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Jamaica PM to quit February 25, 2006
Jamaica Prime Minister P. J. Patterson has announced the exact date of his resignation as Prime Minister of Jamaica. It is February 25, 2006, only days away. To his credit he is stepping down voluntarily while he is on top, as compared to most other leaders who reluctantly leave office kicking and screaming even if it’s obvious that their time is up. The battle to succeed him has been waging for many months now since he announced his intention to step down.
Mrs. Portia Simpson-Miller, Minister of Local Government,
Community Development & Sports.
Dr. Omar Davies, Minister of Finance and Planning
Dr. Peter Phillips, Minister of National Security
Dr. Karl Blythe, former Water and Housing Minister.
Rain wreaks havoc on Caribbean
Rain, rain, go away. But, it wouldn’t. Little Johnny could not get to play, but also houses were flooded, crops and livestock destroyed, business was disrupted as rain inundated different Caribbean countries.
The Moneague area, comprising several small districts, was last subsumed by rising waters from the lake there in 1933. Then the community was cut off for two months, after which life went back to normal. Now, after 6 months the water is still rising and will things ever get back to normal?
Students have to be ferried across to school and other major changes have become necessary. But, in the midst of the residents’ distress, the area has become a popular tourist attraction, drawing carloads of onlookers from all over the country especially on Sundays. A flourishing industry has sprung up, with vendors from near and far, selling a variety of products from food, to hand bags and lingerie. Boats ferry visitors across the new lake. There are traffic jams along the narrow car-lined road. Officials warn that the water is unsafe and badly contaminated by raw sewage which has seeped in from pit toilets.
The frequency of flooding in Montego Bayis blamed on the drains in and around the city which have become inadequate as a result of the planned and unplanned developments taking place in the outskirts of Montego Bay. In November last year, members of the Montego Bay Fire Department and the police had to be called in to rescue persons trapped in several buildings following flooding in the downtown area.
Trinidad & Tobago
Haiti elections loom
February 7th is the date. Haiti's interim government has yielded to international pressure and advanced the date set for national elections, setting February 7, 2006 for an initial electoral round, with follow-up voting in March. Originally slated for January 8, the election was postponed for the fourth time since November when government officials said preparations were far from complete.
After international criticism, the provisional government announced that round two of the Caribbean country's presidential and parliamentary elections had been rescheduled for March 19. Local elections have been set for April 30.
Preparations for the balloting also have been mired in disarray. Many of Haiti's 3.5 million registered voters have not received their electoral identification cards, while officials have yet to determine the location of the 800 voting offices and the make-up of electoral observer teams. International officials have said the planned voting date allows sufficient time for final election preparations, including time to distribute voter ID cards and train poll workers.
Violence has rocked Haiti since former president Jean Bertrand Aristide was removed and kidnapped by US forces on February 29, 2004. A total of 34 candidates are running for president, and some 1,300 are competing for 130 seats in the legislature. The new president is due to take office on March 29.
Father Jean-Juste released from Haitian prison
Haitian priest and political opposition figure Gerard Jean-Juste has finally been released from prison in Haiti, where he has been held on trumped-up charges since last July. After two US doctors examined him and said he had leukemia, he was released Sunday, January 29, 2006 in Port-au-Prince to seek treatment. He flew to Miami where he was admitted in hospital there for treatment of leukemia and pneumonia.
A confidant of former president Jean Bertrand Aristide, Father Jean-Juste was greeted like a hero by local Haitian expatriates when he emerged from his flight in Miami's international airport. Father Jean-Juste, whose candidacy in the upcoming presidential election was rejected by the country's elections commission, promised to return to Haiti.
Former US ambassador reveals US duplicity in Haiti
A former United States ambassador to Haiti has charged that mixed
signals from Washington helped tilt Haiti towards chaos. Brian Dean Curry,
who was ambassador up to the waning days of the presidency of
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, said in a published report that the United States
often spoke with two contradictory voices in a country where its words
carry enormous weight. Mr. Curry said the mixed message made efforts to
foster political peace "immeasurably more difficult".
T&T to increase LNG sales to the US
Did you know that T&T is the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the US? Besides, those sales are about to increase. T&T is set to boost LNG production yet again, increasing the country’s total LNG output to 15 million metric tons or 720 billion cubic feet (bcf) per year. Atlantic LNG Company of Trinidad and Tobago has announced that its Train 4 facility, one of the world’s largest gas liquefaction trains has begun start-up activities in South Trinidad. This increased capacity is some sixty percent (60%) more than the total amount of LNG that Atlantic exported to the United States in 2004.
T&T signs multi million dollar deal with China
In a historic deal which could revolutionize industry in Trinidad and Tobago, the government has signed a multi-million dollar deal agreement with China. The deal would set up of three steel manufacturing plants in Trinidad. This agreement was signed based on the product output of a newly-established company in Port of Spain, Alutrint Limited, which is an aluminum smelter plant, and the China-based National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation (CEMEC).
This, it is hoped, would effectively shift the island’s dependence away from oil and gas and further fuel economic growth. As a result, three steel manufacturing companies will be created, an automotive parts and car wheel plant, a rod mill and a barbed wire and cable company. The new multi-million dollar aluminum smelter deal with China could also mean the creation of an economic platform for Trinidad producing products for use in aircraft.
The wider Caribbean region will also benefit in that the aluminum smelter plants would be sourcing bauxite from Guyana, Suriname and Jamaica, which is essential for operation. This economic activity is expected to further boost Trinidad and Tobago’s trade capacity within Caricom, a trade capacity, which already stands at some 80%.
Jamaica's bauxite/alumina production best since 1974
IT WAS a record year for bauxite production despite the challenges which the active hurricane season presented to the bauxite and alumina industry in 2005, according to the Jamaica Bauxite Institute.
Total bauxite production hit a record 14.1 million tons, based on data compiled by the Institute. Representing crude bauxite produced for export and bauxite refined locally into alumina, this was an increase of six per cent over the same period last year.
Gross revenues are on course for a 10 per cent increase to somewhere in the order of US$960 million amid spiraling costs for key inputs such as fuel and caustic soda.
Total production for 2005 was eclipsed only by production in the year 1974. However, whereas in 1974 crude bauxite (roughly eight million tons) accounted for 53 per cent of total bauxite production (and alumina for 47 per cent), in 2005 approximately 72 per cent of total bauxite production was in the form of higher value-added alumina. For more details, see the table below:
Weather problems dogged the industry in 2005. In late September a severe weather system triggered heavy bolts of lightning that caused the powerhouse at Jamalco to temporarily trip out, resulting in the loss of about 9,000 tons of alumina. This was further exacerbated by a production loss, also at Jamalco, of roughly 11, 000 tons of alumina attributable to a power outage in late October caused by torrential rains associated with tropical storm Wilma.
Bad weather is also to be blamed for an estimated 400,000 tons of crude bauxite that would otherwise have been mined by St. Ann Bauxite Limited.
World alumina production increased by 4.6 per cent in 2005 to 60.6 million tons, with much of the demand originating from China, the Institute stated. World consumption stood at 61 million tons, a 5.9 per cent increase over last year.
Former Caribbean farm workers seek millions in back pay
About 1,000 migrants who worked on sugar plantations in the US during the 1980's and 1990's are seeking millions of dollars in back wages from a Florida-based company. The workers are from Jamaica, Barbados, Grenada, St Vincent, St. Lucia and Dominica .
Greg Shell, an attorney with the Florida Legal Aid Project for Farm Workers is handling the case against Florida Crystals Farms. The attorney says the workers have a valid case. The company discontinued the farm work program ten years ago and converted to a mechanized system of harvesting, following media pressure to begin paying the workers the correct wages. Mr. Shell says if successful the claim could amount to over 20 million US dollars. A spokesman for Florida Crystals Farms has denied the claims that workers were underpaid and says the company will be defending the suit.
Grants Pen Police station, community complex
It is no ordinary police station. It is much more. It is the brand new Model Community Policing and Services Center combined with the Edna Manley Health Center in Grants Pen, Jamaica. The police station, together with its on-site health center, post office, Internet cafe, Paymaster outlet and automated teller machine, besides funding from the U.S. and Jamaican governments, was built with private sector funding, including $50 million from the National Commercial Bank (NCB). The health center, built with $74.5 million from the National Health Fund (NHF), was the first to be financed by the fund.
The complex was constructed following lobbying from the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM), which attracted private and public sector donors, as well as involving United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The USAID invested US$3.5 million in the Grants Pen Community Policing Initiative. The Jamaica government has approved the construction of similar complexes, given the availability of suitable donors.
Jamaica police organization demand public apology from judge
Even worse than comedian Rodney Dangerfield, Jamaica police get no respect, especially special constables. A judge in the parish of St. Mary placed a special constable on duty in open court under arrest for the crime failing to call names out loudly enough to suit her. To add to the humiliation, when the police started to clear the court for the judge to address the special constable, the judge demanded that all persons in court should remain, making the humiliation a public issue. The judge is reported to have apologized privately but the Special Constabulary Association, quite rightly, are demanding a public apology.
Haiti’s interim PM visits Trinidad
Haiti's interim Prime Minister, Gerard Latortue, has made a three-day visit to Trinidad to hold high level talks with Prime Minister Patrick Manning. He was accompanied by Haiti's Ambassador to the Organization of American States, the Council of Relations with Caricom and his Chief of Protocol.
Latortue's visit comes ahead of the Caricom heads of government conference to be held in Port of Spain from February 9 and 10, at which regional leaders plan to discuss Haiti's future. The meeting also follows the first round of Presidential and Parliamentary elections due to be held in Haiti on February 7 after having been postponed at least four times.
Caricom heads had earlier taken a decision not to allow Haiti full membership within Caricom until its political situation and be settled. This follows continued political turmoil on the island that has escalated since the ousting of President Jean Bertrand-Aristide in February 2004. Whether or not the troubled Caribbean island will be allowed back into Caricom is also an issue which will be decided – a matter for the Caricom heads.
Barbados opposition leader bolts to the other side
Days after resigning from the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and sitting in the House of Assembly as an Independent MP, former Opposition Leader Clyde Mascoll has indicated he is almost certain he'll be joining the ruling Barbados Labour Party (BLP). The St. Michael Northwest MP says any move he makes will be in the interest of bettering Barbados because the country needs to come first.
Two T&T Ministers resign over bribery allegations
Two T&T Ministers of Government have resigned over bribery indictments from charges made by local government councilor, Dansam Dhamsook. The matter relates to securing government contracts for a company owned by Dhamsook. The offences are said to have been committed over the period January 2003 to July 2003. The two ex-ministers are Eric Williams, former Minister of Energy and Franklyn Khan, former Minister of Works and Transport. Both have maintained their innocence.
Since then, Prime Minister manning has named Dr. Lenny Saith as Minister of Energy. Dr. Saith is currently Minister of Public Administration and Information and will now have additional responsibilities for matters of energy. He is no stranger to the new post, having in the past acted as chairman of a government sub-committee on energy.
Cuban doctors pronounce T&T's PM in good health
Doctors in Cuba have given Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister Patrick Manning a clean bill of health following his 2-day visit to the island last week for a medical check up. According to medical sources the visit entailed checks on a pacemaker implant, which the Prime Minister underwent to regulate his heartbeat in October 2004.
Jamaican O’Neil Bell becomes world cruiserweight champ
Jamaican–born O’Neil Bell defeated Frenchman Jean-Marc Mormeck to capture the WBC/WBA/IBF cruiserweight championship by a 10th round KO. The 31 year-old "Super Nova" or "Give’em Hell Bell" entered the fight as a huge underdog. Bell has made a habit of coming from behind in title fights, doing so to defend his IBF title and now doing so against the favored Mormeck. Mormeck’s record is now 31 wins and 3 losses while new champion O’Neil’s is 26 wins, one loss and a draw.
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