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Back to Hot Calaloo

bulletYvette Clark wins tough NY primary
bulletVote for the Lesser of two Evils
bulletFormer St. Lucian PM to switch parties
bulletVenezuela money to build eye clinic in Jamaica
bulletUS bribes journalists to write Anti-Castro news
bulletBye-bye BWIA, hello Caribbean Airlines
bulletTransportation administrative woes plague Jamaica
bulletFormer NY Commish to lead police reform in Guyana
bulletOil prices bring prosperity to T&T
bulletBarbados rejects IMF advice
bullet3 fires in Guyana kill 6, destroy state TV transmitters
bulletLabor unrest among teachers and police in Jamaica
bulletArmy summoned as police get ‘blue flu’
bulletCaribbean girls excel but still face dim prospects in UK



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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.  
For more book info see

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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.



October 2006

Yvette Clark wins tough NY primary

City Councilwoman Yvette Clarke, a daughter of Jamaican immigrants, won a nasty, racially tinged race for the Democratic nomination to replace Rep. Major Owens in a historically black Brooklyn district in the recent primary elections.

Councilwoman Clarke, 41, narrowly beat three opponents to capture the seat, which has been held by blacks since the 1968 victory of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress.

This year’s campaign attracted national attention because of the strong run by the white councilman, David Yassky, whose candidacy raised questions about race and representation. The split in the black vote made him a strong contender.

Ms. Clarke won with 31.2 percent of the vote to Mr. Yassky’s 26.2 percent, according to unofficial returns tallied by The Associated Press. Of the other black candidates, State Senator Carl Andrews, who had the backing of many Brooklyn Democratic officials and renown NY Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, had 22.9 percent. Chris Owens, the son of the incumbent, Representative Major R. Owens, who is retiring, received 19.6 percent.

Winning the Democratic primary is usually tantamount to winning the seat in this overwhelmingly Democratic district. It was one of dozens created after the Voting Rights Act to increase minority representation in Congress, so Mr. Yassky shook many in the political world with his decision to enter the race. The congressional seat was created in the 1960s and was first held by Shirley Chisholm, who in 1968 became the first black woman elected to Congress. She was replaced by Owens, who was first elected in 1982.

Yvette Clarke is the daughter of the dynamic Una Clarke, the first Caribbean-born woman to serve on the City Council.

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Vote for the Lesser of two Evils

From the Editor
The majority of Caribbean citizens of the US are Democrats and I am indeed one of them. Unfortunately most of my Democratic leaders are not Democrats. The reality is that our real political choice is the choice of the lesser of two evils and I have no illusion about that. Under the leadership of George Bush, the Republican Party is so much worse that Hot Calaloo is forced to urge all voters to take a stand against Republicans in the coming elections.

To select the worse would be to select a Republican party that has:

bullet- launched an illegal and devastating war on the poor people of Iraq resulting in the death of more than 100,000 of their citizens, and widespread destruction.
bullet- overthrew and kidnapped the elected president of Haiti, Jean Bertrand Aristide, and plunged that country into turmoil
bullet- threatened to and has pretty much rendered the UN irrelevant
bullet- relies of the suppression and intimidation of black voters as an election strategy
bullet- has used 9/11 as a pretext to strip us of our civil liberties and constitutional freedoms
bullet- uses torture and kidnappings and openly defies Geneva conventions
bullet- is a vociferous opponent of affirmative action
bullet- uses computer voting machines to steal elections
bullet- denied blacks the vote in Florida based on phony database which smeared them as felons

I could go on.

Of course, I am dismayed that Democrats have often acquiesced or produced the most wishy-washy opposition to the most reprehensible Republican policy or actions. In Ohio, a black Republican engineered the black voter suppression there. In Maryland, black Clarence Thomas type Republican candidates like Michael Steele dare to ask for my vote. They may have made a pact with the devil but regardless of how dissatisfied I am with the Democratic Party, I will not consider for a moment voting for the worse of two evils, the black-vote-suppression Republican Party.

But I will not be voting on election day. I want my vote to count so I will be voting before election day by absentee ballot. The unsafe diabolical Diebold electronic voting machine, which may be programmed to switch my vote from Democratic will have no chance to tamper with my vote and I urge others to vote Democratic by absentee ballot too.

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Former St. Lucian PM to switch parties

Former St. Lucian Prime Minister, Dr. Vaughan Lewis, who led the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP), into general elections in 1997 is expected to switch parties. A spokesman for Dr. Lewis said that an announcement indicating his acceptance as a candidate for the ruling St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) was imminent. Dr. Lewis is expected to replace Attorney General Phillip La Corbiniere as the SLP's candidate for Castries Central.
Dr. Lewis, who was handpicked by former Prime Minister, Sir John Compton, to lead the party in 1996, was replaced by Sir John after a 2005 public opinion poll showed Sir John to be the most desired person to lead the party into the next general elections.

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Venezuela money to build eye clinic in Jamaica

Thanks to President Hugo Chavez, Jamaica has received US$5 million (J$330 million) from the Venezuelan Government through the PetroCaribe agreement, to construct a first-class ophthalmology center in the parish of St. Mary. In the words of Jamaica Health Minister Horace Dalley, "The center will be a center of excellence where we will have Jamaican ophthalmologists, Cuban ophthalmologists, Trinidadian ophthalmologists ... and ophthalmologists from anywhere in the world who want to offer their skills and expertise to the people of Jamaica" .

Minister Dalley made the disclosure at the one-year celebration of the Jamaica/Cuba Eye Care program held at the ministry's head office in Kingston. Since the Jamaica/Cuba "miracle eye care program" began on September 1 last year, more than 11,000 patients have been screened and just over 3,800 operations have been conducted.

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US bribes journalists to write Anti-Castro news

Once again yellow journalism has reared its ugly head. The Miami Herald has revealed that at least 10 Florida journalists received regular payments from a U.S. government program aimed at undermining the Cuban government of Fidel Castro.

Total payments since 2001 ranged from $1,550 to $174,753 per journalist, according to the newspaper, which said it found no instance in which those involved had disclosed that they were being paid by the U.S. Office of Cuba Broadcasting. That office runs Radio and TV Marti, U.S. government programs broadcast to Cuba to promote democracy and freedom on the island. Its programming cannot be broadcast within the United States because of anti-propaganda laws.

The Cuban government said, "I told you so". It has long contended that some Spanish-language journalists in Miami were on the U.S. government payroll. The Herald said two of the journalists receiving the payments worked for its Spanish-language sister publication, El Nuevo Herald, and a third was a freelance contributor for that newspaper, which fired all three after learning of the payments.

Journalism ethics experts called the payments a fundamental conflict of interest that undermines the credibility of reporters meant to objectively cover issues affecting U.S. policy toward Cuba. Jesus Diaz Jr., president of the Miami Herald Media Co. and publisher of both newspapers, said the payments violated a sacred trust between journalists and the public.

They compared it to the notorious case of Armstrong Williams in 2005, when it was revealed that the Bush administration had paid the prominent black conservative pundit to promote its education policy, No Child Left Behind, on his nationally syndicated television show.

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Bye-bye BWIA, hello Caribbean Airlines

The end is near for BWIA, the national airline of Trinidad and Tobago. It is to be shut down by December 31, 2006 with a new company, Caribbean Airlines, set to take its place.

This ends years of indecision by stakeholders, including the Trinidad and Tobago government, which is a major shareholder, whether to cut ties with an airline they say had been losing millions of dollars annually. BWIA reportedly lost in the vicinity of US$26 million last year with an average monthly loss since then of about US$1 million.

BWIA officials admitted to the failure of the airline, saying it had been unable to generate enough revenue to remain profitable and viable.

A number of factors contributed including:

bulletA lack of further investment by government and private sector groups
bulletAntiquated operating processes
bulletLow employee morale
bulletA decline in customer confidence
bulletHigh fuel and operational costs.

It is reported that customers abandoned the airline in recent years by the thousands. There were numerous complaints by customers, especially about delays, coupled with uncertainty of arrival and departure schedules.

BWIA currently employs over 500 workers in Trinidad. All agreements, contracts and outstanding monies owed to workers will be settled on or before December 31, 2006 to make way for new carrier, Caribbean Airlines.

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Transportation administrative woes plague Jamaica

Unpaid traffic ticket top 50,000 in Kingston alone
The Jamaica Police Traffic Division reports that over 50,000 traffic tickets totaling over $J400 million are unpaid in Kingston and St. Andrew alone. The amount of unpaid tickets island-wide is unknown.
Officials report that speeding was the most common traffic offence with tickets for offences range from a low of $5,000 to a high of $30,000. One big problem is locating persons who submit incorrect home addresses when applying for (driver's) licences or have simply moved to different locations without informing the concerned authorities

Half of bus fleet not working
Approximately half of the Jamaica Urban Transit Company's (JUTC) fleet of 730 buses are non-functional and has placed the financially unstable company speeding down a path of inefficiency. Officials from the JUTC admitted that the 390 buses currently in the system are inadequate and cannot efficiently serve the commuting public within the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region where the bus company operates.
The bus shortage has therefore impacted on the length of time that a passenger has to wait on a bus. A passenger now waits at a bus stop from as short a time as six minutes on a busy corridor during the peak period, to two hours in an area with low ridership on a weekend.
A major reason for the shortage is spare parts. With the fleet of Volvo, Mercedes and Man buses, spare parts are often unavailable due to importation from far overseas and very expensive. The buses were bought new between 1998 and 2002 with a projected life span of 10 years. No new buses have been bought since 2002 with 50 new buses expected in March 2007.

Of course another big factor, to  which I am sure ever Jamaican motorist can attest,  is bad roads. I am sure manufacturers had no idea how bad Jamaican roads are when they considered bus life expectancy.
In summary:

bullet730 buses bought by Government between 1998 and 2002.390 buses operational as at September 15, 2006.
bullet445 buses needed to meet all requirements (428 regular and 17 premium).
bullet487 buses needed to meet all requirements on the No. 87 route, including those needing spares.
bullet55 more buses needed by the JUTC to serve the commuting public at optimal level.
bullet97 buses short when spares are included.
bullet250,000 passengers on average ride JUTC buses on a busy workday.

$J50 million traffic ticket tracking system not working
Mrs. Paula Fletcher, the executive director of the Jamaica’s National Road Safety Council (NRSC), a state agency, disclosed recently that:

bulletthe $50 million ticketing system implemented two years ago with a view to prosecuting delinquent motorists, has failed.
bulletThe database for traffic tickets is not working. So traffic ticket holders, even with multiple tickets, cannot be tracked.
bulletThe breathalyzer to reduce drunk driving is not working either, because the instruments are defective.
bulletPan American Health Organisation study found that nearly 71 per cent of male drivers in Jamaica sampled had not done the appropriate driver's test
bulletThe authorities need to find a way to reduce corrupt practices such as the certification of unfit motor vehicles and the selling of drivers licenses.

3 of 4 Highway 200 police patrol cars broken
One big problem with Jamaica’s new impressive island-wide Highway 2000 – three of the four police patrol cars are out of service. Two are wrecked beyond repair and the other is in the garage leaving only one of the four obtained in 2002 to patrol the entire highway system. The cars are very expensive and difficult to maintain. One car is virtually impossible to monitor that entire highway system so lots of preventable accidents take place in the absence of visible highway police presence.

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Former NY Commish to lead police reform in Guyana

President Bharrat Jagdeo has selected former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik to lead his planned reform of the police force in Guyana, which has had to battle hardened criminals with access to illegal guns. Kerik headed New York City's police during the turbulent period after the 9-11 attacks. President Bush picked him in 2004 to be the second head of the Department of Homeland Security. Kerik withdrew after acknowledging that he failed to pay all of the taxes for a housekeeper who may have been in the country illegally.

But the appointment is controversial because Kerik himself has pleaded guilty to accepting tens of thousands of dollars in gifts from a company that was trying to do business with New York City. "Reformer, reform thyself". Critics believe that Kerik's admission of wrong doing is enough to rule him out of playing a role in the $20 million Inter-American Development Bank-funded project of reforming the police force, but President Jagdeo is sticking with him.

It is hoped that the reform of the police will drastically reduce murders and gun related crimes which rose by over 30 percent in the first eight months of this year.

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Oil prices bring prosperity to T&T

Prosperity has come to Trinidad and Tobago. It is achieving astounding growth in its GDP. Between 2002 and 2005, the country's international trade balance increased from US$237.7 million to over US$2.64 billion, leading to large increases in foreign exchange reserves. This explosive economic performance is increasing external and fiscal surpluses as well as reducing public debt. Trinidad and Tobago's mounting energy revenues, stemming from increased production and favorable market prices, are leading to very low unemployment rates as well as increased levels of foreign direct investment (FDI).

Now if only the crime rate would go down!

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Barbados rejects IMF advice

Barbados has rejected more bitter medicine from the International Monetary Fund. Granted it was not as bitter as structural adjustment, but they advised Barbados to raise VAT. Barbados (quite rightly) said no, saying that such a move would cause undue hardship for Barbadians.

Among the other recommendations coming out of the consultation which was concluded early last month, are:

bulletthe curbing of extra budgetary expenditures or public-private partnership projects that add stimulus to an already buoyant private sector
bulletan increase in 15 per cent value-added tax revenue in anticipation of the removal of the import tariff surcharge.

It praised Barbados’ strong economic growth and positive outlook for continued economic expansion but claimed these measures need to be taken to avoid overheating of the economy and devaluation of the Barbados dollar. Minister of Economic Affairs and Economic Development, Mia Mottley noted that the hike was suggested by the IMF three years ago and was rejected and government's position has not changed.

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3 fires in Guyana kill 6, destroy state TV transmitters

Three fires of unknown origin have killed six people in a house, destroyed the state-owned television transmitting station and a provincial headquarters in Guyana. 

  1. The Guyana Fire Service (GFS) confirmed that a woman and her five children perished in a house blaze at Amelia's Ward, Linden, about 70 miles southwest of Georgetown.
  2. In that same bauxite mining town, another fire destroyed transmitters for two television channels operated by the state-owned National Communications Network (NCN).
  3. Divisional Police Commander Leroy Brummel said another fire destroyed the wooden headquarters of the Demerara-Mahaica province, located at Paradise Village, about 17 miles east of Georgetown.

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Labor unrest among teachers and police in Jamaica

Teacher strike averted
The Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA) has been negotiating with the Government over salary and fringe benefits for several months. Finally on the verge of a strike, a settlement was reached. The Government had offered the teachers a $20,000 book, resource and technology allowance in year one and $22,000 in year two. However, this was rejected by the JTA. The association was demanding a $24,000 allowance in the second year. The additional $2,000 would cost the Government approximately $44 million.
While the association has settled for a 14 per cent to 16 per cent salary increase in the first year for principals and vice-principals, with eight per cent in the second year and 14 to 22 per cent in the second, it was still negotiating for fringe benefits.
Acceptance by the JTA of the improved offer was unanimous but there are still some matters to be resolved.

Army summoned as police get ‘blue flu’
Jamaica had to call out the army to provide security on Wednesday, September20, 2006, the second day that nearly a third of the Caribbean island's police force called in sick in a wage dispute. Soldiers were deployed to safeguard courts, government buildings, police stations and other key areas, the police high command said.
Police began their protest on Tuesday after talks broke down Monday during an attempt to negotiate a new two-year wage and benefits agreement with the government. The Jamaica Police Federation, which represents 8,000 personnel between the ranks of constable and inspector, said just over 30 percent of its members called in sick on both days of the action.
The western parish of St. James Parish was hardest hit. Police officials said only a skeletal staff turned up for duty in St. James, where Jamaica's main tourist city of Montego Bay is the parish capital. Numerous court hearings were postponed because of the sick-out, but the police high command said there were no signs of increased crime. 
 The police federation is demanding a wage increase of 48 percent over two years but the government said it could afford only 22 percent. Jamaican law prohibits police from striking but there is no penalty for workers who stay home because of illness, i.e the 'blue flu'.

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Caribbean girls excel but still face dim prospects in UK

a report from the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) in Britain has indicated that black Caribbean girls are among a group of ethnic minorities in Britain who have been excelling academically, but face poor prospects when they enter the job market.

The report interviewed more than 1,000 16-year-old Black Caribbean, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi females who were found to be highly motivated and determined to achieve independence and success in their careers. It said that, in the vast majority of cases, their parents supported their ambitions. The report from the Commission says that, despite the performance of these ethnic minority groups, they face "heavy penalties" at work including low pay, poor job prospects and fewer job opportunities.

Among the key findings of the report was that:

bulletYoung Black Caribbean, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi women are aiming high and achieving great qualifications with very similar ambitions to white girls for combining work with family responsibilities.
bulletSome employers are already doing a lot to bridge the employment gap, but says there is a gulf developing between those who are recruiting black and Asian women and those who are not.
bulletTwo-thirds of employers in areas with higher than average black and Asian populations do not have a workforce reflecting their ethnicity
bulletA third employed no black or Asian women who face different experiences in the workplace to that of white girls
bulletYoung Black Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi women are more likely than white women to be unemployed, less likely to be in senior roles and are even more concentrated than white women in a narrow range of jobs and sectors

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