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bulletWorld renown Guyanese-born Author Van Sertima dies
bulletFr. Jean-Juste, spiritual leader of Haitian Americans, dies
bulletDebt repayment gobbles up 56% of Jamaica budget
bulletT&T bailout of CLICO $1 billion so far
bulletPALS, Ja. Gov’t unite to fight school violence
bulletT&T Attorney General to resign
bulletUWI grads underpaid in Jamaica
bulletJamaicans owe J$760 million in student loans
bulletFish decline in Caribbean causes concern
bulletHaiti no longer the poorest
bulletNorthern Caribbean U wins Microsoft Imagine Cup for region
bulletJamaica women need to stay in shape
bulletJa’s U Tech vie with NBA and MLB for Trelawny stadium
bulletUS travel company launches Cuba petition
bulletNegril small hotels face extinction



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by Michael I Phillips

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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.  
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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.



May/June 2009

Two Caribbean stalwarts die

World renown Guyanese-born author Van Sertima 

World renown author Ivan Van Sertima has died at the age of 73. He was propelled into fame by his authorship of his book "They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America". They Came Before Columbus is a groundbreaking historical work and a literary hallmark. The book has now gone through more than twenty printings. It was published in French in 1981, and in the same year was awarded the Clarence L. Holt Prize, a prize awarded every two years "for a work of excellence in literature and the humanities relating to the the cultural heritage of Africa and the African diaspora." 

Van Sertima was born in Kitty Village, Guyana, South America on January 26, 1935. He was educated at the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University where he graduated with honors. From 1957 to 1959, he served as a Press and Broadcasting Officer in the Guyana Information Services. During the decade of the 1960s, he broadcasted weekly from Britain to both Africa and the Caribbean. He came to the United States in 1970, where he completed his post graduate studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Dr. Van Sertima began his teaching career as an instructor at Rutgers in 1972, and was Professor of African studies in the Department of African Studies until his death. 


Father Jean-Juste, spiritual leader of Haitian Americans

Rev. Gérard Jean-Juste, the Roman Catholic priest whose passionate, relentless, 30-year human-rights crusade on behalf of his fellow Haitians cast him as their spiritual and political leader in South Florida, has died. He was a liberation theologist, controversial in both the United States and his homeland, who battled the unequal treatment of Haitian refugees in the federal courts, in Miami's streets and in the media.

Jean-Juste was an unflinching supporter of ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his Fanmi Lavalas Party. Jean-Juste's demands for Aristide's return after a 2004 violent revolution, and his attacks on government corruption, earned him two prison terms in Haiti. Unafraid to confront anyone, including Church superiors in two countries, he was suspended by the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince -- and prevented from having his own South Florida church by the Archdiocese of Miami.

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Debt repayment gobbles up 56% of Jamaica budget

The Jamaica government expects to spend $309 billion, or approximately 56 per cent of overall expenditure, on debt repayment and interest charges this fiscal year, according to the Budget numbers released recently. The overall Budget, at J$547.74 billion, is in normal terms J$39.77 billion, or 7.8 per cent more than the revised expenditure for the fiscal year that ended on March 31. However, when inflation - estimated at an annualised 12.5 per cent for the fiscal year - is taken into account, there would be a real decline in the Budget of about five per cent. Last year, 53 per cent of the total Budget was consumed by debt servicing and repayments.

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T&T bailout of CLICO $1 billion so far

Euric Bobb, the Chairman of Colonial Life Insurance (Trinidad) Ltd (CLICO), has disclosed that his company has so far received $1 billion from the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago to help the cash-strapped company meet its financial commitments. That bailout is expected to grow to about $5 billion, including the $1 billion that has already been advanced. Under the Memorandum of Understanding signed on January 30, the government has a claim on the holding company's assets as a means of reimbursing the government for taxpayer funding that's being used to help CLICO.

CLICO has operations all over the Caribbean, including Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana, Belize, Bahamas. Governments have been scrambling to protect insurance holders in their respective countries.

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PALS, Ja. Gov’t unite to fight school violence

School violence has grown into a big problem which is poisoning the learning environment. The conflict resolution organization Peace and Love in Society (PALS) has teamed up with the Jamaica Ministry of Education to address this major problem over a 5-year period.

The first phase of the project began May 1 and is to end December 2009. It will involve 90 primary and junior-high schools and 12 high schools. The Ministry of Education has provided $7 million for this phase. PALS will carry out training sessions for stakeholder groups - administration, teachers, students, parents, community members, Ministry of Education personnel, school resource officers and teachers' college personnel. PALS will also assist schools with creating a systematic approach to managing students' behaviour. The major component will address

bulletrules and procedures, 
bullet the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved in managing student behaviour
bulletmethods for creating a positive climate and reinforcing desirable behaviours

Andrew Holness, Minister of Education observed, "Our teachers are under stress because of the problem of antisocial behaviour in schools. It is so widespread, we can classify it as endemic. For too long, we have used the old tools of corporal punishment, deprivation ... and those have not serve us well,.

PALS was formed in 1994 and has interfaced with some 250 schools over the years. The organisation promotes peace and amicable resolution of conflicts within society.

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T&T Attorney General to resign

Trinidad and Tobago attorney general, Bridget Annisette-George has announced her resignation after serving for only 18 months. She will be succeeded by John Jeremy, the no nonsense attorney general she replaced. Jeremy is now Trinidad and Tobago High Commissioner in London, and arrangements are being made for him to return to Port of Spain.
Jeremy who prosecuted several American businessmen, including Eduardo Hillman-Wallace, Ronald Birk and Raul Gutierrez, in connection with the billion-dollar Piaro Airport racket.
He was also the key figure in the prosecution of former Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma.

His imminent appointment comes at a time when investigations are underway into the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCOTT) multi-million dollar inquiry.

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UWI grads underpaid in Jamaica

A recent study of graduates of the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Jamaica found that more than half settled for low paying jobs that require fewer qualifications, Males, who consist of only 21% of the graduates had a higher mean salary J$98,194 (US$1091) than females J$89,758 (US$997).

The survey was conducted among 2,464 graduates who left the institution in 2007. The findings indicate that 90 per cent of the graduates found employment after graduation, and 4.6 per cent proceeded to postgraduate studies. The civil service absorbed most of the graduates, accounting for about 60 per cent of all those employed (37 per cent in central government/ statutory authorities and 23 per cent in public-sector institutions), while the private sector employed 23 per cent. Seven per cent were engaged by other entities.

The only school that graduates engineers is in Trinidad and Tobago campus from which most do not return because of better jobs in the oil and gas industry there. However, since the T&T government launched a commission to investigate alleged corruption in the wider construction industry, projects have slowed down and reduced the demand for engineers there. The commission is looking generally at the operation of the local construction sector, especially in relation to government procurement agency, the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago

Engineers also migrate to the United States to work, said Omar Sweeney, who is also the general manager for technical services at the Jamaica Social Investment Fund. The good news is that the University of Technology in Jamaica is in the process of developing a civil engineering program , which is likely to be launched in the 2009-10 academic year.

Mean monthly salary of graduates by faculties
Humanities and Education J$98,181 (US$1079)
Pure and Applied Sciences $90,700 (US$1008)
Social Sciences $87,951 (US$977)
Medical Sciences $79, 480 (US$883)

Percentage of graduates by faculty
Social Sciences 38
Humanities and Education 35
Medical Sciences 13
Pure and Applied Sciences 13

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Jamaicans owe J$760 million in student loans

JAMAICAN STUDENTS owe the Students' Loan Bureau (SLB) $760 million, money that, if collected, could fund nearly half of the more than 9,610 persons who have so far applied for loans to pursue advanced studies this year. The delinquents number 7,127 and are mainly graduates of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona campus, and the University of Technology (UTech). The bad loans dated back to 1996. Increasing tuition fees and a corresponding increase in applications to the bureau, combined with a high delinquency rate among students, are threatening to deny many prospective students the opportunity to finance their higher education through loans from the bureau.

Last month, Prime Minister Bruce Golding told Parliament that the rate of delinquency on SLB loans was due mainly to students leaving universities and being unable to find employment. Students also report lousy-paying jobs make repayment almost impossible.

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Fish decline in Caribbean causes concern

Analyzing 48 surveys of Caribbean fish populations over fifty years, from 1955-2007, a new meta-study has found that fish populations began to drop in the mid-90s, leading to a consistent decline that hasn’t stopped. The study published in Current Biology discovered a region-wide decline of about 3-6 percent per year in three out of six trophic groups of fish. Overfishing plays a role but and degradation of coral reefs is considered to be the main cause. Dr. Michelle Paddack, lead author of the paper, calls for Caribbean nations to come together to address this problem which could have serious consequences. Paddack says that nations have a number of means to promote recovery of fish populations in the region, which are vital for sustaining tourism, the fishing industry, and a healthy marine ecosystem.

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Haiti no longer the poorest

According to a recent ranking based on GDP by the IMF, Haiti is no longer the poorest country in the hemisphere. That title now belongs to Nicaragua. But in the skeptical words of Marguerite Laurent:

"It does not, in any way, correspond to the reality of Haitian lives. Remember, in
2008, Haiti suffered four hurricanes more severe together than 10 Katrinas,
damages estimated at over one billion dollars, Diaspora remittances lowered
significantly because of the global financial crisis, there was a food crisis,
and the Alexis government was taken down - yet somehow Haiti is now BETTER off
financially than it was the year before!!!

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Northern Caribbean U wins Microsoft Imagine Cup for region

Jamaica’s Northern Caribbean University outdesigned the University of the West Indies' (UWI) Team AgroNeTT from Trinidad and Tobago, and UNAPEC Team NF4Live from the Dominican Republic to win the 2009 Microsoft Imagine Cup for region. This year, Microsoft instructed the Imagine Cup teams to address one of the eight United Nations (UN) Millennium Goals. The NCU team is focusing on developing software which will help address UN Millennium Goal number one, which is to eradicate extreme hunger and poverty. This year's theme is 'Imagine a World Where Technology Helps Solve The Toughest Problems Facing Us Today'. The mission of the competition is to research, brainstorm, design and develop potential solutions that address the world's toughest problems.

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Jamaica women need to stay in shape

Jamaica's women, particularly mothers, have been warned to whip themselves into shape to avoid health problems. A recent released Healthy Lifestyle  Survey revealed that the majority of Jamaicans are engaged in little or no physical activity. These levels of physical inactivity are especially high among women. The survey reports a total of 96 per cent of women being sedentary or involved in light physical activity compared to 82 per cent of men.

Dr Eva Lewis-Fuller, director of health promotion and protection in the Ministry of Health, said for women to maintain a healthy physique, it is important that they become active and pay keen attention to their waistline. She explained that a woman's waistline should be 31 inches and below. Any measurement beyond this suggests increased risk for developing chronic diseases. For men, the ideal waist limit is 35 inches.

She also pointed out that, "Over 50 per cent of deaths are now attributable to cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes, respiratory disease and other non-communicable conditions, which last year cost approximately US$170 million to treat."

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Ja’s U Tech competes with NBA and MLB for Trelawny  stadium

The Trelawny Multipurpose Stadium was built for the recent Cricket World Cup at great expense. Now the University of Technology (UTech) has made a bid to lease the stadium in order to increase its enrollment by 2,500. The university expects to double the initial student population to 5,000 by 2012. UTech’s president, Professor Errol Morrison, said the school's objective was to develop a full university campus in western Jamaica "as a matter of extreme urgency, and to grow into a major tertiary institution in the west". The proposal also included making the stadium available to schools, churches, clubs and hotel and business communities.

However he is facing stiff competition from United States-based professional teams from the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball. But the government feels that the university's proposal was not incompatible with the country’s desire to promote sports tourism. Of course UTech is the home traing ground for MVP Track Club which boasts members including Olym-pic champions Shelly-Ann Fraser and Melaine Walker as well as Asafa Powell and other Olympic medallists.

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US travel company launches Cuba petition

One of the largest US travel agencies, Orbitz, has launched a web campaign to end the decades-old US travel ban to Cuba. The petition, available at, reads: "We call on you to reverse our failed policy of isolation and end the 50-year ban on travel to Cuba in the United States. We believe that every American should have the freedom to travel to any country in the world, including Cuba, because the interaction between peoples from different countries is the single most powerful way to advance the causes of peace and prosperity."

The website has a link to Orbitz brand, which features a Cuba travel guide.

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Negril small hotels face extinction

Former Prime Minister Edward Seaga says Negril's small accommodations sector is in crisis and could face a possible wipeout, as it is being rendered uncompetitive by the lower rates offered through the large Spanish-owned hotels. "Tourism has always faced a crisis in terms of the success of small hotels," he said. "Negril, as part of its brand that remains, is well known for having a lot of small hotels and the crisis that they have faced is to survive at rates that would make them successful. With the advent of the Spanish hotels, rates have been decreased."


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