UNDILUTED pays tribute to John Maxwell by featuring two previous columns by him from the Hot Calaloo UNDILUTED archives:
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 .
by Donna Hemans ... $16.10
---------------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.
Haiti solar mamas come home
The rest of the Caribbean had better take
Zili Dlo is a Haitian humanitarian organization led by Haitian poet, actress, activist, human rights lawyer Mčt Ezili Dantň. They executed the idea to make this possibility available to Haiti mothers. The program at Barefoot College takes an illiterate woman and makes her into a solar engineer in six months and shows that she can solar-electrify a village. In Haiti, Zili Dlo is run by both Fanm Vodou Pou Ayiti (Euvonie Georges Auguste) and SOPUDEP (Rea Dol).
The team at Zili Dlo is excited about the
successful return of the ladies and if all goes well, has plans to
electrify two other Haiti villages and give skills training to four more
Haiti mothers once this first initiative is completed. To do this, Zili
Dlo will be working with more colleges abroad and will set up a training
school in Haiti with the
Tablet PC’s free to Jamaican school children
Jamaica is about to make great strides in e-learning. Plans are underway by the Government to equip thousands of schoolchildren across the island with tablet computers. This is expected to significantly reduce the amount of money parents are usually asked to fork out at the beginning of the school term to purchase textbooks. The basic text can be downloaded on the tablets, and with proper protection of copyright, this should mean that there would be much less need for printed text books. While the project is expected to lessen the number of printed textbooks, it is not intended to eradicate them from the classroom.
A pilot program will start things rolling. Under the pilot program, students and teachers at 30 schools, including five early-childhood institutions, 10 primary schools, five junior high schools and 10 high schools across the country will be given a tablet computer free of cost, according to Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell. Paulwell, who made the announcement during his contribution to the Budget Debate said the roll-out of the tablets will mark the beginning of phase two of the e-Learning program.
Tablet PC’s in schools are making great inroads here in the US and all over the world. Not just the savings of replacing and updating textbooks, but presents such flexibility with exercises for homework, new teaching approaches, and could replace bulky book bags and paper. Of course, there is a big security problem as these tablets could be targets for thieves.
Financial crisis in the Caribbean
The Caribbean is of course not Cyprus, but there are worrying signs that the indebtedness of an increasing number of Caribbean nations is now reaching crisis proportions.
As has been widely reported the US credit rating agency, Moody's Investor Services, has warned that Grenada's default on its US and Eastern Caribbean dollar bonds has heightened the risk of its distress touching other member countries in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).
Grenada's default, according to the agency, has "systemic implications for the ECCU through two channels - financial and institutional". It warned too that the island's default will elevate short-term financing costs for other countries that issue EC dollar denominated bonds and Treasury bills on the ECCU's Regional Government Securities Market.
At the same time the World Bank has suspended disbursements to Grenada after defaults in February. Taiwan too continues to press US courts to enforce a 2007 judgment against Grenada to repay US$32 million that is owed.
To put this in a broader perspective it is a part of a worrying picture emerging in the Eastern Caribbean.
St Kitts-Nevis defaulted on its debt in 2011. Antigua restructured its debt in 2010 subsequently reaching loan arrangements with the IMF with embedded conditionality and structural reform requirements.
Beyond this, all six ECCU members, which also include St Vincent, St Lucia and Dominica, rely on emergency IMF credit facilities to finance reconstruction. Despite this and worryingly, government debt in the ECCU averaged 94 per cent of GDP last year, putting it as Moody's stated "on par with distressed Euro area sovereigns".
Dominica, St Kitts selling citizenship
Turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa has led to a surge of interest in programs that let investors buy citizenship or residence in countries around the world in return for a healthy contribution or investment. Most are seeking a second passport for hassle-free travel or a ready escape hatch in case things get worse at home.
Nowhere is it easier or faster than in the minuscule Eastern Caribbean nations of Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis.
It's such a booming business that a Dubai-based company is building a four-square-mile (10-square-kilometre) community in St Kitts where investors can buy property and citizenship at the same time. In its first phase, some 375 shareholders will get citizenship by investing US$400,000 each in the project, which is expected to include a 200-room hotel and a mega-yacht marina. Others will get passports for buying one of 50 condominium units.
Another company offers four condominium projects where approved buyers are granted citizenship in St Kitts. It's impossible to say how many people have used the cash for citizenship programs. Officials in both countries declined to respond when asked by The Associated Press.
"Investor visa" or citizenship programs are offered by many nations, including the United States, Canada, Britain and Austria. But the Caribbean countries offer a fast path to citizenship at a very low cost.
The whole process, including background checks, can take as little as 90 days in St Kitts. And there's no need to ever live on the islands, or even visit.
A foreigner can qualify for citizenship in St Kitts with a US$250,000 donation to a fund for retired sugar workers or with a minimum real estate investment of US$400,000. The minimum contribution in Dominica is US$100,000.
By contrast, a US program allows visas for a US$1 million investment in a US business employing at least 10 people or US$500,000 in designated economically depressed areas. The investor can apply for permanent residence in two years, and seek citizenship after five more. Demand in Canada is so great that the country stopped accepting new applications in July.
A Dominica passport holder can travel without a visa to more than 50 countries, while a St Kitts passport provides visa-free travel to 139 countries, including all of the European Union.
Some other struggling Eastern Caribbean islands are looking at adopting the St Kitts model.
Antigua and Barbuda is launching its own citizenship program to drum up money. And leaders of both main parties on the poor island of Grenada have hinted they may revive a program that was suspended after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the US due to fears that local passports could be mistakenly sold to terrorists,
In the words of a ‘new’ passport holder from the middle east, "After the Arab Spring, it's become more difficult for us to really travel around the world, even in the Arab region," "But being a citizen of Dominica, it is much, much better for us."
IMF deal approved for Jamaica
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved Jamaica's application for a four-year extended fund facility. Finance Minister Peter Phillips said the agreement would unlock more than US$1 billion of loan support from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank and that the first drawdown from the IMF of more than US$200 million should be completed in a few days.
Here are some of the key deliverables and targets in the program, which will allow Jamaica to draw down special drawing rights of 615.4 million or approximately US$932.3 million.
Forced retirement for teachers in Jamaica
One of the consequences of of Jamaica's agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is that teachers who have reached the retirement age but who are still working in the public sector in that capacity are to be forced to retire. Schools employing teachers who are beyond the retirement age are to be notified that they must regularise by September, Jamaica has indicated in its commitment to the multilateral.
According to the agreement "efficiency, effectiveness and cost containment is to be pursued with respect to spending on education and health care". Spending on education would be made more efficient and effective, noting that the Government would reform the current study-leave policies to take into account new hiring policies.
Jamaica has also told the IMF that there will be a freeze on the hiring of teachers in schools that are overstaffed to allow the number of existing teachers to decline by attrition. (Why would the hire teachers in an overstaffed school anyhow?)
Other cost effective methods to be employed include the standardisation of student-teacher ratios within secondary school starting this year, and the continuation of a program of voluntary relocation of staff until legislation is enacted to make such relocation mandatory.
Editor’s Note: Forced retirement, mandatory relocation – does not sound good for teachers. The IMF are turning the screws again. Forced retirement and at such short notice, seems patently unfair unless teachers have a wonderful retirement of which I am not aware. Can they even live off their retirement? Does forced relocation mean that a teacher teaching in Kingston can be forced to move to teach in Montego Bay? Once again IMF draconian measures like their infamous unsucessfull structural adjustment policy are being imposed. Teachers don’t deserve this.
Sean Penn snags millions in World Bank aid for Haiti
Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn has secured a US$8.75 million aid package from the World Bank to help move Haitians out of a makeshift camp on a golf course where many have been living since the devastating 2010 earthquake. The money will be spent on new housing units or rent subsidies, according to a statement issued by Penn’s aides.
About 14,000 impoverished Haitians still live at the Petionville Golf Club in tents and temporary wooden shacks. At one point 60,000 people called the sprawling site home, and those who are still living there are to be moved out by early next year.
As a result of Penn’s untiring efforts and high visibility as an on-the-ground advocate for rescue and aid efforts in the aftermath of the 2010 catastrophe, he was designated Ambassador-at-Large for Haiti by President Michel Martelly. Penn received the designation in January 2012, marking the first time a non-Haitian citizen had been designated as such in the country's history.
The American actor's J/P Haitian Relief Organisation took responsibility for the impromptu settlement on the slopes of a private golf club near Port-au-Prince a few months after the earthquake struck in January 2010, destroying thousands of buildings.
The organisation moved from helping with food, sanitation and health care to becoming a rapidly expanding and increasingly prominent aid group.
The number of people displaced by the quake has dropped from a high of 1.5 million people to about 347,000 now.
Last April, Penn was honoured for his work in Haiti with the presentation of the 2012 Peace Summit Award at the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Chicago.
The Academy Award-winning actor, who had never set foot in Haiti before the earthquake, has become a major figure in the efforts to rebuild and has raised millions of dollars in aid at celebrity fundraising events in the United States and Europe.
NYC-recruited-teachers from the Caribbean fail to get green card
Over sixteen dozen Caribbean-born teachers, recruited by the New York City Board of Education ten years ago to teach in public schools in the Big Apple, are still in legal limbo in the system – unable to secure green cards. According to Kira Shepherd, of The Black Institute, while some 500 Caribbean teachers recruited by NYC have finally secured permanent residency status following more than a decade of waiting, 200 more are still awaiting the adjustment of status.
Most are from Jamaica – some 111 – followed by 39 from Guyana and 20 from Trinidad & Tobago. Thirteen are from the Dominican Republic; 8 from Barbados; 6 from St. Lucia; 3 from St. Vincent & the Grenadines and one each from the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Dominica.
Because of this broken promise by NYC, some teachers have even gotten fired leaving them now undocumented in the system as well and completely dependent on friends and family for support.
Board of Ed. Data shows 213 teachers are now waiting on green cards. However, Caribbean teachers make up 61.5 percent of all teachers who have achieved permanent residency to date.
Jamaica still shedding jobs
Jamaica's youth unemployment rose to 35.3 per cent in the newly released October 2012 survey, up from 32.2 the previous July quarter and 31.1 per cent year on year. Total unemployment is currently estimated at 13.7 per cent in a labour force of 1.261 million.
Some 6,500 jobs were lost between July and October 2012.
This performance mirrors global trends for jobless youth. World Bank projections indicate that youth unemployment is expected to continue rising in the medium term and is projected to hit 12.9 per cent globally in five years. The bank also says that not all jobless youngsters are captured in the data.
"In developed countries, an apparent decline in the jobless rate is not due to improvements in the labour market, but rather to large numbers of young people dropping out of the labour force altogether due to discourage-ment," said the bank in a report titled Global Employment Trends 2013: Recovering From a Second Jobs Dip.
"These discouraged youth are not counted among the unemployed," the report said. The bank estimates that this year the total number of unemployed worldwide will rise by five million to more than 202 million people.
St Vincent PM calls for reparations for slavery
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves is calling on Caribbean countries to establish a regional reparations committee, pledging to spend the rest of his life seeking compensation from the British for land, genocide against the Garifuna, and slavery. Prime Minister Gonsalves said Cabinet will soon name its reparations committee
Gonsalves reaffirmed the position of his
government as stated at the United Nations and other fora that it is
making a case and a claim for reparation from the British
Prime Minister Gonsalves said a recent study by a British scholar concluded that 20 million pounds then is about 16.58 billion pounds now.
"Just forgetting for a moment the institution of slavery itself, that’s what they paid the owners of the slaves. If you take half of that representing for the Caribbean, you are talking about 8.25 billion pounds for the English speaking Caribbean," Gonsalves said, adding that the figure is about EC$40 billion.
Last month, Principal of the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Sir Hilary Beckles, called on Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to begin efforts aimed at seeking some form of reparation from Western countries for slavery.
Sir Hilary said that reparation is not about people getting handouts, but about repairing historical damage and how to find a way forward. He said that while all races experienced some form of slavery, African slavery was unique in its scope and brutality. Comparative studies note that it was the only system of slavery in which people were viewed legally as property and seen as non- humans.
The Jamaica high school, Jamaica College, Robotics Club recently returned from New York, where the team competed in the FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics Competition. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an international organisation with the mission of transforming modern culture by celebrating science and technology and encouraging more students to be interested in pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematicseducation. The contest challenged student-designed-built-and-operated robots to fetch plastic rings and hang them on a rack.
Not only did the 10-member senior team earned a place to be one of 160 teams to compete in the World Championship in St Louis, Missouri, in April, they also won the Inspire award. The award recognises a team that not only is a strong competitor on the field, but also sets an outstanding example through the conduct of its members in showing team spirit and gracious professionalism towards other teams.
Bamboo charcoal goes on sale in Jamaica
Bamboo charcoal has gone on sale in Kingston Jamaica in a market-testing phase of the project to track consumer reaction to the product. The Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) formed the multi-skilled committee, BIMAC, to look into value-added production and commercialisation of the local species of bamboo, the bambusa vulgaris. "At present, the retail prices are approximately the same as timber charcoal," said the BIMAC chairman.
"As bamboo charcoal production for other uses such as water filters, air filters, sugar refining and dehumidifiers gets started in the future, we expect economies of scale will lead to bamboo charcoal being less expensive than timber charcoal at retail outlets," he said.
The bamboo charcoal is described by the BSJ as eco-friendly; easy to light a fire; ready to cook faster than timber charcoal; emits less smoke; and does not affect food taste.
"A very important point to note, however, is that bamboo charcoal is sustainable because it is renewable, and managed plantations can be realised within three years. Presently, there is an abundant supply of bamboo in Jamaica, some 47,000 hectares, which is the subject of an industry-planning process that is now taking place to ensure orderly harvesting and replanting,"
CONCACAF World Cup Playoffs
Jamaica tied Panama at home, then lost 0-2 to Costa Rica away, to slump to last place with 2 points from 3 games. But, they are only 1 point below overwhelming favorites Mexico, who has yet to win a game including home games to Jamaica and USA.
The top three teams will qualify directly for the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals, while the fourth-placed team will play a home-away series against New Zealand, the winner of Oceania. Teams are ranked first by total points in all games, then, if tied, by best goal differential in all games, then by total goals in all games. If still tied, the same criteria are applied to games among the tied teams.
52-year-old Ottey sets sight on World Champs
Merlene Ottey, who was in the land of her birth, Jamaica, for a series of events, told reporters that she is currently preparing for this summer's IAAF World Championships in Moscow, almost 30 years since her first appearance at the event in 1983. Now a citizen of Slovenia, which she represented as recently as last year's European Athletics Championships in the 4x100m, Ottey, who won a record 14 World Championships medals between 1983 and 1997 for Jamaica, laughed when asked about her retirement, advising that she has been preparing well for the August 10-18 meet.
Ottey, who boasts three Olympic silver and six bronze medals, said she expects to be watching the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro from the stands, but the ever-fresh athlete is certainly giving herself a shot to make the cut in Moscow later this year.
A nine-time Olympic medallist, Ottey was awarded with a honorary doctorate degree from the Jamaica's University of Technology (UTech) during her time in the island.
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