Not just a book but an invitation to join the Goodwill
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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.
About 25 years ago, I had just completed grocery shopping in a shopping mall near my home in the very liberal enlightened cosmopolitan Columbia, Md. When I returned to my car in the parking lot I discovered that it had been badly damaged by a hit-and-run driver. A witness came forward with the license number of the perpetrator. I called the police. When they came they barely looked at my damaged vehicle as they proceeded to question me. They noticed my Jamaican accent and immediately lost interest in my damaged car, but now demanded some specific document to prove that I was not an illegal alien. I was a victim of a hit-and –run but now the Howard County Police gave me the 3rd degree! I was dismayed and filed a complaint with the Human Rights Council for that county, but nothing came of it.
As an American citizen with a Jamaican accent, I will not be going back to Arizona. Because I am black with a Jamaican accent, the police can legally stop me in the streets of Arizona, subject me to verbal abuse and public humiliation. If I happen to forget my wallet, I could even be beaten, tased and thrown in jail. No I won’t go to Arizona.
But not just because I fear for my safety. I believe that all people of goodwill should boycott that state until that racist law is changed. Or shall we wait for Arizona to issue pass cards like apartheid South Africa did?
"Show me your papers, are your papers in order?" This phrase was made famous, or rather infamous, by the Gestapo in the persecution of the Jews in Hitler’s Germany. Is this the Arizona model?
How ironic, Arizona was the last state to recognize the Martin Luther King holiday and now the first to legalize racial profiling. It is wrong. Caribbean people are bound to be victims too. We cannot let this poison spread. Boycott Arizona! Boycott their Diamondbacks baseball team and everything associated with Arizona! Oppose their racial bigotry!
Govt. workers must wait 3 years for J$ 13 b owed them
Teachers, nurses, the police, soldiers and other civil servants got some very bad news. They will have to wait for at least three years to get all of the $13 billion owed to them by the financially strapped Jamaica government.
Opening the 2010-2011 Budget Debate in Gordon House, Jamaica’s Finance Minister Audley Shaw declared that the Government was unable to pay amounts due to public-sector workers this fiscal year, noting that those obligations would be met over a minimum of three years.
He told the country that the two-year wage freeze and the extension of payment to public-sector workers were part of the commitments made by the Government to ink the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement.
With this new timetable for payment, teachers who were owed sums from 2007-2008 financial year would now have to wait until 2013 to receive full payment from the Government.
Former T&T PM and party leader, Basdeo Panday, dumped by UNC
Basdeo Panday, a former PM of Trinidad and Tobago, former leader and founder of the opposition United National Congress (UNC) has been dropped as a candidate for the upcoming general elections on May 24. It is the first time in 38 long years that the name Panday will not be on a ballot paper in Trinidad and Tobago. The opposition United National Congress (UNC) has omitted the daughter and brother The UNC has decided to boot out Mickela Panday and her uncle Subhas Panday, although they won their seats at the last general elections.
Ironically the new UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar was once a protégé of Baseo Panday. The party also kicked out the popular Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, who was vying for leadership of the UNC.
Election fever is running high. The five opposition parties have decided to work in unity in opposing the governing People's National Movement led by Patrick manning. The UNC is fielding 23 candidates; the Congress of the People (COP) 10; NJAC 4; Movement for Social Justice 2; and Tobago Organisation 2.
Air Jamaica sold
The national airline of Jamaica, Air Jamaica is no more. Effective May 1, 2010 it ceased to exist as it has been bought by Caribbean Airlines of Trinidad and Tobago. All 1500 Air Jamaica employees lost their jobs but the new owners say they will rehire 1000. Workers would receive severance pay on the last day of the company's operations, and that plans were afoot for Air Jamaica to pay over outstanding statutory deductions to the National Housing Trust and the National Insurance Scheme. Air Jamaica has not paid over statutory deductions since 2008.
The Jamaican Government was seeking to sell the airline but was unable to secure a buyer. Under the lease agreement with Caribbean Airlines, Jamaica will receive a 16 per cent share in the company, which is a measure of Air Jamaica's brand - estimated at US$30 million.
Under the arrangement, details of which are covered by a confidentiality clause, Jamaica will spend $22.5 billion for the winding up of Air Jamaica's operations. The country will also assume all debts associated with the failed national carrier. Jamaica, however, will remain the owner of all of Air Jamaica's other assets, including real estate.
United States-sponsored military exercises in Port Royal
Approximately 450 security force personnel from the United States, the United Kingdom, and 15 Caribbean nations , recently conducted an international military cooperation exercise called Tradewinds 2010 in the historic town of Port Royal, Jamaica. The manoeuvres are conducted annually by Caribbean Basin Partner Nations sponsored by the US Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) to improve cooperation and interoperability of partner nations in responding to regional security threats. Miami-based US Marine Corps Forces, South, is the executive agent for the exercise.
Tradewinds is primarily a maritime operations exercise that also supports USSOUTHCOM's security cooperation objectives and exercises the assets and capability provided under the Enduring Friendship program. Enduring Friendship, a USSOUTHCOM-sponsored program to build maritime security capabilities throughout the Caribbean, is now marking its 26th year of operation.
In Jamaica, Tradewinds 2010 focus is on:
Countries participating in Tradewinds 2010 are Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, United Kingdom and the United States.
Jamaica defrauded in ammo deal
Contractor General Greg Christie's 60-page report on a mega munitions mishap in March 2008 concluded that the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Ministry of National Security (MNS) pumped millions of dollars into an ammunition purchase from an illegal arms dealer in the United States. Unfortunately, they entered into the deal with the munitions supplier without doing any due-diligence checks.
The report revealed that a probe conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) concluded that there was "cause to believe that the Government of Jamaica is a victim of fraud perpetrated by Lance Brooks, doing business as Taylor & Associates" - an arms-brokering business in Lauderhill, Florida.
The botched bullet buy, worth US$81,100, yielded no rounds of ammunition for the security forces. And, it is still uncertain if the Government will recoup all of the taxpayers' money it spent on the deal.
The Jamaica government with the aid of the FBI is trying to get the money back.
Some mail service restored in Haiti
International mail service is set to partially resume in Haiti as the
country recovers from the devastating January earthquake. The Universal
Postal Union, one of the UN's specialized agencies, said recently that it
had informed the United States and France that they could now release mail
destined for Haiti.
Jamaica and Guyana halt scrap metal export
In an attempt to curb vandalism, both governments of Jamaica and Guyana have banned the export of scrap metal. In Jamaica the decision was taken in the wake of the theft of millions of dollars worth of infrastructure across the island, and most recently, at the Colbeck irrigation pumping station in St Catherine where scrap metal thieves vandalised critical agricultural equipment, with losses estimated at some $5 million. The ban does not apply to containers that are already in the ports. Other containers, which have already been packed, will be inspected by a special team comprising the Jamaica Customs Department, the police and other stakeholders, and then repacked.
In Guyana, thieves have looted installations from the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) sites and the Lama Conservancy, the pumping facilities of the Guyana Sugar Corporation and even the metal rails around graves in church yards and accessible burial grounds.
Grenada turns to Libya for funds
Finance Minister Nizam Burke has announced that Grenada is seeking debt relief from Libya and assistance to repay a number of loans to the Export-Import Bank of the Republic of China in Taiwan. He said that negotiations have begun between the Tillman Thomas administration and Muammar Gaddafi's government in Tripoli.
The Export-Import Bank issued a formal demand notice to the Thomas government last year, threatening to pursue all legal avenues to recover the outstanding US$26 million. A court in the United States
had ordered the Grenada government to repay the money after the previous administration failed to service the loan.
The money owed includes loans taken to facilitate construction of the national athletic stadium, which was severely damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, a complex to house government ministries, road construction as well as to revive the agriculture sector. Grenada still owes Libya for helping to fund the construction of the Maurice Bishop International Airport.
Jamaica gets new police commissioner.
Owen Ellington is now the commissioner of police. After acting in the highest position in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) for more than three months, Ellington was finally appointed to the position. He succeeds Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin, retired in November last year.
Deportees and crime in Jamaica
There have been conflicting claims over the years about the impact of deportees on crime, but many Jamaicans remain convinced of the involvement of deportees in much of the criminal activity now plaguing the country. Data provided in the 2009 Economic and Social Survey of Jamaica (ESSJ) will add more fuel to the fire. More than 3,000 deportees were sent back to Jamaica last year, with the vast majority heading to the parishes where crime is most rampant.
Kingston, St Andrew, St James, St Catherine and Clarendon - which accounted for the majority of the 1,680 murders last year - were the final destinations for most of the people sent back to Jamaica, sparking more concern about the link between deportees and crime.
According to the ESSJ:
New sugar deal for Jamaica
British sugar producers Tate & Lyle have entered into a US$46-million partial pre-financing agreement over two years with the Jamaican Government in exchange for the supply of 100,000 tons of raw sugar annually.
The deal will replace the current accord with Eridania Suisse SA, which saw the forward payment of US$15 million to fund the 2009-2010 crop in exchange for a government-guaranteed supply of 79,000 tonnes of sugar.
Sugar Company of Jamaica Holdings Limited, the vehicle through which Government owns and manages the factories yet to be divested, will receive US$26 million for the 2010 crop year, and US$20 million for the following year. If there is a succesful divestment before the agreement expires,The deal will be terminated without penalty after the first crop year. But for the time being the deal will facilitate the continued operation of the facilities for the 2010-2011 crop year.
Eridania, which stakes a claim to 30 per cent of the European sugar market, initially wanted to buy the remaining three factories - Frome, Bernard Lodge and Monymusk - but backtracked after its due diligence on the entities.
Up to the 1960s, Tate & Lyle controlled large chunks of Jamaica's sugar industry, but left in the 1970s. The producers came back for a period in the 1980s to manage some factories on behalf of the Government and, in the 1990s, as partner with two Jamaican firms in a short-lived ownership of the divested industry.
Caribbean rum in trouble
Rum earns over US$500 million a year in foreign exchange and provides regional governments with over US$150 million in taxes annually, making it the largest agriculture-based value-added Caribbean export.
It provides direct and indirect employment for over 50,000 persons and many of its most significant producers are located in deprived sugar cane-growing areas.
For two weeks now, complaints by columnist and former diplomat, Sir Ronald Sanders, that Caribbean ministers and governments are failing to support the industry in its battle with Europe have been met with silence.
In an article titled 'Who will save Caribbean rum now?', Sir Ronald argued that the Caribbean rum industry is being abandoned, and asked why no Caribbean government was prepared to rise to the challenge posed by the European Commission (EC) as it reneges on commitments given to Caribbean rum producers' that the region had an obligation to act boldly and to do so now.
The Caribbean, he suggested, had lost sugar, lost bananas, and was now about to lose rum. It had lost the will to fight.
A new deal with Europe, set to undermine the industry in the Caribbean, and no one, no politicians, no press, no academic experts, are talking about it.
IMF approves US$13.3m facility for Grenada
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved Grenada's request for US$13.3 million to help the government boost growth and strengthen the island's business climate. The funds, including US$1.9 million up front, will be disbursed under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) over a three-year period. The new arrangement is designed to help the Tillman Thomas administration in St George's to cushion the effects of the global crisis and support the country's agenda of economic reforms, including reducing vulnerability in the financial sector.
Over 300 Cuba-trained Guyanese doctors to return home next year
Three hundred and one Guyanese doctors, trained in Cuba, are expected to return home next year to begin service in their homeland. The returning doctors will be posted to various locations across the country and will greatly improve the quality of service offered to Guyanese.
Minister within the Ministry of Health, Dr Bheri Ramsaran said that
this batch of medical practitioners exceeds the total number of doctors
currently registered in Guyana. He added that the government has no plans
to post doctors indefinitely to far flung areas without due regard to the
need to continuously upgrade their skills and acquire additional
knowledge. Currently, various models are being devised to ensure that
doctors get continued medical education and at the same time, their
professional progression is guaranteed.
New company acquires 38% of Barbados electric company
Emera Incorporated, a Halifax, Nova Scotia based energy and services company has acquired 38% interest in Light & Power Holdings Ltd. (LPH) from Leucadia National Corporation ("Leucadia") for US $85million. LPH is the parent company of The Barbados Light & Power Company Limited. (BLPC).
BLPC is the sole utility operator on the island of Barbados, serving 120,000 customers. BLPC has three power generation stations consisting of 239 MW of installed capacity. This 38% investment will make Emera the largest single shareholder of LPH. Approximately 62% of LPH is locally held by 2,700 Barbadian shareholders, including the National Insurance Board of Barbados, which owns 23%.
LPH is Emera's third investment in the Caribbean. This follows a 19% investment in St. Lucia Electricity Services Limited (Lucelec), a vertically-integrated monopoly utility on the island of St. Lucia, and a 25% indirect interest in Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC) in the Bahamas.
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