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cover River Woman by Donna Hemans ... $16.10
  The Rio Minho in Jamaica provides much more than a setting for this potent, accomplished debut by Jamaican-born Donna Hemans.


cover  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.



December 2003

The truth Shall Set You Free – Revolutionary Diplomacy

The most profound statement made about international policy  this year which could have far-reaching effects on solving international relations problems was made by the President of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo. The irony is that it went virtually unnoticed. When faced with the threat by George Bush to cut off military aid if Guyana or any country did not vote to exempt Americans from prosecution by the International Court of Justice, President Jagdeo said words to the effect that "I will sign the exemption because I need the military aid."

This could and should herald a whole new diplomatic offensive which could actually pave the way for the preservation of the sovereignty of nations. A revolutionary tactic, the tactic of complete honesty. Fight blatant extortion with blatant honesty. If all the countries, that have been forced to sign this exemption and others which will also be forced to do so, made that declaration publicly, that would:

  • comply with the Bush extortion
  • undermine the validity of their signatures and would be like a forced confession in a court of law.

 If Britain’s Tony Blair had adopted this policy, we might not have that vicious unjustified war against Iraq. Complete honesty would have probably averted the war. By adopting this policy Blair would have declared publicly:

"I do not think that the evidence against Sadam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction or being in cahoots with Al Qaeda is strong enough, but I will support America because:

  • America is a big and powerful superpower
  • America might be angry if we do not support them and it is not good to piss-off the only superpower
  • America might be so grateful that we might get some of the oil spoils of the war or other benefits from them.
  • America might take reprisals if we do not support them, such as boycotting British goods
  • Our close association with America might give us worldwide respect and influence militarily."

 I am sure if Blair and the other coalition leaders had adopted this "truth" policy, they would not only have averted war but also would have retained the respect and support of their constituents who saw the real "truth" as evidenced by worldwide demonstrations. Right now, with the UN rendered irrelevant, the only way for nations to preserve any sovereignty at all, is to adopt President Jagdeo’s revolutionary "truth" policy. To make a minor adjustment to the Biblical admonition, "Ye shall know say the truth and the truth shall set you free."

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Haiti demands reparations from France

"We demand reparations, restitution. France, pay me my money, $21,685,135,571.48."

Haiti is making serious efforts to get France to pay restitution of nearly $22 billion. France colonized the Caribbean nation in the 17th century and imported African slaves to work the sugar cane and coffee plantations. The slaves rebelled, killing or driving out their French rulers, and Haiti declared independence in 1804. France demanded 150 million francs as compensation for the loss of its colony and the Haitian government paid 90 million of that, enough to plunge the country deeply into debt for decades. Restitution has become a rallying cry in Haiti.

In April 2003, President Jean-Bertrand demanded that France pay restitution, specifying the above sum, which takes into account inflation and interest. Since then talks have been taking place with France on the subject.

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"Police inna Jamaica"

It is very fashionable these days to lump all politicians together as bad. This is not so. There are bad politicians and good politicians. Good politicians need and deserve our support. Likewise there are bad cops and good fair hard-working dedicated cops. These good cops also need and deserve our support.

The recent killings and injury of innocent persons by police recently in Flanders near Montego Bay in Jamaica which triggered riots has also unleashed an avalanche of anti-police sentiment especially led by the Jamaica media. This outrage is understandable but it has made the job of good cops even worse.

The crime-fighting job in Jamaica is already one of the worst jobs in the world. Just a few days before the unfortunate police killings, and only a few miles away in Canterbury, the police had to fight for their lives in an 8-hour gun battle against a crime gang armed to the teeth with high-powered rifles. Already I hear calls again for overseas experts but police in the US or the UK never engage in such battles. No more outside experts please!

Cops in Jamaica must contend with low morale, low pay, inadequate equipment, a hostile uncaring public. Right now in Black River, telephone service in the police station  is disconnected for non-payment of bills and the policemen must use their own personal cell phones. About 11 other stations in Jamaica have the same problem.

But worst of all, good cops in Jamaica must contend with politicians like the ‘indispensable" leader of the Jamaica Labour Party, Edward Seaga, exploiting public distrust of the police to deliberately whip up his partisans to violence against police for political expediency. For this Seaga gets good political mileage, brings Jamaica closer to anarchy and to being ungovernable, but he gets virtually no criticism. No wonder cops are targets of some brutal murders with an average of about 1 per month. In the latest on November 8, a 47 year-old police inspector was stabbed to death 79 times in his home. The treatment by Seaga of cops as subservient to him is one of the greatest causes of the whole police problem in Jamaica and no person or organization in Jamaica dares to admit it, especially Jamaicans for Justice.

Good cops in Jamaica are in the battle of their lives and also for the life of Jamaica against some powerful crime gangs and are barely winning. Crime plan after crime plan, with the best of intentions, seem to fail. The police will lose that battle without public support and cooperation. That is the reality. The anti-police hysteria, though well-meaning and understandable, is inevitably undermining the work of good cops and helping to hand over Jamaica to powerful criminal elements. We had better not lose sight of the big picture here as Jamaica’s very survival could be at stake.

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Grenada Elections

Grenada’s Prime Minister Keith Mitchell won an unprecedented third term in the recent general elections but in a much closer race this time. Formerly his party, the New National Party, controlled all 15 of the seats but this time it won eight. The remaining 7 seats were won by the opposition National Democratic Congress.

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Extortion and murders hamper construction projects in Jamaica

In Jamaica, The National Works Agency (NWA) is reporting that so far this year, close to 50 persons have lost their lives due to the extortion and political activists' involvement in projects. In a report from the Sunday Gleaner, several contractors reveal that they have had to suspend operations on a number of roadwork projects across the Kingston area of Jamaica as heavy extortion fees, along with political demands for work, continue to choke their progress.
This extortion, usually in the form of protection money has become virtually a regular expense item. One source estimates it is costing the industry about $5 billion annually. Among the projects affected are:

  • Extortionists are demanding $5 million before major rehabilitation of the Tinson Pen Gully in Kingston can be carried out.

  • Work on a section of the Sandy Gully Bridge, in the vicinity of Riverton Meadows on Spanish Town Road, was forced to a halt after contractors refused to pay up a monthly fee of $1 million to extortionists.

  • Rehabilitative work on the stretch of road between the Three Miles area and Maxfield Avenue and Maxfield Avenue to Darling Street in Kingston was stalled for some four months, due to the demands from extortionists of up to $400,000, fortnightly. That contract was valued at $50 million.

 The police have their hands full complicated by the fact that contractors are afraid to come forward. Recently the MP for one of the affected areas in the parish of St. Andrew, Andrew Gallimore, had the gall to suggest that contractors should work with area leaders and politicians to prevent extortion murders. Fortunately, his advice to give in has been rejected.

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 Carib countries face unfair treatment from OECD

The double standard is alive and well. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)of the European Union require rules to guarantee complete transparency in banking. The Caribbean countries comply but recently the EU gave exemptions to four of its member countries, Luxembourg, Austria, Belgium and Switzerland.

Antigua and Barbuda has a lot invested in these offshore banks. Recently its banking representative, Sir Ronald Sanders, told the BBC that the Caribbean region would not be cooperating with the OECD unless the same standards were used as those used in rich countries. He also accused the OECD of using scare tactics in dealing with smaller countries.

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Privatised water comes to Jamaica

Privatisation of Jamaica water is underway. Two entrepreneurs have been granted temporary licenses by the National Water Comission (NWC) to supply water to certain regions. One of these entrepreneurs is Michael White, a hydrology consultant who supplies St. Ann. While the NWC reports that it is unable to collect water rates,  Mr White reports a collection rate of 95%. In addition he reports:

  • His operational costs are not very high

  • He resuscitated a spring abandoned by the NWC

  • He uses solar generated power to keep cost low

  • He charged customers 42% less

  • He stated the service is reliable

However he conceded that the company lost money in the 2 years of operation but prospects are rosy.

Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? The question is why couldn’t the NWC hire this consultant to improve the water supply nationally rather than selling it out bit by bit? Beware! Privatized water might come in like lambs, but once it gains dominance, it could become ravening wolves. This was the experience in Bolivia, which faced bloody riots as people saw their privatized water bill rise by 200% and the government had to send the private supplier packing.

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US condemns education in the Caribbean and Latin America

According to the US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega, schools in Latin America and the Caribbean are simply not educating the young. According to Mr. Noriega, the best school systems in the region fall in the bottom quartile of worldwide achievement tests. Among the dismal statistics for these regions he cited:

  • Enrollment in schools are increasing but fewer are completing their studies.

  • Half of the students who enter primary fail to make it to the 5th grade and only 30% finish secondary school

  • The region has the highest dropout rate in the world

  • The Latin American workforce averages less than 6 years, 2 years less than in developing countries.


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More women in Jamaican workforce

In Jamaica, we have reported how for years now women have been dominating gradation numbers on both high school and university levels. Now according to the latest statistics, the number of women in the workforce has risen dramatically to equal men. If this trend continues they could surpass men. According to these studies

  • Women comprise 75% of managers in certain sectors like information technology, human resource management, accounting, and sales and marketing

  • 70% of university graduates

However, Former mayor of Spanish Town and general secretary of the PNP Women's Movement, Jennifer Edwards, contends that women still have a way to go, and still face sexual discrimination and stereotyping . She points out that despite the progress:

  • There are 3,972 Justices of the Peace in Jamaica, 2,861 of them are men.

  • All the chairmen of public companies in Jamaica are men

  • 90 per cent of the members of public companies are men

  • 97 per cent of the managing directors of public companies are men

  • 72 per cent of the board members of statutory bodies are men

  • 11 of 14 general secretaries in trade unions are men

  • 223 of the 294 members of the NEC of the PNP are men

  • 53 of the 60 parliamentarians are men

  • 173 of the 227 parish councilors are men.

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 Cancer killing sponge in Bahamian waters

Scientists from the Harbour Branch Oceanographic Institution, HBOI, are reporting that ample quantities of a sponge that reportedly can kill cancer cells have been discovered in waters off the Bahamas.

The find was reported in an expedition that ended last Friday and culminated almost 20 years of exploration. Scientists probing the area in 1984 first spotted a small piece of the sponge containing a chemical with anti-cancer properties. However, they were unable to find enough of the sponge to fully realize its potential.

According to the scientists, a chemical produced by the sponge, which has not yet been given an official name, has proven in one test to be about 400 times more potent than Taxol, a widely-used treatment for breast and other forms of cancer. Preliminary experiments have also shown the compound to be fairly non-toxic to normal cells.

If the chemical continues to show promise, it will eventually be licensed to a pharmaceutical company (who will then overcharge us for it). But according to HBOI researchers, the full process of turning the chemical into a commercially available cancer treatment could take more than ten years.

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Overseas textbook printer wants $11 million more

Guess what? The overseas textbook printer that beat out local Jamaican printers for the Jamaica Education Department contract wants $11 million more. The original contract was approved at $51 million by Cabinet. The bid-winning printer, Von Hoffmann, beat out its closest competitor, The Gleaner Company Ltd. by $3 million, to become the first overseas company to take on the textbook project since its start in the 1980s (see November Hot Calaloo update).

As you may recall, Hot Calaloo deplored such a sale to an overseas company at the expense of Jamaican jobs and hopes this mistake will not be repeated.

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 Jamaica Bureau of Standards takes Mirant’s JPSCo to court

The Jamaica Bureau of Standards is about to file charges against Jamaica’s electric company, the Jamaica Public Services Company, for not enabling them to inspect their meters. The Bureau said it is receiving numerous complaints from members of the commercial sector and the general public about the inaccuracies and lack of confidence of the JPSCo's meters. JPSCo was recently bought by international giant corporation, which recently declared bankruptcy, Mirant.

It supplies energy in California. The Silicon Valley Journal reports that in California about a year ago 14 lawsuits were filed against Mirant alleging the company made material misrepresentations and omissions to investors about its operations and future prospects from Jan. 19, 2001 through May 6, 2002, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mirant, like the infamous Enron, was one of the major players in California's 2001 energy crisis and continues to supply electricity to the state. The complaints seek unspecified damages, including compensatory damages and the recovery of reasonable attorneys' fees and costs.

The Atlanta-based energy company also reported in its filing that six rate payer lawsuits have been filed since May 10 alleging that certain owners of electric generation facilities in California, as well as Mirant and several of its subsidiaries, engaged in various unlawful and fraudulent business acts to manipulate wholesale markets and inflate wholesale electricity prices in California. One complaint also alleges violation of California's anti-trust statute. Each of the plaintiffs seeks class action status for their respective case. The actions seek restitution, compensatory and general damages, and to enjoin the defendants from engaging in illegal conduct.

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McDonalds doesn't like McJob

McDonald's has expressed its outrage over how the latest Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary describes job prospects at the US fast-food giant.

In its latest edition, the dictionary defines the term McJob as "low-paying and dead-end work".

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UN General Assembly votes against embargo on Cuba

For the 12th straight year, the UN General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly against Washington's four-decade old economic embargo against Cuba. The vote was 179 to 3 with 2 abstentions. Opposing the resolution on Tuesday were the United States, Israel and the Marshall Islands while Morocco and Micronesia abstained. The 15 members of the European Union along with such allies as Japan, Canada and Australia all voted for the resolution, as did New Zealand. Resolutions of the General Assembly, unlike the exclusive Security Council, are not mandatory but express the will of the international community.

Cuba has been under a US trade and travel embargo since Fidel Castro defeated a CIA-backed assault at the Bay of Pigs in 1961.

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West Indies take Test series vs Zimbabwe 1-0

The West Indies took the 2-game test cricket series against hosts Zimbabwe by 1 to 0. After holding on desperately to draw the first Test, they won the 2nd. Besides deciding the series outcome, the second Test was especially be memorable to West Indies captain Brian Lara. It was his first victory in an overseas Test as West Indies captain and he scored his 22nd Test hundred, a stroke-filled 191, that won him the Man-of-the-Match award and made him the leading scorer for West Indies in Tests with 8,625, surpassing Sir Vivian Richards' aggregate.

2nd Test (WI won by128)
1st  Innings: West Indies 481 (Lara 191, Hinds 81, Sarwan 65, Blignaut 4 for 86); Zimbabwe 377 (Vermeulen 118, Wishart 96, Collymore 4 for 70)

2nd Innings: WI 128 (Price 4 for 36; Zimbabwe 104

1st Test  (draw)
1st  Innings: Zimbabwe 507 (Streak 127 n.o., Blignaut 91, Taibu 83, Matsikenyeri 57, Edwards 5 for 133); WI 335 (Hinds 79, Ganga 73, Price 6 for 73);

2nd Innings: Zimbabwe 200 for 7 dec. (Matsikenyeri 46 n.o., Drakes 4 for 67); WI 207 for 9 (Jacobs 60 n.o., Price 4 for 88)

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 Rummy wins Foot in Mouth award

The annual Foot in Mouth awards have been announced.
And the winner and new champion is US Secretary of Defense Donald "Rummy" Rumsfield for:

"Reports that say something hasn't happened are interesting to me, because as we know, there are known unknowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know."

And the runner-up is Governor of the State of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger for:

"I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman".

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 JFF elects new president

Captain Horace Burrel was defeated as president of the Jamaica Football Federation in recent elections. He had served as president since 1994 and led Jamaica to the 1998 World Cup in France. The new president is Crenston Boxhill.


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