JAMAICA NEWSWEEKLY For the week ending September 29th, 2006

A mass media campaign was launched yesterday by the Ministry of Health, aimed at reducing the stigma and discrimination against those with HIV/AIDS in Jamaica. The campaign is called Getting on with Life, and will feature two people living with the virus, who will speak openly about their status. Annesha Taylor has been HIV-positive for five years while Ainsley Reid has lived with the disease for the past thirteen years. The campaign hopes that by putting a human face on the epidemic people will be less prone to discriminate against those who are sick from AIDS. The ministry of health is against testing for the virus for employment purposes. The campaign is evidence that the government is living up to political commitments made in the 2001 and 2006 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, when it agreed to develop strategies to combat stigma and social exclusion associated with the disease.

Some resort towns have exceeded the level of development recommended by the Tourism Ministry. Environmentalists and officials fear that the infrastructure is coming under strain due to the growth. Some government agencies have failed to adhere to the guidelines of the tourism master plan because there is no single agency to enforce its mandates. The plan is aimed at encouraging sustainable tourism development by balancing growth with environmental sustainability. Failure to follow the guidelines has resulted in the approval of a number of large hotel developments in areas where they put strain on the environment. Some officials feel the problem resides with the definition of carrying capacity, which is often misunderstood and difficult to determine.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller is continuing her unofficial campaign for the empowerment of women. On Friday the Prime Minister told the Non-Aligned Movement in Havana, Cuba that the empowerment of women is essential to overcoming social ills. Miller expressed her happiness that the entire CARICOM bloc are members of NAM, whose membership now stands at 180 countries that consider themselves not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. They represent nearly two thirds of the United Nations’ members and comprise nearly 60 percent of the world’s population. Miller urged leaders to “do the right thing” by focusing on achievement in fighting poverty, illiteracy, hunger, lack of education, gender inequality, infant and maternal mortality, disease and environmental degradation.

Police Commissioner Lucius Thomas is warning motorists who break the Road Traffic Act that law enforcement officers will be coming after them with a zero-tolerance approach. Speaking at the funeral of Superintendent Cornelius Walker of Area Four, who died from injuries following a motor vehicle accident, the commissioner said that the law must take its course to deal with problems on the road. The commissioner asked that all law enforcement officers have a zero-tolerance approach where irresponsible behavior on the road is concerned. Walker died after serving the Jamaica Constabulary Force for more than 30 years. Thomas stressed that not just cases involving policemen should be investigated and prosecuted when needed.

Two physically challenged men were rescued from a burning building yesterday morning on the premises of Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Center in Mona, St. Andrew. The two men were asleep when the blaze began. Fire engulfed the housing section of the building shortly after 7 a.m., destroying the structure and its contents. The building housed some of the rehabilitation center’s offices, including a canteen, the matron’s office, changing rooms, a workshop and a few patients. None of its contents were saved. Preliminary findings suggest the fire was caused by an electrical short circuit in the workshop. Damage was estimated at $10 million. Some staff and nearby residents said the contents could have been saved if the fire department had responded quicker. It is thought the truck was delayed by traffic. The center’s director said that while some special documents were lost, normal operations would continue.

A salary dispute between the Police Federation and the Ministry of Finance caused an island wide sickout by hundreds of rank-and-file members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force yesterday. National Security Minister Dr. Peter Phillips has intervened due to the work absences. On Monday, 200 delegates of the Police Federation voted to take strong action to force the government to make a favorable wage offer. The police union was particularly upset that the Junior Finance Minister called the federation negotiators’ skills immature and impractical. As a result, operations at several police stations and courts were disrupted Monday and Tuesday as many officers called in sick. The police commissioner reassured the nation that all possible measures were being taken to mitigate the effects of the actions taken by the officers. The police union is pressing the government for a 45 percent increase in year one and a 30 percent increase in year two. The Finance Ministry has proposed a 12.5 percent increase in year one and a five percent increase in year two.

The marine police’s fight against the illegal drug and weapons trade got a boost yesterday when ten 17-foot Boston Whaler boats were commissioned at its Newport East headquarters. The additions are a part of a major effort by the Ministry of National Security to upgrade the division’s fleet. Twenty-seven boats of varying sizes have been purchased by the ministry. Top police officials took one of the boats on a test run in Kingston Harbour yesterday. The boats will be used in locations where the illegal drug and weapons trade is most rampant, namely Kingston, Negril, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Port Antonio and Black River.

Students at the University of Technology in St. Andrew are being reminded of a number of tuition support options available for students facing financial challenges. Students can arrange to make partial payments or apply for aid through the Financial Aid Office. The school offers a University Earn and Study Program, grants for needy students, loans, and scholarships. Tuition increased at UTech this year for all students, increasing by 20 percent for new students and 15 percent for returning students. Some students have protested the increases, saying they are too high. With only ten days left in the registration opportunity, more than half the returning students have not registered, believed to be a result of the increased tuition.

Jamaicans in South Florida have launched a scholarship fund in honor of late cultural icon, Louise Bennett-Coverley, more popularly known as Miss Lou. The director of the Jamaica Folk Revue made the announcement at a community cultural tribute held recently in North Miami to celebrate the birthday, life and legacy of the late Miss Lou. The scholarship will be used at the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts and will be awarded to a student pursuing the three-year diploma course in the performing arts. Proceeds from the cultural tribute will go towards the scholarship fund and the first award will be made in November. More than 600 people attended the tribute which featured folk songs, poetry, drama, dance and video presentations of Miss Lou’s work. September 8 was also declared as Louise Bennett Day by North Miami’s mayor.

An Ontario Provincial police officer originally from Jamaica is suing a former Pittsburgh Penguins right-winger accused of assault. Ryan VandenBussche faces charges of assaulting a peace officer, assault causing bodily harm, resisting arrest and threatening death or bodily harm. The charges and lawsuit stem from the alleged assault of Constable Hector Jibbison, who came to Canada to work on a farm but later joined the police force, during a fight involving approximately 40 people in Turkey Point, Ontario over the Canada Day long weekend. VandenBussche was tasered and sprayed with pepper spray before being subdued. He will return to an Ontario court to set a trial date. Jibbison’s lawyer said the officer suffered a broken nose, cuts, scrapes and bruises, dental damage, headaches, blurred vision and swelling as a result of the alleged assault. The lawsuit seeks $5 million in general damages, $2 million for shock and mental distress, aggravated damages in the amount of $1.5 million and $1.5 million in punitive damages. VandenBussche played 20 games with the NHL’s Penguins and is now an unrestricted free agent.

Governor-General Kenneth Hall says the Jamaican Diaspora has a significant role to play in the country’s development. Professor Hall was addressing the 15th anniversary celebration of the New York Chapter of the Ruseus Old Students’ Association on Saturday in New York. He challenged nationals abroad to see themselves as more than just remitters of foreign currency to people back home. Hall noted that the government and people of Jamaica have an obligation to maintain and strengthen links with the Diaspora, and that the creation of the Diaspora Foundation was aimed at fostering that process.

Two Jamaican nationals are accused of committing serious crimes in the United States and are among 115 others captured this week. Immigration officials are processing all the offenders for deportation back to Jamaica. Le Roy Rose was among those caught by the department of homeland security. Rose was convicted of possessing and selling narcotics, weapons offenses, aggravated assault, shoplifting, fraud and resisting arrest. He has been a fugitive alien since January 2004 according to officials. Lenford Fletcher, also from Jamaica, has been convicted of robbery, assault, and multiple narcotics violations. He was also picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials this week. The two will be immediately deported, an action that is part of the continuing progression of the Secure Border Initiative program launched by the Department of Homeland Security to secure America’s borders and reduce illegal immigration.

Sherone Simpson hopes to extend her unbeaten streak in the women’s 100 meters when some of the world’s top athletes come together for the World Cup this weekend. Simpson has bested all competitors in her last seven 100 meters races, ever since she lost to Marion Jones this season in Paris. Jones decided Thursday to end her season because she does not feel in good enough condition. Simpson will run for the team of Americas. The two-day meet is a competition between continental teams from Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe, Oceania, the United States, Greece and three European teams that qualified through the European Cup—Russia, France and Poland. The World Cup meets are held every four years. African men have won the last four of the previous nine World Cup meets. The Americas have three titles.

Norman Manley and Camperdown scored victories in their ISSA/Pepsi/JN Manning Cup matches yesterday at the National Stadium. Manley stomped Donald Quarrie 7-1 in the opener of a five-game, all day football spectacular. Then Camperdown squashed Kingston High 8-0 in the following game. Andre Bailey struck four times for Norman Manley, in the first, fourth, seventh and 51st minutes. In game two, John-Ross Edwards produced a hat-trick in helping Camperdown to their whipping of Kingston High. Joel Williams, Shaun Francis, Rasheed Dwyer, Vernal Smart and Ramone Waite also scored for the team, who won their second straight game.

A Roberto Fletcher goal just after half-time gave champions Waterhouse a 1-0 win against Tivoli Gardens in their Wray and Nephew National Premier League match at the Edward Seaga Sports Complex yesterday. Fletcher tapped in his second goal of the season from close in to give Waterhouse six points from two games. He also scored in last week’s 2-0 win against August Town. Tivoli Gardens has only a point from their two games, with their striker Nicholas McCreath having an off day as he fumbled a number of chances in the first half. Both teams were reduced to 10 men in the 62nd minute when Marco McDonald and Roland Dean were ejected following a shoving match.

Air Jamaica became the first company in the Platinum Group to renew its sponsorship of the Jamaica Football Federation. The $35 million sponsorship will assist the Reggae Boyz in their journey to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup. The sponsorship is expected to help players who will be traveling. The 2010 World Cup slated for South Africa has taken on more than just football importance. The “Back to Africa” campaign is more political with historical impact. Air Jamaica is urging JFF to get a national coach on board who will pilot Jamaica’s trip to South Africa.

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