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
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---------------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.
A house for every family by 2019 in Venezuela
We in the Caribbean had better wise up. We look to America and Europe as our models for government, economics, and leadership role models. Right here in America, the media is full of talk about the ‘fiscal cliff’ and there is danger that many Americans could lose social security and Medicare benefits that they earned. What a disgrace that this is even considered. This government is not responsive to the needs of its citizens, especially the poor. What a contrast to Venezuela!
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has made a commitment that every Venezuelan family must have a dignified home by 2019 "whatever it costs". The declaration came as Chavez made a raft of new announcements regarding his government’s mass house building program, the Great Venezuelan Housing Mission (GMVV).
Launched last year, the program is an ambitious attempt by the Venezuelan government to construct over 3 million homes by 2019 to close the country’s housing deficit, measured at 3.7 families requiring new or improved housing in a 2011 national survey.
Chavez confirmed that 137,106 houses have been constructed so far under the mission this year, including 1,704 new houses handed over to Venezuelan families recently. In a televised meeting with ministers, he explained that there are 417,000 houses currently in construction across the country, and that a special program was being implemented to ensure 80,000 of those were finished by the end of the year.
The Chavez administration introduced price controls on cement in 2003 and nationalized the industry in 2008 in order to increase production and ensure supply for domestic construction needs. In part due to the GMVV, production has been rising sharply from 2010, when it was 7.1 million tons.
The Venezuelan government has invested of $1.3 billion in the cement industry, to construct new factories and production lines. This will increase Venezuela’s maximum production capacity of cement, from 9.1 million to 13 million tons annually, the first increase since the 1940s.
The Great Housing Mission is driving a boom in the Venezuelan construction industry, officials have confirmed, forming part of a general upswing in the economy.
T&T Groups demand the recall of NY Consul
Sixteen constituent member organizations of the Trinidad and Tobago Alliance (North America), have demanded the recall of the Consul General of T&T to New York for flagrant abuse of power.
The Alliance, in a resolution sent to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, is urging her to take immediate steps to recall Consul General Rudrawatee Nan Ramgoolam.
The groups also want the PM to "proceed with the necessary action" to have the eight former employees of the Consul General office in New York, USA, who were summarily dismissed from their jobs earlier this year, reinstated.
In a press release which accompanied the resolution, Raymond Luke, chairman of Sesame Flyers, a constituent member of the alliance, said he could not imagine being given a test that covered all departmental operations and then being told that "you failed and have ten minutes to leave the building."
The eight workers, some with service as much
as 23 years, were dismissed after they were given a "surprise"
written test, the release said.
The resolution states that:
They have also written to the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) to investigate the matter.
Casino gambling draws closer in Jamaica
ANOTHER STEP on the journey to have casinos operating in Jamaica has been taken when the Senate passed the casino gaming (application for declaration of approved integrated resort development) regulations. This paves the way for entities to apply for a license to establish an integrated gaming facility on the island.
But the snail's pace at which the Government has been moving to have casino gaming a reality in Jamaica drew criticism from two senators, who yesterday argued that the country was missing out on investments. The Casino Gaming Act was passed in 2010, two years before the regulations are being brought to Parliament.
Antigua PM wins UN Visionary Leadership Award
Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer has been awarded the South-South and Triangular Visionary Leadership Award. The Visionary Award is given annually to leaders from countries and institutions that focus primarily on the development of the global South who, through their actions, have placed the cooperative spirit center stage in international efforts to improve the human condition, according to an Antigua government statement.
The award ceremony was part of the five-day 5th Annual Global South-South Development (GSSD) Expo 2012 that ended November 23. This year’s Expo, a UN-sponsored forum, was attended by more than 30 organizations, agencies and institutional partners. It highlighted the dual themes of sustainable energy and climate change and showcase more than 30 practical, successful interventions in the field that have raised living standards and promoted sustainable growth and prosperity in developing countries.
LIAT Airlines in big financial trouble
Is another Caribbean airlines about to bite
the dust? LIAT’s newly-appointed chief executive officer, Captain Ian
Brunton, has described 35 percent of the airline’s 112 daily flights
as "social (uneconomic) routes".
Another airline to Guyana goes bust
Another low-cost carrier to Guyana, EZjet, has also been forced to drop its services to the South American country amidst the backdrop of a suspension of service by the U.S. Department of Transport and allegations of embezzlement by the company’s founder and chief executive officer.
EZjet began flying to the South American nation earlier this year and flew the New York to Guyana route before expanding to New York to Toronto. It fast became a welcomed alternative to pricey flights on Delta Airlines and Caribbean Airlines, the only two other carriers that serve the Guyana market from North America.
The sudden suspension of the EZjet service has left dozens of paid travelers on the Toronto and New York routes out in the cold and the Guyana government scrambling to get Caribbean Airlines to absorb the carrier’s passengers.
The EZjet website now connects to a press release that states that it has "suspended its operations due to financial hardship created by its vendors and agents owing EZJet as well as some mismanagement."
Puerto Rico votes for statehood
Sixty one % of Puerto Rican voters favored seeking statehood, while 33 percent supported becoming an "associated free state." 6 percent backed independence.
Still, the ultimate impact of the vote remains unclear. Voters ousted Gov. Luis Fortuño, who is affiliated with the Republican Party and Puerto Rico’s pro-statehood New Progressive Party, in favor of Commonwealth Sen. Alejandro García Padilla, D/PDP-At Large, whose Popular Democratic Party has favored a greater degree of autonomy for Puerto Rico.
The vote was not without its critics. Opponents of statehood pointed out that 450,000 voters chose not to vote on the second ballot question. They suggested that those who favored retaining commonwealth status may have chosen not to vote on the second ballot. "This represents an overwhelming majority against statehood," said Luis Delgado Rodriguez, who opposes statehood.
The status of Puerto Rico has been a contentious issue in the commonwealth since the United States took over the island colony from Spain at the end of the Spanish-American War. For half a century, the United States ruled Puerto Rico via an appointed military governor, until finally granting the commonwealth the right to choose its own governor in 1947.
Puerto Rico has held three previous plebiscites since seeking to gauge support for a change in status. In 1967, voters overwhelmingly backed the current "commonwealth" association. That status was narrowly reaffirmed in 1993. In 1998, voters backed "none of the above" over all options on the ballot, including commonwealth, statehood and independence.
That vote signals a problem for Republicans
— Puerto Rico tends to lean Democratic. If it became a state, Puerto
Rico would gain two Senators. Puerto Rico has a larger population than
Connecticut, which currently sends five members to the House of
Representatives — meaning that Puerto Rico could have 7 electoral
votes that lean Democratic.
55% of J'cans have Internet access
The latest report on Internet saturation
across the Caribbean indicates that about 55 per cent of Jamaicans are
using or have access to the Internet. This places Jamaica in fourth
place in the Caribbean, bettered only by the Dominican Republic, Cuba
and Puerto Rico. The survey, conducted by Internet World Stats,
provided statistics up to December 2011.
PNP wins Turks and Caicos elections
Democracy has returned. Saturday November 10, 2012: The Progressive National Party has returned to the governance in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Preliminary figures show that the PNP, headed by Dr. Rufus Ewing, won six of the 10 electoral districts. The main challenger, the People’s Democratic Movement, headed by a former premier, Oswald Skipping, won the other four districts.
The figures show that overall, the PNP secured 6,293 votes or 49.13 per cent while the PDM tallied 6, 191 or 48.3 per cent of the popular votes.
The win came three years after the PNP was removed from office at the height of a corruption scandal that involved then Premier Michael Misick.
Haitian elected to New York State Assembly
Michaelle Solages, from Nassau County’s 22nd district, has become the first person of Haitian descent elected to the New York State Assembly, according to the Haitian Times. He is a former photojournalist and a life-long resident of Elmont, New York, who considered a run when the newly created district opened up because of redistricting. She is the sister of Nassau County Legislator Carrié Solages, who was elected to his seat last year.
Solages is a graduate of H. Frank Carey High School located in Franklin Square, New York and continued her education at Hofstra University where she earned a B.S. degree in Athletic Training.
Ja-IMF deal a mistake, says B'dos' finance minister
Christopher Sinckler, Barbados' minister of finance and economic affairs, thinks Jamaica is making a mistake by seeking to extend its relationship with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) based on its history of failure to manage austerity measures which the fund demands.
"It is about 47 years that Jamaica has been involved with the IMF's structural adjustment programme and all of those programmes have had one particular policy option based on austerity, cut tax and obliterate," said Sinckler, "I think that as a region, we need to have our best intellectuals put together a real strategic fiscal and financial economic programme for the region that involves not just austerity packages, but to also identify growth opportunities," he said.
"What has been happening, like Europe, we are constantly being told, you need to take this diet of austerity and do it now, and the result has been the depressing of economies and I am saying that CARICOM with its network of regional institutions must come up with a model that builds our resilience. The paradigm has to shift in the way both we and the IMF see our economies," added Sinckler.
Snoop Dogg founds project to help poor Jamaican children
Rapper Snoop Lion, whose many visits to Jamaica
inspired his name change from Snoop Dogg, has partnered with Causes.com
and Reed’s Ginger Brew to establish "The Mind Gardens
Project", which aims to help feed children in the country’s inner
Haiti launches tax-collection project
Two Haitian cities and the development arm of the United States government have launched a tax-collection system that they hope to replicate in municipalities throughout the impoverished Caribbean nation. Noel Bauer, the Haiti rural development and governance officer for USAID, said in a telephone interview that a tax-collection effort in the densely packed city of Carrefour generated significant revenue. So far:
People in Haiti have long been reluctant to pay taxes because there's little trust in a government that many see as corrupt and self-serving. At the same time, the cash-strapped government doesn't have the resources to provide basic services such as trash pickup, potable water or free education.
Carrefour plans to use the new revenue to construct four footbridges and two schools, pave a stretch of a road, build two cisterns, dredge canals, and replace broken sewer grates, USAID said.
Jamaica water company loses billions to theft, leaks, etc.
With significant losses amounting to J$2.1 billion as at October 2012, Jamaica's National Water Commission (NWC), which is collecting only 32 per cent revenue from the water piped to local consumers, is planning to make an application for a rate increase.
The NWC had projected losses totalling J$631 million as at October 2012 for the current financial year. Last year, the comission recorded losses amounting to nearly J$3 billion.
NWC officials admitted yesterday that the commission was not collecting revenue for 68 per cent of the precious commodity produced, but noted that the figure was trending down.
Garth Jackson, vice-president of engineering and project delivery at the commission, told yesterday's sitting of Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) that 34 per cent of the water piped was lost to leakage. He said a similar percentage was spread across a range of avenues of revenue loss, including illegal connections.
Jamaica utility Co. to refund millions
The Jamaica Public Service Company says it is currently distributing more than J$84 million in annual interest payments and deposit refunds to customers whose accounts are up to date. The JPS indicated that customers would receive payments on the security deposits on their electricity accounts between November and December.
"Although security deposits are required by all utility providers, JPS is the only company that currently pays interest on these deposits. The interest, which is linked to Treasury bill rates, is reflected as a separate line item on customers' bills," the JPS said.
JPS Corporate Relations Manager Winsome Callum told The Gleaner that residential customers were required to pay a deposit of J$1,500 on signing a contract while business customers were asked to pay J$6,000.
Ship spills 3,000 gallons of oil in The Bahamas
Roughly 3,000 gallons (11,355 liters) of oil have spilled into the ocean from a cargo ship accident in the northern Bahamas, government officials reported.
At a news conference, Environment Minister Kenred Dorsett said crews were able to recover a portion of the oily water off Grand Bahama island but he did not provide any specifics of how much. He said chemical dispersants that break up oil were not used out of concern for its effect on marine life.
Dorsett said the worst of the oily mess would be dispersed naturally through wave action and tides.
Bahamian authorities have described the accident as a "tier-one spill," the smallest kind.
Still, the islands' government expects to notify the United States about the spill off Grand Bahama, the northernmost island in the archipelago off the eastern coast of Florida. Grand Bahama, about 55 miles from the mainland, is The Bahamas' closest island to Florida.
After a Tuesday helicopter flight over the damaged vessel, government officials said they saw an oily sheen coming from the damaged container ship and it was apparently heading toward the Florida Straits. On a second observation flight Wednesday, Bahamian environmental official Dwyane Curtis said they did not see evidence of "any residual fuel in the area".
The islands are investigating what caused the hull breach in the Panamanian-flagged cargo ship Eugenia. The vessel is owned by Swiss-based Mediterranean Shipping Co.
The Bahamas National Trust, manager of the islands' national parks, said it is monitoring the situation.
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