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CONTENTS
bulletJamaican arrested at Fla airport with explosives
bulletObama supporter bests critical interviewer
bulletGovernment implements free health care in Jamaica
bulletCash Plus investment club in receivership
bulletBarbados takes over helm of OAS Permanent Council
bulletAmnesty International report blasts Jamaica
bulletTrinidadís ex PM Panday in laptop spat
bulletGuyanese pirates terrorize Suriname waters
bulletJamaican schools begin to separate the boys
bulletFormer Antiguan premier dies
bulletUN reports asserts the US fails to protect immigrant rights
bulletRemittances make impact
bulletControversial Jamaican cemetery still in the news
bulletPeace through music
bulletGiant waves break up Caribbean coral
bulletT&T to create huge farms to offset high food prices
bulletMarket stabilizes despite food-cap failure in Jamaica
bulletCuban doctors save lives in Guyana
bulletSteel Pan opens special UN slavery remembrance observance
bulletLatin American & Caribbean leading the world in road traffic deaths
bulletAirline strand 90 Ghanaians in Barbados

 
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Boycott Money and Save Your Soul - Launching the Goodwill Revolution
by Michael I Phillips

List Price $11.95 (paperback)
Special Introductory Offer $9.95

Not just a book but an invitation to join the Goodwill Revolution against an unfair, unjust and deceptive system that keeps the world poor and without hope. Find out how you can join, quit the rat race, and achieve a happier more meaningful life for yourself and others through goodwill to all.  
For more book info see
     goodwillie.org

Buy through Paypal or  send check for $9.95 + $3 (shipping) to 
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PO Box 411
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cover River Woman by Donna Hemans ... $16.10
  The Rio Minho in Jamaica provides much more than a setting for this potent, accomplished debut by Jamaican-born Donna Hemans.

---------------

cover  For the Life of Laetitia by Trinidad -born Merle Hodge  Price: $10.54
a wonderful book about a young girl in the Carribean, the first of her family to go to secondary school.

 

 

April 2008

Jamaican arrested at Fla airport with explosives

A 33-year-old United States green-card holder, Jamaican-born Kevin Brown, of Ocala, Florida, was about to board Air Jamaica flight 080 from Orlando to Montego Bay. He was arrested when suspicious items found in Brown's checked luggage appeared to be components that could be used to make pipe bombs.

The incident resulted in the closure of a section of the departure terminal at the Orlando airport for over two hours and the evacuation of several passengers, affecting Air Jamaica flights and 11 other flights. Sections of the airport, including the Air Jamaica check-in area, were sealed off and all passengers booked on the flight were required to undergo extensive security checks.

Brown is said to be married to a serving member of the American army. He himself served in Iraq. Family members report that he had been acting very strange and probably is a victim of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder so common in veterans of the Iraq war.

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Interviewer Picks The Wrong Obama Supporter to Try To Railroad

The Economist writes:

ONE of the most interesting political videos on YouTube features a young Obama supporter, Derrick Ashong. A camera-wielding interviewer collars Mr Ashong in the street and starts to pepper him with questions. The interviewer assumes that his victim's casual appearance - he is wearing a baseball hat, a shell necklace and is chewing gum - betokens an equally casual approach to politics.

"Do you have any specifics?" he demands aggressively. "What are their policies?" Mr. Ashong delivers a series of carefully argued replies that could form the basis of an editorial in a serious newspaper. The interviewer is increasingly abashed

Attached are two clips that you must take the time to view:

bulletThe 1st clip is the interview with the anti-Obama reporter.
bulletIn the 2nd clip the young man explains in depth his response to the reporter

CLIP #1
http://thinkonthesethings.wordpress.com/2008/02/06/video-interviewer-picks-the-wrong-obama-supporter-to-try-to-railroad/

CLIP #2
http://thinkonthesethings.wordpress.com/2008/02/12/video-obama-supporter-derrick-responds-to-his-video/

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Government implements free health care in Jamaica

April 1st 2008 is a memorable day in Jamaicaís history. On that day the Government lived up to its promise of free health care for Jamaicans. The Government implemented the policy to use health facilities without paying fees, a promise made last year by the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) during its election campaign. Despite predictions of chaos, the first day of the abolition of user fees was a resounding success, with the exception of minor glitches in health facilities across the island.

The Ministry of Health has established a command centre to monitor the transition from user fees to free health care at public hospitals and clinics.

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Cash Plus investment club in receivership

Cash Plus, one of the most prominent investment clubs among an array of such clubs, promising over 100% gain on cash investments has gone into receivership. This type of profit seemed too good to be true and fraud suspicions have been brewing about these clubs which enjoy a wide popularity among investors in Jamaica. A company goes into receivership when its debt exceeds its income.

The five-year-old investment club Cash Plus Limited has been engaged in a number of legal battles over the past 12 months. The company has 40,000 lenders with loans totaling $4 billion.

A chartered accountant employed to Price-WaterhouseCoopers in the United States, has been appointed joint receiver-manager. He commenced work immediately from the offices of Cash Plus and its affiliates under the supervision of the court, and will advise creditors of the progress of the process. The appointment of the receiver-manager allows for supervision of the operations of Cash Plus. It also allows for the determination of assets belonging to the company so that a report may be made to the court on the assets available for distribution to creditors.

The court order prohibits Cash Plus and its affiliates - whether through its directors, agents, officers or employees - from selling, transferring or otherwise dealing with or dissipating the assets of Cash Plus.

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 Barbados takes over helm of OAS Permanent Council

Barbadosí Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS) has assumed the chairmanship of the OAS Permanent Council, the second highest decision-making body of the 34 member hemispheric organization. For the next three months, Ambassador King will steer the work of the Council, including its preparations for the upcoming OAS General Assembly to be held in Medellin, Colombia, in early June.

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Amnesty International report blasts Jamaica

A recently released report by Amnesty International entitled 'Let Them Kill Each Other: Public Security in Jamaica's Inner Cities', claims that the Jamaican state is failing to effectively provide human security for its population, especially for those living in the inner city, who are most vulnerable to crime and violence.

The report states that:

bulletGangs are filling a vacuum left due to the lack of human rights-based policing and because of continued prejudiced attitudes on the part of public officials towards persons living in inner-city communities
bulletViolence is confined to the inner cities and that there is a failure by the Jamaican Government to protect those who reside within those walls, effectively allowing them to kill each other.
bulletThe human rights violations experienced by these people in the inner city are reinforced by the poverty and social exclusion they live in.
bulletThe police lack scrutiny and accountability in relation to allegations of corruption and human rights violations.

Jamaicaís Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, however, presented a raft of initiatives which, he says, will address the concerns highlighted in the Amnesty report. Among these initiatives are :

bulletA bill to establish an independent investigative authority to probe allegations of abuse against members of the security forces.
bulletThe Corruption Prevention Act to include the appointment of a special prosecutor.
bulletThe enactment into law of provisions in the Political Code of Conduct

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Trinidadís ex PM Panday in laptop spat

Trinidadís main opposition party leader and former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday has stirred up trouble again. He has been suspended from parliament after he failed to ask permission to use his laptop computer during a debate and ignored a request to put it away. He then refused to leave the building after legislators voted 23 to 11 in favor of his suspension. The house speaker summoned police, but several supporters surrounded Panday, preventing authorities from reaching the silver-haired legislator. Lawmakers did not come to blows, but the session was canceled amid yelling from both sides.

The parliamentary speaker has the power to implement a rule that legislators need his approval before using any electronic devices, and their use must be related to the debate. It is unclear why Panday was using his computer. Panday said he will attend parliament's next session, despite an order prohibiting him from doing so.

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Guyanese pirates terrorize Suriname waters

Seaborne piracy against transport vessels remains a significant issue (with estimated worldwide losses of US $13 to $16 billion per year), particularly in the waters between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, off the Somali coast, and also in the Strait of Malacca and Singapore. But, there are also pirates in Suriname and Guyana waters. A gang of six, all Guyanese nationals, were arrested recently for alleged piracy and hijacking of fishing boats in Surinamese waters. The Suriname police reported that inquiries revealed that the six strong gang, ranging from 25-35 years, had been targeting fishing boats but managed to elude police by hiding in Guyana after their attacks.

The previous week, they attacked six fishermen operating in the Coppename River. Four of the victims were captured and subsequently bound and gagged while their boat was seized, and two others were ordered to accompany the assailants in another vessel in further robbery attacks on other fishing boats.
After these two victims were freed during a police raid, they informed detectives that at least ten to twelve other boats were attacked on Surinamese waters robbing them of fuel, food and other valuables.
Maritime police units and members of the Anti-Terror Unit (ATE) were dispatched to the area and around 6.30 p.m. spotted one of the boats that had been hijacked. On this vessel police arrested two suspects and freed the four fishermen who were being held.
The next morning, officers from the Anti-Terror Unit located the second boat and subsequently arrested the other four pirates, who were holding the remaining two victims. Several barrels of fuel were found on the boat, where four of the victims were being held captive.
The fishermen are claiming that they were also robbed of money, outboard engines and catch while they were also brutally beaten. All of the victims are Guyanese nationals working for Surinamese boat owners.

Recently, the minister of Justice and Police announced that the authorities are considering issuing firearms to fishermen, to enable them to protect themselves against the violent attacks of pirates, mostly Guyanese criminals. Fishermen in neighbouring Guyana are also being attacked frequently by pirates, resulting in tremendous losses for the local fishing industry.

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Jamaican schools begin to separate the boys

In virtually all aspects of education, boys in Jamaica, have been falling way behind. In a bid to combat this problem, several co-educational institutions have employed the gender-separation strategy used by single-sex schools and have reaped remarkable success.

Boys learn differently from girls. That is an accepted fact. And some educators believe this is the way forward as the single-sex classes in co-educational schools offer the best of both worlds, as the learning experience is facilitated along with socialisation with the opposite sex.

Polly Ground Primary school started it all and the principal reports that GSAT passes have improved considerably, unlike the earlier days. Since then it has spread to other schools and to more grades within the schools as it gets wider acceptance. It is expected to accelerate and to be pushed by the Ministry of Education. However, schools do not have to wait for the ministry to make a general policy in this regard. Principals and teachers are expected to structure learning activities in ways that enhance the learning of all their students.

Some of the positive results include:

bulletGSAT passes have improved considerably.
bulletMost students get to attend their first-choice school.
bulletMargin of difference in performance between boys and girls is less; performance is almost equal.
bulletClimate of the classroom more focused on academics.
bulletSchools do not have to wait for the ministry to make policy.
 

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Former Antiguan premier dies

Former Antigua and Barbuda premier Sir George Walter has died. Sir George, 79, had been hospitalised for a week prior to his death. The former leader of the now defunct Progressive Labour Movement (PLM) served as premier of this twin-island state from 1971-1976.

Following his party's defeat in the 1976 elections to the Antigua Labour Party, he and other members of his PLM colleagues were arrested and jailed on corruption charges stemming from alleged mismanagement in office. He was later released on appeal.

Sir George was also a founding member of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers' Union, the island's second largest trade union.

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UN reports asserts the US fails to protect immigrant rights

The United States has failed to uphold its international obligations to protect the human rights of migrants, subjecting too many to prolonged detention in substandard facilities while depriving them of an adequate appeals process and labor protections, a United Nations investigator said.

In the international body's first scrutiny of US treatment of its 37.5 million non-citizen migrants, UN investigator Jorge Bustamante on Friday took particular aim at what he criticized as the "overuse" of detention for immigrants.

Noting that the annual detainee population has tripled in nine years to 230,000, he called on the United States to eliminate mandatory detention for certain migrants and instead expand the use of alternatives, such as electronic ankle bracelets.

Bustamante also urged that migrants be given the right to legal counsel, more impartial hearings, and improved holding facilities, particularly for women and children.

The report was presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

US representative responded angrily stating that the United States had one of the world's most generous immigration policies, offering more than 11 million migrants green cards, citizenship, asylum, refugee resettlement, and temporary protected status between 2000 and 2006. The UN estimates that global migrants number 200 million, with the United States by far the largest haven with 35 million as of 2000.

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Remittances make impact

Remittances, that money individuals send back home from abroad have become a crucial source of income for many developing countries. In Guyana, these flows represent 43 percent of the gross national product; in Haiti 35 percent, in Honduras 25 percent, and Jamaica and El Salvador 18 percent.

Most of the money sent by migrants goes to pay for basic expenses such as food, shelter, clothing and medicines. About three-quarters of the remittance flows to Latin America and the Caribbean come from the United States. Spain and Japan are other major sources. In the Caribbean, the leaders are as follows:

  1. Dominican Republic  US$3.12 billion

  2. Jamaica US $1.9 bil

  3. Haiti US $1.8 bil

  4. Guyana US $424 mil

  5. T&T US $115 mil

This information comes from the Multinational Investment Fund (MIF), an autonomous fund of the Inter-American Development Bank. It originally started to research remittances to analyze their volume and their impact in Latin America and the Caribbean. The fund has promoted competition among service providers, who have considerably cut fees for money transfers to the region over the past few years.

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Controversial Jamaican cemetery still in the news

NIMBY! NIMBY! NIMBY is an emotional call that usually rallies residents over neighborhood issues. It is an acronym for "Not in my backyard". In Jamaica, NIMBY broke new ground as it was applied to a cemetery. Last monthís Hot Calaloo reported how irate citizens blocked attempts to bury the dead in a new cemetery in their neighborhood in the rural village of Burnt Ground in Hanover.

Attempts to reach a settlement with Health Minister have failed. The residents have appealed to the Supreme Court seeking leave for a judicial review of the National Environment and Planning Agency's (NEPA) decision to grant a permit for the cemetery. They have flatly rejected the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report which NEPA presented to the Health Minister and which he subsequently signed off on in January, effectively granting permission for the Delapenha's Funeral Home, owners of the controversial cemetery, to start burying bodies there.

Following several demonstrations, in which residents thwarted attempts to bury bodies at the cemetery, experts in the field of hydrogeology have joined with the residents in challenging the accuracy of the EIA report. One prominent local hydrogeologist did a comprehensive research on the area and from his intimate knowledge of its underground springs and soil type, recently released a paper supporting the residents' contention that a cemetery in the area could contaminate their water supply.

The battle continues.

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Peace through music

War tensions were high. Columbia had raced troops across Ecuadorís border to raid a Columbia rebel camp inside Ecuador. A leading rebel commander and some two dozen other people were killed in the raid. Venezuela and Ecuador broke off diplomatic ties and sent troops to their respective borders with Columbia. War tensions were high. But a peace concert came to the rescue.

The event, organised by Colombian star Juanes, took place at the Simon Bolivar bridge that links the two nations. Venezuelans and Colombians alike mingled on the border to listen to a host of Latin American and Spanish musicians. The concert began with a joint performance by children from the two countries.

"We are all citizens who believe that the future of a country is not only a matter for a president, a government but also for us. We are part of it - the movement of citizens," said Latin Grammy award-winning Juanes from the main stage.

Tensions were eased at a regional summit in the Dominican Republic several days later.

Editorís Note: In my book "Boycott Money and Save Your Soul Ė Launching the Goodwill Revolution", I make the point so obvious here, that governments make war, but people want peace and the way to achieve peace is to reinforce the natural goodwill between peoples. But, unfortunately war menaces the world because warmongers will not take heed.

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Giant waves break up Caribbean coral

Unusually large waves churned by an Atlantic storm system have littered the beaches of Barbados with broken coral in what could be a sign of damage to reefs across the region, a scientist said.

The amount of rubble on the island's west coast suggests the coral took a heavy pounding, said Leo Brewster, director of Barbados' Coastal Zone Management Unit, who was organizing dives later this week to survey the damage. The white coral washed there up in chunks as heavy as seven pounds, generally healthy but with their polyps rubbed away by the rough surf. The waves, reaching as high as an estimated 30 feet, lashed coastlines from Guyana to the Dominican Republic last week as a large low-pressure system idled off the northeastern United States. At their peak, a buoy north of the U.S. Virgin Islands recorded swells of 15 feet - the highest since 1991, said Shawn Rossi, a meteorologist with the U.S. National Weather Service in San Juan. Several countries reported flooding in coastal areas.

Reef-building coral is vital to the Caribbean as it provides a habitat for thousands of marine creatures but have been dying off across the Caribbean due to coastal pollution, overfishing and disease blamed on rising sea temperatures.

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T&T to create huge farms to offset high food prices

To offset food price hikes of more than 25 percent since 2005, Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) plans to convert up to 20,000 acres of state-owned land into large farms, and they're looking to Cuba for expertise in ramping up agricultural production.
The farms will be created in Tucker Valley, a fertile region where a U.S. naval base operated World War II, and sold to qualified buyers. Experts from Cuba are expected to arrive next month to teach farmers how to mass-produce fruits and vegetables for local consumption, Trinidad Agriculture Minister Arnold Piggott said.

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Market stabilizes despite food-cap failure in Jamaica

The Jamaica government's bold $500 million subsidy program that was meant to cap prices on basic food items for three months was ignored by most retailers, a survey by the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) has found. But the agency says the program was somewhat effective, having served to stabilise prices at grocery shops. The CAC survey covered more than 220 grocery operations - split among 'corner-shops' and larger supermarkets.

Government had initiated the subsidy or 'price support' program to reign in runaway food prices that sent January inflation climbing 2.2 per cent and yearly inflation to 18 per cent. The subsidy has been pulled.

Dolsie Allen, CAC chief executive officer, told Wednesday Business that of the 166 corner- shops surveyed islandwide over the three months, compliance ranged between 21 and 58 per cent.

The government had provided subsidies on items such as rice, counter flour, bread, crackers cooking oil and powdered milk. Without the subsidy, prices for basic food items would likely have escalated by 20 to 30 per cent. The conditions that have spiked prices have not abated - world oil and grain prices continue to escalate while local agriculture remains in recovery mode. But government has not said whether it will reinstitute the subsidy.

Editorís Comments: The Government should be commended for taking such a bold step.

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Cuban doctors save lives in Guyana

Cuban health professionals serving in Guyana provide free treatment to more than 70 percent of the country's population, boosted by the opening of a new Integral Diagnostic Center in Leonora, the second in the country.

The first Integral Diagnostic Center, donated by Cuba, began operating last October in the community of Diamond. Besides the opening of the Leonora center, two more are slated to open later this year in the cities of Suddie and Mahaicony.

These centers provide ultrasound, endoscope, electrocardiogram, a clinical laboratory, ophthalmologic, dentistry and surgery services, allowing patients to receive specialized medial attention.

The work of the Cuban medical staff has also had an impact on the infant mortality rate, which has dropped from 60 per thousand live births to 28, according to the Guyana authorities.

It is estimated that 3,891 Guyanese have had their sight restored as part of the Operation Miracle (Vision Now) eye surgery program sponsored by Cuba and Venezuela. As part of that collaboration, a modern ophthalmologic center is scheduled to open this year. the 122 Cubans serving throughout Guyana have to date attended more than 385,000 doctor's visits and saved an estimated 200 lives.

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Steel pan opens special UN slavery remembrance observance

Steel band made history in the UN headquarters in New York on a very memorable occasion. On the heels of last yearís adoption by member states of the General Assembly, of a resolution annually designating 25th March as the International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the United Nations officially observed this inaugural occasion.  This memorable event was a collaboration among the African Union, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the United States Mission and the United Nationsí Department of Public Information. The steelpan instrument took front and center as a steel pan troupe with its members hailing originally from the Caribbean island of Antigua Ė City South Steel Orchestra Ė opened the first annual worldwide commemoration of the International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

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Latin American & Caribbean leading the world in road traffic deaths

The United Nations (UN) has said the Caribbean and Latin America lead the way in the number of fatalities. Road safety campaigners said most people are not aware of the growing threat of road traffic deaths, especially in low and middle income deaths.
More than 75 per cent of road traffic fatalities occur in these countries.
According to World Bank statistics, Latin America and the Caribbean have the highest per capita of road fatality rates of any region in the world; killing 122,000 people a year. Road safety campaigners said in addition to the devastating human toll, road traffic injuries are also a root cause of poverty in both regions, with road crashes killing and disabling wage earners leaving families without economic support.

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Airline strand 90 Ghanaians in Barbados

One hundred and forty-nine Ghanaians arrived in Barbados on the direct inaugural flight from Ghana for a two week vacation on February 1, but after the holiday ended some of the passengers who had paid US$2,000 for the trip said Ghana Airlines failed to return to Barbados.
Ninety were left stranded in Barbados for over a month because their charter aircraft failed to return to the island to take them back home. Barbados media reported that the government has been in contact with the Ghanaian Embassy in Cuba to discuss the return of the passengers.  The trip was organized through the private sector by Ghana travel agents Seasons Travel and Tours and Remac Tours in Barbados.

 

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