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JAMAICA NEWSWEEKLY For the week ending November 24th, 2006

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Veteran trade unionist Norman DaCosta is believed to have committed suicide at his home in Cocoa Walk near Cross Keys in Manchester. A close friend and colleague spoke with DaCosta as late as 1:40 p.m. yesterday, and said nothing seemed amiss, but noted that DaCosta was experiencing some challenges in his life, including a minor motor vehicle accident from which he was recovering, as well as a lawsuit he was facing. DaCosta was reportedly sitting on his verandah when his wife and sons left him. He was inside when they returned, and when they asked him to open the door to let them in, he left the area shortly before they heard an explosion. Police recovered a revolver, five live rounds and one spent shell upon being summoned. DaCosta’s body was found in a pool of blood with his firearm clutched in his hand.

The shortage of special education institutions in the island is forcing scores of children identified with learning difficulties to be returned to regular schools, even while they are not ready to be placed back into the system. The lack of institutions to which the children can be referred once they have passed through a special education program is severe. A remedial program is in place that treats children for two years. After the two years, each child is reassessed and those who are believed able to cope are placed back into regular schools. The others are referred to special institutions. The capacity of existing special institutions is very limited, so many referees end up back in primary schools. The government has promised to help shore up the system with a $5 billion education transformation program to put emphasis on the issue. The project will allow more clinical psychologists to be placed in special institutions and will identify children with learning problems in the early stages.

Opposition Leader Bruce Golding has unveiled his vision for the country and gave a commitment to constitutional change if the Jamaica Labour Party forms the next government. He pledged to revamp the National Housing Trust to provide benefits to all contributors and consolidate payroll deductions into a single social security scheme. Golding said the administration would create a framework in which Parliament is clearly defined and government is held accountable. The Opposition Leader said that to ensure stability in the political process, he would establish a fixed election date and impose term limits on the office of the Prime Minister. The new constitutional framework would include separation of powers between the government and Parliament by strengthening the role of the Opposition.

A 42-year old St. James accountant has been charged with the murder of his wife, whose body parts were recovered from a pit latrine and an incinerator on the Luces Primary School compound in Hanover yesterday. Aston Campbell of Porto Bello Heights, St. James, reportedly confessed to killing his 43-year old wife, after detectives from the Mount Salem police found bloodstains in his vehicle. Campbell and his wife lived in the same house despite being separated about six years ago. The couple was supposedly in court to settle the allocation of their assets. Mrs. Campbell’s daughter reported her mother missing on Sunday. Police officers accompanied the daughter to the house where the husband was questioned and the premises examined. He subsequently admitted to killing her and took officers to the location where he had disposed of the body parts. The couple evidently had an argument on Saturday night and Campbell used a machete to hit his wife on the head.

The routine drop-off of a four-year-old hearing-impaired boy at his school in St. Andrew took a tragic turn that has left the child motherless. Rose-Marie Grey was allegedly shot by Sergeant Alderman Doran of the Stadium Police Station in St. Andres, who later turned the gun on himself minutes after the two dropped her son off at school. Grey died on the spot and Doran was taken to the University Hospital in serious condition. Papine police are investigating but were yet to determine what led to the tragedy. This is the second incident of a policeman shooting a female companion in the past two months. In October of this year, Special Constable Wayne Christian of the Spanish Town Police Station, shot and killed a 31-year-old nurse before taking his own life. At least two children witnessed the shooting from a distance and are receiving counseling.

The government plans to legislate sanctions against public officials who flout its procurement guidelines. The proposal won the immediate endorsement of Auditor General Adrian Strachan. Strachan told Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee yesterday that the legislation is what the government has been asking for. The PAC is currently conducting hearings into the US $43 million cost overrun on the controversial Sandals Whitehouse hotel project. The contracts on the project have been the subject of much debate. Penalties in the legislation could include the application of surcharges against officials and agencies. The government hopes to enact the legislation by March 31, 2007 if all goes as planned.

St. Lucia’s attorney general claimed yesterday that Gordon Butch Stewart’s Sandals hotel chain timed the layoff of 100 employees in the Eastern Caribbean Island to hurt the ruling St. Lucia Labour Party in next month’s general election. The hotel group’s corporate headquarters branded the charge as emotional and said that it had been assured by St. Lucia’s prime minister that the attorney general’s statement did not reflect the sentiments of the St. Lucia government. Sandals Resorts denied the allegations formally in a statement and that it had decided to outsource jobs in security, pest control, landscaping and other departments to cut costs.

Heavy rains pounded parishes across the country yesterday, causing significant flooding. Scores of people were trapped in their businesses and homes. The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management reported flooding in the parishes of St. Ann, St. Mary and Portland. The entire town of Port Maria was under water and many people were stranded. Members of the Jamaica Defense Force and the Fire Brigade were mobilized and were evacuating those who were stranded. Police were trying to assist, but some were also marooned in their police station. In Portland, more than 200 residents had evacuated their homes, with the trend expected to continue today as residents remain fearful that conditions could worsen. People on low lying areas were urged to take precautions as a flash flood warning remained in affect today.

A 41-year old Jamaican migrant in Rochester, NY was sentenced this week to 25 years in jail for sleeping with his stepdaughter and forcing her to perform sexual acts with his daughter. Monroe County Judge Alex Renzi announced the sentence on Michael S. Morgan, who continued to proclaim his innocence even after being found guilty. Prosecutors charged that Morgan had sex with his stepdaughter from the time she was 7 until she was 9, had sex with his daughter from the time she was 4 until she was 6, and also forced the children to have sex together. He was charged with two felony counts of first-degree course of sexual conduct against a child and two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child. He was convicted of several charges, but was acquitted of having sex with his daughter. The migrant, who entered the country illegally, will be deported after serving his sentence.

A non-profit group founded by a Jamaican migrant determined to give back to the rural community he grew up in, is set to benefit from a US $25,000 donation tomorrow. “Urban Concepts,” the multicultural division of the experiential marketing agency US Concepts, will make the donation to Upliftment Jamaica headed by Gary Foster. The organization strives to empower those who help themselves, and the money being donated will provide computers and educational programs for Jamaicans, as well as open doors to new opportunities for those less fortunate. Upliftment Jamaica’s assistance includes help for health care, shut-in visitations, tertiary training, back-to-school programs and kids’ programs, among others.

The Jamaican Tourist Board kicked off its Jamaica Morning Coffee Breaks last week at major commuter terminals in New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Free Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee was offered as well as information on Jamaica travel and the new U.S. passport requirements ahead of the 2007 Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. The coffee and passport plan will continue in additional U.S. markets through mid-winter of next year. Passport forms were handed out with the free coffee, in the hopes that travelers will sign up so they can comply with the new law that requires travelers to present a passport to re-enter the United States. Incentives are also being offered, including spa treatments, greens fees, attraction fees and more.

Jamaica inched closer to a coveted spot in the World Cup finals next year after beating Panama 2-0 in the CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup at Tropical Park stadium in Miami yesterday. Goals in each half by Audia Sullivan and Venicia Reid ensured that the Reggae Girlz continued their hot streak ignited by an impressive Gold Cup qualifying run, advancing to Wednesday’s semi-final against Canada in Carson, California. The winners of that game will earn a shot at the region’s biggest football prize on Sunday, as well as an automatic berth to the World Cup in China. Yesterday’s win did not come easily to Jamaica even after taking the lead in the fourth minute. The goal served to spur on the Panamanians, who pressured Jamaica into mistakes that disrupted the rhythm of the game. Jamaica returned stronger in the second half and scored an insurance goal in the 59th minute to secure the win.

John Bloomfield holds a two-stroke lead going into today’s final round of the Jamaica Open golf championship at the Caymanas Golf and Country Club after firing a two over 74 yesterday for a gross score of 144. Hot on the U.S.-based Jamaican’s heels are three professionals, Ernest Bernard, Ralph Campbell and Peter Horrobin, and two young amateurs, Fabian Campbell and Paul Thompson who are tied for second at two-over 146. Bloomfield followed up his first-round two-under 70 with a solid but less than stellar tour of the course yesterday but none of his main rivals were able to make an impression against him. The former Hoerman Cup star should clinch the island’s first Open crown since 1996 when the event went into a hiatus.

After 11 series of matches, the Wray and Nephew National Premier League first round will come to an end tonight at the National Stadium with a clash of the top two teams in the second game of a double header. The first match will find Portmore United and Boys’ Town butting heads in the Under-21 final. Prize money of $165,000 is at stake as well as bragging rights for the end-of-round champions. Waterhouse, the defending NPL champions, should have the edge as they have the better record. They are the only team not to lose a match so far, and have scored the most goals as well as conceded the least. The talent at their disposal helps their position as well. No other team in the league can afford to have the likes of national representative Garfield Reid and the most consistent scorer in the league in recent seasons, Kevin Lamey, on the bench. Historically, Harbour View has found the going tough against Waterhouse and last won against them two years ago. They can take heart though, from their only meeting this season, when they came back twice to draw 2-2.

The ICC Cricket World Cup West Indies 2007 Venue Development Director has given high marks to Jamaica’s Local Organizing Committee for their work on Sabina Park. After touring the facility, the leadership is confident the venue is on target for the delivery deadline of February of next year. There is still a lot of work to be done, but not as much as was first thought. The director asked that he workers work more hours and work as hard as possible to help meet the deadline. He also said that once the materials were on site, the contractors must meet their deadlines and everyone must do what they say they will do so that Jamaica will be “good to go.”

Central Kingston and Duhaney Park are through to the Red Stripe Champions Knockout competition after victories over Olympic Gardens and the Jamaica Defense Force respectively, in the KSAFA Jackie Bell Knockout on Tuesday. At Up Park Camp, Duhaney Park defeated JDF 1-0, while at Winchester Park, a 64-th minute strike by Leon Small carried Central Kingston to a 1-0 victory over Olympic Gardens. Central Kingston came out in the first half firing on all cylinders and created numerous clear-cut chances, but were let down by poor finishing from the likes of Ricardo Taylor, Kenneth Ellis and Leon Small. Damion Bradshaw had Olympic Gardens’ best chance of the half but his point-blank shot was spectacularly saved by goalkeeper Troy Neale. In the second half, Central Kingston continued to threaten the Olympic Gardens defense and was rewarded with a well placed shot.


Easy to Say, Harder to Do

We have all heard it from our parents, grandparents, teachers, and so on. Those admonishing words of the ‘golden rule’: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Yet there are times when I wonder if somewhere along the line we heard, “Do unto others before they do unto you”.

Some cynically refer to the world we live in as a dog-eat-dog world. It is every man for himself, and we do what we do to get ahead regardless of who gets hurt, bruised, broken, or whatever else in the process. Yet the Christian is called to a higher standard of living. Though we live in the world, on matters of morality, ethics, and principle, we are expected to rise above the mediocrity of societal standards, and demonstrate a life made different by our relationship with God. We are expected to be mindful of the way we treat each others, always bearing in mind that we are representing not just ourselves, but the Lord Jesus Christ.

Of course, that is easier said that done, yet it is something we are called to do. Jesus taught, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16, Amplified). That ‘light’ is the way we live our lives including the way we treat others; “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35, KJV). Every believer is called to this responsibility, and the power of Christ has made it possible for us to succeed (John 15:5)

How are you treating those around you? If they treated you the way you are treating them, would you see Jesus in their actions?



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

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Written by Staff Writer