JAMAICA NEWSWEEKLY For the week ending December 19th, 2008

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THIS WEEK’S SUMMARY
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GPORT EXPANSION SUSPENDED DUE TO ECONOMY—12/13/08
Jamaica has suspended its plans for a $122 million port expansion project at the Kingston Wharf in Kingston. The project will be delayed for a year, according to Pat Belinfanti, who also noted that international banks had cited the global financial downturn as one of the reasons for deciding not to help with the project’s financing after stating earlier that they might be involved with the expansion.

HARTLEY NEITA, VETERAN JOURNALIST, DEAD AT 78—12/14/08
Hartley Neita, 78, died suddenly at a hospital in Kingston after saying he did not feel well. The veteran journalist and communications consultant was honored by the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ), which expressed sorrow at his passing. In 2007, Hartley and two other veteran media professionals were honored for their 60 years of service to the journalistic profession.

JAMAICA ECONOMIC STIMULUS PACKAGE READIED—12/15/08
Bruce Golding, Jamaica’s Prime Minister, announced a program designed to boost the economy of the island by providing additional aid for the tourism industry and small businesses. Golding’s measures include tax cuts and loans.

CUBA AND JAMAICA REACH “UNDERSTANDING” ON AIRLIFT, MARKETING—12/16/08
Cuba and Jamaica will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to provide for joint destination marketing and arrangements for airlifts between the two nations. Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s Tourism Minister said the MOU came about due to negotiations begun by Prime Minister Bruce Golding with Cuban representatives early in 2008.

JAMAICAN DOLLAR CONTINUES TO DECLINE—12/17/08
The Jamaican local currency continued its decline, which shows that there is no end in sight, according to the Bank of Jamaica. The highest rate reported by authorized dealers for the Jamaican dollar was $81, with $79.98 the average rate.

JAMAICANS SHOULD PLAY MORE CHESS, SAYS EXPERT—12/18/08
Ian Wilkinson, president of the Jamaica Chess Federation and attorney-at-law, believes that people can become smarter by playing chess, but no one has to be a genius to learn to play the game. Playing chess can turn an individual into a “better thinker,” says Wilkinson, who is looking for sponsorship so that Jamaican can continue to participate in the chess Olympics, which are held every two years. At the 38th Olympiad in Dresden, Germany, Jamaica had its best performance ever, tying at 64th place when expected to do no better than 104th place.

JAMAICAN WANTED IN KENTUCKY ARRESTED IN HOMELAND—12/18/08
Victor Mercado, a Jamaican who was wanted in connection with an attempted murder committed in 2005, as well as a drug charge from that year, was arrested by marshals in Jamaica at his family’s home. According to Kentucky police, Mercado was an alleged drug dealer who nearly killed his girlfriend in front of their 2-year-old daughter.

TUFTON MAY NULLIFY IMPORT PERMITS FOR SHARED BUSINESSES—12/19/08
Dr. Christopher Tufton, Jamaica’s Minister of Agriculture, warns that he may revoke several permits that have been issued for the import of chicken leg quarters. The permit revocations will ensue if Tufton finds that some firms operate with shared directors and/or other business interests.

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JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
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TRADITIONAL JAMAICAN CELEBRATION HELD IN FLORIDA—12/13/08
Jamaicans in the South Florida Diaspora will participate in the Northern Caribbean University’s “Feast of Lights” musical event at the War Memorial Auditorium in Sunrise, Florida. Jamaica’s ambassador to the United States, Anthony Johnson, will open the event. This is the first time the event has been staged outside of Jamaica in its 39-year history.

BIANCA NOONS, JAMAICAN SINGER, HONORED IN DEATH—12/15/08
Ky-Mani Marley and others will pay tribute to Bianca Noons, a singer and actress of Jamaican heritage who died after one year in a coma in Houston, Texas. Noons formed the singing group Neutral Sisters with Kyra, her own sister.

BEENIE MAN NOW A GRANDFATHER—12/16/08
Moses “Beenie Man” Davis, Jamaican musician, is celebrating the birth of his first grandchild in Florida. His daughter, Deesha Gaye, gave birth to a five-pound, seven-ounce baby girl. She had been staying with relatives at the house of her father at the time of the birth. Beenie Man says the baby will be registered with Davis as her surname until the father comes forward, and he plans to have his daughter change the first name she has given the baby – Destiny – because he does not like it.

DIASPORA ORGANIZATION MAKES CONTRIBUTION TO KINGSTON SCHOOLS—12/17/08
Integrity Children’s Fund, which is based in Atlanta, Georgia, has made over US$200,000 in contributions since 2002 to various educational institutions in the Kingston inner city communities. Major Karl Chambers, president of the fund, says the money is used to help pay salaries to teachers at the Operation Restoration Christian School, the Joy Town Learning Center, and Peter’s Rock Preparatory School.

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SPORTS
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JAMAICA BOBSLED TEAM MUST COMMUTE TO TRAINING—12/14/08
The Jamaican bobsled team has arrived at Pemberton, British Columbia, their training base in North America and where they will practice for the Whistler World Cup to be held in February 2009. However, the team will have to commute to the Canada Olympic Park located in Calgary in order to train.

BOLT OFFERS HELP TO UK SPRINTERS—12/16/08
Usain Bolt, the Jamaican who won three sprint gold medals at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, says he would be happy to show sprinters in the United Kingdom the secrets of his success. Bolt says that “anyone” can come and train in Jamaica and that UK sprinters have a lot of talent.

USAIN BOLT IS L’EQUIPE’S ATHLETE OF THE YEAR—12/17/08
Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter who won three gold medals at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 has received the title of “athlete of the year” from the French sports daily publication, L’Equipe. Bolt won out over the American swimmer Michael Phelps and Rafael Nadal, Spanish tennis star.

REGGAE BOYZ VICTORIOUS IN TRINIDAD—12/18/08
The Reggae Boyz are back at the top of the rankings of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) after winning the 2008 Digicel Caribbean Championship in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. The Jamaican team came up 18 places in the FIFA Coca-Cola December ranks, moving to 65th in the world from 83rd. The Boyz also unseated Cuba as the top side in the region.

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DEVOTIONAL
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“Who is My Neighbour?”

In Luke 10:30-37 we find the narrative of the story, told by Jesus, that is often referred to as that of “the Good Samaritan”.  A lawyer, with less than noble intent, had asked Jesus, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus in turn asked him what was written in the law, and according to Luke, “And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.  But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?” (vv. 27-29, KJV).  It was to this question that Jesus related the story.

In our culture when we think of our neighbours, we think of people whose homes are relatively close to ours.  Yet in the narrative we find Jesus teaching that our neighbours extend beyond those with whom we share anything materially common. When they saw the injured Jew lying by the side of the road, the immediate reponse of the priest and the Levite, who were fellow Jews, was to “pass by on the other side” (vv.31,32).  “But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee” (vv.33-35).  The beauty of the Samaritan’s response is even more profound when we consider that at the time the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans (John 4:9).

“Who is my neighbour?”  As another Christmas approaches, and we think of festivities, families, friends, gift exchanges, and other good things, for the Christian the question becomes even more relevant.  It is easy to forget those who rely on the food banks, those hard hit by the economic times, children who will go giftless, the familiar face we pass everyday of the one sitting with a cup or hat in hand begging for spare change.  From Jesus’ perspective, these are also our neighbours.  As the Samaritan took care of the injured Jew, Jesus’ admonition to the lawyer, and to us, is to “Go, and do thou likewise” (v.37).

Reach out and extend a hand to a neighbour.  If you are a parent, it is also a great time to teach your child(ren) to look beyond themselves.  On that very first “Christmas”, God gave mankind His very best.  In your immediate sphere of influence, why not do something tangible for the less fortunate around you?

From my house to yours, a very merry Christmas.

CEW

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