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Christian Taliban - American style
(This article by Pauline Ford-Caesar in her online newsletter, From the Verandah, deserves wide circulation so I am glad she gave me permission to reprint it here.)
Get up! Stand up!
My father was a minister which means I grew up in the church and consider myself a Christian, not because I attend, but because of my own personal belief and personal relationship with God. I therefore never thought the day would ever come when I would walk out of a church, but it came last Saturday.
Some of you know I have relocated to Birmingham, Alabama…yes I said Alabama and before you think I have lost my mind, this is not my first time living here, in fact one of my daughters was born here. At any rate I was fortunate enough to find a church with a decidedly international flair, Europeans, Africans, Asians etc. even a Trini, so of course I felt right at home. Since ours is a growing church and our minister had heard about a "multicultural" church in Atlanta, we decided to pay them a visit to see what we could learn from them. To say it was an experience is an understatement.
First let me say, I have issues with any organization that professes to be "multicultural" where the only evidence of diversity is in the membership, while the leadership is totally devoid of the inclusiveness so avidly promoted. This is not a matter of pride, but to me paying lip service to the ethnic community while holding firmly to the reins of power is tantamount to hypocrisy.
Secondly, there was the message which turned out to be nothing short of a Republican pep rally, wrapped around scriptures encouraging members to support their elected leaders as "his" leadership was ordained by God and as such, "he" was in every sense an extension of God’s authority. As if that wasn’t enough, the congregation was informed (I found out afterwards because I had already left) that they were not entitled to freedom of speech or their own opinions, because all of that should be surrendered to God’s plan which was embodied in the current elected leadership. You get the picture.
Well the pendulum swings both ways and as it turns out I have a scripture too. Proverbs 16:7: When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.
I have lived in this country since 1969 and I can honestly say I have never seen this country so reviled as it is, so where is the peace? The United States has never been loved entirely at all times by all people, but at least there was respect and a genuine admiration, a great deal of which was evident in many of the headlines from around the world after the events of September 11 "Today We Are All Americans." What happened to that goodwill, the respect, the admiration?
The Republicans know they are in trouble in the upcoming mid-term elections and some churches have become complicit in their efforts to maintain the course, even to the point of polluting the gospel of Christ in order to promote their personal agendas as evidenced in this shameful sermon. I know this is strong language and I offer no apologies. Most immigrants who come to this country are hardworking, honest people who want to raise their children, work hard and honor their God. To use the very thing they hold most dear to promote this type of agenda is vile and disgusting. My only satisfaction is that my bible tells me these ministers will be held accountable for their words.
It is time also that we started holding these preachers accountable, holding their feet to the fire and asking them the hard questions. I can’t tell you how many people came to me afterwards and whispered how much they admired what I had done and how much they disagreed with the message. I had to ask myself why didn’t they get up and leave also.
The answer quite simply is, regardless of how offensive the message, once wrapped in mantle of religion, people are still reluctant to take decisive actions for fear they will be perceived as being disrespectful or even blasphemous. I submit they need to go get to know the Jesus I know (Matthew Chap 23) he wasn't afraid to call things as he saw them and neither should we.
Jamaican ex-world heavy-weight champ killed in Jamaica
Jamaica’s former World Boxing Council (WBC) Heavy-weight Champion, Trevor Berbick, was found murdered near his doorstep in his quiet home-district of Norwich, in Portland, Jamaica. He had been living there for about five years since returning from the US. The body of the 52-year-old former champion was discovered at about 5 a.m. Saturday, October 2 - lying face down in a pool of blood - by a church deacon, who had gone to open the doors of the Norwich Baptist Chapel, which is near to the boxer's house. The body had four wounds to the back of the head, probably by machete. Robbery was not a likely motive as money was still on the victim.
Born on August 1, 1955, Berbick, at the age of 21 and against all odds, represented Jamaica in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, Canada, despite having only had 11 amateur contests. He performed creditably, losing to the eventual silver medallist, Mercilius Simon. The legendary Cuban heavyweight Teofilo Stevenson was the gold medal winner.
Berbick did not return to Jamaica, opting to remain in Canada where he began his professional boxing career. In 1980, he fought his first real noteworthy opponent, former world heavyweight champion John Tate. In the undercard of the Roberto Duran vs Sugar Ray Leonard fight in Montreal, Berbick shocked all the boxing pundits by stopping the heavily favoured Tate in round nine.
In 1981 he got the break he was looking for when he challenged the then unbeaten Larry Holmes for the world title. Holmes won on a unanimous decision but Berbick had emerged from the fight as a bona fide threat in the heavyweight division. Later that year, Berbick defeated the great Muhammad Ali in a 10 round fight in the Bahamas, earning the distinction of being the last man to fight and beat Ali.
Former T&T PM loses parliamentary seat
Former Prime Minister and Member of Parliament for Couva North in Trinidad, Basdeo Panday has returned to private life after his seat was officially declared vacated this week by the Trinidad Parliament. He had spent over 30 years in politics in Trinidad and Tobago, most of them in opposition.
Panday, who is 73, had been convicted earlier this year of breaching the country's Integrity in Public Life Act by failing to declare monies held in his and his wife's name in a London bank. He is now on bail pending an appeal against his conviction. This was the beginning of Panday's troubles in that, according to the constitutional law of the country, no one is able to sit as a member of Parliament if he or she has been convicted of a criminal offence.
A by-election also cannot be held because the current vacancy falls in the last year of the parliamentary term and a soon to be announced general election.
Money scandal rocks ruling PNP in Jamaica
One minister of government has resigned. The ruling PNP government had to fight off a no-confidence vote. For the past month a furor has arisen over a Dutch-based commodities trader's donation to the governing party.
Information Minister Colin Campbell submitted his resignation, acknowledging Sunday night that he made a personal appeal to Trafigura Beheer BV executives for a contribution to the party's election campaign. A gift of US$469,625 from the company, which has handled a Jamaican oil contract for more than a decade, prompted opposition calls for an investigation into possible influence peddling after it was revealed last week.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, who has ordered her People's National Party to return the money, said Campbell acted "in the highest tradition of public life" by resigning. The party has said the donations were above board and said opposition allegations of wrongdoing were politically motivated efforts to slander the government.
Bruce Golding, the leader of the opposition Jamaica Labour Party, which on Oct. 4 revealed the checks from Trafigura to the PNP, called for the entire government to step down.
Trafigura, a privately held company, has contracted with the state-owned Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica to handle its shipment and sale of crude on world oil markets for more than 10 years. The company said in a statement Sunday that it regretted "any misunderstanding that may have been caused" by its contributions. It emphasized it was not prohibited under Jamaican law to donate funds to a political party.
Campbell said he requested a contribution during a meeting with company executives in August. The checks, issued last month, were made out to him and Commerce Minister Phillip Paulwell according to the PNP.
"Having regard to the size of the contribution, it is regrettable that I had not shared the full details with the chairman, the legal advisor or any other officer of the party," he said in the statement.
Campbell, who was a key member of Simpson Miller's campaign for prime minister, was appointed information minister following the February election.
Groups such as the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce have said that while the Trafigura donation was not illegal, the party's acceptance of the gift was unethical.
Trafigura, formed in 1993 and with offices in 36 countries, has
had recent troubles.
In May, the trading company pleaded guilty to violating U.S. law in connection with the United Nations oil-for-food program for Iraq and agreed to pay penalties of nearly US$20 million.
New US passport rule could cause massive job losses
The World travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has predicted massive job losses in the Caribbean as it joined the Caribbean in opposing new rules passed last week by the United States Congress to make it mandatory for Americans traveling by air to have passports by 2007.
The London-based forum of travel and tourism business leaders’ assessment of the so-called Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, estimates that the region stands to lose US$2.6 billion and more than 188,300 travel and tourism jobs. According to the report, done in collaboration with the Caribbean Hotel Association, only 27 per cent of all Americans have current, valid passports. Most Americans who travel to Caribbean nations tend to rely on driver's licenses. The WTTC study said :
Arising out of the 9/11 Commission recommendations, the new law will require all US citizens and visitors to present a passport or acceptable alternative document for entry into the United States from any country in the Western Hemisphere. The measure was set to roll out over a series of dates from January 8, 2007 through January 1, 2008.
Tourism industry officials up and down the Americas have complained about:
These factors could threaten economies dependent on travel between the United States and other Western Hemisphere nations.
Dominican-born Haitian wins 2006 RFK human rights award
The 2006 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award will be presented to Sonia Pierre, Director of the Movement for Dominican Women of Haitian Descent (MUDHA), on Friday November 17th, 2006. Under Sonia’s leadership, MUDHA has risen to protect the rights of the Dominican Republic’s Haitian immigrants and their descendants and to empower women and children in the face of deep rooted discrimination and intolerance. Despite threats against her life, Sonia has been a driving force for change and a leader in the movement to end human rights violations against Haitians in the Dominican Republic.
Like many of the Dominican Republic’s 650,000 people of Haitian descent, Sonia grew up in one of the country’s migrant worker camps, called a bateye. Her family left Haiti in search of economic opportunity working in the state-owned sugarcane fields of the Dominican Republic. Sonia began working on human rights issues in 1976 at the age of 13.
Dominicans of Haitian descent often come from families that have lived in the country for generations and have never even visited Haiti. They are denied their constitutional right to citizenship and the necessary documents for a legal identity. Many Haitian immigrant and their descendants remain virtually stateless, giving the government a rationale to deny them individual rights. Numerous human rights groups have documented how ethnic Haitians are regularly subjected to violence and their rights to education, adequate housing, water and other fundamental human rights are violated. Females in the Haitian community are subjected to widespread rapes with few legal or social resources to look to for help.
Sonia has become a vocal leader against policies that deny Haitian immigrants and their descendants’ legal equality and keep them in perpetual poverty. Because of a court challenge in which she was a petitioner, the Dominican Republic had to open its schools’ doors to all children, aiming to end rampant discrimination in the nation’s education system against its Haitian minority.
Jamaica’s Dudley Thompson named African Living Legend
Former foreign Affairs Minister of Jamaica, Dudley Thompson was honoured as one of Africa's Living Legends at the International Media Summit organised by the African Press in Accra, Ghana. Thompson, also the former National Security Minister in the Manley Administration of the 1970s, was Jamaica's High Commissioner to several African countries including Nigeria, Ghana and Namibia during the 1990s. He was honoured along with former South African President, Nelson Mandela; Nigerian writer, Wole Soyinka; UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan and former president of the African Development Bank, Babacar Ndiaye.
Ambassador Thompson, now 90, is a renowned Pan Africanist who was defense lawyer for Jomo Kenyatta during his trial in 1952 by the British Colonial Government for his alleged involvement in the liberation struggle led by the Mau Mau fighters in Kenya during the 1950s. Thompson was practicing law then in nearby Tanganyika (now Tanzania). Kenyatta later became president of the Republic of Kenya.
Ambassador Thompson previously has been given the award of Legend of Africa by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). In addition, he has been nominated as one of a Group of Eminent Persons (EPG) by the summit of African countries since 1993. The group is mandated to study the effects of slavery and colonialism and working modalities to achieve reparations.
Norway writes off Jamaica debt
The Norway Government has announced that it will write-off its debt with Jamaica incurred from shipping purchases in the 1970s. Jamaica, together with Ecuador, Egypt, Peru and Sierra Leone, owed a combined US$80 million (J$5.28 billion) between 1976 and 1980 when Norway exported 150 ships to the five countries, as part of an aid program that was also aimed at boosting exports from its shipyards. The debt cancellation must first be approved by the Norwegian Parliament.
Erik Solheim, the Norwegian international development minister said the program was a mistake, referring to the write-offs as a "little honourable" attempt to make amends.
"This campaign represented a development policy failure. As a creditor country, Norway has a shared responsibility for the debts that followed. In canceling these claims, Norway takes the responsibility for allowing these five countries to terminate their remaining repayments on these debts," said Mr. Solheim.
‘Earn and Study’ program for needy College students in Jamaica
Jamaica’s University of Technology has a special program to aid needy students. This year out of an expected enrollment of 8,000 students, 2,000 will need special financial assistance to register. The school’s ‘Earn and Study’ program is expected to fill the bill.
This ‘Earn and Study program provides grants, scholarships and bursaries to needy students. This program has made a significant improvement in the registration process over the last two years because of the institution's aggressive approach towards assisting students. During the 2005-2006 academic year, 1,200 students benefited from the 'Earn and Study' program.
Florida city partners with Jamaica
Jamaica did just under US$1 billion (J$66 billion) in trade with South Florida in 2005 and the city of Lauderhill has plans to capitalise on the potential of developing additional commerce, sports and educational activities with the island. Lauder-hill's Vice Mayor, Dale Holness, revealed that Jamaica was South Florida's 25th largest trading partner in the world. The Jamaican-born vice mayor announced plans for the Lauderhill to be twinned with the historical Jamaican town of Falmouth. In addition Lauderhill is to to provide a gateway to endless economic developments, including international cricket tournaments, national netball competitions, state football competitions and international soccer games.
Lauderhill, sometimes called 'Jamaica Hill', boasts the largest Jamaican population in Florida, a fact the Vice Mayor said he would use in ensuring the area become the hub for trade to Jamaica. Already in trade Lauderhill sells US$500 million in goods and services to Jamaica and buys about US$496 million for a relatively balanced trade relationship. A balanced trade is relatively unique for Jamaica which seems to have lopsided adverse trade balance with other countries.
Former deputy ousts Bermuda Premier
Former deputy Premier and tourism minister, Ewart Brown, 60, has ousted the 3-year Premier of Bermuda, Alex Scott. He defeated him by a vote of 107-76 by the ruling Bermuda Progressive Labour Party delegates and lawmakers. The issue was independence. What a way to go! The departing Premier wanted to seek it aggressively but Brown prevailed by promising to scale it back to remain a colony of Britain.
Poverty declines in Jamaica
The 2005 Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions has found that poverty has declined by two per cent in Jamaica. According to the survey, which was conducted between May and October last year, the incidence of poverty in the country declined from 16. 9 per cent in 2004 to 14.8 per cent in 2005. The survey also found that remittance inflows was one of the factors which contributed to the decline in poverty in the country.
It was also revealed that Jamaica's population was undergoing substantive changes in its age structure. The child population (0-14 years) is declining while the working age (15-64 years) and the dependent elderly (65 + years) are increasing.
Responsible sex campaign launched in Jamaica
Following surveys showing that 21 per cent of women in relationships do not use any form of contraception, the National Family Planning Board has launched a campaign to promote responsible sexual behaviour and family planning. According to information outlined in a survey conducted by the Board, approximately 51 of every 100 Jamaican women is of childbearing age. While 46 per cent of the women see two children as the ideal family size, 51 per cent already have two children and wish for more.
"Based on our findings, it was necessary for us to implement this multimedia campaign which aims to re-establish the two-children concept as an ideal family," Janet Davis, director of outreach at the National Family Planning Board said in a statement.
The campaign will utilise public service announcements, print ads and television programs. It will also focus on promoting safe sex, supporting the use of contraceptive measures for sexually active individuals and encouraging abstinence.
Guyana warns about televangelist's false HIV/AIDS cure
Guyana's health Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, has slammed the Ernest Angley Ministries for its claim of having a cure for the dreaded HIV/aids disease, which kills about 5 million worldwide annually.
International televangelist, Ernest Angley, descended on Guyana in his personal Boeing 747 jumbo jet for a series of crusades. In preparation for the crusades, radio and television advertisements state that the lame will walk, deaf hear, blind see, aids and other related death diseases cured.
Before he could step on stage, Minister Ramsammy issued a stern waning that Angley was being involved in an obscene exploitation of people’s vulnerability. Ramsammy noted that the HIV/aids claim could lead the innocent into believing that they could give up proven means of protection against the disease. He added that the advertisements stand the risk of throwing back achievements made in the treatment and care of persons living with HIV/aids in Guyana.
Jamaica food exports rise 39%
President of the Jamaica Exporters Association (JEA), Dr Andre Gordon,
has reported a 39 per cent growth in exports for the period January to May
2006, with earnings moving from approximately $641,361,000 to
Jamaican doctors sign new wage agreement
Jamaican doctors have claimed victory in a new wage agreement with the Government. The Jamaica Medical Doctors Association (JMDA) and the Ministry of Finance have signed the new wage and fringe benefits agreement, in which medical doctors for the first time will be allowed to practice privately, outside of regular working hours.
Dr. Grace Allen-Young, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, said the JMDA and the ministry would set up a monitoring committee to ensure that doctors who will be working in private practice follow the guidelines. She noted that there will be a review twice per year over the two-year period and a decision will be taken on the way forward. In addition to being able to practice privately. medical doctors will also receive:
The JMDA had been in negotiations with the Ministry of Finance for about five months. The doctors were asking for a 76 per cent increase over two years but Dr. Smith said they settled within the ambit of the Memorandum of Understanding, which capped the hike in the public sector wage fund at 20 per cent, but allowed increases to individual groups of between 13 and 27 per cent.
Residents sue bauxite company in Jamaica
Bauxite mining has been a positive force in Jamaica, but not for over 400 residents of southwest St. Ann. After many years of seeking compensation for damage to their homes, allegedly caused by bauxite-mining operations, these residents are suing the responsible companies. The residents, through their attorney, and member of parliament for the area, Ernest Smith, have taken out lawsuits against General Compressor Services Limited of May Pen, Clarendon, and the St. Ann Jamaica Bauxite Partners (formerly Kaiser Bauxite company), naming them as first and second defendant, respectively.
The lawsuit seeks to compel the companies to fully compensate the residents for damage done to their homes and property during mining operations. The average cost of these suits is J$200,000.
But, the bauxite companies face another problem as Commissioner of Mines, Clinton Thompson, has confirmed that the same St. Ann Bauxite Company has failed to restore mined-out lands within the stipulated three years. Under the mining laws amended in 2004, bauxite companies in breach of land restoration regulation are liable to be fined US$25,000 dollars per acre of land not restored, plus a fee of US$2,500 dollars for each year of the breach. About 70 per cent of mined-out lands in South West St. Ann have not been restored.
Reportedly, the Government does not intend to seek penalties but are concentrating on urging the company to restore the lands more quickly.
Bora new Jamaica soccer coach
Jamaica soccer has been in a tailspin. Recently they were eliminated by lowly Haiti and St. Vincent from the CONCACAF regional Gold Cup. The man selected to reverse this is the much-traveled Serbian Bora Milutinovich. Bora has an impressive World Cup record which includes:
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