Playing with the People’s Health

first_imgDoes the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOH) truly have no mechanism in place to monitor what is happening in the nation’s hospitals and clinics?You mean this Ministry did not know that the Barconnie Clinic in the country’s second oldest county, Grand Bassa, has not been functioning since the day it was dedicated three years ago by President Sirleaf herself?Besides, what about the county’s politicians–those who follow in the noble  tradition of Stephen Allen Benson and Joseph J. Cheeseman, respectively the second and 12th Presidents of Liberia?  You mean the President pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Senator G. Findley and Senator Nyonblee Kangar Lawrence, her predecessor, the late John Francis Whitfield and all of Grand Bassa’s Members of the House of Representatives–did do not know that Barconnie Clinic has been closed since the very day the President opened it in 2011?Well, that is what our young reporter Conscience Tequah told the nation in yesterday’s Daily Observer.  Quoting Barconnie Town Chief Alphonso Gee (which means leopard in the Bassa language) Tequah said that during the dedication ceremony, there were furniture and staff at the clinic.  Town Chief Gee was quoted as saying, “We as community dwellers, along with the neighboring communities, were very happy because we felt that our health problems would be solved.“But surprisingly, after Madam Sirleaf left that day, we saw a big truck come and take away everything within the place and the nurses we saw earlier  also left.”When the people asked why the furniture had been taken away, they were told that “those materials did not belong to us.”The County Authority told the people, “There is no money for the clinic.” What a grand deception!  We must remember that the Barconnie Clinic was opened in the heat of the 2011 elections campaign, when all the Bassa politicians and county officials sought to gain heavy political capital from it.This kind of raw political deception, hypocrisy and downright selfishness and mean-spiritedness has to stop.  Remember, Conscience’s report said that just next to the Barconnie Clinic is an elementary school with 250 children.  They and the surrounding communities, two to three hours walk from Barconnie, had hoped that this clinic would be a salvation for them.Now, according to Town Chief Gee, people are using the clinic buildings for their latrine.  The roads are also bad, and patients, including expecting mothers, have to use motorbikes to reach the hospital in Buchanan.  “We have lost many babies and other people that way,” Town Chief Gee said.  What a disgrace, happening in the heart of one of the nation’s leading political subdivisions!  You mean the Superintendent at the time, Julia Duncan Cassell, now Minister of Gender, and other county officials could not have contacted some of the big companies in the county, such as Arcelor Mittal and the equally deceptive Buchanan Renewables, to DO something about Barconnie Clinic?The school was opened by the United Nations Special Representative, Karen Landgren.  At the time, the grateful people thanked her and expressed the need for a clinic, and she promised one would be built.True to her promise, the UN community, backed by the UN Development Program (UNDP),  built the clinic.Have our people truly forgotten the high calling of politics–which is to serve the highest interest of the PEOPLE?  No, it is not just about winning elections.   Those politicians who want to be fondly remembered, like Nelson Mandela–yes, he’s the only one we can think of right now–should work so hard, and conduct themselves so faithfully, lovingly, so compassionately, that when their work is finished here, the people would never forget them.Alas! Most of the world’s politicians don’t care.  All they want is to get elected.  They vigorously shun or seem totally oblivious to the concept of statesmanship.  And what is a statesman? According to Webster, “One who exercises political leadership without narrow partisanship.”  In today’s parlence in Liberia, a statesman is one who practices GOOD GOVERNANCE.We call on Dr. Gwenigale and his MOH and all the Grand Bassa politicians to do something quick to have Barconnie Clinic opened without delay, and keep it functional for the sake of our beleaguered and deeply disappointed fellow citizens in Barconnie, the school and the surrounding villages.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Miner killed after pit collapses at Konawaruk

first_imgA miner is now dead, and another is seriously injured after a mining pit collapsed at 35 Miles Konawaruk Backdam, Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) on Monday.Dead is 23-year-old Handel Payne, also called “Daggie” of Kaneville Housing Scheme, East Bank Demerara (EBD).Information reaching Guyana Times revealed that Payne and others were working in the mining pit when a piece of the mud wall collapsed behind him and struck him in the mid-section. He reportedly fell unconscious by which time the water began to rise rapidly.Dead miner: Handel PayneHe was submerged and subsequently drowned. He was later pulled out and rushed to the Mahdia Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.Reports are another miner received severe injuries, and was currently hospitalised at the Mahdia Hospital. His identity has not been revealed.The pit is reportedly owned by Collin Robertson, 34, of One Mile Extension, Wismar, Linden, who also worked as the jet man.Back in 2015, 10 persons died in a mining pit in the Konawaruk area after it collapsed. The incident saw 17 miners being buried under a pile of dirt and rubble but seven of them made it out alive with varying injuries.The others remained trapped under the dirt where they eventually perished. The 10 trapped miners were Leyland Jones, Jason Trotman, Vick Bernard, Frank Bernard, Desmond Martins, Raymond August, Brian Bank, Trevon Phillips, Nanmore Kurt and another man identified only as ‘Michael’.The deaths were blamed on heavy rains in the area, improper mining design and poor safety practices at the mining camp.Meanwhile, with respect to the mining death on Monday, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) has launched an investigation. The body of Payne was transported to the Mahdia Hospital Mortuary to await a post-mortem.last_img read more

State Realtor group suing Blue Shield

first_imgThe California Association of Realtors said Monday that it is suing Blue Shield of California to prevent cancellation of medical insurance for more than 5,500 members and their families. The Los Angeles-based trade association, which represents the state’s residential real estate industry, seeks unspecified general and punitive damages and a permanent injunction directing Blue Shield not to cancel members’ policies unless they do not make their payments. The suit was filed Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court. It called Blue Shield’s action callous. “We were abruptly notified by mail that our insurance coverage was being cancelled,” association President Colleen Badagliacco said in a statement. The notice, received in mid-December, gave members until May 31 to find new carriers. The association has also been unable to find a new carrier. “Many have operations scheduled, others are recovering from surgeries and require continued medical care or additional therapy. Some are dying and are in need of palliative care during their last days. Blue Shield is denying them all, just when they need medical care the most,” Badagliacco said. Blue Shield spokesman David Seldin disagreed. “They had failed to comply with the terms of their contract with us,” he said. “It’s a question of them not meeting the provisions of the contract. That’s pretty cut and dried.” Under state law, group medical coverage is guaranteed as long as legally agreed-upon guidelines are met, according to the association. “We strongly believe that Blue Shield terminated medical insurance coverage without cause,” Badagliacco said. The association has slightly more than 200,000 members, and about 5,500 of them have the Blue Shield coverage, said association attorney Debra Ferrier. The contract stipulates that 75 percent of the association’s eligible members who want medical coverage must select Blue Shield. But that 75 percent does not include people who have selected another plan, she said. Seldin said the 75 percent participation requirement is designed to spread the risk and keep premiums reasonable. The association has been a Blue Shield customer since 1999. Attorney Heather M. McKeon filed the suit on the association’s behalf. “They are using a very technical argument that we disagree with,” she said. A hearing on the injunction, which could block the Blue Shield action while the suit works through the legal system, is scheduled for March 14. McKeon also said there were some discussions between the parties after the notice was received, but they didn’t go anywhere. greg.wilcox@dailynews.com (818) 713-3743160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

GAA CLUB HOPING FOR FULL HOUSE WITH FIRST EVER DRIVE-IN BINGO!

first_imgDrive-in bingo is coming to Donegal!A Donegal GAA club has been granted the first license for drive-in bingo in the county.Naomh Muire GAA club in The Rosses now hopes its car park will be bumper-to-bumper on Sunday, October 11th next.And with a guaranteed jackpot of more than €2,000 on the day, bingo players from across the county look set to descend on the West Donegal club for the day out. The novel idea is beginning to take hold in different part so the country.But Naomh Muire officials say it’s the first time a club in Donegal have tried it.Club spokesman Charlie The Yank Boyle told Donegal Daily they are hoping the drive-in bingo will take off.“It’s something a little different and it’ll be good craic. We’re still getting to grips with the planning details and how it will work but we’re hoping of a good turn-out. “People love a good game of bingo, including myself, and now they won’t even have to leave the comfort of their own car.“I hope people are luckier than me. I’ve only ever had a line once and even then, it was a wrong call because I had a wrong number.“But even apart from the fun, we’ll have some great cash prize on offer,” he said.GAA CLUB HOPING FOR FULL HOUSE WITH FIRST EVER DRIVE-IN BINGO! was last modified: September 26th, 2015 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:donegaldrive-in bingoNAOMH MUIRElast_img read more

Donegal soccer club nets €45,000 to improve facilities

first_imgMinister Joe McHugh has announced Ceiltigh Ghaoth Dobhair soccer club has secured almost €45,000 funding.“We want to encourage people to get involved in sports and help clubs to retain their athletes and members,” the Minister said.The funding has been approved through Roinn na Gaeltachta. The investment will go towards improvements at the pitch for football nets and fencing. The Minister for Education and Skills also praised the club for the opportunities it offers young people in sports and leisure and also to promote the Irish language.“Má tá cumainn spóirt chun lúthchleasaithe a mhealladh agus a choinneáil, caithfidh siad áiseanna caighdeánacha a chur ar fáil do gach duine,” a dúirt sé.“Tá áthas orm,” a dúirt sé, “go mbeidh Plean Teanga i bhfeidhm ag an gCumann a chuideoidh le cur chun cinn na Gaeilge sa chumann féin agus sa cheantar máguaird.”Donegal soccer club nets €45,000 to improve facilities was last modified: June 12th, 2019 by Staff WriterShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Durban’s plan to offset COP 17 footprint

first_img15 November 2011An estimated 15 000 tons of CO2 is expected to be produced during the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference, but Durban has a plan to offset the event’s carbon footprint in full – and then some.The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change takes place in Durban from 28 November to 9 December.The estimate of the event’s footprint is based on the assumption that 25 000 people will visit the city during the conference, along with related factors like accommodation, conference venues, transportation and waste removal logistics.Community Ecosystem Based Adaptation (Ceba)The response takes the form of an initiative called Community Ecosystem Based Adaptation (Ceba), a joint venture between the Wildlands Conservation Trust and the eThekwini municipality. Ceba focuses on the link between communities and the ecosystems and ways in which they can be supported.According to eThekwini Environmental Planning and Climate Protection deputy head, Debra Roberts, the Durban Ceba Initiative is one of the most exciting elements of the city’s broader COP 17 greening programme.Delegates at COP17 will be able to buy “Ceba credits” to offset the carbon footprint of the event.“It has been adopted as the official voluntary offset mechanism for COP 17,” said Roberts. “Delegates, corporates and residents of Durban will be able to contribute towards the project by buying ‘Ceba credits’ to play their part in helping offset the environmental impact associated with hosting COP 17.”National government is said to be focusing on the other aspects of the carbon footprint, such as international air travel. The city has been more concerned with the impact on energy and water resources.uMbilo River catchment projectThe first Ceba project will be the restoration and reforestation of the uMbilo River catchment.Adaptation will be prioritised to counter the effects of the carbon footprint. Ceba will focus on communities restoring their natural ecosystems, creating cleaner and greener neighbourhoods.Each Ceba credit will cost about US$10 (between R80 and R100), and the money raised will be used for the uMbilo River catchment project.Roberts said unemployed people from the neighbouring communities will then be employed as “green collar” workers to first remove alien plants and trees. The project also involves the planting of indigenous plants and trees and restoration of the riverine, wetland and grassland systems.Initial funding for the project will come from the city, the corporate sector and through the Wildlands Conservation Trust.“We want this project to not only benefit the ecological sustainability of the river, but the social sustainability of poor communities along it,” said Roberts.For more information, visit www.durbanceba.org.Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

Ohio Soybean Association names Pat Tiberi Legislator Of The Year

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) has announced that Congressman Pat Tiberi (R-OH) has been named one of two Legislators of the Year in recognition of his tireless work on Trade Promotion Authority.“TPA is a priority for OSA and Ohio soybean farmers,” said Adam Graham, OSA president and soybean farmer from Logan County. “We thank Congressman Tiberi for his dedication to seeing TPA through, as well as his continued support for farmers and Ohio’s number one industry, agriculture.”Congressman Tiberi has represented Ohio’s 12th congressional district since 2001 and serves on the House Ways and Means Committee.“Ohio soybean farmers rely on free trade to expand exports and reach customers in new markets,” said Congressman Tiberi. “It is vitally important that our trade agreements work for them. That is why TPA was so important to pass — to ensure we get the best trade agreements possible so Ohioans can keep their farms open and running. I’m honored to receive this award, and I thank the Ohio Soybean Association for their work on behalf of our entire state.”Legislative passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement remains a high priority for the American Soybean Association and OSA. As the former chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, Congressman Tiberi continues to provide the leadership needed to ensure this agreement works for Ohio farmers to promote free trade, protect workers and create jobs.last_img read more

This Company is Ready to Flood the U.S. with Cheap HIV Drugs

first_imgAmong the coconut plantations and beaches of South India, a factory the size of 35 football fields is preparing to churn out billions of generic pills for HIV patients and flood the U.S. market with the low-cost copycat medicines.U.S. patents on key components for some important HIV therapies are poised to expire starting in December and Laurus Labs – the Hyderabad, India-based company which owns the facility — is gearing up to cash in.Laurus is one of the world’s biggest suppliers of ingredients used in anti-retrovirals, thanks to novel chemistry that delivers cheaper production costs than anyone else. Now, its chief executive officer, Satyanarayana Chava, wants to use the same strategy selling his own finished drugs in the U.S. and Europe. He predicts some generics that Laurus produces will eventually sell for 90 percent less than branded HIV drugs in the U.S., slashing expenditures for a disease that’s among the costliest for many insurers.“The savings for U.S. payers will be so huge when these generic combination drugs are available in the U.S.,” he said in an interview at the factory outside the Southern Indian city of Visakhapatnam. Payers will save “billions of dollars,” he said.The patent expiries are starting this month when Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.’s Sustiva loses protection. Gilead Sciences’s Viread follows next month. Both companies didn’t respond to requests for comment.For generic manufacturers like Laurus, the U.S. market is alluring. With 1.1 million people infected with HIV in the U.S., and many of them living longer thanks to treatment, HIV drugs have become an $18.8 billion business for the pharmaceutical industry there, according to data provider IQVIA.Part of that spending is due to the high cost of the medicines. For instance, a combination of Viread, Sustiva and a third drug sold in pill form under the brand name of Atripla has an average wholesale price of almost $37,000 per person annually, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.But in the developing world the same combination can cost as little as $100 per person annually, after years of brutal competition between generic manufacturers drove prices down, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres. Though Laurus doesn’t yet make the actual pills those patients take, it’s become a dominant supplier of the key ingredients that make them work.The best way to fight HIV is with a combination of different drugs, and because Viread and Sustiva form key parts of some of the most effective combinations, the inclusion of generic versions of these chemicals could bring down the cost of the whole treatment. One analysis cited by the Department of Health found that replacing a three-medicine, branded combination with multiple pills, including a generic version of Sustiva, could save the U.S. $900 million its first year.Containers move along a conveyor on the packaging line for metformin pills at a Laurus Labs pharmaceutical plant in Visakhapatnam, India. Photo: Sara Hylton/BloombergIn the U.S., Laurus will be going up against much larger companies like Teva Pharmaceutical Industries — the world’s biggest generic drug company — which will beat it to market on generic Viread and so be the first to slash prices and lock down customers. Other generic companies, both from India and elsewhere, many of whom are customers of Laurus, are expected to enter the market too.Meanwhile, the companies that hold the original patents, like Foster City, California-based Gilead, have also been successful at switching patients to their newer therapies to limit the impact of generic competition on the old ones, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Asthika Goonewardene. He doesn’t predict a big impact from generic competition to the $2.6 billion Gilead gets from HIV drugs.Cost savings that were an advantage in the developing world, may also prove less useful in a less price sensitive market like the U.S. Between government programs providing treatment for the uninsured, and drug company funded ones helping the insured with their co-pays, HIV patients in the U.S. are often sheltered from the full cost of their medicines.So patients themselves may have little incentive to switch to cheaper alternatives, said Tim Horn, the New York-based deputy executive director of Treatment Action Group, an AIDS policy think tank. Newer drugs offer medical advantages to the ones going off patent, including fewer side effects, and the switch from one daily brand name pill to a mix of two or three may feel like a step back for many, he said.Still, Horn says private and public insurers, who pay the greater part of the full sticker price and then spread those costs through the system in the form of higher premiums and health-care costs, are likely to push for generics.For his part, Chava maintains he will eventually be able to undercut bigger rivals like Teva on price, and the magnitude of savings offered to insurers from generics will prove irresistible — particularly as more components of the older combinations go off patent in the next three years.“We believe we’ll be able to bring cost effective generic alternatives to the U.S. market,” he said. “We have the scale.”That willingness to compete on cost has made Laurus a bright spot in India’s pharmaceutical industry in a year when the U.S. generics market has been rocked by a protracted price war. Laurus’s stock has risen about 22 percent since its public market debut in 2016. Analysts are forecasting that its revenue will rise to about $339 million in the current fiscal year from $279 million in the previous year.Laurus controls about 66 percent of the global market for efavirenz, the chemical name for Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Sustiva, and 33 percent for tenofovir, the chemical name for Gilead’s Viread, according to a report earlier this year by investment bank Jefferies Group.A compact man of 54 with a trim mustache and rimless glasses, CEO Chava laughs enthusiastically as he recounts the scientific discoveries that helped give Laurus its edge. A chemist by training, he left his job as a C-suite executive at another Indian pharma company to found Laurus in 2005. He quickly saw an opportunity to improve the production process for efavirenz, which Indian generic firms were already producing in bulk for the developing world.The key ingredient of efavirenz was a compound called diethylzinc, which had to be imported from Europe, and has a propensity for bursting into flames upon contact with water, or even humid air. So Chava and his team eventually found an alternative in the combination of two chemicals easily had nearby.Where diethylzinc cost $80 per kilo — plus all the precautions needed to keep it from exploding — the two replacement chemicals together cost $5 per kilo. A similar innovation reducing the production cost of tenofovir by 75 percent followed, he said.For now, Chava’s new factory is only producing test batches as it seeks to win regulatory approval to enter the U.S. It is meant to eventually produce as many as 5 billion tablets annually. On Nov. 30, the company said it had received tentative approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to sell tenofovir.He expects his company could be in the market with its version of tenofovir in three months or so, in partnership with another Indian company with a U.S. distribution network. While that timeline could mean being beaten to market by some of his competitors, he says he’s not worried.“We don’t mind not being the first one,” Chava says. “But we want to be the last one standing.”© 2017 Bloomberg Related Itemslast_img read more

Celtics hold off Grizzlies behind Irving’s heroics

first_imgLATEST STORIES LOOK: Iya Villania meets ‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ cast in Mexico John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH View comments Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Kyrie Irving scored 25 points in three quarters of work and the Celtics held off the Memphis Grizzlies 109-98 on Monday night.Boston has won all three of its games coming out of the All-Star break. Terry Rozier finished with 15 points. Jaylen Brown added 13.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutAfter scoring a basket early in the second quarter, the Grizzlies went nearly eight minutes without a field goal. The Celtics rallied during Memphis’ drought, and used a 22-6 run to increase their lead to 55-30.Boston (43-19) led by as many as 28 points in the second half. Monday marked Gasol’s 700th career NBA game (all with the Grizzlies). It was the latest in a string of milestones he’s reached this season. With his 689th start on Feb. 7 against Utah, Gasol passed Conley for the most games started in franchise history. Gasol reached 10,000 career points back on Dec. 2 at Cleveland.100 OR LESSThe Celtics improved to 28-3 this season when holding teams to less than 100 points. The 31 times Boston has held an opponent under the century mark this season are second to only San Antonio’s 34.UP NEXTGrizzlies: Host Suns on Wednesday.Celtics: Host Hornets on Wednesday. Families in US enclave in north Mexico hold sad Thanksgiving Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Google honors food scientist, banana ketchup inventor and war hero Maria Orosacenter_img Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university PLAY LIST 01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City Pussycat Dolls set for reunion tour after 10-year hiatus MOST READ Memphis Grizzlies guard Ben McLemore (23) tries to stop Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, right, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)BOSTON — The Celtics hobbled into the All-Star break, dropping three games in a row.In its three games back, Boston is looking like a team that made the most of the time off.ADVERTISEMENT Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he thinks their preparation his been more consistent since coming back from the break.“We’ve just played a little bit better,” Stevens said.One player who the Celtics are continuing to lean on is Irving.He went 8 of 13 from the field and connected on 5 out of 8 3-point attempts. In his last four games Irving is averaging 26.8 points on 39 of 64 shooting, including 15 of 28 from the 3-point line.Irving said he’s feeding off the energy his teammates are giving him.ADVERTISEMENT “It’s just our focus level, getting everybody back. Just knowing what we’re trying to get ready for,” Irving said.JaMychal Green had 21 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Grizzlies. Marc Gasol added 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.Memphis (18-41) has lost 10 straight games and 10 consecutive on the road. The Grizzlies are also 0-10 on the road this season against the Eastern Conference. They remain the only NBA team with a road victory against the East.Despite the loss, coach J.B. Bickerstaff said he left the court encouraged by the way his team competed in the fourth quarter, despite facing a double-digit deficit.“We haven’t been a group that’s laid down, we’ve been a group of guys that have continued to fight,” he said.Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans sat out his second straight game with a right rib injury.Memphis has yet to win a game this season with Evans not in the lineup (0-10).TIP-INSGrizzlies: Are now a Western Conference-worst 5-23 on the road this season. … Went 5 of 23 from the 3-point line… Started the second quarter 1 for 10 from the field. … With the loss, Memphis can’t extend its franchise-record streak of seven consecutive winning seasons. It is the third-longest active streak in the NBA behind only San Antonio (20) and Oklahoma City (eight).Celtics: Irving has scored at least 25 points in nine of his last 14 games. … C Aron Baynes returned action after sitting out Saturday’s win against New York with a left elbow sprain.INJURY BUGThe Grizzlies played without Evans (right rib), Mike Conley (left heel), Chandler Parsons (illness) and Wayne Selden, Jr. (right knee soreness).MR. 700 AFP official booed out of forum Warriors take control in 3rd en route to dumping of Knicks Read Nextlast_img read more

Party is over for Alagiri and friends

first_imgIt is celebration time in Madurai! For, so swift and sudden has been the change that it has lifted the people of this temple city from their despondency. With a new government taking over, the air of freedom seems all pervasive in the former fiefdom of M K Alagiri.”What next?” is the question that invariably lingers in the minds of the people, who are secretly gleeful at the increasing discomfiture of the Union Minister.With his close aides in jail, the DMK patriarch’s elder son is rattled at the prospect of his turn being perilously close. These were the people with whom the ‘Prince’ ruled the southern districts, holding his court in Madurai. Now his wings have been clipped. The sheen of invincibility too has vanished, resulting in his isolation.Alarm bells started ringing when the police first laid their hands on ‘Pottu’ Suresh, a school drop-out turned Man Friday of the Union Minister. Widely seen as the alter-ego of his master, he came to wield immense power with many bureaucrats, seeking transfers and plum postings, waiting for his appointment. So much so, Jayalalithaa chose to call him Deputy CM as Alagiri was considered the CM of the Southern districts.It was a meteoric rise for someone who was an unsuccessful roadside vendor close to two decades ago. Earlier, Suresh was known with the prefixes ‘nighty’ and ‘bajji’ for selling women’s accessories and then hot ‘bajji’ in the Town Hall Road. Sporting a huge tilak (‘pottu’ in Tamil) after associating with netas, it became his new identity. His final destination was Alagiri and within a short period of time, he edged out old timers and entered the Minister’s inner circle. “Pottu’s words are mine and should be complied with,” was Alagiri’s reported diktat.advertisementNone of the DMK leader’s courtiers, who gained prominence and power, had any stature. Neither were they from the party ranks nor from the family association. The less said the better about their vice- like grip. In spite of their humble beginnings, they have come to flaunt huge wealth which, even the DMK old timers could not digest. Worse, they were despised by the public for unleashing a reign of terror. The more notoriety they earned, the more dependable they became for their master.Doing his bidding without any hesitation is their only creed. No wonder, with the DMK’s crushing defeat in the assembly poll Alagiri’s cronies were expected to face the music. But, none had expected that the crackdown would expose and disarm the ‘ Prince of Madurai’ so soon.His lieutenants who landed in prison include, ‘Attack’ Pandi, an accused in the Dinakaran attack case, G Thalapathy, former MLA, and ‘Essar’ Gopi, accused in the murder of former DMK Minister Tha Kiruttinan. Those awaiting police action include Deputy Mayor P M Mannan, also an accused in the Kiruttinan case.These are only samples as the list is not exhaustive.More than keeping them as henchmen, the DMK satrap went a step ahead by elevating them as senior functionaries in the party. Ever since the pyrrhic victory in the 2009 Tirumangalam bypoll, which was the beginning of the cash for vote syndrome, Alagiri’s writ was never challenged. Despite their criminal background, he got his associates elevated to the DMK Executive Committee as well.Though the Dinakaran and Kiruttinan cases ended in acquittal, the spectre of their revival has come to haunt Alagiri and his associates.As the noose is tightening around Alagiri, no tears are shed either in the party or in the city, which he has made his home for well over two decades. ‘He who sows the wind shall reap the whirlwind’ is the reason proffered by the ordinary citizen about the fate that has befallen the DMK strongman and his associates.A man is judged by the company he keeps. It is more so in public life where none can escape scrutiny of one’s conduct.This is particularly true of Alagiri, who, given a long rope by his octogenarian father, turned out to be a law unto himself.He has no literary or intellectual pretensions like his father, who keeps the company of discredited writers and poets, to sing paeans. If the Dravidian movement could be called as anti- intellectual and anti-democratic for parading the halfbaked as scholars and thugs as leaders in the public domain, Alagiri could well be seen as its logical culmination.Wily Marans bunk DMK rally When the DMK took to the streets protesting Jayalalithaa’s ‘politics of vendetta’, one man invited the wrath of party workers by being conspicuous by his absence – Dayanidhi Maran. Both the Marans have flown to distant Indonesia where they are holidaying with their families. The DMK rank and file is not ready to forgive the indiscretion of the duo, who are seen as parasitic time servers. Their grouse is that the Marans consider themselves above the party. Having enjoyed power, they were expected to stand by the party at the time of distress is the chorus in DMK circles.advertisementMaybe mounting troubles could have forced them to stay away from the massive protest in which over one lakh party workers, led by the M K Stalin, courted arrest. With the patriarch taking a back seat, it was left to his younger son to shoulder the leadership. Even a limping Khushboo was seen getting into the police vehicle, raising the morale of the party which is reeling under the ruthless crackdown by the AIADMK government.And this being the first major agitation of the DMK after the humiliating electoral defeat, Maran junior’s absence was not taken kindly.Further, this has marginalised him after his exit from the Union Cabinet. “Are they attempting to make peace with the czarina in order to protect their business interest?” is also a question that is doing the rounds.Babus to face music nowAfter the netas, it’s the turn of babus who ruled the roost during the Karunanidhi regime to face the music. ADGP Jaffer Sait, former state Intelligence chief, has been placed under suspension. This follows a vigilance raid last week at the residences of Sait, his relatives and close associates.He has been charged with acquiring a prime plot in the name of his wife under the social worker category and building flats for sale together with another aide of Karunanidhi. In the run-up to the assembly poll, the EC transferred him to West Bengal following allegations by the Opposition. He preferred to go on leave and was vacationing in Bangkok. The buzz in the corridors of power is who will be the next to face the music.Left gets it wrong, againOnce again the Marxists have proved that they are twice removed from reality. On the emotive issue of Eelam, the CPI(M) has been treading the beaten path, by calling for unity among Tamils and Sinhalese. But, in the aftermath of the colossal human tragedy in Sri Lanka, the party’s formulation has made it a laughing stock among the pro-Tamil groups.In mobilising public opinion it is no match for its Dravidian counterparts. Concerned at the CPI too marching ahead of it in raising this issue, the party General Secretary Parakash Karat came here last week to parrot the worn out formulations. Even its sympathisers are red faced at the party living in the past. Will the Marxists see sense?Jaya seeks to revive dam dispute With Jayalalithaa back in the saddle, the Mullaiperiyar (Mullaperiyar in Kerala) dam issue could gain added momentum.advertisementIt is the lifeline of the six southern districts of Tamil Nadu which are facing the threat of desertification as storage level has been brought down to 136 in 1979 following Kerala raising safety concerns. Later the dam structure was strengthened as per Centre Water Commission guidelines. But, storage is no more the bone of contention with Kerala now pressing for a new dam even after the Supreme Court ordered reverting storage to the original 152 ft in phases.As a first step towards protecting her turf, Jayalalithaa has opposed the Centre’s Dam Safety Bill, objecting to certain clauses which she finds are detrimental to the state. As in all other issues, her bte noire Karunanidhi stands discredited.He had called off a fast due to pressure from the Congress. This presents her an opportunity to outsmart the old fox. Further, it would help her to rob the wind out of the sails of Vaiko and other pro-Tamil parties whose voice has turned shrill against Kerala.last_img read more