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Police trying to control unrest at Beetham (PHOTO BY RATTAN JADOO)

The mainstream and social media captured the violent unrest that occurred in Beetham
Gardens in Port of Spain in multi-racial Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday November 23,
2017. Beetham residents created a gridlock on the highway leading to and out of the capital city. During the blockage, they rained stones at cars, vans, trucks and buses which shattered windows and windscreens. They robbed and terrorised innocent persons who were trapped in the roadblock. Gasoline was thrown on cars to set them alight with people inside.

Former Minister of National Security Jack Warner said: “Imagine a group of young black
boys are holding Port of Spain and this nation to ransom. A black nation with a black Prime Minister, a black National Security Minister, a black Police Commissioner and a black Chief Justice. They are making our leaders look impotent and is about time something is done” (Newsday. Nov 28, 2017).

These threats and violence are not new in Beetham. On September 9, 2017, police officers from the Port of Spain Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) came under attack in Beetham Gardens after they attempted to arrest one of three men whom they said opened fire on them as they were patrolling the area (Express. Sep 10, 2017). There were also violent confrontations in 2011 and 2013.

kamal persad
Kamal Persad, historian and civil rights activist

Their complaints have been the same over the decades: “That is why we have to block-up the roads because when people start to feel it in traffic, then they [Government Ministers] will finally come down to speak to us and hear our grievances.” “Beetham grievances” are listed as police brutality, poor drainage, unemployment, lack of contracts and neglect by ruling politicians. To express their grievances, they effectively use their strategic location to cut off the flow of traffic on the Beetham Highway, the Eastern Main Road and the Priority Bus Route. They block the road with debris, light fires, rob commuters and damage vehicles. Over the past decades, hundreds of innocent people have fallen victims to Beetham’s fury.

Even on normal days, commuters are robbed on the Beetham. Drivers cannot stop even in an emergency. The area has become a hotspot with armed gangs. To date, no arrests have been made on the perpetrators who strike fear in the hearts of commuters. The reign of lawlessness and terror continues every year.

Beetham is a creation of the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) under Dr Eric
Williams. It was a refuge for illegal immigrants from St. Vincent and Grenada who salvaged a living by scouring waste materials in the garbage dump. In the 1970s, the PNM Government converted part of the dump into a safe voting bank by building free houses for the squatters with State revenue. The name “La Basse” was changed to “Beetham Gardens.”

Over the decades, the PNM, NAR, UNC and PP governments built pre-schools, primary
schools, high schools, technical-vocational institutions, playing fields and community
centres. Politicians of every hue try to placate the black youths by befriending them with awards of contracts, gifts and privileges. But black rage continues despite political patronage.

Black identity is very strong in Beetham, and very often, grievances are expressed in the language of “black victimhood” and “black oppression.” The blame-game played by politicians was evident in Parliament on the following Friday. Housing Minister Randall Mitchell said that former Housing Managing Director Jearlean John and former Housing Minister Roodal Moonilal were associated with criminals with whom they took photos. Mitchell even accused the Indian-led People’s Partnership government (2010-2015) of paying a “coward tax” with programs like “Life Sport,” “Hoop for Life” and “Colour Me Orange” as “payment to the criminal element to keep a false sense of peace in East Port of Spain”(Guardian. Nov 25, 2017).

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Moonilal accused the ruling PNM of having no plan for Beetham by not “engaging them in sports, culture and housing… the protest showed people feel alienated.” Beetham residents have always been strong supporters of the PNM. The now-silent Fitzgerald Hinds is their current PNM representative in Parliament.

Indian politicians cannot protect their representatives. They are interested mainly in Indian votes, not much in their safety and welfare. When black thuggery and terrorism were directed against Whites and Indians during the Black Power rebellion in 1970, Indians turned to politician Bhadase Sagan Maraj. He stood up against the anarchists and the Indian community stood behind him. The leaders of the Black Power uprising had marched to the Beetham dump to highlight the plight of their black brothers. The current crop of Indian politicians are not really speaking on the behalf of their constituencies. Given another chance in government, they would continue their coward practice of black appeasement. This has been the nature of ethnic politics in Trinidad, Guyana and Suriname.

– by Kamal Persad, THE WRITER is a historian and Indian civil rights activist. Kamal Persad (BA, MA, History, UWI). Carapichaima, Trinidad and Tobago, Tel: 868-794- 8149



Bangladesh over the years show that the state has failed in its duty to protect minorities

By- Salil Gewali

If humanity is hurt, God is hurt.

Religion without compassion might give way to hatred. Compassion with a "self-interest" motive is completely irreligious. But of late, some of the religions have departed from those basic human values. Love and compassion are for only those who follow their "specific" faith. Very sadly, the religions are up as trading commodities in the world of proselytization. Better preachers attract more followers. Of course, no issue if they are not vying for their religious "supremacy". But the ground reality is utterly different. The claim for exclusive supremacy has become the first commandment --- a real bone of contention among the existing religions. In the name of religion, we have polluted our minds. we have corrupted our souls. We have also gone so much astray that God must have now shut his gateway to heaven!

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Taking out time for family has become very difficult as people are pretty busy in daily life and find very little time to spend with their loved ones. Planning a family vacation is an excellent way through which the whole family can step away from their daily life and have fun. You can find many destinations for a family vacation, but there is no place that can beat Aruba.

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Milky Way galaxy as seen from Chitkul Valley

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has for the first time spotted signs of a planet transiting a star outside of the Milky Way galaxy, opening up a new avenue to search for exoplanets at greater distances than ever before.

The possible exoplanet -- or planets outside of our Solar System -- candidate is located in the spiral galaxy Messier 51 (M51), also called the Whirlpool Galaxy because of its distinctive profile, NASA said in a statement.

Astronomers have, so far, found all other known exoplanets and exoplanet candidates in the Milky Way galaxy, almost all of them less than about 3,000 light-years from Earth.

An exoplanet in M51 would be about 28 million light-years away, meaning it would be thousands of times farther away than those in the Milky Way, NASA said.

"We are trying to open up a whole new arena for finding other worlds by searching for planet candidates at X-ray wavelengths, a strategy that makes it possible to discover them in other galaxies," said Rosanne Di Stefano of the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard and Smithsonian (CfA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the study.

The findings are published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

The exoplanet candidate was spotted in a binary system called M51-ULS-1, located in M51. This binary system contains a black hole or neutron star orbiting a companion star with a mass about 20 times that of the Sun. The X-ray transit they found using Chandra data lasted about three hours, during which the X-ray emission decreased to zero.

Based on this and other information, the team estimates the exoplanet candidate in M51-ULS-1 would be roughly the size of Saturn and orbit the neutron star or black hole at about twice the distance of Saturn from the Sun.

The team looked for X-ray transits in three galaxies beyond the Milky Way galaxy, using both Chandra and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton. Their search covered 55 systems in M51, 64 systems in Messier 101 (the "Pinwheel" galaxy), and 119 systems in Messier 104 (the "Sombrero" galaxy).

However, more data would be needed to verify the interpretation as an extragalactic exoplanet. One challenge is that the planet candidate's large orbit means it would not cross in front of its binary partner again for about 70 years, thwarting any attempts for a confirming observation for decades, NASA said.

Named in honor of the late Indian-American Nobel laureate, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, the Chandra X-ray Observatory is the world's most powerful X-ray telescope. It has eight times greater resolution and is able to detect sources more than 20-times fainter than any previous X-ray telescope.

Known to the world as Chandra (which means "moon" or "luminous" in Sanskrit), Chandrasekhar was widely regarded as one of the foremost astrophysicists of the twentieth century. (IANS/JB)

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