Environmental watchdog Global Witness has called on the Liberian Government to investigate ‘acts of violence’ against communities that palm oil giant Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) is allegedly committing and to enact laws to protect citizens and regulate all plantation companies operating in the country.A Global Witness press release said the Liberian Government must also enact a law recognizing rural community ownership of their lands and regulate the country’s agriculture sector to bring an end to the impunity enjoyed by plantation companies.It said there is a need for an urgent reform, claiming that Liberians are reported to have been beaten, threatened, and arrested for taking a stand against GVL as the company sweeps across the southeast of the country.Global Witness said between August and October 2014, when the Ebola outbreak was at its peak, GVL used the opportunity created by the crisis to sign Memorandas of Understanding covering 134 km2 of community land. Prior to the outbreak the company had signed MOUs covering 166 km2.“Between April and December 2014, GVL used bulldozers to expand its plantation over 54 km2.In the three years prior to this, GVL had only cleared a total of 58 km2.GVL has stated that its activities in 2014 were part of its long-term plan,” Global Witness said.It noted further that “It is unacceptable to view the well-being of tens of thousands of people as inferior to an investment contract.“Development is not development if it involves robbing the country’s poorest citizens of their land. If Liberians are to benefit from palm oil they must be free to choose for or against it, and have the information and support they need to negotiate on their own terms.”Global Witness said the Liberian government should stop GVL from expanding onto new land and set a precedent for the other foreign companies poised to cash in on Liberia’s vast natural wealth.“Liberia is rolling out the red carpet to a company that has swindled communities, forcibly grabbed land and chain-sawed its way through rainforests in Asia,” Global Witness claimed in its release.It noted GVL’s first foray into Africa, at the peak of the continent’s deadliest Ebola epidemic where it has manipulated villagers into signing away the lands they depend on.“This will affect at least five generations of families who will likely never see their land returned to them,” Global Witness said.It said GVL has bought the rights to convert 2,600 km2 of southeast Liberia into an oil palm estate – an area the size of London and Barcelona combined.“Its contract is valid for up to 98 years, affecting some 41,000 people. This is the first time its parent company GAR has expanded outside its home country Indonesia, where it has an appalling track record for human rights abuses, land grabbing, and environmental devastation,” Global Witness claimed.However, at a press conference yesterday at a local hotel in Monrovia, GVL Head of Corporate Communications, Virgil Magee, who said he had not read the Global Witness report, told journalists that the company is involved with 28 communities in the areas of its operations.Magee said to a reporter’s question that GVL’s contract in Liberia is for 65 years, with possible extension for an additional 35years.Though not directly answering to issues raised by Global Witness, Magee said close to 4,000 Liberians are presently employed with GVL with a target of 5,000.He said the recent destruction at its Butaw facilities following violent demonstrations by angry youths, is estimated at U$1m.He said that contrary to unverified reports, GVL has been involved with 80 companies during the Ebola epidemic, and provided awareness to residents in both Sinoe and Grand Kru counties, since awareness information from Monrovia did not reach them.He also said contrary to reports, the company’s expansion activities are not done in isolation but on the invitation and with the participation of the communities.He said GVL is in the process of establishing the first palm oil mill in Tarjuwon, Grand Kru County and another will be built in Sinoe County.Further in its press release “Global Witness claims it has found evidence that some GVL staffers are reportedly not employed by the company directly, but instead are being subcontracted. It is unclear if such subcontractors will get the same benefits as employees.“GVL has stated that it may employ some subcontractors but is not aware of any such arrangements,” the release said.GVL’s parent company, GAR, Global Witness shareholder listings, Standard Chartered, holds US$710 million in GAR stock, the release said.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
…as Regional Health Dept and Mental Health Unit collaboratesReaffirming the view that there is no health without mental health, the Mental Health Unit of the Public Health Ministry, in collaboration with the Regional Health Department of the Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) Regional Democratic Council (RDC) have embarked on an aggressive campaign that targets teenage mothers as they seek to combat what they have described as increasing mental health issues among that demographic.Health Education Officer Tashia JamesAccording to Regional Health Officer (RHO) of Region Four, Dr Quincy Jones, 2018 is a year that he and his department, with the support of the RDC, intend to aggressively address a number of health-related challenges.He said mental health is a top priority, noting that statistics have shown that a number of teenage mothers are affected by depression, and as such, his department has a mandate to address this worrying trend. “A number of teenage mothers were not prepared for their pregnancy and because of the many challenges that come with pregnancy, especially to an unprepared mother or more so a teenager, it can and may affect them mentally, thus we at the Health Department will continue to find ways and means in addressing this,” he said.Dr Jones pointed out that through the many established Adolescent Days Clubs that many of his health centres have, it is a ‘perfect avenue’ to having mental health issues addressed. As such, he has taken a bold step with the Mental Health Unit to forge a formidable relationship in forging ahead with the aggressive plan. “There is always the common saying that there is no health without mental health and we firmly support this view, thus we have moved ahead in ensuring that our teenage mothers can have someone to talk to, to address their concerns, to share whatever is affecting them so we are ready and prepared to help and together with the Mental Health Unit, we will be able to address these issues,” Dr Jones reassured.Sharing similar sentiments is Health Education Officer at the Mental Health Unit, Public Health Ministry, Tashia James, who told a number of teenage mothers that she can relate to the challenges faced in being a teenage mother. Tashia James disclosed that like them, she too was a teenage mother who endured what she dubbed “severe verbal and other challenges”.
NBS 2nd Division 40-over cricketFollowing their defeat to DCC in the first division by the remarkable heroics of Guyana’s very own Christopher Barnwell, the University of Guyana Trojans will have to face their old foes in one of the semi-finals of the New Building Society (NBS) Second Division 40-over tourney at Demerara Cricket Club (DCC), starting at 10:30h on Saturday.The In- form Damion Vantull returns to the Trojans SquadWith the team returning from the second Cyril Bonar Memorial T20 Cricket Competition and placing second in the tournament that they competed in for the first time, the student side will be ready for DCC as they have played cricket against formidable opponents in Suriname and can be counted as experienced. The Trojans secured a spot in the finals, but lost to the host side, so they are thirsty for victory.Speaking with Guyana Times Sport, Coach of the University of Guyana side, Kenroy Joseph stated that DCC’s Second Division team, however, should not be taken lightly, as the Queenstown-based side will be boosted with players from the National U-19 group such as Raymond Perez, Joshua Persaud, Sachin Singh, Qumar Torrington and Ashmead Nedd, who have all been outstanding and may pose a serious threat. He also stated that even though DCC would be boosted, the University side would have a boost of their own in key players such as Captain Melroy Stephenson, Linden Austin, Lloyd George, Suresh Dhanai, Damion Vantull and Dwayne Dodson as they plan to exact revenge on the Second Division side for what occurred in the First Division.Joseph said, “The guys are all focused on the task at hand, we know beating DCC isn’t easy, but we will accomplish it, our in-form pacer Ray Newton is currently doing treatment on his index finger as he had picked up a sprain in the recently-concluded tour of Suriname, but I’m confident that he will be cleared for this weekend’s semi-final.”For his part, Stephenson said that as captain of the side he was mostly pleased with the preparations, but he was trying to ensure an injury-free team so when they face the Queenstown side they would be at full capacity.He noted, “The guys performed admirably in Suriname without the likes of a few key players, such as Damion Vantull who is a huge boost for us, in light of such I don’t see any opposition locally having the pedigree to topple us and moving forward.”When asked about the team’s recent First Division defeat, the Captain said, “Our team consists of quite a few seasoned players. They all understood toppling DCC in a First Division match at DCC wasn’t going to be easy. We played out of our skins, they were somewhat disappointed, but just praising them for the effort that was put into that performance was enough to motivate them and has made the entire team hungry for further success.”Stephenson also said that it should be noted that while other teams have star players, the Trojans try not to promote individual talent but what could be done as an entire unit together and this has led to their many successes. He declared that he was aware that DCC boasted many prominent U-19 talents, but he was prepared for them. He believes once the ball is placed in the right areas and chances that present themselves are capitalised upon, the DCC players can be limited to a paltry score and once the Trojans batsmen apply themselves, they would come out victorious.The squad representing the student side is as follows:M Stephenson(Captain);L Austin; D George; M Persaud; E Alli; O Danram; L George; R Newton; S Dhanai; B Singh; N Bollers; G Matthews; P Persaud; D Dodson; D Heywood and D Vantull. (Timothy Jaikarran)
Thousand Oaks coach Mike Giles said he agreed to have the game rescheduled after administration at Santa Barbara requested the move because there are no classes Friday in honor of the President’s Day holiday. Giles said the move shouldn’t have much of an impact on his team. Despite having a shorter practice time, the Lancers’ remained confident they can make a run at an upset. “What can I say, man,” Giles said. “If you’re not a first seed in league, you will get a tough team. Sure, we’ll try to make it interesting. We’re just glad we are in the show and we’ll deal with it.” A Lancers win would put the Marmonte League’s third-place team in the second round Feb. 20 against the winner of Friday’s game between Mira Costa and Costa Mesa. – Ivan Orozco Want to be Daily News radio reporter? We’re looking for volunteers to report by cell phone from Friday’s prep basketball games for the Daily News Sports Show on the web on nowinla.com with hosts Gerry Gittelson and Matt McHale. It’s easy and fun! Leave contact info: (661) 257-5218. While other area girls’ water polo teams in the Southern Section’s Div. II playoffs will make their postseason debut Friday, Thousand Oaks will begin competition today. That’s because the game was moved up by request of the Lancers’ first round opponent Santa Barbara, the No. 3 seed. Campbell Hall’s Henry a Beaver Campbell Hall of North Hollywood defensive end Taylor Henry has signed to play at Oregon State next season. Henry, a Southern Section All-CIF selection, had 10 sacks last year in addition to recording 54 tackles. He also rushed for 532 yards and five touchdowns as a running back. The Vikings finished with a 3-7 record this season. Henry is the third player from the school in the past three years to head to a Pacific-10 Conference university, following Sam Weinberger (Stanford) and Matthew Jordan (USC). – Erik Boal ECR’s Gailen honored El Camino Real of Woodland Hills graduate Blake Gailen is the Mountain West Conference baseball Player of the Week after posting one of the most dominating offensive performances in UNLV program history last weekend against Cal State Fullerton. The senior outfielder went 11 for 13 with a home run, fourdoubles, a triple, fiveRBIs and four stolen bases in the three-game series. He was a home run shy of the cycle when he went 4 for 4 in Friday’s series opener. In Sunday’s upset of the nationally ranked Titans, Gailen went 5for 5 and scored the winning run on a balk. – Heather Gripp Swimming for polo only Royal of Simi Valley senior Tyler McClure, a Southern Section Div. II champion in the freestyle and backstroke, has decided to skip his final season with the Highlanders’ swim team to focus on water polo. McClure, who intends to follow in his brother Justin’s footsteps by playing at Ventura College, has joined the Ventura County Premier Water Polo Club and is competing in the Florida International Tournament this week. – Heather Gripp 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
Conditions were challenging at Turtle Bay’s oceanside Palmer Course, with occasional showers and tradewinds that shook the players’ pony tails and nerves. Only nine of 83 players finished below par. Granada, who won the season-ending ADT Championship and helped give Paraguay its first Women’s World Cup title last month, shot a 69. Paula Creamer won the LPGA Tour’s season-opening SBS Open on Saturday in Kahuku, Hawaii, for her first victory since 2005, handling the whipping wind to hold off Julieta Granada by a stroke. The 20-year-old Creamer closed with a 2-under 70 for a 9-under 207 total and earned $165,000 for her third LPGA Tour title. In 2005 as a rookie, she won two LPGA Tour titles and also took two tournaments in Japan. Bean, Levi top Champions Tour leader board: Andy Bean shot a 4-under 67 in cold and windy conditions in Lutz, Fla., for a share of the lead with Wayne Levi in the suspended second round of the Champions Tour’s Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am. “I play well in the wind, so I’m ready for the conditions,” Bean said. “Probably half the tournaments I have ever won have been in Hawaii or Florida. If you can control the trajectory of the ball the wind doesn’t take it so much.” Levi shot a 69, finishing in near darkness, to match Bean at 4-under 138 on the TPC Tampa Bay. Levi holed a pitching wedge shot from 118 yards for eagle on the par-4 10th – his first hole of the day. The ball bounced once, skipped, then spun back in. Minoza storms ahead at Indonesian Open: Frankie Minoza topped the leader board at the Indonesian Open in Jakarta, Indonesia, before monsoon storms stopped play early for the third consecutive day. Aiming to become the first Filipino to win a European tour event, Minoza was at 8 under with a hole to play in the third round, one stroke ahead of the tight pack led by Mikko Ilonen of Finland and Suk Jong-yul of South Korea. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Karrie Webb closed with a 70 to finish third at 6 under. LPGA Player of the Year Lorena Ochoa, coming off a six-win season, was another stroke back along with Janice Moodie (72) and 18-year-old Morgan Pressel (74). Creamer pulled away with a strong front nine with fourstraight birdies starting on No. 4, but ran into trouble on the back side. “It was a roller coaster,” she said. “I can’t even explain it. I was so up-and-down out there.” With composure and a comfortable cushion, Creamer seemed to have the tournament wrapped up. But the Pink Panther sliced her drive into the marsh and wound up with a double bogey on the 396-yard 11th and missed a 3-foot par putt on 13, stumbling to 8 under. But she managed to hang on to sink the dramatic putt on 17. It was Creamer’s first victory since her eight-stroke win in France in the 2005 Evian Masters. She ended that year second to Annika Sorenstam on the money list and earned rookie of the year honors.