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Former Guyana President Janet Jagan is dead
Death has wrung down the curtain on one of the most outstanding women in the West Indies, Janet Jagan, the former Guyana president died at the Georgetown Public Hospital in Guyana. The 88-year-old Jagan was the only woman and fifth person to hold the highest political office in that country. She was the wife of former president, Cheddi Jagan, who was president from 1992 until 1997.
She was born as Janet Rosenberg to middle-class Jewish parents in Chicago, Illinois. In December 1942, she met Cheddi Jagan, then, an Indo-Guyanese dentistry student at Northwestern University. They married on August 5, 1943, and she moved with him to Guyana in December 1943.
In Guyana, she took part in labor activism along with her husband and joined the British Guyanan Labor Union. She also worked in her husband's dental clinic as a nurse for 10 years. In 1946, she founded the Women's Political and Economic Organization and co-founded the Political Affairs Committee. On January 1, 1950, she and her husband were co-founded the left-wing People's Progressive Party (PPP); Janet served as the PPP's General Secretary from 1950 to 1970. Also in 1950, Jagan was elected to the Georgetown City Council. She was subsequently elected to the House of Assembly in the April 1953 election, winning a seat from Essequibo constituency. She was one of three women to win seats in that election; following the election, she was chosen as Deputy Speaker of the Legislature.
After its electoral victory in April 1953, the PPP briefly formed the government, but the British government had the PPP government removed later in the year, and Cheddi and Janet were jailed for five months. They were subsequently kept under house arrest for two years. Jagan was elected to Parliament in 1973 and was re-elected in 1980, 1985, and 1992, eventually becoming the longest-serving member of Parliament(46 yrs.). Cheddi Jagan was elected as President of Guyana in 1992, and Janet Jagan became First Lady. She represented Guyana at the United Nations for three months in 1993.
After Cheddi Jagan's death, Janet Jagan was sworn in as Prime Minister as well as First Vice President on March 17, 1997. She was the presidential candidate of the PPP in the December 1997 election. After the PPP won the election, she became the second female President in the history of South America (after Isabel Perón of Argentina) and the first to be democratically elected. Janet Jagan not only became the first female President of Guyana, but she was also the first U.S.-born and the first Caucasian person to lead the nation. She went on to win the Gandhi Gold Medal for Peace, Democracy and Women's Rights, awarded by UNESCO.
Janet Jagan was controversial, but more importantly, she was unmistakably a great hero. She left the comfort, safety and security of her suburban Chicago home to join her husband in the near-primitive rugged life of 1940’s Guyana. Instead of hopping the next plane back to the US after the first mosquito bit her, together with her husband, they pioneered the fight against British colonialism and American imperialism in Guyana. And this was before there was any Castro in Cuba to take up the slack. Britain, with US backing, persecuted them and used their notorious "divide and rule" strategy to polarize the black and indo-guyanese population in order to make the country ungovernable. Unfortunately, vestiges of this dastardly action is still a problem in Guyana today.
Turks and Caicos PM to step down
Jet-setting Prime Minister Michael Misick has resigned under pressure as leader of the Turks and Caicos Islands, citing a lack of support for his scandal-plagued government. His surprise resignation came hours after the deputy prime minister resigned over differences with Misick, whose big-spending, Hollywood lifestyle helped turn the Turks and Caicos into a celebrity hotspot. But it also fueled a corruption probe in the British territory. With two private jets on call and a Hollywood actress wife, Misick lived like the stars who inhabit the islands. He says his lifestyle allowed him to court high-end developers and helped put the British territory on the map.
Since he took office, the gross domestic product in the territory of 22,000 people has more than doubled to $750 million largely through a resort-building boom. But his financial dealings also are the focus a British investigative commission that is looking into allegations of corruption, including that Misick and other officials profited from the sale of government-owned land.
The 43-year-old London-educated lawyer and realty broker was elected in 2003 to lead the islands after eight years in the opposition. In 2007, he was sworn in for a second four-year term after leading his party to a sweeping victory, capturing all but two of 15 parliamentary seats. Misick named Lillian Boyce as the new deputy prime minister after ousting her from Cabinet last month.
Jamaica gets new Governor General
Prime Minister Bruce Golding has appointed Dr. Patrick Linton Allen C.D. to be Jamaica's sixth Governor-General since Independence. He succeeds the Most Hon. Professor Sir. Kenneth Hall who is demitting office due to ill health, after serving for three years.
Dr. Allen is the Immediate Past President of the West Indies Union Conference of Seventh Day Adventists (SDA). Dr. Allen's appointment will also bring to two, the number of individuals from that Adventist denomination, who have served as Governor-General in the Caribbean. The second is Sir James Carlisle, former Governor-General of Antigua and Barbuda, who served in that capacity from 1993 to 2007.
Terrorists attack Sri Lankan Test cricketers in Pakistan
Pakistan might not host another Test cricket series for a long time. A dozen masked gunmen armed with rifles and rocket launchers attacked vehicles carrying members of Sri Lanka's national cricket team in east Pakistan recently, wounding at least two players and killing five police officers. The attack in Lahore came at a time of unrest in both Pakistan and Sri Lanka, both of which are trying to defeat insurgencies. It was unclear who was behind the assault, but it appeared to have been carefully coordinated. The terrorists used rocket launchers, hand grenades and other weapons. One wounded player was hit in the leg while the other received a bullet in the chest but the injuries did not appear life threatening.
Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA) has purchased 50 per cent of the shares in the Caribbean portfolio of Marubeni Corporation, the Japanese firm which was the majority stakeholder in the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS). The Jamaica Government will maintain its 20 per cent stake in the JPS.
Jamaica Aluminum company crumples
Alumina Partners of Jamaica (Alpart) announced a decision to suspend its mining and refinery operations beginning on May 15 for at least a year. Last year, the company laid-off 400 workers and the pending closing will add some 900 more to the ranks of the unemployed. The beleaguered bauxite, mining and alumina processing company blamed the nagging global economic crisis for the closure.
Obama allows unlimited travel by relatives to Cuba
The Obama administration announced Monday that it would
permit unlimited travel to Cuba by Cuban Americans and lift limits on
transfers of money to relatives on the Caribbean island while keeping in
place many long-standing U.S. trade restrictions.
They also serve to blunt pressure Obama was likely to face at this week's Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, where Latin American leaders, who unanimously favor improved relations with the communist government, were expected to make the case to the U.S. president. But, the embargo continues.
Sugar refinery for Jamaica at last?
Jamaica’s chief agricultural product is sugar. But, Jamaica has no sugar refinery. The chief agricultural product of most of Caricom is sugar, but once again in the whole Caricom, there is no sugar refinery. Instead raw sugar must be sent away to be refined in Europe and then imported back into the Caribbean. No wonder the sugar industry continues to lose money even though it receives preferential prices in Europe.
Now Jamaica’s Prime Minister is considering the construction of a sugar refinery in Jamaica to supply local and Caricom needs. For years and years, "from when the devil was a boy", Jamaica has been considering getting a sugar refinery and nothing has ever come of it.
The Jamaica Government attempts divest the state-owned money-losing Sugar Company of Jamaica to the Brazil-based firm Infinity Bio-Energy fell through in January. The plan was to produce ethanol instead of sugar.
The industry employs an estimated 40,000 people. A sugar refinery would cost about US$25 million. Since the refinery would serve the needs of the local population, if only Jamaicans would abandon its 75,000 tons annual consumption of the refined granulated white sugar for the more nutritious raw sugar, it would save this great expense. Latest figures put the current consumption of the raw sugar in the island at 65,000 tons. The PM estimates that such a refinery would also provide the 210,000 tons consumed by the rest of Caricom.
IMF approves US36.6 million for Haiti
The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved an increase in financial assistance of US$36.6 million to mitigate the negative effects caused by a series of hurricanes in 2008 as well as the global downturn. The approval was based on Haiti's economic performance under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF). This brings total disbursements to US$136.1 million. The three-year PRGF arrangement was approved in November 2006 in an original amount of t US$109.9 million. At the same time, the IMF and the World Bank determined that Haiti qualified for debt relief under the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC)). In June 2008. The Executive Board approved the first augmentation under the PRGF arrangement in an amount of about US$24.4 million to help Haiti cope with the impact of high international food and fuel prices.
Jamaican student 1st in FCCA environmental poster competition
Twelve-year-old Huddoy Walters of the Port Antonio Primary School in Port Antonio, Jamaica, took top honors for his poster depicting ways that Jamaica can make a difference in preserving the environment. He became the 2009 Junior winner in the Florida - Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Environmental Poster Competition. The annual competition targets students at two levels, the Junior Division – students under 12 years old, and the Senior Division – students between the ages of 13 and 16 years old.
Walters will receive a check for US$3000.00, and he will be recognized at a special luncheon aboard the Island Princess Cruise Line in Ocho Rios. The Port Antonio Primary School will also be awarded a check for US$3000.00 for having the winning artist from their school. This year, 17 destinations throughout the Caribbean and Latin America participated in the competition. The Senior Division winner, 13-year-old Laurane Pecome hails from Martinique.
High-school students aim to transform Jamaica
A coalition of student representatives from 17 secondary schools across Jamaica is waging a peaceful battle against crime and violence in schools and throughout their wider communities. The 'Students for Transformation' project was formed out of a need to maintain peace and the spirit of healthy competitiveness among schools leading up to and during this year's staging of the Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships. But the students want to take it further and are passionate about influencing the actions of youths across their communities and throughout the nation.
As part of the transformation project the students have organised an exchange program within some schools, in a bid to create a more harmonious relationships among rival schools. The head students from institutions such as Jamaica College, KC and Calabar, schools that are often involved in brawls during Champs season attend and lead students' devotion at their competitors' schools. The students have also organised a peace march that will take place after the track event when they will march through the Corporate Area to the National Stadium.
Jamaica student scientists on the move
Eight young men from the parish of St Ann are breaking down barriers in the world of science and technology and planning to use their skills to make great strides for Jamaica. They are Carlton Barrows, Michael Hodgson, Carlton Richards and Dervan Brown of Brown's Town Community College, and Kevin Reid, Reynaldo Hyatt, André Hamilton and André Yee-Shui from Brown's Town High School. The boys recently won the first prize awards for the National Young Inventors Competition, organised by the Scientific Research Council, at the tertiary and secondary levels, respectively, for their inventions.
The team of Reid, Hyatt, Hamilton and Yee-Shui has created an organic insecticide from the castor plant, while Barrows, Hodgson, Richards and Brown produced ethanol from king grass.
With the recent challenges caused by a global food and energy crisis, Barrows, 19, and Hodgson, 18, said they thought it was critical to find an alternative source from which to produce ethanol without depleting the country's current food supply, such as corn and sugar cane. The boys said their brainstorming and research brought them to king grass, which grows wild in Jamaica and is mainly used as feed for some animals. The boys further explained that there were great advantages to using king grass to produce ethanol, rather than sugar cane, as the plant could be reaped three to four times a year, while sugar cane is harvested once a year.
The eight young men departed for Trinidad and Tobago, where they will represent Jamaica at the Regional Young Inventors Competition.
Economic crisis hit independent private schools in Jamaica hard
The economic crisis is taking a heavy toll on independent schools in Jamaica. Parents can’t afford the fees. Enrollment drops. Teachers are laid-off. At least three schools have closed. Laid-off teachers turn to the Ministry of Education in vain.
At present, more than 100,000 Jamaican children attend an estimated 200 independent schools in Jamaica. Of this number, 50 are said to be struggling to survive.
Traditional Government supported schools reeling too
Obama pledges US$20 million for Haiti
The Obama Administration has pledged $20 million to cover
Haiti's remaining debt payments to the World Bank and Inter American
Jamaica’s free health care face big problems
Dr Winston Dawes, former president of the Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ), has joined other persons in the medical sector who feel strongly that enough money is not being allocated to health and that the that the public-health system could collapse under the weight of free health care. The program is very worthy and ambitious, but, Dawes says, the money allocated is not enough. He charges that the public health-care facilities have been buckling under pressure from patient overload since the Government made good on its promise to allow free access to health services at most public facilities just over one year ago.
Dangerous poisonous bammy
Bammy and fried fish is nice but the cassava bammy could be dangerous to your health. Close to a year after Agriculture Minister Dr Christopher Tufton prescribed cassava as an antidote to Jamaica's farm crisis, Northern Caribbean University (NCU) researchers have found that some local cassava food products may be unsafe when eaten for extended periods. Among the possible long-term effects of overconsumption are blindness and deafness, the researchers suggest.
Data released by graduate student Charles Kofi Koomson and his supervisor, Professor Mark Harris, from the College of Natural and Applied Sciences at NCU, show that several samples of bammy and undried cassava flour taken from four parishes in Jamaica contained levels of cyanide, which produced toxins significantly higher than the allowable intake per person. Cyanide is a toxic substance which blocks oxidation in cells, thereby cutting off energy for vital nerve functions.
Last year, the agriculture minister launched a campaign to revive cassava production, announcing that the tuber was one answer to the withering output of Jamaica's farm sector. Cassava was pushed as an alternative to imported rice and wheat as commodities prices on the world and local market skyrocketed. Tufton's claim that cassava was a good source of protein was also rejected by researchers.
The study revealed that bammies sampled from parishes of St Thomas, Clarendon, Manchester and St James exhibited cyanide levels at least twice the allowable intake of the dry weight of cassava. The NCU research also noted that chronic consumption of poorly processed cassava products has been linked to several health disorders, particularly among individuals with low-protein intake. Continual exposure to low-level cyanide in cassava products has been linked to cassavism characterised by blindness, deafness, spinal injuries and damage to the nervous system among older people in West Africa.
US war on drugs creates disaster
Jamaica and the rest of Caricom have been drafted into America’s war on drugs. But it is a losing war with lots of innocent casualties as a recent report shows on the effects on one of the prime battleground, Columbia.
Back in 1979, Colombia´s former President Alberto Lleras
Camargo made a remarkably accurate prediction. With eerie precision. He
foresaw that the Colombians of the future would have their reputations
stained by war and drugs, and this would largely be the fault of zealotry
on the part of U.S. officials to enforce prohibition on the world. Some 30
years later, a growing consensus exists that Lleras was right. Drug
prohibition has been a catastrophe, one borne disproportionately by Latin
Atlanta-based group to build new clinic in MoBay
The Atlanta-Montego Bay Sister Cities Committee plans to construct a health clinic in Montego Bay, St James, Jamaica, to facilitate a more organised and sustainable health-care program between both cities. Jamaica's Honorary Consul in Atlanta, Vin Martin, said that for the last 15 years, Atlanta had been conducting its health mission to Montego Bay and it was now time that "we have a permanent health facility in that city, where we can schedule to see our patients more frequently and conduct follow-up treatment rather than just seeing them once per year".
This year, the Atlanta Sister Cities Committee will stage two health missions in Montego Bay. The first will be held from June 14 to 17, while the second, from October 9 to 14. Over the last 15 years, the mission served in excess of 37,000 patients in St James and neighbouring parishes.
The mission is undertaken in association with the St James Parish Council and is facilitated by the St James Health Depart-ment. It is one of the major events staged to coincide with Montego Bay's commemoration of achieving city status in October 1980.
The Atlanta-Montego Bay Sister Cities Committee is the oldest Caribbean organisation in Atlanta, having been established in 1972 by reciprocal agreements between the mayors of Atlanta and Montego Bay. It is one of 18 members of the Atlanta Sister Cities Commission, which has Mayor Shirley Franklin as its honorary chair.
Former Jamaican teacher wins top school Superintendent in US
Former Jamaican teacher Dr. Beverly Hall, has been voted
'National Superintendent of the Year' by the American Association of
School Administrators. Becoming the first Atlanta school district boss to
win Georgia's top award was a long shot but winning the national honour - a first for
the state - is so much more more impressive.
In nearly a decade under Dr Hall's tenure, standardised test scores in Atlanta, with close to 50,000 students and 100 schools, have improved. So, too, teacher retention and graduation rates. At one high school, 23 per cent graduated in 2002. Last year 75 per cent did.
Judging by the dismal performance of students in Jamaica in CXC exams and in colleges overseas, she seems to be needed more at home in Jamaica.- Editor
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