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 Cubans celebrate renewed relations with US http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Cubans-celebrate-renewed-relations-with-US HAVANA (AFP) — Cubans erupted into celebration Wednesday at news of a historic renewal in relations with the United States, voicing hope the breakthrough would change their lives amid economic decay. Local News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 18:44:58 GMT BGLC reports 60% increase in illegal gaming prosecutions http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/BGLC-reports-60--increase-in-illegal-gaming-prosecutions Chairman of the BGLC, Gary Peart, made the disclosure as he gave an update on the progress of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the entities early October, at the recent opening of the new Hagley Park Road offices of the BGLC and the Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC). Local News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:56:10 GMT Forex: J$114.48 to one US dollar http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Forex--J-114-48-to-one-US-dollar KINGSTON, Jamaica — The US dollar on Wednesday, December 17 ended trading at J$114.48, up seven cents, according to the Bank of Jamaica’s daily foreign exchange trading summary. Local News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:36:14 GMT Businessman freed on gun-related charges http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Businessman-freed-on-gun-related-charges KINGSTON, Jamaica — Former National Works Agency (NWA) Director of Regional Special Projects, George Knight, and his co-accused Clava Mantock Jr, were today (Wednesday, December 17) freed of gun-related charges in the Gun Court, downtown Kingston. Local News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:19:28 GMT Opposition welcomes shift in US foreign policy on Cuba http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Opposition-Welcomes-shift-in-US-foreign-policy-on-Cuba KINGSTON, Jamaica — Opposition Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Ed Bartlett, this afternoon welcomed announcement of a resumption in diplomatic relations between the governments of the United States and Cuba. Local News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 16:33:44 GMT Gas prices down $3.13, diesel down $3.29 http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Gas-prices-down--3-13--diesel-down--3-29 KINGSTON, Jamaica — Motorists should see a decrease at the pumps in prices of diesel and gasoline effective Thursday, December 18 with a reduction in ex-refinery costs from Petrojam. Local News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 16:18:20 GMT St Vincent gas prices lowest since 2011 http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/St-Vincent-gas-prices-lowest-since-2011 KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (CMC) – The state-owned St Vincent Electricity Services Limited (VINLEC) has announced a drop in its fuel surcharge for this month, resulting in consumers paying the lowest fuel surcharge on their electricity bills since 2011. Local News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 16:11:44 GMT Pope Francis’ birthday celebrated with mass tango in Vatican City http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Pope-Francis--birthday-celebrated-with-mass-tango-in-Vatican-City ROME, Italy (AFP) – Hundreds of couples performed a tango on St Peter's square on Wednesday in a birthday treat for Pope Francis, a proud Argentinian who was reportedly a mean dancer himself in his youth. Local News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 15:52:15 GMT Injured suspect escapes police custody http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Injured-suspect-escapes-police-custody KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Manchester Police have launched a manhunt for 26-year-old Geovanie Miller, otherwise called ‘Bloodie’, of George Reid district in the perish, who escaped police custody at the Mandeville Regional Hospital on Tuesday, December 16. Local News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 15:43:38 GMT Released from Cuba, Alan Gross says freedom is not free http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Released-from-Cuba--Alan-Gross-says-freedom-is-not-free WASHINGTON (AP) — Alan Gross emerged Wednesday from five years of captivity in Cuba praising the Cuban people and offering a lesson he said he learned: Freedom is not free. Local News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 15:16:17 GMT St Vincent records first conviction using video evidence http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/St-Vincent-records-first-conviction-using-video-evidence KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (CMC) – A 40-year-old man was found guilty of attempted murder as St Vincent and the Grenadines recorded a conviction in its first ever jury trial in a case that involved the use of video evidence. Local News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 15:03:13 GMT Firearms seized in St Andrew http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Firearms-seized-in-St-Andrew KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Lawrence Tavern Police have reported the seizure of two Bryco 9mm pistols along with five rounds of ammunition in Florence Hill, St Andrew on Wednesday, December 17. Local News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:33:23 GMT AB, Amla tons push SAfrica to 340-3 vs WI on day 1 http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/AB--Amla-tons-push-SAfrica-to-340-3-vs-WI-on-day-1 CENTURION, South Africa (AP) — AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla plundered centuries for South Africa as the West Indies made poor use of favorable bowling conditions on day one of the first cricket test at Centurion on Wednesday. Local News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:25:39 GMT Roads in St Catherine communities blocked http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Roads-in-St-Catherine-communities-blocked KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Riversdale police are advising that the John Crow Spring main road, which borders St Mary and St Catherine, is now impassable due to landslides as a result of heavy rains. Local News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:08:36 GMT UN ready to help US, Cuba develop ties http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/UN-ready-to-help-US--Cuba-develop-ties UNITED NATIONS, United States (AFP) – UN chief Ban Ki-moon welcomed on Wednesday a historic decision by the United States and Cuba to normalize ties and offered UN help to develop the new relationship. Local News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 13:27:19 GMT US Coast Guard nabs two smugglers, seizes cocaine in Caribbean Sea http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/US-Coast-Guard-nabs-two-smugglers--seizes-cocaine-in-Caribbean-Sea SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (CMC) – The United States Coast Guard says it has detained two suspected smugglers and seized 71 pounds of cocaine during an operation in the Caribbean Sea. Local News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 13:14:56 GMT Obama: US re-establishing relations with Cuba http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Obama--US-re-establishing-relations-with-Cuba WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama announced the re-establishment of diplomatic relations as well as an easing in economic and travel restrictions on Cuba Wednesday, declaring an end to America's "outdated approach" to the communist island in a historic shift that aims to bring an end to a half-century of Cold War enmity. Local News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:39:45 GMT Raul Castro welcomes renewal of relations with US http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Raul-Castro-welcomes-renewal-of-relations-with-US HAVANA (AP) — Cuban President Raul Castro says he welcomes the restoration of relations with the United States. Local News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:21:04 GMT 12-year-old boy in custody after school stabbing http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/12-year-old-boy-in-custody-after-school-stabbing SYRACUSE, New York (AP) — Authorities say a 12-year-old boy has been charged with stabbing a 12-year-old girl inside a New York school. Local News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:07:19 GMT US re-establishing embassy in Cuba http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/US-re-establishing-embassy-in-Cuba WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) – The United States on Wednesday announced a "historic" thaw in relations with Cuba, saying it would work to re-establish diplomatic ties with Havana and ease long-standing trade and travel sanctions. Local News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:30:28 GMT 1st Test: S Africa 225-3 vs West Indies at tea on day 1 http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/1st-Test--S-Africa-225-3-vs-West-Indies-at-tea-on-day-1 CENTURION, South Africa (CMC) – South Africa, sent in by West Indies, were 225 for three at tea on the opening day of the first Test at SuperSport Park on Wednesday. Local News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:16:56 GMT Obama to normalize ties with Cuba, US senator says http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Obama-to-normalize-ties-with-Cuba--US-senator-says WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) – Ahead of a scheduled official announcement by US President Barack Obama on Cuba, a senior Democratic senator indicated Wednesday Washington will lift its decades-long commercial and travel restrictions on the island. Local News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 10:58:48 GMT Cuba frees US prisoner Alan Gross http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Cuba-frees-US-prisoner-Alan-Gross WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) – Cuba has freed Alan Gross – a US contractor jailed on the communist-ruled island since 2009 – on humanitarian grounds at the request of the United States, a US official said Wednesday. Local News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 10:05:58 GMT Stone thrower fined $50,000 for wounding http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Stone-thrower-fined--50-000-for-wounding ST CATHERINE, Jamaica — A woman, who pleaded guilty to hitting another with a stone, was slapped with a $50,000 fine when she appeared in the Spanish Town Resident Magistrate Court. Local News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 09:56:56 GMT M16 rifle, ballistic vest found in Kitson Town http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/M16-rifle--ballistic-vest-found-in-Kitson-Town KINGSTON, Jamaica – The police have reported that an M16 assault rifle and ballistic vest have been seized during an ongoing operation in the Kitson Town area of St Catherine this morning. Local News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 09:31:08 GMT