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Air Jamaica forced to suspend flights as debts mount
Air Jamaica has been forced to suspend flights to the eastern Caribbean countries for a month in an effort to comply with new US Federal Aviation (FAA) maintenance requirements. They pulled service from Grenada, St. Lucia and Barbados so abruptly that this caused immediate problems. Scores of Air Jamaica passengers were left stranded in Kingston following the airline's suspension of flights to Eastern Caribbean destinations.
The new FAA regulations insisted that Air Jamaica carry out major maintenance to planes every fifteen months instead of eighteen. This created a crisis for Air Jamaica. Almost immediately it was compelled to :
This has cost Air Jamaica millions of dollars. Privatisation had left the airline already mired deep in debt. Executive Chairman of Air Jamaica Dr. Vin Lawrence disclosed that the government is contemplating writing off US$398 million of the whopping US$847 million the airline accumulated in losses when under private ownership of the Butch Stewart group. The losses represent a little under seven per cent of the national debt, while the write off being sought would be the equivalent of nearly four per cent. The national debt stands at $J762.5 billion.
Air Jamaica will resume six weekly flights to Grenada and Barbados from Kingston and New York on April 16 but St. Lucia will not be included for resumption for now. The flights had been suspended on March 18.
CCJ finally launched
The Caribbean Court of Justice was officially launched on Saturday April 16 in Trinidad with a promise, from President Michael de la Bastide, that it will provide justice for all and be free from political interference. However, opposition parties in Jamaica (JLP) and right there in T&T (UNC) as well as some other groups continue to oppose the court.
Deputy Prime Minister and Attorney-General of Barbados, Honourable Mia Mottley has no such misgivings. She said the recent Privy Council ruling against the establishment the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in Jamaica was an insult to both the people of Jamaica and those in the wider Caribbean. She said that the judgement handed by the law lords was the worst form of legal fraternalism ever seen coming from the region since independence. Mrs. Mottley also said that the judgement has no legal buttress nor foundation, and clearly reflects the legal philosophy of the 11th century rather than that of the 21st century.
Drought scorches Caribbean
Within the last year, the Caribbean has been hit by hurricane, flood, earthquake. Now add drought to the list as Jamaica is battling a severe drought. The parishes of Hanover, Westmoreland, Manchester, St Elizabeth, Clarendon, Trelawny, St Thomas, St Catherine, St James and St Ann have been the worst hit. Worse yet the drought have spawned bushfire which have raged out of control because Jamaica does not have the resources to fight them. These fires have raged extensively in St Elizabeth, St James, Manchester, Clarendon and St Andrew.
The capacity of the Fire Services has been seriously challenged, having responded to over seven hundred severe cases of bush fires since January (and) millions of dollars worth of damage to homes, property and agricultural crops have been reported. The Jamaican government has so far approved over J$12 million to alleviate the problems across the island: J$100,000 for public education, J$3 million to provide assistance to farmers who lost crops as a result of the bush fires, and over J$9 million to assist with the trucking of water in the six worst parishes.
the worst drought in the territory in nearly 100 years. The country's Hydraulic Resources Institute said about 541,000 persons were receiving water by non-traditional ways in accordance with a local government program established to alleviate the situation .
The report specified that Holguin, which is about 460 miles east of Havana, has barely received 37 per cent of the historical average rainfall. It said that from the 17 water reservoirs in the province, only 12 were in service, two of them directed to human consumption and the rest to the industrial sector and agriculture.
JLP’s Golding by a landslide
New Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader Bruce Golding trounced his nearest rival by more than 7,000 votes to win by a landslide the West Kingston by-election. There was a 53 per cent voter turnout for the poll, compared with 81 per cent in the 2002 general election in that constituency. Golding polled 8,225 votes followed by the People's National Party's (PNP) candidate Joseph 'Bunny' Witter with 1,079. This gives Golding the seat in the House of Representatives which was held by retired JLP leader Eddie Seaga.
Sir John Compton back in St. Lucian politics
Former St. Lucia Prime Minister Sir John Compton is back as leader of the opposition United Workers Party at the age of 79. Sir John was declared the winner in a leadership contest with the man whom he had handpicked to succeed him in\1996, Dk. Vaughn Lewis. Unofficial results of the contest showed Lewis polling 135 votes to Sir John's 261 at the UWP Convention west coast town of Soufrlere. The contest for the leadership of the UWP, which Sir John founded and led for over 30 years, has been one of the biggest political developments in St. Lucia's recent history.
Antigua and Barbuda government has announced its intention to join Suriname, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Guyana in issuing CARICOM passports. Suriname was the first CARICOM ember state to issue a national passport utilizing the common CARICOM format. These passports are expected in mid-2005.
Guyana opposition calls for unity
Robert Corbin, the leader of Guyana's main opposition People's National Congress Reform party (PNCR) deserves to be commended for issuing a most welcome call for national cohesion and unity. His call to party members comes ahead of the general lections scheduled for 2006 and just weeks after a deadly flooding that devastated the country's east coast of Demerara villages "admonished Party members to understand that the time has come for action and that action must encompass a reaching out to all other political forces in a spirit of inclusivity, national cohesion and national unity."
These overdue sentiments for a country so politically divided by race came at a meeting convened by the PNCR under the theme "Building a Platform for, Peace, National Cohesion and Reconstruction."
US threatens Caribbean countries
On May 25, Suriname goes to the polls. Desi Bouterse is seen as the top
challenger to the current president Runaldo Venetiaan.
Jimmy Carter: Rich Countries "Don’t Give A Damn" About Poor
Former US President Jimmy Carter harshly criticized his own country and other wealthy countries for being stingy with foreign aid and said in these rich countries "We really don’t give a dam".
In a speech to a human rights conference in Atlanta, Carter said increasing financial assistance was critical to battling malaria, AIDS, and other common diseases that disproportionately affect the poorest nations.
"Unfortunately, in the richest countries, like ours, we really don’t give a damn," said the former President who also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. He especially criticized the US for failing to follow other Western nations which are increasing spending. Although the US tops the foreign aid donors list in dollar terms, it falls behind the Netherlands, Canada and many other smaller less affluent nations when contributions are measured on a per capita basis.
US foreign aid is approximately 0.18% of gross national product, the lowest of any G-7 nation and far below a 0.7% target UN target that 22 of the world’s developed nations have agreed to meet by 2015. A handful have already met the goal, while others such as Germany and Great Britain insist they will achieve it.
Editor’s Comment: Obviously the US does not care about the
poor even in its own country, does not care about world opinion, so there
is no way they would care about poor countries in the Caribbean. Still
many Caribbean people think otherwise but this is deluded wishful
thinking. Not only does the US not care a damn about us, but they have
been selfishly pushing policies that barely benefits them but is
devastating to the Caribbean.
Caribbean's Aids patients to be hurt by new Indian law
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has socked it to poor countries again. They have forced the Indian Parliament to outlaw the production of copies of Aids treatment and other drugs could have implications for the Caribbean and other nations.
International aid groups have strongly criticized a move by the Lower House of India's Parliament to pass the new patents law. It prevents domestic drug manufacturers from making low-cost generic copies of patented drugs. Campaigners say the move will deprive millions of people around the world of access to cheap life-saving medicines. India took the step to pass the bill in order to honour its commitment to the World Trade
Organisation. The bill will now go to the Upper House of Parliament and is expected to be approved into law. Those opposing the bill say it will hurt hundreds of thousands of Aids and cancer patients across the world.
Venezuela’s Chavez gives land to farmers
The Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chavez has handed over part of a large private estate to poor farmers. More than 100 poor families have been given temporary occupation rights on a huge cattle ranch. Venezuela has declared a huge British-owned cattle ranch to be state property and handed out permits for local farmers to take over the land.
American child spurs donations for Jamaican kids
When 10-year-old Lindsay Adams learned from a Kentucky newspaper report that most children in Jamaica have never even seen a stuffed animal, she was shocked. She reacted by donating a few of her own toys. The benevolence spread and her schoolmates at SS. Peter and Paul Catholic School pitched in too. Now many school children in Jamaica will get new shoes, school supplies and toys. The donations have been organized by the Glory Outreach Program, an international non-profit, non-denominational organization. The children have spent the last month collecting shoes, clothing, books, school supplies, toys, food and money that will be shipped to Jamaica in April and distributed to children in kindergarten and first through sixth grades.
Jamaica Finance Minister flees gunfire at funeral
JamaicaFinance Minister and Member of Parliament for South St. Andrew Dr. Omar Davies had to flee from a funeral a recent Sunday afternoon after gunmen opened fire outside the church. Dr. Davis, also a contender to succeed retiring Prime Minister, PJ Patterson, was forced to join scores of mourners in seeking cover as the gunmen sprayed bullets outside the Hagley Park Road Seventh Day Adventist Church.
Three vehicles including the hearse were damaged. As the funeral was about start, the gunmen opened fire. After the firing stopped there was another attempt to start the funeral but the gunfire resumed and the scene became chaotic. The gunmen are still at large.
Fans flee gunfire at soccer match in Jamaica
HUNDREDS OF spectators at a football match in Spanish Town, Jamaica, had to flee for cover, triggering a stampede as a fusillade of shots rang out. A National Premier League match was in progress between Rivoli United and Tivoli Gardens Football Club with Tivoli leading 1-0 in the 63rd minute of the game. A commotion started with an on-field incident following a series of rough tackles between players from both teams.
Spectators started to shout abuses at the referee. A bottle was thrown on to the field and was followed by a volley of projectiles from both stands. Men in plain clothes in both stands then fired gunshots in the air. This set off a panicked rush of several hundred persons who had gone to watch the match, running for cover. Amid the chaos, the referee called off the game.
Police flee gunfire in August Town in Jamaica
Heavily armed men opened fire on a number of houses in August Town, Jamaica, leaving one man dead. Police who responded to the frantic calls of residents had to flee themselves as they were outgunned. However, with a the arrival of reinforcements, the police regained control and are maintaining a presence in the community. Despite the increased police presence, several residents are said to be leaving the communities in August Town because the gun violence has made it the winter of their discontent. A few days later the police literally unearthed a cache of certain high-powered weapons, ballistic vests, ammunition and gun parts. The had been buried under a large fowl coop. The cache of illegal firearms include; six AK-47 rifles, three sniper rifles, one M-16 rifle, two shotguns, one Intratec-Nine sub-machine gun, 58 assorted rounds of ammunition, 11 magazines and a si1encer which was fitted to the M-16 rifle, two ballistic vests and two AK-47 butt stocks. There was also a small telescopic lens that was fitted to the Intratec-Nine.
Meanwhile in another section of Kingston near Windward Road, three men were shot dead by gunmen in broad daylight. Investigators theorise that the killings are an ongoing gang feud in the area.
Travel insurance required to visit French Isles
Caribbean nationals traveling to the French territories of Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana will now be required to obtain travel insurance. Last November the French Government passed an order extending this requirement to its departments overseas, requiring all persons traveling to the three Caribbean destinations whether or not they required a visa, to be in possession of travel insurance.
St. Lucia's Counsel General to Martinique, Cass Elias, said the measure may have been introduced to the region because of the number of young St. Lucian women who go to Martinique to give birth and are unable to pay the bills. He said the thinking is that their children would be registered as French citizens, but this is not the case, as under French law either the father or mother would have to be a national of the French territory.
Among the countries requiring the insurance are: Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, France, all of which on June 1, 2004 implemented the travel insurance requirement and months later it would have affected the French Caribbean as well. Can England be far behind?
Philippine nurses for T&T
Forty nurses from the Philippines are scheduled to arrive in Trinidad as a part of efforts to ease a shortage within the health sector. The nurses would be the first members of a contingent of 100 Philippine nurses and 50 pharmacists due there. So far, the Patrick Manning administration has recruited nurses from Cuba and other countries under a United Nations volunteer medical project. According to officials in the health ministry, with the arrival of the nurses, two new wards will be established at the Eric Williams Medical Complex to facilitate their arrival.
U.S. prison population soars in 2003, '04
According to an AP report, the US prison population is growing at a rate of about 900 inmates each week between mid-2003 and mid-2004. The nation's prisons and jails held 2.1 million people, or one in every 138 U.S. residents. The total inmate population has hovered around 2 million for the past few years, reaching 2.1 million on June 30, 2002, and just below that mark a year later.
According to the Justice Policy Institute, the United States has a higher rate of incarceration than any other country, followed by Britain, China, France, Japan and Nigeria. In 2004, 61 percent of prison and jail inmates were of racial or ethnic minorities, the government said. An estimated 12.6 percent of all black men in their late 20s were in jails or prisons, as were 3.6 percent of Hispanic men and 1.7 percent of white men in that age group, the report said.
US magazine recognizes Jamaica’s Paulwell
Jamaica's Minister of Commerce, Science and Technology, Phillip Paulwell, has been recognized by the editors of U.S. Black Engineer & Information Technology Magazine as one of the 50 Most Important Blacks in Technology for 2005. Mr. Paulwell was one of a few non-Americans to make the list, which was initially announced in January, and received his award at the conclusion of the 19th Annual Black Engineer of the Year Awards Conference and Awards Dinner on Friday (February 18). The Blac Engineer of the Year Awards Conference is the premier career development and employee recognition event for blacks in engineering, science, and technology held in the United States.
U.S. food sales in Cuba increase
U.S. food producers significantly increased their sales to Cuba last year despite the long-standing trade embargo against the small island, according to a Cuba-U.S. business group. The New York-based U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council said in a recent report that U.S. companies exported $392 million in products to Cuba during 2004, up from $257 million in 2003.
The sales -including wheat, corn, rice, chicken and soybean oil -pushed Cuba to No.25 on a list of 228 foreign markets supplied by American food exporters. Under an exception to the embargo passed in 2000, American agricultural goods can be sold to the island but on a cash-only basis. Since then, the island has steadily increased its standing, from 144th place in 2001, 50th place in 2002, and 35th place in 2003.
OAS vote ends in stalemate
The Organisation of American States (OAS) has failed to
elect a general secretary after five rounds of voting resulting in a tie
between the Chilean and Mexican candidates. The 34-nation OAS, the Western Hemisphere's leading diplomatic body,
recorded 17 votes each for Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez
and Chilean Interior Minister Jose Miguel Insulza. The OAS, which
represents the entire hemisphere, except Cuba, lost its previous head in
October, when former Costa Rican President Miguel Angel Rodriguez resigned
as general secretary to face corruption charges at home.
In an apparent pitch for votes on behalf of Derbez, the Mexican government said last month it was offering more than $3 million in scholarships for students from 11 Caribbean countries and four of the smaller South American countries. Chilean President Ricardo Lagos courted the Caribbean votes on Insulza's behalf with a visit to the region in February.
T &T-born Clement breaks indoor 400 world record
Kerron Clement, T&T-born athlete made history at the NCAA Indoor Championships on Saturday March 21 by breaking the indoor world record for the 400 meters. This record was held by the invincible Michael Johnson . Clement clocked 44.57 secs for the new record.
Clement was born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, but his family moved to the US in 1998 and he became a US citizen in 2004. He is the reigning World Junior champion in the 400 meters. But the 19-year old athlete has quite a range:
He was the 2002 Nike Athlete of the Year and has also appeared in Sport Illustrated, 'Faces in the Crowd.'
Joins another T&T-born Candice Scott as ‘Athletes of the Year’
The previous summer, Scott set the Trinidad & Tobago and U.S. collegiate record in hammer throw while finishing ninth at the 2004 Olympic Games.
Jamaica double Caribbean cricket champs
Jamaica has won both the Carib Beer League and Carib Beer Challenge cricket competitions. After starting as rousing favourites and failing to even get out of the first round of the regional limited-overs tournament a few months earlier, Jamaica not only won the four-day and five-day, double, but they also did it in style.
Starting with a brilliant run of five victories in a row, Jamaica, with seven victories out of 10 matches, finished with a total of 95 points to win the Cup by a distance of 37 points ahead of the Leeward Islands. And when the runners-up, according to the Board, challenged the winners, Jamaica, after giving their fans some anxious moments on the fourth day, nailed the Leeward Islands by eight wickets to win the trophy.
Another 1998 World Cup Reggae Boy killed in car accident
Peter Cargill, the midfielder, who represented Jamaica 84 times and who later coached national age-group teams and served as assistant to a succession of technical directors, was killed in a car accident. Cargill died in the St Ann's Bay hospital after the vehicle in which he was traveling overturned in Discovery Bay, St Ann, on the island's north coast at around 5:00 pm. The very popular Cargill, 41, is the third Reggae Boy to have died in a motor vehicle accident on the north coast in the past four years, following Steve "Shorty" Malcolm in 2001, and Winston "Twinny Bug" Anglin last year. Cargill is survived by wife Angella and two children, Donique and David.
WI cricket team fizzles against SA
Even though they were without many key players, the West Indies cricket team had South Africa on the run in the first Test in Guyana. The West Indies Cricket Board had declared seven players ineligible because they said their contract with Cable and Wireless conflicted with the Test sponsor Digicel. The players included captain Brian Lara, vice-captain Ramnaresh Sarwan, Chris Gayle, Fidel Edwards, Dwayne Bravo, Dwayne Smith and Ravi Rampaul.
The left-overs, led by Chanderpaul as captain, seemed like the WI of old. With double centuries by both Wavell Hinds and Chanderpaul, WI racked up 543 for 5 wickets declared. WI then scuttled SA all out for 188 and forced the follow-on. Rain and SA resistance thwarted a victory as time ran out with SA on 269 for 4.
For the next two tests expectations ran high as all the players were re-instated and the WI team was at full strength. Despite heroics by Lara, they lost both tests, getting worse each time.
Test 1 (Draw)
Test 2 (South Africa won by 8 wickets)
Test 3 (South Africa won by an innings and 86 runs)
FIFA World Cup CONCACAF Finals
T&T Soca warriors got their first point by tying Costa Rica. Nevertheless, they lie at the bottom of the group as Mexico and the US remain in front.
*Top three teams qualify for Germany 2006. Fourth placed team play-offs against an Asia nation
Results and Fixtures (Home team first)
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