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
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 .
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.
Chavez dies, Caribbean ties, US media lies
The death of Hugo Chavez marks the end of one of the greatest leaders in modern history. I am so incensed at the outright lies the media reports. Yahoo news refers to him as a dictator. A dictator, despite the fact that he was elected every time by among the largest majorities in the hemisphere, including of course US.
He has made a positive impact on poor countries in the Caribbean and Latin America that is unprecedented. His achievements in reducing poverty in his own Venezuela despite virulent obstruction by the rich and the US is spectacular.
The fact is his actions demand respect and admiration, not the defamatory lies that the US media and the US government propaganda machine are putting out.
Even Jimmy Carter extolled him stating that he, "never doubted Hugo Chávez’s commitment to improving the lives of millions of his countrymen," later citing achievements of his government that are generally underreported in mainstream U.S. media:
"During his 14-year tenure, Chávez joined other leaders in Latin America and the Caribbean to create new forms of integration. Venezuelan poverty rates were cut dramatically, and millions received identification documents for the first time, allowing them to participate more effectively in their country’s economic and political life."
Chávez will be remembered by Venezuelans, and by others inspired by his anti-colonial legacy of reforms on behalf of the poor, as a sort of Latin American 'David' who had the courage to stand up to an imperial Goliath. He has left behind an anti-imperialist legacy of strident defence of his nation's sovereignty, its resources, and its economic independence against any encroachments by foreign neocolonial powers like the United States and Europe. He has also left behind a rich legacy of domestic reforms and improvements within Venezuelan society.
Since being elected in 1998, he has wrestled control of, then applied, his country's indigenous oil wealth to reduce poverty levels by two-thirds (23.4 per cent in 1999 to 8.5 per cent in 2011), and has given millions of Venezuelans access to quality health care for the first time in their lives. Unemployment levels have decreased from 14.5 per cent to 7.6 per cent, and infant mortality has gone from 20 to 13 per 1,000 births.
NNP makes clean sweep of Grenada elections
The 65-year-old Keith Claudius Mitchell led his New National Party (NNP) to a clean sweep of the 15 seats at stake in the recent Grenada’s general election, becoming the first political leader here to achieve the feat, having previously done so in 1999.
Mitchell, whose NNP had been booted out of office in 2008 by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) of outgoing prime minister Tillman Thomas, said however he hoped to leave a legacy of having united the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
The NNP had only four seats in the last parliament. The results was a bitter blow for Thomas and the NDC that sought to portray itself as a united party following the infighting that led to the dismissal and resignation of senior cabinet ministers including tourism minister Peter David and foreign affairs minister Karl Hood. Former Cabinet minister Glyniss Roberts, who along with David, Hood and prominent trade unionist Chester Humphrey, were booted out of the NDC last year, did not fare well as leader of the newly formed National United Front (NUF) during the election.
T&T soldiers get police powers
Legislators voted strictly along party lines recently as the Parliament gave the green light to the coalition People’s Partnership government to allow soldiers to have powers once the sole preserve of police officers.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar insisted that the Defence (Amendment) Bill 2013 does not violate the Trinidad and Tobago Constitution despite the opposition contention that the legislation "represents the first step in the "institutionalisation of the involvement of the military in matters of civilian government".
Legislators voted by a margin of 29-11 to support the measure, with the only person not casting a vote being former prime minister Patrick Manning, who has not been to parliament since January last year while he recovers from a stroke that has left him partly paralysed.
The Persad Bissessar government said that the new legislation forms part of a string of legal measures it intends to bring to the parliament - including a bill to deny bail to people accused of bloody crimes - as it deals with the upsurge in murders in the oil rich twin island republic.
New Jamaican Airline, Fly Jamaica
Fly Jamaica, a new local airline, with 80 employees, will operate a single Boeing 757-200 aircraft. Its first flight on January 25 was to the JFK Airport in New York. Plans are underway to acquire an additional aircraft by year-end to bring its fleet to two.
The Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) issued an Air Operator Certificate to Fly Jamaica in September of last year. Fly Jamaica is a partnership between Guyanese Paul Ronald Reece, the company's chief executive officer, and three Jamaican shareholders. Fly Jamaica will also operate between Kingston and Guyana, with Davies noting that air travel between the two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries has always been problematic.
‘Vultures’ circling Argentina
Beware ‘vulture’ capitalists. They are intent on picking the bones of poor indebted countries. Argentina is now in their clutches.
Argentina squared off with a group of US hedge funds Wednesday in a court case that has the potential to unravel the deals the South American country made over the past decade to get out from under a US$100-billion pile of bad national debt.
Argentina's had a record US$100-billion default on its national debt in 2001. Most of the country's creditors ultimately agreed to new bonds paying far less than what they were originally owed. A few vulture capitalists stepped in and bought up some of this debt at a fraction of the amount owed. So instead of going along with the compromise the other creditors agrees to, they are holding out for much more. These holdouts include companies controlled by New York billionaire hedge fund investor Paul Singer.
Those holdouts vultures have won a US$1.3 billion court judgment against Argentina in New York. Argentina's president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has vowed to pay them nothing unless they accept the same deal as the other bondholders. Singer's hedge funds, meanwhile, have gone after Argentina's assets around the globe, even temporarily persuading the nation of Ghana to seize a ship in the Argentinian navy.
These vulture capitalists are circling the globe looking to buy up poor countries debts at a fraction of the cost. Then they move in on that country’s overseas assets as payment at a tremendous profit.
Which poor country will be next? Will it be a Caribbean country?
Local liquid eggs set to replace imported butter in Jamaica
After years of saying liquid eggs would be used as a substitute for the imported butter oil in the making of nutri-buns for the school-feeding programme, Cabinet has finally given approval for this to happen.
Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke said in the House of Representatives this week that although the use of liquid eggs would cost more, it would redound to the benefit of Jamaicans.
Nutrition Products Limited (NPL) last year indicated it was actively conducting tests on the use of local liquid eggs, with the hope of reducing the use of the imported butter oil by a third.
It was stated that if the tests proved successful, the shift would provide a ready-made market for the local egg industry.
In a special audit report this year, Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis said the cost of butter oil, a key ingredient in both the solid and liquid products, has increased by 104 per cent over the 2009 to 2011 period.
St. Lucia moves to lower electricity rates
High electricity costs are killing the Caribbean. The St. Lucia government says it will amend existing legislation governing the operations of the St. Lucia Electricity Services Limited (LUCELEC), the sole electricity company, as it moves to provide consumers with relief from high electricity rates.
The prime minister said that his administration would be forced to amend the existing legislation, in addition to exploring alternative forms of energy if the company maintains its high rates to consumers.
Anthony said that as far as he is concerned LUCLECs electricity rates, whatever the logic maybe, are unacceptably high. In addition to being the sole provider of electricity there, LUCELEC, by reason of the Electricity Supply Act of 1994, is guaranteed a return on its investment through an electricity surcharge.
LUCELEC said electricity rates in St. Lucia were among the lowest in the Caribbean. It quoted the latest tariff study report produced by CARILEC, the Caribbean Electric Utility Service Corporation to support its position.
It said the CARILEC report showed that for the first half of 2012, St. Lucia had the lowest electricity rates for residential customers among the 14 reporting countries.
Residential customers using 100 or 400 kilowatt hours or units in St. Lucia enjoyed better rates than their counterparts in the other OECS territories, Curacao, Barbados, St. Marten, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, the Turks & Caicos Islands, the US Virgin Islands and Bermuda which were among the countries submitting data for the study, it said.
Aussie athletes to train in Jamaica
A 14-member contingent of athletes and officials from Australia is to participate in a two-week track and field training camp in Jamaica. The group, comprising 10 athletes and four officials, will be based at G.C. Foster College, a top training institution that has produced some of the country’s leading athletes.
The training camp came about as a result of an exchange agreement between a sports company from Australia and one from Jamaica following Usain Bolt’s visit to Sydney in 2010.
Australian athletes involved in the camp include Olympic 4x100m sprinter Andrew McCabe, Jordan Caldow, a beach runner with Jamaican heritage and Aboriginal youngsters indigenous to rural Australia.
"G.C. Foster College, as the base where the camp is going to take place, is an institution that trains officials and produces athletes," said Carole Beckford, president of the Business of Sports at a news conference in Kingston.
"Out of this, we do anticipate we will have technical exchange and invitations for teams to go back and forth".
Antigua gets go-ahead for WTO trade sanctions against US
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has paved the way for Antigua and Barbuda to suspend certain concessions and obligations it has under international law to the United States in respect of intellectual property rights.
In a move hotly contested by the United States government, the Antigua government is threatening to suspend US copyrights and patents on the twin island state, paving the way for unlicensed use of US intellectual property.
This salvo is another effort in the long-running battle by Antigua to get the US to either comply with the WTO’s 2005 rulings in Antigua's favour in its internet gambling dispute, or to negotiate a fair and reasonable solution with the Antiguan government.
In 2007, the WTO gave Antigua leeway to force America’s hand by giving the Caribbean nation the right to waive intellectual property rights protections on some US$21 million worth of US goods annually, a fraction of the US$3.44 billion the island requested.
A strong statement by the United States Trade Representative’s office called Antigua’s move to enforce this decision: "unwise".
Editor’s Comment: I hope there will be no drone attacks.
1,000 benefit from Cuban eye-care program in Jamaica
Jamaica says more than 1,000 people benefitted from procedures conducted under the Jamaica-Cuba Eye Care program last year. Coordinator of the program, Gregory Thomas, said that 1,250 people benefitted from the project and an additional 16,000 consultations also took place last year.
The program, which seeks to help reduce preventable blindness in adults, evolved from the five-year Jamaica-Cuba Eye Care Project, which previously saw persons being screened for eye conditions in Jamaica and sent to Cuba for treatment.
Launched in January 2010, the program offers, free of cost, surgical treatment for persons suffering from three specific conditions: cataracts, diabetic retinopathy (damage to the retina caused by complications of diabetes mellitus and pterygium, a non-cancerous fleshy growth, usually on the surface of the eye.
Since the inception of the program, over 46,000 consultations had been done, more than 4, 200 surgeries performed, and over 3,790 patients have received surgical treatment.
Taking into consideration the distance some teachers travel to their jobs and the possible effect it can have on students' development, Jamaica College (JC) has built a number of apartments on campus to accommodate professionals.
The living quarters, which were built in conjunction with the National Housing Trust and the Jamaica College Trust, was constructed to the tune of more than $45 million and can house up to 12 teachers.
JC principal, Ruel Reid, said the project, which is an extension of the school's housing project, is part of the school's incentive and development program.
"We have about 100 teachers, and, naturally, it is expensive for many persons to live in Kingston, and, particularly, it is expensive for those teachers who live outside of Kingston. We also have a lot of co-curricular activities, so persons are now able to stay longer hours to work with the students," Reid added.
He continued: "So all of that is part of what we have as a comprehensive incentive program to motivate our teachers and to ensure that they are committed to the work at Jamaica College."
Indicating that there are teachers at the school who are from as far away as Montego Bay, St Elizabeth, and Clarendon, Reid said the long distances could compromise the hours they spent in after-school events.
"If it wasn't for our houses on campus, then some of the teachers would have had to travel, or others would be living off campus, paying extremely high costs. It is a tremendous advantage. Co-curricular activities are an extended-hour activity, and so teachers don't have to worry and rush to go home because they basically live on campus," he said.
Shell to become Rubis
For 90 years, Shell has remained a landmark on service stations across Jamaica. But that era is coming to an end. In less than 13 months, the brand which now graces 52 stations will disappear from Jamaica altogether. New owner, Rubis Energy Jamaica Limited, will be rebranding the stations under the Rubis name, a project to start next year and wrapped up by mid-2014.
The Caribbean – big importer of US goods
The Caribbean imported a whopping total of over US$ 22 billion in goods from the US in 2012. Most of the buy is for Petroleum and coal products – a total of $5,754,311. But a lot is also spent on importing food in the Caribbean as well as chemicals.
In 2012 alone, the Caribbean food imports from the U.S. totaled $2,413,127,564. Between 2005 and 2012, the Caribbean, once an agricultural haven and "food basket," imported over $13 billion in food from the U.S.
Meanwhile, $1,638,718,242 was spent on chemical imports. Computers and machinery also accounted for a significant portion of the $22 billion price tag with $1,413,167,100 spent on computer and electronic imports last year and $1,267,276,226 on machinery. Another $1,036,486,534 was spent on transportation equipment.
The U.S. by contrast, imported a paltry $16,415,244,280 in products from the Caribbean last year, with the majority – over $6 billion, being petroleum and coal product and oil and gas. Apparel manufacturing and primary metals topped the $2 billion mark. Food and beverage manufacturers did not fair as well, coming in at over $400 and $300 million, respectively.
Editor's Note: However, this did not prevent the US from killing our banana industry.
Jamaica ties Mexico in World Cup
Reggae Boyz earned a precious point when they held hosts Mexico to a 0-0 draw in their CONCACAF 2014 World Cup qualifying match at the Azteca Stadium on Wednesday. It was Jamaica's first World Cup qualifying point at the feared football venue in Mexico City.
Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, midfielders Marvin Elliott and Jobi McAnuff, and defenders Nyron Nosworthy and Demar Phillips were among the outstanding players for the Theodore Whitmore-coached Boyz.
After the opening matches, Honduras lead the six-team CONCACAF final round of qualifying with three points following a 2-1 win over the United States. Panama and Costa Rica, who played to a 2-2 draw, are next, followed by Jamaica and Mexico, all on a point each. The United States are on zero.
Jimmy Cliff wins Grammy
Reggae legend Jimmy Cliff, 64, took home the Grammy for "Rebirth" on the UMe/Sunpower label. Cliff beat out Sean Paul, Toots & the Maytals, Sly & Robbie and The Jam Masters and the Original Wailers to win the award. Rebirth sold favorably and earned strong reviews from major publications such as Rolling Stone.
It was only Cliff’s second Grammy. His first Grammy triumph came in 1986 with Cliff Hanger though he was nominated for a Best Reggae Album Grammy seven times including for Reggae Nights (1985), Club Paradise (1987), Hanging Fire (1989), Breakout (1993), and Black Magic (2005).
Grammy tribute to Bob Marley
Grammy organizers teamed together Bruno Mars, Sting, Rihanna and Ziggy and Damian Marley for the tribute to Bob Marley, the man who gave the world reggae music and put Jamaica on the global map.
The entire audience, including Country singers like Taylor Swift and Keith Urban along with Talkshow host, Ellen, got to their feet and sang along. Bruno Mars. Sting and then Rihanna and Ziggy Marley joine to delivered Marley’s hit: "Could You Be Love." The set was closed out by Damian Marley, himself a Grammy winner as the audience gave the legend a standing ovation.
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