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bulletThe one and only Miss Lou is dead
bulletChief Justice plunges T&T judiciary in turmoil
bulletFormer Haitian PM freed
bulletJamaica electric company up for sale
bulletCARICOM to back Venezuela for UN Security Council
bulletT&T Soca Warriors impress world
bulletJamaican DIASPORO conference urges adoption of Israel aid model
bulletMontserrat’s volcano still erupting
bulletJamaica nurses strike as int’l recruiters hover
bulletJamaica’s trade deficit widens
bulletBush to bring democracy to Cuba too
bulletUS affirmative action foes reap success
bulletTwo sister leaders, Portia and Michelle, forge bonds
bulletWoman principal for St. GC in Jamaica creates controversy
bulletJamaican males are lousy drivers
bulletAlcoa profits surge
bulletViolence continues in Haiti
bulletCaribbean nations vote for killing whales
bulletT&T-born US labour leader makes home visit
bulletNew US company take over bauxite mining in Ja
bulletSteelband on the rise



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by Michael I Phillips

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cover River Woman by Donna Hemans ... $16.10
  The Rio Minho in Jamaica provides much more than a setting for this potent, accomplished debut by Jamaican-born Donna Hemans.


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July/August 2006

The one and only Miss Lou is dead

The one and only Miss Lou is dead. Jamaicans everywhere are deeply saddened by the death of this most beloved icon of Jamaican culture and folklore.  She was 86 years old. Miss Lou, the Hon. Louise Bennett-Coverley, passed away on July 26 at the Scarborough Grace Hospital in Toronto, Canada, after collapsing at home early in the morning.

Born in Kingston on September 7, 1919, Miss Lou is Jamaica's premier folklorist, poet, entertainer and comedienne. As a cultural giant, she made Jamaica's patois an accepted language through her poems. Through these poems in Jamaican patois, she raised the dialect of the Jamaican folk to an art level which is acceptable to and appreciated by all in Jamaica. She used her poems to capture all the spontaneity of the expression of Jamaicans' joys and sorrows, their ready, poignant and even wicked wit, their religion and their philosophy of life.

She was described as Jamaica's leading comedienne, as the "only poet who has really hit the truth about her society through its own language", and as an important contributor to her country of "valid social documents reflecting the way Jamaicans think and feel and live”.
 Her first dialect poem was written when she was 14-years-old. A British Council Scholarship took her to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art where she studied in the late 1940’s.  There she auditioned and won a scholarship. After graduation she worked with repertory companies in Coventry, Huddersfield and Amersham as well as in intimate revues all over England.
On her return to Jamaica she taught drama to youth and adult groups both in social welfare agencies and for the University of the West Indies Extra Mural Department.
She lectured extensively in the United States and the United Kingdom on Jamaican folklore and music and represented Jamaica all over the world.
Miss Lou received many accolades and awards which include:


The Order of Merit in 2001


The Order of Jamaica in 1974


The Norman Manley Award for Excellence (in the field of Arts)


The Institute of Jamaica's Musgrave Silver and Gold Medals for distinguished eminence in the field of Arts and Culture


The Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of the West Indies in 1983.


The Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from York University, Toronto, Canada In 1998.

bulletAppointment by the Jamaica Government as Cultural Ambassador at Large for Jamaica.
bullet Nomination for her composition "You're going home now" from the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, for the best original song in the movie "Milk and Honey" in 1988.

She married Eric Winston Coverley in 1954 (who died in 2002) and leaves behind one stepson, Fabian, and several adopted children.

(For an excellent profile on Miss Lou by The Gleaner newspaper

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Chief Justice plunges T&T judiciary in turmoil

T&T judiciary is in a crisis. At the center of the crisis is Chief Justice, Satnarine Sharma, on the criminal charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice. Mr. Sharma has been accused of trying to intervene improperly in the trial of former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday, who has been convicted for failing to declare a London bank account.

The police charged and then tried to arrest the Chief Justice. But, a judge ruled that the police cannot arrest the Chief Justice. Then another judge confirmed the order saying that the Chief Justice must first be heard by the court on his claim that the case is politically motivated.

Others contend that equal justice requires his arrest for a criminal act like any other citizen would be. That type of complaint against Sharma is not new. As far back as January of 2005, when both the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions filed formal complaints with PM Manning alleging that Chief Justice Sharma improperly and illegally sought to influence them to discontinue a murder charge against Sharma’s friend, Professor Vijay Naraynsingh, who was charged with killing his wife. That April PM Manning initiated a tribunal to investigate the charges. But, Sharma successfully filed an action in High Court and blocked the appointment of the tribunal, claiming that the PM acted out of bias.

So in the present case, in March 2006, but this time the Chief Magistrate of T&T filed a formal complaint with the Attorney General alleging that Sharma improperly and unlawfully instructed him to find Sharma’s friend, Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday not guilty of corruption charges. Once again Sharma blocked investigation by a tribunal. But this time it was turned over to the police. The police investigation concluded a crime was committed and submitted its evidence to the Director of Public Prosecution, who concurred. Officers then sought and obtained a warrant for the Chief Justice’s arrest.

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Former Haitian PM freed

Former Haitian Prime Minister Yvon Neptune was freed on Thursday from the prison where he was held for more than two years on what he called imaginary charges after the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Frail from an on-and-off hunger strike, the 59-year-old walked out of the National Penitentiary annex supported by two U.N. peacekeepers. Neptune was never tried and has repeatedly denied wrongdoing. He served under Aristide and was among hundreds of Aristide supporters jailed by a U.S.-backed interim government after Aristide was driven into exile. Among these jailed supporters is popular singer and grandmother So Ann.  Só Ann, whose real name is Annette Auguste, has been jailed since Mother's Day 2004, when she was arrested by US marines.

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Jamaica electric company up for sale

The Atlanta-based Mirant Corporation is bailing out of its 80% ownership of the Jamaica Public Service Company Ltd. (JPS) as it has announced it is putting it up for sale. Mirant acquired a majority stake in JPS five years ago when it paid the Government US$183 million for 80 per cent of the company and announced plans to spend approximately US$500 million over a decade to modernise and expand its electricity generating capacity.

The company did accomplish an initial early shoring up of generating capacity as well as the investment of US$120 million for a 120 megawatt plant in Bogue, St. James, bringing its own capacity to 600mW. Private suppliers generate another 180 megawatts of power.

But Mirant soon entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States, from which it emerged seven months ago. Then recently Mirant announced the plan to offload its operations in the Caribbean and the Philippines as well as to spend up to US$1.25 billion to repurchase up to 43 million of the company's ordinary shares.

There is a possibility the Government might buy it back as the utility company is a strategic asset. However, can they afford it and where will they find the money?

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CARICOM to back Venezuela for UN Security Council

Despite US opposition, CARICOM leaders have agreed to back Venezuela over Guatemala for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. This decision was made on the behalf of CARICOM by Dominica’s Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit. The seat will be vacated by Argentina in October this year and Guatemala and Venezuela are the two countries seeking the vote of the Caribbean for the seat.

Barbados Prime Minister, Owen Arthur, was even more definitive. He declared he opposed Guatemala because:

bulletHe does not believe Guatemala would represent the interest and principles of Barbados in any international organization based on the way in which Guatemala has dealt with the region on the issue of bananas at the World Trade Organisation.
bulletIt would be unethical for Barbados to side with a country that has fiercely opposed the concept of special and differential treatment for small developing states.
bulletGuatemala has outstanding territorial issues with Belize, and the region must take a position that will protect the territorial integrity of its members.
bulletHe had strong objections to the way Guatemala has been lobbying for the seat, noting that the country was not talking to regional leaders on its own, but instead, using the United States to lobby for the position.

In the meantime the JLP opposition is opposing Venezuela, despite its significant assistance to Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean through PetroCaribe. For the JLP it’s back to kowtowing to US wishes.

And as if the benevolence of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez to the Caribbean is not enough already, he met recently with Antigua and Barbuda's Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer to announce a gift to that country worth US47.5 million. This will fund housing, airport expansion and the debt-ridden regional airline LIAT.

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T&T Soca Warriors impress world

Trinidad and Tobago’s Soca Warriors soccer team came into the soccer World Cup finals in Germany like a lamb and went out like a lion earning the respect and admiration of the world.

They proved that despite being the smallest country to make the World Cup final round that they were indeed ‘lickle but dem tallawah’. "Thank you Soca Warriors! You did T&T and the whole Caribbean proud." From the very first game they showed their mettle holding the highly fancied Sweden to a 0-0 draw playing with 10 men for most of the game. England went ahead in the last 10 minutes of the game in a goal that even BBC commentators describe as such an obvious foul by the scorer Crouch that it was nominated as one of the 10 worst blunders by referees in the tournament.

They returned home to be greeted by thousands of flag-waving, red-clad Soca Warriors supporters at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. There Prime Minister Patrick Manning announced that each of the 24 members of the Soca Warriors will receive TT$1 million, as well as the country's second-highest national award - the Chaconia Gold Medal - for their efforts at the FIFA World Cup in Germany. In addition, each of the 16 players who were part of the squad but not selected for Germany will receive TT$250,000.

The PM described T&T’s captain, Dwight Yorke, as "an inspiration, an indefatigable fighter, skillful all-rounder, a positive leader, and articulate helmsman". In reward, Yorke received in addition to Chaconia Gold Medal, TT$1,250,000 and was named sports ambassador of T&T in the international community.

Leo Beenhakker
T&T Coach Leo Beehakker also received TT$1 million and even though he is a citizen of Holland, he too was awarded the Chaconia Gold Medal. But he is gone. Not surprisingly, he became much sought-after and Poland has grabbed him to be their national coach.

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Jamaican DIASPORO conference urges adoption of Israel aid model

NEARLY 500 delegates began a two-day conference in Kingston yesterday, seeking ways that Jamaicans at home and abroad can strengthen relations to the benefit of both groups. One of the prime ideas advanced by the conference, which was supported both by the Government and the opposition was the setting up of a Jamaica Fund to help finance projects in Jamaica. This fund would come from donations from overseas Jamaicans. It is estimated that up to 2.5 million Jamaicans and Jamaican descendants live abroad. They annually send home about US$1.5 billion, equivalent to the gross earnings from the country's biggest business, tourism.

The proposed fund was modeled after a very successful fund used in Israel for over 60 years. Some features of the proposed Jamaica Fund include:

bulletJamaicans can contribute on a monthly basis
bullet"There will be a board of directors
bulletit will be fully transparent

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Montserrat’s volcano still erupting

On Friday, June 30, 2006, Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) scientists reported that there had been a dome collapse with an associated ash plume of over 12,000 feet. However, the volcano alert level remained at four, indicating that there exists still a possibility of serious eruptive activity that could affect inhabited areas.

Friday’s dome collapse episode started around 1:00pm sending pyroclastic flows down the Tar River Valley to the sea on the Eastern side of the island accompanied by ash clouds to just over 12,000 feet in the air.

Friday’s event was of short duration. The Emergency Policy Group (EPG) reports that pyroclastic flows continue to occur. Further emphasizing that explosive activity still cannot be ruled out based on past patterns.

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Jamaica nurses strike as int’l recruiters hover

International recruiters are back in Jamaica to meet with groups of nurses for overseas employment. Meanwhile reports from the Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ) reveal that an increasing number of nurses are leaving the country due to low pay and poor working conditions. Health Minister Horace Dalley made appeals to the country's registered nurses to remain in Jamaica.
The Health Minister says the government is unable to meet some of the demands being made by the NAJ but stressed that the country can not afford to lose its nurses.

The nurses became so unhappy with the Government’s wage offers, they launched a work stoppage and public protests. This action eventually forced many hospitals to accept only emergency cases. With nurses calling in sick some hospitals

bulletCeased all elective services
bulletAccepted only dire emergency cases
bulletOf course nurses stopped conducting overtime sessions
bulletBegan discharging patients who were not critically ill

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Jamaica’s trade deficit widens

The red ink is flowing freely. Data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) show that for the first two months of 2006, the trade gap was estimated at US $524 million. This represents a 16 per cent increase over the figure reported during the corresponding period last year. Imports during the two months were valued at US $817 million, up 20 per cent when compared to January and February 2005.
This far outweighed the US $293 million earned from exports.

STATIN says Jamaica realised increased earnings of US $286 million from domestic exports. The figure represented a 27 per cent increase when compared to the corresponding period last year.

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Bush to bring democracy to Cuba too

We have seen the Bush regime’s efforts to bring democracy to Iraq. The entire infrastructure destroyed, over 100,000 dead Iraqis, unsanitary drinking water, treasures of antiquities looted and so on. Now Bush is promising to bring democracy to Cuba too.

This new program, called a "Compact with the People of Cuba," adds 80 million dollars to the more than 70 million dollars already slated over 2007-2008 to "build support for transition to a legitimate, democratic government," a separate White House statement said.

Some of the money, which must gain approval from Congress, will beam US propaganda via conventional and satellite radio and television broadcasts as well as the Internet. The funds will also be used "undermine (Castro) regime finances and survival strategies."

There was hardly a murmur in the international community at this blatant announcement by an unelected president Bush who overthrew and kidnapped the elected president of Haiti, Aristide, to control and manipulate the internal affairs of a sovereign state. Their silence, the silence of UN Secretary General, Kofi Anan, is complicity. Bush gets away with the brutal invasion and war crimes in Iraq, so now he feels he can get away with anything. How many more shall die?

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US affirmative action foes reap success

Right here in the US, the foes of affirmative action must be jubilant. The percentage of black students enrolled in sought-after prestigious colleges have dropped substantially since the attack on affirmative action began by its ban in California about a decade ago. Black freshman enrollment has dropped 20-30% at schools such as University of Michigan, Penn State University, University of North Carolina, the University of Minnesota, Ohio State University, and for a time U.C. Berkeley. In a 2004 survey of black college enrollment, the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education found that blacks were still underrepresented at nearly all of the country’s top ranked universities. At some schools they were virtually non-existent. They made up more than 10 percent of the total enrollment at just two of the fifty universities in the survey. The schools are the biggest and best-known name in American higher education.

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Two sister leaders, Portia and Michelle, forge bonds

Visiting President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, and Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller met for the first time and forged bonds designed to increase economic development in both countries. According to the Jamaica PM the two countries:

bulletare fast-tracking the development of an air services agreement which would protect the routes of both state-owned airlines, Air Jamaica and Lan Chile.
bulletwill make an agreement to also use of Donald Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St. James, as a hub for Chilean cargo destined for Europe. The Port of Kingston is being similarly considered.
bullethave also agreed to waive visas for holders of diplomatic and official passports
bulletwill work on future cooperation on renewable energy against the background of the negative effects of rising fuel costs on both economies.
bulletWill make plans for Chile to assist Jamaica in the fields of watershed management, forestry research and wood technology.
bulletWill setup an exchange program for Spanish and English teachers from both countries.

During her comments, Mrs. Simpson Miller said an inspiration to her successful campaign for the presidency of the governing People's National Party (PNP) in February, and consequently leadership of  Jamaica, was Dr. Bachelet's own victory in January following that of Angela Merkel of Germany and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in Liberia last November.

Both leaders were building on a relationship between the two countries that last year saw Jamaica support the election of Chilean Jose Miguel Insulza as General Secretary of the Organisation of American States (OAS).

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Woman principal for St. GC in Jamaica creates controversy

A woman was appointed principal of the popular St. Georges College, a boys’ high school in Kingston Jamaica. This did not sit well with many parents and students. They felt that the process did not sufficiently accommodate competent males who were interested in the post. Some women’s groups have expressed concern over the controversy that is brewing between the St. George's College Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) and the school board, over the pending appointment of the female principal. One women’s group charged that the public objection to the appointment of the female principal provides young boys with 'permission' to disrespect and abuse women because of society's lack of recognition for women as role models in positions of authority and leadership.

One parent who vehemently opposed having a female principal at the school said boys need role models and that there were already two female vice-principals and other female heads of department.

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Jamaican males are lousy drivers

Here comes another black-eye for Jamaican males. Male drivers are responsible for a significant majority of road accidents in Jamaica, according to the findings of the 2006 'Knowledge, Attitude, Practices and Behaviour Survey of Male Drivers in Jamaica'. The survey was conducted by the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the National Road Safety Council (NRSC). According to the study:

bulletin 2005 this country had a total of 326 fatalities on the road and 263 of those fatalities were caused by male drivers
bullet81 per cent of the collisions were actually caused by male drivers.
bulletFrom January to March of this year, there were 135 road collisions resulting in 152 fatalities ... 96 per cent of these collisions were caused by young male drivers."
bulletOf the 500 respondents, some 32 per cent were reported to have been involved in traffic collisions.
bulletAn additional 19 per cent were also involved in major road accidents, defined as "a collision which resulted in a death or significant injury".
bulletOnly a little bit less than half of the country's drivers were formally taught how to drive".
bullet71 per cent of the country's driver's illegally acquired their driver's licenses.

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Alcoa profits surge

Alcoa Inc. is a partner with the Government of Jamaica in Clarendon Alumina Production Limited which carries out bauxite mining and alumina refining at Jamalco in Clarendon. It is the world's largest aluminium producer. The Pittsburgh-based company reported that second-quarter profit soared on higher metal prices and strong aerospace demand.

Net earnings for Alcoa were US$744 million, or 85 cents per share, compared with US$460 million, or 52 cents per share in the same quarter last year. Alcoa said revenue in the quarter rose to US$7.96 billion from US$6.70 billion a year earlier. Aluminium started the quarter, in April at US$2,520 per tonne and rose to hit a peak on May 11 of US$3,185. It closed on recently at US$2,570.

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Violence continues in Haiti

The election of President Rene Preval has not eased the violence in Haiti. Just recently the district of Martissant erupted in violent chaos following a bloody confrontation between opposing rival groups, which left several dead.

According to a provisional report established by human rights leaders, at least ten people perished and several cottages were burnt. In June, human rights organizations alerted Haitian authorities to ongoing armed violence in the south and south-east suburbs surrounding the capital. Martissant is just south of Port-au-Prince.

Security concerns were significantly reduced after the election of President René Préval last February. However, violence has escalated over the last few weeks while law enforcement to contain criminal activities has not kept pace.

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Caribbean nations vote for killing whales

Six Caribbean nations, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines, joined 27 other states in voting to end the moratorium on hunting whales, the Los Angeles Times reported. The resolution passed 33-32, but that International Whaling Commission vote does not actually end the hunting ban. This was a big victory for Japan who not only lobbied the six extensively, but probably also paid for their vote. But it could be a tourism loss for these six. Tourism is the major industry in all of the island nations, and environmental groups began talking about boycotts almost immediately.

"People come to this region to see nature at its best," Joth Singh of the International Fund for Animal Welfare said. "Individuals for whom whaling is abhorrent will think twice about going to a destination where their values are not shared."

The conference was held in St. Kitts, whose officials had many confrontations on the sea with Greenpeace.

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T&T-born US labour leader makes home visit

Roger Toussaint is the President of the New York Transport Workers Union Local 100 and was on a short visit to Trinidad. He led a strike last December in New York that virtually crippled that city's transportation system. He braved arrest, jail and fines of US$1000 to stand up heroically for the rights of the New York Transport works.

While in T&T, he addressed thousands at a a Trinidad Labour Day celebration event. There he called on the Trinidad working class to be vigilant and not to let government or foreign multi-national companies rob them of their wealth from oil and gas. He stressed that it was only through unions that workers can fight poverty and crime.

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New US company takes over bauxite mining in Ja

Washington Group International Inc. (WGII) has been awarded two contracts to take over the entire bauxite mining operations for West Indies Alumina Company (WINDALCO) for the next decade. With these two awards, Washington Group will be mining and delivering approximately one-third of Jamaica's annual bauxite production of around 15 million tons. The full service contract was signed on Friday, 30 June, 2006. The contracts is expected to generate gross revenues of approximately US$300 million combined.

The bauxite will be taken from WINDALCO's Schwallen-burgh and Russel Place mines for use in the respective Ewarton and Kirkvine alumina refineries. WINDALCO expects the outsourcing of its mining operations to improve efficiencies and to allow some capital to be focused on their alumina operations. Jamaica's three other bauxite mining companies are St. Ann Mining Co. at Discovery Bay, Jamalco in Clarendon and Alumina Partners of Jamaica in St. Elizabeth.

Based in Boise, Idaho, WGII describes itself as a company delivering engineering, construction, and management solutions for businesses and governments worldwide. It has approximately 25,000 employees at work in more than 30 countries and more than US$3 billion in annual revenue.

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Steelband on the rise

Steelband is on the rise here in America and all around the world. According to Angel Bice, president of the Akron, Ohio-based International Association of Pan, there are more than 3,000 players in the United States and about 400 bands, including nearly two dozen in Maryland. The tinkling of steel drums is heard as far away as China, Denmark and India. Fifty US colleges and even some high schools now make steel drums part of their music curriculum.

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