THIS WEEK”S SUMMARY
RIVERTON RESIDENTS WANT REDRESS FROM FIRE EFFECTS—05/05/12
Earl Witter, public defender, stated that his office is conducting a forensic examination concerning complaints made by residents of Portmore and the Corporate Area about the negative effects arising from fumes from the landfill fire there. Witter is waiting for medical certifications on several of the 24 complaints his office is handling. He plans to make claims against the National Solid Waste Management Authority or the attorney general to obtain compensation for the residents who suffered harm from the fire.
EDUCATION LEADERS COMMIT TO IMPROVING THE SYSTEM—05/06/12
The leaders of Jamaica’s education system are promising to build on their past achievements and make further improvements in the future to ensure high quality education on the island. Paul Adams, president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) and Education Minister Ronald Thwaites have called for more commitment to education in this 50th year of the nation’s independence. Thwaites says it is the government’s responsibility to promote partnerships that will improve the system, and he praised the JTA for its work over the years.
DEBT INTEREST PAYMENTS WERE HIGHEST IN JAMAICA IN 2011—05/07/12
The “unsustainable” burden of public debt faced by Jamaica is continuing to impede necessary investments and prevent long-term economic growth, according to a report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research. In 2011, Jamaica faced the highest debt interest payments in the world, when determined as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product. The high debt ratio and certain micro-economic policies supported by the International Monetary Fund have slowed the nation’s recovery, according to the report, entitled “Update on the Jamaican Economy.”
DIGICEL OFFICE RAIDED—05/08/12
Digicel, the Caribbean mobile network owned by Denis O’Brien, an Irish businessman, is having a dispute with the government of Jamaica after a raid on the Digicel offices by Tax Authority Jamaica (TAJ). The company’s offices in New Kingston were raided in an effort to find records the TAJ had been trying to obtain for some months. The TAJ was acting according to an order from the Jamaican Supreme Court and wanted information to confirm the company had paid the general consumption tax, which it collected from customers, to the tax authority. Digicel then got a court order to bar the TAJ from taking any information from its servers. The TAJ said it performed the raid because the company had not provided requested data in a timely manner.
CLAIM STATES THAT JAMAICAN POLITICAL PARTIES FUNDED BY FRAUDSTER—05/08/12
According to a confiscation order in a Turks and Caicos court, the two major political parties of Jamaica received millions from a fraudster in 2007. The parties are investigating these allegations, which state that David Smith, a convicted criminal, provided generous donations to both the People’s National Party (PNP) and the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP). P.J. Patterson, former Prime Minister and PNP member, is accused of taking $1 million from Smith, who ran a Ponzi scheme through a fraudulent investment group known as Olint. Patterson denies taking the money. The JLP is accused of taking some $5 million from Smith, who is serving 30 years in prison in Florida for wire fraud and money laundering.
JAMAICAN ECONOMY CRIPPLED BY IMF POLICIES—05/09/12
The weak economy of Jamaica will not recover as it should if it accedes to demands from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), according to a report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).Jamaica pays more debt interest than any nation in the world, owing about $18 billion. The “pro-cyclical macroeconomic policies” of the IMF have damaged the island’s economic prospects, the report concluded. Jamaica’s debts have risen by almost 33 percent since 2008.
Jamaica is currently paying more debt interest than any other country, including those in Europe that have been reeling under the near collapse of the euro. In total, the island owes around 18 billion dollars.
LOSSES CONTINUE FOR AIR JAMAICA—05/10/12
Air Jamaica is still losing money under its new ownership program. The firm had one of the most negative economic impacts on Caribbean Airlines Limited in 2011.The US$38 million losses suffered by Air Jamaica represented an improvement of 75 percent over the previous year, however. In 2010, the airline lost US$150 million, according to sources on the divestment committee. Jamaica continues to own a 16 percent stake in Caribbean Airlines, so the government will have to address the losses in order to protect jobs and consumers.
GOVERNMENT DEFENDS ITS RAID ON DIGICEL—05/11/12
According to the Jamaican Ministry of Finance and Planning, there appeared to be a “concerted campaign” to discredit the efforts of the Tax Administration of Jamaica (TAJ) in doing its job in connection with investigations of Digicel. The Ministry has made suggestions that Digicel is attempting to try the case in the court of public opinion, and while the Ministry does not usually comment on such matters, it said it was forced to speak out because of the numerous inaccuracies being communicated in public statements. In 2011, the TAJ began an audit of various economic sectors, including the telecoms sector, and only in the case of Digicel has the TAJ been compelled to go to the courts to obtain requested information. The TAJ turned to the court after all other means of obtaining the data had been exhausted, according to the Ministry.
JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
LAMONT NAMED NEW JAMAICAN CONSUL GENERAL TO NEW YORK—05/05/12
Herman Lamont, a career diplomat, has been named as Jamaica’s new consul general to New York. Lamont replaces Genieve Brown-Metzger. Lamont has previously worked as deputy consul general in Miami, Florida and in Toronto, Canada. He was introduced to his new role by Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who was on a visit to the city. She also introduced the new community relations officer for the consulate, Christopher Castriota and noted that both men will work for the interests of all Jamaicans in the Diaspora.
JAMAICA 50 CELEBRATED WITH JAAC BRUNCH—05/06/12
The Jamaica Awareness Association of California (JAAC), a nonprofit organization, marked Jamaica’s 50 years of independence with more than 250 guests at the annual Caribbean spring brunch on April 29, 2012. The theme of the event was “Celebrating Jamaica 50th Anniversary.” It was held at Friendship Auditorium in Los Angeles. Yasmin Facey, president of JAAC, stated that the anniversary celebrated the long way Jamaicans have come as a country and believed the event showcases the pride of the Jamaica Diaspora community.
JERK FESTIVAL IN U.S. TO CELEBRATE JAMAICA’S INDEPENDENCE, GRACE FOODS—05/08/12
The Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival of 2012 will celebrate both Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of independence and the 90th birthday of Grace Foods itself. Organizers of the event promise considerable excitement in the promotions they have lined up before the event, which is scheduled for July 22, 2012, at Roy Wilkins Park in Queens, New York. Organizers expect over 10,000 people to participate and enjoy spicy jerk food at the festival. With the event, Grace Foods is reaffirming its commitment to the community and laying the groundwork for future traditions.
COMPETITION INTRODUCED FOR DIASPORA ENTREPRENEURS—05/08/12
In partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank and other supporters, the United States State Department has introduced a business plan competition aimed at the Caribbean region. The plan seeks to promote economic growth and job opportunities and to create partnerships among the members of the Caribbean Diaspora. The fund, the Caribbean Idea Marketplace, will offer a grant of $100,000 to each of the ten best business plans presented that target the following countries: Jamaica, St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. Plans must be submitted by May 30, 2012.
CARIBBEAN NEWS SUMMARY provided by Caribbeantopnews.com
CARIBBEAN, LATIN AMERICA RECEIVE US$153 BILLION IN FOREIGN INVESTMENT—05/05/12
WORLD’S LARGEST FROGS HOPEFULLY TO ESCAPE EXTINCTION—05/06/12
T&T ATTORNEY GENERALNAMES CCJ RESPONSIBLE FOR DEATH PENALTY CASES—05/07/12
PRIME MINISTER OF CURACAO SUSPENDS THE SECRET SERVICE AGENCY—05/08/12
AMNESTY LAW IN SURINAME QUESTIONED BY ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS—05/09/12
PUERTO RICO TO BE FULLY BILINGUAL BY 2022—05/10/12
BUSINESS NEWS SUMMARY
TEN-YEAR DEVELOPMENT PLAN ANNOUNCED FOR NEW CREDIT BUREAU—05/05/12
Neal and Massy plan to spend US$1.5 million in the first year to establish a credit bureau subsidiary called CRIF NM Credit Assure Limited. The complete development of the new company will take about ten years. The initial money will be used to fund the acquisition of hardware and software and to implement strict data security and confidentiality measures, said Robert Gordon, the general manager of the CRIF NM. The new bureau is a joint venture of Neal and Massy Holdings Ltd. and CRIF, a global credit bureau firm with existing operations in Europe and Asia.
ASAFA POWELL BECOMES AN ENTREPRENEUR—05/06/12
Asafa Powell, Jamaica’s former 100-meter world record holder, has moved into the entrepreneurial field with the introduction of an online business aimed at Jamaican consumers. IrieSocial will help people discover Jamaican products and services, as well as provide an entry to global markets for Caribbean businesses. IrieSocial will include daily deals and features businesses like restaurants, hotels, beauty parlors, and spas. The deals represent risk-free advertising for Jamaican businesses and allow them to find new customers.
NO MECHANISM FOR POLICING CONTAMINATED JAPANESE IMPORTS—05/07/12
While many agree that damaged vehicles, even those contaminated with radiation, will be able to enter Jamaican markets from Japan, authorities believe the risk of entry is slight. They believe this in spite of the fact that there is no way to police the entry of contaminated goods. Some vehicles clearly marked as water-damaged or exposed to radiation on Japanese car dealer websites are being bought and sold very cheaply. Dealers say they are not doing business with these websites, but it is understood that neither the Customs border control division or the Trade Board, which is responsible for issuing import permits, have any way to know whether a radiation-contaminated vehicle is entering Jamaica.
CORRUPTION EXISTS IN SUGAR SECTOR, SAYS CHINESE INVESTOR—05/08/12
According to Chinese investor Francis Hehanqi, the sugar industry in Jamaica is rife with corruption, abuses of power, bureaucracy, and money abuse. Hehanqi, who is the deputy chief executive officer of Pan Caribbean Sugar Company, also says his firm is committed to changing things, and the changes will bring higher prices for the farmers that supply sugar cane. Hehanqi made his charges at a ceremony marking the signing of an agreement to allow his company to market sugar milled at the factories in Monymusk, Frome, and Bernard Lodge.
CARIBBEAN TECHNOLOGY NEWS SUMMARY provided by Caribbeantopnews.com
IRIESOCIAL LAUNCHES IN JAMAICA—05/05/12
JAMAICA DRIVEN TO CLEAN ENERGY BY HIGH COST OF OIL—05/06/12
JAMAICAN YOUTH SHOWCASES TECHNOLOGY SKILLS IN MOBILE APPS—05/07/12
HYLTON SAYS STOPPING TOXIC GOODS AT PORTS TOO EXPENSIVE—05/09/12
ESTELLE WELCOMED TO CARIBBEAN FASHIONWEEK—05/06/12
Estelle, a Grammy winning singer and global music star, will be one of the acts performing at June’s Caribbean Fashionweek 2012. This will be the 12th year of the event, which will be held at National Indoor Sports Center from June 7 to June 11, 2012. Designers from throughout the Caribbean region will participate and showcase their work for the audience. Participating in the event for the fourth time will be Jamaica-based Lubica, who has been the focus of attention for her relationship with champion sprinter Usain Bolt.
BUSINESS OWNERS PROMOTE BELLY DANCE AS MAINSTREAM EXERCISE—05/07/12
Shari-lee Perrin and Gabriel Beckford, the owners of Raks Sharki JA, are trying to encourage Jamaicans to accept belly dance and other Eastern styles of dancing as alternative exercise forms. According to Beckford, both he and Perrin are adventurous and want to be innovative, so they are enthusiastic about bringing the dance genre to Jamaica. Raks Sharki JA is an Oriental dance group that focuses chiefly on belly dance of Egyptian origin.
“JAMAICA, FAREWELL” PRESENTS EXUBERANT VIEW OF JAMAICA—05/09/12
The play “Jamaica, Farewell,” performed by Debra Ehrhardt, fills the space at the Chopin Theater with excellent storytelling. Ehrhardt, who was raised in Jamaica and who now lives in Los Angeles, California, wrote the one-woman show to tell the story of how she emigrated from the Caribbean to the United States. It follows her life from age seven to age 20 and describes the many facets of her journey.
SPECIAL PRIZES TO BE AWARDED AT NATIONAL VISUAL ARTS COMPETITION—05/10/12
Two special Jamaica 50 prizes will be awarded at the National Visual Arts Competition (NVAC) in 2012, the 49th year of the competition. The NVAC has been a part of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s list of events for 48 years. Sana Rose-Savage, NVAC coordinator, said she is looking forward to a wide range of entries for the prizes. The deadline to submit is May 18, 2012.
ASAFA POWELL WITHDRAWS FROM JAMAICA INVITATIONAL—05/05/12
Jamaica’s former record holder in the 100 meters, Asafa Powell, has withdrawn his entry from the Jamaica International Invitational meet due to a groin injury. He was to have raced in the 200 meters, but his agent said he would not participate because of soreness, and since he would not race the 200, he decided to forego the 100 meter race as well. The injury has ended any chance of Powell facing Usain Bolt, current record holder in the 00-meter distance, head to head at the competition.
BOLT FACES CHARGES OF RACISM FOR PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP—05/06/12
Jamaica’s champion sprinter Usain Bolt faced charges of having “white woman complex” from some critics because of his six-month relationship with Lubica Slovak, fashion designer. Some black Jamaicans are unhappy that Bolt, 25, has chosen a white woman as his romantic partner. Friends of the couple note that love has no race, however, and that the two have a real connection.
BOLT WINS 100 METER RACE AT JAMAICA INVITATIONAL—05/07/12
Usain Bolt ran the 100 meters at the Jamaica International Invitational in a time of 9.82 seconds to win the event just one month before the trials for the 2012 Olympics. This was Bolt’s first 100-meter win of the year, and the crowd of fans gave him a standing ovation for his performance. Michael Frater of Jamaica won second place in the race with a time of 10.00 seconds.
24 JAMAICANS PARTICIPATE AT CAYMAN INVITATIONAL—05/09/12
A contingent of 24 Jamaican athletes led by Yohan Blake and Novelene Williams-Mills are participating in the first Cayman Invitational track and field competition at Truman Bodden Sports Complex. The Jamaicans are represented among a group of athletes totaling nearly 80 from 11 nations around the world. Blake and Williams-Mills are predicted to win their events, and Michael Frater and Kemar Bailey-Cole are also expected to do well for Jamaica at the meet.
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Thank God, It’s Friday! Four magic words greeted with exhilaration and which signal the end of the workweek for millions of working people. For some of us, tired from weekends that seem far too short, we start looking forward to Friday from the time we get up on Monday! No matter how bad a week we are having, there is something about the “magical” Friday that puts a pep in our step and seem to flood our bodies with feel good hormones. It is as if for the next two days we can leave behind the hustle and bustle of life and its challenges.
However, what if we were to wake up every day and declare TGIF? No, not as in “Thank God It’s Friday” but rather, “Today God Is First”? Ezra Taft Benson puts it this way, “When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives.” There is a lot of truth in that statement. Invariably, whatever we put first becomes our priority. There are times when it is our material needs that sit at the forefront of our minds and which consume our thinking. Jesus affirmed the importance of putting God first when He states, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” Matthew 6:31-33, ESV).
It would be pointing out the obvious to note that if Jesus said so then it must be true; above all else, seek first the kingdom of God. Centuries earlier the proverb writer declared, “In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success” (Proverbs 3:5-6, TLB). There is no other priority that we can establish that is able to transcend that of putting God first. It is no wonder that Abraham Lincoln, while president of the United States, lamented, “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day.” By putting God first, we can rest comfortably in the knowledge that He knows what He is doing. More importantly, He knows what is best.
So, how about it? TGIF – Today God Is First! You do not have to wait until Friday to reorder your priorities; you can start doing so any day of the week. Whatever you do, put Him first. Make it a habit to do so daily. No one or nothing else matters as much.
The weekly news is compilation of new articles from top Caribbean and Jamaican news sources.