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bulletCARICOM still wants investigation into Aristide departure
bulletLara 400-not- out’s his way back to the top
bulletSuspicious US gun freeze on Jamaica
bulletCaribbean media voices stilled
bulletLaw and order in disorder in Jamaica
bulletNew police complex
bulletNobel Laureate Derek Walcott mugged in Paris
bulletCarib. govts accused of failing to educate citizens about FTAA
bulletJamaica’s ‘Lightning’ Bolt strikes and shatters world record
bulletMaradona suffers heart attack
bulletHillary Clinton holidays in Jamaica
bulletPortmore crocodiles cause concern
bulletUS teen organization donates 10 computers to Excelsior High
bulletUWI math students in demand
bulletSpecies becoming extinct
bulletTrinidad gov't urged to take back BWIA
bulletAirlines owe Ja. Govt. over $1b in travel tax
bullet"Frankenfood" unwelcome in Europe


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 2004

CARICOM still wants investigation into Aristide departure

CARICOM is still trying to get an investigation going to determine the circumstances that saw the former Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide fleeing Haiti on February 29. Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs Minister K.D. Knight told members of the Standing Finance Committee of Parliament that CARICOM, is still convinced that the international community ought to know the truth of the incident and is lobbying, internationally, to get the investigation underway.

In addition, a group of American-based lawyers, acting on behalf of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, arrived in the island to meet with the deposed leader. They have made it clear that they would be lobbying the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation of American States (OAS) to ensure that "international legal principles are upheld," The group stressed that it had "absolutely no doubt" that Mr. Aristide was forcibly removed from office by the United States, adding that the UN and the OAS had an obligation to investigate the circumstances that led to the former Haitian leader's abrupt departure from his homeland.

In the meantime, THE National Lawyers Guild of the United States of America has commended Prime Minister P J Patterson for granting temporary asylum to former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his family. The guild has also praised Jamaica and the Caribbean Community (Caricom) for the stance that has been taken in relation to the circumstances surrounding Aristide's sudden departure from office, according to a statement form Jamaica House. The guild also expressed concern about the violation of both Haitian and international law as it relates to Aristide's resignation and said it supports the call by Caricom for an independent international investigation and urged the region to vigorously pursue an investigation at the United Nations.
"We are committed to pursuing this matter in the international fora," the letter said.

The National Lawyers Guild includes the American Association of Jurists, National Conference of Black Lawyers and the Centre for International Justice and Human Rights, located at Hastings College University of California.

Meanwhile refugees continue to sweep into Jamaica. The main point of entry is the Parish of Portland. Most recently a boat with 128 refugees landed there bringing the total to 386 now living there. Tremendous efforts have been made to accomade them. However, this has put a tremendous strain on the already limited resources there and is even creating some resentment residents who feel deprived by this. Jamaica is appealing for help from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

US bully tactics
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has revealed that The US State Department sent letters to some Caribbean countries "essentially demanding" that they recognise Haiti's interim government before regional leaders met for a summit in March. During its summit in March, the 15-nation Caribbean Community withheld support for the new Haitian government and said it would consider the issue at its next meeting in July.

And the bullying tactics continue. Three Caricom foreign ministers, who spoke to the Jamaica Observer newspaper on condition of anonymity, said representatives of the Bush Government had "warned against US participation in any meeting with Caricom, without prior inclusion of the interim regime in Haiti in the councils of the community". The stand-off has put in jeopardy two meetings planned between the US and Caricom - an April 29 meeting of officials set for St Vincent and the Grenadines, and a high-level meeting on crime and security in the Bahamas scheduled for May 3. The latter meeting was to include a senior administration official, the US secretary for Homeland Security, Tom "Duct-Tape" Ridge.

But at this time, not a peep from the UN or its Secretary General Kofi Anan….

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Lara 400-not-out’s his way back to the top

West Indies captain Brian Lara reclaimed the highest score in test cricket history and reached 400 not out against England on the third day of the fourth test. After a six to equal the record, Lara swept the next ball to the fine leg boundary off spinner Gareth Batty, and surpassed Matthew Hayden's standard of 380 against Zimbabwe set only last October in Perth. He reached 400 with a single to take WI to the mammoth score of 751 for 5 ably assisted by his partner Ridley Jacobs, who scored 107 not out.

A packed crowd of over 12000 witnessed this record breaking feat at the Antigua Recreation ground. Ironically although the game was in the West Indies, more than half the spectators belonged to England’s Barmy Army, the name of the English supporters who follow their team in great spirited numbers all around the world.

Lara joined the great Sir Donald Bradman as the only other cricketer to score two triple hundreds in test cricket. Bradman scored 334 in 1930 and 304 in 1934, both against England at Leeds. It was his 25th test score over 100, his seventh better than 200. Only Bradman, with 12, has more over 200.

But all Lara’s heroics was not enough for WI to secure a win. Hopes were high when the WI then bowled England out for 285 and forced the follow-on. However, England rallied in the 2nd innings by scoring 422 for 5 to force a draw.

The Lara record was an outstanding feat but is not enough consolation for the clobbering the WI absorbed in the series by 3 wins and a draw. Batting was inconsistent and unreliable. Lets not forget that this same team that amassed 751 for 5 was routed for 47 runs in the first test. Bowling is only ordinary and fielding is bad, probably costing WI the last test with 4 dropped catches in one day when England was on the run.

Test 3 (England won by 8 wickets)
1st Innings: WI 224, (Sarwan 63, Chanderpaul 50, Flintoff 5 for 58); England 226 (Thorpe 119 n. o., Edwards 4 for 70)
2nd Innings: WI 94 ( Hoggard 4 for 34); England 93 for 2

Test 4 (draw)
1st Innings: WI 751 for 5 declared (Lara 400 n.o., Jacobs 107 n.o., Sarwan 90, Gayle 69); England 285 ( Flintoff 102 n.o., Butcher 52, Collins 4 for 76)
2nd Innings: England 422 for 5 (Vaughn 140, Trescothick 88, Butcher 61, Hussain 56)

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Suspicious US gun freeze on Jamaica

Shortly after Jamaica accepted kidnapped Haitian president and the US voiced it’s displeasure at Jamaica’s hospitality to him, the US froze gun sales to gun dealers in Jamaica. Fears of an embargo were raised but the US denied that. Instead the US claimed that that the freeze on guns and ammunition supplied to Jamaica should not be construed as an 'embargo' on arms to Jamaica, and insisted that it was a response to Jamaica's own concerns about the flow of guns into the island and its contribution to crime. According to the US State Department, the suspension was enforced to facilitate a thorough review of the terms and conditions under which arms and ammunition were being sold in Jamaica.

According to Jamaica’s Ministry of National Security the suspension does not apply to the Jamaican Government's military and law enforcement contract for firearms and ammunition. They also stated that the review was requested as part of efforts to combat the growing number of guns and illegal weapons falling into the hands of criminals.

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Caribbean media voices stilled

"Dem ah call us pirates…."
Who will be next to go?" Carribbean overseas radio audiences are asking? Gone is the popular Caribbean program from WLIB-AM in New York city.

Even all the way across the pond in England, there is cause for grave concern. Gone is BBC Radio London presenter Henry Bonsu of Caribbean discussion programs. Gone too is Geoff Schumann's phone-in program which was one of the most listened-to programs on London's only African-Caribbean station, Choice FM. But it has just been bought by Capital Radio, whose first act was to fire him. There is concern and anger now in England that the black voice is not being heard. There is even call for the black community to support illegal pirate radio broadcasters. Having more black faces on advertisements is no substitute.

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Goodbye Pepsi and Coke

Guess what?  In some Giant and Safeway store Jamaican D&G Ginger Beer, Kola Champagne, pineapple and some other Jamaican soft drinks are on sale there. So, now it’s goodbye Pepsi and Coke and hello ginger beer and kola champagne. I only buy those Jamaican sodas from now on.

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Law and order in disorder in Jamaica

Forty police stations in Jamaica face closure
In the midst of a horrible crime wave, AT LEAST 40 of Jamaica’s 172 police stations could be slapped with closure notices from the relevant authorities because of their deplorable physical and sanitary conditions and the non-payment of rent according to Police Commissioner Francis Forbes. For instance, law enforcement officers at the Richmond Police Station in St. Mary were ordered to pack their bags and immediately vacate the building after the St. Mary Health Department served a closure notice on the facility, which is in an unsanitary state. Besides other stations being declared "unfit for human habitation", others owed millions of dollars in unpaid rent. In addition there is a grave shortage of police cars. The Government had allotted J$40 million for new vehicles but the police had not received them yet.

Legal aid going broke
Jamaica’s Minister of Justice A.J. Nicholson has admitted that the Government's legal aid program, which owes lawyers about $43 million in fees, is currently unsustainable. He blamed some of the problems for abuses in the system and that revision of the system is underway.

Police union calls for 40-hour week
THE POLICE Federation yesterday gave the Government three months in which to respond to a proposal recommending a 40-hour work week for rank and file members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF). The union commissioned a report which found that:


Some police officers work up to 72 hours per week


The the extended work week made officers susceptible to illness and contributed to the high turn-over rate within the JCF.


The 40-hour week will make the job more attractive to applicants.


The system of excessive working hours was more costly than paying for overtime.

The Commissioner of police supports the 40-hour week.

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Good news – new police complex underway 

The Jamaica government has announced plans to build a $250 million facility in Falmouth, Trelawny, within the next 12 months. It will accommodate:


as many as 150 officers


the National Investigation Bureau


Organised Crime Unit




Tactical Response


Crime Management Unit


training and recreational facilities

The site of the station is strategically located and will assist in serving the parishes of St. Ann, St. James and other western divisions.

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Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott mugged in Paris

St. Lucia-born Nobel Laureate, Derek Walcott, has cancelled his appearance at a poetry festival in Scotland after being mugged in Paris and robbed of his travel and identity papers.
Organiser of the Stanza Poetry Festival in St. Andrews, Scotland, Brian Johnstone says Mr. Walcott who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992, was in Paris on a reading tour when his bag was stolen.

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Carib. govts accused of failing to educate citizens about FTAA

Caribbean governments have been accused of failing to educate their citizens on the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas FTAA. The Barbados-based activist group, the Clement Payne Movement, CPM says since regional governments signed the FTAA agreement in 1994, there has been very little public consultation on the matter. CPM leader David Commissiong says his organisation finds it totally unacceptable that no serious effort is being made to even inform Caribbean people on something as significant as the FTAA.

When established in 2005, the FTAA will be the largest trade bloc in the Western hemisphere, but critics have warned that it could seriously undermine the economies of small fragile states like those in the Caribbean. The CPM has been holding discussions with other non-governmental organisations hoping to establish a National Civil Society Committee on the FTAA.

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Jamaica’s ‘lightning’ Bolt strikes and shatters world record

Jamaica’s youthful running sensation Usain Bolt shattered his world junior record for the 200 meters at the CARIFTA games in Bermuda. The 17-year old ran a time of 19.93 seconds to break his own record of 20 .13 which he had shared with American Roy martin.

This staggering performance cements him as the favourite to defend his World Junior 200-metre title and makes him a strong contender for a medal at the Olympics. He has impressive credentials. He is the world's fastest ever at age 15 with the 20.58-second clocking that won him the 2002 World Junior gold in Kingston. He is also the fastest ever at age 16 and 17 with his two world junior records. His trophy case has gold medals from the World Junior, World Youth and Pan-Am Junior meets and is filled with numerous Carifta and CAC Junior honours.

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Maradona suffers heart attack

Argentine football legend, and one of the greatest who ever played the game of soccer, Diego Maradona, suffered a heart attack and was placed in intensive care and linked to a respirator in a Buenos Aires clinic on April 18 2004. Maradona's doctor, Rafael Cahe, said doctors would not be able to give an assessment of the 43-year-old star's recovery prospects for one or two days. However, he has improved steadily, has been taken off the respirator, has opened his eyes and began consuming a mix of liquid and solid foods as of April 27th.

In 2000, Maradona tied with Pele for the accolade of the best player in Fifa's history.

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Hillary Clinton holidays in Jamaica

FORMER US first lady, Hillary Rodham-Clinton, spent a one-week vacation at the exclusive Tryall Club in Hanover, Jamaica, recently. It is reported that the Rodham-Clinton's entourage, consisting of her aides, friends and Secret Service protectors, occupied 40 rooms. Her visit, like that of President George Bush's daughter, was kept quiet for privacy and security reasons.

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Portmore crocodiles cause concern

 It seems the days when crocodiles were just creatures in a Tarzan movie and virtually non-existent in Jamaica are gone. Crocodiles are becoming a problem in Portmore, Jamaica. A 10-foot crocodile was removed from a schoolyard at Greater Portmore Primary on Monday. None of the children were harmed. Now the Greater Portmore Joint Council is concerned about the threat that crocodiles pose for children and residents of the community.

It seems that water from sewage ponds overflow into the drains, attracting crocodiles which live in the mangroves close by. The crocodiles travel in the canal and crawl on to nearby properties. The drain currently runs through the sewage plant compound and alongside three different schools the Greater Portmore Primary, Basic and High schools. The crocodile had entered the primary school through a hole in the fencing.

The National Water Commission (NWC), which manages the sewage plant, claims that there is very little that can be done by the agency to deter the reptiles.

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US teen organization donates 10 computers to Excelsior High

Thirteen-year-old Anders Jones was an elementary school student in Boston on a visit to Jamaica in March 2001. He became aware of the severe shortage of computers in schools in Jamaica when his bus driver told him that his two children had to share one single computer with the other 850 pupils at Mountain View Primary school. Their plight inspired him. In a year, he was back with 12 computers, 15 people and 70 pieces of software. Not only that but it also inspired him to form Teens For Technology (TFT) which gave birth to the "Jamaica Hundred Schools Program. In addition to the gift to Excelsior, TFT is poised to provide computers for 13 Jamaican schools, both at the primary and high school level, each month until June of this year. The group has completed donations to 45 schools and plans to complete donations to another 450 schools in the next two years. Some 18,000 children are now learning technology skills on TFT computers.

TFT is also organizing special scholarships for the top five Jamaican students to attend special technology summer programs in the US.

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UWI math students in demand

Recruiters from a United States-based actuarial consultancy firm are aggressively recruiting the entire pool of final-year mathematics and actuarial science students from the University of the West Indies' Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, but professionals in the field here say there is no significant loss to the local industry.

In the last two years, representatives from the Minneapolis-based firm, Watson Wyatt, recruited and procured working visas for 47 final-year students - placing them on contracts lasting up to three years - to fill a growing demand for persons in those professions in several states.

They have found that the previous graduates were good and acceptable, so they come back for more. The recruitment drive by the US firm was a positive development as graduates, over the years, have struggled to find jobs locally.

This is in stark contrast to concerns over the years that Jamaica may suffer from brain drain if its professionals take up jobs overseas. Nurses and teachers are among the groups that have been heavily targeted by US and UK recruiters. The UWI's placement and career services, which collaborated with Watson Wyatt on the recruitment drive this year, said it did so after receiving permission from the Jamaica labour ministry.

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Species becoming extinct

A steep decline in birds, butterflies and native plants in Britain supports the theory that humans are pushing the natural world into the Earth's sixth big extinction event and the future may see more and more animal species disappearing.

From the survey, the researchers found that:


of 58 butterfly species there was a 71 percent population decline since similar surveys taken from 1970 through 1982.


Some 201 bird species were tracked between 1968 and 1971, and then again from 1988 to 1991, with a population decline of about 54 percent.


Two surveys of 1,254 native plant species showed a decrease of about 28 percent over 40 years.

The March 2001 hotcalaloo update reported that the galliwasp had vanished from Jamaica. If so many species have declined in England, I wonder how many have declined in the Caribbean also and what programs are in place to ensure that our grandchildren will witness the dazzling array of animal and plant life there even today.

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Trinidad gov't urged to take back BWIA

The airline of Trinidad and Tobago, British West Indian Airlines is still in financial trouble despite privatization. Except for the Government, the other shareholders have done nothing to rescue the company from this plight. That is why the president of the Aviation Communication and Allied Workers Union in Trinidad and Tobago Christopher Abraham is urging the country's government to immediately acquire total ownership of the cash-strapped regional airline, BWIA.

While lauding the Patrick Manning administration for injecting 40 million US dollars into the airline he says the time has come for the government to take-over the carrier. Mr. Abraham says there is a bright future for the airline. He says shareholders who are not putting money into the airline but remain as shareholders should make way and allow the government to acquire full control of BWIA.

According to the country's Trade and Industry Minister, Ken Valley, ten million dollars would be used to help the struggling airline meet its operational costs while the remaining 30 million would be converted from debt to equity.

BWIA is a critical component of the plans by regional governments to establish a single airline, through a merger with another cash-strapped entity, Leeward Islands Air Transport, LIAT. The new airline is likely to be realised by July 1, this year after the original deadline of January 1, 2004 did not materialise.

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Airlines owe Ja. Govt. over $1b in travel tax

It has been revealed that Airline companies owe the Jamaica Government approximately one billion dollars in outstanding travel tax. It's reported that airlines have been collecting the tax but are tardy in making payment to the Inland Revenue Department. The Director-General for Tax Administration, Clive Nicholas, on Monday warned that delinquent airlines face huge penalties and interest charges on taxes they have failed to pay over.

According to information from the Ministry of Finance, the outstanding travel tax is part of the 15 billion dollars in revenues currently owed to the Government and a government which desperately needs ever penny it can get its hands on.

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"Frankenfood" unwelcome in Europe

Genetically modified food is becoming even more unwelcome in Europe. The world’s strictest labeling requirements have gone into effects there recently. But, consumers there shun these products which they deride as "Frankenfood", named after the famous monster Frankenstein.

Foods with biotech ingredients already had labelling requirements in the EU. But the new rules are tougher because they will include ingredients like vegetable oils and other highly refined products, such as soy lecithin, where the genetically modified DNA or resulting protein is no longer present or detectable in the final product.

Farm groups in the United States - the world's leading producer of genetically engineered crops - have opposed labelling, arguing it is unnecessary because their products have been proven safe.

In the United States, about 80 per cent of the soy crop, half of the canola crop and 40 per cent of the corn crop comes from genetically engineered seeds. As the acreage has grown, Europe's markets have closed.

The US is the biggest producer of "frankenfood" and despite assurances that it is safe, Europeans are not buying it. So, where is it likely to turn up? In the third world, probably including the Caribbean. The world’s guinea pigs.


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