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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.



May 2003

Political normality at hand in Guyana?

Let us hope so. An historic agreement has been signed between His Excellency, President Bharrat Jagdeo and Leader of the Opposition and People’s National Congress, Attorney-at-Law, Mr. Robert Corbin - the Joint Communique which has effectively brought an end to a political impasse existing between the two major political parties for almost a year.

Noting that Guyana is at a very critical stage of its development, Corbin said he believed that if all patriotic Guyanese, interested in the future of Guyana work together, the country can still be made a beautiful place for all Guyanese.

President Jagdeo said the agreement will ensure that Guyana’s Parliament becomes very ‘inclusive’ in terms of Opposition participation. He was hopeful that the cooperation established will last long into the future. The President referred to the Ethnic Relations Commission as having the potential for improving the harmonious relations between our peoples of different ethnic origin - something absolutely essential if Guyana is to move forward.

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The real truth - Coconut oil is the best

I grew up on coconut oil like many other Jamaicans. I remember when that was all we cooked with. But, coconut oil was discredited as full of dangerous unhealthy polysaturated fats and banished from kitchens everywhere. The truth is out. Coconut oil is innocent. The opposite is true. Coconut oil is the most healthy cooking oil that you can use by far.

Benefits of coconut oil
Lose weight by using coconut oil. How? Coconut oil, unlike more complex vegetable oils, contain short and medium-chain fatty acids (MCT) which are easily digestible and converted into quick energy. These types of fatty acids are less likely to cause obesity because they are immediately used by the body and have no opportunity to be stored. In a study published in March 2002 in The Journal of Nutrition, Drs St-Onge and Jones analyzed all published studies to date on MCT and their effect on body weight. They found that MCT oils used in place of other dietary fats significantly reduces body fat, resulting in lower weight. They recommend the use of MCT as a means to prevent and treat obesity. The combined results from several studies have shown that when people switch from oils such as soybean and corn oils, to using an MCT oil, they can lose up to 12 to 36 pounds a year even when total calorie consumption remains the same. Few oils contain MCT. By far the richest natural source comes from coconut which is composed mainly of MCT.
It is an immune system enhancer. This is because 50% of the fatty acid in coconut is lauric acid.  Lauric acid has adverse effects on a variety of microorganisms including bacteria, yeast, fungi, and enveloped viruses. It destroys the lipid membrane of such enveloped viruses as HIV, measles, Herpes simplex virus (HSV-1), influenza and cytomegalovirus (CMV). Its usefulness in treating AIDS is currently under investigation. It is a main component of human breast milk and helps protect children from illness during infancy.

In the words of noted researcher Dr. Mary Enig, PhD., ""The research over four decades concerning coconut oil in the diet and heart disease is quite clear: coconut oil has been shown to be beneficial". Coconut oil is a "functional food," defined as a food that "provides a health benefit over and beyond the basic nutrients."
( see  Coconut: In Support of Good Health in the 21st Century..)

Deliberate misinformation
Beginning with a flawed study four decades ago, continuing through the 1950s, intensifying in the 1980s, and again in the 1990s, the misinformation about coconut oil has been promulgated by such economically motivated organizations as the American Soybean Association (ASA), the Corn Products Company (CPC International) and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). They are aided by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), many of whose key personnel are recruited from and return to the vegetable oil industry. Previously, coconut oil was widely used in baked goods and fried goods. Their campaigns, based on erroneous information, totally discredited coconut oil and caused its nearly complete elimination from the American and Jamaican diet.

Coconut oil, the war and globalization
I tried to find coconut oil from Jamaica. I could find none. Lies from American multinational corporations disguised as health information destroyed the Jamaica coconut oil industry. The justification of the war in Iraq to remove weapons of mass destruction is a lie which has undermined the UN and the sovereignty of many small countries. Globalization and so called "free trade" are the latest lies that promise prosperity, brought to you by similar multinational corporations which are the real voice of the US government. It will wipe out our local industries just like lies from multinational corporations wiped out the local coconut oil industry.

Editors Note: Now that the truth is out about the real benefits of coconut oil, worldwide demand is bound to mushroom. Let us hope Caribbean farmers can cash in and resume coconut oil production to catch that wave. I, myself intend to seek out coconut oil and use it exclusively for my cooking.

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Plans to "legalize it"

Jamaica’s Parliament is considering a plan to legalize ‘ganja’ (marijuana) for personal use. The Attorney’s General office reports that new legislation is underway that would allow adults to own and consume small quantities of ganja. The proposal arose from complaints by police commissioner Forbes that enforcing the current marijuana law is not worth the effort as the fine for possession was merely J$100 or about US$2.
America won’t like it. I hope they don’t invade.

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US Embassy personnel kidnapped in Guyana

Two men in Guyana kidnapped the US Embassy’s security chief, Stephen Lesniak, at gunpoint as he was arriving at a golf course. The kidnappers demanded a ransom of 53 million Guyanese dollars (US$300,000) for his safe return. Lesniak has been head of regional security at the embassy for two years and the 18th person to be kidnapped in Guyana in the last 14 months.

The Guyanese government deployed police and army troops to search the country’s east coast villages and surrounding forests.

Twelve hours after the kidnapping, he was released into the custody of police and friends. According to the Deputy Chief of the US Mission, the ransom was paid.

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Look for "White Teeth" on Masterpiece Theatre on PBS

Look for "White Teeth" on the prestigious Masterpiece Theatre on PBS beginning May 11, 2003. Not only is the author Zadie Smith, only 24, is being hailed by the British press as the first publishing sensation of the millennium, but also her mother is Jamaican and her father is an Englishman. The novel was begun while she was still a student in her final year at Cambridge University. Then a mere 21, she submitted an 80-page advance of the novel. The publishers saw gold and offered her a £200,000 advance payment. Their judgment was on target, for the 462 page novel has won many awards and has made her the toast of the literary world not only in her native England but in the US also.
This award-winning debut novel by Zadie Smith is set in contemporary London. It throws a satirical eye on the lives of immigrants and their families, illuminating a side of London life that few Americans have seen portrayed. On screen, White Teeth will be arguably the only miniseries on American television that compassionately portrays a white, Afro-Caribbean, and Muslim family.

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Jamaican cuisine for Air Jamaica

Just when it seemed like getting a meal on an airline is a thing of the past, Air Jamaica has bucked the trend by announcing that not only will it continue to serve hot meals in flight, but Jamaican cuisine will be offered. So while the other airlines will be offering those paltry biscuit and cream "snacks", Air Jamaica will be offering hot meals like ackee and saltfish, and jerk chicken. Yum, yum.

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Farmers bemoan lack of market for their crops

Small farmers in the little villages of Douglas Castle in Clarendon, Jamaica have toiled long and hard to produce their vegetable crops. The little village has become almost totally dependent on these crops. But farmers are increasingly unable to make a living this way as they can find no market for their products and often must watch them rot unreaped or use them as fertilizer for the next crop. They are appealing to the Government for assistance, complaining that imported vegetables are driving them out of business and endangers their way of life.

This scene is happening all over Jamaica and the Caribbean for that matter. The fact is there is not much the governments can do without running afoul of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Once upon a time they could protect the local farmer by putting a tariff on the imported vegetables so it would be more expensive as well as the tariff bringing the government more money. This is the curse of globalisation and the upcoming Free Trade Association of the Americas (FTAA) will only make it worse.

So farmers suffer and balance of trade gets worse daily, and governments have been rendered powerless. But, people have power. Do not buy the imported vegetables. The cheap imported vegetables is too expensive for the country. Buying those cheap imported vegetables is selling your country down the river and crucifying your fellow Jamaican or Caribbean farmer. And it’s not just imported vegetables, but many more products. Imported chicken backs are ruining the poultry industry. Imported milk powder is ruining the dairy industry. It is not enough to blame government, but more people need to make a personal commitment to forsake the foreign products to buy their own. Unfortunately on my recent trip to Jamaica, I saw no evidence of such a commitment.

What can we do overseas?
As Caribbean people living abroad, what can we do? Buy more Caribbean products! Seek them out. Make a trip to the Caribbean store a weekly ritual. Pickapepper sauce, Jamaica ginger beer soda, Red Stripe beer, rum are available in supermarkets or other regular stores. Since I discovered D&G ginger beer soda in my local supermarket in Columbia, MD, I buy it every week and it’s virtually goodbye cocoa cola. On my recent trip to Jamaica, I brought back bags of Jamaican coffee, not the expensive world-famous Blue Mountain coffee, just regular coffee.

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Amnesty International urge CARICOM to resist US pressure

CARICOM states are reportedly under immense pressure from the USA to enter into agreements committing them not to surrender US nationals accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes to the new International Criminal Court. In many cases, such as The Bahamas, the United States is threatening to withdraw military assistance unless governments sign.
"These agreements are illegal as they violate the obligations of all states to ensure that people accused of these crimes, as the most serious crimes under international law, are brought to justice," Amnesty International stressed.
"The US is demanding that any person accused of these crimes should be returned to the US, without any commitment that they will be prosecuted by US courts. In fact, in many cases the US will not be able to do so as US law does not include many of the international crimes," the organization emphasised.
Welcoming the vital contribution that the CARICOM members have made to the establishment of the International Criminal Court, the organization reminded the Ministers of Foreign Affairs that, in 2009, consideration will be given to giving the Court jurisdiction over the crime of "drug trafficking" and that any impunity agreement entered into now could prevent investigations and prosecutions of drug traffickers in the region in the future.
Editors Comments: Good luck.

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Hot Calaloo in Jamaica (2) -Lobster patties in Negril

I have vacationed all over the world, but my favorite place of all and it’s not even close, is Negril, Jamaica. It’s beach living at its best. In Negril the small entrepeneur seems to have a better shot at the tourist dollar. I patronize these entrepreneurs whenever I can, my hotel, my meals, my entertainment, my souvenirs…..all right there on the beach.
"No, rasta. The only thing I put in my lungs is fresh air."

It’s lobster patties for lunch each day on the beach in the humble eating place of 'Mavis and Son'. Great patties and prepared fresh as I swim until its ready, when I am summoned from the azure sea by a wave of the hand. One big pattie is a meal in itself. I met Mavis but not her son. My server is also the PR person for 'Mavis and Son'. I point out improvement needed in their marketing methods.

"Come here !" they would shout almost imperiously at tourists passing by which would be their version of a warm invitation to patronize their restaurant. Of course, most passers-by would not respond.

"Dem have no respect. Dem wouldn’t even answer yuh." Was my server's angry reaction to being ignored.
"You got it wrong. Dem naw disrespect you. The only thing that come to me when I call is my dog. Why don’t you go out and greet them instead of shouting from here?"
"I do that sometimes, but today sun too hot out deh."
"Lobster patties for US2.50!. Americans love lobster and cheaper than a hamburger. This place should be full, but you have to be friendlier and more understanding. Big-up the lobster pattie. Dem don’t even know what a lobster pattie is. Tell them it is lobster cooked in a delicious pastry. Try my advice nuh and I bet in no time this place will be packed so that by the time I come back next year, business will be so good that you will replace this place with a big fancy restaurant."
So, next time on Negril beach, check out the lobster patties at the now more market savvy  'Mavis and Son'.

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Budget perspective

The new Jamaican budget has been drawing howls of protest for its severe increases in the General Consumption Tax (GCT). Opposition leader Edward Seaga has vowed to battle it all the way and is poised to make political capital of it. This tax burden seems extremely onerous seems very likely to cause severe hardships for which the Government is bound to take a lot of heat.

These are perilous economic times and we need to keep things in perspective. In the prosperous US 48 states are facing their worst budget deficits in years. Every state in America except New Mexico and Wyoming are currently in financial crisis.

Even million dollar multinational corporations, with expertise and the sole objective of making money are wallowing on the brink of Bankruptcy. This includes established blue chip companies like American Airlines, K-Mart, United Airways and many others. Is it surprising that a poor country like Jamaica, with much more responsibilities and services to perform for its citizens, is in financial crisis?

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Ziggy Marley turns to rock music

Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers will make no more melody together. Ziggy Marley has gone solo. Ziggy Marley has launched his first CD as a solo artist. The 11-track CD is titled Dragonfly. Dragonfly is not reggae music but rock. The CD features guitarists Flea, John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Michael Einziger, as well as DJ Chris Kilmore of Incubus.
The 34 year-old son of Bob Marley describes the transition from reggae as evidence of his growth as a musician.
"As an artist I have to lead and move forward — I dictate what the music is, not public opinion," Marley said from the record label's offices in Los Angeles. "I'm just making sure that the music and the legacy don't stay still."
"Dragonfly" is Marley's first album without the Melody Makers, a band that included his brother Stephen and sisters Sharon and Cedella Marley. The Melody Makers disbanded to pursue different career paths.
He'll open his 22-stop U.S. tour to promote the album on May 17 in San Diego. He lives most of the year in Miami, but also has a home in Kingston.

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OECS leaders to set up economic union, adopt common passport

Leaders of the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States agreed Saturday to set up an economic union, as well as introduce a common passport by as early as next year.
New OECS chairman, Montserrat's Chief Minister John Osborne, declined to say exactly when moves would be taken to economically integrate the subregional group, which already shares a common currency and central bank.
"Firm decisions were taken, but some more work has to be done," Osborne said at the end of the two-day summit in Antigua's capital, St. John's.
The new, blue Eastern Caribbean States passports could be ready by 2004, but the single market economy would take more planning and legislation before it could be fully implemented, he said.
"We have mandated technicians to (investigate) and report back to us at next meeting," scheduled for late November, Osborne said.
St. Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves urged members to expedite measures to create a single market economy by 2005, when the region is likely to be exposed to tough competition as it joins the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

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Marine killed in Iraq buried in Jamaica with full honors

WHITE SANDS, Jamaica (AP) _ To the wail of gospel music, a Jamaican-borne Marine killed in Iraq was laid to rest in his homeland  with full military honors.
About 300 mourners from this poor farming community swayed and sang in tribute to Cpl. Bernard "Brent" Gooden, a Canadian immigrant who was killed April 4 in a firefight in central Iraq.
Gooden, 22, was the first Canadian citizen to be killed in the U.S.-led war.
"Bernard was a friend to everyone, a great man and a great soldier," Rev. Courton Reid told worshippers at the White Sands Episcopal Church of God. "He has given his life for many."

After carrying out a 21-gun salute, a Marine honor guard lowered Gooden's flag-draped coffin into the ground, not far from the banana plantation where he used to play soldier games as a child. Gooden was born and raised in Jamaica but left for Canada at 16. He was buried at his family plot in White Sands, about 100 kilometers (63 miles) north of Kingston.

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Honduras bumps T&T out of Gold Cup 

What a difference a year makes. Last year T&T were Gold Cup runner-ups. Now they can’t even win a qualifying game. Honduras ended Trinidad and Tobago's hopes of competing for the Gold Cup  with a 2-0 defeat, the Trinidadians' second loss in the interzone playoffs in Martinique.

Trinidad was aiming for a comeback after a 3-2 loss to Martinique on Wednesday night. But second-half goals by Wilmer Neal in the 50th minute and Jose Ramirez in the 89th minute put the match away for Honduras.

Regardless of the result in a final match, Honduras and Martinique will advance to the CONCACAF Gold Cup, to be played in July in the United States and Mexico.

Neal put away the first goal after a scoreless first half Friday night at the Riviere-Pilote Stadium. Then, with Trinidad's defense appearing scattered and Ramirez taking the field in Neal's place, the substitute scored an insurance goal a minute from time.

In the Gold Cup, Honduras and Martinique will join defending champion United States, Canada and Mexico from the North Zone; Costa Rica, Guatemala and El Salvador from the Central Zone; Jamaica and Cuba from the Caribbean; and invited teams Brazil and Colombia.

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Ja Government plans to resurrect cocoa farms

Cocoa farms in Jamaica are pretty much dead. Low prices, high cost of production, neglect of farms, and disease killed them. Now the Government wants to try to bring them back to life by investing J$26 million in them. But, is it worth it? Instead of gratitude many farmers say no. According to the farmers it is no longer worthwhile to grow cocoa because of the low price that they are being paid per box. Some have already turned their backs on the crop, choosing instead to cut down the cocoa trees and substitute plantains which is offering a more attractive price.

Even with slavery
The farmers are entirely right. The low price of cocoa on the world market is an international disgrace. Cocoa farmers worldwide are facing severe poverty. Jamaica is fortunate that it is not more dependent on cocoa.

The six largest cocoa producing countries are the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Brazil, and Cameroon. Cocoa has especially significant effects on the economy and the population in these countries. For example, in Ghana, cocoa accounts for 40% of total export revenues, and two million farmers are employed in cocoa production. The Ivory Coast is the world's largest cocoa producer, providing 43% of the world's cocoa.

In some of these countries, young boys have been kidnapped to work as slaves on cocoa farms. In others underpaid child labor is used. Still with this horrible practice, the farmers are mired in poverty while the big companies that buy the cocoa to make chocalate are rich and prosperous.

Free trade cocoa
Fair Trade is an international system of monitoring and certification to guarantee that poor producers are paid a fair price for their harvests. Monitoring agencies from importing countries collaborate with diverse networks of cooperatives from producing countries to create a humane trading system that benefits people and the environment. While the global price for cocoa hovers around 40 cents per pound, the Fair Trade system guarantees farmers 80 cents per pound, giving them the income to support their families with dignity.

Not even 5%!
A dedicated voluntary organization, Global Exchange, has been a prominent fighter for freet trade cocoa and other raw products in the same plight, especially coffee. Their cocoa campaign is focused on building support for Fair Trade chocolate among consumers and retailers, and pressuring large companies like Mars, Inc. (maker of M&M's, Snickers, and Milky Way) to take immediate steps to end child slavery and poverty wages by committing to purchase at least five percent of their cocoa as Fair Trade Certified.

Despite growing demand, Mars, Inc. has refused to offer farmers the Fair Trade alternative they so desperately need. In June, more than 200 citizens groups signed a letter to M&M/Mars asking the company to address the injustices in the cocoa fields by starting to offer Fair Trade Certified chocolate. The corporation offered no response.

New direction
As Hot Calaloo has stated before. there has to be a conspiracy to keep the world price of agricultural products down and until producing countries get together and form their own version of OPEC, they will continue to be exploited and suffer. For this reason Cuba is getting out of sugar. Jamaica is getting out of sugar. Many Caribbean countries are getting out of bananas. Twenty six million dollars to bring back cocoa with these world conditions. Save your money Jamaica. It nuh wut it.

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Australia take first 2 Tests with ease

Veni, vici, vinci. They came. The saw. They conquered.
Like Caesar’s army, this is what the Aussies have done to the West Indies in the first two Test cricket matches in the present 4-Test series. They have humbled the WI and so far the WI have not been able to get the whole side out.

1ST test
Australia won by 9 wickets
WI 237 (Chanderpaul 100, Jacobs 54 n. o.); Australia 489 (Langer 146, Ponting 117, Gilchrist 77, Drakes 5 for 93)
WI 398 ( Ganga 113, Lara 110, Devon Smith 61, Gillespe 5 for 39); Australia 147 for 1 (Langer 78 n.o.)

2nd Test
Australia won by 118 runs
Australia 576 for 4 ( Ponting 206, Lehman 160, Gilchrist 101 n. o.); WI 408 (Ganga 117, Lara 91, Samuels 68, Lee 4 for 69);

Australia 238 for 3 declared ( Hayden 100 n. o., Lehman 66) WI 288 (Lara 122)

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True Christians - Another spring break of helping

Another group of college students came from the US to help out Jamaicans in need rather than to just live it up. Dr. Roy Lanz, a dentist and University of Pittsburgh professor, anaesthesiologist Michael Cuddy, Christian Dental Society coordinator Brian Prior and 10 University of Pittsburgh dental students came to Jamaica to treat 200-250 people in the impoverished town of Mavis Bank in the Blue Mountains.

The trip was organized by the Christian Dental Society. The society is a member of the Christian Medical and Dental Association based in Bristol, Tenn., an interdenominational organization which sponsors health and medical clinics internationally. Its mission is "to change hearts in health care." Participants personally raise the $800-to-$1,000 cost of the trip. Lanz recruits dental suppliers to donate needed supplies.

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Poetry Corner

(An anti-war poem written about the first Gulf war, Desert Storm)


It was a mighty victory
Beyond all expectation
It was a mighty victory
There is much jubilation
We won, we won
Seems there'll be
No end to celebration
But I cannot share this revelry
Relief is all I feel
Relief the war is over
Relief for our victory
Relief that almost all our boys
And our soldier women too
Did not have
To spill their blood
In that desert sand

For war is still a terrible thing
Not just the guilty
But innocents,
By the thousands die
By the thousands lose their homes
Their shelter now , the sky
Our bombs, our bombs
Our torrential bombs
So impersonal and smart
Did knock the enemy so arrogant
Before he could even start

But war is still a terrible thing
Not just the guilty
But innocents
By the thousands die
Thousands of orphans now go unfed
They suffer and they cry
So forgive me if I do not join
The victory celebration
Forgive me if I do not join
This military glorification
Until those awful images
Of war begin to fade
I cannot in all conscience
Join your ticker tape parade

Viet Nam really taught us
War is a terrible thing
But I fear that Desert Storm
With all this celebrating
Might send a message
Which is absolutely frightening
That peace is nice
But war is .......
OK if you win.

Michael Phillips, circa 1991


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