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JLP leader Seaga to quit
The leader of the opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has announced that he will resign as leader of the party at the JLP annual conference at the end of the year. It will end a reign of 30 years and even then it has not come peacefully. His resignation has come in the wake of months of public bickering within the JLP as well as unyielding calls for him to step down and make way for fresh leadership to take the party out of 15 years of political opposition.
The 76-year-old Seaga did not indicate in his statement whether he was also relinquishing his positions as Member of Parliament and Opposition Leader. But since then Karl Samuda, JLP General Secretary, confirmed that the outgoing party leader would also relinquish the position of Opposition Leader after the November conference, while remaining as MP for Western Kingston. Prime Minister PJ Patterson has already announced long ago his intention to step down from leadership of the Peoples National Party at the end of his current term, which obviously spurred JLP executives to seek their formerly ‘indispensable’ leader to do likewise.
Guyana "death squad" informant gunned down
He warned that his life was in danger and his warning came true. Self confessed ‘death squad’ informant George Bacchus was shot dead in his Gerogetown, Guyana home in what seemed to be a well-planned pre-dawn execution. Police said he was shot in the head and body. Police have arrested four men for the murder.
Bacchus grabbed the media spotlight first when days after his younger brother, 45-year-old cattle farmer, Shafeek Bacchus, was gunned down in front of the same yard on January 5 this year. After reports in the media that the gunmen had declared that they had shot the "wrong man", George Bacchus came out with the allegations that he was the intended victim. He fingered three men in the killing of his brother who were then arrested. One died since, after falling ill.
Bacchus achieved even greater notoriety when he then claimed he was the key informant for the `Phantom Squad’, an alleged group of `for-hire’ vigilantes whom he charged was responsible for the murder of close to 40 men, many of whom were wanted by the police.
Bacchus further claimed that he himself was key informant for the group until the hit men began to target individuals unconnected with any crime.
But the most incendiary of all, Bacchus accused Home Affairs Minister, Mr. Ronald Gajraj of starting the death squad in the wake of the 2002-2003 crime spree, a charge that the minister dismissed as "mere allegations" and without merit. But, the charge would not go away. Bacchus’ subsequent appearances in the media led to calls from several political parties – most notably the main opposition PNCR – and civil society organisations for the minister to step aside or resign to facilitate a Commission of Inquiry into the allegations.
Some of the fallout from the resulting media furor was the revocation of the U.S. and Canadian visas of Minister Gajraj as well as the U.S. visas of several other officials. (What a nerve! Double standard by US rears its ugly head as the presumption of innocence is discarded when dealing with Caribbean states.) The minister offered to go on leave to allow an impartial investigation into the allegations against him. President Bharrat Jagdeo last month appointed a three-member commission consisting of Justice of Appeal, Mr. Ian Chang; Mr. Ivan Crandon; and Mr. Norman MacLean, to spearhead an inquiry into the allegations by Bacchus.
Now this death has put the Minister under even more suspicion. Even the conditions surrounding the death itself seemed odd as according to a Bacchus neighbor who heard the fatal gunshots who said that:
The plot gets even thicker. Prior to his death, George Bacchus was most recently in the news in relation to an as yet unaired video tape on which he recanted his allegations against Minister Gajraj. According to PPP/Civic Member of Parliament, Ms. Shirley Edwards, Bacchus approached her to facilitate the renouncement of his previous allegations against the minister. Bacchus later admitted to having made the tape but claimed he was offered $10,000,000 and safe passage out of the country to do it.
From police comments, they seem to have considered Bacchus suspicious and untrustworthy. Also, that he did not ask them for police protection nor did he make any specific charges to them electing to go to the media instead. However, they have vowed a thorough investigation wherever it leads. Meanwhile the hue and cry for the resignation of Minister Gajrag has gotten a lot louder especially from the opposition Peoples National Congress.
Jamaica hotel chain bows to US pressure
In late May, the George W. Bush administration notified the Issa-owned resort SuperClubs that its top officers, their children and spouses would be denied entry into the United States because of investments the company made on property confiscated from Americans in Cuba. The result is that The Superclubs resort chain has pulled out of its real estate investments in the Breezes Custo Verde and the Grand Lido Varadero hotels in Cuba. They have completely acquiesced to the international political pressure applied by the U.S. State Department under the notorious Helms Burton law.
Another kidnapping in T&T
Less than 24 hours after police held four people including a woman in the abduction of a three-year-old toddler, authorities began probing another kidnapping in Trinidad and Tobago. This time it was a 71-year-old gas station owner. The Anti-Kidnapping Squad moved quickly and rescued the man based on a tip. He was found in a wooden shack unhurt.
The police said no ransom had been paid for the man, who was at his gas station in the capital Port of Spain when three men shoved him into a car and sped off. No one has been arrested in connection with the kidnapping.
CARICOM exports to EU decrease
According to figures released by the Barbados-based Delegation of the
European Commission in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Tuesday CARICOM
exports to Europe have declined. The report said exports declined by 20
per cent in 2003 as compared to the corresponding period the year before.
The value of exports from CARICOM countries totalled $US 2 billion last
year, compared to the $US 3.6 billion the previous year.
OECS Chief Justice given prominent int'l role
The Chief Justice of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS),
Supreme Court, Sir Dennis Byron, has been appointed a judge of the
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Sir Dennis will be based in
Tanzania where the Tribunal sits.
Ironically while Caribbean jurists are carving a path of glory on the international scene, the formation of the Caribbean Court of Justice is still encountering opposition. However, in Jamaica the Jamaica Court of Appeal ruled recently that Parliament was not breaching any constitutional provisions by introducing Bills to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as a replacement for the United Kingdom-based Privy Council, Jamaica's final appellate court. This opposition to the CCJ includes JLP Opposition leader, Mr. Seaga, the Jamaican Bar Association, the Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights and the lobby group Jamaicans for Justice.
Haiti Update – Legitimate Prime Minister arrested
(The US media would have you forget and ignore the US partnership with terrorists in Haiti, but Hot Calaloo will not.)
The George bush battle against so called terrorism goes on alongside his battle against democracy in Haiti. The legitimate Prime Minister of Haiti under Aristide, Yvon Neptune, and prominent Haitian singer Annette Auguste (So Anne) has been arrested by the new US-backed regime in Haiti. The Prime minister now occupies a cell in Port au Prince beside one with Jocelerme Privert, the interior minister under Aristide. Mr. Privert has not seen a judge since being detained in April on similar accusations. At least five other Aristide officials are in the same prison. Meanwhile convicted terrorists roam freely.
Since President Aristide's removal, the new US-backed Haitian regime has unleashed a campaign of terror, particularly against supporters of Aristide's Lavalas party. One report from the National Lawyer's Guild found that over a thousand bodies were dumped in a mass grave by the state morgue in March.
Now that the US has deposed the legitimate government, it is allowing UN troops to come in. These UN peacekeepers have already begun taking over from the US-led multi-national force in flood-devastated Haiti. Brazilian troops are leading the force of eight thousand UN soldiers and civilian police, although it is likely to be a month before they are all in place. The troops will be responsible for ensuring security and maintaining the country's fragile peace. They will also be assisting flood survivors.
Freedom of the press and Grenada
A videotape of Prime minister Keith Mitchell supposedly taking a
briefcase of money from a known international German con-man has cast
Grenada into a serious confrontation between the Government and freedom of
the press. Tension between Grenada’s Government and the country’s
media has led to the resignation of head of news at Grenada Broadcasting
Network Odette Campbell. Ms. Campbell was suspended after she protested
against government restrictions on the media. The restrictions related to
the coverage of the scandal involving the country’s Prime Minster, Keith
Editor’s Comment: Freedom of the press is a very important foundation of democracy. But recently we have seen in both Haiti and in Venezuela how by operating under the guise of freedom of the press, legitimate democracy can be undermined and overthrown. A rich biased media, especially TV, can give the public a biased incendiary steady diet of one-sided reporting to deliberately foster unrest. A government, especially with no or a very basic TV resources has virtually no defense. This helped to topple Aristide in Haiti and Chavez in Venezuela (See the documentary "The Revelotion Will Not Be Televised". Fortunately, Chavez was restored to power by the people, but readers should be aware of this new sophisticated rich powerful threat to democracy everywhere. It is not a coincidence that people like international magnate Rupert Murdoch is buying up media all over the world and big corporations like Clear Channels owns over 1200 radio stations in the US. Of course, this is not probably the case in Grenada, but we had better be on our guard.
Krosfyah bans DJ from playing its music
In Barbados popular soca band Krosfyah which has taken the unusual step
of banning a radio DJ from playing its music on his program. The band sent
a letter to the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation which stated it did not
want DJ Tony 'Admiral' Nelson, to play its music.
Queen Elizabeth knights Jamaican-born opera singer
Jamaican-born Willard White, 57, has been knighted by the Queen of
England. Sir Willard, who made his professional debut 30 years ago, was
among the list of persons named on the Queen's birthday honours list for
this year. Sir Willard studied at the Jamaica School of Music and
Juilliard in New York. Regarded as one of the world's great bass singers,
Sir Willard began his professional career in 1974. He made his debut with
New York City Opera as Colline in La Bohème. His first appearance in a
London opera was with English National Opera as Seneca in Monteverdi's
L'Incoronazione di Poppea.
Guyanese takes world boxing title
The title fight was billed as the historic "Clash in the Park" at Guyana’s National Park on May 29, 2004. When it was all over Guyana’s Gwendolyn "Stealth Bomber" O’Neil defeated American Kathy Rivers by unanimous decision to become the world champion boxer for women. She has been the toast of Guyana, been presented with many gifts including a middle income house lot and $5 million towards its construction in honour of being Guyana’s first female world champion.
Food For The Poor to helps 60,000 small farmers in Jamaica
Food For the Poor has launched even another new impressive program in Jamaica. About 60,000 small farmers from across Jamaica will benefit from a half-a-billion-dollar project being offered by Food For The Poor.
The $500-million Rural Economic Agricultural Program (REAP) will cater
to farmers who own anywhere from less-than-an acre of land to a maximum of
15 acres and will impact upon 250,000 members of farming families.
REAP is a project between Food For The Poor and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The program is designed to benefit farmers and their families, children in schools, community organisations and urban gardens. The USDA, he stressed, will not provide actual cash for the program but will provide seeds, farm tools, groceries and agricultural supplies for the farmers. More than 11,000 tons of material - including an assortment of vegetable and flower seeds - will be distributed to farmers every year while the program continues. On a monthly basis, Food For The Poor will provide technical assistance in each parish, helping farmers establish model garden plots.
Food For The Poor, working with the ministry of agriculture, Jamaica Agricultural Society, CASE and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority, will offer a minimum of 10 seminars to teach farmers crop diversification, alternative methods and marketing techniques. Additionally, the ministry will educate farmers on:
In six weeks time, Food For The Poor will import 11,000 metric tons of seeds, food and tools for distribution, provide growth and garden training and pay farmers any costs associated with their gardens.
Deportees are coming
Jamaica is bracing for mass deportation of Jamaicans from both England and the USA. One thousand Jamaicans in British jails had their prison time cut in order to be deported within weeks. In America the number is expected to be even higher. Jamaican officials have made it clear that they want assurances that all are really Jamaican citizens. This is a matter of great concern as previous deportees have been blamed for the tremendous rise in the crime rate.
Upon arrival in Jamaica, the deportees are processed by the local police before being let out into society. Some of those processed have been immediately arrested, as they were identified as absconding bail or have charges against them still outstanding.
UK and US write off $ billions of Guyana debt
THE United Kingdom (UK) has announced the writing off of 100 percent of the commercial debt owed by Guyana to that country. The sum amounts to $12.14 billion or 34,024,792.84 pounds sterling. The move by Britain is part of the UK's commitment and support for countries that qualify for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiatives (HIPC).
Similarly, the US has forgiven Guyana's debt to the tune of US$35.6 million (more than G$7 billion). US officials describe it as an act of generosity in order to reward Guyana for its ongoing commitment to encouraging economic growth and development.
Editor’s Comment: This is wonderful but I hope there is no pound of flesh to extract nor any hoops through which to jump. As Bob Marley reminds "Time alone, time will tell……"
Pit bulls kill woman in T&T
AN 80-year-old woman who was mauled and killed by two pit bulls recently in Trinidad. The victim, Chandrouttie "Aji" Beera spent most of her time taking care of her home garden on Dam Road, Longdenville. It was in this garden that she spent the last few hours of her life before she was attacked by the two pit bulls.
According to reports, she was home alone attending to her beloved plants when at around 3.30 that afternoon the dogs jumped over the fence and pounced on her. The villagers came to her rescue and managed to kill one of the dogs but the other one got away. The old woman was rushed to the Chaguanas Health Facility in critical condition where she subsequently died.
The villagers were so traumatised over the incident they spent all of that evening searching for the remaining dog. The village was already concerned over the presence of the pit bulls in their community as recently two young dogs were killed by a pit bull from the area.
Back in 2000 then attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj piloted the Dangerous Dogs Act which said that the person should have a licence and insurance for pit bulls which have been identified as dangerous dogs.
Gay bashing dancehall lyrics generate protests in UK
Prominent Jamaican dancehall artistes still continue to jeopardize their careers internationally by their persistence with gay-bashing lyrics. The UK gay rights activists are not taking it lightly. They are claiming a major victory on the back of the cancellation of a Beenie Man concert recently. And they have declared their intention to wreck the careers of the dancehall's most notable stars, including Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Vybes Kartel, Capleton and Elephant Man.
And once again we hear the old line by these dancehall artists that they are fulfilling some biblical justification of God’s word. Their religious duty! Get real! These artists probably have never seen the inside of a church in their life. They also cite freedom of speech to humiliate, deride and even menace gays. Of course, unfortunately, they are only reflecting the culture in Jamaica in which this gay bashing is acceptable. There is a conspiracy of silence from groups and organizations there who should speak out against this blatant human rights abuse.
Here in America it would be a hate crime, while in Jamaica it is considered normal practice. Also here in America, the main groups that bash gays are the worst anti-black racists usually. I hate to think of my fellow Jamaicans in this type of company ideologically.
Even electricity is stolen in Jamaica
"Dem wi steal even milk out of coffee!" Well in Jamaica, even electricity is not safe from thieves.
IN SPITE of its continuing crackdown on illegal connections by residential and commercial customers, the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPSCo.), is still reporting losses of US$20 million ($1.2 billion), nine per cent of which is attributable to customers who continue to make illegal connections. Since the start of the year, 16,805 illegal connections have been removed, and over a hundred persons are set to face the courts. However, the utility company continues to rack up enormous losses due to electricity theft. According to the JPSCo., as much as US$1.8 million is lost to electricity theft performed by those who continue to 'beat the system' by making illegal connections.
And, the thieves are not just poor people but the guilty are described as "of every social background" and from all over the island. To combat the problem, members of the JPS Revenue Protection Department, backed up by the police, enter communities across the island on a weekly basis to clampdown on illegal electricity users.
Jamaica and T&T advance in World Cup playoffs
After tying Haiti 1-1 in Florida, Jamaica returned home to defeat them 3 –0. Marlon King scored all 3 goals. Jamaica now advance to the semifinal round of the CONCACAF playoffs of soccer’s famed World Cup.
Unfair to Lowe
In the next round on August 18, Jamaica meets the highly fancied US. The US advanced by beating a plucky Grenada 3-0 in the US and 3-2 in Grenada.
Meanwhile, T&T advanced by beating the Dominican Republic 2-0 and 4-0.
In other preliminaries:
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