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a wonderful book about a young girl in the Carribean, the first of her family to go to secondary school.
JLP win Jamaica general elections
Portia is out! Bruce is in! Hurricane Dean was an ill wind which certainly blew the ruling Peoples National Party (PNP) no good. Bruce Golding led the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to victory over the PNP in the Jamaica general elections by 33 to 27 seats. Outgoing Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller tasted defeat after her Peoples National Party (PNP) had governed for 18 consecutive years.
The general elections were held on September 3,2007. They had originally been scheduled for August 27, 2007 but were delayed due to Hurricane Dean. Election officials reported that 808,240 persons voted, or 60.4 per cent of the little more than 1.3 million Jamaicans who were eligible to vote. Of this number the Jamaica Labour Party polled 405,215, the People's National Party received 402,275, the National Democratic Movement got 540 while the other groups polled a total of 110 votes.
Hurricane Dean carves path of death and destruction
Hurricane Dean roared through the Caribbean and Mexico leaving behind death and destruction. According to reports:
Portland Cottage is one of the most devastated communities in Jamaica. A 20-vehicle-long convoy, including two large trucks filled to capacity with food and other emergency relief supplies from Food For The Poor, was due to roll into hurricane-ravaged Portland Cottage on Friday, August 24. Additionally, a volunteer team of 28 medical personnel, inclusive of 13 doctors and 15 nurses, will accompany Food For The Poor to provide medical care.
The current supply of emergency relief aid in Food For The Poor’s Spanish Town, Jamaica warehouses will be significantly augmented with the arrival of more than 120 additional containers filled with medical supplies, housing materials and other relief items.
Food For The Poor continues to fulfill its commitment to the entire Caribbean area through its major involvement with ongoing relief efforts to the islands of Dominica, St Lucia, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Major relief efforts, including the delivery of food, emergency supplies, building materials and medical assistance, are all underway in these countries, as well as in Peru, Belize and Mexico.
Overseas Jamaicans and organizations have also rallied to Jamaica’s aid. One such group, the US-based American Friends of Jamaica, is responding by providing materials to many individuals who had damage to their roofs. Roofs are very vulnerable to hurricanes. Their goal is ‘1000 Roofs of Love’ which is an ambitious plan to repair the roofs of 1,000 homes at US$250 per home, ($200 for materials and $50 for food). They had raised almost 40 per cent of that goal at the time of this writing. This operation is coordinated with Father HoLung’s Missionaries of the Poor. Immediately after the hurricane hit, the Missionaries of the Poor engaged in providing immediately needed packages of food as well as setting up soup kitchens for many without food.
You can help
The need is for cash as donations of clothing create serious distribution logistics problems. I am pretty sure other embassies and consulates are doing likewise so call them up for details.
St. Lucia’s Sir John Compton dies
St. Lucia's Prime Minister Sir John George Melvin Compton, KBE, died Friday night at the age of 82. He had returned to St Lucia from Martinique where he was taken last weekend for urgent medical attention. He suffered multiple organ failure and remained in hospital in St. Lucia on a ventilator until his death Friday night. On May 1, this year he was hospitalised in New York City after he suffered a series of strokes which left him physically impaired.
Sir John led his United Workers Party to a surprising 11-6 victory in the December 11, 2006 general election, toppling the St Lucia Labour Party, led by former prime minister Dr. Kenny Anthony who was seeking a third successive term in office.
In his distinguished careerSir John:
Sir John returned to active politics late last year and reclaimed his
position at the helm at the party "at the behest of the people",
he declared, following the resounding defeat of the UWP in the general
elections of 1997 and 2001.
Bahamas ranked richest country in the Caribbean
Bahamas topped the Caribbean with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $21,300. The top ten are as follows:
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the monetary value of all the finished
goods and services produced within a country's borders in a specific time
period. GDP is usually calculated on an annual basis. It includes all of
private and public consumption, government outlays, investments and
exports less imports that occur within a defined territory.
US socks it to green card holder with hefty fees
Legal residents whose green cards lack expiration dates may have to pay US$370 to replace them, the Homeland Security Department said yesterday. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a division of the department, has proposed requiring legal residents with those cards to pay a US$290 replacement application fee plus $80 for electronic fingerprints and a photo, or biometrics.
The agency estimates about 750,000 legal permanent U.S. residents were issued green cards between 1977 and 1989 without expiration dates. Green cards are proof the people to whom they were issued are authorised to live and work in the United States.
Under the proposal, legal residents would have 120 days to replace their cards. If they should fail to apply for replacements, their green cards eventually would be terminated on a date to be determined later. Legal residents with cards that need to be replaced will not be individually notified. The proposal is not final, but legal residents can begin applying now for replacement cards if they choose.
Obama promises more open policy to Cuba
A black man running for the US presidency is true bravery. But US Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama exhibited even more bravery when he promised a more open policy towards Cuba at a packed campaign rally in Miami, the heart of the anti-Castro Cuban exile community.
Obama heartily criticized US President George W. Bush, who restricted
travel to Cuba and money remittances to the island in 2004 with the goal
of toppling President Fidel Castro. The measures angered the estimated 1.5
million Cubans living in the United States, many of who strongly oppose
Castro but want to help friends and relatives on the island.
Obama also said that if elected his government would not move towards normalizing relations with Cuba until there were democratic changes on the island. Clusters of Cuban-American protesters jeered Obama. A Florida International University poll in March of 1,000 Cuban-Americans in Miami-Dade found that 55 percent backed unrestricted travel to Cuba.
No business-as-usual for Obama as he sparked a political firestorm last month when he said during a televised debate that he would be willing to meet with the leaders of US foes such as Cuba, Venezuela and Iran. His main Democratic rival, Senator Hillary Clinton predictably, blasted the pledge as a sign of Obama's inexperience and called his position "irresponsible and frankly naive."
Editor’s Note: Obama’s fresh approach is a welcome sign and break away from the US policy of demonizing leaders it does not like and trying to isolate them. Obviously Hillary Clinton is stuck in the morass of this hostile policy, that has produced the 45-year boycott and sunk America’s popularity worldwide. I am no Obama partisan, but, "Right on Obama!"
Jamaica ethanol exports earn US120 million
The joint venture ethanol project between the Jamaica state-owned oil refinery Petrojam and Brazil's Coimex Group has generated some US$120 million in revenues since it began operation two-years ago. The plant exported 250,000 cubic metres or 66.05 million gallons of ethanol to the United States over the period, representing 65 per cent of total ethanol exports from Jamaica to the United States (U.S). The U.S. has the largest ethanol market.
The 40 million gallon per year ethanol dehydration plant, which is run by Petrojam Ethanol Ltd., was rehabilitated at an estimated cost of US$10 million between Petrojam and Coimex. The venture represents the single largest investment in the Caribbean by the Brazilian group, which trades coffee, sugar and ethanol in the European Union, Asia, Japan, U.S., Middle East, Canada and the Caribbean.
The 59-year-old Brazilian company also said it was collaborating with the Government in its plan to replace 10 per cent of the MTBE in gasolene with ethanol. It said it has been facilitating the training of Jamaican technicians in the use of the technology that was developed in Brazil to blend gasolene and ethanol.
British Airways losing over 1 million bags per year!
Airline travelers to Europe, beware. Check in your luggage and the airline may lose it. More travellers than ever are arriving on holiday without their luggage, with up to 10 air passengers losing their bags on every flight. British Airways (BA) is by far the worst culprit and is forecast to lose an incredible 1.3 million bags this year. Heathrow airport in London is the worst, packed to capacity, but with insufficient baggage handlers.
One in every 35 passengers on BA flights lost luggage between April and June. Such is the scale of the problem that travellers have been advised to avoid checking in bags altogether and take hand luggage instead.
In addition, the figures, compiled by the Association of European Airlines (AEA), showed that BA passengers were the most likely to be delayed. In the three months to June, 44 per cent of BA's long-haul flights and 36 per cent of its short-haul trips arrived more than 15 minutes late.
The misery is mostly confined to BA passengers, with other airlines, including Lufthansa and Air France, performing better. No-frills carriers such as Ryanair and easyJet were not included in the report.
Editor’s Note: Taking hand luggage only does not seem a solution as anti-terrorist regulations forbid so many things ranging from a bottle of hair lotion to nail clippers. What’s a traveler to do?
Losing US$7 million a month
Caribbean governments are often criticized for losing money with privatization exalted as the vastly superior alternative. But Government’s primary function is not to make money but to provide services to its citizens. On the other hand, these exalted corporations’ primary function is to make a profit. The giant Ford Motors Corporation has failed in that respect and is failing big time. It has posted a record $12.7 billion net loss in 2006. That is over seven million yankee dollars per month! But that’s not all. This exalted corporation gave its new CEO Alan Mulally $28 million for four months on the job, according to the company's proxy statement filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
Jamaica 3rd in international computer software competition
Jamaica's software design team from Northern Caribbean University (NCU), placed third in the Imagine Cup Competition held in South Korea, so is now among the top three software design teams in the world. One of only six teams to reach the final round of the Imagine Cup Competition, Jamaica placed third after Thailand and Korea (first and second, respectively). Ireland, Austria and Serbia were the other three teams to reach the championship round.
NCU teammates Damion Mitchell, 25; Ayson Baxter, 22; Conroy Smith, 22; and Imran Allie, 21, all members of NCU's Department of Computer and Information Sciences, received a cash prize of US$10,000, as well as individual trophies. The team was also given an invitation to the Imagine Cup Innovation Accelerator, which is jointly run by Microsoft and British Telecom, to be held at the Microsoft Innovation Centre.
Jamaica's entry in the Imagine Cup Competition was a software program called CADI (Computer-Aided Distance Instruction), an interactive classroom software program that performs translations using 12 languages and supports long-distance education from any site or location that has steady Internet access. The competition was originally started in 2002 by computer software giant Microsoft. The Imagine Cup Competition was created to encourage technology-minded students to focus their creativity on finding solutions to real-world problems. Held annually in different countries and with different technology-related themes, the theme for this year's competition was education, under the slogan 'Imagine a world where technology enables a better education for all.'
US embargo on Cuba strikes again
Like a menacing cobra, the US embargo on Cuba strikes again. In a first for an online travel company, Travelocity. com has been fined by federal regulators for booking trips between the United States and Cuba in violation of the 45-year-old embargo.
Travelocity. com paid $182,750 this month to settle a complaint brought by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Treasury Department, which said the company had violated the prohibition nearly 1,500 times from January 1998 to April 2004.
"The trips to Cuba were unintentionally permitted to be booked by consumers online because of some technical failures several years ago, and it's just now being finally settled" with that office, a Travelocity spokesman, Joel Frey, wrote in an e-mail message. "In no way did the company intend to allow bookings for trips to Cuba, and the company has fully cooperated with O.F.A.C. and implemented corrective measures."
Jamaica permits travel to Cuba. Despite sovereignty protections, will they be fined next?
Rafting down the Rio Grande is Jamaica going under
Rio Grande rafting, Portland's premier tourist attraction and one of Jamaica’s oldest, is plunging into extinction, as recent hurricanes, compounded by frequent torrential rainfall, have virtually put a halt to its operations. At Grant's Level, a raft stand which was destroyed during the passage of hurricanes Dennis and Emily in 2005, still lies in ruins, with only its foundation intact as a reminder to many that it once existed. In 2004 during the passage of hurricane Ivan, 130 of the estimated 175 rafting vessels were lost. In 2005, during hurricanes Dennis and Emily, 140 rafting vessels out of approximately 190 were also destroyed.
Another big factor is the deplorable state of the roads leading to the Berrydale raft stand. Appeals for desperately needed road repairs has fallen on deaf ears.
The general feeling and opinion of many persons, including those with memories of gliding along the river as patrons, is that a popular attraction like Rio Grande rafting should be operated and controlled by Government. Of course this would be contrary to the fascination with privatization. Or Government might make it profitable again and then sell it. For privatisation means turn over the money losers to the Government and moneymakers to private industry.
Brian Lara's niece kidnapped in Trinidad
The niece of former Trinidad and Tobago batsman and West Indies cricket
captain, Brian Lara, was held against her will by gunmen in the Tunapuna
area of Trinidad recently.
Guyana seize Venezuelan fishing boats
Police have detained 12 men onboard two Venezuelan fishing vessels caught fishing illegally in Guyana waters. A police river patrol intercepted the men in the Waini Top area in Northern Guyana. Each of the two vessels had six men, police stated. The two vessels, along with the crew members and catch, were taken to Morawhanna, a community further inland, before they began their long journey to Georgetown.
Bob Marley family to sue Verizon
A deal offering Bob Marley's classics such as "Buffalo Soldier," "Redemption Song," and "One Love," as ringtones on Verizon Wireless phones are headed for the law courts. The Marley family said the deal announced recently between Verizon and Universal Music Group for access to Bob Marley's music was done without the family's permission.
The mobile deal is one of several recent digital-related moves to promote Bob Marley as Universal Music Group celebrates the 30th anniversary and re-release of the hit album "Exodus."
Spokesman for the Marley family, Chris Blackwell, said that he was approached by Verizon a few months ago for permission to access the music to use it as ringtones exclusively on their phones. He said because the company wanted to use the music and Bob Marley's image exclusively on its product, it amounted to an endorsement. However the company disagreed. The regarded it as a straightforward deal where the family would be paid the usual royalties for ringtones sold.
Verizon has since negotiated a deal with Universal Music Group with has rights to the Marley catalogue. The family said they will sue Universal Music Group and Verizon Wireless.
Fewer American tourists visiting the Caribbean
Americans who flocked to the Caribbean in record numbers until recently are finding new destinations or staying home, leading to declines of more than 10 per cent this year in islands including Jamaica, St. Lucia and Grenada.
Governments have aimed marketing pitches at Canada and Europe to compensate for slippage in the American market, which accounts for about 60 per cent of the region's vital tourism business.
A new passport rule has discouraged some travellers. Americans returning by air from the Caribbean were required to present the document beginning earlier this year the U.S. is temporarily accepting proof of application because of a backlog. But even U.S. territories unaffected by the new security measure have seen declines - the number of Americans visiting Puerto Rico dropped 9.0 per cent in January compared with the same month last year, and the U.S. Virgin Islands saw a 7% drop.
The number of American visitors dipped in the months after the September 11, 2001 attacks before surging more than 10 per cent over four years. Last year, U.S. tourists staying overnight reached a peak of 11.5 million, according to statistics from the Barbados-based CTO.
Facing uncertainty over when trends might reverse, Caribbean officials are focusing promotional efforts elsewhere. Jamaica, hit by a 12 per cent drop in American visitors this year, has started advertising more in Canada and Europe, said Basil Smith, Jamaica's director of tourism. A strong euro helped boost European visits by 22 per cent through April.
Editor’s note: For years everywhere I traveled all over the world, the question asked was, "Where are the American tourists? Even at the Grand canyon in the US. But I found them. They were all huddled over slot machines in Las Vegas!
Jamaica impress at World Champs
The 2007 World Championships in Athletics, under the auspices of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), were held at Nagai Stadium in Osaka, Japan from August 24 to September 2, 2007. 203 of the IAAF's 212 member federations entered a total of 1,981 athletes, the greatest number of any World Championships to date.[
11th IAAF World Championships
200 m 2. Veronica Campbell (Jam)
400 m 3. Novelene Williams (Jam)
100 m hurdles 3. Delloreen Ennis-London (Jam)
4x100 m 2. Jamaica (Sheri-Ann Brooks, Kerron Stewart, Simone Facey, Veronica Campbell)
4x400m 2. Jamaica (Shericka Williams, Shereefa Lloyd, Davita Prendagast, Novelene Williams)
Triple jump 1. Yargelis Savigne (Cuba)
Discus 3. Yarelis Barrios (Cuba)
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