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JAMAICA NEWSWEEKLY For the week ending November 10th, 2006

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The governing People’s National Party imposed a media blockade yesterday that continued into today. Some members of the print and electronic media were banned from entering Jamaica House about midday while International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller. Reporters and photographers who arrived at the Hope Road gate before noon were told by a policeman that he had received instructions to deny entry to the private media. Evidently two local photographers were allowed in for the visit of the IOC boss as well as a photographer for the Associated Press. The prime minister’s press secretary expressed surprise that media were not allowed access, saying there is no policy blocking media from Jamaica House.

Several members of the Montego Bay police force are said to be among the beneficiaries of the illicit multi-million dollar lottery scam, which the police High Command says is partly responsible for the recent spate of murders in the western city. The scam involves conning American citizens into sending money to local scam artists via local remittance establishments; a group of policemen has evidently been targeting people sent to collect the illicit money and then relieving them of the collected cash. The assistant commissioner relates that he has heard the allegations and possesses intelligence that the activity is taking place. The scam has seen several Montego Bay inner-city communities flush with cash.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has again suffered a significant loss in her ratings according to a new poll. At the same time, opposition leader Bruce Golding is showing improved ratings. Since the last poll in July, the People’s National Party has been rocked by scandal and several candidate selection rows. The PM has dealt with criticism following a no-confidence motion brought against the government in Parliament. Pollsters believe a recent public relations campaign aimed at softening the image of Bruce Golding contributed to his slight increase in ratings.

A man who cut his 80-year-old grandfather’s throat to spare him the severe pains he was experiencing because he was terminally ill with cancer, yesterday pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Damion Barrett of Kingston will be sentenced November 17. Barrett was charged with the murder of William Uriah Grant, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge. Grant, a cancer patient, had asked several relatives, including Barrett, to end his life. On September 8, 2005 a neighbor heard cries coming from Grant’s house and Barrett was seen running from the house. Grant was seen coming from the house holding his neck, which was bleeding profusely. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. Barrett admitted to numerous people in the community that he had killed his grandfather because he was in a lot of pain and had asked Barrett to take his life.

A government-commissioned report on the performance of the health sector has revealed that several financially-strapped hospitals and clinics were breaking the law by overcharging their patients. The report brought consultants from a Wall Street, New York firm who then submitted their report in January 2004, maintaining that illegal acts were done to improve the financial standing of the cash-strapped institutions. The Ministry of Health admitted that some of its hospitals and clinics were overcharging patients, but maintained that it was done “in the name of quality health care.” A recent undercover visit to the Kingston Public Hospital found that the higher than allowed charges were still being charged as recently as yesterday.

Solar power seems to be gaining popularity in Jamaica after a slow beginning. At last count, there were just 7,000 units on the island. But recently, in the form of solar water heaters, interest has grown. The water heaters are also zero-rated for GCT and import duties as part of government policy to encourage renewable energy. The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica has just launched its latest awareness campaign featuring a mascot “Solar Man,” targeting children, rather than adults, whose indifference has frustrated past efforts.

More than 400 students were prevented from leaving their homes yesterday for classes at the St. Alban’s Primary School on Albert Street. The lively community of Denham Town in west Kingston is now a warren of empty streets, partially blocked roadways and a tense atmosphere. These affects followed a night of sporadic gunfire which left several families mourning the deaths of at least four people. Five other people, including two Jamaica Defense Force soldiers were shot and injured in a bloody gunfight between two groups of men in the community. Two of the injured were charged with crimes and remained under police guard in the hospital. The traumatic events began with the murder of a 24-year-old who was killed right outside the gates of the school minutes before classes were dismissed. He was reportedly killed by another prominent member of the Denham Town community.

Several employees of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security have reportedly been sent on leave following reports that a number of Haitian immigrants have been issued work exemption certificates to gain employment as security guards. Inquiries into the situation have gone unanswered. At least four local security companies are said to have Haitians on their workforces, which shocked the Permanent Secretary when he was contacted with the information. The job does not require any special skill that can’t be found in Jamaica, so there should be no immigrant workers filling those positions. However, documents have been obtained that appear to be legitimate, issued to a Haitian security guard.

The Jamaican government is preparing to seek job opportunities for Jamaicans on the new Panama Canal project. The plan follows the Panamanian people’s decision last month to undergo a massive expansion of the canal, with the addition of a new shipping lane. The Ministry of Labor has begun exploring options for Jamaicans to participate in the US $5.2 billion expansion project. Officials are keeping close tabs on the situation and working through diplomatic channels to make sure they stay abreast of the status of the project. Jamaicans were a big part of the building of the original canal, which should stand them in good stead now.

Members of the Calabar Old Boys Association, Toronto chapter, have been lauded for their contributions to the school. Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto told members that their association exemplifies the finest tradition of camaraderie and service. The remarks were made at COBA’s Annual Fall Brunch on Sunday, held at the Delta Toronto Airport West Hotel. The Minister of Children and Youth Services also praised the association for its work in Jamaica. The alumni have also contributed positively to their adopted home of Canada. The organization paid tribute to two individuals, including founding member Dr. Phillip Harry and Barry Palmer. Both have contributed loyally to the betterment of their communities for many years.

Seventeen-year-old April Jackson was crowned Miss Jamaica UK 2006 at the annual beauty pageant hold in London earlier this month. Born of Jamaican parents from St. Catherine, Jackson took the title from a field of 17 contestants, and was among the favorites from the preliminary rounds. Others making the top three places were first runner-up Sheree Williams and second runner-up Tamara Beckford. Jackson said her first objective is to show the British public the most positive side of Jamaica and Jamaicans.

The Institute of Jamaican Nationals in Birmingham recently honored seven Jamaican nationals in the United Kingdom for their outstanding contributions to various fields. The honorees were Dr. Robert Beckford, a lecturer in African diaspora religions and cultures at the University of Birmingham; Sandra Croasdale, managing director of MBG Limited and founder and chair of the African Caribbean Business Federation; Major Glenville Morris Lindsay, a career army officer; Audrey Flash, member of the British Empire and community stalwart; Michael Davies, a student and volunteer youth worker; Hermin McIntosh, a founding member of the Black Expressions Theater Group; and Lance Dunkley, chairman of the Black and Ethnic Minority Foundation. The awards ceremony was held to commemorate National Heroes Day.

The President of the International Olympic Committee describes veteran Olympian Herb McKenley as an icon and a legend. The IOC president presented McKenley with a special set of Olympic Rings usually reserved for great Olympians at the headquarters of the Jamaican Olympic Association. McKenley was a member of Jamaica’s first team to the Olympics in 1948 where he won a silver medal in the 400m and reached the final of the 200m where he placed fourth. Four years later he ran the third leg of the relay that took gold in the 4x400m in world record time. He also repeated his silver in the 400m and took second place in the 100m final.

A football treat should be in stock for lovers of the game as leaders Harbour View and second-place Waterhouse meet in a top-of-the-table clash in the Wray and Nephew National Premier League at Waterhouse Mini-Stadium. The teams have been trading the lead over the past two weeks and are separated by just one point. Harbour View is statistically the most aggressive team, who along with Arnett Gardens has scored 17 goals, the most in the competition. Waterhouse has conceded the fewest goals and are yet to lose a match in the competition. Both coaches are expecting a difficult clash.

A rejuvenated Arnett Gardens team eased past August Town 1-0 at the Tony Spaulding Sports Complex to move within four points of leaders Harbour View with the first round final two games away. Striker Leon Strickland coolly finished a flat left-sided square from midfielder Marcelino Blackburn, side-footing his 57th minute shot to the left of goalie Devon Haughton. Strickland’s goal took Arnett to 16 points, three closer to Waterhouse, who moved to 19 after a draw with leaders Harbour View at Drewsland. Fabian Taylor saved the day for Harbour View, who was down 2-1 after leading 1-0 in the early stages. Arnett Garden’s coach still hopes to collar one of the leaders before the first round final, saying the team is taking things one step at a time.

Golfers from the United States will arrive on the island to compete in the Travel and Leisure Golf Magazine’s inaugural Jamaica Invitational Pro-Am tournament along Montego Bay’s golden corridor starting tomorrow. A joint venture between the Jamaica Tourist Board and Travel and Leisure Golf Magazine, the competition will see both professional and amateur golfers teeing off on three of the island’s best golf courses. The tournament is a four-night, five-day event and is designed to showcase the destination. A VIP tournament is geared towards the more relaxed players and the Championship Tournament, in which the golfers will compete for a US $15,000 winning prize. There are 42 teams playing, comprising three amateurs and one club professional.

Starting the Right Way!

“In the beginning God…” (Genesis 1:1a, KJV)

I just love the first four words of the book of Genesis! We could borrow those words and greatly improve our day-to-day lives by trusting God at the beginning of all we do. A lot of people, Christians included, call on God after they have made a mess of things; after all our efforts to be independent of Him have created nothing but
bigger problems. Yet it doesn’t have to be that way.

How about if we start everything with God? Before we make decisions regarding our important daily activities, a life partner, a career change, to name a few, what if we sought His guidance and direction? My thinking is that because He sees from the beginning to the end of our lives, and our circumstances, He knows what is best for us. We can trust His leading even if we do not always understand His ways.

May I challenge you to start whatever it is that you do with God. It will make the world of a difference in the final outcome.


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

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