And we used to think America was a democracy. One man, one vote. Majority wins. The question is where were the international observers to certify the elections? Absent. So Bogus Bush looks destined to steal it by a margin of 537 votes. People have died for the right to vote, but in Florida, thousands of voters, mainly black and Hispanic, have been disenfranchised. Aristide won in Haiti by about 90% of votes cast, but America refuses to recognize his victory. How ironic. The Republicans have mounted a coup to overthrow the will of the majority, not in Haiti, but right here in USA. Gore's fight is not just a fight for the presidency, but a fight for every single citizen who cast his vote, the very foundation of democracy. A speedy decision on president is irrelevant. If the thousands of disputed Florida votes are not recounted accurately, then the results are bogus, and the president is bogus.
Defender of democracy
Meanwhile a reader sent this letter on this subject:
All over Jamaica, confrontations between police and communities are continuing. The pattern is too familiar. The police say they are just trying to apprehend a criminal, and communities defend the suspect as an upstanding member of their community, or at worst, a harmless petty crook being subjected to police brutality. Even crack crimefighting teams formed by the new crime plan have faced these obstacles. For examples:
Code of Conduct for police
Pentecostal campaign winning over Hindus in T&T
Battling for Trinidads Souls
Hindu religious leaders are upset and accuse the Pentecostal of conducting an aggressive disinformation campaign against their religion and spreading intolerance. "They say we worship idols!"
Hindus point to recent desecrations of temples and cremation grounds, as well as of a Catholic church, as evidence that these Protestant fundamentalists are fostering a climate of intolerance which never existed before. The Pentecostals deny that any religion is targeted for converts or that they encourage intolerance.
The number of Pentecostal churches in T&T have doubled in the past decade to more than 150. Their leaders anticipate that their religion will replace Anglicans as the 3rd-largest in that nation of 1.2 million. According to the 1990 census, Catholicism with 29% of the population is the largest, followed by Hinduism with 22% and Anglicanism with 11%.
The new Christ the Castle church is resplendent with purple satin drapes, glittering chandeliers, waterfalls and arrangements of color-coordinated artificial flowers. It is equipped with radio and television studios. Besides the church offers members financial planning, a Montessori pre-school and domestic violence counseling. Recently, even the Government contracted with the church to provide vocational training for 500 youths.
The Pentecostals even advertise for converts on TV. Hindu leaders accuse the Pentecostals of using the American dollar to buy souls. They vow to fight back to retain their members, but they dont seem to stand a chance.
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CARICOM is to work closely with the US Congressional Black Caucus to further strengthen relations with Washington on issues of regional concern. This was one of the decisions made in a meeting in Montego Bay , involving CARICOM government officials and the 13-member Black Caucus. The Black Caucus is a coalition of black members of the Congress of the United States committed to primarily promoting and protecting policies favorable to the African American community.
The meeting was chaired by Jamaicas Prime Minister, P.J. Patterson. The Black
Caucus, led by the dynamic Charles Rangel, recommended that CARICOM should develop a
blueprint of priority concerns and establish communication channels to facilitate ongoing
reviews. The group has promised to give urgent attention to all matters raised by
Caribbean leaders and to use its protective power to protect Caribbeans interests.
President Basdeo Panday has announced that general elections for Trinidad and Tobago will be held on December 11, 200.
Many of us are inclined to criticize our Caribbean governments for inefficiency, ineffectiveness and partisanship. These governments must face a divided and undereducated electorate, vigorous vocal entrenched party opposition, and the confining restrictions of being a poor country. Overseas Caribbean organisations, on the other hand, do not face such obstacles. Instead, they are blessed with a relatively highly educated membership, with a unity of purpose and commitment to Caribbean causes, and no formal entrenched opposition party to deal with. With all these advantages, one would think they would be models of efficiency. But, unfortunately most of them are not. Instead, too many are so bogged down with petty bickering and infighting that they fail to acheive even the most modest goals.
Like a cancer
In short it is like a cancer, eating away at the heart of the organisation.
Fighting this cancer
However, some groups just listen to constructive criticism and do nothing about it. What a waste. It should not only be listened to, but it should also be evaluated and acted upon if it is worthy.
But, for most organisations, elections are a necessary evil. The leadership therefore,
must make a conscious effort to tone down campaign rhetoric, and, promote and embrace the
unity and value of all its members.
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"Unuh shut up unuh mouth or get out!"
Speaking of meetings This is probably what the cop said to a meeting being held in a room beside the Resident Magistrate Court room of Savanah-la-mar in Jamaica. He was just demanding order not only in the court but in the room beside the court. But this was not just a meeting, it was a meeting of the Westmorland Parish Council presided over by the town mayor. They tried to protest to the cop, but he would have none of that and ordered them to "Silence". Out stormed one councillor and the Deputy Mayor leaving a quieter but outraged mayor and parish councillors.
CARICOM trade gap widens
The IMF has told us foreign trade is the way to prosperity. Not the way we are going. The first ever survey of trade and investment in the 14-nation CARICOM has revealed some alarming figures for 1999. There is still a significant if not disastrous trade imbalance between CARICOM countries and their international markets. Total CARICOM exports grew by a modest 4%, while imports mushroomed by 55%!
Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago received the bulk of foreign direct investment. There was more than US$1.6 billion in total investment, an amount considered well above average considering CARICOMs relatively small population and national income. Of this amount T&T topped the list attracting US$633 million. Jamaica was next with US$520 million.
Privatisation of road maintenance hits bumpy road
New extensive privatisation program
Under the program, maintenance work in the form of bushing, clearing of drains and culverts and patching of potholes is carried out on an ongoing basis. The Ministry said the program will be a permanent one in an effort to prevent the island's main roads from falling into disrepair.
Not so good so far
These failures are not surprising. Privatisation (also known as contracting out) of road maintenance has been more a product of anti-government hysteria instead of being merit based. In the State of Virgina, they adopted it extensively. There is no claim that it will save taxpayer money. There is no claim that it will do a better job. It will take 5 years to bring it up to present levels. Often instead of savings to the taxpayer, there is big profits to the contractor usually derived by replacing permanent career workers with temporary-no-benefits workers. Since unions in Jamaica still have a voice, labour unrest was inevitable. Already after 2 years in Virginia, unanticipated problems, so numerous that it rated a series in the Washington Post newspapers, have cropped up. So, why? Why?
In Jamaica and the West Indies, we cannot afford to fail. If we adopt a change, it should have demonstrated a record of accomplishment, rather than be a politically expedient fad.
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World Cup: T&T leads the way
Trinidad and Tobago downed Panama 1-0, while Mexico was held to a 0-0 draw by Canada, to take top spot in Group D of the CONCACAF world cup semifinal round. The rest of teams that qualified to move on to the final round of 6 are Mexico, Jamaica, Honduras, and USA. The 6th spot is still undecided as Guatemala upset Costa Rica 2-1 so that both teams ended up with identical records. A special play-off game will determine which of the two will join the other 5 teams in the final round. The final round is expected to begin in spring of 2001 with the top 3 going on to compete in Japan/Korea, a very tough road.
Aussies humiliate and embarrass WI cricket
By the time the 1st Test began on their tour of Australia, the West Indies
had failed to win a single first class game there. So, it was not surprising that the West
Indies have gone on to lose the first two Tests. Not only did they lose, but they lost in
most humiliating fashion and must now be firmly entrenched as the doormats of test
cricket. So far, star batsman Bryan Lara has made 3 ducks n four test innings!
In 1979 Peter Gresser and his wife Marilyn of Minnesota, US, were celebrating their honeymoon in Jamaica. They accepted the invitation of a 10 year-old boy to visit his school. There they found eager students, but a severe text book shortage. When he went back home to Minneapolis, this postal clerk, with just a high school education but obviously a very big heart, mailed back to the school his 20-year collection of National Geographic magazine. This was the start of something big and wonderful.
By 1988, the Gressers founded The Children's Chance, a volunteer, nonprofit, tax-exempt organization. That year, the first cargo of hundreds of boxes of books was sent to Jamaica. Gresser does not know what happened to the 10-year-old boy he met. But, the shipments have grown at an astounding pace. Eight containers, or about 200,000 books, have been sent this year. The books come from churches, Hennepin County libraries, area school districts and private donations. The Gressers' parish, Peter's Church Spirit of Hope Methodist Church in Golden Valley, makes up a large part of the effort.
Reading materials include paperbacks, children's books and encyclopedia sets. Children's Chance also ships school supplies, stuffed animals and soccer equipment to the island. Haddan Thomas of Minneapolis grew up and lived in Jamaica until 1993. He volunteered this time because he said the help was needed. ``We never had enough books,'' Thomas said. The book-giving also puts a smile on Gresser's face. ``When I close the door of the container at the end of the day -- that's the best feeling,'' he said. ``Or walking into a school or having a child come up to me and say, `Are you the Book Mon?' ''
In a meeting in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, sponsored by the National Environment Planning Agency (NEPA, the Coastal Water Improvement Agency (CWIP), and the Ocho Rios Environmental Advisory Group (OREAG), there was a call to boycott polluters. The meeting prsented data collected on the Ocho Rios coast and the White River showing pollution of the waterways by individuals and businesses such as garages, car washes, and dry cleaning establishments. Let us hope this environmental vigilance and awareness is maintained throughout Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean.
Former Jamaica GG Glasspole dies
Former Jamaica Governor General, Sir Florizel Glasspole, died recently at the age of 91. He was appointed Governor General by Michael Manley in 1972. Tributes have flowed in acknowledging his distinguished career of public service. Some of the highlights of his achievements:
The Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr. Keith Mitchell has lost his court case against one of the leading journalists of that country. The Grenada High Court threw out the criminal libel case against newspaper editor George Worme. Mr. Worme was arrested and charged in September, 1999, in connection with a letter in his newspaper, accusing the Prime Minister of bribing people for votes. The court ruled that the case against Mr. Worme was unconstitutional since it violated his constitutional rights to free expression.
UN General Assembly votes against the US embargo of Cuba, 167-3
Make it now 9 consecutive years. Once again the UN General Assembly has voted
overwhelmingly against the US 38-year-old blockade of Cuba. In another lopsided vote, 167
countries sided with Havana. Only three sided with the US. They were the US, Israel and
the Marshall Islands. There were 4 abstentions.
Del Monte and Tropicana seek Jamaica orange farm
The largest orange farm and export operation in the Caribbean is up for sale. It is the United Estates of Bog Walk in Jamaica. The 5,422 acre farm, , vehicles, buildings and citrus concentrate and juice maunfacturing plant that produces the popular "Tru Juice"has reportedly drawn bids of J$2 billion dollars from US multinational juice giants Del Monte and Tropicana. The sale came as a surprise since the entire crop had been recently replanted because of the citrus Tristeza virus. A recent unfavourable ruling by Industrial Dispute Tribunal (IDT) is suspected to have contributed to the decision. It employs 1,200 seasonal and permanent staff. However, present owners, the McConnell family, say they have no intention of also selling their sugar estate holdings, the Worthy Park Estates.
From 7 miles away spectacular orange flames could be seen lighting up the night sky of the Kingston horizon. It was Petrojam, the Jamaica Government-owned oil refinery, on fire. Fire trucks from 4 stations as well as the water ministrys rapid response units battled the blaze for more than 3 hours, before they got it under control. It could have been much worse. It could have endangered nearby Greenwich Town. But, luckily the fire emanated from an empty kerosene tank. Early estimates are that gasolene production will be reduced by only about 10% because of the quick action and the confinement of the fire.
In Jamaica, thousands of dead fish lined the shoreline, from the Rockfort mineral bath along Harbor Head, to the Palisadoes, leading to the Norman Manley airport. The mystery of these vast number of dead fish, some still gasping for life in the water, did not bother onlookers. Many saw these fish as "mana fom heaven". They disregarded any danger and gleefully scooped them up and it was obviously "fry fish for dinner" that day. It was "eat first and worry afterwards". Nearby gulls disdained the easy pickings however. Environmentalists will try to determine the cause and also whether there is any danger in consuming these fish.