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.
No jobs for 20,000 high school grads in Jamaica
Something is horribly wrong. Nearly half of the more than 40,000 young people who graduate high schools and universities in Jamaica this year may not find employment in the private sector, two stakeholder groups have predicted just that. The forecast by the Jamaica Employers' Federation (JEF) and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) comes as the economy continues its decline for a sixth consecutive quarter.
The gloomy outlook comes weeks after the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) reported that the country's unemployment rate rose to 16.3 per cent in April this year, a two percentage-point climb when compared to the corresponding period last year. STATIN's figures also showed that unemployment among young people between the ages of 14 and 24 years old rose to 38.5 per cent in April this year, a 4.1 percentage-point increase from last April. It is estimated that last year approximately 38,000 students sought employment as new entrants to the job market.
Some hopeful projects are being talked about, but there is no real relief in sight. But, the IMF is satisfied.
Ganja, lies and videotape
The Rastas call it the wisdom weed. Others call it a lot of dirty names. But lies have been exposed and medical research is coming out to show that ganja, marijuana, might be a miracle weed after all. Medical marijuana could be a great opportunity for Jamaica.
The highly respected Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent had to apologize to the weed. As he himself admits, he apologized for his years of attacking marijuana because:
"We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that." He confessed.
Marijuana (cannabis) has been reported by the Institute of Medicine to relieve symptoms associated with Cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, anorexia, anxiety, depression, and numerous other illnesses and conditions.
Studies have shown several well-documented beneficial effects of cannabis. Among these are: The amelioration of nausea and vomiting, stimulation of hunger in chemotherapy and AIDS patients, lowered intraocular eye pressure (shown to be effective for treating glaucoma), as well as gastrointestinal illness. The drug also produces antibacterial effects and is one of the best known expectorants. On the National Cancer Institute website, the National Institutes of Health stated that cannabinoids found in marijuana appear to have significant analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, antitumor effects, and anticancer effects, including the treatment of breast and lung cancer. The anti-cancer effect is due to the presence of cannabidiol (CBD) in the plant.
Meanwhile in Jamaica there is a cry to get on the medical marijuana bandwagon or lose a viable financial opportunity. CARICOM leaders are considering going even further by decriminalizing marijuana use. Psosecuting people for using minor amounts of marijuana only clogs the courts, so it makes perfect sense. But, they fear US opposition.
Ganja No. 1 cash crop in US
While the U.S. State Department report on narcotics for this year shows there are an estimated 15,000 hectares of marijuana growing in Jamaica and some 67 metric tons of marijuana was seized in 2012 alone, United States marijuana growers have harvested a minimum of 2,500 metric tons of saleable marijuana in recent years, worth over $25 billion on the retail market.
Jon Gettman, who recently did a report on "Marijuana Production in the United States," concludes that marijuana harvested and sold untaxed in the U.S., makes it the country’s number one cash crop, worth more than the corn and wheat crops combined.
Five states – California, Tennessee, Kentucky, Hawaii and Washington – had marijuana crops worth over $1 billion despite the DEA’s best efforts to stamp down on the drug. That number could grow by $9 billion on medical-marijuana consumption alone by 2016.
And with the fight for medical marijuana heating up and more and more states considering legalization of the drug, Medical marijuana is legal in almost 20 states, and recreational use of the drug was recently legalized in two states.
Haitian President Martelly to be charged with high treason
The highly suspicious death of Judge Jean Serge Joseph on July 13 has created a political firestorm for Haitian President Michel Martelly. In response to the suspicious timing of Judge Joseph’s death, a special Senate Commission of Inquiry was set up to investigate whether or not Martelly and other government figures played a role in intimidating the judge. The special commission was made up of five members of the Haitian Senate the Senators asked the Haitian Deputies to "recognize the interference of the Head of State, the Prime Minister, and the Justice Minister in the sovereign exercise of judicial power and finally "to charge the Head of State with the crime of high treason."
Judge Joseph had been conducting a high profile investigation against Michel Martelly’s wife Sophia and their son Olivier, who are currently accused of corruption, money laundering, abuse of authority and squandering funds from the public treasury.
On July 2, Judge Joseph instructed President Martelly to order Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe and other high profile figures in the Haitian government to testify in the corruption investigation against President Michel Martelly’s wife and son. it was not long before he was receiving pressure from President Martelly to drop the charges, in addition to recieivng numerous death threats.
On July 11, Judge Joseph was called to a meeting at the law office of Louis Garry Lissade – one of Martelly’s legal advisors. At the meeting Judge Joseph was pressured to drop the charges, but once again refused to back down. Two days later he passed away. The official cause of death remains unclear, as a rare form of stroke (Intraparenchymal hemorrhage) and poisoning have been cited thus far.
Canada entices away Jamaica’s skilled port workers
Jamaican high school and teaching college graduates are facing extremely gloomy employment prospects but Jamaica continues to lose its manpower to the skilled-worker program in Canada. There are lingering concerns that a number of local sectors could crumble unless something is done fast to staunch the flow.
Hard hit over the years by the recruitment drive, the Port Authority of Jamaica is one such entity that has had to ramp up measures to keep its maintenance technicians, in particular, on the job. But even so, it continues to be a constant battle between themselves and aggressive Canadian recruiters.
There is trouble on the horizon for Jamaica because of a shortage of truckers who have left the country for greener pastures in Canada. The demand far outstretches the supply and they are actually creaming off the island’s better drivers. In the event that any major activity arises there would be ill effects of it.
Since 2009, some 127 skilled workers have quit their jobs at the KCT, which is a subsidiary of the Port Authority of Jamaica. The majority of those who left took up jobs in Canada.
It is reported that 87 per cent of them were recruited directly by Canadians, 10 per cent migrated of their own volition and the remainder were employed to local companies.
Jamaica has lost technicians who were trained in the maintenance exercises of the mobile equipment such as the big straddle carriers, the trucks and big container lifters. But it's not just only our technicians they are targeting; they are targeting crane operators and heavy-equipment operators as well.
The president of the truckers' association believes that the main reason why his members have turned their attention to Canada is because of better remuneration and conditions of employment. Conditions of employment in Jamaica are very insecure. In some areas of trucking, it is more seasonal. Sometimes, guys who do like aggregates, when the season is off or there are stoppages in work, they are not necessarily compensated based on the arrangements.
Barbados cancels free UWI tuition
The Barbados government says it will no longer pay tuition fees for nationals studying at the University of the West Indies (UWI).
Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Chris Sinckler in his 2013/14 budget presentation said that effective 2014, Barbadian students pursuing studies at the university's three campuses will be required to pay their own tuition fees, while the government continues to fund economic costs. The subsidised economic costs could be as much as 80 per cent of the tuition. Sinckler said it will save Barbados BDS$42 million a year.
The cost to the government has risen over the years as more nationals pursue tertiary education. The intake at UWI Cave Hill campus, which is located in Barbados, has been expanding since 2003/04. "In 1999 for example, there were around 3,568 undergraduate students at the Cave Hill [campus] and by 2007 this number had increased to around 6,718 and currently stands at around 7,200 students," said Sinckler.
The expansion has meant major increases in the government of Barbados' contribution to UWI. In 2007, Barbados' financial contribution to UWI was BDS$79.3 million; the next year it shot to BDS$120.5 million.
Students whose parents cannot afford university fees will be offered assistance after means testing.
Jamaica NIF buying property in Washington
Jamaica’s National Insurance Fund (NIF) is looking overseas for commercial property to buy, and is putting up land it owns in Jamaica for sale in a renewed push to restructure its asset mix. The NIF is funded by National Insurance contributions and is the source from which pensions and other benefits under the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) are paid.
The first overseas acquisition is being pursued in Washington, DC, Cabinet has already approved the transaction.
"We see this as a positive development, as the NIF will gain some well-needed diversification in its assets, and the country will now, in effect, be paying rent to itself," the fund manager said.
The NIF took an immediate J$6-billion hit from Jamaica's last debt swap, but Deer-Williams said the decision to diversify geographically was taken even before the execution of the National Debt Exchange. The debt swap was executed in February.
More than 74 per cent of the state pension fund's portfolio is in government securities, and another 15 per cent is in real estate, inclusive of hotel properties. The fund's value fell to J$63 billion post-NDX.
"But we will be yielding upwards of 10 per cent on the investment, in line with market returns," she said.
At the same time it is shelling out cash for real estate, NIF is also disposing of some lands that have limited revenue-generating potential. But it is also seeking to develop other properties that it believes has earning potential.
The pension fund recently sold a 104-acre property in Portmore for US$4 million (approximately J$400 million) to Cayjam Limited. The land at Newlands was acquired in 2006 for J$269 million.
NIF began restructuring the pension fund asset portfolio even before the first debt exchange three years ago. The pension fund's reset included plans to sell underperforming real resort properties, but the disposals had mixed success because of the soft economic climate.
Mighty Sparrow in coma
Calypso legend The Mighty Sparrow is in a coma in a New York hospital. , Sparrow (given name Slinger Francisco) was scheduled to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Trinidad and Tobago Consulate in New York City.
He did not attend the ceremony. His son, Richard Francisco, accepted the award on his behalf and read a message from his father stating that he was unable to attend the function.
A Trinidad newspaper quoted a source as saying Sparrow was "depressed" recently. Calls to Sparrow's home and mobile phones in New York went unanswered, the newspaper reported. So, did calls to his home in Trinidad, where his wife, Margaret Francisco, spends much of her time. The Grenada-born Sparrow is rated along with Lord Kitchener as Trinidad and Tobago's greatest calypsonians.
His career started in the 1950s when he first competed in the country's Carnival events.
Adults stuck in 'Youth' care In Jamaica
Hundreds of Jamaicans remain in the care of the State even after turning 18, as abandonment by families haunts them from infancy through adulthood. Figures from the Ministry of Youth and Culture, the umbrella ministry for the Child Development Agency (CDA), indicate that 354 adults remained in state care, 76 of whom were able-bodied, and 278 mentally and intellectually challenged. According to the CDA, the oldest person remaining in the State's care is 47, but has the psychological age of a child.
Though these individuals do not remain in children's homes, the Government spends more than $6 million each year, through the CDA, to contribute to their care.
It was a Cabinet decision that determined that once children get to age 18 years, and had physical challenges or special needs, that the State should still take care of them," Based on the status of the individuals, they are transferred to other homes which can best cater to their needs.
Accordingly, some are placed with Brothers of the Poor - a Christian ministry run by Father Richard Ho Lung - as well as other privately run institutions. The Government gives these homes an average of $18,000 per year to keep and care for each ward, whether they remain in public or privately run homes.
Haiti raises import tariffs to protect national production
The Haitian government has decided to raise taxes on a number of
subsidized import products to protect the Caribbean country’s
industries, which risk collapse, in the face of unfair competition from
LIAT CEO resigns
The board of directors of cash-strapped regional airline, LIAT, is expected to make a formal announcement on Wednesday regarding the sudden resignation of the airline's chief executive officer, Captain Ian Brunton.
But head of corporate communications Desmond Brown would not elaborate on the reasons behind Brunton's sudden resignation, which comes one year into his appointment.
St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who is chair of the shareholder governments of the airline, also confirmed that Brunton, who took up the appointment on August 1 last year, had decided to step down.
The airline is owned by Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, St Vincent and Dominica.
Trinidad-born Brunton, a former CEO of Trinidad and Tobago's state-owned Caribbean Airlines Limited, is spearheading LIAT's US$100 million re-fleeting exercise.
Last month, LIAT signed a US$65 million loan with the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank to finance the purchase of new, French-made ATR aircraft. The fleet modernisation project involves the replacement of LIAT's ageing fleet of Canadian-made Bombardier Q400s and de Havilland Dash-8 planes with ATRs, through a combination of lease and purchase of aircraft; the transition costs associated with the changeover; the upgrade of maintenance facilities and other institutional strengthening activities.
LIAT, which flies to 21 destinations in the Caribbean, said reliable and efficient air transport is essential for connectivity, mobility and accessibility within the region, and for some islands, LIAT provides the only air links with the rest of the region.
Cornwall College enrolls girls
For the first time in more than 30 years, the 117-year-old, Cornwall College in Montego Bay, Jamaica, has accepted females, all to its sixth-form classes.
Ten girls, two of whom boast 10 distinctions each, in the recent Caribbean Examination Council exams were welcomed at the all-boy institution at a historic ceremony in their honour. The girls, former students of schools such as Knox College, Porus High, Mt Alevrnia and Montego Bay High, join some 61 boys in what has been described as the largest 12th grade in the school's history.
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