There was a time when teachers were highly respected by students and schools were our second home. This is not the case today, and this is not the first time teachers got entangled with the law. What on earth is really happening with our educators today?


Mikulski pushes Obama's Iran nuke deal over the top in Senate

By Jordain Carney - 09/02/15 10:26 AM EDT, Source


Sen. Barbara Mikulski said on Wednesday that she will support President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran, all but ensuring the agreement will survive an attack in the Senate.

“No deal is perfect, especially one negotiated with the Iranian regime," the Maryland Democrat, who is retiring after her current term, said in a statement. "I have concluded that this Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the best option available to block Iran from having a nuclear bomb. For these reasons, I will vote in favor of this deal."

Mikulski's decision hands President Obama a needed foreign policy win after a months-long lobbying effort by administration officials to shore up support for the agreement.

Democrats have rallied around the deal since leaving town in August, giving Obama the 34 senators he needs to back the agreement and uphold a veto of a potential resolution of disapproval.

Mikulski was one of 11 remaining undecided Democrats. Opponents needed all 11 to buck Obama and vote against the deal if they were going to be able to block it in the Senate.

She said that while reviewing the deal she focused on a handful of questions, including whether it blocks Iran from getting a nuclear bomb, what sanctions would be lifted and if a better alternative could be reached if Congress rejects the deal.

Republicans have argued that the Obama administration could force Iran back to the negotiating table, but Mikulski said on Wednesday that the two alternatives to the deal were either more sanctions against Iran or military action.

"Maintaining or stepping up sanctions will only work if the sanction coalition holds together. It’s unclear if the European Union, Russia, China, India and others would continue sanctions if Congress rejects this deal. At best, sanctions would be porous, or limited to unilateral sanctions by the U.S.," she said, adding that the "military option is always on the table for the United States."

Mikulski, as well as undecided Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), have been under intense pressure from opponents of the deal and pro-Israel advocates to reject the Iran nuclear agreement.

She tried to preempt some of their criticism on Wednesday, touting her support for Israel and noting that she considered how the deal would affect the country.

“I have been an unabashed and unwavering supporter of Israel. I have persistently supported the sanctions that brought Iran to the table," she said. "With the horrors of the Holocaust in mind, I have been deeply committed to the need for a Jewish homeland, the State of Israel, and its inherent ability to defend itself."

Mikulski added that in the wake of the Iran deal, the United States must "reaffirm our commitment to the safety and security of Israel.”




1. Perhaps the world only speaks to those who are prepared to listen.


2. A man of courage never wants weapons.

Venezuela’s Manufactured Border Crisis

People crossing back into Colombia from Venezuela on Thursday. Credit Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

Late last month, President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela declared a state of emergency in areas that abut Colombia, shut down the border and ordered a mass roundup of Colombian immigrants. In a decree issued on Aug. 21, he warned that drug trafficking, contraband and rampant violence along the border made it necessary to suspend basic rights, such as public gatherings and demonstrations. After Venezuelan authorities evicted Colombians from their homes, some dwellings were marked with the letter D, meaning they would be demolished.

There was, in fact, no crisis requiring these extraordinary measures along the border, where Colombians and Venezuelans have coexisted amicably through good times and bad. The whole thing was phony, a crisis manufactured by an increasingly unpopular president who is desperate to shore up support for his party ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for December.

Mr. Maduro’s popularity dipped to 24 percent in July, reflecting growing public dismay with government policies that have led to soaring inflation, a severely devalued currency and worsening food shortages. To ward off a bruising defeat at the polls, Mr. Maduro has jailed prominent opposition politicians and ordered that others be disqualified from appearing on the ballot.

Mr. Maduro’s go-to boogeyman has been the United States, which he’s accused of working underhandedly to oust him from power. But as relations between Washington and Caracas have marginally improved, Mr. Maduro has chosen to deflect attention from the country’s problems by picking unnecessary fights with his neighbors. Earlier this year, he reignited a long-dormant territorial dispute with Guyana after learning that Exxon Mobil had discovered offshore oil reserves in Guyana’s waters, asserting a right to as much of two thirds of Guyana, a tiny country of roughly 800,000 people.

Mr. Maduro then turned his attention to his western border, where his antics have disrupted an important commercial corridor, separated families and displaced hundreds of people from their homes. As Venezuelan security forces began searching home to home for Colombians the government said were in the country without authorization, hundreds of Colombians fled on foot across the border, some waddling across a muddy river, carrying a few belongings overhead.

Colombian officials have sensibly refrained from a war of words that could increase nationalist fervor in Venezuela. Mr. Maduro, meanwhile, has been characteristically glib. Last week Venezuelan television showed him doing shoulder presses on a gym machine that looked too small for his stocky frame. Smiling broadly, he challenged a prominent Colombian politician to a fist fight. Mr. Maduro should focus on the actual fight at hand: at the ballot box. Further alienating his neighbors will only deepen Venezuela’s many problems.

A version of this editorial appe


PM: They are deserving

Rachael Espinet, Published: Tuesday, September 1, 2015, Source


Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday defended her decision to award politicians and former Members of Parliament Winston Dookeran and Errol McLeod the nation’s highest award—the Order of Trinidad and Tobago. 

Speaking to members of the media after the Police Service Independence Day function at the Police Administration Building on St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain, Persad-Bissessar said that Dookeran is a long standing politician, an economist, and McLeod is a dedicated labour leader, both of whom have contributed tremendously to the nation. 


Dookeran, the founder of the Congress of the People and McLeod, a former founder of the Movement for Social Justice, were key figures in forming the coalition People’s Partnership which came into office in 2010. 


When asked about the criticisms she has received on social media about giving two politicians the Order of the Republic of T&T, Persad-Bissessar said, “There are some people always on social media who find everything I do very odd. I think they are very deserving.”


She stated that as a long standing economist Dookeran has served in public life, in academic life and at the Central Bank, and that he has given back a lot to the country.


“Mr Dookeran has served in public life, academic life and at the Central Bank, he is a well known economist and I think he is very deserving. He is no longer a Member of Parliament and that is important to note,” she said. 


Addressing McLeod’s achievements she said that McLeod, a former president general of Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union for 21 years, was a hard-working trade unionist who fought for the rights of workers. She also reaffirmed that as an outgoing MP, and like Dookeran, he will not be contesting this year’s general elections on September 7. 


“Minister McLeod is no longer an MP as well, and will not be an MP, as Dookeran will not be an MP. He too was a great trade unionist in all the decades that he has served. He is well deserving of that order. One an economist and one a person standing up for the rights of workers; I think they are both well deserving,” she said.


Former head of the public service Reginald Dumas said yesterday he was not disagreeing with giving Dookeran or McLeod the award, but there must be a reform in the way that people are selected for the national awards. 


He emphasised that there should be an independent process adopted to ensure that the award is a national honour and not awarded because of nepotism.


“People get awards, I regret to say, who do not deserve awards, because they have done some favour or service to the party, or to the Prime Minister personally,” Dumas said. 


Opposition leader, Dr Keith Rowley, said yesterday that he had nothing to say about the awards and he will not comment on the awards. 


About the award

The Order of the Republic of T&T was installed as this country’s new highest national award 2008, replacing the Trinity Cross for Distinguished and Outstanding Service to T&T. The name change arose after complaints from Hindu and Muslim religious leaders that it was not representative of all faiths.


Some of the former recipients of the Trinity Cross include: Dr Rudranath Capildeo for his contribution in the sphere of Science, Sir Ellis Clarke, QC who drafted the Constitution of Independent T&T, Sir Solomon Hochoy, the then Governor General and Ex-Officio of T&T, and Sir Hugh Wooding, for his contribution to Justice as he was the then Chief Justice.


Last year former prime ministers Basdeo Panday and Patrick Manning were offered the Order of T&T, but they both declined. 


The National Awards Committee is chaired by Chief Justice Ivor Archie.




1. Perhaps the world only speaks to those who are prepared to listen.


2. A man of courage never wants weapons.

Defame our leader and face lawsuits

Kalifa Clyne, Published: Wednesday, September 2, 2015, Source


People’s National Movement (PNM) San Fernando West candidate Faris Al-Rawi and St Ann’s North candidate Stuart Young, have warned that legal action will be taken against anyone who defames political leader Dr Keith Rowley or any PNM member.


The duo, who are also Rowley’s lawyers, made the statement during a press conference yesterday as they announced that Rowley would initiate legal action against the Newsday newspaper and former Legal Affairs Minister under the PNM, Peter Taylor, following an article published in the newspaper last week.


The press conference took place at Balisier House in Port-of-Spain.


The newspaper article to which Al-Rawi referred alleged, through a letter written by Taylor, that Rowley had used the state’s intelligence resources to spy on Taylor.


It resulted in a subsequent article, in which Housing Minister Roodal Moonilal called on Rowley to take legal action against Taylor or resign.


Rowley’s lawyers confirmed that pre-action protocol letters were being drafted and would be issued after the election.


“It is not often that attorneys come to a microphone to address a letter such as this but it is incumbent, with five days before election for us to set the record straight.


“This letter, to put it at its most polite, is incredible, unbelievable,” Al-Rawi said.


“Why someone would be compelled to put to the public domain, that a leader of the Opposition has control of the National Operations Centre and Special Branch to interfere in the relationship between Mr Taylor and his girlfriend is just incredible.”


Al-Rawi said it was the position of the PNM that Dr Rowley’s telephone records demonstrated that not a single phone call was made to him by the Newsday seeking comment on Taylor’s claims.


“We condemn this type of publication particularly when this type of letter leads one down to an inexorable conclusion that it could not have been written by anyone with serious intention to tell a truthful story.


“Allegations are completely denied. We wish to state that the reason we have not yet issued the pre-action protocol, which will not be only to Taylor but specifically to the Newsday, is that this type of letter is often best left to be done in the luxury of time and with five days before elections, one does not engage precious time to deal with matters like this,” Al-Rawi said.


“The letter is being crafted as we speak and will go out in due course.”

“Pre-action protocols demand that we exercise caution and address the matter with alacrity but we must do so while being thorough,” said Al-Rawi.


Al-Rawi also questioned why Moonilal was keen to comment on the issue.


“If Moonilal has the proof. as he says he does. He must take it to the police. Character assassination will not be tolerated. 


“We will pursue with vigour. We will not be distracted or lose sight. We have been informed there are further attacks to come,” Al-Rawi said.


“It is our view that this is a continuation of the No Rowley campaign.


“It is a wicked and mischievous publication and one that a serious editor should have looked at twice. We certainly think it is well within the public’s domain to know Rowley is reachable at all times. 


“I am always available as PRO and his lawyer.”


Young said the article must have failed the Reynold’s test for proper journalism.


The Reynold’s test provides a checklist for responsible journalism.

He said there was no doubt in his mind that the statements were defamatory.


“We will pursue legal action against anybody who defames the political leader and any member of the United National Congress,” Young said.




1. Perhaps the world only speaks to those who are prepared to listen.


2. A man of courage never wants weapons.