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bulletShowdown: Jamaica says "NO" to US
bulletHaitian president to visit Whit House
bulletImpact of Haiti disaster on women
bulletTrinidad oil fields running low
bulletIMF approves US$1.27b loan for Jamaica
bulletJamaica, China sign US$500m investment pact
bulletCARICOM opposes shipping toxic waste through Caribbean waters
bulletJamaican develops low cost prosthetic knee
bulletPartial dome collapses In Montserrat volcano
bulletJamaica sugar workers lose jobs, then homes
bulletCanada set to gobble up Jamaican nursing students
bulletJamaica painter Albert Huie is dead
bulletJamaica agriculture production increases
bulletAir Jamaica sale imminent to Caribbean Airlines
bulletMonster illegal ammo cache in Jamaica traced to cops
bulletWorld Bank approves Jamaica funds
bulletHaiti's Wyclef Jean honoured by NAACP
bulletBolt urged to run 400m




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

List Price $11.95 (paperback)
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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

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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.



March 2010

Showdown: Jamaica says "NO" to US

On August 25, 2009, the US requested the extradition of Christopher "Dudus" Coke for gun- and drug-trafficking in the US. As the request languished the US issued its United States Narcotics Control Strategy Report of March 2010. The report, while acknowledging that cooperation between Jamaican and US law-enforcement agencies remains strong, reflects negatively on the effectiveness of our efforts to combat organised crime, drug trafficking and corruption, and deplored the delay in the extradition.

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Bruce Golding responded decisively. "We reject the US claims", he said contending that the evidence was obtained by illegal wirtetap in violation of Jamaican law. Jamaican law further requires that for intercepted communication to be admissible in any criminal proceedings it must have been obtained, disclosed and used in accordance with the legal provisions.

There has been mixed reaction to this decision in Jamaica. There is suspicion that the real motive might be the fact that Coke is the ‘don’ of Tivoli Gardens in the Prime Minister’s constituency. And not just a ‘don’, but is termed the king of ‘dons’, the most powerful illegal kingpin in Jamaica. Tivoli Gardens is a garrison for the ruling Jamaica Labour Party.

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Haitian president to visit White House

the White House announced Earthquake-hit Haiti's President Rene Preval will travel to Washington for talks with President Barack Obama. The talks will come ahead of a major donors conference on March 31 at the United Nations in New York which aims to drum up support for Haiti's recovery.

The United States has played a leading role in the aftermath of the January 12 earthquake, which killed more than 222,000 people and left 1.3 million people homeless in and around the capital. The United States has reduced its troop numbers in the country and off the coast of Haiti by about half from more than 20,000 just after the catastrophe.

Editor’s Note: In my book "Boycott Money and save Your Soul – Launching the Goodwill Revolution", I make a strong case that man is not only born good but has a strong desire to do good. The tremendous outpouring of generosity and goodwill to Haiti is an affirmation of this assertion. Even Jamaica, unable to pay its light bill and groveling at the feet of the IMF for a loan, came to Haiti’s aid. Poor countries, rich countries, corporations, organizations, movie stars and just plain ordinary people rushed to help out. This was human nature at its best and all deserve to be acknowledged and praised. I am sure that even the missionaries who were charged with kidnapping meant well and I am sorry that one of them is still in a Haitian jail. I am glad that the US army was helping to distribute food instead of dropping bombs on innocent men, women, and children in Iraq and Afghanistan, or invading Iran.
There are many cynics who doubt the sincerity of donors, but I think these donors deserve the benefit of the doubt. To be sure we have got to beware of ‘disaster capitalists’ who are sure to be hovering around to exploit the catastrophe for money. These disaster capitalists can be expected to assert themselves in the rebuilding of Haiti by exploiting the disaster to push through their unpopular pro-corporate policies as they did in the case of Katrina.

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Impact of Haiti disaster on women

"An increase in violence against women is often one of the devastating consequences of crises, whether brought on by natural disasters or wartime," reported Dr. Henia Dakkak, a technical advisor in the Humanitarian Response Branch at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). In Haiti, where women and girls already faced high rates of violence, this is a serious concern that UNFPA and other agencies are addressing.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has set up 16 food distribution sites throughout Port-au-Prince, and has gone as far as to set up food distributions exclusively for women in hopes of preventing violence against women in mixed-sex lines, and precluding stronger men from repeatedly pushing their way to the front of distribution lines.

Shameful treatment of women worldwide
There are more than 1.5 billion young people in the world today, the largest youth generation in history. Half of them are girls and young women, and approximately 600 million of those girls live in developing countries. 
Unfortunately most of those girls live in dire circumstances. They are less educated, less healthy, and less free than their male peers.  In many places, girls and young women do not enjoy the basic rights and protections of citizenship -- including the right to own land, attend school, access healthcare services, stop unwanted sexual advances, and obtain justice for sexual assault and abuse.

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Trinidad oil fields running low

Trinidad’s oil fields are running low. Trinidad and Tobago's state-owned integrated energy company Petrotrin has been given a mandate by the government to boost oil production volumes, marking a renewed bid to reverse at least some of the decline that has set in over the last three decades.

The country's oil production stands at 110,000 barrels per day (BPD), compared to natural gas, which skyrocketed to 700,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day (boed), positioning the twin-island as a major exporter of liquefied natural gas. Forecasts are that on a do-nothing basis, the country's oil production will decline to less than 80,000 barrels of oil per day by the year 2020.

Petrotrin controls some 75 per cent of the country's oil reserves through its onshore and offshore fields, covering a gross 2.53 million acres, plus net acreage or net interest in joint venture deals which totals 825,080 acres. The energy company is also a partner in 21 onshore and offshore joint ventures in different blocks or fields throughout Trinidad.

In 1978, Trinidad, a mature hydrocarbon province which has been producing oil for over a century, reached its highest average daily production of 229,589 barrels per day. In 2008, that average fell to 115,889 barrels - a near 50 per cent decline over the three decades.

The energy sector accounted for about 48 per cent of GDP in 2009.

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IMF approves US$1.27b loan for Jamaica

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has finally approved a US$1.27-billion (SDR 820.5 million) standby lending facility for Jamaica, and pave the way for other multilaterals to pour in additional capital of up to US$1.1 billion.

The agreement will trigger immediate funding of US$1.335 billion for Jamaica, of the US$2.37 billion to flow into the country over the 27-month agreement.

The flows will come from the IMF, US$650 million; Inter-American Development Bank, US$400 million; World Bank, US$250 million; and Caribbean Development Bank, US$35 million.

The substantial portion of the multi-agency loans, totalling US$950 mil-lion, is earmarked for the special Financial Sector Support Fund (FSSF) for the support of banks and securities dealers whose balance sheets are weakened by their participation in the Jamaica Debt Exchange (JDX).

Another US$185 million will finance the budget and grow social spending by 25 per cent - the equivalent of 0.3 per cent of GDP - on programs such as PATH and school lunches.

The size of the FSSF, though US$150 million less than originally announced, is still a substantial investment because of the level of exposure of the financial sector to government bonds.

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Jamaica, China sign US$500m investment pact

The governments of Jamaica and China have signed agreements valued at more than US$500 million (J$4.5 billion) for road, housing and other projects, including the construction of a Chinese Garden at the Hope Botanic Gardens. No timetable was given for deployment of the funds, nor the nature of the financing, but the new capital will be poured into the construction of 'affordable' housing, road repair and rehabilitation, shoreline protection, and rehabilitation of the Palisadoes strip that leads to the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.

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CARICOM opposes shipping toxic waste through Caribbean waters

CARICOM has expressed its "gravest concern" over the possibility of a ship carrying radioactive waste passing through Caribbean waters. This arose because a new shipment of vitrified high-level waste will soon leave the United Kingdom for Japan, transiting the Caribbean Sea. The grouping of regional nations lamented that the Caribbean Sea "constitutes not only a part of the way of life of the Caribbean people, but also a principal source of livelihood and socio-economic activity". CARICOM said such ships must not pass though the Caribbean waters because of the "risk they pose to the lives and livelihoods of the Caribbean people". Furthermore, Caribbean nations don't have the facilities to clean up any form of a spill.

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Jamaican develops low cost prosthetic knee

Twenty-five year-old Jamaican Joel Sadler teamed up with American teammate Eric Thorsell to invent a low cost prosthetic knee. The knee that is being used to help hundreds of amputees in India to walk again. Known as the JaipurKnee, the device costs only US$20 (J$1,790) and was developed by Stanford University in collaboration with the Jaipur Foot Group, a charity that provides prostheses to Indian amputees. . In contrast, high-end titanium knee joints, particularly those made in the United States, can cost anywhere from US$10,000 upwards.

Sadler is a lecturer in mechanical engineering at Stanford University in California. He graduatred from Campion College high school in Jamaica prior to pursuing an engineering degree at Massachusetts Institute of Technology,

The project took root when he and Thorsel went to India, for the first time to observe amputees in clinics being fitted with artificial limbs. Although the prosthesis continues to undergo trials in India, other poor countries such as the Phillippines, Bolivia, Cameroon and Vietnam have expressed interest in the device.

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Partial dome collapses in Montserrat volcano

Lest we forget the Montserrat volcano is still alive. Part of the dome in the Soufriere Hills Volcano in Montserrat collapsed recently, sending hot ash some nine miles into the sky. The Montserrat Volcano Observatory said the volcano`s crater suffered a partial collapse that also unleashed flows of hot gas and rocks, triggering sirens for the evacuation of about 20 people from a nearby village.

The event lasted 55 minutes, the MVO said on its website, adding that pyroclastic flow activity increased at 12:35 hrs with  the first peak beginning at 13:04 hrs and lasting through 13:30 hrs. The largest pyroclastic flows moved to the northeast towards the old airport at Trants and moved across the sea.

Pyroclastic surges travelled across the sea on the northeast side of the island and was reportedly visible from Lookout village. Pyroclastic flows also moved down Tyers Ghaut and into the Belham valley, reaching as far as Cork Hill.

The ash column rose to at least 50,000 ft, according to pilot reports  and drifted  northeast. LIAT airlines said it was forced to suspend flights into and out of Antigua because of airborne ash clouds from the volcano.

The volcano erupted in 1997 killing 19 people and burying much of the island, including its former capital, Plymouth, which is now abandoned. Half the British territory`s 12,000 inhabitants left and there are less than 5,000 who now call the island home.

Montserrat is entirely volcanic in origin and comprised of three major volcanic centers of differing ages.

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Jamaica sugar workers lose jobs, then homes

A double whammy has hit sugar workers in Jamaica. Thousands of former sugar workers, left jobless after the Government's redundancy axe fell on some 7,000 of them in 2008, are now at risk of losing their homes, even as others have had to watch houses and land intended for them, sold on the open market. The open-market sale by the National Housing Trust (NHT) in the face of a more than four-fold jump, since last year, in arrears on subsidised property sold to sugar workers, has set some trade unions on a collision course with the state-owned housing finance agency.

The unions contend that it is a serious breach of the arrangements. The arrangements belong to sugar workers and we are insisting that, until all the sugar workers are properly satisfied, none of the units earmarked for them should be sold to outside groups. The NHT recently placed 114 such housing lots on the market in the Frome area of Wetmoreland because of the inability of sugar workers to buy them.

A total 13,000 sugar workers are slated to join the unemployment line by the time the government wraps up the divestment of all its sugar holdings. Factories and land at Frome, Monymusk in Clarendon and Bernard Lodge in St Catherine are still under government control, while others in St Thomas and Trelawny have already been sold.

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Canada set to gobble up Jamaican nursing students

More than 190 Jamaican practical-nursing students slated to depart in a few months after undergoing a rigorous training course accredited by Norquest College in Alberta in collaboration with the Pre-University School. The group is drawn from three of the institution's four campuses islandwide - Kingston, Montego Bay and Portmore.

This arises from an initiative of the Pre-University School's Canadian Licensed Practical Nursing Program, in collaboration with the Jamaican and Canadian governments. The program comes on stream at a time when the demand for qualified practical nurses is on the rise in Canada, especially for residential-care type facilities for that country's ageing baby boomers, and dovetails into the Ministry of Labour's drive to find jobs overseas for qualified nationals. The Pre-University School's 18-month Canadian Licensed Practical Nursing Program is the first such venture by a local institution.

The course is open to individuals aged 18-49, with a matriculation requirement of three subjects, including English language, human and social biology, and mathematics, at the Caribbean Examinations Council or General Certificate of Education level.

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Jamaica painter Albert Huie is dead

One of Jamaica’s famous painters, Albert Huie passed away after a long illness. He had been residing in Baltimore, Maryland. Huie was born in Falmouth, Trelawny, on December 31, 1920. He received formal training in art at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto, Canada, and the Camberwell School of Art in London, England.

Huie quickly became a major figure in Jamaican art and his work has gained significant local and international acclaim. His paintings and prints are represented in many private, corporate and public collections, including the National Gallery of Jamaica, where several of his major paintings, such as Crop Time (1955), are on permanent view.

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Jamaica agriculture production increases

There is welcome good news on the agricultural front in Jamaica. The Ministry of Agriculture is boasting increased gross output of 23.1 per cent for the entire agricultural sector for the fourth quarter of 2009.

The ministry has said preliminary estimates indicate that there was also a 13 per cent growth in the sector for last year. Numbers released from the Data Bank and Evaluation Division of the Ministry of Agriculture also showed that the domestic crop subsection recorded a 33.5 per cent increase in production for the fourth quarter of 2009, and a 22.4 per cent increase for the year.

The ministry attributed the figures to increased interest and investments supported by targeted interventions in productivity and marketing by the Ministry of Agriculture. These figures come in light of protracted drought experienced by the island and turbulent economic circumstances. The increase in gross output from the agricultural industry is calculated to lead to a 20.5 per cent increase in gross domestic product (GDP) contribution for the quarter.

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Air Jamaica sale to Caribbean Airlines imminent

The sale of Air Jamaica to Caribbean Airline of Trinidad and Tobago is imminent. Obviously the sale to Spirit Airlines fell through. A last ditch attempt by Jamaica Airline Pilots Association (JALPA) failed to receive much consideration by the Jamaica government. The pilots presented the administration with what they said was proof that they could finance the airline, but Finance Minister Audley Shaw was adamant that JALPA's bid was much too late. If the deal with Caribbean Airlines fall through, then the pilot;’s bid would be considered.

The pilot’s union is not too happy as all employees would lose their jobs and have to reapply to the new owners. Pensions are probably in jeopardy too. Shaw has already indicated that the Government will be setting aside J$27 billion in the next Budget to pay redundancy expenses and other costs associated with the divestment of Air Jamaica.

Guyana wary of Caribbean Airlines
But is this a sign of things to come, as Guyana has complained bitterly of the the unreasonable and unfair fare structure and service provided by Caribbean airlines to Guyanese? This matter is of such great concern that it has been discussed at Prime Minister and cabinet level in Guyana.

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Monster illegal ammo cache in Jamaica traced to cops

The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) was rocked to its core recently as a large quantity of guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition found in the hands of criminals were traced back to the police armory itself. Police involvement is obvious. A police sergeant was among eight persons - four men and four women - arrested in the immediate aftermath of the massive seizure. Acting Police Commissioner Owen Ellington stated that "All staff members, police and civilians, of the armory and stores will be interviewed and polygraphed by a team from the Anti-Corruption Branch. In addition, a complete administrative and security audit will be immediately done on both the police armory and stores."

The audit was to be done by the police inspectorate. The armory on Muenster Avenue in Mountain View, Kingston has been shut down.

The arrested sergeant, who is based at the Kingston Eastern Police Division, was in charge of the stores and was often detailed to collect new guns and ammunition being imported by the police force. It's reported that he was searched when a patrol team, also assigned to the division, stopped him after he was observed acting suspiciously. The patrol team, which was made up of men all below the rank of sergeant, quickly disarmed their superior sub-officer before searching his vehicle and finding a cache of guns and ammunition.

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World Bank approves Jamaica funds

The World Bank has approved a $200 million loan to Jamaica, to help with economic reform.  It is part of the wider wider programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help Kingston recover from the global financial crisis. As in previous article, earlier this month the IMF approved $1.3 billion. The funds will go towards measures aimed at strengthening Jamaica's overall fiscal position, improve public financial management and increase revenues through improved tax administration.

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Haiti's Wyclef Jean honoured by NAACP

Wyclef Jean has won the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Vanguard trophy for his humanitarian efforts on behalf of his native Haiti. Jean, a founding member of the Fugees, was a leading celebrity campaigner for Haiti disaster relief after January's devastating earthquake in the poverty-stricken Caribbean nation.

Jean, who started the evening singing with Haitian musicians and Mexican-born guitarist Carlos Santana, dedicated his award to "all of those people you'all don't see working on the ground in Haiti and in America."

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Bolt urged to run 400m

A 43.58-second clocking/split by world 100m and 200m record holder Usain Bolt on the anchor leg of the Racers Lions 4x400 metres team at Saturday’s 34th Gibson Relays, has reignited calls for the Jamaican sprint king to contest the 400m.

After collecting the baton some 20 metres behind and in fourth position, the triple Olympic and World Championships gold medallist returned the super time to close the gap to within five metres on leader Nicholas Maitland.

Maitland’s University of Technology team won the event in a world-leading 3:05.33, just 44 hundredths of a second ahead of Bolt’s Racers Lions team, which stopped the clock at 3:05.77 seconds. The only Jamaicans with sub-44 seconds 400-relay splits are Davian Clarke (43.51), Roxbert Martin (43.81), and Greg Haughton (43.88), who are all retired.

Many track and field aficionados including American Michael Johnson, who holds the 400m world record of 43.18secs, have long proposed that Bolt, who established world records of 9.58 and 19.19 in the 100m and 200m, respectively, should attempt the quarter-mile.

Click here and see for yourself.


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