Jamaica Observer http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/ JamaicaObserver.com, the most concise and in-depth website for news coverage on Jamaica and the Caribbean. Updated daily 7 days a week, 24 hours a day en-us copyright Jamaica Observer, 2011 Ministry of Education to lose permanent secretary http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Ministry-of-Education-to-lose-permanent-secretary_78252 Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Dr Maurice Smith was mum yesterday when the Jamaica Observer asked him to comment on speculation that his contract had not been renewed. <br /> <br /> Dr Smith told the Observer that he had no comment on the matter, although<br /> <br /> Radio Jamaica reported he would be leaving the ministry on October 31.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The Ministry of Education is a great place; there are lots of innovations in the sector, and I expect that this will continue,&rdquo; he remarked when asked about some of the areas he would have wanted the opportunity on which to focus. <br /> <br /> Dr Smith did not hint what his next move would be when his tenure comes to an end in a matter of days. &ldquo;Once a teacher, always a teacher,&rdquo; he commented lightly.<br /> <br /> He recently appeared before the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee of Parliament to answer questions regarding expenditure and other administrative matters for the ministry and a number of its agencies and departments.<br /> <br /> In the meantime, Education Minister Senator Ruel Reid told the<br /> <br /> Observer that Dr Smith&rsquo;s contract is a private matter with the Public Service Commission. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;We are grateful for his services and wish him well in his future endeavours,&rdquo; Senator Reid said, all but confirming that his permanent secretary would be moving on.<br /> <br /> Dr Smith was appointed permanent secretary last November, having been named principal director of the National College for Educational Leadership in 2013. Prior to that, he served as guidance counsellor, and later as vice-principal of St Ann&rsquo;s Bay Primary School for three years, before taking on the job as principal of Moneague Primary and Junior High School in 2006. <br /> <br /> He was credited with the establishment of Belmont Academy, the country&rsquo;s first centre of excellence. <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13108315/213100__w300.jpg Local News Tuesday, October 25, 2016 12:00 AM Early voting data show strengths for Trump and Clinton http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Early-voting-data-show-strengths-for-Trump-and-Clinton_78289 WASHINGTON, DC, United States (AP) &mdash; Hillary Clinton appears to be displaying strength in the crucial battleground states of North Carolina and Florida among voters casting ballots before election day, and may also be building an early vote advantage in Arizona and Colorado.<br /> <br /> Donald Trump, meanwhile, appears to be holding ground in Ohio, Iowa and Georgia, according to data compiled by The Associated Press. Those are important states for Trump, but not sufficient for him to win the presidency if he loses states like Florida or North Carolina.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The Trump campaign should be concerned,&rdquo; said Scott Tranter, co-founder of Optimus, a Republican data analytics firm. His firm&rsquo;s analysis suggests a &ldquo;strong final showing for the Clinton campaign&rdquo; in early voting.<br /> <br /> Early voting &mdash; by mail or at polling stations &mdash; is off to a fast start. More than 5.3 million votes have been cast already, far outpacing the rate for this period in 2012. Balloting is underway in 34 out of 37 early voting states.<br /> <br /> In all, more than 46 million people are expected to vote before Election Day &mdash; or as much as 40 per cent of all votes cast.<br /> <br /> Both parties are encouraging their supporters to vote early. The outcome of those ballots won&rsquo;t be known until counting begins after polls close on November 8, but some clues are available. Some states report the party affiliations of early voters, as well as breakdowns by race and gender.<br /> <br /> The data available represent a small sample of the more than 120 million people who will cast ballots in the presidential election, but a notable one.<br /> <br /> A look at early voting trends:<br /> <br /> GOOD SIGNS FOR CLINTON: FLORIDA, NORTH CAROLINA, MAINE<br /> <br /> The Clinton campaign is looking to build an insurmountable lead in Florida and North Carolina during early voting. If she wins either of those states, she&rsquo;ll probably be the next president.<br /> <br /> Using 2012 as a guidepost, she appears to be in a strong position in early voting.<br /> <br /> While Democrats tend to do better in early voting, Republicans usually post an initial lead with mail-in ballots before Democrats surpass them during in-person early voting in mid to late October.<br /> <br /> Democrats so far have kept it close with mail-in ballots, giving Clinton a chance to run up the score with in-person early voting. To do that, she&rsquo;ll need non-whites and young people to turn out near the high levels they did in 2012 for Barack Obama.<br /> <br /> In North Carolina, Democrats have moved ahead of Republicans in early voting. Republicans had held a modest lead based on mail-in ballots returned, but that was at a much narrower margin than in 2012, when Mitt Romney narrowly won the state. After in-person voting began on Thursday, Democrats overtook Republicans in overall votes cast.<br /> <br /> In Florida, a record 3.1 million people have requested ballots, more than one-third of the total voters in 2012. Democrats have requested almost as many ballots as Republicans: 39 per cent vs 40 per cent.<br /> <br /> By comparison, in 2008, Republicans held a lead of 49 per cent to 32 per cent in requests, according to an analysis for<br /> <br /> AP by Catalist, a Democratic analytical firm. Obama won in Florida in 2008 and 2012.<br /> <br /> Democrats are also showing momentum in the second Congressional district of both Maine and Nebraska. The two states allocate electoral votes by congressional district.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> Early voting is surging in Arizona, another state Trump can&rsquo;t afford to lose. Arizona has long been reliably Republican, but Clinton is targeting it.<br /> <br /> More than 1.9 million ballots have been requested and 36,000 returned. That&rsquo;s more than triple the 10,800 ballots returned during a similar period in 2012.<br /> <br /> Democrats have a 44 per cent to 31 per cent lead over Republicans in ballots returned. Another 25 per cent were independent or unknown. At this point in 2012, Democrats had a narrower 38 per cent to 35 per cent lead, according to Catalist.<br /> <br /> While figures are preliminary, Tranter, the Republican analyst, said Arizona had become competitive.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s close,&rdquo; Tranter said.<br /> <br /> In Colorado, which began voting by mail last week Monday, Democrats led 43 per cent to 30 per cent among the 15,280 ballots returned by late Thursday. In 2012, the party had trailed Republicans early. Registered Democrats have since surpassed Republicans in the state.<br /> <br /> And in Nevada, which also began absentee voting this week, overall ballot requests and returns were down. There were sharper declines among older whites, who tend to vote Republican.<br /> <br /> GOOD SIGNS FOR TRUMP: OHIO, IOWA AND GEORGIA<br /> <br /> Early vote data for now point to potential Trump strength in Ohio, Iowa and Georgia.<br /> <br /> In Ohio, data compiled by Michael McDonald, a University of Florida professor who runs the US Elections Project, continue to show big declines in ballot requests in the heavily Democratic counties of Cuyahoga and Franklin.<br /> <br /> The state does not break down ballots by party affiliation. By race, voter modelling by Catalist found the white share of Ohio ballot requests was up, to 91 per cent from 88 per cent. The black share declined from 10 per cent to seven per cent.<br /> <br /> In Georgia, which also does not report party affiliation, both ballot requests and returns from black voters also trailed 2012 levels.<br /> <br /> And in Iowa, Democrats lead early requests, 43 per cent to 36 per cent. But that level is down significantly from 2012. Obama won the state that year based on a strong early vote in his favour.<br /> <br /> In a statement, the Republican National Committee said it was focused on boosting turnout in 11 battleground states and predicted a strong election day performance.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Democrats are not turning out new voters, just turning out people who would have voted on election day,&rdquo; it said. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13380694/236379_63352_repro_w300.jpg Local News Tuesday, October 25, 2016 12:00 AM Khajeel Mais&rsquo; sister disappointed, but not surprised at not-guilty verdict in X6 murder trial http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Khajeel-Mais--sister-disappointed--but-not-surprised-at-not-guilty-verdict-in-X6-murder-trial-_78264 Kimberly Mais said she was not surprised that the man accused of killing her brother, Khajeel, was yesterday freed in what became known as the X6 murder trial. However, she admitted that she was &ldquo;really disheartened and disappointed&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;All I can say, I am not surprised, I am not shocked, but I am disappointed. I am living in Jamaica and the justice system needs to be revamped, it is something that [Justice] Minister [Delroy] Chuck needs to look at; he needs to make some changes,&rdquo; she told the<br /> <br /> Jamaica Observer yesterday when contacted following the ruling.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We didn&rsquo;t get justice here on Earth, but we will get it on that day,&rdquo; Mais added.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> According to the outspoken Mais, she fully supports a call made by former Deputy Commissioner of Police Mark Shields for the police to digitally record the statements of key witnesses in high-profile cases to prevent them from recanting.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It is very disheartening because there were a lot of lies told on the stand; the taxi driver does know my brother, and he does know my family, hence the reason why my brother did go into this taxi,&rdquo; she said in reference to the testimony given by key witness Wayne Wright, who had denied knowing Mais and his family.<br /> <br /> But despite the unfavourable outcome of the case, Mais said she has not given up on the justice system as she is very patriotic and wants to be part of the change. However, she is eager for the process of change to begin.<br /> <br /> The disappointment was, however, too much for her parents, Alaina and Noel Mais, to handle as they left the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston without speaking to reporters.<br /> <br /> The mother, with a look of dejection, shook her head when asked for a comment, while her husband&rsquo;s only words were: &ldquo;Call us in about two weeks.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The St Andrew businessman, Patrick Powell, 59, who was fingered in the 2011 murder of 17-year-old Khajeel Mais, was freed yesterday after the seven-member jury was directed by Justice Lloyd Hibbert to return a not-guilty verdict on murder and shooting with intent charges.<br /> <br /> The prosecution, led by Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Jeremy Taylor, contended that on the night of the incident Mais was travelling in a taxi, which collided with a BMW X6 motor vehicle on Highland Drive in Havendale. It is alleged that the driver of the BMW, whom the prosecution claimed was Powell, got out and fired at the taxi, hitting the boy.<br /> <br /> The highly watched trial had garnered much public attention since it started last week Tuesday after a lengthy delay and subsequent protest from the family. <br /> <br /> However, the trial, which was significantly hinged on the testimony of Wright, who was the taxi driver on the night of the incident, plunged last week when he backtracked on most of the evidence that he had reportedly given to the police in two statements in July 2011.<br /> <br /> Wright repeatedly denied that he had given evidence to the police indicating that he had seen the shooter with the gun and that he had fired about three shots on his taxi on the night of the incident.<br /> <br /> The main witness also denied telling the police that he knew the accused as &ldquo;Nigga&rdquo;, and that he had known him for eight years.<br /> <br /> Wright had also denied telling the police that he had known Mais from he was a young boy.<br /> <br /> Wright, who because of his inconsistencies and his adverse testimony was declared a hostile witness, maintained that he had not seen anything or anyone on the night of Mais&rsquo; death.<br /> <br /> As a result, Taylor told Justice Hibbert yesterday that he would be offering no further evidence in the trial after calling 12 of the 28 witnesses who were slated to testify.<br /> <br /> Taylor, during his address to the court, pointed out that during his opening statement he had indicated that there were two main issues in the case &mdash; identification and credibility &mdash; and noted that the Crown would have to prove, without a reasonable shadow of doubt, that Powell was present when Mais was killed. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;I also indicated in my opening address that only one witness (Wright) could support that evidence.&rdquo; But Wright, the prosecutor said, did what he wanted rather than what was right as it related to the evidence recorded.<br /> <br /> The final witness who was called yesterday, Deputy Superintendent of Police Vernal Thompson, who Wright had claimed had tried to force him to lie in his statement, told the court that on July 8, 2011 Wright knocked on his office door and told him that he wanted to speak to him in private.<br /> <br /> Thompson, who was then in charge of criminal investigations in St Andrew North, said that Wright gave him a detailed report of what had transpired on the night Mais was killed and that he signed the statement after it was read to him.<br /> <br /> Thompson said that he did not tell Wright what to say, and under cross-examination said that the only change he made to Wright&rsquo;s statement was to record it in Standard English.<br /> <br /> He also admitted that when Wright came to see him it was to record a further statement and that he was later made aware that Wright had indicated in his first statement that he did not see who had killed Mais.<br /> <br /> Following yesterday&rsquo;s ruling, Powell, who maintained a serious expression, told reporters, &ldquo;I feel good and God is with me.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> One of his two brothers who supported him throughout the proceedings, when asked if they had received the outcome that they had wanted, said, &ldquo;I leave everything in God&rsquo;s hands.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Powell is, however, not out of legal troubles as he was charged with failing to hand over his firearm for ballistic testing. He is to appear in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court before year-end. <br /> <br /> Taylor had indicated yesterday that police had searched his home for the weapon. Director of Public Prosecution Paula Llewellyn said the police had turned up empty-handed.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13380663/236286_63341_repro_w300.jpg Local News Tuesday, October 25, 2016 12:00 AM Ministry to sign MOU with private security firms http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Ministry-to-sign-MOU-with-private-security-firms_78237 MOUNT SALEM, St James &mdash; Minister of National Security Robert Montague has revealed that, in the latest move to continue to forge partnerships in the fight against crime, his ministry will be signing a memorandum of understanding with private security firms.<br /> <br /> The announcement of the agreement between the security ministry and the security companies follows discussions with the ministry and the church on how the clergy should hand over illegal firearms or wanted individuals to the police.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We are going to be signing another MOU with the private security companies because, as a Government, we cannot dot do it alone. We need the help of every sector in society,&rdquo; Montague said.<br /> <br /> In the meantime, while not providing a timeline for the signing with the private security companies, he announced that, in a matter of days, the MOU between the security ministry and the church will be signed.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I want to thank the church because the Ministry of National Security is about to sign the MOU to detail how you are supposed to act as a pastor and as an elder if a man says he wants to hand in a gun or if a man says him want to give up himself,&rdquo; Montague said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;So, we sat down and we went step by step what you are supposed to do, and in the coming days we are going to sign off on that.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The security minister was on Sunday addressing the Seventh -day Adventist Church Leadership Conference at the church&rsquo;s West Jamaica Conference Centre, located in Mount Salem , St James.<br /> <br /> &mdash; Horace Hines<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13380574/236284_63336_repro_w300.jpg Local News Tuesday, October 25, 2016 12:00 AM Jamaica&rsquo;s foreign minister attending CELAC-EU meeting http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Jamaica-s-foreign-minister-attending-CELAC-EU-meeting_78241 SANTO Domingo, Dominican Republic (CMC) &ndash; At least one Caribbean Community country will be represented at the second meeting of foreign ministers of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and the European Union (CELAC-EU,) which begins here today.<br /> <br /> Jamaica&rsquo;s Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith will join her counterparts from the region for the two-day meeting which is expected to discuss the future of the bi-regional partnership for economic cooperation, and review the status of implementation of the development programmes and actions adopted by the CELAC-EU Summits held in 2013 and 2015.<br /> <br /> Johnson Smith is also expected to participate in the 12th Meeting of CELAC Foreign Ministers, as well as an ACP Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM)-EU Encounter.<br /> <br /> As the current Chair of CARIFORUM, Johnson Smith will co-chair the bi-regional meeting with high representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.<br /> <br /> CARIFORUM foreign ministers will provide an update on the implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) at this meeting.<br /> <br /> Other topics for discussion include cooperation in sustainable development; energy and climate change; improving tax governance; and the challenges related to the withdrawal of correspondent banking and investment regimes in the Caribbean.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12941487/201999_w300.jpg Local News Tuesday, October 25, 2016 12:00 AM Senate passes amendments to National Insurance Act http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Senate-passes-amendments-to-National-Insurance-Act_78230 THE Senate last Friday passed amendments to the National Insurance Act, during its sitting at Gordon House.<br /> <br /> The Bill, which was unanimously passed without further revisions, follows the House of Representatives&rsquo; approval of the amendments in September.<br /> <br /> This now enables the Government to administer timely adjustments of National Insurance Scheme (NIS) benefits for pensioners and other beneficiaries.<br /> <br /> A recent evaluation proposed that the NIS structure be reviewed every three years, down from the five years as stipulated by law.<br /> <br /> Under the new regime, effective evaluation and analysis will be conducted frequently to ascertain the NIS&rsquo;s fiscal state. This, in order to ensure its long-term sustainability and capability to provide ongoing substantial benefits.<br /> <br /> Leader of Government Business in the Upper House Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, who piloted the Bill during last Friday&rsquo;s sitting, said the NIS was an &ldquo;important part&rdquo; of Jamaica&rsquo;s social safety net, and assured that weaknesses identified in its structure would be corrected.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Shortening the review period will ensure closer monitoring of the fund; enable assessment of the reform measures as they are undertaken; provide a better opportunity to identify the need for interventions; and provide greater transparency and accountability,&rdquo; she said.<br /> <br /> Opposition Senator Floyd Morris, who supported the Bill, said the NIS was among several key institutions established since Independence in 1962 that &ldquo;have served Jamaica well.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The NIS, which is governed under the National Insurance Act, is administered as a contributory scheme.<br /> <br /> It is financed by the National Insurance Fund and provides several benefits. These include: financial protection to contributors and their families against loss of income arising from injury on the job, incapacity, retirement, and the death of the insured.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13379812/Kamina_w300.jpg Local News Tuesday, October 25, 2016 12:00 AM Greenhouse Farming http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Greenhouse-Farming_69941 Greenhouse<br /> <br /> agriculture is a growing trend around the world, and crops grown under these conditions are in high demand. With significant losses every year in agriculture due to diverse weather conditions in Jamaica, farming with greenhouses is one way to safeguard plants and increase harvest. One advantage of growing vegetables in a greenhouse rather than in the field is that you can precisely control fertilisation, irrigation, and sometimes temperature. Greenhouses are also used to extend seasons and to protect from weather extremes such as heavy rain and hail. <br /> <br /> WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?<br /> <br /> &bull; Increased yields<br /> <br /> &bull; Improved quality and consistency of crops<br /> <br /> &bull; Improved land and water use efficiency<br /> <br /> &bull; Increased control over crop nutrition<br /> <br /> &bull; Decreased use of chemicals and pesticides<br /> <br /> &bull; Improved resistance to adverse weather conditions<br /> <br /> &bull; Increased control over insects and diseases<br /> <br /> &bull; Reduced external and biological crop threats<br /> <br /> WHAT CAN BE GROWN?<br /> <br /> Crops grown in greenhouses have higher production costs than field crops, but they can also have higher returns. The crops can include those that can be grown in greenhouses in their off season (tomato, pepper, lettuce), those that can only be produced in greenhouses (seedless cucumbers), and those that can be produced with superior quality in greenhouses (most crops). <br /> <br /> GETTING STARTED<br /> <br /> Before you begin any agriculture venture, you need to ask yourself the following questions:<br /> <br /> &bull; Do you have a market for your produce?<br /> <br /> &bull; Where will your start-up funds come from?<br /> <br /> &bull; What type of financial projections can you make for your crops?<br /> <br /> &bull; Where will your inputs come from?<br /> <br /> &bull; Do you have all the technical expertise required?<br /> <br /> HOW DO YOU SELECT <br /> <br /> Several factors are important in choosing the location for greenhouse farming. You should select a location with the following considerations:<br /> <br /> &bull; Relatively level area<br /> <br /> &bull; Good drainage<br /> <br /> &bull; Easy access to markets<br /> <br /> &bull; Quality soil<br /> <br /> &bull; Good quality water supply<br /> <br /> &bull; Lack of temperature extremes or high winds<br /> <br /> TIPS TO SELECT YOUR CROPS<br /> <br /> The first step in growing any crop is to choose the best variety. This is usually done by selecting high quality seed from a reputable seed company. You should select your varieties based on the following criteria:<br /> <br /> &bull; Size and shape of fruit desired<br /> <br /> &bull; Disease resistance<br /> <br /> &bull; Resistance to physiological problems (ie cracking)<br /> <br /> &bull; Fruit characteristics such as colour, taste, shelf life and firmness<br /> <br /> GREENHOUSE DESIGNS<br /> <br /> Greenhouses can be constructed in an array of styles, sizes, materials and colours, so there is sure to be one to suit every farm and every farmer&rsquo;s pocket. Each kind has its place and to make a choice it is important to have a fairly good idea at the outset what sort of crop production you intend to be doing in your greenhouse. Types of greenhouses include:<br /> <br /> &bull; Attached greenhouses (lean to an even-span)<br /> <br /> &bull; Window-mounted<br /> <br /> &bull; Freestanding <br /> <br /> WHAT MATERIALS CAN YOU USE FOR CONSTRUCTION?<br /> <br /> The frames can be made of wood, galvanised steel, or aluminium. Materials made of plastic are generally not recommended for framing as they are inadequate to meet temperature and windload requirements. Frames can be covered with glass, rigid fibreglass, rigid double-wall plastics, or plastic film. <br /> <br /> PRODUCTION METHODS<br /> <br /> Several methods can be used for production in a greenhouse. These include planting directly in the soil, using containers with soil mixtures, perlite and coir bags. <br /> <br /> CROP NUTRITION<br /> <br /> Close attention to a fertiliser programme is required for the production of high yields and high quality produce. Poor fertiliser management can lead to serious quality problems that may be difficult to correct.<br /> <br /> HOW TO HARVEST<br /> <br /> &bull; Harvesting should be done as dictated by the market<br /> <br /> &bull; Reaping should be done during the cooler parts of the day<br /> <br /> &bull; Harvesting workers should have closely trimmed fingernails to prevent damage to produce<br /> <br /> &bull; Harvesting containers should be sturdy, re-useable, not too deep, have a smooth inner surface and are easily cleaned<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> &ndash; Source: Ebony Park HEART Academy<br /> <br />   http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13380626/236362_63338_repro_w300.jpg Local News Tuesday, October 25, 2016 12:00 AM Study: Inequality continues despite growth in middle class http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Study--Inequality-continues-despite-growth-in-middle-class_78245 WASHINGTON, DC, USA (CMC) &mdash; The middle class in Latin America and the Caribbean nearly doubled in size during the last decade, according to a new study released by the Washington-based Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) yesterday.<br /> <br /> It said that the middle class population now stands at 186 million people<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The region experienced a transformation in all sectors,&rdquo; said H&Atilde;&copy;ctor Salazar, manager of the Social Sector of the IDB.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Between 2002 and 2008 &mdash; the years of highest growth of per capita GDP &mdash; poverty decreased 11 per cent faster, and the size of the middle class expanded by 35 per cent more than during the period of slower growth after 2008,&rdquo; he added. <br /> <br /> The IDB said that although the benefits of the economic growth since 2000 have contributed to the expansion of the middle class, the gains from growth have not been exploited equally by all countries and all age groups. As a result, the region continues being the most unequal in the world, and its children suffer the most from inequality.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Children have benefited the least from programmes and cash transfers designed to combat extreme poverty, and therefore it is important to direct special attention now to childhood, since that is precisely the stage of life when inequality begins,&rdquo; said Marcos Robles, economist with the Social Sector and co-author of the report.<br /> <br /> The prevalence of extreme poverty today among children is three times greater than the prevalence of extreme poverty among the elderly. This constitutes a worsening of the situation of children since the incidence of extreme poverty among children, 20 years ago in 1996; was double the rate of extreme poverty of the elderly.<br /> <br /> The study titled Social Pulse 2016: realities and perspectives, also shows that Latin American and Caribbean countries still face an enormous challenge with a broad segment of their population, those whose incomes range between US$5 and US$12 per day, because they are vulnerable to slipping into poverty.<br /> <br /> The study explores the contribution of women to the total labour earnings of households, and reports that women&rsquo;s earnings, as a percentage of total household labour income, have increased from 28 per cent in 1996 to 35 per cent in 2014.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The economic empowerment of women is changing family dynamics and transforming societies in the region,&rdquo; said Suzanne Duryea, economist with the Social Sector and co-author of the report.<br /> <br /> Other changes in households include shifts in family structure. In contrast with the old model of large families living under one roof, today it is increasingly common for minors to live with only one of their parents while the growing trend among the elderly is to live alone or live with only their partner.<br /> <br /> The ageing of the population also poses new challenges for governments. While at this time more than 50 per cent of elderly adults in the region receive some type of pension, it is important to strike a balance in pension systems so they will not contribute to fiscal risks of governments. Therefore, it is important to monitor and analyse the key social indicators.<br /> <br /> Social Pulse also discloses a series of social achievements of the region, notably: a 65 per cent reduction in infant mortality; the availability of safe drinking water in 96 per cent of all homes; near universal access to primary education, and the increase in life expectancy, which is now &mdash; on average &mdash; eight years more than in 1990.<br /> <br /> The IDB said that this is the first time a publication relies on the harmonised household surveys of 22 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean as its principal source of information.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;With a database that covers seven million homes and 28 million citizens, supported by social indicators monitoring two decades, Social Pulse 2016: realities and perspectives offers more than 25 types of economic, social and demographic indicators, all disaggregated into stages of the life cycle, making it possible to provide reality and perspective to the challenges and opportunities of being a person born in the region.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The study also investigated the structure of social spending by governments of the region and presents an in-depth analysis of the different dimensions of poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean that can affect human capital.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13380609/236294_63325_repro_w300.jpg Local News Tuesday, October 25, 2016 12:00 AM McKenzie raises concern about state of parish council buildings http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/McKenzie-raises-concern-about-state-of-parish-council-buildings_78018 ST ANN&rsquo;S BAY, St Ann &mdash;Minister of Local Governmen and Community Development Desmond McKenzie has raised concerns about the state of parish council buildings, following a visit to St Ann last Thursday.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;There has to be a serious look at parish council buildings across the country,&rdquo; McKenzie said, while at the St Ann Parish Council for a special meeting.<br /> <br /> He expressed anger and hurt at the condition that workers at the Westmoreland Parish Council are forced to work under, and shock at the cramped quarters of the St Ann Parish Council. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;I did not expect to find St Ann Parish Council in this little room,&rdquo; McKenzie remarked before insructing his permanent secretary to have an assessment of all parish council buildings across the country. <br /> <br /> According to McKenzie, only a handful of parish councils were operating in fairly reasonable space. These include St James, Manchester, Clarendon, and the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation. <br /> <br /> McKenzie said while many people will say it is not a priority, the environment must be at a level of comfort conducive to do business on behalf of the people.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t ask members of staff to work in an environment which restricts their ability,&rdquo; he declared.<br /> <br /> In the meantime, McKenzie has stressed the need for parish councils to operate with a greater level of autonomy. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;I am not going &mdash; in my tenure at least &mdash; to continue to allow central government resources to continue to support operations of the councils. The local authorities have more than the ability to fend for themselves,&rdquo; McKenzie told councillors at the special meeting. <br /> <br /> McKenzie said there is a weakness in how the councils generate funds to finance their operations. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;There are serious weaknesses in the councils&rsquo; ability to fully utilise your potential in terms of your assets,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> He pointed out that parish councils have responsibility for approximately 22,000 kilometres of the 27,000-kilometre road network in the country. As a result, he said, the 66 per cent of parochial revenue which is given to the local authority, and which is shared across all divisions in country, is not enough. As such, the minister said parish councils should do all they can to ensure they generate enough funds to finance their operations.<br /> <br /> In the meantime, Mckenzie also used the platform to stress the importance of having parish councils, noting that they play an important role in the country. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;There is no way we can operate in Jamaica without a local government system,&rdquo; he said. <br /> <br /> He, however, said that there is a need for training to allow councillors to be more aware of the roles and responsibilities they have.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;There is a weakness in the local government system that needs to be addressed,&rdquo; he reasoned.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13275844/218984__w300.jpg Local News Tuesday, October 25, 2016 12:00 AM Young supervisors http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Young-supervisors_70286 Treson Henry and Winston Baker have a few things in common. They have a passion for agriculture, they studied at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE), and are now farm supervisors at Serge Island Dairies Limited, despite the fact that they are not yet 30 years old.<br /> <br /> Henry and Baker completed their college internship programme at the dairy manufacturing plant and did so well that they were offered full-time employment three years ago.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Agriculture, it&rsquo;s my background, my mom and dad are farmers, that&rsquo;s what grow us,&rdquo; Baker told the<br /> <br /> Jamaica Observer. &ldquo;While growing up, I decided that I wanted to stay in it, but go a bit higher than what they are doing, so I decided to pursue studies in general agriculture.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> Baker, who is from St Thomas, said such was his love for agriculture that he did not mind pursuing his dream at Sydney Pagon High School, formerly Elim Agricultural School in St Elizabeth. <br /> <br /> He later moved on to CASE where he successfully completed his associate degree in the General Agriculture programme.<br /> <br /> Baker, who is 27 years old, explained that his experience so far has been great as he has learnt how to apply the theoretical aspect of his education to everyday practical tasks on the job.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I&rsquo;m the youngest on my farm and I supervise 10 other employees,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s good so far as they all comply with the rules laid down by the company.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Baker, who supervises dairy operations, stated that one has to see agriculture as a business and not &ldquo;just as a day-to-day hustling food&rdquo;, as it&rsquo;s the only thing that can improve the country&rsquo;s economy right now.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s my passion, ennu, agriculture is my passion and my dream, my background. It&rsquo;s everything, it&rsquo;s my life and I was born in it and I&rsquo;m glad to stay in it till the day I die,&rdquo; Baker said.<br /> <br /> His co-worker, Henry, had a similar story of growing up in the sector.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It was family business,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I saw my father farming and there were a lot of citrus trees, and so I was groomed into it from a young age.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> She said that after she left high school, she went to Ebony Park Heart Academy in Clarendon and later attended CASE where she pursued her associate degree in Agriculture and her Bachelor&rsquo;s in Food Processing.<br /> <br /> When asked if she had ever considered abandoning her agricultural journey, the St Catherine native responded: &ldquo;Well, yes. At one point I considered it at Ebony Park; there it was strenuous, hard work! So many times I wanted to quit, but I couldn&rsquo;t, because my father&rsquo;s expectations of me were always the highest, so I had to continue. Then when I got to CASE now, it was a lot more pressure and many times I wanted to go home but still had to press on.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Although she grew up around citrus farming, Baker stated that she didn&rsquo;t like it and decided she would pursue livestock rearing instead of crop science. It was a choice that would eventually lead her to work in the dairy industry.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I&rsquo;m now a supervisor. Technically speaking I wouldn&rsquo;t say I&rsquo;m on the farm, I&rsquo;m not on the farm, but I&rsquo;m in charge of the feed aspects of Serge, so what I do is that I liaise with Nutramix and I buy the feed. So I have to know the quantities of feed to buy and how to allocate it,&rdquo; Henry stated.<br /> <br /> However, she also supervises people who work at the feed mill, which initially proved to be challenge as not only was she younger, but she was also the only female there.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;At first it took a while for everybody to warm up to me. You had to apply the management strategies, come down to their level, sit and have lunch with them and stuff like that. So it was hard at first being a female in a man&rsquo;s world, but I think I&rsquo;m getting the hang of it,&rdquo; the 25-year-old stated.<br /> <br /> Henry, who had to relocate from St Catherine to St Thomas to take up the job at Serge Island Dairies, stated that moving away from her friends and family was not a traumatic experience, as she was already accustomed to it.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I was excited, because from high school I was boarding, so I got so accustomed to the boarding because when I went home after the exams, I&rsquo;m like, what am I going to do now. And when this offer came up, I&rsquo;m like, &lsquo;Daddy, I&rsquo;m going to St Thomas&rsquo; [and] even though my mother said no, they still packed me up,&rdquo; she said with a smile.<br /> <br /> The farm supervisor added that it was important to note that agriculture is &ldquo;not all about farming the dirt, cutlass, and fork&rdquo;. For her, it is a form of enjoyment which, although not easy, is worth it.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Five years from now, I want to be rearing cattle,&rdquo; she told the<br /> <br /> Observer. &ldquo;I see myself on 20 acres of land with 500 head of cattle, that&rsquo;s how I see myself. Employing people and having my own farm because that&rsquo;s where I&rsquo;m coming from so that&rsquo;s the layout for me.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13380459/218989_63333_repro_w300.jpg Local News Tuesday, October 25, 2016 12:00 AM FLA CEO resigns  http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/FLA-CEO-resigns KINGSTON, Jamaica &mdash; Chief Executive Officer of the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) Dr Kenroy Wedderburn will demit office on November 1.<br /> <br /> Wedderburn had indicated from early September his desire to depart the FLA to pursue new career goals, the Ministry of National Security said in a release today.<br /> <br /> He is credited with the streamlining and improvement of the operational efficiencies of the FLA over the past four years into a model agency of the ministry.<br /> <br /> Under his stewardship, the FLA reduced the wait time for firearm licensing applications from approximately two years to less than 12 months.<br /> <br /> The Ministry of National Security has expressed its appreciation to Wedderburn.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, the ministry said it has assigned Director of Protective Security Lincoln Allen to act as CEO of the FLA.<br /> <br /> Allen, a small arms control policy expert, is the Government officer who deals with all local and international policy matters pertaining to firearms. He was an instrumental member of the team tasked with the establishment of the FLA in March 2006, and served on the Board of the FLA between 2010 and 2012, the ministry said.<br /> <br /> The Firearm Licensing Authority is mandated to provide transparency and integrity in the regulation of firearms and ammunitions used by Jamaican residents.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13382329/Wedderburn_w300.jpg Local News Tuesday, October 25, 2016 10:29 AM Woman fined $250K after pleading guilty to lottery scam http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Woman-fined--250K-after-pleading-guilty-to-lottery-scam ST JAMES, Jamaica &mdash; A St James woman was fined J$250,000 for her involvement in the illicit lottery scam that authorities say has bilked millions of dollars from United States residents.<br /> <br /> Ionie Thompson of a St James address pleaded guilty to breaches of the Law Reform (Fraudulent Transactions) (Special Provisions) Act on Thursday, October 13.<br /> <br /> Thompson was charged by detectives from the Major Organised Crime and Ant-Corruption Agency (MOCA) on Friday, May 15 following an anti-lottery scam operation.<br /> <br /> During a search of her premises, items used in lottery scamming were found. Charges were laid against her after she was interviewed in the presence of her attorney.<br /> <br /> The fine handed down by the St James court is in comparison to statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of US$500,000 that is handed down by courts in the US.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13382062/Lotto-toon_w300.jpg Local News Tuesday, October 25, 2016 9:13 AM 22-y-o farmer to face court on lottery scam, gun charges http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/22-y-o-farmer-to-face-court-on-lottery-scam--gun-charges KINGSTON, Jamaica &mdash; A 22-year-old farmer, who was on Monday charged with illegal possession of firearm and lottery scam, is to appear in the St James Parish Court on Wednesday.<br /> <br /> Orville McKenzie of Adelphi, St James was reportedly arrested during a two-day operation last week in sections of St James and Hanover.<br /> <br /> The Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) said that a Glock pistol with two loaded magazines, along with items used in the illicit lottery scam were found during a search of premises he occupied.<br /> <br /> The operation, which got underway last Wednesday, was aimed at persons involved in lottery scam.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13382026/gavel-3_w300.jpg Local News Tuesday, October 25, 2016 8:48 AM Guard held as suspect in Haiti prison breakout http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Guard-held-as-suspect-in-Haiti-prison-breakout PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AFP) &mdash; Authorities in Haiti detained a prison guard Monday on suspicion he helped 173 inmates escape in a deadly breakout, a spokesman for the National Police said.<br /> <br /> The guard, who worked at the Arcahaie prison northwest of the capital Port-au-Prince, was placed in isolation for his alleged role in the Saturday breakout.<br /> <br /> Some of those who escaped are considered armed and dangerous, National Police spokesman Gary Desrosiers told AFP.<br /> <br /> Prisons in Haiti &mdash; the poorest country in the Americas &mdash; are notoriously overcrowded at 450 percent of capacity, the International Center for Prison Studies said earlier this year.<br /> <br /> While a majority of prisoners are awaiting trial, all those who fled Arcahaie had been found guilty and were serving sentences, Desrosiers said.<br /> <br /> Around 20 of them were serving more than ten years, he added.<br /> <br /> Police are on the lookout for the escapees, but have recaptured only 10 so far.<br /> <br /> A preliminary investigation indicates that a guard "forgot" to lock a door Saturday as the inmates were eating. The prisoners left the cafeteria and armed themselves with police weapons, a source said on condition of anonymity.<br /> <br /> The escapees killed the head prison guard and wounded two others during the ensuing firefight.<br /> <br /> With only one rifle missing from the prison arsenal, it appears the inmates stripped the prison guards &mdash; all National Police agents &mdash; of their weapons, Desrosiers said.<br /> <br /> Arcahaie will remain empty while the investigation continues, with all remaining inmates moved to a different prison, he added.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13381991/Haiti-Prison_w300.jpg Local News Tuesday, October 25, 2016 8:14 AM Jamaican firm wins IDB&rsquo;s Financial, Entrepreneurial Innovation Award http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Jamaican-firm-wins-IDB-s-Financial--Entrepreneurial-Innovation-Award KINGSTON, Jamaica (CMC) &mdash; The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) says a Jamaican firm is among three institutions from Latin American and the Caribbean to win the Inter-American Awards in Financial and Entrepreneurial Innovation.<br /> <br /> The IDB said that the &ldquo;Local Innovator Award&rdquo; will be presented here to Bio-Tech Research and Development Institute during the 2016 Foromic conference, the IDB&rsquo;s leading event focused on financial inclusion and enterprise development in Latin America and the Caribbean, which opened here on Monday.<br /> <br /> Bio-Tech Research and Development Institute is a Jamaican firm specializing in developing pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products derived from indigenous plants, the IDB said.<br /> <br /> The Washington-based financial institution said institutions from Chile and Peru will also receive IDB awards in Financial and Entrepreneurial Innovation.<br /> <br /> The IDB said the theme of the 19th annual edition of the conference is &ldquo;Creating Opportunities through Financial Inclusion.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Key themes of the conference include ethical banking, circular economies and corporate venturing.<br /> <br /> The IDB said more than1, 200 experts in financial services, international development, entrepreneurship and other related fields from across the region are registered for the conference, which is being held for the second time in the English-speaking Caribbean.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13381949/logo-IDB_w400_w300.jpg Local News Tuesday, October 25, 2016 8:00 AM Four dead after Australia theme park disaster http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Four-dead-after-Australia-theme-park-disaster GOLD COAST, Australia (AFP) &mdash; Two women and two men were killed at a theme park on Australia's popular Gold Coast Tuesday, police said, with witnesses describing how "everyone was screaming" after a raft apparently flipped on a water ride.<br /> <br /> Queensland police said the four victims died on the Thunder River Rapids ride at the Dreamworld park, as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull offered prayers to their families over what he called a "very, very, sad, tragic event".<br /> <br /> "Four adult persons have lost their lives as a result of the incident," Queensland Police spokesman Todd Reid told reporters on the Gold Coast.<br /> <br /> He added that the victims were two men aged 35 and 38, and two women aged 32 and 42. Investigators were notifying their next of kin and no names or nationalities were released.<br /> <br /> The ride, which carries circular rafts that can accommodate six persons, "sustained some sort of malfunction, causing two people to be ejected from the ride, another two people were caught inside the ride", Fuller said.<br /> <br /> The Gold Coast Bulletin newspaper reported that water was drained from the attraction in an effort to save trapped victims, but to no avail.<br /> <br /> Dreamworld, which opened in 1981 and has over 40 rides and attractions, said in a statement that it was "working as quickly as possible to establish the facts around the incident and is working closely with emergency authorities and police to do this".<br /> <br /> "Dreamworld's focus and priority is with the families of those involved in this tragedy and will be providing an update to the public as soon as information becomes available."<br /> <br /> Dreamworld said the park would be closed "until further notice".<br /> <br /> A witness who was about to go on the ride said "everyone was screaming" after a raft apparently flipped.<br /> <br /> "We saw (a) little girl and we believe it was her mum because it was just her and her little sister that was an infant," Lia Capes told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.<br /> <br /> "I was speaking to one of the guys and he said it was the raft or the boat thing in front of him, the whole thing flipped and everyone was screaming."<br /> <br /> Another witness, who did not want to be named, told the Gold Coast Bulletin: "My sister and niece were on the ride, they are so traumatised, there is a woman hanging by her foot, crushed from the ride."<br /> <br /> Turnbull said it was a "very sad day" and vowed a thorough investigation into the accident.<br /> <br /> "Theme parks are a place for family fun and happiness, not tragedy. This is a very, very, sad, tragic event. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who lost their lives," he added.<br /> <br /> The Thunder River Rapids ride is promoted as a family-friendly "white water rafting" experience, where people "travel down a foamy water track past the Gold Rush Country, speeding up to 45 kph through the turbulent rapids".<br /> <br /> Dreamworld is Australia's largest theme park, and features what it calls the biggest and fastest thrills rides in the country. It is run by entertainment operator Ardent Leisure Group.<br /> <br /> The accident came two years after an eight-year-old Malaysian girl died when she was flung from a ride at the Royal Adelaide Show, and 37 years after the deaths of six children and one man in a fire on a train at Sydney's Luna Park.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13381933/Dreamworld_w300.jpg Local News Tuesday, October 25, 2016 7:35 AM Four men arrested after cops find gun in car http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Four-men-arrested-after-cops-find-gun-in-car HANOVER, Jamaica &mdash; Four men were arrested on Sunday in Cacoon Castle in Ramble, Hanover in connection with a firearm that was found in the motor vehicle they were travelling.<br /> <br /> The lawmen report that a Honda CVR motorcar was stopped about 3:00 pm during a Vehicular Check Point operation.<br /> <br /> The vehicle and its occupants were searched and a Smith and Wesson 9mm pistol and eleven 9mm rounds of ammunition were found. The men were subsequently arrested.<br /> <br /> Their identities are being withheld pending further investigation.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13381925/arrests-crime-logo_w300.jpg Local News Tuesday, October 25, 2016 7:25 AM Speaker sues attorney general, auditor general http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Speaker-sues-attorney-general--auditor-general_78246 BELMOPAN, Belize (CMC) &ndash; The Speaker of the National Assembly Michael Peyrefitte has filed a lawsuit against the Belize Government and the auditor general.<br /> <br /> The lawsuit names Attorney General Vanessa Retreage and Auditor General Dorothy Bradley following the publication of a special audit on immigration and passport.<br /> <br /> In August, Peyrefitte wrote a letter to Bradley stating that his name was erroneously listed in the audit for recommending someone for a passport.<br /> <br /> Peyrefitte argued that because he is a member of the House of Representatives, he is indeed authorised to recommend someone for a passport.<br /> <br /> In the letter, Peyrefitte claimed that the auditor general has caused a huge stain on his character and requested an immediate written apology and an amendment of the report.<br /> <br /> He ended the letter by warning the auditor general that if she doesn&rsquo;t do so, he will exercise any legal means to clear his name.<br /> <br /> In the lawsuit, Peyrefitte wants the court to quash the decision of the auditor general in publishing in the special audit that he was not authorised to sign as recommender on the passport issued to William Lindo.<br /> <br /> The speaker is also seeking an injunction to block the auditor general and the attorney general and any person or agent on their behalf from acting in any way on the report.<br /> <br /> Legal observers said the move is intended to block the special Senate investigation into the audit report until the Supreme Court ruling on the lawsuit.<br /> <br /> The investigations are set to begin on November 9.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13380629/236280_63295_repro_w300.jpg Local News Tuesday, October 25, 2016 12:00 AM Top cop wants judiciary to re-examine how http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Top-cop-wants-judiciary-to-re-examine-how-_78244 GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) &ndash; Acting Commissioner of Police David Ramnarine yesterday criticised the judiciary over the release on <br /> <br /> bail of accused persons charged with serious offences.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The amount of bail granted in the court makes a mockery of how responsible people in authority should behave in these matters,&rdquo; said Ramnarine.<br /> <br /> He told a news conference that there are several cases where he believes &ldquo;insensitivity and carelessness&rdquo; are shown in granting persons their pre-trial liberty.<br /> <br /> Ramnarine said that he would not allow the police force to be blamed for the failures of the courts.<br /> <br /> The commissioner gave as an example, the case where the prime suspect in the recent robbery-murder of a Brazilian national was granted bail twice for two separate serious crimes.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;How can we be so insensitive in our dispensation of the granting of bail?&rdquo; he asked, urging the judiciary to do more to ensure that bail serves as a deterrent to crime.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I will not take responsibility for the behaviour of other people who constitute and have a role to play in the criminal justice system. I can only defend our actions in the police force,&rdquo; he told reporters.<br /> <br /> Recently, self-confessed drug lord Barry Dataram and his wife, who were both charged with cocaine possession, were able to flee the country while they were on bail and while their trial was ongoing. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10538766/ZZ4DCDC9DD_w300.jpg Local News Tuesday, October 25, 2016 12:00 AM This Day in History &mdash; October 25 http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/This-Day-in-History---October-25-_78269 Today is the 298th day of 2016. There are 67 days left in the year.<br /> <br /> TODAY&rsquo;S HIGHLIGHT<br /> <br /> 1991: About 90 anti-apartheid movements, claiming to represent more than 15 million South Africans, establish a &ldquo;patriotic united front&rdquo; to press for black majority rule.<br /> <br /> OTHER EVENTS<br /> <br /> 1586: Mary Queen of Scots, the focus of Catholic plots on the throne of England, is sentenced to death.<br /> <br /> 1616: Dutch mariner Dirk Hartog discovers Australia.<br /> <br /> 1900: Transvaal is annexed formally by Britain at Pretoria, South Africa.<br /> <br /> 1909: Murder of Japan&rsquo;s Prince Ito by Korean fanatics leads to Japanese dictatorship in Korea.<br /> <br /> 1918: The Canadian steamship Princess Sophia founders off the coast of Alaska; nearly 400 people perish.<br /> <br /> 1922: Fascists march on Rome and the Italian king nominates Benito Mussolini as prime minister.<br /> <br /> 1971: The UN General Assembly votes to admit mainland China and expel Taiwan.<br /> <br /> 1996: The fundamentalist Islamic Taliban militia claim to capture another Afghanistan province, their first advance since seizing the capital, Kabul, a month earlier.<br /> <br /> 2001: The US House of Representatives approves legislation that will give law enforcement and intelligence agencies broader powers to investigate suspected terrorists.<br /> <br /> 2004: Several hundred tons of conventional explosives are missing from a former Iraqi military facility that once played a key role in Saddam Hussein&rsquo;s efforts to build a nuclear bomb, the UN nuclear agency confirms.<br /> <br /> 2005: Election officials in Baghdad announce that Iraq&rsquo;s landmark constitution has been adopted by a majority of voters during the country&rsquo;s referendum. Results show that Sunni Arabs, who had sharply opposed the draft document, failed to produce enough &ldquo;no&rdquo; votes to defeat it.<br /> <br /> 2006: The Australian Government pledges funding for two projects as part of its new strategy to combat global warming, including the construction of the world&rsquo;s largest solar power plant.<br /> <br /> 2007: Four Chadian rebel groups sign a final peace agreement with their Government. The parties agree to an immediate cease-fire, amnesty for civil and military personnel and the release of all detainees from both sides of the four-year conflict in Sudan&rsquo;s Darfur region.<br /> <br /> 2010: Afghan President Hamid Karzai acknowledges that he receives millions of dollars in cash from Iran, adding that Washington gives him &ldquo;bags of money&rdquo; too because his office lacks funds.<br /> <br /> 2011: Distraught Turkish families mourn outside a mosque or seek to identify loved ones among rows of bodies as rescue workers scour debris for survivors after a 7.2-magnitude quake that killed at least 279 people in the eastern part of the country near the Iranian border.<br /> <br /> TODAY&rsquo;S BIRTHDAYS<br /> <br /> Thomas B Macauley, British historian (1800-1859); Georges Bizet, French composer (1838-1875); Pablo Picasso, Spanish painter and sculptor (1881-1973); Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd, American polar explorer (1888-1957); former King Michael of Romania (1925- )<br /> <br /> &mdash; AP<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12931340/History_w300.jpg Local News Tuesday, October 25, 2016 12:00 AM Today's Horoscope - October 25, 2016 http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Today-s-Horoscope---October-25--2016_77846 HAPPY BIRTHDAY for Tuesday, October 25, 2016: This year you often assess your long-term goals. You might be willing to let your finances get out of control at times. Your creativity emerges and makes you a star in different areas of your life. You seem to come up with many different ideas. Know that even if you make a bad choice, you will land well. If you are single, you meet people with ease. Listen carefully to a potential sweetie and give yourself time to get to know this person. If you are attached, you will fulfil a key goal together. The two of you often have a reason to celebrate. VIRGO can be a loyal yet fussy friend. <br /> <br /> ARIES (March 21-April 19): Discussions will allow you and others to bring up new ideas. Your creativity will win over a difficult associate. Your instincts will point you to a new path that you were not aware existed. Watch a tendency to go to excess, which could emerge later on. Tonight: Enjoy the moment.<br /> <br /> TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Your imagination opens new doors for you. Conversations with a child or loved one could be delightful. Confusion is likely to surround a close friendship. You might feel as if you are being pulled in two different directions. Try to centre yourself. Tonight: In the limelight.<br /> <br /> GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Staying centred needs to be your primary goal in a day full of mixed messages. A loved one might disagree, which could make you feel undermined and unsupported by this person. Stay in touch with someone whom you look up to. Tonight: No wandering! Stay close to home.<br /> <br /> CANCER (June 21-July 22): Discussions could go to extremes. Somehow, a misunderstanding seems to evolve. You might want to approach the issue once more, but try not to cause a problem. You don&rsquo;t want to push others in such a conflicting situation. Tonight: A family member&rsquo;s mood is indulgent.<br /> <br /> LEO (July 23-Aug 22): Imagine what would happen if you were willing to give more of yourself on an emotional level. Others appreciate your efforts. Extremes are likely to mark your day. You might need to ask for more support from a partner or loved one. Tonight: Touch base with a close friend.<br /> <br /> VIRGO (Aug 23-Sept 22): Stay centred, and don&rsquo;t allow anyone to cause you to lose your focus. A family member could be more indulgent than you had anticipated. You might be working against each other on a domestic issue. Tonight: An older relative seems confused; clarify what you are saying.<br /> <br /> LIBRA (Sept 23-Oct 22): Listen to your instincts, and follow through on what you desire. You seem to have a lot of support to head in the direction you are eyeing. Confusion could affect your daily routine. You might need to clarify your priorities in a discussion. Tonight: Not to be found!<br /> <br /> SCORPIO (Oct 23-Nov 21): Friendship plays a key role in your decision-making process. You will need to tap into your ingenuity to keep the peace with a loved one. Your imagination can solve many more problems than you might realise. Curb your spending. Tonight: Zero in on what is important.<br /> <br /> SAGITTARIUS (Nov 22-Dec 21): You might feel pressured. As a result, you will want to go within yourself to see how you can effectively handle the various issues around you. If you are able to detach, you&rsquo;ll come up with answers. Others will pitch in if you ask them to. Tonight: A force to be dealt with.<br /> <br /> CAPRICORN (Dec 22-Jan 19): Detach, and you will come out ahead. You might be extra sensitive right now, and as a result you could feel upset on some level. Ask yourself whether your feelings are valid. You sense what is going on. Trust your instincts. Tonight: Go for mental and physical relaxation.<br /> <br /> AQUARIUS (Jan 20-Feb 18): One-on-one relating brings results. A friend or loved one will lift you up with his or her caring. Your expenses could be out of whack. Realise what is motivating you to ignore your budget. Sometimes you spend money to appease some feelings. Tonight: Happy at home.<br /> <br /> PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Defer to others, and listen to their ideas. Your instincts will carry you past a problem. You could be confused by everything that is happening. Listen to those around you, and try to understand where they are coming from. A boss sees you in a positive light. Tonight: Out late.<br /> <br /> (c) 2016 by King Features Syndicate Inc. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12467448/horo_w300.jpg Local News Tuesday, October 25, 2016 12:00 AM #X6MurderTrial: Powell freed!  http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/-X6MurderTrial--Powell-freed KINGSTON, Jamaica &mdash; Businessman Patrick Powell has been freed of all charges related to the 2011 shooting death of 17-year-old Khajeel Mais.<br /> <br /> After deliberation, the jury on Monday returned a not guilty verdict on charges of murder and shooting with intent. <br /> <br /> Powell was being tried for the shooting death of Mais, who was reportedly travelling in a taxi, which collided with a BMW X6 motor vehicle. It is alleged that the driver of the BMW got out and fired at the taxi, hitting the boy.<br /> <br /> The prosecution today told the court that there is no evidence to confirm identification of the accused. They also questioned the credibility of the main witness statement provided by taxi driver Wayne Wright.<br /> <br /> Lead Prosecutor Jeremy Taylor, in making his application said that in his opening statement, he pointed out to the court that the case hinged on the identification of the accused and the credibility of the witness statement. <br /> <br /> However, he said that the prosecution was unable to say without a reasonable doubt that Wright was present when Mais was shot. He also spoke about Wright backpedaling on his statement. <br /> <br /> He said Wright did what he wanted rather than what was right as it relates to the evidence he had given to investigators. <br /> <br /> "He had decided to take a certain course," said Taylor.<br /> <br /> Wright was on Friday adjudged a hostile witness by the prosecution, after permission was granted by Justice Lloyd Hibbert to treat him as such because he showed himself to be inconsistent and adverse.<br /> <br /> The prosecution had 28 witnesses, 12 were called and 16 were left, but the prosecutor said even if he had called the remaining witnesses the issue of identification would still have been a problem.<br /> <br /> The parents of Mais refused to comment but the boy's father said to contact them within the next two weeks. The disappointment could be seen etched on their faces<br /> <br /> Tanesha Mundle<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13379862/POWELL_w300.jpg Local News Monday, October 24, 2016 11:40 AM Deaf can... brew coffee http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Deaf-can----brew-coffee_77921 In a year from now when they complete the HEART Trust&rsquo;s new food and beverage course, a group of students from the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf (CCCD) are expected to become the first certified baristas in the country.<br /> <br /> That, as far as the school administration is concerned, is a big deal for a community of people which has been largely locked out of the mainstream job market on account of their inability to hear.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The most obvious outcome is that they will be equipped with a skill which is more marketable, especially for them,&rdquo; manager of the CCCD&rsquo;s Kingston campus Stephen McFarlane told the Jamaica Observer. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;All our national and regional exams are English-based. To test them based on English-based language is much more difficult for the average deaf person, so you will find the average deaf person not having CXCs [exams administered by the Caribbean Examinations Council] and when they do, it&rsquo;s usually with a grade two or three. That&rsquo;s not to say grade one is impossible, it is just more difficult.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;So a skill presents something with which they can function and allows them to be their own bosses if needs be, and if they do have a boss, it&rsquo;s not going to require them to be over them at all times,&rdquo; he explained.<br /> <br /> A barista, in general terms, is someone who makes and serves coffee.<br /> <br /> The HEART certification will also be a boon for Deaf Can, a coffee house the school operates on its Cassia Park Road campus in Kingston. It currently has a handful of graduates employed, with support from staff and missionaries. They are trained in the area, but are not certified.<br /> <br /> As McFarlane explains it, Deaf Can started as a school project in January last year. A group of boys went on a field trip to a deaf coffee farmer in St Elizabeth and were impressed with his work ethic in spite of his perceived disability. They subsequently bought coffee from him, which they brewed and sold to staff and students at school. But when overseas missionaries from CCCD&rsquo;s network undertook to professionally training some of the students, and with sponsorship from Digicel, the coffee house expanded beyond the campus walls. <br /> <br /> On invitation from corporate or other types of groups, the baristas-in-training sell their brews, including espressos, lattes, and cappucinos, at various events. The most recent of these was at the High Commission of Canada last Thursday, where the British Columbia Institute of Technology and emPOWERed Caribbean Communities signed a memorandum of understanding to partner on energy research. <br /> <br /> In addition to caffeinated brews, Deaf Can also does blended juices, smoothies, and a variety of pastries. It also carries a line of branded T-shirts and hand-sculpted coffee mugs.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I can, with 99.9 per cent accuracy say that there are no trained baristas in Jamaica so we are now partnering with HEART to do food and beverage and barista training,&rdquo; said McFarlane.<br /> <br /> He explained that it was at CCCD&rsquo;s request that the HEART programme was tweaked to included formal barista training. The course began earlier this month with a cohort of 15 students. <br /> <br /> CCCD is operated by a West Virginia-based charity. It offers basic education, vocational training, mentorship, and support to the deaf. In addition to the Kingston location, it has campuses in Montego Bay, St James, and Knockpatrick, Manchester, as well as the 100-acre Jamaica Deaf Village also in Manchester that offers housing, employment, and a church. According to the institution&rsquo;s website, when complete, the village is expected to provide single family homes, apartments, places of employment, educational, medical and recreational facilities, a day care centre, a shopping centre, a retirement centre and a conference centre. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13378373/235731_63261_repro_w300.jpg Local News Monday, October 24, 2016 12:00 AM &lsquo;A phenomenal human being&rsquo; http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/A-phenomenal-human-being_78179 IT was the norm for Walter Scott and his best friend Brian George, avowed football enthusiasts, to watch the National Football League (NFL) games together every Sunday during football season. When they last spoke on Saturday evening, they ended the conversation with the intention to meet up the following day to do just that.<br /> <br /> But the Queen&rsquo;s Counsel&rsquo;s world was shattered yesterday when he received news that his friend of almost 13 years had passed away from a massive heart attack.<br /> <br /> Fifty-nine-year-old George, president and chief executive officer of Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL), reportedly fell ill and was taken to Andrews Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead.<br /> <br /> Scott, a senior managing partner at Rattray Patterson Rattray, told the Jamaica <br /> <br /> Observer yesterday that the news came as a shock to everyone.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Nobody expected it,&rdquo; Scott said as he recalled his conversation with George on Saturday. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;Yesterday (Saturday) afternoon we spoke. It was one of our normal conversations, as we would speak to each other almost everyday about everything under the sun,&rdquo; he added.<br /> <br /> According to Scott, the duo would watch the NFL games sometimes at each other&rsquo;s place, or they would travel to the venues, as they did last Sunday when they went to Boston to watch New England take on Cincinnati Bengals. New England won 35-17.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I was looking forward to today,&rdquo; said Scott.<br /> <br /> He described the late George as articulate, very well read, and one of the brightest people he knew.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;He was a very good senior executive, but with a conscience and with a generosity of spirit that is hard to find in senior management. He practised corporate social responsibility before it became commonplace to have it in corporations, and it was during his tenure as president and CEO of Supreme Ventures that it grew by multiples and strides, and probably the company would not be what it is without his tremendous leadership,&rdquo; Scott said.<br /> <br /> He will most miss George&rsquo;s &ldquo;loving, caring generosity of spirit&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> Simone Clarke-Cooper, assistant vice-president, group corporate communications at Supreme Ventures, also spoke glowingly of George who she said taught her a lot in the few months that she had worked with him.<br /> <br /> She took up the post in June.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;He was an amazing man; bright, detailed to a &lsquo;T&rsquo;, very witty, very caring, a phenomenal human being,&rdquo; she said.<br /> <br /> She also described George as a mentor who would assist in the development of those who worked under his leadership, building them up so they could fly.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I am going to miss his jokes and the way he would just walk around in the office and speak to everyone,&rdquo; she added.<br /> <br /> In meantime, Supreme Ventures Chairman Paul Hoo said in a statement yesterday, &ldquo;The entire SVL family is deeply shocked and saddened by Brian&rsquo;s death. He had been battling illness for some time, but continued on a daily basis to discharge all of his duties to SVL.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We are just trying to come to terms with this significant loss. We will miss him beyond words,&rdquo; he added.<br /> <br /> George became President and CEO of Supreme Ventures in 2003. At the time of his passing, he was also chairman of the Jamaica Gaming Association and deputy chairman of the National Health Fund board.<br /> <br /> He is survived by his wife Keneea, and his sons Christopher and Matthew. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13378303/231776_th_w300.jpg Local News Monday, October 24, 2016 12:00 AM Gov&rsquo;t salutes George&rsquo;s contribution to economy http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Gov-t-salutes-George-s-contribution-to-economy_78184 The Government of Jamaica yesterday paid tribute to the late Brian George, hailing his legacy in the development of Jamaica&rsquo;s economy and the private sector.<br /> <br /> George, who was president and CEO of Supreme Ventures Limited, chairman of the Jamaica Gaming Association, and deputy chairman of the National Health Fund, passed away yesterday morning after a period of illness. He was 59.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It would be difficult to enumerate all of the contributions Brian made to Jamaica and our people,&rdquo; Prime Minister Andrew Holness said. &ldquo;Through various initiatives led by him, Supreme Ventures has become known for not only its lottery business, but also its deep belief in community development. Under Brian, the company became a standard for good corporate citizenship.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Holness also described George, a native of Trinidad & Tobago, as a true believer in Jamaica, and said the Government and the people of Jamaica were truly saddened by his death. He also expressed condolences to his wife Keneea Linton-George, his sons Michael and Christopher, and his friends and family.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Brian&rsquo;s legacy will be cherished by all who he touched and impacted with his selflessness and dedication to Jamaica,&rdquo; said Holness.<br /> <br /> Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller hailed George as an &ldquo;integral and valuable part of the Jamaican business community&rdquo; who exhibited &ldquo;outstanding marketing and management skills&rdquo;, which she said helped to propel Supreme Ventures to the position of being a major and successful business.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;He was instrumental in the growth of the gaming industry in Jamaica and spearheaded initiatives to utilise the proceeds of the industry for social and economic development of our country,&rdquo; Simpson Miller said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Brian George will be sadly missed for his enterprising mind, his managerial attributes, and extraordinary business acumen. He will also be remembered for his pleasant personality and commitment to the development of Jamaica and the Caribbean region,&rdquo; she continued.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange also issued a statement hailing George&rsquo;s commitment to Jamaica.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Brian was personally committed to Jamaica&rsquo;s development,&rdquo; she said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;[He] was a proud Trinidadian and also a great friend of Jamaica. He offered such outstanding support to Jamaican sports, culture, and other critical areas of national development, over the years, not only through the lottery company which he so ably led.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;His passing today is both a shock and a blow. We will miss him dearly,&rdquo; said Grange. <br /> <br /> In addition to the boards already mentioned, George served as a board member of the CHASE Fund, chairman of the Port Security Corps, and director of the Development Bank of Jamaica Limited. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13378304/231775_63246_repro_w300.jpg Local News Monday, October 24, 2016 12:00 AM