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JAMAICA NEWSWEEKLY For the week ending January 13th, 2006

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Popular radio talk show host Tony Laing suffered a stroke yesterday morning and was admitted to the hospital for treatment. Laing hosts “Laing and Company” which is broadcast on Power 106 FM. A representative of the radio station says that Laing was doing well and was in high spirits. He is expected to make a full recovery and return to host his popular program soon.

The Nurses Association of Jamaica has given the government seven working days beginning January 9th to respond to charges it has betrayed them in its reclassification exercise and the decision to transfer nurses from the Services commission to the Regional Health Authorities. The nurses charge that the Ministry of Finance has breached the collective bargaining process currently in place. They assert that the government needs to remunerate all levels of nurses and that they should receive a written assurance that their benefits will carry over when they are transferred to the Regional Health Authorities.

Reggae singer Gregory Brissett, known as “Easy Cool,” was shot and killed by a police patrol in his home community of Mt. Salem in Montego Bay on Friday night after he was reportedly found with a firearm and tried to flee. Eyewitnesses say the singer and a friend were standing before a stall along the Mt. Salem main road when a police patrol pulled up. An officer approached Brissett and demanded a search. A weapon was taken from him and Brissett tried to run away. He was then fired on by a chasing policeman and several additional shots were heard. Police say that Brissett was spotted with a firearm and when accosted, fled. Police gave chase and cornered him, whereupon he drew a weapon and brandished at the police, who then shot and killed him.

A Canadian firm has expressed interest in acquiring the contract to construct the proposed $160 million air traffic control tower at the Sangster International Airport. The Minister of Transport and Works says the firm is reputed to have extensive experience in constructing control towers and have presented a formal expression of interest in the project. Designs for the tower have been completed and the end result promises to be a state-of-the-art facility. Controllers have complained of possible security problems due to diminished visibility of the aircraft in the new eastern concourse that opened in December.

The six policemen who were recently acquitted of murder in the controversial Kraal case have been reinstated to the Jamaica Constabulary Force according to a police spokesman. The men, who were all members of the disbanded Crime Management Unit, will not be posted to beat duties until their psychological evaluations are completed by the police chaplain and the force’s clinical psychologist. The six men were charged in the May 7, 2003 killing of four civilians at a house in the district of Kraal, Clarendon. The men assert they went there searching for wanted men and were fired on by gunmen. Witnesses disputed their account, saying the four people were shot in cold blood. All six are currently in counseling.

Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has approved a six-month amnesty of penalty on outstanding National Housing Trust contributions for the period January 16, 2006 to July 16, 2006 on the request of its board of directors. The trust has an estimated $9 billion in outstanding contributions to be retrieved from delinquent employers nationwide, including amounts deducted from employees’ wages. Employers are being given a six-month window to pay up their arrears without having to pay an additional 20 percent annually in penalty fees on these arrears. During the amnesty period, delinquent contributors would be allowed to apply for a waiver of penalties on outstanding contributions for all years up to December 2004.

One of the People’s National Party’s main contenders for leadership is calling for comrades to tone down their campaign rhetoric, due to the leadership campaign threatening to get out of hand. Dr. Peter Phillips, the National Security Minster, asked for the easement after the defacing of the constituency office of Dr. Fenton Ferguson, a member of Phillips’ campaign team. The vandalism was allegedly committed by supporters of Portia Simpson Miller, Phillips’ main rival for the PNP presidency. Phillips is asking the contenders and supporters to adhere to a process of election that is free and fair and free from fear. While Phillips’ message stressed party unity, he also made clear that he would not tolerate attacks on his team or on his opponents. He stressed the PNP’s mission to become a leading force for the continued transformation of Jamaica’s political culture into a truly democratic one.

Several disgruntled cane cutters of the Bernard Lodge sugar estate claimed they are demonstrating because of management’s failure to address matters regarding the pending redundancy exercise. The workers padlocked the gate to the production line of the factory yesterday morning, delaying the milling process. The workers say that since June of last year, their status has been uncertain, kept that way by management offering only three-month contracts. These contracts jeopardize their chances of getting redundancy money as they would be regarded as temporary workers. Of the more than 400 workers, only 75 are regarded as registered cane cutters.


World Junior Championships bronze medalists Sonita Sutherland and Sherene Pinnock are among more than 2,000 athletes confirmed for today’s WATA/JC track meet, the first meet on the 2006 Jamaica Amateur Athletics Association calendar. Sutherland, of Holmwood Technical, Pinnock of Edwin Allen, St. Jago’s World Youth silver medalist Natasha Ruddock and Carifta Games gold medalist Alain Bailey of Kingston College are all among the athletes from more than 70 schools expected to be at the meet. The meet is open to teams as well as individuals from clubs and institutions from all over Jamaica in team or individual categories. Events include the 100m, 400m, 800m, as well as numerous hurdles events.

Jamaica’s O’Neil Bell landed a flurry of punches in the 10th round to send Jean-Marc Mormeck to the ground, in the process crowning himself the undisputed Cruiserweight champion of the world on Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York. The knockout dramatically ended a punishing fight with both boxers scoring brutal shots throughout the night. Bell said his plan was to take the fight to the Frenchman early, using mostly the jab, uppercuts and body shots to wear him down. He felt his strategy worked well overall, crediting patience with the edge he needed for the win.

With the Jamaica Football Federation Congress set to take place Sunday, the Wray and Nephew National Premier League games scheduled for that day have been moved forward to today and tomorrow. Portmore United will host Arnett Gardens today, while Village United plays away at Constant Spring. The Portmore United/Arnett Gardens game holds higher expectations, given that the two teams are on different sides of a crisis of sorts. Arnett Gardens appears to be recovering from one, while one appears to have Portmore United in its clutches. Arnett Gardens showed signs of recovery from a series of bad results in a game on Sunday against Reno. Both teams are even on points but fifth-place Portmore enjoys a better position by virtue of having a better goal difference, with one more goal scored than Arnett Gardens. Despite Portmore’s edge, Arnett’s coach believes his team still has what it takes to place second in the league this year.

Defending champions Portmore United scored a comfortable 2-0 win over Arnett Gardens in their Wray and Nephew National Premier League game yesterday. A curling free-kick by Wolry Wolfe in the 13th minute set the tempo for an easy win, which was completed by Kevin Deerr’s 68th minute penalty. Portmore, who played without Onandi Lowe barely had to work for their three points. The match leaves Portmore with 34 points, but hold third position with a better goal difference. The team’s coaching staff says it’s not impossible that Portmore could still take the league championship and catch up to leaders Harbour View.

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

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Written by Staff Writer