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Investment clubs in Jamaica promise bonanza but...
There is a slew of investment clubs in Jamaica which promise a bonanza of over 10% per month on investment and so far have been delivering on their promise. Tha't over 120% profit per year! How do they raise so much money? They say they do it by foreign currency trading. Traditional banks are upset as they see their bread and butter, savings account, moving away to these ‘clubs’. Banks have struck back raising all sorts of legal challenges.
Cash Plus is among the most visible of these institutions. They have mostly resisted attempts at regulation by Jamaica’s Financial Services Commission (FSC), arguing that they are private members clubs and outside the ambit of the regulator. More recently, though, Cash Plus has gone to court seeking a declaration on whether its activities would fall within the jurisdiction of the FSC or the Bank of Jamaica.
While another big foreign- exchange trading club, Olint, has gone to court to contest the FSC's regulatory authority over it.
The FSC indicated that its more aggressive stance against Cash Plus was driven by recent media stories about the founder of Cash Plus, Carlos Hill:
Cash Plus is no paper tiger. The five-year-old company in Jamaica, has built up an array of businesses in its expanding and diversified portfolio of companies. Hill operates in the telecoms, financial, shipping, hospitality, fuels/ chemicals, real estate and other sectors. He claims ownership of a number of other properties in the Corporate Area, including Priscilla's Nightclub. Its most recent acquisition is the prestigious Kingston Hilton Hotel. The hotel was purchased at a price of US$42 million (J$2.8 billion), and gives Cash Plus, already the owners of the Executive Inn hotels in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios and also the Golden Seas resort in Oracabessa, St. Mary, a sound footing in the island's hospitality sector. Even Jamaica’s premier soccer league is sponsored by them, beating out the established J. Wray & Nephew for that honor.
JLP win again in Jamaica
The ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is celebrating its second straight victory at the polls in just three months, its third in four years, having swept yesterday's local government elections.
At the end of the preliminary count last night, the JLP had won nine of the 13 parish councils, while the St. Ann Parish Council was declared a tie, with both the JLP and the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) winning eight divisions each in the 16-seat council. The PNP, which only won Westmoreland and Portmore in the 2003 elections before adding Portland, yesterday picked up Hanover and Manchester to go along with Westmoreland.
The PNP retained the Portmore municipality and George Lee, PNP, was returned as mayor. He defeated the JLP's Keith Hinds by a narrow margin of 27 votes.
Banco del Sur challenges World Bank, IMF
True relief for poor countries may be on the way. With as much as US$7 billion in expected start-up capital, backers say the Banco del Sur, or Bank of the South, will offer Latin American countries loans with fewer strings attached than those given by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund or the Inter-American Development Bank. The bank is the brainchild of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in response to the hobbling criteria like ‘structural adjustment’ those banks imposed on poor countries. The institution is one of several proposals under Chávez's ambitious call to unite Latin American countries in a "confederation of republics".
The leaders signed the "founding act" Sunday at a ceremony at Argentina's presidential palace hosted by President Nestor Kirchner and his wife, President-elect Cristina Fernandez, who takes office Monday. Venezuela, with South America's largest known oil reserves, is expected to be a leading financier along with Brazil.
Many consider it it a bold stroke for Latin America's financial independence. Officials say it will dispense loans for projects from road-building to anti-poverty programs and regional integration plans.
UWI opens fourth campus in Montego Bay, Jamaica
The new University of the West Indies Principal, Professor Gordon Shirley, has announced that the university will commence operation of its fourth campus, from a temporary site at the Chatwick Centre in Montego Bay, Jamaica, come the 2008 academic year. . He said the UWI saw the need to expand its academic programs to western Jamaica due to the large number of developments taking place in the northern end of the island.
The proposed permanent campus facility is to be sited on 25 acres of land at Irwin, St. James. The university has three other campuses in Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and in Kingston.
The new Montego bay campus will be offering full, three-year degree programs, and will be expanding in the second and third years.
In the words of Professor Shirley, "We have a larger population in the western end of Jamaica than we have in all of the eastern Caribbean, includingBarbados, which has a big university of its own, and we think it's time that we had a presence here, and that we offer programs that are particularly targeted at the needs of the community and the businesses here in western Jamaica."
Gay cruises ok to dock in Grenada
The Grenada Government yesterday has made it clear that it would not prevent several cruise ships carrying gay passengers from docking at Port St. George over the next few months. A statement from the Ministry of Tourism says there has been a negative fallout as a result of reports in the foreign press suggesting that the country was moving to ban gay cruises to the island.
Cruise liners Queen Mary 2 and Legend of the Seas have scheduled cruises with gay passengers to several Caribbean countries, including Grenada, in December, January, February and March.
Officials are particularly upset about a headline appearing in the online edition of the Toronto Star newspaper, which says 'Grenada considering ban on gay cruises'. This resulted in many cancellations at local hotels from a travelling world adverse to the homophobia which seems so prevalent in the Caribbean.
Crime Jamaica's worst problem
Jamaicans consider Crime and violence as the worst problem facing the island according to the finding of the most recent Gleaner-commissioned Bill Johnson poll which was done less than two weeks before local government elections. And for good reason. Over 1,400 people have been murdered in 11 months - over 350 of them since September. Among them have been four policemen murdered in the last week, including an assistant commissioner of police (ACP), Kameka, who was gunned down in Irish Town, St. Andrew.
Kameka became the most senior policeman to be murdered in Jamaica in recent memory when he was shot dead in the rustic community of Irish Town in St. Andrew on November 29. ACP Kameka had served the Jamaica Constabulary Force for 28 years and was the commander of the Area Four Police Division. Kameka's coffin was draped with the Jamaican flag, the cop's hat and sword resting neatly on top. He was buried with full honours atthe family plot in Haddo, Westmoreland.
The poll which surveyed 1,008 residents islandwide, and which was conducted on November 24 and 25, shows that close to three quarters of Jamaicans or 63 per cent feel crime and violence is the country's worst problem, seven per cent more than in August prior to the September 3 general election.
Similarly, more people think the country is going in the wrong direction, with 56 per cent sharing that feeling. At the same time, 15 per cent of Jamaicans are concerned about the rising cost of living and inflation, up from a mere three per cent in August. The price of basic food items such as flour and rice have skyrocketed in recent weeks. So too, the price of petrol, electricity, among other items.
PALS tackles trauma in Jamaican schools
PALS (Peace and Love in Schools) Jamaica is set to tackle a problem with which increasingly more school children are force to cope. They have launched their critical incident management intervention for select schools recently. The event took the form of a two-hour workshop for principals and select staff of the participating schools. The schools that comprise the pilot are August Town Primary, Denham Town Primary, Charlie Smith High School and Penwood High School. PALS is working in these schools under the IDB/Government of Jamaica's 'Citizen Security and Justice Program' (CSJP).
PALS is promoting the implementation of a critical incident management response plan as a key component of a school's overall safety plan. The plan is a proactive and direct way of planning for and managing critical incidents at school. The plan also speaks to the need for programs that generate compliant student behaviour.
Guided by the principles espoused in the 'Critical Incident Management Guidelines' manual, schools will be able to effectively manage crises, including those generated by crime and violence - fights with and without weapons, shootings, gang activity; rape; kidnappings, suicide; facility emergencies; and, weather events like flood and hurricanes.
In a crisis, a core objective is to ensure the school establishes early control, disruption is minimised, and recovery is as quick as possible.
Dominica government to ban toy guns
The Dominica government says this could be the last Christmas toys guns are legally sold here as Parliament will move to outlaw them early in the New Year. Minister of National Security Rayburn Blackmoore said legislation to ban the sale and use of toy guns is coming next year and at least one opposition legislator said the move will have his full backing. There have been reports of burglaries and threats using toy guns which sometimes look like authentic firearms.
Civil servants in Nevis and Antigua benefit
Both Nevis and Antigua deserve special commendation for voluntarily raising salaries of civil servants. Elsewhere in the world it seems civil servants are always the first to have their salaries frozen and the last to receive raises.
In Nevis, Premier of Nevis and Minister of Finance in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) Joseph Parry, confirmed that all civil servants on Nevis would benefit from a five percent salary increase and would receive retroactive pay from January 1, 2007.
In Antigua, a rare phenomenon occurred. A budget surplus! Antigua Finance Minister Dr. Errol Cort on Monday responded to the anticipated surplus by increasing civil servants pay and decreasing taxes. The tax rate of about 15% will be reduced to 10%.
Specifically, workers earning between EC$4,000 and EC$6,000 will be taxed at 10 per cent down from 15 per cent while those earning between EC$6,000 and EC$8000 will pay income tax of 12.5 per cent. (US$1 is equivalent to about EC$2.67). Essentially, the two income groups will pay 17 to 33 per cent less tax.
Antigua's 2008 budget projects recurrent spending of EC$792 million while revenue and transfers are expected to reach EC$810 million, for a net gain of EC$18 million.
Jamaica CSEC results alarmingly dismal
According to an analysis of the 2007 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) results, conducted by Dr. Ralph Thompson, education advocate and businessman, 89 per cent of students in non-traditional high schools failed English language, while 37 per cent of their peers in traditional high schools also failed the subject. The CSEC is a Caribbean-wide school leaving exam.
According to Dr. Thompson:
When Dr. Thompson ranked traditional schools based on their performance in the two core subjects, Wolmer's High School for girls came out on top for English Language, while Campion College topped the chart for mathematics. Notably, seven of the schools in the top 10 for English were all girls institutions. Five of the 10 schools in the top 10 for mathematics were also all-girls institutions. Traditional all-boys high schools such as Kingston College, St. George's College, Munro, Jamaica College and Cornwall College did not make it in the top 10 for either subject. Wolmer's High School for Boys was the only all-boys institution that made it in the top 10.
TOP TEN TRADITIONAL SECONDARY SCHOOLS
Studies show brain drain hurting Jamaica
According to senior University of the West Indies (UWI) lecturer, Keirh Nurse's Policy Paper entitled 'Diaspora, Migration and Development in the Caribbean'.
A major concern is that the continued brain-drain robs a country of much needed skilled and academic labor, required for nation building; destroys families and strips a people of its pride and confidence.
Tropical storm Olga takes at least 14 lives
Almost two weeks after the Atlantic hurricane season officially ended and even though it is rare for tropical storms to form after the November 30 end of the six-month season, along came tropical storm Olga. It never made it to hurricane status but it left behind at least 14 dead in its wake.
Olga was the 15th named storm to form in the Atlantic this year. Six of the storms became hurricanes, including two that hit land with rare fury, reaching the topmost intensity five with maximum sustained winds of more than 155 miles per hour.
Debt cancellation delay will hurt Haiti again
Delays in debt cancellation threaten to cost millions in urgently
needed funds, and Haiti would benefit from immediate debt relief instead,
according to a new paper from the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
Bob Marley and sons top reggae charts for 2007
More than 26 years after his death, Bob Marley continues to rule the reggae roost. His album "Forever Bob Marley "topped Billboard's year-end Top Reggae Albums chart. He also captured the number 9 position with "Africa Unite: The Singles Collection".
Right behind him in the 2nd and 3rd position were two of his sons. Stephen captured number 2 with "Mind Control". Damian Marley copped 3rd with "Welcome to Jamrock".
For the second year in a row, New Yorker Matisyahu tops the Reggae Artists chart, continuing to garner new fans with his mix of hip-hop and reggae, as well as his lyrics about his Hasidic Jewish background. His three albums, "Youth" , "No Place to Be" and "Live at Stubb's" are Nos. 5, 6 and 11, respectively, on the Top Reggae Albums chart.
Haitian hip-hop star Wyclef Jean in concert in Haiti
World-famous Haitian hip-hop star Wyclef Jean has given an
open-air concert near Port-au-Prince's presidential palace, along with
Senegalese-American singer Akon. Named Haiti's goodwill ambassador by
President Rene Preval, Jean is intent on changing his country's
Thousands clean oil spill in S. Korea
South Korea showed the world how valuable volunteers can be as thousands pitched in to clean up a devastating oil spill.
Oil started hitting beaches Saturday, a day after a Hong Kong-registered supertanker was slammed by a South Korean-owned barge that came unmoored from its tugboat in rough seas about seven miles off Mallipo, one of South Korea's best-known beaches. Nearly 2.8 million gallons of crude gushed into the ocean.Thick, smelly waves of crude washed ashore, turning seagulls black and threatening fish farms along an 11-mile stretch of coast.
South Korea’s Coast Guard mobilized thousands of people with buckets and shovels to tackle the problem. About 100 ships, including Coast Guard, navy and private fishing boats, were also to help contain and clean up South Korea's worst spill. At total of 7,500 police, military, civil servants and volunteers struggled to remove the oil, some battling headaches, dizziness and nausea.
Free health care JLP promise causing concern
In its campaign leading up to the September 3, 2007 elections, the JLP promised free health care. The concern is not that they might not live up to their promise but that they might. Undue pressure on public hospitals from the previous People's National Party (PNP) administration's policy of free health care for children is making health-care providers fearful that any further move to free up health care in public health facilities could be disastrous. They say before any imposition of the sort can be made, Government must move with urgency to upgrade public hospitals and improve staff complements and equipment in the sector.
Since the imposition of free health care for children by the Portia Simpson Miller-led administration in May, hospitals have been bending over backwards to meet the added demand on its accident and emergency (A&E) units.
The Bustamante Hospital for Children, for example, has been seeing up to three times the number of patients since the freeing up of health care for children, The Sunday Gleaner understands. Those seeking care in A&E increased from just about 100 patients to 300 last month. This increase is typical for other hospitals. Hospitals are already under severe strain even without the promised increase due in April 2008 since:
"No provisions were made for the expansion of the physical plant
"The increase is causing inordinately long delays in accident emergencies and casualties.
There are not enough doctors, not enough surgeons, not enough anaesthetists, not enough operating time, not enough recovery room.
The clinics are overwhelmed.
Pray for males in Jamaica
A good man is getting so hard to find in Jamaica that churches across the island are being urged to pray for the success of a national conference to reclaim Jamaica's male population. The conference, to be staged next February at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston, is aimed at motivating men to make a commitment to God and regenerate their responsibility as leaders in society. The conference is targeted at men age 18 and above, and will encourage them to make sincere behaviour changes at its conclusion. The conference is being hosted by a cross section of church leaders in Jamaica.
Step aside steel and concrete to make way for bamboo
In November 2004, the International Code Council certified that Structural Bamboo Poles produced by Hawaii-based Bamboo Technologies comply with International Building Code (IBC), International Residential Code (IRC) and Uniform Building Code (UBC) standards. This doies not belong to steel and concrete anymore. Since then, the Bamboo Technologies factory in Vietnam has constructed and shipped over 100 building-code compliant bamboo structures used as homes and vacation resorts around the world, including Belize Island Resorts, Belize, Central America, Kalani Oceanside Retreat, Big Island, Hawaii, Bamboo Village Beach Resort, Phan Thiet, Vietnam and The Magic Waters Resort, Rarotonga, Cook Islands (where the bamboo structures have successfully stood up to three hurricanes).
So far, only two types of thick-walled bamboo are suitable for construction and they need to be vacuum pressure treated in an earth-friendly Borate (salt) solution, altering the sugars and starch, which both hardens the bamboo and protects it from insects. Additional treatments with non-toxic, earth friendly, fungicides protect the bamboo from molding and finish coats are made using water based acrylic with no VOC's.
Bamboo structures are extremely "Green"? Bamboo is the fastest growing plant, technically it's a "grass". Compared to a hardwood forest the same size, bamboo produces 30% more oxygen and 20 times the biomass yield. Bamboo can be harvested annually after the first 5 to 7 years without replanting, compared to 25 to 50 years for trees, which then need to be replanted in bare soil. To put it in perspective, it takes 25 years and an acre of land to generate enough 2x4’s to build a typical American house, in just seven years that same acre can generate enough bamboo to build 20 bamboo houses, in 25 years that’s 80 bamboo structures!
Editor’s note: We got the big bamboo. Could there be a bamboo industry in the Caribbean’s future?
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