THIS WEEK”S SUMMARY
LEADER OF PNP SUPPORTS RIGHTS OF GAYS—12/24/11
Just days before the General Election, People’s National Party (PNP) leader Portia Simpson Miller said she had no problem with gay people serving in her administration. She said she would appoint gays to the government if they were right for the job. Simpson Miller said she has no intention of prying into the private business of anyone and noted that the PNP believes in protecting the human rights of all Jamaican citizens.
PHILLIPS WANTS SHAW OUT AS FINANCE MINISTER—12/25/11
Peter Phillips, Opposition spokesperson on finance, believes that Finance Minister Audley Shaw should join Mike Henry, the former transportation and works minister, and leave the Cabinet due to the scandal involving the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Program (JDIP). Phillips told a large crowd of People’s National Party (PNP) supporters that Shaw failed to protect Jamaican taxpayers and should leave his post.
FIVE CORPORATIONS DONATE $69 MILLION TO MAJOR POLITICAL PARTIES—12/25/11
For the first time, six corporate entities in Jamaica disclosed that they donated millions of dollars to the two major political parties in the country. The large corporations voluntarily revealed how much each one has contributed to the political campaigns of the Jamaica Labor Party and the People’s National Party. Sagicor Life Jamaica Group, Scotia Group Jamaica Ltd., ICD Group, GraceKennedy, and the JMMB Group donated a total of $69.5 million to the political parties, with the parties sharing equally in the proceeds from each corporate entity.
JEWISH COMMUNITY IN JAMAICA GETTING SMALLER, BUT PROFILE RISING—12/26/11
The Jewish community in Jamaica, along with that of Curacao, was the most important community of Jews in the New World, according to Jane Gerber, history professor and director of the Institute of Sephardic Studies at City University of New York’s Graduate Center. Emigration and assimilation have reduced the once active Jewish center to its current number: 200. Jewish refugees began arriving during the Spanish Inquisition in the 1500s. The community reached its peak population in the 1800s when it numbered about 4,000.
GAY RIGHTS ACTIVIST CRITICIZES ANTI-GAY SLANT IN RULING PARTY CAMPAIGN—12/27/11
Dane Lewis, the head of Jamaica’s only gay rights group, leveled criticism at some of the candidates of the ruling party for the way they framed their campaigns to appeal to anti-gay constituents. Lewis, the executive director of the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays, said the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) candidates resorted to homophobic language as the general election nears.
HOLNESS, RULING PARTY PRESSURED IN GENERAL ELECTION—12/28/11
Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness is the youngest Prime Minister in Jamaica’s history, and he is fighting hard to keep the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) in power in what is expected to be a close general election. The winner of the election will have to face major problems with the country’s economy, which has failed to grow over the past four years. Recent polls show the Opposition People’s National Party with 39-percent support of voters, compared to 35 percent for the JLP. The next Prime Minister will serve for five years.
JLP CANDIDATE FOR WEST PORTLAND RECEIVES DEATH THREATS—12/29/11
Daryl Vaz, the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) candidate for West Portland, reports having received death threats after requesting the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) to state whether it received funding from the international gay community. Vaz says he got two calls after that comment in which individuals criticized him for being against gay people and threatening his life. Vaz suggested that PNP President Portia Simpson Miller was responsible for bringing the issue of homosexuality into the election by saying the PNP would review Jamaica’s buggery law and initiate a conscience vote on the matter in the legislature.
PNP WINS GENERAL ELECTION—12/30/11
The People’s National Party (PNP) claimed victory in the general election even before final results were known. Reliable sources called the election in favor of the PNP, noting that in the number of declared seats, the PNP took 41, compared to 22 for the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP). PNP supporters began their celebrations early in the night, particularly happy about the win of Denise Daley over Sharon Hay-Webster, who had switched party allegiance from the PNP to the JLP in the reconfigured St. Catherine Eastern constituency.
JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
JAMAICANS GO HOME FOR HOLIDAYS, NOT TO VOTE—12/25/11
A survey of 60 Jamaicans living abroad conducted by University of the West Indies researcher Dr. Herbert Gayle found that many Jamaicans who live abroad are traveling home for Christmas, but they are not returning to vote in the general election. Several of the survey’s respondents specifically said they are “turned off” by Jamaican politics. Of the 30 men surveyed, 22 were not going home for Christmas or to vote, eight said they were going back for the holidays, and only five of them said they planned to vote. Only three of the women surveyed were traveling home for Christmas, and only two of them intended to vote.
WOMAN OUTRAGED AT HUSBAND’S ACQUITTAL—12/26/11
Cathy Lee Clayson claimed to be attacked by her husband on a lonely road near Montego Bay as they drove to the airport to return home to Canada. Her husband, Paul Martin, attempted to cut her throat and kill her during the attack. However, after a year-long ordeal, jurors did not believe Clayson’s version of the story and acquitted her husband. Martin was arrested after the attack, but claimed an unknown robber had slit Clayson’s throat while he was away from their vehicle taking photographs. Clayson, a mid-level manager at a bank in Toronto, returned to Canada after recovering from her wound. While Martin praised the judicial process as professionally and competently done, Clayson claims shoddy police work, a sleeping jury, and a defense attorney who went barefoot in court. She complained about the age of the courthouse and the fact there was no air conditioning. She called the proceedings “unprofessional” and “like a circus.”
JAMAICANS FACE COURT FOR DRUG CHARGES IN TRINIDAD—12/27/11
Three individuals from Jamaica will appear before a magistrate on drug trafficking charges. The three were arrested in separate incidents. The first involved a search of a hotel room in Port of Spain where police found 342 grams of cocaine hidden in a sex toy. Police believe the man in question was waiting for a woman who would take the drugs out of the country. In another incident, a clothing salesman, 33, was arrested after arriving at the Trinidad airport in a motorized wheelchair. A search revealed 10.9 kilograms of marijuana in the battery compartment of the chair. The third case involved a man, aged 30, who also had a motorized wheelchair, which concealed 7.3 kilograms of marijuana in the battery casing.
ELECTION NEWS DELIVERED TO DIASPORA VIA SPECIAL SERVICE—12/29/11
Shade Software Solutions released a localized news and information service known at Ah Wha Gwan (AWG) in partnership with Copiers Limited Jamaica. The service is designed to make it easy for Jamaicans at home and overseas to access relevant local and international news. The service targets chiefly Jamaicans in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The product requires no configuration once installed on a computer and provides a packaged news portal that takes up very little space.
CARIBBEAN NEWS SUMMARY provided by Caribbeantopnews.com
U.S. COAST GUARD RETURNS HAITIANS, CUBANS TO HOME COUNTRIES—12/24/11
CUBA HOLDS BOOK FAIR FOCUSED ON CARIBBEAN CULTURE—12/25/11
CARIBBEAN AGENCY PLANS TO MOVE PAST FIFA BRIBERY SCANDAL—12/26/11
33 SOUTH AMERICAN COUNTRIES ESTABLISH NEW COMMUNITY OF STATES—12/27/11
LATIN AMERICAN, CARIBBEAN JOURNALISTS HELPED BY KNIGHT CENTER—12/28/11
TAYLOR SUPPORTS WARNER IN CONDEMNING CFU—12/29/11
BUSINESS NEWS SUMMARY
JaRIA, FRENCH FIRM MAKE AGREEMENT ON FESTIVAL FOR 2013—12/25/11
Jamaica’s music is appreciated in France, and in November 2000, it was noted that of the $150 million in uncollected performing rights fees in France, Jamaican artistes were owed as much as 15 percent of it. The Jamaica Recording Industry Association (JaRIA) and Association Reggae Sun Ska (ARSS) have now signed a Memorandum of Understand (MoU) in which Sun Ska becomes a foreign affiliate member of JaRIA and is charged with actively promoting the agency and encouraging similar European entities to join JaRIA as well. The agreement also includes requirements to collaborate on technical improvements and training in Jamaican music for music industry professionals in France.
TEA PRODUCER ADDS NEW LINE OF BUSINESS—12/26/11
Jamaican Teas Limited, a tea producing firm, has decided to diversify its business and enter the residential real estate market. The company plans to develop 18 studio apartments in Kingston in 2012 with an investment of J$120 million. According to John Mahfood, CEO of Jamaica Teas, the project is relatively small, and the risk is not excessively great, so it is attractive to the company, which acquired the under-half-acre property on Kingsway Avenue recently.
UTILITIES REGULATION OFFICE PROHIBITS BACK-BILLING BY JPS—12/27/11
The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) ordered the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) to stop back-billing new account holders or anyone who shows an increase in consumption during the meter replacement program unless convincing evidence exists to indicate illegal abstraction of electricity or tampering with the meter. As of December 5, 2011, all new account holders should have their meters checked and new ones installed before the account is activated, if necessary, and the JPS can no longer back-bill in such cases.
TRADEMARK FEES DOUBLED BY JIPO—12/28/11
The Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) plans to double the fees required to register trademarks as of March 1, 2012. The fees will increase from J$8,320 to J$17,800. This is an increase of 114 percent. The JIPO says that the fees remain competitive in relation to what is charged for the registration in other countries. The new fees are defined in the Trade Marks (Amendment) Rules 2011. Applicants will not have to pay the entire fee up front, however, which is likely to help small business clients.
CARIBBEAN TECHNOLOGY NEWS SUMMARY provided by Caribbeantopnews.com
ST.KITTS AND NEVIS CONTINUE TO ENHANCE DIGITAL OFFERINGS—12/24/11
DIGICEL LAUNCHES BERMUDA LONG DISTANCE SERVICE – AGAIN—12/27/11
DIGICEL-CLARO MERGER OPPOSED BY FTC—12/28/11
GOVERNMENT BANS PEST CONTROL SUSTANCE—12/29/11
TECHNOLOGY NEWS SUMMARY
APPLE PRODUCTS ACCOUNT FOR 13 PERCENT OF ONLINE HOLIDAY PURCHASES—12/29/11
Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices brought in 13 percent of all online purchases during the Christmas season in 2011. Seven percent of all online purchases were done via an iPad, while 6.4 percent were done on an iPhone. Android devices accounted for five percent of all online purchases on Christmas Day. Online sales on Christmas Day 2011 rose by 16.4 percent over 2010 totals on the same day.
VERIZON WIRELESS IMPOSES NEW FEE—12/30/11
Verizon Wireless has decided to impose a $2 fee on subscribers who want to pay their bills online or directly by telephone. A memo leaked by the company revealed details about the new plan. Starting January 15, 2012, customers who pay online or by phone will have to pay the extra fee for the privilege of paying their bills. Those who use autopay with a credit, debit, or AT&T card will not have to pay the fee. Customers who are making single payments online will receive notification of the fee before completing the transaction.
HBO DOCUMENTARY SHOWCASES JAMAICA—12/24/11
During its 15 years, the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival has become a major marketing tool for the country. In 2011, its utility was furthered with the premier showing of an HBO documentary special called “One Love: Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival,” which was presented to more than 300 million potential viewers over the cable network. The documentary brings viewers behind the scenes at the festival and shows them how the event comes together.
AFRICA INCREASINGLY POPULAR WITH JAMAICAN ARTISTES—12/25/11
Many reggae artistes have portrayed Africa as the “motherland” and the location of black repatriation. Currently, Africa has become a destination of choice for Jamaican artistes. As other markets like Europe and the United States become less attractive due to the economic downturn, Africa and Latin America have become extremely viable alternatives. Many musicians performed in Africa in 2011, and African promoters are eager to have Jamaican artistes perform in their countries.
LOCAL HEALER FEATURED IN MINI COOPER CAMPAIGN—12/26/11
Joseph, an obeah man in Walderston, Manchester, has been interviewed by Vice Media Inc. of New York, and his interview is being used as a way to promote the 2013 Mini Cooper S Roadster. The campaign, which takes the cars around the world looking for unusual events and circumstances, was produced by Codine Williams, a Jamaican by birth, and involved traveling around the world to see how folk magic affected different cultures. The producer learned of Joseph through word-of-mouth and decided to interview him because of an interest in his practice of white magic.
STING EVENT STILL IN FINANCIAL TROUBLE—12/29/11
The organizers of Sting 2011 estimated that they would need at least 15,000 paying attendees if they were to avoid financial problems. After the show, Supreme Promotions revealed that over 12,000 people attended the event, and some of these represented ticket requests negotiated by the artistes to let their fans attend the concert. The show had a budget of about $30 million, with $12 million going to the stars. While the event gained in some areas, it lost in others. Isaiah Laing, head of Supreme Promotions, attributed the problems to a lack of sponsorship, although he praised the support of Rum Fire, the RJR Group, Boom Energy Drink, and the Wyndham Kingston for their contributions.
JAMAICANS COULD SWEEP LONDON OLYMPICS—12/25/11
In view of their amazing performances at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, it is conceivable that Jamaican athletes could take a large percentage of the medals at the London games in 2012. Jamaica has a real chance to make a clean sweep of the men’s 100-meter race, if Asafa Powell, Usain Bolt, and Yohan Blake manage to stay injury-free and focused on the competition. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Kerron Stewart, and Sherone Simpson could accomplish a similar sweep in the women’s events.
LAMBERT DISAPPOINTED AT T20 OMISSION—12/27/11
Tamar Lambert expressed his disappointment at not being included in Jamaica’s 14-member Caribbean Twenty20 Championship squad. He was omitted from the team and relegated to the reserve bench although he performed well at the Regional Super50 in October. Lambert has been the most successful captain for Jamaica at the Regional 4-day tournament and led his club St. Catherine to the national T20 recently.
MATTHEWS SAYS BOLT WON”T WIN THIRD LAUREUS AWARD—12/28/11
Usain Bolt has won the Laureus Sportsman of the Year Award twice, but he does not have a chance to win a third award, according to Peter Matthews, editor of Athletics International Magazine. Bolt won the award in 2009 and 2010 for his performances at the Olympics in China and at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Berlin. However, while he successfully defended his 200-meter world title in 2011, he lost the 100-meter first to Yohan Blake after being disqualified for a false start. This impacted his overall performance, said Matthews, and he did not meet his usual standards Therefore, Matthews said he would not vote for Bolt because 2011 wasn’t his best year.
BOLT, TEAM TO BE BASED IN BIRMINGHAM FOR 2012 OLYMPIC TRAINING—12/29/11
Usain Bolt and his team will be living in Birmingham as they train for the 2012 Olympics. Birmingham University wants to ensure that Bolt gets everything he needs so he can perform his best at the games. Both Jamaican and American athletics teams will be based in Birmingham during the run-up to the Olympics. Bolt will have a bed built especially for him, and a Jamaican chef will be brought in to meet his dietary needs.
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“Remember Ye Not the Former Things”
As we stand on the threshold of another new year, some look back wistfully at the past year. Most of us would probably say the year has been one of mixed blessings; some successes interlaced with some failures. For others, it was a year of “what might have been.” There are things we wished we had done differently, things we probably regretted saying and doing. Regardless of where we direct our thoughts, one thing is clear – we cannot go back in time and change anything that was or was not done.
In his reflection on time, American poet and educator Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) wrote, “Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear.” However, centuries before, words to the same effect were spoken by the prophet Isaiah to the nation of Israel, “Thus saith the LORD . . . Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:16a, 18-19, KJV). There is something about focusing on the past that can often leave us in a position of complacency, and some of us can attest to that. We can become thoroughly satisfied with our successes, or mentally and emotionally crippled by our failures. We can spend so much time looking backward that we fail to move forward timely and effectively. There is a reason the rearview mirrors in cars are so small relative to the windshield. We glance back every now and again but we look in front. There are important lessons we can learn from our experiences and we should learn them, but let us not build tents around those experiences.
What are some of the things God wants us to forget? Our past losses, sorrows and sufferings; associations and traditions that hindered His working in our lives; the focus on self; past accomplishments and achievements that would distract us from offering glory to Him; and our failures, to name a few. As we begin the new year, God stands poised yet again to do new things that shall spring forth. If 2011 has been a year of failure and broken dreams, 2012 can be the opposite; if it was successful, there are more victories to be celebrated. We serve an awesome God to whom nothing is impossible (Jeremiah 32:26-27; Matthew 19:26).
Let us take God at His Word. Forgetting the former things and looking forward to the “new thing” He will be doing in our heart and lives. It is my prayer that He surprises us in ways far beyond anything we could ever ask or think (Ephesians 3:20), and I pray that especially for you and yours for this New Year. He is faithful that promised (Hebrews 10:23).
The weekly news is compilation of new articles from top Caribbean and Jamaican news sources.