THIS WEEK”S SUMMARY
U.S. DISCREDITS JAMAICA, CUBA EYE CARE, SAYS WIKILEAKS—12/18/10
According to cables from United States diplomatic staff in Cuba, the U.S. attempted to discredit eye care treatment received by Jamaican patients in Cuba. The diplomatic personnel were looking for ways to “shatter the myth” of Cuban medical expertise. Dr. Albert Lue, an ophthalmologist at Kingston Public Hospital, was said to have denounced Cuban eye care provided to Jamaican patients by noting that of 60 such patients, three were permanently blinded, and 14 had permanent damage to their corneas.
JAMAICAN CHURCHES USE PATOIS VERSION OF CHRISTMAS STORY—12/19/10
Churches in Jamaica are using the first patois version of the story of Jesus’ birth as given in the book of Luke in the Bible. According to the Reverend Courtney Stewart, the general secretary of the Bible Society of the West Indies, scriptures have the greatest impact when they are heard in a person’s native language. Patois is the unofficial language of Jamaica, and many Jamaicans have trouble understanding standard English.
NEW NATION COALITION NOTES “DISRESPECT” OF JAMAICANS—12/20/10
The New National Coalition (NNC) is focusing on the feelings of hopelessness felt by many Jamaicans in 2010 during “the worst Christmas in many years.” According to the group’s founder, Betty Ann Blaine, Jamaicans are depressed and hopeless at a time of the year when they should be celebrating. She says that the government’s neglect of the people is partly to blame and that events of the past year have distracted attention from the nation’s development.
DCP HINDS SAYS POLICE FACE OBSTACLES IN EFFORTS TO END GANGS—12/21/10
According to Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Glenmore Hinds, police in Jamaica are hindered in their attempts to dismantle gangs because of the lack of anti-gang legislation. Most criminal acts on the island are committed by gang members, says Hinds, but current law is inadequate to support efforts to prevent such crimes. Anti-gang legislation will aid in dismantling criminal gangs, says Hinds.
TEACHERS FINALLY RECEIVE PAY FROM GOVERNMENT—12/21/10
Jamaica’s government has finally provided retroactive payments to schools on the island, which are designated for distribution to teachers in the public sector. Teachers and the government have had a lengthy argument about the issue, which ultimately ended up at the Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT). The IDT ruled in October 2010 that the government pay $500 million of $8 billion owed to public school teachers this year.
WIKILEAKS: KINGSTON MAYOR ALLIED WITH ALLEGED DRUG LORD—12/22/10
According to WikiLeaks, a diplomatic cable from the United States reports that Kingston Mayor Desmond McKenzie has admitted making an alliance of convenience with the alleged drug kingpin Christopher “Dudus” Coke in order to reduce crime in the area. The cable, dated September 2009, says that McKenzie told an officer at the U.S. Embassy of a years-long collaboration with Coke to fight crime in West Kingston, the home constituency of Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding.
NETBALL TEAM BUS ATTACKED IN CENTRAL VILLAGE—12/24/10
Jamaica’s senior Sunshine Girls netball team was attacked as it traveled by bus through Central Village on the way to Clarendon. Two players, Romelda Aiken and Ann Kay Griffiths, were injured when the bus was stoned and its windshield was shattered. The team was returning from training at National Stadium in Kingston in preparation for a test series against Australia.
JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
GRENADA CHURCH LEADERS PROTEST JAMAICAN ARTISTES—12/18/10
Church leaders in Grenada are strongly opposed to plans for two concerts on Christmas Eve that will feature a number of popular Jamaican artistes. According to a statement from the Conference of Churches, the concerns featuring Beenie Man, Mr. Vegas, Assassin, and local entertainers, represent an attack on the Christian heritage of the island. Police Commissioner James Clarkson noted that permission had been given for the events to occur, but that any artistes who use “smutty” lyrics will be taken off the stage.
JAMAICAN GIRLS RECEIVE JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT AWARD IN BRAZIL—12/22/10
Daryl Vaz, Jamaican Minister responsible for information, telecommunications and special projects, congratulated three high school girls who received the Rising Stars award at the International Junior Achievement competition for young entrepreneurs held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Vaz said the girls were positive role models for Jamaica’s youth. They were Tasheika Thompson, 19; Damarah Nelson, 18; and Tina Geddes, 19. All are students at St. Andrew High School for Girls and Meadowbrook High School in Kingston.
FORMER AIR JAMAICA STAFF HONORED IN CANADA—12/23/10
Former staff members of Air Jamaica were honored by the Diaspora community in Canada at an event held in Toronto. According to Seth George Ramocan, Consul General, the government and people of Jamaica extended their appreciation to all the members of Air Jamaica’s staff who served during its 40 years in business. Air Jamaica was taken over by Caribbean Airlines on May 1, 2010, but the company, which is based in Trinidad, continues to use the Air Jamaica name.
JDF OFFICER CADET IS TOP STUDENT GRADUATING AT SANDHURST IN UK—12/24/10
Melvin Shawn Rhoden, a Jamaican Defense Force (JDF) officer cadet, has received the top ranking among overseas students graduating from the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in the United Kingdom. He was awarded the Overseas Sword for being the top foreign cadet at the academy. Rhoden narrowly beat his fellow JDF officer cadet Lucien Patrick Moulton for the sword. General Patrick Marriot, commanding officer at Sandhurst, told the High Commissioner of Jamaica in the UK that both cadets performed at the highest levels. Rhoden, 22, is from Port Maria, St. Mary.
CARIBBEAN NEWS SUMMARY provided by Caribbeantopnews.com
HAITI CHOLERA MORTALITY FALLING—12/18/10
ARUBA TAKES ADVANTAGE OF WIND ENERGY—12/19/10
WORKERS IN GRENADA RECEIVE POVERTY PROGRAM—12/20/10
UNIVERSITY STRIKE IN PUERTO RICO BECOMES VIOLENT—12/21/10
MAN RECEIVES SENTENCE OF 20 YEARS IN CHILD SEX ABUSE CASE—12/22/10
ST. KITTS RECEIVES BOOST FROM LOAN—12/23/10
BUSINESS NEWS SUMMARY
SHAW REDUCES SPENDING, TAKES ON DEBT—12/18/10
Finance Minister Audley Shaw may have overestimated the willingness of foreign governments and agencies to support Jamaica’s budget. The government has a shortfall in revenue of J$4 billion in its seven months of operation. Shaw, who has a reputation of being friendly to business interests, received some criticism after he imposed higher taxes on producers of alcohol and did not liberalize his spending. Shaw has cut over J$13 billion in planned spending during the same seven months.
JAMAICA PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY GETS FINANCING—12/19/10
The Jamaica Public Service Company Ltd. (JPS) will receive long-term financing totaling US$30 million from IFC. Some of this amount will be used to pay for upgrades to limit system losses. The financing will also provide JPS the capital it needs to enter the renewable-energy sector. This, in turn, will help Jamaica reduce costs and its dependence on imported fuel. JPS is investing in wind generation and hydropower in St. Elizabeth. Loss reduction programs will be designed for areas that demonstrate high levels of electricity theft.
PIZZA PARLORS HAVE DIFFICULT TIME IN JAMAICA—12/20/10
It is extremely challenging for pizza parlors to compete for business in Jamaica. Experts in the pizza industry say it is hard to keep a pizza parlor in business without the critical mass required to bring costs down. Price is extremely important in the restaurant industry where profit margins are so small. Domino’s Pizza franchise has nine restaurants in Jamaica and can benefit from economies of scale. The cost of ingredients is a major drawback for beginning pizza entrepreneurs. For example, the buffalo mozzarella cheese needed for a good pizza is not made on the island and must be imported.
VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR JAMAICANS EASED IN CAYMANS—12/21/10
The Cayman Islands government has decided to alter current visa arrangements for Jamaicans by January 2011. An announcement from Cayman Premier McKeeva Bush noted that the change is designed to improve the nation’s business environment. Visa exemptions will be available for Jamaicans who have valid United States, United Kingdom, or Canadian visas. A new 1-5 day business visa will also be introduced for travelers visiting the Caymans for legitimate business reasons. This will replace the temporary work permit currently required to attend meetings or conferences.
CARIBBEAN TECHNOLOGY NEWS SUMMARY
DEVELOPMENT IN ST. KITTS-NEVIS TRANSFORMED BY TECHNOLOGY—12/18/10
The telecommunications and technology sectors are the focus of the government of St. Kitts and Nevis. These two sectors will have critical roles in the growth and sustainability of the two-island federation. According to Glenn Phillip, Minister of Information Technology and Telecommunications, the nation realizes the benefits from these sectors in the areas of social infrastructure, economy, and citizen interactions. The public sector has already reaped the rewards of technology by realizing reduced costs and improved efficiencies in the field of human resources.
VECTOR TECHNOLOGY INSTITUTE GRADUATES 14TH CLASS—12/20/10
The graduating class of Vector Technology Institute in 2010 numbered 33 who received an associate’s degree in Computer Systems Technology. Ten received their awards at a graduation ceremony held in St. Andrew. This was the Institute’s 14th graduating class. The new graduates were called upon to be uncompromising in their integrity and punctuality by businessman James Moss Solomon, the keynote speaker at the graduation ceremony.
ENTREPRENEURS HELD BACK IN APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT—12/22/10
Technology developers in the Bahamas feel that they are being held back in creating applications for international markets because of outdated telecommunications technology and services. According to Onan Bridgewater, CEO of Dream Soft Studios, which has been working on a Caribbean-developed mobile phone application designed with the local region in mind, said his firm had to beta-test the product outside of his home country because required technology like SMS, binary and MMS platforms was not available there. He calls for more privatization and liberalization of the Bahamian communications market to spur business growth.
CARIBBEAN EDUCATORS HAVE THEIR OWN SOCIAL NETWORK—12/23/10
A social network designed solely for educators in the Caribbean reflects a plan to facilitate the creation of a continuing professional development network. The Caribbean Educators Network (CEN), which began in 2008, has evolved into a network of collaborators and numbers more than 920 members. Members of the network can participate in live online webinars, workshops, and conferences. CEN’s advisory group is working on developing a framework to support knowledge- building and sharing in groups.
TECHNOLOGY NEWS SUMMARY
YAHOO SHUTTING DOWN PRODUCTS—12/18/10
In addition to personnel layoffs, Yahoo plans to eliminate Yahoo Buzz, MyBlogLog, Delicious, Yahoo Picks, and AltaVista. It will also consolidate other products like Fire Eagle, its geolocation service and Upcoming, an event listing site. By closing smaller products, Yahoo hopes to reduce costs. According to a company statement, Yahoo continuously evaluates its portfolio of products and services with an eye to focusing on the company’s strengths and lowering investment in underperforming products.
LINKED-IN OFFERS NEW SHARE BUTTON—12/19/10
LinkedIn is poised to offer a new share button that will allow publishers, businesses, and individual bloggers to include a button on their websites that will let visitors share on the LinkedIn network. The new sharing option lets readers share relevant business information with their networks on LinkedIn. News, research, and industry trends can be provided via the share button as well.
NOKIA SMARTPHONE TO RUN MS WINDOWS PHONE 7 SYSTEM—12/20/10
Nokia and Microsoft are partnering to provide smartphones made by Nokia that will run Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 operating system. The information was revealed by Eldar Murtazin, editor in chief of Mobile-Review.com, which is based in Moscow. Nokia’s new management team includes Stephen Elop, former president of Microsoft’s business division.
TOSHIBA INTRODUCES 3D TV, NO GLASSES NEEDED—12/21/10
Toshiba is introducing a new 3D television that can be viewed without special glasses. According to Masaaki Osumi, head of television operations at Toshiba, the company will introduce both a 12-inch and a 20-inch version, and by April 2011, a 40-inch glasses-free 3D TV will be available. Viewers must sit within a 40-degree area in front of the screen to get the 3D effect Nine different perspectives of a single 3D frame are used; viewers interpret these as a 3-dimensional object.
JAMAICAN SURFERS COMPETE IN T&T—12/18/10
Six Jamaican surfers under 16 were ready to participate in the Jamaica Surfing Association (JSA) /Surfing Association of Trinidad & Tobago (SATT) Caribbean Youth Exchange Program. The six surfers will stay in T&T for a week. Elishama Beckford, Akeem Taylor, Garren Pryce, Oshane Usher, Ivah Wilmot, and Dwight Roberts are part of a program designed to create camaraderie among regional surfers and allow them to form friendships with other young surfers.
CATO SETS RECORD IN COLLEGIATE 400 METERS—12/19/10
Jamaican runner Roxroy Cato, 22, ran the 400 meters in 47.01 seconds at the Iowa State Holiday Preview meet in Ames, Iowa. Cato attends Lincoln University in Missouri. Cato’s time was the leading collegiate indoor run. Cato attended Green island high School before going to the University of Technology. He competes for the Blue Tigers in Division II or the NCAA.
WICB CHIEF SAYS NEW PLAYERS SHOULD EMERGE AT TWENTY20—12/20/10
The Caribbean Twenty20 Championship will be played in January 2011 without the three biggest stars of the region. However, Ernest Hilaire, the chief executive of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) believes the absence of these players will open the door for new and exciting stars to emerge. Hilaire acknowledges that the lack of Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, and Dwayne Bravo will have a strong impact, but he also believes other players are ready to step up and fill the gaps. The situation offers a great opportunity to young, unknown players, he said.
WILES EAGER TO RETURN TO SUNSHINE GIRLS—12/21/10
Sharon Wiles wants to regain her position among the Sunshine Girls before the 2011 World Netball Championships in Singapore. Wiles last played for Jamaica in 2007 at the last World
Championships, in which Jamaica won the bronze in New Zealand. Wiles, 31, has just finished her first degree in sociology, and says that she missed playing for Jamaica. She has been working to improve her physical fitness and endurance. She currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, but is confident she can help the Sunshine Girls perform well at the World Championships.
The Reason For The Season
It could not have been the easiest of trips to make. A young girl, heavily pregnant, on the back of a donkey for the 80-mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the city of her husband Joseph who was from the house and lineage of David (Luke 2:4). Given the circumstances of her pregnancy (Luke 1:26-35), it would have been interesting to know what was going on in her mind. Sure she had submitted herself to the will of God (v.38) however, traveling in a caravan as they would have done at the time for company and safety reasons, some of the older ladies would have probably made her aware that her delivery was imminent. Was she scared? Confused? Fearful for her baby?
According to Luke the angel told her, “Thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (vv.31-33, KJV). The angel of the LORD had told Joseph in a dream, “Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 1:20). Did they talk about those moments? What was going through his mind? He had married her but restrained himself from knowing her intimately (vv.24-25). Yet, here they were, entrusted with a child who was destined to change the world in ways neither of them could have imagined.
Luke tells us, “And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (2:6-7). The moment Jesus entered the world from his mother’s womb, nothing remained the same. Matthew reminds us of the prophecy, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (1:23). Some skeptics have long pointed to this as a discrepancy because JESUS was never called Emmanuel by name. However, what they miss is that Emmanuel, God with us, is both a name and an event. John tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . And the 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” (1:1, 14).
When JESUS came into the world, it was God in the flesh that came among men; he among us. It is that event that we celebrate at this time of the year. So amidst the hustle and bustle, the fun and laughter, and all the festive events, let us remember that he is the reason for the season. Without him there would be no Christmas. As we exchange gifts with family and friends, let us remember the most precious of them all. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15).
From my house to yours, Merry Christmas.
The weekly news is compilation of new articles from top Caribbean and Jamaican news sources.