THE FRIGHTENING REALITY.


The frightening reality is that the race for the presidency in the US is so close, and getting so much closer, that Donald Trump may well win the presidency. On Monday evening the two contenders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump would have their first debate so as to give the American people a further opportunity to decide which candidate to support. While there is a large number of undecided or independent voters that each candidate will seek to win over, each faces specific hurdles which need to be overcome in order to ensure victory in the elections.

Hillary Clinton is struggling to attain a knockout punch because, having been hounded by the press for over twenty years, compounded by lapses in judgment, she faces skepticism in a part of the electorate. ‘Untrustworthiness’ of her has flourished because of her use of a private email server while serving as Secretary of State. Even though there is no evidence that she treated with confidential material, apologized and previous secretaries of state have conducted official business by private email, the Republicans and the US media have been unrelenting in their criticisms and allegations of ‘lies.’

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ROAD RAGE


For over 50 years State authorities have continually lamented that Guyana has one of the highest percentage of road deaths in the world. Little or nothing of any substance has ever been done to reduce road accidents because, to be cynical, there are no votes in it and foreign pressure is not applied. Trafficking in persons and money laundering receive funding and national attention because if they do not, sanctions are applied to Guyana. Since road deaths do not attract sanctions by aid donors, they will continue to escalate unless another type of sanction is applied, namely, massive public pressure mobilized against the authorities to do something about it.

In the 1970s and 1980s enforcement of laws by the Police was routine. Taxi drivers were charged for smoking while driving or driving with unclean clothing. Overload taxis and private hire operating illegally as taxis were relentlessly pursued. There were no speed guns but drivers who were caught speeding were charged with careless driving. The owners or drivers of private cars were not spared. Not stopping at major roads, careless and dangerous driving and other jeopardies faced motorists. Cyclists knew that they were taking chances if they rode without brakes, a bell or without a headlamp at night. If caught charges were inevitable. Quick justice was once administered when I was caught by a plainclothes policeman riding without a light just as it was getting dark. He took out the valve stem from one wheel and threw it away. Even with a more effective enforcement regime at that time and far less vehicles on the road, road deaths were among the highest in the world.

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A LIAR AT THE HEART OF AMERICAN POLITICS


A liar, racist, demagogue and misogynist is the presidential candidate of the once great Republican Party. He won the nomination by exploiting the deep insecurities generated by decades of growing inequality in the United States. This in turn exacerbated and exposed the racist hostility to Mexicans, Muslims and African Americans, which lies just below the surface of American life.

The general consensus among progressives in the US is that the large and growing inequality is responsible for the rise of Donald Trump and the ‘angry white man.’ For conservatives, led by a Republican Party which has been moving further to the right since Barry Goldwater became its presidential candidate in 1964, the problem is President Barack Obama. The fact is, though, that the Republicans have now reaped in Trump the kind of politics they have been sowing since 1964. Nixon’s Southern strategy, designed to win the support of Southern whites from the Democrats by exploiting fear and hatred of African Americans, attained its apotheosis in the Republican leadership’s open hatred of Barack Obama.

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ECHOES OF THE EVER-PRESENT PAST


In 1838, as former slaves were celebrating the abolition of slavery the British colonial empire, Jesuit priests of Georgetown University in Washington DC, in the US, were selling 272 slaves to Southern estates to raise funds for the University. This trade in human degradation lasted until 1865 when the institution of slavery, one of the worst crimes against humanity, was formally abolished in the US.

After much public pressure Georgetown University announced during last week, as recommended by a report it had commissioned, that it would offer a public apology, would rename two halls as Isaac Hall for Isaac Hawkins, one of the slaves sold, and as Anne Marie Becraft Hall, in honour of a 19th-century educator who founded a school for black girls in Washington. It would also give priority in admission to descendants of the 272 slaves whose names were recorded and some of whose descendants have been or are being traced.

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TOWARDS A NATIONAL FIRE PLAN


The Government has deemed as suitable the bond owned by Linden Holdings in Sussex Street, Georgetown, which it contracted to store pharmaceuticals at $1,200 a square foot, when a bond for $228 a square is available. The Government said that the rental will be negotiated downwards and if the negotiations are unsuccessful then twelve months notice of termination in accordance with the agreement would be given. At $12 million a month, this will cost the Guyanese taxpayer $144 million, payable to Linden Holdings for an initial $25 million investment which it has already recovered as an initial advance.

The Government might make mistakes, as Vice President Ramjattan admitted, but it does not lack an innovative and fertile imagination. The objections to the Government owned Diamond bond, which has been approved as suitable by international agencies, are that a fire can occur and that the traffic situation is not conducive!

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