Tag Archives: Thursday

Road Traffic Act breaches to attract harsh punishment

Road Safety Foundation
Road Safety Foundation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
History of UK speed enforcement
History of UK speed enforcement (Photo credit: brizzle born and bred)

MINISTER without portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr Morais Guy, says that the new road traffic legislation will provide harsh penalties for breaches of specified road safety rules.
The amended Act will ensure that road safety issues are addressed according to 21st century requirements. It will, among other things, deal with the use of mobile phones while driving, and also cover the use of in-car devices such as DVD players.
While not stating the penalties, Dr Guy said that these will be outlined in the Act, preparation of which is at an advanced stage and should be brought to Parliament during this fiscal year.
The minister, who was addressing the National Road Safety Council’s (NRSC) poster competition awards ceremony on Thursday at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston, expressed particular concern about the use of cellular phones while driving, noting that this is “a serious hazard”.
He said that cellular phone use creates some amount of distraction for drivers, which may cause crashes resulting in injuries and fatalities.
“The ministry is guided by the notion that all road users must be safely accommodated on the roads [and] that’s one of the reasons we are excited about putting a new Road Traffic Act in place. Once adopted, it will greatly enhance public safety as it will comprise many more road safety components than the current Act,” Dr Guy stated.
He noted also that the modernisation and re-organisation of the Island Traffic Authority will be fasttracked when the new Road Traffic Act is passed into law.
The new Act will also call for the certification of driving instructors and require that they teach an approved curriculum and bring in the Graduated Driver’s Licensing System.
Dr Guy stated that Jamaica’s development will be found woefully lacking if the country’s road safety practices are not intensified. “Our limited health resources are negatively impacted each year as the country spends some $2 billion each year to care for victims of traffic crashes,” he stated.
He noted further that the insurance industry suffers losses of some $8 billion annually as a result of crashes, adding that there are also immeasurable losses to the workforce, production, the income and emotional wellbeing of families, as well as damage to property owing to trauma triggered by crashes.
“Every life lost on the nation’s roads presents a socio-economic loss to our nation and our communities. Every injury on our road is a loss to our workforce, our economy and our communities. How do we stop this haemorrhaging of our country and our economy? Each of us must play a bold and decisive and responsible role in road safety,” Dr Guy stated.

Dutch national on drug rap prisoned

a shell gas station in Montego bay,jamaica
a shell gas station in Montego bay,jamaica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Cocaine powder Deutsch: Kokain in Pul...
English: Cocaine powder Deutsch: Kokain in Pulverform (als Salz) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: X-ray of an abdomen pilled up with co...
English: X-ray of an abdomen pilled up with cocaine Nederlands: Röntgenfoto van een buik vol met cocaine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: The Bay west Shopping center in Monte...
English: The Bay west Shopping center in Montego Bay, Jamaica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Dutch national who ingested 78 pellets of cocaine in an attempt to smuggle the drug out of Jamaica was sent to prison in the Montego Bay Resident Magistrate‘s Court last Friday.

Clyde Vanewijk, 39, a disc jockey and nursing aide, was also ordered to pay a combined $1 million in fines for possession of, dealing in, and attempting to export two and a half pounds of cocaine. He had previously pleaded guilty to the charges on Thursday.

Allegations say about 12:30 p.m. on May 18, Vanewijk was preparing to board a Jet Air flight to Germany. While at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, he was observed acting suspiciously.

He was questioned and taken to the Cornwall Regional Hospital, where over the next two days he excreted 78 pellets containing cocaine.

Vanewijk’s lawyer Carl Singh asked Resident Magistrate Winsome Henry to show leniency.

“Mr Vanewijk did this stupid act out of compassion for his father, who is to undergo an operation to insert a pacemaker,” said Singh. “He is a person of potential, he has dedication, and he was driven by compassion to do this silly act. If possible, we would ask for a deportation order or a fine in lieu of imprisonment.”

But RM Henry dismissed the suggestion.

“This is a very serious offence. You were trying to smuggle two and a half pounds of cocaine out of Jamaica,” RM Henry chided Vanewijk. “Your family could be arranging a funeral for you right now, because we have cases where drugs burst inside people and they die. I’m sorry, but I’ll have to give you a custodial sentence.”

In addition to a mandatory sentence of 18 months, Vanewijk was fined of $300,000 or six months for possession; $300,000 or six months for dealing and $400,000 or six months for attempting to export cocaine.

Syrian forces kill American, British citizen accused of fighting alongside rebels.

Coat of arms of Syria -- the "Hawk of Qur...
Coat of arms of Syria — the “Hawk of Qureish” with shield of vertical tricolor of the national flag, holding a scroll with the words الجمهورية العربية السورية (Al-Jumhuriyah al-`Arabiyah as-Suriyah “The Syrian Arab Republic”). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
CNN Center- Atlanta, GA
CNN Center- Atlanta, GA (Photo credit: hpstyles)
English: Former president Hafez al-Assad was o...
English: Former president Hafez al-Assad was on display everywhere, Maaloula – Syria. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Author - Ammar Abd Rabbo Source - http://flick...
Author – Ammar Abd Rabbo Source – http://flickr.com/photos/21499556@N04/2085667933/ License – Some rights reserved CC-BY-SA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Billboard with portrait of Assad and the text ...
Billboard with portrait of Assad and the text God protects Syria on the old city wall of Damascus 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Syrian state-run television reported Thursday that forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad killed three Westerners, including an American woman and a British citizen, who they claim were fighting with the rebels and were found with weapons.
Syrian TV identified the woman, releasing what it claimed were images of her Michigan driver’s license and U.S. passport. It also released what is said was the name and passport of a British citizen. It did not identify a third person who it claimed was a Westerner.
The report said the three were ambushed in their car in the flashpoint province of Idlib in northwestern Syria, where government forces have been battling rebels for control.
TV footage showed a bullet-riddled car and three bodies laid out. It also showed weapons, a computer, a hand-drawn map of a government military facility and a flag belonging to the al Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front.
The United States is aware of the claim that an American woman was killed and is working through the Czech Republic mission in Syria to obtain more information, a State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told CNN.
Citing privacy concerns, “we are unable to comment further,” the official said.
A family member of the American woman told CNN on Thursday she was informed by the FBI about the death. The family member said the FBI did not provide any details about how the woman died.
CNN is not identifying the family member, who lives in Michigan, until next of kin notifications have been completed.
British officials in London did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.
Al-Nusra Front
If the Syrian state TV report is true, it will not be the first time an American has been accused of fighting with rebel groups to overthrow al-Assad.
In March, a former U.S. soldier was arrested and charged by the U.S. government with illegally using a weapon on behalf of the al-Nusra Front.
Eric Harroun, 30, of Phoenix, was arrested by the FBI after returning to the United States from Syria, where authorities allege he fought with the militant group. He was charged with the alleged use of a rocket-propelled grenade.
The organization he allegedly fought with, al-Nusra Front, is one of several aliases used by al Qaeda in Iraq. Al-Nusra has claimed responsibility for more than 600 attacks in Syria, the Justice Department said.
An FBI affidavit says Harroun crossed into Syria in January 2013 and fought against al-Assad’s forces. He posted photos and videos of himself on the Internet handling RPGs and other weapons, it said.
Harroun served with the U.S. Army from 2000 to 2003.
Troubled talks
The report by Syrian state TV came on the same day that a leader of Syria’s main rebel coalition said the group may not participate in a conference aimed at brokering an end to the civil war.
“It is difficult to continue when Syrians are constantly being hammered by the Assad regime with the help of outside forces,” said George Sabra, acting chairman of the National Coalition, in a statement.
He cited the siege of Qusayr and attacks on Eastern Gouta, a suburb of Damascus, as well as what he said was an “invasion” by Iranian militia members in support of al-Assad.
Russia, which supports Damascus, expressed its own reservations. Conditions on the peace talks demanded by the National Coalition are too restrictive, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters, state news agency ITAR-Tass reported.
“One has the impression that the National Coalition and its regional sponsors are doing their utmost in a bid to prevent the beginning of a political process and resort to all means, including brainwashing in the West, to induce military intervention,” Lavrov is quoted as saying. “We regard such approaches as impermissible.”
In addition, the coalition “is not the sole representative of the Syrian people,” Lavrov said. “The coalition has no constructive platform.”
The National Coalition has demanded that al-Assad step aside as a condition for its participation in the talks, which were originally scheduled to be held this month in Geneva, Switzerland, but have been delayed.
The Syrian government has insisted that any talks be held without preconditions and has said that al-Assad will finish his term and must be qualified to run again in the 2014 elections.
Fighting rages on
Some 3,000 to 4,000 Lebanese Hezbollah fighters have been deployed to Syria, where they are fighting alongside government forces, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the Foreign Affairs Committee of France’s National Assembly.
The Lebanese fighters have been involved in a battle for Qusayr, a town of about 20,000 that sits astride one route to the Syrian coast and another to the Lebanese border.
For the rebels, holding Qusayr represents a way of limiting the regime’s ability to sustain itself.
On Thursday, the media office of the Syrian Coalition in Istanbul, Turkey, said in an appeal for help that the number of wounded citizens in Qusayr had exceeded 1,000.
The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said the fighting was part of its mission “to pursue terrorists in Qusayr and its countryside.”
‘One axis’
In an interview broadcast Thursday night by the Hezbollah television station Al-Manar, al-Assad was quoted by Lebanese media as saying, “Syria and Hezbollah are one axis.”
Hezbollah forces “are in Lebanon and Syria, on the border area,” al-Assad said.
According to the pro-Hezbollah Al-Akhbar newspaper, he said, “There are groups of (Hezbollah) party fighters in the border areas with Lebanon. But the Syrian army is the one fighting and running battles against the armed groups, and will continue in this battle in order to eliminate” what he described as “terrorists.”
The president expressed skepticism that the talks proposed for Geneva would prove fruitful, the newspaper reported.
Al-Assad is further quoted as saying that “Syria received the first batch of the Russian S-300 missiles, antiaircraft systems” and that “the rest of the shipment will arrive soon.”
“The contracts are not related to the conflict,” he said. “We negotiate with them for various kinds of weapons for years. And Russia is fulfilling these contracts.”
Russia has been criticized by the West for reported sales of six S-300 air defense systems to Syria under a 2010 contract.
Moscow, however, has said such deliveries would conform with international law and has denied supplying Syria with weapons that can be used against civilians.

Undercover police ‘gave drugs to dealers in return for information’

English: London
English: London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: A woman smoking crack from a glass pipe.
English: A woman smoking crack from a glass pipe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Undercover X
Undercover X (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Cookin Crack to Enhance the effects o...
English: Cookin Crack to Enhance the effects of doing lines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Former detective Christian Plowman writes book claiming that unit targeted low-level criminals rather than criminals at top of chain
Heroin and crack cocaine bought with taxpayers’ money was routinely given to drug dealers in return for information, a former Scotland Yard undercover officer has alleged.

Christian Plowman, 39, claims that officers from SO10, the elite covert operations unit of the Metropolitan police, would allow dealers to take amounts of class-A drugs as a form of bribe.

Although not illegal, the practice of officers handing over illicit drugs in return for leads is likely to reignite the debate over the ethics of undercover policing and bring fresh accusations of a lack of control over covert operatives.

“We were treading a line. Often we’d buy some drugs off somebody who would be a junkie and he would promise to take us directly to the dealer the next time, but in return for that he’d want some of the drugs he’d bought for us. We had to be careful that if we agreed to that, he took the drugs himself so he couldn’t say that we supplied him,” said Plowman.

But Plowman said they never sold drugs, unlike detective constable Nicholas McFadden of West Yorkshire police, who was jailed for 23 years last Thursday after stealing more than £1.2m-worth of drugs seized in police raids and selling them back onto the streets.

Speaking publicly for the first time about his experiences as a covert operative since leaving the Met in 2011, Plowman also accused the undercover unit of targeting “low-hanging fruit” instead of individuals at the top of the criminal chain. He said some covert operations became focused upon getting “heads on sticks”, which Plowman said meant “let’s bag as many as people as possible for whatever offence we can”.

As a result, the full-time undercover officer claims he often found himself targeting crack addicts instead of dealers and spying on ordinary people.

Plowman spent 16 years in the Met and was one of around 10 full-time covert operatives. He was a close friend of Mark Kennedy, 43, the undercover officer who had at least one sexual relationship with a woman while infiltrating eco-activists. Plowman has written a book about his experiences, Crossing the Line, which is published next month.

Although he praises his colleagues, the former officer describes the culture of SO10 as riven with machismo, to the extent that undercover officers who requested psychological help were seen as not fit for the job.

“You need a culture where you can go and see a shrink and you won’t be blacklisted, but there was a proper locker-room culture,” said Plowman, who now lives abroad and works as a security manager for a fashion firm. Unable to ask for support and struggling to balance his aliases with his own identity, Plowman admits he contemplated suicide.

He reveals that some former colleagues have threatened him since he left. “One of them said ‘next time you’re in London, I’m gonna headbutt you’, but who’d do that anyway? You’re a policeman for starters.”

Plowman’s last job was working at a north London pawnshop called TJ’s Trading Post that was set up by Scotland Yard to trade in stolen goods, but which he believes operated as a “honey trap” that lured people to commit crime. More than 100 people are believed to have been convicted, many for illegally trading their own passports and driving licences.

Plowman claims the store encouraged people in a poor area to commit offences by giving the impression that they could make easy money by trading ID documents. “They were not people whose arrest would make any visible impact on the community. If TJ’s had never opened, those people would not have been in prison for any offence,” he said.

Other decisions he disagreed with included the apparent mindset among senior officers that criminals maintained the modus operandi of south-east London gangsters in the 1970s, namely cutting deals during heavy drinking sessions. Plowman said he spent weeks drinking in pubs that were believed to be hubs of criminality but in reality were full of ordinary working men.

“They were just normal people. I felt incredibly uncomfortable infiltrating their lives, however minimal the intrusion. I just thought: ‘Why am I here?’ In one pub, the biggest crime I saw was a 15-year-old trying to sell some stolen makeup.”

Before graduating to a full-time position in SO10, Plowman was a “test purchase officer”, which entails police masquerading as drug addicts who frequent street dealers to try to obtain contact details. Even then, Plowman alleges that ambitions fell below what he expected from an elite police unit.

“We ended up buying drugs off proper junkies who were forced to sell them by dealers. They were threatened with violence, were often homeless or their flat had been taken off them by dealers. They shouldn’t have been convicted, in my view.”

He described one infiltration of a crack den in Richmond, south-west London, in which police targeted Jamaicans who had recently arrived in the UK. “These were very low-hanging fruit. These were guys coming over who had either been threatened or had been paid to sell crack. They were farm boys, essentially. But in the police world, instead of saying we arrested three Jamaican farm boys who didn’t know what they were doing, the headline would be: ‘Three yardies arrested’.”

The Met declined to comment.