UNDILUTED pays tribute to John Maxwell by featuring two previous columns by him from the Hot Calaloo UNDILUTED archives:
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held in Turkey as ISIS suspects
reported that nine Trinidadians are due to be deported after
authorities foiled a plan by a Syrian man to smuggle them from southern
Turkey to join ISIS in Syria.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi is assuring the
country that the men will be kept under strict surveillance when they were
sent back home, even as he indicated that evidence was being gathered to
determine what charges they could face.
to the Turkish media, police stopped a car in which the nine were
travelling and detained them and their Syrian driver on suspicion. Sources
told the media that initial investigations discovered the driver was
trying to take foreigners to be recruited by the terrorist organization,
ISIS, in Syria.
man was remanded in custody and the Trinidadians transferred to an
immigration centre for deportation.
told the newspapers that ISIS was listed in the local courts as an
internationally recognized terror group, and if any of the twin-island
republic’s citizens were found outside the country attempting to engage
with the group, the law would take effect.
vaccines effective in monkey
day after U.S. health officials announced an early start to a clinical
trial to test a Zika vaccine in humans, researchers reported in the
journal Science that three types of vaccines designed to block the virus
all worked to perfection in monkeys.
three experimental vaccines had already proved effective in mice, and
their success on rhesus monkeys is “raising optimism for the development
of a vaccine for humans,” the study authors wrote.
more than 50 countries and territories battling active
Zika outbreaks, the need for a vaccine is clear. Hundreds of thousands of
people have been infected.
most infections cause only mild symptoms at
best — including fever, rash, headache and joint or muscle pain — women
who contract the virus while pregnant fear that they will put their unborn
children at risk of microcephaly.
in worldwide Zika vaccine trials
will soon be participating in clinical trials to find a vaccine to treat
the mosquito-borne Zika Virus. Jamaica Minister of Health Dr. Christopher
Tufton says the island’s participation is part of an international study
and fight against Zika. The clinical trials are supported by the World
Health Organization (WHO).
is among some 65 countries fighting Zika. And the Health Minister
reiterated that the virus isn’t going anywhere in any hurry. The Zika
virus is new and there is no resistance. The immune system has not
experienced it and developed the capacity to fight against it.
mid-July, Jamaica has recorded 44 confirmed cases of the Zika virus, but
there are more than 3,000 suspected cases.
money adopted in Jamaica
Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) on Tuesday granted a license to the Jamaica
Co-operative Credit Union League (JCCUL) for Conec — the mobile wallet
payment service that will allow delivery on a full commercial basis.
Conec, which began with top-up services, balance enquiries and bill
payment, now includes person-to-person cash transfers and merchant
Mobile wallets are essentially digital versions of traditional wallets
that someone would carry in their pocket. So, with money deposited in
Conec, you can make electronic payments by cell phone instead of actual
The central bank’s approval in September 2013 for Phase 1 of the
project allowed JCCUL to offer limited services to customers of the credit
union movement. And, in August, 2014 the Central Bank issued an approval
to the JCCUL for a Phase 2 pilot, which allowed for an extended suite of
services to these customers.
Conec hosts major billing companies, including Jamaica Public Service,
National Water Commission, and telecoms companies Flow and Digice —
allowing almost 20,000 subscribers a way to pay their bills.
In accordance with BOJ regulations, users are allowed a wallet limit of
$50,000 only if a valid identification and tax registration number (TRN)
Tier two allows wallet transaction limit of $100,000 where the
subscriber requires a valid ID, TRN and proof of address. The final tier
allows a wallet size of $150,000 where the subscriber can provide a valid
ID, TRN, proof of address and proof of income.
Daily spending limits are different. Wallet users will have daily
transaction limits of $15,000 for tier one; $40,000 for tier two, and
$53,000 for tier three.
The JCCUL, in collaboration with its technology partner MOZIDO,
launched the mobile money service to be carried by JaMobile.
The company is planning to partner with international remittance
providers to enable Conec users to retrieve their remittance directly to
their wallet without having to commute to a traditional brick and mortar
remittance agent at a fraction of the cost.
Kitts company given OK to resume production of bottled water
In St. Kitts bottled water produced by
the local company, Island Purified Water was pulled off the shelves
recently amid concerns that tested samples had showed it to be
contaminated with fecal matters.
However a week later, health authorities have given the green light to
resume use of the
drinking water. A statement issued by the St Kitts and Nevis Bureau of
Standards noted that corrective measures had been taken to deal with the
“The corrective measures included, among other things, halting
production and disinfecting bottling lines and tanks. Following the
conclusion of these measures, the St Kitts and Nevis Bureau of Standards
conducted a series of testing and analysis to determine and establish the
sanitary quality of the water produced for bottling,” the statement
was not something in the water.
a statement issued a day after the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) sought
to dispel rumours that the deaths were linked to lead contamination from
new water meters, the ministry said preliminary reports indicate that the
recent deaths were linked to “the usual causes of sudden death in
Barbados and universally”.
ministry said there was no cause for alarm.
to autopsy reports, the majority of these deaths were the result of
non-communicable diseases which were either poorly-controlled,
undiagnosed, or untreated,” Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth
George said, identifying those problems as heart attack, stroke, brain
haemorrhage, acute pulmonary embolism (clotting in the lungs) and acute
Chief Medical Officer stated that available statistics revealed only a
slight increase in the number of sudden deaths in persons 60 years and
under so far this year compared to last year. Statistics available up to
June 16 this year showed 24 sudden deaths compared to 21 between January
and June 16 last year. For that period in 2015, 11 men and 10 women died
suddenly, while this year, the figures stand at 12 men and 12 women.
Chinese company takes over Alpart
bauxite mines from Russian Co. in Ja.
Alpart alumina refinery in Nain, St Elizabeth was recently acquired by
China-based Jiuquan Iron and Steel (Group) Company Ltd (JISCo) from
Russian mining company UC Rusal. The new company
should complete its takeover of the Alpart plant in Nain, St
Elizabeth, Jamaica, by November.
Transport and Mining Minister Lester ‘Mike’ Henry has stated that:
JISCo will utilise the
services of approximately 200 Chinese personnel at the site to carry out
major processing modification and capacity upgrading, for whom the
Government will consider short-term work permits.
It is expected that
approximately 700 jobs are to be created as early as October to November
The project will cost some US$2 billion, and should eventually create
3,000 new jobs within five years.
Major processing modification and capacity upgrading work will be
carried out on the plant, and the total first-phase investment will be up
to US$220 million.
of this upgrading includes a plan for a 1,000-megawatt coal-fired plant to
power the Alpart alumina refinery
Despitee an assurance that Government and JISCo would pay “great
attention to the environment and its protection”, the The Jamaica
Environment Trust (JET) strongly opposes a coal plant of this scale for
Jamaica due to the harm to human health and climate posed by coal-fired
JET contends that, “ The pollutants from coal-fired plants that pose
significant risks to human health are sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides,
mercury, and particulate matter,” it added “A modern coal-fired plant
emits 762 kilogrammes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per megawatt-hour of
electricity generated, if there is no CO2 capture. This plant alone would
emit roughly 6.7 million tons of CO2 per year, just over half of our 2025
target under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which we signed on
Earth Day 2016. Meeting our intended nationally determined contribution to
greenhouse gas emissions under this agreement would become virtually
impossible. Further, the planned energy matrix in the National Energy
Policy calls for only five per cent petcoke/coal,”
JET argued. It added that the scenario is “another case” of the
Government “ignoring its own policy documents” as it had strongly
touted renewables while pledging to reduce the country’s carbon
footprint in the National Energy Policy developed 2009.
Henry also gave an assurance that Government and JISCo would pay
“great attention to the environment and its protection”, which he said
are critical in the project construction and production processes.
CARICOM in renewable energy use
With renewables accounting for 28 per cent of
electricity generation, Dominica is the CARICOM member which consumes the
largest proportion of its energy from renewable sources, according to the
newly released ECLAC study ‘Barriers to Identification and
Implementation of Energy Efficiency Mechanisms and Enhancing Renewable
Energy Technologies in the Caribbean’.
the wake of the 2008-2011 financial crisis, and recognizing that its
dependency on fossil energy increased its vulnerability to supply and
price fluctuations, Dominica decided to pursue sustainable energy
strategies that support the promotion of energy efficiency and renewable
Dominica is at the forefront in the use of renewable sources of energy
among the OECS countries, having achieved 28 per cent of its present
electricity generation from hydropower and wind.
aims to become energy self-sufficient by 2020. As much as US$20
million in investments have already been made to develop the island’s
geothermal energy potential. Solar and wind energy sources also exhibit
high potential to satisfy this country’s energy needs.
new ECLAC study forms part of a series of reports on Sustainable Energy in
the Caribbean commissioned jointly with the German Federal Enterprise for
International Cooperation. According to the reports, countries that have
made the most efforts towards promoting energy efficiency – Jamaica
and St. Vincent and the Grenadines – have up to three policies
currently implemented, while six out of 16 countries are currently
considering new measures to promote efficiency in their energy sector.
Honduran bananas offer hope for Jamaica
varieties of banana developed by the Honduran Agricultural Research
Foundation (FHIA) are finding favour among local industry stakeholders.
varieties — which include the ‘Goldfinger’ (FHIA-01),
‘Sweetheart’ (FHIA-3) and ‘dwarf hybrid’ (FHIA-25) — are
renowned for being disease-resistant and more suitable for cooking and
processing into snacks.
are cooked within five minutes when boiled, remain soft after being cooled
and, as such, are marketed in their unripened state.
and market studies conducted in Jamaica and Honduras show that the new
varieties are deemed ideal for the production of chips and other value
dwarf hybrid is one of the popular varieties among local industry
is highly resistant to the Black Sigatoka fungus, which devastated
Jamaica’s banana crops in the past, as also the Panama Disease Â— a
soil pathogen that initially infects the root system before destroying the
director of Maroon’s Pride Banana Chips Factory in St James, Robert
Chambers, is one the stakeholders using the dwarf hybrid in the production
of the popular snack. He believes the FHIA varieties can be a local
industry game changers that serve to further strengthen Jamaica’s
you plant one FHIA banana tree it reproduces 10 times. While it will take
you approximately 14 months to get the first bunch of bananas, after that,
every six to eight months you will get successive bunches,” he explains.
contends that if the work being done to develop the varieties locally
continues, “I guarantee that, within a few years, we will be exporting
instead of importing bananas.”
electricity — grows in Jamaica
metering is a growing energy management tool in the utilities industry.
And now, Jamaicans are joining millions of consumers across the globe,
including parts of the Caribbean, who have the option of using a prepaid
metering system for their electricity consumption.
2014 when the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) introduced prepaid electricity
to Jamaica, over 600 residential and small business customers have been
enjoying savings of up to 40 per cent of the electricity costs they
incurred when they had a regular postpaid meter.
Landlords and owners of rental properties no longer absorb the debts of
their tenants. Community centres have successfully transferred the
responsibility of electricity costs to the users of their facilities.
Jamaicans who earn on an irregular basis can pay when they earn and
importantly, customers with prepaid meters have seen reduced costs by
simply taking control.
Today, customers in Kingston and St Andrew, St Catherine, Clarendon,
Manchester, St Elizabeth and St Thomas are enjoying the benefits of a
metering system which allows them to purchase what they need by matching
their consumption to their pockets.
Each qualifying customer receives a meter and a Customer Interface Unit
(CIU), with a keypad attached. Customers then purchase a prepaid
electricity voucher of any value at Bill Express, or online at myjpsco.com.
The 20-digit voucher number must then be entered into the CIU keypad. The
meter is immediately uploaded with the number of kilowatt-hours equivalent
to the dollar value of the purchase.
Once this is done, customers can monitor their electricity use by
calculating the kilowatt usage by the second, minute, hour or day.
Importantly, customers on the prepaid system are protected, since the
credit bought on each customer’s meter cannot be used on any other
meter. Also, in the event that the prepaid voucher is lost, the voucher
number can easily be retrieved from the text message sent to their phone,
or from the notification e-mail they would have received, or from the JPS
Customer Care Centre.
While prepaid metering has been working for individuals, the product
has also been rolled out by the Community Renewal Division and customer
service office, on a community basis, as part of the recently embraced
social partnership strategy to get customers back on the grid. The first
community to benefit from prepaid metering so far is McGregor Gardens,
where there have been slow but positive results.
The new meters allow consumers to monitor energy use in real time via
the display unit that is installed in the home. There is no bill at the
end of the month; therefore no disconnection, no fees, no deposits and
absolutely no cost to switch.
Prior to the engagement with Member of Parliament Julian Robinson,
fewer than 10 residents in the community were paying JPS customers. Today,
the partnership has seen close to 230 residents enjoying JPS prepaid
metering, with close to 50 per cent of residents purchasing electricity
So far, the 99 per cent prepaid customer retention rate and range of
customers who have embraced prepaid electricity demonstrate that prepaid
electricity is the ideal energy management solution for landlords,
community centres and sports venues. It is also an excellent option for
customers with income periods outside their JPS bill due dates, and
generally anyone who wants to manage their electricity consumption.
makes UK’s top 60 album list
late Reggae King Bob Marley has garnered another accolade, 35 years after
his death. In commemoration of 60 years of existence, the United
Kingdom’s Official Albums Chart has compiled its top 60 best-selling
albums of all time in Britain. Marley’s Legend, released in 1984 by
Island Records, has captured the number 16 slot.
This is not the first such recognition for this popular compilation
project by the late reggae act. Widely regarded as the best-selling reggae
album, with more than 15 million copies sold in the United States and an
estimated 25 million sold globally, Rolling Stone magazine in 2003 named Legend
among the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, placing it at number 46. The
album contains tracks which have become anthems for Marley.
Barbados’ pop princess Rihanna has claimed 13th
place on Forbes annual list of the world’s highest-paid celebrities,
coming in way behind first-placed Taylor Swift, but well ahead of such
entertainment heavyweights as Katy Perry and Calvin Harris.
Bajan superstar hauled-in a whopping US$75 million over the past year,
Forbes magazine disclosed on Monday. According to Forbes: “Though
Rihanna’s latest album, ‘Anti,’ has sold less than any No. 1 album
in history, the Barbados native is still topping the charts.
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