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3 Guyanese and Trini arrested in JFK bomb plot
The FBI have identified three Guyanese and a Trinidadian as terrorists who have plotted to blow up the JFK airport in New York city. Two of the accused, Abdul Abdul Kadir, a citizen of Guyana and former member of its parliament, and Kareem Ibrahim, a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago were arrested in Trinidad.
The third suspect, Russell Defreitas, a U.S. citizen and native of Guyana was arrested in New York. U.S. authorities have said he was a former airport employee who conducted surveillance for the group, identifying targets and escape routes.
Abdel Nur of Guyana, the only one of four suspects who was still at large, turned himself in at a police station in Diego Martin in western Trinidad. U.S. authorities have said Nur belonged to Jamaat al Muslimeen, a Muslim group behind the 1990 coup attempt in Trinidad. He is the uncle of Andrew "Sixhead" Lewis, Guyana's first professional boxing champion.
As with other similar recent cases in the United States, authorities have acknowledged the plot was more "aspirational" than operational, and was nipped in the bud by law enforcement agencies before it got off the ground.
U.S. officials and commentators have had a field day pondering whether the Caribbean, more commonly associated with fine rums and cricket on the beach, was now an overlooked Afghanistan teeming with Islamic radicals plotting attacks against U.S. interests. However, Muslim leaders and analysts in the region insist the New York plot, if ultimately proved, would be nothing more than an isolated scheme planned by highly unprofessional conspirators with no ties to Al Qaeda.
Editor’s Note: Terrorists or just more US scare tactics? Many a Guyanese and Trinidadian are dismayed into super-defensiveness. I will go out on a limb and predict that this is nothing but a trumped-up case manufactured to feed the terrorism hysteria here in US in order to maintain and justify the continued suppression of the civil and privacy rights of US citizens. Did these plotters try to obtain explosives? Do they have the sophisticated knowledge to blow up a New York airport? They probably could not even blow up a balloon. Is it believable that a retired airport NY airport cargo handler, and three men living abroad in Trinidad would be capable of blowing up one of the largest, busiest, most well-protected airport in the US? The men were under surveillance, so why did the FBI not wait until they had more evidence, such as the acquisition of explosives, to arrest them? In my opinion, at worst these men might be guilty of nothing more than some ‘ol talk’.
‘Conference on the Caribbean’ seeks to improve US ties
A major conference is set to take place on June 19-21 in Washington DC under the theme 'Conference on the Caribbean - A 20/20 Vision', Details were outlined recently at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, at the opening ceremony of a seminar on Jamaica's (CARICOM's) future trade relationship with the U.S..
The Conference is being structured in such a way that there is Government to Government and people to people interaction as well as interaction between the Governments and the people. This will be the first time the policy makers, the international financial institutions, academic community, private sector, and people of the Caribbean and the United States will interface in one Conference to examine the growth and development of the Caribbean Community from a regional perspective.
Gordon Shirley, Jamaica's ambassador to the U.S., said the objectives of the conference were to deepen and strengthen the nature of the dialogue between the governments of the region and the Government of the United States and to reinforce the dialogue between the people of the U.S. and the region. He added that other objectives of the conference included promoting the Caribbean in Washington.
Some factors affecting relationships include:
Jamaica’s Petrojam oil deal with Venezuela
The Jamaican Cabinet has formally approved the US$63.7 million sale of 49 per cent of the Petrojam oil refinery to Venezuela's national oil company, Petrolos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) and Caracas is expected to pay $63.7 million for the sale .The PDVSA acquisition, to which ministers gave the greenlight, is a precursor to modernisation and expansion of the 35,000 barrels-a-day refinery and the earnings are expected to go towards Kingston’s cost of the project. Jamaica and Venezuela have been negotiating the deal for about a year.
The oil refinery deal is being done under President Hugo Chavez's PetroCaribe energy initiative, under which Jamaica and other Caribbean countries already receive up to 40 per cent of the oil delivered by Venezuela on credit. The remainder of the payment is converted to long-term debt at one per cent. Jamaica last year is projected to have 'saved' an estimated US$180 million from the PetroCaribe program.
But the Chavez initiative also contemplates other areas of cooperation in energy, such as the Petrojam deal, whose first phase, at a cost of US$250 million, will include expanding the more-than-forty-year-old refinery to 50,000bpd and the installation of a new cataclyctic cracker, which will improve the efficiency of the plant and enhance its ability to refine heavier crudes. This phase of the project, for which design work has begun, is expected to be completed in 2010.
The next phase, costing another US$250 million, if it goes through, will widen Petrojam product mix, including the manufacture of petro-coke as an energy source for power plants here and for export.
The Petrojam refinery was owned by Exxon Corporation but was acquired by the Jamaican government, through the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), in the 1980s when the Edward Seaga administration resisted an attempt to raise fuel prices.
Jamaica-Cuba energy project to save billions
Over one million energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) donated by Cuba have been distributed to Jamaican households. Furthermore, the Cuban government has guaranteed to supply every Jamaican household.
Consumers using the CFLs are expected to save $748 million per year. The CFLs are projected to reduce peak demand for electricity by 80 megawatts, which would save the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) $5.4 billion in lowering the amount needed to be spent on increasing its installed capacity.
The joint teams of Cuban social workers and Jamaican volunteers that distribute the CFLs exchange them with householders for old incandescent bulbs which are destroyed. One hundred Cubans are expected to arrive in Jamaica soon to continue the work. Cuban President Fidel Castro decided to donate the bulbs following an 'enthusiastic' five-hour presentation on energy saving given to Mr. Paulwell when he visited Cuba in 2005. Cuba previously freely distributed the CFLs domestically and designated 2006 'The Year of the Cuban Energy Revolution'.
For the third time in less than five years, Guyana’s leading newspaper, Kaieteur News, came under attack from gunmen. According to police, two men invaded the editorial department shortly after noon on Friday and held several reporters at gunpoint including, Editor-in-Chief, Adam Harris. The Guyana Government and the Guyana Press Association (GPA) have since condemned the attack.
A police press statement noted that no one was harmed in the ordeal which lasted some three minutes, but that the target appeared to be the newspaper’s publisher, Glenn Lall, who was in the United States at the time. However, in the aftermath of the attack, several reporters were traumatized and had to be consoled and efforts were being made to beef-up security at the premises.
According to reports, the two men entered the building located on the
outskirts of the capital, Georgetown, seeking Lall’s whereabouts. After
being told that Lall was unavailable, the two men then whipped out
handguns and ordered staffers to lie on the floor, while holding a gun to
a reporter’s head. The men later fled on foot.
Inadequate resources handicap Ja cops
We hear a lot about corruption and the ineptitude of the Jamaica police force, but not much about the deplorable conditions under which they are forced to operate. But Jamaica’s Assistant Commissioner of Police Les Green, head of the Major Investigation Task force (MIT) says that significant forensic challenges, a lack of resources, training and equipment, are among the major obstacles preventing the police from removing more murderers from the streets. At least 514 persons were reported murdered in Jamaica since January and the police have only been able to close their files on 40 per cent of the cases.
Investigators often are forced to wait up to a year for the forensic results needed to solve cases and to apprehend criminals. Even then forensic training for police is inadequate although new plans are underway to provide much more training.
The police said there has been significant improvement in the Government-funded Witness Protection Program, which has been accepting people almost daily. Of course, policemen are prime targets of criminals. Pointing to the cases of the 63 policemen murdered between 2002 and 2006, the police said 35 of those cases have been cleared up. But they were unable to say how many of the 29 guns that were stolen from the lawmen were recovered.
Monthly Murder Rate 2007 vs 2006
Overseas ex-cops renovate Jamaican police stations
Some 26 members of the Jamaica Ex-Police Association, Florida chapter, will undertake the renovation of the Richmond police station in St. Mary. Supplies and equipment totaling US$3,000 have been donated for the project by the members to assist in the refurbishing work.
This year, members of the Florida chapter will partner with members of the local chapter to assist in the general renovation, which will include the painting of the building, plumbing, masonry and carpentry, and installation of new equipment at the station.
This is the fourth annual effort organised by the Jamaica Ex-Police members to do general restoration and renovation of police stations across the island. Since the inception of the program, the members of the Jamaica Ex-Police have completed clean-up work at other stations, including Four Paths, Clarendon; Lucea, Hanover; and Ocho Rios in St. Ann.
The association members will also present the annual scholarship to a student in St. Mary at a presentation ceremony on May 28.
Meanwhile, the association will hold its annual fund-raising and scholarship awards banquet on June 16 at the Hilton Airport Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. Guest speaker will be Commissioner of Police, Lucius Thomas.
The Jamaica Ex-Police Association in South Florida was started nearly 16 years ago and now has an enrolment of nearly 130 members, all former officers of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. Other chapters are established in New York and Connecticut.
Sugar production tops 500,000 tons
The Caribbean regional sugar production for the period of July 2006 to April 2007 has topped 500,000 tons. The five countries of the Sugar Association of the Caribbean export to the EU, US and within Caricom. The five countries are Guyana, Jamaica, Belize, Barbados and Trinidad. To date, just three-quarters or 375,600 tons have been exported, with the majority 320,000 tons sold to the EU, followed by Caricom 32,800, and the U.S. with over 22,000 tons. Overall, the Caribbean sugar sector is aiming for a 600,000 production target for this year, but the Sugar Association says the outcome remains dependent on good weather conditions. Sugar production figures so far are as follows:
Jamaica offers free health care for kids
Jamaica has reached a new milestone. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller recently unveiled a plan to provide free medical treatment at all public hospitals and clinics for all Jamaicans under the age of 18. The plan is now operational. The government has estimated that it will cost between $5.2 million $7.4 million annually to finance the free health-care program. Opposition leaders have derided the plan as a vote-catching move.
Bringing back courtesy
Villa Road Primary and Junior High School in Mandeville, Jamaica, has embarked on a program of teaching courtesy and other values and attitudes to its student population of 1,400 students. Along with the publication of a magazine with 100 questions and answers about good manners, the school will also crown its courtesy king and queen. This is the brainchild of school guidance councilor Rose Johnson-Smith who felt that she could make a difference in the distressing trend of students who "did not seem to care about each other". But not only students, but seemed widespread in the population all over Jamaica. She was determined that her school would buck that awful trend. "The idea came to me that I needed to go on a values and attitude drive."
In 2006, Villa Road Primary and Junior High School had a one-day of courtesy celebration, but for 2007, the guidance councilor decided to orchestrate a whole week of events, in addition to a program to encourage teachers to "teach a value a day." Johnson-Smith pulled together a steering committee which created the magazine of 100 questions and answers relating to good manners. This, she said, was to ensure that students always had something to look at.
"The aim of the booklet is to make students realise that displaying good values and attitudes plays a significant role in them becoming better citizens."
Air Jamaica sells London route
Air Jamaica has sold its London Route to Virgin Atlantic and the Government has approved the sale. The airline's exit from the route will take effect in November. Mike Conway, president and chief executive officer of Air Jamaica said that the route had been unprofitable, with the company losing US$27 million (J$1.8 billion) in 2006. He estimated that for a full year of 2007 would likely go to US$30 million, making route losses have a negative contribution of US$2.5 million per month.
The Air Jamaica has stated that Virgin Atlantic would accommodate all passengers at the price they have paid on its flights departing after October 28 this year. The sale will see 20 jobs in reservations, sales and airport operations affected at the London office, which will be closed. Virgin Atlantic has also agreed to provide, where possible, to provide employment opportunities for the approximately 20 staff members in London.
Jamaican real estate advertised worldwide via Internet
,A well-known local realtor in Jamaica has teamed up with the Chicago-based international association of a worldwide network of independent real estate agents. This is an attempt at international exposure in order to market Jamaican real estate overseas
They company is all over the world with some 5,500 offices and about 165,000 agents who are members of the leading real estate companies in many countries It's a great marketing tool and is considered an invaluable exposure to people all over the world who want to buy or rent Jamaican real estate.
Editor's Note:The deal has been ballyhooed in the local press, giving out a lot of free publicity and advertising. But, I wonder if it’s a good thing since it is bound to drive Jamaica real estate prices higher and further out of reach of most Jamaicans.
Jamaica tourism boomed in 2006
In 2006, Jamaica saw increased arrivals by 13.5% and over one million visitors came from the United States. Jamaica welcomed three million visitors in one year and saw a 31% increase from Canada. Europe saw a 9.5% increase; U.K. saw a 17% increase and Latin America saw a 32% increase.
Last year, one thousand new rooms were added, and another twelve hundred new rooms is planned this year. Jamaica is expected to see 10,000 hotel rooms in the next five years.
The cruise industry’s passenger arrivals rose 18% topping at over 1.3 million passengers. More than 841,000 cruise passengers stopped at Ocho Rios while Montego Bay saw a 48% increase in cruise passenger arrivals.
The North Coast of Jamaica is the scene of rapid growth with a number of new hotel properties recently opened or in development while several existing hotel have been renovated. The tourism product’s strong growth is aided by major renovations happening at both airports in Montego Bay and Kingston as well as work being done to roads, air and sea facilities. Brand new attractions have been opened recently or have undergone a renovation or upgrade.
‘Dreadlocks Rasta’ Miss Jamaica peps up Miss Universe contest
Dreadlocks Rasta! But it was not a buffalo soldier but it was Miss Jamaica at the 2007 Miss Universe beauty pageant in Mexico City. The Miss Universe beauty pageant will never be the same. Miss Japan won but the 2007 contest was unique for many reasons such as:.
Program benefiting Jamaica inner-city communities
The RISE Life Management Services (formerly Addiction Alert), led by executive director Sonita Morin Abrahams, has been operating social intervention programs through the Citizen Security and Justice Program (CSJP) which have been very beneficial to the various inner-city communities in Jamaica.
The Addiction Alert organisation was established by the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica in 1989. Based on the organisation's experience over the years, the direction and focus of the program have been reviewed and adjusted in order to meet the current needs of young people at risk in Jamaica, particularly those living in inner-city communities.
"The CSJP began in 2001 and is currently just beginning its fifth and final year. It is a very critical program because it provides:
Hosting Cricket World Cup leaves massive debt for Jamaica
What does the US and Jamaica now have in common? They both owe massive debts to China. China coughed up some J$9 billion in loans to Jamaica to build the new stadium in Trelawney and to upgrade Sabina Park. According to Chamber of Commerce president Mark Myers the original cost projected was US$100 million (J$6.8 billion). Myers believes the country might have buried itself in more debt by playing co-hosts to Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007.
The expected income the tourney was to generate, never materialized. Ticket prices were high and attendance at the games were low. The early departure of cricket powerhouses Pakistan and India meant also the early departure of Pakistani and Indian tourist supporters or their non-arrival.
CWC security forced special visa regulations in which all tourists needed another visa to come to Jamaica. This required them to give up their passports for four weeks. Many could not afford to do that since they travel all over the globe. So there was a loss in regular tourists too.
But despite the negative spin-off, Myers says that the tournament gave Jamaica a chance to showcase to the world that it can put on a good show, noting that the tournament itself ran smoothly, from opening ceremony to matches.
It was a bold gamble, but was it worth it? Besides hindsight is 20/20.
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