Monday, March 28, 2011

Book of Job-Richie Spice. A must have album for any serious reggae fan

BBC Review
"Another essential set from the Jamaican star."

Angus Taylor 2011-03-09

Richie Spice never strays far from the template that has served him so well as a singer – keeping to simple, soulful songs and uplifting messages. Fifth album Book of Job continues previous outing Gideon Boot’s biblical theme and, while boasting fewer tracks than its predecessor is, tune for tune, just as strong.

Spice chose the title to compare Job's faith in the face of misfortune with his own persistent approach in a volatile industry. Fittingly, he has continued working with both veteran producers and fresher blood. Where Gideon Boot was mostly helmed by Bobby Digital, Job’s rhythms come mainly from Donovan Germain of Penthouse – who produced Bushman’s Peter Tosh tribute Bushman Sings the Bush Doctor and the youngster Romain Virgo for VP in 2010.

Germain and Spice strike extra hard with the Randy Crawford reinterpretation My Life (previously released on Ronald "Sunny Spoon" Wright’s less traditional Chemistry backing). They again pair up nicely for Confirmation, on the rhythm to Virgo’s No Money.

Younger star-producer Shane Brown offers his thumping Indiscretions bass for Soothing Sound – which asks musicians not to squabble. He also lends the well used, synth-string-heavy Nylon rhythm for Serious Woman which – along with Mother of Creation and delightful Raging Fyah production Black Woman – forms part of a trilogy of tributes to the ladies. Spice prefers action to words, and he and dancehall beat-maker Lenky Marsden prove it with the catchy Yap Yap, warning of the dangers of gossip. Meanwhile, the deceptively upbeat self-production Legal was inspired by Richie’s moving visit to GorĂ©e Island off the Senegalese city of Dakar, which was a holding area for soon-to-be-transported slaves.

Earlier albums, such as 2005 effort Spice In Your Life and 2007’s In the Streets to Africa have been lengthy ambitious works. This time, with fewer songs and another safe pair of ears and hands at the controls, Job doesn’t quite hit the heights of Africa but is still an essential set.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Arizona Law Makers Starting to reverse on immigration

updated 7:22 PM ET, Thu., Mar 17, 2011
Ariz. Senate rejects illegal immigration bills

Opponent to the new Arizona immigration bills Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, right, leans on his desk in frustration, as proponent of the bills Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, stands in the background as the latest series of Arizona immigration-related bills are debated on the Senate floor at the Arizona Capitol Thursday, March 17, 2011, in Phoenix. The Senate debates and plans on voting on the bills, the measures deal with citizenship, health care, public services and everyday activities ranging from hiring to driving. (AP Photo)
The Associated Press
PHOENIX — The Arizona Senate soundly defeated five bills aimed at illegal immigration on Thursday in a marked departure from last year, when enactment of a tough local enforcement measure put the state at the heart of a fierce national debate over the issue.

Majority Republicans were split in their votes on the defeated bills, which included two measures intended to force a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against automatic citizenship for U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants. The other three dealt with health care, public services and everyday activities such as driving.

With business leaders urging lawmakers to put the issue aside to avoid damaging the still-ailing economy, "it's time for us to take a timeout," said Republican Sen. John McComish of Phoenix. "It's something that the people don't want us to be focusing on."

Critics also said the bills rejected Thursday were over-reaching and flawed.

Supporters of the measures voiced frustration and said there could be political fallout for lawmakers who voted against them.

"The lack of political courage" is the only impediment to step up pressure on illegal immigration, said Republican Sen. Russell Pearce, the sponsor of the 2010 law.

The two bills on citizenship were defeated on votes of 12-18 and 11-19 as majority Republicans split on the issue. The chamber's nine Democrats voted against all of the bills.

"I'm hopeful that now we can move on and focus on the business of the state," Democratic Minority Leader David Schapira of Tempe said after the three-hour floor session.

One of the rejected bills would have required hospitals to contact federal immigration officials or local law enforcement if people being treated lack insurance and can't demonstrate legal status.

Critics said that would burden hospitals, but Republican Sen. Steve Smith of Maricopa said his bill didn't require much.

"Maybe you forgot it's illegal to be in this country illegally," he said during the vote on his bill. "We just ask them to report the crime, not be the judge and executioner."

Also defeated was a bill to require schools to file reports on enrollments of illegal immigrant students.

The fifth bill was a sweeping measure sponsored by Pearce. It would have made it a crime for illegal immigrants to drive in Arizona. It also had provisions on registering vehicles, workplace hiring and various public benefits.

It would ban illegal immigrants from attending Arizona's public universities and community colleges. The state does not now have a ban but it does require illegal immigrants to pay higher, non-resident tuition rates.

Pearce's bill also would have required eviction of public housing tenants who let illegal immigrants live with them and make applicants for vehicle titles and registration prove they are in the country legally.

Pearce and other supporters said cracking down on illegal immigration would provide relief to taxpayers by cutting costs for education, health care and other services.

The 2010 law known as SB1070 resulted in protests, boycotts and legal challenges. A federal judge has put key provisions on hold.

Earlier Thursday, Gov. Jan Brewer said she didn't have positions on the bills and she declined to wave off legislators from taking up the issue of illegal immigration again.

"I believe that illegal immigration is an important subject to the populace in Arizona and is something that probably needs to be further addressed," said Brewer, a Republican who signed SB1070 into law.

Dozens of CEOs of major employers and business groups signed a letter distributed Wednesday by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, saying that passage of additional legislation on illegal immigration would damage the economy and tourism.

Arizona should instead push for federal action on immigration and border issues, according to the letter signed by heads of construction companies, hospitals, real estate developers and US Airways.

"Arizona's lawmakers and citizens are right to be concerned about illegal immigration," the letter said. "But we must acknowledge that when Arizona goes it alone on this issue, unintended consequences inevitably occur."

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Why Sierra Leone Needs A Brand New Airport Terminal

Back in the 60s the Sierra Leone National Airport at Lungi, must have been a sight to behold. Relative to that period, the airport terminal must have been a magnificent structure. At the present time though, Sierra Leone not only need repairs to its main airport building, but needs a brand new terminal building built from the ground up. Completely and totally new, modern and fashionable.

I know a lot of my fellow Sierra Leone citizens may think that Sierra Leone has more pressing things to worry about than the state of its airport infrastructure. They may argue that the country has to at first address the appalling decline in educational, health and road infrastructure,the ever growing problem of food insecurity and maintenance of internal security. They may state that the limited resources of the misgovernment need to first be diverted to these more pressing areas as a matter of priority rather than an airport beautification project. To these objections I will humbly but firmly beg to differ.

Sometimes we hear the saying "do not judge a man by his coat," but we are also aware of the saying "dress to please" and "first impressions go a long way." When you enter a man's house you sometimes get a rough mental picture of his worth by just taking a look around. That is why it is difficult to enter a Minister's house, even in communist Cuba, and find wooden benches gracing his living room.

The point I am trying to make is that to an outsider who is coming to your country for the first time, the first thing they are likely to see when they disembark from that long flight is your main airport building; of course they can see this while the plane is idling on the runway, while waiting for clearance to park. The sight of that building is usually the first impression an outsider gets about Sierra Leone, and though they should not use it to judge the country, unfortunately it goes a long way to form an initial opinion in their minds about the state of the country. For people who are making stopovers or just transiting, this may be the only real impression they may ever have about country. Therefore, a national airport of a country like Sierra Leone should be able to tell a story about the culture and traditions of the country.

Back in 1994 when the Gambian president Yahya Jammeh became president, the main Yundum airport building was an old ugly structure that resembled a massive parking garage or a busy cemetery, rather than the main airport of an independent nation. The building was both an eyesore and an assault on the senses. One of the first things Jammeh did during his first few years in office was to rebuld the main terminal building from bottom to top. The Yundum airport was built and decorated to celebrate the traditional culture of the Gambia, while retaining a touch of modernization. I am not saying Sierra Leoneans should be copy cats. All I am saying is that if a country as small as Gambia, that has only groundnuts and tourism to rely on for revenue can build such an impressive looking structure, I believe Sierra Leone should and must do ten times better, as we continue to utilize our diamond, gold, iron ore, and now oil resources, not forgetting the great human capital we have.

Sierra Leoneans should no longer be satisfied with an airport that looks like a scene from a colonial era movie, We should have should an airport that celebrates our rich cultural heritage, that can handle our ever growing travelling needs, that represents our quest to modernize our country and tells a story of; who we are as a people, what we have gone trough as a nation, and what are our hopes and aspirations for the future. People should be able to peek out of their plane windows and say "wow!!!!, these may be marginal lands, but surely not marginal people."

We as Sierra Leoneans should be able to search Google images with pride and tell those who have never been to our country that that magnificent structure is the main airport building in our small but proud country. As the government sets out to re-brand Sierra leone in a desire to improve its image abroad, I believe we should first start by re-branding our main airport, which by 2011 standards resembles a relic from a past that we should no longer be celebrating, the colonial past.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Remembering Dr. Aniru S. Conteh

Aniru Sahib Sahib Conteh, physician: born Jawi Folu, Sierra Leone 6 August 1942; married (four sons, two daughters); died Kenema, Sierra Leone 4 April 2004.

Aniru Sahib Sahib Conteh, physician: born Jawi Folu, Sierra Leone 6 August 1942; married (four sons, two daughters); died Kenema, Sierra Leone 4 April 2004.

When rebel forces overran the town of Kenema in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone, in February 1997 and then later in 1999, the government buildings were looted and burnt, and most of the government workers fled before them. One exception was the small outlying building beside Kenema Government Hospital. This is the Lassa fever isolation ward - the only such specialist ward in the world, presided over since 1991 by Dr Aniru Conteh.

The notoriety of this killer disease ensured the ward's safety. The modesty of the building - its cement floors are easy to sluice down, wide windows allow fresh air to circulate; a small shelter has been built close by for the families of patients - belies the international significance of the work carried out by Conteh's team, who pursue their task in ever-present danger of the disease they treat.

With the diamond mines of Tongo to the north attracting migrant workers from across Africa, and waves of rebels and refugees crossing and re-crossing the eastern border with Liberia, stability has eluded Kenema for much of the last decade. Moreover houses left derelict by the civil war in Sierra Leone have created ideal breeding ground for the multimammate rat, which spreads the disease in its urine. Food shortages have at times led people to trap the rats for food, leading to further outbreaks.

Aniru Conteh spent most of his professional life combating Lassa fever. It required great courage, discipline and creativity to run such an isolation ward with severely tight resources amidst such instability. He showed countless medical staff both from abroad and in Sierra Leone what can be done in the face of hazards and obstacles, and how patients could be given the best possible chance, and how risks to their carers could be minimised.

Lassa fever is similar to Ebola fever. Difficult to treat, with no reliable diagnostic test readily available, highly infectious and with no reliable therapy or vaccine in prospect, it starts with a high fever that within seven days can lead to massive haemorrhaging, convulsions and often death. It takes its name from a village in Nigeria where an outbreak of a mysterious fever in a mission hospital in 1969 led to the three mission nurses' becoming infected. Two died, but the third survived to be evacuated to America where the virus was isolated at Yale University.

Following a new outbreak of Lassa fever in the Catholic Missionary Hospital in Panguma, Sierra Leone, in 1976, the American Joe McCormick, head of a team from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, set up a research programme in Segbwema, Kenema and Panguma. It was in Segbwema in 1979 that Conteh joined the CDC team.

Aniru Conteh was born up in Jawi Folu, a tiny village near Daru in south-east Sierra Leone. His father was a farmer and village chief. When Aniru was 16 his mother died and he ran away from the local school to Freetown to fend for the family. From school in Freetown he went on to study chemistry and biology at Fourah Bay Colleges in Freetown, taking a Durham University BSc, and initially became a teacher. In 1968, however, he enrolled as a medical student at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, qualifying in 1974, and working for four years at Ibadan Teaching Hospital.

In 1979 he took up a post at the Nixon Methodist Hospital in Segbwema, becoming Medical Superintendent the following year, and with the outbreak of civil war in Sierra Leone in 1991 the Lassa team, still with Conteh as its director, moved to Kenema.

Conteh was instrumental in 1996 in assisting Merlin, the London-based medical-relief organisation, to establish a programme in Sierra Leone, which included support for the Lassa isolation ward and Lassa fever control programme in the region. Throughout the 10 years of war and the period of reconciliation that has followed it he remained at his post treating thousands of cases and saving many lives. His skill in diagnosis and treatment was unparalleled, and resulted in a reduction in mortality of suspected Lassa fever cases to around 20 per cent.

Three years ago Conteh came to Britain to present a paper on the management of Lassa fever to an international conference on the disease hosted by the Central Public Health Laboratory in Colindale. Last year he was again in London to mark Merlin's 10th anniversary and to receive the "Spirit of Merlin" award for his international contribution to the core mission of Merlin "to save lives and alleviate suffering". He was an icon to Merlin's 1,400 relief workers worldwide.

Many of those who worked with him went on to become leaders in the field of public health and infectious-disease research. Dr Abdul Rahman Wurie, World Health Organisation Disease Prevention and Control Adviser in Sierra Leone, saw the possibility of building on the expertise of Conteh and his team to create a West African Regional Centre for the treatment, control, training, emergency preparedness and research into Lassa fever and, potentially, other haemorrhagic fevers - a project awaiting realisation.

Despite the insecurity, the lack of resources and opportunities to work internationally, Aniru Conteh remained in Kenema ministering to those who needed his skills the most urgently. On 17 March, while treating a patient, he accidentally pricked himself with a needle and became infected. He died 18 days later.

Nicholas Mellor

Never Argue with a woman who reads

Never Argue with a Woman

One morning the husband returns after several hours of fishing and decides to take a nap. Although not familiar with the lake, the wife decides to take the boat out. She motors out a short distance, anchors, and reads her book.

Along comes a Game Warden in his boat. He pulls up alongside the woman and says, 'Good morning, Ma'am. What are you doing?'
'Reading a book,' she replies, ( thinking , 'Isn't that obvious ?

'You're in a Restricted Fishing Area,' he informs her again,

'I'm sorry, officer, but I'm not fishing. I'm reading'

'Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment. I'll have to take you in and write you up.'

'If you do that, I'll have to charge you with sexual assault ,' says the woman.

'But I haven't even touched you,' says the game warden.

'That's true, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment.'

'Have a nice day ma'am,' and he left.

MORAL : Never argue with a woman who reads. It's likely she can also think.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Diaspora Tiff Tiff-Culled from Awoko Newspaper

I am sure the President would be disappointed as most home based Sierra Leoneans are by the performance of what should have been our more enlightened compatriots who have so popularly called themselves diasporans and who we call locally Jay Cees meaning “Just cam (come)”.
I say the President must be disappointed because after he was elected into office he sort the services of these Jay Cees, enticed them to come home and when they did he placated them with all sorts of goodies much to the annoyance of the home based.

Most of these Jay Cees came with airs; speaking through their noses and strutting around like Roman conquerors who had come to Lord over the spoils of a conquered nation. They celebrated the APC victory as if they were the ones who actually voted and when their contributions were questioned they would say they provided dollars and pounds sterling for the then opposition APC and this helped the party win the elections. Thereafter they were coming back home to be compensated for their support and their contributions to the 2007 APC campaign fund.
Well the president has been conducting a policy of compensation. All those who seemingly “helped” him win are compensated and true to speak we have seen the diasporans being compensated lots and lots. Whereas home based Sierra Leoneans had to make do with meagre salaries of 500 or 700 thousand or a million leones, the diasporans were being paid in thousands of dollars. Take the now scrapped office of diaspora activities, attitudinal change and 50th anniversary committee to name a few. All of the jay Cees in these institutions were paid in thousands of dollars per month whilst the home based looked on. Can you imagine taking home 12 to 15 million leones for doing sweet nothing? Will you grumble about cost of living? What is even more heart rending is that most of these people never earned those sums of money in their entire life abroad. Can you imagine holding 18 thousand dollars as per diem for a trip to the US as those in the 50th committee awarded themselves? This is money that all those who boast that they come from USA have never ever held in their hands before. Believe me if you hold that amount of money in your hands in the US it means you are selling drugs or doing something illegal. Yet they come here and collect that in one go.

We had believed or rather thought before now that jay Cees were accomplished Sierra Leoneans living abroad who were coming to contribute to the development of the country which is a good thing in itself. Sadly however the impression now is that they have come to rapaciously milk the system with such venom that the home based can only look on with shock and astonishment. Perhaps this is because the majority of them who have come are charlatans and crooks with dubious degrees and trumped up CV’s. As one Jay Cee wrote recently that he came across a door man in London masquerading here as an environmental expert.

Now the list of them falling under the hammer of the anti Corruption Commission is ever growing. It started with the then Minister of Health, now attitudinal change boss and fiftieth anniversary boss and executive secretary are now on the hook. How many more will have to fall before our esteemed president realises that it most unfair on home based Sierra Leoneans who have toiled so much for this nation to progress to be left out while those who ran away and have been helping to build other peoples country are the ones who are now being hugely compensated over their heads. Suppose the home based now adopt the stance that the jay Cees must now do all the work since they are collecting the fat salaries what would happen? Would that not lead to a subverting of the system? Indeed one would not be surprised if the so called Jay Cees find it hard to woe the cooperation of the locals.

Perhaps this whole diaspora stuff needs to be looked at properly. Firstly there needs to be a proper due diligence done on these diasporans to find out whether they were not just taxi drivers and garbage cleaners or psychiatric nurses parading as academic doctors who murder the queen’s English in their press releases.
If there is not a re-think soon then there is every likelihood that the simmering revulsion may soon get to the surface. Lonta!

COVID-19 Preparedness in Sierra Leone

As the saying goes, once bitten, twice shy. In Sierra Leone, the Julius Maada Bio led government has been very eager to prevent a repeat ...