UNDILUTED pays tribute to John Maxwell by featuring two previous columns by him from the Hot Calaloo UNDILUTED archives:
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reverts Puerto Rico back to a colony of US
island’s economy is collapsing under the weight of $70 billion in debt,
and the island government has already defaulted on several debt payments. .
If Puerto Rico were a state, it would be able to declare “chapter 9”
bankruptcy, a special section of the bankruptcy code for state and local
governments, and these lenders would likely end up settling for a fraction
of what they are owed. Without that option, Congress has to come up with
legislation that would offer similar relief. Congress has come up with
bill (H.R. 5278) is the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and
Economic Stability Act, better known as PROMESA. PROMESA proposes the
establishment of an Oversight Board with seven members appointed by the
United States President, who will be granted totalitarian control over
Puerto Rico’s finances in order to restructure the Puerto Rican debt,
which equals to: “Fuck you pay me”. Section #4 of the bill
says, “The provisions of this Act shall prevail over any general or
specific provisions of territory law, State law, or regulation that is
inconsistent with this Act.”
United States Congress had total control over the insular government of
Puerto Rico, ever since the Foraker Act was approved in 1900. It
wasn’t until the creation of the Free Associated State Constitution
(ELA) in 1952, that Puerto Ricans were granted the right to elect their
own governor and handle the internal administration of the country. Still
when the United States Congress approved this, they sustained the capacity
of imposing legislation over Puerto Rico’s Government and retaining
ultimate power over all of Puerto Rico’s affairs.
The abundance of critics contend thatPROMESA will make the economic
crisis worse on workers, while rewarding corporations and making sure that
bondholders keep receiving monthly payments. For example, one of the most
controversial provisions of the bill is the reduction of the federal
minimum wage from $7.25 to $4.25 an hour for workers 25 years old and
younger. The last time hourly wages were this low was about 20 years ago.
Haiti scraps first election results
Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) has
accepted a recommendation from an independent commission to start
presidential elections from scratch, throwing out the results of the first
round of voting held last October.
The decision follows a report last week from the
Independent Commission of Evaluation and Verification which pointed to
major fraud and misconduct in the first round.
Under an agreement signed by political parties on
February 5, just before former president Michel Martelly left office, a
transitional government was to rule the country for four months, until
elections were held on April 24 and power transferred to the elected
president on May 14.
But several delays and calls for the first round
results to be verified have led to interim president Jocelerme Privert
remaining in place long after the agreed time.
According to the Miami Herald, the new elections will take place on October 9, 2016 and if none of the candidates wins outright, a run-off vote would take place on January 8, 2017, with the final election results published 22 days later.
Birth defects from Zika In Latin America, Caribbean pass 1,500 mark
The reported total number of cases of birth defects related to the Zika
virus in affected Latin America and the Caribbean is now at 1,504, latest
World Health Organization (WHO) data shows.
Brazil leads the countries, territories and areas reporting the defects
or microcephaly and/or CNS malformation cases associated with the Zika
virus infection according to the WHO. The total number of babies born with
birth defects there now is put at 1,489.
As of June 1, 2016, 60 nations globally reported continuing mosquito
borne virus transmission and 46 countries are experiencing a first
outbreak of the Zika virus since 2015, with no previous evidence of
circulation, and with ongoing transmission by mosquitoes. Ten countries
have reported evidence of person-to-person transmission of Zika virus,
probably via a sexual route.
Overall, Brazil still continues to lead the Americas with the most
suspected and confirmed locally transmitted Zika virus disease cases. The
top Zika affected nations in the Americas according to PAHO data as of May
New York city sending 1 million condoms
to Puerto Rico
New York City’s Bill de Blasio administration has a gift for Puerto
Ricans – one million condoms! The New York City Health Department on
Monday announced it will be donating the condoms to assist the
economically challenged US territory of Puerto Rico to assist with Zika
The condoms are expected to be distributed by the Puerto Rico
Department of Health throughout the island to allow residents to reduce
the spread of Zika through sexual transmission.
The mosquito-borne virus that has taken the Americas by storm has been
found to be sexually transmitted and can lead to brain defects in new born
babies through the Guillain-Barré syndrome.
The Zika virus can be spread by a man to his sex partners, according to
the Centers for Diasease Control (CDC). In known cases of sexual
transmission, the men developed Zika virus symptoms. From these cases, the
CDC says the virus can be spread when the man has symptoms, before
symptoms start and after symptoms resolve and the virus is present in
semen longer than in blood.
“New York City has acted aggressively to reduce the overall mosquito
population – while increasing Zika detection methods – in our ongoing
effort to protect residents as well as visitors to our city,” said Mayor
Bill de Blasio. “In light of Puerto Rico’s healthcare crisis, we are
proud to announce we’ve donated 1 million condoms to our neighbors, and
we will continue our campaign focusing on Zika prevention for pregnant
women and international travelers. We stand with the Puerto Rican
All pregnant women in Jamaica to be tested for Zika
The Ministry of Health in Jamaica will require all pregnant women to be
tested for the Zika virus.
“When a woman is tested positive for being pregnant
and she has to go through the initial stages of testing, we are going to
require her to also do a Zika test, so that we can track, as part of the
monitoring,” Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton announced on
An unborn child is at high risk of developing
microcephaly – an abnormal smallness of the head, which is
associated with incomplete brain development – if the mother is
infected with the Zika virus during her pregnancy.
He had previously announced that his ministry,
through the National Health Fund, would provide J$1 million (US$8,014) to
each Member of Parliament to support Zika activities at the constituency
level up to the end of August.
Up to then, 21 people, including two pregnant women
had tested positive for the Zika virus.
Cuban lung cancer vaccine
to be tested in US
A lung cancer vaccine developed in Cuba will be tested in the United
States through the work of the Rosewell Park Institute – a cancer
research and treatment centre located in New York. The vaccine, known as
Cimavax will soon enter the US and could benefit cancer patients in that
“We believe that treatments should be available to all patients and
that politics and geography should not prohibit the drug development
process,” reads a statement on the webpage of the Washington based Lung
“The development of Cimavax is particularly
exciting as it would represent a new class of therapeutics for lung cancer
– a vaccine that primes the immune system, similarly to the flu shot or
common childhood vaccines,” the statement
Opposition wins St.
Lucia general election
The main Opposition United Workers Party (UWP) led by Allen Chastanet
has won Monday’s general election denying Prime Minister Dr. Kenny
Anthony an opportunity of leading his St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) to a
second consecutive five year term in office.
The UWP won 11 of the 17 seats at stake, reversing the results of the
2011 general election, when the SLP won by the same margin.
T&T PM says no discussion on
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says his administration has not
discussed decriminalising marijuana even as his Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi
is quoted as saying that it is reviewing existing legislation as well as
planning wide consultation before adopting any position.
But, the PM said his Government has been in office for just over seven
months and has spent no time at all examining the decriminalisation of
The Trinidad Guardian newspaper recently quoted Al-Rawi
as saying there has been “a full exercise of analysing the types of
crime in our prisons and the pre-trials detention or remand statistics for
a range of offences, including possession of narcotics, and particularly
possession of cannabis.
“From that perspective there’s certainly a drive
to gather statistical information, as the issue of decriminalising of
marijuana isn’t a simple one on the public side.”
But when questioned by the media, Al Rawi said he was
speaking to the Trinidad Guardian as attorney general and not on behalf of
the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.
More than 20 killed in Haiti as boat
Haitian officials have confirmed that At least 22 people were killed
when a boat capsized in rough waters recently. They said the incident
occurred when the small boat left Bombardopis for the northern city of
Gonaives. Head of the maritime and navigations service, Eric Prevost, said
rescuers were able to save several passengers, but do not know how many
people in total were on board the vessel.
The national maritime service is continuing the search for survivors
and the recovery of bodies from the shipwreck area. The Haitian
authorities also said that a young man was swept away by rising waters in
central Haiti, bringing to 22 the total number of people killed during
that same weekend’s
US$15 million to aid Caribbean in climate change
Japan will spend US$15
million in eight Caribbean countriesto assist them in climate change..
These include: Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia, St
Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname. The project is being implemented
by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Of this amount, the Japan
Government has earmarked approximately US$1.8 million (J$220 million)
through the Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (J-CCCP) to provide
assistance to Jamaica in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Approximately $73 million of that sum will be provided to support
on-the-ground work to help communities’ efforts to cope with the effects
of climate change.
Another portion of the money will be allocated at the national level to
address barriers to the implementation of climate-resilient technologies
and to build Jamaica’s own capacity to implement nationally appropriate
mitigation actions and a National Adaptation Plan.
Under the J-CCCP, community-based projects will include sustainable
agriculture and water resource management. These projects, he said, will
benefit the communities by introducing technologies which will improve the
livelihoods of residents through job provision and income generation.
now available for Jamaica Primary schools
All primary schools in Jamaica will now have access to the
‘Calculation Time’ Mathematics application (app), which is designed to
improve students’ knowledge and appreciation of the subject. The app,
which was officially launched at the Courtleigh Hotel and Suites, in New
Kingston, on April 29, is one of the methodologies used under the
‘Calculation Time’ program, which aims to make learning Mathematics
fun for students.
The program, which is a collaborative effort between the Governments of
Japan and Jamaica, was first introduced to the country in 2011 in seven
pilot schools. It has since been extended to 65 schools. It is
incorporated into the curriculum for 15 minutes for 90 days.
All 774 primary schools are expected to receive the
app which is designed to help students develop a better appreciation for
mathematics; calculate more accurately and efficiently mentally; and
integrate calculation skills.
The ‘Calculation Time’ app has been available
under the Government’s $1.4 billion Tablets in School program. Links to
the app are available for download to personal computers (PC) and android
devices, such as tablets and phones.
Caribbean students to benefit from Rihanna’s new scholarship program
Barbadian-born Grammy-winning singer Rihanna has
announced a global scholarship program that would fund education for
students from seven countries, including her home country and four other
Caribbean nations, in the United States.
The college scholarship program, launched through her
Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF), would provide up to US$50,000 in
scholarships for successful applications from Barbados, Brazil, Cuba,
Haiti, Guyana, Jamaica, or the US who have already been accepted into a
bachelor’s degree program at an accredited four-year college or
university in the US for the 2016-2017 year.
”To be able to give the gift of an education is
actually an honour. ”Higher education will help provide perspective,
opportunities, and learning to a group of kids who really deserve it. I am
thrilled Caribbean students to benefit from
Rihanna’s new scholarship program
Jamaican high school sustains
itself with vibrant agriculture program
The 47-year-old Lennon High school, located in Mocho in the cool hills
of Clarendon, Jamaica, has an
agricultural program that Principal Dr Donald Johnson aptly describes as
The school produced 18,000 chickens per year according to Andre Lyttle,
head of the scvhool’s Agriculture Department. They also collect 50 eggs
daily from layers, raise pigs, and operate a greenhouse from which, Lyttle
said, they reap 600 pounds of tomatoes weekly, as well as sweet peppers.
Outside of approximately 200 pounds of chicken that
are purchased by average consumers, the majority of the produce from the
program, which prepares students to sit the Caribbean Examinations Council
paper in Agricultural Science, is sold to the school canteen.
“It’s an income-generating project,” Lyttle
said. ”The profit helps to build classrooms.”
A total of 96 students are enrolled in the program
Petcom for J$2.3 billion
The Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) announced recently that Petroleum
Company of Jamaica Limited (Petcom) a subsidiary of the Petroleum
Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) has been sold to Phoenix Fuels and
Accessories Limited for US$19 million (J$2.3 billion). The operation
includes 24 Petcom-branded service stations and 14 liquid petroleum
gas-filling plants islandwide.
Managing director of the DBJ Milverton Reynolds said that the agreement
for the sale of Petcom to Phoenix Fuels, local petroleum retailing
company, was signed on Friday, April 29, at the PCJ offices on Trafalgar
Road in Kingston.
“The proceeds of the sale of Petcom, a wholly owned
subsidiary of the PCJ, are US$19 million (J$2.3 billion) and will involve
the transfer of 100 per cent of the shares of Petcom and real estate
assets owned by the PCJ but used or operated by Petcom to the
purchaser,” the DBJ said in its announcement.
Solar St Ann
housing community in Ja. avoids electric bills
The Old Fort Village, located
in Old Fort Bay, St Ann, is leading the way in the use of alternative
energy in the parish and possibly Jamaica, by operating fully on solar
The complex has 12 townhouses consisting of one, two and three-bedroom
units all powered by the 360 solar panels which line the roofs and other
areas of the complex.
The amount of power generated by this system is sufficient to run
appliances, including air conditioning units in all 12 townhouses, lights
on the property, the property’s irrigation system, the pool and Jacuzzi.
So efficient is the power supply that visitors to the property often do
not realise that power is not supplied by the Jamaica Public Service
Company Ltd (JPS). In fact, it was only recently that the property was
connected to the JPS grid, primarily to sell excess power to the company.
The solar system is an investment which saves the operators of this
complex more than J$500,000 in monthly electricity bills. Also, depending
on its occupancy, Old Fort Village could sell the JPS approximately 80 to
120 kilowatt hours monthly.
sanctuaries established in the Caribbean
Two new shark sanctuaries have now been established
in the Cayman Islands and St Maarten to protect endangered marine
predators. During a three day shark conservation meeting in St Maarten,
the Cayman Islands and St Marteen declared their territorial waters
covering some 119,631 square kilometres closed to all commercial shark
According to St Maarten’s Minister of Tourism
Irania Arrindell, the newly declared shark sanctuary will help to ensure
that local shark populations “exist for future generations and continue
to benefit St Maarten’s marine ecosystem and ecotourism.”
With these two new protected areas, in place, there
are now 14 shark sanctuaries worldwide.
Elsewhere in the Caribbean regional shark and sting
ray sanctuaries have been created in The Bahamas, British Virgin Islands,
Honduras, Saba and Bonaire.
Roughly 100 million sharks are killed every year and
according to Pew – a Philadelphia-headquartered non-profit organisation
that has worked with governments to establish shark sanctuaries –
without strong action worldwide species could vanish in coming decades.
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