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T&T Soca Warriors head for Germany
There is great joy for Trinibagonians and most Caribbean peoples at home and abroad. The T&T Soca Warriors are heading for Germany thanks to the heading of Dennis Lawrence to score the only goal of the return match against Bahrain. The 1-0 T&T victory after Bahrain tied T&T in Port-of-Spain in the previous game, clinched the last spot for the World Cup finals in Germany next year.
As soon as the final whistle blew, Trinidadians clad in their national colors - red, white and black - took to the streets of the capital, Port-of-Spain, jumping and screaming, while others cried over their first entry to the World Cup. Thousands of people left work and were celebrating on nearly every street corner in the capital, waving their country's flag. Motorists punctuated the carnival-like atmosphere by blowing their horns. Prime Minister Patrick Manning declared Nov 17 a national holiday in celebration of the victory.
Bahrain earlier beat Uzbekistan in an Asian playoff, while Trinidad finished fourth in the final CONCACAF qualifying group from which the United States made the tournament. It is the first time CONCACAF has four teams in the World Cup.
Trinidad, with a population of 1.3 million, will be the least populated country at next year's World Cup in Germany. Other Caribbean teams to make the tournament were Cuba in 1938, Haiti in 1974 and Jamaica in 1998.
Poverty level plunges 50% in Jamaica
Good news is ordinarily hard to find in Jamaica these days. However this news sounds too good to be true. Poverty in Jamaica has declined by more than 50%! Government expenditure of over $42 billion has been credited for the over 50 per cent decline in poverty since 1992, according to Dr. Jaslin Salmon, national coordinator for the Poverty Eradication Programme in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM). The poverty level for 2004 stood at 16.9 per cent, declining by more than half from 35.2 per cent in 1992, Dr. Salmon pointed out, quoting from the Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions Report.
The OPM official argued that the phenomenal growth in the informal economy, the impact of activities in the National Poverty Eradication Program (NPEP) and Government policy contributed to the significant decline in poverty. He said the Government's poverty eradication program was based on four guiding principles - the integration of agencies and projects, partnerships, community-based participation and sustainability through environmental protection and ownership by the community.
Dr. Salmon disclosed that between 1995 and 2000 Government spent over $15 billion on poverty alleviation programs, a period which saw the most dramatic decline in the country's poverty level. He noted that $6 billion has been earmarked for this financial year, making it the single largest allocation for poverty allocation in any given year.
T&T slaps terrorism charge on Abu Bakr
FORMER leader of the coup to overthrow the government of Trinidad and Tobago many years ago, Imam Yasin Abu Bakr, has been slapped with a terrorism charge that could put him behind bars for 25 years if convicted. Using the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act for the first time since it became law on September 13, Director of Public Prosecutions Geoffrey Henderson directed that the leader of the Jamaat al Muslimeen be charged with committing a terrorist act.
The 64-year-old, Abu Bakr, was charged on seven other criminal charges- one charge of sedition, three of incitement and three weapon related offences. He is charged with two of his followers, Tahir Ali and Oluyemi Abdul Basit, for possession of a sniper's rifle, 596 rounds of 5.56 ammunition and a hand grenade.
The new charge alleges that Abu Bakr, during his November 4 Eid-ul-Fitr sermon at the Mucurapo Road mosque directed his followers to engage in a war in which lives may be lost over the nonpayment of zakat from members of the Muslim community who are not members of the Jamaat al Muslimeen. In addition to these eight charges, he is awaiting a retrial in the High Court on a charge of conspiracy to murder two expelled members of his organisation.
Chavez ‘PetroCaribe’ deal for Mass., Haiti hesitates
The agreement gives President Hugo Chavez's government standing as a provider of heating assistance to poor U.S. residents at a time when U.S. oil companies have been reluctant to do so and Congress has failed to expand aid in response to rising oil prices.
The two nonprofit organizations will screen recipients for financial need and cooperate with oil distributors that will make discounted deliveries to qualifying homes and institutions, such as homeless shelters and hospitals.
Chavez proposed offering fuel directly to poor U.S. communities during a visit to Cuba in August. He has said the aim is to bypass middlemen to reduce costs for the American poor — a group he argues has been severely neglected by Bush's government.
U.S. Rep. William Delahunt (news, bio, voting record), D-Mass., met with Chavez in August and helped broker the deal. He said his constituents' needs for heating assistance trump any political points the Chavez administration can score.
But Haiti hesitates
In September, the Collective began organizing demonstrations against the continued rises in fuel prices in Haiti. During October, the Collective kept up the pressure on the Latortue government issuing press releases demanding to know why Haiti was one of the only Caribbean countries not taking advantage of the Venezuelan PetroCaribe offer. Now it appears as though the pressure applied by the Collective to Mobilize has paid off. Recent reports in the Haitian media state that Haiti has finally begun negotiations to join PetroCaribe.
Gas strike chaos in Jamaica
Chaos reigned at gas stations all over Jamaica as long lines of motorists tried desperately to fill their tanks before a two-day strike threatened by the Jamaica Gasolene Retailers Association (JGRA) took effect. The JGRA called for the islandwide lockdown of all gas stations today and tomorrow as it intensified its protest action against the pricing strategy being used by Esso Standard Oil Company. The retailers say ESSO's pricing strategy has reduced their profit margins from 8.2 per cent to three per cent. The JGRA argued that retailers receive about $4.50 for each gallon of fuel sold, while ESSO earns between $35 and $40 on each gallon sold to the retailer.
There was a run on gas stations in the Corporate Area, Falmouth, Trelawny, and Montego Bay, St. James, causing huge traffic pile-ups. In the Corporate Area police were called in to guard and restore order at the Total gas station near National Heroes Circle. In Montego Bay, some taxi operators withdrew service.
The state-owned Petroleum Company (PETCOM), which operates just over 20 petrol stations, said some of its stations would remain open. However, the company was unable to say exactly which locations.
Fortunately, the islandwide lockdown of service stations was averted at the 11th hour. This followed an agreement reached during an intense late night meeting called by Labour Minister Horace Dalley on the eve of the strike.
Shocking crime statistics for Jamaican schools
The National Youth policy has provided some really shocking statistics about crime in Jamaican schools. According to these statistics:
‘Soda Nationalism’ loses out in Mexico
We have had the ‘Cola wars here in America between Coke and Pepsi. But, this time, these two antagonists joined forces in Mexico to defeat the local Pascual Cooperative, a bottler specializing in Mexico's traditional fruit-flavored and fruit-based soft drinks. The Mexican company sought special trade protection from the onslaught from Coke and Pepsi, by claiming that the preservation of their traditional soft drink constituted a matter of national interest. They took the matter all the way to the Mexican Supreme Court. They lost by 11-1.
The decision will force Pascual Cooperative to turn over lands that the Mexico City government had expropriated in 2003 and given to the cooperative to help it continue producing its mango, tamarind and guava-flavor drinks. The debate in the court was fierce, with one justice questioning whether Mexico should hand over its soft drink market to multinationals and colas.
Critics of the decision predict that only Coke and Pepsi will remain in Mexico City. Coca-Cola — whose soft drink market share hovers around 70 percent, and Pepsi, with around 20 percent — continue to steadily edge out Mexican brands. The stakes are high here: Mexicans, per capita, consume more soft drinks annually than anyone else in the world, and if current trends continue, soon they may be drinking almost exclusively foreign sodas.
"Pascual products are part of Mexican culture," said Emmanuel D'Herrera, an activist who led an unsuccessful 2004 battle against the building of a Wal-Mart subsidiary store near the ancient ruins of Teotihuacan. "We need a sense of nationalism in this. The advocates of globalization are trying to strip away everything that identifies us as Mexican."
Compensation for bird flu losses in T&T
T&T government will provide adequate compensation to poultry farmers in cases where flocks are destroyed on suspicion of bird flu. Dr Lisa Musai from the Ministry of Agriculture said that a fair sum was paid to a farmer who suffered heavy losses last year. She outlined the work that was done at a poultry farm in central Trinidad where 17,000 birds were killed and said that the compensation was more than what was paid in other countries. She reported that farm infection had cost Government $88,000.
Senior technicians were sent to the US for training on the detection of avian influenza and diagnostic kits have been brought in to conduct surveillance for any strains of the diseases. It is estimated that that there was sufficient medication for 25 per cent of the chicken population. The drug "Tamiflu" used in the fight against the disease cost T&T$400 for a packet of ten tablets.
Shell sells off gas stations in Jamaica
Multinational petroleum company Shell yesterday announced the sale of its 56 service stations in Jamaica to Cool Petroleum Holdings Limited, which is jointly owned by the Joe Issa-led Cool Corp. Limited and Trinidad-based Neal & Massy Industrial Gas Holdings Limited.
Under the agreement, to be completed by year-end, Cool Petroleum Holdings will purchase not only Shell gas stations but also Shell's retail, commercial fuel, lubricants, liquefied petroleum gas and chemicals businesses, and the main distribution depot at Rockfort in Kingston. "The Shell brand stays in Jamaica. We have got a long-term agreement to keep the Shell brand on our service stations in Jamaica," according to Roger Bryan, Shell's country chairman for Jamaica.
Cool Corporation CEO is Joe Issa who considers the acquisition a good move towards increasing Jamaican ownership of a major product. The Cool Group of Companies was founded 10 years ago and has more than 400 employees with annual sales of US$100 million. It’s partner in the venture, the Neal & Massy Group is a conglomerate operating in most of the English-speaking Caribbean. It has a staff complement of 4,000 with more than US$600 million in sales.
Mexico and Venezuela recall envoys
Mexico and Venezuela pulled their ambassadors from each other's capitals Monday after the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez refused to apologize for belittling Mexican President Vicente Fox. Chavez, a frequent critic of U.S. foreign policy, called Fox "the puppy" of the Bush administration. When the Mexican government announced that it would expel the Venezuelan ambassador here if the Chavez government did not apologize within 24 hours, Venezuela responded by ordering its own ambassador home.
The two countries fell short of breaking off diplomatic ties, leaving room for compromise. In the meantime, relations will be handled by commercial attaches, officials on both sides said. The presidents of Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela have assailed U.S. trade and monetary policies, which they say contribute to poverty in Latin America. But Fox and most Central American leaders have sought more relaxed trade ties with the United States.
Letter from group helping Jamaica basic schools
If our name could be added to your list, we would be obliged.
Best regards and, please, continue the good work. .
Nelson W. Keith,
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