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CONTENTS
Financial hubbub over Caribbean Airlines
Russia to write off Guyana debts
Grenada's government in turmoil
Haiti gets new PM again
Hundreds of missing children unaccounted for in Jamaica
New Ecuador law forgives mortgage debt
Christie is new Bahamas PM
Free public wireless Internet  for St Lucians
Chinese to build homes in Jamaica for tourism workers
Soldiers in Haiti defy government and march
Pope Benedict criticises US trade embargo on Cuba
Enough food to feed the world
Philadelphia to close 64 Public Schools
Privatisation will sabotage Jamaica’s future
Webb heads CONCACAF amidst scandal
Jamaica wins gold at Chelsea Flower Show
Marley - the movie

UNDILUTED pays tribute to John Maxwell by featuring two previous columns by him from the Hot Calaloo UNDILUTED archives:

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Hot Calaloo's Undiluted Vol. 15, "The Audacity of Hopelessness"

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Hot Calaloo's Undiluted Vol. 14, "Cuba's Benevolence versus US Belligerence"

 
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Boycott Money and Save Your Soul - Launching the Goodwill Revolution
by Michael I Phillips

List Price $11.95 (paperback)
Special Clearance
$10

Not just a book but an invitation to join the Goodwill Revolution against an unfair, unjust and deceptive system that keeps the world poor and without hope. Find out how you can join, quit the rat race, and achieve a happier more meaningful life for yourself and others through goodwill to all.  
For more book info see
     goodwillie.org

Buy through Paypal or  send check for $5 + $3 (shipping) to 
Hot Calaloo
PO Box 411
Columbia MD 21045, USA

 

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.

---------------

cover  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.

 

 

June 2012

Financial hubbub over Caribbean Airlines

Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) Finance Minister Winston Dookeran told Parliament that the state-owned Caribbean Airlines (CAL) had recorded losses in excess of TT$50 million (US$8.3 million) last year, and owed several creditors including the United States Inland Revenue Service and the Norman Manley International Airport in Jamaica millions of dollars. Even worse, Transport Minister Devant Maharaj claimed Trinidad & Tobago taxpayers "have been paying for the luxury of Jamaicans flying at a fuel subsidy" as controversy continues over the finances of the T&T state-owned airline.

But former CAL chairman George Nicholas, who last November had indicated that the airline would record TT$200 million (US$33.3 million) in profits, said Dookeran's figures were wrong Nicholas said the Ministry of Finance's change on the fuel subsidy affected the airline's profitability and lay blame on Dookeran for the situation.

"In November 2011, the fuel subsidy was reduced without consultation by the minister and the price CAL had to pay was retroactively increased, as from January 2011," he said. Nicholas said passengers and freight would have paid for flights throughout 2011 on the basis of tickets calculated at the former fuel price.

In the meantime, Air Jamaica continues to bleed red ink under new ownership, and was among the biggest drags on Caribbean Airlines Limited's (CAL) bottom line in 2011. Still, Air Jamaica's US$38 million loss was a 75 per cent improvement over the previous year when the airline lost some US$150 million, according to the project manager on the divestment committee and a union expert. Jamaica continues to own a piece of Air Jamaica by way of its 16 per cent stake in Caribbean Airlines.

Air Jamaica historically made some US$400 million annually between 2004 and 2006, but recorded a US$112.8-million loss in 2004; US$135.9 million in 2005, and projected US$74 million in 2006.

More Jamaicans laid-off
Recently CAL laid-off all 75 Jamaican pilots (see Hot Calaloo May 2012 update). Now, they have laid-off 90 more Jamaican employees.

The latest group to be issued with redundancy letters by the Trinidad-based company includes 30 aircraft mechanics, human resource officers, customer relations and finance personnel. The staff all received their letters of termination.

"Aircraft maintenance in Jamaica may very well become extinct as this was the last carrier employing Jamaicans," said a highly placed source at the airline. The source said everything had been moved to Trinidad and even the Jamaicans who were there working in Port-of-Spain have been sent back home.

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Russia to write off Guyana debts

In a nod to their cold war-era relationship, Russia has announced it is to write off Guyana's US$50 million debt to the former Soviet Union. Moscows ambassador Nikolay Smirnov made the announcement while addressing the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association. He said US$16 million of Guyana's debt was written off back in 2007.

"We have written off debt of Guyana to (the) former Soviet Union which was $16 million and we finalised this process, so it means that (Guyanas) debt to our country, which is more than three billion Guyana dollars, was written off in 2007. The rest of it - about 50 million dollars, we hope will be written off this year and certain specific proposals (have been) done at (the) bilateral level and we are finalizing this process," Smirnov said.

The Russian diplomat also:

bulletpraised Guyana and other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries for their efforts in tackling transnational crime.
bulletdeclared that Russia is ready to provide to the respective law enforcement agencies in Guyana and the framework of CARICOM, technical and training support in this regard.
bulletpraised Guyana for giving not only this low-lying coastal state but small island states a prominent place in the global climate change fight. Guyana in particular has made the concerns of small countries heard on the issue of climate change and pioneering its partnership with Norway, Smirnov said.
bulletoutlined Russias plans for cooperation with Guyana in information and communication technologies, agriculture and energy.

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Grenada’s government in turmoil

Grenada’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Karl Hood, has resigned. No reason was given for the sudden decision but Prime Minister Tillman Thomas announced he will now assume that vacant portfolio.

It came just two days after PM Thomas survived a vote of no confidence at the end of a marathon debate on the motion in the House Of Representatives. Most government parliamentarians voted along party lines depriving the main opposition new national party of the four votes needed for the motion to carry.

After a robust, 13-hour debate, the opposition motion was defeated eight votes to five with one abstention and one absentee. Backbencher Michael Church was the only government mp to support the motion, which called for the dissolution of parliament and fresh elections.

Hood is the second senior minister to resign in less than a month, following the departure of tourism minister Peter David. Four ministers have either been fired or resigned since Thomas became prime minister in 2008.

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Haiti gets new PM again

Haiti has a new prime minister again. He is Laurent Lamothe. Lamothe, a close friend and former business associate of President Michel Martelly, officially took over the second toughest job in Haiti as he and his 21-member Cabinet have been sworn-in.
Lamothe has served in the government of Haiti as Minister of Foreign Affairs since October 2011. Previously, he was co-founder and CEO of the company Global Voice Group.

He is the son of Louis G. Lamothe, a doctor in Spanish literature and the founder of the Lope de Vega Institute, and of Ghislaine Fortuney Lamothe, a painter, and was born in Port-au-Prince. He grew up in an academic and artistic, but also athletic environment. His elder brother, Ruben, served as captain of the Haitian Davis Cup tennis team for some time. A tennis player himself, Laurent Lamothe represented his country at the Davis Cup in 1994 and 1995.

He founded the telecommunications company Global Voice Group with his business partner, Patrice Baker. The company started out as a small telecommunications company and is today a worldwide provider of technological solutions in emerging markets and developing countries. Through his company, Global Voice Group, he introduced telecoms governance technologies in Africa which allow regulation agencies to manage the sector in terms of control, tariff equity and transparency. This earned him a nomination as Ernst & Young "Entrepreneur of the Year" in May 2008.

His involvement in the political and social life of Haiti subsequently led him to accept the position of Special Advisor to Haitian President Michel Martelly.

In September 2011, Lamothe and former United States President Bill Clinton co-chaired the Presidential Advisory Council for the Economic Development and Investment in Haiti launched by President Martelly on September 8, 2011 to help redevelop Haiti by making it more attractive to foreign companies and investors.

Subsequently, Lamothe was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Haiti. Lamothe was designated as the Prime Minister of Haiti by President Michel Martelly following the resignation of Prime Minister Garry Conille.
On April 10, 2012, the Senate endorsed his nomination with 19 votes in favor to 3 votes against. The Chamber of Deputies followed endorsing him 62 to 3 on May 3, 2012.

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Hundreds of missing children unaccounted for in Jamaica

With an average of one child going missing every four hours, six families are added to the list of those trying to solve the mystery of the missing daily in Jamaica. Between January 2011 and April 30 of this year, 2,796 children were reported missing. More than 300 of them have not been found.

Maxine Taylor-Cooper, the acting executive director of Hear The Children's Cry (HTCC), a non-governmental organisation which provides support for families of the missing, believes the nation is facing a crisis.

"It is a tragedy in our country that each year over a thousand children go missing, or are abducted, and murdered".

One of the major factors is children run away because they are unhappy at home. The other major factor especially in single-mother households, is that children are left unsupervised while parents are at work. There needs to be community supervision again.

Detective Inspector Samuel Blake of the Organised Crime Investigation Division said the majority of missing children are runaways between ages 13 and 17, with approximately 75 per cent of them being girls.

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New Ecuador law forgives mortgage debt

As people are continuing here in the US to lose their homes in record numbers, Ecuador's legislature has passed a bill that would require banks to forgive any outstanding debt on mortgages for first-time homebuyers of properties worth up to US$146,000 if they default and forfeit the home.

The measure, aimed at discouraging a real estate bubble of the type that has caused so much pain in the United States and Europe, has won praise from many Ecuadoreans The country's banking industry did not immediately comment.

The measure was approved by a 68-21 vote. The bill also covers loans by banks to first-time purchasers of automobiles that cost up to US$29,200.

President Rafael Correa, a leftist economist whose social spending has made him widely popular, praised the legislation but did not say whether he would sign it or possibly seek amendments. The president, who constantly rails against Ecuador's "oligarchs" and has already moved to diminish the power of banks, accused the lawmakers who voted against the measure of "defending the bankers, not the depositors."

San Diego State University economist Michael Lea, a real estate specialist, said the only similar measure he was aware of was the creation of a national housing bank by the leftist Sandinista movement in Nicaragua after it won power in 1979. Pablo Davalos, an economist at Catholic University, said the move would be good for most Ecuadoreans.

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Christie is new Bahamas PM

Perry Christie, following his resounding victory in the general election has become the new Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Christie's Progressive Liberal Party won 29 out of the 38 seats contested, reversing the defeat it suffered in 2009 at the hands of the Free National Movement (FNM). FNM leader Hubert Ingraham has since announced his resignation from politics and parliament.

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Free public wireless Internet for St Lucians

St Lucia is taking steps to increase wireless broadband (WiFi) internet penetration with an ultimate plan to make it free across the country. Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony has announced that the project to make St Lucia "WiFi country", making wireless internet access available islandwide, was one of his administration's key promises in its election manifesto.

He said the program will not be completely rolled out by the end of 2012, but the government hopes that in two to three years a wireless internet connection could be available in any public place free of charge.

Details of the plan have been revealed by Technology Minister James Fletcher who said that government views the development of information and communication technology as a "key avenue" for development. He said that government would also lobby internet service providers to make their products more affordable for St Lucians, just as it did regarding mobile phone prices.

St Lucia's is the latest WiFi initiative in the Eastern Caribbean following a similar drive in Barbados and another plan to put WiFi in Antiguan schools.

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Chinese to build homes in Jamaica for tourism workers

Construction of 1,320 housing solutions, primarily for tourism workers, in two communities in St. Ann, will begin this year under the Jamaica Economic Housing Project funded by the China Ex-Im Bank. For the current fiscal year, $1.3 billion has been allocated to start construction to upgrade housing solution in Belle Air I, Belle Air II and Mount Edgecombe in St Ann.

A breakdown of the work to be done this fiscal year involves the design, construction and supervision of 150 service lots, 23 one-bedroom units and 10 two-bedroom units at Belle Air III. Design, construction and supervision of 260 service lots at Belle Air II will also be done this year.

China Ex-Im Bank has also funded other major projects in Jamaica such as the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme and the Palisadoes Shoreline and Road project.

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Soldiers in Haiti defy government and march

"Old soldiers never die. They just fade away."
But not in Haiti. These old soldiers refuse to fade away. Instead, hundreds of former and would-be soldiers in Haiti have refused government orders to disband and marched through the capital, many in mismatched uniforms. A United Nations spokesman said 40 to 50 of them were arrested.

UN spokeswoman Eliana Nabaa said they were arrested by Haitian police because they were carrying illegal weapons and acting as if they were part of the disbanded military.

The ex-soldiers and their young recruits have been pressing President Michel Martelly to honour his campaign goal of restoring the armed forces, which was abolished in 1995 because of its abusive record.

Mr Martelly has said he wants to revive the military but that it must be done legally. His administration has repeatedly called for the lightly armed men to drop their weapons and clear out of 10 bases they have taken over since February. But the government has taken little action to disband the group of men who have been parading about Haiti. The march in Port-au-Prince was mostly peaceful but some people near the National Palace threw rocks at UN troops, who responded by firing tear gas. A few of the men in military uniforms carried handguns.

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Pope Benedict criticises US trade embargo on Cuba

Pope Benedict XVI has criticised the 50-year-old US trade embargo imposed on Cuba, during his visit to the island. The Pope called for greater rights in Cuba, saying he wanted a society in which no-one was denied basic freedoms.

Earlier, Pope Benedict met Cuba's revolutionary leader and former president, Fidel Castro, and celebrated Mass in front of vast crowds in Havana.

He said all Cubans should be able to share in "forging a society of wide horizons, renewed and reconciled".

"No-one should feel excluded from taking up this exciting search by the limitations of their basic freedoms, or excused from this by indolence or a lack of material resources - a situation which is worsened when restrictive economic measures, imposed from outside the country, unfairly burden its people," he said.

The US trade embargo, known as the blockade or "el bloqueo" in Spanish, was introduced soon after the 1959 Revolution. It was strengthened in 1962, with the support of Cubans who had fled to the United States, after Fidel Castro's Cuba nationalised the properties of American citizens and corporations.

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Enough food to feed the world

According to A new a study from McGill University and the University of Minnesota published in the journal Hunger is caused by poverty and inequality, not scarcity. For the past two decades the rate of global food production has increased faster than the rate of global population growth. The world already produces more than 1 ˝ times enough food to feed everyone on the planet. That’s enough to feed 10 billion people, the population peak we expect by 2050. But the people making less than $2 a day—most of whom are resource-poor farmers cultivating unviably small plots of land—can’t afford to buy this food.

In reality, the bulk of industrially produced grain crops goes to biofuels and confined animal feedlots rather than food for the 1 billion hungry. The call to double food production by 2050 only applies if we continue to prioritize the growing population of livestock and automobiles over hungry people.

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Philadelphia to close 64 public schools

Sound the alarm! It is high time the Caribbean abandon the American economic model. It has failed and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot put that Humpty Dumpty together again without radical reform of that entire economic system. It is an unacknowledged failed-has-been living on past glory. A new symptom of this failure is the degeneration of its public education. Schools are closing across the nation, class sizes are increasing as more and more teachers get laid off, budgets are being slashed, and now the Philadelphia School District has announced its possible dissolution.

Blueprint for Transforming Philadelphia Public Schools," released on April 24, is a sweeping reorganization proposal that includes more than half a billion dollars in budget cuts by 2017. Under the five year plan, 40 underutilized or under-performing schools would be closed next year. Six more schools would be closed each year after that until 2017, bringing the total number of closed schools to 64. 

The bottom line is that under the present system this rich powerful country does not have enough money to run its schools and more will close not just in Philly but nationwide.

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Privatisation will sabotage Jamaica’s future

EditorialPrivatisation is depicted as some panacea for Jamaica’s financial ills but it is really a Trojan horse which will sell-off irreplaceable Jamaican resources and undermine the integrity of the country. Mistakenly, the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) is beating the drums for the Government to speed up plans for the privatisation of the 16 public-sector entities picked out for removal from government control. The Public Sector Master Rationalisation Plan was tabled in Parliament as a Green Paper by previous Prime Minister Bruce Golding. "Portia, nuh dweet!"

Some of the public institutions that were selected to be privatised under public-sector reform are Caymanas Track Limited, St Joseph's Hospital (as a public-private partnership), Wigton Windfarm, Petrojam Ethanol, Clarendon Alumina Production Limited, Parish Cemeteries and Wallenford Coffee.

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Webb heads CONCACAF amidst scandal

Jeffrey Webb, a Cayman Islands banker, has been elected president of Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) to succeed the disgraced T&T’s Jack Warner, a former FIFA vice-president.

A list of financial mismanagement allegations against former CONCACAF leaders Austin "Jack" Warner and Chuck Blazer was outlined to 40 football nations just minutes after they elected Webb as their new president.

Officials from across Central America and the Caribbean turned on their former general secretary, Blazer, the most senior American official in world soccer, and voted to seek his removal from FIFA's executive committee after 16 years.

The revelation of Warner's legal ownership of a $22.5 million CONCACAF Centre of Excellence in his native Trinidad and Tobago stunned officials. They also learned that Warner and former CONCACAF vice-president, Lisle Austin, took out an unauthorised mortgage on the sprawling property in 2007.

Blazer's 10 per cent commissions on television and sponsorship deals, paid to an offshore company called Sportvertising, helped push CONCACAF's staff costs to $9 million from an income of $38 million last year, according to the audit.

Warner ruled CONCACAF and Caribbean soccer for almost three decades before he resigned in June under pressure from the subsequent FIFA probe. Blazer was a longtime ally of Warner before collecting whistleblower evidence last year that sparked a bribery scandal and brought down his former boss.

CONCACAF is a non-profit organisation legally based in the Bahamas, but also has offices in New York City. It has self-reported to the United States Internal Revenue Service because it failed to report tax returns since at least 2007.

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Jamaica wins gold at Chelsea Flower Show

The Olympics in England has not started yet but already Jamaica has won gold, Not for athletics, but for flowers. The Jamaica Horticultural Society (JHS), was awarded gold for Plant of the Year at the Royal Horticultural Chelsea Flower Show in London, United Kingdom.

The team, which was greeted by The Queen at the special event, confessed they had hopes of taking gold at the annual event this year, after winning 11 Silver Gilts awards over the past 16 years.

The award-winning JHS is made up of volunteers from Jamaica. The Chelsea Flower Show, which is organised by the Royal Horticultural Society, aims to encourage amateur gardeners of all levels to try to accomplish similar displays in their own gardens and will be open to the public from May 22-26.

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Marley - the movie

Marley - the movie opened recently in theaters worldwide. It is directed by  Kevin McDonald, winner of the best director Oscar for "The Last King of Scotland" and he shows his class. The movie as described:

"Bob Marley's universal appeal, impact on music history and role as a social and political prophet is both unique and unparalleled. "Marley" is the definitive life story of the musician, revolutionary, and legend, from his early days to his rise to international superstardom."

This is a fantastic movie and must not be missed. I saw the sold-out premiere but others have reported to my dismay that only 4 or 5 people were in the theater when they saw it. So find out where it is showing and go see it.

 

 


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