Shortly after Senator George Weah (Montserrado County) accepted the petition statement mandating him to contest for the 2017 presidency by the Congress for Democratic Change’s (CDC) Legislative Caucus, he told the mammoth crowd that he would wage war against the poor standard of education if elected to power.Respond to the petition, Weah, who dropped out of high school in his early years, described the country’s education as substandard, calling it a “national security threat.” He referred to the health sector as disastrous, calling electricity “elusive.”However, Weah now holds a master’s degree from the Arizona-based DeVry University, an online college program for people who want to continue their education.“Under my administration, there will be sufficient budgetary allotment to the education sector so as to meet international standards, as well as invite international experts to come and train teachers,” Weah declared to deafening rounds of applaus from supporters, who defied the scorching sun to grace yesterday’s ceremony.He said he would rebuild the health sector by negotiating with partners in and out of the country, while also promising to revamp the agriculture sector by putting in place agricultural procurement programs for farmers.As for the business community, Weah gave them hope that when he becomes president, he will create an enabling environment for them to employ more Liberians.Meanwhile, Weah, who out-rightly rejected merger talks with any of the political parties, however, called on other political parties to join the CDC in the struggle to end the Unity Party rule. Weah, who is now a first-term Senator for Montserrado County, first ran for president in 2005, coming second to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. He ran again in 2011, this time as vice presidential candidate to Winston Tubman, a lawyer by profession, and again his party finished second to Sirleaf’s Unity Party.As early as 6 a.m. yesterday, residents of several communities around Monrovia woke up to a dramatic crowd of mainly supporters of Weah’s CDC as they trooped to the party’s headquarters in Congo Town, where they petitioned Weah to contest the ensuing 2017 presidential election as a presidential candidate.His partisans, some of them from the Monrovia suburbs of West Point and New Kru Town, were joined by fellow CDCians from the central city and made their way to Congo Town; some walked, while others were crammed in the trunks of vehicles heading in the direction of the party’s headquarters for the ceremony.By 10 a.m., CDC partisans from the eastern end of town in the Paynesville District were also connected to their colleagues from SKD Boulevard, SD Cooper Road and the infamous “Peace Island” Community, jubilating with songs of victory and shouting political slogans they coined as they marched to meet Weah, who was on his way, heavily guarded, from ELWA to respond to the petition.Although Weah’s supporters were peaceful, they chanted anti-government slogans as authorities of the Liberia National Police (LNP) increased their manpower to provide the necessary protection. For his part, CDC national chairman, Nathaniel McGill, told the Voice of America’s (VOA) James Butty that the 10-year administration of President Sirleaf has failed to improve the welfare of Liberians in spite of the enormous international goodwill it has received. As a result, McGill said “marginalized Liberians yearn for change, and they believe Senator Weah can be the vehicle for that change.“Considering that the Unity Party-led government has not done sufficient in the face of the enormous resources it has received, we think there’s a need for change. Liberians believe Senator Weah can be the vehicle for that change. He’s a man who understands their condition, who indeed understands their plight,” he told the VOA.Some analysts have commented that the CDC lost the last two presidential elections because, while the party was popular in urban areas like the capital, Monrovia, it failed to extend its reach to the rural areas.McGill described the assertion as a myth. He said the only political party with national appeal is the CDC. “If we are a Monrovia-based party, how come we pushed this president to the second round in two successive elections? The fact that the government did not win on the first ballot shows we are not a Monrovia-based party. We are a national-based party,” McGill said.He also said the CDC hopes to improve on its errors from the last two elections. “We realize that we needed to improve our ability to man the polls, and in that area we had some lapses. But we’ve improved on that, manning the polls making sure we have strong and vigorous poll monitoring officers. And we are quite sure that this time around there will be no reason to complain, because we will be on top of our game.” Following the first-round of the November 2011 presidential election, the CDC decided to boycott the second-round vote because it felt it had been cheated in the first.A rally of its supporters called by the CDC leadership in support of the party’s plan to boycott the run-off election turned violent when police fired on protesters, killing one and reportedly wounding several.A commission set up by President Sirleaf to investigate the violence recommended, among other things, the dismissal of the Director of Police, Marc Amblard.A number of Liberians have already announced their intentions to contest the 2017 election. They include Liberia’s current Vice President Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party; Charles Brumskine of the opposition Liberty Party, who also ran in the 2005 and 2011 presidential elections; and businessman Benoni Urey, who served as head of the country’s Maritime Affairs during the presidency of Charles Taylor.Others likely to enter the race include Dr. J. Mills Jones, former governor of the Central Bank of Liberia; former Foreign Minister Augustine Ngafuan, who resigned last year, saying he wanted to be an “active player” in the coming 2017 presidential and legislative elections; and Alexander Cummings, who was recently appointed political leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC).Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
ALBANY, N.Y. – Pet owners were rechecking their cabinets and threatening legal action after state officials said rat poison was found in pet food blamed for the deaths of at least 16 cats and dogs. It was unclear how many deaths would eventually be linked to the “cuts and gravy”-style food produced by Menu Foods, but scientists said Friday that they expected more would be announced. The substance in the food was identified as aminopterin, a cancer drug that once was used to induce abortions in the United States and is still used to kill rats in some other countries, state Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker said. The federal government prohibits using aminopterin for killing rodents in the U.S. State officials would not speculate on how the poison got into the pet food, but said no criminal investigations had been launched. The pet deaths led to a recall of 60 million cans and pouches of dog and cat food the company produced and sold throughout North America. After Friday’s announcement, Menu Foods food advised retailers to remove all brands from their shelves, a company spokesman said, though the recall still applies only to the dog and cat foods identified on its Web site since March 16. Those cover cans and pouches of food packaged from Dec. 3 through March 6. “The recall has not been expanded,” Menu spokesman Sam Bornstein said Saturday. Menu Foods, based in Ontario, Canada, said it would take responsibility for pet medical expenses incurred as a result of the tainted food, but it was cold comfort to the owners of pets sickened or killed. “Before they put this stuff in the bags, there should be some kind of test,” said San Fernando Valley resident Jeff Kerner, whose Yorkshire terrier Pebbles died Thursday. “I can’t just let it go. Even if they just change the law.” The dog had eaten some of the food, Kerner said, and he was contacting an attorney because he wanted to prevent another pet tragedy. Some pets that ate the recalled brands suffered kidney failure, and the company has confirmed the deaths of 15 cats and one dog. However, pet owners and veterinarians said the tally could actually be higher, and other deaths were reported anecdotally around the country. There is no risk to pet owners from handling the food, officials said. The Food and Drug Administration has said the investigation was focused on wheat gluten in the food. The gluten itself would not cause kidney failure, but it could have been contaminated, the FDA said. Paul Henderson, chief executive of Menu Foods, confirmed Friday that the wheat gluten was purchased from China. Bob Rosenberg, senior vice president of government affairs for the National Pest Management Association, said it would be unusual for the wheat to be tainted. “It would make no sense to spray a crop itself with rodenticide,” Rosenberg said, adding that grain shippers typically put bait stations around the perimeter of their storage facilities. Scientists at the New York State Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University and at the New York State Food Laboratory tested three cat food samples provided by the manufacturer and found aminopterin in two of them. The two labs are part of a network created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to keep the nation’s animals and food supply safe. “Any amount of this product is too much in food,” Hooker said. Aminopterin is highly toxic in high doses. It inhibits the growth of malignant cells and suppresses the immune system. In dogs and cats, the amount of aminopterin found – 40 parts per million – can cause kidney failure, according to Bruce Akey, director of Cornell’s diagnostic center. “It’s there in substantial amounts,” Akey said. Donald Smith, dean of Cornell’s veterinary school, said he expected the number of pet deaths to increase. “Based on what we’ve heard the last couple days, 16 is a low number,” Smith said. Aminopterin is no longer marketed as a cancer drug, but is still used in research, said Andre Rosowsky, a chemist with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Rosowsky speculated that the substance would not show up in pet food “unless somebody put it there.” Henderson said Menu Foods does not believe the food was tampered with because the recalled food came from two different plants – one in Kansas, one in New Jersey. Menu continues to produce food at the two plants.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!