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Dominica’s PM dies of heart attack
Dominica’s Prime Minister collapsed and died on January 6, 2003 of a heart attack. He was 49. He had become the islands 7th Prime Minister in October 2000, when he succeeded Rosie Douglas who had also died in office suddenly. Among the distinguished guests at his funeral were, Haitian President Aristide, PM Owen Arthur of Barbados, Dr. Kenny Anthony of St. Lucia, and Dr. Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Charles is survived by his wife Justina, two children and a number of relatives including 6 brothers and twelve sisters.
Two days after his death, Education Minister Roosvelt Skerritt was sworn in as Prime Minister. He was endorsed by the Dominica Labor Party (DLP) the majority party (10 seats) in the two-party ruling coalition. The other coalition member , ther Dominica Freedom Party has 2 seats ands the opposition United Workers Party has 8.Skerrit has named his new cabinet.
Gang violence virtually shuts down Spanish Town
A strong detachment of police rushed to the scene to get things under control.
So far the death toll is 6 with scores of injuries.
Hospital coping problems
Spanish Town residents protest police superintendent’s transfer
Ironically about a mere week earlier before the Spanish Town gang violence broke out, there was a police protest there, but with a significant difference. It lasted two days. Large number of people blocked roads with the usual debris and created chaos. Police were heckled and verbally abused for trying to clear the debris-blocked roads, which would be blocked again as soon as the police left. Your typical citizen expression, but expensive for the Government, of dissatisfaction. But, the people were not protesting police brutality. This time the mobs were protesting the transfer of the area police superintendent, Harry Daley, from Spanish Town. Apparently he was so highly respected in the community that they were angry at his leaving and were afraid that crime would increase. How prophetic that turned out to be!
There are reports that Supt. Daley was influential in winning back the support of many residents, following a four-day operation by the security forces more than two years ago in sections of the community, which resulted in 27 people being shot dead and more that 30 civilians shot and injured. With the situation threatening to escalate, Supt. Daley pleaded with the residents to desist from blocking the road.
Bush’s new immigration proposal arouses suspicion
President Bush has proposed a new program for illegal immigrants. The
president's temporary worker program would offer undocumented workers
who can show they have a job — or, for those still in their home
countries, a job offer — an initial three-year work permit that would
be renewable for an unspecified period.
Some immigrants were encouraged by the possibility of having some 8 million illegal foreign workers estimated to be in this country granted legal status and the protection of U.S. laws.
But Lucas Benitez, one of the founders of the Coalition of Immokalee
Workers, which represents thousands of immigrants who work mostly in
agriculture and in service sectors in Florida, questioned Mr. Bush's
Of course there is some suspicion this could be a trick to entice out these illegals. Why should this Bush/Ashcroft crowd be trusted? If the undocumented worker’s application is denied, instead of certification he could then face immediate deportation regardless of their specific circumstances. One should really be suspicious on the heels of the scandalous treatment of men from selected Muslim countries by Ashcroft’s INS boys. These men were selectively required to come in and register as aliens. They complied and hundreds of them were locked up and summarily deported. In most cases, it is apparent that the INS arrested men who were simply waiting for approval of their green card applications, or those with minor visa problems caused by incompetence in the agency itself, which has been plagued by an inept bureaucracy for years.
Ja Govt. owes billions
DR. OMAR Davies, Jamaica’s Minister of Finance and Planning has reported that Government ministries and agencies are indebted to suppliers of goods and services to the tune of $4 billion, as of October 31, 2003. A partial breakdown is as follows:
Bad as these figures are, opposition members voiced their fears that it was even worse, especially since it did not include November and December 2003.
Jamaica govt. is owed millions in overdue bills
The Jamaica government is suffering serious financial problems. But, once again we find another government agency unable to collect money due. This delinquency is not from just the small man but from thousands of commercial firms. These firms owe at least a total of J$54 million. According to the Office of the Registrar of Companies (ORC) only 8,000 companies out of an estimated 60, 000 companies of which 27,000 are active, have paid their required registration fees.
Last year, some 400 lawsuits were filed in the Supreme Court against delinquent companies with December alone accounting for 70 cases. But the court can take a lot of time and many persons did not obey the court orders to pay their outstanding returns. The ORC was now moving to obtain warrants of commitments for company directors who disobeyed the court orders.
Editor’s Comment: The government can’t run on charity. Maybe they need to employ a hostile American style collection agency that can recover these monies for 10% of the money collected.
CARICOM issues ultimatum to Aristide
CARICOM leaders have issued an ultimatum to Haitian President, Jean Bertrand Aristide, to restore order in the country or face economic sanctions. T&T President Patrick Manning conveyed this message which arose from a two-day meeting in the Bahamas with Haitian dissidents. CARICOM leaders have drawn up a list of things they insist the embattled president must do to resolve the crisis he faces at home or CARICOM will impose economic sanctions.
Opposition groups have been engaged in mounting protests to force Aristide to step down. He has been ruling under presidential decree following the dissolution of Parliament, and has announced that he will be serving out his elected term which ends in 2006. Haiti is the newest and most populous member of the 15-member CARICOM bloc.
But what the world¹s media has reported as an overnight sensation has, in fact, been brewing since May 2000 when defeated political parties refused to recognise the results of parliamentary and local government elections. They claimed the landslide election victory by Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Lavalas Family Party was achieved through fraud and vote-rigging.
Uniting in the Democratic Convergence coalition, the opposition parties then boycotted the presidential election in November 2000 on the grounds that it, too, would be rigged. Aristide, whose first term as President had expired in early 1996 and who, according to Haiti¹s constitution, could not hold office for consecutive terms, stood more or less unopposed. He was duly returned to the National Palace and begun a second five-year mandate in February 2001.
However, the Democratic Convergence never acknowledged his legitimacy. International aid to the Government has been suspended as lenders and donors have followed the opposition parties' line and questioned the Government¹s democratic credentials. In what is by far the poorest country in the whole of the Americas, the suspension of most foreign aid has hit the country's eight million people hard.
Sugar battle with the WTO looms
Caribbean sugar producers will soon face the case brought against them by Australia, Brazil and Thailand regarding the European Commission’s sugar regime. The Caribbean, African and Pacific (ACP) benefit from this regime and the plaintiff countries are fighting it.
The case will be heard by a WTO panel, a non-partisan dispute mechanism, which will be made up of representatives from Chile, Japan and the United States, and will likely commence its work in another six to eight weeks. However, the process itself can take anywhere between 23 and 34 weeks before a final report is prepared.
The Caribbean lost the banana war in similar fashion and sugar could and is likely to go the same way. Even at these protected prices, the sugar industry is not making much of a profit. Sugar is already losing favor in the Caribbean. Cuba has cut back production drastically. Sugar exporting countries like Jamaica and Barbados have recently been forced to import it. Even then a ruling against could be catastrophic for the industry in the Caribbean. It is still a major employer. In Jamaica, for instance, the industry realized revenues of US$75 million and provided over 40,000 jobs last year.
Jamaica Food For the Poor provides home for the poor
Food for the Poor in Jamaica has launched its newest accomadation for the homeless in Kingston. They have renovated the Golden Age Home. The charity organization has spent 13 years feeding hundreds of homeless persons in downtown Kingston and its environs. Together with the Salvation Army they feed about 700 people.
Food for the Poor already sponsors two other accommodations for homeless. This new facility will start off with 7 men and 7 women but has a capacity of 77.
The building was painted free of charge thanks to paint donation from the Sherwin Williams paint company and the painting services of a contractor.
Plans are underway to teach the residents chicken rearing and how to sew.
Ja Govt. tells schools, "The check’s in the mail"
"The check is in the mail." That is the word from the Jamaica Ministry of Education to principals of the upgraded schools, who were grappling to keep their schools open because promised government money did not come. This government money represents funds under the cost-sharing program and the Program of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH). Earlier this year, the Ministry of Education reported that:
For now the financial crisis of these upgraded schools seems to have
been averted . Previously, although these funds were due in January, the
government informed that payment was to be delayed until March.
Leaf spot disease hurt Windward Isles banana industry
According to an official of the Windward Islands Banana Development and Exporting Company (WIBDECO) over 30,000 boxes of bananas were dumped in a week because they were infected with leaf spot disease. the dumping of the fruit resulted in a huge financial loss to the SLBC, which was paid substantially less for its fruit than it had projected. The banana industry is already reeling from the loss in the banana war so this leaf spot problem is especially tough. The failure of farmers to get involved in a co-ordinated approach to deal with the infestation had also worsened the situation. In St. Lucia banana companies had apparently ignored a suggestion from Agriculture Minister Calixte George that they form an organisation that would essentially control the infestation of leaf spot in St. Lucia. Some farmers believed that they could have undertaken that responsibility on their own, despite the cautions from government and management to the contrary, and the result of their stubbornness has been heavy losses for farmers and the industry.
Over half of Jamaica’s nursing homes illegal
The Jamaica Ministry reported recently that that 55 per cent of the total 109 homes for the aged and those classified as nursing homes are illegal as they are not registered. This is in spite of the fact that the Government increased fines recently to discourage not registering. It’s even worse as Government inspection revealed that:
Japan to cut aid to U.N. in 2006
Japan, a major United Nations financier, plans to substantially cut its contributions to the global organization beginning in 2006. Tokyo is expected to spend about $1.24 billion on the United Nations during the next fiscal year, which begins in April. The sum accounts for nearly one-fifth of the U.N. budget. Its current payment represents about 19% of the UN budget and is expected to drop to about 15%. Japans faltering economy and resistance in the UN Nations to Japan's request for a permanent seat on the Security Council are contributing factors.
Editors Note: But now they are sending troops to Iraq in virtual violation of Japanese law. Another blow to the UN!
Latin American leaders blast US-imposed policies on hemisphere
Latin American leaders told President Bush at the recent concluded Summit on the Americas in Mexico that "perverse" economic policies imposed by Washington had failed their countries, mired in debt and poverty. They blamed rampant free market policies for doing nothing to ease poverty and had forced countries like Argentina into deep crisis. In the words of Brazil president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva,
"…..a perverse model that wrongly separated the economic from the social, put stability against growth and separated responsibility and justice. Economic stability turned its back on social justice."
Even backers of free trade, Brazil and Argentina, were fiercely critical of U.S. trade policy, saying Washington's own massive agricultural subsidies effectively block access to the lucrative U.S. market.
Bauxite company in Jamaica sets production record
At last, some good news on the industrial front in Jamaica. Alumina Partners of Jamaica (Alpart) had a record production year for 2003 with a total of 1,529,100 metric tons of alumina produced at an average 4,189 tons per day. The 2003 performance surpasses the previous annual best production of 1,508,500 tons recorded in 1999, and represents a 6.9 per cent increase of 98,400 tons over the 2002 total of 1,430,700 tons.
The company attributed the increased capacity to the equipment and installation upgrade generated by a US$21 million in capital expenditures funded over the last year by the partners, Kaiser Aluminum and Hydro Aluminium. Alpart is Jamaica's largest alumina plant and is one of the largest foreign exchange earners for the Government of Jamaica, pumping over US$100 million into the economy each year.
Creditors seize Italian cruise ship in Barbados
The Italian cruise ship "European Vision" was seized in Bridgetown, Barbados, on behalf of its creditors. As a result over 1300 passengers and 650 crew members were stranded on the island. Coincidentally the Queen Mary 2 was also in port full of revelers celebrating that liner’s maiden voyage. The Queen Mary 2 is now the worlds largest cruise ship.
South Africa humbles WI in Test cricket series
The disaster that is West Indies test cricket continues. The WI barely managed a draw in Test 3 but were routed in the 4th as South Africa took the series 3 wins and 1 draw. There seems to be three problems with the WI cricket team. One, they can’t bat. Two, they can’t bowl, and three, they can’t field. Lara and Gayle had good series but generally whenever the South Afrtican bowlers really needed to, they ran through the WI batsmen. WI bowlers seldom if ever during the series were able to get the South African team all-out. In the field, WI dropped a bunch of catches. Let us hope there is a light at the end of this long dark tunnel.
Test 3 (Draw)
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