THIS WEEK”S SUMMARY
NATIONAL GUARD MAJOR-GENERAL VISITS JAMAICAN EMBASSY—01/12/12
Major-General Errol Schwartz, the Commanding General of the National Guard, visited the Jamaican Embassy in Washington, D.C. to discuss topics of interest to both nations, such as emergency programs, security, and medical evacuation exercises. Stephen Vasciannie, Jamaica’s ambassador to the U.S., listened as Schwartz outlines current areas of cooperation between Jamaica and the National Guard. Collaborative efforts between the two entities are coordinated by the Jamaica Defense Force (JDF).
MINISTER OF HEALTH TO ANNOUNCE DECISION ON USER FEES—01/13/12
Jamaicans will soon know whether they will again have to pay user fees in order to gain access to public health services. User fees were discontinued in 2008 by Bruce Golding’s administration (Jamaica Labor Party), but this policy is set to be “tweaked” by the current government. In 2012, Dr. Fenton Ferguson, Jamaica’s Health Minister, announced a review of the no-user-fee policy, due to concerns about the country’s ability to provide adequate funding for quality care services throughout the system.
POLICE ARREST EIGHT MEN IN CONNECTION WITH MURDER OF BRITISH GIRL—01/14/12
Police in Jamaica have arrested eight men allegedly involved in the shooting death of Imani Green, an eight-year-old girl who was standing outside of a restaurant in Duncans. Investigators believe the shooting may be linked to revenge attacks among those involved in a lottery scam and that the girl and her family were just innocent bystanders. Imani was visiting the Caribbean in an effort to help her cope with sickle cell anemia.
MAN SHOT IN JAMAICA LINKED TO KILLING OF BRITISH SCHOOLGIRL—01/15/12
According to police sources, it is believed that a man shot and killed in Jamaica was connected to the killing of eight-year-old Imani Green who was visiting relatives in Duncans, Trelawny. Police questioned a number of people who said that a man was shot and killed and another man was injured in an attack by gunmen near the town police headquarters.
MASKED MAN SHOOTS PATIENT AT MAY PEN HOSPITAL—01/16/12
All public hospitals in Jamaica ramped up their security efforts after the shooting death of a patient at May Pen Hospital. Adiff Washington, 37, was shot four times when two gunmen entered his hospital ward. One of the men held off a security guard while the other killed Washington, who was out on bail related to charges of attempted murder and kidnapping. According to the Independent Commission of Investigations, Washington told an investigator that he had been shot by a member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
AUDITOR GENERAL SHOWS EDUCATORS OWE GOVERNMENT $410 MILLION—01/17/12
The yearly report from the Auditor General’s Department indicates that many educators have not met their financial obligations to the Education Ministry after receiving funds to upgrade their skills. According to audits of the Ministry’s records, 212 teachers owed the government a total of $410 million because they did not meet their bond agreements as of March 31, 2012. Of the 212 teachers, 114 have never repaid their loans, 74 were inconsistent in repaying, and 24 were paying their loans on a monthly basis.
DEPARTMENT OF AUDITOR GENERAL FINDS RULE BREACHES IN ACCOUNTING—01/18/12
Several of Jamaica’s government ministries, agencies, and departments have breached financial and accounting rules, according to a report from the Auditor General. The problems were found during audits of the accounts for fiscal year 2011-2012. In the report, the Department discovered five entities in which payments totaling $838,928 and US$122,261 were made in breach of stipulated guidelines and rules. Overpayments totaling some $31 million were also found.
URBAN REPRESENTATIVES BELIEVE CONSTITUENTS OVERLOOKED—01/18/12
Desmond McKenzie, MP for West Kingston, and Karl Samuda, MP for North Central St. Andrew, believe that their urban constituents are being overlooked by the government’s farm work program. These Opposition legislators believe the people they represent are being stressed because they fill out the applications for the program and then are not chosen to participate in the program. The legislators believe that it is nearly impossible for their constituents to benefit from the farm work program, but did not tell Derrick Kellier, Minister of Labor, stop allocating the forms to them.
JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGES IN US, UK PROVIDES OPPORTUNITIES—01/12/12
In 2001, ten percent of the voters in the United Kingdom were members of an ethnic minority group, and by 2050, it is estimated that 20 percent of the voters will be ethnic minorities. This means there will be a permanent change in the nature of Britain’s political power. Similar demographic changes are happening in the United States, with the same implications. As a result, people of Caribbean heritage will have more opportunities to address the issues important to them, such as the Air Passenger Duty in the UK, which many believe is discriminatory.
JAMAICANS IN U.S. BELIEVE IMF AGREEMENT CRITICAL—01/13/12
Jamaicans living in the United States believe that a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is the most immediate and important issue for Jamaica. Other major areas of concern among U.S. Jamaicans are lowering the unemployment rate on the island and a further reduction in the crime rate. According to Desmond Clarke, head of the Jamaica National Movement, the IMF agreement would help to stabilize the currency of Jamaica and result in funding from additional lenders.
DR. LOWE HONORED IN UNITED STATES—01/14/12
Jamaica’s Dr. Henry Lowe, the founder and executive chairman of the Environmental Health Foundation Group of Companies and the Biotech R&D Institute, was honored in the United States with a presentation from the U.S. House of Representatives and a citation from the State Senate of New York. The honor was given in recognition of his contribution to science, science education, and public service. Dr. Lowe is a member of the American Association of Cancer Research and a life member of the New York Academy of Sciences. He is a leader in medical research, recently of indigenous plants in Jamaica and their bioactive principles and suitability for pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, and cosmeceutical uses.
BORDER PATROL AGENTS IN U.S. ARREST JAMAICAN CARRYING DRUG MONEY—01/15/12
United States Border Patrol agents near Las Cruces, New Mexico, have arrested Jamaican Sirano Thompson, 44, who was allegedly carrying $20,000 in drug money. The money was discovered at a checkpoint on Interstate 10. Thompson faces deportation. He also has a conviction for attempted murder in Florida. He was traveling to Los Angeles, California, when he was stopped at the checkpoint. He admitted the money came from drug sales.
CARIBBEAN NEWS SUMMARY provided by Caribbeantopnews.com
T&T BATTLE GUYANA FOR TWENTY20 POINTS—01/13/12
CHIEF OF CANCER CENTER ALLEGEDLY INVOLVED IN HEALTH CARE SCANDAL—01/14/12
CUBA SEES 51 NEW CHOLERA CASES—01/15/12
FIFA APPEAL DROPPED BY CARIBBEAN OFFICIAL—01/16/12
T&T DEFEATS BARBADOS, MOVES TO TWENTY20 FINAL—01/17/12
BRITAIN WANTS VAT IN TURKS AND CAICOS—01/18/12
BUSINESS NEWS SUMMARY
CABLE AND WIRELESS INVESTS IN CARIBBEAN—01/15/12
Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) plans to sell its business in Macau for US$750 million and enhance its investments in Central America and the Caribbean with the funds. According to Lachlan Johnston, brand and communications director for CWC, the firm’s strategy has been to focus its global portfolio on the pan-American region since 2010. Sales of business in Macau and Monaco will provide the organization with the strong financial position it needs to invest in ongoing businesses in the Caribbean, including the Bahamas Telecommunications Company.
BERGER PAINTS JAMAICA NOMINATED FOR NEWSPAPER HONOR—01/16/12
Berger Paints Jamaica Ltd. has received a nomination for the Honor Award of 2012 from the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper. The company has been nominated in the public service category for its 59 years of support in national development. According to Warren McDonald, CEO of Berger Jamaica and managing director of Berger Paints Caribbean, the company is committed to being a good corporate citizen and feels an obligation to give back to the community. Berger has made contributions to infrastructure development, nutrition programs, and early childhood development centers in communities near its manufacturing plant.
PAN-JAMAICAN NOMINATED FOR ARTS AND CULTURE HONOR—01/17/12
The Jamaica Gleaner newspaper has nominated Pan-Jamaican in the arts and crafts category of its 2012 Honor Awards. Pan-Jamaican Investment Trust Ltd. (Pan-Jam) has had a long history with the fine arts in Jamaica. Maurice Facey, the firm’s chairman of 45 years, has been especially supportive of the arts on the island, but the company’s affiliation with arts and culture extends beyond his influence. Support for the arts has been an integral part of the company since its earliest days and has made significant contributions to architecture in Kingston.
JOB CUTS POSSIBLE FOR 2013, SAYS ECLAC—01/18/12
According to the regional body of the United Nations (ECLAC), Jamaicans could see fewer jobs in 2013 due to expected austerity measures linked to the pending agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). A new report from ECLAC, indicates that economic activity in Jamaica remains sluggish, and even with the IMF deal, flat growth is predicted for 2013. The agreement’s focus on public sector reforms could result in job cuts, said the report
CARIBBEAN TECHNOLOGY NEWS SUMMARY provided by Caribbeantopnews.com
CARIBBEAN SEA TO HOST EVENT TO SAVE WATER IN THE REGION—01/12/12
CLIMATE-SMART AGRICULTURE PRACTICES ENHANCE FARM PRODUCTION—01/13/12
RESEARCHERS FIND RARE EARTH MINERALS IN JAMAICA—01/16/12
KINGSTON HAS NEW GARBAGE RECYCLING FIRM—01/17/12
SIZZLA WANTS NO RELATIONSHIP WITH GAYS—01/12/12
Sizzla Klalonji is making it very clear that he is not interested in being friendly with the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), which had attempted to make peace with the reggae star and reduce the tension between him and the gay community. Sizzla said, however, that he did not want any sponsorship or support from homosexuals. Reggae musicians have somewhat moderated their views of gays and signed the Reggae-Compassionate Act, however.
DECLINE IN STAGE SHOWS BLAMED ON HIGH COSTS—01/13/12
The number of local stage shows is declining in Jamaica, and overseas promoters are beginning to limit the number of shows they bring to the island as well, citing exorbitant fees and excessive demands from artistes. According to Atlanta promoter Walter James, demands from artistes often make it difficult to profit from the shows. Some prices of the artistes are not practical, says Jerome Hamilton of Headline Entertainment, and promoters are staying away from them because of travel fees and artiste demands. Artistes are not recognizing the problems that exist in the current economic climate, he said.
ART UNLIMITED SHOWCASES JAMAICAN ARTISTS WORLDWIDE—01/14/12
Art Unlimited, the 2012 Biennial show, offered a wide range of creative expressions from Jamaicans around the world. According to Dr. Veerle Poupeye, executive director of the National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ), works range from the somber to the playful, and in 2012, the show expanded its definition of “Jamaican artist” to include those of Jamaican parentage in recognition of the major role played by the Diaspora in the development of Jamaica culture.
JAMAICAN-BORN BRIT PLANS TO MAKE 2013 HIS YEAR—01/16/12
Savana, the Jamaican-born British reggae star, has ended his tour of the UK and plans to focus his energies on becoming better known in Jamaica during 2013. Savana, who hosts a television show in the UK called “The Reggae Showcase,” is finalizing his move to the island. Savana says he wants Jamaicans to appreciate his music. He is working with a team in the UK to promote him in Jamaica.
FRASER-PRYCE WINS SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR—01/13/12
Jamaican sprint champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the Sportswoman of the Year Award for 2012 at the RJR Sport Foundation yearly event. The award was a long time coming, in the opinion of some fans. In 2009, Fraser-Pryce won gold at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin and became only the second woman to hold World and Olympic titles at the same time.
GAYLE WILL PLAY IN TWENTY20—01/16/12
Chris Gayle will be part of the Jamaican squad at the Caribbean T20 tournament, replacing Andre McCarthy, who was injured. Gayle will fly to St. Lucia, location of the tournament, right away and will be available for selection in the final league match Jamaica plays against the Combined Campuses and Colleges. The Jamaica squad is expected to get an infusion of confidence from Gayle’s presence. Currently, Jamaica is second behind defending champions Trinidad & Tobago.
ATKINSON BELIEVES SHE DESERVES GOVERNMENT FUNDING—01/17/12
Alia Atkinson, 24, the record-breaking swimmer from Jamaica, is defending the government’s decision to fund her $20 million training program for the 2016 Olympics. Atkinson placed fourth with a national record-breaking 100-meter breaststroke in the 2012 Olympics in London. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller promised the government would fund here training costs through the next Olympics. Some observers have questioned whether the investment is wise, however, worried that Atkinson will be too old in 2016 to successfully compete in a sport dominated by much younger athletes.
18 JAMAICANS TO PARTICIPATE IN SPECIAL OLYMPICS—01/18/12
Eighteen athletes from Jamaica are set to participate in the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in South Korea. The games will be held January 29 to February 5. The Jamaican delegation is headed by Glendon West and will be the largest in history to participate in these games. The athletes will compete in floor hockey and figure skating.
EARLY CHILDHOOD INSPECTOR
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The phone rings and it is the dreaded automated response: “If you’re calling for ABC, Press 1; for DEF, press 2” and so it goes. Another unsuccessful attempt, and depending on the number of times experienced, maybe a bit of frustration. As if by conspiracy, more times than not this happens when we really need to talk to a real person. However, as businesses engage in cost reductions and life demands more from us as individuals, automated response systems have become a part of our culture. Putting the phone down I wondered, somewhat amusingly, “What if God had an automated response system?” With angelic music in the background, maybe we would hear something like – “God is busy at the moment, but to leave a request, press 1; for thanksgiving, press 2; to complain, press 3”, and so on. Then again, how many of us would simply hang up?
It can be frustrating trying to urgently reach someone by phone and not being able to do so . At certain times of the year, international circuits are busy, connections may be bad, lines may be down, yet how incredibly comforting it is to know that when we try to ‘connect’ with our Heavenly Father, we do not have to worry about those limitations.
In his conversation with God, David said, “I will call upon you, for you will answer me” (Psalm 17:6a, ESV). There was no doubt in his mind that his “connection” was clear both ways, him to God and God to him, and we too can have the same assurance. God Himself declared, “Call to me and I will answer you” (Jeremiah 33:3), and even better, through Isaiah, “Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear” (65:24). These attributes of God did not disappear with the Old Testament believers for God is unchanging in nature. Of Jesus, God in the flesh, it is said He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), and so we too can rest in the comfort of His assurances. It is no wonder John writes, “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us” (1 John 5:14, KJV).
God has made available to us an instantaneous connection to Him that is always on – 365 days per year, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. It does not go down in leap years either! If our calls are not going through, we need to check our side of things for possible obstructions. Are we properly ‘plugged’ in to Him? Any ‘wires’ crossed? Once things are in order, one thing we know for sure – no automated responses, no voice mail.
“I will call upon you, for you will answer me.” What comfort!
The weekly news is compilation of new articles from top Caribbean and Jamaican news sources.