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JAMAICA NEWSWEEKLY For the week ending September 2nd, 2005

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Gunmen killed three people and injured another on Friday in the Maxfield Avenue area. Anthony Edwards, Sean Wilson and Henry James were declared dead, murdered on their way to buy groceries along the avenue in Kingston. The two men attempted to flee their attackers, but were cornered by the group and shot dead at approximately 7:30 a.m. Four men are now sought in connection with the killings. Police are unsure of the motives for the killings, but some sources indicated the attack was a reprisal for the death of another man killed recently.

Jamaica Public Service Company, owned in part by Mirant Corporation, will be audited regarding their billing practices in light of continuous complaints from customers about unreasonably high power bills. The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) announced the audit and said they would also be renegotiating JPS’ customer service contract. The problems with JPS are reminiscent of Mirant’s problems in California in 2001, when the company was found guilty of fraudulent practices and price gouging. The company was ordered to pay millions back to customers who were overcharged. The fear is that a similar situation is developing in Jamaica, thus steps are being taken to correct any problems.

Dr. Omar Davies, Finance Minister, retained his position as chairman of the People’s National Party Region Three after a vote held in the race against Dr. Jephthah Ford. Davies is starting his third year as Region Three chairman, and says he expected to win. His opponent charged that voting fraud took place, saying that while 870 votes were cast, only 776 delegates registered to vote in the election. The director of the election said that some in the region were omitted from the first count, but were later accounted for. Other than that, the election went smoothly.

Angry residents in four parishes blocked roads to protest damaged roads, drainage problems and poor sewer facilities along with poor economic conditions and a controversial police shooting. Dozens of men armed with machetes roamed, chopping down trees and using them to block access to the community on main arteries. Falmouth’s mayor, Jonathan Bartley, suggested that the Government’s refusal to repair drainage facilities shows that there is no respect for the people of this division. The repair requires an excavator which so far has not been available, therefore holding up the project. Other parishes saw protestors decrying the disrepair of roads and the hike in electricity rates. Residents of Linstead, St. Catherine focused their protests on the shooting death of a citizen they claim was executed by police.

On Tuesday the Government disclosed that approximately 350 Jamaican citizens working in hotels in Mississippi were safe and had been relocated to shelters as a result of Hurricane Katrina. The properties where the workers were employed—the Grand Casino, Beau Rivage hotel and Casino Magic were all affected by the Category Four storm that swept through several Gulf Coast states. No decision has been made yet whether the workers would be brought home or transferred to other properties. The storms clocked winds of 145 mph and caused significant long-term damage along the MS gulf coast, where the hotels will not be resuming operation in the short term.

The University of New Orleans in Jamaica is establishing a disaster relief fund to help victims of Hurricane Katrina that struck New Orleans earlier this week. The fund will be located at the Bank of Nova Scotia and the First Global Bank. Alumni are meeting to discuss details of the fund. The university said the hurricane would not affect its academic program because professors had evacuated to other states before the storm made landfall. One more negative affect of the killer storm is the rise in gas prices, expected to reach $4 per liter due to disruptions of oil supplies in the Gulf of Mexico. It is hoped that gas prices will return to their normal levels shortly because of the US’s decision to release portions of its reserve to offset the crisis.

Today may mark the closing of the doors of the National Stadium complex. The facility has been without water since Wednesday due to a $2.8 million water bill that has not been paid. Manager Major Desmond Brown is unhappy over the recent turn-off of the water at the stadium. He states that the stadium’s water bill has risen significantly in the past six months, quoting figures that range between $261,000 and $894,000 per month in increases. The facility is being checked for leaks to explain the problem but so far no results are known. Some confusion exists about the reason for the water being shut off while the facility is being checked for leaks.

Operation Kingfish, the anti-crime initiative launched last year by the National Security Minister, will be in operation for another year, backed by the British and U.S. governments. As a result of the initiative, several alleged drug kingpins have been arrested and are being tried on extradition charges in the U.S. Gang leaders have also been targeted by the program in an effort to take down criminal networks at the local level. The UK’s continued support ensures the program will continue. The program has been praised by that government and described as a way to benefit all the countries involved.


Brandon Simpson, Jamaica’s World Championships finalist, achieved his career best at the Van Damme Memorial in the 400 meter. His 44.70 finish was enough to win the event and to beat his previous best of 44.78, run at the Olympics last year. The score was just enough to beat UK’s Tim Benjamin, who clocked a 44.74. Third place went to Alleyne Francique of Grenada, tied with Jamaica’s Michael Blackwood. At the same event series, Trecia Smith scored a second-place finish in the triple jump and Dwight Thomas came in third in the 100 meter with a time of 10.11.

A home ground advantage helped Kingston College win all three prizes at the Roper Cup football festival in Clovelly Park. Excellent goalkeeping helped KC’s Purples emerge victorious after a game that could have been won by either side. In the end it was the aggregate score that ensured the win of all three trophies for the KC teams. The Roper Cup was won by an aggregate 2-1 score while the George Thompson Trophy came about from an aggregate 2-0 final score and the Pancho Rankine Cup was secured following a 2-1 win by the KC Over-35 Masters.

The Rieti Grand Prix in Italy was host to Jamaican Kemel Thompson’s win in the 400 hurdles with a 48.15 time, while fellow Jamaican Gregory Little finished third in 48.95. At the same meet, Korene Hinds broke the national record in the 3,000 steeplechase with a time of 9:30.12 to finish third behind runners from Uganda and Russia. Other Jamaicans performed well, including Dwight Thomas who raced for fourth in the 100 meters with a finish of 10:10. Chris Williams and Ainsely Waugh finished second and third respectively in the 200 meter race.

Wayne Sinclair, chairman of Portmore United, says his team will participate in all competitions this season, despite a dispute over prize money and a proposed sponsorship deal that soured. Rumors had circulated that the NPL champions would not play because of the disputes, but the chairman stressed otherwise. While the rift is ongoing, Sinclair stated that the issues were being worked on and would be resolved. Last year the team trampled all in its path on the way to the championship, winning the NPL, the Red Stripe All-Island Knockout Championship, the National under-21 tournament, the Red Stripe Light Beach Football and the Happy Sutherland Knockout championship. A problem with the prize money for one contest was responsible for tension between the team and the organizing body, but Sinclair feels these issues will be resolved.
The weekly news is compilation of new articles from top Caribbean and Jamaican news sources.

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Written by Staff Writer