UTech Workers Issue Strike Warning

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The University of Technology Jamaica Administrative Staff Association, UTASU, has served the University of Technology, UTECH, with a 72-hour strike notice to end this Sunday.

This means effective Monday morning the association will take industrial action.

This they view as necessary after the university failed to submit pertinent documents to the Ministry of Finance and Planning to allow for the commencement of wage negotiations.

UTASU, is also concerned that adjustments to the rate of travelling allowances which were mandated by the Ministry have not been implemented by the University.

They also cite what they perceive as unjust victimization of a senior manager for conducting her due diligence in pursuant to her job as of Monday November 30.

UTASU says they can no longer operate under the climate of distrust and uncertainty and therefore feel compelled to take decisive action.

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‘Resident Magistrates’ a Thing of the Past

The title of Resident Magistrate will soon be abolished and replaced with the designation, Judge of the Parish Court.

This under amendments to the Resident Magistrate and Supreme Court Acts, passed today in the Senate.

The amendments passed today in the Senate aim to not only change the designation of those persons who now function as Resident Magistrates, they’re also designed to give them security of tenure.

Resident Magistrates can only serve in the parish in which they live.

Under the amendments, the new Judges of the Parish Court will be allowed to serve in any parish.

Additionally, the amendments establish the appointment of a Chief Judge to oversee the activities of parish courts.

That Chief Judge will function in a similar manner to the role played by Permanent Secretaries in Cabinet Ministries.

Opposition Senator, Tom Tavares Finson, argued that these reforms were proposed by Opposition members, during the recent debate on the three CCJ Bills.

He says it’s ironic that those proposals were rejected.

Senator Finson says if the reforms continue apace, the country would have created it’s own final court of appeal and would have no need to subscribe to the CCJ.

Government Senator Lambert Brown used the opportunity to round on critics who’ve accused the PNP administration of not doing enough to improve the local justice system.

He says the government is improving the local justice system, while paving the way to the CCJ as a final appellate court.

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Who Is Entitled to SEZ Jobs?

A clause in the Special Economic Zone, SEZ Bill, passed in the House of Representatives this week, has sparked debate over trade and free movement of workers within CARICOM.

The Opposition has objected to an amendment to the Bill that seeks to remove the preferential selection of Jamaicans for jobs within the zone.

Where the original legislation spoke of jobs for Jamaicans, the amendment now recognizes CARICOM nationals. A Special Economic Zone, SEZ, is like a country within a country. Businesses within the zone don’t pay the same taxes as other businesses in the country. They also don’t pay import duties.

For this reason, SEZs are very attractive to multinational companies who are mostly interested in exports. The main benefit to the host country, is the thousands of jobs they bring.

There’s now a controversy over who should be entitled to those jobs. As President of the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association, JMA, Metry Seaga, explains, Jamaica’s membership in CARICOM means the country has to treat other CARICOM nationals the same as it does Jamaicans.

However, President of the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica, PSOJ, William Mahfood, argues that Jamaicans don’t have the access to CARICOM jobs that they should.

And while jobs are one thing, goods are another issue.

President of the Jamaica Employers Federation, JEF, David Wan, says if Jamaica opens up its SEZs to CARICOM job seekers, then CARICOM should open its markets to SEZ products.

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Holness Condemns Political Violence

Opposition Leader, Andrew Holness, is condemning supporters of political parties who engage in violence.

Mr. Holness made the comments yesterday while on a tour of Newlands in East Central St. Catherine where a woman and a man, linked to both the PNP and JLP, were killed in separate incidents on Tuesday evening.

Mr. Holness encouraged his supporters to report all cases of political violence.

In posts on the popular micro-blogging site; Twitter, Holness said “Let us remove all those flags and replace them with Jamaican flags. I am calling on the Prime Minister to let us walk together through volatile communities to show Jamaca that we are for a new politics. Let us together Prime Minister move our politics in a new direction. A new direction not for our benefit but for the future generation.”

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PNP Councilor Embroiled in ‘Land Grab’ Probe

Councillor for the Kintyre Division in East Rural St. Andrew, the PNP’s Artnell McDonald, is denying any wrongdoing, as the police investigate a land distribution deal in the Dallas Mountain area of the constituency.

Nationwide News understands that the sale of lands has caused tensions to escalate between rival gangs in the volatile communities of August Town, Bedward Gardens and Tavern.

Minister with responsibility for Housing, Dr. Morais Guy, has ordered that the sale of lots, some for as low as $3000, should cease immediately.

Our sources say a Don based in the community of Tavern in East Rural St. Andrew supported by others have taken charge of hundreds of acres of Government land in the nearby Bedward Community in Eastern St, Andrew.

Over 500 lots selling for as little as $3,000 and $25000 have been distributed in what some residents say is a massive land distribution scheme to drum up support ahead of the next General Election.

The lots have been distributed over the past few weeks in exchange for money being paid to the well known don who’s aligned to the governing PNP.

Senior sources in the Police High Command told our news center today the Don and others will be called in for questioning in connection with the land racquet.

Councillor McDonald is denying any wrongdoing. He concedes that he was in some way involved in the land issue.

He says it’s not true that he was responsible for the development of a new road in Bedward Gardens to facilitate the illegal land sale.

Councillor McDonald says a high ranking member of the governing PNP contacted him and ordered that the land distribution scheme be placed on pause.

Meantime ..our sources say the illegal land sale has resulted in rising tension between rival gangs in the area.

Members of the reputed Dawg Paw gang are reportedly livid at some of the proceeds of the land sale being turned over to the don who’s based in the neighbouring Tavern community.

Police sources say the don is suspected to be one of the main organizers of the land scheme.

It’s understood that influential forces in the community of Judgement Yard in August Town have purchased some of the lands from the don and are now upset that titles and receipts promised have not been supplied.

Diamond Mile a shot in the arm for racing – Parsard

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Veteran trainer Harry Parsard says tomorrow’s inaugural running of the Supreme Ventures Diamond Mile at Caymanas Park with a record purse of $13.5 million is a shot in the arm for the horse racing industry.

Parsard, who is enjoying a marvellous season, having won the St Leger with 35-1 outsider SUPERLUMINAL in July, along with a number of grade- one trophy races with UPPA TUNE and POTCHEEN, said the race could not have come at a better time, especially with all accompanying races on the card offering no less than $1 million in purse money.

“This is unprecedented in the history of local racing, and the response from stakeholders to each of the races has been tremendous. The industry needs another race day such as this on the annual calendar, and whichever entity gets the track through divestment, if it becomes a reality in 2016, should seriously considered having two such racedays,” added Parsard, who will saddle three of the 16 starters in the Diamond Mile.

The trio will be led by his crack imported horse, UPPA TUNE, outgoing champion sprinter POTCHEEN and PETE’SWILDONE.

All three will be vying for the winner’s share of $6.5 million, a record allocation, as well as $2.1 million for second or $1.25 for third. In fact, purse money will be paid on the first 10 past the post.

“My horses will definitely earn, but considering the distance, UPPA TUNE, with champion jockey Dane Nelson, would appear to have the best chance. But the others should still give good account of themselves,” he reasoned.

“Uppa Tune missed the recent Coca Cola Invitational Mile as the conditions of weight allotment were not kind to him, but the good thing is that he will report nicely refreshed for this race and his strong pace and proven class could make a difference in this star-studded field,” added the trainer.

Parsard, however, has one regret. This has to do with the fact that his vastly improved 3-y-o filly, LONG RUNNING TRAIN, did not have sufficient earnings at this stage to make the top 16.

LONG RUNNING TRAIN was among the 10 reserves named in the 26 entries, but it was highly unlikely that she would make the cut with purse money going to the top 10.

Parsard said while he is thankful to the sponsors Supreme Ventures Limited and the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission in joining hands for this historic race day, he is proposing a change for next year.

“I think the format should be changed to an invitational race rather than one based on lifetime earnings as now obtains. This would ensure that horses such as LONG RUNNING TRAIN and another progressive three-year-old colt, POKER STAR, would get in ahead of some of the older horses with built-in earnings over the years due to age,” he concluded.

Epic battle anticipated

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The local political platform has, without prior notice, lit up with the anticipation of a rare epic showdown between two female political debutants.

It’s by no means the first such battle among striking protagonists of the ‘fairer gender’. But it’s not often that the wife of a party leader and the daughter of a political icon are set to clash as protagonists on a political platform.

Well, Jamaica is being fÍted with such a political treat and the ambience is set for an enthralling encounter.

Juliet Holness is the very active and engaging wife of Andrew Holness, leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

No less engaging is Imani Duncan, a current senator, who is the daughter of reputed former People’s National Party mobiliser/ organiser D.K. Duncan.

The two were constantly with their mentors in the political trenches – Juliet with Andrew in West Central St Andrew and at the JLP and Imani with her dad in Eastern Hanover.

There have been two contests involving three female trademark politicians, whose names continue to echo with admiration in the halls of Jamaica’s political domain.

They are the venerable Madam Rose Leon, Edith Dalton James and Mavis Gilmour who have fought in equally classic encounters since Jamaica attained Universal Adult Suffrage in 1944.

Holness NOT ratified

JLP General Secretary Dr Horace Chang suggested yesterday that Holness was well on her way to becoming the candidate for the JLP to face Price in the tough East Rural St Andrew constituency.

Chang told The Gleaner that while the selection of the wife of the leader was yet to be ratified by the executive of the party, she was the only person who had signalled that she had an interest.

Political historian Troy Caine noted that Leon, a councillor, challenged Dalton James in the epic battle in the pre-Independence era of the 1940s.

“The first occasion I can recall was Rose Leon (JLP) against Edith Dalton James in what was then called Western St Andrew, in 1949 when the parish only had three seats,” said Caine.

Leon first came into politics for the JLP in 1947, in the first Parish Council Elections after Universal Adult Suffrage.

Leon, who replaced E.R.D. Evans of the JLP, prevailed over Dalton James. “That was the first outstanding one,” said Caine.

He recalled that the then Western St Andrew, which was represented by Leon eventually evolved into West Rural St Andrew.

Dalton James ran on the PNP ticket, unsuccessfully but her name lives on as one of the female pioneers in the PNP.

“The next outstanding one was very much in the same constituency many years later,” said Caine.

By this time Leon had switched sides and was running on a ticket of the immensely popular PNP, during the heady days of Democratic Socialism.

But neither her name nor the popularity of the PNP was able to help Leon overcome Mavis Gilmour, a woman who had emerged on the JLP ticket to challenge her. “In 1976, Gilmour unseated her after one term as a PNP MP,” said Caine.

Teenager frustrates Windies

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BRISBANE, Australia (MC):

Teenager Jake Carder stroked a half-century on first-class debut as Cricket Australia XI put West Indies under pressure on the second day of their four-day match here yesterday.

The 19-year-old left-hander struck a top score of 58 to lead four top-order batsmen with scores over 40 as the hosts finished on 245 for four at Allan Border Field – a lead of two runs

Nick Stevens, in his sixth first-class match, hit a polished 46; debutant 20-year-old Josh Inglis chipped in with 44; while captain Jimmy Peirson, also on debut, finished on 42 not out.

West Indies bowlers struggled to make headway, and captain Jason Holder was the best of the attack with two for 41.

Earlier, left-hander Darren Bravo scored 51, Carlos Brathwaite got 47, while tail-ender Kemar Roach chimed in with a crucial 28 as West Indies, resuming on 154 for six, were dismissed for 243.

Pacer Simon Milenko led Cricket Australia XI with five for 76 while seamer James Bazley, one of six Australian players on debut, picked up two for 37, and leg-spinner Cameron Boyce, two for 56.

ZIKV alert! – Health Ministry issues warning as virus spreads through Americas

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Horace Dalley (right), minister of health, in discussion with Dr Carl Bruce at the Ministry of Health’s national training seminar for senior health staff, on the country’s preparedness and response to ZIKV, at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston, yersterday.

The zika virus is not to be taken lightly because if contracted, it can create serious complications, including death, especially for pregnant women and infants, warns the Ministry of Health.

Although to date there are no confirmed cases of the zika virus (ZIKV) in Jamaica, the country has now been placed on high alert, with the mosquito-borne virus rapidly spreading across the Americas and the Caribbean. ZIKV has now been confirmed in nine countries in the region, and health officials believe it is only a matter of time before it reaches Jamaica.

“There has been transmission of the Zika virus in nine countries in the Caribbean and Latin America region – Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, Suriname, and Venezuela,” health minister Horace Dalley said yesterday.

“So this is not a matter of if, but when Zika will be introduced into Jamaica, so preparation is key. The health team has to be prepared, and the population has to be prepared, in terms of what to expect and what they need to do to minimise impact.”

ZIKV is transmitted from human to human by the bites of infected mosquitoes of the aedes species, particularly the Aedes aegypti, which also transmits dengue and chikungunya (chik-V). Interestingly, there have been reports of non-vector-borne transmission of ZIKV through perinatal and sexual intercourse. Blood transfusion has also been identified as a potential means of transmission.

According to the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), the spread of ZIKV has been rapid.

Chile reported its first confirmed case in February last year on Easter Island, while it was first confirmed in Brazil in May this year. By October to November, the other seven countries were reporting cases of the virus.

Up to Tuesday, Brazil was reporting three deaths associated with ZIKV.

Dalley stressed that with constant global travel, it was impossible to prevent the introduction of diseases to the island’s shores, but the country can do what was necessary to minimise the impact, and he has promised to do what was in his power to achieve that.

Recounting his own personal experience of the impact of the chik-V epidemic that rocked Jamaica little over a year ago, Dalley said the first step in ensuring that the country was not caught off guard with ZIKV was yesterday’s all-day training seminar for senior health officials from across the island, on Jamaica’s preparedness and response to the virus, held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in St Andrew.

“One thing is for certain and it is that we cannot sit and wait. We have to act, and by ‘we’, I mean every Jamaican. We have to take an integrated approach with social mobilisation as a very key component. In the past, much of our strength was in our ability to work closely with communities and provide the necessary ongoing education. We have to seek to rebuild this approach with urgency,” Dalley said,

“One of our main challenges will be to sustain a truly integrated system, involving players within and outside of public health while promoting efficient synergies and cooperation, but we simply have to get it done. Today, as we review the Ministry’s preparedness and response strategies, we have to also work to build back the trust in the health system and that also requires a team approach.”

 

BABIES, PREGNANT WOMEN HIGH RISK

 

Health officials are stressing that pregnant women and neonates are at greatest risk for developing complications from the Zika virus infection. After the outbreak in Brazil, more than 1,200 babies were found to have microcephaly, which results in an abnormal growth of the brain and stunting of the growth of the head of the foetus, arising from infection in the first three months of pregnancy.

“There is a possible link between the Zika virus infection and birth defects. Pregnant women are among the high-risk group for severe symptoms. Children under five years old, the elderly and persons with chronic non-communicable diseases are also at greater risk. We, therefore, appeal to all Jamaicans but especially those who fall in this group to take precautions and prevent being bitten by mosquitoes as best as possible,” noted Chief Medical Officer Dr Marion Bullock DuCasse.

Bullock DuCasse said ZIKV was an emerging infectious disease that health officials across the world were constantly learning about. She emphasised that if introduced, it would be a new virus to Jamaica, which means it would have a significant impact on the population. She said, similar to the chik-V epidemic, it was not possible to predict how the population would be affected by ZIKV.

Dalley added, “I do not think anyone fully understands what we are dealing with and the research into Zika is ongoing. We will have to be in a position to quickly revise our strategies once we gather new information from the experiences in the countries affected so far.

“I have to stress that the Zika virus preparedness and response strategy will require the full participation of citizens. The Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries the dengue, chikungunya and Zika viruses breeds mainly in and around homes, business places, schools, and places of worship – all places where people generally gather and live. What can citizens do? You can destroy mosquito breeding sites by eliminating places where water can settle.”

ZIKV was first isolated in 1947 from a febrile rhesus monkey in the Zika forest of Uganda during a research project on the transmission of jungle yellow fever. The virus was first isolated in humans in 1952 in Uganda and Tanzania.

Infection from the virus is considered to be mild to moderate in severity and self-limiting. Common symptoms include fever, skin rash, headaches, inflammation of the eyes and joint pain, and last for three to seven days.

Complications can develop, primarily neurological disorders. Co-infections of ZIKV and dengue have been reported.

There is currently no cure for the disease. Therefore, persons can only treat symptoms associated with it.

Doctors are urged to report all suspected cases immediately. Blood samples of suspected cases should be sent to the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL), according to protocol, which will be sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad for confirmation.

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16 more FIFA bigwigs in US net

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WASHINGTON (AP):

Five current and former members of FIFA’s ruling executive committee were among 16 additional men indicted on corruption charges yesterday as part of United States (US) prosecutors’ widening investigation into football corruption.

“The betrayal of trust set forth here is outrageous!” US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said. “The scale of corruption alleged herein is unconscionable!”

Led away by Swiss federal police in a pre-dawn raid at a Zurich hotel were Juan Angel Napout of Paraguay, president of the South American confederation, and Alfredo Hawit of Honduras, head of the North and Central American and Caribbean governing body. The arrests came just before FIFA’s executive committee met to approve reform measures.

 

MORE INDICTMENTS

 

Ricardo Teixeira, a former Brazilian federation head, also was indicted. He is the former son-in-law of Joao Havelange, who was FIFA’s president from 1974-98. In addition, former CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb and former executive committee member Luis Bedoya were among those whose guilty pleas were unsealed.

Eleven current and former members of FIFA’s executive committee have now been charged in the investigation, which alleges hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks. The last three presidents of the regional bodies CONCACAF and CONMEBOL have all been indicted.

“The message from this announcement should be clear to every culpable individual who remains in the shadows, hoping to evade our investigation: You will not wait us out. You will not escape our focus,” Lynch said.

 

14 charged

 

Fourteen men were charged in May when four additional guilty pleas were unsealed.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter, elected that week to a fifth term, said on June that 2 he would leave office when a successor is chosen. Blatter has been suspended by FIFA as part of a separate investigation into a $2 million payment to European soccer head Michel Platini, who hoped to succeed him when FIFA’s 209 member nations vote on February 26. Blatter is also under Swiss criminal proceedings.

The indictments list a who’s who of football executives.

Among those charged were Marco Polo del Nero, a Brazilian who served on the executive committee from 2012 until last week; Rafael Salguero, a Guatemalan who left the executive committee in May; former South American confederation secretary general Eduardo Deluca; former Peru soccer federation president Manuel Burga; and current Bolivian football president Carlos Chaves, already jailed in his own country.