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CONTENTS
bulletMarijuana to the rescue of sick people and sick economy
bulletT&T former president dies
bulletUK abandons unfair travel tax system
bulletCARICOM adopts ten-point reparation plan
bulletSevere health-sector crisis in Jamaica
bulletUWI needs partners to fund research
bulletJamaica imports coffee as local production plunges
bulletMore than 20% of T&Tís population below poverty line
bulletVacancies for English teachers, not in Jamaica but in China
bulletKartel found guilty
bulletRihanna blames accountant in lawsuit for losing US$9 million
bulletBob Marley estate still makes millions every year

UNDILUTED pays tribute to John Maxwell by featuring two previous columns by him from the Hot Calaloo UNDILUTED archives:

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Hot Calaloo's Undiluted Vol. 15, "The Audacity of Hopelessness"

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Hot Calaloo's Undiluted Vol. 14, "Cuba's Benevolence versus US Belligerence"

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

List Price $11.95 (paperback)
Special Clearance
$10

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 $5 + $3 (shipping) to 
Hot Calaloo
PO Box 411
Columbia MD 21045, USA

 

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.

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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_May 2014

 Marijuana to the rescue of Jamaica?

Ganja (marijuana) is widely used by Jamaicans, and is said by Rastafarians to be a holy sacrament. But the use of the drug is illegal, for which a person can be fined and jailed. Government has indicated plans to decriminalise the herb later this year, a move expected to pave the way for a medicinal marijuana industry on the island.

But even more important, marijuana has the potential to turn around Jamaica's ailing economy as it did in Colorado, a state with around the same-sized population as the Caribbean island.

Josh Stanley, a US marijuana industry expert, made the declaration on a visit to Jamaica. Stanley is the founder of Strains of Hope, a Colorado-based non-profit organisation aimed at helping people across the region to access marijuana.

Medical marijuana was legalised in Colorado in 2000, but the sector lacked structure for many years. Against that background, lobbyist began pushing for regulation of the state's ganja industry in 2007, a process that involved wide consultations and culminated with legalisation of recreational marijuana in 2012 and the opening of retail stores in January.

"Back in 2007, Colorado was staring at a US$270-million deficit and unemployment was through the roof. We were looking at a hard core recession," Stanley reflected.

"Today we are looking at a surplus. We have replaced the crime and fines with jobs and revenues," he said.

Indeed, Colorado's legal marijuana market is reportedly far exceeding tax expectations. According to the Associated Press, the state made roughly US$2.01 million ($220 million) in marijuana taxes in January. The tax total indicates US$14.02-million worth of recreational pot was sold from 59 businesses. The state collected roughly US$2.01 million in taxes. By comparison, Colorado made about US$2.7 million in liquor excise taxes in January of last year (January 2014 figures were unavailable).

The pot taxes came from 12.9 per cent sales taxes and 15 per cent excise taxes. Including licensing fees and taxes from Colorado's pre-existing medical marijuana industry, the state collected about US$3.5 million from the marijuana industry in January, according to the AP.

Stanley is on the island helping towards the establishment of a regulatory framework for the local industry, having done the same in Colorado.

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T&T former president dies

Trinidad & Tobago third President and Prime Minister, Arthur Napoleon Raymond (ANR) Robinson, has died. He passed away at the St. Clair Medical Centre in Port-Of-Spain, Trinidad. The Tobago-born Robinson, who survived being shot in the leg and beaten during the 1990 coup díťtat attempt by the Jamaat al Muslimeen, passed away at around 6 a.m. on Wednesday April 9, 2014. He was 87 and had been suffering a number of health ailments including a stroke and prostate issues.

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UK abandons unfair travel tax system

Caribbean countries must be jubilant. The UK has announced plans to scrap their travel tax system which was very unfair to the Caribbean. This tax made it cheaper to fly to the US than the Caribbean, so adversely affected the tourist industry in the Caribbean.. Since 2009 Caribbean Governments have been lobbying the British Government over this tax known asr Air Passenger Duty APD). In a campaign coordinated through the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), it has involved Caribbean Prime Ministers and Ministers, High Commissioners and Ambassadors, the regionís Diaspora in the United Kingdom, and the Caribbeanís many friends in the UK Parliament, plus companies and individuals, in a unique undertaking.

Not only did this disparate group make clear their view on a tax that unfairly favored travel to the US over the Caribbean, but they demonstrated by staying on message that the Caribbean was capable of mounting a sustained and coordinated lobby overseas if it wished to.

In the words of Britainís Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, "We will also reform Air Passenger Duay to fly to the United States."

The changes, which will benefit all destinations presently in Band C (which includes the Caribbean) and Band D, will be introduced from April 2015 on as this is the length of time required by the airlines to alter their fare structures.

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CARICOM adopts ten-point slavery reparation plan

Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), at their Inter-Sessional Conference in St. Vincent & the Grenadines have adopted a ten-point reparations plan, formally dubbed a "Reparatory Justice Framework." Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, host prime minister, disclosed afterwards that, arising from the adoption of the ten-point plan, CARICOM leaders will be pushing to hold talks with Europe in June on the issue of reparation for slavery and native genocide.

(For details of the plan see Undiluted Vol. 20)

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Severe health-sector crisis in Jamaica

The Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ) says government policies are putting people's lives at risk at public hospitals and health centers.

President of the MAJ, Dr Shane Alexis, the public health sector is severely under-funded with a sharp increase in patient load without a concurrent increase in medical and support staff.

"This would have a direct negative impact on patients of even longer waiting times for elective surgery, pathology reports, cancer treatments, and so on. This often results in increased risks of complications for patients, all of which were foreseen and documented by the MAJ," declared Alexis as he pointed to a 2008 report from the doctors about the inherent weaknesses of the health-care system.

Alexis noted that much of the public criticisms and complaints are directed at medical personnel who are not the ones to be blamed for the long waits which patients endure for critical services such as dialysis.

This year, the health ministry was allocated $36.3 billion of the $370 billion which the Government planned for recurrent expenditure, while $550 million of the $142 billion allocated for capital spending went to health.

But, according to Alexis, the Government must increase the allocation to health care now because the moral, social and financial costs of health complications to patients and their families are likely to exceed the short-term burden to the national Budget.

In a glaring example, the chief medical officer, Dr. Kevin Harvey, admitted that the public health system can only care for only 200 of the 900 new cancer patients diagnosed annually. Conceding that this situation is "alarming", Dr Harvey reported that that cancer is posing a serious challenge to the health sector. But Harvey indicated that apart from the 200 new cancer cases dealt with each year, the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) also provides continuing treatment to between 600 and 800 cancer patients every year.

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UWI needs partners to fund research

THE University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona campus is hoping that more private and public sector entities will contribute to the funding of local research projects, given that international grants have been dwindling over the last few years.

Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal Professor Archibald McDonald said although the institution still manages to attract grants from international agencies, such as the National Institute of Health, they are securing far less external funding compared to 10 years ago. Fortunately, local agencies such as the National Health Fund and the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund have been giving research grants, although the dollar value is smaller when compared to overseas donors.

"Clearly it would be very difficult to get funding of that magnitude from local entities," Professor McDonald told reporters.

According to Professor McDonald, UWI currently produces 80 per cent of all the research output of the Caribbean, with the Mona campus accounting for the majority of the research. Approximately $284 million is spent by the university in research grants, and the Office of the Principal also contributes significantly to research undertaken by staff members. There is also a study and travel grant given to staff.

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Jamaica imports coffee as local production plunges

Coffee imports are set to rise amidst a 40 per cent dip in local production to 20-year lows. Consequently, Government aims to formulate a coffee importation policy.

The effects of rust disease along with hurricanes and the abandonment of farms has reduced available trees and therefore production since the onset of the Western financial crisis in 2008.

Coffee imports hit some US$1.78 million in 2012 up some 23 per cent since 2008, according to data from the International Trade Centre (ITC) a joint agency of the World Trade Organisation and the United Nations.

Contrastingly, exports dipped by double-digit levels to some US$17.3 million in 2012, according to the latest Bank of Jamaica data. The crop traditionally earned about US$25 million annually up to the onset of the financial crisis.

Jamaica Blue Mountain (JBM) and Jamaica High Mountain coffee production is expected to dip towards 130,000 boxes and 31,000 boxes respectively for the ensuing 2013/14 crop, according to Minott. JBM, grown on the island's eastern mountain range, garners the highest retail price at some US$50 a pound based on its smooth luxury taste. High Mountain, grown in central and western side of Jamaica, offers a more chocolate-like taste and garners about US$30 a pound.

However, the call to widen the importation of coffee should exclude instant coffee, argues Salada Foods, the largest local processor of instant coffee. The company insisted that it can fill local orders of the ready to drink instant coffee.

Salada earned $500 million from local sales led by its instant coffee product. Another $129 million was earned from export sales, which actually doubled year-on-year led by ginger and coffee.

Stakeholders process cheaper imported beans in order to fill the demand of the local and hospitality sector. Secondly, foreign and local entities import branded instant coffee products to retail in supermarkets or at dispensers.

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More than 20% of T&Tís population below poverty line

More than 20 per cent of Trinidad & Tobago's population are living below the poverty line, while eight to 11 per cent are reported to be undernourished, despite the countryís high-income status. This is revealed in the "National Report for Trinidad and Tobago Civil Societyís Review of the Progress Towards the Millennium Development Goals".

Editorís Note: I bet other Caribbean countries wished their poverty rate was this low, but then they are not as rich.

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Vacancies for teachers, not in Jamaica but in China

Previously Jamaica Ministry of Education reported that there were no teaching jobs available for the coming crop of graduates in Jamaica. Now the Ministry of Education is inviting applications from suitably qualified English teachers to fill 59 teaching positions in schools in Shanghai, China following discussions held between authorities in Shanghai and Education Minister Ronald Thwaites during a visit to the country last year.

Applicants for the teaching positions must have minimum qualification that includes a degree in English and a Trained Teachers Certification or a Bachelor in Education specializing in English, the Education Ministry said. Qualification must also include training in early childhood, primary or secondary education levels. Applicants must also possess three to five years of experience in teaching English.

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Kartel found guilty

Popular dancehall deejay Vybz Kartel and two of his three co-accused have been found guilty of murder. Vybz Kartel, whose real name is Adidjah Palmer a popular dancehall deejay who uses the stage name, Vybz Kartel, had been arrested with Kahira Jones by the St. Andrew North Police in relation to the killing of Clive 'Lizard" Williams, a dancer, two months earlier. Four other members of Kartel's so called "Gaza empire" - the entertainer's fashion designer Calvin "Moonie" Hayes; Shawn "Shawn Storm" Campbell; Shane Williams, Andre St. John, alias "Mad Suss," were also arrested. Of the four accused, only Williams was found not guilty.

The Prosecution alleged that in August 2011, Mr. Williams was taken to Palmerís home in Havendale, St Andrew, where he was stabbed and beaten to death over two missing guns. Mr. Williams' body has not been found.

Kartel was so popular that police feared trouble from crowds of supporters who gathered for the verdict. THE police put sections of St Catherine, Kingston and St Andrew under close observation for any possible developments for days after the guilty verdict was announced.

Hours before the verdict, activities in sections of the commercial hub came to a virtual standstill as large crowds of Kartel supporters gathered on streets near the court shouting, "Free world boss", one of Kartel's monikers. Police increased their presence in the area as the crowd threatened to grow unruly and on two occasions appeared ready to throw debris at the cops.

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Rihanna blames accountant in lawsuit for losing US$9 million

Barbadian pop-singing sensation, Rihanna, has blamed her New York accountant for losing US$9 million in 2009. In new court papers filed in Manhattan Federal court and disclosed in media reports here on Thursday, Rihanna, 25, whose real name is Robyn Fenty, claims that she had US$11 million in cash when 2009 began and just US$2 million when it ended, blaming her former accountant at the Manhattan firm of Berdon LLP for the loss. The pop star claims that accountant Peter Gounis, of Berdon LLP, recommended she purchase a US$7.5 million Beverly Hills, California mansion in 2009. Rihanna has since bounced back financially and is now worth around US$43 million

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Bob Marley estate still makes millions every year

Even though Bob Marley, the late reggae music icon, died more than 30 years ago, his estate continues to make millions. He was named last year by Forbes magazine as the fifth top earning dead celebrity. He is actually the only Caribbean artist to grace a Forbes list, which is mostly dominated by North Americans and Britons.

Reportedly, Marley's estimated net worth is around $130 million dollars. His final album, a compilation entitled "Legend" was released in 1984, three years after he died from cancer at the young age of 36. That album is the top selling reggae album of all time, and has been certified, not Gold or Platinum, but Diamond. Combined, Marley has sold more than 75 million albums in the past 20 years alone.

Since it's release in 1984, Bob Marley's "Legend" album continues to sell more than 250,000 copies every single year. Nowadays, much of his music is sold via iTunes and other digital retailers. And tons of his songs are bought around the time of his birthday every February 6th due to a smart annual campaign launched by his estate called "Bob Marley Week". Believe it or not, but millions of fans all around the world celebrate this special week dedicated to Bob Marley.

 


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