Port Kaituma roads to be rehabilitated – Chairman

first_imgGovernment has promised to provide rehabilitation work to roads at Port Kaituma, Region One (Barima-Waini) following protest action by residents of that community over the state of the access roads. That is according to Region One Chairman Brentnol Ashley.Residents of the community have been up in arms over the deplorable state of roads. According to Brian Gomes, a minibus driver of Port Kaituma, for several years they have been suffering as a result of the deplorable road conditions. He says, as a minibus operator, every day he has to purchase spare parts for his vehicle because of the roads. “Every single day something brake, something loose, something you got to tighten,” he related.A vehicle manoeuvring through a Port Kaituma roadAccording to Gomes, it was during the campaign period leading up to the 2015 General and Regional Elections that residents were promised better roads should the coalition win the election.“During the campaign trail, they told us at one of our meetings after going around and seeing the deplorable state that the road was in, that we have Jagdeo highways here and when they get into office we will have better roads and so far the road conditions worsen; no changes at all… over a year has passed since elections and we see no improvement. We keep suffering and the conditions with the roads, it worsens.”“During our protest two weeks ago, one of our demands was that we need the President’s presence here in Port Kaituma because he is the one that promised all the good things of life when he gets into office and so far nothing we receive. Nothing changes in Port Kaituma,” Gomes told Guyana Times.Chairperson of the Matthews Ridge/Aruka/ Port Kaituma Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) Margret Lambert says it is not only the roads but also bridges in the community that need fixing. According to Lambert, following the protest action that was taken by resident and vehicle operators, the NDC made a commitment to undertake some rehabilitation work.She said they will be using the services of bulldozers from two residents. The NDC will have to pay $1 million for one of the bulldozers while the service of the other is a donation to the Council. The material which will be used for the initial road rehabilitation project will come at no cost to the NDC; however, they will have to pay for fuel and labour costs.Meanwhile, Regional Chairman Ashley noted that two contracts have been signed between the Public Infrastructure Ministry and two contractors for the rehabilitation of roads at Port Kaituma. “To be specific of how much the contract sum is I will not be able to say because I have not received any bill of quantities or the scope of work for this project as yet,” the Regional Chairman noted. (Andrew Carmichael)last_img read more

Pawns of Politics

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Justice Minister Didn’t Transgress Any Law

first_imgRecently, attorney Kate Chang wrote an article in response to the contempt charges levied by the Supreme Court of Liberia against Justice Minister Christiana Tah for the compassionate leave of Mr. Rodney Sieh.  In essence, attorney Chang appears to be making the case that the Supreme Court is acting outside of its judicial powers and encroaching on the bounds of separation of powers as the statute in question specifically granted/vested sole authority to administer the rules and regulations concerning compassionate leave in the minister.  I would like to make the following six salient points in response to said article by attorney Kate Chang pertaining to the aforementioned.   1) §34.20(1) of the Liberian Criminal Procedure Code states the following:1) “The Minister of Justice shall formulate rules or regulations governing compassionate leave from institutions and, in accordance with such rules and regulations, may permit any prisoner to leave his institution for short periods of time, either by himself or in the custody of an officer, to visit a close relative who is seriously ill, to attend the funeral of a close relative, to return to his home during what appears to be his own last illness, or to return to his home for other compelling reasons which strongly appeal to compassion. The rules or regulations shall provide for the manner in which compassionate leave shall be granted, for its duration, and for the custody, transportation, and care of the prisoner during his leave. They shall also provide for the manner in which the expense connected with such leave shall be borne, and may allow the prisoner, or anyone in his behalf, to reimburse the State for such expense.” (emphasis added)The Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, Chapter III, Article 11(c) and Article 20 (a) respectively state that “[a]ll persons are equal before the law and are therefore entitled to the equal protection of the law” and “[n]o person shall be deprived of life, liberty, security of the person, property, privilege or any other right except as the outcome of a hearing judgment consistent with the provisions laid down in this Constitution and in  accordance with due process of law.” (emphasis added).   Furthermore, the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia Chapter III, Article 21 (d) states that “[e]xcessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor excessive punishment inflicted.”  (emphasis added).   Generally-speaking, a high court usually and/or customarily affirms with and agrees with the legal tenet that the bar of a citizen’s constitutional rights should be the ceiling, i.e., the more rights and freedoms granted/afforded the citizen, the more in conformity such action is within the metes and bounds of the constitution.  Thus, the fact that Mr. Sieh was granted compassionate leave as opposed to denied compassionate leave would be considered an expansion of his constitutional rights as opposed to a restriction of same.  Moreover, said compassionate leave is consistent with and in conformity with the exhaustion of due process and equal protection for all citizens as guaranteed under the Constitution of Liberia.2) While the plain language of  §34.20(1) and legislative intent appears to have exclusively granted the minister the right to establish administrative rules and regulations including granting or refusal to grant compassionate leave, in carrying out said duties, it is not unheard of that the minister’s actions still be subjected to judicial oversight and review but such intervention is usually/typically in instances to ensure equal protection and due process for the citizen as opposed to stepping in and rendering a holding which effectively restricts and limits the constitutional rights of the citizen.  However, as it does not appear to be the case that §34.20(1) or any other rule, law or statute granted any authority to the Supreme Court to make a final determination as to whether or not a particular citizen should be granted compassionate leave or not, the Supreme Court of Liberia should be relegated to its more typical role, i.e., judicial oversight and review of purportedly unjustly applied laws and/or unconstitutional application of the law.  That is, the Supreme Court of Liberia ought to only intervene in such cases where for example there is an issue of arbitrary application of the law and/or uneven application of the law which has the propensity to negatively impact due process and equal protection (i.e., a reduction of constitutional rights (race to the floor) as opposed to an expansion of constitutional rights (race to the ceiling).3) I Liberian Code of Law Revised, Subchapter C §44.71(2)(e), Subchapter C §44.71(2)(e), provides:§ 44.71. Methods of enforcement.   2. Judgments enforceable by imprisonment if execution not satisfied. Judgments in any of the following actions shall be enforceable by execution, but if the judgment debtor cannot or will not pay the full amount of the judgment together with interest and costs, the sheriff shall arrest him and the court shall order him imprisoned for a period sufficiently long to liquidate the full amount of the judgment, interest, and costs at the rate of twenty-five dollars per month:(a) Adultery;(b) Seduction of wife or child;(c) Illegally taking away or harboring a wife or child or ward under twenty-one years of age;(d) Enticing an incompetent away from his legally appointed trustee or guardian; or(e) Injury to the reputation when the words spoken or written are actionable per se. (emphasis added).  This seemingly archaic civil law statute effectively allows the potential long-term imprisonment as punishment for failure to satisfy a monetary judgment.  In theory such monetary judgment has the potential to impose imprisonment-in-perpetuity and/or until death if one cannot satisfy the judgment.   Although imprisonment in civil cases may be imposed for failure to pay monies such as sometimes in child support cases for example in the USA, imprisonment is often much more associated with criminal proceedings as most/many debtor courts have become relics of the past.  Thus, although the Sieh case was that of civil proceedings, one can proffer a strong argument that the highly probable long-term imprisonment of Sieh (as it does not appear that he had sufficient assets to satisfy the judgment) morphed into and became tantamount to and/or equivalent to a criminal punishment.  In my opinion, because of the above, Minister Tah was well within her rights to make a determination as to whether or not to grant compassionate leave of Mr. Sieh under 34.20(1) of the Liberian Criminal Procedure Code.  Based on the aforementioned set of circumstances, in keeping with its more cherished /critical/fundamental role as guardians of equal protection and due process for all, the Supreme Court of Liberia should not have held the minister in contempt of the Court.4) Moreover, though not a “perfect” argument (no argument ever really is to some extent), I am generally in agreement with attorney Chang that “[t]he Supreme Court lacks jurisdiction to punish the Minister of Justice for contempt in a matter independent of any actual proceeding before it.  Sieh’s petition to the Minister, as a representative of the Executive, was extrajudicial to the extent that it was made independent from an active legal proceeding before the court. In the same vein, the Minister’s concession of leave was not as an adjunct of the Judiciary but as an autonomous agent of the Executive, outside the purview of the courts even if relating to an issue which arose out of an act of the Judiciary.”  The only caveat I would add is that even said so-called “extrajudicial” proceedings are still subject to the overall review of the Supreme Court primarily for purposes of ensuring equal protection and due process.5) Furthermore, in my humble opinion, the Supreme Court’s holding of contempt against Minister Tah is unconstitutional as it has no basis in law for rendering its holding of contempt especially when viewed within the larger and more fundamental context/prism that the Minister’s action actually expanded the civil and constitutional rights (equal protection and due process) of Mr. Sieh as opposed to restricting it.   Potentially holding Mr. Sieh in prison for possibly for the duration of his natural life for failure to satisfy a monetary judgment is both cruel and unjust. None of the amicus briefs submitted in the relevant contempt hearing proceedings negates the fact that Minister Tah’s compassionate leave of Mr. Sieh is in conformity with the most important tenet/principle of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, i.e. securing equal protection and due process of the citizen including a respite from the application of cruel and unjustly harsh laws, inhumane treatment and freedom of expression[1].  6) Instead of being preoccupied with and laser-focused on levying contempt charges against Justice Minister Tah, acting on its own volition, i.e. sua sponte, the Supreme Court of Liberia was duty-bound to address the inherent (implied) and explicit unconstitutionality of I Liberian Code of Law Revised, Subchapter C §44.71(2)(e), especially in view of Liberia’s sordid history of political subjugation, intimidation and marginalization, repression of freedom of the press and the endemic abuse of powers and lack of transparency and accountability by those in positions of authority and public trust.   Like the Supreme Court of Liberia in a ruling concerning an appellant-defendant seeking release from prison after his failure to satisfy a judgment debt warning “[c]ounselors of the Supreme Court not to use the Court system as a tool of manipulation to frustrate the rights of parties’ litigants and thereby render the entire system ineffective thereby bringing it to disrepute and Supreme Court ended its ruling by imposing a fine of L$2,500.00 on counsel for the appellant”[2], the current Supreme Court of Liberia in the Toe v. FrontPage Africa likewise missed a golden opportunity to substantively address the inherent (implied) and explicit unconstitutionality of I Liberian Code of Law Revised, Subchapter C §44.71(2)(e).  The Court’s failure to address the aforementioned more critical and fundamental issues effectively perpetuates the possibility that said relevant statute will be further utilized to unjustly silence and intimidate members of the press, political opposition and commentators including the general public.  Even still, these archaic civil laws/statutes with the potential to impose imprisonment-for-perpetuity and/or until death, must be done away with by the legislative body in Liberia to prevent civil monetary penalties from transforming into the realm of criminal punishment, i.e., potentially long-term imprisonment.  Should the legislative body in Liberia fail to remedy this situation, it will undoubtedly repeat itself as some will seek to harass and intimidate the press, political opponents and commentators including the ordinary citizen seeking to expose improprieties, corruption and the misrule-of law and lack of transparency and accountability, into silence and oblivion by bringing more civil lawsuits asserting injury to reputation or even adultery or seduction of child or wife with the ultimate goal of securing the long-term imprisonment for failure to satisfy huge monetary judgments.   Brief Bio The author, Dr. Harven V. DeShield, Esq., is an intellectual property attorney who resides and works in Chicago, Illinois.  The scope of his legal practice encompasses litigation and counseling encompassing pharmaceutical, biomedical, chemical and life sciences.  Dr. DeShield received a Ph. D. in Biochemistry, a Master of Science in Biological Sciences and a Juris Doctor (equivalent to a Bachelor of Law degree) with a concentration in intellectual property and technology law from the State University of New York at Buffalo.  He received his B.S. degree, with honors, from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.  He is currently employed with Rackozy Molino Mazzochi Siwik, LLP. Disclaimer The opinions and analysis expressed in this article are solely the views of Dr. Harven V. DeShield, Esq. and does not reflect the views and opinions of anyone else or any other entity including Rackozy Molino Mazzochi Siwik, LLP or the Daily Observer. Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, Chapter III, Article 11; Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, Chapter III, Article 20; Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, Chapter III, Article 15; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 19; African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Article 9.Houssenini v Jawhary [2005] LRSC 44 (16 September 2005) Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

RICCE Conservation Agriculture Farmers Exhibit Products at Mini Agricultural Fair in Nimba

first_imgFarmers practicing the newly introduced “conservation agriculture” around the ArcelorMittal concessional areas in Nimba County, recently exhibited their first farm produce at the mini agricultural fair in Zortapa, Nimba County.About seven groups from within Zor Community participated in the exhibition, which brought together scores of community members, including chiefs, elders, youth, students, and women and among other.Farm produce displayed at the fair were mainly vegetable products including beans, corn, cassava, pepper and ground pea (peanut).Speaking on behalf of the citizens of Zor community, Paramount Chief Joseph Y. Yormie stressed that short term training was not enough to give the citizens all the knowledge required to stand alone.He said there had been many training around the East Nimba Nature Reserve (ENNR) but neither of them yields any result that could sustain the citizens and stop them from fencing around the nature reserve.He said looking at the exhibition, he thinks, the conservation agriculture will be sustainable and beneficiary to the citizens of Zor and therefore called on authorities of ArcelorMittal and its implementer—RICCE—to extend the duration of the project and also include the remaining communities within the Zor Chiefdom.RICCE is implementing for ArcelorMittal to teach the farmers living around the ENNR to shift from the old farming method to new one.In January last year, RICCE introduces a new farming method called “Conservation Agriculture” in and around the communities surrounding the ENNR.In conservation agriculture, according to RICCE, the farmer doesn’t require burning the farm after brushing, but rather go ahead with their planting their crops and also the farmer has the opportunity to continue farming on the same spot over and over with less energy.The Forest Development Authority and citizens of Zor reached an agreement in 2008 to co-manage the Northern Nimba Nature Reserve after years of hurdle between FDA and communities over the surveying of the reserve.On the tour of some demonstration sites, the program manager Renee Gibson explained that individual farmers are getting involved and carrying on their project other than the group.She further explained that farmers are now being taught to build their own organic fertilizers so as to keep their crops fertilized.According to our Nimba Correspondent, vegetable crops seen at the demonstration sites of the newly introduced farming method looked fresher than that of the old farming method where burning of bush is done after brushing.“The money you take to fell will be used to pay your child’s school fees, so the conservation agriculture is good,” said one Peter, a farmer.However, Zor Community residents have called on ArcelorMittal’s authorities to include tree crop in the program and also extend the training duration so as get more insight on the new method.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

‘Team Liberia’ Denied Entry into China

first_imgThe People’s Republic of China (PRC) has denied Team Liberia entry into China to participate in the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympics as part of preventive measures against the deadly Ebola virus outbreak in Liberia, the Liberia National Olympics Committee has said.LNOC president Philipbert Brown told the Daily Observer Thursday that he had been informed by Youth and Sports Minister Eugene Nagbe that “Chinese President Xi Jinping called President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to explain the Chinese government’s decision.”Mr. Brown said: “Minister Nagbe also said the Chinese government expressed regret for the action and promised to [re]pay our expenses.”The LNOC boss indicated that International Olympic Committee also extended its regret over the inconvenience.He added that as of yesterday, Team Liberia is currently in Accra, Ghana heading back home.Team Liberia comprised of a five-man delegation of athletes Tracy Chayee, 16 and Momolu Sambai, 17, and their coaches, and is headed by the LNOC’s Assistant Secretary General Frederick Pratt. The team departed Liberia last Monday.China (PR) has sent a medical donation valued at US$1.7 million to the Liberian government to fight the Ebola scourge in the country. The donation, already in the country, includes personal protective equipment, hospital curtains, sanitizers, disinfectants and patient monitoring equipment.Team Liberia would have participated in the 400m hurdles (Ms. Chayee) and 50m freestyle swimming event, (Sambai). This is the second Liberian delegation to suffer denial from participating in a sports event since the outbreak of the Ebola virus in the country.The Liberia Handball Association was recently prevented from participating in a handball competition in Lome, Togo.Meanwhile, LNOC President Brown regretted sending off Team Liberia in the wake of the Ebola outbreak.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

House Probes Commerce Ministry

first_imgHike in the price of rice on the Liberian market has forced the House of Representatives to launch an immediate investigation.Plenary on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 agreed to reduce itself to a single committee aimed at addressing the growing concern over the hike in the prices of rice and other basic commodities.The House voted overwhelmingly to summon authorities of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to appear before that August Body on Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 10 a.m.Plenary demanded that Commerce and Industry Minister Axel Addy appear along with his support staff, Assistant Minister Stephen Marvie and Inspector General Macaetoh Wreh.The House is deeply concerned over the sudden increase in the prices of basic commodities; an indication plenary believed is a “default on the part of the Ministry after assuring the general public of a stable economy as the country faces such national health emergency.”According to Representative Munah Pelham-Youngblood’s motion, the Ministry must be made to answer to inquiries surrounding “the increase, why there is any increase and what is the Ministry doing to remedy the situation.”Lofa County Representative Moses Kollie’s letter prompted the probe. His communication sparked up serious debate on the floor of the House’s chamber.During the deliberation, Capitol Hill seemed furious over the hike forcing few lawmakers to question donations from business entities to government’s Ebola fight.“We have to be careful with some of these donations that are coming to government in the name of fighting Ebola,” Bong County Representative Adam Bill Corneh said.He further indicated, “Business people always want to maximize profits. I believe that all the donations from these business people will have to be paid for indirectly by the suffering masses.”Following the outbreak of the second wave of the Ebola virus disease, the government of Liberia announced that it was on top of things relative to controlling the economy to avoid encountering similar situation.Different government functionaries including the Liberia National Police, Ministries of Transport and Commerce and Industry all announced that they were effective to respond to the hike in the prices of basic commodities and transport fares. Each warned violators of drastic measures.Few weeks later, Commerce released the authorized price of rice at US$17 per 25kg bag. However, at the moment, importers of rice are selling it for US$20 for a bag of 25kg with little or nothing being done by the Ministry of Commerce to address the matter.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Amidst absence of support for development

first_imgLocal residents of Bentol, Careysburg District, have begun engaging in self-help initiatives in the absence of budgetary support from government to meet their development needs.Under the leadership of Bentol City Mayor Christine Tolbert Norman, the local residents are engaged in manpower development that seeks to empower youths and women to produce and provide goods and services.In addition, the youth who are between 25 and 35 are trained at the William R. Tolbert Empowerment and Enlightenment Center to develop self realization.According to City Mayor Norman, the young people are taught values, including integrity, honesty, and truth and other social norms that can transform them in society.The locals are also trained in food processing, computer literacy, agriculture, sewing, amongst others, which she said will enable the local people to have some gainful employment.Mayor Norman in an interview with the Daily Observer yesterday said that they are engaged in health and sanitation awareness, enlightening locals how to care for their environment by keeping it clean and spreading health messages in schools, churches and in communities.“When the youths are made to know and trust themselves, they will have that psychosocial enlightenment of what they subscribe to. We are therefore trying to work with them to know and trust themselves and develop some core values,” she said.According to Mayor Norman market women are also people on her agenda to build them a market structure so they can have a specific place to sell their goods, instead of going to the Red Light market where they sit in the sun all day long.“We are working to build their market and find customers who will go to Bentol to purchase processed food, including potato greens, grinded cassava leave and other food stuff,” the Bentol Mayor noted.Mayor Norman, who is a daughter of the late President William R. Tolbert, Jr., told this newspaper that the City has planned a festival on February 21 to celebrate partners who have immensely contributed to their self-help initiatives and to recognize efforts of the locals in cleaning up their communities.At the occasion, she said she would sign and subsequently launch a book titled, “It is Time for Change.” The book according to her highlights the legacy of the late President William R. Tolbert in nation and institution building.She said it contains speeches of the late President on principles and policies he pursued during his regime.She said they include the late president’s position on the establishments of the Mano River Union (MRU), West African Rice Development Association (WARDA), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and inspirational speeches made at the Baptist Alliance.Also, the late president’s domestic policy of ‘Total Involvement in Higher Heights’ and the educational policy that allowed many to acquire education are highlighted.She said proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to support the William R. Tolbert Education Foundation. According to her, the family is currently constructing the foundation and will contain a museum, library and training areas for young people.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Pakistan Welfare Donates Medicine Valued at US$550 to Cynthia Clinic

first_imgThe Pakistan Welfare Organization (PWO) has donated medicine valued at US$550 to the Cynthia Nelson Clinic as part of its post-Ebola donation to the health sector.At the donation recently at the clinic in Logan Town on the Bushrod Island, Monrovia, PWO team leader, Muhammad Zahid said he was delighted to provide the medicine to the clinic as healthcare delivery remains a major concern of the general public.Mr. Zahid said the donation marked a partnership between the two institutions and PWO would make contributions to the Nelson Clinic and the people of Logan Town.“We are donating variety of drugs, including paracetamol, pingo, amoxicillin among others as PWO’s way of showing its concern to the people of Logan Town and Liberia at large. We believe in the welfare of our people and will continue to ensure that PWO plays its role in the health sector of Liberia,” he maintained.Mr. Zahid explained that the clinic provided a list of drugs to the PWO to help support the community’s healthcare delivery.He said his organization believed in helping people at the lower level; especially community based institutions that are involved in making impact in society and promised the Nelson Clinic of future support.He said his organization will also help to provide support to community schools, particularly students basic needs early next month.In remarks, Officer-In-Charge of the Cynthia Nelson Clinic, Edwin T. Sengar, a physician, lauded PWO for its initial support to the center and promised to use the drugs for its intended purpose.Mr. Sengar said the center has been involved in providing healthcare support to people, especially those who do not have financial capacity to pay their medication’s fees and the drug provided by PWO will be used directly for it.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Commerce Ministry Embarks on Commodities Inspection Tomorrow

first_imgThe Minister of Commerce and Industry, Axel Addy has disclosed that the ministry is scheduled to embark on a vigorous inspection of commodities prices on the Liberian market beginning Wednesday, September 3, 2015.Minister Addy said government has reduced prices in order to make goods affordable for consumers on the market. Briefing journalists last week in Monrovia, the Commerce Minister said the prices for commodities on the market including gasoline and diesel have dropped, so it is mandated that commercial drivers reduce fares.According to the Commerce boss, from Red Light to the commercial district of Paynesville to New Georgia Junction along Somalia Drive is L$25 in taxi cab, while bus is L$15. He further said that a 25 kilogram bag of rice previously sold at retail price between US$17 to 18 is now being sold for US$15.He maintained that Liberia has one of the lowest gas prices among the Mano River Union Countries (which also include Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ivory Coast). “If someone is caught violating the commerce law, that person will be fined and if the person refuses to pay the fine, the business will shut down.”At the same time, the minister has called for the registration of small and large businesses in the country, noting that the process was moving too slowly but today it is moving smoothly.“We will also embark on the inspection of businesses for registration,” he added.Minister Addy said the ministry lacks adequate resources to deploy inspectors throughout the country, but with assistance of retailers, violators will be tracked down. The Commerce Minister has called on Liberians to be vigilant and beware of people impersonating as inspectors from the ministry.In a related development, Minister Addy has extolled the government of Liberia for the success of the recent World Trade Organization (WTO) visit in Liberia.He indicated that a recent visit of WTO officials to Liberia sets the stage for the holding of a critical one slated for October, in Geneva, Switzerland.Minister Addy praised the media, business partners and citizens for their constructive engagement with ministry which, he said, has helped it to improve on the quality of service with the requisite mechanisms put in place.He added that engagements will provide innovations that contribute to the success and realization of many aspirations that will improve the business climate for all citizens.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more