Thursday, November 28, 2013

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

by Mark Jacobs

December's book is an interesting first book comprising a collection of vignettes taken from his various blog postings, primarily when he went to Haiti to teach urban agriculture to those suffering in the aftermath of the big hurricane.  (It is quite alarming to Google and see there have been Hurricanes in Haiti since 2008 which have not allowed the people to get back up on their feet.)
It seemed ironic that as I got to the end where the punchline of the book dwelled - nice touch - one of the Sunday papers had an article about how the English slavemasters made sure they were adequately 'compensated' for the loss of their slaves by such an extraordinary and large amount their decendents are still living off the proceeds - Gladstone the father of the ex-British Prime Minister got the largest payment-- about 83million pounds in today's terms! Even the current British Prime Minister's family has benefited in the past from these 'dirty payments'.  Of course, it is a matter of perspective - the English would tell you it was a hard job getting those lazy slaves to work and they deserve/d compensation!  Likewise in 'The West on Trial' after the bauxite company got the English to give them the land free or dirt cheap - they held Burnham to owe astonishingly high payments as reparation.  Interesting how the Power-Brokers hold the Law over our heads when it is in their favour and  ignore it when it suits them.

I am thinking how the WTO make the ignorant who muscle their way up to power, sign agreements which cannot be rescinded as Governments change and do the Pontius Pilate thing of saying -- your country  made the agreement even though we know it to a ridiculous deal for the country and we will hold you to it! The penalties from breaking such a contract mean that any new Government coming in would be ostracised and not be allowed to sign any others!  Australia and Canada whose mining companies are probably causing major environmental destruction worldwide have recently demurred from enacting climate change Laws.  Like slavery they are profiting from something causing immense, unrecorded and long-lasting misery but would probably take the high ground and demand compensation for a cease order! Ok-- totally strayed off topic-- sorry Mark - but I know you'll agree with me! I am totally in favour of the British Law for Companies-- those found guilty of Bribery doing business out of Britian will be tried in Britian-- well, I say the same-- those multinational companies who come into poor countries with weak and/or unenforceable laws ought to be tried in their counrties-- maybe that's why these countries are not 'signing up' to Environmental Laws?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A word on economic refugees... brain clicked awake at 3am to catch a BBC report of a Nigerian man on Hunger Strike at a detention centre near Heathrow.  I confess I do not have much sympathy for him as Nigeria can hardly be described as dangerous to live in. His contention was that the Boka Haram had him on their Hit List.  The British have wisely learnt to not release these types of refugees into general circulation as their laws do no prevent him from using their money and social services to fight against deportation!

A Scottish woman trying to help him said he was too weak to speak to her on the phone but that the British would stick his ass on a plane accompanied by someone with enough medical knowledge to ensure he was alive when the plane touched down in Nigeria. Well good on you Britain! Now I wish you and your fellow North Americans would extent the same courtesy to the other Third World people hell-bent on screwing over and selling off their countries by fair means or foul -- usually foul-- then going to your countries to enjoy their ill-gotten gains and retire in peace where things and services work. And can I say-- you are very welcome to the scum!

We have half our Parliament, holding foreign passports and/or property in your countries; the younger ones having contributed little or nothing towards developing the Health Services, going to have their children in your countries-- that is the height of ludicrous!  I very strongly feel if EVERYONE knows that there is no OUT, that if you are sick you have to use the local services maybe, just maybe they would start paying attention to improving conditions. But of course your 'elites' collaborate with our 'elites' and leave the rest of us with little or nothing - small wonder then you and your services are over-run.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

That's how you do it.. money, patience and ploddingly hard work!

Yaay, happy to shout out good news. Today's papers have a very good photograph of the first locally trained ER specialist. The local guy is standing central and a little forward and standing behind him are the four American doctors/educators from Vanderbilt University, Tennessee. It is such a great photo as is graphically represents what genuine assistance means. The local guy 'made it' with enormous help from the overseas people; of course he must be one of the many talented locals willing to stay back and fight the good fight and I am glad he has been given the opportunity to do so. 

I can't even begin to imagine the cost of setting up a master's program to US standards locally in terms of personnel and resources but am grateful that one out of the three locals made it to the end-- and was rewarded (?) with being promoted to head of department in Emergency care.  Surely THIS is the way to get ourselves out of the hole we find ourselves in and start getting rid of square pegs in round holes. The good news being that several more students are entering the program and hope, really hope that our local people can eventually shoulder most of the training - that's the way to do it. It has taken three long years, many young American doctors coming down to support the American doctor stationed here and God knows what else-- but success! Guyana would be surely richer for it.
Canadian doctors are setting up an Asthma program, there is currently an obstetrics program and a family medicine program on its way.

Friday, November 15, 2013

"plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose"

The above quote was a favourite of our first dictator, Burnham.  It is a French epigram meaning "the more it changes, the more it's the same thing".  Gerald Durrell in his 1954 book 'Three Singles to Adventure' decried the Guyanese propensity for making grandiose promises and not delivering. Foreigners/investors/exploiters years later have discovered the same annoying trait to the extent that they walk with their own workers to do menial chores as they claim Guyanese cannot be trusted!  It is basically The Peter Principle on a grander scale due to lack of people/education.

So by chance I happened to be reading about Waste Hierarchy, based on the European Union's rules for waste management. Now some very sensible people worked out the Stages to reduce the amount of waste that threatens us all on a large scale -- non-biodegradable waste can linger in the environment almost infinitely and/or then breakdown to cause further damage, poisoning the soil and water supplies in addition to causing Climate Change and its devastating effects-- witness the 'worse storm ever' in the Philippines.  These stages are - initially to try to reduce producing waste, re-using the product- either for its initial purpose or an innovative new purpose, recycling the product, other forms of recycling such as energy recycling ( Sweden currently leads the field - producing energy from waste- 50% from household waste - generating as much energy as 1.1 million cubic metres of oil) and then finally - responsible disposal - not just digging a hole and dumping the waste to rot - but lining the sides and base to prevent leaching of waste 'juices' from contaminating ground water, hopefully harvesting the methane produced and preventing pests from breeding.

Guyana in its wisdom and propensity for spending 'big money' on projects they are barely able to understand are diving headlong into the THIRD step - a recycling plant. To give some background, we have a lingerie shop called 'Secrets of Victoria', an opticians called 'Lenscrafter'- presumably one of the owners is called Len, and not to be undone... adisgruntled technician who used to work for them went off and set up shop as 'Lens Optical Designers' - there have been numerous ads in the papers taken out by companies who are keen to inform the reading Public that a Company with their misspelt name - is NOT them. 
So not unsurprisingly, a Guyanese living in Canada woke up to the idea of using a Canadian recycling company's name to persuade the Government to spent U$30 million( thinking about it-- I must be worng-- must be 30 million Guyanese-- U$150,000? always get mixed up with the noughts!) to open a recycling plant. The bona fide company in question told a local newspaper,opposed to the government, that a plant for this size of the population should be in the region of $3million ( where the 27 million going??). They did not point out that there are two other necessary steps before getting to recycling and both involve educating the Public-- and most likely the ignorant officials who think throwing other people's money is the answer to Life's problems.
Brings back memories of Mr 10%.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


So we had our first American-styled random shooting by a nutter, allegedly in a cocaine-induced paranoia state. His three children issued an apology to the victims - the first a Policeman who ran on the scene without any protective gear or back-up apparently operating without a plan!
It has been pointed out that a gun licence as recent as 2011 was issued to this man although he had a history of strange behaviour which would lead one to question his mental state.
The chickens have come home to roost where progressive Lawlessness is impinging in the lives of ordinary citizens - now making it difficult to go about your business in peace.
I really believe that Civil laws need to be re-written incorporating some form for restitution to the victims - in this case, presumably a miner building a hotel in Bartica and randomly shooting people with dependents - I think there are about 8 children without a parent as a result- would have resources that should be given to support these children.  There are just too many cases where the State fines the culprit  but the victims go uncompensated and the Culprit is free to repeat his/her actions.
This irresponsible attitude of bullying one's way is setting a wrong standard-- starting from the Top. If Human Rights are not respected then you would not get the Public's confidence to follow Laws and a near state of anarchy would rule. This I think is the main 'push factor' in Guyana.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sustainable or not?

The week opened with the Headline that Guyana was in danger of losing 20 million from Norway as apparently Norway could not figure out how the agreement to pay for standing primary virgin forest gelled with the upsurge in Mining and Forestry- apparently the only thing bringing in Foreign Currency in spite of widespread illegal practices in that sector.  The newly-created post of Ministry of Natural Resources by the young Minister possessing an executive MBA, also the nephew-in-law of the former Champion of the Earth and being ably advised by a Cambridge Master's graduate in Environment should more than satisfy those pesky Norwegians, who for some strange reason are not accepting local figures but instead using GIS technology to map out the extent of possible deforestation. The fact that there are only 31% of original forest left standing in the World doesn't seem to sink in -- but then again conflict of interest links with various 'miners' linked to those in 'power' whether in government or opposition might have something to do with the selected blindness.
The week ended with the revelation that the Chinese may be getting a fisheries deal - even though the local fishermen have found evidence of declining stock and why on earth would a deal be struck with a people possessing much better technology than we can monitor and a terrible history of disregard for wildlife and environmental concerns?  Would THAT deal also be struck under the Ministry of Natural Resources I wonder?  IF not-- which and who is making these decisions? Exactly how safe IS our Natural Resources in their hands? Thinking about it, not only ours but the World's as the biodiversity is something still to celebrate--just the governance issue which keep sidelining the rest of the population in short-term fixes--