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.
Lightning Bolt strikes New York with world record
At the Reebok Grand Prix in New York, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt has set a new 100m World Record of 9.72 seconds. It is 0.2 seconds faster than the record set by fellow compatriot Asafa Powell. The 100 metres is not regarded as Bolt's favourite race. In recent months he has been using the distance as "speed work" training for the 200 metres.
As he did in 2002 at age 16 - when he became the 200 metres junior world champion - the now 21-year-old beat out Olympic and World champion Tyson Gaye, to make his small district of Sherwood Content, a deep rural farming district set in the cool hills of northern Trelawny, very proud. The bad road conditions that exist leading into the rural community prompted Bolt’s aunt Lilly to tell aJamaica Observer newspaper interviewer, "Mi tell Usain fi ask the government to give us some road." Maybe the Usain Bolt Highway to Sherwood Content is in the works.
Now, Usain Bolt has three world records - Youth 200m (20.13), World Junior 200m (19.93) and now the 100m (9.72). More is likely to come.
Banana faces extinction
We really love our banana. We are not alone as it is the world’s favorite fruit. Upwards of 100 million metric tons of bananas are being produced each year, feeding a $5 billion export market. It is the fourth most important food crop in the world, and a dietary staple of some 600 million people across Latin American and sub-Saharan Africa.
However, back in 2003, the magazine New Scientist declared that the banana was on the brink of extinction and could disappear in 10 years time. The problem, the article explained, was that commercial bananas were genetically bankrupt: sterile, seedless clones with no genetic diversity and no resistance to a new wave of virulent fungal diseases.
The banana has always been vulnerable to disease. In the 1950’s the popular Gros Mitchell banana had to be replace by the current Cavendish banana because of its resistance to the scourge of Panama disease. Now, a new strain of this disease has already decimated plantations across Southeast Asia and is widely expected to spread into plantations in Latin America and Africa. Experts say the spread to the rest of the banana-growing world is inevitable. So history could repeat itself but with worse consequences. For when the Gros Mitchell was wiped out, at an estimated $400 million in expense, the Cavendish was there to take its place. Now the loss would be in billions with no replacement in sight.
Sure, there is frantic research underway for years. It is a very slow long testing process using cross-pollination to come up with a resistant hybrid. Even genetic modification research is being employed. But, so far, nothing.
Chiquita Banana guilty
Chiquita Brands International, Inc. — the largest banana company in the world led the war against the trade protection of Caribbean bananas, which has left many an island reeling. However, just last year Chiquita pleaded guilty to the charge of transacting with a terrorist organisation known as the AUC in exchange for the protection of their banana fields. This terrorist organization has been involved in the killing of thousands of rural Colombians in addition to torture, kidnappings, rape, beatings, extortion, and drug trafficking.
But Chiquita and other big fruit companies, like Dole, are brutally exploiting workers and the Earth in order to reap huge profits. Their workers earn as little as $2 a day and receive no overtime pay or health insurance. Children as young as eight often work in the fields to help their families survive, where they are exposed to toxic pesticides. use sharp machetes, drink unsanitary water, and face sexual harassment. It is this type of multinational corporation that CARICOM bananas must face.
Displaced Jamaican farm workers seek compensation
AS MANY AS 4,000 Jamaican former farm workers, who were shunted off Florida's sugar cane fields following the mechanisation of the farms in the 1990s, are now being told to go home, or face further distress.
One-time recruiter Jamaica Central Labour Organisation, says the men - now frustrated and angry after many years of waiting and several failed lawsuits - should go back to Jamaica. But their lawyer advises that if they leave the US, they will miss out on benefits they are rightly owed.
The matter involves some 2,000 Jamaican men who worked as cane cutters in Florida between 1987 and 1993, and are eligible to join a lawsuit to recover an estimated US$10 million (J$720 million) in unpaid wages from their employer, Osceola Farms. The group's troubles began in the early 1990s, following changes to a major agricultural provision. The USA's Immigration Reform and Control Act (1986) allowed persons to qualify by either being in the country continuously for five years, or having worked under the Special Agricultural Workers program. This meant being employed for at least 90 days in fruit, sugar cane or vegetable.
By 1988, the US government allowed the men to apply and then issued them with temporary work-authorisation cards. This allowed some 10,000 farm workers to work and live in the US, travel back and forth to Jamaica (similar to the privileges of a green-card holder, with the only restriction being that they could not apply for their family members). They all got social security number and a driver's license based on these cards.
In later years, there were new regulations to define 'fruit' and 'vegetable' under the program, determining which of the crops could qualify a worker for amnesty. Sugar cane was not categorised as either fruit or vegetable leaving them out in the cold.
A lawsuit filed was lost, and at that point, the US government stopped renewing the cards. By the time the case was over in 1992, the US had a new president and agriculture department. In addition, machines had been brought in to replace manual labour in sugar cane field work.
There are about 2,000 to 4,000 of these men still in the US with those expired cards. Men who got other jobs, and for whom social security was paid, would have accrued a great deal of social security money, as they would have been working since 1988. But, they cannot access those benefits until they get legal status. If they go back home, they will never get that money.
Katrina foreign worker exploitation
After Hurricane Katrina, billions of dollars poured into the Gulf Coast region to rebuild. Unfortunately, many corporations used these funds to enrich themselves instead of investing in the devastated communities. When Signal International needed workers to rebuild the shipping industry, they did not hire and train the local population. Instead, Signal used the exploitive "guest worker" visas and corrupt recruiters to hire cheap labor.
Welders and pipe-fitters from India paid recruiters up to $20,000 for the promise of temporary visas for themselves and their families. Upon arrival to the U.S. these workers were placed in cramped, unsanitary housing, charged exorbitant rent, had their passports taken from them, and were even physically beaten when they spoke out against these unacceptable conditions. Their working and living conditions in the Gulf Coast amounted to modern day human slavery.
On March 6, more than 100 workers broke the human trafficking chain and quit their jobs at Signal in protest. These workers, together with the New Orleans Workers Center , are carrying forward the struggle for justice not only for themselves, but also for all immigrant workers in the U.S. by exposing the fundamental injustices of the guest worker program. These workers have toured the U.S. telling their stories and have appealed to Federal Government to investigate Signal International and their recruiters, only to be surveilled by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Globalization plunder of Haiti rice market typical
U.S. rice didn't take over the Haitian market because it tastes
better, or because U.S. rice growers are more efficient. It won out
because rice exports are heavily subsidized by the U.S. government. In
2003, U.S. rice growers received $1.7 billion in government subsidies,
an average of $232 per hectare of rice grown. That money, most of
which went to a handful of very large landowners and agribusiness
corporations, allowed U.S. exporters to sell rice at 30% to 50% below
their real production costs.
Put PALS in Jamaica school curricula to curb violence
Jamaica is being ravaged by violence and schools are not immune. A leading civic advocate is lobbying for violence mediation to be formally incorporated into school curricula throughout Jamaica. Janilee Abrikian, general manager of Peace And Love in Society (PALS), argues that timetabling conflict resolution sessions would help address school indiscipline at the local level, which would have a knock-on effect nationally.
"To address the matter of violence in schools in a systemic way, there has got to be a policy in schools that states that they need to set aside a period for PALS once a week because Jamaica has become a society of cultural violence," said Abrikian, who has been at the helm of the mainly school-centered organisation since 1997.
"To change that you have to teach alternatives to violence," she added.
Viagra handouts in Chilean town
Older residents in a Chilean town are being given free Viagra. Mayor Gonzalo Navarette Munoz says he wants to improve the quality of life of men aged 60 or over in the Santiago suburb of Lo Prado. He said he was inspired by complaints from older patients about their poor sex lives while working as a doctor. He said: "This is about giving our elderly population a better quality of life."
Navarette says that within the next few days, physicians will start dispensing the drug at their surgeries and his office will pick up the bill. He intends to hand out Viagra four times a month to every man who asks for it and passes a medical.
Editor's Note: The important thing here is the innovation of this mayor to address the needs of his community. The Jamaican community needs the innovation of PALS in the school curriculum to overcome violence.
Wyclef Jean launches new initiative to help Haiti
At least six people were killed during a week of violent protests
last month against rising food and fuel costs in Haiti, where most
people scrape by on less than $2 per day. Haitian-born hip-hop star
Wyclef Jean is doing something positive about that condition. He
launched a new initiative to help his impoverished homeland on Tuesday
following last month's deadly food riots.
Praedial larceny- the scourge of food production in Jamaica
Food prices worldwide are soaring. Jamaica’s Minister of Agriculture has called for more farming from large commercial farms to the small farmer. However, there exists in Jamaica a problem even greater than drought and adverse weather conditions. It is a manmade problem. It is praedial larceny, a problem that plagues other Caribbean countries too.
In Jamaica, these parasitic thieves raid these farms and are taking the bread out of the mouths of hardworking farmers, especially the small farmer. These farmers have lost millions of dollars worth of livestock and crops.
There are heartrending stories that farmers relate such as:
Cuba to help Jamaica agriculture
Agricultural officials from Cuba are expected to arrive in Jamaica before the end of June to help the Government in its drive to increase the production of cassava, potato and other tubers. That is one aspect of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed yesterday by Agriculture Minister Dr Christopher Tufton and his Cuban counterpart in Havana. Under the agreement, Jamaica will provide Cuba with assistance in the area of research and development.
Jamaica was very interested in the transfer of some of the technology now being used in Cuba. These include the use of organic material and worms to treat the soil. During a tour of a greenhouse farming project in Cuba, Jamaica’s agriculture minister noted that Cuban farmers were using different crops to repel insects and contribute to the protection of other plants.
St Lucia's economic affairs minister resigns
St. Lucia’s Economic Affairs and National Development Minister Ausbert d'Auvergne has tendered his resignation from the Cabinet to Prime Minister Stephenson King.
At least four of the ruling United Workers Party's (UWP) members of Parliament, along with the Opposition St Lucia Labour Party (SLP), had publicly and repeatedly called for d'Auvergne to go, complaining that he was wielding far too much power and influence within the Cabinet for an unelected member. With rumors that two other ministers were on the verge of resigning, the King government was near collapse.
Cuba to help ease Jamaica nurse shortage
Ninety-one Cuban health-care workers are to arrive in Jamaica by September to ease the shortage of nurses and other professionals at public facilities across the island.
The Minister of Health and Environment, Rudy Spencer said 16 Cuban nurses have already arrived in Jamaica. He also indicated that 34 nurses would arrive in July. Between July and September, a further 39 Cuban specialists will arrive for the North Eastern Regional Health Authority. The health minister said that batch would include five doctors, three biomedical engineers and four pharmacists.
In March, Spencer said an additional 1,562 health-care workers were needed to fill the shortage in public facilities.
St. Lucia signs anti-pollution pact
St Lucia has stepped up its efforts to reduce pollution of the
Caribbean Sea by signing a regional environmental agreement that will
see it putting in more stringent pollution reduction and prevention
controls. On January 29, 2008, St Lucia became the fourth country to
sign the regional environmental agreement titled ‘Land Based Sources
of Marine Pollution Protocol’ (LBS), joining Panama, Trinidad and
Tobago and the Government of France.
Jamaica removes small car tax to promote fuel efficiency
Audley Shaw, Jamaica’s minister of finance and the public service, says the Government will be removing the special consumption tax (SCT) on motor vehicles of 1,000 ccs or less. The new policy was being implemented in an attempt to encourage Jamaicans to use energy-efficient motor vehicles.
Zero special consumption tax and, as the cc ratings go up. The higher the cc rating, the higher the SCT application to it." Shaw said there would be a further 10 per cent reduction on diesel units of all types.
Last year, the Government recorded a fuel bill of $1.79 billion as at November 2007, according to data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), already outstripping spending for the entire calendar year of 2006 by more than US$152 million.
Dominican tribe wants to ban intermarriage
The leader of the last remaining pre-Columbian tribe in the eastern Caribbean wants to outlawing marriage to outsiders in order to save Dominica's dwindling indigenous population. Chief Charles Williams has proposed a law requiring ethnic Kalinagos to marry only each other for self-preservation. He also requested that foreigners be barred from living on the tribe's 3,800-acre reserve.
An estimated 1,000 Kalinagos of the roughly 4,000 who live on the reserve are considered full-blooded Indians. Carib women who marry non-Indians traditionally leave the reserve, while men who do the same are allowed to stay. The impoverished Kalinago tribe relies mostly on banana and citrus farming.
The legislators refused such an infringement on personal freedom.
Destiny Foundation donates $10 million in medicines to Jamaica
David Singh, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Destiny Group of Companies, through his charitable organization, Destiny Foundation in partnership with Global Medic mounted his press launch at the Gran Bahia Principe hotel to donate and distribute $10 million dollars of essential medicines to the Jamaican people.
Destiny Group of Companies is an international financial management and strategies company. Its operations include the Commercial Investment Bank of St. Lucia; Destiny Foundation - its gifting initiative arm, with business operating in Canada, the United States and the Caribbean. The company is affiliated with Stephen Lewis Foundation, Global Medic, Doctors Without Borders, Order of Malta, the International Red Cross and numerous other charitable groups. Destiny Foundation has as its aim to assist in helping the less fortunate around the world.
Destiny Foundation is a private organization committed to breaking the cycle of poverty and relieving the worldwide healthcare crisis. It is in this regard that David Singh pledged to support Jamaica in fighting poverty, diabetes and HIV Aids. He donated yesterday $10 million of essential medicines to include anti-retrovirals to the island’s hospital and clinics, serving the under privileged.
Past donations to the island include $2 million in essential medicines and anti-retrovirals to local Jamaican hospitals, including the Bustamante Children’s Hospital.
US dethroned as World’s largest internet population by China
China has surpassed the United States to become the world's largest Internet–using population, reaching 221 million by the end of February, state media said last week. The number of Internet users in China was 210 million at the end of last year, only 5 million fewer than the U.S. Internet users then.
Cuba to build 14,000 plastic houses a year
Cuba plans to build 14,000 plastic homes a year to help ease a
national housing shortage, a government news agency reported on Tuesday.
Set to begin in September, the program will use polyvinyl chloride from
a petrochemical facility to be built with Venezuelan aid at a refinery
Grandmas bear Burden of HIV care
The HIV epidemic often takes the life of the mother leaving children behind. The burden of care for many children living with and affected by AIDS often falls on female family members such as aunts, grandmothers and great grandmothers, who are often very old. Close to 45 per cent of Jamaican households are headed by women. Female unemployment levels are higher than those among males. Jobs available to unskilled women are often irregular and pay low wages and so female-headed households are more vulnerable to economic hardship. The situation worsens for elderly females.
So many of these children end up being cared for by grandmothers or even great-grandmothers. They have the tremendous responsibility to administer the strict regimen of retroviral drugs to treat the disease and social workers praise the great work they do, especially under such adverse conditions. In some instances, as the caregiver becomes so old and incapacitated that the roles become reversed and the child takes care of the grandmother.
No public water for all in Jamaica
The name Jamaica is derived from the Arawak Indian word, meaning "land of wood and water". However, the National Water Commission (NWC) has revealed that it cannot deliver potable water to the entire Jamaican population. A NWC spokesman explained that some communities were too remotely situated across the country for the commission to reach, adding that developers and settlers often fail to properly assess the feasibility of water supply before building houses.
The best to hope for is that people will not have to walk long distances to get water, but they must be able to access it at a reasonable distance from their home. Some water will still have to be trucked.
Recently, the NWC last announced a 23 per cent hike in water-consumption rates, plus an additional five per cent increase for the reintroduced K-Factor program. This means an additional $J200 for the average householder. The NWC says it is aiming to extend its islandwide coverage over the next five to seven years to 85 per cent, up from its current service output of 71 per cent. The NWC provides water to 95 per cent of the Corporate Area, in stark contrast to its coverage of other towns and rural Jamaica, which stands at 45 per cent.
In the United States, only 85 per cent of their population get served from a municipal water-supply provider.
Reggae and World Music awards at the Appollo
Machel Montano, took home top honors at the prestigious 27th Annual International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA) held on May 4, 2008 at the World-Famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. Machel won "Entertainer of the Year", "Best Calypso/Soca Entertainer" and "Most Outstanding Stage Personality".
Top IRAWMA nominee Tarrus Riley, took home trophies for "Best Male Vocalist" and "Best Song-She is Royal". The Marley brothers, Stephen, Ky-Mani and Ziggy, sons of Reggae legend Bob Marley received IRAMWA nods. Stephen for "Best CD for "Mind Control" and "Songwriter of the Year"; Ky-Mani for "Producer’s Respect Award" and "Most Promising Entertainer"; and Ziggy received the "Marcus Garvey Humanitarian Award" for charitable efforts through his URGE organization. In addition, first-time IRAWMA nominee Sean Kingston earned two IRAWMA’s for "Best New Entertainer" and "Best Crossover Song- Beautiful Girls"
Just a few of the many awards include:
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