THIS WEEK”S SUMMARY
JAMAICAN FISHERMEN RESCUED AFTER THREE WEEKS—12/22/12
Two Jamaican fishermen survived three weeks drifting in the Caribbean after the motor on their boat broke down. Everton Gregory, 54, and John Sobah, 58, were supposed to be on a three-day fishing trip, but started to drift when their boat motor died, and the water was too deep to use the anchor. After three weeks surviving on raw fish and melted ice water from a cooler they had brought with them, the men were rescued by the Colombian Navy. They were treated for dehydration, malnutrition and hypothermia before returning them home.
$41 MILLION EXPENSE FOR JUBILEE EVENT QUESTIONED—12/23/12
The government of Portia Simpson Miller is facing questions about a contract worth J$41 million for technical services provided at the Jamaica Golden Jubilee Village in July and August of 2012. The contract was awarded to Image On, based in St. Andrew, by the Ministry of Youth and Culture. The contract was not subject to the scrutiny of the Office of the Contractor General because it fell under the exclusions stated in provisions of the 2010 Handbook of Public Sector Procurement Procedures. Robert Bryan, director of the project at the Jamaica 50 Secretariat, said the nation received value for the money, and the expense reflects costs for the entire month of July, plus the first week of August.
GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES CAN’T ADD FOSTER CHILDREN TO HEALTH PLAN—12/24/12
Individuals who work for the Jamaican government and who have foster children may not add those children to the Government’s health insurance program. At least one child was removed from the plan after a civil employee tried to add another foster child to the same state-sponsored health plan. Appeals to the government have been increased to allow civil servants to add their foster children to the program, but have gotten no relief, since the rules established under the Government Employees Administrative Service Only Health Care Program are applicable to the situation.
JAMAICAN DEVELOPMENT DEPENDS ON WATER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT—12/25/12
Over the next 50 years, Jamaica is set to face its chronic problems and find solutions. One of the most important issues facing the country is appropriate management of the island’s water resources. Management of these resources coincides with the years of independence. In 1961, the Underground Water Control Law was enacted. The Underground Water Authority was under mandate to implement this law within the Ministry of Agriculture. Since the completion of the Water Resources Development Master Plan report of 1995, must has been done to modernize the agency by the Water Resources Act. The law also put in place a plan for further evolution of water resources management, which will become increasingly critical due to climate change.
HEALTH FACILITIES IN TRELAWNY TO RECEIVE IMPROVEMENTS—12/26/12
Jamaica’s government is starting to make improvements in the health care delivery facilities available in Trelawny. It plans to spend about $60 million for upgrades at two parish facilities in 2013. According to Dr. Fenton Ferguson, Minister of Health, about $10 million will go to refurbish and repair infrastructure at the Ulster Spring Health Center, while $50 million will go to the Falmouth Hospital and Health Center. The improvements will be made via the efforts of a partnership between the government and private funders.
TRIDEN OPENS AT PORT ANTONIO AFTER FIVE YEARS—12/27/12
The Trident Hotel in Port Antonio, Portland, has opened its doors again after five years. It already has solid bookings until January 7, 2013. The resort, owned by Michael Lee-Cine, is managed by Geejam Collections, and opened on Boxing Day. The resort had been closed for five years for refurbishing. Lee-Chin has paid about US$20 million for improving Trident and another property. The opening of the resort represents part of the Port Antonio Renaissance effort
AS BAILEY TAKES OVER, HIS FOCUS IS ON “PROACTIVE” INVESTIGATIONS—12/28/12
Fitz Bailey, Senior Superintendent of Police, will take over from SSP Derrick “Cowboy” Knight, and wants to reassure residents in his division that his priority is proactive investigation. Bailey will take change of the St. Andrew Central Police Division. His investigations are designed to provide more detail in order to reduce the incidence of crime in his area. Bailey also emphasized his “zero tolerance” for corruption in the department. To win the community’s support, he says, the police must ensure that the people have confidence in them.
JAMAICAN ECONOMY DOING WELL IN CRITICAL AREAS, SAYS JACKSON—12/28/12
John Jackson, financial analyst, says that key portions of Jamaica’s economy are doing well, but a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is important for improving the confidence of investors and enhancing investment performance over the coming year. While investors’ confidence continues to wane, and the Jamaica dollar continues its slide, the rest of the nation’s economy is doing well. The challenge for the government, says Jackson, is to improve the balance of payments for the country.
JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
UWI PROFESSOR OFFERS PRESENTATION TO D.C. EMBASSY—12/23/12
University of the West Indies professor Carolyn Cooper, who teachers literary and cultural studies, offered a presentation entitled “Stuck in Traffic: Jamaican Culture Outa Road” at the Jamaican Embassy in Washington, D.C. as part of the Jamaica 50 Series hosted there. The presentation provided a survey of different aspects of the country’s culture using a metaphorical approach based on the highway concept of “right of way.” Cooper’s work made reference to Bob Marley, Louise Bennett-Coverly, Mervyn Morris, and others.
JAMAICAN-BORN WOMAN CARES FOR HOMELESS IN VANCOUVER—12/24/12
Lorna “Lisa” Brown, a Jamaican-born woman living in Vancouver, Canada, has taken it upon herself to feed hundreds of homeless individuals. Brown a professional chef, cooks out of her home kitchen and drives around the city providing food to the needy. She believes her special gift is to help people, and she uses her cooking skills to do so. She spends Ca$500 to $1,000 each week to feed homeless people and noted that she has had to cut back her services due to hard financial times. She also provides clothing and helps to get people off the streets.
JAMAICAN HOMOSEXUALS GO TO U.S. SEEKING SAFER LIFE—12/25/12
Many Jamaican homosexuals move to the United States to find a safer way of living than they can achieve in their home country. Although the miss their families and Jamaica’s culture, they often feel they must flee a life filled with fear, attacks, and both property and physical harm. Dadland Maye, now living in the U.S., described how he was stoned and had his house burnt after being threatened by neighbors due to his homosexuality.
DEPORTATION LOOMS FOR JAMAICAN IN CANADA—12/26/12
Herlet Gokhul, a Jamaican woman who left her home country 20 years ago, is facing deportation from Canada. She went to Canada with she was 17 to escape a relative who was abusing her sexually. She now faces the possibility that she will have to leave her 16-year-old son, who was born in Toronto. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) says Gokhul has no standing in Canada and will face deportation after due process. She has had several jobs in Canada and has never been on welfare, but the CBSA determined in 2011 that she should be deported after the immigration authorities in Canada denied her application to become a permanent resident on humanitarian grounds in 2009.
CARIBBEAN NEWS SUMMARY provided by Caribbeantopnews.com
BARBADOS HOSPITAL RECEIVES DONATION FROM RIHANNA—12/22/12
Pop music star Rihanna has donated $1.75 million to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Barbados. She said she is giving back to her country in memory of her late grandmother. The hospital plans to name its radiotherapy unit after Rihanna’s grandmother, who died in June 2012. The Clara Braithwaite Center for Oncology and Nuclear Medicine will receive three new pieces of medical equipment as a result of the donation.
BOTTLING COMPANY HAS “UNBELIEVABLY STRANGE” QUALITY CONTROL ISSUES—12/23/12
According to Walter Wells, the president and CEO of the Caribbean Bottling Company, it was necessary to bring in “big guns” from Coca-Cola and the firm’s can supplier to assess problems with quality control in the plant. One specific product has shown an “off taste.” Wells said this was the first quality control issue experienced by the company in its history. The other 62 drinks bottled at the plant had no problems and so remain in production. Wells believes it is an internal problem that impacted two batches of Schweppes Ginger Ale in which some cans were bad, while others were not. Wells calls the fact that only these batches were affected “unbelievably strange” and difficult to address.
CARIBBEAN NATIONS SELLING CITIZENSHIP—12/24/12
Since the decline of traditional exports like sugar and bananas has left many Caribbean countries strapped for cash, several have resorted to a controversial method of obtaining revenue. Some islands have decided to sell citizenship to those willing to pay for it. While no specific information has been provided about the nationalities that are buying Caribbean citizenships, reports claim that those most interested in “economic citizenship” are chiefly wealthy individuals from China and the Middle East.
“FATHER OF CARIBBEAN ADVERTISING” REMEMBERED—12/25/12
John Corbin, who has been called the “father of Caribbean advertising,” died on December 20, 2012. His life was celebrated, and he was remembered warmly, at a service at All Saints Anglican Church in Port of Spain. His son, Christopher Corbin, described his father as someone who was loved by all who knew him. John Corbin founded Corbin Communications and was known for his creativity in the advertising business.
IMPROVEMENTS IN HOTEL OCCUPANCY RATES IN CARIBBEAN—12/26/12
The hotel sector in the Caribbean continues to improve, according to a report from STR, a hotel data collection company. Occupancies rose by seven percent in November 2012, compared to the same month in 2011. November occupancy totaled 65.7 percent, an increase from 61.4 percent in November 2011 and 54.7 percent in October 2012.
ZERO-INTEREST RATES EXTENDED BY IMF FOR CARIBBEAN NATIONS—12/27/12
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has given its approval to a two-year extension for zero-interest rates charged to low-income countries on loans. These countries include those in the Caribbean. The IMF reports that the extension represents a broader strategy to support lending to poorer countries as they address issues related to the worldwide economic crisis.
BUSINESS NEWS SUMMARY
CARIBBEAN AIRLINES TAKEN TO COURT BY FORMER EXECUTIVE—12/22/12
Nerine Small, a former vice president of legal affairs and a corporate secretary for Caribbean Airlines, has brought suit against the carrier for failing to comply with a ruling from the Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT). The ruling instructed the firm to reinstate Small. A fine of J$500,000 could be imposed against the airline if the Magistrate’s Court finds in favor of the former vice president. An additional J$20,000 for each day of breaching the IDT ruling could also be imposed. Small was let go by Caribbean Airlines about a year after it took over Air Jamaica, which was Small’s original employer.
ISLAND CYCLE CROWDFUNDING TO HELP JAMAICA—12/23/12
Island Cycle is a startup recycling company based in Kingston, Jamaica. It has partnered with Select 6, the crowdfunding site, to raise money for an art program designed to help the community of Riverton City, which is located by one of the largest landfills in the area. The “Trash to Art” project involves transforming trash into artworks and income for the community. Select 6 is a new crowdfunding website that features minority women and project led by veterans.
MAJOR CHINESE MANUFACTURER CONSIDERS INVESTMENT IN JAMAICA—12/25/12
Mindray, a major manufacturer of electro-medical equipment based in China, sells its products in over 60 countries around the world and is thinking about investing in Jamaica. According to JAMPRO, Jamaica’s state investment promotion agency, Mindray has signed a joint Statement of Intent with the government. The agreement came after Anthony Hylton, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, traveled to China to promote the island’s investment opportunities.
U.S. AUTHORITY TELLS JAMAICAN COMPANIES TO STOP WASTING MONEY—12/26/12
According to James Jatras, senior government relations specialist in the United States, Jamaican financial institutions should “stop wasting their money” in attempts to change operations to prepare for the implementation of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). A second missed deadline for publication of the law’s final rules prompted Jatras to question whether the new law will be in place by June of 2013 as scheduled.
CARIBBEAN TECHNOLOGY NEWS SUMMARY provided by Caribbeantopnews.com
JAMAICA UNDERACHIEVES IN ICT—12/24/12
The celebrations of Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of independence have prompted the nation’s leaders to review the past and plan for the next 50 years. While they note the country was enthusiastic and growing rapidly before independence, by the 1950s, the rate of growth was even more rapid, with growing port cities and Jamaican positioning itself to be one of the top producers of alumina in the world. There were high rates of growth in agricultural exports, and tourism increased its influence as a critical economic sector. After independence, however, Jamaica started to lose its competitive edge, and now it has slipped behind in the important information and communications technology sector. Without becoming competitive and making advances in ICT, Jamaica will become more and more economically vulnerable over the next 50 years.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION PROJECT IN NEGRIL HAS STRONG SUPPORTERS—12/26/12
A number of groups in Negril are supporting a project designed to restore the beach and environment in the area. The project, which is led by the Negril Area Environmental Protection Trust (MEPT) with help from the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) and funding from the Global Environment Facility, will cost an estimated US$3 million. The project will focus on long-term conservation of the Negril Great Morass area. Supporters note that any further damage or degradation to the beach will have a negative impact on the tourism sector and the country’s economic condition. Damage to the region is the result of human activities like clearing land for housing developments and farms.
MINI-VSAT BROADBAND NETWORK CAPACITY DOUBLED FOR CARIBBEAN—12/27/12
KVH Industries Inc. has doubled the capacity of the mini-VSAT broadband network in the Caribbean region to support a rapidly increasing customer base. The increase in capacity is being provided as part of an ongoing global network upgrade. The upgrade in the Caribbean is part of a planned expansion to support the increased customer base, said Brent Bruun, executive vice president of KVH Mobile Broadband Group.
BIOETHANOL PROJECT LAUNCHED IN GUYANA—12/28/12
Whitefox Technologies, which is based in London, has partnered with Green, a Brazilian firm, to enter into a bioethanol contract with the government of Guyana. The two companies will install units for a bioethanol demonstration project at the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s Albion Sugar Factory. The factory will see production efficiency through the use of membrane technology in the development of bioethanol.
RULING ON MISTRIAL AWAITED BY BUJU BANTON—12/22/12
Reggae star Buju Banton, who is serving a ten-year sentence in prison on drug charges, is waiting for a ruling on a motion filed in a Tampa, Florida, federal court, in which his attorneys are asking for a new trial. Reports of juror misconduct prompted the motion, although the juror in question has denied any improper researching of the case during the trial. The denial contradicts newspaper reports that the juror did just that. If the new trial is granted, it will be the second mistrial for Banton, whose first trial was in 2010. In that trial, the jurors could not reach a verdict and deadlocked.
JAMAICAN ART BROUGHT TO CENTRAL JAMAICA BY STEWART’S HARDWARE—12/23/12
Stewart’s Hardware Ltd. and Berger Paints, hosted an art show in December 2012, to showcase the works of several famous and Jamaican artists, including Webster Campbell, Joshua Gordon, Jeffrey Perry, Fitz Mitchell, and others. The show, called “Art Affair,” presented a day of art, music, and activities that featured skill, knowledge, and creativity of each artist.
REGGAE GOLDEN JUBILEE PRESENTS CELEBRATION OF 50 YEARS OF MUSIC—12/24/12
The new album curated by former Prime Minister Edward Seaga showcases 50 years of Jamaica’s independence in music. He has selected 100 tracks that represent what Seaga calls a “concise history” of the sounds from Jamaica that have had worldwide influence. It traces the development of Jamaica’s music from Theophilus Beckford in 1959 to Movado in 2009.
COLOMBIAN ARTISTS TO PARTICIPATE IN CARIBBEAN FESTIVAL—12/26/12
Several artists from Colombia will perform at the 33rd International Caribbean Festival to be held in July 2013. The House of the Caribbean has sponsored the event for over 30 years and reports that among those participating will be Toto La Momposina and sextet Tabala. According to Orlando Verges, director of the House of the Caribbean, Toto La Momposina symbolizes Colombian Caribbean women artists and identifies with music of African origin.
JAMES TO RECEIVE CARIBBEAN SPIRIT OF SPORT AWARD—12/22/12
Kirani James, the world and Olympic champion from Grenada, will receive the Caribbean Spirit of Sport award in recognition of his performance at the 2012 London Olympics. Kirani, 20, is a “perfect example of Caribbean class,” said sports officials in Trinidad and Tobago, and that he was the ideal person to receive this award. James won the 400-meter competition in London and the first gold medal in history for his country at the Olympics.
JAMAICAN STRIKER TRADED—12/24/12
Omar Cummings, Jamaican forward with the Colorado Rapids, has been traded to the Houston Dynamo team. Cummings, 30, has seven goals in 28 matches for the Jamaican national team. He has 39 career goals for Colorado.
LYN DEFENDS COMMITMENT TO FUND 2016 OLYMPIC TRAINING FOR ATKINSON—12/27/12
Martin Lyn, the president of the Amateur Swimming Association of Jamaica (ASAJ), is addressing questions surrounding the commitment of Jamaica’s government to fund the 2016 Olympic training program for Alla Atkinson, 24. These questions involve the prudence of the decision to fund Atkinson at the expense of younger swimmers dominating the international sport. Lyn believes Atkinson has not yet reached her peak, however, and that her performance so far warrants the support.
HEAD OF TIVOLI GARDENS FOOTBALL CLUB TO CELEBRATE CHANGES—12/28/12
Glendon “Admiral” Bailey, the head coach of the Tivoli Gardens Football Club, is ready to see changes in January 2013 as the team plans to improve its status in the Red Stripe Premier League football contest. Bailey says the changes are needed because of a lack of commitment on the part of players. According to Bailey, the team has talent, but some players are not showing their devotion to the cause.
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The Unspeakable Gift
Christmas is over. Soon the trees will come down as will the decorations and the lights. For some, there is really nothing quite like the excitement of Christmas morning – anxious kids, sleepy-eyed adults, the exchanging and opening of gifts. Some were opened to much delight as the peeling away of wrappings revealed something much desired or delightfully unexpected. Others were opened to a twinge of disappointment. Yes, the recipient was grateful but it was not quite what they were hoping for, and so some gifts will be returned and others will be exchanged. Such is some of the drama around Christmas.
Yet amidst all of this, the celebration of Christmas for some was more than just trees, lights, decorations, presents, or even family and friends. It was a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, God’s gift to the world. The wrappings on that gift wasn’t fancy. Born in a stable to a virgin girl and her startled husband, wrapped in strips of cloth and placed in a feeding box, how could one believe that this was no ordinary baby but rather the “Saviour, which is Christ the Lord”? But it was true! This gift, so nondescript as it seemed then, was one that superseded all other gifts imaginable. It could not be returned or exchanged, only refused, and to refuse it would be the biggest mistake that an individual could make. It was impossible to be fully reconciled to God without this gift as He later said of Himself, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, ESV). While we may not be particularly thankful for some of the gifts we received at Christmas, here was one we could always be thankful for. By sending His Son into the world, God flung the doors wide open for our redemption. Judgement and condemnation were escapable because while the wages of sin is death, the gift of God, obtainable through Jesus Christ, was everlasting life. Given our spiritual alienation from God and the things of God, could there have been a greater gift?
As we leave this Christmas behind us, may we be constantly reminded that God’s gift to us is not only good at Christmas, but all throughout the year. Accepting that gift makes the world of difference in our lives and so like the Apostle Paul we can say, and should say, with a heart of gratitude, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15).
The weekly news is compilation of new articles from top Caribbean and Jamaican news sources.