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Tobago’s tourism industry faces setback as ‘Sandals’ hotel chain walks away from a deal

“Sandals Grande”; photo by Chris H, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

If you've come to the Caribbean on vacation, chances are you've stayed at a Sandals resort, the regional chain of all-inclusives started by Jamaican businessman Gordon “Butch” Stewart. The ever-expansing franchise had been in negotiations with the Trinidad and Tobago government to open a resort on the island of Tobago, until news broke on January 15, 2019, that the company was “pulling out”.

Although the two parties signed a memorandum of understanding on October 10, 2017, no contracts were forthcoming — and according to Sandals, “the cu­mu­la­tive ef­fect of the neg­a­tive nar­ra­tives” surrounding the 700+ room hotel was the deciding factor in its decision to opt out.

With Sandals’ exit, high hopes for diversifying the country's economy with the help of a successful tourism brand were dashed. Trinidad and Tobago's gross domestic product still leans heavily towards the energy industry; diminishing oil and natural gas resources have prompted successive governments to peddle the idea of diversification. Now, many are saying it's all talk and no action, and blame is flying every which way.

Some not buying Sandals’ excuse

Several online discussion threads questioned the authenticity of the negative publicity rationale as Sandals’ reason for discontinuing talks. On Facebook, Mariano Browne, a former minister in the Ministry of Finance, suggested:

[…] This talk of [sic] negative publicity is a sham. There are other reasons why talks broke down […] the MOU was poorly structured.

However for political purposes it is useful to lay blame at the door of those who asked sensible questions.

Brigitte R Joseph said in a private Facebook status (quoted here with her permission):

[S]tudy that in reality no company the size of Sandals would care one rat’s ass about the opinions of a couple people on an island if they REALLY wanted the business.

Also please google the following:

• what is gaslighting
• Sandals St. Lucia La Source
• Sandals lawsuits
• Sandals tax exemptions & concessions
• Ecological benefits of Mangrove
• Food Security

Yet, Sandals has been firm in its defense of its brand and its praise for the current administration, saying the Trinidad and Tobago government was supportive and transparent throughout the process.

Terms of the MOU

Critics maintain that the deal could not withstand scrutiny, as its terms did not favour Trinidad and Tobago. Legal actions taken by blogger Afra Raymond forced the government to publicly divulge the terms of the MOU before any binding legal contracts were put in place.

The MOU revealed that Sandals was not investing capital to develop the resort, yet were qualifying for the same concessions (duties and taxes) typically afforded to hoteliers that do put out development money. Additionally, there was no guaranteed percentage of local labour.

While tourism minister Randall Mitchell emphasised that the MOU is a non-binding document, Raymond's argument is that an MOU sets out the intentions for how a project will proceed and civil society has both the right and responsibility to ask questions.

In a scathing criticism of both the country's media and opposition after the pullout, Prime Minister Keith Rowley maintained that his government had consistently answered those questions despite “misinformation” — from the exact location of the proposed Sandals and Beaches resorts to the scale of the project — being bandied about “by the truckload”. Rowley said:

We have lost the opportunity to have a brand that will bring to Tobago the kind of airlift that we wouldn't have had to pay for in the model that we have been using for the last decades.

Precedent with previous hotels?

The government's hope was that Sandals would have been “a rising tide lifting all boats”. Supporters of the project claim that the model has been used before, at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre, and at the Hyatt Regency. Facebook user Rene Charles said:

Both these hotels are government owned but managed by foreign entities in the case of the Hyatt I have yet to receive a note saying that they were [a] loss making entity. Hilton […] have [been] playing catch up now but over time and further upgrade works and they will be placing cash into the coffers. So we do know that we can make money out of a hotel investment.

For his part, Raymond said the success of the Hyatt and Hilton models is up for debate, as there are no audits available to track their financial performance. Charles, meanwhile, challenged suggestions that the Sandals project would have cost Trinidad and Tobago taxpayers TT $7-8 billion dollars (approximately between US $1 and $2 billion), saying that despite the inherent challenges, the two previous hotels established a precedent — although Tobago would need to upgrade a lot of its support services and infrastructure to use its tourism product as a viable form of diversification.

Location, location, location

Despite this — and the prime minister's assurances — the proposed location for the hotel remained a concern for many conservationists who felt that constructing the hotel on the state-owned Buccoo and Golden Grove estates, a mangrove-rich area close to Buccoo Reef, was environmentally irresponsible. The group Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) called Sandals’ withdrawal “a win” for the environment”:

Development of our country is always welcomed — but must conform to the laws of our country. Sustainable development is the key to striking a balance between economic development and ecological justice.

Our Buccoo Reef is temporarily saved. Now is the right time to give Buccoo additional protection. Make Buccoo an Environmentally Sensitive Area.

The Facebook page “Save No Man's Land” also dedicated itself to challenging the wisdom of erecting a Sandals resort in this location, not only because of its potential environmental impacts, but also because a major fault line runs through the proposed site, which could have meant much more money having to be poured into construction costs.

The only people who may ever know first-hand the factors that contributed to the pullout are the ones at the negotiating table, but as it stands, both sides of the political divide are being accused of trying to win political points. Tourism industry stakeholders, though, are swallowing their disappointment and pressing on.

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Jordan stalls on official poverty statistics amid tax law controversy

A tent in Tal Al Rumman, Jordan, where an elderly woman and her children used to live. Living conditions in Jordan have become dire for many. Photo by Farrah Matalka, June 2018, used with permission.

Until 2010, reports assessing poverty in Jordan were done regularly every two to three years by the Department of Statistics (DoS). A 2010 report on poverty issued by the Jordanian government, showed that 14 percent of the population lived under the poverty line at an annual 813 Jordanian dinars ($1,144 USD) per individual, showing a rise of 1 percent since 2008.

Since then, however, poverty statistics in Jordan have been completely absent due to what critics are calling “a stalling technique”.

In the latest House discussions regarding the controversial Income Tax law, the Lower House’s Economy and Investment Committee called for the need to provide all statistics, data and studies on the issue. No figures, neither rough nor accurate, were provided, and the law passed without determining a scientifically-studied poverty line.

The law, which was already a sensitive topic before the Lower House brought up poverty statistics, is part of a series of measures instituted since Amman secured a three-year credit line of 723 million US dollars from the International Monetary Fund in 2016.

That loan, intended to support economic and financial reform, has the long-term objective of reducing Jordan's public debt from about 94 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to 77 percent by 2021.

The Income Tax Law was not favorably received and resulted in the overthrowing of the Hani Mulki government in May. Later on, under a new government and with a new draft, the law passed both houses of parliament but is still regarded as a “harmful” decision by experts.

In an attempt to calm the waters, Director of the DoS, Qasem Zu'bi, recently said in a press conference that a comprehensive report will be launched during the first quarter of 2019.

Although no official figures have been presented, the 2019 report is looking at a state of deterioration that has caught up with Jordan, according to various reports launched toward the end of 2018.

Jordan stepped down on the Legatum Prosperity Index in 2018 to stand at 91 out of 149. The World Bank classified its economy as a low-growth scenario”, UNICEF studies showed that 20 percent of children in Jordan suffer from multidimensional poverty, and only 38 percent of aid required to finance the Jordan Response Plan (JRP) for the 1.4 million Syrian refugees was met.

Moreover, the United States reduced its funding to UNRWA by 350 million USD, putting 711 schools and 526,000 Palestinian students in Jordan at risk.

Activist and community activist Sarhan Taamari, who lives in the impoverished Mamouneyeh neighborhood in Maan, 218 kilometers southwest of the capital Amman, said:

The government will try and pin this on the Syrian crisis, but the truth is that billions of dollars have been donated by the international community, donations that could have covered refugees’ living costs for more than ten years.

Privatizing Jordan

Taamari stated that “the real reason behind a collapsing GDP” is the 2006 IMF deal. In the deal, Jordan agreed to sell key state companies to foreign investors.

Now, almost all critical services and natural resource productions are foreign-owned. The water company, the Total gas station, and one of the three telecommunications companies are French, while the Potash and Phosphate mines are almost all privatized and foreign-owned.

Moreover, the World Bank plays a critical role in Jordan's energy sector, and over 1 billion US dollars on investments in power and energy come from the private sector.

Additionally, Jordanian businessmen have been selling their shares in state companies, something that the government has been “trying to conceal”, according to Taamari. In a country whose public debt has risen to 96 percent of its GDP, frustrated individuals have been trying to help as many people as their limited-resources allow.

In July 2018, when an offensive by the Syrian government displaced 40,000 Syrians at Jordan's border, Jordanians lent a hand despite the government's insistence on closing the borders.

Bringing back joy amid rising frustration

In 2018, Farrah Matalka, a graduate in social economics, launched Bringing Joy By Giving Joy, an independent campaign to help distribute 600 food parcels monthly and renovate houses. Unaffiliated with the government or privately-run organizations, Matalka relies solely on donations from individuals via her Instagram account. She posts images and videos of dilapidated houses and areas and asks followers for donations.

Other than monthly parcels, the campaign takes on short-term projects. She has raised funds for the operation and recovery fees of child victims of fires, as well as the distribution of school essentials and winter clothing.

Farrah Matalka launched Bring Joy By Giving Joy, a charity initiative that fills the gap where the Jordanian government has been unresponsive. Seen here with a new trailer for a family in need.

These simple acts of kindness can not overshadow the clear and growing frustration with living conditions in Jordan. Two waves of protests, one that resulted in overthrowing former MP Hani Mulki's government and another that was filled with anti-monarchy chants are obvious expressions of citizens’ anger.

The governates’ series of refusals to listen to ministers’ explanations for why the Income Tax law is critical is yet another sign of the government's disconnect

With people paying 70 percent of their incomes to cover personal debts, the rise of public debt and unemployment standing at 19 percent by the end of the year, and a 30 percent rise in drug addiction cases, tackling poverty in Jordan needs a multiple-faceted strategy.

As DoS Director Qasem Su'bi said in a recent press conference, “people are anxious for the report on poverty, but what is more important is how the government plans on reducing it.”

DoS Spokesperson Saeda Momani said the report may not be published in early 2019, as the committee working on it has decided to widen the sample and include more Syrian refugee representation as well.

“I suggest we delay talking about the report for at least six months,” Momani concluded.

Written by Maram Alkayed · comments (0)
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[GUIDA] Ecco come vedere la storia dei pacchetti installati, aggiornati o rimossi su Ubuntu, Debian o Mint

In questo articolo vediamo come scoprire tutti i pacchetti installati, aggiornati o rimossi dal vostro sistema. La guida, che si basa sull’uso della command line, è valida per Ubuntu, Linux Mint e Debian (e probabilmente per la maggior parte delle derivate).

L’obiettivo è accedere alla storia del vostro sistema, ovvero alla lista dei pacchetti DEB che avete installato / aggiornato / rimosso, compresa la data in cui l’avete fatto. Per farlo su Debian, Ubuntu e Linux Mint potete andare a leggere il file dpkg.log (dpkg è l’architettura di basso livello per la gestione, l’installazione e la rimozione dei pacchetti). Lo trovate nel percorso /var/log/dpkg.log. Potete usare il comando grep per il parse del file e quindi andare a visualizzare solo i pacchetti rimossi o quelli installati o quelli aggiornati, sulla base delle voste esigenze.

Questo metodo funziona per i pacchetti DEB qualsiasi sia il modo in cui li avete installati: graphical tool come Synaptic, Gnome Software, Update Manager, o un command line tool come apt, apt-get, aptitude o dpkg. Non funziona però per altri pacchetti come Flatpak o Snap, o per software installato dai sorgenti.

Aprite il terminale e date:

grep "install " /var/log/dpkg.log

Questo il risultato:

$ grep "install " /var/log/dpkg.log
2019-01-08 13:22:15 install automathemely:all <none> 1.3
2019-01-08 13:22:29 install python3-astral:all <none> 1.6.1-1
2019-01-08 13:22:29 install python3-tzlocal:all <none> 1.5.1-1
2019-01-08 13:22:29 install python3-schedule:all <none> 0.3.2-1


2019-01-09 17:19:49 install libwebkit2-sharp-4.0-cil:amd64 <none> 2.10.9+git20160917-1.1
2019-01-09 17:19:49 install sparkleshare:all <none> 3.28-1
2019-01-15 15:58:20 install ffsend:amd64 <none> 0.1.2

Analogamente potete dare

grep "upgrade " /var/log/dpkg.lo

per una lista dei pacchetti aggiornati.


grep "remove " /var/log/dpkg.log

per la lista dei pacchetti rimossi.

/var/log/dpkg.log contiene i pacchetti installati, aggiornati e rimossi per il mese corrente. Per il mese precedente andate a leggere il file /var/log/dpkg.log.1

Ad esempio, date:

grep "install " /var/log/dpkg.log.1

Volete andare ancora più indietro? Usate zgrep al posto di grep e leggete /var/log/dpkg.log.2.gz, /var/log/dpkg.log.3.gz, /var/log/dpkg.log.4.gz e così via.


zgrep "upgrade " /var/log/dpkg.log.2.gz

Strade alternative

Ci sono metodi alternativi per raggiungere lo stesso obiettivo ma, come si dice dalle mie parti, “funzionicchiano”. Ad esempio Synaptic Package Manager (File -> History) può mostrarvi solo una storia dei pacchetti installati, aggiornati o rimossi mediante Synaptic stesso (e quindi non quelli aggiornati/installati/rimossi mediante apt, apt-get, dpkg, Software Updater,  etc). Analogamente il file di log /var/log/apt/history.log mostra solo le azioni svolte usando apt/apt-get.

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Vi ricordiamo che seguirci è molto semplice: tramite la pagina Facebook ufficiale, tramite il nostro canale notizie Telegram e la nostra pagina Google Plus. Da oggi, inoltre, è possibile seguire il nostro canale ufficiale Telegram dedicato ad Offerte e Promo!

Nel campo qui sotto è possibile commentare e creare spunti di discussione inerenti le tematiche trattate sul blog.

L’articolo [GUIDA] Ecco come vedere la storia dei pacchetti installati, aggiornati o rimossi su Ubuntu, Debian o Mint sembra essere il primo su Lffl.org.

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