JAMAICA NEWSWEEKLY For the week ending December 1st, 2006

Flash-flood warnings have been extended until late this evening following torrential rains in the northeastern parishes. The rains led to the death of one woman in a landslide in Portland and provided cover for the looting of a Courts furniture store in St. Mary. The main roads along the coast were flooded as well as some interior roads which remained impassable due to damage. The National Water Commission has warned that areas on Portland, St. Ann, St. Mary and St. James have been experiencing supply disruptions. The residence of Pauline Shalland and Cecil Cover was almost totally destroyed by a landslide in Port Antonio. Cover was recovered from the debris by neighbors, but Shalland was found dead, trapped by a fallen beam against a wall.

The mother of an 11-year-old boy who died at a children’s home one month ago wants answers. Cordinne Plummer says she will not rest until she finds out what happened when her son Gregg died at the Bethlehem Children’s Home on October 21 of this year. The home is run by the charity group Missionaries of the Poor, where officials reportedly have said that Gregg died in his sleep. His mother believes something strange happened there that may have caused her son to suffer a violent death. The boy suffered from seizures that began when he was one. An investigation is underway and reports are pending which might help determine what occurred to cause the boy’s death. Bruises of unknown origin covered the body, and officials at the children’s home were delinquent in reporting the death.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller presented a blend of old and new faces to contest the next general election for the governing People’s National Party. The 58 candidates announced include 20 first-timers and two veterans returning to politics, D.K. Duncan and Francis Tulloch. The candidates were presented during a PNP National Executive Committee meeting. Simpson Miller’s slate is made up of candidates who represent “brilliance, wisdom, experience and energy” according to Simpson Miller. Replacement candidates for two seats—Western Portland and South East St. Ann—were not named at the meeting. Candidates for those seats should be announced in mid-December after a series of consultations.

Jamaica continues to enjoy unparalleled tourist arrivals and is expected to see three million stopover and cruise visitors before year-end. Newly-appointed director of tourism Basil Smith made the figures known at a presentation several nights ago. Smith said the island was at the top of its game, evidenced by a massive increase in arrivals, particularly from the United States. In a recent survey, U.S. travelers voted Jamaica as the fourth among their most popular destinations. The director mentioned several positive factors helping the boom, but criticized the entertainment sector for its lack of vision in responding to the development and slow reaction to the opportunities afforded by the windfall in the industry.

More than 1,200 students of the Porto Maria Primary School in St. Mary will have to stay home again today, even as dozens of parents and teachers spent yesterday cleaning up the school that had been covered in mud and water since heavy rains lashed the area last week. The acting principal of the school said the school may have to remain closed the rest of the week. Mud covered the interior of the school, as well as the yard, imperiling the health of the students. Dozens of destroyed textbooks, pieces of furniture, documents and clothing were being thrown out of rooms that were almost filled with water. The school lost computers, tape recorders and library books as well.

Five students were left nursing gunshot wounds and a security guard was taken into custody yesterday after they were hit with shrapnel from the gun the guard should have been using to protect the children at Vere Technical High School in Hayes, Clarendon. Classes were disrupted after the incident, with students allegedly setting the security guard post ablaze after the shooting. A student reported that he was on his way to a class but stopped to talk with some friends in a classroom. The student claims they were surprised by the security guard, who pointed the shotgun at them and soon after an explosion was heard and the students realized they had been shot. All but one student was treated and released.

Opposition leader Bruce Golding declared that the question of campaign financing would be the greatest challenge facing the newly-appointed Commissioners of the Electoral Commission and has urged the group to strike a balance in their efforts to safeguard the political system, while ensuring the process was not starved of legitimate funding. Golding was making a presentation at the historic appointment of the commissioners and said the establishment of the commission was a milestone in a journey that started 27 years ago when the Electoral Advisory Committee was established. The commission will be responsible for establishing policy governing the registration of electors, conducting general and local government elections and administering electoral funding and financial disclosure requirements. Of the eight commissioners appointed yesterday, four were selected by the Governor-General in consultation with the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, while the other four are nominated by both major political parties.

There were chaotic scenes in Campbell Town, Central Kingston yesterday as residents blocked the streets to protest what they say was a case of police brutality. According to residents, Winston Johnson was chased into his home by six policemen who were conducting traffic duties, and was reportedly beaten by the officers. A resident who recounted the event stated that one of the policemen who was involved in the beating had threatened to return to the community with violence. Shortly thereafter, a car speeded into the community and two explosions were heard. Residents ran in all directions as a man emerged who was identified as Corporal Grant. He began arguing with the residents, and brandished his weapon. Two other officers were allegedly on the scene as well, also brandishing weapons and intimidating residents. The Jamaica Constabulary Force is investigating.

A Jamaican Diaspora organization is taking the gift of water to several schools in their homeland as early as next month. In an effort to ensure Jamaican school children receive a potable water supply at schools across the island, the Union of Jamaica Alumni Associations, Inc. will provide 75 water tanks to several schools across the island. UFAA officials will present funding for the tanks through its Basic School H2O Tank Project on Tuesday, December 12 at Liberty Hall, the home of Marcus Garvey Museum in Kingston, Jamaica. A special presentation of computers and accessories donated by UJAA and Team Jamaica Bickle will also be made to the Museum. The UJAA was founded in 1990 as a not for profit umbrella organization of alumni associations of Jamaican primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions.

Jamaican-American Congresswoman-elect Yvette Diane Clarke turned 42 earlier this week and was greeted with a birthday surprise at the Brooklyn home of entrepreneur Lystra Collis. Several council members were among the guests as well as her mother and former councilmember Una S. T. Clarke. Clarke, who trounced three male Democratic challengers in the primary election and went on to sweep the general election, is slated to be officially sworn in as the congresswoman of the 11th congressional district in Brooklyn on January 3, 2007.

Top Jamaican-born dancehall artist Sean Paul beat out Nick Lachey and Kanye West to take home the favorite male pop/rock award at the 2006 American Music Awards. Paul, whose Trinity album has been topping reggae sales, scored the coup over the two American singers, proving that his crossover appeal and American fan base are growing larger. The nominees are chosen based on record sales and winners were selected by a survey of about 20,000 listeners. The show featured performances from entertainers like Beyonce, Gwen Stefani, Jay Z and Snoop Dogg. Meanwhile, Paul is set to tour Africa early next month and will perform at venues throughout the country in December.

Proceeds from this year’s annual charity ball of the Children of Jamaica Outreach will go toward its scholarship fund, to benefit needy young people in Jamaica as well as the United States. The gala event will be held December 2 in Queens in New York. Minister of Housing, Transport, Water and Works, Robert Pickersgill, will be special guest at the function. He will represent Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller. The event is expected to attract a strong contingent of government, elected officials and community leaders from the New York metro area. COJO is a non-profit organization in New York, whose mission is to help improve the health, education, and general well being of underprivileged children. Over the past decade the organization has supported a number of institutions, including the Alpha Boys’ Home; Glenhope Place of Safety; Marigold Child Care Center and the Musgrave Girls’ Home in Jamaica, and the Jamaica Queens YMCA and Leaf of Life in New York.

Seven-time champions Excelsior High will go in search of an eighth title when they take on former champions Bridgeport High in the 2006 ISSA/Pepsi/JN Manning Cup final today. The curtain raiser begins with dethroned champions Calabar High takes on Eltham High in the playoff for third place. Following the opener, Excelsior and Bridgeport kick off. The two teams both advanced to the finals from the same second round Group I. In 2003 it was Excelsior who kept Bridgeport from their second title, with a single goal. The Bridgeport team admits to wanting a little revenge. Excelsior is confident heading into the finals and promises plenty of sparks.

Bridgeport spoiled Excelsior’s 75th anniversary celebrations with a 3-1 victory in yesterday’s ISSA/Pepsi/JN Manning Cup final at the National Stadium. Bridgeport’s coach was overwhelmed and said it was the sweetest victory of the two he has achieved against Excelsior. The match was considered a grudge match because in 2003, Excelsior broke up Bridgeport’s 25th anniversary with their victory. Bridgeport took the steam from their opponent with a double strike from Theophilus Samuels. The third goal came in the 33rd minute. Excelsior’s coach felt his team played poorly on their defense and that cost them the game.

Jamaica’s slim chance of reaching the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup in China was buried on Sunday when Mexico defeated the team 3-0 in the third place playoff. The Reggae Girlz could find no response after they conceded three goals in the first half to the Mexican team in the first match of a double header that also saw the United States earn a 2-1 victory over Canada to claim their third Gold Cup in the contest. The Jamaica squad comprised 10 teenagers, the most younger players of any of the six teams that took place in the Gold Cup. Victory handed Mexico a spot in a two-game playoff against Japan for the final Women’s World Cup berth. The winner of that contest will advance to the World Cup.

Geoffrey Maxwell continued his role as outspoken coach by stating he believes the Jamaica Football Federation made a good decision in acquiring Velibor “Bora” Milutinovic to prepare the Reggae Boyz for the South Africa World Cup in 2010. He thinks the coach is overpaid, and must be made to pick his own local coaching staff, all of whom should come from a senior group that includes him—to eliminate bias that is generally associated with the process. Maxwell also believes there are only four to five Jamaicans with real quality to match up against CONCACAF’s top teams. Milutinovic will be paid US $1 million annually under a four year deal. He has coached a record five teams to World Cups, including the United States, Mexico and Costa Rica.

Here Today, Tomorrow? Maybe…

Isn’t it funny how we take life for granted? Because we have gone to sleep and woken up every day for the past twenty, thirty, or whatever number of years, we have become accustomed to it. When we leave the office, we flippantly wish our colleagues a good night, or weekend, with words like, “See you tomorrow” or “See you on Monday”, yet the stark reality is that there are many who have that same thought, but never lived to see the break of day.

James addressed this presumption with the words: “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that” (James 4:13-14). In other words, while we go about our business, life is like a puff of smoke; very temporary. However, it is in this short window of time that we are allowed to live, and in which we define our eternal destiny.

The only time we own is “now”; nothing after that is guaranteed. Isn’t it a good time to forgive, to say “I am sorry”, to reconcile, to do all the wonderful things you know you should do but have been putting off? Most importantly, it is a good time to embrace Jesus who is the gateway to everlasting life. Based on whatever God ordained for your number of years, tomorrow may be too late.


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