Monthly Archives: July 2013

Africa’s new suitor and the dilemma of many investment partners

Odomaro Mubangizi

2013-07-24, Issue 640


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Among the investment suitors lined up for Africa, Brazil has close historical and cultural links with Africa and this makes her a more likely partner than other rivals. Africa should develop the chemistry that exists between her and Brazil

That Africa is on a roller-coaster economic growth trajectory is not in question among economics and development experts. From Cape to Cairo, from Ethiopia to Nigeria, private and public investments, especially in banking, infrastructure, telecoms, retail and general trading, health and pharmaceuticals, mining and metals, insurance, oil and gas, consumer goods, construction and materials, and information technology, have turned Africa into the most coveted investment destination of choice. This has made the African continent a much sought after suitor, to use, a romantic term, by the major world economies such as India, China, Brazil, EU and the US. But the most interesting recent global development is the economic block known as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa). Of interest for this article is the role of Brazil as a potential investor or trade partner for Africa. The article seeks to analyze the merits and demerits of Africa’s courtship with Brazil amidst the stiff competition with other more powerful rivals such as China, US, EU and even South Africa itself. The theoretical framework will be that of international political economy, in the context of globalization, pan-Africanism, regional integration and emerging geo-politics. The analytical and conceptual framework is deliberately ambitious to capture as many variables as possible so as to get a full picture of what is at stake in this exciting complex scramble for Africa’s resources and economic glamour.


Discerning observers of Africa’s development process since independence seem to all agree on one evident fact, that Africa is now the fastest growing continent, thanks to her untapped natural resources, and cheap young labour force. Another major factor that is making Africa an emerging global economic power-house is the new investor confidence she has gained from the developed economies at time when the global economy is experiencing recurrent crises. It is as if African ancestors have finally been appeased and they are returning favours to their long-suffering descendants. The IMF and the World Bank in their annual reports, are all in agreement that Africa is about to experience an economic take-off. On average, Africa is estimated to be experiencing an economic growth of at about 5 percent per annum. Of course the gross income inequality can be masked by such an impressive growth both within individual states and across the continent. South Africa is not on the same level of economic growth as Malawi, Botswana is not at the same level of economic prosperity as Uganda, Angola with its double digit growth cannot be compared with South Sudan.

Over all, there is renewed optimism about Africa’s economic prospects. Some analysts point to the relative political stability of the continent. Also to note is the general increase of countries that have embraced democratization. The 1990s saw the decline of one-party states giving way to multiparty democracy, and some countries such as Ghana, Mauritius, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique, having free, fair and regular multi-party elections under the rule of law. While countries such as DRC and Somalia are still trapped in armed conflict, overall, armed strife has declined across the continent. Such peace dividends are a prerequisite for rapid economic growth and boosting investor confidence.

At a geopolitical and international political economic level, the emergence of a multi-polar world has left Africa relatively free from externally instigated armed conflict for ideological and strategic interests as was the case during the cold war. This is not to suggest that external forces have completely been obliterated. Far from it. The new challenge of global terrorism has once again brought Africa face to face with the choice of taking sides in the global war on terror. But the current impact on the global war on terror cannot be compared to the infamous cold-war rivalry. Africa now has more rational options in pursuing foreign policies that will be advantageous to its individual countries. After all, Africa has a continent-wide integration model under the rubric of the African Union and its specialized agencies such as NEPAD.

Africa’s population estimated at about 1 billion with its youth population of between age 15 and 24 is expected to double to 400 million by 2045. The market and productive potential of such a continent needs no further elaboration. Key to the vibrant young population’s contribution to economic growth is the easy use of Information Communication Technology (ICT), especially mobile phones for banking and other business transactions. For instance in Uganda, it is estimated that the amount of money transacted through mobile money has reached $ 4.5 billion USD by 2012 with about 2.9 million users. Kenya took the lead in mobile money transfer with its innovative M-pesa launched by Safaricom. Kenya’s Equity Bank has also come up with innovative financial services to become one of Africa’s fastest growing banks in the region.

Intra-African trade has also increased considerably thanks to regional trade blocks such as SADC, East African Community, ECOWAS, and COMESA. The two giant economies of Africa, Nigeria and South Africa have increased their bilateral trade with more than 100 South African companies doing business in Nigeria. The major catalyst for investment and economic growth in Africa is African Development Bank (ADB) under the able leadership of Dr. Donald Kabaruka who seems to have got the economic policies right. This is manifested in ADB’s current private sector portfolio that stands at $ 8 billion USD and is expected to grow to $ 10 billion by 2014. The private sector is now considered the engine of economic growth, despite the fact that some African government still get tempted to embrace a state controlled economy with little room for the private sector. The other major policy shift that stands the chance of boosting power is for instance the World Bank and ADB have signed an agreement to fund Ethiopia-Kenya power line that will cost $ 1.2 billion USD. If such cross-border power grids can be developed across most African counties, the shortage of electricity would be solved and the once labeled ‘Dark Continent’ would begin to shine.


The common mantra on every one’s lips these days is how China has invaded Africa for trade and investment. China-African summits are a common occurrence and one often hears African heads of state invoking the phrase: ‘We look East’ as if to make the West feel a bit jealous. Is this ‘look East’ mere hubris or it is a new paradigm in Africa’s foreign policy? China symbolically welcomed this new policy imperative making rounds in Africa by donating the headquarters building of AU in Addis Ababa that cost $ 200 million USD. Never mind the counter argument that China actually gets about $ 130 billion USD in trade and investment! China has indeed funded massive infrastructural projects in Africa with grants and loans. Just by way of examples: between 2001 and 2011 China funded some African countries as follows: Rwanda $ 469 million USD; Burundi $ 165 million USD; Kenya $ 1.6 billion USD; Tanzania $ 4.6 billion USD; and Uganda $ 4.5 billion USD. Others countries that China has good investment with are both Nigeria and Angola in oil and construction.

The most dramatic development in Africa’s geopolitical and international economic re-alignment is the emergence of China as the world’s second largest economy after the United States. China’s attractiveness as Africa’s new trade partner is premised on China’s policy of not interfering with internal politics of partner countries. This of course has its own drawbacks for Africa’s new young democracies. Tyrannical regimes would gladly welcome such a policy that will not make them accountable to the electorate. It also raises a deeper question of whether one can sustain economic growth without a corresponding growth in democratic systems such as free and fair elections, rule of law and free media.


While observers of global politics are still making sense of the Chinese ascendance on the global scene, a new power center has emerged under the acronym BRICS (Brazil, India, China and South Africa). This is the first time in world politics that a South-South economic block has emerged to challenge the Western hegemonic control of the global economy. The Bretton Woods institutions such as the World Bank and IMF are popularly known, have now to face the reality of another economic power center especially if the BRICS go ahead and set up a bank of their own. For Africa, BRICS is an exciting possibility given that it will once again break the monopoly over the global economy that the West has enjoyed for centuries. But most importantly, South Africa, Africa’s leading economy is part of this economic block. This is very significant given that South Africa has the top ten of Africa’s 250 largest companies. And most importantly, Brazil another emerging economy is part of this economic architecture. If these two can team with the rest of Africa, the BRICS can help Africa meet some of its strategic goals in the international political economy.

Some critical questions about BRICS of course is the danger of Africa being torn apart by multiple offers from the various suitors wanting a hand in the investment marriage. What will happen to the China-Africa trade and investment deals if BRICS has other interested parties equally greedy for Africa’s immense resources and economic potential? Is Africa united and cohesive enough as an economic block to negotiate deals with Russia, China, and Brazil? Does South Africa side with Africa while it is part of BRICS in the case of complex trade and investment deals without falling into the trap of a conflict of interests?


We now turn to Brazil the main focus of this discussion. I want to argue that Brazil, given its cultural and economic similarities with Africa, has a better chance of being Africa’s trade and investment partner even if the BRICS framework is maintained. Brazil has about 60 percent of its population who are people of African descent. This brings some cultural proximity to Africa. Economics is also about chemistry. The vibrant Afro-Brazilian culture manifested in dress, food, dance and belief systems can provide a basis for close economic cooperation. The only challenge being language—Brazil uses Portuguese while most African counties use either French or English as official languages. Only Angola and Mozambique use Portuguese. This might be another opportunity to explore in Brazil’s foreign policy, to think of promoting Portuguese in Africa while at the same time introducing French and English in Brazil. Language is a tool for cultural exchange and trade.

Brazil can also help link Africa with the rest of Latin America, a continent that has a lot in common with Africa in as far as colonial history is concerned. Again Latin America has a vibrant religious and cultural landscape that is akin to that of Africa. This can help create stronger bonds of South-South cooperation. Asia can be part of this geopolitical re-alignment via India and China. Only then can the end of Western hegemony be accomplished in an increasingly globalized world.

The other advantage that Brazil has over other competitors for Africa’s economy of affection is its relatively recent economic take off. As Africa learns to jump, it is better to learn with some one of equal strength.

Brazil is also experiencing birth-pangs of state consolidation judging by the recent streets protests about high public transport costs, unemployment and restless youth. Brazil is to host three major events: this year, World Youth Day led by the Pope Francis, then next will follow the World Cup and Olympics. These three global events can help show-case Brazil as an economic force to be reckoned with. But the unrest that Brazil is experiencing has to be addressed strategically. If the protests in Brazil turn out to be harbingers of a ‘Brazilian Spring’ then Africa’s new suitor’s credibility and image is in question.


When all is said and done, what strategic options does Africa have vis-à-vis the emerging economies of the South and East, especially Brazil? Africa has been experimenting with all kinds of policy frameworks and strategies for decades: modernization; Lagos Plan of Action; Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs); neo-liberalism; private sector; import substitution; and recently, developmental state inspired by the East Asian model and China. From all these varied approaches, one conclusion can be made: Africa has been marked by policy uncertainty for decades.

This calls for a more careful scrutiny of strategic options available lest past mistakes get repeated. As George Santayana aptly observed that, ‘If you forget history you are condemned to repeat its mistakes.’ Some of the past mistakes to be avoided are the following: 1) Over-depending on foreign policy experts to find solutions to Africa’s problems; 2) Designing short-term policies that come and go with particular regimes; 3) Operating in colonial political economic frameworks; 4) Failure to link development with democracy; 5) Not utilizing indigenous knowledge systems.

The next step is the complex strategic analysis of what comparative advantages Africa has in engaging Brazil more instead of either China or India. On close inspection one notices that the BRICS model masks certain fundamental philosophical differences among these five emerging global economic powers. A quick appraisal of each is in order. Brazil has a dynamic civil society and private sector and has also embraced democracy. India and South Africa are in the same category as Brazil as far as economic liberalization and democratization processes are concerned. Not so China and Russia which are unapologetically state-controlled political economies. Africa needs to be careful when it comes to what political economy to follow. Some countries such as Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Mauritius and Botswana are fully committed to development that has democracy as an essential element. The AU through its NEPAD framework demands that states be accountable both politically and economically. Why then all of a sudden is this rhetoric of seeking economic development first while democracy waits for some time? Why would African countries claim to be upholding the rule of law and still argue that they do not want to be subjected to international justice systems such as the ICC, a system that they willingly became signatory to? Even if there were other rogue states that violate international law, that is not a good argument to want to emulate them. So Africa needs to get right the essentials of democracy as the various African constitutions spell them out: rule of law, a democratic constitution, free media, bill of rights, and respecting the international conventions that each country subscribes to.

Finally, on the question of how Africa will navigate through the competing suitors, some suggestions. In a multi-polar that we now live in, Africa can no longer think in terms of either or, when it comes to selecting who to do business with. In choosing Brazil, Africa cannot say it has nothing to do with China or the USA. Africa will have to develop a complex integrated model of constructive engagement with whoever has something to offer in the global market. This is not different from what the developed economies are doing. The EU does business with China just as it does with USA. There are other economic groups such as the G8 that control the world economy but they also have widened the net to now comprise the G20. This kind of strategic flexibility is what Africa needs. Some countries in Africa are already experimenting with this strategic flexibility. For example Tanzania belongs to both the East African Community and SADC. Africa will have to learn the age-old lesson that economics like politics is an art of the possible.

Strategic areas that both Africa and Brazil need to invest in include: industrialization; tourism; agriculture; infrastructure development especially power, roads, air travel; human resource development and South-South cooperation.


In conclusion, the role of Brazil in Africa cannot be divorced from the BRICS initiative. But a case has been made for a strategic option for Brazil as far as Africa is concerned given the unique common characteristics that the regions have in common. Africa should exploit the chemistry that exists between her and Brazil. However, a key element that will make the bonds between Brazil and Africa strong and sustainable is stable democracy and inclusive development. Both Brazil and Africa have a certain charm and mystique that is mutually beneficial, and they are not rivals in this regard.

*Odomaro Mubangizi (Dr) teaches philosophy at the Institute of Philosophy and Theology in Addis Ababa and is also Editor of ‘Justice, Peace and Environment Bulletin.’

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Posted by on July 30, 2013 in African News



Princeton researcher digs into the contested peanut-allergy epidemic

by Michael Hotchkiss, Office of Communications
The path of the peanut from a snack staple to the object of bans at schools, day care centers and beyond offers important insights into how and why a rare, life-threatening food allergy can prompt far-reaching societal change, according to a Princeton University researcher.

Before 1980, peanut allergies were rarely mentioned in medical literature or the media, saidMiranda Waggoner, a postdoctoral researcher at the Office of Population Research in theWoodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Her article on the subject, “Parsing the peanut panic: The social life of a contested food allergy epidemic,” was published recently in the journal Social Science & Medicine.

Starting around 1990, articles in medical journals began discussing the seriousness of peanut allergies, Waggoner said. At the same time, advocacy groups were emerging to raise awareness of the issue. By the mid-1990s, newspapers were printing articles with headlines such as “Nut Allergy Girl’s Terror; Girl Almost Dies from Peanut Allergy.”

And the 21st century brought descriptions of peanut allergies — in medical journals and the media — as an epidemic.

For those with a peanut allergy, ingesting the legume can lead to anaphylactic shock and, if untreated, death. But the allergy is quite rare and it isn’t clear whether it is becoming more common, Waggoner said.

Peanut Allergies

(Illustration by the Office of Communications)

The increased focus on peanut allergies in the medical community, the media and society in general combined to push changes like peanut bans in schools, Waggoner said.

“All of this was happening at about the same time to produce this big societal problem that is based on what is a small problem in terms of the population affected,” Waggoner said. “One physician has written that the same number of people die each year from peanut allergies as from lightning strikes, yet the perception of peanut allergy risk has invaded the common social spaces we all inhabit — airlines, day cares and schools.”

In 2002, Massachusetts became the first state to enact guidelines for the management of food allergies in schools, calling for “peanut-free” tables in the lunchroom under some circumstances. Many schools and day care centers have banned peanuts, and some baseball parks now offer peanut-free zones.

“This was part of a broader concern about food risks, changing perceptions of food production, as well as changes in the way we think about child risk,” Waggoner said. “If you ask adults about peanut allergies when they were in school, most of them will say it wasn’t an issue. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were a staple, healthy snack. It’s the classic American kid snack.

“The fact that this sort of mundane food is under attack is really a potent moment for us as a society.”

Several factors make it difficult to assess the prevalence of peanut allergies or whether the problem is becoming more common, Waggoner said. Before the 1990s, little data were collected on peanut allergies. And peanut allergy numbers are generally based on self-reporting, which leaves them open to interpretation and influence by increased media attention.

“There’s definitely increased awareness about it,” Waggoner said. “There’s more medical research being done. There’s more medical awareness, but what is contested is the prevalence, because it is based on self-reporting. We don’t have a good sense of long-term change over time.”

Experts now say about 1 percent of the American population has a reported peanut allergy, Waggoner said.

Another unknown is the cause of peanut allergies, Waggoner said, adding that researchers are using genetic and molecular testing in the search for a cause.

Peter Conrad, a medical sociologist at Brandeis University who is an expert on the medicalization of society, said Waggoner’s research offers important insights into the evolution of peanut allergies as a public problem.

“This paper helps us understand how a relatively rare disorder, peanut allergies, has become seen as a public risk and even as a childhood epidemic,” Conrad said. “While the individual risk is high, the risk on a population level is small.

“Sometimes the public’s response to a disorder may significantly outpace the actual public health risk potential. Papers like this help us understand how the sociological nature of the disorder may well shape the public response more than its medical and epidemiological nature.”

Along with continuing medical research into the causes and prevalence of peanut allergies, Waggoner said another important area for future research is why it is the peanut allergy that has sparked this level of public interest and resulting changes in society.

“While eight foods account for over 90 percent of food allergy reactions, including milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat, the peanut allergy has arguably received the largest share of medical and social attention,” Waggoner writes in the paper.

Among the possible explanations: the severity of allergic reactions to peanuts and the harmful potential of such a mundane food, Waggoner said.

Waggoner’s research was supported in part by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.


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Diabetes and the African-American Community

Recognizing diabetes may be the first step toward fighting the disease.


Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that impacts the African-American community at a disproportionate rate. According to the American Diabetes Association, 18.7 percent of African-Americans aged 20 years or older have diabetes. A number of factors contribute to this statistic, including family history, obesity, poor diet, and lack of access to health care. And although diabetes can be life threatening, the condition can be managed. The first step on the road to good health is educating yourself about diabetes and how you can fight it.

Type 1 Diabetes: This condition occurs when the pancreas, which secrets insulin, a hormone that allows sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy, has been destroyed by autoantibodies. The result is an organ that produces little or no insulin. The body is then unable to metabolize glucose, causing blood sugar levels to rise too high. This can result in dehydration, weight-loss, and damage to vital organs, such as the heart and kidneys. Patients who are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes must receive insulin on a regular basis either via an injection or through an insulin pump.

Type 2 Diabetes: When the body produces an insufficient amount of insulin or has difficulty processing it, the end result is type 2 diabetes. This condition prevents glucose from entering the body’s cells, which causes a surplus of sugar in the bloodstream. You can reduce your chances of getting diagnosed with type 2 diabetes by watching your weight, exercising, and controlling your blood pressure.

You may have diabetes if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms:

–Frequent urination

–Feeling very thirsty

–Extreme fatigue

–Blurry vision

–Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal

Weight loss–even though you are eating more (type 1)

–Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)

Does Diabetes run in your family? 

Dr. Reneè seeks to equip people with wisdom, maturity, and authority so they can impact their communities and live their best lives now.



The Elusive American Dream: Shocking Facts About Poverty During Obama Presidency


Census Poverty

By Victor Trammell

Many clichés have been made about the concept of American prosperity. The age-old catchphrase pitched to foreigners desiring to live in the U.S. has labeled America as “the land of opportunity.”

The process of obtaining a good education, landing a great job, and buying a house to start a family in has been coined as “the American dream.” A more sobering picture can be seen today after the reality of the late 2008 financial collapse. Add that vision to the paltry level of U.S. economic growth experienced during the subsequent Obama presidency, and the concept of American prosperity becomes a myth for a great number of the nation’s citizens.

It is not at all far-fetched to consider the concept of “making it” in America to be an outright fairy tale. Statistical facts prove that the only people in America genuinely experiencing a beacon of financial growth and economic prosperity are the group of individuals in the top one percent of the wealthiest Americans.

From 1979 to 2007, the incomes of the top one percent nearly quadrupled but the income of the average American increased at a pace a snail could beat. Obama echoed this troubling statistic in a July 24, 2013 speech he made about the faltering U.S. economy. Survey data suggests that the widening gap between the rich and poor, globalization, and the huge loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs are the main reasons for the disturbing trend of increasing poverty among Americans.

For a long time, whites have been considered to be the race in America doing the best financially. However, statistical data proves that perception to be a myth as well. A recent poll by The Associated Press (AP) found that whites in America are much less optimistic about their socio-economic status than they were during the late 1980s, which was during a time of misleading superficial growth engineered by so-called “Reaganomics.”

Marriage rates are also plummeting and this applies to all races of Americans. The amount of poverty-stricken households headed by single white mothers is starting to rival the amount of poor households headed by black women. The recent AP poll also showed that four out of five of all Americans are living in poverty, near poverty, or unemployed.

History has shown that a “great” nation will fail miserably when the needs of an upwardly mobile middle-class are abandoned. A thriving middle- class is a very important component of a strong national economy. Many severely impoverished “Third World” nations with historically great economic pasts are suffering today because they lost or forgot important historical lessons about maintaining a nation’s economic prosperity.

Non-white Americans are becoming a statistical majority in the U.S. but the number of non-white Americans in poverty is currently higher than whites. The ruling establishment’s historical responses to non-white poverty have either been non-existent or ineffective. A nationally stable financial well-being is in the best interest of people in every level of the nation’s social caste system, not just those at the top of it.

However, if the current trends of poverty continue to grow for a white population that is becoming a minority, maybe the predominantly white U.S. ruling establishment will finally get serious about America’s bad economic situation. America can look at many grim global examples in “Third World” nations that will eventually become its own reality if nothing is done about improving the channels of economic prosperity for all.


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Boys Will Be Men: Steve Harvey’s Mentoring Program For Young Men Comes To Detroit

by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor


During the weekend of September 27-29, 120 lucky young men will experience a powerful and life-changing weekend of learning, inspiration and empowerment. In partnership with WMXD-FM, Fifth Third Bank is sponsoring The Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men at the Northwest Activities Center. The program is a two-day, two-night program designed to teach young men between the ages of 13 through 18 the principles of manhood. The program is open to young men in the 13-18 age range who live in a single, female-headed household. The goal of the program is to help the participants of the program realize their potential and to help break misguided ideas about manhood and introduce role models that portray a positive image of manhood.

Since 2009, more than 700 boys across the country have participated in The Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men, chosen from thousands of applications. In 2009, The Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend began conducting The Steve Harvey Regional Mentoring Program. Regional programs were launched in Los Angeles, New York, New Orleans and Atlanta.

The program duplicates The Steve Harvey Mentoring Program for Young Men’s national camp core program in Dallas and includes a series of workshops and breakout sessions that focus on personal responsibility, dream building, and the importance of nutrition and physical fitness. The workshops are conducted by positive role models from business, the military, entertainment, media and from the local area.

The Steve Harvey Mentoring Program for Young Men was created in direct response to calls to action from the community to help break through the negative influences that play a significant role in whether young men who come from challenging environments become successful or not.

This month, WMXD is airing announcements encouraging listeners to engage young men to qualify by simply registering on the WMXD website for an opportunity to be chosen to participate in the weekend. Registrants will be asked to write a short essay with subject matter that includes what it is like to grow up without a father and how they think the camp can change their lives. The registration process will end around August 20. All applicants should be between the ages of 13-18 and be in Grades 8-11 during the time of application and essay submission.

Fifth Third will offer young men assistance at the Fifth Third eBus on August 15 at the Northwest Activities Center. Young men interested in submitting an application and essay will have an opportunity to write their essay with the assistance of a writing coach who will be on hand at the bus to help applicants smooth over any rough spots in their essay submissions.

The Steve Harvey Mentoring Program for Young Men is one of four community programs in the Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation. The goals and mission of the foundation is to instill the principles of integrity, responsibility, respect, honesty, patience, discipline, service and courage in the young people who take part in their programs.

To get more information about The Steve Harvey Mentoring Program for Young Men, find out about how to become a mentor or donate to the organization, you can visit their website at


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Five Real Issues Facing The People Of New York City That Don’t Involve Anthony Weiner’s Sex Life

By Rebecca Leber

Ever since reports emerged linking former Congressman and New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner (D) to another sex scandal, news media have opted to heavily recycle stories about Weiner’s sex life. One story printed in the Washington Post read, “The reporters — and most of New York, really — wanted to talk only about Anthony Weiner.”

Of course, the details of Weiner’s affairs do not actually affect the vast majority of New Yorkers. While they may not be tabloid-worthy, there are a number of real policy issues, from poverty to climate adaptation, facing New York right now:

1. Stop and frisk and racial profiling: On Tuesday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg vetoed measures to curb racial profiling and expand oversight for the city’s controversial stop and frisk policy, setting up a fight with the City Council to attempt to override. In fact, Bloomberg’s defense of the program is to claim police stop whites too much and “minorities too little.” However, stop and frisk is overwhelmingly used to target innocent African-Americans and Latinos.

2. Immigrants in poverty: NYC’s immigrant population faces many obstacles, particularly for the undocumented. The city has taken recent steps to help its undocumented youth get jobs and pursue higher education. At the same time, the city’s aging immigrant population is slipping into poverty. While just under half of the city’s population over age 65 is foreign-born, the Center for an Urban Future found that two out of every three elderly people living in poverty are immigrants. “Many in this group are not only poised to strain the social safety net but fall through it entirely,” the study concludes.

3. Public housing cuts: The New York Times reports this week that, for the first time, there are more New Yorkers on the waiting list for public housing than there are even public housing units available. There are more than 200,000 people waiting for a little over 5,000 vacancies each year. Meanwhile, federal budget cuts from sequestration will only force more into homelessness: The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that more than 100,000 families will be cut from housing choice vouchers, affecting as many as 6,000 New Yorkers.

4. Heat wave sends energy-use skyrocketing: Last week, a brutal heat wave with temperatures as high as 107 degrees Fahrenheit also meant record NYC demand for electricity to power air conditioning. Still, many people in New York lack access to AC, and the poor, elderly, and children are especially vulnerable. A study from May found heat-related deaths in Manhattan could increase by 20 percent over the next decade. Four people died, all in their 80s, during last week’s heat wave alone.

5. Public transit demand: Public transit use has jumped 150 percent in New York from 2002, driven in part by changing demographics and gas prices. From ridesharing to bikesharing, NYC is experimenting with new initiatives to complement the growing stress on public transit. Meanwhile, Superstorm Sandy continues to impact the city’s subway system, with years worth of repairs still underway. It’s no wonder the city is quickly moving to fortify itself from another storm.


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JAMAICA NEWSWEEKLY For the week ending July 26th, 2013


Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller stated that her government will stand by the athletes accused of doping, but also called for athletes to be more careful about any supplements they take. She emphasized that Jamaica values integrity in sports and desires a doping-free sports environment.

Sir Patrick Allen, Governor General of Jamaica, is calling for all Jamaicans, both on the island in the Diaspora, to come together to support national development. Allen said the advancement of Jamaica is the responsibility of every citizen. He made his remarks at the opening ceremony of the National Association of Jamaican and Supportive Organizations (NAJASO) 36th Annual Convention in Montego Bay.

Seville Heritage Park and Great House comprises 301 acres in St. Ann parish that has been inhabited continuously for hundreds of years. It has been a settlement of Taino, the first Spanish capital of Jamaica, and a sugar plantation. With funding of $19 million, the venue upgraded its facilities and not includes a state-of-the-art exhibit celebrating Jamaican history from the 17th century. The Seville site has been called “the most historic in the Western hemisphere.”

After the reported killing of a 17-year-old cross-dresser in Montego Bay, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), a Jamaican LGBT rights group, expressed its outrage at the murder. Police found the body of Dwayne Jones with a gunshot wound and multiple stab wounds dumped on the side of a road after a party. The rights group is calling for a thorough investigation of the crime.

Sheldon Brissett, 21, and Kerron Brissett, 20, were charged with raping and assaulting five females, including an eight-year-old girl, in Irwin Point, St. James, in 2012. The brothers were acquitted of all charges in the Western Regional Gun Court after prosecutors called just two of their ten witnesses and provided no additional evidence in the case. DNA evidence previously provided in the case indicated that the brothers were not at the scene of the crime.

According to Jamaica’s Minister of Justice Senator Mark Golding, the law governing probate and administration of estates will be amended to allow unborn children to be recognized as beneficiaries if they survive the deceased individual and if paternity is established. The law will also allow a person who attests a will to be permitted to apply to the court to benefit from gifts left to him/her by the deceased. The changes are designed to modernize the probate process.

Paula Llewellyn, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), is cautioning critics of her office against putting the blame for the fact that high-profile cases have fallen apart. Llewellyn spoke out after a judge at the Supreme Court instructed a jury to bring a not guilty verdict in one of the two murder cases against Vybz Kartel, a popular entertainer. She said fearful witnesses often refuse to go into witness protection programs and return to the same locations where the accused individual lives. Witnesses may accept money from family or friends of accused individuals to discontinue a case, or they may just not show up to testify. There is nothing that can be done if a witness refuses to testify, says Llewellyn.

Jamaican Minister of Justice Mark Golding stated that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is working with the government to find potential commissioners who would be responsible for the Tivoli Commission of Enquiry. Golding said it would be good if the people involved had the right type of experience and international standing and reputation to perform this kind of job.


Since 2000, a number of Jamaicans have traveled to Japan to help language teachers through participation in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. The program is facilitated by the government of Japan throughout the world. University of the West Indies graduate Raul Davis, 28, teaches senior high school students in Japan.

The community organization Jamaica National Movement New York Inc., held a 29th annual awards dinner to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Jamaica’s People’s National Party. K.D. Knight was recognized with the Norman Manley Award for Self-Reliance, while Dr. Millicent Comrie received the Marcus Garvey Award for Community Service. There were several other honorees. The event represents the major fund raising effort for the group, which supports 14 basic schools in Jamaica.

The Diaspora community in the Southern United States was energized by the 2013 Diaspora Conference and wants to capitalize on the social and business opportunities that came out of the event. According to Sandra Grant Griffiths, Jamaican Consul General to the Southern United States, the 5th Biennial conference was one of the best in history in terms of outcomes that will lead to a post-conference implementation committee.

Edmond Bartlett, Jamaica’s Opposition Spokesman on Tourism, believes that Jamaicans in the Diaspora have a role to play in helping to restore the reputation of Jamaica in the global community. Because of the way Peter Bunting, Jamaica’s National Security Minister, participated in a documentary, “Destination Jamaica,” showing the nation in a negative way, Bartlett feels his call to the Diaspora is critical to restore a positive view of the country.










Caribbean Airlines (CAL) has raised the number of crew members from Jamaica that it includes at peak travel season during July and August. The crew includes 10 pilots and 20 flight attendants from Jamaica. These workers will be employed with their counterparts from Trinidad and Tobago CAL currently flies between Jamaica and New York, Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando in the U.S. It also flies to Toronto in Canada and Nassau, Bahamas.

According to Dr. Wykeham McNeill, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, the nation’s tourism industry is have a very good summer in spite of its many challenges. McNeill made his remarks at the 36th Annual Convention of the National Association of Jamaican and Supportive Organizations. He noted that investment prospects are good, and Jamaica plans to regain airlifts out of the United Kingdom and benefit from those in Canada. He said the need to broaden tourism’s links to other economic sectors in Jamaica remains, however.

Michel Poignant, chief executive officer of PayToo Corporation, is denying claims that a partnership involving mobile money between his firm and Patrick Casserly of the Jamaica is at risk. He was responding to rumors that PayToo had “lost contact” with Casserly and was delaying its plans to introduce its mobile wallet product to the Caribbean. Casserly said he had taken a break but is ready to move forward with the project. Casserly is CEO of PayToo Caribbean.

John Lynch, Jamaica’s Director of Tourism, believes that Jamaica would increase its attractiveness as a tourist destination if its pet-traveling laws were less restrictive. Jamaica has imposed extremely strict laws, which date back to 1948, in order to keep the nation free of rabies. Lynch said that there is a trend toward traveling with a pet, especially among up-scale tourists. With freer laws, Jamaica could tap into a growing market, he believes.








The Arts Foundation of Edna Manley College (EMC in partnership with the Embassy of Spain and the Spanish-Jamaican Foundation has awarded scholarships totaling J$125,000 each to five students at the college’s Visual and Performing Arts department. The students come from five of the college’s schools and were awarded the scholarships on the basis of financial need and a GPA of 3.0 or higher Funding for the scholarships came from proceeds of An Evening of Jazz Flamenco Fusion with the CMS Trio, an event held in November 2012.

Ocho Rios will be the site of the sixth staging of the Jamaica International Reggae Film Festival. The 2013 festival will honor women in film and include a posthumous tribute to Jamaican-American actress Madge Sinclair. The festival, which will be held August 1 through 5, will feature 25 films in various categories over four nights. Admission to the festival is free.

One of the most popular musicians from the Caribbean, the Jamaican-American singer and songwriter Diana King, “came out” as a lesbian on her Facebook page in 2012. Long suspected of being gay, her announcement marked the first time that a Jamaican musical artiste has come out. This breaks a major taboo in Jamaican culture.  In April 2012, she performed at the Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend in Palm Springs, the largest lesbian event in the world, and proposed marriage to her girlfriend of seven years after giving an emotional speech about the challenges of her relationship due to the U.S, Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

A Jamaican judge has dropped a murder charge against popular dancehall artiste Vybz Kartel and two other men who were brought to trial for the death of Barrington Burton, a businessman. The prosecutors did not bring enough evidence to support the charge. Kartel still faces a murder trial in November 2013 relating to the August 2011 death of Clive “Lizard” Williams. Police believe Williams was beaten to death at Kartel’s home. His body has never been found.


Jamaican sprint star Yohan Blake is recovering from a hamstring injury he suffered in April, but he will not compete in the IAAF World Championships in Moscow in August. Blake, who is the second-highest earner on the international athletics scene, has probably lost several million dollars since his injury has precluded him from participating in meets. Cubie Seegobin, Blake’s manager, says they don’t need the money so badly that they want to risk further injury.

A Jamaican yacht is scheduled to participate in the 2013-20134 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. The yacht is part of a new state-of-the-art fleet of racers that will make their debut at the race. It will feature Jamaica as one of the most desirable of tourist destinations. The race will cover 40,000 miles and run for 11 months. It is expected to provide significant global exposure for Jamaica as the yacht visits 15 ports on six continents around the world. This is the third time Jamaica has entered this race.

The authorities running the Commonwealth Games say they will not pay Usain Bolt, Jamaica’s superstar Olympic champion runner, to appear that the 2014 competition in Glasgow, Scotland. Bolt says he would love to run at the event and is willing to participate just for the experience. He has never run at the Commonwealth Games. Bolt will speak with the heads of the Games about participating, but they continue to emphasize that there will be no payday associated with his appearance.

Usain Bolt, Jamaica’s six-time Olympic sprint champion, states that he has something to provide in the 100 meter race at the Diamond League meet in London. Bolt will be appearing in Britain for the first time since his three Olympic gold medals at the 2012 Olympic Games. He would like to run a quick race to prepare himself for the World Championships in Moscow in August.


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