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
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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.
A year and a half after cholera first struck Haiti, a tiny portion of the population began getting vaccinated against the waterborne disease that has infected more than 530,000 Haitians and killed more than 7,040.
Organizers of the vaccination campaign, who have been pushing to do this since the epidemic began, cleared their final political hurdle at last when a national bioethics committee approved their plan to use all available doses of the cheapest cholera vaccine to immunize about 1 percent of the population.
Recently, tens of thousands of slum dwellers in Port-au-Prince took their first of two doses of the oral vaccine, Shanchol; tens of thousands of rural residents of a rice-growing community near St. Marc will begin the followings weekend. The second dose will be administered in two weeks.
The organizers — Partners in Health and Gheskio, which also collaborate on H.I.V. and AIDS care — had hoped to beat the spring rains that spread the cholera germ. But they ran into an unanticipated roadblock and the rains have already started to drench the country, causing flooding and a spike in cases.
The use of cholera vaccine in Haiti has been mired in controversy since the epidemic began in mid-October of 2010. World health authorities initially opposed vaccination, citing cost, logistical challenges and limited vaccine supplies. Shanchol, the vaccine manufactured in India, was still under review by the World Health Organization then, "with significant concerns in that review about safety and manufacturing practices," said Jon Kim Andrus, deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization.
But proponents argued that the vaccine could save lives, reduce the caseload and buy time until long-range solutions like water and sanitation systems could be put in place.
World health authorities eventually endorsed a trial campaign, and the small vaccination campaign has begun, with organizers hoping that it will succeed and lead to a broader use of the vaccine in Haiti.
Chinese break sugar marketing monopoly in Jamaica
Pan Caribbean Sugar Company (PCSC) is to be conferred with 'agent' status, effectively ending the monopoly on the marketing of Jamaicans sugar crystals held by Jamaica Cane Product Sales, but sugar regulators say the status quo will remain for the current crop.
Pre-divestment, the sugar sector was configured for all players - both private and publicly owned operations - to pool their production. At a practical level that meant that each factory sold their produce to the sole Sugar Industry Authority-designated agent, JCPS, which in turn negotiated price and supplied all markets mainly in Europe and the United States.
The Chinese-owned PCSC, however, negotiated with the Jamaican government the right to sell its own sugar when it bought up the biggest factories in 2010. The new agreement will be in place for the next crop. The Chinese feel that they can negotiate better export prices in the European market than Jamaica currently fetches. However, the payment system used by the Chinese company could cause disparity between cane farmers and there is already some unrest among farmers about this.
The issue is complicated because the cane payment system is based on the ability to have the sugar sold as a pool and if PCSC is to be appointed agent status, then they would need to ensure the system remains transparent and equitable. Under the current system, JCPS pays all cane farmerss 62 per cent of the agreed price for the sugar and molasses extracted from canes supplied, and the factories get the other 38 per cent.
The system is likely to become more complex with the introduction of a second pricing structure. If the Chinese paid a better price, he said, it could lead to pressure on JCPS from farmers wanting comparative earnings, since farmers are restricted by geography on the factories they are allowed to supply.
In 2010, sugar export volumes and earnings hit a low point of 92,899 tonnes and US$45.8 million, respectively, according to the most recent Planning Institute data.
Under the EU Sugar Protocol, which expired in 2006, Jamaican sugar was allowed duty-free access in Europe at a guaranteed price for an indefinite period. The EU-Cariforum Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) replaced the protocol in 2007, which allowed only duty-free access but the price was no longer guaranteed.
Jamaican pilots cut from Caribbean Airlines
Air Jamaica will be seen no more in the air as new owners Caribbean Airlines dropped the words 'Air Jamaica' from all its airport flight announcements. Twenty-four hours after that announcement the Trinidad-based carrier has made its 75 Jamaican pilots redundant.
The pilots, who were working under an interim contract with CARIBAL Ltd, the company that Caribbean Airlines used when it took over Air Jamaica in 2010, were advised at an emergency meeting in Kingston recently. A release from the airline stated that CARIBAL, a CAL subsidiary, has been closed.
All 75 pilots would have to reapply, expressing interest in their former positions. This would be the third time CAL has asked the pilots to go through an interview process since taking over the former national carrier of Jamaica. All the positions will not be available. They will have to be interviewed again. Approximately 65 will be taken back but, by June, there may be more job losses as arrangement for) the aircraft that were leased for Jamaica expires in June.
Haitian president recovering from lethal complication
Haiti's President Michel Martelly was being treated for a blood clot in his lung caused by an earlier surgery. President Martelly caught a commercial flight to Florida on the advice of a doctor after he experienced chest pains. The problem was a side effect of an operation two weeks ago on the 51-year-old president's right shoulder. Chest pains are a common symptom of a pulmonary embolism, which is a blood clot in the lung, along with palpitations and difficulty in breathing. Severe cases can lead to sudden death.
Jamaica's debt crisis makes BBC news
Jamaica's debt crisis has once again garnered the world's attention, after a two-minute feature dubbed 'Debt-ridden Jamaica appeals to IMF (International Monetary Fund) for help' was recently shown on the BBC's website.
"A country working to pay off its bills, Jamaica is one of the most debt-ridden nations on earth. It owes about $18 billion and has had low growth for decades but that wasn't always the case," the reporter started out before taking viewers on a historical journey when bauxite and agriculture accounted for the majority of the country's wealth. The video pointed to competition and bad weather as two of the factors which have led to the downward trajectory in the country's agricultural sector and consequently its enormous debt.
Pointing to the nation's cost of living, the report said that around 17 per cent of Jamaicans live below the poverty line on less than US$4 per day.
"Tourism remains a lifeline for the economy and last year over $3 million people arrived, a record number, but in the face of tight consumer spending many resorts have had to cut prices to attract customers," the reporter mentioned.
1 in 2 new US college graduates are jobless or underemployed
Caribbean beware! The American economic model that we follow so blindly, the American economic model dominated by the 1%, is no longer working for the 99%.
The US college class of 2012 is in for a rude welcome to the world of work. A weak labor market already has left half of young college graduates either jobless or underemployed in positions that don't fully use their skills and knowledge.
Young adults with bachelor's degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs — waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example — and that's confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans.
An analysis of government data conducted for The Associated Press revealed the grim details. While there's strong demand in science, education and health fields, arts and humanities flounder. Median wages for those with bachelor's degrees are down from 2000, hit by technological changes that are eliminating midlevel jobs. Most future job openings are projected to be in lower-skilled positions such as home health aides, who can provide personalized attention as the U.S. population ages.
Taking underemployment into consideration, the job prospects for bachelor's degree holders fell last year to the lowest level in more than a decade.
According to the latest Inter-American Development Bank group report released on March 8th by the IDB’s Multilateral Investment Fund, remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean rose to $61 billion in 2011, up 6 percent from $57.6 billion in 2010. Most of the money came from migrants in the U.S. The increase in money transfers to these regions is an ongoing upward trend that comes despite the economy.
Last year’s increase started in mid-2010. In 2011, nearly every country in Latin America and the Caribbean received a greater dollar amount in remittances than the previous year, according to the IDB report.
For the Caribbean, the top recipient was the Dominican Republic with over $3 billion followed by Jamaica with over $2 billion.
For many of these nations, remittances remain the largest source of foreign currency, higher in some instances than direct investments. And this money, often sent back weekly, comes largely from the undocumented and blue color workers, who have left close family members behind in pursuit of greener pastures.
Haiti's novel decentralization program gives a voice to the heartland
Hundreds of citizens in the Haitian cities of Jacmel, Leogane and Port de Paix have now participated in the Ministry of the Interior's innovative Community Cafes, the first phase of a comprehensive community decentralization program called Katye Pam Poze (KPP).
President Martelly spoke about Haiti's KPP as the cornerstone of his administration's National Decentralization Agenda. "Since the beginning, I have held a vision for a decentralized Haiti, and now we have a program under way to turn that vision into reality, with citizens participating in decision-making that affects their communities. My government and I are fully committed to making our communities safer and more prosperous, one neighborhood at a time," said the President.
Katye Pam Poze was launched mid March 2012 in Jacmel and followed by Leogane and Port de Paix. Seven additional Cafes are slated to take place in order to cover all ten of the country's departments. The community Cafes are a key component of KPP's participatory approach. They consist of a dialogue session between central and local government entities, and citizens, designed to identify the most pressing local needs, and work together to find solutions.
Once local needs are assessed through KPP cafés, as well as extensive asset-based community development research on-the-ground, a detailed blueprint will be developed for each of the ten pilot communities, laying out priority subprograms that will guarantee access to basic social services and citizen safety.
President Martelly stressed that the goal of his administration is to enable safe and prosperous communities throughout Haiti, and called on all citizens to participate.
Jamaica’s Cornwall College to go solar
Montego Bay's Cornwall College, one of the oldest high schools in Jamaica, is now embarking upon a sustainable energy project to save that all-boys institution "over US$60,000 dollars annually for its energy bill", according to Lance Gibbs, president of the Cornwall College South Florida Alumni Association, whose idea it was to turn to nature for assistance. The plan is to trap and use the energy of the sun.
The project is expected to cost in excess of US$200,000, which the South Florida chapter is hoping to raise in collaboration with the New York and Canada chapters. But to accomplish this most worthwhile venture, the association is seeking the help of the entire Cornwall College community, past and present teachers and students, well-wishers and friends, who are invited to make a monthly contribution of US$100 for 10 months, a one-time contribution of US$1,000, or a one-time contribution of any amount.
The money to be saved from getting off the JPS grid will be used to erect and maintain new buildings on the school's sprawling compound on the "hill beside the sea". The association has raised US$35,000 so far.
The installation of solar electricity will be done in different phases, starting with the administrative block. Phase one of the proposed system size is based on an available space of 13.7kW, and will consist of 64 215-watt panels, two 5,000W 50hz 240V grid tie/off grid inverters, a rack-mounting system, and a data-monitoring and reporting system.
The system size is 13.7kW under standard test conditions, based on an average of 5.5 hours of peak sun hours, and it is expected to produce 75.6kWH daily, 2270.5kWH monthly, and 27,244kwH annually. The panels will come with a 25-year power output warranty. Batteries, inverters, and charge controllers will come with a standard five-year warranty with the option to be extended for 10 years. All work will be warranted for one year.
People who are interested in making a contribution to the Cornwall College energy project may contact president, Gibbs, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or treasurer, Michael Nedrick, at email@example.com.
Why thousands of Ja primary school students fail
Psychosocial assessments conducted on close to 6,000 primary students in Jamaica who have failed the Grade Four Literacy Test four times have determined that their ability to learn is being hampered by environmental and other social factors. The assessments have found that more than 80 per cent of the failing children were experiencing difficulties learning, not because they cannot learn, but because of external factors beyond their control.
The assessments were conducted in preparation for the implementation of ASTEP, which is designed to provide an alternative instructional path for children who, after four sittings of the Grade Four Literacy Test, have not been certified literate and, therefore, will not transition immediately to secondary schools via the Grade Six Achievement Tests.
"The testing of students was to identify the learning readiness of students in order to customise lessons for them to address their individual learning needs," the ministry said. According to the education ministry, "five reputable testing agencies" were used to conduct the assessments on the 5,800 students. The activity lasted approximately three months. The islandwide assessments were done by regions.
Curry fights cancer
In Jamaica and most of the Caribbean curry is a big part of our diet. We curry everything in Jamaica – curry chicken, curry goat, curry crab, curry lobster….you name it. Well there is good news. According to the BBC, "an extract found in the bright yellow curry spice turmeric kills cancer cells." Tests released by a team at the Cork Cancer Research Centre show turmeric can destroy gullet cancer cells in the lab within 24 hours. That’s no small deal.
US company to establish tire recycling plant in Ja
A United States-based waste-to-energy outfit is preparing to establish a US$500,000 (J$44 million) tyre recycling facility in Jamaica to convert old tyres intoenergy sources such as fuel oil as well as biochar, a charcoal used to increase soil fertility and raise agricultural productivity.
It would represent a first for the island, according to Axim International, in a notice advising its stakeholders and filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission this week.
Axim is based in Nevada, but operates out of Jamaica. The company, headed by locally based businesswoman Rosemary Samuels, Sustainable biochar is a powerfully simple tool that can produce a soil enhancer that holds carbon and makes soil more fertile, reduce agricultural waste, and produce clean, renewable energy.
Bigger stake for Jamaica in 360 mega watt plant
Power company Jamaica Public Service Company and its Asian owners plan to create a vehicle to own and operate a planned 360-megawatt plant, whose output will be sold to the electricity provider once it is commissioned. However, reports are that the Jamaican Government is gunning for a bigger share of the plant's ownership.
The plant's ownership was expected to be split 20 per cent to JPS, 40 per cent to Marubeni and 40 per cent to Korea East West Power. By virtue of its 19.9 per cent ownership in JPS, the Government would therefore own approximately 3.98 per cent of the US$614-million plant if it got built.
Minister of Science, Technology, Energy & Mining Phillip Paulwell acknowledged that his ministry was in negotiation with JPS and its majority owners to pick up a bigger stake in the LNG plant but declined to disclose how much more it is asking for.
Paulwell is hoping to increase that 4 per cent Government stake to about 20 per cent of the plant, which is yet to break ground but is expected to be operational by 2015. He is gunning for more because he "wanted to maintain Jamaica's influence" inside JPS over the next two decades. The license for the LNG plant will be for 20 years. The 20 per cent, he said, was equivalent to the stake the Government now held in JPS.
The push to own more of the plant comes as a local energy think tank is warning that the 360MW plant would likely cement JPS's monopoly on distribution, saying it would grow the utility's control of installed capacity from 75 per cent to 85 per cent.
JMA president lobbies Government to 'Buy Jamaican'
Jamaica Manufacturing Association (JMA) President Brian Pengelley charged the Government to retrofit its ministries and agencies with locally made products, even the toilet paper. It's a new twist on JMA's mantra, 'Buy Jamaica, Build Jamaica' which is focused on consumers.
"I am asking that each leader of a ministry or government agency issue a directive tomorrow morning that Jamaican made products must be used in their respective entities. This can start with toilet paper, cleaning products, uniforms, furniture, and office supplies," declared Pengelley, who is a sales executive at Red Stripe Jamaica.
"We know that our manufacturers are producing quality products, so I do not want to hear that as an excuse," he said.
JMA's buy Jamaica build Jamaica campaign calls on Jamaicans to buy more local products in an effort to stimulate economic activity and reduce the drain on foreign exchange from imports.
Editors Note: Unbelievable! This is amazing that the Jamaica government departments do not already Buy Jamaican. They should not be requested to. They should be legally compelled to. In the mighty America, state governments are required by law to buy American construction and many other products.
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