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  • Tanya Stephens' sharp criticism of Portia riles up 'Mama P' supporters

    Tanya Stephens (left) and Portia Simpson Miller

    Veteran singer, Tanya Stephens, has generated a backlash of criticism of unsavoury comments she made on social media about former Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, on the day Simpson Miller retired from active politics.

    Stephens, in a social media post that has since been deleted, declared that, "Hearing people lament Portia's departure is like seeing people congratulate my rapist for being a 'good man' ... She isn't a good person."

    The artiste further said, "Besides (having been) unqualified and an embarrassing representation who wasn't even of average intelligence as per her public displays, she was also an awful, apathetic human who perfected the art of pandering to the hypocrisy of Jamaicans."

    Stephens concluded that, "I'm happy to see her back. I'm not alone. Good riddance".

    Obviously disturbed by Stephens' sudden and sharp criticism of the former leader, a number persons, mainly supporters of Simpson Miller, including noted members of the People's National Party (PNP) which she served for over 40 years and led for the last 11 years, went into ultra-defensive mode.

    PNP Vice-President and Senator, Angela Brown Burke, expressed shock at Stephens' comments.

    "Tanya, really now! That's what you've chosen to say about another woman who has inspired so many others? SMDH," she responded.

    Venesha Phillips, the PNP Councillor for the Papine Division in St Andrew, took a totally different angle, but with even more telling effect.

    "Angela, please delete this post. Let us not give airplay to the useless. To recognise that dead will give life to her, so let her remain in her grave."

    Some members of the Facebook group 'Fair and Balanced Jamaica' were anything but balanced, in spinning some 'wicked dub plates' aimed at Stephens, including one user, Vinnette Wilson, who mercilessly declared that the artiste who last year publicly declared to having been raped and abused, "needs to go and get help with her damage(d) and hurt feelings, and stop being so bitter with everyone."

    Suzette Parks, another Facebook user, was far more balanced, and acknowledged that Stephens has a right to her opinion.

    "I love her as an artiste, but I think she crossed the line, because even though I didn't want her (Simpson Miller) to be my PM, I love and respect her as a woman who let all women know they can make it in this society that thinks only men can get the job done."

    Parks added that, "Portia has fought and worked hard to make her name in society, and I salute her".

    She declared that, "I love Mama P to mi heart, but I didn't want her to be my PM, so I did what I had to do. We must speak through our votes, and not degrade anyone.

    "Tanya, mi love you bad, and a labour mi seh, but you need to apologise to this woman. She is a true icon.

    " Big up yuhself Mama P.

    "Tanya you a mi G. Love you still, nah change," Parks wrote.

    Kamla Forbesz, clearly a strong supporter of Simpson Miller, also declined to directly attack Stephens, opting for sarcasm instead, and interestingly, introduced a wider element to the 'debate' on Simpson Miller's representation.

    "You can only do better if you know better, and clearly she doesn't know better," Forbesz wrote.

    "We have a culture in Jamaica where women tear each other down. Instead of lift them up, we envy each other.

    "Tanya Stephens is an unfortunate product of our society (in which) women feel they have to tear each other down to get ahead.

    "And comrades, stop being hypocritical, because nuff a unnu same one hate Portia and orchestrated her demise.

    "You orchestrated the demise of Lisa Hanna too.

    "Until as a people we learn to respect the work of our women in society, expect a few more Tanya Stephens to pop up," Forbesz predicted.

    Simpson Miller served for 35 years as the Member of Parliament (MP) for South West St Andrew, and six years as Prime Minister of Jamaica before resigning from representational politics on June 29.


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  • Man was happy earning $2,000 a week

    Most Jamaicans would scoff at a salary of $2,000 weekly, given that the current national minimum wage is $6,200 for a 40-hour work week, or $155 per hour. But to 43-year-old Wayne Campbell, the pay was an acceptable start, even as his friends ridiculed him at the time.

    “Ah waste man work dat, man. $2,000 week, ah waste man fi do dem work deh, my friends said. But when a remember mi effort to get this job and being outta work so long, mi never care,” said Campbell, who is employed as the guard at Yallahs Primary School.


    “Nuh man nah come gi me $2,000, an mi sure a mi $2,000,” he told the Jamaica Observer North and East. “Mi nah stop work yah man; who a go gi me $2,000?”


    But that was 15 years ago.


    Life has always been tough for Campbell.


    His father, he said, died when he was a baby, so he has no memory of him. “Mi nuh know how him stay like,” Campbell said.


    He recalled that he was just 15 years old when his family moved from Font Hill, St Thomas where was born, to Lloyd's Pen in the parish where he attended Trinityville Primary School.

    But given the financial hardships being experienced by his family, Campbell was forced to find work, especially to help his five sisters.


    The loss of his father, though, proved a source of pain for him, particularly when his friends would talk about their dads.


    “Sometimes when mi friend dem a seh 'mi a go call mi father fi him send dung some Clarks fi mi or money fi mi holiday', mi go a one corna an go bawl,” an emotional Campbell shared.


    “I was a handy man, and I was always trying to help others in every way I could. One of my good friends and church brother was working at the school gate as a watchman before and I would accompany him and have talks with him,” Campbell related.


    “The place was nice and the walk from home was an easy one, so, I started to visit my friend very often. My interest grew stronger and stronger, so I put out a deeper interest as I started to look at the situation, thinking I could one day get the job as watchman at Yallahs Primary School. “Then I started to step up on my manners by greeting the staff and parents,” Campbell said.


    His effort was not in vain as both teachers and parents started to notice Campbell. Eventually a former principal at the school engaged Campbell's services. He started to wash dishes at the school's canteen, distributed lunch, and swept the compound, among other tasks. That resulted in him being employed full-time.


    “When mi hear, mi run go tell mi friend dem. Mi tell dem seh mi a work ova primary,” Campbell explained, unable to mask his elation, even after more than 20 years on the job.


    As the school guard, Campbell said his focus extends beyond just opening and closing the school gate. He stated that he had a vested interest in seeing the children do well.


    “Mi wouda love fi see di children dem improve. Mi would love fi see more pass and more children dem stop giggle, giggle and buckle up more, 'cause when dem nuh pass di parents dem feel bad when dem nuh get di school weh dem put pan di paper. Sometime a different school dem go weh dem neva expect,” Campbell said in reference to the Grade Six Achievement Test.


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  • Two vendors shot and killed in Coronation Market attack

    Image result for Coronation Market

    Police have identified the victims as Sonia Bennett, 54-year-old and Dane McDonald,34.

    Reports reaching Loop News are that at about 10:00pm on Wednesday, June 21, a group of vendors were at the facility packing up their goods when gunmen went to the location and opened fire and then ran from the area.

    "The men just come to the area and started to fire in every direction," said one alleged eye witness.

    When the shooting ended three persons were found suffering from gunshot wounds. They were rushed to hospital where the two vendors were pronounced dead.

    The shooting is the latest in a series of attacks carried out by gang members who are locked in a deadly feud in the West Kingston area.


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  • Dressed to impress - peanut vendor brings her own style

    From as early as 11 a.m. on Mondays to Wednesdays, a sharply dressed Melissa Blake can be seen in the midst of traffic along Trafalgar Road seeking sales for her peanuts and peanut cakes.

    The 27-year-old mother of four journeys from Spanish Town to satisfy the tastes of several motorists, passengers, and pedestrians. But what makes her stand out from other street vendors is her attire.

    Blake is clad in what most would consider 'office wear', i.e. button-down blouse, tailored skirt and stockings complete with formal-looking flats.

    Blake explained that she has been selling peanuts for as long as she can remember as she would sometimes accompany her mother to the streets as a child.

    She used the money she made then to finance her education.


    Chance to interact


    However, she has been selling for herself for five years now, and strives never to take home any of her stock.

    "I am doing this to send my children to school, that is the reason why I dress like this," she told THE STAR. The holder of a stage one teacher's certificate, which qualifies her to be a basic school teacher, Blake said that it is a joy to be in the streets selling her peanuts because it gives her the chance to interact with a variety of individuals.

    Even while she was pregnant with two of her four children, the oldest is seven, she was in the skin stinging sun soliciting sales.

    "If I put the sun on my mind, I wouldn't be doing it. We all know the sun is hot but I can't let that stop me," Blake said.

    She schedules her selling days with her babyfather, who is also a peanut vendor, so they can rotate in caring for their children.

    "(When) I come Monday to Wednesday ... their dad look after them and when he is on the road, Thursday to Friday, I am home with the kids," she said.

    With peanuts priced at $70 and $150, she says customer sometimes question the cost.

    However, Blake, who journeys to St Elizabeth to purchase raw peanuts, explains that the quality of her products are better than those of some of her competitors as they are buying foreign peanuts and selling them at a cheaper price.

    Blake said she also wants to open her own business.

    "I want to register it and see if I can get a store so I can start to distribute to supermarkets. At that time, I want to print my logo and name on the shirts," she said.

    Despite being the victim of several accidents in the past, she says she still wants to continue doing what she loves.


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  • Woman shot dead near Sav-la-Mar Hospital

    A female was shot and killed near the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital Public General Hospital in Westmoreland on Monday night.

    The deceased has been identified as 21-year-old Shelline Heron of Dexter Street, Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland.

    Reports are that about 9:15, Heron was standing in the vicinity of hospital when two gunmen, who rode up on a motorcycle, opened fire hitting her in the chest.

    She died instantly.

    The police theorise that the shooting was in reprisal for an earlier shooting attack in the town, believed to have been carried out by men from the Dexter community.


    Two persons received minor injuries in that earlier attack.

    The Savanna-la-Mar police are probing both shootings.

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