Drop-in Centre fire In keeping with commitments made to President David Granger, retired Colonel Windee Algernon on Tuesday handed over the report to Government with the preliminary findings into the recent fire at the State-run Drop-in Centre that claimed the lives of two young boys.According to the Government Information Agency (GINA), the report was handed over to Minister of State Joseph Harmon on Friday at the Ministry of the Presidency.Retired Commissioner, Colonel Windee Algernon handing over the preliminary report from the inquiry into the deadly Hadfield Street Drop-In Centre fire to Minister of State Joseph Harmon on FridayLast week, the Head of State ordered an inquiry into the incident in which six-year-old Antonio George and his two-year-old brother Joshua George were killed. Colonel Algernon was commissioned to conduct the probe to determine the circumstances surrounding the fire and make recommendations to prevent any recurrence.At the simple handing over ceremony on Friday, Minister Harmon, upon receiving the document, acknowledged that the preliminary report was submitted by July 22, in accordance with the Terms of Reference outlined for the Commission of Inquiry. He noted that the report will be passed on to President Granger for his perusal, while the final one will be sent to Cabinet for review when it is received.Meanwhile, as the probe into the tragic incident continues, the Head of State has declared that if anyone is found culpable of negligence then they will be held accountable.“If any persons are culpable of gross negligence or dereliction of duties, yes we will make a judgment as to whether they are fit to hold those positions and if you equate that with rolling of heads, then yes,” the President posited.Nevertheless, he outlined that the aim of the inquiry is to prevent a reoccurrence. “We need to find out what happened and prevent a reoccurrence. In investigating what occurred, if we find that there was gross dereliction of duties, yes persons who omitted to commit acts, which would have prevented that catastrophe will be punished and if the punishment proposed is that they be removed from their positions so be it,” Granger told reporters on the weekly televised programme, the Public Interest.Just after midnight on July 8, the two young brothers perished in a fire which occurred at the Drop-in Centre on Hadfield Street, Georgetown. According to reports, the elder brother Antonio was asleep in the dormitory when the fire started and as the younger brother Joshua was being taken out of the building by caregivers, he realised that his brother was not with him.The two-year-old managed to free himself from the grip of the caregiver and ran back into the burning building. The two brothers were then trapped in the building and their charred remains were subsequently recovered.Social Service Assistants Sandra Jones and Rupert Hinds, who were in charge of the 31 children at the Drop-in Centre, were given a chance to describe the events leading up to the tragic incident.According to Jones, who was in charge of the girls’ department in the upper flat of the Centre, said she noticed sparks emanating from a nearby electrical wire which quickly erupted into a flame and began spreading into an uncontrollable blaze.She said that she began awakening the girls, who then rushed out of the burning building to safety, while she tried to battle the flames with the fire extinguishers.“I was in the dorm upstairs and the girls already drop to sleep and whilst sitting down, I noticed the electrical wire on the wall, start giving this whizzing sound, and next thing I know, there’s a big bunch of fire all over the place. I wake the girls up and try to save as much of them I can. I saved all my girls. I got out all of the girls,” she related.However, Hinds, who was in charge of the boys, explained that when Jones alerted him to the fire, he tried to get the boys to safety, and then moved to assist Jones in taming the fire.Meanwhile, Director of the Child Care Protection Agency (CCPA), Ann Greene had disclosed that the two brothers along with three other siblings were taken into the care of the State two days before, following an investigation into allegations that they were neglected and abused.She relayed that as per routine, the CCPA took the children for medical attention the following day and it was confirmed by the medical certificate that the children were victims of neglect and maltreatment.Greene further stated that the Social Protection Ministry would take full responsibility for the tragic incident and bear the full cost of the funeral arrangements for the young children.
It all started with the biting of my nails. I couldn’t get to the core of the nail; sometimes,. Sometimes my fingers would bleed unknowingly because I bit too deep, too many times. One bad habit led to another until I realized that biting my nails was not that bad after all.I remember my neighbor’s eight year old daughter, Diamone, falling off a moving motorbike she had just gotten on. I ran to help the child up. She was lucky not to have been sitting fully on the bikemotorbike when it took off. After she was settled and no longer crying, I began checking her for any broken bones. It was then that I spotted specs of blood all over her blouse.“Oh My God, she is bleeding somewhere; there! There is blood on her shirt,” I heard the driver of the motorcycle shouting.Frantically I searched the child for any possible scrapes or bruises, but there weren’t any;. I couldn’t see where the blood was coming from. That left everyone standing in the crowd very confused. Bystanders began checking the ground where she had fallen, and still there was no clue where the blood came from.That was until I looked at my hands, my fingers. Each of my fingers was infected with puss and blood from the warts that had already burst. When the motorcyclist looked at my hands, he asked me what was wrong. He thought it was a medical condition.The biting of my nails was just a bad habit.Many months after my fingers began to look deformed due to my cannibalistic behavior my life took a down turn when I realized that I was not making enough money to survive. I was working as a professional, but my job could only cover school fees and some medical expenses. But my family and I were unable to gain weight – that meant we were not eating enough.I fell into depression, tried reaching out to my relatives, but they all had the same story as if they were reading sentences from the same book.“The country is hard, right now and I am not making much at work and there is a recession,” I was told over and over again. However, they said they would keep me in prayer. I tried to pray for myself instead and told them not to bother. God would listen to me because He knew my problem more than they did.I prayed and fasted and went to church religiously for a good six months. I stopped biting my nails and began twisting strands of my hair until I began noticing that bald spots were gradually appearing on my head. And then I met Square.Square was a carpenter in my community who came to help me fix a hole in my leaking roof. I noticed that he always smelled of smoke and had this creepy way of looking at me. He went from fixing a leak to becoming someone I could pour my heart out to. That was until the day he asked me to walk him to a secret location where he could go and “smoke.”Like a sleepwalker, I followed him. Not because I was curious, but I wanted to be free and okay about life just as he appeared to be. In a room filled with men and women who looked like society had easily pushed them off the face of the earth and this was the only place left for them to be, I saw some of the dirtiest, ugliest human beings I had ever seen. Drugs had consumed their time, interests and everything that could have helped get them a decent place to live.“This is my jue here oh, my old ma. She just came to sit with me small,” I was introduced by Square.They all seemed fine with the fact that I was clean, not interested in their taking drugs and timid at their stares. Somewhere during the hour I sat there, I felt a tap on my shoulder and when I turned to look at who was trying to get my attention, a wrapped up tube-like cigarette was pushed into my lips. I took a drag, inhaled as if I had been waiting for that moment.As months went by, so did my mind, my ability to work or even look after my family. I had stopped taking calls from concerned relatives who began hearing rumors that I was losing a lot of weight and looking very bad. I was inside a world that loved me, that soothed my thoughts and helped me accept what I could not change.My fingernails had become worse, though I had stopped biting them. The sores that were once there were now replaced with these odd looking colored warts and dry skin. My hands resembled rotten uncooked cow meat. My hair was no longer there, but the patches that remained had now become an imagemy children hated to see. I had become a total mess, but didn’t care; no one knew how much pain was inside of me, that I needed these drugs to keep me numb and isolated.I remained a drug addict for a complete five years. I had lost every pigment of my skin, body, shine, attractiveness and healthy look. I was mistaken for an AIDS patient rather than a drug addict.I didn’t care until one day I forgot about the food on the fire.It all started when I vaguely heard my children crying in the other room. I didn’t bother to check. Why? Because I had stopped caring about their cries for attention long ago. But I smelt smoke, a different type from the smell of my eyebrows burning whenever I took a hit, or the ‘Thai’ burning in its rolled up paper. This smoke smelled like rubber burning, but I was powerless to move. I sat there for what felt like ages until I felt some guys who all got high with me pulling me off my bench and dragging me into the fresh air. I was outside!In front of me stood a blaze of fire, it had engulfed the entire house. I could hear voices saying “there is their mother,” and another voice saying, “Chea, she looks bad. What is happening to her?” There were so many voices.It was then that I realized that I needed help and that is why I am sharing my story today.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
With less than two weeks before the coalition Government becomes illegal, former Speaker of the National Assembly and Attorney-at-Law Ralph Ramkarran has said that Guyana’s future seems to be uncertain owing to the fact that there is no clear indication when elections could be held.Referring to the meeting between President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, which yielded no results, Ramkarran said it was clear that the issue has now gone beyond what the Constitution says and means, as it relates to the passage of a no-confidence motion.In his weekly “Conversation Tree” blog, the prominent Attorney wrote that it was now clear more than ever that the President’s failure to fix a date for elections is because A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) intended to remain in office for as long as possible.“This is aided by the majority on the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) who have voted, and will no doubt continue to support, a new registration exercise. A nationwide, house-to-house registration exercise will last into next year,” he added, something that Jagdeo has stated repeatedly.Ramkarran, therefore, believes that if the APNU/AFC’s effort to hold political power succeeds, it will hold elections between May and August next year, when its term of office would have otherwise lawfully ended. With the no-confidence vote, it has now clearly become a matter of political life and death.“If the electoral list is the problem, the National Assembly can extend the life of the current list beyond April 30. The Elections Commission already has power to remove the names of persons who have died. The list of deceased persons is expected to be provided by the Registry of Births and Deaths.”He claimed that since 1992, systems accepted by all have been in place at polling stations to prevent unauthorised persons from voting. There is, therefore, little or no danger that impersonation at polling stations of persons who have left Guyana will take place.Ramkarran, therefore, concluded that none of the fears expressed by political parties about elections since 1992 have a basis in reality or have materialised. Only one party, according to him, has had a history of election rigging in Guyana and that party is the People’s National Congress (PNC).“And it was able to do so, because it held political power and was protected by the West. The fears about a ‘credible’ list, now being used as an excuse by the President for not calling elections, are politically manufactured for the purpose of delaying the elections,” he opined.SanctionsRamkarran said it was no secret that new elections were not going to be held willingly by the Government. But he said it must be reminded of the potential harm of taking Guyana down a path, which violates the rule of law and the Constitution of Guyana – which may incur international sanctions.“It appears that the Government is prepared to accept these consequences, because the delay is vital to its survival. This Government, unlike the last PNC Government between 1985 and 1992, takes its inspiration from Forbes Burnham, the Founder Leader of the PNC. PNC Governments led by Forbes Burnham survived elections rigging and authoritarian rule,” he added.He said the APNU/AFC no doubt believed that, like the PNC in the past, it could not only weather any storm that its violation of the Constitution incurred but that its very existence depended on it doing so.He suggested also that the Government may also be relying on the perceived sympathy with which it was viewed by Western capitals. Oil and the interests of oil producers, he noted, would be looming large in the calculations of the West in their decisions about Guyana.Despite this, however, concerns being expressed by countries about democracy in other countries are no longer considered to be matters of the internal affairs of the subject country. And that is the reason why sanctions are now imposed routinely against countries that violate constitutional order.Ramkarran used Venezuela as an example where severe international sanctions have been imposed. He said aside from the Government’s apparent grit to resist potential international sanctions, which it may be hoping that sympathy from the West may spare it, Guyana still faces a high degree of uncertainty.
A bout with the flu hasn’t affected Barry Bonds’ swing. Bonds hit his first home run of spring training, connecting in the fourth inning against Esteban Loaiza on Friday in the San Francisco Giants’ 5-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics in Scottsdale, Ariz. “He’s so good. It doesn’t take him long to find his stroke,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “I’ve seen it enough on the other side, it’s good to have it on my side.” Bonds was sidelined last weekend by a bug that ravaged the Giants. But since returning to the lineup Tuesday, he is 4for7 with a homer and twodoubles. He said he is mostly over the flu and that his oft-injured knees are feeling pretty good. Russ Ortiz (Montclair Prep) made his first start of the spring for San Francisco and pitched three scoreless innings. He allowed four hits but was helped out by two double plays and is making a strong bid to be the team’s No. 5 starter. Ortiz, who has allowed just two runs in 8
WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney aggressively challenged the motives of congressional Democrats on Tuesday, as the House and Senate prepared to consider a war-spending bill that would order troops to be withdrawn from Iraq beginning later this year. In separate appearances that served as a prelude to an inevitable veto showdown, Bush and Cheney accused Democrats of political opportunism in forging ahead with a $124 billion measure that sets a timetable for leaving Iraq. “Instead of fashioning a bill I could sign, the Democratic leaders chose to further delay funding our troops, and they chose to make a political statement,” Bush said Tuesday morning before leaving for New York. “That’s their right. But it is wrong for our troops and it’s wrong for our country.” Cheney was even tougher as he spoke to reporters after a private weekly lunch for Republican senators. He lashed out at Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, who delivered stinging comments of his own Monday, portraying Bush as being in denial about the war and saying Cheney had tarnished his office. “What’s most troubling about Senator Reid’s comments yesterday is his defeatism,” said Cheney. “And the timetable legislation that he is now pursuing would guarantee defeat. Maybe it is a political calculation. “It is cynical to declare that the war is lost because you believe it gives you political advantage,” Cheney said. Democrats confident Democrats, bolstered by what they see as strong public sentiment for the administration to wind down the war, were confident they could win approval of the measure in the House and in the Senate on Thursday. While acknowledging that Bush would send the bill back, they said they were determined to force him to formally reject legislation that provides more money for the military than sought by the White House but puts conditions on its use. “For the first time, the president will have to face up, will have to be accountable for this war in Iraq,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “And he doesn’t want to face that reality.” Reid fired back directly at Cheney on Tuesday, appearing at the same microphones just moments after the vice president. “I’m not going to get into a name-calling match with the administration’s chief attack dog,” he said. Defending the legislation up for a vote this week, he said, “We believe the troops should get every penny they need and we have put our money where our mouth is with supplemental appropriations, but we believe there must be a change of direction in the war in Iraq.” Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, is scheduled to visit Capitol Hill today to ask that lawmakers allow more time for the troop increase initiated by the administration to work. Members of the House are set to hear from him in a closed briefing this afternoon just hours before the spending measure is to reach the floor. He is then scheduled to brief senators. Democrats were skeptical he would change many minds. “He’s the commander,” said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Armed Services Committee. “We always know that commanders are optimistic about their policies.” Petraeus’ briefing comes in a week when war-related developments are not running in the administration’s favor. Nine U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq on Monday and 20 others wounded. And members of the family of Pat Tillman, the professional football player and Army Ranger accidentally killed by other U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, appeared at an emotional House hearing Tuesday and accused the Pentagon and administration of misrepresenting the circumstances of his death. Benchmarks set Under the legislation before Congress, the United States would establish benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet to show progress in securing the country. If the president determines the Iraqis are complying, he would be directed to begin removing troops by Oct. 1, with a goal of having most combat forces out within six months. If the president concludes that the Iraqis are not making progress on the benchmarks, the pullout would begin earlier, by July. The House narrowly approved its version of the spending measure last month when it required a full withdrawal by fall of 2008 to mollify anti-war Democrats. Several House Democrats said they would support the latest version of the legislation even though the withdrawal date is now in the form of a goal. “It is the best we can do under the circumstances,” said Rep. Hank Johnson Jr., a first-term Democrat from Georgia. While Republicans have argued strongly against the Democratic-sponsored Iraq spending plan, they have put forth little resistance to the actual legislation, saying they are simply waiting for the president’s veto so lawmakers can try again to come up with a war-spending bill. Enemy would benefit Discussing the Democratic approach on “The Charlie Rose Show” taped Tuesday, Bush was asked what evidence he had that a hard withdrawal date would have a negative impact in Iraq. “Just logic,” Bush replied. “I mean, you say we start moving troops out, don’t you think an enemy is going to wait and adjust based upon an announced timetable of withdrawal?” In his criticism of Reid, Cheney noted that the Democratic leader had said the administration’s troop increase ran counter to the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. The study group said a surge might be advisable if commanders thought it would be useful. But Cheney failed to mention that it also recommended a withdrawal of combat units by the end of the first quarter of 2008, about the same time envisioned in the legislation. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!