THIS WEEK’S TOP NEWS STORIES
GOVERNMENT ENDS SHIFT SYSTEM, ALLOCATES MILLIONS FOR CLASSROOMS
The government of Jamaica plans to spend $641 million to end the school shift system by providing more classrooms. Over the next year, budget allocations will also be used to obtain equipment for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) academies. This is part of the $5 billion Education Transformation Program that is in the process of being implemented by the National Education Trust (NET). It enables construction of new classrooms designed to put an end to overcrowding in schools. Five primary schools and five high schools will be expanded, while work will continue at another five high schools.
CONSULTANT SAYS GOVERNMENT OWES JPS $5 BILLION FOR STREET LIGHTS
Richard Gordon, a consultant to the local government ministry, told a parliamentary Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) that Jamaicans could be negatively impacted for efforts made toward energy efficiency. His comments have raised questions about the license granted to the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) in 2016. PAAC has received information indicating that the government owes the JPS some $5 billion from outstanding bills for street lights. Denzil Thorpe, permanent secretary in the ministry, noted that future bills will be lower once the JPS replaces the 105,000 street lights with LED lamps over a three-year period, which begins in June 2017. No plans were offered as to how to clear the arrears owed to the JPS.
THIS WEEK’S TOP CARIBBEAN NEWS
BAHAMIAN ATTORNEY GENERAL DEFENDS CONTROVERSIAL BILL
Concerns have arisen in the Bahamas about the need for the Interception of Communications Bill of 2017 (ICB). While critics believe the bill constitutes an unnecessary invasion of privacy for citizens, the country’s Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson, believes the legislation represents an important tool for fighting crime, much of which involves transnational gangs, guns, and drugs. According to the Maynard-Gibson, without the bill, trafficking in guns and drugs will increase, and police will be limited in their detection and investigation of crimes and the prosecution of criminals. The ICB is designed to protect the privacy of law-abiding citizens by requiring the permission of a Supreme Court judge before it can be applied to individual cases.
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THIS WEEK’S TOP JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
JAMAICAN DIASPORA IN U.S. PRAISES SIMPSON MILLER
The Jamaican Diaspora in the United States issued praise for Portia Simpson Miller, the outgoing leader of the People’s National Party (PNP). She had served as leader of the Opposition for over 40 years of service. A number of organizations in the Diaspora, even those of different political affiliations, hailedl the service of Simpson Miller, who rose from her humble beginnings to make a place for herself in history as the first woman president of the PNP and the only woman to be elected Prime Minister of Jamaica to date. Simpson Miller plans to leave office as PNP president in March 2017 and as Opposition leader in April. She will continue as a Member of Parliament for the parish of South Western St. Andrew.
THIS WEEK’S TOP BUSINESS NEWS SUMMARY
TOURS SHOWCASING JAMAICAN FILM LOCATIONS OFFERED
A new tour by destination management company Caribic Vacations will take visitors on a tour of Jamaican locations used as sites in some of the most iconic movies in history. The launch of the tour comes at the same time that Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, urges tour operators to devise more innovative and diverse offerings. According to Roy Page, CEO of Caribic Vacations, the “Jamaica: Land of Film” tour will show why the island is a favorite for filmmakers; it will be marketed to hotel and cruise ship tourists and to locals. The tour is based on a book of the same name, which follows 100 years of film production in Jamaica. The tour includes locations from films like Live and Let Die (1972), a James Bond movie filmed in Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Falmouth and Lucea and starring Roger Moore and Jane Seymour; Eureka, filmed in Trelawny, St James, St Ann and St Mary and starring Gene Hackman; Papillon (1973), filmed in Trelawny, Westmoreland and Kingston starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman; and Cocktail (1988), filmed in Portland and starring Tom Cruise.
THIS WEEK’S TOP ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
REGGAE ICON JIMMY CLIFF HONORED WITH LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
On February 12, 2017, thousands of enthusiastic fans gathered at the Somerton All Age and Infant School for a ceremony recognizing Jimmy Cliff, 2010 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and two-time Grammy award winner. Cliff, who real name is James Chambers, chose the school auditorium as the venue to receive the first Lifetime Achievement Award given by Jamaica’s IRIE FM because it highlighted his rural roots. In an interview with Billboard Magazine, Cliff, 68, said, “Somerton prepared me for everything I went on to do in my life; I’ve gotten many awards but to get this right here in my home where my navel string was cut is overwhelming. He showed his emotion throughout the four-hour ceremony, as politicians, filmmaker Lenny Little-White, and dancehall star Beenie Man, among others, praised his accomplishments. Cliff performed a 45-minute acoustic set in the schoolyard, playing selections from the early 1960s to his forthcoming album, tentatively entitled “Somerton.”
THIS WEEK’S TOP SPORTS NEWS
USAIN BOLT NAMED LAUREUS WORLD SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR
Jamaican Olympic champion Usain Bolt received the title of Laureus World Sportsman of the Year for the fourth time. Bolt, 30, who had previously received the award in 2009, 2010, and 2013, was named over his competitors Mo Farah, Rio Olympic 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter champion; and Andy Murray, tennis gold medal winner; football star Ronaldo; and the NBA basketball stars Lebron James and Stephen Curry. Bolt said he was “humbled and honored” to win his fourth Laureus sportsman award.