RSS

Monthly Archives: August 2012

JAMAICA NEWSWEEKLY For the week ending August 31st, 2012

—————————————-
THIS WEEK”S SUMMARY
—————————————-

WYNTER PROMISES RESURGENCE OF JMD—08/25/12
Although the Jamaican currency is dropping close the J$90 mark against the American dollar, Brian Wynter, governor of the central bank, says that this is only the result of “short-term jitters,” which will end later in 2012. Normalcy is predicted in the foreign exchange market, including appreciation of the Jamaican dollar, once more capital flows in from multinational corporations, according to Wynter. These monies are linked to a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) due later in the year.

SUPPORTERS OF PATOIS WANT AN END TO ITS “DEMONIZATION”—08/26/12
Jamaica’s Minister of Education has lamented the fact that Jamaican students fell short in a CSEC English A exam, suggesting too great an emphasis on memorization, and believes that too little attention is given to higher forms of intellectual thinking. These issues only occur when there is an English language barrier. Most Jamaicans speak Jamaican, a Creole language with a grammar very different from English. Several experts, including the principal of Campion College and the president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, have noted that English is not the native language for most Jamaicans and that the Jamaican language should be recognized as the official language of the country in addition to English.

JAMAICAN GOVERNMENT FAILS TO REDUCE MATERNAL MORTALITY RATES—08/27/12
The government of Jamaica confirmed that it will fail to reduce the nation’s maternal mortality rate to 25 in 100,000 live births. This rate was established in the 2015 millennium development goal (MDG). In spite of their best health efforts, this rate will not be met, according to Sandrea Falconer, Minister with Responsibility for Information.  The current maternal mortality rate in Jamaica is 78 per 100,000 live births. The death rate was attributed to lifestyle diseases like hypertension, hemorrhages, and unsafe abortions. Indirect causes included cardiac disease, HIV/AIDS, and violence.

PRIME MINISTER ADDRESSES FOOD CRISIS—08/28/12
The Cabinet of Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has created a committee designed to address responses to the possibility of a major increase in food prices on the island. The increase is expected to occur due to a severe drought, which has affected large sections of the United States. This drought has already resulted in a record price of US$8.49 a bushel for corn. Several nations are taking steps to oversee their grain exports to ensure their own people have sufficient supplies.

CARIBBEAN AIRLINES DENIES NOT HIRING JAMAICANS—08/28/12
Clive Forbes, general manager of Caribbean Airlines (CAL), Jamaica Operations, is dismissing claims that the company refuses to hire Jamaicans. According to Forbes, the airline, which operates the Air Jamaica brand, promotes the best of skill sets in the Caribbean and involves using the best services and crew members. He said CAL is an “integrated” airline and that most of its employees are from Air Jamaica. Staff is rotated through different routes as part of the integration process, Forbes said. The airline employs more than 60 Jamaican pilots and over 140 Jamaica flight attendants.

JAMAICAN FARM WORKER’S FAMILY COMPENSATED—08/29/12
The Jamaican government will compensate the family of a Jamaican farm worker who died in Canada in August 2012. Horace Clarke, 42, died after a van in which he was riding veered into a ditch along the side of the road. Minister of Labor and Social Security Derrick Kellier met with Clarke’s family, telling family members the government will cover funeral expenses with funds from the Jamaica Liaison Insurance Plan. This plan offers welfare services to farm workers during the time of their employment.

DIVESTMENT STRATEGY MAY CHANGE—08/30/12
The government of Jamaica is considering a change in its strategy after three years’ of failure in offloading loss-making assets. The Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) is refining the divestment policy and will go to the Cabinet in September 2012 to gain approval for a new policy. The goal is to make deals that are more attractive to private investors, said Milverton Reynolds, managing director of DBJ.

COUNTER-APPEAL FILED AGAINST JPS—08/31/12
The lawyer who represents claimants in a class action suit against the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) will file a counter suit with the Court of appeal after the JPS filed an appeal of the judges’ ruling. Justice Bryan Sykes found that the exclusive license provided to JPS is invalid, but JPS argues that the judge erred and his ruling should be dismissed. Hugh Wildman, lawyer for the claimants, is asking the court to find that the Sykes’ ruling was correct. No date has been set for the appeal.

———————————————
JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
———————————————

CARIBBEAN DIASPORA MUSEUM MOVES TO EAST HARLEM—08/25/12
The Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute is moving its art, artifacts, and programming to a temporary facility on New York’s Park Avenue and 125th Street in preparation for its reinstallation at the permanent location, a firehouse in Harlem. The new facility, an 8,500-square-foot venue, is located between Lenox and Seventh Avenues on 125th Street. The museum is eager to remove itself from Midtown to “where we need to be,” said Marta Moreno Vaga, president of the institute. The move is made possible by a $5.2 million grant from the New York City Economic Development Corporation in 2008.

AUTHOR GIVES OVERVIEW OF JAMAICAN HERITAGE—08/26/12
Olive Senior, Jamaican-Canadian author, offered an overview of Jamaica’s heritage during the final lecture in a series associated with the exhibit of Jamaican art at Mississauga Art Gallery. The program was presented in partnership with the National Gallery of Jamaica. Senior is the author of the “Encyclopedia of Jamaica Heritage.” She is based in Toronto, Canada, but was born and raised in Jamaica.

JAMAICA DEFENSE FORCE WELCOMED BY D.C. NATIONAL GUARD—08/28/12
Representatives of the Jamaica Defense Force (JDF) were welcomed to Washington, D.C., on an official visit to the United States Defense Department, U.S. Army, and District of Columbia National Guard. Major General Antony B. Anderson, chief of the defense staff of the JDF, and two of his staff members visited Washington to discuss goals for Jamaica and its part of the National Guard State Partnership Program. The visit is intended to strengthen professional ties between the two entities.

MEXICAN NAVY RESCUES JAMAICAN FISHERMEN—08/30/12
Three Jamaican fishermen, adrift at sea for 18 days, were picked up near Cozumel, Mexico, by the Mexican navy. Glenval Hall, Patrick Warren, and Nakaya Bennett, had been fishing abroad a 36-foot canoe when the boat had engine trouble. While attempting to fix the problem, the engine fell overboard, stranding the fishermen. After rescue, they were taken to the Immigration Center in Cozumel and examined by a physician before transfer to another immigration center in Mexico. Jamaica’s ambassador in that country facilitated their return to Jamaica.

————————————————-
CARIBBEAN NEWS SUMMARY provided by Caribbeantopnews.com
————————————————-

CARIBBEAN UNITES WITH LATIN AMERICA IN SUPPORT OF ECUADOR—08/25/12

19 DEATHS IN HAITI DUE TO TROPICAL STORM ISAAC—08/27/12

FLAMINGOS, WILDLIFE IN CURACAO THREATENED BY OIL SPILL—08/28/12

41 DEAD IN VENEZUELA OIL REFINERY FIRE—08/29/12

CATHOLIC AGENCIES ASSESS DAMAGE AFTER ISAAC—08/30/12

COUNTRIES IN CARIBBEAN PARTNER TO BATTLE MARINE POLLUTION—08/31/12

Visit Caribbeantopnews.com for the weekly Caribbean News Summary, Caribbean Events & Announcements and Caribbean Recipes.

———————————————
BUSINESS NEWS SUMMARY
———————————————

JAMAICA IGNORING TRADE PORTION OF PETROCARIBE PACT—08/27/12
The PetroCaribe Agreement went into effect in 2006, and since that time, private sector companies have not availed themselves of a chance to repay part of Jamaica’s debt to Venezuela. This is the most important concessionary bilateral facility for Jamaica. According to Sharon Weber, manager of the PetroCaribe fund, $2.6 billion has been accrued to Jamaica as a rebate, and there is a trade component of the agreement by which nations can pay for oil with goods and services. Jamaica has yet to utilize this provision.

CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORIY “VIBRANT” IN JAMAICA—08/28/12
Jamaica is celebrating the historically “vibrant” civil aviation industry on the island as part of the Golden Jubilee, hosting an exhibit focusing on the importance of this industry to the island. The exhibit, “Aviation on a Mission,” has been mounted at the Winchester Road offices of the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA). The first reported flight in Jamaica took place in December, 1911, and the first commercial flight landed in Kingston Harbor in December of 1930.

RECYCLING FIRM BASED IN CANADA EMPLOYS WORKERS IN JAMAICA—08/29/12
The Canadian recycling company Panther Corporation has provided 200 job openings for workers in western Jamaica. The project involves building the first solar-powered recycling center in the Caribbean at Montego Bay. The firm has invested US$26 million to build and equip the modular facility in Retirement, St. James. The plant covers 30,000 square feet.

SOCIAL PROGRAM FINANCED BY PETROCARIBE—08/30/12
According to Sharon Weber, the manager of the PetroCaribe Development Fund, reports that study scholarships and community projects supported by Venezuela as part of PetroCaribe are providing significant benefits to Jamaica.  Most of the benefits can be found in the education and community development sectors, such as sanitation works in urban schools.

———————————————————————-

CARIBBEAN TECHNOLOGY NEWS SUMMARY provided by Caribbeantopnews.com
———————————————————————–

JAMAICANS VICTORIOUS IN REGIONAL ENERGY COMPETITION—08/25/12

FORMER AMBASSADOR WANTS TO ENCOURAGE A CULTURE OF INNOVATION—08/27/12

ORGANIZATION REPORT CREATES STIR—08/28/12

ELECTRICITY THEFT GOES HIGH-TECH—08/29/12

Visit Caribbeantopnews.com for the weekly Caribbean News Summary, Caribbean Events & Announcements and Caribbean Recipes.

—————————————————–
ENTERTAINMENT
—————————————————–

JAPANESE ANIMATION POPULAR IN JAMAICA—08/25/12
Anime, a form of Japanese animation, has become very popular among Jamaicans. Recently, a convention was held in St. Andrew that attracted over 300 participants dressed as their favorite anime characters. The Third Annual Anime Convention was sponsored by the Japanese embassy in Jamaica in partnership with JA Cosplayaz. Anime features dramatic storytelling and highly stylized characters with very large eyes, unique hair styling, and small bodies.

U.S. MUSIC SHOWS JAMAICAN ROOTS—08/27/12
A new book is following the influence of Jamaican music on the music of the United States. “Gil Scott Heron: A Father and Son Story” presents the life of the American music star Gil Scott-Heron and his father, Gil Heron, the first black football player in the Scottish Glasgow Celtic team. The book was written by Leslie Gordon Goffe, BBC world service correspondent. Scott-Heron died in May 2011 and is considered to be the “godfather of rap.” Jamaicans believe rap music has its origins in “toasting.”

BANTON GETS NEW ATTORNEY—08/29/12
Jamaican reggae artiste Buju Banton has retained a new lawyer, discontinuing the services of David Oscar Markus who has represented Banton, whose real name is Michael Myrie, since 2009 in Florida. The new lawyer, Chokwe Lumumba, 40, is from Mississippi. Banton’s case stems from a 2009 arrest on gun and drug charges. He is scheduled for sentencing in October 2012.

BUNNY RUGS SINGS FOR CHARITY—08/30/12
Bunny Rugs’ single “Land We Love” is ready to have a role in benefitting Jamaica. Rugs said the proceeds of the single will be marked to aid the Jamaica Children’s Heart Fund/Chain of Hope. The tune is available digitally. These two organizations perform open heart surgery on children at no cost and are endorsed by Rugs and his band.

——————
SPORTS
——————

BOLT, BLAKE THE STARS AT LAUSANNE MEET—08/25/12
Jamaica’s Usain Bolt ran the fastest 200 meters ever at the track in Lausanne for first place. Training partner Yohan Blake of Jamaica clocked 9.69 seconds in the 100 meters to be the joint second-fastest man in history. Bolt’s time in the 200 meters was 19.58 seconds.

RODMAN WINS FIRST ROUND AT T&T ABRAHAM—08/27/12
Jamaica’s Marloe Rodman was the victor in the one-kilometer hill time trial at T&T Abraham cycling competition with a time of one hour and 52.30 seconds. Rodman broke his own record and set a new one in that race.

ASHMEADE WINS 200 METERS IN BIRMINGHAM, FRASER-PRYCE TAKES SECOND—08/28/12
Nickel Ashmeade of Jamaica won the 200 meter competition at the Birmingham Diamond League meet, clocking 20.12 seconds. In second place was Tyson Gay of the United States. Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce finished second in the women’s 200 with a time of 10.90.

SPENCER SETS NEW MEET RECORD AT IAAF DIAMOND LEAGUE—08/29/12
Kaliese Spencer set a new meet record at the IAAF Diamond League in the women’s 400 meters. Spencer took the top prize at the meet in 2011 and had to wait after winning the 2012 competition after she was disqualified for a breach of the rules, but then reinstated following an appeal by Bruce James, MVP president. She won with at time of 53.78.

USAIN BOLT, YOHAN BLAKE SET MEET RECORDS; SHELLY-ANN FRASER-PRYCE IS THE 2012 DIAMOND LEAGUE CHAMPION – 08/30/12
Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake set new Weltklasse meet records in Zurich on Thursday. Bolt won the men’s 200 meters in 19.66 seconds the fastest half-lap race seen in Zurich.  Blake blazed to a victory in 9.76 seconds in the men’s 100 meters.  Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce won the women’s 100m in 10.83 seconds confirming her as the 2012 Diamond League champion.

—————————
JAMAICAN JOBS
—————————

PERSONAL ASSISTANT

BILINGUAL/FRENCH AGENTS

FINANCIAL ADVISOR

SUPERVISOR, EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT (GMG/SEG 2) REGION 2

AIRPORT COORDINATOR
Visit JAMAICAN JOBS.

—————————————————————
DEVOTIONAL
—————————————————————-

When Urgency Provokes Disobedience

Saul figured he could not wait. Earlier, in response to the Philistine threat, he had amassed Israel’s first standing army of three thousand men – two thousand with him and a thousand with his son, Johnathan (1 Samuel 13:1-2). According to the narrative, Israel had become an abomination to the Philistines. As along as Israel stayed a weak and subjected people, the Philistines were fine with that.  However, as soon as the Israelites show some boldness in the LORD and were willing to fight against the LORD’s enemies, as Johnathan had shown in an initial attack, the Philistines considered them an abomination (vv. 3-4).

The Philistine army was formidable. “Thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the seashore in multitude . . . When the men of Israel saw that they were in danger (for the people were distressed), then the people hid in caves, in thickets, in rocks, in holes, and in pits. And some of the Hebrews crossed over the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead” (vv. 5-7).  Samuel, the prophet who had months before anointed him before the people, had set a time of seven days to return to preside over sacrifices but he hid not come (v.8). Feeling he was in a crisis with a frightened people and a large enemy amassed against him, Saul did the unthinkable. He said, “‘Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me.’ And he offered the burnt offering” (v.9).

There were two problems with this course of action. First, Saul plainly disobeyed Samuel. Second, he was a king, not a priest, and only priests were to offer sacrifices. He had no business doing what only a priest should do. When Samuel finally showed up, his first question was, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash, then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the Lord [to seek His favour].’ Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering. And Samuel said to Saul, ‘You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you’” (vv. 13-14).

What terrible consequences! We cannot allow what we deem to be urgent to take precedence over that which is right. The temptation to cut corners are many! Yes, the human mind will always try to rationalize and justify our disobedience, but the acts of disobedience remain. Undoubtedly, Saul’s intentions were good but good intent that contradicts God’s Word has no legs on which to stand.

God honours obedience to His Word. Had Saul remembered that, he would not have lost his kingdom and more importantly, God’s favour. We are faced with the same dilemma today. Amidst the many competing priorities and decisions to be made, all not necessarily in keeping with God’s standards, what choices do we make? How much are you prepared to lose?
CEW

—————————————————————–
CREDITS/SOURCES
—————————————————————–
The weekly news is compilation of new articles from top Caribbean and Jamaican news sources.

Advertisements
 

Tags: ,

CARIBBEAN NEWS SUMMARY for the week ending August 31st, 2012

CARIBBEAN UNITES WITH LATIN AMERICA IN SUPPORT OF ECUADOR—08/25/12
With the exception of the United States and Canada, all member nations of the Organization of American States have expressed their support of Ecuador in its decision to grant asylum to Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks. Officials from these countries adopted a resolution at a meeting called by Ecuador in Washington, D.C., reaffirming their “respect of sovereignty,” denouncing the use of force to resolve conflicts.

19 DEATHS IN HAITI DUE TO TROPICAL STORM ISAAC—08/27/12
According to Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste of Haiti’s Civil Protection Office, the death toll in Haiti rose to 19 after Tropical Storm Isaac passed over the island. Few details were available about how these people died, but several deaths were due to houses collapsing on their residents. Two people died in the Dominican Republic when they were swept away in a river.

FLAMINGOS, WILDLIFE IN CURACAO THREATENED BY OIL SPILL—08/28/12
A large oil spill fouled the shoreline of Curacao, endangering pink flamingos and other wildlife in the Jan Kok nature preserve. Peter van Leeuwen, leader of a local environmental organization, said the spill of crude oil was from a storage tank owned by the Isla oil refinery, the largest employer on the island. The whole area of the nature preserve is black, said van Leeuwen, with everything covered in oil.

41 DEAD IN VENEZUELA OIL REFINERY FIRE—08/29/12
A serious fire at an oil refinery in Venezuela spread to several fuel tanks almost three days following an explosion that resulted in the death of 41 people and injuries to 150 others. According to Rafael Ramirez, Venezuelan oil minister, a third tank at the Amuay refinery ignited after three days. Government officials reported that the fire had been contained and that there was no risk of a larger event occurring. No cause for the explosion has been determined as yet.

CATHOLIC AGENCIES ASSESS DAMAGE AFTER ISAAC—08/30/12
Caribbean Catholic agencies are working to determine the extent of the damages resulting from Tropical Storm Isaac as it traveled over the region. At least 24 people died in the storm, and tens of thousands faced evacuation. Flooding and wind damage were widespread in Cuba and Hispaniola. In Haiti, where over 400,000 people still live in the tents set up after the 2010 earthquake, the winds and heavy rains of Isaac represented a “terrible ordeal,” said Stephania Musset, spokesperson for Oxfam.

COUNTRIES IN CARIBBEAN PARTNER TO BATTLE MARINE POLLUTION—08/31/12
Countries in the Caribbean region are joining forces to fight the growing pollution of the Caribbean Sea. They are signing on to a protocol designed to address the problem. Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, the Bahamas, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Panama, Grenada, and St. Lucia, along with the United States and France, have joined to make a collective effort as represented in the LBS Protocol to protect the Caribbean waters.

CARIBBEAN AIRLINES DENIES NOT HIRING JAMAICANS—08/28/12
Clive Forbes, general manager of Caribbean Airlines (CAL), Jamaica Operations, is dismissing claims that the company refuses to hire Jamaicans. According to Forbes, the airline, which operates the Air Jamaica brand, promotes the best of skill sets in the Caribbean and involves using the best services and crew members. He said CAL is an “integrated” airline and that most of its employees are from Air Jamaica. Staff is rotated through different routes as part of the integration process, Forbes said. The airline employs more than 60 Jamaican pilots and over 140 Jamaica flight attendants.

JAMAICAN FARM WORKER’S FAMILY COMPENSATED—08/29/12
The Jamaican government will compensate the family of a Jamaican farm worker who died in Canada in August 2012. Horace Clarke, 42, died after a van in which he was riding veered into a ditch along the side of the road. Minister of Labor and Social Security Derrick Kellier met with Clarke’s family, telling family members the government will cover funeral expenses with funds from the Jamaica Liaison Insurance Plan. This plan offers welfare services to farm workers during the time of their employment.

DIVESTMENT STRATEGY MAY CHANGE—08/30/12
The government of Jamaica is considering a change in its strategy after three years’ of failure in offloading loss-making assets. The Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) is refining the divestment policy and will go to the Cabinet in September 2012 to gain approval for a new policy. The goal is to make deals that are more attractive to private investors, said Milverton Reynolds, managing director of DBJ.

COUNTER-APPEAL FILED AGAINST JPS—08/31/12
The lawyer who represents claimants in a class action suit against the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) will file a counter suit with the Court of appeal after the JPS filed an appeal of the judges’ ruling. Justice Bryan Sykes found that the exclusive license provided to JPS is invalid, but JPS argues that the judge erred and his ruling should be dismissed. Hugh Wildman, lawyer for the claimants, is asking the court to find that the Sykes’ ruling was correct. No date has been set for the appeal.

 

Tags:

CARIBBEAN TECHNOLOGY NEWS SUMMARY for the week ending August 31st, 2012

JAMAICANS VICTORIOUS IN REGIONAL ENERGY COMPETITION—08/25/12
Three companies from Jamaica joined five other Caribbean firms as winners in the 2012 IDEAS Energy Innovation contest. Echos Consulting present a proposals called “Caribshare Biogas,” while the Family Garden proposed a community hydroponics farm project using solar energy. Caribbean ESCO Ltd. proposed the creation of a hybrid solar agro-products dryer that was energy efficient. Each firm was awarded a grant of US$200,000 to develop their project.

FORMER AMBASSADOR WANTS TO ENCOURAGE A CULTURE OF INNOVATION—08/27/12
Jamaica’s former ambassador to the United States, entrepreneur Audrey Marks, is calling on Northern Caribbean University to encourage a shift in culture that focuses on innovation and science. According to Marks, the future of Jamaica rests on deciding whether institutions such as the university will foster and innovation culture and end the presently weak research and innovation efforts that exist.

ORGANIZATION REPORT CREATES STIR—08/28/12
A report on secondary education in the Caribbean from the Caribbean Examinations Council has created considerable discussion in the region about the low number of students who receive acceptable grades in mathematics. Experts recommend that in addition to recognizing the challenges this fact presents for the future, a strong commitment is necessary to address the situation and ensure that established levels for science and math attainment are met.

ELECTRICITY THEFT GOES HIGH-TECH—08/29/12
According to the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), electricity thieves are using sophisticated technology in their illegal activities. The JPS reported finding a growing number of advanced meter-bypass devices during its investigations of electricity theft. Such devices were discovered in ceilings and kitchens in many locations. Thirty-seven active meters were found with no account holders discovered in addition to 84 illegal connections in Waterhouse, St. Andrew.

 

Tags:

On the Farmers Market Frontier, It’s Not Just About Profit

On a corner in Washington, D.C., where stores burned during riots 44 years ago, there's now a plaza where farmers sell produce on Saturday mornings.

EnlargeDan Charles/NPROn a corner in Washington, D.C., where stores burned during riots 44 years ago, there’s now a plaza where farmers sell produce on Saturday mornings.

Farmers markets are popping up in cities all across the country, and people expect lots of different things from them: Better food, of course, but also economic development and even friendlier neighborhoods.

At its core, though, the farmers market is a business, and it won’t survive unless the farmer makes money.

So what’s the key to success for these markets?

On a recent weekend, I took a small tour of the urban farmers market universe — at least the universe in and around Washington, D.C. My route went from rich neighborhoods to poor ones; from well-established markets to those just getting off the ground.

I start with one of the most well-established markets, run by Jim Crawford of New Morning Farm.

Forty years ago, when Crawford got into organic farming, such markets were rare in Washington. So Crawford had his pick of neighborhoods.

He tried several but settled on one of the wealthier ones, on the northwest side of the city. Every Saturday, he sets up tables and tents in front of a small private school.

Around here, the median household income is $170,000 a year. And Crawford says that does help. “It isn’t cut-and-dried that this is only for high-income neighborhoods. It definitely isn’t,” he says. “On the other hand, you have to have people who can maybe afford to pay a little more than the lowest prices in the supermarket. Because we can’t afford to grow stuff and sell it for those prices.”

Crawford just raised his tomato prices, because blight is cutting into his supply. He bumped the red organic ones up to $3.20 a pound. The scarcer heirlooms are $4.20 a pound.

And still, they sell, despite the competition. There are regular grocery stores, including a Whole Foods, just a few blocks away.

The Four Mile Run Farmers and Artisans Market sits beside a park in a strip of suburbia that was neglected for a long time.

Dan Charles/NPRThe Four Mile Run Farmers and Artisans Market sits beside a park in a strip of suburbia that was neglected for a long time.

“I don’t pay attention to prices, which I know is really bad,” confesses a loyal customer named Isabel. She cares about taste, and when she talks about it, her eyes get bright with enthusiasm. “Some things just taste better, and when you bring them to relatives, they say, ‘Where did you get those tomatoes?’ ”

This market now has lots of company, and markets are moving into new surroundings.

I drive two miles southeast, across Rock Creek Park, which has long been seen as a dividing line in the city between rich and poor, white and black. Here is the neighborhood of Columbia Heights, in the heart of the city. In 1968, after Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, riots and looting broke out here. But over the past few years, Columbia Heights has gone from troubled to trendy.

On the corner where stores burned 44 years ago, there’s now a plaza where kids run through fountains and where farmers likeMatt Harsh sell produce on Saturday mornings.

“You need two things for a good farmers market: pent-up demand and lots of disposable income,” says Harsh. “With all the young people moving into this community, you’ve got that disposable income coming up, and you got tons of pent-up demand. There’s just no place to get stuff.”

But there aren’t just young people with money here. About a third of the produce that Harsh sells is paid for with money from programs that provide food assistance to low-income families, such as the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program(SNAP) and the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. Private donors have stepped in to boost the value of those benefits, when they’re used to shop for fruit and vegetables atthis market. The ability to use those benefits at this market, in fact, has been one of the keys to its success.

Amy Sahalu is waiting in line to pay for some of Harsh’s vegetables. She grew up in Ethiopia, and she comes here partly because it feels a little bit like open-air markets back home. There’s only one drawback: “A little bit expensive here,” she says. “But it tastes good for me.”

This market has turned into a kind of low-key celebration of urban community and country food.

A lot of people would love to see the same thing happen in places that aren’t quite so up-and-coming.

So the new farmers market frontier is in places like Shipley Terrace, on the southeastern edge of Washington.

According to the Census Bureau, the median household income in this neighborhood is about $27,000 a year. Two-thirds of the families don’t have fathers living with them.

Yet there’s a farmers market here: the Ward 8 Farmers Market. And in some ways, it’s just like the ones across town.

The customers here are looking for the same thing.

“Fresher produce, locally grown,” says Steve Hair.

“So you know where your food is coming from, and I like that,” says Carlos Graham.

But there also are ways in which life is different on the farmers market frontier. The making-money part is tougher.

James Smith sells fresh vegetables here. He says there are only enough customers at this market to support one stand like his.

“When you’ve got two or three people selling the same product, then everybody lose money,” he says softly. “Nobody makes money. I drive 80 miles to get here. And if I don’t make any money at all, why come here?”

And yet, almost in the next breath, Smith tells me it’s more than a business.

“I’m here for the people,” he says. “I like the money, but I’m here for the people more than the money. People on this side don’t have as much money as other folks do. They need to eat, too. So we need to take care of those, also.”

Markets like this usually have volunteers and nonprofits behind them, and they have goals that go way beyond making money.

When John Gloster helped set up the Ward 8 Farmers Market, there was no real grocery store anywhere for miles around. “We have done a great job of making foods available that people perceived previously as being outside of their budget,” he says.

At other frontier markets, the healthy food is a way to build a community. For instance, across the Potomac River in Virginia, the Four Mile Run Farmers and Artisans Market sits beside a park in a strip of suburbia that was neglected for a long time.

“The park was a place that nobody wanted to go,” says Kevin Beekman, who helped get this market off the ground.

On Sunday mornings, there’s now food and usually some music.

Beekman says the vendors here are doing OK, but not great. In other ways, though, the market has been an amazing success. He used to fill a garbage bag with trash every weekend, but now, he says, “nobody even bothers to litter. It’s so much more of a pleasure to be in the neighborhood. Folks in the high-rise across the street will come down. They’ll say, ‘I don’t know what this is all about, but I’m happy that this is in my neighborhood.’ ”

“Are they shopping here?” I ask.

Beekman pauses for just a moment. “They’re starting to,” he says.

 
 

Tags: ,

Rick Scott’s Voter Registration Suppression Law Is Dead

By Josh Israel

 

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R)

Three months after a federal judge blocked much of Florida’s year-old voter suppression law as an unconstitutional infringement on speech and voting rights, the same judgeagreed Tuesday to permanently remove the restrictions on voter registration drives, pending final confirmation that a federal appeals court has dismissed the case. In a settlement, the civil rights groups challenging the law and the state agreed not to appeal the case. 

HB 1355, enacted by the state legislature’s Republican majority and signed by Gov. Rick Scott (R) — went into effect last July, putting major new restrictions on groups who work to register new voters. The law imposed harsh new restrictions on third-party voter registration groups, requiring them to turn in completed registration forms 48 hours — to the minute — after completion, or face fines.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, in his May order, put the restrictions on hold, finding “the statute and rule impose burdensome record-keeping and reporting requirements that serve little if any purpose, thus rendering them unconstitutional even to the extent they do not violate the [National Voter Registration Act].”

Unfortunately, before the law was struck down, it had a clear effect: driving down voter registration numbers in Florida. The Florida Times-Union reported this week that Democratic voter registration in the state “all but [dried] up” in the wake of the law’s enactment.

 

Tags: ,

Click Below for a Real Good Scare

Paul Ryan on the Issues

 

Paul Ryan and the ‘scary’ future of public education in America

By Ann-Marie Adams

There’s something about Paul Ryan that scares the bejeezus out of some black people.

A recent NBC/Wall Street poll confirmed zero percent black support for Mitt Romney and his vice presidential pick (A Washington Post poll found that 4 percent of registered African Americans would vote for the GOP ticket). Romney was already scary all by himself with his “corporations are people, too” mindset. But when he tapped Ryan, who crafted a draconian budget to target social services and education, many people – black and white – let out a collective gasp.

A self-professed defense hawk, Ryan plans to dump more money into defense spending and give “job creators” money taken from already poor and debt-ridden Americans. University of California-Berkeley Professor Robert Reich simplifies the warped logic that undergirds the Ryan-Romney budget in this video

Ryan-Romney plans to cut Pell Grants by $850 per studental almost nixing President Barack Obama’s increase of $1,000. Decreased Pell Grants equal more student loans with high interest rates. That means most people will have more debt load while unemployed. If unemployed more than one year, you can’t pay bills, which prompts a decrease in credit scores. Employers could deny you a job because of long-term unemployment and bad credit scores. To date, the Romney-Ryan team has no jobs plan for the educated and unemployed, just economic prosperity for the one percent.

For the rest of us, there is a hint of danger lurking behind Ryan’s Cheshire smile and hyper-conservative rhetoric. The gnawing feeling was deep enough to signal that a Romney-Ryan team in the White House means deep and dire distress.

Parse Ryan’s acceptance speech about his party’s plan for prosperity, and you’ll find many clues. One of his most pertinent proclamations came two weeks after President Obama signed an Executive Order to improve outcomes and advance educational opportunities for blacks.

Flanked by black leaders who have championed quality education for all, Obama recently signed another promissory note that acknowledged “substantial obstacles to equal educational opportunity still remain in America’s educational systems” despite incremental progress since the 1954, Brown v. Board of Education. The Order, similar to one signed by former presidents, George Bush and Bill Clinton, for Hispanics, states that improving education would significantly improve educational outcomes for blacks and will deliver economic benefits for America by increasing college rates and productivity.

Two weeks after this Order, Ryan in a speech said: “We will give equal opportunity but not equal outcome.”

Pause. Wasn’t that memo sent out more than two centuries ago?

It seems Vice President Joe Biden was not far-fetched in his assessment that the Romney-Ryan ticket wants to put black folk in chains again.

That’s because Ryan echoed the same sentiment enmeshed in the Declaration of Independence and many other noble plans for prosperity in this country. America’s promise of equality, justice and the pursuit of happiness was a hallowed one for many poor and enslaved during the eighteenth century. And so many Americans could not pursue their happiness because they were, well, um, in chains.

Another memo was sent out in 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation. It prohibited forced free labor. But during the second half of the nineteenth century, peonage was slavery by another name. In the first half of the twentieth century, Jim Crow was its cousin. So in 1954, America gave us another memo that told us separate was not equal and that it was just another barrier in the pursuit of happiness for many Americans. And just last month, Obama added yet another memo, so that our school system can ensure equitable access to a quality education to all because in 2012 the road for many black and Latino children is from schools to prisons.

Because of the contradictions and constraints facing the ideal of American democracy, there’s a constant need to stress equal access, which means having the same level of quality educational services offered to most in the dominant group. Obama’s executive order is to ensure there are no man-made barriers based on prejudice, xenophobia, nativism, or racism.

And unless you’ve been living under a proverbial rock, you will know that road to prosperity has always been laden with higher hurdles for people of color. So Ryan’s promise of equal opportunity, but not equal outcome, hints at many more hurdles to come.

Obama’s July 26 Order delineates the existing hurdles: Blacks lack quality access to highly effective teachers and principals, safe schools and challenging college-preparatory classes. They also disproportionately experience school discipline and referrals to special education. Additionally, many blacks do not graduate with a regular high school diploma. But they experience disproportionate rates of incarceration.

So a quality education, despite news to the contrary for many unemployed blacks today, is still a ticket to social mobility. Obama’s executive order, albeit in an election year, inches along the path to fulfilling a long-held covenant to provide quality education to all.

To the NAACP and other community-based organizations nationwide, the order was a move towards “intentional focus” on serving students of color well and meeting the millennium goal of producing more college graduates to compete globally, said Beth Glenn, NAACP’s Director of Education.

“This sends a strong signal to community based organizations that [Obama] wants to work with communities most impacted,” Glenn said.

While Glenn and others are working on that goal, we must equip ourselves for a possible Romney-Ryan administration and their plan for education because you can’t have prosperity without an educated and skilled populace. And we definitely don’t need extra hurdles in our path toward equal outcomes.

Ann-Marie Adams is a race and education contributor to The RootDC. She is the founder of a hyper-local news site The Hartford Guardian, which builds urban communities through civic journalism. Follow her on twitter at @annmarieadams.

 

Tags: ,

 
%d bloggers like this: