THIS WEEK”S SUMMARY
HIGHER TAXES FOR JAMAICA’S TOURISM SECTOR—06/09/12
Visitors to Jamaica in 2012 will pay more in taxes. The government has imposed a number of tax increases in the tourism sector designed to generate revenue and mitigate its current economic crisis. Peter Phillips, Minister of Finance, said that all tourists must pay an entrance fee of $20 beginning in August 2012. Guests in hotels must pay as much as $4.00 per night in a new accommodation tax, which goes into effect in September 2012.
JAMAICAN DRUG LORD RECEIVES 23-YEAR SENTENCE—06/10/12
Christopher “Dudus” Coke, a Jamaican drug kingpin, was sentenced to 23 years in a federal prison, according to the United States Attorney’s Office. He received the maximum sentence for racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering. Coke pleaded guilty to these charges in August 2012. He was also ordered by the court to pay forfeiture totaling $1.5 million.
BAR ASSOCIATION WANTS REVIEW OF PROPOSED LAW AMENDMENTS—06/10/12
The Jamaican Bar Association has requested that it be given a chance to review proposed amendments to the Legal Profession Act before it becomes law. The Senate began debate on the law, but that debate was placed on hold to give the Association time to comment and to let Opposition Senators to have input. The bill is designed to amend the Legal Profession Act to “modernize” the profession and allow interventions into lawyers’ practices for the protection of their clients’ interests.
“DUDUS” COKE SENTENCE LEAVES JAMAICANS STUNNED—06/11/12
Residents in Jamaica’s Tivoli Gardens were outraged at the prison sentence imposed on Christopher “Dudus” Coke, their one-time protector and drug lord. They believe that the 23-year sentence handed down by a judge in New York was too harsh. They also noted the increase in crime in their neighborhood since Coke’s arrest. Coke entered a plea of guilty for racketeering in August 2012 in a plea agreement. While few people believe he is innocent of the charges, they believe that 23 years is much too harsh a sentence for his crime.
IN BUDGET DEBATE, SIMPSON MILLER EMPHASIZES DEVOTION TO THE POOR—06/12/12
While critics of Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller attempted to downgrade her reputation as a champion of the people, the criticism was not well received. The Jamaica Labor Party’s Audley Shaw and Andrew Holness questioned her sincerity of concern, but Simpson Miller responded with an appeal to her record of action and commitment, which she said shows that she wants to protect the Jamaican people. Holness said all she wanted was power.
POLICE OFFICER IN JAMAICA CHARGED WITH BEHEADING POTENTIAL WITNESS—06/13/12
Constable Jeffrey Peart, a Jamaican police officer, has been charged with beheading a potential witness against him in a corruption case. Jamaica’s public prosecutor charged Peart almost a month after a headless body was found in St. Ann. The victim is thought to be a witness in a case against Peart, 24, who was based in Negril. Peart has not yet entered a plea in the case.
PHILLIPS DOWNPLAYS IMPACT OF IMF SITUATION—06/14/12
Dr. Peter Phillips, Jamaican Minister of Finance, believes the potential impact of an opinion given by the Attorney General’s Department will have minimal impact. The Attorney General’s Department has concerns about the ability of the country to make a new agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Proposals for pension reforms under consideration by Parliament represent a breach of the workers’ contract with the government, stated the Attorney General in a legal opinion. Phillips cautioned all parties not to move too far ahead in their worries and noted that pension reform represents a big part of Jamaica’s economic survival.
EDUCATION MINISTRY TO CHANGE NATIONAL CURRICULUM—06/15/12
According to Ronald Thwaites, Jamaica’s Minister of Education, changes will be coming to the nation’s curriculum. The changes will impact students in primary and secondary schools, and they will be imposed together with plans to phase out the all-age and junior high school categories in schools where they still exist. These would become primary schools with infant departments, so all children in Jamaica will receive a full five years of secondary education. While the government has released no details on the planned changes, Thwaites said that they are designed to ensure that Jamaica’s children understand their rights under laws like the Child Care and Protection Act.
JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
FIVE JAMAICAN STUDENTS RECEIVE MEDICAL SCHOLARSHIPS TO CUBA—06/10/12
Five students from Jamaica will receive their medical education in Cuba, beginning in September 2012, due to five full scholarships provided to them through the Cuba/Jamaica Bilateral Program. Delli-Ann Green, Donya-Gaye Chin, Jamie Lindsay, Darrieux Gordon, and Jason Scott received their scholarships during a presentation ceremony at the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in Kingston. Cuba’s ambassador to Jamaica Yuri Gala Lopez, offered encouragement to the students to make meaningful contributions to their nation when they return from medical school.
JAMAICAN AMBASSADOR TO JAPAN CELEBRATES JAMAICA 50—06/12/12
The Japanese people are having their own celebrations to honor Jamaica’s jubilee marking independence. Japan and Jamaica have developed increasingly stronger ties over the past years, especially noticeable in how reggae music has an influence on the Asian people. The 2012 One Love Jamaica Festival represented a collaboration between Jamaica’s Embassy in Japan and a local Japanese planning group. Claudia Cecile Barnes, Jamaica’s ambassador, attended the event, which was held in May 2012, and said it was the best of all she has attended because of the close collaboration of the Japanese community.
JAMAICAN APPOINTED CHAIRMAN OF CARIBBEAN COMMISSION IN MARYLAND—06/13/12
Jamaican-born attorney Ambassador Curtis Ward has been called upon to be the chairman of the first Commission on Caribbean Affairs in the U.S. An Executive Order signed by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, created the Governor’s Commission on Caribbean Affairs in the state of Maryland. The appointment of Ward was made as the U.S. celebrates Caribbean American Heritage Month. O’Malley said the creation of the commission shows the commitment of his administration to the Caribbean people who live in the state.
JAMAICA TO OFFER “NATIONAL” EXPERIENCE IN LONDON 2012 OLYMPICS—06/14/12
Jamaica plans to provide a complete Jamaican experience to attendees of the summer Olympics in London this year through its Jamaica House 2012 and Respect Jamaica 50th live concerts series. The two events were introduced in New Kingston through the collaboration of the tourism, culture, and industry ministries. A press reception was hosted by JAMPRO’s chairman, Milton Samuda, to announce the events.
CARIBBEAN NEWS SUMMARY provided by Caribbeantopnews.com
POLICE IN GUYANA HOLD SUSPECTED SOCCER GAME SHOOTER—06/10/12
CHRIS GAYLE RETURNS TO WEST INDIES TEAM—06/11/12
PRIME MINISTER OF T&T CONTACTS SIMPSON MILLER ABOUT MISSING TEACHER—06/12/12
TWO CUBAN CABINET MEMBERS REPLACED—06/13/12
ISLAMIC LEADER TO FACE TRIAL ON SEDITION IN TRINIDAD—06/14/12
COUDRAY MEETS WITH JAMAICAN POLICE—06/15/12
BUSINESS NEWS SUMMARY
IMG SAYS JAMAICA’S DEBT TOTALS 140 PERCENT OF GDP—06/10/12
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Jamaica’s debt level is at 140 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (JDP), which is ten points higher than the number used by the Jamaican government. The IMF warned that the debt could reach even higher levels unless the administration of Portia Simpson Miller enacts fiscal reforms. A 27-month agreement between the previous Jamaica Labor Party administration and the IMF fell through in less than a year because of the Fund’s dissatisfaction with the government’s failure to achieve fiscal goals.
CHICKEN MEAT PROCESSORS HAPPY ABOUT ROLL BACK OF TAX—06/13/12
Caribbean Broilers and Jamaica Broilers, two of the largest chicken meat processors in the country, along with the Jamaica Producers Group, are glad that the government has rolled back the General Consumption Tax (GCT) on animal feed and raw foodstuff. If the tax had been allowed to stand, it would have had a negative effect on local agriculture. The change in the GCT was made after discussions between the government and the agricultural sector following public criticism.
HAMPDEN ESTATE WILL ABSORB RUM TAX FOR THE PRESENT—06/14/12
Hampden Estate, which only entered the white rum bottling industry for the local market in 2011, will reduce the margin on Rum Fire, its brand, and absorb the 200-percent increase in the special consumption tax (SCT) recently imposed on the product. Others in the market have not taken this approach, but some expect rum sales to drop significantly due to the increase in the SCT. Customers of Hampden Estate will not see a price increase until August 2012.
AUTHORITIES TO MONITOR ELECTRIC BILLS—06/15/12
The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) would like to audit the providers of electric power, including the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) to make sure that customers are charged the right amount when world oil prices change. The audit will provide recommendations to OUR on how to manage fuel accounting systems effectively, OUR plans to obtain the services of a consultant auditor to perform this task.
CARIBBEAN TECHNOLOGY NEWS SUMMARY provided by Caribbeantopnews.com
COSTA RICA THE MOST INNOVATIVE NATION IN LATIN AMERICA—06/02/12
CABLE TV/INTERNET PROVIDER IN ANGUILLA TO LAUNCH DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY—06/05/12
FARMERS IN BARBADOS SHOULD CONTINUE INVESTING IN TECHNOLOGY—06/07/12
CARIBBEAN DIGITAL ACCESS REQUIRES ENABLING POLICIES TO GROW—06/08/12
KARL MCLEOD, JAMAICAN JAZZ DRUMMER, DIES—06/10/12
Jamaican Karl McLeod has been called the consummate modern jazz drummer. McLeod attended Jamaica College and returned as a teacher in the 1960s. He specialized in jazz instead of becoming a studio drummer and performed with Don Drummond, Tommy McCook, Roland Alphonso, and Ernest Ranglin. He played with Stan Getz and Nancy Wilson and Sonny Rollins at the Village Vanguard in New York City during his career. McCleod died on October 17, 2011.
DANCEHALL PERFORMERS ABSENT FROM LONDON SHOW—06/13/12
Jamaican Dancehall music will have only a limited presence at the 13-day concert scheduled for July 25 to August 6 at London’s O2 Arena. Many ska, rocksteady, roots reggae and dub poetry artistes will participate, but only Shaggy and Wayne Marshall have been included in the line-up. AEG Live, a world–famous event producer based in the United Kingdom is organizing the event. According to AEG Live head, Rob Hallett, the organization consciously decided to pick artistes who would not provoke controversy, which could have arisen with Dancehall acts.
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO FILM FESTIVAL FEATURES DANCEHALL FILM—06/14/12
The Dancehall film “Hit Me with Music” is a hit at the WeBeat Festival in Trinidad and Tobago. The film is a documentary about Dancehall music and shows the reality of the Dancehall experience in Jamaica. It explores the different facets of Dancehall culture, such as feuds between artistes and skin bleaching. Many of the most popular artistes of Dancehall are featured in the film, including Elephant Man, Mavado, and Vybz Kartel.
2012 MISS UNIVERSE PAGEANT COULD BE HELD IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC—06/15/12
Magaly Febles, the director of the local Dominican Republic Miss Universe competition, said that the international version of the pageant may be held in his country in 2012. The Miss Universe organization, which is based in New York, is awaiting approval of its request to have the pageant in the Dominican Republic. The request is before the nation’s tourism authorities.
BLAKE PLANS TO BE LIKE BOLT—06/09/12
Jamaican sprint star Yohan Blake would be happy if his performance at the Diamond League meet in New York emulated the experiences that Usain Bolt, Jamaican three-time Olympic champion. Bolt used the meet in 2008 to set his first world record in the 100 meters with a time of 9.72 seconds. Blake would like to emulate his training partner with a record-setting sprint. Blake said his real focus is his performance in the 2012 Olympics in London, however.
BLAKE, FRASER-PRYCE WIN 100-METER TITLES IN NEW YORK—06/10/12
Yohan Blake, Jamaican World and Olympic sprint champion, and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, also of Jamaica, both won their 100-meter titles at the Diamond League athletics meet in New York. Blake defeated Keston Bledman of Trinidad and Tobago, winning with a time of 9.90 seconds.
USAIN BOLT INVOLVED IN CAR CRASH, UNHURT—06/11/12
Usain Bolt, Olympic and World sprint champion, exited uninjured from a car crash in Kingston. Bolt, 25, had the accident in his BMW coupe after leaving a party just before dawn. According to Carole Beckford, Bolt’s publicist, he was not hurt in the accident. Police said the cause of the crash was unknown and are continuing their investigation. Bolt had a previous accident in 2009 in which he totaled another BMW auto and suffered minor injuries to his feet.
POLICE SAY BOLT “SKETCHY” ABOUT ACCIDENT—06/13/12
Jamaican sprint champion Usain Bolt was characterized by police as “elusive” and “sketchy” in his statements about the accident which involved the crash of his BMW sports car. Alcohol use has been eliminated as a factor in the crash as Bolt passed a breathalyzer test at the time. It has been reported that police are feeling pressure from the public about Bolt receiving preferential treatment because of his star status.
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“Come and See”
In his book “The God Delusion,” renowned atheist Richard Dawkins writes, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all of fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic [woman hater], homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilental, megalomaniacal [egotistical], sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. Those of us schooled from infancy in his ways can become desensitized to their horror.” Some Christians shudder at such a description of the God they believe and trust in, and that is exactly the point. For all the negativity he could muster in his assault on God and His character, Dawkins had not met God. He was describing someone he did not know.
There are many people who are like Dawkins. Without taking the time to know the One of whom they speak so authoritatively, they are content with their flawed and unproven characterizations. I am reminded of the conversation between Philip and Nathaniel as recorded in John chapter 1. According to the narrative, Philip found Nathaniel and said unto him, “We have found Him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (vv. 45-46, KJV). In this instance, Philip was thrilled at meeting Jesus. His excitement was of such that, to borrow the words of Matthew Henry, he said to Nathaniel with a sense of urgency, “We have found Him whom we have so often talked of, so long wished and waited for; at last, He is come, He is come, and we have found Him!” Yet, Nathaniel saw things differently. He was prepared to write off Jesus simply because of his own prejudice towards the city of Nazareth!
Philip’s response was one for the ages. He did not seek to reason with Nathaniel; he simply said to him, “Come and see.” In other words, “Do not take my word for it, come and see for yourself. Put aside your prejudice and listen to Him; examine what He says.” Of Him John says not only is He the Word, not only was He in the beginning with God, but this same Word “was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (v.14).
That is the God we serve, and that is the God we need to show to the world. Not the misrepresentation that Dawkins and company would project, but the God who is “full of grace and truth.” He is the one in whom we believe, the One who is precious (1 Peter 2:7). It is only as mankind come to know Him that we can know who He really is. We will not convince skeptics with our arguments. The best thing we can do is to invite them to “come and see.” Once Philip met Jesus, he could not help himself. The words from his lips are recorded for all times: “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel” (John 1:49).
If only Dawkins could take up Philip’s invitation. Do you know anyone who needs to?
The weekly news is compilation of new articles from top Caribbean and Jamaican news sources.