Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dominican Patriots: We need a better Dominica now

By Gabriel Christian

Gabriel Christian
Gabrriel Christian Esq is a distinguished US attorney and national of Dominica.

To Matt Peltier: Thanks for allowing Dr. Sam Christian on your program on March 31, 2009. Thanks for standing up for freedom and democracy in our occupied country; one which is ruled by puppets of the money changers, fly by nights, those who come bearing gifts but who harbor designs on our land, water and other natural resources; those who give comfort to crooks.

Thanks for standing up for law and order in our increasingly lawless country, where the Government is so saddled with scandal it cannot even ensure the law courts do right by bringing justice to brazen murderers.

Where Integrity in Public Office legislation is written to cover up misdeeds in office - not uncover them. Where, but for Lennox Linton and intrepid reporters like yourself, our people would be blinded to the misconduct of our leaders, or the law suit in Tortola. Thanks for strengthening the tradition of a free press in Dominica, and may it be ever so.

We are Natural Resource Nationalists:

We have heard it said we are sour because we insist that our geothermal resources should be owned by and for Dominicans - not foreign concerns who disregard our national interest. We have never asked for contract for ourselves.

At all times we requested a national option; one where the Government and people of the Commonwealth of Dominica were primary in control of said resources and where our nation and people would reap the primary benefit.

We are natural resource nationalists and proud of it. We, of A Better Dominica, believe that the resources of Dominica should be owned by the people of Dominica for the benefit of the people of Dominica.

When we look at the actions of this Government re aggregate, geothermal and business ownership control it is clear that they do not believe as we do, and are patriotic only with words.

Their conduct benefit themselves and the few who can pay them. In eight years where is the new Dominican business ownership class or captains of industry? All we see is a blatant pattern of hand-outs to make our people beggars and minions; fit only to do the bidding of those who seek to perpetuate themselves in political power. We cannot build a country based on the ideology of beggarism.

We believe in Dominica first, and natural resource nationalism. We welcome guests, and assistance, but all must be premised on mutual respect and mutual interest: we do not believe in secret or one sided deals. We believe in good and transparent governance and our people controlling the commanding heights of our economy. Our every effort to put business ownership into the hands of local people have been met with lies, treachery and obstacles.

You speak of independence and spent millions on independence celebration, while – by stealth – the country is falling into foreign hands. Who are you fooling, Sir? To this bankrupt regime we say: By your actions you shall be known.

As with Washway, Dr. Shillingford, Severin McKenzie, Dr. Sam and others at home and abroad, we shall place our record of civic duty alongside all others to show we have meant well for our people not our selfish interest.

We are prepared to put our record of service to our country alongside anyone else; and challenge them to find that "sour grapes" is part of our legacy. The list of achievements and contribution by the Dominica Diaspora in Europe, N. America and within the region is long and covers many decades. As example see list of achievements small and large of the Dominica Academy of Arts & Sciences atda-academy.org

When they attack me, personally as one government agent did on March 31, 2009, I respond not with idle words but a legacy of deeds which favored the freedom and prosperity of our people:

1. in 1975-1976 - Organized work crew for the Didier Lane Community Center. Today, it is still standing.

2. Deputy Headboy at DGS who organized classrooms for Rosie Douglas to found the Dominica Cuba Friendship Society in 1976. Our legacy is still standing.

3. President of the Dominica Federation of Students and Headboy at Sixth Form College who led the students to Grandbay to vote in Pierre Charles as NYC President in 1977. That legacy is still standing.

4. In 1978, alongside Pierre Charles, led the student portion of the delegates to the 11th World Festival of Youth and Students to Havana and so opened the way for relations which allowed for hundreds of Dominicans to study in Cuba up to this day. We were detained and searched by Patrick John's Government on our return, even though we had sent his wife Desiree to Cuba for medical assistance. That legacy is still standing

5. In 1982 founded Frontline Cooperative Bookstore with Eddie "Izzar" Toulon and others and became the Cooperative's first President. Having difficulties, but Frontline Bookstore is still standing.

6. From 1982-1999 - Served in various positions with the Dominica Association of Washington DC, to include being its President, during the years of the Freedom Party's and UWP rule--yet worked unceasingly with other Dominicans of different political views to include Prime Minister Eugenia Charles to send thousands of dollars in food aid, books, medical supplies and promote tourism for Dominica - to include a $50,000 grant for AIDS from the Bill Gates Foundation education during the UWP in collaboration with Minister Doreen Paul.

7. In 1992 co- founded Pont Casse Press with Judge Irving Andre and authored and co-authored five books on Dominica's history and literature - and facilitated the publication of 1/2 dozen more books by other Dominican authors.

8. Co-founded the Dominica Academy of Arts and Sciences with brother Raglan Riviere now under the leadership of Dr. Clayton Shillingford and other brilliant patriots who love Dominica and render much financial and material assistance to our homeland.

9. I mention our efforts to revive of the Dominica Cadet Corps . It continues to grow and serve our youth

10. Co-founded the Dominica Sustainable Energy Corporation with Bevin Etienne, Dexter Newton, Dr. Fontaine, Gilbert Prevost, Jerome Austrie, Ginel Prevost, Mahala Shillingford, Washway Douglas, and others and brought down the first modern wind turbine during 2002 for Operation Energy Emancipation.

We also did the first modern wind study for a wind farm and the government did not work with us to make that a reality.

I have to mention these facts because some seek to dismiss our own sons and daughters of the soil in favor of crooked foreign representatives and mislead those who do not know the truth.

Dominicans: We Are Not Alone: The Diaspora is Rising

The Diaspora is rising to the defense of the homeland. We shall do our duty for A Better Dominica. Let none say, we deserted the country at this hour of need. All Dominicans, we ask you to rally to A Better Dominica. Spread the word, sound the call! We shall not be moved. We shall not turn back in this cause!

We are not alone. Many in the Diaspora have similar records of achievement and have assisted our country. We have not betrayed our country by going away to study. We have labored tirelessly to promote the homeland’s best interest.

We mean well, have presented by example a better international image for our country in culture, the professions and will uphold the dignity of the homeland and raise high its banner in victory.

The Dominica we desire is not one where we are dogs, serfs, slaves, peons or spectators in our own land; dispossessed such as the Tibetans and others have been. We are a small people but we have pride in what is ours and we shall fight to preserve it!

Where is the China MOU Mr. Prime Minister? Make it public! What is the CMC Plan for Portsmouth Mr. Prime Minister? Make it public! Where is the geothermal contract Mr. Prime Minister? Make it public! Where is the Diaspora Policy Document, Mr. Prime Minister?

You have refused to even acknowledge it! Utter disrespect to your own brothers and sisters, yet you have time to respond to e-mails from those who have you and our country enmeshed in scandal and law suits. Why Sir? This behavior was not necessary. You know we tried our best to work with you, and your Cabinet, at all times until you abandoned good sense and patriotic commitment.

Let us never betray good sense or the homeland. These times demand proud, boys, girls, men and women who will hold all our leaders in and out of power accountable - especially those we elect. They are our servants not our masters. And this rude, arrogant, dishonest, dismissive and secretive manner of rule must come to an end.

We Worked with All Governments where the National Interest is Concerned

So now we are attacked and maligned for standing for truth and supporting the national interest of our denied people. Despite the position of Ms. Charles on Cuba and those who were left wing, we worked with her government on matters of national development.

Despite the fact we were not supporters of the UWP, we worked with Prime Minister James and Ron Green on matters of national development. We never turned our back on Dominica. Today, because we seek truth and A Better Dominica, some agents of the regime attack us.

However, our record of working with Dominicans of all political stripes and colors to promote local control of our natural resources, respect for our national culture, dignity and identity is beyond reproach. We are conscious that we desire nothing more than a just and better destiny for our country; our consciences are clear. Can our present leaders say the same?

Together with our grassroots people, all our lives have been one of the pursuit for A BETTER DOMINICA which began when we were teenagers. We are not self serving political grasshoppers, clowns, traitors to our country's best hopes or political acrobats.

Dominicans deserve better than that; for while we may be poor in means it is only so because we have failed to do better. As an intelligent and God fearing people, patriotic and wise, we can and must do better because we deserve better - those of us who are born of the brave Kalinago and African warriors - commingled with the blood of brave social democrats of European hue such as Phyllis Shand Alfrey.

Inspired by the leadership of Jaco, Balla, Congoree, Rawle, Loblack, LeBlanc, Rosie, Pierro - and yes Ms. Charles too - because she had dignity too! Yes, we shall rise and take our rightful place as defenders and builders of our homeland.

We mean what we say and we do what we mean. We have never believed in lying to the masses or bribing them with trinkets such as some of our ancestors did who sold us into slavery. All our lives we have struggled for a free, just and prosperous country and we shall do so till our dying breathe.

Dominican Patriots, arise!
Listen to the Gabriel Christian interview on Dominica's eleventh hour
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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dominicans united in making a difference

Dominicans at home and abroad are on a mission, putting aside any differences and joining hands like never before for their country. Call 206 333-7872 to express yourself.

Here’s how you can add your energy today to the movement for change in Dominican. The Dominica Unity and Progress Group is putting online the voices of Dominicans who are not afraid to stand up for what they believe.

The more people who speak up, the more clout we have to get things done. Remember, there may be someone out there who might only be convinced by hearing your voice and nobody else’s. They will take courage knowing that you too are taking a stand.

To keep this momentum going costs you little. We need your ideas. We need your input. No one person can have all the answers and you may have unique experiences that bother you that nobody else has heard before.

For example:
I went to mail a letter at the post office in Roseau. I joined the line of about half a dozen people. Not far behind in the counter, there was a heavy-set woman with streaks of gray hair abusing a co-worker loudly in the foulest language imaginable.

The clerk attending to us kept doing her job at her same casual pace as if nothing was going on. That postal worker kept pouring out her abuse as if the public was not there. I went to front of the line and asked the clerk why she’s not telling the worker to stop.

She’d just shrugged and said "Is so she is." I demanded to speak to her supervisor.
“She not there, nuh.” As she continued selling stamps.

I felt so embarrassed! I didn’t know who in the line were visitors. I raised my voice and said “Excuse me Ma’am, this is a government office. Watch your language!”
The woman just looked at me for a mere second.

She didn’t even acknowledge me and just returned to her vicious argument with her co-worker, who was hardly saying anything. I got really mad and felt like making a citizen’s arrest or at least get this woman out of the building.

I thought of calling the police. Of course you know what I’m thinking…In the end I just got my stamps and left. Maybe I should have just minded my own business but still I was boiling inside - shocked at the level of crudeness that we would never see when I was growing up.

Ok, here's another one:

At Whitchurch Supermarket a scantily dressed, drunk, rough-looking woman was begging aggressively as each customer set foot out of the glass doors. Her language and appearance was just plain nasty.

People gave just to get her out of their faces. To complete the scenery, there was a homeless man passed out a few feet away, sprawled like a lifeless body on the sidewalk covered with flies and stench.

Anyway, I asked the police officer who was standing there why he was not ordering this woman to leave. He said “Even if we tell them, they just come right back so once they don’t come inside the building there’s nothing I can do.”

Don’t get me started. Again, I’m not looking down on or giving up on my country. In fact I have high hopes for Dominica. Can you tell? I'm not naive. I’m just saying certain things are unacceptable and with your help we’re going to change that.

Development is not just about more factories and jobs and big roads and big buildings. And let us not be sidetracked with ideology and party but believe me, we're going to start from the top. Yesterday's communist is the biggest capitalist and vice versa so don't risk dying for anybody's cause.

Rather, plan to live for noble ideals that we were brought up on. If we do not change the world it will change us. Now, I’m not going to put all that negative stuff in my voice message, but these are just a couple instances that really saddened me about what Dominican culture has become today.

Instead, I’d simply say something to-the-point like:
“I’d like to see Dominicans show more courtesy and respect in public. I would like to see the government do something about all that begging.

It’s one thing if someone's trying hard to sell their craft, you know what I mean, but to have someone hounding you is threatening. That takes away the enjoyment of your visit.”

Remember, the magic is not so much in what I say, just the fact that I'm identifying myself and making a statement. Together with so many others, it will become a mighty chorus for change in Dominica.

Now, it's time for you to say your piece. Call 206 333-7872 to do your part.
You will be instructed to leave your message, starting with your name, where you’re from. You may want to say where you live now and tell us a little bit about yourself - if it’s more than a minute, you can just call back to finish.

You will be instructed to express yourself clearly about the situation in Dominica, to share your dreams and aspirations and exactly what kind of changes YOU would like to see in our beloved country.

You may even want to give a quick shout-out to encourage some friend, group, village or community telling them we need their help and that they too should speak up.
I'm very pleased with the progress we're making.

I appreciate the fact that you've taken the time to read this far. Now just a couple more easy steps: Write down your thoughts, practice what you’re going to say and be aware of the time.

Then call at your convenience and privacy. You'll not be speaking with anyone, just recording your opinion and thoughts directly into the machine. Remember to be respectful and constructive, saying exactly what changes you want to see in our country.

Please forward this email to every Dominican you know. We’re going to use technology to make a difference. Feel free to suggest any other ideas you have. Then write me at [email protected] to let me know that you left your message.

I will email you in a few days with instructions about when and where all our VOICE-OF-THE-PEOPLE audio messages will appear together. I'll also put the information on the DAAS, TheDominican.net and DD (Dominica Diaspora).
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Dominica's foreign minister pays official visit to Cuba

dominica foreign minister
Dominica Foreign Minister Vince Henderson and Cuba’s Minister of External Commerce and Foreign Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca, met in Cuba recently to further strengthen bilateral relations.

Minister of foreign affairs Vince Henderson has praised the Bolivarian Alternative for the People of our Americas (ALBA) for the continuing social development and cooperation between Cuba and Dominica.

Henderson made his comments as he continued on an official visit to Cuba. In a meeting with Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, he thanked Cuba for the island's solidarity with his Caribbean nation in different fields.

Henderson pointed to Cuba’s assistance especially in areas of social development such as health and education. He noted that Dominica continues to take advantage of Operation Miracle, which has assisted for free 3,000 Dominica patients, who were suffering from ophthalmologic (eye) problems.

Today there are more than 30 Cubans providing medical services in Dominica and also teaching. Besides, 324 young people from Dominica have graduated from Cuban universities in fields as diverse as medicine, engineering and accounting.

The countries established diplomatic relations on May 18th, 1996, and there are currently 31 Cuban medical personnel working in Dominica.

During his meeting at the headquarters of the Cuban Foreign Ministry, Henderson affirmed that his government will continue supporting Cuba at international forums and valued as excellent the friendship ties with the island in the last 30 years.

He recalled the traditional vote in favor of the Cuban resolution at the UN General Assembly demanding an end to Washington's economic blockade against the island.

Henderson also met with Cuban Foreign Trade and Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmierca where he reiterated his government’s commitment to keeping supporting Cuba in international forums, and strengthening bilateral relations.

In the talks, Malmierca said both countries are united, due to many reasons: the Caribbean, the ALBA, and their historic relations of cooperation and solidarity.

Malmierca noted that “our two countries are united for many reasons, not only because they belong to the Caribbean, but also as members of the ALBA and for the ongoing collaboration and solidarity they maintain.”

Dominica became a member of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, ALBA, in January of 2008 alongside Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Honduras.

Henderson also passed on regards from Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit to President Raul Castro and Cuban Revolution’s leader Fidel Castro.

Henderson’s visit also included reviving the existing Inter-Foreign Ministry Consultation mechanism between both nations since the year 2000, and reviewing the current state of collaboration.
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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dominica government signs new contract for roadwoks

By Sean Douglas

tane tane road
The Tane Tane sea defense works.

The Government of Dominica has signed contracts valued in excess of $2.8 million for the second phase of the Tane Tane Sea Defence and Road Works Project Phase II and the rehabilitation of the St. Aroment Road.

According to Chief Technical Officer in the Ministry of Public Works and Infrastructural Development, Mr. Kendell Johnson, the project at Tane Tane will involve the construction of 200 metres of coastal sea wall, the widening of the existing bridge to accommodate two-lane traffic, the construction of sidewalks, surfacing of a two-lane road and improved drainage.

The contractor for this project is Offshore Civil and Marine Inc. The project will last for twenty-six weeks.

Total cost of Phase II funded by the Dominica Social Investment Fund and the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) is $1.5 million EC dollars.

Phase I of the Tane Tane Sea Defence and Road Works was completed last year at a cost of $3 million.

The rehabilitation of the St. Aroment Road will provide for the construction of a new road base and new asphalt surfacing for approximately 1km. Total cost of the St. Aroment Road rehabilitation is $1.3 million. The duration of this project is five weeks.

This cost is being met by the Government of Dominica. The project will be undertaken by the Public Works Department.

The rehabilitation of this road comes months following the completion of major road works on Federation Drive in Goodwill. That project was executed by the Public Works Corporation at a cost of $1 million ECD.

In attendance at the contract signing ceremony were Prime Minister, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, Minister for Public Works and Infrastructural Development, Hon. Rayburn Blackmoore, Minister for Economic Development and Urban Renewal, Hon. Julius Timothy, Minister for Housing, Lands and Telecommunications, Hon. Reginald Austrie, Permanent Secretary, Mr. Nicholas Bruno and officials from the Dominica Social Investment Fund and the Public Works Corporation.
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Friday, March 20, 2009

Integrity commission rejects complaints of breeches against Dominica government

By Sean Douglas

The Integrity Commission has rejected the complaint of breaches of the Code of Conduct lodged by Mr. Lennox Linton against Prime Minister, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit. The complaint was filed on September 2, 2008, one day after The Integrity in Public Office Act, 2003 came into effect.

The decision on the compliant of breaches of the code of conduct was announced by the Integrity Commission in Press Release No.3/2009 issued on February 26, 2009.

In his letter, Mr. Linton complained to the Commission that Prime Minister, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit had breached paragraphs (d), (e), (g), and (i) of the Code of Conduct specified in the Second Schedule to the Integrity in Public Office Act, 2003.

At its meetings on February 12 and 18, 2009, the Commission considered the complaint by Mr. Linton together with his submissions made at the hearing on 30th December, 2008 and concluded that he had failed to convince the Commission that Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit had breached the Code of Conduct.

The Integrity Commission gave this reason for its decision:

“A person cannot be held to be in breach of the Code of Conduct before he became a person in public life within the meaning of the Act or before the Code of Conduct, specified in the Second Schedule, entered into force. The IPO Act, 2003, under which Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit became a person in public life only came into operation on the 1st day of September, 2008- a date authorised by the sovereign Parliament of the Commonwealth of Dominica, and the Act can only apply as from that date.

“The Commission is prohibited by the provisions of section 8(4) of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Dominica from retrospectively applying its powers to investigate actions which were not criminal offences before the Act came into force.

“The Commission must also be guided by and is required to apply the common law principle, nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege, which precludes the application of any subsequent legislation creating an offence, to any conduct that precedes it in time.

“The Commission is confronted by the fact that ‘the pattern of ministerial conduct’ by which Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit is alleged to have breached paragraphs (d), (e), (g) and (i) of Rule 1 of the Code of Conduct, spanned the period of four years before the Act entered into operation.

“The Commission, like any statutory authority endowed with statutory powers, can legally do only what the statute permits. And, what is not permitted by the statute, properly construed, is forbidden (A.G. v Great Eastern Railway (1880) 5 App. Cas. 473).”

In its decision on the complaint by Mr. Linton as announced in Press Release No.3 of 2009, the Commission also stated:

“In the premises, therefore, the Commission is constrained to hold:

i. that the provisions of the Integrity in Public Office Act, 2003 cannot apply retrospectively to the alleged conduct on the part of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, or that of any person in public life, if the alleged conduct complained off occurred before the Act came into operation;

ii. that, consequently, the complaint by Mr. Lennox Linton made in his letter to the Commission dated the 2nd day of September 2008, does not pertain to a matter that the Commission is empowered to deal with under the Act and is, therefore, rejected by the Commission as provided by section 32(1)(b) of the Integrity in Public Office Act, 2003;

iii. that having rejected the complaint, the person against whom the complaint was lodged has the right to institute legal proceedings against the complainant in accordance with the provisions of section 32(2) of the Act; and

iv. that in keeping with the decision of the Commission taken on the 23rd October 2008, this decision of the Commission will be communicated to the person in public life against whom the complaint has been made.

According to the Commission, Mr. Linton made forceful submissions regarding moral and ethical aspects of the law in relation to the complaint. The complainant urged that attention should “focus not only on an examination of the strict provisions of the law but to take these wider aspects into consideration”.

The Commission stated however that it “is constrained to consider and apply the provisions of the Integrity in Public Office Act, 2003 as enacted by our sovereign Parliament”.

The decision was signed by all seven members of the Integrity Commission.

The Chairman of the Integrity Commission is former Secretary to the Cabinet, Mr, Julian Johnson. The other members are: Sir. Brian Alleyne, former Acting Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court; Mrs. Patricia Inglis, Businesswoman; Mr. George Williams, former Dominica High Commissioner to the United Kingdom; Mr. Kelvin Felix, former Archbishop of Castries; Mr. Alick Lazare, former Financial Secretary; and Mr. Gerald Smith, Accountant..

The Chairman was appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. Two other members of the Commission were appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. Two members were appointed by the President on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition.

One member was appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and one member was appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Dominica Bar Association.

The Integrity Commission has also rejected the complaint of breaches of the Code of Conduct lodged by the Citizens Forum for Good Governance against Hon. Ambrose George. The membership of Citizens Forum for Good Governance includes Mr. Lennox Linton, Mr. Severin Mckenzie, Mr. Atherton Martin and Mr. Angelo Alleyne.
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

ACS in Discussions to Acquire e-Services Group International

DALLAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. (NYSE: ACS) today announced it is in discussions to purchase Caribbean-based e-Services Group International to expand its global delivery platform.

The addition of the business process outsourcing (BPO) and customer care company – with approximately 4,000 employees in Jamaica and St. Lucia – would provide ACS and its clients with a highly-trained, English-speaking workforce capable of handling complex business functions from a location and time zone convenient to North American businesses.

“ACS is committed to being a leading customer care provider to the global market,” said Tom Blodgett, executive vice president and group president of ACS Business Process Solutions. “ACS is seeking seasoned management and experienced employees to allow ACS to expand its capabilities and provide our clients with top quality customer care.”

Upon the completion of the acquisition of e-Services by ACS, no workforce restructuring is expected. e-Services would continue to be managed by its management team and operations would continue to be performed by e-Services’ employees at their current facilities. Furthermore, the clients and employees of e-Services would be backed by a FORTUNE 500 company offering a diversified suite of BPO solutions with demonstrated global delivery capabilities serving clients in more than 100 countries.

“Client service has been a hallmark of this company since we opened our doors,” said Patrick Casserly, president and CEO of e-Services. “ACS’ client-focused culture will fit well at e-Services and clients will continue to be serviced by our well regarded employees.”

ACS is one of the largest information communications and technology services providers in Jamaica, operating from a recently expanded facility with more than 1,600 employees. ACS serves companies among the communications, education, financial services, healthcare, insurance and manufacturing industries from Jamaica, providing payroll processing, transaction processing, human resources, call center support and finance & accounting services.

About ACS

ACS, a global FORTUNE 500 company with approximately 70,000 people supporting client operations reaching more than 100 countries, provides business process outsourcing and information technology solutions to world-class commercial and government clients. The company's Class A common stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "ACS." Learn more about ACS at http://www.acs-inc.com.

"Safe Harbor" Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995: Statements in this press release regarding Affiliated Computer Services' business which are not historical facts are "forward-looking statements" that involve risks and uncertainties. For a discussion of such risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements, see "Risk Factors" in the Company's Annual Report or Form 10-K for the most recently ended fiscal year.

Affiliated Computer Services, Inc.
Investor Relations Contact
Jon Puckett, 214-841-8281
Vice President, Investor Relations
[email protected]
Media Relations Contact
Chris Gilligan, 859-389-2412
Corporate Communications Manager
[email protected]
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dominica holds national consultation on Broadcasting Authority Bill

By Sean Douglas

The consultative process on the Broadcasting Authority Bill entered an important phase on Wednesday with a one-day consultation at the Fort Young Hotel in Roseau, Dominica. The consultation was organized by the Ministry of Community Development, Culture, Gender Affairs and Information.

The purpose of the Bill is to establish a Broadcasting Authority to license and set standards for radio and television broadcasting and interrelated matters.

The consultation provided individuals, groups and corporations within the broadcasting industry in Dominica the opportunity to discuss and analyse in detail the draft Broadcasting Authority Bill.

Their ideas and suggestions on the proposed bill is expected to be considered going forward.

The consultation was attended by Government officials, representatives from radio and television stations, the Media Workers Association of Dominica (MWAD), Newspaper managers and editors, officials from advertising agencies, composers, musicians, members of the Writer’s Guild, civil society organisations and Freelance Journalists.

Minister for Community Development, Culture, Gender Affairs and Information, Hon. Loreen Bannis-Roberts delivered an address at the consultation. She denied that there was a conspiracy by her government to take away the rights of journalists.

The proposed Broadcasting Authority Bill is a harmonised piece of OECS legislation, another example of the cooperation among OECS Member States on a variety of issues across a wide range of sectors.

The broadcasting industry in the OECS Member States is in a state of legislative flux yet it is highly competitive.

It is proposed that what is required is a systematic approach to ensure the regulation of broadcasting through legislation with clear policies specifically aimed towards strengthening the development of the society and which provides for the licensing of broadcasting, the setting of broadcasting standards, fair competition, accountability and transparency.
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Monday, March 16, 2009

Dominica PM says US tax-haven legislation could spell disaster for Caribbean countries

By Thomson Fontaine

caricom heads of government
CARICOM Heads of Government at the Twentieth Inter-sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, 12 March 2009, Radisson Fort George Hotel, Belize City, Belize.

Legislation before the United States Congress to clamp down on foreign tax havens, if passed could “pose a serious blow to CARICOM member states.” This, according to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.

The bill referred to as the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act names Dominica as one of the countries on an initial list of 34 offshore Secrecy Jurisdictions. Several other Caribbean countries including the Bahamas, Barbados and St Lucia are also included. The initial list of jurisdictions was taken from IRS court filings identifying them as probable locations for U.S. tax evasion.

In response to the action of congress, the Heads of Government of CARICOM have set up a sub-committee to hold consultations with the United States Congress over the proposed legislation.

According to Prime Minster Rosevelt Skerrit of Dominica, “we will engage the President of the United States, Congress and the American public in order to ask that they reconsider the bill in its entirety.”

Skerrit, who is also on the sub-committee along with the finance ministers of The Bahamas and Barbados, called the draft bill “unwarranted.” He went on to say that “it was difficult to understand that any financial transactions can take place with the Caribbean if the bill were to become law.”

The bill aauthorizes special measures against foreign jurisdictions, financial institutions, and others that impede U.S. tax enforcement. It is expected to pass in the United States Congress and has the support of President Barack Obama, who was one of the initial sponsors of the legislation in 2007.

Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner recently told the House Ways and Means Committee “we fully support the legislation ... on offshore tax centers, and we look forward to working with you as part of the broader effort to address international tax evasion."

The administration's support greatly improves the chances of offshore tax legislation becoming law this year, said Michigan Senator Carl Levin, chief sponsor of the Senate bill.

"It also sends a strong signal to tax havens that this administration is not going to tolerate the kind of offshore tax abuses that have been draining $100 billion a year from the U.S. Treasury," Levin said in a statement.

In 2002, the United States Treasury issued an aadvisory against Dominica warning financial institutions in the US against conducting business with suspicious offshore banks operating out of Dominica. The warning was issued following the blacklisting of Dominica by the Financial Action Task Force of the Organization of Economic Development.

Although the advisory was withdrawn in May 2003, it had a chilling effect on Dominica’s offshore sector and most of the banks closed down. Dominica’s offshore sector is now just a shadow of its former self.
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Sunday, March 15, 2009

George Matthews: the famed Dominican trombonist and jazz legend who helped define a generation

By Thomson Fontaine

chick webb orchestra
The Chick Webb Orchestra with George Matthews believed to be holding the trombone.

Sometime in 1922, a ten year old George Matthews along with his family boarded a steamer at the port in Roseau headed for the bustling city of New York. They had joined the growing number of Dominicans who were finding their way overseas headed for a better life in the rapidly expanding America.

Five years later and already settled in their new home, his musician father enrolled him in the famed New York Martin Smith School of Music. Although his father was an accomplished guitarist having learned to play by ear in his native Dominica, the fifteen year old would opt to play the trombone, tuba and trumpet.

But it was his love for the trombone that would lead him to more than forty years of playing on the American stage and having a critical role in popularizing jazz, the big band swing, and the blues. Before his death in 1982, he would go on to record with such musical legends as Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday Count Bessie, Dizzy Gillespie, Otis Redding, and Chick Webb among others.

In the early 1920s, New York was buzzing with the Great Harlem Renaissance, also known as the New Negro Movement; a period during which African American literature, art, music and creativity flourished.

Before the Renaissance, an increasing number of blacks migrated from the South to the Northern industrial cities as more employment opportunities became available during World War I. In addition, the black middle class was increasing and more educational opportunities were available to blacks.

As the 1920s gave way to the 1930s and the Great Depression began taking hold, the largely previously upwardly mobile blacks were looking for ways to escape. No more was that more evident than in Harlem where there was an upsurge in music and the nightlife.

It was in that environment, that a young and gifted musician from Dominica would find his way and lend his immeasurable skill and energy in helping to define an era.

During that time black music was the rage. Every night, white people took taxis and subways uptown to Harlem to listen and dance to music by black musicians and singers at the Cotton Club and the Savoy Ballroom. While still enrolled at Martin Smith School of Music, Matthews would begin to play professionally, joining up with several small bands.

In 1934 he joined Tiny Bradshaw, with whom he made his first recording and built up quite a reputation. He then went on to perform and record with Willie Bryant (1935-7) and Louis Armstrong (1937). Matthews also made a few recordings with small groups during that time, including Chu Berry's octet (1937).

In 1938, the Savoy Ballroom became more of a permanent fixture when he joined up with the Chick Webb orchestra. For four years he would play with the orchestra as they popularized the big band swing and jazz.

Webb also help introduce a 15 year old Ella Fitzgerald to the world when he hired her as the lead vocals in his orchestra. On May 3, 1938, the band had its first recording Chick Webb’s Liza, which is still recognized as one of the finest jazz recordings ever.

This was quickly followed by A-Tisket, A-Tasket by Ella Fitzgerald (with Chick Webb). On May 4, 1939 Chew, Chew, Chew by Ella Fitzgerald (with Chick Webb) and George Matthews on trombone was recorded in Boston.

Sadly, shortly after the recording, Webb would be dead, at age 30. For the next two years, Ella Fitzgerald attempted to keep the band together before calling it quits in late 1941.

As the Second World War drew to a close, Matthews found himself playing with Lucky Millinder (1945) and would also spend the next four years with the Count Basie Orchestra, during which time he made many recordings.

On January 9, 1946 Queer Street was recorded by Count Basie in New York, followed by Rambo(featuring J.J. Johnson) and The King , recorded in New York on February 4, 1946, and Stay On It, recorded, July 31, 1946.

In April 1947 he recorded Jet propelled Papa with Helen Humes and the Buck Clayton's Orchestra. In 1949 there were more recordings with Count Besie including Blee Blop Blues (issued as "Normania") , Katy in which Matthews may be heard as a soloist. Billie Holiday: Tain't Nobody's Business was recorded in New York, August 17, 1949.

As the Count Basie Orchestra disbanded in 1950 Matthews moved over to Erskine Hawkins. This also provided him with an opportunity to show case his enormous talent as he embraced the era of rock and roll.

From the mid-1950s Matthews would work mainly as a freelance musician playing and recording with Ray Charles, Clark Terry, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Otis Redding and others.

As the 1960s rolled in, the now famed trombonist worked in a band led by Lucille Dixon. He also spent a significant amount of time performing on New York City's busy jazz scene, often in the brass section of Clark Terry's Big Band.

An excellent musician, Matthews also has some recording credits on tuba, even trumpet and has even been given mention as both a clarinetist and saxophonist.

George Matthews also appears on: Cannonball Adderley and His Orchestra, African Waltz (1961); Billie Holiday Anthology 1947/1956 (2008); Billie Holiday
Anthology 1947/1956 (2008) ; Count Basie, Basie's Basement (1950); Ella Fitzgerald Diva Series (2003); Dizzy Gillespie, Gillespiana/Carnegie Hall Concert (1961); Cannonball Adderley, Greatest Hits (1998); Ella Fitzgerald, Legendary Radio Broadcasts Mildred Bailey (2008); Ella Fitzgerald Live At The Savoy 1939-40 (2007) ; Billie Holiday, Priceless Jazz Collection: More Billie Holiday (1998); Chick Webb Stomping At The Savoy (2006) Box Set.

Eight years before his death in 1982, Matthews sat down with author and music historian Frank Driggs for an interview tracing the history of Jazz. From 1956 to 1986 Driggs conducted 314 oral histories in an effort to capture the truths of the development of jazz as related by a host of musicians and band leaders who defined the tradition.

All aspects of the jazz experience are captured in the interviews, ranging from musical triumphs to hardships on the road during the Great Depression.

The interviews were recorded on cassette as well as reel-to-reel audio tape and are housed in the Marr Sound Archives, a division of Special Collections in the Miller Nichols Library at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Many of the oral histories in the Driggs collection survive as the only known record of a musician's experiences and voice.

If you enjoyed this article you may wish to sample some of that sweet swing music at www.forsklein.com E-mail to a friend
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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dominica among sixteen in Google maps update

By Thomson Fontaine

Dominica is one of sixteen countries from around the world that now have much more accurate maps in Google Maps.

Under Google’s Great Maps by Map Makers project, people residing in the sixteen countries took pictures and updated maps of different places, which were then transferred into Google maps.

Google Map Maker allows anyone to contribute, share and edit map information for certain regions around the world. Individuals are able to locate, draw, label, describe and moderate local map features, including points of interest, roads and borders.

When the project was unveiled last month, viewers got some stunning views as previously bare areas now sport cities, roads, and named buildings. When viewing areas around Roseau, or the boiling lake or other scenic sites on the island, users can see stunning pictures of the various locations thus contributing to a better appreciation of the area.

The launch has been lauded as a testament to the spirit of map makers who have taken it upon themselves to map entire neighborhoods thus making Google maps much more accurate.

In addition to Dominica, more exploring can be done in Bhutan, Bolivia, Cambodia, Dominican Republic, Guam, Iceland, Mauritius, Paraguay, the Philippines, Senegal, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe - the 16 countries that benefited from the Map Maker-to-Maps shift.

The project has now been extended to 43 other countries all over the world. E-mail to a friend
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Friday, March 13, 2009

Nazarene Drama Group Coming to Dominica With Highly Acclaimed Play

nazarene drama group
Members of the Nazarene Drama Group.

The Nazarene Drama Team from Antigua is expected in Dominica this month end to stage their highly rated play, Nine to Five.

Nine to Five debuted last December and examines the trials of employment. In Nine to Five Managing Director, Mr. Brandenson (played by Mario Connor) shows favoritism to his female counterparts, personal assistant, ‘Freekisha’ (played by Kanaeza Watkins) and new employee Toosdey (played by Shemore Martin). However, the dramatic piece also examines the struggle of Mrs. Daisy McKenzie (played by Yvette Henry) and the cruelty she suffers from the hands of Mr. Brandenson.

The ten member cast also includes, Yinka Elabanjo, Jameel Lee, Francoise Bowen, Tevon Francis and Shamauly Francis.

Director of the Nazarene Drama Team, Collin Jno-Finn, who is Dominican born, said the team was established just over one year ago and stage their first production, On The Block, last March.

He said although the show was only scheduled to be held twice, a third performance was set to satisfy the demands from the public. He said the team is very talented and practice very diligently in order to deliver a high quality of performance to its audience.

In their latest play, Nine to Five, Jno-Finn said the group filled a thousand-seat auditorium and received high commendation from Governor General Dame Louise Lake Tack, Minister of Labour Hon. Jackie Quinn-Leandro and Minister of Culture, Hon. Eleston Adams.

The last encore performance was done in collaboration with the Cultural Development Division of Antigua and Barbuda, in an effort to raise funds for the Friends of Haiti Society.

Acting Director of Culture, Gilbert Laudat said, “After witnessing the play I was impressed by the overall performance of the group and although three shows were held, several persons did not get to view the play”. The acting director of culture further stated that his office received numerous calls requesting that the production be re-staged

The venue and the date of the show will be released shortly.

Collin B. Jno-Finn
(268) 771-4006
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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Venezuela cited for drugs Dominica implicated

By The Dominican.net Newsdesk

ramon chacin
Ramon Rodriguez Chacin (left) accused of assisting narcotics trafficking from Columbia.

The U.S. State Department has accused senior Venezuelan officials, including a close aide to President Hugo Chavez, of assisting narcotics trafficking from Colombia in an annual report that describes Venezuela as a "major drug-transit country."

President Hugo Chavez adamantly denied the allegation telling the National Assembly that President Obama should "go clean up that dirt."

"The biggest support for narco-trafficking comes from the nation of the north," Mr. Chavez told lawmakers also accusing Mr. Obama of continuing the hostile policies of the Bush administration.

According to the State Department’ s 2009 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, "Venezuela remains a major drug-transit country with high-levels of corruption and a weak judicial system. Growing illicit drug transshipments through Venezuela are enabled by Venezuela’s lack of international counter narcotics cooperation."

The report however does not accuse Mr. Chavez of direct involvement in the drug trade, but it names three senior Venezuelan officials as "Tier II Kingpins" for material assisting the narcotics trafficking activities of FARC," the main Marxist rebel movement in neighboring Colombia. The officials include Ramon Rodriguez Chacin, a top aide to Mr. Chavez, who has served as justice and interior minister.

According to the report, "Narcotics trafficking in Venezuela has increased fivefold since 2002, from 50 [metric tons] to 250 [metric tons] in 2007." The report claims that Venezuela now serves as the main outlet into the U.S. and Europe for cocaine and heroin produced in Colombia.

It details the arrest of Venezuelan traffickers in Dominica, Mexico, Spain, the Netherlands, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, St. Lucia, and several West African countries, including Ghana and Guinea. According to the report these countries now serve as a bridge for drugs entering Europe.

The issue of Venezuelan drug traffickers in Dominica came into sharp focus in 2008 when a Venezuelan vessel was seized by the Dominican coastguard. Police in Dominica arrested eight Venezuelan men in waters just outside of Grand Bay. The boat was shadowed for several hours by the Dominica coast guard before it was boarded and the arrest effected. Over a million dollars in cash was found onboard.

The men were charged with trying to enter the country illegally and for failing to declare the cash in their possession. They appeared in a local court in Roseau represented by Dominica’s ambassador to Venezuela Lennox Lawrence, and were subsequently fined and released.

Other officials named in the scathing five-page section about Venezuela include Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios and Henry de Jesus Rangel Silva, who head key anti-narcotics and intelligence units.

"Counter narcotics successes in Colombia have forced traffickers to shift routes through neighboring Venezuela," says the State Department, which accuses key units of Venezuela's security services, including the Special Anti-Narcotics Units of the National Guard and the Federal Investigative Police, of being complicit in the drug trade.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro has said that the report is "plagued with lies," claiming that drug seizures and arrests have increased in Venezuela during the past year. E-mail to a friend

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