UNDILUTED pays tribute to John Maxwell by featuring two previous columns by him from the Hot Calaloo UNDILUTED archives:
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a wonderful book about a young girl in the Carribean, the first of her family to go to secondary school.
Jamaica imports workers despite unemployment crisis
The Jamaica government has already announced that there will be no government jobs for graduating high school students nor new teachers. Meanwhile in the private sector, more than 40 per cent of vacancies on the job market are for managerial or technical personnel, with employers also reporting difficulty in recruiting a wider range of skilled workers, according to a new report from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. The labour ministry began fieldwork for this its second labour market study in December 2011. The survey included 606 organisations spanning all parishes.
This Market Study 2012: A Guide to Employment Opportunities in Jamaica', just released, says:
Barbados to dismiss 3,000 gov't workers
Barbados Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Christopher Sinckler announced recently that the government would trim the public service by 3,000 workers as well as reduce, by 10 per cent, the salaries of ministers, government legislators, parliamentary secretaries, and those considered to be a "political appointee" The government said the first 2,000 job cuts would take place by January 15, followed by others by March 1, 2014.
Sinckler said the plan to cut public-service jobs would result in the government saving as much as BDS$143 million (One BDS dollar = US$0.50 cents) and that the government had also agreed to institute a "strict programme of attrition" across the central public service, filling posts only where it is absolutely unavoidable, over the next five years, ending 2018-2019.
"This attrition is expected to reduce central government employment levels from approximately 16,970 to 14,612 jobs - a projected loss of 2,358 posts, and savings of BDS$121 million. Over the current 19-month adjustment period, public sector employment will be reduced by an additional 501 jobs with a projected savings of BDS$26 million," he added.
Many hungry children depend on school meal in Jamaica
The Jamaica Government, through the Education Ministry and Ministry of Social Security, is currently saddled with a heavy financial burden to provide at least one meal per day to hungry children within the island's public school system.
For this year, the Government has budgeted $4 billion to feed public school students, 30 per cent of whom often count the State-sponsored meal services their only chance to eat. Those currently being fed include 136,000 children who get meals through Nutrition Products Limited; 175,000 across all school types who get cooked lunches; and a further 211,000 who get Program for the Advancement Through Health and Education nutritional support.
Currently, 5,000 of the students getting nutritional support from the State are in early-childhood institutions, with 206,000 in primary, all-age, and secondary schools.
Nutrition Products Limited has been given a further $66 million to provide breakfast for an additional 3,740 basic schoolchildren in St Thomas, Clarendon, and St Catherine, who will join the program in the Easter term in 2014.
In addition, a pilot breakfast program was also implemented in 37 schools in the Corporate Area and included 8,156 students.
Even these school feeding programs are insufficient and the government is exploring means to do more.
There is a lesson to be learnt here by the Caribbean as Uruguay has become the first nation in the world to make recreational marijuana legal for adults, and to regulate its production, distribution and sale.
In the year and a half since President José Mujica announced the proposal in June 2012 as part of a comprehensive package aimed at fighting crime and public insecurity, a strong coalition of LGBT, women's rights, health, student, environmental and human rights organizations joined forces with trade unions, doctors, musicians, lawyers, athletes, writers, actors and academics under the banner of Regulación Responsable (Responsible Regulation) to support the initiative and created a lively public campaign in favor of the proposal.
People will have four ways to access marijuana: medical marijuana through the Ministry of Public Health, domestic cultivation of up to six plants, membership clubs similar to those found in Spain, and licensed sale to adults in pharmacies. The bill was approved in the House of Representatives in late July and passed today's Senate vote with 16 out of 29 votes.
For 40 years, marijuana prohibition simply hasn't worked. Billions of dollars have been spent on repression, but marijuana use has only gone up -- along with the number of lives lost to failed policies.
The tens of thousands who have died in Mexico's drug war -- estimates in 2012 ranged from 60,000 to 70,000 over six years -- Central America's globally high homicide rates, and the United States' racially driven mass incarceration are but a few examples of the human cost of the war on drugs. But rather than closing their eyes to the continuing problem of drug abuse and drug trafficking, Uruguay's leaders have chosen responsible regulation of an existing reality.
In 2011, Kofi Annan, Paul Volcker and Richard Branson joined former presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil, César Gaviria of Colombia and Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and other distinguished members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy in saying the time had come to "break the taboo" on exploring alternatives to the failed war on drugs -- and to "encourage experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs," especially marijuana. In November 2012, the states of Colorado and Washington approved the legal regulation of marijuana. In August, the White House announced that the federal government will not interfere with state marijuana laws -- as long as a number of stipulations are adhered to, such as preventing distribution to minors.
Just last year, Uruguay legalized same-sex marriage and abortion. It has long been at the helm of progressive policies, being one of the first nations in the region to grant divorce rights for women, in 1912; institute the eight-hour working day in 1915, and include women's right to vote in the Constitution in 1917. It has never criminalized prostitution and has legally regulated it since 2002. In 2009, Uruguay granted adoption rights for same-sex couples and the legal right to choose one's own gender identity.
This also comes from a country where the church and state have been officially separated since 1917.
It's a country where the president, 78-year old former Tupamaro guerrilla José Mujica, lives an austere lifestyle after having spent 14 years as a political prisoner, 10 of them in solitary confinement, during Uruguay's dictatorship. He donates 90% of his salary to charity, shuns the presidential palace and chooses instead to remain on his farm with his wife, also a former political prisoner, working to construct a more fair, more inclusive Uruguay.
Jamaica increases tax on imported vegetables
In a move apparently aimed at protecting the agricultural sector, the Jamaica House of Representatives has passed a resolution for the duties on certain imports to be increased. Whereas peas, both uncooked and frozen for use in industry, currently enters the island at zero customs duty, importers will be required to pay a five per cent tariff as of January 1.
The current list of items to see customs duties being increased from zero to five per cent includes string beans, beats, sweet corn, mixed vegetables, olives, cucumber and gherkins, certain dried leguminous vegetables, mushrooms and truffles.
In the meantime, the Government has maintained high import duties on certain other agricultural produce. For example, the duties on pigeon peas and blackeye peas remain at 15 per cent. Additionally, cassava, banana flour, plantain flour will continue to enter the country at 40 per cent customs duties.
There is also no adjustment in the duty regime for the importation of poultry, which stands at 100 per cent for chicken wings, drumsticks and whole birds, and 40 per cent on chicken livers. The customs duties on chicken back remain at zero.
The purpose is to provide a new comprehensive incentives regime for local producers. The realignment of duties is a feature of the omnibus tax incentives under the agreement with the International Moneyary Fund.
Jamaica passes second IMF test
The International Monetary Fund (IMF)has officially confirmed that Jamaica has passed the second test under the four-year extended fund facility when the IMF Executive Board approved a US$30.8-million disbursement to the Jamaican Government.
The board completed the second review of the country's economic performance, confirming what the Economic Program Oversight Committee had already disclosed, that Jamaica has met all the quantitative performance targets at the end of September.
The disbursement will bring the total so far, under the program, to SDR 176.69 million (about US$272.2 million), the IMF said in a statement.
The executive board approved the four-year program and a total of SDR 615.38 million (about US$948.1 million) on May 1, this year.
Financial Times exposes Jamaica's economic crisis
Even the Financial Times of London is talking about the dire economic conditions in Jamaica. 'Jamaica teeters on an economic precipice after years of stagnation,' ran the headline in The Financial Times of London (FT) on its website recently.
The report by FT reporter Robin Wigglesworth paints a picture of an economy which is struggling to survive high debt and rising crime, not helped by the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It is part of a wider series on economies in the Caribbean area.
"While many previously buoyant island states across the Caribbean are now struggling, Jamaica's crisis is the deepest," said the FT report.
"After two restructurings in three years, government debts still amount to 143 per cent of the economy's annual output."
Barbados promoting ‘eat what we produce’
The Barbados government has appealed to supermarkets and hotels to give more support to the local agricultural sector, but said it not advocating a ban on goods imported from other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.
Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Minister, Donville Inniss, said Barbados was not earning enough to support its high BDS$700 million food-import bill.
"We have a tendency in this country to believe that whatever is foreign is good and this mindset really has to change," Inniss said, adding that local supermarkets "need to start displaying Barbadian products prominently".
Tablets in Jamaica schools gets funding
THE PILOT phase of the Tablets in Schools project has been funded to the tune of nearly $1.5 billion from the Universal Service Fund. The Universal Service Fund is an agency of Jamaica’s Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining with the prime goal of bridging the information technology gap in Jamaica.
The tablet project is intended to increase the use of technology to optimise students' learning opportunities.
Minister with responsibility for information Sandrea Falconer said 25,000 tablet computers would be provided for students and teachers in 39 institutions during the pilot phase.
Tessanne Chin wins the NBC TV Voice
Jamaica’s Tessanne Chinn was declared the winner of Season Five of the Voice competition on NBC TV in Los Angeles, after three months of grueling competition.
Her win sent her Caribbean fans into frenzy on Facebook and Twitter. For months, the Jamaican Diaspora had voted and organized for her and her victory marked the culmination of an intense campaign for one of their own.
In Jamaica, hundreds gathered in Half Way Tree to celebrate even through they could not vote in the competition, while on Twitter, top Jamaican singers and the world’s fastest man, were among those quick to offer up congratulations.
The win for Chin came following a phenomenal duet performance with legendary singer, Celine Dion earlier in the night as the show’s producers rolled out an evening of top entertainment with some of music’s top artists.
Deadly weather hits Eastern Caribbean
Heavy rains caused deaths and damage in Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Dominica, plunging the countries into mourning and a struggle for power and water. The storm began around 6 am on the morning of December 24th and ended in the early hours of Christmas Day, December 25th, 2013.
St. Vincent & the Grenadines
Barbados and Grenada also reported flooding and damages but no loss of life.
Under PetroCaribe Jamaica ships clinker for cement to Venezuela
Jamaica, through the Caribbean Cement Company, has began making use of the trade compensation mechanism of the PetroCaribe agreement with the first shipment of clinker to Venezuela. The shipment followed months of negotiations with Venezuela, the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining. However, the Caribbean Cement Company said that "this development has tremendous implications for other industries and for Jamaican exports".
The trade compensation mechanism under the PetroCaribe Energy Cooperation Agreement with Venezuela also allows Jamaica to settle part of its oil debt through exports. It is through the PetroCaribe agreement that Jamaica gets petroleum products from Venezuela at a preferential rate with a defined payment plan. Jamaica needs to service payments each month.
Under the arrangement, Jamaica pays Venezuela for 60 per cent of the cost of the oil it receives and the remainder is set aside as a loan, payable over 20 years at an interest rate of one per cent.
Earlier this year, the PetroCaribe agreement was in danger of being cancelled following the death of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. However, an election which followed was won by Nicolas Maduro, Chávez's former vice-president, who supports the agreement.
JPS new hydro plant to save Jamaica over US$430m
The Jamaica Public Service (JPS) Company is now in the final construction phase of its new Maggotty Hydroelectric Power Plant in St Elizabeth, which is expected to cut Jamaica's oil importation by 43,000 barrels of oil annually, saving the country approximately more than $430 million on a yearly basis using average current oil prices of US$100 per barrel.
The plant, which is expected to add 6.3 megawatts of electricity to the national grid, is part of the plan to add to the country's fuel-diversification effort.
The power supply company said while the project currently employs 92 persons, at specific stages during construction, as many as 200 persons were employed.
The Maggotty plant will be the second one to be built on the current site and will bring the number of hydroelectric power plants operated by the JPS across the island to nine.
Jamaican law school win 4 straight in world contest
The Norman Manley Law School, beating all the odds, emerged victorious in defending its hat-trick as three-time winner of the fifth Annual Human Rights World Competition, held to commemorate Human Rights Day in Pretoria, South Africa.
In August 2013, the team of Donia Fuller and Ralston Dickson was chosen to represent the school. They submitted a written memorial based on a hypothetical case in early September and emerged as one of the top teams from the 15 teams from the five United Nations regions. The hypothetical problem was based on rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights conventions and instruments.
In addition, team NMLS was awarded the prize for best oralist and second-best oralist (me and Ralston, respectively).
Principal of the Norman Manley Law School, Carol Aina, said: "We are very proud of our team. Involvement in mooting competitions gives our students superior advocacy skills. We did very well last year in the following competitions: the Margaret Forte Moot, which we won; the Caribbean Court of Justice Moot; the Phillip Jessup Moot; the Frankfurt Investment Moot in Germany; the Price Media Moot in New York; and the Lex Caribbean Interviewing Competition. It is very expensive to send the teams all over the world, but it is all part of branding Norman Manley Law School and Jamaica. We hope that we can garner sponsorship from the private sector and alums as we continue to dominate the world stage."
WI Under-19 team withdraws from Bangladesh
The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has withdrawn the Under-19 team from its tour of Bangladesh. The WICB said the decision to withdraw the team is in the best interest of the safety and security of the players and officials.
"The WICB's decision was taken following consideration of a report on the situation in Bangladesh as prepared by WICB security manager Paul Slowe.
"The report emphasised that the current security environment in Bangladesh is not conducive to the playing of cricket in light of the 72-hour nationwide blockade and calls for countrywide dawn-to-dusk protests.
Jamaica tennis player makes history
Twelve-year-old Blaise Bicknell created history when he became the first Jamaican junior tennis player to reach the semi-final of the Eddie Herr Junior Tennis Tournament, ranked as the second-highest International Tennis Federation Tournament (ITF) for juniors in the world.
In the round of 64 in the 12-and-under age group, Bicknell defeated the United States' Graham Hadesman 6-1, 6-0, to advance to the round of 32, where he defeated Turkish No.1 player Kemal Karagovoglub 6-4, 6-2.
In the round of 16, Blaise fought bravely against a much stronger player, Peetu Pohjola, the Finnish No.1 junior player, and won 7-6, 3-0, when his opponent forfeited the match.
In his quarterfinal match-up that lasted for nearly four hours, he defeated the tournament's No.14 seed and top Korean player, Minjong Park, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-4.
in the semi-final, where he lost 6-1, 6-1 to a much bigger and stronger Adam Neff of the United States. Neff is ranked No.2 in the world and No.1 in the USA.
Non-Jamaicans invade reggae Grammy nominations
Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr., aka Snoop Lion (formerly Snoop Dogg), is among the nominees for next February Reggae Grammy Awards, The Recording Academy revealed Friday night, Dec. 6th. He released his first reggae album, Reincarnated, this year, made the nominations list along with veterans – Beres Hammond for ‘One Love, One Life,’ Ziggy Marley’s ‘Ziggy Marley in Concert,’ Sizzla’s ‘The Messiah,’ and Sly and Robbie and The Jam Masters’ ‘Reggae Connection.’
He’s been at the number one spot for 32 weeks, including this week and only once did he slip to number two. In fact, apart from Snoop, the charts has been mostly dominated by non-Jamaican singers, including Jewish singer Matisyahu, Hawaii-based group The Green and Bermuda singer, Mishka.
Meanwhile, also securing nominations on Friday night, were Rihanna with two nominations for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Best Urban Contemporary Album, while ‘One Love/People Get Ready,’ the Photek Remix of Bob Marley And The Wailers, was also nominated under the Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical category.
Jamaica eye clinic given equipment
A number of Lions Clubs in Whitehouse, Canada, have collaborated to donate eye-care equipment valued at J$790,000 to the Lion Pat Simons Eye Clinic, operated by the Lions Club of Kingston, at 30 Beechwood Avenue. The project was coordinated in Canada by Lions Andy Brickner and Mike Rochefort - the latter of whom is the owner of Pacific Ophthalmic in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
The donated equipment includes a Frequency Doubling Technology (FDT) machine, which is used for glaucoma screening, as well as a chart projector. This equipment will be put into service at the Lion Pat Simons Eye Clinic next month, following extensive training of the technical staff.
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