senior-superintendent-of-police-anthony-castelle.jpgSenior Superintendent of Police Anthony Castelle was spared jail time and was instead fined $1 million by the St James Parish Court in relation to his recent conviction on charges arising from the shooting of a pregnant woman on January 22, 2016.

Castelle, who was found guilty of unlawful wounding and misconduct in a public office on November 23, was calm as presiding judge Natalie Hart-Hines ordered him to pay the fine or spend 30 days in prison on the unlawful wounding charge.

He was admonished and discharged for misconduct in a public office.

In outlining the sentence, Hart-Hines said that based on her reading of Castelle's social enquiry report, she did not believe that he should receive a custodial sentence.

Castelle was arrested and charged by the Independent Commission of Investigations on May 18, 2016, following the shooting.

The facts are that on the day in question, a police team chased and opened fire on a motor car after the driver, a taxi operator, disobeyed an order to stop and sped off.

Janice Hines, who was a passenger in the taxi and was pregnant at the time, was shot and injured and was rushed to the Cornwall Regional Hospital.

Castelle was jointly charged with District Constable Rohan McIntosh, who was later discharged following a no-case submission on November 9.

The Jamaica Council of Churches has placed the Petrojam issue back on the front burner by suggesting that those found guilty of gross misconduct be criminally charged.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has ordered a forensic audit of Petrojam after an Auditor General report revealed that millions of dollars have been misspent at the entity.

Reverend Gary Harriott, General Secretary of the Jamaica Council of Churches, says the group is expecting further action following the forensic audit.

"Whether it means that person is going to be brought before the court to answer for the breach, but yes, we expect that as a result of those findings that persons will be held accountable," he said.

Reverend Harriott said the issues highlighted at Petrojam raise the need for more transparency in the management of public funds.

"Those who are entrusted with the public's resources need to bear in mind that this is taxpayers' funds and if we don't manage our resources well and our responsibilities, then it sets us back in terms of our advancement and development as a society," he asserted.

donald-trump-photo-5.jpgGoogle Chief Executive Sundar Pichai has explained why searching the word "idiot" on the global search engine shows images of US President Donald Trump. Pichai appeared before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday to explain the scenario by California Representative Zoe Lofgren.

"Right now, if you Google the word 'idiot' under images, a picture of Donald Trump comes up. I just did that," she notes. "How would that happen?"

In response, the Google CEO said the company doesn't "manually intervene" in search results and that search results are based on crawling the content of web pages.

"We provide search today for any time you type in a keyword. We, as Google, have gone out and crawled and stored copies of billions of their pages in our index, and we take the keyword and match it against the pages and rank them based on over 200 signals," Pichai said.

"Things like relevance, freshness, popularity, how other people are using it. And based on that, you know, at any given time, we try to find the best results for that query," he adds.

The house team convened the hearing to discuss whether Google's search results are politically biased.

2019 the Year of Festivals in the Caribbean

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The Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) has declared 2019 the Year of Festivals in the Caribbean.

According to the CTO, the region will celebrate the unique rhythm and tempo of each CTO destination throughout 2019.

"The Year of Festivals will focus on the fascinating events that have become an integral part of the Caribbean tourism calendar. Festivals help to energize communities across the region, while giving visitors more reasons to enjoy our destinations," said Hugh Riley, Secretary General of CTO.

"The Year of Festivals will highlight music, art, sailing, lights, food, rum, religious, literary and dance festivals celebrated throughout the region. It's a theme which can easily be embraced by all CTO member destinations," Riley noted.

"In addition to providing an opportune time for vacationers to visit, these celebrations also emphasise the unique characteristics that define the many diverse backgrounds and traditions which comprise the Caribbean's cultural tapestry," added Riley.

The 2019 Caribbean Year of Festivals will be promoted through social media and traditional media channels and will create opportunities for travellers and vacation planners to share their experiences.

"While each destination is unique and inviting in its own right, the common denominator for all Caribbean societies is a yearning to celebrate life, and each Caribbean country provides a beat that can't be replicated elsewhere," said Riley.

"The Year of Festivals will highlight music, art, sailing, lights, food, rum, religious, literary and dance festivals celebrated throughout the region. It's a theme which can easily be embraced by all CTO member destinations," Riley noted.

Throughout 2019, the CTO said it will also assist member countries with an assortment of promotional concepts and opportunities which can be implemented around the theme of festivals to appeal to consumers, travel professionals and creators of unique vacation experiences.

Popcaan, Mortimer make Apple Music 'Editor's Picks'

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shelly-brown-curran-on-instagram-when-you-speak-about-talent-let-me.jpgApple Music's charts are primarily based on streaming and purchasing data, however, alongside the official numbers, they also release their 'Editor's Picks', showcasing the 100 best and biggest tracks of the year, spanning all genres.

This year, Dun Rich by 'unruly boss' Popcaan featuring Nigerian music star Davido, and Careful by up-and-coming reggae singer-songwriter Mortimer feature on the list.

Other tracks listed on Apple's Editor's Picks list are God's Plan by Drake, Sicko Mode by Travis Scott, Stir Fry by Migos and This Is America by Childish Gambino.

Mortmer feels humbled by the selection, and he is ready to knock out some more tracks in the new year.

He said: "A lot happened this year, a lot of ups and downs and round and round. But I'm ready for work again in 2019, ready to put out some good music to uplift people's spirit and mindset. We have 'skin-out', 'buss out head back'. Now we need some vibes inna di place; upful, positive music."

Meanwhile, artiste manager, Shelly-Ann Curan has been giving Mortimer loads of props on social media

Shelly Brown - Curran on Instagram: "When you speak about talent let me tell you this @mortimermusic a it!!! Gonna live to see you be one of the biggest reggae musicians..."

Previous releases by Mortimer include Warning (2015), Ganja Train (2016), and This Feeling (2017).

JACAP puts on the pressure with lawsuits

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At least 22 companies have been sued by the Jamaica Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers (JACAP) since the start of the year for copyright infringement, and after securing a recent win in its legal battle against Mars Cable Vision Limited, the association has sounded a warning that it will explore all options to protect its members.

JACAP general manager Lydia Rose made an appeal for more compliance with copyright laws during a press conference at the association's 21 Connolley Avenue head office in Kingston this week and noted that media houses and cable providers topped its list of infringers.

JACAP, by 28 agreements, is mandated to collect royalties from anybody who uses the creativity of individuals, authors, composers, and publishers. Based on this agreement, a claim was filed and served on Mars Cable Vision Limited in October 2016.

After a protracted legal battle, the Supreme Court, on November 28, 2018, entered judgement in default against Mars Cable Vision Limited in the matter. The court further ordered specific disclosure of the audited financials of Mars Cable Vision Limited and costs of the application for judgement to be awarded to JACAP to be taxed if not agreed.

JACAP's attorney, Christopher Henry, said that an assessment for damages would need to be done before they know the amount to be awarded.

"The cable companies, for far too long, have been non-compliant, and they are now realising that JACAP has the authority, and is willing to show this said authority, and is willing to go the entire mile to ensure that the rights of our composers, authors, and publishers are protected and they are rewarded for their hard work, their creative works," he said.

crime-scene-tape.jpgMedia reports are that a member of the Jamaica Defence Force is now in police custody after allegedly stabbing his wife to death.

The deceased has been identified as Nordraka Williams-Burnett, an attorney-at-law at the law firm Townsend, Whyte and Porter.

One of the lead attorneys at the firm Christopher Townsend is reported as saying that he was informed that the husband allegedly attacked his wife sometime this morning at their Kirkland Heights home in St Andrew.

Townsend further said that he was informed that loud screams were heard coming from the couple's apartment, causing an alarm.

It is reported that a concerned resident went to enquire and discovered Williams-Burnett bleeding from stab wounds inside the apartment.

The soldier has reportedly said that "the voices in my head made me do it."

On her Facebook profile, Nordraka Williams-Burnett describes herself as "daughter of the only living God. Wife of one man. Mother of two girls. God's handiwork.".

The soldier, whose name has not been released, last year described her in a Facebook post as his "beautiful, talented, motherly, lawyerly wife."

Reports from the Red Hills police are that about 5 a.m., residents heard strange sounds and summoned the police.

On arrival of the lawmen, checks were made at the premises, and the body of Williams-Burnett was found in a room with multiple wounds. Her husband was also seen sitting inside the room. He was subsequently taken into custody.

It is further reported that the couple's two young daughters were also inside the apartment at the time of the alleged incident.

According to Townsend, the children were not harmed and are now with relatives.

Picture of Buju at studio keeps them talkin'

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buju-banton-at-the-studio.jpgThis picture of Buju Banton at the studio since his return to Jamaica on Friday has many wondering whether the Gargamel is prepping new music.

Whatever it is a good look and feel.

Welcome Home again Mr Myrie.

hiv.jpgKnowingly infecting someone with HIV could soon become a crime in Jamaica.

It's one of the recommendations from the committee which reviewed Jamaica's sexual offence laws.

The Committee acknowledged that there was a deficiency in the law in relation to the deliberate spreading of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

It noted that such an offence exists in other jurisdictions, such as Canada and the United Kingdom.

It said the Offences Against the Person Act should be amended to make it a criminal offence for someone to willfully or recklessly infect a partner with a sexually transmissible disease which can inflict serious bodily harm.