UNDILUTED pays tribute to John Maxwell by featuring two previous columns by him from the Hot Calaloo UNDILUTED archives:
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 .
by Donna Hemans ... $16.10
---------------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.
Trinidad declares and extends State of Emergency
Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on 21st August 2011 declared a State of Emergency in an attempt to crackdown on the trafficking of illegal drugs and firearms, in addition to gangs. The decision to issue the proclamation for the State of Emergency was debated in the country's Parliament as required by the Constitution on September 2, 2011 and passed by the required simple majority of the House of Representatives. Debate on a 3-month first extension of the State of Emergency is in progress before the Parliament on September 3, 2011.On September 4, 2011 the Parliament extended the State Of Emergency for a further 3 months.
A limited state of emergency was declared after 11 people were killed over the weekend of August 21. The move came amid growing concern that drug gangs are using Trinidad as a transshipment point for South American cocaine heading to Europe and the United States. It includes a 9pm until 5am curfew in cities and towns namely: Arima, Arouca, Beetham, Carenage, Cunupia, Diego Martin, Enterprise, Felicity, Gasparillo, Grand Couva, Hermitage, Icacos, Laventille, Maloney, Morvant, Sea Lots, Trincity, Pigeon Point, Crown Point. It also and grants police wider powers of arrest.
Business leaders say they are hoping that the Kamla Persad-Bissessar government will adjust the curfew hours to minimise the impact on the economy. However on the other hand, there has been reports of numerous unjustified random arrests, serious downturn of business resulting in many layoffs, and intimidation by threat of arrest for criticizing the State of Emergency.
A state of emergency was previously declared in the country in 1990, when the extremist group Jamaat al Muslimeen tried to overthrow the Trinidad and Tobago government. More than 20 people died when 100 armed men stormed parliament, taking the prime minister and cabinet members hostage.
‘Dudus’ pleads guilty
ACCUSED Jamaican drug lord Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke yesterday pleaded guilty in a New York court to conspiracy charges in a plea agreement that will result in him getting reduced jail time when he is sentenced on December 8. Coke, whose arrest and extradition to the United States was preceded by a horrific gun battle in Jamaica that left dozens of civilians dead, had initially pleaded not guilty to the charges after his extradition to the U.S. last year.
The 42-year-old Coke, who had been on a list of the world’s most dangerous drug traffickers, pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy and one count of conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering.
As a result of the plea agreement, Coke will not be prosecuted on the gun and c ocaine-running charges for which he was extradited from Jamaica to the United States last year June, a month after a bloody uprising by gunmen to thwart his arrest.
On the racketeering conspiracy charge, Coke faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, a maximum term of five years’ supervised release, and a maximum fine of US$250,000. On the conspiracy to commit assault in aid of racketeering charge, he faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison, a maximum term of one year of supervised release, and a maximum fine of US$250,000.
That would see Coke spending 23 years behind bars, but his attorney said that the judge has the discretion of imposing a lesser sentence. However, the United States said it will be going after Coke’s assets as part of his sentence. The forfeiture is being made under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations (RICO) Act, which allows for extended criminal penalties for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organisation. The prosecution is claiming that Coke acquired and maintained assets in violation of the RICO Act and as such, the assets were subject to forfeiture.
Coke’s sentencing is scheduled for December 8th.
Beware land-grabbing neocolonialism
Caribbean countries beware! The acuteness of the global food crisis has forced overpopulated and arid countries, such as China, India, Saudi Arabia and Egypt to desperately scour the globe, looking for land on which to cultivate their staple crops. In an effort to secure food sources and financial returns, food insecure governments are increasingly outsourcing their food production to more fertile and usually less-developed countries, including Pakistan, Uganda, Argentina and Brazil. Is the Caribbean also in their sights? While some of these land-selling states have welcomed the foreign revenue, others have begun to rightfully resist these "agrifood" agreements.
The MERCOSUR (Mercado Común del Sur) countries of Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil have decided to regulate foreign powers’ ability to purchase large tracts of land. In response to these mild initiatives, various foreign corporations have begun to set up negotiations to rent, rather than purchase, arable land from less-developed countries, treating land usage rights as merely one more commodity.
Case Study: Argentina
Editor’s Note: Recent sugar and Blue Mountain coffee deals in Jamaica with foreign powers make me wonder.
Chinese company takes over Ja sugar estates
The Frome, Monymusk and Bernard Lodge sugar estates has been sold to Chinese firm Complant International. The Chinese have already declared that they intend to run a viable business and to be commercially successful and they will take decisions based on commercial exigencies. This will require a more businesslike approach for his members who, he admits, enjoyed some benefits with the factories in government hands.
The assets were last in private hands under a deal in 1993 that gave 51 per cent control to a Wray & Nephew-led consortium. The other partners were Cliff Cameron's Manufacturers Investment Limited and Booker Tate Limited of the United Kingdom, with each holding a 17 per cent stake, while the Jamaican Government retained a minority 49 per cent.
The Government repurchased the Sugar Company of Jamaica (SCJ) properties in 1998 to avoid its collapse after the operators found themselves in a loss-making position which was blamed on the high inflation of 1994 and 1997, as well as the revaluation of the dollar in 1996.
However, the Bruce Golding administration, on taking office in 2007, determined that it would not continue to carry the loss-making entity, by then absorbing approximately $21 billion in debt on its books, mounting by $2 billion annually.
Editor's Note: The Jamaica government is patting itself on the back on completing a great deal, but is it, especially in the long term? Or is it a land grab? I don't think it is a land grab. Jamaica got rid of a money-loser. The Chinese did not come looking but responded to Jamaica. Besides the millions the Chinese plan to invest seems a risky investment unless the world price on sugar rises extremely high. Of course they do have a lot of mouths to feed.
Fillipino teachers have been cheated too
The April 2011 update of Hot Calaloo update reported on how New York City’s Department of Education defrauded dozens of Caribbean teachers recruited from their homelands a decade ago who now live under the threat of deportation instead of the green card promised. They are not alone. Fillipino teachers have been cheated too.
From 2004 through 2009, more than 1,000 teachers were recruited from abroad -- most from the Philippines -- to fill gaps in math, science, and special education in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Each paid thousands of dollars to recruiters and moved thousands of miles for the chance to teach in Maryland. Now, after giving up everything, these teachers may be forced to leave the U.S. because of a labor violation against them by Prince George’s County Public Schools.
Earlier this year, a group of Filipino teachers filed a complaint with the Department of Labor to get the school district to pay more than $4 million in back wages. The DOL ruled for the teachers -- but also banned the school district from submitting new visa petitions or extension requests for two years. As a result, at least 200 Filipino teachers now face job loss and deportation.
The American Federation of Teachers says that there are nearly 20,000 foreign teachers in the U.S. Minimum wage violations are a problem for many. At least 17 school districts nationwide have been discovered underpaying foreign teachers.
Olint’s David Smith gets 30 years
David A. Smith, the head of Olint in Jamaica, was sentenced to 30 years in prison after he confessed to four counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and 18 counts of money laundering in an Orlando courthouse. But luckily for Smith, it was far less than the 20 years per count prosecutors had called for. The Jamaican national has been in jail since he was extradited from a Turks & Caicos prison last August. In 30 years, Smith faces three years, unsupervised release and deportation. He must also pay $55,646,896.54 to the victims of his crime.
Smith not only defrauded many in Jamaica out of their life savings but did the same in Florida a la Bernie Madoff. By his own admission he executed a Ponzi scheme to defraud over 6,000 investors located in the Middle District of Florida and elsewhere out of over $220 million. He led investors to believe that he was investing their money in foreign currency trading and earning, on average, 10 percent per month, when in fact he was not trading their funds.
In addition to defrauding those investors, Smith conspired to launder the proceeds that were received in his scam, and he participated in the laundering of millions of dollars of proceeds that were obtained as a result of wire fraud.
Smith also conspired with others to launder approximately $128 million of proceeds that were obtained as a result of the wire fraud scheme, and he in fact laundered those millions of dollars. The purpose of the money laundering engaged in by Smith and his conspirators was to conceal and disguise the nature, the location, the source, the ownership and the control of the proceeds of the wire fraud.
It will be a far cry from the high prestigious life he had been leading in Jamaica only years ago.
New US tax laws to impact Jamaican banks
Jamaican banks are seriously assessing the costs of complying with an imminent United States tax law requiring full disclosure of the value of accounts held by US citizens in local financial institutions.
FACTA is an effort by the US government to enhance tax compliance and stamp out tax evasion were understandable. It seeks data on US citizens from locally based banks and other financial institutions. The US Congress passed it into law in March 2010 and it is set for implementation on January 1, 2013. It gives the US increased power to attain compliance from Americans residing outside the US by coercing non-US banks and institutions worldwide to provide account information on its citizens.
Under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), non-compliance would result in US authorities withholding 30 per cent of US source income, including gross assets sale proceeds, should any account holder or foreign financial institution not comply. Jamaican bankers are concerned with the cost they will incur to implement this new regulation. Of course banks worldwide face this problem. Even Swiss banks might no longer be able to hide money.
Protest at US embassy and Brits High Commission in Barbados over Libya
On Wednesday 17th. August 2011,a coalition of 13 Barbadian organisations staged a Protest March against the US embassy and the British High Commission in the Barbados capital, Bridgetown, to protest against the ongoing NATO military assault on the African nation of LIBYA. The marchers planned to deliver to Mr. Christopher Sandrolini, the Charge-de Affairs of the US embassy, and to Mr. Paul Brummel, the British High Commissioner,an official letter of protest addressed to President Barack Obama and to Prime Minister David Cameron.
Jamaica’s Negril losing its world famous beach
Negril has long been famous for having some of the best beaches in the world, but Negril could lose its most important natural resource within 10 years if urgent action is not taken to stop creeping erosion.
"In 10 years, we will lose the beach and it will be the end of the industry as we know it," says hotelier, Lee Issa, who, like the majority of investors in the resort town, has watched the Negril shoreline retreating at a rate of between one and two metres per year. This trend appears to have started some two to three decades ago, says a 2008 report from coastal environmental company, Smith Warner International Limited.
With the situation worsening, Smith Warner has recommended immediate restorative work, which will cost between US$19.4 million and US$25.5 million, money which the stakeholders reportedly don't have. Issa is suggesting that the project be funded from the hotel room tax being collected by the Government.
Negril contributed approximately 25 per cent (or US$500 million) of the US$2 billion gross earnings that the country boasted last year.
But this is not the only problem. Decades ago nearby wetlands were draind to facilitate development. This left behind a morass that dried up, creating a severe fire hazard. This has resulted in the perennial occurrence of surface fires in hot spot areas, burning extensively and uncontrollably," said the Negril Environmental Protection Trust (NEPT) in a letter dated June 15, 2011, to Prime Minister Bruce Golding.
According to the NEPT, a massive fire recently burned for days, resulting in residents and guests suffering with upper respiratory ailments. "A number of the visitors checked out and were transferred to Montego Bay hotels," Issa confirmed.
The morass, which is an extensive area of 6,000 acres of wetlands, plays a crucial role in the filtration sediments that normally would have been deposited on to seagrasses and coral reefs which maintain the pristine "seven-mile" Negril beach, says the NEPT.
The organisation says the wetlands also function as a flood control mechanism; protect low-lying communities from natural disasters like hurricanes and tropical storms; and serve as a habitat for terrestrial animals and marine creatures such as juvenile fishes.
Jamaica’s Carib Cement losses still climbing
The T&T’s owned Caribbean Cement Company Limited in Jamaica made a loss of J$608 million in the second quarter, even while cement sales appeared to have stabilised in the period. Here are some of the unhappy details:
Hershey chocolate factory exploits foreign students
Overseas teachers, nurses and migrant workers have been exploited here in the US. Now this. Once upon a time, unionized workers packing chocolate at the Hershey company in Pennsylvania made $18 to $30 an hour. Today, the company relies on a "cultural exchange" program that asks foreign students to pay up to $6,000 to come to America to work for $8 an hour to work at a companies like Hershey and experience what its like to live in America. Then, when they arrive, "program fees" and rent are deducted from their salaries to the point many are unable to recoup what it costs to obtain their visa.
So, recently hundreds of foreign students on a State Department cultural exchange visa program walked off their factory jobs in protest on Wednesday.
The J-1 visa program brings foreign students to the country to work for two months and learn English, and was designed in part to fill seasonal tourism jobs at resorts and seaside towns. The 400 students employed at a Pennsylvania factory that packages Hershey's candies complained that even though they make $8.35 an hour, their rent and program fees are deducted from their paychecks, leaving them with less money than they spent to get the visas and travel to the country in the first place.
Some of the students were assigned night shifts, and said they were pressured to work faster and faster on the factory lines.
Last December, the AP revealed that federal immigration officials were investigating two human-trafficking abuse cases related to J-1 visas. Strip clubs openly solicited J-1 visa holders in job listings, and some foreign students told the AP they were forced into sexual slavery when their passports were confiscated by a ring of criminals. About 150,000 J-1 visas were given out in 2008. Businesses save about 8 percent by using a foreign worker because of Social Security and other taxes they do not have to pay.
No Seaport in the Cayman Islands’ Half Moon Bay
Thanks to protests both local and international, there will be no seaport at Half Moon Bay in the Cayman Islands. The sheltered waters of the Cayman Islands’ Half Moon Bay are home to a kaleidoscopic array of rare marine life, making the area a prime site for visitors and locals. Private developers threatened to destroy this breathtaking ecosystem by building an ecologically irresponsible and economically unnecessary seaport at the site.
The proposed port would have decimated the Islands’ East End area, razing seven healthy coral reefs and endangering several more. Grand Cayman relies on East End for all of its fresh water and much of its agricultural produce. The introduction of large-scale heavy industry into such a delicate ecosystem would have caused irrevocable damage to both marine life and these natural resources.
The salvation of the Cayman Islands’ Half Moon Bay touched many hearts, from local Islanders who held hands along the shore in a peaceful prayer and protest of the development, to overseas environmentalists who signed the petition to save Half Moon Bay from destruction.
Bolt leads Caribbean medal haul in World Champs
Jamaica’s Usain Bolt overcame the bitter disappointment in his
false-start disqualification in the 100 meters, to win the 200 m and storm
home in the 4x100 relay in the one and only world record breaking time to
close the World Champions meet in Daegu. in South Korea. Caribbean
athletes sparkled again. They ended the track and field games, which were
organized by the International Amateur Athletic Federation, as champions
in the 100, 200 and 400 meters in the men’s category. They are Jamaican
Yohan Blake in the 100; compatriot Usain Bolt in the 200; and James of
Grenada in the 400.
Altogether, the Caribbean – including Cuba and Puerto Rico – picked
up 19 medals. The Caribbean’s overall tally was aided by silver and
bronze medals from Cuba, Puerto Rico, St Kitts and Nevis, The Bahamas, and
Trinidad and Tobago.
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