Lindsay Lohan’s release prompts questions about preferential treatment

LOS ANGELES—Lindsay Lohan’s journey to jail Friday on a 30-day hold — only to be released hours later — has raised new questions about whether the actress is being treated differently than other inmates.

On Friday morning, Beverly Hills Judge Elden Fox ordered Lohan jailed without bail until a hearing Oct. 22 on whether Lohan should be incarcerated for using drugs in violation of her probation on a drunken-driving conviction.

It also appeared to be an effective way to skirt Los Angeles County’s early release policy and keep Lohan incarcerated for a month. The 24-year-old actress has twice received jail sentences but both times served less time than ordered because of overcrowding at the women’s jail. Most female inmates serve a quarter of their sentence.

But Lohan’s attorney, Shawn Chapman Holley, immediately challenged the legality of holding her client without bail based on a probation violation for a misdemeanor. On Friday afternoon, another judge granted Lohan $300,000 (U.S.) bail, and she was able to leave jail.

Attorney Mark Geragos said it was not unusual for a judge to deny bail on a probation violation and set a date for a hearing in the time it might take to serve a full jail sentence.

“More and more judges are doing this very thing to ensure the sheriff doesn’t release the person early,” Geragos said.

Veteran defense attorney Glen Jonas said the judge’s actions effectively side-stepped the early-release process, which covers inmates sentenced to jail time but not to inmates awaiting sentencing.

“Judge Fox guaranteed Ms. Lohan will not receive early release by setting the hearing a month out with no bail. Judge Fox is fed up. Ms. Lohan is being treated like a drug addict on probation instead of a celebrity” with a drug issue, Jonas said.

But others said Fox was treating Lohan differently than other defendants.

“She neither presents a danger to the community nor is she a flight risk,” said L.A. defense attorney Mike Cavalluzzi. “Those are the primary criteria for either denying bail or setting an appropriate amount of bail, especially given that this is a misdemeanor.”

The star of Freaky Friday and Mean Girls was processed out of the Century Regional Detention Facility about 11:40 p.m. Friday after posting $300,000 bail. She was whisked out of a back door and driven to an undisclosed location.

But in posting bail, Lohan must agree to conditions including wearing a SCRAM alcohol and drug detection device, refraining from being in areas where alcohol or drugs are being consumed, and being subject to immediate search by law enforcement.

Jury unable to reach unanimous verdict – Buju trial

BANTON... fate in jurors’ hands

TAMPA, USA — A second anxiety-filled day has ended without jurors reaching a verdict in the cocaine trial of Reggae artiste Buju Banton. The jurors resumed their deliberations yesterday morning about 9:50 Tampa time after being unable to reach a verdict on Thursday.

Yesterday afternoon, anxious supporters appeared weighed down, some with their shoulders slumped, as the news was delivered by a worker at the Sam M Gibbons Court that no decision had been reached.

The development will mark a long weekend for Banton’s many supporters who turned up at court and the many worldwide who have been on edge since the jurors started their deliberations in the trial that opened on Monday.

David Oscar Markus, the attorney representing Banton, whose given name is Mark Myrie, said he did not know what to make of the length of time it’s taking the jurors to reach a decision. However, the defence team remained optimistic.

“We are just trying to stay positive and hope it will turn out OK,” Markus told the Observer.

“We believe that there are jurors fighting for him, and we hope they stay strong,” Markus added.

The jurors’ verdict has to be unanimous. They will continue deliberations Monday morning at 8:45.

The jurors yesterday resumed their deliberations after receiving further instructions from Judge Jim Moody when they inquired as to whether or not a crime was committed on December 10, 2009 when Banton’s two former co-accused, Ian Thomas and James Mack, were held in a sting operation purchasing five kilograms of cocaine at a warehouse.

Moody told the jurors that a crime had been committed.  “Your job is to decide whether or not Mr Myrie was involved in that crime,” Moody told the jurors.

Banton was arrested at his Tamarac, Florida home that same day and charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute the illicit drugs. He was also jointly charged with possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime, given that Mack had a gun when he was arrested.

Banton could be sentenced to life if found guilty and fined millions of dollars.

Thomas and Mack have since pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in November.

The prosecution is contending that Banton had conspired with the men to distribute the drugs. But the artiste’s legal team is contending that he was entrapped by the Government.

Yesterday, supporters of the Jamaican Reggae artiste filed out of the court building after a long day’s wait, some looking dejected.

They however continued asking fans worldwide to pray for the artiste’s release.

Singer Wayne Wonder, a longtime friend who has recorded numerous hit singles with Banton, yesterday said that the Banton was not guilty of the charges against him.

“We have to believe because we know that the crime they charge him for that’s not him. Buju sells music, that’s what he sells,” the singer told the Observer.

Eddie Fisher, whose singing career never got over his Elizabeth Taylor scandal, dies at 82

EDDIE Fisher, whose fame as a singer was overshadowed by his marriages to actresses Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor, has died at the age of 82.

His daughter, Tricia Leigh Fisher, said Fisher died on Wednesday night of complications from hip surgery at his home at Berkeley, California.

“Late last evening the world lost a true America icon,” Fisher’s family said in a statement released by publicist British Reece. “One of the greatest voices of the century passed away. He was an extraordinary talent and a true mensch.”

Fisher’s clear dramatic singing voice brought him a devoted following of teenage girls in the early 1950s. He sold millions of records with 32 hit songs including Thinking of You, Any Time, Oh, My Pa-pa, I’m Yours, Wish You Were Here, Lady of Spain and Count Your Blessings.

His fame was enhanced by his 1955 marriage to movie darling Debbie Reynolds – they were touted as “America’s favourite couple” – and the birth of two children. It was to be the first of five marriages for Fisher.

Their daughter Carrie Fisher became a film star herself in the first three “Star Wars” films as Princess Leia, and later as a best-selling author of “Postcards From the Edge” and other books.

Carrie Fisher spent most of 2008 on the road with her autobiographical show Wishful Drinking which she will bring to Australia next month and in November.

She has told in interviews of singing with her father on stage in San Jose. Eddie Fisher was by then in a wheelchair and living in San Francisco.

When Eddie Fisher’s best friend, producer Mike Todd, was killed in a 1958 plane crash, Fisher comforted the widow, Elizabeth Taylor. Amid sensationalist headlines, Fisher divorced Reynolds and married Taylor in 1959.

The Fisher-Taylor marriage lasted only five years. She fell in love with co-star Richard Burton during the Rome filming of “Cleopatra,” divorced Fisher and married Burton in one of the great entertainment world scandals of the 20th century.

Fisher’s career never recovered from the notoriety. He married actress Connie Stevens, and they had two daughters. Another divorce followed. He married twice more.

Edwin Jack Fisher was born August 10, 1928, in Philadelphia, one of seven children of a Jewish grocer. At 15 he was singing on Philadelphia radio.

After moving to New York, Fisher was adopted as a protege by comedian Eddie Cantor, who helped the young singer become a star in radio, television and records.

Fisher’s romantic messages resonated with young girls in the pre-Elvis period. Publicist-manager Milton Blackstone helped the publicity by hiring girls to scream and swoon at Fisher’s appearances.

After getting out of the army in 1953 following a two-year hitch, hit records, his own TV show and the headlined marriage to Reynolds made Fisher a top star. The couple costarred in a 1956 romantic comedy, Bundle of Joy, that capitalised on their own parenthood.

After being discarded by Taylor, Fisher became the butt of comedians’ jokes. He began relying on drugs to get through performances, and his bookings dwindled. He later said he had made and spent $20 million during his heyday, and much of it went to gambling and drugs.

In 1983, Fisher attempted a full-scale comeback. But his old fans had been turned off by the scandals, and the younger generation had been turned on by rock. The tour was unsuccessful.

Of his first three marriages, he wrote he had been bullied into marriage with Reynolds, whom he didn’t know well; became nursemaid as well as husband to Taylor, and was reluctant to marry Connie Stevens but she was pregnant and he “did the proper thing.”

At 47, Fisher married a 21-year-old beauty queen, Terry Richard. The marriage ended after 10 months. His fifth marriage, to Betty Lin, a Chinese-born businesswoman, lasted longer than any of the others. Fisher had two children with Reynolds: Carrie and Todd; and two girls with Stevens: Joely and Tricia.

Pakistan plane lands in Sweden after bomb threat

STOCKHOLM—A plane carrying 273 people bound from Canada for Pakistan landed Saturday at Stockholm’s Arlanda airport because of a bomb threat on board, airport and police officials said.

The pilot decided to land the Boeing 777 after Canadian police received a tip that a passenger on board was carrying explosives, Stockholm police spokeswoman Sussie Illum said. The plane landed safely at Arlanda airport and was parked at the end of the landing strip as police prepared to remove the passenger.

“We are not evacuating the plane,” Illum said. “We are going in to apprehend this person.”

Bomb technicians were heading to the scene but police didn’t see an immediate need to evacuate because the plane and the passengers had cleared security checks in Toronto, Illum said.

The plane was on its way from Toronto to Karachi, Pakistan, when the pilot requested permission to land in Stockholm, Arlanda airport spokesman Anders Bredfall said. The airport remained open to air traffic.

Swedish newspaper Expressen reported on its website that the plane belonged to Pakistan International Airways. Police and airport officials couldn’t confirm the report.

Lindsay Lohan jailed with no bail after failed drug test

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF.— Lindsay Lohan returned to jail in handcuffs Friday after a judge refused to set bail and ordered her to remain in custody for failing a drug test until another hearing nearly a month away.

Bailiffs escorted the troubled starlet from the Beverly Hills courtroom immediately after the hearing that lasted less than 10 minutes. It will be Lohan’s third jail stint for a three-year-old drug and drunken driving case filed after a pair of high-profile arrests in 2007.

Before the hearing, the “Mean Girls” star chatted with her attorney, smiling and laughing. But moments before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elden S. Fox took the bench, she began fidgeting with her earrings and looking to the back of the courtroom, where two bondsmen sat in the courtroom, prepared to post the actress’ bail.

Lohan’s attorney, Shawn Chapman Holley, asked Fox whether Lohan’s full probation revocation hearing could be delayed a week.  “I think your client would rather have it on Oct. 22,” Fox said, giving the first hint that he intended to send the actress to jail.  Holley rose to argue that bail should be set. “Nope,” Fox replied.

“Oh God,” Michael Lohan said as bailiffs moved in his daughter rose and was handcuffed.  Lohan has twice been released early because of overcrowding, with her longest jail stay a 14-day stint on a 90-day sentence earlier this summer.  But this time, the judge’s order diminishes the likelihood that Lohan will be released before the Oct. 22 hearing, when her positive drug test will be discussed.

“When you put the judge in a tight spot, he has no alternative,” said Barry Gerald Sands, a defence attorney who has represented celebrity clients in drug cases. “She will not get out now.”  The previous judge handling Lohan’s case had said she had to set bail for Lohan because she was facing misdemeanours.  “This judge feels he didn’t have to set bail,” Sands said, adding that Fox’s orders are rarely overturned.

Fox said Lohan had a “positive test for a controlled substance,” but did not name the substance. He said probation officials are also reviewing Lohan’s compliance with other aspects of her probation, which included frequent meetings with counsellors.

Holley was not immediately available for comment. Court spokesman Allan Parachini said she remained in the courtroom to confer with Lohan.  Lohan’s mother, Dina, walked into the courtroom about 45 minutes after the hearing. By then, Los Angeles television stations were following a car said to be carrying her daughter to jail.

The two women had arrived at the courthouse together an hour before, while the actress’s father — with whom she’s publicly sparred — arrived earlier.  The actress acknowledged failing a court-ordered drug screening last week in a series of Twitter postings.  It was the star’s first appearance before Fox, who had said at a previous hearing he would sentence her to a month in jail for each drug test she skipped or failed.

The actress wasn’t present for that hearing, which was held hours after her release from rehab.  Lohan seemed to acknowledge an addiction problem after news of her positive drug test broke last week.  “Substance abuse is a disease, which unfortunately doesn’t go away over night,” Lohan posted on her Twitter feed last Friday. “I am working hard to overcome it and am taking positive steps.

“This is certainly a setback for me but I am taking responsibility for my actions and I’m prepared to face the consequences,” her posts said.   The actress remains on probation for a reckless driving and two driving under the influence charges, all misdemeanours. Fox dropped two drug cases at a hearing in August during which he announced Lohan’s release from rehab and set out a strict outpatient treatment schedule that included random drug screenings.

Fox has sealed Lohan’s court file, but a source familiar with the case has told The Associated Press that the actress’ failed test came roughly two weeks after her release from rehab.

Can our dreams be our unconscious mind warning us?

By Sandrea

We all dream and when we do there are some of us who have the ability to decipher the dream and use it as a blue-print to make decisions that govern our lives.  The great majority of human beings can accurately diagnose when they have a genuine dream from a nightmare.

When we dream it takes us to places that we sometimes never been in life, we seem to interact with individuals that we have never done so physically.  For example I dream that I was visiting Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt at their home and I was their nanny.  Well I know when I awoke I knew that this is an impossibility and yet my dreams had taken me to that place.  I begin to wonder what my dreams were trying to convey to me.

Before I immigrated to the UK I never saw a picture of Kew Gardens yet I dreamt that I was at Kew Gardens and when I actually visit Kew Gardens everything was exactly as I dreamt, so how could that be.  I had no television to watch back then that would make me believe that unconsciously I may have seen a picture of Kew Gardens and stored it into my memory and therefore the dream came from that place.

Over the years I have bought countless ‘dream dictionary’ and they seem to be giving the same explanation for objects, people, and areas that you dream about.  But how do these authors of dream books come up with these explanations.

For example, according to the dream that I have about Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, the interpretation there is that these people are famous and if your dreams feature famous people then I should keep trying “because I get help from some unexpected sources”.  If you dream that you detest someone, then there is going to be ‘petty family quarrel’. Also, if your dream feature ‘dice’, for a woman to have this dream indicate that she is ‘contemplating a romantic affair which she suspects might be foolish’.

The author of dream explanation books do they spend time to individual worked out the dreams or is it just supposition? I would be interested to know.  What I do know however that is my dreams seems to mimic real life and sometimes they are so real that it scare me a just a little bit.

According to some dream books from time immemorial dreams have been regarded with interest transcending mere superstition. As far as they are concerned dreams are ‘states of unconsciousness occurring during sleep’.  Apparently, dreams have a coalition to our past our present and our future and therefore in that context individuals that study dreams believe that it is very important to our everyday life.

Professor Dunne, author of ‘An experiment with time’ “proposes the theory all the time is now, has been, or will be is like a river, and that you can navigate this river, forward, backward, and presumably sideways, in the vessel of your dreams”.

F W Hildebrant wrote in 1875, “Dreams help us to inspect those hidden depths of our existence which are mostly beyond our reach during our waking hours.  Dreams bring us such refined insight into self knowledge and such revelation of half conscious dispositions and powers that on waking up, we may well admire the sharp-eyed demon that helped us find the hidden plot.  A dream can warn us from within with the voice of a watchman stationed at the central observatory of our spiritual life. And our dreams can warn us of the dangerous steps we have already taken”.

Apparently, “every human emotion and experience can be reflected in dreams.  Consider for a moment the infinite possibilities.  A dream may be happy, or sad; joyful or tragic; frightening or reassuring; full of love or bristling with hostilities; it may be religious or sacrilegious, inspiring, depressing or amusing – in a nutshell our dreams are very important.

What I have gathered from reading these books is that if we do know how to use our dreams effectively then our dreams can be useful guidelines in the decisions that we make that governs our daily lives.  We should not dismiss our dreams so easily, but study what they are trying to convey to us and maybe our lives can be a little more easy to tolerate and the everyday burden that we constantly have to carry can be borne with some degree of ease.

Tense wait for Buju

TAMPA, USA — Jurors will this morning continue deliberations in the closely watched Buju Banton trial following their failure yesterday to reach a verdict after four hours in the jury room.

The jurors retired at approximately 12:40 pm Florida time, after receiving final instructions from Judge Jim Moody, marking the start to an anxious afternoon period for the artiste and his fans.  The anxiety was further heightened when at 4:40 pm it appeared the jurors were returning with a verdict.

“We should pray now,” said one supporter.

“We did that already,” another informed him.

To the disappointment of the nervous supporters, which included family members of the artiste, the jurors were only seeking further instructions.

The jury — which now consist of 13 members after one of the two African-American women had to be excused because of ill-health — will continue deliberations at 9:30 am.

Following yesterday’s adjournment, David Markus, the lawyer for the 37-year-old Banton, whose given name is Mark Myrie, said the team remained hopeful.

“It’s hard to say what is going on in there,” Markus said in reference to the deliberations among the jurors. “We just have to stay optimistic.”

In the meantime, Banton’s supporters at the court late yesterday afternoon called on fans worldwide to pray that the jurors would return a not guilty verdict.

They have asked that fans read Psalms 23 and 27 in addition to offering up prayers.

“We are just asking everybody all over the world to pray for Buju’s freedom and stay optimistic,” Hopie Miller, head of Magic Productions, said outside the Gibbons US Court, where the trial has been in progress since Monday.

If convicted, Banton could be sentenced to life imprisonment or slapped with millions of dollars in fines for the charges of conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine and illegal possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a crime.

The Jamaican international Reggae artiste was arrested at his Tamarac, Florida home on December 10 last year, following the arrest of former co-accused Ian Thomas and James Mack, who had been in possession of the firearm for which Banton was jointly charged.

Thomas and Mack have since pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in November.

Thomas, who is the godfather of two of Banton’s children, was set to give evidence on behalf of the defence yesterday morning but the entertainer’s legal team decided not to call him.

“We felt we had it without him,” Markus told the Observer during a short break after informing the court of the decision not to call Thomas.

Before the jurors retired yesterday, Markus, in his final argument, told them that his client was innocent and asked that they return a not guilty verdict.

“Ladies and gentlemen, he is not guilty. Mr Myrie is not a drug dealer. Please, please find him not guilty,” Markus said.

“Because he was at the warehouse when the drugs were being inspected does not mean he is guilty of the charge against him,” Markus added.

Markus argued that the Government had not proved its case against Myrie and pointed to the testimony of the Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Daniel McCeaffrey that despite investigating the artiste for a year he could find no evidence against him. Markus also painted US Government informant Alexander Johnson as a “master manipulator and con man”.

“To him this was a pay day. This guy was looking for his jackpot. This is how he makes a living,” Markus said.

But lead prosecutor Jim Preston countered Markus’ claims by telling the jurors that Myrie was “neck deep” in the conspiracy to distribute cocaine and said it was his actions that caused Mack and Thomas’ arrest. Preston said Thomas was brought into the deal by Myrie.

During his address to the jury, Preston on several occasions walked over to Myrie and pointed at him for emphasis.

“Based on the evidence, the Government has presented its case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Preston said while urging the jurors to return with a verdict which says, “Buju Banton, guilty as charged”.

Judge Moody, in his summation to the jury, instructed them that not because Banton was on the spot when the contraband was being inspected meant he was guilty of conspiracy. He instructed them to carefully weigh the evidence of a convicted person or a paid government informant because they may have a motive to give false statements.

Johnson has been paid $50,000 for his work on the Banton case and has been a paid informant since his conviction on drug-trafficking charges in 1996.

The judge also informed the jury that their decision had to be unanimous to stand and instructed them that in cases of entrapment they had to find Myrie not guilty if he was not previously willing or if it was because a Government agent enticed him.

Banton, following the judge’s instructions, turned around, with hands clasped, and motioned to his supporters that they should pray for a favourable outcome.

Banton’s lawyers have been claiming that he artiste was entrapped by the Government and Johnson, whom he consistently referred to as a con man

Typhoon flooding kills 33 in China

Flooding and landslides triggered by the strongest storm to hit China this year have killed 33 people and left at least 42 missing, state media said.

Typhoon Fanapi swamped south China’s Guangdong province after making a direct hit on the island of Taiwan on Sunday and killing two there.

China’s national meteorological center forecast heavy or torrential rains for parts of central and western parts of Guangdong through Thursday morning.

The state-run Xinhua News Agency reported late Wednesday at least 33 were killed in Guangdong and 42 people remained missing.

Xinhua said the dead included five people killed when a dam at the Xinyi Yinyan Tin Mine in Xinyi city was hit by a landslide and collapsed. The report cited city officials.

Nearly 350 houses were toppled in Xinyi, Xinhua reported.

The Civil Affairs Ministry, in a statement on its website, estimated the typhoon has caused 867 million yuan ($12 million) in direct economic losses in Guangdong.

In southern Taiwan, two people died in flash flooding caused by Fanapi, which did tens of millions of dollars of damage, dumping more than 40 inches (one meter) of rain in some places.

Fanapi was the first major storm to strike the island this year and the 11th typhoon to hit China. It had weakened significantly before landing in China’s Fujian province.

Buju: I’m no drug dealer

BANTON... says if he were a drug dealer he would have taken the plea deal offered to him

TAMPA, USA — A contrite and apologetic Buju Banton yesterday took the witness stand in his cocaine trial, denying that he was a trafficker or a financier of any illicit drug activities.

But the soft-spoken Jamaican Grammy nominee Reggae artiste admitted two things: that he was naïve, and that he was only “talking crap” when he was recorded telling Government informant Alexander Johnson that he was a drug financier, who was in search of new drug ventures.

“Like my mom always say, ‘Mark, you talk a lot,’ and that is the consequence of it,” said the 37-year-old entertainer, whose given name is Mark Myrie, during cross-examination from prosecutor Jim Preston.

Banton said he was ashamed of himself for the things he had said, but told the attentive jurors that “talking crap” did not make him a dealer.

Banton had been eagerly awaiting this moment for the past several months following his arrest last December at his home in Florida. He was charged with conspiracy to distribute five kilogrammes of cocaine. If convicted, he could be sent to prison for life and fined several million dollars.

Decked in a grey sports jacket with a light blue under shirt and dark pants, a serious-looking Banton took to the stand while the jurors were on a short break.

He chatted with his attorney, David Oscar Markus and cased the room in the Gibbons US Court to look at his supporters, who were all anxiously waiting to hear the entertainer speak in his own defence after Markus announced that Banton would be taking the witness box because the “truth was on his side”.

The five-minute break before the jurors returned seemed like an eternity to anxious supporters, who milled about nervously. But alas, the 14 jurors — two African-Americans, the others whites — returned at 2:45 pm, taking their seats in front of the entertainer.

“Are you guilty of being a cocaine trafficker?” Markus wasted no time in asking.

“No, Sir, I’m not,” Banton promptly responded as he went on to deny the charges against him.

“How do you feel?” Markus asked.

“I’m scared,” Banton said, managing an awkward smile. “I’m nervous. I’ve been waiting 10 months.”

He was, however, prevented from completing the statement due to an objection from lead prosecutor Jim Preston, which was sustained by Judge Jim Moody.

At Markus’ prompting Banton proceeded to recall how he met Johnson on a flight from Madrid, Spain following a tour of the European continent in July 2009 and how he got to like Johnson’s company.

He said he and Johnson spoke on a number of topics during the eight-hour flight to Florida, USA and that Johnson was the one who raised the issue of drugs after both men had had a few glasses of wine which Johnson ordered.

He said both men spoke about the entertainment business and Johnson told him that he had contacts within the industry.

Banton testified that before the argument of drugs came up, Johnson had told him that he had a seafood business but that he did “a little thing on the side”, which the entertainer took to mean that the “side” enterprise may have been illegal. Banton said his suspicion was further heightened when Johnson pulled a wad of cash from his pocket and showed it to him.

Nonetheless, Banton said he was having a good time talking with Johnson and that he found him quite affable.

“He was a funny guy,” said the entertainer with a smile.

Banton said that Johnson asked if Jamaicans transported weed with go-fast boats, and confided that he (Johnson) used to ship ganja but switched to cocaine.

The singer said the two never spoke much about the subject as Johnson kept looking over his shoulders.

Banton testified that he gave his number to Johnson, who gave his name as Junior, and that he received a call from him the following day, saying that he wanted to meet the next day, which they did at a restaurant.

“We were having a good time,” Banton said of the meeting at the restaurant in Florida on July 27.

He said he had no idea that Johnson had invited him to the restaurant to talk about drugs, and that he had left the restaurant and was meeting outside with his realtor when Johnson approached him and asked if he had talked to his friend about the cocaine venture.

Asked by his attorney about his drug discussions with Johnson, Banton said that he was just yapping to impress Johnson and that he was not a drug dealer and was not interested in making any drug deal.

“I was talking garbage. I was just talking straight up garbage! He was trying out-talk me,” Banton said, a line he would maintain throughout his close to two hours in the witness box. “I was trying to impress him.”

As he looked directly at the jurors, and spoke in an animated way, Banton again denied ever doing any drug deal in his life, contrary to what the prosecution is contending, based on the entertainer’s recorded conversations with Johnson.

“I’m just a humble musician. I was just talking above my head. I was trying to impress this guy and that’s what got me into this hot seat,” the entertainer said in a contrite tone.

Regarding the December 8 meeting between himself, Johnson, and Ian Thomas, where the artiste was videotaped tasting cocaine during a covert operation by the Sarosata police department, Banton said he had no idea that he was going to a warehouse to see drugs, but instead he thought he was going to inspect a sailboat.

“Do you like boats? questioned Markus.

“Yes, Sir I do,” Banton replied, adding that had he known that drugs were involved he would not have left his house to meet with Johnson.

It was at that meeting that Banton introduced Johnson to Thomas, who is the godfather of two of the artiste’s children.

Banton said he continued meeting with Johnson even though the Colombian was always talking about drugs, because he liked him and thought he could connect him with people in Los Angeles who could sign him to a record deal in light of the fact that his contract with Tommy Boy Records had expired that year.

Reality, the artiste said, struck on that fateful December 8 day when he went to the warehouse and the five kilograms of cocaine was presented.

He said after that meeting he wanted nothing more to do with Johnson, whom he said was “attacking” Thomas about making cocaine deals the moment they were introduced.

“I never sold cocaine, I never bought cocaine, I never shot cocaine,” Banton said before his grilling by Preston began.

Earlier, during the morning session, while Johnson was being cross-examined, Markus had attempted to paint the convicted drug dealer as a man who was steeped in debt, including taxes, and who was motivated by the money he stood to make from Banton’s arrest.

In light of this, Markus attempted to establish that Johnson vigorously pursued Banton, constantly calling the artiste to make drug deals.

It is already public knowledge that Johnson had made US$50,000 working undercover on the case.

Johnson had been working undercover for the us Government since 1996, following his conviction on drug-trafficking charges. He has, over a three-year period, made US$3 million as a Government informant.

Johnson said yesterday that his work with the Government was his only source of income. He is paid by the number of arrests he is able to secure.

Johnson is said to owe over $100,000 in taxes, is behind on his mortgage payments and is deep in credit card debt. He has filed for bankruptcy.

Banton had waited since last December to speak in his own defence, but Preston made sure it was not a cakewalk.

Straight off the bat, the grey-haired Caucasian prosecutor pounced, reminding Banton of his boasting on the recordings that he is a big-time cocaine financier, who was looking to expand his illicit drug empire.

“That was me on the tape, but I walked away,” Banton said while gesturing with his hands.

Asked by Preston how — if he were not a cocaine dealer — did he know the price of cocaine in different parts of the world, Banton said that “you hear a lot” being in the entertainment business.

“I talked a lot of crap, Sir,” the artiste said during one of his exchanges with Preston. “I just talk a lot. I did not do anything.”

Asked by Preston if he was “talking crap” when he spoke of cocaine buyers in Europe, Banton said he was “plain out lying”.

Asked his motives for “lying”, Banton said he thought Johnson could get him a record deal.

“I regret speaking like that. It has caused me tremendous pain and my family. If I were a drug dealer I would have taken the plea deal you offered me,” Banton said as he tried to remain calm under cross-examination.

He later said he was ashamed of himself for the things that he had said, and that he had worked too hard over the past 20 years to establish himself to throw it all away over such little money.

Preston suggested that Banton had been facing financial problems at the time, which the artiste denied.

The Reggae singer said also that he spoke to Johnson about legitimate business ventures, but that Johnson only wanted to talk about drugs.

He said he did not put Johnson in touch with Thomas for them to close any cocaine deal.

Thomas was arrested on December 10 along with a James Mack. Both men were jointly charged with Banton, but pleaded guilty on a lesser charge. They will be sentenced in November. Thomas is expected to testify for the defence today.

Mack had yesterday refused to testify for the defence out of fear that he may hurt his chances of receiving a favourable sentence.

Also yesterday, Reggae artiste Stephen Marley, the son of late Reggae icon Bob Marley testified on Banton’s behalf. He said he had been friends with Banton for more 19 years and did not know him to be a drug dealer.

Racism – about time it is eradicated

By Sandrea:- MYGRIPE

One would believe that having come into the 21st century that those that  are racist, sexist, bigoted and downright disgusting would change their point of views, having recognised that there are no reasons for these stupid behaviour.

However, a few cases and events have appear recently in the popular press which make me believe that institutional racism is still alive and kicking.  What is it going to take for people to realise that the more you spend your energy hating others the earlier you will die.  To hate someone or something takes a lot of negative energy, energy that if use to love and care will put years on your life.

What people who harbour hatred have to understand is whether we are black, white, pink, orange is really does not matter we are all coming from the same source, irrespective of what race, creed or colour we eventually end up with, we are the same.  If you are back or white blood run through your veins, you hurt equally the same and really if any race should have hatred in their heart that should be black because of the slavery that we have endure throughout history.

Yet the thought of hating anyone has not cross my mind and I have a firm believe that slavery thought me something.  I look at the history of my forefather and applaud them for their tenacity in adversary they held themselves together so that I am here today and so are my children and if they did not held themselves in high esteem then like certain tribe of indians and the dinosaurs we would be extinct.

Racism should not play any part in decision making, whether it is to do with employment or the decisons to sent an innocent woman back to a country that she hardly know.  I cannot understand why companies and individuals seems to forget that people should be judge on merit and character and not on the colour of their skin, how ancient.

The fact that we have a black president in one of the most powerful nation on this planet should be a testament to these hate group that we have the capability to accomplish anything and a great deal of us are well educated and we don’t sponge off the system as been alleged.

Every atrocities that can be committed by a black person, a white person will also commit the same are even worse.  We should not judge people by the colour of their skin, but by the manner in which they carry themselves