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JAMAICA NEWSWEEKLY For the week ending November 17th, 2006

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Chairman of the Justice Commission and Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kingston, Father Jim Webb, says that foreign nationals who are given refugee status have the same rights as Jamaicans and must be dealt with accordingly. According to Webb, the Geneva Convention entitles the foreign nationals are deemed Jamaicans as soon as they are granted refugee status and they are entitled to work without a permit. Webb was responding to report of Haitians obtaining forged work documents from the Ministry of Labour for employment. Between 2004 and 2005, 19 refugees in Jamaica were granted refugee status. Of the 19, no work permits have been issued to these refugees in the last year. Webb explained that the Justice Commission collaborates with the Jamaica Council for Human Rights to make representation on behalf of foreign nationals who wish to appeal a negative ruling on their application for refugee status.

The organizers of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 were advised that the Jamaican government has agreed to waive hotel taxes for all media accredited to the premier cricket tournament taking place in March and April next year. The government of St. Lucia has agreed to the waiver as well, prompting thanks from the managing director of the Cricket World Cup. The governments have taken this step in order to help contribute to the delivery of cost-effective accommodation solutions for the world’s press.

Vendors and others conducting businesses in Gloucester Avenue in Montego Bay are accusing police of abusing their constitutional rights by illegally detaining and photographing them to create a dossier of potential tourist harassers. One craft vendor reported that he was roughed up and taken to the Freeport Police Station where he was questioned, photographed and released without any justification. People reported that the practice is widespread among male craft vendors and employees of business establishments in the area. While police acknowledge there is an anti-harassment task force that is active in the area, they do not agree that the practice of bringing in suspects is that common.

A blaze destroyed three houses in the Spring Bank area of Portland on Friday, with firemen saying they were powerless to put out the fire due to a water lock-off implemented by the National Water Commission. A crew responded to a call reporting the fire at 2:15 a.m., but when they reached the location, they found no water in the nearby hydrant. Fire department officials say they had to get water from a nearby river to access water. Help was sought from a back-up unit in Buff Bay, some 18 miles away. The fire left 18 people homeless, with several having lost everything they own. The fire department estimated losses to be at least $15 million. A forensic team is investigating to determine the origins of the fire.

Father Richard Johnson was killed at the rectory where he lived about 9:30 Sunday night. The main suspect in the killing, a man known only as “Bomber,” turned himself into the police late yesterday and was being questioned by senior detectives. The Constant Spring Homicide Unit reported that on Sunday night, a caretaker at the house heard Father Johnson screaming for help. The caretaker ran into the home and found the clergyman’s body on the staircase with multiple stab wounds on his body. Father Johnson had served at St. Jude’s church since 2003 and was married to the principal of a prominent high school in St. Ann. She was not at the home when the murder took place.

The parish of St. James continues to experience the brutality of a rampage in the parish when a bloody rampage left three men dead and a young girl traumatized in the Meggie Top, Salt Spring community. The killings have left a pall over the community, with residents fearing that anyone could be next. The criminals even killed a dog near one of the human victim’s homes. Victim Victor Young left behind a three-year-old granddaughter who watched him being shot in the face. The shopkeeper was considered a godfather to the community, with many commenting that he gave selflessly to those in need. Since January, 151 people have been killed in the parish, 16 more than the total number of homicides recorded in 2005. During police raids following the attacks, four men were detained for questioning. Police say a major player behind a St. James criminal group is being sought.

Marjorie Elizabeth McBean died at the Kingston Public Hospital yesterday morning as the result of drug smuggling drugs. She was convicted four years ago after attempting to smuggle 1.6 kilograms of cocaine into the United Kingdom. Her death followed her arrival on a flight from Panama several hours earlier. A cylindrical-shaped parcel containing 21 pellets of heroin was later removed from her body. McBean complained of feeling ill and was taken to the hospital by police who were questioning her. Preliminary investigations suggest that it was the effect of the heroin that caused her death. If heroin is in the body in large concentrations, it will be absorbed into the bloodstream, which can affect blood pressure and the heart.

An Inspector of Police left the Spanish Town Resident Magistrate’s Court in amazement when he “adjourned” the sitting after getting into a verbal tussle with the judge, who was left bewildered on the bench. Yesterday, Harry Daley, superintendent in charge of St. Catherine North, apologized to the court for the inspector’s behavior and assured the judge that the matter would be dealt with appropriately. The ruckus began when Constable Wendy Brookes was presenting a case to the court. Resident Magistrate Sharon George instructed the constable to produce more statements on the situation, and the policewoman said she had seen exactly what transpired and did not think it necessary to obtain further statements. The argument escalated and resulted in the inspector arriving, making matters worse and then adjourning court.

The ESOR Dance Ensemble was the pride of Jamaica at the 2006 World Championships of the Performing Arts held in Hollywood California. Dubbed the “entertainment Olympics,” the competition provides the opportunity of being seen by industry professionals and various talent agencies, as well as a chance at winning scholarships valuing more than $50,000 from the New York School of Film and Television. More than 50 Jamaicans attended the event’s 10th staging, which attracted 4,000 contestants from all around the world. They competed in vocals, dance, instrumentals, modeling and acting, coming home with more than 100 medals. The dance ensemble, made up of girls from the Mona Prep Dance Ensemble, stood out. With only one minute to impress the judges, the group combined modern and traditional dance in an ethnic/folk and pop piece.

Evelyn Mason entered into a relationship at the age of 16, one that would change her life forever. The teen, who grew up in Denham Town, traded in her law-abiding life when she met a gangster who was a drug dealer. She and her husband moved to England, where they continued to deal in illegal drugs. When her partner was arrested and put in prison, Evelyn continued the family business until she was also arrested for kidnapping. She was deported to Jamaica four years later. She later took her trade to the United States, from where she was eventually deported. She forged documents that allowed her re-entry and continued her business until she was again caught and sentenced to prison. At that time, the reality of her activities hit home, and she found God. She now is an evangelist with a purpose, and earned a Ph.D. in church ministries. She later returned to Jamaica and started a mission to welcome deportees back to Jamaica.

In addressing a forum in Toronto, Canada organized by the Jamaica National Building Society, Cabinet Secretary Dr. Carlton Davis told the audience that Jamaica’s economy is showing positive signs and the country is coming out of the doldrums. Acknowledging that third-quarter growth in the country is greater than the first quarter, he reported that the reserves equal $2.34 billion and that unemployment is at 10.7 percent. He also reported on growth in the tourism industry in terms of stopovers and cruise passengers, as well as foreign investment in the hotel sector. The event was titled “Outlook for the Future: Doing Business in Jamaica.”

Barbara Gloudon was invited to speak recently at the Jamaica Basic School Foundation in London, where she noted that volunteerism is high among Jamaicans abroad. The school was founded by a Jamaican resident of London. The school is committed to assisting schools by providing facilities for the education and development of their students and the training and development of teachers. Patrons include the Jamaican high commissioner to London, footballer John Barnes and others. The gathering where Gloudon spoke was attended by more than 500 patrons, comprising mainly second-generation Jamaican-English.

World 100m record holder Asafa Powell and Jamaican-born American 400 meter runner Sanya Richards were named World Athletes of the Year by the IAAF yesterday. Powell is the first Jamaican male to win the prestigious award, and achieved the feat for some phenomenal performances in a year where he twice equaled his world record of 9.77 seconds in the 100 meters. Richards was awarded for an outstanding season that saw her breaking the 23-year-old American 400m record held by Valrie Brisco-Hooks. Both winners received US $100,000 along with trophies at the 2006 World Athletics Gala in the Salle des Etoiles of the Sporting Club d’Et, Monte Carlo. Powell was thrilled with his honor, saying it was a great feeling.

Jamaican-born Sanya Richards, the United States’ 400m record holder, has stated that Jamaica had a huge impact on her track and field athletic career. Richards, who ran 48.70 seconds at the Athens World Cup to break the world record, said the groundwork for her success was laid in Jamaica. Richards migrated to the United States when she was 12 years old. She remembers her Jamaican coaches consistently having her work on her form, which gave her a solid foundation to build upon and improve her performance. She stated that upon moving to the U.S. she decided that since she was benefiting from living and training there, she should represent that country in her career.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced that the next World Cup will indeed be held in South Africa, and that the country is further along at this point than Germany was four years ago. Rumors and fears have circulated that the event would be moved from the country due to their inability to prepare for the major event. Blatter also dismissed fears regarding high levels of crime. He stated that crime is everywhere around the world, but people know how to take the necessary precautions. He reported that the country has a good infrastructure of technology, communications, and transport. While they don’t have the same number of rails as Europe, they are improving and renovating their transport infrastructure.

The Jamaica Open Golf Championship returns to the national sporting stage today at the Caymanas Golf and Country Club in St. Catherine after a nine-year break. Sixteen local and overseas-based professional players will chase the first-place prize of US $8000 while two dozen amateurs will compete for trophies and the title of Jamaica Open amateur champion. After the first two rounds there will be a cut with the top 50 percent of the professional field advancing to Saturdays’ final round. An intense fight is expected among the amateurs who feature a mixture of youth and experience. Jamaica’s lone hope takes the form of veteran Maggie Lynn, one of three women in the field. Part of the proceeds from the event will go to the Waterloo district in St. Catherine.

God Loves You…

Can you recall the first time you heard the words “I love you”? I was fourteen years old then and had “fallen in love” with a wonderful teenage girl who lived across the road from us. As our little relationship developed, my sister served as the go-between, taking notes back and forth between the lovely young lady and myself. Some
would call it puppy love, but if that was what it was, it was real to this puppy. Ah, the joys and the thrills of young love, not to mention hearing those three magical words!

Yet as wonderful as that time was, it does not compare to the first time I heard God whisper, “I love you”. Right there in John 3:16 it reminds us, “For God so loved the world…”, and if He loved the world and I was in it, that meant He loved me! But that generalization became a more intimate reality when I came into a personal
relationship with Him. The awe and wonder I felt at the realization that the God of the Universe, the Almighty, the Ancient of Days, loved me surpassed anything I ever experienced.

You too can experience that kind of intimacy and that assurance. God not only loves the world, He loves YOU in a way that no one else could. I encourage you to give Him the opportunity to prove to you how much. I guarantee, it is an experience you will never forget.


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

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