THIS WEEK’S SUMMARY
JAMAICAN PORT AUTHORITY SAYS PORTS ARE SECURE—07/07/07
The head of security at Port Authority of Jamaica, James Forbes, believes Jamaica’s ports are secure, in spite of a report from the United States that states Caribbean ports are increasingly vulnerable to attacks by terrorists. Forbes says Jamaica’s ports have been certified and have some of the highest security levels in the region. The U.S. Coast Guard and other international agencies have audited Jamaican ports, which have been described as some of the “world’s best standards.”
VOTING AND BRIBERY IN JAMAICAN ELECTIONS—07/08/07
According to Market Research Limited, 82 percent of Jamaicans say they have never been promised any gifts or money to vote for a particular candidate or political party. And just 11 percent report having experienced this type of bribery. The survey was commissioned by the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ).
PRIME MINISTER CALLS ELECTION—07/09/07
Portia Simpson Miller, Jamaica’s first female Prime Minister, announced that citizens will vote for a new government on August 27, 2007. The date was announced to members of the People’s National Party (PNP) at a public rally in St. Andrew. Simpson Miller’s announcement was welcomed by thousands of people who attended the meeting and ended weeks of speculation. Polls indicate a close election, with the ruling PNP gaining 30.7 percent of the vote, compared to 25.6 percent for the Jamaica Labor Party. Nomination Day will be August 7, 2007.
GOLDING DISMISSES EASING OF BAN ON HOMOSEXUALITY—07/10/07
While it appeared that there might be a different result when three popular reggae singers spoke out against homophobia and violence against gays, Bruce Golding, Jamaican opposition leader, says there will be no lifting of the nation’s ban on homosexuality. According to Jamaican law, any act of “physical intimacy” between men is punishable by jail time and the possibility of 10 years of hard labor. Golding says that the Jamaican Labor Party, which he heads, is not ready to challenge the anti-gay law or overturn tradition in the interest of what some countries see as individual freedoms.
ZAILLA McCALLA IS NEW CHIEF JUSTICE OF JAMAICA—07/10/07
The new chief justice of Jamaica, Zaila McCalla, is the first woman to hold this position. Supporters say her tenure provides the Jamaican justice system with a possibility to make new beginnings. The system needs shaking up, say critics, who believe it is anachronistic at best and corrupt at worst. McCalla has been given the authority to make radical changes.
GOVERNMENT TO PAY PART OF SCHOOL COSTS EARLY IN AUGUST—07/11/07
The Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) promised to eliminate tuition fees at secondary schools. This has resulted in the Government planning to pay the first portion of cost sharing to schools early in August, instead of in September as is customary. The cost-sharing program requires the Government to pay half of tuition fees, while parents are asked to pay the other half of the fees. The promise by the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to abolish tuition fees at the secondary level has prompted the Government to pay over the first tranche of cost sharing to schools by early August.
DOCTORS FORCED TO LEAVE AREA—07/12/07
Dr. Alverston Bailey, President of the Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ), says that some physicians must practice without having the security of tenure and are categorized as casual laborers, despite their years of medical school and millions of dollars of accumulated debt. Bailey says that most doctors work under contract. Their lack of job security encourages them to leave the system. Most doctors receive contracts from the Regional Health Authorities.
LOCAL HOTELS TO GET HIGH-SPEED DATA THROUGH ELECTRICAL PLUGS—07/13/07
A group of investors linked to Jamaica, IVA Communications, plans to introduce a new kind of telecommunications in local hotels. The new system, called iWire, allows for broadband Internet access over electrical wiring, using power outlets for high-speed data transmissions. The company, which is based in Maryland, will open an office in Kingston. The company’s partners include three Jamaicans and a Trinidadian, and it plans to invest US$2 million in the Caribbean effort.
JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
JAMAICAN WILL HEAD BAPTIST WORLD ALLIANCE—07/09/07
Reverend Neville Callam, a Jamaican theologian and pastor, has been elected to be the new general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance. Callam has been active in the movement for church unity for some time.
JAMAICAN TO BE JUSTICE OF THE PEACE IN TORONTO—07/10/07
Sylvia Hudson was appointed as one of nine new Justices of the Peace to the Ontario Court of Justice. The appointment was made by Ontario’s Attorney General, Michael Bryant. Hudson was a police officer in Jamaica before immigrating to Canada in 1977. She has served as Vice-Chair of Outreach and Community Information for the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services. Hudson grew up in Port Antonio and Buff Bay.
JAMAICAN MAN ARRESTED FOR DRUG SMUGGLING IN BERMUDA—07/10/07
Leighton Horace Griffiths, 33, has been arrested for allegedly importing over US$100,000 worth of cocaine into Bermuda. He was accused of bringing the drugs into the country in an air compressor in 2005. He was arrested in July 2005 when he went to the International Airport in Bermuda to claim the air compressor, which contained 480 grams of cocaine. Griffiths has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
JAMAICAN TEACHERS IN UK GET TEMPORARY REPRIEVE—07/11/07
The Department of Education and Skills in Britain has given a one-year extension to Jamaican teachers in the country to obtain the required Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). Teachers who were trained overseas and who have not received a QTS by September 1, 2008, will not be allowed to teach longer than four years. This requirement was originally scheduled for September 1, 2007, but has now been postponed.
JAMAICA WINDS FOUR MEDALS AT PAN AM JUNIOR IN BRAZIL—07/07/07
Jamaicans took four medals on the opening day of the 2007 Pan American Junior Track and Field Championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil. A silver medal in boys’ shot put was won by Raymond Brown, while Julian Reid took a silver medal in the boys’ long jump. Calvert and Kimberly Laing won bronze in the girls’ 100 meters and 100-meter hurdles.
WINDIES WIN AGAINST ENGLAND—07/08/07
The West Indies cricket team regained its pride and credibility by defeating England by 93 runs to win the series 2-1. Runako Morton and Chris Gayle each achieved a score of 82, while the Windies beat England’s fielding with 289 for five.
GAYLE’S WINDIES GAVE “WHOLE-HEARTED” EFFORT—07/09/07
Captain Chris Gayle says that every member of the West Indies cricket team contributed to winning their one-day international series versus England. The Windies won the third one-day international by 93 runs to take the three-match bilateral series 2-1. Gayle says he is “delighted and very, very happy” with the team’s performance.
McBEAN SIGNED TO CHAMPIONSHIP NFL TEAM—07/11/07
Texas resident Ryan McBean, who was born in Jamaica, has been drafted to join the Pittsburg Steelers of the National Football League as a defensive lineman. The Steelers have won the Super Bowl championship five times. McBean was drafted in the fourth round from Oklahoma State University.
Tie A Knot & Hold On
Have you ever felt like you’ve come to the end of your proverbial rope? No matter what you do or say, it just doesn’t seem to be the right thing. Things continue to get out of control and amidst the feeling of despair, you’re just about ready to pull the plug on the situation. I’ve been there, and there have been the odd times when I’ve thrown my hands up in the air thinking “What the use?”.
Interestingly, in some ways society encourages that kind of a response. One need look no further than at the ease with which relationships are dissolved because of “irreconcilable differences”. We are bombarded with media ‘subject experts’ who tell us we should be looking out for number one, ourselves, and that we are not obligated to stay in any situation that no longer brings us satisfaction. Children no longer feel an obligation to listen to their parents, as various celebrities – some with questionable lifestyles – become their role models. The tragedy of course is that nothing, nor anyone, can bring us real satisfaction; that comes only through a personal and intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and the experience of His work and grace in our lives.
Someone once said that when you feel you’re getting to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. For the child of God this is the equivalent of standing firm in the faith. I believe this is what Jesus had in mind when He told Peter: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not…” (Luke 22:31, 32). In his beautiful benediction at the closing of his letter, Jude reminded the Church that one of the attributes of God was that He “is able to keep you from falling” (v. 24). In other words, when we get to the end of our rope, God is able to give us the grace to keep holding on. That relationship, friendship, child, situation, whatever the challenge, that is in the will of God, is worth holding on for.
It was Lao Tsu who said: “”What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.” To that the Christian might add: “Nothing is over, until God says it’s over.” May God grant us the grace to tie that knot and hold on, especially in those moments when we cannot see or feel Him. The sparrow does not fall to the ground without Him seeing and knowing; we can rest assured He knows exactly where we are.
The weekly news is compilation of new articles from top Caribbean and Jamaican news sources.