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Olympics Special Edition
Veronica Campbell leads the way to gold
Veronica Campbell led the way as Caribbean athletes dazzled at the recent Olympics in Athens. She blazed to victory in the 200 m leading impressively from start to finish to earn her first gold medal. The girl from Clarkstown, Trelawny won in a time of 22.05, a personal best and although not a record, was the fastest time run since 1999. And Bob Marleys "One Love" played on the stadium public address system to celebrate her victory. Jamaican hearts were filled with pride as she and teammate Aleen Bailey, who barely missed a medal herself by finishing 4th, took a victory lap draped in the Jamaican flag.
By this time she had already won two medals. She had won bronze in the 100m but she had also won silver in the previous Olympics in Sydney where as an eighteen-year-old school girl she had helped propel the Jamaica team to a second place finish in the 4x100 m relay.
But more gold was yet to come. Teaming up with Aleen Bailey, Tanya Lawrence, and Sherone Simpson, they won the 4x100 m relay. The US challenge never materialized as a botched baton exchange killed their hopes. Ironically the US had such slick baton change in the semifinals while Jamaica had a terrible one on the last exchange. This caused them to finish 2nd to Russia, but at least they were not disqualified from the final. It was an impressive foursome consisting of three 100 m finalists and the silver madallist from the Sydney games and they lived up to expectations by their victory.
But even the medal count does not tell the whole story of Jamaica’s impressive performance. Jamaican athletes were in contention everywhere as :
But as usual, Cuba led the Caribbean with 9 gold medals. In the total medal count as the table with a partial list of countries shows below:
Caribbean Athletes need better training facilities
Some Caribbean athletes have benefited from the sophisticated training equipment and techniques in their American colleges. But the local athletes are often restricted to antiquated and inadequate facilities, which make their accomplishments even more outstanding.
IN 2003, Jamaica set up the High Performance Training Centre at the University of Technology (UTech) in Kingston to try to satisfy this need. It was established courtesy of a grant from the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) which picks up the tab for the living expenses of athletes there and pays the salaries of two of the center's seven coaches.
This was not enough as some athletes even on scholarship in the US needed financial assistance. So after an appeal by Minister of Sports Portia Simpson-Miller the CHASE Fund was established. It provides financial assistance to persons or organisations in the cultural, health, arts, sports and education fields. Several Jamaican athletes attending college in the United States have benefited from this scheme which is driven by money earned from the lottery.
Sprinters Asafa Powell, Usain Bolt and Sherone Simpson and hurdler Brigitte Foster, four of the athletes who competed for Jamaica at the Athens Olympics, train at UTech. Athletes from St. Kitts, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago also work out there. Facilities at the High Performance Centre are modest. For example, its gym is small and the equipment, while adequate, is incomparable to those in other developing countries.
Guyanese referee takes over
In the Olympics women’s soccer final between the US and Brazil, regulation time the score was tied. The referee could not continue in overtime and Guyanese referee Dianne Ferreira-James took over and did an excellent job.
St Lucia opposition United Workers Party ousts its leader
Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition in St Lucia and Member of
Parliament in the House of Assembly, Marcus Nicholas, has been sacked by
the United Workers Party. In a letter circulated to the media, the party
said it terminated Mr. Nicholas’ membership "with immediate
effect" following a meeting of the National Council.
Haiti's ex-soldiers demand back pay
Soldiers from Haiti's disbanded army who helped oust President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February have warned the interim government to
give them 10 years of back pay or face being thrown out of office.
T&T Prime Minister gets heart pacemaker in Cuba
The heart of Prime Minister Patrick of Trinidad and Tobago is probably beating a lot more regularly. This is because he recently had a pacemaker installed in a 45-minute medical procedure performed in Cuba. Manning, 57, had heart surgery in Cuba in 1998 to replace valves damaged because of rheumatic fever he had suffered. When he went for a medical check-up in Cuba on August 4, doctors told him he should return to have the pacemaker installed.
Manning, who also served as prime minister from 1991-1995, has praised Cuba's health system and sought assistance from the Cuban Government on health issues. Last year, the two countries agreed to allow 80 doctors and nurses from Cuba to work in Trinidad for three years to help ease a shortage of medical professionals.
Local newspapers report that the PM was reluctant to have the operation in Trinidad because Trinidad's doctors union has often been at odds with Manning's Government, striking twice last year.
Cuba rejects US hurricane aid
Hurricane Charley battered western Cuba . At least four deaths in Cuba were blamed on the storm, which forced the evacuation of 200,000 residents. The US responded to the disaster by offering the generous sum of US$50,000. No, I did not leave off a zero. $50,000! Besides they stipulated that the money not be given to the government of President Fidel Castro, but be distributed by the U.S. Interests Section in Havana to independent, non-governmental organizations.
Cuba rejected the cynical offer calling the gesture hypocritical, the
amount humiliating, and that the island will not accept supposed help from
the government of a country that tries to take it under with hunger and
Hospitals can claim bounty on illegal immigrants
Hospitals looking to make additional cash will be able to do so by asking emergency room patients, including Caribbeans and Caribbean Americans, their immigration status. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Medicare and Medicaid Studies proposed reimbursing states $1 billion across four years for the cost of hospital services to these patients; allocating $250 million per year over the next four years to hospitals that ask patients' immigration status.
Hospitals don’t relish the role as cops and are seeking other ways to get this badly needed money. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus have also deplored this additional informant role for hard-pressed health workers by letter to the Bush administration. One Congressman, Dana Rohrabacher, even tried to force the hospitals by law.
State Departments of Motor Vehicles are getting into the act too. New York and Virginia are two states for which applicants must produce a social security card in order to get a driver’s license. The effect probably will be now such persons will be illegal immigrants and unlicensed drivers too.
Deck stacked against Caribbean in trade negotiations
Ritu Sharma of the Washington-based Women’s Edge Coalition advises Caribbean countries to seek international assistance in negotiating complex trade agreements. The Caribbean is completely overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of negotiators needed.
As an example, she said "When Jamaica only has three or four negotiators and the United States has 150 negotiators, that is not a level playing field, and countries like Jamaica need some assistance from lawyers to advise them and coach them how to negotiate in the best interests of their own country." Consequently Caribbean societies are suffering the consequences of unfair trade practices.
Even more unfair, Ms. Sharma charged, is the effect of trade liberalization on women in Jamaica. It has caused women to suffer a net loss of 12,400 jobs in the agriculture and services sectors over the period 1993-2001, contrasted with a net gain of 45,500 jobs for men. She cited these statistics from a study conducted by Women's Edge and CAFRA (Association for Feminist Research and Action) at a seminar in Kingston, Jamaica.
In a subsequent interview she pointed out that, 'Trade has hit Jamaica's agriculture pretty hard, particularly poultry farmers and dairy farmers. The importation of powdered milk has wiped out the local dairy industry and the importation of chicken parts has almost wiped out the poultry industry,'
The collapse of the banana trade in the Windward Islands took away women’s reliable banana job and some were even forced into prostitution to survive. Given these experiences, the Women's Edge Coalition is urging the Jamaican Government to seek the most advantageous conditions for entry into the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).
Caribbean gets new funding to fight AIDS
The Global Fund for HIV/AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) is
providing a US $12.6 million grant to fund a project aimed at reducing the
spread of the deadly HIV/AIDS virus in the Caribbean region.
Barbados investigate sub-human housing
Health authorities in Barbados have launched an island-wide investigation into a growing practice of housing foreign workers in cramped and unhygienic conditions. This came about when 100 foreign workers were found sharing 18 rooms in a run-down former hotel building. It seems that the demand to house foreign workers has transformed may a Bajan home into a beehive of small rental units which often fails to meet health standards.
What is puzzling to this writer is that these foreign workers are all the way from the Philipines and Korea. Why not workers from the Caribbean?
MTV Bars Beenie Man As Gays Plan Protest
Dancehall star Beenie Man, who has recorded anti-gay songs in the past, was yanked from a concert in Miami associated with the MTV Video Music Awards after gay groups planned a protest. MTV pulled the Jamaican singer from the roster after South Florida gay activists announced plans to protest the concert in Miami over some of his past lyrics, including "I'm dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays" and "Queers must be killed."
Beenie Man has had his concerts canceled in Europe over the last few weeks after angry gay groups protested. Although he has previously defended his lyrics, earlier this month, Beenie Man issued an apology for his previous songs, including "Bad Man Chi Chi Man (Bad Man, Queer Man).
"It has come to my attention that certain lyrics and recordings
I have made in the past may have caused distress and outrage among people
whose identities and lifestyles are different from my own," stated
Davis in the statement. "While my lyrics are very personal, I do not
write them with the intent of purposefully hurting or maligning others,
and I offer my sincerest apologies to those who might have been offended,
threatened or hurt by my songs. As a human being, I renounce violence
towards other human beings in every way, and pledge henceforth to uphold
these values as I move forward in my career as an artist."
Jamaica college grads complain of menial job offers
It is reported that many university graduates in Jamaica are being offered menial jobs as a reward for their diligent studies and investment of large fees for their education. Despite their educational credentials they complain about getting job offers for telemarketers and tour guides. But to add insult to injury, Dr. Leachim Semaj, chief executive officer of the Job Bank, a job placement in a typical ‘blame the victim" statement criticizes the graduates for aspiring to better claiming, ""In the United States, it is the college students who are employed by places like Burger King and McDonalds. It seems as if no university student in Jamaica would be willing to do this kind of work. They don't realise that the important thing is to get their feet in the door," he said. Education only gives you a trainable mind. It is training that makes you employable."
What nonsense! This statement is insensitive and absolutely untrue. College graduates are absolutely not settling for fast food jobs here in the US. If anything, I see more and more such jobs being taken by retirees who already have social security and Medicare health insurance. It is also popular with high school drop-outs.
Thousands get pay increase in St. Kitts/Nevis
It seems Christmas came early. Over 4,500 persons, including civil
servants, non-established workers and pensioners, shared in a
multi-million dollar pay out package by the government of St. Kitts and
BWIA announces $7 million losses
Trinidad based BWIA announced a near US $7 million loss for the first
six months of the year 2004. But officials are insisting that the
company is on target for improving as its financial results were in
accordance with the Business Plan. BWIA says the Group would continue its
efforts to stabilise operations and to increase its overall
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez won the recent
recall election so will remain in office. He has now survived a US backed
coup and a US backed recall referendum. This is good news for the
Caribbean as it means that his proposal for special cheap oil prices for
the Caribbean will now go ahead.
Fighting corruption Dominican Republic style
The President of the Dominican Republic won a landslide victory in May 2004 on promises to fight corruption and restore the economy. He has just revealed his breathtaking plan to live up to that election corruption fight promise. He has awarded top jobs to four officials currently under investigation for fraud. The four officials he promoted are all awaiting trial on charges stemming from the alleged disappearance of US$100 million from the Dominican Republic's Temporary and Minimal Employment Program. Some plan.
‘Not Just Tourist’ donate medicines to Guyana youth org
AN international group called, 'Not Just Tourist', has donated a quantity of medical supplies valued approximately $300,000 to Youth Challenge Guyana (YCG). 'Not Just Tourist' has been actively soliciting medicines and medical supplies from doctors, pharmacies, drug representatives and humanitarian aid agencies.
Youth Challenge Guyana has also received medical donations from Food For the Poor Guyana. These items were distributed to persons living with HIV/AIDS. Those donations were made through YCG's HIV/AIDS program.
The YCG is a non-profit, non-governmental and non-religious organisation, which was launched in 1993 by the late President Cheddi Jagan, with a vision of facilitating the development of youths and communities in Guyana through meeting the challenge of work, social action and culture exchange.
Scottish group sends volunteer tutors to Guyana
Project Trust is sending volunteers from Britain and Holland to help tutor students in Guyana in mathematics and science. The volunteers all have passed the Advanced Level of General Certificate of Education and will serve in Guyana for a year.
Project Trust was founded in 1968 as an educational charity on the Hebridean Isle of Coll in North West Scotland. Since then, it has sent over 4,000 volunteers overseas. Its main philosophy is to provide young people with an opportunity to understand a community overseas by immersing themselves in it; living and working there for a year.
2006 CONCACAF semi-final stage continues
World Cup playoffs for the Confederation of of North and Central America and the Caribbean Association of Football (CONCACAF) semi-final stage games continue for that region.
The top two teams in each of the following three groups will advance to the final stage. Then, there will be one group of six teams. The top three teams qualify automatically for the finals. The fourth placed team will play-off with the winner of a knock-out match in the Asian region. Schedule and results for the three groups are as follows:
Fixtures Through November 17, 2004 (Home team first)
Guyana’s female world boxing champ to fight Ali
The reigning WIBA light heavyweight title holder, Guyanese Gwendolyn ‘The Stealth Bomber’ O'Neil is set to fight Ali. Not Mohammed Ali, but his daughter Laila Ali in a ten-round bout for the vacant IFBA title. The bout is scheduled for September 24, 2004 in Atlanta, Georgia. O'Neil has won six of her nine victories by knockouts.
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