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News - 2012 highlights

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Arianne Hammond, Youthlink Writer

January

  • The year began with a new prime minister and a new Government. Days before the new year, the country had to vote in a crucial and critical election which saw the People's National Party winning by a landslide. Portia Simpson Miller was sworn in as prime minister and her party took over Gordon House, yet again.
  • Shaggy and Friends held their benefit concert for the Bustamante Hospital for Children. This philanthropic event combined overseas acts like Lauryn Hill and Eve with our local talents.
  • Within the first month, there was an increase in crime, coming from a fairly moderate decrease in the crime rate towards the end of the previous year.
  • Digicel made moves to acquire Claro.

February

  • Gifton Wright won The Gleaner's Children's Own Spelling Bee title. The first-form Kingston College student went on to represent Jamaica at the Scripps National Spelling Bee Championships in the United States.
  • The fifth annual Youth View Awards were held and it was the first year that local celebrities Tami Chin and DJ Kruddy hosted the show.
  • The world mourned the death of pop icon Whitney Houston. At 48, the singer, whose career was marred by drug abuse and a tumultuous relationship with ex-husband Bobby Brown, had drowned in her bathtub.
  • Wilmot 'Motty' Perkins, an iconic Jamaican journalist, died at 80, due to complications from a long-suffering illness. His infectious laugh and fiery views on Jamaican politics and governance had made him popular among Jamaican listeners.

March

  • The telecommunications giant Digicel took control of the cellphone market once again by completely closing Claro's network.
  • Rat Attack: Calabar High School was overrun with rats, forcing the school to suspend classes for three days. Despite the beady-eyed pests, the school went on to win both the Schools' Challenge Quiz and Boy's athletics championships.
  • Digicel began to slash call rates. Its customers now pay $8.99 to call any network, any time.
  • Prince Harry of Wales visited the country in honour of his grandmother's, Queen Elizabeth, diamond jubilee. The prince met with dignitaries and army officials, and sporting 'royalty' Usain Bolt.
  • The PNP won the local government election, having complete control of the country.

April

  • Nyoka and Janoy Campbell were found with their throats slashed and bullet wounds on their bodies. This was just one of several gruesome attacks on women last year.
  • In a bizarre attack, a pregnant Jodi Grey was attacked by her ex-lover Wayne White, who had allegedly hired killers and followed Grey to her Portmore home where she was shot several times, including once in her face. She survived the attack, but was hospitalised and had to have surgery to remove a bullet lodged in her throat.
  • The flag debacle was on everyone's lips as the green was missing from the 'Jamaican' flag which was in the background at the swearing-in ceremony for Montego Bay Mayor Glendon Harris. The workers in the mayor's office said they had run out of green cloth while the decorator, allegedly, said that he was told to leave the green out of the flag.
  • Beauty queen and media personality Yendi Phillipps announced that she and Chino McGregor were expecting a child. The announcement of Phillipps' first child and McGregor's second was met with both criticism and support.
  • Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller was named one of the most influential persons according, to TIME magazine.

May

  • Call rates dropped as low as $5 as the Office of Utilities Regulation reached an agreement with the two phone companies.
  • Government and other relevant authorities raided Digicel's office. The Tax Administration of Jamaica (TAJ) said it had an issue concerning the telecommunications company's apparent effort to "discredit the work of the TAJ".
  • Peter Phillips revealed that more than half of Jamaica's fiscal budget was to go to service loans and interest racked up by the previous governments.
  • Busy Signal was jailed again. In all Jamaica's history, this had to be the most controversial and bizarre case ever. Busy, aka 'Rennao Gordon', aka 'Glendale Gordon' was arrested by United States authorities for absconding bail and other charges. He apparently fled to Jamaica before he could have been sentenced. One would think he would have remained low key but when the opportunity knocked, he became the mega dancehall artiste Busy Signal. Really, this is one for the movies.

June

  • Gifton Wright finished fourth in the Scripps Spelling Bee competition, misspelling the word E-R-I-C-E-T-I-C-O-L-O-U-S. That was a hard one.
  • 'Politicking' and controversy surrounded the song choice for the entire 'Jamaica 50' campaign.
  • Peter Phillips implemented his 'poisonous' tax measures by introducing sales tax on certain food items such as patty. 
  • Vaz and Rowe were caught in a heated battle after 'hate mails', apparently defaming Vaz's character, were making the rounds via the Internet.
  • Former west Kingston strongman Christopher Coke, otherwise called 'Dudus', was sentenced to 23 years in prison; the maximum penalty.
  • LIME and Digicel engaged in a spirited 'rate war' as both phone companies slashed their call rates to outdo the other. LIME began the battle during the summer by cutting their rates to $2.99 per minute. Digicel quickly responded with $2.89 per minute. The lively competition between the two companies proved beneficial to consumers.

July

  • 'Jamaica 50' celebrations included a military tattoo put on by the Jamaica Defence Force. The presentation got solid reviews.
  • Yohan Blake and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the 100m and 200m, respectively, at the national trials in preparation for the 2012 London Olympics. Blake and Fraser-Pryce won top spots ahead of Usain Bolt and Veronica Campbell-Brown, who were the favourites.

August

  • The month was dedicated to celebrating Jamaica's 50th year of Independence and our athletes' performance in London.
  • Usain Bolt gave the country the perfect birthday gift as he blazed to first in the men's 100m race. Yohan Blake was not far behind him, finishing second.
  • Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce took her second consecutive gold medal in the women's 100m finals at the London Olympics. Her teammate, Veronica Campbell-Brown, came third to add to Jamaica's medal tally.
  • Bolt confirmed his status as Jamaica's living legend by copping his second gold in the 200m Olympics. Yohan Blake and Warren Weir made it a Jamaica sweep by claiming the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
  • Hansel Parchment surprised everyone by claiming the bronze medal in the 110m men's hurdles at the Olympics.
  • Jamaica's 4x100m male relay team destroyed the world record which they had created in the previous Olympics. The women came in second to the USA.

September

  • A policeman in St Thomas shot a pregnant Kayann Lamont in the head.
  • In a graduation address, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe warned men in the audience not to be like Jamaican men, "a lazy bunch who is perennially high on ganja and liquor".
  • Several women, including an eight-year-old girl, are raped in Irwin, St James.
  • A sex textbook to be introduced to the school curriculum created a stir as parents called for it to be banned from the book list.
  • Deanna Robbins placed seventh in the Miss World competition.

October

  • Peter Tosh was finally honoured on Heroes Day after being on the fringes of mainstream Jamaica for many years.
  • Hurricane Sandy left her mark on Jamaica. The Category 1 hurricane left many without light and water for days.

November

  • An assault of an allegedly gay man by security personnel at the University of Technology created a buzz across the country. The attack was videotaped, spread through cyberspace and made news around the world.
  • Barack Obama was re-elected for a second term as president of the United States. This came as a surprise to some, given the fact that many heads of government who took over during the recession had failed to be re-elected.

December

  • The Newtown, Connecticut, massacre of 20 children and six adult educators rocked and shocked the world. Many of the victims were no more than 10 years old.