THIS WEEK’S SUMMARY
MORE CASE FILES COMPLETED BY SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS BUREAU—12/23/06
The Bureau of Special Investigation (BSI) is completing more case files and sending them to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). Kent Pantry, Q.C., applauded the activity of this division of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. The BSI is completing more files, on time, and the files are very well done, says Pantry, who is the director of public prosecutions. With 40 files completed, Detective Sergeant William Kesler was the top investigator for the year. His team was also responsible for completing 152 of the record 451 case files completed by the BSI in 2006.
CORRUPT POLICE OFFICER CONFESSES—12/24/06
A 20-year veteran of the police force confessed to being involved in corrupt practices for the first 18 years of his tenure. The officer says he was introduced to the corruption approximately two weeks after he graduated from the Police Academy. At the time, he met an acting corporal who had a nice car and was very popular. This officer had about nine years of service and talked about his accomplishment. It was made clear to the new graduate that there was nothing wrong with police officers making money, but they had to know how to do it.
VIRGIN ISLANDS, PUERTO RICO PROMOTE ‘NO U.S. PASSPORT’ STATUS—12/24/06
The aggressive marketing of the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) and Puerto Rico, which touts their ‘No U.S. passport’ status, is having a negative impact on the tourist trade of other Caribbean resorts. On January 23, 2007, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) goes into effect, requiring all Americans who travel to the Caribbean by air to present a valid U.S. passport upon entering the U.S. The USVI and Puerto Rico are exempted from this regulation, however. A few months ago, the U.S. Congress also decided to give a two-year exemption to cruise lines that work in the Caribbean, giving these tourist operators an unfair advantage over their land-based competitors.
1,000 MOSQUITO NETS FOR MINISTRY OF HEALTH—12/26/06
The Health Ministry received 1,000 mosquito nets from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to help address the outbreak of malaria in Jamaica. Dr. Marion Bullock-Ducasse, director of Emergency, Disaster Management and Special Services at the Health Ministry, said the nets represent a portion of a shipment of 3,000 from UNICEF. The rest of the nets should arrive by the end of 2006. The nets are different from regular mosquito nets in that they have a small amount of insecticide on them. The insecticide, which is safe for humans, either kills mosquitoes or stops them from biting.
WIGTON WINDFARM TO BE PRIVATIZED BY JAMAICAN GOVERNMENT—12/26/06
The Government plans to privatize the Wigton Windfarm in Manchester as part of its effort to increase the use of renewable energy. The plan is also designed to reduce the costs of national oil imports, which totaled more than US$1.5 billion (J$100 billion) in 2006. According to Ruth Potopsingh, group managing director of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), several local and international buyers have expressed an interest in Wigton since it opened in 2004. The PCJ owns the Wigton Windfarm and plans to publicly advertise the sale.
DERRICK SMITH WANTS STRONG ACTION AGAINST POLICE CORRUPTION—12/27/06
The Opposition Spokesman on National Security, Derrick Smith, responded to the confession of corruption from a member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) by demanding that the battle against corruption target senior officers who engage in these practices. Smith praised the Professional Standards Branch (PSB), which is responsible for addressing corruption in the JCF, but he also noted that the unit had not dismissed or charged a single senior police officer. Smith expressed his disappointment with the PSB for being unable to make an example of one corrupt senior officer.
NEW EFFORTS TO PROTECT THOSE WHO REPORT CORRUPTION IN THE JCF—12/28/06
The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) should finish a draft document on a new witness management program by March 2007, says Novelette Grant, assistant commissioner of police (ACP). Grant is in charge of the Professional Standards Branch (PSB). The new program will be designed to provide greater security for the civilians and police officers who make reports of corruption on the force. While no details were provided about the program’s operations, Grant said it would provide increased confidence for those who wish to disclose information about corrupt police.
GOVERNMENT TO POSTPONE HIKE IN INCOME TAX THRESHOLD—12/29/06
The Government has decided to postpone its January 1, 2007, increase of 42 percent in the income tax threshold. The increase would have raised the level at which Jamaicans pay taxes on their yearly income to just over $275,000. The new threshold will not be implemented at the start of 2007, confirmed Colin Bullock, Financial Secretary. No definite decision has been made about when it will be implemented. The delay was blamed on tax authorities, who had not completed the unnecessary documentation for the change, and on the Finance Ministry, which had not thoroughly informed taxpayers about the impact of the change.
JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
STEEL PAN DRUMMING AT THE CULTURAL ACADEMY FOR EXCELLENCE—12/22/06
While steel pan drumming may not appear to be related to science, Gordon Marshall is certain there is a connection. The 10-year-old spends Saturdays at the Cultural Academy for Excellence (CAFÉ) in Hyattsville, where he and 60 other children between the ages of seven and 18 learn about the music and art of the West Indies and Africa. The discipline he learns playing the steel pan has an impact on his other studies. Gordon won first place in a science fair at Paint Branch Elementary School, and he credits CAFÉ for improving his language and math skills.
POLICE IN BALTIMORE LOOK FOR KILLERS OF TWO JAMAICAN BROTHERS—12/27/06
The police in Baltimore are asking for information about the murders of Ralston Holder, 52, and Everton R. “Cliff” Holder, 41. Both men were shot execution-style, three hours apart, in different locations. The Holder brothers operated a garage in East Baltimore. The police have not released any possible motives for the killings, but Col. Frederick H. Bealefeld III, the chief of detectives, noted it was extraordinary to have two brothers shot within three hours of each other. Everton, who is survived by his wife and five children, migrated to the U.S. 16 years ago. Ralston had emigrated some time before. He is survived by his three children.
SEAN PAUL TOP REGGAE ARTIST ON BILLBOARD’S 2006 RECAP—12/28/06
Jamaican deejay, Sean Paul, won the top position on the Billboard reggae artists recap, outdoing the Jewish reggae singer, Matisyahu. Paul’s album, “The Trinity,” which was released in 2005, was also a hit in 2006, with the single “Temperature” hitting No. 1 on the Billboard’s Hot 100 list in April. Paul also won the title of Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist at the 2006 American Music Awards. Paul has just returned from a concert tour in Africa and will perform at the Nokia Theater in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2006.
MEDICAL ASSOCIATION TO HOLD CONFERENCE IN JAMAICA IN 2007—12/28/06
The National Medical Association, which represents over 30,000 African American physicians, plans to hold its annual conference in Jamaica next year. The group will meet at the Half Moon Resort in Montego Bay from May 24 through May 28. Over 100 physicians are expected to attend the conference.
JAMAICA PREPARES FOR 2007 WORLD NETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS—12/23/06
The 2007 World Netball Championships will be held in November in New Zealand. The International Federation of Netball Associations (IFNA) accepted New Zealand’s offer after Jamaica, Australia, and England said they could not accept the offer to host the tournament next year. These nations were given the chance to host the championships after the IFNA withdrew the hosting opportunity from Fiji because of a military coup d’etat in that country. Jamaica was unable to take on the hosting because of competition from the 2007 Cricket World Cup in March, which would make it difficult for the Jamaica Netball Association (JNA) to find sponsors.
PORTMORE UNITED AND JAMAICA REPRESENTATIVES ON TO BELGIUM?—12/24/06
Portmore United and Demar Stewart, Jason Morrison, and Rafe Wolfe could be going to Belgium after their impressive showing at the one-week trial with Sheffield United or the English Premier League. According to Clive Marshall, Portmore United official, the trial was a success, and the players will soon be heading to Belgium. Belgium is easier to get into than England, and if the players stay in Belgium for three years, they can get European passports. If they are good enough, Sheffield United will have the first option to sign them, said Phil Graham, the players’ agent.
ASAFA POWEL NAMED ATHLETE OF THE YEAR BY TRACK & FIELD NEWS—12/28/06
Jamaican Asafa Powell, the world’s fastest man, was awarded the title of Male Athlete of the Year by the prestigious sports magazine, Track & Field News. Powell received 32 of the total 35 votes given by a panel of international experts. Track & Field News was founded in 1948 and has been called the “Bible” of track and field sports since that time.
LARA HAS THE RECORDS, WANTS WINS—12/28/06
Brian Lara, West Indies skipper, holds several world records, but his career lacks victories. Lara says he would trade his records if he could be part of a winning team. While on holiday in Australia, Lara said he would give up all of his records to be part of the winning West Indies teams of the 1970s and 1980s. Lara has had victories in only 32 of the 131 Test matches in which he has played.
In a few days, we will be celebrating another new year! Many will be making all kinds of resolutions, and recommitting to others that they failed at during this year. Either way, it is a time for new beginnings, and what a thrill it is to be able to start over at anything.
There is one fresh start however that doesn’t have to wait for a special time of year. Paul remind us: “…if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17, KJV). The Contemporary English Version reads: “Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new.” This is awesome because it means regardless of how messed up we are, and the mess we have made of things, in Christ Jesus we have the opportunity to start over. I am reminded of the words of a song I learnt in High School: “Something beautiful, Something good / All my confusion He understood / All I had to offer him was brokenness and strife / Then He made something beautiful out of my life.”
As we ring in 2007, may I encourage you to pause and think of the best New Year’s present you could give yourself; a close and intimately personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only is this a tremendous life changing relationship; it is a great opportunity for a new beginning
God’s very best to you and yours for 2007.
The weekly news is compilation of new articles from top Caribbean and Jamaican news sources.