringently precise consequences for violators and abusers of public offices and most importantly and significantly of all is that the Constitution has to affirm and assert the political independence of the nation.

We would like to draw reference to pages 5 and 6 of a booklet published by the then Justice Nicholas Liverpool (RIP) and ably supported by the rest of the 2002 Grenada Constitution Review Commission, where it states:

“It is therefore instructive that neither the document which terminated Grenada’s status as an Associate State of the United Kingdom nor the existing Constitution of Grenada is an enactment of the Parliament of Grenada. On its face, each document is an Imperial Order-in-Council of The Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty.

Further, the Constitution has never received legislative approval by the Parliament of Grenada, on the 7th day of February, 1974, the Constitutional Instruments were handed over to the Honourable Prime Minister Sir Eric Matthew Gairy by Mr. Blaker, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in the United Kingdom. Hansard of that meeting of Parliament discloses that there was no debate on

In conclusion, this evidence and other historic references demonstrate in no uncertain terms that our Constitution Reform has to be done properly in the interest of our people. Therefore, the insistence of the proponents of the current “patchwork” and “tampering” of the existing Constitution to satisfy their own hidden and partisanised agenda is seriously misleading and certainly begs the captioned question: “Is our Constitution Reform a genuine act or a “rachifi”?

John Anthony “Citizen” Rullow

2011 American Idol finalist to perform at 2016 Spicy Divas in Concert

Rhythm and Blues (R&B) vocalist and former “American Idol” contestant Ashton Jones, is scheduled to perform at the third annual Spicy Divas in Concert event on November 25 at Spice Basket in Beaulieu, St. George’s.

Singing sensation Ashton Jones

Singing sensation Ashton Jones

The 30-year-old singing sensation from Goodlettsville, Tennessee, USA, along with her agent Lady LaDonna, Chief Executive Officer, Bridgepointe Media and Entertainment, Atlanta, Georgia will arrive on island on November 22 for a five-day stay.

According to Co- Founder of Spicy Divas, Nigel John, the U.S artiste will not only perform at the show but will also facilitate a workshop on November 23 at the National Museum in St George’s, during which she would share her experience and knowledge about the music industry.

Jones auditioned for the tenth season of American Idol television series in Tennessee in 2011, but was not one of the five female vote getters in the semi-final round to advance to the Top 13.
However, she was one of six individuals selected to sing for a wild card and was able to advance to the top 13.
Following her stint on the American Idol show, Jones, appeared on Lecrae’s Grammy-winning album ‘Gravity,’ which won ‘Best Gospel Album’ at the 2013 Grammy Awards and ‘Best Rap/Hip Hop Album’ at the 2013 Dove Awards.

Lecrae, whose given name is Devaughn Moore, is an American Christian hip hop artist, songwriter, record producer and actor.

Released on September 4, 2012, Gravity, was the sixth studio album by the American Christian hip hop artist, which also featured appearances by Big K.R.I.T., Mathai, Ashthon Jones, and Mali Music, along with label mates Trip Lee, Andy Mineo, Derek Minor, who was formerly known as PRo, and Tedashii.

Producers on the album included DJ Khalil, Street Symphony’s Heat Academy, and The Watchmen.

John told THE NEW TODAY that Jones has done work with other popular American artists and is currently working on her own album.

Spicy Divas in Concert started in 2014 with the aim of providing a platform for the exposure of local female vocalists in an effort to help improve the standards of the entertainment industry.

Eight young ladies would be participating in this year’s event including Christel LaGuerre, Sinicar Roberts, Shereen Brizan, Tammy Baldeo, Emily Rapier, Tamara St. Bernard and Sonika McKie.

Prior to the show, they were provided with at least one year of professional training in vocals and presentation to prepare them for their big night.

For the first time, the event will be streamed live, connecting the Caribbean, London, Canada and the United States.

The eight local artistes in the lineup for the 3rd annual Spicy Divas in Concert show

The eight local artistes in the lineup for the 3rd annual Spicy Divas in Concert show

Speaking with optimism, John said it is hoped that through the exposure given the talented females would land opportunities with interested parties.

Additionally, John said plans are in the making to create another production that will provide a similar platform for male artists.

He emphasized the importance of originality in songs going forward.

“It is extremely important to have originality as we prepare to package and export their talents to the wider Caribbean and around the world,” John said.

VIP tickets for the third annual Spicy Divas in Concert are going for EC$150, regular tickets cost EC$45 at several box offices including Grenadian Optical, Gittens Pharmacy Ltd., Mitchell’s Health and Wellness Pharmacy and Trophy Zone.

Tickets can also be purchased online via Go2fete.com

Vote no to constitution reform

As we advance to vote on Referendum day 24/11/2016, I wish to join my voice with the advocate of the NO vote and say VOTE NO and send a strong message to the Authorities.

In doing so we will be sending the  message to the powers-that-be that we understand what is constitution reform.  What we have before us is nothing but a sham, a farce and a deliberate and intentional effort to have us legitimise illegitimacy.

The claim that what we have before us is devoid of Party Politics is laughable.  The ruling administration is leaving no stone unturned to achieve a yes vote, and then claim that they are the first party to institute  Constitution reform.  We must Vote No.

Another myth being put forward is that Constitution reform has been going on since 1985.  What deceit!  What we have had is a number of attempts at Constitution reform.

That has not been continuous.

Citizens of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique all, it is time for us to sit up and take note of what the ruling administration is trying to rush us into.  We all agree overwhelmingly that we did not have input into the present Constitution Reform of 1973/74.  And since Constitution Reform is not something you do everyday why the rush?

It might certainly be a rewarding exercise to find out what percentage of the population is very much aware of our present constitution.

The approach should be the McIntosh/International approach, thereby allowing us to become aware of our present constitution, and for the process to be able to allow us to make an informed contribution to constitution reform.

We cannot and should not, be embarking on Constitution reform when we do not know what our present Constitution consists of. If our Constitution, the Supreme law of the land is so important to ensure proper Governance then it is essential that in order to effect change that at least 75%-80% of the voting population should cast their ballot; then and only then can we claim to have impact into the Constitution.

As it stands if a mere 10% of the voting population cast ballot on Referendum day the Constitution reform can be changed. Constitution reform should attract maximum participation, support and involvement.

Additionally with one (1) party occupying The Lower House/The House of Representatives it is certainly not the ideal time for Constitution Reform.

Finally I think we should all salute citizen John Rullow for the very solid contribution he has made in helping us to understand the route we should pursue in order to achieve constitution reform.

Herman T. Stanislaus

Syrian Businessman on Sexual-related Charges

A Syrian National who operates an appliance store on St. John’s Street, St. George’s is facing charges of indecent assault and indecent exposure.

The suspect, Aiham Shammas was pulled into custody at the South St. George Police Station on Sunday by Police Investigators after a compliant was made to the lawmen about him being involved in the incident.

Shammas is accused of taking a 15-year old young lady into his vehicle on Saturday, locking it and then exposing his private genitals and playing with the teenager.

A police source told this newspaper that the lawmen are looking into other reports circulating in the country that the Syrian businessman has been frequently stalking young girls by offering them ride in his “posh vehicle.”

Shammas who resides at Lance Aux Epines, St. George’s has been placed on $5,000 bail with one surety.

Speculation is rife that the bail was arranged by attorney-at-law, Derek Sylvester who is believed to be living close to Shammas in the well-to-do Lance Aux Epines area.

The accused is due to appear in court to answer the charges on December 12th.

Shammas attracted national attention when he took legal action against the failed SGL Holdings in connection with approximately US$100, 000.00 that he had invested in the collapsed business venture.

The Syrian was expecting  “high returns” on the investment which SGL had forwarded to a Jamaican investor who was arrested in the United States for fraud.

GENDER – The Power of Language!

Today, the definition of a six-letter word is evoking enormous reactions from diverse groups of people! As Grenada embarks on this momentous Constitutional Reform, the first in forty-two years, one of its most significant, and perhaps most controversial legislative proposals has to do with Human Rights and Freedoms.

Within this significant piece of legislation, the following definition of “gender” is offered: “Gender” is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, masculinity and femininity; and “gender equality” reflects the view that men and women should receive equal treatment and should not be discriminated against based on gender.”

The phrase “range of characteristics” in the definition of gender, and the movement away from the word “sex”, as found in the existing Constitution (1974), to insert “gender”, have engendered widespread speculation and suspicion that such an insertion leaves room for legislative interpretation that is not possible when referring to “sex” as a biological identity derived from birth.

Furthermore, it is feared that such a change carries huge implications on prevailing social mores and social structures, e.g. the institutions of family and marriage. This localised furor and protest is not without cause.
On a global level, dramatic and unprecedented changes have taken place and are taking place as traditional definitions of “sexuality”, “gender”, “family”, “marriage”, “religious freedom” etc. are being challenged and replaced by new cultural modalities.

As an evangelical Christian, please permit me to share a biblical perspective on this very divisive issue. Biblical revelation says God, Creator of the Universe, made man and woman – distinct, equal and complementary. Men were to be male human beings; women, female human beings.

While sex is biologically and anatomically determined, gender is relationally based – it characterises how man and woman were made to relate to each other in body, soul and spirit, in love and in truth.

The act of sex as the Creator God intended, was to be a pleasurable, private act between a man and a woman who had intentionally come together in a public, covenantal relationship which was called marriage (Genesis 2:24).

Out of this union would come children to procreate God’s good earth, which had been given to man and woman, in which they were blessed to be “fruitful… multiply…govern…reign over” (Genesis 2:27, 28). Alas, this ideal was tragically shattered when human – man and woman – sought to do it their own way.

The history of humanity is the painful story of alienation between God and His created beings, and His commitment to bring humanity back to Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ.

The Creator established laws, rules and precepts for the godly and orderly ruler-ship and fruitful stewardship of nations.

Many of the national Independent Constitutions of the Caribbean shared the above Judeo-Christian perspective as reflected in our Western world. Therefore, our laws and traditions embraced this consensus for the protection of marriage and family.

Today, as we move increasingly into a “post-Christian” world, a world where the ideologies of atheism, secularism, humanism and liberalism are asserting themselves in every sphere of life (God is dead or gone MIA), our laws are under threat, and “gender” is up for grabs!

Traditionally, we believe that sex is fixed at birth and that gender is one’s social identity as a masculine man or feminine woman based on one’s sex at birth. Today, whether a person would live as a boy or girl, man or woman is now a personal decision.

One’s anatomical sex may not fit one’s chosen gender. Gender is now a choice! And sexual preference, a right! Furthermore, gender is reduced mostly to sexuality – physical excitement, social compatibility, felt satisfaction, and “love who you want to love”.

This has opened the door to opposite-sex or same-sex relationships outside of the God–given covenantal, man-woman relationship of biblical marriage and family.

The secularisation of our culture has now reached alarming proportions. As someone described it, “it is as wood ants working from underneath”! Of special interest to us in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, as we heatedly debate this issue, is the use of language in changing the culture. “A change of language always precedes a change of culture” (Darrow L. Miller).

Words in the public lexicon are being hollowed out and retooled to suit the agenda of the day, and although the language may be the same, the ‘content’ of the words are different.

Miller, a Christian writer, in responding to how the word “marriage” (and I would add, “love” and “gender”) have been hollowed out and retooled in the political and legislative arenas of the US today, warns, “if current trends continue unabated, it will inevitably lead to a breakdown of constitutional government and the rule of law. We will be left with a totalitarian system run by technocratic elites”.

So you ask, “Does the Church in Grenada have a cause for concern?”

“Do the people of Grenada who desire to maintain a Christian consensus in its institutions need to be alarmed at the current legislative trend?”

Yes, there is a Cause! Faith demands that we speak out! Truth requires that we speak without compromise! Love asks that we speak compassionately – to warn that a departure from biblical truth can only spell disaster for our nation and the generations to come.

“The greatness of a nation is directly related to the righteousness of its laws and rules” (Revive our Hearts) Righteousness exalteth a nation; sin is a reproach to any people! (Proverbs 14:34).

Joan Purcell
Alliance of Evangelical Churches Grenada.

NAWASA delivers improved water and toilet facilities to GASDC

After struggling with water challenges for a number of years, the Grand Anse Social Development Center (GASDC), is now equipped with improved bathroom facilities and two 500 gallons water tanks as a gift from the state-controlled National Water and Sewerage Authority (NAWASA).

Ann DuFont – a member of the Board of Directors

Ann DuFont – a member of the Board of Directors

“Our water problem is now a thing of the past,” declared a happy Director of the GASDC Board of Directors, Ann DuFont, in expressing gratitude to NAWASA, during the official handing over ceremony last week Wednesday at the Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church Upper Room in Grand Anse, St. George.

“The education of our girls is (now) positively influenced because we used to send them home when there was no water in the taps,” she added.

In celebration of its Silver Jubilee milestone, which was realised on November 15, the NAWASA Board of Directors agreed to finance a community-based project that will help improve lives.

According to Human Resource Manager, NAWASA, Pansy Ventour,  the centre was selected from a total of five institutions that submitted project proposals, based on the fact that it was considered as the most favourable given the activities conducted there.

“This project was geared towards the improvement of sanitary facilities, which we believe was of utmost importance given the activities conducted at the center, some of which include Food and Nutrition , hair dressing, clothing and textile, among others”, she said.

“It is our belief that a clean and healthy environment is most conducive to enhance learning, social interaction and a confortable environment. We also believe that with the provision of a water storage tank, class interruption eliminated and the teaching inconvenience experienced in the past would no longer exist,” she added.

The approximately EC$12, 000 project commenced on September 5.

It was contracted to Quality Construction Company, operated by Benedict Clyne, who was able to complete the project on September 19.

Chairman of NAWASA’s Board of Directors, Terrence Forrester encouraged the students, management and staff of the center to maintain the facilities, which will further encourage the company to continue being a good corporate citizen.

“Use it wisely and for the best purposes that it was intended so that we (NAWASA)can continue providing services not just to the Social Development Centre  but to other institutions,” Forrester said.

“NAWASA feels that we have a responsibility as a social partner in continuing to provide not just a paid service but service where it is needed. So as a responsible organisation we feel that we owe this to you and to the nation,” he added.

The Grand Anse Center started in 1999 through collaboration between the Ministry of Social Development and Housing and the Board of Management of the center.

The center caters for girls between the ages 14 to 18, who are given a second chance at education.

The objective of the center is to help the young ladies realise their potential and become productive individuals, who are willing and able to make positive contributions to the development of society.
Principal of the center, Sister Allison Mitchell said the programmes offered at the center “spans three years and the young females are given an opportunity to learn life skills (and) vocational subjects.”

Sis. Allison noted that “students are also given an opportunity to write the school leaving exams with a view to be placed in a secondary school upon successfully obtaining the required mark…for those who are able we also have classes in English, Maths, and Social Studies and Principles of Business (POB) with a view of doing the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC)” to achieve the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC).

“At present we are in the process of (doing) an audit with the National Training Agency (NTA) to gain a programme for the National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) and the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ),” she remarked.

Social Development Minister Delma Thomas who was also on hand congratulated NAWASA for undertaking this project to mark its 25th year of service to local communities.

“NAWASA, we are indeed grateful for what you have done…this project is consistent with the mission of the Ministry of Social Services which is in effect the delivery of services to those who need them the most,” the Minister said.

She also added her voice in the call for proper maintenance of the facilities and urged the students “to not give into the temptation of wastage and improper use.”

Minister Thomas also admonished the students present at last week’s handing over ceremony, to always remember that they can become whatever they want to be.

“You have been given a second chance (and) I want to encourage you that you can be whatever you want to be. Let no one tell you that you cannot do it. Whether it’s academic or a skill, you can do and be whatever you want to be. Do your best, strive for excellence make yourselves and your families proud,” she sad.

Coroner’s Inquest into Briggs’ death

Coroner for the Southern Magisterial District, Her Honour Tamara Gill has started to take evidence into the Coroner’s Inquiry concerning the circumstances that led to the death of Bus Conductor, Bruce Briggs of Grand Mal (Calabash Alley), St. George’s.

Briggs was shot in the left leg in the early hours of August 10th by Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Damian Lee while being on his Williamson Road property in St. George’s.

An autopsy conducted on the body concluded that 34-year old Briggs died as a result of hypovolemic shock.

Four witnesses including Pathologist, Cuban-trained Mabel Leon Alvarez, Briggs Father, Daniel Johnson, ASP Lee and his wife, Diann have already given evidence in the inquest.

Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Nelson who looked at the case determined that the best course of action was to have a Coroner and jury panel sit in an inquest to decide if the senior Police Officer is culpable for Briggs’ death.

Head of the Police Prosecution Department, ASP Godfrey Victor, is leading evidence for the State.

Briggs last worked on a Zone 8 (St. George’s to Mt. Moritz) route as a Bus Conductor.

The inquest resumes on December 19th at the St. George’s No.1 Magistrate’s Court.

Grenada Constitution: Keeping Promises

The Government of Grenada and the Constitution Advisory Committee face a challenge to keep their word to the citizens of our nation that libertine sexual orientation will not be part of the constitutional and legal landscape of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

A US Supreme Court decision of 2015 has made the practice of same sex marriage a constitutional right throughout the United States. So while the US constitution has nothing to say about sexual orientation, the Supreme Court decision interpreted the freedoms guaranteed in their constitution to include the practice of same sex marriages.

At a consultation held by the Advisory Committee at St. Paul’s it came to our attention that if the new draft of our constitution is left as it is the courts will be free to establish judgement giving same sex marriages legal authority in the land. The same thing that happened to the US could happen to us.

I contend that we will also be in a situation where any kind of marriage including polygamy, polyamory and other forms of queer sexual marriages could become legal. The only way that we can ensure that our nation does not become a free for all sexual queer state is to put into our constitution that marriage is limited to one man and one woman.

Both the Government and the Constitution Advisory Committee have assured us that they will not allow such a sexually free for all situation to become legal in our tri-island state. Both the government and the Constitution Advisory Committee have gone on record promising us to uphold the sacredness of the monogamous marriage.  At a consultation held at the St. Paul’s Community Centre we were informed that the Jamaica constitution specifies that marriage is to be only between one man and one woman and we were promised that we in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique would rather take that route instead of the libertine one.

The fact that bestiality brothels are becoming popular in Germany and some sex acts with animals are now legal in Canada further underscores the need for us to be clear in our legal documents concerning marriage. Sexual orientation means any kind of orientation where sex is concerned. The fact that Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique is very much situated in the milieu of a multiplicity global sexual cultures demands that we be clear in our defining of our own sexual values.

We, as Christians, need to insist that government keep its word and make the monogamous marriage the constitutionally recognised form of marriage in the nation.

Thomas A. Welch, MCS, PhD.
Pastor, The People’s Church,
 St. Paul’s

Case against Dave Benjamin heads to trial

After nine months, the Preliminary Inquiry held at the St. David’s Magistrate’s Court into the case of non-capital murder against Dave Benjamin has ended with the sitting Magistrate, Karen Noel deciding to send the matter for trial before a high court judge and jury.

Benjamin has been charged for the January 24, 2016  murder of U.S national, Jessica Colker, which occurred at a remote beach, just past the well-known La Sagesse beach.

A total of 18 witnesses gave evidence into the matter including Brian Melito, husband of the murdered victim, and a UK resident who were all guests at the La Sagesse Nature Centre hotel.

State Prosecutor, Howard Pinnock who spoke to THE NEW TODAY lamented the fact that the Inquiry took such a long time to be completed.

“It could have been a little shorter but as you know the St. David’s Court only have sittings on Mondays and Fridays. By and large, all the witnesses were cooperative…we presented the best case we could and the Magistrate obviously ruled that there is a case for him to answer in the high court”, he said.

According to Pinnock, the high court proceedings will follow the same procedure as that of the Preliminary Inquiry with the exception that the accused would be  given a chance to tell his side of the story.

The State is hopeful that the trial at the high court level could take place during the early months of 2017.
Colker was killed one day after she and her husband arrived in Grenada for a vacation.

The two had embarked on a leisure walk on the beach when they were allegedly taken hostage by Benjamin.
Melito was ordered to run by the attacker, who took away his wife, raped her and then killed her.

The husband raised the alarm and a group of persons moved towards the area where the American woman was last seen alive.

The body was discovered about an hour later and a post-mortem conducted concluded that the lady had died as a result of extensive skull fracture and asphyxia.

The murder was committed two months after Benjamin was released from the Richmond Hill Prison on a rape conviction.