UNDILUTED pays tribute to John Maxwell by featuring two previous columns by him from the Hot Calaloo UNDILUTED archives:
Not just a book but an invitation to join the Goodwill
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by Donna Hemans ... $16.10
---------------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.
T&T prosecutor assassinated
Trinidad and Tobago reeled from the assassination early of Dana Seetahal, well-respected prosecutor, senior counsel (SC), an outspoken independent senator during her time in Parliament, and well-read Express columnist. It was the first assassination of a senior member of the criminal justice system.
Seetahal, 58, a fearless prosecutor who had prosecuted attempted-coup leader Abu Bakr in the past and successfully won the lawsuit which enabled the State to sell the former insurgent’s property, was currently prosecutor in another high-profile case—the murder trial of Vindra Naipaul-Coolman.
The mood of the country was one of overwhelming fear, worry and insecurity. So shaken was the country that some people went so far as to say the last time the society had experienced this "what-the-hell-is-going-on-here?" kind of shock was when they saw Yasin Abu Bakr on their television sets on July 27, 1990.
The obviously carefully-planned hit was executed, from all appearances, with precision, using military assault rifles. Seetahal did not stand a chance as she drove from Ma Pau casino in Woodbrook—to her home.
No one could have survived the onslaught that she faced. The weapons of war employed by the assassins were designed to do maximum damage in a military setting, capable of penetrating the outer frame of her vehicle as well as a bullet-proof vest, not that she wore one.
Dana Seetahal touched a wide constituency of people—lawyers and judicial officers, politicians and parliamentarians, journalists and a broad cross-section of friends and, most importantly, a family of siblings, nieces and nephews. Anyone who has passed through any of the law schools in the Caribbean in the last ten years learned criminal practice and procedure at the criminal bar from Dana Seetahal. Her book, Commonwealth Caribbean Criminal Practice and Procedure, is a must-read, a virtual gospel for law students in the Commonwealth Caribbean. The best-seller is into its third edition.
Trinidad and Tobago authorities have announced a TT$2.5 million (One TT dollar=US$0.16 cents) reward for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for the murder of prominent Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal, as Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar sought to give the assurance that other high level officials were not being targeted by criminals.
T&T journalist flees country after receiving death threats
Mark Bassant, a senior investigative journalist with Trinidad & Tobago's Caribbean Communication Network (CCN) TV6, has reportedly been forced to flee the country after receiving death threats. Reportedly, he received the threats while working on sensitive investigative material. He said the National Security Minister and Acting Police Commissioner have been made aware of the threats. It is also reported that "key underworld criminals" had made the death threat against Mr. Bassant.
Jamaica PriceSmart bans Cubans
Once again the US has kicked Jamaica’s sovereignty in the teeth. The US based PriceSmart store in Jamaica recently suspended the accounts of staff and residents of the Cuban Embassy. The general manager of PriceSmart Jamaica wrote to Cuba's Ambassador to Jamaica indicating that they were forced to suspend the accounts as the US Government prohibits its parent company, PriceSmart Incorporated from transacting business with Cubans who are not permanent residents of Jamaica or any other country.
United States is in contravention of United Nations General Assembly resolution, which has called for an end to the more than five decades of economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba.
This atrocious stance taken by PriceSmart Incorporated is not unique to Jamaica and Cuban officials in other Caribbean and Central American countries, including Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, have found themselves facing similar blockade.
PriceSmart Inc. is the largest operator of membership warehouse clubs in Central America and the Caribbean, with over 770,000 membership accounts and 1 million cardholders. PriceSmart is headquartered in San Diego, California, and it owns and operates 33 warehouse clubs in 12 countries and one U.S. territory. It also offers online shopping in all countries where PriceSmart operates.
Caribbean Airlines pilots fed up
Caribbean Airlines (CAL) pilots in Jamaica have joined their colleagues in Trinidad in registering disgust at the company's failure to pay them their full salaries over the past four years. They went out to the airport and they issued letters addressed to the chairman, who is stationed in Trinidad, but they delivered them to the general manager in Jamaica. The Trinidad pilots had presented their grievance letters days before to the management there, expressing their disgust that they haven't been paid their variable incentive pay from as far back as 2010.
The move by the Jamaican pilots was a show of solidarity and unity with their Trinidadian colleagues, as the variable incentive payments to the Jamaicans have been long outstanding. The last time it was paid in Jamaica was for up to September 2012," Woodstock said.
Jamaica withdraws new tax
The Jamaica government proposed a tax rate of five to 10 cents for every $100 withdrawn from an ABM, swiped at a cash register or written on cheques As a result, the Government expects to collect $2.3 billion over nine months (or $3 billion annualised) from a new levy on transactions through deposit taking institutions and securities dealers.
The tax, which will also be chargeable on all electronic banking transactions, Internet transfers (except transfers between two accounts of the same person in the same financial institution), and encashments from securities dealers, was to become effective June 1. There was such a public outcry, the tax was never instituted and was withdrawn instead.
In its rationale for the tax, the finance ministry cited Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Colombia as jurisdictions in which a similar levy has already been introduced.
Jamaica Cannabis conference wants ganja decriminalisation
The first Jamaica Cannabis Conference ended recently at the University of the West Indies, Mona, with a declaration from participants that the Government immediately put in place a road map, of no more than 120 days, to deal with the decriminalisation of ganja.
The conference, boasting a high-level list of international speakers concerned with medical cannabis and other related issues, from Jamaica, Israel, Canada, China and the United States, declared that no "meaningful results", in terms of legislative reforms, had emerged from various parliamentary committees and consultations which have been pursued.
The participants, therefore, issued a declaration which called on the Government to:
"We fully support the Conference Theme, 'Wake up Jamaica, Our Opportunities are Slipping Away', and strongly urge our legislators to act expeditiously, and not fall prey to undue caution, legalism and conservatism, or trying to get a 'picture- perfect' solution, leading to inaction," the declaration from the conference said.
Keep ganja production local
One of the first two Jamaicans to get Government approval to study ganja for medicinal purposes has urged Jamaica not to give away its ganja-production rights to large foreign corporations. Dr Albert Lockhart who, with the late Dr Manley West of the University of the West Indies (UWI), pioneered and developed Canasol, the cannabis-based drug that treats the common eye disease glaucoma, said he expected large corporations to seek to develop major ganja-production operations here after marijuana is decriminalised.
"What I am saying, if anyone is listening, is let the production of ganja remain in the hands of the communities as it is now," Lockhart said Jamaica needed to make haste in decriminalising ganja as the country was now in danger of being left behind by the rest of the world despite having the best brand of the weed.
Merchants unite in Jamaica to help public sector workers
Jamaican merchants are rallying to support public sector workers in a unique history-setting program. This program, called Team Jamaica, was formatted by the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, and the Government. In it, public sector workers should, in another four weeks at least, start benefiting from a program designed to give them discounts on consumer goods. According to Lennox Robinson, director of ePayment Group Ltd, the program is being implemented in recognition of the fact that government workers have agreed to a three-year wage freeze.
Robinson explained that ePayment Group is charged with the responsibility of putting the program together because the company has the platform, infrastructure and technology to deploy this type of service.
"We will provide the technology to make it work, and we'll give them marketing support -- we're building a website and creating all the support infrastructure to make this program a success," Robinson said, adding that there are 120,000 workers in the public sector with a wage bill of $150 billion per year. He explained that under the program, each public sector worker will be provided with a pinned swipe card that they can use at participating merchants' stores.
"The merchants will decide the discount," Robinson said. "Each discount will go directly onto the card as cash, which the cardholder can then use at another retailer. The cardholder can spend the money anywhere they want to."
Rollout of the program, he said, is dependent on the Government, which has promised to provide a list of all workers. "We're expecting a list of 47,000 in the first tranche," Robinson said, adding that cardholders will be required to use their phone to text their card number to ePayment as part of the registration process. Approximately 250 merchants are, in the long run, expected to participate in the program.
US upset with Guyana
The United States says the decision of the Guyana Government to revoke the work permit of Glenn Bradbury, the head of the US-funded Leadership and Democracy (LEAD) project is contrary to its understanding of the Government to review the program. Guyana contended that Mr. Bradbury, a Canadian national "has had a reputation brought to the attention both of his employer -- the US Government
Washington claimed the US$1.5 million LEAD is designed to benefit the Government and people of Guyana, through the promotion of understanding and consensus-building within the National Assembly; greater citizen engagement with Parliament; civic education on local Government and greater civic engagement among women and youth.
But is it? The Guyana government deemed as "provocative" the implementation of the LEAD activities. Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon said that the project was being carried out by the United States Embassy here, despite Government's disapproval and concern with the impact it could have on the sound bi-lateral relationship that exists between the two countries.
Jamaica’s Coronation Market burns!
MILLIONS of dollars in goods and equipment were destroyed a fire which razed more than 30 stalls at historic Coronation Market, West Kingston, Jamaica. Two firefighters were also injured as they suffered electric shock from several live power wires while they fought to put out the blaze.
Police said that about 5:00 pm, vendors saw smoke coming from the Chapel Lane end of the market facility and raised an alarm. "Four units, from Rollington Town, Trench Town and York Park, were used to bring the fire under control," Coronation Market is viewed as the pivotal point of trade and commerce in the heart of Kingston. It was refurbished in 2011, after being partially burnt during the security operation into Tivoli Gardens in May 2010.
Man drowns during river baptism in Puerto Rico
One person drowned and two others were rescued during a baptism taking place along the island's north coast, authorities in Puerto Rico reported. Police said a 25-year-old man died and two women ages 20 and 32 were rescued by good Samaritans after a current carried them away.
Patois interpreter shortage in Canada
Recently in Canada, a drug-smuggling case declared mistrial because for lack of an interpreter for Jamaican patois. A Canadian judge and an interpreters' association in Ontario that there is a shortage of professional interpreters of Jamaican patois in that North American country.
The situation is described as "critical", particularly in the criminal justice system in Ontario, the province with the highest concentration of Jamaicans.
Although there is no shortage of Jamaicans in Canada, with more than 2,000 having immigrated in 2012 alone. That means that there is also no shortage of people who speak and can understand Patois. The problem, however, is that very few are accredited in a professional capacity by the Canadian authorities.
The issue as it relates to the criminal justice system in Ontario relates to the method of obtaining accreditation as an interpreter by the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, as well as the corresponding quality and quantity of interpreters who wish to obtain the accreditation. The National Post story also quoted executive director of the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario Catherine Schweizer, who said none of the members of her organisation were accredited Jamaican Patois interpreters. Further, she said she didn't even have the examination materials to certify someone in the area.
No sex for Mexican World Cup players
Mexico is really serious about the World Cup. The manager of their World Cup team Miguel Herrera wants his players to avoid sex during the World Cup in Brazil, joking it will be okay to look at but not touch bikini-clad women.
The fiery coach said he would not ban his 23 men from any hanky-panky but that he would prefer they practise abstinence during the month-long tournament that kicks off on June 12.
"I am not thinking about prohibiting sex nor that they would have it," Herrera told a news conference.
"I am thinking about football and I hope that the boys are thinking about football because nobody has died from practising abstinence for 40 days," he said.
"Some people are virgins until marriage and they are 20 or 25 years old. So, please, nobody will die for 40 days."
Asked whether the rule applies to the coaching staff, Herrera said he would be too busy drawing tactics against Group A rivals Brazil, Croatia and Cameroon to think about anything else.
"If you cross a bikini and you see it and that’s all, it’s no big deal. We will be in front of the beach, it’s impossible not to cross a bikini in Brazil, but looking doesn’t hurt," he quipped.
While Mexico will not be based in Brazil’s version of sin city, Rio de Janeiro, the team’s base camp will be in the coastal city of Santos, which has its own beach.
Other World Cup managers have addressed the sex issue. Brazil’s Luiz Felipe Scolari said in April that he told his players that they can have "normal sex" before games but they should avoid any under-the-sheets acrobatics.
Editor’s Comment: No wonder no Caribbean country made it to Brazil.
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