As Dominicans prepare to celebrate Christmas, the birthday of Jesus Christ, the holiest, most joyous season of the year, there was this horrible incident last Saturday in Roseau near the McMillan gas station.

Apparently unprovoked, the police discharged tear gas on a group of Dominicans, including women, children and seniors who were expressing their Constitutional rights to assemble and to express themselves in a democracy. It was an abhorrent, like Dominica is a police state.

We therefore call on all religious leaders, all members of civil society, all trade unions, and all people with a modicum of humanity to unequivocally condemn this act of brutality, to say to the police that this type of behaviour is unacceptable, to say to the Government that we demand a swift and independent inquiry into the incident. If they do not, by their silence these leaders will be complicit in the destruction of the society that they have sworn to develop. Coming events cast their shadows.

Christmas after Hurricane Maria

Undoubtedly, Christmas 2018 could be the worst ever for consumer spending. Nevertheless, as we said in an earlier editorial, this situation may be a blessing in disguise and could be an opportunity for Dominicans to recapture the true meaning of Christmas and to understand the reason for the season.

Christmas 2018 will be awful for retailers because our gloomy economy has been made worse by the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017. So, owners of businesses who depend on Christmas sales for approximately 40 per cent of their total annual sales will have a tough time at Christmas 2018.

In the past, Dominicans depended heavily on remittances from friends and relatives in United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to purchase food, toys and drinks for Christmas. Other Dominicans had to dip into their savings or borrow from financial institutions such as Fast Cash or community credit unions to spend for Christmas. Undoubtedly, this new debt will affect loans and mortgage payments next year and that increased liability will have a negative impact on the economy because the public will have less money to spend. A nation cannot consume more than it produces and unquestionably, Dominicans have not been very productive in 2018 mainly because of the destruction of Hurricane Maria.

Beyond any doubt, Christmas had lost much of its spirituality long before economic pressure forced Dominicans to think twice about excessive spending. For many years persons have had second thoughts about the tradition associated with the celebration of Christmas such as the exchange of gifts and decorating Christmas trees. Some religious denominations have also begun questioning the origin of Christmas and its connection to paganism. But this has not dampened the public's recognition of Christmas as an important event on the nation's annual calendar.

Christmas coincides with the end of the year and the culmination of the festivities ushers in a new year. While businesses do all in their power to capitalise on the commercialization of Christmas, the Sun and other news organisation, review the major news events of the year. This year the Sun will present its special News Review in this current issue but we have maintained our tradition of naming our Person-of-the-Year in this the final issue of the year.

This year the Sun's Person-of-the-Year is Curtis Matthew, the News Editor of the Dominica Broadcasting Corporation, DBS radio. In the past we have named the Person-of-the-Year based on an analysis of the news and by consultation with key individuals in the business of collecting and processing the news. Our choice has always been the person, institution or organisation that stands out as a significant newsmaker during the year. As we have suggested, our Person-of-the Year should, for better or for worse, have affected the lives of a large majority of Dominicans.

But one could argue that Matthew was not a newsmaker but a news-producer. He collected the news and he packaged it.

Following the example of Time Magazine who's Person of the Year was "The Guardians" we selected Matthew to highlight the fact that we need reporters in Dominica who are as dedicated to the profession as Matthew has been for more than three decades- he breathes, eats and bleeds the news.

We note that the obvious problem of the lack of political balance in DBS's news broadcasts is not Curtis Matthew's fault- it's the nature of the beast that is a state-owned radio station; the news editor is being supervised by an active member of the ruling political party and members of the board of directors are appointed by the minister of information and the Prime Minister.

We also selected DBS's News Editor as the Sun's Person of the Year to focus public attention on the fact that worldwide the journalism profession is under attack even in the bastion of democracy, the United States of America, where its president labels the press "fake news" and "enemies of the people". We have to protect and support whatever little bit of press freedom that we have at the moment.

According to Time, the Guardians were selected as the magazine's Person of the Year "For taking great risks in pursuit of greater truths, for the imperfect but essential quest for facts that are central to civil discourse, for speaking up and for speaking out, the Guardians—Jamal Khashoggi, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, Maria Ressa and the Capital Gazette of Annapolis, Md.

"This passing of valued information is a wholesome essential of self-government. We can't reason together if we don't know what we're talking about. But the information has to be trusted".

Finally, on behalf of the staff of the Sun we wish all our readers, contributors, critics, vendors, subscribers and advertisers a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.