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.
World Bank – an untouchable bastion of racism
The truth is out. The World bank which represents itself as the hope
and deliverance for the developing world is a hypocritical racist
organization. The Government Accountability Project (GAP) released a
report that investigated and found evidence of racial discrimination
against black professional grade employees at the World Bank. The
report, which documents the treatment of these employees in recruitment,
retention and internal judicial decisions, finds that a race ceiling
exists at the institution, and that the Bank’s legal system fails to
address racial discrimination adequately.
The World Bank is untouchable because its international status
exempts it from US Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity statutes,
even though such an under-representation strongly indicates
discrimination in recruitment and retention policies. In other words if
the Bank was subject to US laws they would be sued for discrimination.
Racist graffiti too
Air Jamaica sold – again
It isn’t official yet but it is reported that Air Jamaica has finally been sold. The new owners are Indigo Partners and Oaktree Capital, who are reportedly the owners of Spirit Airlines. It is further understood that Air Jamaica's name might be changed to Spirit of Jamaica. The news comes at a time when the airline is reporting an operational surplus for the first time in 10 years. However, only weeks ago the government had to lend the airline J$5 billions. The terms of the sale include a provision for the Government of Jamaica to maintain a minority equity stake in the airline.
Indigo Partners LLC, with offices in Phoenix, Arizona and Singapore, is a private-equity fund focused primarily on investing in the transportation, airline and airline-related sectors globally. Oaktree Capital Management LLC is a Los Angeles-based private investment firm that manages in excess of US$30 billion in select niche investment markets for institutions and wealthy individuals.
Unfair UK travel tax hurts the Caribbean
Caribbean leaders are incensed and justifiably so. The UK has imposed a tax on all passengers leaving UK airports. The Airport Passenger Duty (APD) is an allegedly green measure aimed at taxing aviation's carbon emissions.
In the case of the Caribbean and all non-European destinations it is at present set at £40 (US$62) on an economy or coach ticket. The tax was designed to account for aviation's impact on the environment, but to date, no one can show how the £2 billion (US$3.1 billion) that is collected is being used to this end.
For the Caribbean, they proposed that anyone travelling in coach from the UK would pay 25 per cent more - US$112 or £50 - from November 1, 2009; and 87 per cent more - US$117 or £75 - from November 1, 2010. Higher rates apply in premium economy, club and first-class travel.
Extraordinarily, the tax is to be levied in a manner that is discriminatory 'for reasons of administrative ease' and will give preference to the United States over the Caribbean by determining that all of the US (even Hawaii) is 'closer' to London than all of the Caribbean.
Not only will this place the Caribbean at a disadvantage over destinations, such as Florida, but will also result in ticket prices for the Caribbean diaspora in Britain increasing significantly, making the frequent travel by family and friends hugely more expensive.
In response, heads of government and ministers from Barbados, Jamaica, St Lucia, Antigua, St Kitts, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, wrote earlier in the year to their British counterparts indicating the economic and personal damage the measure would cause.
As Jamaica’s tourism minister, Ed Bartlet has maintained that the increased tax is inherently unfair "and not the least bit green". He asks "Why should Caribbean countries with relatively low emissions suffer the effects of an environmental tax, in favour of the world's biggest polluter?"
Ironically there are reports that the UK Conservative Party are more sympathetic to the Caribbean cause than the Labour Party, to which most West Indians in Britain belong.
OAS votes to readmit Cuba
The Organisation voted by acclamation to readmit Cuba to the organization. Cuba had been expelled at the US behest since 1962. However, Cuba has declared it has no intention of rejoining. The Organisation of American States is composed of 34 member states from North, Central, South Americas and the Caribbean. Membership in the OAS gives a country a voice in hemispheric agreements on major issues. The OAS has often tried to mediate solutions to political conflicts and it has offshoots that coordinate health policies and protect human rights.
Farmworkers sue for wages due
More than 1,400 West Indian cane cutters from suing five US sugar companies for back wages. One of the United States' most powerful sugar companies is trying to thwart the suit by using a 19th-century Florida law requiring they each put up bond of $100 each.
This might not seem like a huge sum but it is for the workers, most of whom are from Jamaica, now farm or sell fruit or charcoal back home and say they barely make enough to feed their families. They want the state 4th District Court of Appeal in Palm Beach County to reverse a lower-court decision.
This lawsuit is the last in a series of wage cases first brought in 1989 against five sugar companies. An attorney for the workers said he expects a state appeals court to rule any day on whether it will hear the workers' argument that the bond is unconstitutional.
The former guest workers say they were regularly underpaid by Osceola Farms Company, a subsidiary of the Fanjul family's Flo-Sun Inc, which also owns Domino Sugar. The case went to trial in 2007, when Osceola's lawyers sought to have it thrown out because the workers failed to post the US$100 per person bond. Osceola denies that it underpaid the workers.
Journalist John Maxwell receive honorary degree
Jamaica’s pre-eminent journalist with a large international following, often featured here in Hot Calaloo’s ‘Undiluted’, has been awarded DLitt honiris causa by the University of the West Indies. Maxwell writes a weekly column titled 'Common Sense' in the Jamaica Sunday Observer. He is known for his unwavering commitment to the protection of the environment and is a passionate advocate of Haiti.
In recent years, Maxwell has continued his defense of the environment. He strongly opposed bauxite mining in the Cockpit Country two years ago and was just as strident when the Government began developing housing schemes in the Long Mountain region of St Andrew.
Born in Trelawny, John Maxwell is the eldest of Baptist minister John William Maxwell and his wife Zelma's three children. He attended Calabar High School and Jamaica College. He entered journalism in 1952 when he joined The Gleaner Company's staff. Leaving The Gleaner after three years, Maxwell worked with Public Opinion, the weekly newspaper that supported the People's National Party (PNP), and later the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC).
He worked at the British Broadcasting Corporation from 1967 to 1971, but returned to Jamaica for the 1972 general election in which he unsuccessfully ran for the PNP against Seaga for the West Kingston seat.
Jamaica’s trade deficit with CARICOM raises ire
A TRADE war looms within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) as Jamaica's Industry, Investment and Commerce minister, Karl Samuda, has issued an ultimatum to member states he believes have been antagonistic towards the country's products and nationals. He has even threatened retaliation if several of Jamaica's CARICOM neighbors do not immediately abort what he described as a hostile trade posture towards Jamaica.
Samuda said the country's declining trade deficit placed a demand on the Government to ensure that any effort made by the local manufacturing sector was treated with the respect that it deserved to enable the nation to earn its way out of the current problems through exports.
He named Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados as the worst offenders. Trinidad’s deliberate red tape and obstacles to the importation of Jamaican patties and Barbados’ crackdown on immigrants from other CARICOM countries were cited as examples.
Barbados’ recent immigration policy is particularly infuriating to other CARICOM countries especially Guyana, with a number of their nationals deported. Freedom of movement within the community, which should have been instituted by the end of 2008 seems very far away in 2009.
Jamaica Education Minister blames principals for poor schools
Jamaica received a bad grade on a recent report on the status of its Millennium Development Goals for the quality of the education being provided at the primary level. The national report is to be presented to the United Nations Economic and Social Council's annual ministerial review in Geneva next month.
Education Minister Andrew Holness has placed the blame on several primary school principals and is touting pay based on results although he stopped short of supporting pay-for-performance as a remedy. However, the president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA), Doran Dixon rejected both the blame and the proposed remedy Instead he blamed poverty which:
However, the result is that a large percentage of primary school graduates cannot read, which have consequences in high school, university level and the working world.
Haitian TV airs UN troops firing on Haitians
A Haitian television station broadcast video that provided new details on a deadly confrontation between U.N. peacekeepers and mourners for a popular priest allied with former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The confrontation, in which a man was killed, occurred beside Port-au-Prince's cathedral during the funeral march for the Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, a champion of the poor and close supporter of Aristide. Jean-Juste died May 27 in Miami following complications from a stroke.
About 2,000 people were marching with Jean-Juste's casket to the nearby presidential palace to demand Aristide's return and President Rene Preval's resignation when U.N. soldiers walked into the back of the procession. As they lead him toward their open-top jeep other marchers throw rocks at the soldiers, who periodically turn and fire their assault rifles into the air. Six gunshots are heard. The soldiers load the protester into the truck and fire two more shots as they drive away, followed by a Haitian police vehicle.
The 9,000-member international force that has been in Haiti since an uprising forced Aristide into exile in 2004. Protesters incensed with the presence of foreign troops burned a U.N. vehicle in a nearby neighborhood the day before. The UN deny their troops killed the man.
Men outnumber women in Rasta churches
In Jamaica, Christian churches are struggling to keep male membership. Statistics indicate that between 2004 and 2005, there were approximately 9,084 men in comparison to 23,585 women attending 310 churches in that denomination. For the period 2005 to 2006, there were 10,105 men, compared to 25,148 women, in 308 Baptist churches. This ratio is typical for other denominations.
But not for Rastas. According to a 2001 census conducted by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, the Rastafarian movement had 23,067 men compared to 3, 678 women - about six men to one woman. A stark contrast when compared to the fact that women significantly outnumber men in the Christian church.
Fancy school graduation an expensive waste
Both Jamaica Prime Minister Golding and Doran Dixon, president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA), s are declaring that the implementation of an official policy for graduation exercises in schools across the island would be unnecessary and a waste of time and energy. Golding argued that many of the requirements for graduation were unwarranted, including gowns, hats and photograph packages, even at the primary- and basic-school levels, which added up to a cost of sometimes more than $8,000. He said the practice was bringing unnecessary pressures on parents and should be stopped.
Dominica, Venezuela unveil US$35 mil oil facility
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez unveiled a US$35 million oil-storage facility in the Caribbean island of Dominica recently. The complex that Venezuela helped build will store 35,000 barrels of diesel, jet fuel and cooking gas.
"Dominica will no longer have to concern itself about the supply of gasoline and oil," he told a cheering crowd. "All the oil Dominica will need for the next 200 years will be right there in Venezuela."
People wearing red T-shirts in support of Chávez lined the streets for about two miles (three kilometres) as he made his way from the airport to the facility. Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit promised to supply free cooking gas to poor people but he did not provide details.
Walkerswood rescued from bankruptcy
Jamaica’s most popular jerk seasoning company here in the US, Walkerswood, is in bankruptcy. Jamaica’s Supreme Court has approved a rescue plan proposed by new owners. The rescue syndicate, comprising Associate Manufacturers Limited (AML), Pan Jamaican Investment Trust, and a group led by businessman Howard Mitchell, has got the green light from the court to pump capital into put the spice company, which has been mothballed since last year. Creditors have been offered 25 cents on the dollar. At lockdown, Walkerswood owed $1.2 billion.
Haiti receives debt cancellations
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund on June 30th decided this week to forgive Haiti`s obligations to the two organizations, forgiving a whopping total of U$1.2 billion.
`It will mean savings of about $1 million a week in debt payments by Haiti, Congresswoman. Maxine Waters, (CA-35), also applauded the decision stating that :
`The cancellation of Haiti`s debts will enable the democratically-elected government of Haiti to improve health care, education and other essential government services; invest in critical infrastructure; and improve the lives of the Haitian people.`
From Canada too
Jamaica’s PM praises PetroCaribe
Prime Minister Bruce Golding has described the Venezuelan-sponsored PetroCaribe Agreement as a model of cooperation within the region and among developing countries.
Speaking at the fifth PetroCaribe Ministerial Council Meeting of Energy Ministers and the sixth Summit of the Heads of State and Governments in Basseterre, St Kitts-Nevis, on the weekend, Golding pointed to the PetroCaribe initiative as a profound example of South-South Cooperation, especially in light of the exclusion of developing countries from G-20 deliberations. The prime minister commended Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez for his vision in creating PetroCaribe, which has been of tremendous assistance to several Caribbean countries in coping with high oil prices and stabilising their economies.
Jamaicans flock for Cuban scholarships
Jamaicans are lining up to seek scholarships for study in Cuba. According to the Cuban Embassy in Kingston, 1,200 Jamaicans have applied for scholarships to study in Cuba. The embassy says 824 applications have been processed with 253 scholarships awarded. The Jamaica/Cuba Friendship Association recently announced 26 more full scholarships for Jamaicans to study at Cuban universities.
This will increase the number of Jamaicans studying in Cuba to 282. The scholarships will cover tuition and boarding for the Jamaicans, who are scheduled to leave the island in September. Among the scholarship winners announced yesterday are 20 people who will study medicine. The students will receive a monthly stipend of US$125 from the Jamaican Government after Prime Minister Bruce Golding made a commitment to them when he visited Cuba last year.
US exports to Cuba soar
United States food exports to Cuba reached record levels last year, according to newly published Cuban figures. According to reports, the levels reached $860 million last year, compared with $608 million in 2007. Despite the sanctions, the US held its ranking as the island`s fifth-largest trading partner.
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