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Jamalco grants for schools and NGOs

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HAYES, Clarendon — Twenty-seven non-governmental organisations and schools received grants totalling J$3.375m from bauxite/alumina company Jamalco at the launch of the company’s 2019 volunteer programme held at the refinery recently.

The projects were undertaken by a record 162 Jamalco volunteers who each completed 50 hours of service in 2018 to qualify for a grant valued at J$25,000.

Photo shows Council of Voluntary Social Service’s (CVSS) 2018 Young Leader Awardee Keenan Falconer (right) symbolically presenting a grant valued at $250,000 to Faith Basic School student Jada Francis at a function at the Jamalco refinery in Hayes, Clarendon recently. Sharing the moment are Faith Basic School students, principal, Marion Wright, and Jamalco volunteers Kenneth Francis, Everett Douglas and Devon Allen.

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Mad rush for ‘Learner’s’ Applicants swell to 5,000 to avoid road code test

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Mad rush for ‘Learner’s’ Applicants swell to 5,000 to avoid road code test

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Hundreds of Jamaicans wishing to obtain provisional driver’s licences have been rushing to Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) offices in an effort to avoid sitting a road code test which will become mandatory after January 25.

Yesterday, Meris Haughton, chief corporate communications officer at TAJ, said at the start of this month the tax authorities were processing 500 applications daily. However, on Wednesday they received more than 5,000 applications.

Full story in today’s Auto magazine.


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Lawyer to again try to quash case against Reid, Pinnock

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ATTORNEY Hugh Wildman turned up at court yesterday with the intention of having the criminal charges against Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) President Professor Fritz Pinnock, former education minister Ruel Reid and his daughter Sharelle and wife Sharen, and Councillor Kim Brown Lawrence overturned.

However, that did not materialise.

Instead, Wildman will have to wait until April 8, when all the accused return to court.

During the unsuccessful application to have the case quashed, Wildman argued that the Financial Investigations Division (FID), under the FID Act, has no jurisdiction or power to institute criminal charges against anybody in Jamaica.

Noting that Chief Justice Bryan Sykes is in agreement with his argument, Wildman said he was prepared to examine the ruling that was handed down last year.

“I don’t have the time for that,” chief parish Judge Chester Crooks uttered.

Wildman’s application came to a halt.

Crooks told him that it would be unfair to the Crown Counsel, who had indicated prior to his application that she needed more time to comprehensively review the file.

“…Perhaps your argument will find favour, perhaps, whether the matter ought to move forward and so on, but I’ll suggest — I am not saying that your submissions are not relevant today — I suggest we put it for another day to afford the Crown time to do that, review the file, so that they can say definitively what their position is and then you can make the relevant submission,” Crooks suggested.

Crooks also suggested to Wildman that he put his submission in writing, given the fact that time has passed.

Wildman replied: “I accept… it is just that for the purpose of the record I just want to make this point that based on the will of the chief justice, my client and these accused persons are not properly before the court, and it seems to me that in those circumstances, your honour, it is a matter of absolute urgency that this matter be dealt with. Because, right now, the State is facing a situation where they have charged persons without proper basis, and what will eventually have to happen enuh, they may have to [do] a supplementary budget to pay them in civil suit.”

Wildman continued: “The honourable chief justice came right down the line with our application, agreeing with everything on the interpretation of the law — everything. And just at the end, your honour, when he was to make that go through the tape and quash these charges, then he fell down like Bolt in England… Luckily, what we have done, your honour, is to restart the race and so the matter is going before three judges on the 10th of next month to restart the race so that we can get a better finish.”

Wildman said, too, that the chief justice agreed that the FID has no power to do what it did.

“He said, ‘come to Half-Way-Tree and quash it,’ that is why I am making this application… that is what he is saying in his judgement,” Wildman stated.

Last December, the men, in the application brought by Wildman, asserted that they were arrested and charged by the FID, which was established by Section 4 of the Financial Investigations Division Act, arguing that the FID does not have the power to arrest and charge anyone. They said that, by arresting both applicants, the FID acted outside of its statutory powers and, therefore, what it did was a nullity leading them to seek leave for judicial review.

Justice Sykes, in ruling on the matter then, said the court is of the view that the police officers in this case who arrested and charged the applicants were never designated under Section 2 of the FID Act, and that any power of arrest and charge that they used could only be by virtue of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) powers found under The Constabulary Force Act.

“Consequently, it was not FID that arrested and charged the applicants, but JCF officers in their capacity as JCF officers,” the chief justice ruled, adding, “that still leaves open the question of whether the JCF officers utilised any power under the FID Act when they were not authorised to do.

“If yes, that might raise admissibility issues which can be addressed during the criminal trial,” Chief Justice Sykes said in the ruling.

He said: “The court has come to this position on the basis of the absence of evidence that the police officers were authorised officers under [the] FID Act.”

“I make no pronouncement on the credibility of any of the deponents in this case. This means that this decision must not be understood as indicating that the deponents for the respondents were found to be more credible than applicants,” said Sykes.

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Naming baby Bolt

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CELEBRITY baby names have long been a source of intrigue for celebrity watchers. One need look no further than the 100-1 odds bookmakers put on the Sussex’s bundle, Archie Harrison last year.

The celebrity status of the newborn is one thing, but the excitement is fuelled by the fact that celebs are known for choosing unusual monikers — Kulture, Blue Ivy, Onyx, and Psalm being among the lot among US A-listers.

On home soil, people are already brimming with possible options for the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt, and his girlfriend Kasi Bennett. The couple released photos of the baby bump on social media yesterday, but withheld the sex. That didn’t stop Jamaicans from weighing in on what Baby Bolt should be named.

 

Marie Marsh, Beauty Therapist

BOY: Niasu

GIRL: Kasain

 

Donovan “Merryman” Whyte, Barber

BOY:Usain Jr

GIRL: Kasiana

 

Orville Wallace, Retiree

BOY: Ensain

GIRL: Kaisanya

 

Sheldon White, Barber

BOY: Ashauni

GIRL: Kayla-Dae

 

Sherona Peterkin, Bartender

BOY: Usain Jr

GIRL: Kasi-Ann

 

Nathaniel “Natty” Anderson, Vendor

BOY: (Undecided)

GIRL: U-anna

 

Natalie Blake, Cook

BOY: Usain Jr

GIRL: “A mix of mommy and daddy’s middle name”

 

Asheca Williams, Sales Rep

BOY: Usain Jr

GIRL: Ushauna

 

Canute Webb, Sales Associate

BOY: Usain Jr,

GIRL” “Something starting with ‘U’”

 

Dianna Simon, sales advisor

UNISEX: Kasain

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Crime Stop Jamaica gets new manager

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CHERISE Bruce-Douglas has been appointed manager of the National Crime Prevention Fund, otherwise known as Crime Stop Jamaica Her appointment became effective on January 2, 2020 and she replaces Prudence Gentles who has retired.

Bruce-Douglas, who has been with the National Crime Prevention Fund since November 2016, will now assume responsibilities for the overall management of the organisation, communications and outreach.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Criminology from The University of West Indies, Mona, and Master of Arts in Criminal Justice and Law Administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York.

Gentles served in the role for 27 years, during which she pioneered several causes and marketing campaigns for the organisation including the popular Crime Stop television show and more recently CS311.

She further initiated several successful partnerships with other agencies and international partners as a measure to secure funding for the organisation.

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NCB Foundation backs digital literacy initiatives

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CHIEF executive officer of the National Commercial Bank (NCB) Foundation, Nadeen Matthews Blair, has highlighted a need for digital literacy in Jamaica, signalling the foundation’s commitment to funding training opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and other non-traditional fields.

“We want to become the most impactful foundation in education, but we realise that supporting Jamaicans through tertiary-level education is not the only opportunity,” Matthews Blair, who is also the chief digital and marketing officer for National Commercial Bank Jamaica Limited, told reporters and editors at this week’s Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange.

“When we look at the world and the emerging careers in tech (technology), you have persons who are not necessarily pursuing tertiary-level degrees, but who are still gaining skills that are relevant and helping them to become gainfully employed,” she said.

The CEO said that training opportunities funded by the foundation will be geared towards building the capacity of Jamaicans to work in a digital economy. She went on to list initiatives that are to come on stream, which will target at-risk youth for training in emerging career fields such as data science, software development, animation, digital forensics, and data analytics.

“When people talk about the workforce of the future, these really are the jobs that we need,” said Matthews Blair, adding that there is a lack of software developers and cybersecurity experts in Jamaica.

The bank’s head of digital disclosed that a coding boot camp, which will be done in partnership with HEART Trust/National Training Agency, the Development Bank of Jamaica and other international partners, is to be rolled out.

“We are in the early stages of partnering with Alto Ventures, which is a venture capital fund out of the United States that has announced that they want to train 1,000 Jamaicans in coding,” Matthews Blair disclosed.

“We are putting up a combined US$500,000 to fund the programme, which will take 1,000 Jamaicans through a coding boot camp that they have administered in the United States, as well as in Mexico City.

“We have had discussions with HEART Trust, and we have also partnered with the OAS (Organization of American States) on a programme to help at-risk youth — some of whom are not in high school — get access to digital literacy skills so that they, too, can, over time, get back on track to becoming gainfully employed and productive citizens of our country,” she explained, adding that they are now at the point of signing a memorandum of understanding with three local entities.

“We are approaching this strategy primarily through partnerships, because we have not worked intensely in the space of unattached youth or at-risk youth for a long time, but there are a number of fantastic organisations already in Jamaica that have experience in that area,” she said. “We have been partnering with various organisations that are already in the space, and bringing together international partnerships and providing the funding to create new training opportunities for at-risk youth in emerging careers.”

The NCB Foundation, which is marking 16 years since its inception in 2003, will also be funding a robotics programme in 30 high schools across Jamaica to the tune of $5 million. The initiative will be administered by NCB affiliate partner, FIRST Tech Challenge Jamaica, a local robotics programme that has produced teams that have gone on to dominate in global championships.

Head of FIRST Tech Challenge Gavin Samuels told reporters that the programme will not only help to support this year’s competitors, but will also give participants the skills needed in a technology-driven world.

“We are going to advance two teams from Jamaica to international championships, and I believe that the students who are part of this programme will go on to support the Government, Jamaica, and the world in the future,” said Samuels.

Matthews Blair said that building the digital literacy of Jamaicans will help to position Jamaica and Jamaicans to participate in a digital economy, which will boost overall national development.

“We see that the Government is now speaking about it in a serious way [in relation to the National Identification System], so we want to make sure that we help as many Jamaicans be positioned for that as best as possible.

“Not many countries have the appeal Jamaica has. When we get the resource to fund these programmes, the question is what can’t a Jamaican do. It is not just about getting jobs, but also the entrepreneurial capacity that we could potentially unlock with them developing their own tech companies, or other companies,” said Matthews Blair.

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NWA wrapping up $29-million roadworks in Port Royal

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THE National Works Agency (NWA) says it is now completing rehabilitation works valued at some $29 million, in Port Royal, as well as major roadways leading into the township.

The infrastructural works, which commenced earlier this month, include drainage improvement, road repair and bushing activities.

NWA communication manager, Stephen Shaw, listed a number of locations that have received attention as part of the works to include the replacement of defective drain gratings along Canon, Cagway and Broad Streets, as well as Port Royal Road in the vicinity of the Norman Manley International Airport.

A fifth grating is to be replaced over a critical drain at New Street, said the NWA.

The physical infrastructure in Port Royal continues to be improved following the maiden birth of a cruise ship at the township’s newly constructed floating pier on Monday.

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