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Monthly Archives: September 2013

CARIBBEAN NEWS SUMMARY for the week ending September 27th, 2013

NICARAGUA WANTS MORE OCEAN TERRITORY—09/21/13
Daniel Ortega, president of Nicaragua, is pushing for more territory in the Caribbean Sea and has appealed to the International Court of Justice, angering the country’s neighbors. Colombia has been especially critical of Ortega’s actions, saying that the new claims are “excessive” and stating that it would defend itself against “unfounded pretensions” of Nicaragua. Ortega has asked for boundary change that would give his country about 150 nautical miles beyond what the court provided in November 2013.

U.S. SENATOR WANTS INVESTIGATION OF CARIBBEAN SCHOOLS—09/22/13
United States Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois wants an investigation of for-profit medical schools in the Caribbean region that are allowed access to U.S. federal student loans but that may have standards below those established for medical schools in the U.S. The American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine and the Ross University School of Medicine have accepted many students that were previously turned down by medical schools in the U.S. Durbin is concerned that these students take on more debt that those in the U.S. and have a higher dropout rate. Schools in the Caribbean received some $450 million in U.S. student loans for the year ending in June 2012.

BOLIVIAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES U.S. FOR HANDLING OF MADURO TRAVEL—09/23/13
Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, is calling an emergency meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States following difficulties arising from the handling by the United States of first denying then allowing Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to travel over U.S. airspace in the Caribbean.  U.S. authorities initially denied Maduro’s aircraft the right to cross Puerto Rican airspace.

ST.KITTS MARKS 30 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE—09/24/13
St. Kitts is celebrating 30 years of independence and is enjoying the investments and tourism revenues that support its economy. The island federation totals just 68 square miles and is 18 miles long and five miles wide, but it has a rich history and popular beaches. It has been known as a “hidden gem” among travelers and receives many tourists from cruise ships as it becomes more popular.

BIG DROP IN HIV/AIDS INFECTION RATE IN CARIBBEAN—09/25/13
The Caribbean is leading the world in reducing the number of new infections of HIV/AIDS. A report from the Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS states that an estimated 2.3 million adults and children were newly infected with the disease in 2012, a 33-percent decrease in yearly new cases compared with 2001. Availability of treatment and the prevention of transmission from mother to child are the chief contributors to the reduction.

MORE PRIVATE BUSINESSES, NEW REGULATIONS APPROVED BY CUBA—09/26/13
Cuba is expanding the private economy of the country. New rules announced under President Raul Castro are allowing 18 new categories of independent employment under his economic reforms. Most notable of the newly permitted private professions are real estate agents, who have previously been operating outside the law. This brings the number of approved independent job activities to 199.

LAWMAKERS CONSIDER DECRIMINALIZING MARIJUANA—09/24/13
Jamaican lawmakers are debating whether to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use by adults on the island. Many local residents have expressed their dissatisfaction with existing drug laws. While no bill has been drafted and no vote is currently scheduled on the issue, it has becoming a topic increasingly discussed among Jamaicans. Some supporters of the policy believe marijuana could become a driving force to improve the nation’s poor economy.

BUSINESSWOMAN IN JAMAICA CHARGED WITH HUMAN TRAFFICKING—09/25/13
Hermalinda Parker, a Jamaican businesswoman, has been charged by law enforcement with facilitating human trafficking. Parker was charged along with her daughter Liz Scantibury and her husband Anthony Parker by the Organized Crime Investigation Division (OCID) of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. She has also been charged with human trafficking and withholding passports. The charges stem from a trip to Guyana Parker made in May 2010 where she convinced the family of a teenage girl to allow her to come on a trip to Jamaica. On arrival, the girl was forced to become a dancer at a nightclub, and according to prosecutors, forced into prostitution as well.

NETBALLERS DONATE HISTORICAL MAP TO JAMAICA’S NATIONAL LIBRARY—09/26/13
Jamaica’s Under-21 basketball team has made a donation of an 18-century map of Jamaica to the National Library. Marva Bernard, President of Netball Jamaica, and members of the Junior Sunshine Girls team plan to attend the official event scheduled to present the map to the library. The map was a gift to the national team by Professor Emeritus Godfrey Palmer of Heriot Watt University n Edinburgh, Scotland. Palmer is a proud Jamaican who attended the third-place play-off game of the World Youth Netball Championships in Glasgow, where the Junior Sunshine Girls beat England 52-33 and won the bronze medal.

CONCERNS EXPRESSED ABOUT SECURITY DURING DIGICEL 5K NIGHT RUN/WALK—09/27/13
The Digicel Foundation will sponsor the second annual 5K Night Run/Walk, and organizers are paying close attention to security after several incidents of violence recently occurred in downtown Kingston. According to Judine Hunter, program manager for special needs at the foundation, there are some concerns and everyone is working to ensure that the event will be safe and injury-free. The run/walk is meant to raise funds for the support of special-needs schools and institutions in Jamaica. Digicel hopes to add to the $100 million the special needs sector has raised to date.

 

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CARIBBEAN TECHNOLOGY NEWS SUMMARY for the week ending September 27th, 2013

 

SOLAR PANELS COME TO DOMINICAN REPUBLIC—09/21/13
Solar panels manufactured by SolarWorld now provide the power for the largest solar-electric installation in the Dominican Republic. A solar array capable for providing 1.5 megawatts is located near Cibao International Airport. According to Enrique Ramirez, the president of the national commission of energy, the project is one of the biggest and most ambitious in the region. Solar offers the island nation clean and cost-effective energy and a respite from its dependence on costly imported oil for power generation.
JAMAICAN IGUANA BATTLES EXTINCTION—09/23/13
The illegal charcoal burning industry in Jamaica is again threatening the survival of the rare Jamaican iguana. The iguana nearly became extinct in the 1940s, but populations had revived to some degree by the 1990s. It remains one of the top 100 most endangered species in the world. The old forests and clear waters of the Hellshire Hills near Kingston are becoming the target of housing developments as well as the charcoal burners.

LAWS NEEDED TO REGULATE WASTE IN CARIBBEAN WATERS—09/26/13
Hugh Riley, the Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is calling for laws designed to regulate waste disposal in the Caribbean Sea. Riley said the Caribbean region has a responsibility to protect and preserve water resources. This is a core goal of Caribbean efforts at sustainability. Poor water quality endangers the environment and health of populations in the region.

CARIBBEAN BEHIND OTHER AREAS IN WIRELESS BROADBAND USE—09/27/13
Two of every five people in the world are likely to be online by the end of 2013, according to a United Nations study, but over 66 percent of the people who living in developing nations, including the Caribbean, will not have Internet access. The UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development surveyed broadband access in 160 countries, and found the Caribbean lagging behind. Affordable broadband is necessary in developing countries in order to compete on the world stage. Mere connectivity is no longer sufficient, according to the UN.

 

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JAMAICA NEWSWEEKLY For the week ending September 27th, 2013

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THIS WEEK”S SUMMARY
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AZAN RESIGNS AFTER CONTRACTOR GENERAL REPORT ISSUED—09/21/13
Jamaican Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Richard Azan, has decided to resign from the Cabinet. His action followed a report by the Contractor General alleging that Azan had committed “improprieties” in awarding a government contract for the reconstruction of shops at Clarendon’s Spalding Market. The Contractor General referred Azan for prosecution.

HALL NAMED NEW CONSUL GENERAL TO MIAMI—09/21/13
Franz Hall, a career diplomat, has been named as the new consul general to Miami, Florida. Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator A. J. Nicholson, announced Hall’s appointment. Hall will take up his new post on October 3, 2013. He has more than 20 years of experience in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and has most recently been the acting head of the Trade Agreements Implementation Coordination Unit.

OFFICIALS TO TESTIFY IN TRAFIGURA CASE—09/22/13
A court in Jamaica is requiring several highly placed officials of the government to testify in open court against Trafigura Beheer BV, a Dutch oil trading company that is accused of paying the People’s National Party (PNP) $460,000 before the elections in 2007. The PNP is the party of Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller. Trafigura claims that it was not prohibited from donating to political parties in Jamaica. Burt Samuels, defense attorney, argues that government officials had diplomatic immunity and so did not have to testify, but the Constitution Court of Jamaica did not accept that argument and ruled against him.

JAMAICAN GOVERNMENT PROVIDES SUPPORT TO U.S. IN LOTTERY SCAM BATTLE—09/23/13
According to United States Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater, the government of Jamaica has provided “unprecedented” support to the U.S. in fighting against the wide-ranging lottery scam. Bridgewater says the Homeland Security Office in the U.S., the Coastal Inspection Service, and other law enforcement officials have received high levels of cooperation from Jamaica’s government via the Ministry of National Security and other agencies.

LAWMAKERS CONSIDER DECRIMINALIZING MARIJUANA—09/24/13
Jamaican lawmakers are debating whether to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use by adults on the island. Many local residents have expressed their dissatisfaction with existing drug laws. While no bill has been drafted and no vote is currently scheduled on the issue, it has becoming a topic increasingly discussed among Jamaicans. Some supporters of the policy believe marijuana could become a driving force to improve the nation’s poor economy.

BUSINESSWOMAN IN JAMAICA CHARGED WITH HUMAN TRAFFICKING—09/25/13
Hermalinda Parker, a Jamaican businesswoman, has been charged by law enforcement with facilitating human trafficking. Parker was charged along with her daughter Liz Scantibury and her husband Anthony Parker by the Organized Crime Investigation Division (OCID) of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. She has also been charged with human trafficking and withholding passports. The charges stem from a trip to Guyana Parker made in May 2010 where she convinced the family of a teenage girl to allow her to come on a trip to Jamaica. On arrival, the girl was forced to become a dancer at a nightclub, and according to prosecutors, forced into prostitution as well.

NETBALLERS DONATE HISTORICAL MAP TO JAMAICA’S NATIONAL LIBRARY—09/26/13
Jamaica’s Under-21 basketball team has made a donation of an 18-century map of Jamaica to the National Library. Marva Bernard, President of Netball Jamaica, and members of the Junior Sunshine Girls team plan to attend the official event scheduled to present the map to the library. The map was a gift to the national team by Professor Emeritus Godfrey Palmer of Heriot Watt University n Edinburgh, Scotland. Palmer is a proud Jamaican who attended the third-place play-off game of the World Youth Netball Championships in Glasgow, where the Junior Sunshine Girls beat England 52-33 and won the bronze medal.

CONCERNS EXPRESSED ABOUT SECURITY DURING DIGICEL 5K NIGHT RUN/WALK—09/27/13
The Digicel Foundation will sponsor the second annual 5K Night Run/Walk, and organizers are paying close attention to security after several incidents of violence recently occurred in downtown Kingston. According to Judine Hunter, program manager for special needs at the foundation, there are some concerns and everyone is working to ensure that the event will be safe and injury-free. The run/walk is meant to raise funds for the support of special-needs schools and institutions in Jamaica. Digicel hopes to add to the $100 million the special needs sector has raised to date.

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JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
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NEW YORK FIRM SEEKS TO EDUCATE YOUTH IN PATOIS—09/23/13
New York-based Jamaica Patois Media wants to make sure that young Jamaicans learn Patois. The firm is bringing out a series of books that will teach young Jamaicans to read and write “in their own language.” The first book in the series is the “Jamaican Patois Puzzle Book,” which shows JamaicanPatois words alongside English translations. The company feels it is important to publish the series because there is almost no literature available in the language for the common people of Jamaica.

BOOK LAUNCH IN WASHINGTON FOR BEVERLY EAST—09/24/13
Beverly East, a Jamaican-born handwriting specialist and writer, has launched her third book “Bat Mitzvah Girl: Memories of a Jamaican Childhood,” in Washington, D.C. The event was held at the Embassy of Jamaica and attracted a number of officials, including the Jamaican Ambassador to the United States and former Ambassador Richard Bernal and his wife. Representatives of the World Bank and the Organization of American States also attended. The book tells the story of a girl coming of age in two countries.

JAMAICAN SINGER MAKES IMPRESSION ON “THE VOICE”—09/25/13
Tessanne Chin, a Jamaican singer, debuted on Season 5 of the United States NBC talent competition “The Voice.” She was last to perform on stage, and all four judges had a serious interest in working with her. She ultimately selected Adam Levine as her coach. The judges expressed their fascination with her Jamaican accent and her powerful voice.

“MISS LOU” THE FOCUS OF A TRIBUTE—09/26/13
A tribute to Caribbean icon Dr. Louise Bennett-Coverly, better known as “Miss Lou,” will be presented by Deja Vu Theatre Productions in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Miss Lou was the inspiration for many poets in the Caribbean. Miss Lou used the language of her ancestors, Jamaican Patois, as a means of cultural expression in poetry. She was born in Kingston in 1919 and became known around the world for her writing and her poetry performances.

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CARIBBEAN NEWS SUMMARY provided by Caribbeantopnews.com
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NICARAGUA WANTS MORE OCEAN TERRITORY—09/21/13

U.S. SENATOR WANTS INVESTIGATION OF CARIBBEAN SCHOOLS—09/22/13

BOLIVIAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES U.S. FOR HANDLING OF MADURO TRAVEL—09/23/13

ST.KITTS MARKS 30 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE—09/24/13

BIG DROP IN HIV/AIDS INFECTION RATE IN CARIBBEAN—09/25/13

MORE PRIVATE BUSINESSES, NEW REGULATIONS APPROVED BY CUBA—09/26/13

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BUSINESS NEWS SUMMARY
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TOP OFFICIALS IN JAMAICA TO TESTIFY AGAINST TRAFIGURA—09/21/13
Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller is under court order to testify publically as part of an investigation into the Dutch oil trading company Trafigura Beheer BV. Other Jamaican officials are also required to testify, according to the court. The company is charged with paying the political party of the Prime Minster $460,000 prior to the 2007 elections. It is illegal for Dutch firms to make contributions to political parties. Trafigura claims it is not barred from doing so under Jamaican law, however.

BUSINESS IN MILE GULLY HAMPERED BY LACK OF PHONE, WATER—09/22/13
The growth of Mile Gully in Manchester has been hindered by a lack of running water and telephone lines. According to Everton Palmer, a local businessman operating a farm store in the area, business owners have long complained about the lack of infrastructure. Businesses cannot grow without running water or telephone lines, he says. He has tried to set up a Western Union facility at his business through GraceKennedy, but without a landline, he could not take advantage of training he received. LIME says it would not be profitable to bring a telephone line to Mile Gully from Grove Place.

SMALL BUSINESS SECTOR SAYS IT IS “SUFFERNG”—09/26/13
Leaders in the small business sector say they agree with Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller that economic growth in the country will come from small and mid-sized businesses. But they also say that this sector needs more support from the government. According to Collette Campbell, president of the Small Business Association of Jamaica, there is no mechanism for facilitating growth and development among small enterprises on the island.

STUDY COMMISSIONED BY ANDREW HOLNESS—09/27/13
Andrew Holness, Jamaica’s Opposition Leader, has commissioned a study to discover what has been happening in the business community since 2012. Holness noted that Jamaica is fast approaching another quarter of no economic growth, and he is concerned for the future. He pointed to the many business closings and downsizings, as well as low foreign exchange earnings as reasons for worry.

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Caribbean Science and Technology News provided by Caribbeantopnews.com
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SOLAR PANELS COME TO DOMINICAN REPUBLIC—09/21/13

JAMAICAN IGUANA BATTLES EXTINCTION—09/23/13

LAWS NEEDED TO REGULATE WASTE IN CARIBBEAN WATERS—09/26/13

CARIBBEAN BEHIND OTHER AREAS IN WIRELESS BROADBAND USE—09/27/13

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ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
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JAMAICAN DANCEHALL STAR TO GIVE CONCERT IN GAMBIA—09/21/13
Jah Turban, reggae dancehall artiste, will stage a concert in Gambia, Africa, in November 2013, according to industry reports. The musician is expected to perform with other artists from Jamaica, the United Kingdom, Ghana, and South Africa. Several venues have already been confirmed for the concerts. Jah Turban was born in Spanish Town.

RESEARCH STUDY EXAMINES MUSIC INDUSTRY IN JAMAICA—09/23/13
A doctoral degree student at the Victoria University of Wellington has presented research indicating that while reggae music is very popular around the globe, Jamaica receives very little economic return from it. Most music rights are foreign-owned, according to Sharma Taylor’s dissertation. Many singer/song writers interviewed for the research did not fully appreciate the copyrights they own. Taylor believes this could result in musicians being exploited and cheated by foreign-owned firms.

SHAGGY GOES BACK TO BASICS IN NEW ALBUM—09/26/13
Reggae artiste Shaggy has gone back to his roots in his new album. He noted his crossover appeal to audiences in Jamaica and the United States, which has lead to his success. He says everything changes when your reggae music is popular in the U.S., since the recognition is so overwhelming. The album, Out of Many, One Music, is designed to excite his fans and has already received good feedback in the music industry.

NESTA FOCUSING ON POPULARIZING BRAND IN JAMAICAN MARKET—09/27/13
Gary “Nesta” Pine, Jamaican reggae artiste, wants to make his brand better known in the Jamaican market. He has gained considerable international success through collaborations with other artistes. Pine has been the lead singer for the City Heat Band in the 1990s, and also the lead singer for the Wailers for nearly ten years beginning in 1998. He has been writing and recording songs since the late 1980s, but he remains little known in Jamaica.

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SPORTS
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WICB president pleased about exchanges with India—09/22/13
President of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), Dave Cameron, is offering congratulations to the players and management of the West Indies A team which recently defeated their India equivalent in the three-game one-day series.
Cameron says he is “pleased with the performance of the team so far and wish them best of luck for the upcoming games. The matches have been competitive and we are pleased with the outcome thus far”.
The president, who identifies India as a great market for cricket, has also offered best wishes to the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force team, which is participating in this year’s Champions League tournament, also in India.
“On behalf of the board of directors, the WICB and the people of the region, I want to wish T&T all the best in the Champions League. I know the T&T team will represent the region to the best of their abilities, and we look forward to winning performances,” noted the president.

PRESIDENT OF WICB HAPPY ABOUT INDIA EXCHANGE—09/23/13
Dave Cameron, the president of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), has expressed his satisfaction with the team and the management of the West Indies following their defeat of their Indian counterpart. Cameron said he was “pleased” with the performance and with the matches, which have been competitive. He called India a “great market” for cricket and is looking forward to future matches.

GAYLE SAYS BOLT IS JAMAICA’S BEST AMBASSADOR—09/26/13
Chris Gayle, the top Twenty20 batsman in the world, believes that Jamaica’s sprint champion Usain Bolt is the country’s biggest ambassador. Gayle was at a loss for words to describe how much Bolt has done for Jamaica. “He has rewritten history,” said Gayle of Bolt.

HUE SUSPENDED BY FIFA FOR DOPING—09/27/13
Jamaica’s Jermaine Hue, 35, has received a nine-month suspension from FIFA after testing positive for a banned substance at the World Cup qualifiers. The team doctor, Carlton Fraser, was banned for four years for administering dexamethasone. According to FIFA, the suspension applies to all kinds of matches, international, domestic, official and friendly.

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JAMAICAN JOBS
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– Risk Officer – Details Here

– Information & Documentation Officer  – Details Here

– Public Health Officer – Details Here

– Pest Control Technicians – Details Here

– Principal – Details Here

 

 

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American Exceptionalism Requires Diverse Views

 

By Cass R. Sunstein

Sept. 23 (Bloomberg) — In recent years, the term “American exceptionalism” has sometimes been an empty applause line, a fancy way of shouting “USA! USA!” Vladimir Putin recently went so far as to proclaim that “It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional,” without bothering to investigate what American exceptionalism might entail.

As it happens, the term has become familiar only in the last three decades, with explosive growth since 1985. But we can find a version of the concept as early as 1787, and in a prominent place: the very first paragraph of “The Federalist,”

in which Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay tried to persuade the nation to ratify the new Constitution.

At the outset of “The Federalist” No. 1, Hamilton wrote, “It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.”

The stark opposition between “reflection and choice” on the one hand and “accident and force” on the other has defined the American character from its inception. The opposition suggests the U.S.’s distinctive optimism, captured in the repudiation of any kind of fatalism in political life.

 

Founders’ Originality

 

It is true that the idea of self-government had been elaborated by countless others, including the French political theorist Montesquieu, a revered source for members of the founding generation. But the U.S. Constitution broke dramatically from Montesquieu, and the break casts a bright light on the nature of American exceptionalism.

Montesquieu insisted that republican self-government is possible only in a small, homogeneous nation. “It is natural to a republic to have only a small territory; otherwise it cannot long subsist,” he said. In a large republic, “the public good is sacrificed to a thousand private views,” whereas in a small one, “the interest of the public is more obvious, better understood, and more within the reach of every citizen; abuses have less extent, and, of course, are less protected.”

The anti-federalists, opponents of the proposed constitution, complained that the document’s framers had betrayed Montesquieu by trying to create a large, diverse republic overseen by a powerful central government.

Brutus, an especially articulate anti-federalist, urged:

“In a republic, the manners, sentiments and interests of the people should be similar. If this be not the case, there will be constant clashing of opinions; and the representatives of one part will be continually striving against those of the other.”

In their most original argument, the framers responded that Montesquieu and Brutus had it backward. In the framers’ view, a large republic, with many points of view, would improve deliberation and better safeguard liberty.

Hamilton spoke most clearly on the point, urging that the “differences of opinion, and the jarring of parties” in the national legislature “often promote deliberation and circumspection, and serve to check the excesses of the majority.”

The depth of this commitment — to a process of deliberation among people with different points of view — emerges from an illuminating debate in America’s early years, raising the question of whether the Bill of Rights should include the “right to instruct” representatives. Many people claimed that citizens of a particular state should have the authority to bind their representatives on how to vote.

 

      Allowing Deliberation

But this view has a big problem, which is that it would eliminate deliberation. Roger Sherman made the decisive

objection:

“The words are calculated to mislead the people, by conveying an idea that they have a right to control the debates of the Legislature. This cannot be admitted to be just, because it would destroy the object of their meeting. I think, when the people have chosen a representative, it is his duty to meet others from the different parts of the Union, and consult, and agree with them on such acts as are for the general benefit of the whole community. If they were to be guided by instructions, there would be no use in deliberation.”

To be sure, American exceptionalism can be understood in many ways. The insistence on “reflection and choice” rather than “accident and force” is reflected in a national commitment to equality of opportunity, originally signaled by the Constitution’s rejection of monarchy, its prohibition on “titles of nobility,” and its insistence that sovereignty lies in We the People. It is also reflected in a cultural commitment to freedom, individual rights and self-help.

We betray our heritage when we treat American exceptionalism as an occasion for chest-thumping, for deepening political divisions, for disparaging other nations, or for asserting what Hamilton denounced as “an obstinate adherence to party.” But whatever today’s controversies, American exceptionalism is real. It began in 1787, with the Constitution’s effort to establish a large, self-governing republic, in which diverse views serve as both a safeguard and a creative force.

 

(Cass R. Sunstein, the Robert Walmsley University professor at Harvard Law School, is a Bloomberg View columnist. He is the former administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the co-author of “Nudge” and author of

“Simpler: The Future of Government.”)

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2013 in African American News

 

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‘Romeo And Juliet’: Condola Rashad, Orlando Bloom Gives Shakespeare Classic A Modern Day Spin

 

By MARK KENNEDY

Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad during the ‘Romeo And Juliet’ On Broadway First Performance at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. (Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage) | Getty

NEW YORK — When Condola Rashad snagged the coveted role of Juliet opposite Orlando Bloom’s Romeo on Broadway, she was overjoyed. Now she could get finally get some answers.

“I’m a huge `Lord of the Rings’ fan,” confesses the actress. “There were actually times in rehearsal when I was like, `OK, not to geek out really quick, but I need to know: What is the difference between an Uruk-hai and an Orc?’ I had to know.”

Bloom, who played the Elf Legolas in the films based on J.R.R. Tolkien novels, patiently played along. He explained the difference and then blew her mind: “I told her Orcs used to be Elves,” he says, laughing.

Chemistry is important if you’re playing the leads in “Romeo and Juliet,” and conversations with both lead actors at the Richard Rodgers Theatre suggest they’ve got that elusive spark.

“We talk things out, we sense each other. We both know when a scene is off because we’re both there together. It’s about listening to each other,” says Rashad, a rising star on Broadway with back-to-back Tony Award nominations for “Stick Fly” and “The Trip to Bountiful.”

For his part, Bloom gushes: “She’s wonderful. She’s luminous. She has a presence onstage that commands whatever is happening. And those eyes! They’re huge, and she’s beautiful.” His Juliet, he adds, is “perfect casting.”

While Rashad, who is the daughter of actress Phylicia Rashad of “The Cosby Show” and sportscaster Ahmad Rashad, may be a stage veteran at 26, this marks her first full professional Shakespeare production. Ditto for Bloom, 36, who has never been on Broadway before.

“It’s a monster of a play,” says Bloom, sadly. “I tend to do this. I tend to set myself some pretty high bars to reach. It’s crazy exciting, daunting and all the rest. What is there to lose?”

This retelling of the classic love story is set in a timeless, unspecified place, a smashup of the past and present. It seems to be a hot, authoritarian world, where women wear shawls and earth-tones dominate the costumes.

There’s sand onstage and graffiti mars the frescos on the back wall. Rashad is often barefoot (“It feels great. I feel grounded,” she says), and Bloom makes his entrance on a souped-up Triumph Scrambler. (“It looks like something Steve McQueen would have ridden,” he says.)

Bloom, married to supermodel Miranda Kerr and father to 2-year-old Flynn, was cast first while Rashad endured a six-month audition process with up to five callbacks. She kept her process a secret from everyone but her mother, not wanting to deal with the high expectations.

“It’s about bravery, Shakespeare. It’s about courage,” she says. “You have to force yourself to be brave enough to understand that if you give your everything to the text, it will give it back to you. You have to surrender to the text.”

She finally landed the part when director David Leveaux, a five-time Tony Award nominee, put Bloom and Rashad in the same room and heard him laugh with warmth at one of her lines. Now it’s hers, which is a little terrifying.

“I have to focus on the work. Yes, it is `Romeo and Juliet.’ And it is epic and it is an iconic role,” she says. “But the truth of it is that an icon doesn’t think of themselves as an icon. They just are. I have to be the same way.”

Their casting added an intriguing element of racial contrast to the classic tale of two star-crossed lovers and Leveaux decided to take it to its logical conclusion: the Capulets will be played by black actors and the Montagues by white actors.

“While it is an interracial `Romeo and Juliet,’ that’s not actually something we’re hammering out,” Rashad says. “It’s not about making it invisible. It’s there. Use it! But that’s actually not the core of the fight.”

The play offers Bloom a chance to return to his roots on the stage. He had studied Shakespeare at London’s esteemed Guildhall School of Music and Drama and was to play Duke Orsino in a production of “Twelfth Night” but a fall from a rooftop landed him instead in a hospital.

By the time he had healed, he was about to join the Royal Shakespeare Company but director Peter Jackson whisked him to New Zealand for “The Lord of the Rings” and then he was off on a movie career – “Black Hawk Down,” the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, “Elizabethtown” and “Kingdom of Heaven.”

In a way, “Romeo and Juliet” offers Bloom a time machine back to the stage. If his co-star geeks out about Orcs, Bloom does the same about a theater and screen star who recently showed up to see him: Denzel Washington. Bloom would love to model his career on Washington and return to the stage.

“I feel like this is what I was supposed to be doing or at least part of what I was supposed to be doing. I found myself doing movies – which were wonderful and amazing and I love – I’ve got a collection of movies at home that my son is going to absolutely drool over when he’s the right age,” he says.

“But for Orlando and for the actor in me, this process is so rewarding and I just feel like I’m going to be a different actor after this. I already feel like a different actor.”

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2013 in African American News

 

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Crain’s “40 Under 40″ Rising Stars in New York City Business Community

 

By Eva Saviano

Rhys Powell
freeenterprise.com

Rhys Powell says memories of growing up in the Bahamas inspired him to quit his stock-trading job and launch his healthy-school-lunch venture, Red Rabbit, in 2005. There, every fruit and vegetable was picked ripe to be eaten immediately.

His vision of freshness keeps getting bigger. Red Rabbit just upgraded from an 800-square-foot kitchen in midtown to a 10,000-square-foot facility in Harlem, where the seven-rack deck oven can roast 500 chickens at one time; and he plans to expand even further this year.

Mr. Powell worked on the project while still at his day job for six months before ditching finance. He expanded Red Rabbit with $750,000 in capital from the New York City Investment Fund.

“A good entrepreneur is like a duck on a lake—above the surface, he is sitting calmly, but underneath he’s paddling like crazy to stay afloat,” said Brad Barnhorn, a board member and strategic adviser to Red Rabbit. Mr. Barnhorn noted that the natural-food business poses huge logistical challenges in delivering more than 20,000 freshly prepared meals to students every day. “Rhys is committed to that challenge.”

Mr. Powell acknowledges the size of it. “Bad, processed school food is a systemic problem that will probably be changed on a larger scale by a company much bigger than ours,” he said. “But they will draw inspiration from what we are doing here, and that is what I count as succes

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2013 in African American News

 

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CARIBBEAN NEWS SUMMARY for the week ending September 20th, 2013

 

EVACUATIONS OCCUR IN TRINIDAD DUE TO HEAVY RAINS, FLOODING—09/14/13
A number of families in West Trinidad had to evacuate their homes after heavy rains resulted in flooding and overflowing rivers. The rains, accompanied by thunder and lightning in the Diego Martin and Petit Valley areas submerged the areas in several feet of water. Significant damage totaling in the millions of dollars resulted from the storms and at least two people were killed.

RUSSIA MAY HELP CARIBBEAN WITH OIL EXPLORATION—09/15/13
The Russian ambassador to Guyana, Nikolay Smirnov, has stated that Russia is willing to provide aid to the Caribbean for oil and gas exploration and to address the influence of the global economy on the region. He made his remarks at Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) and noted that the relationship between his country and the Caribbean was strong. While Russia may not provide direct investment into oil and gas exploration, it will assist with “specific projects.”

NATIONS IN CARIBBEAN CONSIDER LEGALIZING MARIJUANA—09/16/13
The smaller economies in the Caribbean region have begun to examine the possibility of legalizing or decriminalizing the use and possession of marijuana. Puerto Rico has spurred the effort, and its Senate will soon start to study the matter. There has been a debate in the country about the possible decriminalization of the possession of small amounts of cannabis and even legalizing its sale and medical use.

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO NAMED HAPPIEST CARIBBEAN COUNTRY—09/17/13
The 2013 World Happiness Report has named Trinidad and Tobago as the happiest nation in the Caribbean. The report is sponsored by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. The 2013 report is the only the second to be issued by the organization and follows the 2012 Gallup World Survey that found Trinidad to be the fifth-happiest country in the world. The report makes its determinations on the basis of six variables, which include the “real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption and generosity.”

CARIBBEAN GOES FORWARD WITH EFFORT TO OBTAIN SLAVERY REPARATIONS—09/18/13
Representatives from around the Caribbean met in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to continue the effort by several countries in the region to obtain slavery reparations from Britain, France, and the Netherlands. These three European nations benefitted from the Atlantic slave trade and the Caribbean Community is demanding compensation for the slavery and genocide of native peoples. The Prime Minister of St. Vincent, Ralph Gonsalves, is leading the effort to force the former colonial powers to pay reparations.

DIRECT MAIL SERVICE CONSIDERED BETWEEN CUBA AND U.S.—09/19/13
Representatives from Cuba and the United States are meeting to renew discussions about the re-establishment of direct mail service between the two countries. This service was ended 50 years ago during the Cold War. The resumption of direct mail transportation between the U.S. and Cuba is consistent with the goal of promoting the free flow of information to and from each nation, said Johana Tablada, deputy director of the Cuban Foreign Ministry’s U.S. affairs division.

NEW LEADER OF JFLL CALLS FOR MORE PUBLIC SUPPORT—09/17/13
Merris Murray, the new executive director of the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL) is calling for more support of the organization’s programs by the public. The JFLL will continue to provide Jamaicans educational opportunities as part of its mission to improve the island’s human development capacity into the future.

PRIME MINISTER BACKS ANTI-DOPING AGENCY—09/18/13
Portia Simpson Miller, Jamaica’s Prime Minister, is supporting the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in its battle against doping. The organization warned Jamaicans that the athletes need to address claims by a former official of the island’s anti-doping commission concerning lack of adequate testing and other “troubling” problems. Simpson Miller has contacted the organization and reassured its director that Jamaica is committed to resolving any difficulties in its testing program.

ENVIRONMENTAL AGENCY WARNS AGAINST KILLING, EATING CROCODILES—09/19/13
The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) has called for Jamaicans to stop catching and eating crocodiles. Those who do not cease this illegal activity may be prosecuted. According to Monique Curtis, environmental officer of NEPA, noted that it is illegal to possess or interfere with any part of a crocodile, which is given protection under the nation’s Wildlife Protection act. There have been reports of growing consumption of crocodile meat in Jamaica.

JAMAICA NOT QUALIFIED FOR DIVERSIT VISA FROM U.S.—09/20/13
The United States Department of State has decided that Jamaicans do not have eligibility to apply for the 2015 Diversity Visa program. Diversity visas will be made available to countries that have low rates of immigration to the U.S. Only 55,000 diversity visas will be provided each year. Other countries not eligible for the diversity visa are Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Canada, and Brazil.

 

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