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bulletNew ganja law passed in Jamaica
bulletTrinidad records TT$328m budget surplus 
bulletObama stop-over in  Jamaica on the way to Summit of the Americas

Worldwide opposition to Obama’s Executive Order against Venezuela


PetroCaribe is not dead


Imported Mexican workers replace Jamaicans at Jamaican hotel


Haiti floods kill six, damage thousands of homes


Riverton fire causes havoc in Jamaica

bulletJamaica PM credits US Black Caucus’s support for IMF agreement

Shaggy‘pon top on iTunes

bulletBajan pop star Rihanna makes history

UNDILUTED pays tribute to John Maxwell by featuring two previous columns by him from the Hot Calaloo UNDILUTED archives:


Hot Calaloo's Undiluted Vol. 15, "The Audacity of Hopelessness"


Hot Calaloo's Undiluted Vol. 14, "Cuba's Benevolence versus US Belligerence"



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

List Price $11.95 (paperback)
Special Clearance

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

Buy through Paypal or  send check for $5 + $3 (shipping) to 
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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.



MarchApril 2015

New Ganja law passes in Jamaica

( Check out: WEED 3: The Marijuana Revolution with Dr. Sanjay Gupta 
Premieres on CNN Sunday, April 19 at 9 PM ET. (WEED 3 will be followed by High Profits: Cannabis Meets Capitalism at 10pm ET/PT)

In Jamaica a new ganja law has been passed. The new ganja (marijuana) law will make possession of two ounces or less of marijuana a non-arrestable, ticketable offence, that attracts no criminal record.

Where the person found in possession of a small quantity of ganja is a minor, or an adult who appears to be dependent on the substance, they are to be referred to the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) by the police officer issuing the ticket.

Additionally, the Bill prohibits the smoking of ganja in public places, and makes provisions for the granting of licences, permits and other authorisations to enable the establishment of a regulated industry for ganja for medical, scientific, and therapeutic uses.

It also provides for the creation of a Cannabis Licensing Authority, which will be responsible for developing the regulations governing the medical marijuana industry. The Government is hoping to see significant economic gains from the decriminalisation of ganja, particularly in the area of medicinal use, which is a US$2.5-billion market in the United States.

The bill was spearheaded in the parliament by minister of national security Peter Bunting. With regards to the outcome, Bunting  added that the law “begins to correct decades of criminalizing tens of thousands of Jamaicans, mostly poor young black males, for possession of a little ‘spliff,’” a term for a joint prepared with cannabis and tobacco. The change means Jamaicans will be able to cultivate up to five marijuana plants on a single premises without facing arrest.

Tourists who are prescribed medical marijuana abroad will also be able to apply for permits allowing them to buy small amounts of Jamaican pot. Jamaica joins a growing number of countries around the world, including in Latin America, that have  moved towards decriminalization but is the first Caribbean nation to do so. Argentina, Colombia and Mexico have all decriminalized the possession of small amounts of pot. Guatemala has proposed legalizing the drug while Chile and Costa Rica have considered allowing medical marijuana use.

The Bill was tabled in the House of Representatives on February 10.

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Trinidad records TT$328m budget surplus

 In the last three months of 2014, the Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) Government recorded a budget surplus of more than TT$328 million. This was a marked improvement from the TT$1 billion deficit Government was expected to realise after oil prices plummeted on international markets.

 A statement from the Ministry of Finance on Central Government fiscal operations said “Even as economies around the globe come to grips with the impacts — both negative and positive — of the dramatic downward slide in oil prices, the Trinidad and Tobago economy continues to adjust to the new realities. Our macroeconomic fundamentals remain strong and allow an adjustment to the new level of energy prices prevailing globally.”

The ministry said data at the end of December 2014 showed:

bulletOfficial reserves were US$11.3 billion;
bulletImport cover remains high at approximately 14 months;
bulletUnemployment remains historically low at 3.6 per cent;
bulletInflation remains in single digits at approximately nine per cent;
bulletThe country’s external debt service ratio remains manageable at approximately 8.6 per cent; and
bulletOur debt remains moderate with Net Debt to GDP measuring approximately 43 per cent;
bulletData on Government’s revenues and expenditure for the fiscal period October to December 2014 showed that preliminary revenue figures were overall lower than budget estimates by approximately 5.5 per cent.
bulletThey were projected at $13.4 billion but actual revenues stood at $12.7 billion.

This was primarily due to lower than anticipated receipts from taxes on Goods and Services and International Trade, a drop of 15.5 per cent and 12.1 per cent respectively. While revenue derived from Other Taxes (11.5 per cent) and Non-Tax Revenue were higher than anticipated by 11.5 per cent and two per cent respectively.”

Preliminary expenditure figures over the same period fell below budget projections by 14.3 per cent from $12.4 billion (budgeted) to $12.4 billion (actual expenditure). 

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Obama stop-over in  Jamaica on the way to Summit of the Americas

Barack Obama became the first sitting US president to set foot in Jamaica since 1982. While there Obama visited the Bob Marley Museum -- the former home of the superstar musician. The US president -- accompanied by aides including National Security Adviser Susan Rice -- took a brief tour of the Kingston landmark.

"I still have all the albums," the US president was heard to say, as he checked out a wall of framed records and awards.

Jamaica's Prime Minister Portia Simpson took the opportunityto ask President Barack Obama  to exonerate black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey, who was convicted in the U.S. on a trumped up charge of mail fraud in the 1920s and remains a prominent historic figure on the island, the US and many other parts of the world..

Jamaica was a stop on Obama’s way to Panama, for  a landmark meeting with Cuba's President Raul Castro during a conference of regional leaders  Summit of the Americas.

Obama announced in December that he was seeking to renew diplomatic relations with Cuba after half a century of strife, including eventually opening embassies in Washington and Havana.

The U.S. economic embargo, which has blocked nearly all trade between the two nations for the last five decades, is firmly in place despite virtual unanimous opposition from the UN  General Assembly year after year after year. Obama is expected to inform Congress within a few days he is taking Cuba off the terrorist countries list, which would free the island from some economic sanctions.

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Worldwide opposition to Obama’s Executive Order against Venezuela

 In an Open Letter addressed to President Barack Obama, over 121 U.S. academics, activists and NGOs called on their head of state to rescind his Executive Order declaring Venezuela “an unusual and extraordinary threat to U.S. national security”. On March 9, 2015, President Obama invoked his executive powers to decree a national emergency based on the alleged “threat” represented by Venezuela. The Executive Order also imposed sanctions on Venezuelan officials with potentially far-reaching consequences.

U.S. citizens and NGOs are joined by leaders from over 138 countries and prestigious multilateral organizations worldwide in their demand for President Obama to rescind his measures against Venezuela. Latin American and Caribbean nations have unanimously rejected President Obama’s Executive Order against Venezuela and have firmly called for its reversal. A powerful statement issued March 26, 2015 from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) which represents all 33 countries in the region, expressed “its rejection of the Executive Order issued by the Government of the United States of America on March 9, 2015,” considering “that this Executive Order should be reversed.”

The United Nations G77+China group, which represents 134 countries, also issued a firm statement opposing President Obama’s Executive Order against Venezuela. “The Group of 77+China deplores these measures and reiterates its firm commitment to the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela...The G77+China calls on the Government of the United States to evaluate and put into practice alternatives of dialogue with the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, under principles of respect for sovereignty and self-determination. As such, we urge that the Executive Order be abolished.”

In addition, regional organizations -- such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) representing 12 South American states, the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) representing 11 Latin American and Caribbean nations, and the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR) -- issued powerful condemnations of President Obama’s measures against Venezuela. One hundred  British parliamentarians have also repudiated the Executive Order and called on the U.S. government to rescind its actions against Venezuela.

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PetroCaribe is not dead

 The Venezuelan Government, amidst its own cash flow turmoil due to the dramatic fall in oil prices, has committed to strengthen the PetroCaribe agreement with Jamaica, regardless of the price of crude oil.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) last year warned Caribbean and Latin American countries that have co-operation agreements, such as PetroCaribe, with Venezuela, that it could mean trouble for their economies if the South American country's external liquidity problems get worse.

But minister of science, technology, energy, and mining, Phillip Paulwell reported that Venezuela had made it clear at a special heads of state meeting in Caracas recently that its agreement with Jamaica was on solid footing. Venezuela has also dedicated a US$200-million fund to assist PetroCaribe states with projects that are aimed at lowering their use of crude oil, and moving towards greater use of renewable energy.


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Imported Mexican workers replace Jamaicans at Jamaican hotel

This is unbelievable. Jamaica with an unemployment rate hovering at about 15% is importing Mexicans to take the jobs of Jamaicans.

Mexican company Palace Resorts bought Jamaica Grande hotel in Ocho Rios, St. Ann  last year. It is being remodeled and will reopen as the Moon Palace Jamaica Grande. The jobs of Jamaicans on the site, were being threatened by the recruitment of Mexican workers with work permits issued by the ministry. Minister of Labour and Social Security Derrick Kellier says that the need for Mexican hoteliers, Palace Resorts, to meet their April deadline, has led to the increased employment of Mexican construction workers on the hotel site. He admitted that the hotel has employed a number of Mexicans to complete the refurbishing of the hotel to meet this deadline.

Recently construction workers withdrew their services today, claiming that the management of the hotel was planning to replace them with foreigners.

But Sandals on the other hand

Butch Stewart , his son Adam, and their staff officially opened Sandals Ochi Beach Resort in Ocho Rios -- that's the former Sandals Grande Riviera which underwent a US$60-million renovation. The over 100-acre property now offers guests 16 restaurants, 11 bars, the Caribbean's largest rock climbing wall, and 529 villas, luxury rooms and suites -- including Romeo and Juliet villas each fitted with inside pools.

The renamed and relaunched property is one of 15 Sandals, three Beaches and two Grand Pineapple resorts operated by Sandals Resorts International across seven Caribbean islands, the majority of them in Jamaica -- Stewart's country of birth.

In total, the 20 resorts provide jobs for 13,000 people throughout the Caribbean. That, Stewart said, makes his organisation the single largest private employer in the Caribbean, the exception being The Bahamas.

"We earn for Jamaica more foreign exchange than any other organisation here," Stewart said and, by virtue of the size of his operation here, he added that his company pays more taxes in Jamaica than any other firm.

Sandals was  founded in Montego Bay in 1981 with a hotel of 99 bedrooms and promoting Jamaica heavily. That achievement includes Sandals resorts dominating the prestigious World Travel Awards each year, taking the coveted prize of World Leading All-inclusive for 20 consecutive years.

In addition, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) -- the world's leading scuba diver training organisation -- has named Sandals among the world's top five companies with the best scuba diving operation.

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Haiti floods kill six, damage thousands of homes

The first heavy rains of the wet season flooded parts of the Haitian capital Port-au-Price  leaving at least six dead and damaging 8,000 homes Raging floodwaters swept two children aged three and seven to their deaths in the Delmas district of the capital, and a 24-year-old woman was killed when a church wall collapsed on her house. Three more people died in the western, coastal Carrefour district of the city.

Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, is prey to torrential Caribbean storms and Port-au-Prince's garbage-choked drainage channels struggle with the worst downpours.

Some citizens are still living rough or in substandard housing five years after a devastating earthquakes killed more than 200,000 people and levelled entire neighborhoods.

The head of civil protection in the capital region, Nadia Lochard, said that more than 8,000 homes had been flooded in the latest rains, mostly in the Cite Soleil slum and Tabarre suburb.


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Riverton fire causes havoc in Jamaica

Riverton City sounds like a lovely place. It is not . It is a dump. It is the Kingston city dump. It caught fire and it took several days to put it out. As much as 60 acres of the 120-acre site was ablaze. Dense black smoke from the fire blanketed a wide area of Kingston and St Andrew, extending as far as Portmore, St Catherine and St Thomas. The  smoke which  created havoc such as:

bulletMore that 50 schools in the Corporate Area and St Catherine were forced to close. Some schools had to send out a desperate call for parents to come and pick up their children and measures had to also be put in place to rush some of the students who fell ill to nearby medical facilities
bulletSeveral businesses were also forced to close.
bulletSeveral people, including dozens of children who suffered respiratory problems, had to be taken to hospitals and health centres for treatment.
bulletThe South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) activated its emergency operation centre after some hospitals and health centres reported an increase in the demand for services, particularly for respiratory conditions.
bulletThere was a big jump in the sale of dust masks by hardware stores and street vendors as people sought to protect themselves from the heavy smoke.
bulletSome hotels reported that guests complained about the polluted air and, in one case, visitors left their hotel to get relief in the Blue Mountains.
bulletSome tourists said that they would cut their vacation short and return to the United Kingdom.

THE National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) absolved itself from total blame for the massive fire claiming that they used all available resources to put it out. A 36-member crew and six fire units worked around the clock for over 8 days to extinguish the blaze.

These type of fires are very costly. This one is estimated to run well over J$75 million. Last year, a major fire at the dump resulted in a $75.9-million effort to put it out, and in February 2012 the Government spent $25 million on another major blaze, although the initial estimates were for $65 million. In July last year, Local Government Minister Noel Arscott told the Jamaica Parliament that fires at the landfill had cost the country $128 million since 2011.

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Jamaica PM credits US Black Caucus’s support for IMF agreement

PRIME Minister Portia Simpson Miller has expressed appreciation to the United States' Congressional Black Caucus for its support which, she says, was critical to Jamaica obtaining an Extended Fund Facility (EFF) agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in May 2013.

"I thanked members of the Congressional Black Caucus while I attended the Caribbean Energy Summit in Washington this past January. Today, I am pleased to place on record in this Parliament my thanks to my dear sister and friend, the distinguished United States Congresswoman Maxine Waters. I also wish to thank Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, daughter of Jamaican-born former New York City Council Member Una Clarke. I express the appreciation of the Government and people of Jamaica to the members of the US Congressional Black Caucus, who spoke up on behalf of Jamaica.”


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Jamaica's Shaggy 'pon top on iTunes

THE growing popularity Shaggy's latest single, I Need Your Love, is having a ripple effect on some of his previous tracks. According to iTunes Reggae chart, It Wasn't Me and Angel, currently hold the top two positions, respectively. Both are from his 2000 album Hot Shot.

Hot Shot was the highest-charting studio album of 2001 on the Billboard Year-End Album Charts, and dethroned The Beatles on Billboard's 200 album chart in February 2001. Bob Marley & the Wailers (Three Little Birds), Matisyahu (One Day) and UB40 (Red Red Wine) complete iTunes top five.

I Need Your Love is currently holding the number 39 spot on the Billboard charts. The track features Australian singer/songwriter Faydee, Romanian singer/songwriter/producer Costi Ioni and Swedish-Congolese artiste Mohombi.


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Bajan pop star Rihanna makes history

Not only is Bajan pop star Rihanna:

bullet the first woman to be featured on the cover of a GQ “Men of the Year” issue 
bulletthe most streamed female artist in the world on Spotify
bulletthe first artist to reach 6 billion views of Vevo 
bulletpotentially the first black woman to be the face of Christian Dior

 but now she is the first black lead of a 3-D computer-animated buddy comedy film. Rihanna is now the voice Gratuity “Tip” Tucci, a savvy curly-haired youngster who  ends up with an alien on the run from his own people who lands on Earth. The alien makes friends with the adventurous Gratuity, who is on a quest of her own in “Home,” a DreamWorks Animation film.

The film opened at US theaters on March 27 and also includes the voices of Jennifer Lopez, Steve Martin, and Jim Parsons. It is based on Adam Rex’s 2007 children’s book The True Meaning of Smekday.

The movie soundtrack’s lead single is also by Rihanna and is titled “Towards the Sun.”

“Tip” is DreamWorks Animation’s third female protagonist and their film “Kung Fu Panda 2,” directed by Korean-American Jennifer Yuh Nelson, was a smash hit in the U.S. China, and South East Asia.

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