China reports 17 new cases in viral pneumonia outbreak Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks PLAY LIST 01:40Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks01:32Taal Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.netFar Eastern University guard RJ Ramirez has foregone a basketball future in Canada to play the sport in this hoops-crazed country.And it’s to complete the wish of his mother Virginia.ADVERTISEMENT Swing Out Sister back to PH this April Trump’s impeachment defense, prosecutors dig in “I’m doing this for my mother who passed away two years ago,” said Ramirez Friday after leading the Tamaraws to an 88-77 win over National University in the Filoil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup.Ramirez, who was initially en route to a collegiate career with Adamson University, played two years for Humber College in Toronto before returning to his mother’s land.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSEnd of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legendSPORTSMcGregor blasts Cerrone in 40 seconds in UFC returnSPORTSBreak new groundBoth of Ramirez’s parents are Filipinos and were once based in Rosario, Cavite where he lives with his grandparents when he’s not at FEU’s dormitories.“I have here the opportunity of playing basketball in the next level, and I will have to play in the UAAP for a couple of years,” said Ramirez who had 15 points, five assists, and three steals during their game against the Bullogs. Gerald: Just because I’ve been bashed doesn’t mean I’d stop working Ai-Ai delas Alas on Jiro Manio: ‘Sana pinahalagahan niya ang naitulong ko’ Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next View comments Globalport clings to playoff hope after upset of Rain or Shine Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Duterte’s ‘soft heart’ could save ABS-CBN, says election lawyer MOST READ For the complete collegiate sports coverage including scores, schedules and stories, visit Inquirer Varsity. “That’s why I’m here, to play basketball and go to the next level.” End of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legend More Taal volcanic quakes recorded despite weaker eruptions LATEST STORIES For Ina, portraying a zombie is like an ‘out-of-body experience’
Cedella Marley, national senior women’s football team ambassador and daughter of reggae legend Bob Marley said that the Reggae Girlz’s qualification for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France next year will have a positive impact on women’s football, not only in Jamaica, but also across the Caribbean. Marley, Chief Executive Officer of the Bob Marley Foundation, a non-profit organisation which began sponsoring the Reggae Girlz in 2014, after their six year hiatus from football due to lack of funding, was a guest on the BBC’s News Hour yesterday. She said qualification will inspire girls across the region to believe in achieving their dreams. “There’s a Jamaican saying: ‘Wi likle but wi tallawah,’ Marley said. “We might be small as a country, but our strength is, of course, in our people and our qualities that we have. I think every little girl that’s in some school in the Caribbean that has a dream of doing what we saw happened (on Wednesday) night, now knows that it can be true – it is true.” “It has become a reality. Four years ago, I said this is like a Disney movie waiting to be made. Hopefully some body’s writing the script. Jamaican women don’t cry. We smile and we laugh and we go through but (Wednesday) night, I did shed a tear,” Marley added. PRIDE Marley said that her father would be proud to see her contribution to the team’s success if he had still been alive today. “He would be very proud of the women’s team,” she said. “My father probably would not expect anything less from me. My mom, she keeps me so focused and determined and all she has to do is give me a nod and I’m off running, so I’m grateful for both parents.”
Over the past two and a half years, the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) has achieved a lot of success as far as rebranding itself is concerned. The party has also apparently changed the manner in which it conducts its internal business, with special emphasis and care being placed on modernizing its organizational structure to meet the changing demands of the country’s political culture.Additionally, the party is also practising a new type of proactive politics, which is aimed at exposing the misgivings, incestuous corruption, injustices and wrongdoings of the current APNU/AFC Administration.This perhaps is one of the most fundamental changes that the PPP has undergone since losing the elections. This change has resulted in the tone, style and substance of the party’s press conferences and media disclosures becoming more interesting and meaningful from the public’s standpoint. It has also caught the Government off-guard and has resulted in its high ranking officials facing enormous levels of embarrassment, public ridicule, and pressure whenever the PPP releases information about the APNU/AFC mishandling of the public’s business — especially the economy, which is still on a steady path of decline.Internally, the PPP has been swift in changing its guards in the 10 administrative regions. It has embarked on a subtle course of replacing those respectfully ‘old’ stalwarts, who have toiled with the party over decades and are no longer capable of keeping up with the taxing demands of the changing body politic within their constituencies. The party has been quietly (and with their consent) promoting younger talent and members who are more capable of handling the affairs of their region in a manner that would see the party’s agenda advanced. It has been extremely careful in its selection of allies in this respect, and has so far managed to remain objective.Also, since losing the elections, the PPP has avoided major internal rifts. The party appears more united and in sync. Its leaders, despite internal differences and quarrels, have avoided berating each other in the press and exposing their anger over policy differences for all to see. This is a most pleasing development, as it points to the party’s return to the ideological beliefs of Cheddi Jagan, who never supported the airing of one’s dirty linen in the corridors of the public. Jagan strongly believed that while all members were free to disagree and choose any medium for airing their disagreement, they were duty bound to think first about the damage their actions could have on the image and stability of the party in both the short and long terms.More youths are also flocking the PPP than in previous years, as the APNU/AFC continue their march towards a dictatorial regime. Young people, especially professionals who are feeling stifled or wronged by the policies of the new regime, are slowing seeing the PPP as the only viable option and last frontier against the coalition’s attempts to steal their hard-earned freedoms, limited incomes, and democratic rights.The PPP’s appeal has increased two-fold among hinterland youths and those young people who sat on the fence during the last elections, and much of this has to do with the party’s silent activism among young people in the various communities that have been neglected by the APNU/AFC coalition since it grabbed power in 2015.Business people and leaders from a wide cross-section of civil society groups are also engaging the PPP with a view to restoring ties, as the level of executive lawlessness grows in the APNU/AFC camp.Much of these gains must be credited to Bharrat Jagdeo and the small circle of trusted politicians that he has working with him around the clock to ensure that the party regains enough electoral support to win the next elections. Jagdeo has also developed a new approach of inclusivity and political maturity. He is engaging all of the party’s strongmen, including former Presidents Donald Ramotar and Sam Hinds, with a view to ensuring buy-in whenever sensitive decisions have to be made.As General Secretary and Opposition Leader, Jagdeo continues to wield enormous influence over his comrades at all levels of the party’s structure. It is as if he were President all over again; and surprisingly, many who had concerns about Ramotar have given in to Jagdeo’s ideology. They trust him because he not only has proven his competence in both posts, but he is also working extremely hard to rebuild a party that had become one of the most negatively viewed by its membership and the electorate at various points and time in its history.Jagdeo appears to have accurately calculated his formula for achieving success at the 2020 polls, because already this is increasing infighting in the Government and its coalition. The APNU/AFC are now convinced that it is possible for Jagdeo to win the next elections by a landslide, and so they are in panic mode. They are involved in all sorts of political overtures and machinations aimed at rebuilding lost ground, but at the expense of focusing on the mandate given to them by the electorate.Next week, I will focus on the shortcomings of the party over the past two and a half years, and offer some critical insight regarding the personalities within its leadership that must die a natural political death in order for the party to live well past 2020.
A half-year ago, repeating the need for a governmental stimulus of the economy, we discussed in this space the latter’s evident choice between “guns and butter”. The phrase “guns or butter” entered the lexicon as a trope for signalling the tendency of some political leaders to focus their energies and their nation’s spending on the military (guns), rather than on the needs of the civilian population (butter). The Nazi-militarised Government was particularly fond of the phrase, as its officials scoffed at the production of “butter”. It entered economics as the classic model of a “production-possibility frontier” of a nation having to choose between two goods.At that time, President Granger announced a “five pillar” plan to reinvigorate the Defence Force versus his studied silence on a plan to stimulate the nose-diving economy. The five pillars of the plan were: personnel, infrastructure, equipment, readiness and morale. The rationale offered by the President for the increased military spending was the threat on our borders posed by Suriname on the east and Venezuela on the west. Yet, the then Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, Brigadier Mark Philips, had just assured the nation that our present forces were adequate to defend any threats from Venezuela, and had launched in Georgetown an impressive display of our military might.With the GDF then at about half its authorised strength, the plan to bring back the Force to its full capacity plus re-launch the atrophied reserve force which used to be called the People’s Militia and staff it with its full complement will obviously cause the wage bill to rise precipitously. When the equipment needs are factored in, the present annual spending on the entity, estimated at about $600M will have to be at least doubled.When the choice is between guns or butter, a country can end up in a no-win situation. After WWII, the Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower became President of the USA, which had become the greatest power on the planet. Having to deal with that choice, he declared, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”But the choice does not have to be “guns or butter”; it can be changed to “guns and butter”. While this newspaper is fully supportive of the need to revive and maintain a force that can adequately defend our borders, we have to be realistic to appreciate that even a weakened Venezuela, for instance, can deliver a much bigger bang with their bucks. It therefore becomes even more urgent for our Government to spend a commensurate amount of time to halt the slide of our economy and initiate policies that can create double-digit growth rates to push our surpluses. We would then be in a position to support a larger Defence Force without the strain that would be caused in the present strained circumstances.We note the recent acknowledgement of Finance Minister Winston Jordan of the need for a stimulus package to reverse the slide of the economy, but urge the Government – as we did six months ago – not to focus solely on the expenditure side of the balance sheet. Rather than criticising the business community for not taking risks, Government must use the panoply of tools at its disposal to reduce – or allow the business community to reduce – those risks.The liberalisation of the economy was not meant to be confined to the external trading regime only, but also to the internal investment environment. We repeat our call to the Government: “Work with the business community to collaborate on ways to generate more income for the country. In this way, we can have the safety of a prosperous populace protected by well-paid security personnel.”
…PNC bullyismGECOM Chair Justice (retired) Claudette Singh finally ended her Hamlet-like agonising (“to announce or not to announce”) elections timelines! And allowed that GECOM will be ready to hold elections at the end of February 2020. To continue with the analogy from yesterday, she didn’t have to cut the baby of elections into two but only because the PPP, which returned democracy to Guyana in 1992, decided that democracy was more important than coming out into the streets like the PNC to protest the traducing of the Constitution by Granger and Co.Does anyone out there believe the PNC would’ve been as patient with the patently ridiculous manoeuvres they deployed to delay the 3-month NCM elections date by a full year, if it were the PPP?? We saw the PNC in 1997 unleash violence in the streets when they only CLAIMED the elections were rigged – and forced the PPP to truncate their term of office by 2 years. Now once again, the PPP has gotten the short end of the stick for observing the norms of parliamentary democracy and not resorting to PNC-type actions.This PNC Government life has now ended…but don’t expect them to act in any way different than if they had just gotten a new mandate to govern. And that’s exactly how they’ll view the GECOM Chair’s date: as a licence for Granger to go even beyond the end of Feb date and be brazen enough to proclaim elections in May 2020. Imitating Burnham’s brazen post-1968 riggings.But today is a new day, where the US and western interests are now economic with the discovery of oil. They can’t afford to encourage an undemocratic government – especially when they’ve pulled out all the stops against one usurper next door in Venezuela. So, to their credit, the US, UK and the EU finally broken their silence. They fired the following broadside against the PNC Government:“However, we deeply regret that by surpassing September 18, the Government is currently in breach of the Constitution following its failure to adhere to the decisions of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on 18 June and its subsequent orders”.This situation comes at great cost to the people of Guyana. The prevailing political uncertainty undermines Guyanese institutions, compromises economic opportunities and delays development across all areas— including infrastructure, education, health, and social services. It also hinders our ability to support Guyana’s development needs.We therefore call upon the President to set an elections date immediately in full compliance with Guyana’s constitution”.But that can’t be any old date. “Full compliance” means elections by Sept 18. But, of course, that’s impossible. The PPP Commissioners suggested November.Nothing later will do!!…and what now??The PNC Executive – the President and Cabinet – is now illegal. The “Government” – which isn’t coterminous with the Executive— continues since there are governmental functions which must be maintained for the nation’s business to continue. In Guyana, the Executive has unfortunately has dominated the Government like a colossus – ever since Burnham created the “Executive Presidency” to pander to his megalomania – and folks conflate the two.Guyanese must look at the model at Westminster where Permanent Secretaries take care of the minutiae of quotidian governance. In any case, all of this is handled through explicit “Caretaker Conventions”, which Granger and company should get familiar with. What it means for sure is that all the so call “outreaches” must cease forthwith. And all those high-priced fancy SUV’s purchased since June 18, must be returned immediately.ExxonMobil would be well advised to delay first oil until AFTER the elections, so as not to be seen as giving any advantage to the caretaker Government.Caretakers can only MAINTAIN the property – not collect rentals to be used!!… GrangerGranger has ceased to be a “de jure” President, that is, existing as a result of law, and has become a “de facto” President – i.e. as a result of fact other than law.In his case, the fact of shamelessness!!
Dear Editor,Agriculture Minister Noel Holder’s unbelievably frank admission of ignorance made in the media on September 26, 2018, may have shocked many “…so they have now apparently secured some $30 billion bond, which the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) management has not seen, which the Agriculture Minister has not seen, and frankly speaking doesn’t really want to see” but not those who have been paying attention to the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) maladministration of our country.Editor, our nation expends enormous amounts of money and energy to elect an Executive President and his/her Administration; in 2015 we elected Head of State David Granger to serve in this Executive capacity, his first act was to establish a Ministry of the Presidency to handle all the Executive parts of his job. Granger undertook no sector of our economy, social aspect of life or other area as his personal responsibility, he created new Vice Presidents, new Ministries, new Ministers within old Ministries, new departments and chose to chair Cabinet without holding any portfolio.President Granger has effectively assigned himself the role of ‘ceremonial President”; he had tea with the Queen of England, attends heads of anything conferences and of late, is available to cut ribbons locally. The Head ofState also held his third annual press conference where it emerged that he had not read the ExxonMobil Production Sharing Agreement contract as of August 2018, he was “awaiting a briefing next month” – the single most important document to ever affect our nation since independence in 1966 and our President had not read it. Quo Vadis?Editor, the old adage of ‘actions have consequences’ is being borne out three years plus into this maladministration. Ministers ignorant of critical matters under their portfolio is the new norm; the action of hiring a crony to a top position and then hiring an expert to do the crony’s job has now duplicated itself at many Ministries and departments, most recently in the Department of Energy. How much longer can we, the taxpayers, carry this as our burden? This type of bureaucracy come with a hefty price tag, over 60 billion in new revenue collected by the GRA per annum and yet we cannot pay our teachers a much deserved increase in salary or our hard working GuySuCo employees their lawful severance.Editor, President Granger’s only meaningful actions have been his unilateral appointment of a chair for GECOM; his signing of the Cybercrime Bill of 2018 with clause 18.1 intact into law; his selective, costly and mostly unnecessary Commission of Inquiries (CoI); his refusal to hold a necessary CoI into the mysterious operation that led to the death of Guyana Defence Force Officer Pyle, as he chased People’s Progressive Party MP Charles Ramson Jr’s terrified wife through the streets of Georgetown and his policy suggestion that the ‘Carter Formula’ has outlived its usefulness and calling it a “recipe for disaster” – all of these actions point to a care for retention of political power.Editor, I must ask where is the vision to lead our country forward? Where are the policy documents, statements, speeches, indications?When asked about plans for GuySuCo, Minister Holder referred to a State paper presented in Parliament. Editor, this paper is long on rhetoric and bereft of detail, sadly it is a characteristic of all APNU/AFC Ministries and departments. This is no way to run a country.For I would much rather ‘Quo Vadis’ apply to comrade Granger than to our dear land of Guyana.Respectfully,Robin Singh
… agrees to consider Govt’s revised 10% proposalThe Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) has outrightly rejected a proposed 6 per cent increase in public servants wages and salaries for 2016, but has agreed to consider a subsequent proposal for a 10 per cent increase for persons earning below $99,000 per month.Government on Wednesday evening issued a public statement to this effect, and reiterated that its “proposal took into consideration the fundamental need for a restructured Public Service which included the adjustment of scales for wages and salaries; the implementation of a merit increment system; and a resolution of the issue of bunching.”According to the missive released by Reginald Brotherson, head of the Government’s negotiating team, “GPSU agreed to consider the Government’s final offer and indicated that a response will be forthcoming after a meeting of its General Council.”The two month long collective bargaining process concluded yesterday without a definite agreement in place, leaving the door open to a unilateral increases by government should the unions continue to reject the proposals.The negotiations were conducted within a two month period from June 22, 2016 to August 24, 2016.The initial proposal of the GPSU was for a 40 per cent across the board increase for public servants, but this was subsequently adjusted to 25 per cent. The Union had also demanded that allowances be included in the negotiations.Government responded by proposing that persons earning less than $100,000 be paid a 5.5 per cent increase while persons earning above $1M would only get a 1 per cent increase.The proposed 5.5 per cent offer was later increased to 6 per cent by Government, but this too was rejected by the union.According to Brotherson, the Government re-considered its position and a final offer was presented. This proposal by government, if accepted by the union, will see public servants earning below $99,000 getting a 10 per cent increase with the rate incrementally decreasing to a one per cent increase for those earning in excess of $1M.Brotherson, in his public missive on Wednesday, sought to stress that “It was pointed out to the GPSU that the GOG’s final offer for wages and salaries increases for Public Servants had taken into consideration the current socio-economic environment; the difficulty in agreeing to increases that would entail having to raise additional revenue and the unsustainability of any further addition to its offer with regard to the current and future budgets.”He said too that Government reiterated to the Union that its members were also the Government’s employees and that the Government was equally mindful of the need for financial relief for the workers under consideration.
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Arsenal are rumoured to be lining up a massive £25m bid for Lyon man Nabil Fekir.In Ligue 1 this season the 21-year-old forward has scored eight times and created six goals in 21 games for the French side who top the division, two points clear of Marseille and PSG.He has built a good relationship with goal machine Alexandre Lacazette and in December, Fekir’s dad said there was only one place his son was heading if he decided to jump ship mid-season in the January transfer window.‘If he leaves, it will be for Arsenal. It is the only club that can enable him to progress, with Arsene Wenger,” Mohamed Fekir claimed, insisting a transfer to Man City was out of the question because young Nabil was not about to move clubs and sit on the bench.Check him out in the video above.
1 Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa Arsenal and Liverpool have been told they will need to fork out £4million to sign goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.The Premier League duo are both keen on the Malaga No.1, according to Spanish website Fichajes.com.The Mexican international, who only joined Malaga from French side Ajaccio in August, would be available at the end of the season.Ochoa, 30, has struggled to make an impact at the Spanish club this season and is said to be open to a move to England.Neither club has made a formal offer to Malaga yet but both Arsene Wenger and Brendan Rodgers have been keeping tabs on the stopper following his eye-catching displays for Mexico in last year’s World Cup.