Despite Jamaica’s bleak crime reports and economic development needs, the news from Yard is not all bad. London’s Guardian newspaper reports this week that 1 million tourists have visited the island in the first seven months of 2008. That’s up 20,000 visitors from last year, which JA tourism minister Ed Bartlett describes as “the best ever” for arrivals and revenue. Tourism is Jamaica’s second-highest income source, behind remittances from Jamaicans abroad.

Moses Davis, a.k.a. Beenie Man’s court appearance for alleged tax evasion was postponed again due to a key witness falling ill. Davis is said to owe the state close to $48 million in taxes for the period between the late 1990s and early 2000. He’ll have to hope the trial can be rescheduled, as he’s due to headline his own Beenie Man Sizzle concert August 6, before heading out on an extensive European tour from August 8-27. Maybe the show revenues will be enough to offset those taxes?

Want to sharpen your reggae history? This week, the Gleaner has an excellent article on great Jamaican bands. Session, studio, backing, and stage bands like Soul Syndicate, Now Generation, Inner Circle, and Fabulous Five are comprised of some of reggae’s most important enduring musicians, such as keyboardist Robbie Lyn and bassist Lloyd Parkes.

When Barack Obama appeared before thousands in Berlin last week, what music was performed for the masses before his speech? Reggae, of course. A RiddimJamaica article looks at how reggae artists have embraced the Democratic presidential nominee, from Tarrus Riley and Mavado to Cocoa Tea and Don Omar.

View photos from Tony Matterhorn’s heralded stage show and dancehall event, Fully Loaded 2008, held at Fort Clarence beach. Despite numerous highlights, the show was locked off by police at 3:30 a.m.

VP Records vintage music subsidiary, 17 North Parade, will drop several new, remastered classic reggae albums this fall. Among the batch out on September 9 are the reissue of Half Pint’s classic Greetings, produced by George Phang, and the unique showcase vocal album Tenor Saw Meets Nitty Gritty. Also out are classics from Toots & The Maytals, Joe Gibbs, and Harold Butler.

On August 2, John Holt and Winston “Merritone” Blake will headline a concert to celebrate Jamaica’s 46th Independence Day at Washington’s Zanzibar Night Club. Meanwhile, New York’s Deadly Dragon crew celebrate the event Wednesday, August 6, when singers Tony Tuff and Yami Bolo join legendary selector Tony Screw’s Downbeat The Ruler sound system at Happy Ending.

The 13th Annual Monterey Bay Reggae Fest takes place in the California coastal town August 29-31. Headliners throughout the weekend include Ky-Mani Marley, Lutan Fyah, Bounty Killer, Coco Tea, Rankin Scroo, Fantan Mojah, Sister Carol, Alpha Blondy, Rocker T, and more.

Wondering about reggae’s music charitable side? A new concert promises to do good and sound good. The First Annual Budweiser Reggae Summer Fest for Cancer Research debuts Sunday, September 7 at Washington DC’s RFK Stadium. In addition to Caribbean food, dance, and crafts, musical guests include Beres Hammond, I-Wayne, Turbulence, Chuck Fender, Prestige, Etana, and Fire Star. More on this major event as it draws nearer.

Richie B’s Hot Mix 102 Top Ten Reggae Singles
1. Richie Spice “Di Plane Land” (No Doubt)
2. Tony Rebel “Love Fire” (Taxi)
3. I-Octane “Different Page” (Rated R/Arrows)
4. Terry Linen “Mood For Love (Missing You)” (Uplifting Music)
5. Lust “Just As I Am” (Born Music)
6. Etana “I Am Not Afraid” (No Doubt)
7. Patriot “Looking For Love” (Hill Side)
8. Terry Linen “No Time To Linger” (Joe Fraser)
9 Noddy Virtue and Jodi-Ann Pantry “Bed Of Roses” (Reflection)
10. Morgan Heritage “Nothing To Smile Bout” (No Doubt)