News Round UP: Week Ending 8/20/16

Sports: Rio Olympics (Race for Immortality)

The historic ‘triple triple’ came one giant step closer as Usain Bolt completed the second part of his Rio assignment by securing a hat-trick of Olympic 200m titles in typical style.

In the pre-race build up, the Jamaican global icon had spoken of having “a crack” at his own seven-year world record, but in truth injuries this year have impacted on his fitness, and the damp, slightly chilly conditions inside the Olympic Stadium (on Thursday night), probably precluded any realistic bid.

However, as he has done for so much of his astounding career in the event he calls his “favourite”, he proved so much better than the rest.

He stopped the clock in 19.78 – coincidentally exactly the same time as he clocked in the semi-finals – to strike gold by an emphatic margin of 0.24 from Andre De Grasse, who secured Canada’s first medal in the event at an Olympic Games since Percy Williams struck gold at the 1928 Amsterdam Games.

In a blanket finish for the bronze, Christophe Lemaitre of France was given the verdict in 20.12 despite recording exactly the same time to the hundredth as Adam Gemili of Great Britain. One hundredth further behind in fifth was Churandy Martina of the Netherlands, who like Bolt was appearing in his third successive Olympic 200m final.

However, in truth – despite the loud cheers from the French contingent celebrating Lemaitre’s medal – the race was all about Bolt and perhaps he best summed up everyone’s thoughts in his own words.

“I don’t need to prove anything else, he said of securing his third Olympic 200m gold medal and eighth in total. “What else can I do to prove to the world I am the greatest?”

With the eight finalists introduced to the crowd to the sound of loud rock guitar music, all eyes were on Bolt, who mouthed the words “are you ready?” to the camera before what many anticipate will be his final Olympic appearance in any individual event.

From the outset, Bolt – drawn in lane six – took control of the race and after 50 metres, he was already rapidly closing the stagger on Lemaitre and Martina, the two athletes on his immediate outside.

Into the home straight, Bolt had already opened up his significant lead on the rest of the field with the remaining seven athletes strung out evenly across the track.

As the giant Jamaican entered the latter stages with a grimace, it was clear he was doggedly determined to post an impressive time to seal his individual legacy at the Olympic Games.

He flashed past the line to the acclaim of a raucous Olympic Stadium in 19.78 – much slower than his two previous gold medal-winning times in Beijing 2008 (19.30) and London 2012 (19.32) – yet tonight was genuinely all about winning and creating history, once more.

De Grasse, who had cheekily eye-balled Bolt when setting a Canadian record of 19.80 in the semi-finals, was the one athlete to significantly emerge from the pack in the final 60 metres or so to take silver and add to the 100m bronze he snared last Sunday.

With the naked eye it was impossible to separate Lemaitre and Gemili at the finish line, but it was the former athlete who was awarded the gong by just three thousandths of a second to secure France’s first Olympic medal in the event since 1960.

Gemili, who lay prostrate on the track after the result flashed up on the scoreboard, admitted he was “gutted” to miss out on a medal by such a fine margin.

Martina was officially given 20.13 – although in reality he was only just three thousandths behind Gemili – to claim fifth spot in a second successive Olympic 200m final.

World leader LaShawn Merritt of the USA, competing in his sixth race in Rio having earlier earned 400m bronze, may have been a little fatigued and had to settle for sixth in 20.19. For the record, Panama’s Alonso Edward, the 2009 world silver medallist, claimed seventh in 20.23 – the fastest time ever recorded for seventh in a 200m race. Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev ran 20.43 to place eighth.



St. Vincent

 The main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), is warning that if the Cybercrime Act 2016, passed in Parliament last weekend, is assented to, it would take St. Vincent and the Grenadines “several steps backward”.

The law was passed amidst protest by the opposition and regional and international freedom of expression advocates that it would have a chilling effect on free speech.

The opposition has also argued that the law contains vague language and excessive penalties and some clauses are targeted at critics of the government who use the internet to engage in political activism.  The government has rejected these allegations.

The NDP did not participate in the select committee that reviewed the draft as part of its on-going protest of the results of the December 2015 general elections won by the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP).

In a statement, NDP’s president and Opposition Leader, Arnhim Eustace noted that for the act to become working law, it must be published in the Government Gazette and assented to by the Governor General.

“If that process is completed, the Ralph Gonsalves regime will have succeeded in taking St Vincent and the Grenadines several steps backward: back to the dark days of colonialist repression; back to the days of failed authoritarianism in the Caribbean; back to the voicelessness of slavery,” Eustace said.

“It is inconceivable that in the second decade of the 21st century, an administration that claims to be progressive; an administration that claims to be interested in creating a modern society; an administration that claims to seek to protect its citizens, is forcing through — in the face of widespread, bipartisan and non-partisan international opposition — a backward, archaic, draconian and dangerous law”.

Eustace described the legislation as “a law that is riddled with practical and philosophical inconsistencies and discrepancies; a law that induces fear in the populace; a law that infringes upon, and indeed, damages, constitutional rights and freedoms,” he said..

Shortly after the law was passed last Friday, four regional and international press freedom organisations, including the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF), issued a joint statement expressing alarm.

But by Monday, the number of international organizations signing the joint statement had increased to 22 and Eustace said “condemnation of this law has come from far and wide.”

He noted that before the passage of the law, the RSF called parts of the bill “extremely damaging.

“The Canadian-based Centre for Law and Democracy says the government was ‘rushing ahead with

seriously problematical legislation’ which might punish ‘perfectly innocent browsing activity’.

“And the International Press Institute said that the law opens ‘a back door to silencing unwanted opinions or punishing journalistic work that makes… politicians, uncomfortable’,” Eustace noted.

The NDP leader said he would like Vincentians to note carefully, and understand that such a thing has never happened before in the history of the island..

“At no time have we ever seen this level and volume of international condemnation of a law that a government of this country was about to pass. It is an unprecedented intervention by those parties and agencies who truly seek freedom and human rights as basic human values, given by God and enshrined in our constitution.

“But these unprecedented interventions are happening for a simple reason — it is because the law itself is an unprecedented attack on the basic freedoms of citizens in this day and age; an attack by an illegitimate regime, that simply seeks to protect itself from criticism, prevent revelation and scrutiny of its actions so as to continue to rule with impunity — and without accountability.

In the face of these unprecedented condemnations, the bill was slightly modified before its final reading, but the modifications were of no fundamental benefit.

Eustace said the Cybercrime Act, as passed, “is still a dangerous, backward and faulty piece of legislation; a law that is repressive, and explicitly intended by a spiteful and vindictive regime, to inflict harm on citizens of this country; a law that would protect and keep a ruling elite, a select few, from being exposed and held accountable, should they break other laws.”

Eustace asked if it was any wonder, therefore, that the Gonsalves government has failed for the past 15 years to bring integrity legislation to Parliament or that  the Freedom of Information Act 2003 still has not been brought into force..

“The absence of each is a blindfold over the eyes of the citizen. Is it any surprise that in 2011 this regime amended the Criminal Procedure Code so that citizens can no longer bring private criminal prosecutions, unless they have the permission of the DPP?

“What we see from all of this is that this regime has steadily and systematically stacked the weight of the law against you, the citizens of this country. And with the passage of this Cybercrime Act, with the unprecedented access it gives the regime to your cell phones, your devices and your computers, the regime’s ability to intrude on your lives goes from constitutional, measured and reasonable to invasive, unconstitutional and dangerous,” Eustace said.

He said the Cybercrime Act is unacceptable in any modern democratic society, adding that the NDP unequivocally condemns its passage.

“What is the price of the fundamental rights and freedoms of a people? What assault on our selves; on our nation and on our God-given rights becomes too much to bear? When do we say: enough – no more!?

“These are not rhetorical questions; neither are they questions posed to the NDP supporters among us. These are questions that you, the citizens of this once-free country must consider in your private moments, in your deepest thoughts about the future and what it holds for you and for this nation. And if you, the citizen, want a free, fair and prosperous country for your children and grandchildren, you will join with those of us who seek freedom; with those of us who seek fairness; with those of us who seek justice – and you will say: ‘Enough. This is also my country.

“This blessed land does not belong to a chosen few. It belongs to us all,” Eustace said.




 Prime Minister Gaston Browne has warned government legislators in the Senate to either get on board with the Statutory Corporation General Provisions bill or be axed.

The Senators have expressed reservations about some aspects of the legislation and Prime Minister Brown said he would have to be convinced on the need for changes or else the government legislators would have to support the measure.

“We will give them a hearing and if there are any concerns that are raised we will make the adjustments. If they are just speculating like others are, then clearly it will go back unchanged and they will have to pass it or resign”.

The legislators say they are not comfortable with Claude 7 of the bill that reads “ The Cabinet may, if it considers in the best interest of public administration transfer an employee on secondment from one statutory corporation to another…or to the public service”.

It adds that an employee may be seconded to a post of equivalent or similar rank in another statutory corporation or to a non-established post in the public service.

Prime Minister Browne, who defended the inclusion of this clause, disagreed with those legislators who termed the bill as a “dictatorship bill, saying the intention is to improve corporate governance

“Is that a matter of power because at the end of the day we can move them, no matter what they say we can,” he said, adding “ they still have jobs, their perks remain unchanged, their salary remain unchanged…

“So they are looking at this issue from a myopic position, not looking at the whole issue of the governance of the country,” he said, noting if the arguments are accepted “then we can’t move our ambassadors either, we can’t rotate them.

“We are saying that senior public servants, those who fall under the Integrity in Public Life Act must be subject to some form of rotation as a form of good corporate governance,” he added.




A number of United States-based Caribbean organizations have joined a campaign to exonerate Jamaica’s first national hero, Marcus Garvey.

The Washington-based Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS), said Caribbean Diaspora organizations signing on the campaign include Caribbean Georgia; Caribbean American Advancement Foundation; Caribbean Political Action Committee; Foundation for the Exoneration of Marcus Garvey; Jamaica Association of Maryland; Jamaica Nationals Association; and Rebuild Dominica.

“The campaign offers an unprecedented opportunity for engagement among civil rights actors, research and education institutions, and the Caribbean Diaspora community,” said Jamaican Dr. Claire Nelson, ICS founder and president.

During the 100-day campaign, Nelson said Caribbean Diaspora organizations will, among other things, organize cultural expositions, fora and lectures “to shed light on the legacy of Garvey and provide support for this effort to right a wrong.”

Nelson said this “wrong” has “long been a thorn in the side of people of African descent and especially Caribbean Americans, whose ancestors immigrated to the US through Ellis Island (in New York) almost 100 years ago.”

Nelson said the campaign builds on activities, over the past two decades, organized by the Universal Negro Improvement Association that was founded by Garvey; the Foundation for the Exoneration of Marcus Garvey; the National Association of Jamaican and Supportive Organizations; and ICS, among others.

Nelson said that Garvey’s family will hold a press conference later on Wednesday at the National Press Club in Washington “to formally announce their petition to the White House for a posthumous Presidential Pardon.”

She said the Garvey family, under the leadership of Dr. Julius W. Garvey, a medical doctor and youngest son of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, and several lawyers who have been advising the family on a pro bono basis and others will celebrate Garvey’s birthday and kick-off of the campaign in support of the petition.

Nelson said the press conference is expected to be attended by leaders of the Caribbean Diaspora and several US Congressional Black Caucus members, “who are joining the call for Garvey’s name to be cleared of the 1923 charges with a Presidential Pardon.”

In Jamaica. Nelson said celebrations for the birthday will begin with a Floral Tribute at the National Heroes Park in Kingston, the capital, to be attended by the Governor General and political leaders.

She said that, on June 24, Julius W. Garvey, Harvard University Law Professor Charles Ogletree and others “submitted a petition requesting a presidential pardon be granted to Marcus Mosiah Garvey to exonerate his 1923 mail fraud charge.”

“A pardon is being called for on the grounds that Marcus Garvey was targeted by the US government and J. Edgar Hoover [the late, former US Attorney General} for his political activity as a leader of the Pan-African movement,” Nelson said.

“His charges and conviction effectively ended his political movement and eventually led to his deportation back to Jamaica. The family, 93 years later, is now seeking justice for Marcus Garvey with their campaign to have his charges exonerated.”

Julius Garvey said “justice can be delayed but cannot be denied,” noting that, in 1927, President Coolidge commuted Marcus Garvey’s sentence, “an act that was supported by nine of the 12jurors who voted to convict.”

“However, the commutation still left Marcus Garvey’s conviction in place,” Dr. Garvey said.

ICS said there have been two prior US presidential posthumous pardons: Bill Clinton’s pardon of Lt. Henry Ossian Flipper and George W. Bush’s pardon of Charles Winters.

ICS said both were pardoned “because their wrongful convictions were racially and politically motivated.

“Similarly, Garvey’s legal team is asserting his conviction was motivated by a desire on the part of the federal government to discredit, disrupt and destroy Garvey’s civil rights movement,” it said.

It also said Garvey was “executed through court surveillance and deception, with undercover agents posting as Garvey supporters.”

Additionally, ICS said Garvey’s conviction was “aided by judicial proceedings that have been condemned as factually unsound, and politically and racially motivated”.


Sports: International

The IAAF is exploring tightening the rules that allow athletes to switch the country they represent in track and field.

Sebastian Coe’s IAAF leadership has discussed the issue during the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and “transfer of allegiance” is on the agenda for Saturday’s council meeting, the sport’s governing body revealed to The Associated Press.

On the eve of the Olympics, the IAAF allowed 85 athletes to compete for new countries, including 12 now on the Bahrain team after previously representing African or Caribbean nations.

“It is time to review the transfer of allegiance rules to see if they are still applicable to today,” the IAAF told the AP on Monday. “It’s like many of the IAAF rules; they need to be reviewed over a period of time. It is right to review these rules now.”

Bahrain’s first Olympic gold medal was won Monday by Ruth Jebet in the 3,000-metre steeplechase. Jebet transferred her sports nationality to the tiny Gulf island kingdom three years ago from Kenya.

“There are so many athletes in Kenya,” the 19-year-old Jebet said, explaining her decision. “In Bahrain I get the chance to go to school.”

Andrew Fisher competed in the 100 metres for Bahrain after being among those athletes to have their transfer of allegiance confirmed in July. The 24-year-old former Jamaican has said he would remain living on the Caribbean island and had only visited Bahrain once.

Fisher hasn’t masked the fact that he went in search of a new nation to secure a place at the Olympics because he felt he could not qualify for the Jamaican team, which is headed by Usain Bolt.

“It was a decision that took months to come to,” Fisher told the Jamaica Observer newspaper recently. “I love Jamaica and didn’t think I could live anywhere else.

“The Jamaican team right now is a hard one to make, and we all have ambitions to compete at the highest level, and this was one way I saw where I could fulfil that ambition.”

Neither Fisher nor Jebet had previously appeared in an Olympics. If they had, IOC rules would allow them to represent their nations at the Olympics if they had been competing under their new flag for three years. The IAAF has similar eligibility rules for its international competitions but with flexibility to hasten nationality changes.

In soccer, players cannot switch countries once they have played in a competitive senior international game.

The IAAF Council is set to explore whether it is right to allow athletes to find a new nation to represent if they feel the depth of talent in their original country is considered too strong to qualify for competitions. The IAAF could demand a greater show of commitment to the athlete’s new country, with exceptions for refugees or people who move due to relationships.

The move by the IAAF to look at new rules comes at a time when nationality switches are prompting extra attention — and sometimes ridicule — from fans.

The Qatari men’s handball team for Rio is almost entirely made up of European-born players attracted by the financial rewards gas-rich Qatar offers in a relatively cash-strapped sport.

Some are in the bizarre position of competing against their original homelands, including Bertrand Roine, who won the world championship with France in 2011 but competed against France for Qatar last week.

“The worst feeling was during the national anthem. Ah, but what can I do?” Croatia-born Marko Bagaric said after Qatar’s game against his former countrymen. “Qatar gave me the opportunity to play in the Olympic Games. It is the dream of any sportsman.”

Chinese-born players dominate table tennis worldwide and competed in Rio not just for China, but at least a dozen more countries including Turkey, Canada and Germany. The 53-year-old Li Xianlian was a world champion for China in 1983 but was still competing in Rio this month, her third Olympic appearance for Luxembourg.

In the post-Soviet world, nationalities are particularly fluid for the oil-producing nation of Azerbaijan, which in Rio has fielded gymnasts from Ukraine, wrestlers from Iran and a boxer from Cuba.

Sitting out a period of ineligibility was no problem for gold medal-winning weightlifter Nijat Rahimov, who used his two-year ban for doping to complete a switch from his native Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan, another former Soviet country that pays generously for medals won.



Prime Minister Andrew Holness, says the Government is strengthening initiatives to tackle the threat of international banks ending their correspondent banking relationships with local financial institutions.

In order to reduce reputational risks and be in compliance with international regulations, particularly relating to criminal activity, such as money laundering, fraud and terrorist financing, international banks have threatened to cut ties with banks in the region in a de-risking move.

Holness, addressing a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday, said he considers the issue “a clear and present danger”.

He noted that the Government is working assiduously to lobby banking counterparts in the United States, as well as to engage local banks on ways to mitigate the threat.

Holness added that the Government has held a series of consultations with stakeholders and has been working closely with banks to ensure compliance with international standards. He said he has also met with the Bank of Jamaica and the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, to facilitate further discussion on the matter.

“At CARICOM, all the leaders agree that we would make a concerted effort to lobby the United States on ensuring that the correspondent banking issue does not de-stabilise the fiscal and economic growth security of the countries,” he said.

The Prime Minister emphasised that countries in the region must move quickly to ensure that their legislative and regulatory frameworks align as much as possible with international banking requirements.

“The process is ongoing and I think that there is an evolving understanding on the part of the US regulators about the Jamaican challenges and the threats that de-risking poses,” he said.

Holness also commended local banks for initiatives already taken to mitigate the risks.

Correspondent banking involves banks in large countries facilitating certain transactions for other banks. This may include wire transfers, business transactions, deposits and gathering of documents on behalf of the other financial institution.

CARICOM has indicated that it will be hosting a global conference in the Caribbean aimed at strengthening this advocacy.



 Food manufacturers from across the region have been encouraged to strengthen food safety methods to achieve a greater level of international market access and trade.

During a two-day workshop here, representatives from across the region were urged to raise their standards.

The sub-regional workshop on “Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) Plan Development and Implementation” was attended by private sector participants from Guyana, Haiti, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

Course Coordinator, Microbiologist Dr Melinda Hayman said participants at the end of the workshop would leave with an understanding of how to implement a HACCP plan, which is internationally accepted as the best means of ensuring food safety.

The sub-regional HACCP training and the provision of Technical Assistance to Private Sector Companies is the result of one action from the 10th EDF SPS Project ‘Support to the Caribbean Forum of the ACP States in the Implementation of Commitments Undertaken Under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA): Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS)’.

The SPS Project, funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the Barbados Delegation of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and its partner agencies, seeks to enable CARIFORUM States to capitalise on international trade opportunities.

IICA as lead implementing agency seeks to address gaps and deficiencies in three major areas – legislation, coordination and capacity building.

At the opening of the workshop, the IICA Representative in Trinidad and Tobago, Gregg Rawlins, said the low level of compliance with food safety regulations and other SPS standards presents a challenge for CARIFORUM exporters of agri-food products from achieving a greater level of international market access and trade.

“All countries must comply with SPS Measures in order to successfully export their products to international markets,” he said, adding, “therefore, companies involved in the manufacturing, processing or handling of food products should adopt this system to minimize or eliminate food safety hazards in their product. “

Rawlins said that the Institute had decided to focus on the private sector with a “timely and important” workshop by contracting the Washington DC-based Grocery Manufacturers Association Science and Education Foundation (GMA SEF) to build HACCP capacity.

The workshop launched the second phase of that capacity building, which began with training of regional trainers.

The private sector workshop is being conducted by Food Technologists Janelle Yarde-Blackman and Melissa Agbeko who were trained during the first phase of IICA’s efforts to build regional capacity in HACCP.


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