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 Tesha Miller caught in The Bahamas http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Tesha-Miller-caught-in-The-Bahamas_93965 Assistant Commissioner of Police Ealan Powell yesterday said that the scheduled deportation from The Bahamas of alleged Klansman gangster Tesha Miller was delayed.<br /> <br /> Powell didn&rsquo;t give a new date for the deportation, neither did he say what caused the postponement.<br /> <br /> News surfaced yesterday that Miller, for whom the Jamaican police have been searching since last year, was being deported yesterday from Nassau, the capital of the archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean between Cuba and Florida.<br /> <br /> It was not clear when he was captured in The Bahamas, but his pending expulsion from that country comes almost a year after he was deported from the United States where he spent two years in prison on a charge of illegal entry.<br /> <br /> Shortly after his deportation he was listed as a &ldquo;person of interest&rdquo; by Jamaica&rsquo;s Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Branch and was asked to report to the police following a spike in murders in the St Catherine North Division, where the Klansman Gang is engaged in criminal activities.<br /> <br /> The police theorised that Miller could assist in their investigation of several of the murders in Spanish Town and sections of Portmore during the first quarter of 2016.<br /> <br /> However, he did not turn himself in as requested and there were no more calls for him to make himself available to the police.<br /> <br /> The police are unable to say when and how Miller left Jamaica. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13741947/267230_93065_repro_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, March 29, 2017 12:00 AM Educate, instead of banning bag juice http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Educate--instead-of-banning-bag-juice_93973 Dear Editor, <br /> <br /> After watching the newscast on Monday, March 27, 2017 l started thinking about the policy put forward by Senator Ruel Reid, minister of education, about discontinuing the supply of bag juice to schools come September. And after much deliberation I now have more questions than answers to this dilemma.<br /> <br /> It was reported that this decision was taken based on the high sugar content of these juices and how they contribute to more and more people developing lifestyle diseases such diabetes and obesity. While I understand the need for us, as a people, to promote to the young the practice of a healthier diet to obtain a healthier lifestyle, I see this position as counterproductive.<br /> <br /> A ban on bag juice in schools does not prevent children from having access to it as it would still be sold by vendors, shops, supermarkets, etc. Parents would still be able to purchase them as part of their children&rsquo;s snacks at home. To totally eradicate this product from our children&rsquo;s diet one would have to ban it totally from the country, but would this move be a prudent one as many other products contain similar ingredients, and in many cases a higher sugar content?<br /> <br /> The fundamental question, from where I stand, is what is the alternative to the bag juice? Certainly not sodas or other juices that contain artificial flavouring and similar sugar content levels.<br /> <br /> The nutrition programme the Government provides for schools is intended to assist those who cannot always afford to purchase their meals at school, and I applaud them for wanting to travel a healthier route, but what about the bun that is a part of this offered diet? Speaking as a diabetic, the bun is just as dangerous as the juice.<br /> <br /> There are other factors to consider, as well: A ban on bag juice will definitely affect the man on the corner who makes his living by selling it. And it will affect those employed to a factory that manufactures this product.<br /> <br /> In the final analysis, it is our own responsibility to ensure that we eat right. Instead of restricting certain foods, let us look at educating our parents and children about the importance of eating healthily and ultimately allowing them to freely make eating choices because they see it as important, instead of arrogantly forcing the change through law and policy that may have other serious consequences.<br /> <br /> Gary Rowe<br /> <br /> magnett0072004@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13740811/Reidy-22_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, March 29, 2017 12:00 AM Beware US$100 notes, police urge businesses http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Beware-US-100-notes--police-urge-businesses_93979 The police are urging business operators in Kingston to be on the lookout for counterfeit US$100 notes being circulated by criminals.<br /> <br /> According to the police, counterfeit notes were tendered as payment at a business place in downtown Kingston earlier this month. Since then, other attempts have been made to pass off the fake money at other businesses in the Corporate Area.<br /> <br /> Yesterday one businessman, who opted to remain anonymous, told the Jamaica Observer that the criminals tendered the counterfeit notes at his store. He also said that 10 similar notes were tendered within the past two weeks at five locations.<br /> <br /> One man suspected of trying to use the fake money was held by security personnel and handed over to the police.<br /> <br /> The businessman, while noting that the last counterfeit note was tendered at his store on Friday, said the &ldquo;print job was very good&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> Police with whom the Observer spoke agreed, saying that the notes passed the ultraviolet light test and were also rejected at a bank.<br /> <br /> They urged business operators to be alert and take the necessary precautions when dealing with cash. They also suggested that financial institutions host workshops to sensitise the public about the features to look for when accepting paper money. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13741952/267172_93066_repro_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, March 29, 2017 12:00 AM Bill proposes new tier of JDF for 18-23-year-olds http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Bill-proposes-new-tier-of-JDF-for-18-23-year-olds_93991 Debate on a Bill establishing a third tier of service in the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) for youths aged 18-23 was opened in the House of Representatives yesterday by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.<br /> <br /> Holness told the House that the Jamaica National Service Corps (JNSC), which he first hinted at in the recent budget debate, will create an avenue for young people to become fully involved in empowering themselves through national service.<br /> <br /> Approximately 700 youth are expected to be drafted into this level of the JDF this year through the new window of recruitment which, according to the prime minister, is being established on the principle that &ldquo;every unattached youth must have the opportunity to learn, earn, give back, and save (or LEGS)&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> He noted that currently the JDF has two primary categories of service &mdash; the regular force, which consists of career soldiers who serve on a full-time basis; and the reserves, who serve when they are needed. He said that the JNSC would be a third category, providing a viable option for young people.<br /> <br /> The JDF, Holness said, would now have an increase of over 700 people in its annual intake, bringing the total intake to 1,000. However, he said that the JNSC would be a short-term, finite programme, wherein the principal focus will be on training and development along with defined aspects of work and military service.<br /> <br /> JNSC soldiers will be paid and, accordingly, be separate in identity and fully provided for in law.<br /> <br /> In his budget debate presentation, the prime minister noted that recruits will register and train for one year, and from that trained pool the best performers will be selected for the JDF, while the others would qualify for joining the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) or for private security jobs, based on the training they have received.<br /> <br /> He said that they would be subjected to the Defence Act, as full soldiers, under an amendment to be made to section 2012 of the Act.<br /> <br /> He also confirmed that regulations to the Act are being drafted to accommodate the development and will be tabled in the House within a month.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;So, effectively what we are doing is to use the capacity of the JDF to bring in our young men, especially, and give them the kind of disciplined regimented training that they need,&rdquo; he told the House, yesterday.<br /> <br /> Opposition spokesman on national security, Peter Bunting, said his side welcomed the initiative. However, he said that he had concerns about the funding, and the ages involved.<br /> <br /> Holness gave an assurance that the recruitment would not be politically manipulated, as it would be done through normal channels.<br /> <br /> He is expected close the debate when the House resumes next Tuesday. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13707434/263631_90297_repro_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, March 29, 2017 12:00 AM Obese nation http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Obese-nation_93943 More Jamaicans are obese today than 15 years ago.<br /> <br /> In fact, according to University of Technology, Jamaica Professor of Public Health and Nutrition Fitzroy Henry, obesity rates among adults have increased by one per cent, each year, since 2002.<br /> <br /> The burgeoning issue took centre stage at yesterday&rsquo;s launch of the Ministry of Health&rsquo;s National Food Industry Task Force (NFITF), which is tasked with formulating strategies to improve Jamaicans&rsquo; diet and lessen the economic burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). The ministry currently spends more than $170 million per year to treat NCDs.<br /> <br /> According to Professor Henry, who chairs the NFITF, locally, obesity rates among adults moved from 45 per cent in 2002 to 54 per cent in 2008, and 60 per cent in 2016.<br /> <br /> The professor said the figures should not be dismissed as merely statistics because they represent real people and real implications for public health, which includes a population that is at increased risk for cardiovascular diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.<br /> <br /> The health ministry is therefore on a mission &mdash; of which the launch of the food industry task force is the first step &mdash; to implement programmes to curtail the effects of obesity and chronic diseases now plaguing society.<br /> <br /> While data from the ministry indicate that two out of every three deaths locally are as a result of NCDs, Henry said being overweight is the main underlying cause of death in Jamaica due to fat consumption and daily intake of large quantities of sugar.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The main causes of death in Jamaica include heart disease, hypertension, cancer, diabetes, stroke, which are all related to obesity. When we look at the Caribbean figures, obesity is increasing exponentially. It is females more than males, but the males are catching up fast,&rdquo; the professor said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The daily target for sugar per day in children is about 25 grams or five teaspoons. For adults, it&rsquo;s about 50 grams, which is about 10 teaspoons,&rdquo; he continued.<br /> <br /> Henry said the global figures show Jamaica, Kuwait and Barbados topping the list of children between 13 and 15 years old who consume more than one bottle of soda daily.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Seventy-five per cent of boys between the ages of 13 and 15 drink more than one soda per day, on average, according to the Global School-based Student Health Survey in 2010. The girls in Jamaica are ranked third, only beaten by Kuwait and Barbados. We have serious problems. Twenty-seven per cent of boys and 33 per cent of girls are overweight, and when we look at it in the global picture, girls over 15 years have the highest rate of obesity,&rdquo; he continued.<br /> <br /> But, though the 18-member task force is expected to look at product reformulation &mdash; where manufacturers pledge to reduce the amount of salt, sugar, as well as saturated and trans fat in products &mdash; and food labelling to help Jamaicans choose healthy diets, among other things, it comes more than 10 years after it was conceived in 2002 by Dr Deanna Ashley, the first director of health promotion and protection in the health ministry.<br /> <br /> Could this delay be a factor in the current NCD crisis?<br /> <br /> Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton told the Jamaica Observer that he is not casting blame, because NCDs are a result of personal lifestyle choices. Having recognised the impact it is having on society, the minister said the Government is now doing something about it.<br /> <br /> At least three other Caribbean countries have gone ahead of Jamaica to tackle these very issues. Earlier this year, Trinidad banned the sale of soft drinks in schools and Dominica and Barbados implemented a tax on sugar products last year.<br /> <br /> While criticisms of public health lean towards infrastructure, Dr Tufton also said that it is now time to become more vocal on the preventative side of public health.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Unhealthy diet was the leading risk factor of the adult disease burden in Jamaica in 2010. Healthy lifestyle practices, including healthy dietary behaviours, could prevent as much as 80 per cent of the global burden of NCDs. The 2014 Global Status Report on NCDs states that 56 per cent of adults were estimated as being overweight and obese, with 25 per cent being classified as obese, 23 per cent had high blood pressure, and 10 per cent had high fasting blood glucose levels.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;To compound the issue, 28 per cent of adults were considered to be engaging in insufficient physical activity. What we eat, how much we eat, and how it is prepared are all issues of concern which must be addressed,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> Dr Tufton said the solution is not to close businesses but improve nutritional value of foods, encourage better consumption habits and an active lifestyle through a multi-sectoral approach, which includes the agriculture trade, food industry, civil society, education, and health. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13741954/183135_13176_repro_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, March 29, 2017 12:00 AM $4.9-b project to cut water losses delayed http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/-4-9-b-project-to-cut-water-losses-delayed_93977 The country will have to wait a while longer to start reaping the benefits of the $4.9-billion deal that the Government inked with Israeli non-revenue water reduction specialists Miya in July 2015, as work under the project did not get off the ground as planned.<br /> <br /> The Government engaged Miya in a co-management arrangement to achieve significant reduction in water losses by the National Water Commission (NWC) over five years.<br /> <br /> Under the initiative, which is funded by the Inter-American Development Bank, the global urban water efficiency company is supposed to implement measures that will allow the NWC to improve performance and maximise its revenue from supply.<br /> <br /> At the time of the signing of the agreement, then Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller had said the economic benefit to the NWC from the reduction of non-revenue water was estimated at just over $29.2 billion in the first five years.<br /> <br /> Yesterday, Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Job Creation and Economic Growth Dr Horace Chang said it will take another 18 months before the projected initial gains could be tabulated due to the delay in the start-up.<br /> <br /> He explained that there were challenges with procurement.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not sure if there was a defect in the RFP (request for proposals) because the bid was initially above what was projected for, and they had to negotiate the bid down. They could have aborted that bid and taken the number two bid &mdash; they didn&rsquo;t do that &mdash; and while the negotiations were proceeding, there was some debate in the policy as to whether or not they should do non-revenue water or some additional production. So the project was delayed for a long time,&rdquo; he outlined, but noted that the original terms of the contract are still in place. <br /> <br /> The minister was speaking with the Jamaica Observer after addressing the Rotary Club of St Andrew meeting at Hotel Four Seasons in Kingston.<br /> <br /> Theft, leaks, faulty meters,inaccuracies and other inefficiencies cause revenue loss for about 60 per cent of the NWC&rsquo;s supply. The Miya deal is supposed to reduce this to 37 per cent two years into the project; 30 per cent in three years; and 20 per cent in the fifth year. A major part of the undertaking by Miya is an audit of the network to determine how best to reduce the losses to the NWC.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;They have started actively&hellip; we have seen improvement in the billing. In other words, more water is going to the meters where we had problems. We expect to have much of it completed in 36 months,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> Funding for the project includes performance-based fees, which are only to be paid if contract targets are achieved. The NWC currently supplies potable water to 600,000 residents in Kingston and St Andrew.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13741948/267208_93064_repro_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, March 29, 2017 12:00 AM Jamaican mother of teen killed by white cop robbed of &lsquo;moral victory&rsquo; http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Jamaican-mother-of-teen-killed-by-white-cop-robbed-of----moral-victory----------_93925 NEW YORK, USA (CMC) &mdash; A Caribbean American legislator says that the Jamaican-born mother of a teenager killed by a white police officer five years ago and was allowed to resign from the New York Police Department (NYPD) has been &ldquo;robbed of an important emotional and moral victory&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> Officer Richard Haste, who resigned from the NYPD on Sunday, killed unarmed, 18-year-old Ramarley Graham in his Bronx home, in 2012, in front of his grandmother and six-year-old brother.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The fact the Richard Haste was allowed to leave on his own terms, resigning before termination, robbed Constance Malcolm (Graham&rsquo;s mother)of an important emotional and moral victory,&rdquo; New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It also robbed supporters and advocates, who through each denial of justice, told her and her family to just hold on, &lsquo;we will prevail&rsquo;,&rdquo; added Williams, deputy leader of the City Council.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;On a day that we all should be using to celebrate this step forward in accountability that has been lacking, somehow we still fell short. Not to mention the fact that Richard Haste should have been removed from the force years ago, denying him promotions received on Constance Malcolm&rsquo;s taxes.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Critically importantly now is to understand if there are any legal differences in the ramifications of Richard Haste resigning as opposed to being fired,&rdquo; said Williams, who represents the 45th Council District in Brooklyn.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;So far my understanding is he will not be eligible for a pension, and will not receive the commonly called &lsquo;Good Guy Letter&rsquo; for future employment.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;To be clear, Richard Haste should be in jail. Absent that, the only option left to the city was a departmental trial and removal from the force.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Williams urged the deBlasio administration in New York City to now take immediate steps &ldquo;to confirm any distinctions that may exist, and make clear the full impact on the officer who murdered Ramarley Graham, unarmed, in his house, and in front of his grandmother and little brother.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Only then can we try and salvage the accountability so many thought would come from today&rsquo;s news,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> Haste said that Malcolm has &ldquo;got every right to be mad&rdquo; and that he wanted to talk with her &mdash; an offer she quickly rejected.<br /> <br /> A day after he resigned from the NYPD instead of being fired, Haste, 35, told the Daily News that he wished he&rsquo;d been able to talk with the family since the February 2, 2012 shooting.<br /> <br /> But he said the NYPD&rsquo;s communications department, known as DCPI, had prevented him from speaking.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been wanting to talk to the family since day one. I&rsquo;ve been restricted by DCPI. You want to speak, but you can&rsquo;t,&rdquo; Haste said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;She&rsquo;s got every right to be mad,&rdquo; he added, referring to Malcolm. &ldquo;I felt like they deserved to hear what happened.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> But Malcolm, according to the Daily News, was not interested, saying that Haste had his opportunity to speak at a NYPD departmental trial regarding the shooting.<br /> <br /> Haste was found guilty Friday, at the departmental trial, of having &ldquo;exercised poor tactical judgement leading up to the discharge of his firearm&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Richard Haste sat through a trial and lied up there. Now you want to meet with me? That was your opportunity, on that stand. So, no, I won&rsquo;t meet with him,&rdquo; Malcolm said, adding, &ldquo;nothing he could say to me is going to take away that pain.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Haste said his supervisors at the 47th Precinct stationhouse in the Bronx had recognised he was an &ldquo;effective cop&rdquo; and assigned him to the plainclothes narcotics unit.<br /> <br /> TheDaily News said police had suspected Graham of participating in a drug deal and carrying a gun when Haste followed him into his Wakefield, Bronx home.<br /> <br /> Haste, who fatally shot Graham in the bathroom, said he knew the risks involved in the job.<br /> <br /> Malcolm was outraged Haste was allowed to resign, lamenting that two other cops involved in the tragedy remain on the force. Malcolm also wants nine other officers who responded to the scene to be fired, noting that none of them have been charged.<br /> <br /> A Bronx grand jury had indicted Haste, but the judge threw out the indictment because of a legal technicality. A second grand jury decided not to indict him. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13741862/267166_92944_repro_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, March 29, 2017 12:00 AM Chuck says National ID System will be game changer http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Chuck-says-National-ID-System-will-be-game-changer_93885 Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck says the National Identification System will be a huge game changer in the fight against crime.<br /> <br /> According to the minister, the system will not only be able to assist the police, but will also be useful with banks and other entities in ascertaining the true identity of individuals.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We have recently passed legislation in Parliament. The National Identification System will be put in place very soon, where every single Jamaican will have an identity by biometrics, including fingerprint, eye colour and DNA,&rdquo; the minister said.<br /> <br /> Chuck was addressing the 40th anniversary celebration for the Jamaica Constabulary Force Class of 1977, at the Jewel Runaway Bay Resort in St Ann last weekend.<br /> <br /> The minister said whenever the police stop or accost someone, the true identity of that person must be known beyond the shadow of a doubt. He also noted that the police will be provided with the necessary tools or machines so that a person&rsquo;s identification card can be swiped and where all the biometric information will immediately become available.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;If that person gives you the wrong name, then the results after swiping the card will tell you if that person is trying to mislead you,&rdquo; Chuck said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Moreover, if at a crime scene you find fingerprints and you don&rsquo;t know who they belong to, a quick check with the National Identification System headquarters will reveal the identity of the person. They will be able to tell you, because the fingerprints will match those that are already in the system,&rdquo; he added.<br /> <br /> The minister said people should not be worried about privacy violation, as the record will be kept secret and be used only for the intended purpose.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It is simply to catch persons who are committing crimes and using other identities, and also to remain one step ahead of the criminals. It will arguably be one of the most important and effective crime-fighting tools yet,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13470335/244386_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, March 29, 2017 12:00 AM Absent witnesses stall trial of accused councillor in fatal road crash http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Absent-witnesses-stall-trial-of-accused-councillor-in-fatal-road-crash_93871 MONTEGO BAY, St James &mdash; The trial of councillor for the Salt Spring <br /> <br /> division of the St James Municipal Corporation &mdash; the People&rsquo;s National Party&rsquo;s (PNP) Sylvan Reid &mdash; failed to get off the ground when the matter was called up on Monday in the St James Circuit Court.<br /> <br /> The accused is facing multiple charges in connection with the alleged death in a road accident of 14-year-old Jouvhaine Whitmore, son of former Jamaican national football coach Theodore Whitmore.<br /> <br /> The Jamaica Observer learnt that the delay was as a result of the failure of three witnesses to show up in court.<br /> <br /> Justice Viviene Harris last week Monday issued subpoenas for the witnesses to appear in court. However, the court was told on Monday that only two of the three witnesses were found and served.<br /> <br /> In addition, the prosecutor, Layton Morris, asked for time to allow him to consult with the director of public prosecutions.<br /> <br /> The judge, meanwhile, gave Monday, April 3 as the deadline for warrants to be executed on the witnesses who disobeyed the order of the court.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The witnesses who have been served from last week are not here. The two of them have been served and they have disobeyed the order of the court. I am not adjourning the matter any further, you have my word on that,&rdquo; Justice Harris told coach Whitmore and another witness present in court on Monday when she gave April 3 as the date for continuation of the case.<br /> <br /> Councillor Reid&rsquo;s bail was subsequently extended.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, Reid&rsquo;s lead attorney, Queen&rsquo;s Counsel K D Knight, told the court that the case should not go any further.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The incident was November 9, 2013. One witness gave a statement in May 2015. One person is asking a question. One sees men and [a] woman. One see green shirt and hand. One sees no hand,&rdquo; said Knight, in reference to statements collected.<br /> <br /> To an outburst of laughter, Knight said: &ldquo;Let me tell you, the way the society is polarised, if that person is seen in a green shirt he would never bear the title he bears, which is councillor... For my own part, I don&rsquo;t think it is right, because I have a green shirt, but I don&rsquo;t wear it in public... I believe if I like a green shirt, I wear it. But the society doesn&rsquo;t once you are in the citrus group. So all of these [are] odd things.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The party colour for the PNP, of which Councillor Reid and Knight are members, is orange, hence the lawyer&rsquo;s reference to the citrus group.<br /> <br /> The police reported that at around 5:00 pm on Saturday, November 9, 2013, three men were seen leaving the scene of an accident which claimed the life of young Whitmore, at the intersection of Retirement and Tucker roads in Granville, St James.<br /> <br /> Following the fatal accident, in which young Whitmore was reportedly hit from his bicycle, Councillor Reid allegedly reported his SUV stolen to the police.<br /> <br /> An eyewitness, who had visited the station to report the matter, pointed out Reid as one of the three men who was seen leaving the vehicle at the time of the accident, according to the police.<br /> <br /> Charges were laid against Reid on Tuesday, March 3, 2015, following a ruling by the director of public prosecutions.<br /> <br /> Reid was charged with causing death by dangerous driving, failing to report an accident, failing to stop at an accident scene, and for having no insurance coverage. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13741779/171029__w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, March 29, 2017 12:00 AM Government to provide transportation for rural students on PATH http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Government-to-provide-transportation-for-rural-students-on-PATH_93948 Government will, as of this September, be providing school transportation for students who are on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) in five rural parishes.<br /> <br /> The aim is to eliminate the problem of students being absent from schools due to transportation problems.<br /> <br /> Education Minister Senator Ruel Reid, who made the announcement yesterday, said he and Transport Minister Mike Henry are having dialogue on the issue and will be moving to have the bus system rolled out in the next school year, as a pilot project in St Elizabeth, St Thomas, St Mary, Hanover and St James.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We seriously have to look at this measure and&hellip; as I make further representation to Cabinet it is going to be a major initiative going forward,&rdquo; said Senator Reid of the planned transportation system for students on PATH.<br /> <br /> Reid, who was addressing yesterday&rsquo;s Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica President&rsquo;s Forum at the Jamaica Pegasus in Kingston, said: &ldquo;It makes no sense we are offering free access to education but they can&rsquo;t receive it, because they can&rsquo;t even reach.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> According to the minister, the new initiative is being looked at against the background that 20 per cent of children are absent from school daily because they cannot afford bus fares.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Fifty per cent of all the children in our schools are on the PATH programme, and it&rsquo;s not a difficult mathematical equation because if you have 20 per cent poverty then it simply means that those who are at the poverty line are having an average of two children and they have more than two,&rdquo; said the education minister.<br /> <br /> He added that the Government, in addition to providing lunch for PATH students and book rentals will also be paying for their school identification cards and health insurance come September.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;So there is no excuse; but what I now need is to get them to school and take them back home safely,&rdquo; Minister Reid said.<br /> <br /> The minster said the focus is being placed on children in rural areas because those in the Corporate Area readily have access to Jamaica Urban Transit Company buses, which are highly subsidised.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;&hellip; So we have these poor people way up in the hills who can barely get anything out to the markets to get an income to send their kids to school and they need help more. These are the same very kids who don&rsquo;t get to schools, so if we are going to really improve our country and make sure education is available, the State will also have to invest to get those kids to school,&rdquo; the minister emphasised. <br /> <br /> He said when the prime minister had called for a removal of the barriers to secondary education many did not understand his non-mandatory parent contribution policy.<br /> <br /> Added the minister: &ldquo;I have seen data in several parishes where over 40 per cent of households are on PATH, there are many schools in the rural areas where over 90 per cent of the students are on PATH. So in a quick review some of the anxiety about policy shift in terms of non-mandatory fees were unfounded.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> &mdash; Tanesha Mundle http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13741730/262204_93009_repro_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, March 29, 2017 12:00 AM PNP group says Phillips &lsquo;heralds a hopeful future for the nation&rsquo; http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/PNP-group-says-Phillips--heralds-a-hopeful-future-for-the-nation-_93912 THE professional arm of the Opposition People&rsquo;s National Party (PNP) &mdash; the Patriots &mdash; says new Party President Peter Phillips heralds a hopeful future for the nation and is the best-prepared Comrade to lead the party and country at this time.<br /> <br /> Phillips, the spokesman on finance, became the fifth leader of the PNP last Sunday.<br /> <br /> Chairman of the Patriots Javette Nixon said: &ldquo;The Patriots will be relentless in its support of the new president and his agenda of inclusion of new blood to grow the party. We will double our efforts to recruit new members to create a new brigade of young professionals to advance the objectives of building a new Jamaica.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> And paying tribute to the former PNP President Portia Simpson Miller, the Patriots&rsquo; general secretary, Omar Newell described her as, &ldquo;the mother of Jamaica&rsquo;s economic modernity and the nation&rsquo;s most morally dignified leader to date&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Her place in history is secured. Having served as the first female president of the PNP and prime minister of Jamaica, she may even become the Parliament&rsquo;s first &lsquo;10-star&rsquo; general.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Portia Simpson Miller is an example of the kind of outcome the People&rsquo;s National Party wants for all of Jamaica &mdash; progress! She has a fascinating journey, moving from Wood Hall in St Catherine to occupying a permanent space in the hearts of all Jamaicans who now appreciate her service to party and country,&rdquo; Newell said.<br /> <br /> The Patriots said the new PNP president has already taken action to signal his focus on a new approach in bringing the organisation together, and his call for expansion of the recruitment effort is most appropriate at this time. <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13499713/246999_77177_repro_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, March 29, 2017 12:00 AM Instead of renouncing permanent resident status, become a citizen http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Instead-of-renouncing-permanent-resident-status--become-a-citizen_93947 Dear Mr Brown,<br /> <br /> I currently have permanent resident status in Canada. However, I have been living and working in Jamaica for the past 18 months. Do you think I should give up my status? What would be the consequences of doing that?<br /> <br /> &mdash; BN<br /> <br /> Dear BN:<br /> <br />  <br /> <br /> Although I do not know the basis of your decision to continue living in Jamaica, I can provide a general response.<br /> <br />  <br /> <br /> Renunciation of permanent resident status<br /> <br />  <br /> <br /> As you may know, people with permanent resident status in Canada are required to spend two years out of every five in the country. The renunciation programme was introduced as a means for permanent residents who fail to meet the residency obligation and have no desire to remain in Canada to still be able to visit Canada without being barred from entry.<br /> <br /> This means that instead of being barred from entry with a removal order for failing to meet residency requirements, those who give up their status voluntarily face no negative consequences if they choose to re-apply for immigration to Canada in the future.<br /> <br /> There are valid reasons for renouncing one&rsquo;s status, such as:<br /> <br /> &bull; The desire to obtain citizenship or permanent resident status in another country, which requires you to renounce permanent resident status in Canada.<br /> <br /> &bull; The failure to meet the residency requirement.<br /> <br /> &bull; The lack of desire to continue living in Canada permanently.<br /> <br />  <br /> <br /> Reasons<br /> <br />  <br /> <br /> In general, the pattern of renouncing permanent resident status may have less to do with Canada, and more to do with the policies of one&rsquo;s homeland, such as recognition of dual citizenships.<br /> <br /> Thousands of permanent residents renounce their permanent resident status. There have been reports that the highest numbers are citizens from China and India. China and India do not allow their citizens to hold two passports.<br /> <br /> The chief reasons deal mainly with not having to prove their permanent residency, as many are entrepreneurs who operate businesses or have high-earning positions in their homelands and spend significant time outside of Canada. However, their children often remain in Canada to complete school and to begin their careers as permanent residents or citizens. Upon retirement, the children with status in Canada may sponsor them to become permanent residents again.<br /> <br />  <br /> <br /> Regret<br /> <br />  <br /> <br /> Once your permanent resident status is renounced, that is, the application is approved by an immigration officer, you will no longer enjoy the benefits of permanent residence, such as access to social and health services provided to permanent residents by the Government of Canada or your province or territory of residence. However, you would still be able to visit Canada, if you are granted a visitor&rsquo;s visa.<br /> <br /> Based on the feedback I have obtained from some of my clients who voluntarily gave up their permanent resident status or failed to meet the residency requirement, they often regret it &mdash; sometimes decades later.<br /> <br /> As such, my advice would be to obtain your citizenship, if possible. That way you will have options as citizenship, once obtained, does not have residency requirements nor would it expire just because you live in Jamaica.<br /> <br /> Please visit<br /> <br /> jamaica2canada.com for additional information on Canadian permanent residence programmes, including Express Entry, the Study and Work progamme, Visitor&rsquo;s visas or Appeals, etc.<br /> <br />  <br /> <br /> Antonn Brown, BA, (Hons), LLB, MSc, RCIC, is an immigration counsel and an accredited Canadian education agent of JAMAICA2CANADA.COM-a Canadian immigration & education firm in Kingston. Send questions/comments to jamaica2canada@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13518103/248660_75123_repro_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, March 29, 2017 12:00 AM Minister promises better facilities at Portland fire stations http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Minister-promises-better-facilities-at-Portland-fire-stations-------_93888 MINISTER of Local Government and Community Development Desmond McKenzie says that steps will be taken to improve the facilities at the Buff Bay and Port Antonio fire stations in Portland.<br /> <br /> During a tour of the fire stations last Friday, McKenzie said, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to do everything that is humanly possible to ensure that those two locations are conducive of good working environments. These men and women deserve to work in conditions that allow them to perform at the level they are expected to. I have already taken steps to correct it, and I&rsquo;m going to do all that I can to make sure it is done.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> McKenzie commended the administrators at the Port Antonio station, pointing out that through their own ingenuity they had created a good environment for their firefighters, despite infrastructure challenges.<br /> <br /> Some of the improvements, he said, will include increasing the complement of computers from one to at least three, infrastructural corrections, and improving the accommodations. The local government minister also promised to look into the request for another fire unit in the new financial year.<br /> <br /> Former mayor of Port Antonio, Wayne McKenzie, in a Jamaica Observer interview in 2015, described the resources of the fire service in the parish as &ldquo;woefully inadequate&rdquo;, pointing to increasing incidents of serious bush fires over the past six years making the need for more units urgent. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13722663/Desmond-Mckenzie_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, March 29, 2017 12:00 AM Minister proposes free university education for member of poor family http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Minister-proposes-free-university-education-for-member-of--poor-family_93935 Minister of Education, Youth and Information Senator Ruel Reid has engaged tertiary institutions in a discussion about the implementation of an affirmative action policy for poor and vulnerable youth through a system of bonded scholarships.<br /> <br /> The minister said he has already started a conversation with The University of the West Indies, in which the university expressed a willingness to begin a programme where the State would fund tuition for the first person of a poor household who matriculates.<br /> <br /> Senator Reid said this initiative would be for persons pursuing a degree programme that is aligned to the country&rsquo;s strategic direction, particularly as it relates to expanding the global services outsourcing sector.<br /> <br /> The minister was addressing a forum with stakeholders in the education sector, at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Monday, to discuss how institutions must restructure to best meet the growing business process and knowledge outsourcing needs of the labour market.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I am going to shake up the education system. We are going to have to find a way to ensure that the same students who we are taking from the margins, that we find a path for them,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> Senator Reid, meanwhile, urged tertiary level institutions to seek to align their programmes with the imperatives set by the Government for the long-term growth and development of the country, in order to create the required skill sets.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We are very clear that the BPO industry is one of those areas that we have to be prepared for, and in that regard, the entire education system needs to understand that we are changing the structure, the dynamics of that system,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, president and chief executive officer of the Port Authority of Jamaica, Professor Gordon Shirley, called for the private sector to be more heavily integrated into the delivery of business process outsourcing (BPO) services and to collaborate with the HEART Trust/NTA in expanding the training opportunities for the sector.<br /> <br /> Professor Shirley said he believes the Government&rsquo;s target of creating 200,000 new jobs in the sector over the next three years is possible, but will require a new approach to training across the education sector.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We have to be disruptive. We will have to think differently on how we build on what we have and augment those existing skill sets,&rdquo; Professor Shirley said.<br /> <br /> President of the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica, Dr Guna Muppuri, also called on leaders in the education sector and educators to be prepared to provide the workforce with the requisite skills for the global services sector.<br /> <br /> He also proposed that the development of a BPO University, be considered, to provide the personnel for the market.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13741399/267088__w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, March 29, 2017 12:00 AM TAJ outlines new property tax regime http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/TAJ-outlines-new-property-tax-regime KINGSTON, Jamaica &mdash; Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) is advising landowners that the new property tax regime, recently announced by the Government, takes effect on April 1, which coincides with the property tax due date for fiscal year 2017-18.<br /> <br /> As a result of the reform of the property tax system, the number of value bands has been expanded to nine, with reduced tax rates ranging from a flat rate of $1,000 on properties valued at $400,000 or less, up to high of 1.3 per cent on properties valued over $30,000,000. <br /> <br /> According to a TAJ release this morning, the lowered rates are being applied against 2013 property valuations and will also now apply on a graduating scale allowing property owners to benefit from the rate applicable to each preceding value band. <br /> <br /> The ranges are as follows:<br /> <br /> for the first $400,000.00                ...            ...            $1,000.00<br /> <br /> for the next $400,000.00               ...            ...            0.80 per cent<br /> <br /> for the next $700,000.00               ...            ...            0.85 per cent<br /> <br /> for the next $1,500,000.00           ...            ...            0.90 per cent<br /> <br /> for the next $1,500,000.00           ...            ...            1.05 per cent<br /> <br /> for the next $2,500,000.00           ...            ...            1.10 per cent<br /> <br /> for the next $5,000,000.00           ...            ...            1.15 per cent<br /> <br /> for the next $18,000,000.00         ...            ...            1.25 per cent<br /> <br /> for every dollar thereafter           ...            ...            1.30 per cent<br /> <br />  <br /> <br /> Based on the adjustments, more than 272, 000 property owners will benefit from a reduction in property tax assessed, or experience no change in the amount charged in 2016, while others will see increases of varying percentages.<br /> <br /> TAJ said there are mechanisms in place by which people may object to their property valuation or to seek relief from property tax, where special circumstances apply. <br /> <br /> Property owners may serve a Notice of Objection to the Commissioner of Land Valuation in respect of their valuation. Individuals may also apply for a special discretionary relief based on hardship; for statutory relief where the potential use of the land differs from its current use; or for agricultural de-rating in respect of agricultural lands, TAJ explained.<br /> <br /> The tax authority also reminded that property tax payments may be made in half-yearly instalments on April 1 and October 1 or in quarterly instalments April 1, July 1, October 1, and January 1. <br /> <br /> However, payments in full, or any instalment, should be made by the end of the calendar month in which the amount is due. <br /> <br /> Property owners are also advised that they may also consider making the payments on a monthly basis. It should be noted however that periodic payments do not apply to the flat rate charge of $1,000, which should be paid in full by April 30.<br /> <br /> TAJ said it has several channels of payment available to facilitate payments. <br /> <br /> Payments may be made online via the Tax Portal www.jamaicatax.gov.jm; at any of the 29 tax offices island wide; at announced out-stations during the month of April to June; and via two recently commissioned Mobile Tax Collection Units, operated on a scheduled basis in partnership with the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development.<br /> <br /> For added convenience, during the month or April, in addition to the Portmore Tax Office, several of TAJ&rsquo;s offices will be open to the public on Saturdays from 10:00am to 4:00pm.<br /> <br />   http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13743544/TAXOFFICEA20100421AM1_w504_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, March 29, 2017 10:08 AM Businessman jailed in mobile fraud scheme linked to the Caribbean http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Businessman-jailed-in-mobile-fraud-scheme-linked-to-the-Caribbean FLORIDA, United States (CMC) &mdash; A US federal court has sentenced the owner and operator of a Florida-based telecommunications company to 75 months in prison in connection with a sophisticated global cellphone fraud scheme linked to the Caribbean.<br /> <br /> The Department of Justice (DOJ) said the scheme involved compromising cellphone customers&rsquo; accounts and &ldquo;cloning&rdquo; their phones to make fraudulent international calls.<br /> <br /> Ramon Batista, 50, the owner and operator of Arymyx Inc, earlier pleaded guilty before Senior US District Judge Daniel T K Hurley in the Southern District of Florida to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud; access device fraud; the use, production or possession of modified telecommunications instruments; and the use or possession of hardware or software configured to obtain telecommunications services.<br /> <br /> He also pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.<br /> <br /> Batista&rsquo;s co-conspirator, Farintong Calderon, 38, pleaded guilty to the same count of conspiracy, the DOJ said and was sentenced to three years in jail.<br /> <br /> According to the plea agreements, Batista, Calderon and their co-conspirators participated in a scheme to steal access to and fraudulently open new cellphone accounts using the personal information of individuals around the United States.<br /> <br /> Batista and others also operated &ldquo;call sites&rdquo; in South Florida and elsewhere, where they would receive telecommunications identifying information associated with customers&rsquo; accounts from Calderon and additional co-conspirators, and use that data, as well as other software and hardware, to reprogram cellphones that they controlled, the DOJ said.<br /> <br /> It said Batista and other co-conspirators would then transmit thousands of international calls over the internet to the call sites, where Batista and others would route them through the re-programmed cellphones to Cuba, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and other countries with high calling rates.<br /> <br /> The calls were billed to the customers&rsquo; compromised accounts, the DOJ said adding that Batista admitted that his role in the scheme included selling fraudulent telecommunications services through Arymyx; acting as a &ldquo;call site operator&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> The DOJ said Batista also admitted that he sent or received 1,132 &ldquo;lines,&rdquo; that is, combinations of telecommunications identifying numbers for specific devices or accounts associated with US cellphone customers, and that the fraudulent use of these &ldquo;lines&rdquo; caused almost US$800,000 in losses to Sprint and Verizon.<br /> <br /> In addition, Calderon admitted that he was a &ldquo;line supplier&rdquo; based in New York City, who provided stolen or compromised telecommunications identifying information to Batista and other co-conspirators in Florida and elsewhere.<br /> <br /> Among other things, the DOJ said Calderon admitted that he sent or received about 1,408 &ldquo;lines&rdquo; and was personally responsible for more than US$250,000 in losses resulting from the scheme.<br /> <br /> Batista and Calderon are the third and fourth defendants to be sentenced in the case by Senior Judge Hurley, the DOJ said.  Edwin Fana was sentenced last December to 48 months in prison and Jose Santana was sentenced in January to 52 months in prison.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13743230/gavel--2-_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, March 29, 2017 9:57 AM UDC leases Caymanas Golf & Country Club http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/UDC-leases-Caymanas-Golf---Country-Club KINGSTON, Jamaica &mdash; The Urban Development Corporation (UDC) and the The Caymanas Acquisition Group Ltd have signed an agreement for the lease of the Caymanas Golf and Country Club.<br /> <br /> The UDC in a release said the lease, which becomes effective on April 1, will see the group taking possession within 30 days thereafter and will be in effect for a period of 10 years. <br /> <br /> This, according to UDC, was communicated to the staff of the Golf Club at a meeting last Wednesday at the final in a series of meetings geared towards preparing the staff for the acquisition and the resulting redundancy.<br /> <br /> The property is leased for the sum of $12 million per annum with a development clause that the lessee must inject $30 million dollars of equity for the development and improvement of the facility during the lease term. Eighty per cent of that capital injection must occur within the first three years, UDC noted.<br /> <br /> The Caymanas Golf and Country Club is situated on the Caymanas Estate property and is owned by the UDC, which has managed the entity for approximately 19 years. <br /> <br /> The UDC said the leasing of the Caymanas Golf and Country club is in keeping with the Corporation&rsquo;s thrust to drive the development process through partnership with the private sector. <br /> <br /> Caymanas Estate, a designated UDC area since 2009, is being developed in a mix of residential, commercial and light industrial properties. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13743510/UDC-logo_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, March 29, 2017 9:43 AM Ten police officers vie for top cop award http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Ten-police-officers-vie-for-top-cop-award KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) &mdash; Ten police officers are to vie for top honours in the LASCO/Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Police Officer of the Year competition.<br /> <br /> The finalists were f&ecirc;ted at a reception held on Monday at the Police Officers&rsquo; Club on Hope Road in Kingston.<br /> <br /> In her remarks, Acting Commissioner of Police, Novelette Grant, congratulated the participants for reaching so far in the competition.<br /> <br /> She noted that the event has been beneficial to both the police and the community as a whole.<br /> <br />  &ldquo;It has brought out the best in persons. I have sat on the panel a couple of times and I have seen good projects, good ideas and very creative ways of seeking to ensure that community-based policing principles are adhered to,&rdquo; Grant said.<br /> <br />  &ldquo;I am encouraging that regardless of where you place in the competition, continue the projects that you have started, because they are worthwhile and you wouldn&rsquo;t have reached this far if your projects were not good. So, continue to work on them, regardless of the outcome,&rdquo; she added.<br /> <br /> The acting commissioner encouraged the participants to continue to build good relationships with the police and the citizens. Grant also thanked LASCO for its sterling contribution over the years.<br /> <br /> For his part, Managing Director of LASCO Distributors Limited, Peter Chin, wished the finalists all the very best in their upcoming interviews and presentations.<br /> <br />  &ldquo;We have been doing this programme for 15 years and, for us, it is our very simple way of just saying thank you, and our contribution for the recognition that you need at this step,&rdquo; Chin said.<br /> <br /> The LASCO/JCF Police Officer of the Year programme continues to motivate and publicly acknowledge members of the force who demonstrate outstanding professionalism and dedication. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13743222/top-cop_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, March 29, 2017 9:30 AM Motivated Brazil becomes 1st to qualify for 2018 World Cup http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Motivated-Brazil-becomes-1st-to-qualify-for-2018-World-Cup SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) &mdash; Less than three years after the most humiliating loss in its proud football history, a resurgent Brazil has become the first team to qualify for the World Cup in Russia.<br /> <br /> With a convincing 3-0 victory over Paraguay on Tuesday and results going its way elsewhere in South American qualifying, the Brazilians ensured they'll join host Russia at the World Cup next year. Not bad for a group filled with players who endured the 7-1 trashing by Germany in the 2014 World Cup semifinal &mdash; a group many fans not long ago treated with disdain.<br /> <br /> The road to qualification was rocky in the beginning, though. Dunga's surprising appointment as head coach after Brazil lost its home World Cup distanced many fans. Frustration built after a quarterfinal elimination to Paraguay at the 2015 Copa America.<br /> <br /> Elimination in the group stage at Copa America Centenario in the United States in 2016 ended Dunga's run as Brazil coach.<br /> <br /> In that time, defeats gave popularity to a new Brazilian saying every time something goes terribly wrong: "Every day is a new 7-1."<br /> <br /> Brazil's football confederation didn't need merely a successor for Dunga. It needed a national hero.<br /> <br /> The most popular choice was Corinthians coach Tite, who was overlooked after the 2014 World Cup debacle.<br /> <br /> Tite was not in charge of the Brazil team that won gold at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, with Neymar back in fine form, but his advice was surely heeded. That title gave Brazil some confidence back, players say.<br /> <br /> When World Cup qualifiers resumed in September last year, Tite's team was ready to dominate. A 3-0 win at Ecuador was followed by a 2-1 home victory over Colombia made Brazilians sure they were on the right path. With the 3-0 victory over Argentina in the same stadium where Brazil had been humiliated against Germany, the coach's reputation was enhanced.<br /> <br /> Results and style have become so impressive that Brazil secured one of the top four South American direct places at the World Cup with four matches remaining in the qualifying tournament. It has become a team to fear again, as adversaries such as Uruguay's coach Oscar Tabarez acknowledged. When Tite took over, Brazil was sixth in the standings.<br /> <br /> Now, the coach who made the contemporary Brazil team more like the Brazil of old is in celebration mode.<br /> <br /> "Thank you, my good God. I will have a caipirinha this big," the coach said, showing with his hands that he wanted an extra-large drink.<br /> <br /> Brazil no longer depends entirely on Neymar, and it can play without its teenage target-man Gabriel Jesus and still score many goals. The strong defense has conceded only two goals in eight matches. There are still weaknesses, including the lack of experience of the coach against teams from outside South America and the corruption scandals that affect its football confederation. But the momentum is clearly wearing yellow again.<br /> <br /> "Everything changed," winger Marcelo said. "You can see the atmosphere, how much players are giving. Everyone is working hard in each training, giving our lives."<br /> <br /> Under the new management, Brazil won eight straight matches and secured 24 of its 33 points. Second-place Colombia has 24 points total from its 14 games.<br /> <br /> Neymar is also different, more mature. In the 4-1 thrashing of Uruguay last Thursday, he gave the world a moment of revelation. Before he scored Brazil's third goal, Neymar could have fallen in a challenge with defender Coates, who had already been booked.<br /> <br /> Instead of diving, though, the Barcelona star stayed on his feet and netted the best goal of the night.<br /> <br /> "There were many fouls on me," Neymar said of the Paraguayan defense. "But I don't care anymore. They can hit me as much as they want. It is the only way they will stop me."<br /> <br /> Some of the veterans of that 7-1 loss to Germany are key to Brazil's success too. Wingers Dani Alves and Marcelo and midfielder Paulinho are all starters. And they want to avenge the humbling defeat.<br /> <br /> "We are just getting started," Paulinho said. "Adversaries better watch out because Brazil is coming with it all." http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13743194/Brazil-FIFA_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, March 29, 2017 9:00 AM Defence Act to reflect post of Chief of Defence Staff http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Defence-Act-to-reflect-post-of-Chief-of-Defence-Staff KINGSTON, Jamaica &mdash; The Defence Act is to be amended to formalise the designation of the commanding officer of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) as the Chief of Defence Staff.<br /> <br /> Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the House of Representatives yesterday that the JDF has been using the designation over time, without making the necessary amendments to the Defence Act.<br /> <br /> However, he said that in amending the Defence Act to accommodate the establishment of the Jamaica National Service Corps (JNSC), which will comprise a new level of service specifically for youths aged 18-23, the government would also amend the act to formalize the use of the title.<br /> <br /> He noted that amending the act would codify the replacement of the older designation of Chief of Staff to the more modern title of Chief of Defence Staff.<br /> <br /> The Chief of Defence Staff is usually a single-point military advisor to defence ministers on military matters, with authority over the chiefs of other areas of defence, including air and sea.<br /> <br /> Jamaica&rsquo;s last Chief of Staff of the JDF was Major-General Stewart Saunders, who replaced Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin in 2007. Saunders was also appointed Jamaica&rsquo;s first Chief of Defence Staff in 2008. <br /> <br /> He was succeeded by Major-General Antony Bertram Anderson, who retired in 2016 to become the country&rsquo;s first National Security Advisor. Anderson was succeeded by current Chief of Defence Staff, Major-General Rocky Meade.<br /> <br /> Balford Henry http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13743238/Andrew-Holness--2-_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, March 29, 2017 8:48 AM US attorney for Jamaican lottery scam defendant wants out http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/US-attorney-for-Jamaican-lottery-scam-defendant-wants-out BISMARCK, North Dakota (AP) &mdash; The court-appointed lawyer for a Jamaican man accused in North Dakota of masterminding a multimillion-dollar lottery scam says he can't work with his client.<br /> <br /> Lavrick Willocks is charged in federal court with conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering. Authorities say the sophisticated scheme bilked more than 70 mostly elderly Americans, including a North Dakota woman, out of more than US$5.6 million.<br /> <br /> Defense attorney John Goff filed a motion Tuesday to withdraw from the case, saying he can no longer "communicate effectively" with Willocks. Willocks had previously filed court documents asking for a new attorney.<br /> <br /> Another defendant in the case, Sanjay Williams, was sentenced in 2015 to 20 years in prison after he was convicted by a Bismarck jury. Williams had two court-appointed lawyers replaced in his case. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13743170/Lavrick-Willocks_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, March 29, 2017 8:10 AM Police warn patrons in appeal for peace at #Champs2017 http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Police-appeal-for-peace-at--Champs2017--offer-tips-to-patrons KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) &mdash; The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is urging the public to maintain the peace during the five-day staging of the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls&rsquo; Athletics Championships, which got under way on Tuesday at the National Stadium. <br /> <br /> Speaking in a JIS interview, founder of the Peace for Champs initiative, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Terrence Bent, said in recent years there has been a significant reduction in incidents involving schools and spectators.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We want to maintain this peace, so we are imploring patrons to refrain from any form of violence during the competition. The police will be patrolling on foot&hellip; and our mobile units will be on the ground,&rdquo; he said. He noted that plain-clothes police will also be on patrol.<br /> <br /> Bent said that arrests will be made for offences or conduct that is likely to cause a negative impact on the championships.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We will have the Peace for Champs Unit, which includes the police, security, parent-teacher associations (PTAs), and the schools with their administrations, which will be out to take decisive actions where necessary.  So, parents, remind your children to be civil,&rdquo; he urged.<br /> <br /> Bent made a further appeal for sponsors, suppliers of goods and services, and spectators to exercise safety precautions. &ldquo;If you have your valuables, like excessive cash, cell phones&hellip; be careful not to expose them. We recommend that you not wear jewellery,&rdquo; he advised.<br /> <br /> He is also encouraging patrons to get to the venue early to avoid the crowd, which can create a negative experience.<br /> <br /> He noted that persons who do not have a lawfully obtained ticket or accreditation pass will not get into the stadium. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;It makes no sense coming to the gate to try to enter, because the security mechanisms will be strict, and if we pick you up, you will be removed from the compound. Every personal ticket holder has a seat in the Grand Stand, and those who are accredited have the appropriate pass with a picture, and patrons for the bleachers have their armbands for proper entry,&rdquo; he pointed out.<br /> <br /> Bent is encouraging patrons, on leaving the venue, to walk in groups, take routes that are well-lit and utilise the services of the buses that will be provided. <br /> <br />  &ldquo;I know the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) will be supporting the process by assisting people with departure after the event; make use of them,&rdquo; he advised.<br /> <br /> He is reminding the public that there is a list of items that are prohibited from entering the Independence Park Limited (IPL) complex or the stadium during the championship.<br /> <br /> These include firearms, knives and any form of cutting instrument; tall, pointed umbrellas; large igloos; frozen drinks, glass bottles and alcohol; long flagpoles; and anything over the dimension of 12 by 14 by 8.<br /> <br /> Lighters, cigarettes and marijuana are also barred, and the no-smoking ban will be strictly enforced, as the stadium complex is a smoke-free area.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We want patrons to enjoy the wonderful sporting entertainment, so we encourage you to adhere to the advice of the police,&rdquo; Bent urged. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13743166/Champs-2_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, March 29, 2017 8:00 AM Britain launches EU exit process http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Britain-launches-EU-exit-process LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) &mdash; Britain launched the process to leave the European Union Wednesday, saying there was "no turning back" from the historic move that has split the country and thrown the bloc's future into question.<br /> <br /> Just days after the EU's 60th birthday, Britain became the first country ever to seek a divorce, striking a blow at the heart of the union forged from the ashes of World War II.<br /> <br /> "This is an historic moment from which there can be no turning back," Prime Minister Theresa May told MPs. <br /> <br /> Nine months after the shock referendum vote for Brexit, Britain triggered Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty, starting the two-year countdown to leaving the bloc.<br /> <br /> "We already miss you," said EU President Donald Tusk in Brussels, after receiving the letter formally notifying him of Britain's intention to leave.<br /> <br /> The six-page letter was signed by May and delivered in person by British ambassador Tim Barrow in Brussels.<br /> <br /> It sets the stage for months of protracted and difficult negotiations between London and Brussels over outstanding bills, immigration and future trade ties.<br /> <br /> "We must not forget that the UK is still a partner, in NATO and in Europe," said a spokeswoman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel.<br /> <br /> She added that the Article 50 letter would give "more clarity" on Britain's strategy, and "on this basis, the 27 (other) member states and EU institutions will define their interests and aims".<br /> <br /> While the EU scrambles to contain the fallout from Britain's departure after four decades of membership, May is also battling to keep her deeply divided nation together.<br /> <br /> Scotland's parliament on Tuesday voted to call a fresh referendum on independence from Britain in a bid to hold on to EU ties.<br /> <br /> "As we face the opportunities ahead of us on this momentous journey, our shared values, interests and ambitions can -- and must -- bring us together," May told MPs.<br /> <br /> In her letter, May repeated that the vote for Brexit was not intended to harm the EU, and said she wanted a "new deep and special relationship with a strong European Union".<br /> <br /> But as with many divorces, negotiations could rapidly turn nasty over money.<br /> <br /> The priority is settling Britain's outstanding bills, estimated at between 55 and 60 billion euros ($59-65 billion) -- an early battle that could set the tone for the rest of the talks.<br /> <br /> It could be weeks before formal talks start, as the leaders of the other 27 EU nations will meet on April 29 to forge their response.<br /> <br /> Both sides also want to resolve the post-Brexit status of more than three million European nationals living in Britain, and one million British expats in the EU.<br /> <br /> Forging a new trade agreement and tensions in Northern Ireland -- which will have the UK's only hard border with the EU -- will also cause major headaches.<br /> <br /> Many business leaders are deeply uneasy about May's decision to leave Europe's single market, a free trade area of 500 million people, fearing its impact on jobs and economic growth.<br /> <br /> The Brexit vote sent the pound plunging, although the economy has been largely stable since then.<br /> <br /> Despite May's call for unity, Britons appear as divided now as in June's referendum, which the "Leave" camp won by a narrow 52-48 margin after a vitriolic campaign.<br /> <br /> Tens of thousands marched through London on Saturday demanding Britain keep its 44-year-old EU membership, with one banner urging politicians to "stop this madness".<br /> <br /> But many were elated after waiting years for this moment, including 66-year-old pensioner Christine Garrett, shopping at an east London street market.<br /> <br /> "We could stand on our own two feet as a country. What do they do for us? Nothing," she said.<br /> <br /> Pushing her pram nearby was Julia Rogers, 38, who disagreed, saying: "It's going to be a disaster".<br /> <br /> In the City of London financial hub, some were worried about the implications of Brexit.<br /> <br /> "It's quite a sorry state of affairs," said Daniel Smith, 41.<br /> <br /> The famously partisan British press reflected this division as the historic day dawned.<br /> <br /> The fiercely eurosceptic Sun beamed "Dover and Out" and "See EU Later" on the White Cliffs of Dover, Britain's closest point to the continent.<br /> <br /> On the other side of the divide, the left-leaning Guardian mocked up an EU jigsaw with Britain missing and the headline: "Today Britain steps into the unknown."<br /> <br /> The EU is determined to preserve its unity and has said that any Brexit deal must not encourage other countries to follow Britain out of the door.<br /> <br /> As she begins Brexit, May is also battling to keep the United Kingdom together and has rebuffed the Scottish parliament's call for a second independence referendum.<br /> <br /> Scots overwhelmingly voted for Britain to remain in the EU and are particularly worried about leaving Europe's single market -- the price of controlling immigration.<br /> <br /> "Today, the PM will take the UK over a cliff with no idea of the landing place. Scotland didn't vote for it and our voice has been ignored," First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said.<br /> <br /> With the challenges ahead, May has said that "no deal is better than a bad deal" and analysts say that threatening to walk away may be her only trump card in a process in which the EU will hold most of the cards. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13743028/EU_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, March 29, 2017 7:55 AM Pay attention to what children do outside the home &mdash; Grant http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Pay-attention-to-what-children-do-outside-the-home---Grant ST JAMES, Jamaica (JIS) &mdash; Acting Commissioner of Police (ACP), Novelette Grant, is calling on parents to be more attentive to what their children do outside the home.<br /> <br /> Grant, who was speaking at a community forum on violence at Sandals Royal in Montego Bay on March 22, said that children could become susceptible to the wiles of criminal elements and get drawn into nefarious activities without the knowledge of parents.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;How you rear your children, how you treat them&hellip; the kind of values and the kind of lessons you are teaching them, are very important,&rdquo; she pointed out.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;How you work with your children&rsquo;s schools is very important. When the schools are asking for people to come in and be a part of their children's development, please make yourselves available. Please continue to have a presence in your children's life outside of the home,&rdquo; she noted further. <br /> <br /> The acting commissioner advised parents not to ignore feedback about their children&rsquo;s behaviour from teachers or community members.<br /> <br /> She said that too often parents have adopted the &ldquo;shoot the messenger&rdquo; posture, refusing to pay heed to complaints and warning signs, and almost always to the detriment of the children.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Please don't abuse, please don't curse, please don't say people don't like your children. What we are trying to do is to help you as a parent to steer your child in the way they should go,&rdquo; she said. <br /> <br /> Meanwhile, Grant noted that crime in western Jamaica is being fuelled by the lotto scam, the availability of guns, and young men who think it is cool to be a part of gangs. &ldquo;When all three elements come together, the result is a lot of what we are seeing being played out in the region,&rdquo; she argued.<br /> <br /> She is appealing to persons to utilise the many avenues put in place for the reporting of criminal activities in their communities.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;There are many avenues for you to report without having to put yourself out there. We have Crime Stop, and we have other various ways. Use the media that is available to you,&rdquo; she urged.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13743011/Novelette-Grant_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, March 29, 2017 7:37 AM Reduction of non-revenue water to boost drought resilience http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Reduction-of-non-revenue-water-to-boost-drought-resilience KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) &mdash; Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Dr Horace Chang, says a 30 per cent reduction of non-revenue water (NRW) will significantly improve the country&rsquo;s resilience to drought.<br /> <br /> Addressing a luncheon meeting of the Rotary Club of St. Andrew at the Hotel Four Seasons, yesterday he also said the periodic lock-off of water supply in sections of the Corporate Area during the dry seasons could also be eliminated.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Non-revenue water might not be something we can eliminate, but if we can get it from 60 per cent to 30 per cent, that is an additional 30 million gallons of water at the same cost of production,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> The minister pointed out that the ongoing Kingston and St Andrew Non-Revenue Water Co-Management Project to achieve this goal by reducing non-revenue water and improving waste-water collection, has already been impactful.<br /> <br /> Dr Chang further noted that resolving this challenge will result in the National Water Commission (NWC) being more viable and being able to offer reasonable and stable water rates for the long term.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We are working to get [the NWC] to function more efficiently, and getting the non-revenue water situation under control is a critical part of that,&rdquo; he added.  <br /> <br /> Dr Chang said arrangements are now being made to build a new plant at the Rio Cobre to supply some 15 million gallons of water per day, which, along with the non-revenue water project, will provide enough water to make the Kingston Metropolitan Area drought-resilient as well as provide for commercial activity.<br /> <br /> He said this is particularly important as much of the economy revolves around the availability of water and proper waste-water collection systems.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I think we can make the [KMA region] genuinely drought-resilient within the next three years and bring it a reliable quality supply. It is a required part of the foundation to build the economy and to restore Kingston,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> The $42.5-million Kingston and St Andrew Non-Revenue Water Co-Management Project falls under the Kingston Metropolitan Area Water Supply Improvement Programme that was started in September 2015, through funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).<br /> <br /> Non-revenue water is currently estimated at 59 per cent of the volume that enters the water supply and distribution networks, which is lost primarily through leakage.<br /> <br /> Under this project, the proposed reduction of NRW within Kingston and St Andrew is expected to be 45 per cent in two years, moving to 30 per cent at the end of the contract. By project end, it is anticipated that the NWC will realise an economic benefit of $29.2 billion.<br /> <br /> Several infrastructure projects are under way through the initiative, including the replacement of two water-transmission pipelines between Ferry and Six Miles in St Andrew, which supply water to several communities in St Catherine and the Corporate Area.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13743005/Chang-5_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, March 29, 2017 7:18 AM