The drought continues. The heat continues. I am thinking we should maybe pave over our lawn, or turn our front yard into a callaloo bed, or just a flower bed. Anything is better than the patch of bare earth and dying yellow grass that currently calls itself a lawn. Well, @JamaicaWeather shared a little map of the Saharan dust. Here it is – not really evident in the Caribbean now, but there is still a thick haze over the city.
A satellite map of the Saharan dust, which seems to be much thicker on the European side. Still, we suffer…
National Security Minister Peter Bunting addressing Parliament yesterday. (Ricardo Makyn/Gleaner)
“I’m sorry…” National Security Minister Peter Bunting disappointed many with his statement in Parliament yesterday on the sudden departure of Police Commissioner Owen Ellington. Minister Bunting did disclose that “international partners” had withdrawn support for specific units of the security forces because of human rights concerns, following the publication of the Public Defender’s interim report on the Tivoli Gardens incursion of May, 2010. But he would not be drawn on the Opposition’s question regarding the possible invoking of the Leahy Amendment and its possible connection with investigations into a Clarendon “death squad.“ He said he could not disclose matters of national security due to secrecy issues and moreover, parliamentary rules did not allow for such questions.
Former Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington.
A “cover-up”? Following the Minister’s statement – two weeks ahead of the stipulated timeframe for answering written questions – there has been much grumbling. Minister Bunting’s Opposition counterpart Derrick Smith suggested there was a cover-up of the circumstances surrounding the Police Commissioner’s departure; but I wonder whether he would have said anything different, had he been in Minister Bunting’s shoes. Nevertheless, the media and Jamaicans in general are still not buying Ellington’s official explanation at the time of his resignation; but the Government is sticking to it, and one wonders whether any more information will be forthcoming.
And here is our Acting Commissioner of Police since July 1, Glenmore Hinds. (Photo: Gleaner)
A new Commissioner: Meanwhile, ads are going out this week for a new Commissioner, and Minister Bunting says we should have one by September. Deputy Commissioner Glenmore Hinds is acting until then. And may I add, as discussions begin on who might be Mr. Ellington’s successor, I disagree with Opposition Leader Andrew Holness’ assertion that it should not be a foreigner. Why did he come out with this, I wonder, at this time? Could he not have just bided his time a little? I still find Mr. Holness’ occasional outbursts sometimes baffling, and often ill-timed.
Shurandy Quant, who was deported to Curacao in April 2013 and thence to the Netherlands. Charges have now been dropped against him, it is reported.
More woes: Minister Bunting must have a lot of headaches these days. Yesterday a court threw out his application to suit against him thrown out, and a judicial review will take place in October. Shurandy Quant (described as a violent international drug trafficker at the time – against whom all charges have now been dropped) claims Minister Bunting signed a deportation order from Jamaica to Curaçao in breach of a court order in April, 2013. A contempt of court suit is also under consideration.
The pot and the kettle? Former Prime Minister Bruce Golding’s comments on the sudden departure of Police Commissioner Owen Ellington strike me as a touch hypocritical. Golding said on radio he was “shocked and disappointed” at Ellington’s early retirement (if you accept that definition of his departure). Golding is “perplexed” about the alleged reason why he left. He then launched into a tirade against the U.S. Government. The U.S. has no moral authority, he declared, to be concerned about human rights in Jamaica, while it “reserves for itself the right to dispatch drones to extrajudicially kill civilians…” Let’s be careful with that phrase “moral authority,” shall we?
Former Prime Minister Bruce Golding. (Photo: Gleaner)
Mr. Golding, who was Prime Minister when Jamaica endured the trauma of the Tivoli Gardens massacre, was full of moral indignation. In May 2010 at least 76 Jamaicans died – at least 44 of the deaths deemed to be extra-judicial killings. Perhaps Mr. Golding is nervous about the upcoming enquiry into Tivoli Gardens and what it may reveal? Sometimes getting on your moral high horse and pointing fingers elsewhere is a good way to distract attention.
The aedes aegypti mosquitoes that spread dengue and “Chik V” fevers were once restricted to tropical and sub-tropical climes but can now be found almost everywhere. There have been cases of “Chik V” in Texas and Florida.
Is “Chik V” here? Most of the region has had cases of the chikungunya virus, or “Chik V” for short, which seems to be a variation on dengue fever (I am not sure whether it is more dangerous or not, but the symptoms are similar). Now it seems there is one suspected, imported case in someone who arrived from overseas. We shall see. Meanwhile, let us take all precautions.
A Jamaica Observer cartoon shows the Finance Minister and central bank governor waiting for IMF chief Christine Lagarde to leave before putting in support mechanisms for the Jamaican Dollar.
Still supporting: Finance Minister Peter Phillips says the Bank of Jamaica will continue to intervene in the market to stop the Jamaican Dollar’s persistent downhill slide. It is to guard against speculation, he says.
Stop the “slash and burn”! Farmers are still using the “slash and burn” technique to clear their land, in the midst of the most terrible drought. As a result, one farmer in Potsdam, St. Elizabeth burned to death yesterday, and another fire today destroyed crops, water storage tanks etc. It is hot, extremely dry and windy. I really feel these farmers need to have their heads examined! Hundreds of acres of land in the parish have already been destroyed. Stop it!
Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke is not very well at the moment, but the sector is under such huge pressure. Setting up a monitoring team may not really be enough, and there is not enough money to keep trucking water to the affected areas, week after week. The media need to keep reporting on this crisis.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Trinidad and Tobago on July 27 and 28 – to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations. A ship will visit Jamaica, for the same reason. (Photo: AP)
The Japanese connection: Jamaica is celebrating fifty years of diplomatic relations with Japan, and a Japanese Navy ship will be visiting next week. Meanwhile, the Japanese Prime Minister will visit Trinidad later this month – also celebrating fifty years; go figure.
The International Seabed Authority meeting in Kingston this week. (Photo: Lionel Rookwood/Jamaica Observer)
ISA Assembly glitches: The annual meeting of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), which is based in Kingston, got off to a rocky start this week. Technical issues with translation equipment (apparently a nagging problem in recent years) caused a temporary suspension of the meeting at the Jamaica Conference Centre. The JCC is a wonderful building on Kingston’s downtown waterfront, but it is not as well maintained as it could be. It is the responsibility of the Jamaican Government. ISA members frequently complain, and we need to get our act together.
Tragedy in Trelawny: Meanwhile, in a quiet rural district, the bodies of two children were pulled from a pond. They were apparently dumped there. The two had been among a small group of children who went to a beach with a man, according to one news report. Police are still investigating and reports say the boy was murdered, but the girl may have drowned.
There was a disturbing incident at Mandeville Hospital this week. According to media reports, an orthopedic patient with a broken leg became unruly (although presumably incapacitated) and stabbed another patient with a pin from his leg. A policeman who was guarding another patient came to the assistance of patients and staff and shot the patient dead. Why shoot him? Surely the patient could have been easily overcome by staff and the police.
Meanwhile, a policeman was shot and injured during a gun battle near the Old Harbour Road roundabout in St. Catherine yesterday afternoon. I wish him a speedy recovery, and extend condolences to all those who are suffering and who mourn. How much longer will this violence go on?
Omari Sterling, 13, Hague, Trelawny
Mallica Mitchell, 10, Hague, Trelawny
Conroy Allen, 17, Gordon Pen, St. Catherine
“Cutty,” Lennonville, St. Catherine
Patrick Nembhard, 20, King Street, Kingston
John Carty, 32, Crofts Hill, Clarendon
Donovan Stewart, 38, Mandeville, Manchester (shot by police)
Thirteen-year-old Omari Sterling was a student of St. James High School.
Reverend Dr Sonia Seivwright (right), president of the Trelawny Ministers’ Fraternal, comforts a crying Devona Kerr, the mother of Mellica Mitchell, who is believed to be one of the two children found dead in a pond in Trelawny yesterday. (Photo: Adrian Frater/Gleaner)