Monday, August 25, 2008

Bolt, Jamaicans Ruled the Tracks: Beijing 2008

Well, the 29th Olympic Games in Beijing China are almost over and what a show. As a Jamaican it has been a bittersweet event. Thankfully, it was moresweet than bitter. The losses were hard, especially when my special Asafa Powell failed to medal in the 100m. I was sure he was going to get the silver –what a heartbreaking moment. The agony of defeat was felt again when defending 4x100 champion women made a mistake with the baton change – but you win some and you lose some. Never mind ladies – you are homegrown heroes.

It was also bitter-sweet when I thought of some of Jamaica’s great athletes who have won mostly silver and bronze medals at numerous Olympic meets. I wonder if there was level playing field what would have happened. Would sprint queen Merlene Ottey’s medal case be filled with gold, and what about Grace Jackson-Small, Juliet Cuthbert, Bert Cameron and Raymond Stewart to name a few?

As for Jacques Rogge, I have one word of advice, visit Jamaica. Learn something about the culture and the people before you start making asinine comments. Bolt, like most Jamaicans are jovial people who like to dance and prance when they are successful. Sure there is something called sportsmanship, but when did it become such a big issue? Is it only when a tiny, little island comes along, breaking records and creating upsets? Over the years I’ve seen so many athletes showboating and never was it such a big issue.

Great moves Usain as you showcase, not showboat, popular Jamaican dance moves, Nuh Linga and 90s Rock. However, Asafa you were never taken from your pedestal by me – like me, you haven’t quite mastered what comes so naturally to most of our fellow Jamaicans. But your attempt to show some dance moves was entertaining.

Congrats also to fellow Caribbean nationals who showed the world that there is no need for performance enhancing drugs. Not even voodoo dolls were needed to make hard work and determination pay off.

-Jessica McCurdy Crooks

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Caribbean Display in Beijing

Since the big news of the moment is the 2008 Olympics in Beijing let’s look at the excitement the Caribbean contingent will be creating. Expectations are high that some of the best displays in the track and field events will be given by athletes hailing from the Caribbean.

Two of the world’s fastest men hail from the tiny island of Jamaica. The race between Asafa Powell, Usain Bolt (Jamaica’s super-two) and Tyson Gay of the USA will be one of,if not the most exciting display of stamina and speed in Beijing. Punters internationally are betting heavily on the placement of the top three 100 meter runners. The three men have some really impressive times. The current record holder is Bolt with a time of 9.72, while former world record holder, Powell has a time of 9.74 and world champion Gay has 9.77.

Doping and the Olympics

Due to doping concerns, many of the top athletes are feeling the needle – literally. One of Jamaica’s leading newspapers, The Daily Gleaner, reported in its Wednesday, August 13 edition that the Jamaican team has been tested numerous times since arriving in Beijing. Powell has been quoted as saying, “They have tested me four times and took a lot of blood. I’m saying they are taking too much blood….” Powell was concerned that the excessive blood testing may leave him too weak to perform well when the big day arrives.

Let the Games Begin

As can be expected, the top three men aced their heats on the 14th, and now the world waits for the big showdown on the 15th. Other Caribbean men expected to put on a good show are veteran Kim Collins from St. Kitts, and Trinidad & Tobago’s Darrel Brown, Richard Thompson & Marc Burns. Other Caribbean islands such as Cuba, Guyana (yes, also counted as part of the region), Antigua, Bahamas and Barbados all have athletes taking part in the games.

Barbadian swimmer, Bradley Ally wrote his name in the history books at the 2008 Olympics. Ally is now the first Caribbean swimmer to advance in the 200 meter individual medley.

Another track and field event that is highly anticipated and where the Caribbean is expected to do well is the men’s 4x100 Meter relay. Here both Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago are expected to land in any of the top three spots.

The women are not to be overlooked. Champion sprinter Veronica Campbell-Brown from Jamaica is expected to deliver a medal for her country. Other members of the Jamaican contingent expected to win medals include Sherone Simpson, Aileen Bailey, and Shelley-Ann Fraser. Knowing the competitive spirit of the Jamaican athletes, any other member of the female team can surprise with a medal-winning run.

Tiny Antigua’s five athletes at the games are no dark horses either. Sprinter, Sonia Williams is good and could do well for her country and the region as is James Grayman, a high-jumper.

I’m sure that Caribbean nationals all over the globe had goose bumps as the athletes from the various islands paraded on opening day.

The complete list of Caribbean islands represented in Beijing is:

Antigua & Barbuda
British Virgin islands
Cayman islands
Costa Rica
Dominican Republic
Puerto Rico
Saint Kitts & Nevis
Saint Lucia
Trinidad & Tobago

- Jessica McCurdy Crooks

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Genocide Olympics


“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”
Martin Luther King

I have no interest in the Beijing Olympics and neither will I be purchasing merchandise from corporations with their branding splattered like bloodstains across the Olympic Games.

The massive infrastructure and eloborate opening ceremony are built on the blood and bones of nearly half a million black Dafur people, victims of the Chinese- supported genocidal policies of Sudan.

More than 2 million people are also believed to have fledtheir homes in Darfur in response to continuing attacks from the Sudan-armed, pro-government Arab janjaweed militia.

Food and water are in short supply and more than one third of Darfur's children seem destined to suffer from malnutrition in the coming months.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has accused Sudan's Arab dominated government of the most heinous crimes against humanity including summary executions, rape and torture to name a few.

Sudan's rapid industrialization and modernisation have been fueled by its lucrative oil and commodities trade with Asian and Arab partners. This has emboldened the Sudanese government to resist American and European pressure to end the genocide in neighbouring Darfur. The truth is that Sudan can ignore Western revulsion at genocide because it has no need of Western money or trade.

Sudan has been subject to U.S. sanctions since the 1990s and has been condemned in numerous United Nations resolutions.

Yet thanks to China, a small group of western capitalists, Kuwaitis, Saudis, Indians and Pakistanis, Sudan's petro-economy is flourishing. The economy is expected to continue a robust growth rate on the back of oil exports, 80% of which go to Beijing.

China, as Sudan number one trading partner is in a key strategic position to pressure Sudan into stopping its sponsored violence in Darfur. But to date, China has been passive, taking very little action to influence the Sudanese government and nothing much has changed on the ground level in Darfur.

In fact, quite disturbingly, it now appears that China is actually assisting Sudan to contravene the 2005 UN Arms Embargo on Darfur. This embargo requires foreign nations to ensure that they do not provide any form of military assistance to the groups involved in the Darfur conflict.

A BBC Panorama TV team recently tracked down China-made Dong Feng army lorries in Darfur. These lorries were sold to Sudan in 2005, months after the UN Arms Embargo was put in place. The BBC team was given graphic descriptions of these Dong Feng lorries that used anti-aircraft guns to attack the huts and murder unarmed civilians in a town called Sirba.

The reporters were also told that China was training fighter pilots to fly Chinese A5 Fantan Jets in Darfur.

It is now clear to all observers that Sudan can only defy the UN and western nations with a conscience because of China's support. And yet, western leaders and millions of tourists are falling over themselves to be present at the Genocide Olympics in a barbaric country that feels free to trample the basic standards of human decency in pursuit of greed.

How quickly have they forgotten Darfur.

How quickly have they forgotten Tibet.

How quickly have they forgotten Tiananmen Square.

The hypocrisy, media blitz and ritualized medal count have no impact on me as the ossified Chinese government bends over backward to show off its “achievements and modernisation.”

The shadows of the Darfur genocide, massive rural poverty, unbearable pollution, degraded landscapes and authoritarian leadership are everywhere, even as they walled up unsightly residences of impoverished Chinese people like prisons and destroyed the homes of others without compensation to facilitate this massive public relations campaign to impress the world. China lives in denial of its collective shadow and capitalist fed barbarism. Not even the fancy pyrotechnics and regimented choreography of the recent opening ceremony can hide its ugliness.

As the great granddaughter of Asian migrants, there is a fair amount of Chinese (and Indian) blood running through my veins and I have the right to accuse China of genocide.

When one adds the Tibetan invasion, basic human violations of their own people and religious intolerance to the tableau of Chinese “achievements” to date, it is very difficult for any human being with a conscience to cheer anything at this danse macabre called the Beijing Olympics.

- Carol Ann Mohamed

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Open Network Agenda & Cell Phone Applications

A Victorious Battle in the War for Keeping the Internet Open

A commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Kevin J. Martin feels a victory has been achieved in the fight to keep the Internet Open from when he convinced two other commissioners to support his plan to impose sanctions on Comcast for interfering with the transfer of data packets of applications that uses peer-to-peer technology. In other words, Comcast chose to block an application that an end-user requested. An example could be, a user who wants to download music from a server; and the user starts an application that uses peer-to-peer technology; Comcast could've prevented the request from being started and/or completed.

The issue was profiled back in February when the inquiry into Comcast's action back in October 2007 was brought to attention before the FCC. Comcast along with another large communications operator Verizon argued that their companies should have the ability to control the traffic of information that flows through their networks. They reasoned that some applications used for file transfers can degrade the performance of their network, and they want to be able to control the priority that an application will have in the network.

This "control" could be broadly applied beyond controlling network traffic. The danger could be to extend this "control" to content flow also. Mr. Martin expressed in an interview last week that "people should generally be able to use any device and any software to connect to any legal content they want." (source NYT – Aug. 4th 2008.)

Twitter has been used in two creative schemes in the past week:

Representative, John Culberson, used his cellphone, Twitter and Qik to broadcast on the internet proceedings at the House after it had adjourned for its 5 week summer recess. Typically, when the House adjourns C-Span's cameras and microphones tune out as well. Last Friday, a few dozen Republicans had decided to stay on the House floor, after the recess was announced by the speaker, Nancy Pelosi.

Mr. John Culberson used his cellphone to make a live broadcast on Twitter: "Pelosi just turned out the lights." Another Representative, Mr. Peter Hoekstra, also used Twitter to post live updates. Meanwhile, Mr. Culberson filmed the event with his cellphone and shared it live on the internet using a streamlining video service called, Qik.

Meanwhile in Brazil, it was reported by BBC that Twitter's social network had been a target by cyber criminals. The attack was designed using a fake Twitter profile that enticed users to click on a link to a pornographic video. Upon clicking on the link the program appears to load a false version Adobe Flash, when in reality it is a program that can allow the intruder, a worm, to steal personal data.

It was Kaspersky Lab, a computer security company, that discovered the malicious attack on Twitter. The discovery came about at the same time that Kaspersky Lab published details on two worms that target two other social networking sites, MySpace and Facebook.

"The worms transformed victims' machines into zombie computers, used by criminals to send spam, launch phishing attacks and harvest data… " They were disguised as a link to YouTube which also installed a fake version of Flash Player." (source BBC News)

It is noteworthy that the article mentions that only Microsoft Windows is vulnerable to infection from these malicious programs.

- Analyn Revilla

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

She's Famous!

Chanel Kennebrew was in the Post yesterday! Yes, yes, I know. I'm late. I knew yesterday and was going to make a post butsomehow managed to get through my day without doing so. I apologize. I don't think the delay reduces the excitement though.

Take a look at Ms. Lady here. I'll scan in the pictures from the actual article and post them soon.

CONGRATULATIONS CHANEL!!!! From the entire Coup family.

-Ashleigh Rae

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Homosexuality Blamed for Increasing AIDS Problem in the Caribbean

The 2008 UNAIDS report indicates that the growing incidence of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean is being fuelled by men having sex with men. According to statistics from UNAIDS there are currently an estimated 230, 000 personsliving with HIV in the Caribbean. Some sources have it as high as 270, 000. Interestingly three quarters of this number, that is approximately 173, 000 are in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

The report indicates that as much as one of every eight HIV infection cases in the Caribbean region resulted from unprotected sex between men, especially in Cuba and Dominica. Statistics revealed that HIV prevalence among men who have sex with other men in Jamaica was between 25 to 30 percent, while it was 20 percent in Trinidad & Tobago. This information came from a Caribbean Commission on Health & Development 2005 document.

Other Factors Impacting HIV Epidemic in the Region

In addition to unprotected sex among men, the HIV rate is being driven by poverty, gender and unemployment. The associated stigmas of the disease are also preventing many persons from finding out and or revealing their status because of discrimination.

Recently there was a major debate in Jamaica concerning whether or not to decriminalize prostitution in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Professor Affette McCaw-Binns of the University of the West Indies is one voice in the wilderness calling for the legalization of prostitution to stem the spread of sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS.

To support her argument, Professor McCaw-Binns noted that making prostitution illegal does not serve as a deterrent to those who practice the trade as a means of livelihood. She said that decriminalizing and licensing sex workers would result in “their being examined and tested every three months and if they are unfit to practice, they lose their license.”

The 2008 UNAIDS information is staggering especially given the homophobic nature of Caribbean society. However, the fact is there is a large homosexual community in the region. The sex market is not limited to heterosexuals, as homosexual men can at times be seen offering their services to men if one knows where to look.

The biggest issue as I see it currently is educating persons on the ways to help prevent the spread of the disease by practicing safe sex. The call for issuing condoms in prison is often criticized as a means of promoting homosexuality, but the reality is, sex between men takes place in penal institutions.

With one of the largest incidence of HIV/AIDS infections in the world, the Caribbean region has to address head on the factors driving this increase. This may call for unpopular remedies that are against societal norms and Christian beliefs such as legalization of prostitution.

-Jessica McCurdy Crooks