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CCJ opens midst bomb scare
The Caribbean Court of Justice did not let a bomb scare prevent its historic first sitting in Port of Spain. The bomb threat caused the evacuation of the Unit Trust Building, located at the corner of Richmond Street and Independence Square South, and delayed the hearing for about 45 minutes.
The Court was inaugurated on April 16, during gala celebrations in Trinidad and Tobago, to serve initially as the final appellate court for Barbados and Guyana, and eventually for several other Caribbean countries. Most Commonwealth Caribbean countries have used the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as the final appellate court for decades, but many critics have argued that the judges who preside at the Privy Council were too far removed from our society to decide on local issues.
The Barbados case, which invoked the jurisdiction of the Court, involved an appeal brought by Barbados Rediffusion, a radio broadcasting company, seeking to overturn a decision of the Barbados Court of Appeal against its decision to rule in favour of a now defunct chicken processing plant.
Another explosion rocks Port of Spain
Panic gripped Port of Spain, Trinidad when another loud explosion, the second in one month, rocked the downtown. The explosion occurred shortly before midday at a busy shopping area on the Corner of Nelson street and Independence Square, next to the City's Holy Trinity Cathedral Church.
Eyewitnesses say they saw garbage which flew several feet into the air and onto electrical wires. No one was injured during the blast, however. There was also no major damage to nearby businesses. Investigators say a low-density explosive-like substance was placed near a pile of garbage on the roadway, similar to an explosive device which was also placed into a garbage bin on Frederick Street on Monday, July 11, which was detonated injuring 15 people, two seriously.
Fake Bomb threat
Jamaica seal oil deal with Hugo Chavez
WITH ITS oil bill approaching US$1 billion for this year and international petroleum prices hovering around US$70 per barrel, Jamaica has sealed an agreement to purchase oil from Venezuela on concessionary terms. The agreement was finalised during the visit of the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, who met with Prime Minister P.J. Patterson at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
The main purpose of President Chavez' visit is for the Governments of Jamaica and Venezuela to sign a bilateral agreement to put into effect agreements signed in Venezuela on June 25 this year. PetroCaribe, the bilateral agreement between Jamaica and Venezuela seeks to provide crude oil at a reduced rate. While there were no reports of plans to harm President Chavez during his brief visit, Jamaican officials were on red alert after United States televangelist Pat Robertson yesterday called for Mr. Chavez to be assassinated.
Free health care in Cuba and Venezuela for Jamaica
As if the sweet deal for lower oil prices to Jamaica was not enough,
Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, during his recent visit to Jamaica,
offered free health care in Cuba and Venezuela to Jamaicans. Mr. Chavez
said the free health care offered to Jamaicans has also been offered to
Caribbean and Latin American nationals in other countries in the region as
well as to poor citizens of the United States. To get the assistance,
applicants will need to visit the Cuban or Venezuelan embassies for
registration and evaluation. The free health care scheme will be
implemented next month.
Powerful US right-wing preacher calls for Chavez Assassination
The powerful American right-wing 700 Club TV preacher and a former Republican Presidential candidate, Pat Robertson, has called upon the US to live up to its reputation as the foremost terrorist nation and assassinate the democratically elected President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. The world has reverberated with condemnation of Robertson and even the White House tried to distance the Bush administration from those comments.
Caribbean and Latin American leaders have expressed outrage. Diplomats of 19 Latin American and Caribbean nations meeting in Bariloche, Argentina signed a declaration, which stated : "We are amazed at the declarations of Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition, an organization linked to the Republican Party of the USA, urging the assassination of the democratically-elected president of Venezuela." The declaration described the telepreacher's remarks as "a clear call, to commit a crime."
The furor Robertson created forced him to make some sort of tame apology, but it is crystal clear that this incitement to terrorist act will receive no criminal charge from the hypocritical Bush administration.
"Sunday Morning Apartheid" on American TV
The title sums up the findings of the National Urban League study of diversity of Sunday morning talk shows. To conduct the study, the National Urban League Policy Institute studied the five Sunday morning political talk shows – "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," (ABC); "Face the Nation," (CBS); "Late Edition," (CNN); "Fox News Sunday," (FOX); and "Meet the Press," (NBC). All programs broadcast during the 18-month period between January 1, 2004 through June 30, 2005 were reviewed and analyzed.
The report found that:
Jamaica bus system on the ropes again
The government-run Jamaican Urban Transit Company (JUTC), is facing bankruptcy. The annual expenses have risen to nearly J$5 billion, which is almost double the J$2.5 billion dollars reported two years ago. Only 47 per cent of total cost is being recovered from the fare box compared to 69 percent as March last year.
THREE YEARS after a team of Swedish consultants drafted a set of recommendations that should have been the Jamaica Urban Transit Company's (JUTC) road map to development and efficiency, the bus company continues to be challenged by problems of heavy operational losses, a consistent decline in passenger load, accidents, vandalism and robbery.
Among the recommendations contained in the report are:
Of course one big problem are the robots, or illegal taxis. They ply the major profitable routes, sucking up full carloads of passengers at a time, leaving the buses near empty and stuck with the unprofitable routes. The robots are a cancer to the public bus system and will kill it regardless of measures taken to improve it. So JUTC has been consistently losing its passengers to robot taxis. There were 25,000 illegal taxi operators in the system. The result is that there has been an 18.7 per cent decline in JUTC passenger load between 2002 and the end of March 2005. At the period ending March 2002, the JUTC carried 90 million passengers; 2003 91 million passengers; 2004 88 million passengers and March 2005 78 million.
US Appeal court throw out conviction of the Cuban 5
The checks and balances of US democracy are not completely dead yet. The US 11th Circuit Court of appeals has thrown out the conviction of the Cuban 5. The Atlanta verdict reversed the convictions of Gerardo Hernandez, Rene Gonzalez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez, who were sentenced in 2001 by a Miami court in a trial legal experts believe was a frame-up to harsh terms ranging from 15 years to double life imprisonment.
The White House is obviously incensed at this decision and has requested 30 more days upon the 21 granted by the court to appeal the verdict. This extension is seen as an attempt by the Bush administration to prolong the legal process and keep the men imprisoned. Legal experts have pointed out that according to the Atlanta verdict, the Cuban Five are technically free and should go home, but are still in prison in high security penitentiaries.
Chile to train CARICOM police
The bonds between CARICOM and Latin America are getting stronger and stronger. Law enforcement officials from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are to benefit from training under a scholarship program being offered by Chile.
A statement from the CARICOM secretariat said a high-level delegation
from Chile's Uniformed Police Agency recently visited Guyana and that
Chile would be providing 70 scholarships worldwide next year for various
levels of police training.
No more privatized water for Belize
The Belize government has agreed to buy back its water supply system
from the corporation that bought it and at the same price. The government
has announced agreement to repurchase Cascal B.V.'s entire shareholding in
Belize Water Services (BWS).
Jamaica and Cuba impress in World Champs
Jamaica and Cuba led an impressive performance by Caribbean athletes in the recently concluded World Track and Field Championships in Helsinki, Finland. Even with world 100 m record holder, Asafa Powell, out with injury, Jamaica topped the Caribbean countries with eight medals, their highest tally ever. They had one gold, five silver and two bronzes. Cuba followed with a total of six medals, two gold and four silver. Both countries finished ahead of such powerhouses as Germany, Britain, Australia and Canada. Here are how some countries did:
100 m 1. Gatlin (US); 2. Frater (Jam); 3. Collins (St.
100 m 1. Lauryn Williams (US) 2. Veronica Campbell (Jam.); 3.
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