Caribbean News Round-up

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PNP hurting itself

Jamaica PM, Portia Simpson-Miller
Jamaica PM, Portia Simpson-Miller

[Jamaica Observer] – AT least one political analyst believes that Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller’s decision not to go to the polls before year-end is a disadvantage to the governing People’s National Party (PNP). From the increased activities of the PNP over the last five weeks, it was clear that the party was heading for a mid-December election.

But on Sunday, Simpson Miller, the PNP president, told orange-clad Comrades gathered for a mass rally in Black River, St Elizabeth, that it was important for newly enumerated young people to be given the opportunity to exercise their voting franchise, which was never a factor since the party went on the campaign trail.

“Comrades, based on the soundings I have been doing around the country, I’m convinced that the youth of Jamaica should be given an equal opportunity to have a say in how their country is governed. Many young Jamaicans just turned 18 years old and are now on the new voters’ list [to be] published on November 30 I’m told.

They should be allowed to exercise their right to vote in the next election, if they wish to do so, and that is their right, that is a commitment I give tonight to the young people of St Elizabeth and the young people of Jamaica,” said Simpson Miller, who only last week urged supporters to “get ready”.

The finance minister, Dr Peter Phillips, had also, during the campaign, stressed the urgency of getting the election out of the way to remove the uncertainty among some prospective investors and to get the country back on track. But according to political analyst Martin Henry, the PNP, in delaying a general election announcement date, is hurting itself.

“The People’s National Party is hurting its chances of electoral victory by pushing the country forward in expectations and then retreating at this late hour on the reasons given by the party president and prime minister of Jamaica,” he told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

Henry nullified Simpson Miller’s reason, theorising that because voter registration is done at anytime, whenever an election is called, people will inevitably be affected. “Things don’t look good in the field for the PNP from their own internal assessment.

That’s only one of two reasons which would lead a prime minister who has indicated without saying so that an election is imminent, then pulling back,” he said.

“So you have to scratch around for reasons which are publicly palatable, like not disenfranchising young voters who may have just attained the age of 18, or people who should have registered long before but now have a reason for voting out the PNP,” he added.

 

Mom: His wife convinced my son to go and join ISIS *

isis (1)[Trinidad Express] – THE MOTHER of a Trinidadian man who joined the Islamic State (ISIS) is blaming the lack of employment opportunities in this country and the internet for her son being lured into becoming a member of the terror group.

Earlier this month, Trinidadian national Shawn Joel Parson also known as Abu Khalid al-Amriki, was featured in an ISIS recruitment video.

He is now believed to be dead.

The woman, who preferred to be known only as “Mrs Johnson”, said her son Abu Khalid was killed fighting in Syria and that she had no idea when he left the country to join the terrorist group. She said he had been recruited through the Internet.

“My son was in Trinidad here and I did not know (he left) until he died and I got his name… on the computer and when I go through it I was shock.

“As a mother, I said what nah, all this my son involve in,” she said on the “Take Two Programme” on I.995fm radio on Monday that discussed the involvement of Trinidad and Tobago nationals in ISIS.

She said her son was going to a school here and “the system fail people because when time come to get a job to do his work, they keep telling him to come back… but when my son left here he did not leave to go ISIS, he left to go to the Philippines and from there he went to there (Syria)”

She told radio listeners “if you go on the Internet… the ISIS study group, his name keep popping up all the time coming”.

She is urging parents to pay close attention to children while they are using the Internet.

“Definitely the Internet lures them… because I never understand why he liked to work at nights because during the day he used to be on the Internet whole day and that’s how after he died and I got his Muslim name,” she said, adding that following the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed more than 130 people, his name keep coming up because he is into the ISIS, into the group.

 

Soldiers blamed for brutal attack

Untitled-1_210[Trinidad Guardian] – Relatives of Brian Smith, whose body was fished out from sea on Sunday morning, last night burnt tyres and caused major traffic gridlock along the Western Main Road as they claimed the 30-year-old was killed by regiment officers and called for justice.

The protest began shortly after family members viewed a segment of CNC3’s Crime Watch, where host Ian Alleyne highlighted Smith’s death and promised “to get to the bottom of the death.”

Around 7.15 pm, police attached to the Carenage station had managed to douse the burning tyres and other rubble added before they arrived but their presence seemed to ignite the anger in the relatives.

The officers told the relatives that their method of seeking justice was wrong and they could not get anything right by going about it the wrong way.

But relatives said since the incident had taken place on Friday, police had not done a proper investigation.

According to relatives, Smith was drinking with regiment officers attached to the Engineer Battalion last Friday when they got into an argument over an illegal electrical connection.

Relatives said the soldiers beat Smith with a shovel and after he complained to neighbours, he was hit in the head and thrown into the sea. His body was seen floating around 7 am on Sunday by prison officers on their way to work at Carrera Prison.

Speaking with the media at the Forensic Science Centre, St James, earlier yesterday, Smith’s mother, Gloria, said her son was a great swimmer so she could not believe any story that suggested he had drowned as his autopsy report claimed.

“In my book them murder my son and that is what I think. They murder my son. That is what I know I believe, I have no proof but that is what I know,” a grieving Smith told the T&T Guardian.

“He originally from Penal Rock Road, Moruga, and he came to give blood for me and he stay and breeze out a little bit but he was to go back. Is best he did so because look at what happened. He said he was to go home on December 1.

“A man say he saw and he tell me plain that he see the soldiers hit my son a shovel in the face and throw him in the sea. Nobody was around. All of them (soldiers) was wet and leave from the back and come in front and say he drowning and all of them could swim and none of them help him.”

When the T&T Guardian visited the area yesterday afternoon, soldiers were seen drinking coconut water and a clear liquid from a bottle. The men were sipping on the drink and when told of the report laughed.

Two men who were partaking of the beverages told the T&T Guardian that the claims by the relatives were unfounded. One man said it was the work of something supernatural that led to Smith’s death, while another swore none of the regiment officers touched Smith other than pushing him away after he became verbally abusive.

“I didn’t see anybody hit him. I left and I saw him walking out to the sea. I heard he went to take a sea bath but them soldiers ain’t have nothing to do with that,” the man said.

“I didn’t see them fellas hit him. I see the soldiers ask him to leave because he was cursing. They must be push him but not no shovel or nothing. I didn’t see them hit him. After I leave I hear he drowned.”

At the protest last night, Smith’s sister, Imani Kwanza, accused the regiment of buying the silence of those around with food, hampers and cash. She added that only after they burnt tyres did officers from the Carenage station come to speak with the family. She claimed the soldiers got her brother drunk and killed him.

When contacted last evening, however, Corporate Communications officer of the T&T Defence Force, Major Al Alexander, said the allegations were “incredible” and had sullied the name of officers who were in the area assisting with the repairs of a home after a low-flying helicopter assigned to the T&T Air Guard had destroyed part of it.

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