THIS WEEK’S SUMMARY
POLICEMAN’S FAMILY WANTS APOLOGY—12/17/05
The family of Grantley Waite is demanding a public apology from Police Commissioner Lucius Thomas for statements he made in the days following an attack on the policeman. The family says Thomas’ comments have only served to downplay the officer’s injuries. Waite, who died yesterday, was allegedly beaten by a colleague at the Mount Salem Police Station in November and died at Kingston Public Hospital 31 days after being hospitalized. A post-mortem is scheduled to determine the exact cause of death. Commissioner Thomas issued a statement saying that the Director of Public Prosecutions will be asked to make a ruling on the case and that the file on the case would be handed over immediately. The statement also expressed condolences to Waite’s family. Thomas had previously made statements that medical reports indicated Waite’s condition was not due to a beating.
POLICE CORPORAL KILLED IN CRASH—12/18/05
A three-vehicle collision took the life of police corporal Leslie Smith, a traffic cop assigned to the Frankfield Police Station in Clarendon. The 42-year-old policeman was one of three other people involved in the accident, including two other policemen, all of whom were injured in the crash that took place between the Portmore and Spanish Town exit at around 9:45 a.m. Smith was on his way to classes in Kingston when he stopped to speak to his colleagues who were on traffic duty along the highway. Smith stopped and parked behind a police service vehicle on the shoulder of the road when the driver of a Rover lost control and hit Smith and a sergeant he was speaking with at the time. The car then hit Smith’s car, which then slammed into the parked service vehicle.
CARIBBEAN SINGLE MARKET TO LAUNCH—12/18/05
The Caribbean Single Market is slated to get under way next week, with more regional items expected to fill supermarket shelves. Figures show that imports from sister CARICOM countries value nearly $562 million currently. As CARICOM goods come into the local market, there have been some efforts to standardize regional goods. Most goods already conform to standards, but some exceptions include snacks, garments and cold storage items, which are typically not labeled consistently and need to tighten up to meet Bureau of Standards requirements. Improving the quality of exports is one issue among several facing Jamaica, including the preparedness of the region to exploit export opportunities in labor, agriculture, tourism and entertainment. Currently Jamaica imports 10 times more from CARICOM than it exports.
AJAG CHAIRMAN THRASHES AIR JAMAICA MANAGEMENT—12/19/05
Chairman of Air Jamaica Acquisition Group Gordon Stewart has described the projected losses of Air Jamaica for the year ending December 2005 as inaccurate. Last week Air Jamaica’s current chairman, O.K. Melhado, said the company’s losses this year would be similar to those of last year. According to Stewart, Air Jamaica will record its greatest loss to date, slated to be $9 billion. Stewart says that seat for seat the airline will lose twice as much as AJAG lost when they ran it, in their worst year. Stewart spoke with reporters yesterday, charging that Air Jamaica’s plan for increased flying hours will not be enough to rescue the national airline. Last December the government regained majority control of the national airline from the Stewart-led AJAG.
HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP RECEIVES FUNDING—12/20/05
The Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights received a $24 million funding boost from the European Commission to aid in its campaign against the death penalty. The project will have a duration of two years and is aimed at promoting and protecting the human rights of Jamaicans, with special emphasis on heightening awareness of Jamaicans to more humane and viable rehabilitative alternatives to the death penalty. The main priority of the IJCHR is to defend the civil liberties and human rights of all Jamaicans regardless of their background, ethnic, religious or political affiliation. The grant consists of five components, including advocacy in death penalty cases; advocacy training; research on the death penalty in Jamaica; research on criminal justice reform; and the establishment of an IJCHR branch in Montego Bay.
COPS FREED IN KRAAL TRIAL—12/21/05
Reneto Adams and two other policemen were freed yesterday of charges in the Kraal case. A 12-member jury comprising seven women and five men deliberated for five and a half hours and returned to find Senior Superintendent Adams, Corporal Lenford Coke and Constable Shane Lyons not guilty of murder of four people in Kraal, Clarendon on May 7, 2003. The police had said they were fired on as they approached a home in Kraal to search for a wanted man. Adams says he and his men will return to fighting crime with even more resolve than ever, and urged criminals to go back from where they came if they are in Jamaica from other locales. But according to Police Commissioner Lucius Thomas the men would not be reinstated until they have received counseling, in accord with police policy involving officers who have been out of service for more than one year.
MINIMUM WAGE TO INCREASE—12/22/05
Promised wage increases were to take effect on January 1, but the new wage will take effect on January 30 instead, according to Labor and Social Security Minister Horace Dalley. According to the minister the delay is due to a minority report, which was submitted along with the recommendations from the Minimum Wage Advisory Commission. The recommended increase was not sent to the House of Representatives before it went on its Christmas break last week, and as a result the new increases would not take effect on January 1 as hoped. It is expected the recommendation will be signed off on by the Cabinet on January 9 and sent to Parliament upon their return on January 10th. It is not known what the increase will be, but speculation has the amount at 10%, which would bring it to $2,640.
HOTEL OCCUPANCY UP—12/23/05
Former Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association president Josef Forstmayr says it could be a little harder to get a hotel room for Christmas, despite Jamaica’s additional 2000 rooms. Forstmayr said Jamaica’s entire accommodations inventory stands at about 24,000 rooms, an increase over the 22,000 from last year. This year, Jamaica’s hotel occupancy rate should be about 10 percentage points higher than last year’s, according to the former president. The anticipated boom in tourist arrivals means that many properties will enjoy 100 percent occupancy after Christmas Day and into the first two months of 2006.
BROWN BACK AS BOYS’ TOWN CEO—12/17/05
Carl Brown, former national football technical director, coach and player is back in Jamaica after six months of coaching in the United States. He is tasked with rebuilding Boys’ Town, as was announced in a press conference held today by the board of directors. Brown will soon take the position of chief executive officer at the club, which involves daily operations as well as sporting activities. Brown gave a speech and stated his reasons for coming back to Jamaica, having left under speculation that he was disenchanted with the sport and its politics in Jamaica. Brown spoke to the emotional ties he has to the school and its football team, and his hopes to keep it viable through corporate support and good management.
PORTMORE AND TIVOLI TO MEET—12/18/05
Defending champions Portmore United will turn their attention to the Wray and Nephew National Premier League now that they have conquered the Caribbean. They’ll focus particular attention on Tivoli Gardens today when they meet for a match this afternoon. Portmore United is in third position with 26 points, the same as Tivoli Gardens, but they have a game under their belts. Tivoli Gardens’ manager is expecting a tough, exciting game based on the history between the two teams and the mental state of the Portmore United team given their status as Caribbean club champions. Tivoli Gardens says they’re focused on getting three points so as not to fall too far behind the leaders.
ARNETT CLIPS BOYS’ TOWN—12/19/05
Arnett Gardens edged out Boys’ Town 3-2 in their Wray and Nephew National Premier League game at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex last night. Much of the game saw Arnett Gardens with a one-man advantage. The home team struck early when Kwame Richardson scored in the fifth minute and Gregg Taylor brought one home in the 16th minute. Two minutes later, the visitors were down to 10 men when Garfield Gillespie struck Wayne Ellis in front of the referee and was red carded. Boys’ Town rallied and evened the score by half-time, but it was not enough. Ultimately Arnett Gardens brought home their first win of the second round to remain in sixth position with 25 points.
TABLE TENNIS GARNERS SUPPORT—12/20/05
Jamaica’s newly-elected Table Tennis Association executive committee garnered its first sponsorship deal as Northwest Development committed $100,000 to finance a national club league that is slated to start in January. The Keith Garvey-led administration that took over the troubled sport a month ago after the previous administration derailed, welcomed the gesture and promised to move table tennis back to the forefront of sport. It is Northwest Development’s largest commitment of this kind to date and they are fully committed to the development of TT in Jamaica. The Texas Wesleyan University team will visit Jamaica in February to play and assist the development of the sport. The school is the top table tennis university in the United States, having won 16 out of a possible 20 titles in four years.
The weekly news is compilation of new articles from top Caribbean and Jamaican news sources.