New elections: T&T- Oct 7; Ja -Oct 16
Faced with a looming political and financial crisis, Prime Minister Patrick Manning reconvened the parliament, which had last met in April in a failed attempt to elect the speaker, to try again. But the party of former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday blocked the vote again on Wednesday, forcing the government to dissolve Parliament and call for early elections.
Panday's United National Congress party and Manning's People's National Movement canceled out each other's votes during Wednesday's election for a speaker. A majority of votes is needed.
The government's budget expires at the end of September and even with emergency funds, the money would only last until October. The last elections, held in December, resulted in an 18-18 tie that reflected the oil-rich Caribbean nation's split on ethnic lines between those descended from African slaves and East Indian laborers imported after slavery was abolished. President Arthur Robinson resolved the draw by appointing Manning as prime minister. Panday, in turn, said the appointment was unlawful and has since blocked votes to elect a speaker. Still, there is no guarantee the same impasse won't occur during the October elections.
NDM founder re-joins JLP
Bruce Golding, the prime founder of the National Democratic Movement
(NDM) party and its former president has rejoined the Jamaica Labour
Party on the eve of general elections. He is reported to have held long
extensive talks with JLP leader Eddie Seaga to reach agreement on
conditions for his return. Upon his return, he heaped lavish praise on
Mr. Seaga. Meanwhile his NDM buddies were reportedly in shock by his
sudden and unexpected departure from their ranks. And why not since his
return came only days after he denied outrightly any return to the JLP.
Not a single word did he give to the NDM executive of which he himself
was still a member.
FTAA and CARICOM (Part 3)
The Free Trade Area of the Americas is supposed to help the CARICOM. Because of it CARICOM goods will be able to enter rich markets like the mighty US without tariffs. CARICOM trade will boom. So they tell us, but, I think not. I can find no evidence to support that in this tariff-free trading that CARICOM will be competitive enough to improve their trade position at all. This is an illusion.
I myself conducted recently a radio interview with a CARICOM
ambassador, Odeen Ishmael of Guyana. I could detect that even the
ambassador was not a fan of the FTAA. I was specific.
These "benefits" to CARICOM are very doubtful, but the consequences to the local CARICOM markets of tariff-free imports could spell disaster. Small poor countries must be allowed to continue to set their own tariffs for as long as they are small poor countries.
Enlightened Trade -A new and legitimate world trade emphasis
We need a Marshall plan. We are not demanding that all countries buy our protected products. But what is wrong with our friends or enlightened rich countries doing the noble thing just to help alleviate our poverty by choosing to buy them? It is high time that a whole new criteria be considered by these powerful international organisations. The hallowed "free trade" is not a worthy criterion. Free trade is not fair trade so it is not a worthy criterion regardless of what the well-heeled proponents ram down our throats. The fact is that big powerful developed countries who act as if they have some divine right to make trade policy for all are marginally affected by the protected trade and tariff policies of small poor countries. Even fair trade is not good enough. It is time to embrace a criterion which directly uses trade to reduce the dire poverty of such countries by doing the opposite of the trend and instead giving them special protection, rights and privileges to improve their lot.
So CARICOM let us not beg for time extension of our preferential treatment. Let us advocate the use of trade to reduce the poverty of nations by extending more preferential treatment not less. We certainly do not demand the US or any big development country to give us preferential trade treatment. It would be a nice gesture though. But do not punish any other country who extends that privilege to us. We can use the FTAA as a milestone. We can do it. We have 15 votes out of 34 countries in FTAA. Our cause is just and the free trade is unjust, insensitive and downright cruel.
Let the FTAA be just the beginning of our new enlightened trade direction. We have faithfully followed The World Bank, the IMF, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) advice to get ourselves in the current economic disaster. So now they have mortgaged our citizenry to bone-crushing 3rd world debt. Their currency liberalization has turned our money into worthless paper. Their structural adjustment has accelerated poverty and discontent. Their globalization now threatens to take away the little market we have not only abroad but right at home. These organizations need to change their focus to removing the scourge of poverty. It is this and not the aggrandisement of rich countries which will make a better world.
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(Hot Calaloo thanks reader Tony Clarke for alerting us to this must-see CAFOD website )
Mooooo….Cows flying? Well not literally, but rich subsidies can make them fly and ,at the same time, destroy farmers in developing countries. According to the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, CAFOD), they could fly. The British based charity in a scathing but humorous e-animation film on the web contend that the European Union subsidies for the dairy industry is so much that it could send all EU cows on a plane trip around the world.
Check out their website for their film which highlights the
devastating effect EU farm subsidies can have on the Developing World.
The charity charges that EU governments spend
enough money on the Common Agricultural Policy every year to fly all
their 21 million dairy cows around the world. By comparison,
dairy production in Jamaica has collapsed due to the dumping of EU
skimmed milk powder.
Once again, this is a must-see CAFOD website. Check it out the rich cows, the flying moosters, and see if you don’t agree. http://www.cafod.org.uk/tradejustice/moostersmillions.shtml
Isadore and Lili storm through the Caribbean
Tropical storms Isadore and Lili, without even becoming strong enough to be a hurricane, has left a path of destruction in the Caribbean, particularly Jamaica and Cuba.
Barbados – It was the first hit with violent winds and downpours in which:
St. Vincent - Lili unleashed a mudslide that crushed the wall of a house, suffocating a woman and three of her children.
St Lucia - Lilli destroyed about half of St. Lucia's banana crop, the country's main export. The government said it was seeking $2.7 million in foreign aid to restore banana plantations.
Jamaica – Before Jamaica could recover from several days of Isadore flood rains, along came Lilli. Like Isadore, it was more flooding and destruction over the whole island. Lilli even lingered longer. Floods killed at least 3 people and washed away or damaged at least 200 homes, crops, livestock and roads.
Cuba – Lili did the most damage here as it hovered over the island the longest. Cuba’s west coast took a severe beating. Eight people are reported killed. Even Cuba’s tobacco renown for its world-famous cigars were threatened.
(Already overseas Caribbean organisations are sending relief supplies and Hot Calaloo urges its readers to pitch in to help in whatever way they can.)
Dual citizenship – a personal statement
Recently dual citizenship has come under fire in the US media. Most Caribbean countries allow dual citizenship. I myself am a citizen of US and am still a proud citizen of Jamaica. I am very grateful for becoming a citizen of the US and the outstanding rights and privileges it bestows. But, this will never be at the price of turning my back on Jamaica. Despite my dual citizenship, I know I am a better US citizen than many of these flag-waving finger-pointing critics. I have been very active in my community. I not only vote but am active in political activities which shape this country. I am glad to serve on juries and participate in all the responsibilities that US citizenship requires.
The fact is dual citizenship means dual responsibility to me. The US is a big powerful country. Jamaica needs me more. But, I am not bound by any selfish nationalism, but consider myself a citizen of the world. I have not only a right to but a duty to criticize and I do not intend to give that up. My fist allegiance is not to the US. It is not even to Jamaica. No, my first allegiance is to justice, fairness, the rights of all, and I will not compromise these for any nationalism.
Race mobs rampage in Guyana
Annadale and Buxton are towns along the the northeast coast of
Guyana. They are very close together separated by a narrow dam. But they
are far apart ethnicly. Annadale’s residents are Indians and
Buxton’s black. In early September, groups of armed bandits from
Buxton have been committed robberies on civilians in Annadale. One of
the days about 40 armed youths reportedly invaded the town of Annadale,
beating and robbing residents.
Editors Note: I am deeply worried about Guyana. If weapons ever become available, there is no doubt in my mind that we could have a Ruanda or a Kosovo with all their horrible atrocities and ethnic cleansing. It is clear that this condition will persist as long as Desmond Hoyte is leader of the opposition. Still I see no peacemaking role by responsible institutions like the churches, overseas organizations and academia. Their silence and inactivity is inexcusable when we consider what is at stake. I hope they act before it is too late.
T&T radio stations face boycott for bias
THE Advertising Agencies Association of Trinidad and Tobago (AAATT)
is threatening to have clients stop advertising with any radio station
which shows outright political or racial bias. AAATT president Ian
Collier said the association would lobby its clients to pull their ads
from stations who were found to be guilty of bias.
Education - A tale of 2 countries
As Jamaica battles the teacher exodus to provide education for its children, its neighbor Cuba scores higher and higher.
Hundreds of thousands of Cuban students returned to schools with more than 5 000 new teachers and many renovated schools as part of President Fidel Castro's "education revolution". Before a gathering of the 5 329 new teachers at Karl Marx stadium in the capital, Castro said education "is always one of the fundamental objectives of our epic struggle for a society truly just, free and humane".
The 746 schools for Havana's two million residents were repaired, painted and in certain cases expanded to allow for classes of a maximum of 20 children, "an end often desired but rarely achieved, even in developed countries," Castro said.
"New technology in our classrooms will improve classroom learning," the official daily Juventud Rebelde said on Sunday as it announced that each classroom will have a television set, a computer and no more than 20 students.
Castro admitted that the fall of communism and years of economic crisis had badly hit the island. Teachers have had to deal with crowded classrooms and crumbling infrastructure.
But in less than two years, Castro estimated, the renovation of Cuba's schools and the training of new teachers will become "the most extraordinary experience of education and cultural development ever achieved by any society in history," and all with "the minimum of economic resources."
Cuba's adult literacy rate of 97.2% is one of the highest in the world, according to international organisations. It is the only country in Latin America where every child goes to school from nursery age. All schooling is free.
OAS votes to restore Haiti funds
Since April 2000, US$500 million in funds earmarked for Haiti has been withheld on the grounds of election irregularities. So that impoverished nation has had to struggle without these funds which severely aggravated their misery, instability and poverty. Despite the crisis it created in Haiti, the US, no friend of Haiti's President Aristide, held up the funds all this time during which CARICOM countries lobbied constantly for their release. Haiti is the newest member of CARICOM, although it has been independent since 1804 and the only country in the world where former slaves became rulers.
"Legalize it" says Canadian Parliament Committee
A Canadian Parliament committee has called for legalizing marijuana use by adults, increasing pressure on the government to shift drug laws far from the zero-tolerance policy of the neighboring United States.
The report by the Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs released Wednesday recommended that criminal records for possession of marijuana should be erased, with the nation adopting a system that regulates marijuana in the same way that alcohol is regulated. It also called for immediate action on permitting eligible medical patients to legally obtain marijuana.
"There is no good reason to subject the consumers of cannabis to the application of criminal law," Sen. Pierre Nolin of the Progressive Conservative party said. "In a free society as ours, it's up to the individual to decide whether to consume cannabis or not."
The report emerged from months of hearings with Canadian and international experts, police and drug enforcement agencies and ordinary citizens. While not binding, it will force the Liberal Party government of Prime Minister Jean Chretien to formulate a response that explains what provisions it accepts or rejects and why.
"Scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicates that cannabis is substantially less harmful than alcohol and should be treated not as a criminal issue but as a social and public health issue," the committee chairman said.
David Griffin of the Canadian Police Association rejected those arguments in criticizing the report.
South of the border of Canada, eight U.S. states have taken some kind of step toward permitting the medicinal use of marijuana: California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada and Colorado. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, ruled last year that there is no exception in federal law for people to use marijuana, so even those with state medical-exemptions could face arrest if they do.
Jamaica population now 2.6 million
The 2001 report of the 2001 census conducted by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica puts the population in the island at 2.6 million. In 10 years since 1991, the Jamaican population grew by 218,668 representing an average annual growth rate of 0.88 per cent, a slight reduction from the 0.93 per cent growth seen in the previous decade.
Cops reject JFJ firing demand
THE JAMAICA Police Federation says it opposes the request from Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) for the removal of a detective inspector formerly attached to the Hunts Bay police station in Kingston. The JFJ has linked him to six fatal shootings since 1999. "Not so", said the Federation. In a recent statement , the Federation said that its investigations had revealed that in most cases cited by Jamaicans for Justice, the detective inspector was not present at the scene, "let alone to be involved."
Alumina company re-organisation produces job losses
Former Alcan Jamaica Co., now the West Indies Aluminum Co. (WINDALCO) has announced that it is divesting its mining operations at Kirkvine, Manchester in Jamaica. This function is to be taken over by the Henry Walker Eltin (HWE) company in order to achieve greater efficiency. A union official claimed that HWE would be contracted to mine roughly 2.5 million tonnes of bauxite annually. This bauxite would supply the Kirkvine alumina refinery and that the objective was to reduce mining costs by an average US$1 per ton and to ensure reliability. However, it will mean that 87 permanent employees will lose their jobs. HWE will hire all new employees.
Editor’s comment: This sounds suspiciously familiar. Change name of company. Fire all employees and hire new ones at lower salaries. This slick operation happens all the time in US. But, not in Jamaica too with its powerful unions!
Jamaica businessmen stage shutdown
Businessmen in Kingston , Jamaica, backed by the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, staged a shutdown of their business to protest illegal vendors squatting on the sidewalks of their commercial establishments. These illegal vendors make access to these legal shops almost impossible. It is estimated that the businessmen stand to lose J$40 million by the shutdown.
BWIA in financial crisis
Lawrence Duprey, the chairman of BWIA, the Trinidad and Tobago airline, has announced that the airlines lost US$9 million in the first half of the year. He warned that unless there is a restructuring plan in place by the end of October the airline could go bankrupt. Already the company:
T&T’s Panday faces charges
T&T’s former Prime Minister and current Leader of the Opposition has been charged with hiding assets in a London bank account he held with his wife. He has been ordered to appear in court on November to answer the charges of making false statements to an independent commission. The bank account reportedly had sums amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars between November 1997 and October 2001. Under Trinidad law, MP’s are required to declare assets to the commission. Failure to comply can result in a fine of US$41,ooo and a ten-year jail term.
Bike taxi in Jamaica
Hard pressed Jamaicans are showing their resourcefulness once again. In western Hanover, lack of proper transportation and poor road conditions have spawned the emergence of a new commercial transportation system, bike taxi. Motor bikes can go where automobiles fear to tread. Thes are really motor scooter ranging from 50 to 100 cc’s. The operation has spread from a single bike to over 100.
Are the bikes legal? Of course not . In addition police say:
As a result police seize about 10 bikes per week. It beats walking and seems to fill a legitimate need.
The good news and the bad about Brian Lara
The good news is that Brian Lara scored a century to propel the West Indies cricket team to a victory over Kenya. The bad news is much worse. He complained about feeling ill during the match. He was so sick he could not take the field in the last innings and was unable to collect his Man-of-the-Match award. He has since been diagnosed with hepatitis. This has forced him to withdraw from the upcoming tour of India to seek medical attention. His place has been taken by his T&T countryman Darren Ganga.
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