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Sunday, August 25, 2013


By Kenton Chance

Pro-Vice Chancellor Hilary Beckles
KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, August 21, 2013 - A leading Caribbean intellectual has presented a compelling argument of why Britain should pay to former colonies in the region reparations for slavery and native genocide.

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders at their summit in Trinidad and Tobago in July agreed to the formation of the Commission that will be chaired by Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and include St Vincent and the Grenadines, Haiti, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

The regional countries have also engaged the services of a prominent British human rights law firm to assist in the matter.

“We are focusing on Britain because Britain was the largest owners of slaves at Emancipation in the 1830s. The British made the most money out of slavery and the slave trade -- they got the lion share. And, importantly, they knew how to convert slave profits into industrial profits,” said Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal of the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI).

Speaking at a lecture Tuesday night on the title of his latest book, “Britain’s Black Debt: Reparations for Caribbean Slavery and Native Genocide”, the academic detailed how the British government and British citizens used slavery to enrich themselves.

He further noted that while at Emancipation, reparations were paid to former slave owners, the slaves got nothing.

Professor Beckles argued that the reparation monies stimulated the British economy for half a century after Emancipation, but “here in the Caribbean, the islands were descended into poverty after Emancipation.

“And in Britain, 50 years of growth because the compensation money was reinvested in the British economy and stimulated the economic development of the company,” he said, adding “the British government built this system (slavery), they created fiscal policies to manage it, they created financial systems, they legislated slavery, they administrated slavery, the government owned the slaves, and, importantly, the British government is the custodian of the wealth of the nation.

“We believe that we now have to repair the damage and this is the final point. This is why now repartitions is important,” Professor Beckles said, noting that Caribbean governments were now spending up to 80 per cent of their expenditure on education and health.

“After 300 hundred years of taking their labour, exploiting their labour and enriching themselves to build themselves into the most powerful nation on earth, they have left Caribbean peoples illiterate and unhealthy, which means that the governments today have to clean up illiteracy and clean up the ill-health do not have the resources to do it.”

Professor Beckles said that the British were good at keeping records and hence the wealth derived from slavery is traceable. He rebutted some of the arguments likely to be advanced by Britain as it resists paying reparations to the region.

He said that the British have launched a campaign to discredit the reparations movement, but stated that British citizens are increasingly seeing the need for -- and are calling on their government to make -- amends.

Professor Beckles spoke of a case in which a slave trader, faced with decreasing ration aboard a slave ship and no tail winds, decided to throw his slave “cargo” overboard and return to Britain to claim insurance.

The British judiciary ruled that it was a simple case of property insurance rather than murder --since slaves were not considered human beings.

“Therein lies the British court … the judiciary of great Britain, ruling in its own legal structure that black people are not human beings.

“Therein lies the charge of reparations, because to deny a people their human identity is a crime against humanity and that is the case that the British judiciary, on behalf of the British state, established the principle that once and for all, that African peoples are not human.”

Professor Beckles spoke of how the exploitation of the region under slavery resulted in the underdevelopment of the region’s human resource, infrastructure, and economy.

He noted that after 300 years of colonisation, when in 1962 the British left Jamaica at Independence, 80 per cent of the Caribbean nation’s people were functionally illiterate

Professor Beckles also spoke of the impact on the family, and mentioned the high rates of diabetes and hypertension in the region and the ways in which black people in the Caribbean and Africa respond to medicine for these conditions.

“These are the kinds of things we speak about when we speak about reparations,” Professor Beckles said in reference to the vestiges of slavery and colonisation.

“The British government has to come to the Caribbean and sit with us and help us deal with all of these. We have a legal and moral right,” Professor Beckles said, lauding the efforts of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves who has convinced his CARICOM colleagues to support the reparations movement.

“We need to take them forward. All of us need to take them forward,” Professor Beckles said of the issues relating to reparations.

“And if we do not, this region is going to regress and regress very rapidly. And it is not about confrontation, it is not about conflict, it is about a 21st century state of sophisticated diplomacy. 21st century diplomacy is required, a 21st century international relations is required. The time has come now in this second phase of nation building for us to go forward. I feel this is where we are at,” he said.

He noted, however, that reparation is not about handing over money to either individuals or governments.

“Under international law, reparations are paid into a fund, which is administered under international law. … In every society, a reparations committee is established, a fund is established, and under law, those funds are placed under trustees and trustees are held responsible for the use of those funds for community development,” Professor Beckles said. (CMC)


Tuesday, August 20, 2013



August 20, 2013


A few days ago, I promised that I would issue a statement to address “the issues of concern and in particular, the reasons for the actions of the United States to disallow the officers of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force from participating in training programmes arranged or financed by the United States.”

I address you tonight, in fulfilment of that promise.

I have heard those who have argued that a statement should have been made earlier by the Government and more particularly, by myself. As I have explained, this matter is exceedingly delicate and complex. It involves several parties. The officers of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force, the United States Government, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and most importantly, the citizens of our country.

It is of little value to make a statement to confirm what is already in the public domain, without providing some indication of how the Government plans to resolve the issues which confront us. A solution has to involve all of the parties just mentioned.

I shall, therefore, try to be as simple and as clear as possible so that all can understand the issues.


The current events have their origin in the twelve individuals who were shot and killed by police officers between 2010 and 2011, during the tenure of the Government of the United Workers Party. Those killings occurred after the former Government launched what was then described in the media and elsewhere as “Operation Restore Confidence.”
This operation commenced with a dramatic speech to the nation by the former Prime Minister, Hon. Stephenson King, on May 30, 2010. The former Prime Minister warned criminals that “There will be no refuge, no stone will be left unturned and there will be no hiding place for anyone.”

In a further address to the nation on February 13, 2011, the former Prime Minister issued another warning to the criminals. He told them that, “They will be hunted down, they will be found, they will be prosecuted, they will be judged and will be made to pay the consequences for the crimes committed against our peace loving and law abiding people.”

Many would recall that there was, in circulation, a “hit list” of targeted persons deemed to be criminals. I recall that in opposition, I had seen such a list.
In the aftermath of the launch of “Operation Restore Confidence,” some twelve persons met their deaths. When the killings occurred, a few in our midst protested; some, on the other hand, applauded and welcomed the seeming reduction in homicides; others largely remained silent.

These killings, already described by some as “extra-judicial killings,” attracted the attention of the United States, in particular, that country’s State Department. In its Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Saint Lucia for 2011, the State Department noted that “there were twelve (12) potentially unlawful fatal police shootings during the year, some reportedly committed by officers associated with an ad hoc task force within the police department.”

It is this issue which has pre-occupied the United States and which has led to the actions taken against the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force.


Officials of the United States say that they have taken action against police officers because they are bound by a law enacted by the United States Congress. This law, popularly known as the “Leahy Law” is named after the law’s principal sponsor, Senator Patrick Leahy of the state of Vermont. Essentially, this law says that the United States shall not furnish any assistance “to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.” The law further states that the prohibition just mentioned “shall not apply” if the Secretary determines and reports…….that the government of such country is taking effective steps to bring the responsible members of the security unit to justice.” The law adds that: “in the event that funds are withheld from any unit…the Secretary of State shall promptly inform the foreign government of the basis for such action and shall, to the maximum extent practicable, assist the foreign government in taking effective measures to bring the responsible members of the security forces to justice.”

There is much more to this law but for our purposes these provisions would suffice.

When these provisions are scrutinized against the actions of the United States, it becomes clear that the United States believes it has “credible evidence” that the officers of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force committed gross violations of human rights.”


From the foregoing, the question which should be asked is whether the Government of Saint Lucia has taken or is taking measures “to bring the responsible members” of the Police Force “to justice?” Of course, those so-called responsible members would first have to be identified.
More pointedly, what do our laws say when unexplained deaths occur?

Where unexplained killings occur, our law provides for coroners inquests to be conducted by a magistrate to determine, if possible, the cause of the death of the subject of the inquest. In the case of the twelve killings mentioned earlier, I am advised that six inquests have been held. The inquest into the five individuals who were killed in the police operation in Vieux Fort is underway but remains incomplete.

Of the six inquests which have been completed, the coroners returned verdicts of “death by lawful act.” One inquest, I have been advised, has been remitted for a new inquest.

Since the United States has decided to impose sanctions on members of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force , then it is reasonably clear that it does not have confidence in the outcome of the inquests to bring those responsible for the killings to justice; that is, if there is a basis to do so. Clearly, too, the presumption seems to be that the killings were unlawful.


As the Government said in a recent statement, “It is undeniable that it is in our vital interest to maintain close ties of co-operation with the United States in security matters.”

From its first few months in office, the Government has always understood the seriousness of this matter and its implications for the Police Force and indeed, the former UWP Political Directorate.

The Government of Saint Lucia moved quickly on two fronts. Firstly, recognizing that inquests take an inordinate amount of time to arrive at verdicts, the Attorney General took steps to expedite inquests by appointing additional coroners. This was done by the issuance and publication of Statutory Instruments No 58 of 2012 and No. 126 of 2012. Secondly, the Government of Saint Lucia requested the United States to conduct polygraphs or what is often described as “lie detector tests” for senior officers of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force.

I am advised that over forty Gazetted officers and inspectors have undergone these tests but only one, so far, has failed. In every case, these officers were asked about their involvement and or knowledge of the alleged “extra- judicial killings”. They were also questioned about possible involvement in drugs and corrupt practices and behaviour.

The tests are not over. The Government will also permit the polygraph tests to extend to other ranks, the Special Services Unit as well as other officers assigned to other units of the force.
It is now the policy of this Government that no officer would be promoted to the rank of a Gazetted Officer unless that officer submits to a polygraph test.

In passing, I should emphasize that while these tests are very helpful in arriving at decisions regarding promotions and appointments, they are of no value in our courts of law. Indeed, even in the United States, their admissibility is not automatic and is decided on a case by case basis subject to the discretion of the presiding judge who is bound by strict legal guidelines. In Saint Lucia, they may provide evidence of one kind or other but the evidence has no probative value. In other words, the Director of Public Prosecution cannot rely on any evidence obtained as a result of the polygraphing of police officers. So, merely polygraphing police officers is not a solution to the issues which we face.


So far, the United States has disallowed several officers from proceeding on further training or participating in programmes organised or funded by the United States. This action, as you know, included the Commissioner of Police, who was recently prevented from travelling to the United States to represent regional police commanders at a Conference of Black Police Officers in the United States. Contrary to speculation by some, I wish to make it clear that the US Visa of the Commissioner has not been revoked. This has been confirmed by the United States Ambassador to the Eastern Caribbean, Mr. Larry Palmer in a telephone conversation with me.

Yesterday, I was also advised that the United States has gone one step further and suspended all assistance to the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force.

I have to admit that the conduct of this exercise has not been easy for the members of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force. It has pitted officer against officer, led to “finger-pointing,” accusations and counter accusations. The decision has undoubtedly undermined the morale of the Police Force and tarnished its reputation.

Our Police Officers cannot, for example, participate in any programme of training in the Regional Security Services (the RSS) once it is funded or organized by the United States. This has led to considerable speculation among members of the units from other member states.
Clearly, this is not a happy situation.


Where then do we go from here?

The Government of Saint Lucia is clear that the speculation about these so called “extra-judicial killings” must be brought to an end. It is in the interest of all concerned that the full facts of what occurred be disclosed, not only to satisfy the United States but, importantly, to clear those officers whose reputations are at risk. In the final analysis, the citizens of Saint Lucia must have confidence in those who are charged with law enforcement. In all of this, no matter how we may feel about those who met their deaths, we cannot ignore the pain and anguish of the families of the victims. They too need closure.

The fundamental issue is whether these killings were pre-meditated or occurred in the lawful execution of the duties of the officers involved?
To help to bring resolution to this unhappy episode, the Government has taken two further steps.

Firstly, the Government has invited the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security, IMPACS, to identify three senior investigators from the region to investigate the so called “extra-judicial” killings.
The investigators will be asked to evaluate all available evidence and determine whether or not these matters warrant further action.

The findings, if adverse, will be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions who has ultimate jurisdiction in criminal matters.

Secondly, Government will enact new legislation to conduct investigations of the type just proposed so as to ensure that such investigations enjoy the full protection of the law and that the findings of any investigation are lawfully transmitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions. This measure is needed to ensure that a mechanism exists to deal with such situations in the future, should such unexplained or suspicious deaths occur.


As I said earlier, I am fully aware that this is an exceedingly anxious period for the men and women of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force. Some criminals may well feel that this is a moment to strike to undermine the excellent work that has been done over the past few months. I urge the police to remain calm but firm, vigilant, steadfast and uncompromising in the fight against crime in our country. The criminals in our midst must not be given any solace or sympathy.

Meanwhile, I wish to reassure our citizens that the Government will continue to work closely with the United States to resolve this issue and on security matters generally, in much the same way that we have done over the past few years. Saint Lucia values its close co-operation with the United States in security matters because without this understanding and co-operation our, borders can never be secure.


When this is over, there can be little doubt that a monumental task will confront us to restore confidence and cohesiveness to the Force. At times like these, speculation will be rife but we must follow the rule of law as enshrined in our Constitution. There can be no other way. We now reap the harvest of rash decisions, particularly by policy makers anxious to gain quick resolutions. Sadly, the reality is that we must tread cautiously in these times, but resolutely and boldly as well. And so, while we still have a cloud of uncertainty above the officers and members of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force, we must not pander to populist views, but rather, we must follow due process as the rule of law commands us. We must do this not for the Americans but for ourselves.

My Government will remain fully committed to the maintenance of the law and order, by all citizens, irrespective of their position or status, civilian or otherwise.

I thank you and good night.

May God bless each and every one of you.

Monday, August 12, 2013


Reports circulating in the media indicate that Vernon Francois the Commissioner of the Royal St Lucia Police Force has been asked to proceed on vacation leave. Reliable sources say the Commissioner of Police is entitled to 400 days of leave.

The request for the COP to go on leave comes in the midst of concerns and anxieties expressed by the sections of the St. Lucian public in respect of a decision by the United States to debar officers of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force “from participating in several training programmes arranged or financed by the US”.

According to the Government sources, Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony will this week, clarify outstanding and related issues in that regard including the reasons for the actions of the United States against officers of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force.

It is believed that the US action is related to the US State Department’s human rights report on St Lucia that singled out 12 police killings during 2011, some allegedly perpetrated a special task force within the police department.

Among other things, the State Department report also observed that (1) there was “only limited progress by the director of public prosecutions (DPP) in reviewing and other investigations of unlawful killings dating back to 2006”; and (2) that “the government did not implement the existing anti-corruption law effectively, and officials sometimes engaged in corrupt practices with impunity”.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


The details are still sketchy and confirmation is still pending! But there are emerging “snippets” of the shocking news that the top hierarchy of the Royal Saint Lucia Force (RSLPF) was denied entry into the US to participate in police training activities sponsored by the US.

It is not clear whether their passports were suspended or revoked.

It is further suggested that there may be a strong link between the action of US State Department and earlier allegations of extra-judicial killings levelled at the RSLPF by a self-styled female human rights city attorney.

The incidents leading the “punitive action” by the US authorities may have its genesis in an incident which happened in VF during the reign of the King Administration and when Senator Guy Mayers was minister for National Security.

Pressured by strong police presence and action in the inner city, criminal gangs started making their way down south; and then one night acting on intelligence, the police tracked an armed gang of robbers as they trekked from Castries to VF to make their loot at a certain business place. The police claimed that when they tried to intercept and "pre-empt" the “looting operation” by the armed robbers, they were shot at; and when they returned the fire, it was reported that a total of four was counted dead.

Mary Francis dubbed the alleged police action as “extra judicial killings”.  

At the time of the incident our national security was under threat by a spate of criminal activities which included a high frequency of murders, daring daylight robberies and Django-type shootings especially within the city (which was perceived to be under a state of siege by organised gangs of criminals). The public clamoured loudly for strong police and government action and the police especially was under extreme pressure to restore our extremely fragile national security situation to a state of normalcy.

In response, the police “cordoned off” and “saturated” the inner city with their strongest possible presence. That strategy put the criminals on the defensive  and precipitated in a shift in their zone of criminal operation southward and into the hinterlands.

All of sudden, the south and the hinterlands became a veritable hotbed of criminal activity with the main targets being businesses, tourists and expats (especially British and American tourists).

In Choiseul, for example, a female American citizen was terrorised at gun point and her home was burglarised in the dead of night. It is a miracle that she escaped alive - a fact that Mary Francis and Amnesty International ignored completely. (They should have visited St. Lucia to experience first-hand what was happening to our country and to put the strong action of the police in context.)

It was apparent that while the country was bleeding from the reign of terror and carnage by the criminals and the police was figuring out ways to deal with the situation, Mary and friends were coming to the rescue of those criminals in the name of human rights.

Having said all of the above, I’m of the general view that if anybody should be held responsible for St. Lucia being in the bad books of the US State Department or Amnesty International, then it should be the DPP – not the Commissioner of Police and his men! Why? Because of the DPP’s inaction, non-action or even delayed action, she should shoulder the blame for Saint Lucia’s poor image in the eyes of the international community - for she should have immediately started the process to get wheels of justice turning to bring closure to the related judicial and human right issues involved. Up to now, there’s no feedback and it’s unfortunate that, under those circumstances, it has to be the top hierarchy of the RSLPF that has to face the disgrace. Doesn’t that translate into a victory for the criminal elements in our society?

Meanwhile, I want to applaud the Commissioner and his men for the great job they have done to restore national security to the island over time and when it mattered. While I do not support extreme police action in any form, I also believe there are times when the police can use its discretionary powers vested in them under the law to help bring about safety and security to citizens.  After all, Israel does it all the time with impunity. Shouldn't St. Lucia reserve the right to do the same to safeguard its national security when it matters?

President Obama, I’m disappointed that your own national security policy did not take into consideration all “the variables in the equation” when your state department was making that crucial decision. Perhaps, we should have outsourced that function to you at the time and learn from your "best practices".

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


More evidence is emerging to support the Powerhouse “modification hypothesis” that the 2013 hurricane season may not be as “hyperactive” as the experts initially suggested.

In a revised forecast ( released Friday morning (August 02), the top experts (Gray and Glotzbach) at Colorado State University, again repeated their prediction of an "above-average 2013 Atlantic basin hurricane season." But they have also slightly “moderated” their initial forecast to "accommodate" the PowerHouse “modification hypothesis” that the season may not be as active as they initially believed.

A total of 18 tropical storms were “forecast to form, of which nine would be hurricanes”. Now, there is a slight downgrade in the numbers of expected hurricanes from nine to eight.

The reason they gave for the drop in the number is “the cooler waters”. Klotzbach claimed that "While the tropical Atlantic remains warmer than normal, it has cooled somewhat in the eastern portion of the basin". Two questions therefore arise: What cooled it? What is the new thermodynamic variable which came into play?

Klotzbach nevertheless claimed that an active season still looks “probable”. He said, "It appears that the chances of an El Niño event this summer and fall are unlikely." (The El Niño makes conditions for storm formation less conducive.) Again, Klotzbach’s prediction model seems to be based on “probability theory”; and this in itself introduces a host of logistic, scientific and philosophical issues beyond the scope of this article.

Nonetheless, an issue is: are the experts merely “erring on the side of caution”? As the USA Today rightly pointed out, they have not always got it right! “Since 2000, the team has under-forecast the number of named tropical storms and hurricanes seven times, over-forecast three times and been almost right — within two storms — three times”. Hence, their predictions have been "almost right" only 3 out of 13 times or 23% of the time. Will they be right this year?

In an earlier article (, the Powerhouse argued that pre-season thermodynamic conditions would theoretically have a moderating influence on the potential intensity of the hurricane season; and that those were largely expected to have an impact on the number and intensity of the hurricane/storms for 2013.

This is not to suggest in any way that we would not have a couple of strong hurricanes for this year. I would be naïve to think so – as hurricanes are absolutely necessarily to maintain thermal equilibrium and hence reduce global warming in the tropical Atlantic! Moreover, we are in “the heart of the hurricane season” and we expect hurricanes to strike! And whether or not they strike the Caribbean, we should always be in a state of high alert.

I will arguably refer to August and September as the most “vulnerable hurricane months” when the probability of strikes is at its highest. Indeed, three of the most dangerous storms to hit the Caribbean/Atlantic happened in the months of August and September. In 1979, Hurricane David struck and killed over 2000 persons; in 1980, Hurricane Allen struck and killed 269 persons and in 1988, Gilbert struck and killed 433 persons. The total cost of their impact approached US$10 billion.

St. Lucia is currently still reeling under the impact of Hurricane Tomas which happened late October 2010.

What I have said is not meant to take anything away from the research efforts of Gray and Klotzbach at Colorado State University. The research work of these academically esteemed gentlemen – even if seemingly incomplete - deserves a resounding round of applause. These guys have made significant theoretical and empirical contributions that have gone a long way in enhancing our awareness and level of “hurricane-preparedness” and this year is no exception. However, my simple personal and (to some extent) scientific position is they will be off-target again in their predictions for 2013. Admittedly, their recently-added “modification hypothesis” has gone some way to tentatively address the issue but they have done so too “cautiously”, suggesting a need for far more extensive research by them! 

Monday, August 5, 2013


by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY

Eight hurricanes are predicted to form in the Atlantic this season

All of the forecasts are in, and with the heart of the hurricane season just weeks away, an unusually busy year still looks likely.

The final "preseason" forecast from top experts at Colorado State University, released Friday morning (August 02), again calls for an "above-average 2013 Atlantic basin hurricane season."

A total of 18 named tropical storms are forecast to form, of which eight should be hurricanes. This is a slight reduction from Colorado State's previous forecasts, which called for nine hurricanes.

A typical year, based on weather records that go back to 1950, has 12 tropical storms, of which seven are hurricanes. A tropical storm has sustained winds of 39 mph; it becomes a hurricane when its winds reach 74 mph.

The Atlantic hurricane season started June 1 and lasts until Nov. 30. So far this year, four tropical storms have formed in the Atlantic, but no hurricanes, according to the National Hurricane Center. August and September are the two most active months for hurricanes in the Atlantic.

The forecast does not include hurricanes that form in the eastern Pacific basin, which seldom affect the USA.

The prediction was released by meteorologists Philip Klotzbach and William Gray at Colorado State's Tropical Meteorology Project.

Why the drop in the number of predicted hurricanes? "While the tropical Atlantic remains warmer than normal, it has cooled somewhat in the eastern portion of the basin," Klotzbach said. Warm water provides the fuel that helps a hurricane form.

Nevertheless, an active season still looks probable: "It appears that the chances of an El Niño event this summer and fall are unlikely," he says."Typically, El Niño is associated with stronger vertical shear across the tropical Atlantic, creating conditions less conducive for storm formation."

Colorado State was the first organization to issue seasonal hurricane forecasts, and is now in its 30th year of issuing these forecasts.

The Colorado State team's seasonal forecasts tend to be conservative: Since 2000, the team has under-forecast the number of named tropical storms and hurricanes seven times, over-forecast three times and been almost right — within two storms — three times, a USA TODAY analysis shows.


Saturday, August 3, 2013


This article is a truncated version of the original. Essentially, it is saying that a bug (which goes by the name of Eggerthella Lanta or E. Lanta) can alter the structure of a drug (digoxin) which is used to treat heart failure and irregular heartbeats. The bug which resides in our guts causes a chemical change of the drug (digoxin) to dihydrodigixon and instead of "treating" the patient's heart problems, it is is quickly excreted out. The researcher (Mr Tambaugh from Havard University) believes that his discovery has provided an insight into that can lead to improvement of the delivery of cardiac drugs.

"Bacteria in the human gut, which are present in the billions, can change the effect of medicine. This has been demonstrated for at least 40 drugs. But until now, nobody knew exactly how.

"New research, published in “Science” ( by Peter Turnbaugh at Harvard University, helps solve this riddle, at least for one drug. The team looked at digoxin, which is used to treat heart failure and arrhythmia (irregular beats). Digoxin is only effective within a narrow range of concentrations. This makes getting the right digoxin dose very tricky—a challenge made more difficult by the gut bacteria.

The drugs don’t work

"Digoxin is inactivated by a bacterium (called Eggerthella lenta) found in the gut. The bug changes the drug’s structure so it cannot interact normally with its target. This inactive form, called dihydrodigoxin, is also quickly excreted by the patient. Turnbaugh aimed to find out how the bacterium inactivated the drug and how to prevent it from doing so.

"To do this, he and his colleagues used a technique called RNA sequencing.

The effect of diet on drugs

"Turnbaugh found that the bacteria grew better if fed the amino acid arginine, which is a component of most proteins. However, too much arginine led to reduced expression of the two cytochrome genes that inactivated digoxin.

"So Turnbaugh’s team predicted that eating more protein would increase the arginine in the gut, which would limit the inactivation of digoxin by the bacterium (E. lenta). They tested this by colonizing two sets of mice with the inactivating E. lenta strain and feeding them different amounts of protein. The mice with higher protein intake had higher levels of active digoxin in their blood.

"Turnbaugh believes that the work may show a way to improve the delivery of cardiac drugs. He feels that the findings demonstrate the importance of understanding how drugs are inactivated. One day, he suggests, patients may find that their prescriptions are accompanied by recommended diets or supplements, such as arginine, that improve the effectiveness of the drugs."

Thursday, August 1, 2013


The word on the street is the parliamentary rep for Choiseul/Saltibus is not well. Reports reaching this Blog suggest he is currently suffering for hypertension. I cannot vouch to the authenticity of the story but if he is indeed ill, then I wish him a speedy recovery.

The Choiseul/Saltibus constituency has been in a state of flux ever since he was elected to office in November 2011. Disaffection and disenchantment appear to have reached their peak and the patience of the constituents maybe at “dielectric breakdown point”. 

On this Emancipation Day 2013, it may therefore be fitting to reflect on the quality of representation we get and the extent that it is relevant to the pursuit of our aspirations as well as our political and economic liberation.

Under the "Lorne model" of representation, has the constituency taken a "quantum leap" forward or backward? What are the plans and programmes (to quote his own words at his launching in August 2011) “to make a good place better”? After his sixth 100 days in office, what are his performance achievements as a parliamentary rep? And what are their resultant impact on the constituency of the Choiseul/Saltibus? Has he had  sit-downs with a cross-section of his constituents to formulate a comprehensive development strategy for the constituency? Or Will he use the notoriously discredited “Bousquetian” ivory tower governance strategy with no plan and no blueprint?

Choiseul – St. Lucia’s bush constituency - in recent times (especially from 2006 until now) has had the unenviable history of being represented by lordly politicians – perhaps too lordly to have any desire to be on the ground!

The total area of constituency is a mere 15 sq. miles; admittedly, it has a topography that is as challenging as it is beautiful. If you love nature and un-spoilt beauty, then you will be at home with the challenges and savour the therapy they bring. Many persons have said a “trot” or drive along any ridge to the beach is a natural cure for headaches and contributes much to regulating hypertension. In short, navigating the constituency maybe be risky but it may also be therapeutic.

In the previous quinquinnium (2006 – 2011), Choiseul was clearly under-represented by a Bruce Tucker. We hardly saw him in the first 2/3’s of the quinquinnium until Lorne’s candidacy was announced. Henceforth, he made his constituency office his permanent home and suddenly he was everywhere, every day!

He always claimed that he could win the seat "hands down" with only two weeks of campaign; and with a massive "money machine" at his disposal during the last elections, he became the King Midas of Choiseul/Saltibus; but Choiseulians would not allow him and his monster money machine to blank out  their memory a third time. He was defeated by Lorne.

But what about the situation “post-Tucker”? Today, that vicious wheel of under-representation continues to spin – and perhaps faster! The prevailing mantra is: “the more things change, the more they remain the same”! If Tucker went missing in action for 80% of his tenure, then what’s the best way to characterize Lorne’s tenure so far? How do they compare in their "first third" of their respect tenure?

Many claim that when it comes to disappearing acts from the constituency, Tucker might have only been a “baby soukouyan” when compared to Lorne! And while many Choiseulians say they’ve got “the surprise of their life” in that regard, and are still inconsolably mulling over Lorne’s "Soukouyanism", some claim that they aren’t “one-bit” surprised about it! They claim it was always on the cards!

A teacher who is a strong SLP supporter said, “We never thought Lorne would do that to us and so fast . . . I remember the days of ‘Lime with Lorne’; he was so nice, pure and true! I haven’t set eyes on him in my community since after he won! I’m in a state of shock”

Another “SLP insider” was more philosophical. He was of the view that Lorne’s disappearance and neglect of the constituency can be explained in terms of power: “Power corrupts; and absolute power corrupts absolutely”!

A distressed lady from Gertrine told me that “Gertrine and Saltibus are treated as bush people”.

A lady from Coco wanted to know if Lorne was still interested in "the sick and shut in" he visited so regularly during the campaign.

But perhaps the most introspective comment came from a retired educator, who couldn’t camouflage his utter disgust for our parliamentary representative. He told the POWERHOUSE that he found it strange that after almost two years into Lorne’s tenure that he has never set eyes on him. He was of the view that Choiseul was being treated like “The Country of the Blind”!

Those of us who are old enough will remember the “Country of the Blind” fantasy tale written by HG Wells in which a mountaineer (Nuñez) while attempting to reach the unconquered summit of a mountain, slipped and fell down its far side into a strange and isolated society of blind persons cut off from the rest of the world by an earthquake.  Unknown to him, Nuñez had discovered the fabled ‘Country of the Blind’.

He mistakenly believed that "In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king" and he thought he could easily teach and rule the subjects.

However, incident after incident proved him wrong. The society of the blind functioned perfectly effectively and happily with the other finely tuned faculties. In fact, the natives regarded “vision” as a disability.

Imprisoned and enslaved, Nuñez began settling down and learned to live with his own “vision disability”.

Eventually, he fell in love and was given permission to marry, on condition that he would agree to have his eyes removed. His decision and its outcome make up the climax of the story.

The Country of the Blind scenario may well be an apt truism to capture the political state of affairs in Choiseul/Saltibus where any “one-eyed” politician generally have the luxury to freely walk in and run! However, unlike the highly-intelligent characters in the HG Wells fantasy tale who compelled Nunez to conform, like Arawaks, we blindly surrender our “sovereignty” and “territorial integrity” to visiting parliamentary representatives making them our demi-gods, princes or even kings!

An elder statesman-educator who has been following the “politics” puts that phenomenon in a politico-historical perspective. He believes that Choiseulians apathy and acceptance of political subjugation plus all their attendant atrocities have their roots in our history and prehistory dating back millennia ago. He argues that this backward “political paradigm” was re-branded and re-introduced in Choiseul in the 60’s by ungracious, greedy and power-hungry politicians who wanted to win at all costs. And that since then, it has pretty much become our political culture.

In the context of that culture, many Choiseulians saw Lorne (because of his familial grounding) as a breath of fresh air to bring about a cultural shift in our politics. The “Lime with Lorne” model achieved a lot of good in that regard. The kernel of the Lorne model was the declaration that he would provide the people of the constituency with same quality of representation that he afforded in the courtroom on behalf of his clients! And that was not just said, it was amply demonstrated in so many ways – especially after Hurricane Tomas struck!

But today, what we see on the horizon appear to be exclusion and absenteeism – as opposed to the inclusion and exclusivity promised in the model.

None of us had the “eyesight” to imagine that two years later that the constituency would be “trapped” up to its neck in the political quagmire that it is. We were absolutely blind!

The encouraging news is our eyesight is being restored; and our grumblings are becoming rumblings! In fact, our eyesight has improved so significantly that on the ground Choiseulians are beginning to silently agitate for different kind of “forensic review”. They want a post-Tucker review – an audit - of the state of affairs of the constituency.

Among other things, they want to know why is it so easy for the lordly district rep to travel thousands of miles across the universe - from Dubai to Europe, to America etc) - so frequently but find it impossible to visit a little 2x4 constituency located on a speck of dust measuring only 27 x 14 miles, claiming he is “thronged” with work?

Even the peripatetic Chastanet who circumnavigated the globe on his travel frolics was almost always in Soufriere and Fond St. Jacques! His travels didn’t interfere with his duties as Tourism minister or his interaction with the Soufriere constituency. Perhaps, instead of lampooning him, Lorne might want to consider stealing a page from him on how to balance and manage time between ministry and constituency!

Emancipation day this year is not a good one for us. Rather than feel emancipated, we feel emaciated by a sense of economic and political slavery made worse by poor or absentee representation and neglect.  Our district rep needs to come down and talk to us. He needs to put an end to his reign of “Soukouyan” representation and give us real representation!

Nonetheless, let me wish him a speedy recovery and let’s hope his recovery will be the starting point for a wholesome recovery of the constituency.