Monday, September 27, 2010

Transcripts of Buju Meeting with Informat (CS)

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Bounty Killer Gets Bail

Deejay to return to court November 9
BY TANESHA MUNDLE Observer staff reporter

Deejay Bounty Killer was this morning granted bail when he appeared in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's court.
Bounty Killer, whose real name is Rodney Pryce, was granted $500,000 bail and was ordered to return to court on November 9.
He is charged for the assault and unlawful wounding of Racquel Smith. Smith turned up at the Constant Spring Police station two weeks ago and complained that he beat her with a hammer, a mosquito repellant and a chain. Police reported that she was badly bruised and bloodied when she lodged the complaint.
This morning Smith indicated through her lawyer Terrence Ballentine, to the court that she wanted the matter to be sent to mediation.
Ballentine said his client and Pryce had been together for three years and he had never hit her until the incident earlier this month. He said Smith wanted to continue her relationship with the Deejay.
However, Senior Magistrate Judith Pusey would have none of it and dismissed the request.
Pryce also had another matter in which he is charged for possession of ganja put off until November 8.

Jurors Evenly Split on Buju's Fate

Judge rejects lawyer's motion for mistrial
BY PAUL HENRY Observer reporter
 A jury foreman minutes ago told United States judge Jim Moody that they have not been able to reach a verdict in the drug case involving Jamaican Reggae star Buju Banton.
The foreman said the 12-member jury was split evenly.
"I don't know if we will get to a final decision. We don't feel that we will progress, so could you provide further instructions? Since Thursday we have been reviewing evidence, nobody has changed their minds from their original positions," the jury foreman told the court.
Moody then instructed the jurors to take their time in coming to a final decision.
"Be as leisurely as the occasion may require," Moody said.
The judge gave further instructions that none of the jurors should surrender their conscience decision.
Banton's attorney David Markus then filed a motion for a mistrial but Moody rejected the motion.
Banton appeared in court in a white shirt and a cream coloured pants today. His feet were shackled.
The long wait for a verdict has not been going down well with the artiste's supporters who all appeared nervous.

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Judge Orders Jury to Deliberate in Reggae Singer Buju Banton's Drug Trial

TAMPA, Fla. — A judge ordered a Tampa jury to continue deliberating on whether Jamaican reggae star Buju Banton conspired to buy cocaine from an undercover police officer last year.
The 12-person jury sent U.S. District Judge James Moody a note Monday saying they hadn't reached a verdict because none of them had changed their minds since Thursday, when deliberations began after a four-day trial. Moody had released them for the weekend on Friday.
Banton's attorney asked for a mistrial, which Moody denied.
Banton is charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine and aiding two others in possessing a firearm during the course of cocaine distribution. He faces up to life in prison.
Banton's attorney maintains that a U.S. government informant entrapped him.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Old Mon and the Sea

Remix | By CHRIS BLACKWELL | September 24, 2010 

Jamaica has been on the defensive lately. jamaica . . . no problem T-shirts sold in sticky tourist flytraps seemed like so much wishful thinking in June, when a popular mafioso went on the lam and riots shocked the slums of Kingston. It would be a while before the memory of daily body counts receded into a haze of happy ganja smoke.

Chris Blackwell, the big daddy cool of the Island Outpost group — a consortium of glitzster hotels including the Caves, Jakes, Strawberry Hill, Geejam and Ian Fleming’s beach retreat, GoldenEye — remembers the country’s postwar better self, when high tide used to bring Hollywood and royals of every flag. “The first person I ever saw water-ski was Errol Flynn,” says Blackwell, who grew up in Jamaica. Flynn was dressed for cocktails. He had a cigarette holder in his fist “and a dachshund under his arm. I was 12 or 13, and it was the most glamorous thing I’d ever seen.”

That was then. Now Jamaica, with its lush Jurassic terrain and hypnotic music, its fountainhead of rum and distinct cuisine, competes for heat with St. Bart’s, Mustique and even Anguilla, a scrubby cultural wasteland in Blackwell’s view. “Anguilla is just a strip of sand,” he says dismissively. “But a lot of people who have money prefer a place that has no natives. No problems. All they want is a great beach.” Though Blackwell himself is now a very rich man, he is careful to avoid any implication that he has become the Mon. The founder of Island Records, he phenomenized Bob Marley, Cat Stevens, Grace Jones, Steve Winwood, the B-52s and Roxy Music; signed U2 to its first record contract; and then, in 1989, sold his label to PolyGram for something like $300 million.

Then came a ’90s layover in South Beach, when Miami was practically giving away Deco bijoux, and Blackwell, who couldn’t resist a bargain, scooped up the Marlin and the Tides. But now he’s home, and Jamaica is his next act, only Jamaica is suddenly behaving like some strung-out rock star. A State Department travel warning was briefly issued just as the impresario was getting ready to take me on a tour of his Jamaica, the last stop the gutted-and-overhauled GoldenEye, scheduled to open in mid-November.

The Caves sits high on a cliff in Negril, past the honeymooner hideaways and the storied emerald golfscapes of Montego Bay. Blackwell, who despises golf, has made a conscious decision to leave the country-clubbers to MoBay, as natives call it, where his cousins, the Pringles, famously opened Round Hill in 1953. Blackwell’s Island Outpost almost seems to make a point of tastefully exploiting the other rich and varied neighborhoods of the island.

The Old Harrovian accent notwithstanding, Blackwell grew up in Jamaica, where his mother’s clan, the Lindos, is one of the island’s first families. At the hotel bar, he shows off Blackwell’s Black Gold Special Reserve Fine Jamaican Rum, with its Gothic-scripted treasure-map label. “Settling in Jamaica in 1625,” it says of the Lindos, “they were renowned for exporting bananas, coconuts and rum.” (Equally: the importing of slaves from Africa.)

“On a choppy day, it’s like a washing machine in here,” says Blackwell, 73 but markedly fit, swimming his grotto like some grizzled Neptune. Blackwell fishtails through an underwater tunnel to reach a second, larger cave. I follow and emerge bleeding like shark chum. “Fetch the white rum!” he shouts — 150 proof. Locals slap their faces with it like Aqua Velva before downing a shot. Blackwell dabs it on the back-of-leg scratches, and it burns more than the original offense. But it could be worse: On a recent night swim here with Vladimir Doronin, the Russian-oligarch boyfriend of Naomi Campbell, sea urchins stung Blackwell on both hands. The remedy for that, he reliably informs me, is urine. The Caves is sand-free, and so in the next few months, Blackwell plans to revamp the resort, its Caribbean cottages giving way to Santorini-bleached rooftops.

After a breakfast of johnnycakes and eggs with callaloo, it’s into the jeep for a trek down south. Blackwell used to know the roads like a telephone lineman, but that was ages ago, and the signs are spotty. Blackwell, a widower of five years, turns out to be an indefatigable roadside shopper, on the hunt for lignum vitae cutting boards, artisanal goat cheese, Bombay mangoes. The jeep slows at a fly-clouded shack where Blackwell consumes fried snapper and a Red Stripe as anonymously as any bus driver.

The houses turn more fastidious as we enter St. Elizabeth Parish, where the villas of Jakes bestride Treasure Beach. The rooms are a fashion stylist’s dream: door frames made of driftwood, walls in the outdoor showers built with Perrier-Jouët empties, a birdbath recycled as a sink. The zinc-roofed cottages were designed by Sally Henzell, an unreconstructed hippie who once dated Blackwell before marrying Perry Henzell, the director of “The Harder They Come.”

Her son Jason, who quit banking to oversee Jakes, commandeers the skiff Mr. Nice Guy for a voyage to the Pelican Bar, a flimsy offshore rig that has somehow survived his 40th-birthday blowout and a hurricane. Jason points to the property down the shore that Lily Allen was going to buy — then didn’t. “That’s when her accountant said, ‘What do you want to go and buy land in Jamaica for?’ ” Blackwell jokes. (But, he adds politely, “She’s a terrific girl.”)
The boat slows before two giant hawksbill turtles in flagrante delicto, a rare sight and virtually impossible to capture with Blackwell’s Nokia phone. “Okay, we’ve interrupted enough of this love affair,” Blackwell announces, and the skiff skips onward.

Back in the jeep, we reach Kingston after Blackwell begs directions from a police car and is dragooned into taking on a hitchhiker, a friendly mama juggling plastic-wrapped plates of food. She turns out to be a cop, too. “So now that I have a cop in the car, I can break the speed limit?” Blackwell asks. She gives him a breadfruit recipe before hopping out.

We make a left into Trench Town: broken asphalt, corrugated roofs and car tires repurposed as planters. Bob Marley was raised here. “I released his first record,” says Blackwell, who misread the name on the tape box as Robert Morley. “Same as the foppish English actor. That record’s worth thousands of dollars now. ‘Robert Morley’ singing ‘One Cup of Coffee’ on one side and ‘Judge Not’ on the other. It’s like a mistake on a stamp.”

When Marley was shot, he recuperated at Strawberry Hill, Blackwell’s home high above Kingston in the Blue Mountains, where the coffee comes from. Blackwell’s gingerbread house with shutters is duplicated on a smaller scale on the estate’s 50 acres for guests who dig cottages with treehouse views and the colonial romance of four-poster beds canopied with mosquito nets. “Bob and I were a match made in heaven,” Blackwell says. “He’d met someone who is Jamaican, who understood the language, understood him, what he was. And didn’t reject it. I gave him money without any contract to make a record because with these rebel characters, the only way to establish a relationship with them is to show them trust.”

In Kingston proper, Marley’s house turns out to be a Victorian gingerbread, too. Blackwell lived here first, orchestrating a hand-over, one intuits, to tweak the neighbors, who appear to have responded by selling out to car dealerships in this formerly upmarket neighborhood. “Rich people don’t care at all for the classes that don’t have any money, they really don’t,” says Blackwell, who deems Marley “blessed with a real innate wisdom.” Blackwell remembers when Rastas were treated like vermin, underappreciated as fakirs who rove the land and are today so closely identified with the Jamaica brand. They remind him more than a bit of the Jews.

On the coast, in Port Antonio, No Doubt and Drake are expected in coming months at Geejam’s in situ recording studio. Tom Cruise and his family rented all five villas when he shot “Knight and Day” in town. The Aga Khan is dearly departed from his Port Antonio beach house and private island, but Thyssens still reside at Alligator Head, and the cattle is still branded ef for Errol Flynn at Flynn’s estate, Boston, a 15-minute drive from Geejam, where his widow, Patrice, endures.
Blackwell’s partner Jon Baker is a punk pirate: diamond hoop earrings, chipped tooth and oik accent. His act under management is the Jolly Boys, a bouncy calypso band of elderlies singing Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” down at the Bushbar restaurant.

Blackwell confers with Baker about installing Apple TVs at other Island Outpost hotels: keep the guests pleasantly distracted if it rains. The discussion inevitably runs aground on St. Bart’s. “If they want to make Jamaica happening, they’ll have to loosen restrictions,” says Blackwell, who’d like to see marijuana declassified as a drug here.
“Marijuana is Jamaica’s big brand,” Baker says.
“This place would really take off,” Blackwell continues. “But parents hear the word ‘drugs’ and don’t want their kids near that. Marijuana is a plant. It’s an herb. It’s ridiculous.”

Blackwell handles the jet ski like a Harley as we buzz the beaches and mangrove-shadowed lagoons of his ambitious 52-acre GoldenEye compound. There’s talk that the airstrip nearby, which is being upgraded to accommodate international flights, will be renamed the Ian Fleming Airport. Fleming’s red bulletwood desk, where he fired off 14 spy novels, shall return. (The original skin-and-bones villa that Blackwell acquired in 1977 has been refreshed and expanded as part of the overhaul.) Fleming’s gardener Ramsey Dacosta remains, cutting coconuts for guests. Summer-camp-style docks have been grafted to each of the private villas. Blackwell jokes that one super-property is “the Russian lot.”
Fleming was merely a journalist and former intelligence officer who had only just started fooling about with a novel on his typewriter when he started up at GoldenEye. Blackwell’s darkly ravishing mother, Blanche, eventually became Commander Fleming’s mistress. She sublet GoldenEye and redecorated it, much to the irritation of Fleming’s wife, Ann, who disparaged Blanche to friends as Ian’s “Jamaican wife.” It’s the only subject Blackwell trips over later in the car, probably because his mother is still alive. He describes her back then as “sort of like a man in a way, ready to try anything and go anywhere.” Blanche was a fixture at Firefly, Noël Coward’s house just up the hill and open to the public. This is where, at age 14, Blackwell learned how to be at ease with superstars like Charlie Chaplin, Liz Taylor and Audrey Hepburn funning around the swimming pool with the heart-stopping view.

The jeep pulls into the Montego Bay airport. The end of the road. We’ve been listening to the band 1 Giant Leap in the car. “It’s all about finding things that will attract people,” Blackwell says. “Like a video does for a record.” May Jamaica be a hit for Chris Blackwell.

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Protoje unplugged for Manifesto Toronto

Protoje Exclusive Performance from on Vimeo.
Watch this video of Protoje and his Indiggnation band’s lead guitarist, Jason Worton, doing an acoustic version of the song »JA« exclusively for Manifesto. Shot in the hills of Kingston, Jamaica.

Friday, September 24, 2010

No Verdict Yet

Jury breaks deliberations for lunch
BY PAUL HENRY Observer staff reporter

The jury has broken their deliberations for lunch and the courtroom closed in the trial of Reggae singer Buju Banton. The jury will return for their deliberations at 1:00 pm or 12:00 pm Jamaican time.
On the 5th floor of the Gibbons US Court here in Tampa, Buju Banton's supporters prayed and held hands, while his longterm friend and fellow entertainer Wayne Wonder broke out singing the embattled artiste's popular hits of the nineties including 'Serious' and 'The Stone Love Anthem'.
"The tension is too thick," a supporter told the Observer.
Buju is being held in a holding area until the verdict is read.
If convicted, the artiste, real name Mark Myrie, could be sentenced to life imprisonment or slapped with millions of dollars in fines for the charges of conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine and illegal possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a crime.
He was arrested at his Tamarac, Florida home on December 10 last year, following the arrest of former co-accused Ian Thomas and James Mack, who had been in possession of the firearm for which Banton was jointly charged.
Thomas and Mack have since pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in November.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Remember Why You Like Buju Banton II?

Remember Why You Like Buju Banton?

Just in case you forgot why you like Buju Banton.

Jamaicans Anxiously Await Buju Verdict

Unsure whether artiste will be exonerated American jury
From: BY KIMMO MATTHEWS Observer staff reporter
Thursday, September 23, 2010

HOURS before a 13 member panel of jurors is expected to deliver a verdict in the case involving Reggae artiste Mark Mryie in Tampa Florida anxious Jamaicans are awaiting the results and expressing mixed views about the pending results.
"Him going to prison," one man, a bus operator identifying himself as 'Mark', told the Observer a few minutes ago.
He was one of several persons who the Observer is now interviewing on the streets about the case.
A 13-member panel of jurors in Tampa, Florida is now deliberating whether to find Reggae artiste Buju Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, guilty or innocent of conspiracy with intent to distribute five kilogrammes of cocaine.
Another man who identified himself as 'Shawn' said he strongly felt he would be set free.

Meanwhile, William Edwards who was at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston this afternoon said he really wanted Buju to be free but said based on the evidence it appeared he would be sentenced.
"I would love for him to be freed but based on the evidence it looks unlikely but I will be watching with my fingers crossed," said Edwards.
A female security guard at the hotel who seemed unsure, said she was praying for Myrie.
"All we can do his hope and pray," said the guard.
Another taxi operator along Waterloo Road said he hoped he was exonerated.
Myrie has maintained his innocence and says he was entrapped by government informant Alexander Johnson, a Colombian who has served three years for a drug offence. Banton told the court he was talking 'straight up crap' when he engaged in conversation with Johnson about drugs on a plane during an eight-hour flight from Madrid, Spain to Miami, Florida last year.
The artiste, along with James Mack and Ian Thomas, was arrested in December last year after Thomas and Mack were nabbed during an undercover drug sting at a warehouse in Sarasota, Tampa. If convicted Myrie faces a sentence of 20 years to life and a fine of up to US$4 million.

LT. Stichie - Wear Yu Size

Nuh Trouble We - Rappa Robert and Tippa Lee

Florida jury deliberates in Buju Banton drug trial

Associated Press
Published: Thursday, Sept. 23, 2010 11:36 a.m. MDT

TAMPA, Fla. — A Florida jury is deciding whether Jamaican reggae star Buju Banton conspired to buy cocaine from an undercover police officer last year.

Banton is charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine and aiding two others in possessing a firearm during the course of cocaine distribution. He faces up to life in prison.

The singer testified that he talked a lot about cocaine with a U.S. government informant, but he was only trying to impress the man, who claimed to have music industry connections.

In closing arguments Thursday, Banton's attorney said the informant only managed to connect two co-defendants to the conspiracy.

Those men pleaded guilty. Neither testified in the trial that began Monday in Tampa federal court.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Buju says he’s nervous, scared

Stephen Marley says artiste is no drug dealer
By PAUL HENRY, Observer staff reporter,
Reggae star Buju Banton denied being a drug dealer when he took the stand during his drug trial in the Gibbons US Court here this afternoon.
Banton said he was “talking crap” during the conversation with Alexander Johnson, the prosecution's main witness, on a flight they shared from Madrid to Miami. He said the incident has caused him and his family indescribable pain.
Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, was called to the stand about 2:45 pm Florida time by his attorney David Oscar Markus.
“I was just talking crap. I’m not a drug dealer,” Banton admitted.
He said that he did not want to be outtalked by Johnson, and said Johnson seemed to be a nice person who he liked hanging out with.
Banton admitted also that he had made a false move by sampling cocaine in a warehouse in Tampa. He said he was unaware that he was going to see cocaine as Johnson told him that he was going to inspect a boat.
He said he was fascinated with boats and was very surprised when he saw cocaine.
Banton apologised profusely and when asked by his attorney how he felt, the artiste said, “I am nervous and scared and I have been waiting for 10 months…” before he was interrupted by lead prosecutor Jim Preston who objected to the line of questioning.
Presiding judge Jim Moody sustained the objection.
Under cross examination, Preston, who asked Banton if he had thanked Johnson for making him [Buju] himself again, Banton said, “I would not risk my career which I have been working to build for 20 years for five kilos of cocaine.”
Banton said he was thanking Johnson who he thought could hook him up with a record deal and not a cocaine deal, as his record deal with his former company Tommy Boy Records had expired in 2009.
Meanwhile, Stephen Marley, son of Reggae king Bob Marley, also testified on Banton’s behalf, saying he has known him for over 10 years and never knew him to be a drug dealer.
Banton was arrested at his home at Tamarac, South Florida hours after his former co-accused Ian Thomas and James Mack, were arrested during an alleged drug bust in an undercover operation at a warehouse in Sarasota, Florida in December last year.
All three were charged with conspiracy to possess more than five kilogrammes of cocaine with intent to distribute, while Mack was charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offence.
The drug charge carries a minimum sentence of 20 years to life in addition to a fine of up to US$4 million, while the firearm charge carries a sentence of five years to life and a fine of up to US$250,000.
Both Mack and Thomas, in their plea deals, have agreed to give evidence to assist the US Government in building a case against Banton, in exchange for lesser sentences.
The trial continues tomorrow.

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Buju never invested in drugs says informant

Prosecution plays video tape showing artiste tasting cocaine
BY PAUL HENRY Observer reporter

Alexander Johnson, the United States informant assisting prosecutors to seal a conviction against Reggae artiste, this afternoon testified that Buju Banton never entered into any drug deal with him.

Johnson, a Colombian national who had served three years for a drug offense, made the revelation under cross-examination from Banton's attorney David Markus.

He said Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, never sold or bought drugs and had never wired any money to him to invest in the illicit trade.

Johnson also admitted that Banton had never purchased any cocaine in Panama or Colombia and that their dealings never went beyond talk.

The informant did not readily answer when Markus asked if Myrie had stopped taking his calls in December last year.

"Didn't Ian Thomas tell you that he (Myrie) does not want to do anything man? Talk to me. He said that's not him, he is about music, he eats and sleeps the music?" Markus asked to which Johnson replied yes.

Johnson also told the court that he had no knowledge that Myrie had financed the deal that went sour in the police controlled warehouse in Saratoga, Florida when Myrie's co-defendants, Ian Thomas and James Mack were arrested attempting to purchase cocaine from Drug Enforcement agents.

Earlier the prosecution played a video recording of Myrie tasting the contraband in December last year. The footage showed the artiste, Thomas and an undercover cop at a location in Sarasota. A kilogramme of the drug was produced by the cop and Thomas used a knife to cut it open and Myrie used his finger to wipe the knife and sampled the cocaine.

Thomas described the drug as 'fish scale' a term Johnson explained to mean high quality. While the footage was being showed some of Banton's fans appeared disappointed while others watched with keen interest.

Johnson also testified that during a meeting Thomas informed him that he had a contact in Georgia with drug connections and that he (Thomas) would be the person who would be doing business.

Markus is expected to continue cross-examining Johnson when the trial resumes tomorrow morning (September 22, 2010).

Tapes at Buju Banton trial in Tampa reveal discussions of drug deals

By Nicole Hutcheson, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Wednesday, September 22, 2010

On a summer day last year, reggae star Buju Banton met up with a man for drinks at a Fort Lauderdale restaurant.

After hours of casual conversation, the talk turned to drugs.

"Do you have any contacts where I can get cocaine?" Banton eventually asked.

He didn't know the man he was talking with was an informer, and that part of the conversation was being taped.

The question came back to haunt the four time Grammy-nominated musician Tuesday morning in a federal courtroom in Tampa, where the 37-year-old faces charges of conspiracy to buy and sell 5 kilos of cocaine, and aiding and abetting two others to possess a firearm in the course of cocaine distribution.

Prosecutors presented audio evidence of Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, discussing a wide variety of drug deals over five months, including shipping cocaine from Panama to Europe in crates with frozen seafood.

Alexander Johnson, the government informer, testified he first met Banton in first class on a flight from Madrid in July 2009.

From then on, he said he called Banton several times and met with the star throughout Florida.

The audiotapes and transcripts presented Tuesday included choppy conversations between the men. Drugs are discussed, as are dollar amounts and the best ways to transport, but often incoherently. Alcohol was consumed during most of the encounters.

But prosecutors say what is clear is that Banton wanted to put up money to buy cocaine.

"All I do is finance," Banton told Johnson during the restaurant meeting, transcripts show.

"So you give the money to buy dope?" Johnson asked.

"Yes," said Banton, according to transcripts.

Defense attorney David Markus has argued that while his client talked about drug dealing, he never actually funded any.

"Did Mr. Myrie invest one dollar of money into a drug deal?" Markus asked Johnson during cross examination.

"With me — no," Johnson answered.

During another conversation on Aug. 1 at a South Florida hotel, Banton and Johnson discussed buying kilos of cocaine from Panama and transporting them to Europe in containers filled with frozen seafood.

Johnson told Banton he had a seafood business called Frozen Fish, the transcripts show.

Johnson turned informer in 1996 after being convicted of distributing cocaine and marijuana. He was paid $50,000 in the Banton case, according to testimony.

During a conversation at a Sarasota restaurant on Dec. 8, Banton admitted to Johnson he was having money problems. "My truck is in the shop and I can't get it out," Banton said. "I'm going to concentrate, though; things are going to be straight next year."

It was on that day that Banton brought an associate named Ian Thomas along for lunch with Johnson. Banton described Thomas as a "friend who had contacts to purchase kilos of cocaine," Johnson said in court.

Johnson told Banton he would give him 5 extra kilos of cocaine if Thomas and his associate, a man named James Mack, purchased 20 kilos.

Prosecutors presented video of Johnson, Banton and Thomas entering a warehouse in Sarasota later that day. In it, Thomas cuts a kilo open. Banton approaches, takes the knife, wipes it and tastes his finger.

Another video shows Thomas and Mack being arrested while attempting to purchase cocaine at the warehouse two days later. Banton was arrested later that day at his South Florida home.

"So that 5-kilo deal for Mr. Myrie never happened, did it?" Markus asked Johnson.

"No," Johnson said.

The trial is scheduled to continue today.

Monday, September 20, 2010

DEA Agent Testifies in Buju's Favour

Says he has no evidence reggae singer is a drug dealer
BY PAUL HENRY Observer reporter

Drug Enforcement Agent Daniel McCeaffrey, today testified that he had no evidence that Reggae singer Buju Banton, was involved in illicit drug dealing.

McCeaffrey, who gave evidence on the first day of the trial at the Gibbons US Federal Court in downtown Tampa, said there was no evidence that Buju Banton — whose real name is Mark Myrie — received any money from any drug deal.

He also said even though he was investigating Banton for a year, he could find no evidence that the artiste had collected any money from drug dealing.

He made the revelation during cross-examination from Banton's attorney David Markus.

Markus, in his opening salvo, told the 14-member panel of jurors that he would prove that Myrie was not a drug trafficker and had never invested in illicit drug dealing. He said that artiste would waive his right not to testify.

"He's got nothing to hide because the truth is on his side in this case," Markus said.

He said his client's big mistake was that he loved to talk. Markus said Myrie met DEA informant Alexander Johnson, a Colombian national, on a flight from Madrid Spain to Florida last year and during conversation Johnson introduced the subject of drug dealing to him.

He said Myrie had in fact tasted cocaine but that did not qualify him as a drug dealer.

Markus also argued that Myrie did not know about the US$130,000 that his co-defendant James Mack had been held with. The money he said was given to Mack by two men identified as 'Ike' and 'Tike' from Atlanta, Georgia.

The attorney said Mack and Ian Thomas were the ones who were dealing drugs and said his client made a decision not to partake in any deal and went to his Tamarac home in Florida, where he was arrested in December last year.

Mack and Thomas have taken plea deals and have agreed to testify against the artiste. All three are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilogrammes of cocaine. The charge carries a sentence of 20 years to life and a fine of up to US$4 million.

Prosecutor Jim Preston argued that he would prove that Myrie is a known drug dealer who invested in multi-million dollar drug enterprises and he was arrested because he was starting a new venture.

Forensic chemist Alexandra Gongra also gave evidence that the substance that Thomas and Mack were arrested with was cocaine.

Telephone records analyst Donnie Godshoal also gave evidence today.

Dozens of Banton's supporters turned up outside the court to show their solidarity with the four time Grammy nominee.

His former manager Donovan Germaine, VP Records President Chris Chin and Deejay Delly Ranks were also present for the trial.

Bounty Killer Accused of Hitting Woman With Hammer

Sometimes I feel so alone, I just don't know, feels like I been down this road before, So lonely and cold, It's like something takes over me, Soon as I go home and close the door, Kinda feels like deja vu, I wanna get away from this place I do, But I can't and I won't say I tried but I know that's a lie cause I don't And why I just don't know...
Eminem Déjà vu

Dancehall artiste Bounty Killer is again behind bars for assaulting a female companion at his Oakland Apartment on Saturday September 18, 2010. According to a statement from Deputy Superintendent Altermonth Campbell from the Constant Spring Police Station, “Mr. Rodney Price was arrested after a female covered with bruises reported that he (Bounty Killer) had used a hammer to beat her.”

DSP Campbell says from his experience and based on a trend, he believes some entertainers are having problems handling success. "I truly believe success is their problem,"

DSP Campbell said. In speaking specifically to the allegations about the 'Warlord', Campbell said; "Bounty is not a fool, for years he has been doing good songs so he is not a fool."

Killer will remain behind bars until his court date this Wednesday the 22 of September.
The incident comes approximately six months after Bounty Killer spent two weeks behind bars, after he was arrested by the same Constant Spring police for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend. The complainant, Kadeem Baker, eventually dropped her claims against him.

I had a dog name Hitman Wally and it learned not to shit in the house, and he is the DUMBEST dog in the world. Now if a dumbass like Hitman Wally can learn not to shit where he sleeps, why is it so hard for Rodney Price to learn that slapping around females is just not Kosher? Also does Bounty Killer have to kill one of these women before they learn not to pursue a ‘relationship’ with this serial abuser? Or maybe 19 stitches is now a groupie Medal of Honour?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Second Buju co-defendant to testify against him

Signs plea agreement with US prosecutors

James Mack, the second co-defendant in the case against Reggae singer Buju Banton, today agreed to assist the United States Government in seeking a conviction against him.

Mack affixed his signature to a 17-page plea agreement between himself, his attorney, Mary Mills and United States District Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, Brian Albritton.

"Defendant agrees to fully cooperate with the United States in the investigation and prosecution of other persons, and to testify, subject to a prosecution for perjury or making a false statement, fully and truthfully before any federal court proceeding or federal grand jury in connection with the charges in this case," the plea agreement states.

Mack pled guilty to conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense.

The drug charge carries a mandatory minimum term of 20 years to life and a fine of up to US$4 million, while the firearm charge five years to life and a fine of up to US$250,000.

The agreement stated that Mack, Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie and Ian Thomas negotiated the sale of cocaine with an informant.

In December last year, Mack and Thomas drove to an undercover warehouse in Saratoga, Florida and attempted to purchase seven kilograms of cocaine with US$135,810 before they were arrested by undercover agents.

A search of a Honda motorcar Mack was travelling in turned up an illegal handgun.

Last week Thomas signed a similar plea deal.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mary J. Blige f/ Busta Rhymes & Gyptian – ‘Anything You Want’


Mary J. Blige enlists Busta Rhymes and Gyptian for the Caribbean-flavored “Anything You Want,” a Jerry Wonder-produced joint expected to appear on MJB’s next album.

“Everyday, all I think about is you/ In so many ways, I need to show my love to you,” sings the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul before throwing it to Busa Buss, who blesses the Jamaican tune with a patois-delivered verse.

And with Gyptian warming up the track with his dulcet reggae vocals? You know it’s a wrap.

Debt and crime in Jamaica: The end of the beginning


The state has taken on creditors and gangsters, but the economy is still weak

JAMAICA has long been one of the world’s most indebted and violent countries. This year the prime minister, Bruce Golding, made two belated attempts at shock therapy. In January the government opened a big debt swap. Four months later, security forces began a search for Christopher Coke, the country’s most feared gang leader. Over 70 people died in fighting in his supporters’ neighbourhood—which is also Mr Golding’s constituency.

Both initiatives were successful. The finance minister, Audley Shaw, says he appealed to creditors’ common sense and patriotism, noting that the choice was exchange or default, and that their holdings’ value would improve with the state’s credit rating. He also threatened to levy punitive taxes on holdouts. “I said if I have to haul us kicking and screaming into single-digit interest rates, I’ll do it,” he recalls.

It worked. Holders of over 99% of domestic debt accepted a cut in coupons from 17% to 11% and an extension in maturities of two and a half years. As a result, the government’s annual interest payments fell by 3.5% of GDP. That made possible new loans from the World Bank and IMF, boosting reserves by 70%. And the currency has gained 5% against the dollar in 2010.

Security gains have been just as impressive. In June Mr Coke surrendered and was extradited to New York. Parliament has set new minimum sentences for gun crimes, toughened bail requirements and extended the police’s powers of arrest. Since the start of June there have been 276 murders, compared with 444 in the same period of 2009. And 24% of this year’s killings have been solved, versus 19% in the first eight months of last year. The diary of Cedric Murray, a gangster shot by police last month, shows that criminals’ morale is slipping. During the May fighting he wrote, “I fired my AK-47 until my fingers were numb.” Two months later, he bemoaned his “wasted life”, and longed for his kids and a “good sleep”.

Yet these successes only underscore the depth of Jamaica’s problems. Private borrowers still pay interest of 17%. A stronger currency has eroded tourism earnings and remittances. Consumer demand is frozen: profits during the year to June at the dominant brewer, Diageo’s Red Stripe, are down by almost half from the year before. And the investment climate remains difficult. “A small man starting a business cannot succeed…unless he is willing to play all sort of games,” says Gordon “Butch” Stewart, the owner of Sandals, a resort chain.

Meanwhile, dissent is growing among police. On September 5th Raymond Wilson, the chairman of the police officers’ federation, griped of low pay and “pigsty facilities”, and said the government was “hell bent on destroying the police force.”

Mr Golding will need more successes to stay in office. His party spent 18 years in opposition before 2007 and a new election must be called by 2012. Lower government-bond yields and deficits win few votes. Nor will Mr Coke’s exit. Most gang leaders are still at large. Voters will need to see more and better jobs, and even fewer violent crimes, to return him to power.

Where's Sizzla?

Just in case you missed it:

Sizzla gets farm, settles in Zim

REGGAE superstar Sizzla Kalonji has ditched his native Jamaica and relocated to Zimbabwe after being rewarded with a farm for performing at President Robert Mugabe's 86th birthday celebrations in February.

“I am here to stay,” Sizzla told the state-owned Sunday Mail weekly newspaper. “Zimbabwe is home. I have received tremendous welcome.”

His spokesperson Olimatta Taal confirmed that rather than pay the artist in cash for performing at President Mugabe’s birthday bash Zanu-PF handed the Jamaican a farm located close to the town of Chegutu.

"Instead of giving him cash (for his performance) they gave him land. It is very honourable that he would take land instead of cash," Taal is reported as saying.

“He is in Zimbabwe because he loves Africa. He isn’t pro-Mugabe or anti-Mugabe, but he respects Mugabe as a leader.”

State-owned local media was quick to extol the development with the Sunday Mail declaring that the artist "was the latest and most important visitor to be swayed by the infectious Zimbabwean touch".

Olimatta Taal also said Sizzla’s Zimbabwe move had nothing to do with allegations that he was on the run from Jamaican authorities for gun crimes allegedly committed less than a month before President Mugabe's party.

"He (Sizzla) laughed when he heard the allegations," Olimatta Taal said. "He doesn't take it to heart."

A Jamaican online publication said the singer – born Miguel Orlando Collins – was arrested by police in Saint Andrew, Jamaica, on 29 January in connection with a shooting incident. He was released a day later when witnesses did not come forward.

A police spokesman said then that investigations were ongoing and suggested Sizzla "could be detained in the future, if the need arises".

Meanwhile Sizzla, 34, has been quite effusive in his praise for President Mugabe urging the veteran leader to "champion the cause of the return of the African people from the gates of hell they are living in Jamaica and the Caribbean."

"I think he's a good president, kind to his nation, just and true," Sizzla said of Mr Mugabe last month.

The Sunday Mail also stated that Kalonji had since been granted with a work permit and was working to consolidate business enterprises he has established locally to complement his singing profession.

“In Zimbabwe we have already started recording. I am also looking into areas Judgement Yard (his company) can invest in for the upliftment of Zimbabwean youths,” Sizzla said.


Sizzla leaves 'noble' Zimbabwe

Sizzla left Zimbabwe last Friday, telling reporters he would return to the southern African country with other reggae artistes. According to The Herald newspaper, Sizzla supported the government's controversial land reform programme, calling it 'noble'.

The reggae star first arrived in Zimbabwe for the 21st February Movement (a welfare programme for the country's youth) celebrations in the city of Bulawayo. He also performed at a party marking president Robert Mugabe's 86th birthday that month.

The Herald reported that Sizzla staged a farewell show in the capital, Harare, on September 6, where he mingled with fans.

Mugabe was one of the leaders of the revolution that toppled the racist regime of Ian Smith when the country was known as Rhodesia. He has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.

But his land reform (seizing properties of mostly white farmers) has drawn strong criticism internationally. Critics claim Mugabe has given the lands to relatives and cronies.

Mugabe's alleged attacks on opponents have angered many world leaders including Nelson Mandela. The Herald said Sizzla had different views on the land reform.

"I'm happy that the leadership here is doing everything to empower the majority with the land reform programme and the black empowerment drive, which is a noble idea," the publication quoted him as saying.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Quarter Century of Cloth

What do you get when you cross an agricultural student, a nationalist and a designer? I don’t know either, but at some point in his life those labels stuck to The Cloth’s founder/designer Robert Young. While the name Robert Young and The Cloth may not be as household as that of a Prada or Moschino there is no denying the quality, innovation and strict attention to detail demonstrated by the line, which would rival the more popular global counterparts. The name emerged from a clever play on words of Young’s early fascination with the perks of the priesthood which at the time included a among other things a nice house along the Savannah in Port of Spain. Young states, “I am an artist that works with clothes.” It is very easy to see this in his line, as many pieces (Jackets, jumpers, bags etc.) while very wearable feel suited to be framed and hung at a focal point to be a topic of discussion.

In 1986 Robert Young along with artists Nathalie Phillips, Adel Todd and Camille Selvon out of necessity began pushing the boundaries of the clothing technology available by working and reworking designs. Printing, painting and making meaningful garments that they felt that could not be replicated by anyone else. The women would later move on to other projects and school respectively. With over 24 years in the business it is safe to say that Young is an expert when it comes to his chosen craft of fashion, design and clothing. Admittedly Young says he “fell quite clumsily” into design. Moving from an agricultural at CXC to a Lab Technician, the birth of ‘The Cloth’ came about more from necessity and capitalizing on the Structural Adjustment measures placed on the island. During this period some Caribbean islands such as Trinidad and Jamaica had a ban placed on imported goods (clothing etc.) to save foreign exchange. Hence, citizens were only allowed to extract from the central bank approximately $200USD for travel per year. This gave many local industries the space needed to develop.

1997 Young had a show called ‘No Chorus Yet’. This intrinsically meant, “I have no definite way of doing anything yet!” Watching his show one would find that very hard to believe. As over the years the Cloth has become known for its unique shows, like opting for a live band to play in the centre stage during a show. This years Caribbean Fashion Week was no different. While all other designers had their models stomping the runway to the sound of over played and meaningless tunes, models for the Cloth walked pensively to the sound of a river meandering the runway mimicking the flow of water. As Young admits, “I have always had a story but the (design) process came about clumsily.”

At the end of the show instead of doing the customary walk of the designer trailing his designs Mr. Young had something more substantial than a wave and smile. Amid much microphone trouble the message was not lost. He said, “We cannot move forward if you don’t buy your own”. But how do we move forward? How do we move the Caribbean fashion industry from a third world odd ball to a first world fashion mainstay? Young confesses that it is not for his generation but for the ones coming up as much is currently lacking. Issues such as adequate capital to make economies of scale a sensible and profitable option or the ability to mass-produce to rival larger markets inhibit today’s Caribbean designers.

Instead we should first ask, “How can we get access (in our current state)?” Also, and possibly most important is, we must recognize that what we do has value. The smart options he presented were the development of high-end niche markets; develop interesting stories around our products, and ensure the quality is high. The key however is the reinvestment of profits and stemming the tide so common in industries in the Caribbean - that of flight of capital. What is needed is a revolution of the mind; in that we not only actively support local industries but in turn local employers pay staff better and where applicable explore the option of employees being part owners in the bran. Invest in real economies, instead of more abstract industries such as speculations and futures, thus minimizing the effects of a collapse of such unstable markets for example the Cash Plus/ Olint fiasco that still plagues Jamaica. The key for Caribbean islands is to build and or rebuild tangible industries thus creating real employment opportunities, instead of seasonal ones. Thus making a strong foundation for future generations and making it more attractive for present ones to invest, also there is a great need to harness the strength of the Diaspora through networking.

Young had a very pragmatic view of Caribbean leaders however, as he puts it “they are us.” Essentially our government deals with problems as we would in our limited experiences they try to make the best of what they have. They act only when there are accidents; it is through these accidents that set the wheels of change in motion. However, across the board respective Caribbean governments can assist in the stimulation of local industries by charging fewer taxes or even negative taxation on goods made and owned locally.

His advice to upcoming designers is priceless. That is, they need not be intimidated by the colonizing nature of fashion instead he encourages them to use life experiences to find new ways of doing things. Inspiration proliferates our rich history and culture for example Johnkanoo, Marcus Garvey and even more contemporary figures such as Bob Marley may be used to develop original points of views. In essence use them as practice until you find your footing.

Finally, Yong cautions that while “fashion is a dream space” it can quickly become a nightmare when designers misread the context or do very little in analysis of the message that their garments convey. Therefore a well-made dress in good fabric can send the message that the wearer is a whore when it was not the intention of the designer. This is the result when we perpetuate ideas, which we do not understand, or have any practical use for (for example a winter line).

One of the more entertaining statements made by Young during the interview was;
“If I could do what I want with these girls from Jamaica I would pull out all their weaves.” While very hilarious to imagine, (and a dangerous road for him to venture-women here are very serious about their weaves) it strikes at the core of us as a people missing the bigger picture, in what is fashionable and the disconnect of who we are. We constantly miss the value and beauty that we already posses, opting to replace the tangible and beauty concentrated with flash.

With all that’s said what other designers do Robert Young like? He mentioned Biggy because of his keen understanding of his niche. Japanese designers such as Issey Myake, Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garçons, his contemporaries who always seem to shine a new creative light on concepts we think we know. This year The Cloth celebrates 25 year of hard work and timeless designs (for example the T.V. Tee-shirt) Tsh5. Stop by their facebook page to see upcoming events and also to order must have pieces. For those in Jamaica the only place to get designs by the Cloth is Kerry ManWomanHome (1876-929-2096).

the cloth cfw 10 from Robert Young on Vimeo.

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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tarrus Riley - Wildfire (Protect The People)

What Tha

I know it's been a while now and I haven't done one of these WTF posts, I enjoy them hope you do too. This one I found on Facebook it's so ubiquitous in my feed I couldn't ignore it anymore seeing as, I kid you not... ALL my Jamaican friends have been either tagged in or shared this video at some point.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Patience - Nas & Damian Marley

Want to say a big thank you to Gio who sent me the original song which Patience was sampled from. Thanks again babe I love them both.

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