Caribbean and Diaspora News in Brief

Hassan De Four
 The Caribbean in the global happiness index
 Vincentian leader wants serious talks on ganja laws
 Caribbean Airlines soars from Trinidad budget
 Jesse Jackson encourages black British voters
 University advice for Brtish-Caribbean students
 Bake and shark in central London
 Quote of the Week - Sparrow's wife
CI logo Trini joys – So, it’s official: Trinidadians are the happiest of Caribbean peoples!
That’s according to the World Happiness Report 2013, which has been produced as part of the objectives for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2015 to 2030.
The latest report showed a slight increase for Trinidad and Tobago between the period 2005-07 and 2010-12.
The twin island republic comes in at 31 on the global index of 150 countries analysed.
The next Caribbean country, Suriname, weighs in at the 40th slot.
Other Caribbean nations in the measurement include Jamaica (75th), Dominican Republic (95th) and Haiti at 126.
For the record, the top six countries in the global index were Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Canada.
Venezuela comes in at number 20 and the UK at 22.
Using the Gallup World Poll, the report found “significant” increases for Latin America and the Caribbean overall – up 7%.
For the record, declining regional happiness levels were to be found in the Middle East, South Asia, the US, Canada and Europe.
The reports found that the world had become “a slightly happier and more generous place over the last five years”.
The Happiness Report is measured on the basis of how people rate their lives as a whole, taking into account what the report called “life evaluations”, based on a mix of factors including health life expectancy, perception of corruption, GDP, freedom to make life choices, social support and generosity.
CI logo Gonsalves: Let’s discuss ganja sensibly – the calls for discussion about the legalisation of ganja for medicinal use gained even further momentum with a request by a Caribbean leader for the Caribbean Community (Caricom) to discuss the issue.
St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has joined the debate by suggesting the regional grouping should discuss the matter in a “sensible” and “reasoned” way that was “not hysterical”.
During the summer, a leading Jamaican lawyer and a distinguished Jamaican cancer researcher reignited the calls for a reassessment of legal marijuana provision.
In his regular column for the Caribbean press and for Caribbean Intelligence©, Caribbean Council for Europe Director David Jessop has also suggested that the Caribbean should take a few notes from Uruguay’s book as that country tries to roll out a legalisation programme.
In a 2 September letter to Trinidad’s Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who is currently chairing Caricom, Dr Gonsalves said: “I make my plea for reasoned debate, led by Caricom’s political and civic leadership in the context of the legalisation of marijuana for medical/health purposes in 20 states in the United States of America.”
CI logo Goodbye subsidy, Hello cash injection Following the budget announcement of the removal of the controversial state subsidy for Trinidadian airline Caribbean Airlines (CAL), questions are being raised about the accompanying cash injection for the airline.
The TT$50m subsidy has long been a bugbear for stakeholders in rival airlines in the Caribbean, including Vincentian leader Ralph Gonsalves and failed airline RedJet, over the years. 
So when the removal of the subsidy was announced in the Trinidad budget on 9 September, many thought that CAL was now being left to stand on its own economic feet.
However, the Trinidad Guardian quickly unearthed expenditure document details that also show a TT$400m government injection into CAL.
The former president of the Trinidad and Tobago Travel Agents Association, Wayne Rodriguez, described the move as a front to make more cash injections into the airline.
“Instead of giving them a fuel subsidy, they are now going to give them a cash injection, and those cash injections will continue and will replace what we know as the fuel subsidy,” Mr Rodriguez told the Trinidad Guardian.
CAL officials have said that the loss of the subsidy will not affect the airline's ticket prices.


CI logo Jesse Jackson “unfinished business” – American civil rights leader Jesse Jackson has said during a visit to London that it is time for Britain and the US to deal with “unfinished business” on racial equality.
He spoke in London at events to mark the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech.
He said that in both countries, much progress had been made, but that “more remains to be done”.
Speaking at another event to a group assembled by Operation Black Vote (OBV) in north London, he said the role of black voters in some marginal constituencies in Britain could be important in the country’s next general elections.
“You must register to vote, but not just that, you must encourage your school friends and everyone in your road and church to register too,” he told people at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, named after the Guyanese-born politician who was one of Britain’s first black MPs.
“No party in Britain can run the risk of alienating 15% of the vote,” Rev Jackson said.
“That may be the margin that will determine the outcome of the next election.”
CI logo British Caribbean students urged to think about overseas universities –British Caribbean students of the future and their parents should look at a wider selection of universities, including those outside the UK, when deciding where they should study, a think tank has advised.
The Future Think project has produced a series of articles on Jobs and the Future, examining whether British students of Caribbean descent should consider universities outside Britain’s elite Russell Group universities, from which most employers seek graduate recruits.
The group suggests that future British-Caribbean students might benefit from going to the University of the West Indies (UWI) or universities in the US or continental Europe.
“Already, several  ambitious Caribbean teenagers are discovering that they can enjoy  a more stimulating educational experience, an improved lifestyle and  superior facilities at world class universities in North America, Continental Europe, Australia and elsewhere - at the same or a lower cost than a UK university,” Future Think said in its latest advisory.
It points out that overseas study would deliver benefits in today’s “globalised and highly competitive world” and that “in a saturated job market, it can be a great way to stand out in the crowd”.
For more on Future Think, check out the Caribbean Diaspora for Science, Technology and Innovation UK.  
CI logo Bake and shark in the shadow of the London Eye – We know it’s a dish you’d more readily associate with Trinidad’s Maracas Beach.
But bake and shark was available, alongside other Trinidadian culinary fare, at the Taste of Trinidad event in central London on 9 September.
Caribbean promoters have been pushing to showcase their food and drink ranges at mainstream events, including St Lucian and other Caribbean rums at the Taste of London events, as they seek to save market share in the UK. 
At this latest event, food writers and British and Caribbean media writers were invited to see the secrets behind bake and shark, pelau and other Trinidad culinary fare, washed down with Carib beer.
Trinidadian chef Hassan De Four, known for his appearances in British TV food series Rhodes Around the Caribbean, was on show with a team of cooks.  He was joined by Trinidadian Shivi Ramoutar, who was a quarter-finalist in British TV’s Masterchef competition.
Hassan himself has gone one step further and opened a restaurant in Singapore, providing a fusion of Trinidadian food with Asian ingredients.
Still on a culinary note, British chef Gary Rhodes is opening his first Caribbean restaurant in Grenada.
The Chef, best known for his 1980s TV show Rhodes Around Britain and for his restaurant in London’s City, will have a restaurant at the reopened Calabash Hotel in Grenada in October.

CI logo Quote of the week:

“Your prayers are needed.”  Margaret Francisco, the wife of the Mighty Sparrow, posted this message on Facebook. Sparrow, the crowned Calypso King of the World, is currently in a coma at a New York hospital.
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