Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Christopher Coke pleads guilty to racketeering and assault

NEW YORK POST | By BRUCE GOLDING (just a coincidence! NOT the Prime Minister)

Last Updated: 5:09 PM, August 31, 2011

Posted: 5:08 PM, August 31, 2011

Read more:
He wasn't wiggy enough to risk dying behind bars.

A violent Jamaican drug lord who got busted while disguised under an Afro wig and fake Gucci cap pleaded guilty today to racketeering charges that could send him to prison for 23 years.

Christopher Coke, 42, struck the plea bargain with Manhattan federal prosecutors just weeks before the scheduled start of a trial at which he would have faced life in prison without parole.

The sudden turnabout came after the judge refused to toss damning telephone wiretaps and prosecutors moved to introduce evidence that Coke committed at least five murders in his home country while heading a drug ring known as the "Shower Posse" and the "Presidential Click."

Court papers say one of the victims was marked for death after stealing "drug proceeds" from Coke, who then administered his own brand of "Scarface"-style justice.

"While the victim was tied down, Coke killed him with a chainsaw," prosecutors Joceyln Strauber and John Zach wrote.

Coke's fearsome reputation prompted residents of the Kingston neighborhood he controlled to repeatedly clash with police after Prime Minister Bruce Golding ordered his arrest and extradition last year.

At least 76 people died during the month-long mayhem, which ended only after Coke was nabbed during a traffic stop, reportedly on his way to surrender.

In court this afternoon, Coke spoke with a lilting accent as he admitted conspiring to ship at least 3,000 kilos of marijuana and 15 kilos of cocaine to the United States between 1999 and June 2010.

He also admitted ordering the 2007 knifing of a Bronx drug dealer who owed money to one of his cronies.

"He got stabbed in his face," Coke said of the unidentified victim.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Drama at a Tripoli hotel

Drama at a Tripoli hotel

We tracked the dramatic overthrow of the Moammar Gadhafi regime on CNN and could see the mounting tension in their senior correspondent Matthew Chance, even as he continued to report bravely on developments. He was being held with other members of the media by army personnel in Tripoli's Hotel Rixos.

Chance hinted at their precarious plight on Saturday, August 20 when he heard the reports of the successful takeover of Tripoli by the rebels, and disclosed that he and his colleagues were not being allowed to leave the hotel. During five tense days, the journalists realised that a number of frightening scenarios could develop: they could be held hostage, used as human shields, summarily executed.

The brilliant Jomana Karadsheh, a Jordanian CNN producer based in Baghdad struck up a conversation with one of the soldiers, saying how she longed to see her loved ones, and wished to leave the hotel. The 50-year-old soldier's eyes filled with tears as he related to her and an Arabic-speaking CNN cameraman, how concerned he was about his own family caught up in the rebellion.She was able to convince him to release her media colleagues.

In a moving account on the CNN website, we see an aggressor being coaxed into the rediscovery of his humanity:

"Karadsheh and the cameraman reminded him that all the senior officials - and now even his young comrades - had abandoned him.

It was time to give up. 'Slowly, he started to change.'

The cameraman slowly stripped the soldier and gunman of their weapons. Now unarmed, the man looked at the journalists and said, "You can go now."

Where 'doing more with less' is the norm

Jean Lowrie-Chin | Jamaica Observer | Monday, August 29, 2011

THE recent Jamaica Teachers' Association Annual Conference was interesting. A militant outgoing JTA President Nadine Molloy-Young objected to the term "failing schools" while a grim-faced Education Minister Andrew Holness listened intently. The minister eventually had the last word, figuratively turning the Ministry's pockets inside out and declaring, "We have to do more with less."
We have wonderful teachers, but many of them may not understand the sacrifices made by their fellow Jamaicans to pay those taxes which fund the national budget. There are people in small businesses working 50 weeks per year, averaging 60 hours per week. They get no duty concessions, so they buy second-hand cars. They learn new technology overnight, glad for any gadget that could help them to do "more with less". When it comes to performance-related pay, they must submit detailed reports of activities and results along with invoices.
These brave entrepreneurs must prepare budgets which may have several iterations before final agreements are reached. Collections can be arduous - we know a pest-control outfit that ended up subsidising their customer after making two trips to Montego Bay to get hard-earned payment.
They had better file returns and pay taxes on time so that Tax Compliance Certificates (TCC) are up-to-date and they can get approval from the National Contracts Commission (NCC) to be able to tender for jobs. To stay on a productivity curve, they must have activity plans, board meetings, staff meetings, and strong financial management. When a business must present its results to a tough-talking board of directors, managers know it is a case of "put up or shut up".
Imagine then, when these businesses squeeze to hire a high school graduate with all sorts of teacher and pastor recommendations, only to discover that the individual can barely speak, much less write passable English. Teachers, you may not want to use the term "failing schools" but even a nicer name will not hide the fact that university lecturers are having to teach their students the fundamentals of grammar.
Nadine Molloy-Young is herself a role model, a winner of the Principal of the Year, impressing the panel of judges with her track record of leadership of the Buff Bay High School. She has every right to be defensive of and loyal to her fellow teachers, but she should call out the underachievers among them who are giving her noble profession a bad name.
Drama at a Tripoli hotel
We tracked the dramatic overthrow of the Moammar Gadhafi regime on CNN and could see the mounting tension in their senior correspondent Matthew Chance, even as he continued to report bravely on developments. He was being held with other members of the media by army personnel in Tripoli's Hotel Rixos.
Chance hinted at their precarious plight on Saturday, August 20 when he heard the reports of the successful takeover of Tripoli by the rebels, and disclosed that he and his colleagues were not being allowed to leave the hotel. During five tense days, the journalists realised that a number of frightening scenarios could develop: they could be held hostage, used as human shields, summarily executed.
The brilliant Jomana Karadsheh, a Jordanian CNN producer based in Baghdad struck up a conversation with one of the soldiers, saying how she longed to see her loved ones, and wished to leave the hotel. The 50-year-old soldier's eyes filled with tears as he related to her and an Arabic-speaking CNN cameraman, how concerned he was about his own family caught up in the rebellion.She was able to convince him to release her media colleagues.
In a moving account on the CNN website, we see an aggressor being coaxed into the rediscovery of his humanity:
"Karadsheh and the cameraman reminded him that all the senior officials - and now even his young comrades - had abandoned him.
It was time to give up. 'Slowly, he started to change.'
The cameraman slowly stripped the soldier and gunman of their weapons. Now unarmed, the man looked at the journalists and said, "You can go now."
Unusual week for Washington DC
It was an unusual week for Washington DC, where our relatives who always felt safe from such tropical occurrences as earthquakes and hurricanes experienced them both. The long-awaited opening of the Martin Luther King Jr Monument scheduled for yesterday to mark the 48th anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech, was postponed because of Hurricane Irene. At the time of writing this column, the warnings were grave: extensive flooding as far north as New York City. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

Grenadian Teen Kirani James wins World Champs Gold

DAEGU, South Korea | Tue Aug 30, 2011 6:43pm IST

(Reuters) - Teenager Kirani James chased down defending champion LaShawn Merritt on the home straight to win 400 metres gold and Grenada's first medal at the world championships on Tuesday.

James, who turns 19 on Thursday and has run just a handful of senior races after winning a string of junior titles, surged past American Merritt just before the line to claim victory in a personal best time of 44.60.

Olympic champion Merritt, who has just returned from a 21-month ban for doping, had come round the final bend with what looked like a comfortable lead before being beaten by James's finish.

Merritt took his second world championship silver medal in 44.63 with Belgium's Kevin Borlee, whose twin Jonathan was also in the final, claiming bronze in 44.90.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Ed Osmond)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bolt beats Irene on Washington Post

Washington Post's The Post Most

Most Popular

1. World track championships: Usain Bolt is disqualified in 100-meter final
2. Overhyped Irene makes Washington the inevitable butt of snickers
3. Beyonce is pregnant
4. Hurricane Irene was not the powerhouse most expected
5. Hurricane Irene closings, cancellations in the D.C. region

Click headline above to go to Washington Post homepage

Statement from the Bolt Camp

FALSE START - By Bolt publicist Carole Beckford
28 August 2011 - Daegu, South Korea - The world was unable to see the world's fastest man Usain Bolt defend his 100 metres title at the 13th World Championship in Daegu, South Korea on Sunday, August 28; this after a false start in the final.

Bolt who entered the final as favourite following easy wins in rounds one and two, cruised to 10.10 and 10.05 seconds respectively and was drawn in lane 5 in the final.

Bolt's teammate, Yohan Blake, took the gold to become the youngest world champion in 9.92 seconds with Walter Dix, second in 10.08 and former world champion, Kim Collins third in 10.09.

The false start proved to be an anti climax to the Championship so far following two other false starts on Day two. There is expressed disappointment for Usain and his team and overall for the Championship.

Usain will compete in the 200 metres heats on September 2 and the 4 X 100 metres relay on September 4.

Bolt has the world record of 9.58 seconds for the 100 metres.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Happy 90th Birthday Daphne Hewett!

Daphne as Miss Jamaica 1938

Daphne – a luminous 90

Daphne Hewett with granddaughter Shelley Hendrickson (back row, left), and great-grandchildren (clockwise, from top) Amanda, Craig and Rachel Hendrickson for an oh-so-lovely family portrait. (photos from Jamaica Observer)

Folks at the Stella Maris Foundation in Grants Pen are delighted that one of their most generous supporters, Mrs Daphne Hewett, recently celebrated her 90th Birthday in fine style. Here is a lady who was Miss Jamaica 1938, and later had a wonderfully productive partnership with her late husband Gordon Hewett, earning her the Women Business Owners Trailblazer Award. Their Dagor chain of boutiques in hotels throughout Jamaica exuded Daphne’s beauty and elegance.

Daphne’s indomitable spirit comes from a deep faith in the Almighty, which she enjoyed sharing by leading praise and worship sessions for the young people in Grant’s Pen. Daphne continues to be a major donor to the Stella Maris Foundation, where the Sewing Centre is named in her honour. Here’s to a magnanimous Jamaican lady!

Read more:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hurricane Preparedness Tips from NOAA

What steps should I take when a hurricane watch/warning is posted?

Contributed by Neal Dorst

When a hurricane season starts -

The time to start your preparations is long before a hurricane watch is issued for your area. A good time to begin is during Hurricane Awareness Week, which occurs the week before hurricane season begins on June 1st. This is the time to make a hurricane plan or assess the one you have already formulated.
- Go through your hurricane supplies and replace any items that are outdated.
- Test your flash lights and other battery operated equipment.
- Check your shutters to ensure they're in good working condition. You may even want to deploy one or two to make sure they fit properly and you remember how they go up.
- Update any emergency numbers and phone numbers for family contacts outside the area.
- Pick up a hurricane preparedness brochure at the store and review it for pertinent tips and useful information.

When a hurricane watch is issued for your area -

Now is the time to double check your supplies, your shutters, and your plans.
- If there are any actions in your plan that need to be done long before you hunker down, now is the best time.
- You should get some cash from the bank or ATM and gas up your car.
- The longer you wait, the longer the lines will be, wasting your time.

When a hurricane warning is issued for your area -

Now is the time for action! Put up your shutters before the winds get too high.
- Clean up your yard and prep your pool.
- Lower your refrigerator temperature and fill up your bathtub and any extra jugs with water.
- If you are evacuating, prepare your property first then leave the area with plenty of time ahead since roads will become congested soon after the warning is issued.

This is just a general outline of actions you ought to take. Look at these Websites for more detailed safety plans:

Red Cross
Preparado para un huracan - Red Cross en EspaƱol
FEMA - Federal Emergency Management Agency

Last Updated : April 21, 2010


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Buildings evacuated on the Hill

My folks were sightseeing when the earthquake happened - they took this photo right after they evacuated the museum near the Capitol!
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Sunday, August 21, 2011

UWI Memories - Dionne and Minna

Dionne Jackson-Miller

Minna Israel

It was great to see fellow students from our undergraduate years at last week’s UWI Reunion. They look amazing – healthy habits pay off, and I learned that as a day student I missed quite a lot of that enjoyable rivalry between halls of residence. We enjoyed insightful and humorous reveries from Minna Israel, Dionne Jackson-Miller, Wayne Chen, Leighton McKnight and Michael McNaughton. Below are excerpts from Dionne’s and Minna's remarks. - Jean Anita

Excerpts – Dionne Jackson-Miller’s Reflections on Mary Seacole Hall

I’m a proud graduate of the UWI and of Mary Seacole Hall …
- I was promptly renamed MUG, the reason for which is lost in the mists of 19….. and my brother Howard was just as promptly renamed Jug when he landed on Chancellor several years later
- One advantage of university and hall life is supposed to be making friends and contacts you’ll have all your life, but the hall name thing can kinda defeat that purpose
- Imagine this – one busy afternoon in the newsroom, major developments on the industrial relations scene, I’m trying to make sense of it all and I know someone who can help me, a brother from Chancellor I used to lyme with
- Problem is –you're at a political rally, and look…there is…there is… the only name coming to mind is Back-a-neer
- Renaming was just one part of freshers week
- Freshers week was a wonderful time that I still have great memories of
- The banging on the door at 3 o clock in the morning so you could get a guided tour of the campus in the pitch black
- Squinting through the darkness while someone pointed out ODT or old library
- Having Chancellor Hall chairman Rod Stewart and Seacole chairperson Hughjeanette Allen marching around us with huge sticks while we obediently assumed the fresher’s position when someone yelled “Freshers all…ATTEN-SHUN!!!!!!!!” stand at ease - atten-Shun - stand at ease - over and over and over
- Trying to figure out that first morning what was Chan-Sea
- And learning quickly that was the name given to the two united great halls Chancellor and Seacole
- Learning how fortunate we were to have been accepted into the bosom of Chan-sea
- Pitying our friends who wound up in other places - still sorry fi onnu
- I still can’t fathom the idea of Chancellor and Seacole not united as Chansea - but and I feel fortunate that that wasn’t my experience
- We worked together
- We cheered for each other
- We married each other
- From the very first week - We marched together as freshers
- we made friends very quickly - it’s hard not to make friends when you have Rod Stewart ordering the freshman marching beside you to wax lyrical and then hanging around to listen in to the conversation and see if the waxing was lyrical enough!!! And joining in the conversation if he thought the freshman was falling short to show him how it should be done
- we learned that one of the worst things to be on hall was a lumpen
- The mere fact that you were a dedicated student, even a med student was no excuse - after all Dennis Brown was a prime example that you could beat and lyme -
- He’s now a successful doctor
- Saw him the other day and had a nice chat with him - didn’t tell him I couldn’t remember his real name either
- We didn’t need a megaphone on Seacole in my time we had Helen
- At the top of her voice exhorting Seacolites to ROPE OUT!! Whether it was to 5 am Ring Road or a hall meeting
- Living on mary Seacole hall made a life long impression on me
- I cherished my time on hall
- I made lifelong friends and developed a lifelong loyalty to Mary Seacole hall and equally strong loyalty to and good memories of our brothers on Chancellor

Excerpts from Minna Israel’s remarks

Since I have left UWI – the one thing that has never changed – is the importance I have placed on the relationships that were built there, and the experiences I carried with me as I built my career. Our UWI foundation provided the bases upon which we have all built successful careers, and engaged in lifelong pursuits, friendships and relationships; and, with confidence, assumed our places in societies all over the globe. We are indeed special.

So, this evening we CELEBRATE this phenomenal institution. An institution that is unmatched in its contribution to the development of this nation and the region.

So, fellow Alumni and friends of UWI, I ask us all – How do we breathe life into our Alumni Motto? How do we raise the bar and give new meaning to our Motta - “Proud to be making a difference” - and indeed make a difference?

I submit that when we support and contribute to UWI Alumni Association, we are guaranteeing a better future for our students, and by extension, our country, the region and the world.

Friday, August 19, 2011

We wore black today

It's tough running a business, trying to conserve and being faced with ever-mounting electricity bills. We're now investigating solar alternatives.

The Excellent Prof Ajai Mansingh

“I felt blessed with cosmic bliss. I could see nothing but unity in the world – one Source, one unity, pure divine bliss, not man-made.” - Prof Ajai Mansingh

A fond farewell to a tireless scientist and historian, Professor Ajai Mansingh who passed away recently. His dedication to family, his insightful book “Home Away From Home – 150 Years of Indian Presence in Jamaica” and his leadership of the Interfaith Prayer Group were inspiring. Our condolences to his wife Dr Laxmi Mansingh, son Dr Akshai Mansingh, daughter-in-law Gunjan, and grandsons Abhijai and Atishai.

Excerpt from a column published in the Jamaica Observer 19 October 09

by Jean Lowrie-Chin

How can a country of such wonderful people, be almost on the edge of despair? Let us remember that there is not a single place in the world that enjoys our level of racial and religious harmony. Our history of challenges and triumphs, the heroes we honour today, should help us to rise above the bickering and accusations.

One scientist, who came here in 1973 from India via Canada, fell in love with beautiful Jamaica and has never wanted to leave. He has had his most moving discoveries and life experiences in Jamaica. Professor Ajai Mansingh, author of “Home Away From Home – 150 Years of Indian Presence in Jamaica”, explained why there has been a longstanding kinship between Jamaicans of Indian and African descent. The Indians who had been hired as indentured labour on the plantations after 1845, were left to starve by their masters. “The recently emancipated African slaves had very little, but they took pity on the Indians and shared their food with them,” he explained.

Mansingh went on to explain that the Africans who had been attending Christian churches, observed the Indians gathering under trees to conduct their ethnic religious ceremonies. This inspired them to return to their African forms of worship, Christian in belief but with Hindu influences including the central table laden with food and flowers. “There is still a revival group in August Town that serves dahl bhat at their ceremonies,” he says.

The Professor, a Hindu by birth and conviction, says he had his own personal encounter with Jesus, one that would lead him to become a co-founder of the National Interfaith Fellowship. One afternoon in 1987, while sitting with two students on the porch of his home in College Common, he had a vision. “Suddenly I saw a golden aura that I identified as Jesus Christ, and I went towards Him to receive Him,” said the Professor. “I felt blessed with cosmic bliss. I could see nothing but unity in the world – one Source, one unity, pure divine bliss, not man-made.”

When the Professor opened his eyes, he saw his two students crying. “They said that all the life had gone out of my body – I was pale and apparently not breathing during the episode.” Mansingh said that he went immediately to the United Theological College, to relate the episode to his friend Rev Ashley Smith, when he saw him in the car-park. “Imagine, he said he was just about to drive to my home,” said Prof Mansingh. “He wanted to discuss the building of a Hindu temple by the Christians of Jamaica!”

On October 2, 1992, the promulgation of the National Interfaith Fellowship took place at King’s House with signatories from the Jamaica Council of Churches, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslins, Baha’is and Rastafarians. Co-founders were Professor Mansingh, then Governor General Sir Howard Cooke and Rev Ashley Smith. The members continue to meet and pray together to this day, deeply respecting each other’s beliefs.

...Professor Mansingh shared the prayer of the Interfaith Fellowship which gives thanks for “the gifts we bring one another when we meet in the spirit of acceptance and love”, and asks that we “listen to each other in humility.”

Monday, August 15, 2011

They sneeze – we wheeze

(From The Telegraph) Burning building during the recent London riots - Photo: PA

Observer column|Jean Lowrie-Chin | MON 15 Aug 11

We don’t have to wonder why we were riveted by the US Congress stand-off on the raising of their debt ceiling and the riots in England. These two countries are important to small states like Jamaica, with a deeply dependent economy and our assimilated diaspora. Thus, we have been warned that any threat of a US recession will affect two golden lifelines – tourism and remittances.

A 68-year-old man, Richard Mannington Bowes of Ealing, West London died on Thursday after he was attacked while trying to put out a fire set by thugs. As we looked at a CCTV image of the suspected attacker on the BBC website, we prayed, ‘Please Lord do NOT make him be a Jamaican’. It is a comfort that relatives of Mark Duggan, whose killing by police triggered the rioting, have asked for calm, saying that they regretted the damage to the property of innocent people. Duggan’s relatives, some with Jamaican roots, and friends had been staging a peaceful demonstration when the mayhem started.

When we were children, we would sing in rounds, “London’s burning! Fire, fire! And we have no water.” It was ironical that in the face of a burning London, Prime Minister James Cameron announced that the police would be using water cannons … with 24 hours notice. So now a lot of blame is being heaped on the Police -- looks like they are everyone’s favourite scapegoat everywhere. They were treading on eggshells, as one more police killing could have become an even more dangerous flashpoint. So there were these sturdy youth, well dressed, taking over the streets of London. One of the boys arrested was 11 years old. Two teenage girls were interviewed at 5am after a night of drinking looted wine. One of the semi-drunk losers said she was doing it to “teach the rich a lesson.”

The Independent newspaper described the riots as “a Katrina moment” (thanks for sharing Rob Mullally). It noted, “Just as the US government failed to shore up the levees above the city of New Orleans when it had a chance, successive British administrations have failed to repair the social levees that ought to protect our society from this kind of aggression. At the weekend, those levees burst, and we have been witnessing the ugly results.”

“This disturbing phenomenon has to be understood as a conflagration of aggression from a socially and economically excluded underclass,” opined the writer. “A disaffected criminal fringe, made up of people who feel they have no stake in society, has decided to exert itself on the streets. Alienated young men and women, some of them barely more than children, have taken this as an opportunity to steal, riot, burn and to generally kick against authority.”

Sounds familiar? Year after year, decade after decade, our sociologists warn us about the grinding poverty in which fatherless children are raised. Yes, colleague Mark Wignall, many are exposed to sex too soon, but it cannot only be the desire to buy a girl a makeover that sends our youngsters into crime. It is the misplaced machismo of the absent father who boasts that he “got” a child, much like a supermarket free sample. It is the tragic ignorance of the impoverished mother who has baby after baby, hoping that this time, the father may just stay and look after her expanding family.

In Jamaica, you can detect this poverty from the appearance of the victims but in the welfare state of Britain, these lost youth are well looked after physically by an efficient health system and clothed by an unemployment ‘dole’ that is higher than the minimum wage. In many of Jamaica’s ‘better’ high schools, there are at-risk students similar to the rioters, their spirits stunted by careless parenting and a surfeit of gadgets.

We have been warned by Minister responsible for information Darryl Vaz that in view of the economic challenges including those from US belt-tightening, Cabinet will have to explore budget cuts. Hopefully, this will be seen in the tone and lifestyle of our politicians on both sides of the House. We are hearing the campaigning and join with Bishop Herro Blair to demand an apology from politicians who have been associated with gunmen. With the US’ credit rating downgraded and old England not feeling so jolly, we have to be ever vigilant and scrupulous if we want to attract any of the scarce benefits from our beleaguered benefactors.

Jamaica needs a strong JLP and a strong PNP, both mature enough to know that in a democracy, the winner gets to govern and the loser gets the winner to govern more carefully. We heard some encouraging sounds from both sides last week. Opposition Finance spokesman Peter Phillips was critical but cautious in his press briefing. Technology spokesman Phillip Paulwell commented positively on the appointment by Industry and Commerce Minister Christopher Tufton of ICT visionary Patrick Casserly as ambassador/special envoy. Agriculture Minister Robert Montague seems to have hit the ground running and we respect the independent thinking of Energy Minister Clive Mullings.

We have to give special kudos to Education Minister Andrew Holness for insisting on the improvement of our failing schools. Success can only come from strong performance as our finer teachers and principals have demonstrated over the years. They are result oriented and courageously insist on excellence. We simply cannot afford to graduate any more illiterates and disaffected youth. Let the mobs of London be a warning to us. Let us ensure that when we open our data centres we will have qualified and responsible personnel who will wow North America to bring even more well-needed jobs to Jamaica.

Monday, August 8, 2011

CAL Crash - JA and T&T photos

Talk about perspective!

The top photo appeared in the Jamaica Observer.
The one below appeared in the T&T Newsday.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Farewell Anthony Abrahams

Farewell to a brilliant Jamaican! Anthony Abrahams was an early achiever - first Black on BBC - Rhodes Scholar - youngest Tourism Director. He and Beverley Manley were the thought provoking duo whose 'Breakfast Club' took national discussion to a new level. We remember Anthony's passion and courage.
Safe journey to God's loving arms.

Link to RJR94 report:

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

US 'still attractive to park money'

From The Guardian
By Richard Blackden, New York
Last Updated: 2:53PM BST 06/08/2011
China has rebuked the United States for its Analysts at Capital Economics said the move will "surely rock the financial markets when they open on Monday" but added that any moves are likely to be short-lived because the slowing global economy makes US government debt, or Treasuries, an attractive place for investors to park money. At roughly $9 trillion in size, the Treasury market has advantages and liquidity that rival government bond markets, including Britain's, cannot match.

Excerpt from report below:

Despite the threat of the downgrade, the prices for Treasuries are close to their highs for the year as investors seek safe-havens and expectations for economic growth diminish.

Whatever the reaction next week, investors are clearer that the downgrade is a severe blow to America's prestige and is also likely to increase the US government's borrowing costs. JPMorgan this month estimated that such a move could add about $100bn a year to America's funding costs as lenders demand more to compensate for the greater risk. The US spent $414bn last year on interest payments.

"I have a feeling the dust may settle quite quickly," said David Buck of BGC Partners in London. "The US Treasury market is the most liquid in the world."

Either way, it frays nerves further before what was already going to be tense opening of financial markets next week.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Congress approves debt deal, averts U.S. default

A moment in US History ...

News Alert: Congress approves debt deal, averts U.S. default
August 2, 2011 12:51:58 PM
--------------------------------------The Senate approved a plan, 74 to 26, Tuesday that will increase the federal debt ceiling just hours before the Treasury said it could begin running out of money to pay the government's bills. The measure now goes to President Obama, who is expected to sign it shortly. The plan will cut the national debt by at least $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years with no immediate provision for tax increases. more information, visit
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Monday, August 1, 2011

Emancipation for today

ADAM STEWART... banished all doubt that he could take Sandals on its upward path

Jamaica Observer column | Jean Lowrie-Chin

Monday, August 01, 2011

THE real heroes of the world are those who refuse to be distracted by bad news and "'bad mind". We got a well needed charge from a roomful of heroes last weekend - not just their boss Gordon "Butch" Stewart (owner of this paper) but each manager who took the stage at the unveiling of Sandals Resorts International US$500-million expansion plan. As Brian Roper, Gary Sadler, Marsha Ann Donaldson-Brown and Andre Wade reflected on their sojourns from lowly jobs to management, as Adam Stewart electrified the room with his dad's signature salesmanship, an emancipation story unfolded.

How, might you ask, can one be writing about white Jamaicans Brian Roper and Adam Stewart in the same sentence as "Emancipation"? It is because, dear reader, we will never be fully emancipated until we Jamaicans stop qualifying suffering or success in terms of colour. Most of us - black, white, brown and yellow- came from the plantation. Indeed, my Indian ancestors who came here as indentured servants, were thrown off the estates as weaklings and rescued by the previously freed Africans. What is more, Adolf Hitler would have been quite frustrated if he had come here searching for "racial purity" in our multi-ethnic population.

Let us therefore look at the Jamaica we live in today and redefine the kind of emancipation we need to take us forward, even as our proud history reminds us that it is only heroism that can break us out of this grip of gangs, that can shake us out of this desperation that puts power above righteousness.

We felt emancipation in that room at Sandals Grand Riviera in Ocho Rios where Gary Sadler and Andre Wade exuded ownership of their brand, applauding and sometimes roasting their colleagues. We felt that freedom when Marsha Ann Donaldson-Brown said of her career success, "My journey is a love affair."

We saw emancipation when over 30 workers, some of them very young and humble, received prizes of holidays at Sandals resorts where they would be treated as valued guests, afforded the same attention they so cheerfully give.

We heard national pride when Wayne Cummings, Sandals admin director, explained how his team had volunteered to train Customs and Immigration personnel at Montego Bay to ensure that our visitors would have a completely positive experience from landing to departure. We were moved by Heidi Clarke's account of the Sandals Foundation projects that have renovated schools, funded a "Cure for Kids" project and their operation of a Peace and Justice Centre in Flanker. Sandals has been working in Flanker since 1981: "Flanker has risen!" declared Adam Stewart.

Thirty-year-old Adam Stewart was born the very year that Sandals was started. His incisive and spirited presentation banished all doubt that he could take the world-renowned chain on that same upward path that it has followed, even as he remains a dedicated environmentalist, having appointed environmental specialists at all of his hotel properties. He has moved the chain from Green Globe to the highest award of Earth Check Platinum. He has taken failing hotels and converted them to winners, like the Hyatt in St Lucia which is now the Sandals Grande.

Adam Stewart and his sister Jaime Stewart-McConnell inherited the drive and altruism of their parents Butch and PJ Stewart, as well as their down-to-earth approachability. This is how we emancipate our children: through education, example, and discipline.

Sandals employs over 10,000 people throughout the Caribbean and plans to expand and open new properties, thus creating more jobs. If that is not an emancipation story, I don't know what is.

And so, as the controversy rages about scrap metal and cash-for-gold, perhaps we can ensure that those millions that are being granted or loaned to support micro and small businesses can be used to ensure that bonafide businesses are established and employment created. Now that Minister Tufton has taken the courageous move to suspend scrap-metal trading, his technocrats will have to get busy in identifying the number of persons involved in the trade and helping them to find other means of employment.

Here's an idea. Sandals Resorts has established Island Routes, the leading provider of tours in the Caribbean. Perhaps we could be developing craftsmen and women who could supply all the souvenirs that we are now importing. Perhaps we could be empowering the more seasoned drivers to start driving schools for new entrants, and provide an elite taxi corps for our resort areas, business districts and retirement communities.

With so much to be done, productivity plans for government ministries and agencies should get Jamaica moving and in sync with the private sector. There is still too much red tape, which some translate into downright paper-shuffling laziness. Even as Sandals is planning the building of additional hotel properties, they and other dynamic organisations are wasting resources just trying to get the necessary approvals so they can get on with their and the nation's business. For Jamaicans to be truly free on the streets and in their communities, we have to convince them of the triumph of a job well done, the joy of a well-deserved promotion, the honour of achievement. None but the blessed of us can free the rest of us.

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