Decade in review (part 2)

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Decade in review (part 2)

Sunday, January 12, 2020

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October 2013

Ardenne the region's best

Ardenne High School was in celebration mode on October 24 after being named the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) School of the Year for 2013 in the region, and also for producing the top Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) CAPE student that year — Dea Thomas.

Ardenne Principal Nadine Molloy told the Jamaica Observer that she received news of the achievements that morning from CXC's head office in Barbados.

Molloy said that subsequent to the call she received a letter indicating that Ardenne, by having the most outstanding candidate overall, was the CAPE School of the Year.

“So of course, Ardenne is quite excited, because Ardenne is indeed the CAPE School of the Year for 2013 in the region,” she said.

 

Jamaica lashes Dom Rep

Jamaica joined a growing list of countries that took a firm stand against the decision of the Dominican Republic to modify legislation which resulted in thousands of Haitians born there being made stateless.

“...This ruling has hurt our family of nations. There is an important principle at stake. The fact is that the right to a nationality is a fundamental human right. We cannot, therefore, as a regional family of nations stand idly by when tens of thousands of Caribbean nationals face the prospect of statelessness because of the misguided stroke of a seemingly malicious pen,” Foreign Minister A J Nicholson said at a celebration marking the national day of the Republic of China at the Jamaica-China Friendship Association's annual dinner in Kingston.

The ruling by the Dominican Constitutional Court changed the law which bestowed citizenship on those born in the Dominican Republic between 1929 and 2010.

 

November 2013

Holness trounces Shaw in leadership race

Andrew Holness ended all speculation about his leadership of the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), defeating challenger Audley Shaw by close to 700 votes on November 10, 2013 and immediately declared that his convincing win was a signal to the Government that the JLP was ready to re-assume power whenever fresh elections were called.

“Let this be a signal to the People's National Party that the Jamaica Labour Party is rebuilding; that the Jamaica Labour Party is renewing itself; that the Jamaica Labour Party is preparing to be the next Government of Jamaica when the elections are called,” Holness told a huge crowd of supporters in the National Stadium car park after the election results were announced.

Holness, who was dubbed 'Prince Andrew' by supporters, polled 2,704 votes to Shaw's 2,012.

 

Williams, Tufton removed from Senate

In the immediate aftermath of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leadership election, high-profile Labourites Arthur Williams and Dr Christopher Tufton were removed as Opposition senators, while educator Ruel Reid was brought in to fill one of the vacancies.

Williams' position as leader of Opposition business was given to Tom Tavares-Finson.

In the meantime, JLP Leader Andrew Holness took full control of the shadow portfolio responsibility for finance, planning and economic development, which was refused by his challenger and former Finance Minister Audley Shaw.

A JLP release said Holness took on the shadow portfolio responsibility after meeting with an International Monetary Fund team and reviewing Jamaica's delicate economic situation.

 

Bolt, Shelly-Ann Athletes of the Year

Jamaica's World and Olympic champions Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce were named World Athletes of the Year on November 16, 2013.

Bolt, who won the award for the fifth time, and Fraser-Pryce, a first-time winner, received their trophies at the IAAF World Athletics Gala held at the Salle des Etoiles of the Sporting Club d'Eté.

The awards were hosted by International Athletics Foundation (IAF) Honorary President Prince Albert II of Monaco and IAAF President Lamine Diack, who presented the trophies to the male and female winners.

 

December 2013

Tessanne the best Voice

Just as her coach Adam Levine had predicted at the blind auditions on September 24, Jamaican singer Tessanne Chin walked away with the top spot on the NBC talent show The Voice on December 17, 2013, creating local music history in the process as the first Jamaican to ace the popular contest.

The curtains came down on the fifth season of the show with an emotional Chin singing in a hail of confetti, belting the Ryan Tedder-penned winner's song under the intense and emotional gaze of her mother Christine and husband Michael Anthony Cuffe Jr.

When host Carson Daly announced the winner at just before 11:00 pm, Jamaicans erupted in spontaneous applause and wild cheers.

 

January 2014

OCG uncovers secret projects

The Office of the Contractor General (OCG) reported that an audit of projects financed by the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) since 2012 had revealed 63 projects implemented through the National Works Agency (NWA), of which the OCG was not aware.

According to the OCG, 16 such projects were found in St Ann, 11 in St Catherine, nine in Kingston and St Andrew, eight in Westmoreland, five each in Hanover and St Elizabeth, four in Portland, three in St Mary, and two in St James.

 

Bunting announces body cameras for police

On January 23, 2014, National Security Minister Peter Bunting announced that select police units would start wearing body cameras in the second half of that year.

“The purpose of this project is to improve the collection of evidence of criminal activity in an effort to prosecute and reduce such activity, improve the transparency of JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force) activities when interacting with the public, to encourage JCF officers to act in accordance with the force's professional standards to include the appropriate use of force, and to create a record to protect JCF officers from unfair allegations of violations of JCF professional standards,” Bunting told journalists at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House in St Andrew.

 

February 2014

UWI goes commercial

The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus announced that it had forged a partnership with Continental Baking Company Limited and the Government to produce cassava flour, saying that the move would save Jamaica billions of dollars over time.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Archibald McDonald said the project would hopefully encourage investors to partner with the UWI on other ventures.

“We feel that once manufacturers see that this is not just the University of the West Indies talking, this is not something theoretical, this is something which can be converted into commercial activity, many of them will come on board,” he told reporters and editors at the Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange on February 17.

 

March 2014

Tessanne wows White House

Jamaican singer Tessanne Chin delivered a scintillating, high-energy performance of Donna Summer's Last Dance at the White House on March 6, 2014, earning sustained applause from an audience headed by US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.

Chin, who performed after Patti LaBelle, Janelle Monae, and Melissa Etheridge, justified her inclusion in the stellar line-up for the 'Women of Soul: In Performance at the White House' staged by the US first lady.

At the end of her performance, as Chin returned to her seat, she was greeted with a hug and a kiss by Patti LaBelle.

 

Vybz Kartel, 3 co-accused found guilty of murder

Entertainer Vybz Kartel appeared drained and forlorn when his guilty verdict was handed down in the Home Circuit Court on March 13, 2014.

The deejay, whose real name is Adidja Palmer, and three co-accused Shawn “Shawn Storm” Campbell, Andre “Mad Suss” John, and Kahira Jones were found guilty of the August 16, 2011 murder of Clive “Lizard” Williams.

A fourth co-accused, Shane Williams, was found not guilty.

The verdict was praised by the director of public prosecutions and the police commissioner, while other segments of the population greeted the news with gloom and disbelief.

 

Kern freed

Former Junior Energy Minister Kern Spencer and his former personal assistant Colleen Wright shed tears of joy on March 24, 2014 as they walked out of the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court free, after a six-year trial on corruption and money laundering charges in the Cuban light bulb scandal.

Spencer, who had responsibility for the implementation of the programme, and Wright, were freed after Resident Magistrate Judith Pusey upheld a no-case submission filed by their attorneys.

The magistrate, in handing down the ruling, said that based on the evidence presented both accused did not have a case to answer.

 

April 2014

Life sentences for Kartel and co-accused

Convicted deejay Vybz Kartel and co-accused Shawn “Shawn Storm” Campbell, Kahira Jones, and Andre St John were sentenced to life in prison on April 3, 2014 for the August 16, 2011 murder of Clive “Lizard” Williams.

A muffled cry came from the back of the number two courtroom on the passing of the sentences, which persisted outside, with women weeping bitterly while two had to be helped to walk.

The courtroom was packed with police officers and court workers, to the point where there was only standing room.

Kartel (real name Adidja Palmer) was ordered to serve 35 years at hard labour before becoming eligible for parole, Campbell and Jones were sentenced to 25 years before parole, and St John received a sentence of 30 years before being eligible for parole.

In handing down the sentences, Justice Lennox Campbell said that he took into consideration the fact that the murder of Williams was planned and premeditated; that Williams' body had been concealed; the mental stress Williams had been put through before his murder; and the attempt to destroy evidence.

Still, Campbell said that most of these wouldn't apply to St John and that he was mindful that the men had varying roles in the killing at a house owned by Kartel in Havendale, St Andrew over two missing guns.

 

Anger over ATM tax

Jamaicans on April 19, 2014 reacted with anger to an announcement in Parliament the week before, by Finance and Planning Minister Dr Peter Phillips, that new taxes would be slapped on Automated Teller Machine (ATM) withdrawals, as well as on all electronic banking transactions.

Phillips, in opening the 2014-2015 Budget Debate, announced the new levy on the use of ATMs, also called Automated Banking Machines (ABM).

The move was due to take effect June 1 and sought to raise a portion of the overall $6.6 billion in additional taxes from a population that financial analysts said was already over-taxed.

Some citizens interviewed by the Jamaica Observer said that they had had enough and were not prepared to accept the tax.

Paul White, 46, a higgler in the Constant Spring Arcade, described the tax as “robbery” by the Government.

“Government a tief! That is highway robbery!” an irate White blurted out.

“Mi can't put down my money in the bank and they expect me to pay to take out my own money. That's highway robbery. I'm very, very upset, very, very upset. Right now I don't even know which one of these Government is the better one. Every one of them is the same thing,” he fumed.

White said that if there was no change to the decision taken by the Government, he would have no choice but to limit or cease his dependence on the bank.

 

May 2014

Flights resume after massive blaze at Sangster Airport

A massive fire razed a section of Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay on the night of May 14, 2014, disrupting flights and causing much unease in the resort city.

The fire began some time after 8:00 pm at aircraft ground handling company AJAS Aviation Services. The ramp attendant crew room was totally destroyed.

Nine fire trucks — five from the St James Fire Department and four from the MBJ Emergency Response Team — managed to get the blaze under control about an hour after it started, following which the all clear was given for flights to and from the airport to resume.

 

UWI Prof Bain

The University of the West Indies (UWI) announced that it had sacked Professor Brendan Bain as director of the Regional Co-ordinating Unit of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training (CHART) Network, echoing a view by gay and human rights activists that he had lost the confidence of the programme's target community.

The UWI publicised its decision on May 20, 2014, two days after the Sunday Observer reported that a coalition of 33 lobby groups from across the Caribbean had been advocating Bain's removal because of expert testimony he gave in a constitutional challenge brought by a gay Belizean man against that country's criminal code in September 2010.

 

J'can charged with murder after suing US town, police

A Jamaican man who sued the town of Potsdam in New York and its police force after he was detained in 2011 in relation to the death of a young white boy, was charged with murder in what his attorney and supporters said was a move to punish him for filing the lawsuit.

The case mushroomed into a civil rights issue as supporters of the accused football coach, Oral “Nick” Hillary, said he was being held on trumped-up charges because he, a black man, dared to file a lawsuit against Potsdam and its police officers, one of whom was seen in a YouTube video taking him into custody in May 2014.

Mani Tafari, the lawyer representing Hillary in that civil suit, and who is himself a Jamaican, told the Jamaica Observer that his client was charged because he filed a civil claim in January 2012 against the police for false arrest and unlawful search.

 

June 2014

Blythe settles Finsac debt

On June 2, 2014, the Jamaica Observer reported that former Cabinet minister Dr Karl Blythe had good reason to smile again after making the final $14.6-million payment on a $35-million debt to Jamaica Redevelopment Foundation (JRF).

In addition to the payment made on May 9, Blythe handed over five apartments at Sea Castles in Montego Bay to JRF, effectively closing his debt that had mushroomed during the Finsac era and ending the most stressful period of the 68-year-old medical doctor's life.

“My God, my God, my God, my God, it was a weight,” Blythe responded when the Observer asked how he felt after making the final payment.

“As a matter of fact, I'm not normally a person who consumes any form of alcohol, and I remember that evening I took a half-glass of wine in celebrating the relief,” he added with a laugh. “Because it's really a burden, you know.”

 

 

Sex education row grows

 

Youth and Culture Minister Lisa Hanna on June 18, 2014 sought advice from Attorney General Patrick Atkinson on what legal recourse could be sought by her ministry against human rights lobby group Jamaicans For Justice (JFJ) for manuals used in its sex education programme that targeted wards of six privately operated children's homes.

The manuals, used in JFJ's 'Healthy Sexual Growth and Development in Marginalised Youth: Rights, Responsibilities and Life Skills' programme, were found to include age-inappropriate oral, anal and vaginal penetration lessons under the guise of 'tolerance'.

In a press release, Hanna said she had also referred the manuals used by the rights group in its unauthorised sexual education programme to the attention of Children's Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison.

 

Bunny Wailer scolds Gov't for slow pace of ganja decriminalisation

Veteran reggae artiste and ganja legalisation advocate Bunny Wailer described the Government's move to facilitate the decriminalisation of small amounts of marijuana as “too little, too late”.

According to Wailer, Rastafari had already done the job that the Government was tiptoeing around and, therefore, efforts must be made to expedite the process.

“For I and I, ganja has always been legal. My father was a distributor since I was born — the biggest in western Kingston in the 1940s and '50s, up till his passing in the '90s. I grew up in the ganja trade, from it was donkey weed. It put us all in school as a family,” said Wailer.

 

NEXT WEEK: 2015-2019


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