Mother’s Day in Jamaica: May 12, 2013

It’s a hot afternoon. It’s Mother’s Day in Jamaica, and the air is sleepy. Our gardener did some serious work yesterday and the yard looks scrupulously tidy. For now. Recent rain has brought back the many shades of green; and to my surprise, winter visitor warblers can still be seen flitting in the bushes. Time to travel north, young warblers!

Thinking about Tivoli: In the past few days since I last wrote, we have all been thinking more deeply about the Simpson Miller administration’s (wise) decision to hold a Commission of Enquiry into the massacre in Tivoli Gardens in May, 2010. There is some insightful commentary in the Sunday papers, and an indication that, three years later, many Jamaicans are more aware of the grave injustice and the horror of that day, when at least 77 Jamaicans lost their lives (we still do not know the exact figure; several people remain missing). For that, we at least partly have to thank the American journalist Mattathias Schwartz of the New Yorkerand the Public Defender Earl Witter, who finally produced the report. Today, Sunday Observer columnist Tamara Scott-Williams quotes the Jamaican president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Judge Patrick Robinson: “The simple, plain truth is that in no country with a Constitution that entrenches the right to life can 70 people be killed in peacetime in a single incident, whether by the security forces or by private persons, and national life and affairs continue as though nothing unusual has taken place.”

How can a monopoly not be viable? But that’s the way it apparently is with the Jamaica Public Service Company, according to its straight-talking CEO Kelly Tomblin. The eternal problem of widespread theft of electricity has still not been fully addressed; but as Ms. Tomblin said on radio, it is not just a question of devising ingenious ways of combating theft, but about lifting the company out of debt. Oh, two state-owned sugar companies were reportedly complicit in allowing neighboring communities to steal up to J$100 million worth. What kind of madness is that? Meanwhile, Ms. Tomblin has her work cut out – I am sure she has been aware of this for some time.

Leadership failures: The week’s fiasco involving the People’s National Party Youth Organization suggests, at the very least, weak leadership in the organization. Did President Alrick Campbell consult with his chapter leaders before sending out a press release that surprisingly refused to support the announced Commission of Enquiry into the Tivoli Gardens massacre? Similarly, Mayor of Montego Bay Glendon Harris is under pressure after a series of dreadful faux pas, culminating in the hospital re-naming fiasco. Do these people have any idea of public relations, either? Clueless.

NHT again: The whole National Housing Trust (NHT) business is still bugging me. It all seems wrong. One of my “tweeps” observed today, How can the NHT force employers to make mortgage deductions from workers? Shoudn’t that be an arrangement between the Trust and its clients?” Very good question…

Blood on the streets: As usual, the social media was ahead of the traditional media on Friday morning, as several photos were pasted on Facebook of two apparently lifeless bodies – young men allegedly shot by the police in a parking lot in downtown Kingston. Reports appeared at least two hours later on the newspaper websites, noting a police report that “brazen gunmen” had made a robbery attempt, and that three “were in hospital” (dead on arrival?) According to the eye witnesses who posted the photos, the bodies were collected and loaded into vans within minutes, before the Crime Scene investigation unit or INDECOM (the Independent Commission of Investigations) arrived. Onlookers say the men were unarmed. I have shared the photos below. Meanwhile, the print media coverage of what actually happened in the middle of the day on Friday in busy downtown was muddled and lacking in detail.

Harassing the handcarts: Some genius at the Kingston & St. Andrew Corporation has come up with the startlingly brilliant idea of taxing handcart operators. These are rough-hewn carts with a primitive steering-wheel attached, operated by men in Kingston and most towns to transport small quantities of goods (and sometimes people). When I see men pushing and navigating these carts, sweating and straining in the hot sun, I think “what a hard life.” These are, basically, poor people. How could the Mayor think of doing such a thing?

I’m off now, but you guys can stay: President of the Senate Stanley Redwood is migrating to Canada, and made farewell comments last week before his departure. Methinks he doth protest too much. “No other Jamaican should be forced or feel forced to make the choice I have to make this month,” said the Senator, who has been beating himself up over departing for greener pastures for some time. It’s OK for me to go – but you guys stay here, stick it out… Not impressed, I’m afraid.

Power walks: While blood still stained the streets of downtown Kingston, a couple of miles away uptowners were preparing for two charity walks on Saturday – both good causes. Due to ongoing back problems, I was unable to participate in either. But I hope lots of money was raised for Dress for Success and the Nuttall Memorial Hospital, respectively. Next time!

Sick of them: There are certain things that always upset me when I watch the evening news on television. Of course, the ongoing bloodshed is one of those things. What also depresses me is the greed and selfishness of thieves who, like vampires, feed on hard-working Jamaicans. It seems that every week a school is broken into, and we see the anxious principal, his/her face creased with anxiety and stress, detailing all the items the school lost – of course, all the most valuable things that they can least afford to replace, many of them donated by kind-hearted people. Then there are the poor farmers, who go to the fields in the morning to see their precious animals hacked to pieces or their crops pulled out of the ground. On Friday, we heard that the bus belonging to Alpha Boys School was stolen in Spanish Town. I don’t know if they have found it. Alpha nurtures abandoned and orphaned boys, and is famous for its school band that has produced many great Jamaican musicians. Shame on you all, you vampires.

Pit latrines in schools: As I noted in my post of August 12, 2012, around 200 schools across Jamaica still have pit latrines. I doubt that much has changed since then. Perhaps we should consider this as a priority over tablets, Minister Paulwell? (Much as I love your tablets). The “sanitary conveniences” at St. Mary’s Primary School in rural St. Elizabeth are as old as the school itself (44 years) and pose a serious health risk. For a start, if  a young child slips he/she can fall into them. The Florida-based Andrew Dixon Foundation is seeking to raise funds to replace them.

I was wondering… about the over 4,000 online jobs that the World Bank says it has created for young Jamaicans. The World Bank provides more details on its Digital Jam 2.0 program at the link below. It includes internships and fellowships at Howard University, pilot projects, incubators and so on. Brilliant!

Sports vs academics: The Gleaner recently published a table ranking Jamaica’s high schools in terms of their CSEC examination results. I’m trying to find a link to it. It was noticeable, however, that almost all the traditional boys’ high schools did quite poorly; unsurprisingly, the co-educational Kingston high school Campion College came out on top. A columnist yesterday pointed out that the low-performing boys’ schools are those that compete furiously and loudly at “Champs” (the high school athletics championships) and tout their sporting prowess. Is there a conflict here?

Less abatement? As I have noted before, Jamaica/Kingston is Party Central, and the noise must go on. I see the Ministry of National Security and Ministry of Entertainment as it seems to call itself are holding a public consultation on “changes to the Noise Abatement Act” on Wednesday at the Jamaica Conference Centre. What changes? Where? Is the noise to go on longer? I am suspicious of the “entertainment zones” that have been mentioned a few times by our enthusiastic Junior Minister Damion Crawford, who is young and therefore fond of “shelling dung” as the saying goes. And hey, do you think there may be more important things to be worrying about? I can only assume that, like the building of housing for poor people, this is a populist, vote-getting exercise.

Yohan Blake/boys home: I am very pleased with our young Olympian Yohan Blake, whose YB Afraid Foundation continues to support the Mount Olivet Boys’ Home in Manchester, in all kinds of important ways. The home’s infrastructure is steadily improving as a result. Thanks to Mr. Blake; you have a good, good heart.

It is very sad to report that in the past three days the following Jamaicans have been killed. My heart goes out to their families. Too much trouble in the world.

Clifton Drummonds, 55, John’s Town, St. Thomas (mob killing)

Winston Robinson, Mannings Hill Road, Kingston

Tiffany Shirley, Mannings Hill Road, Kingston

Killed by police:

Unidentified man, Pechon Street/Beckford Street, Kingston

Unidentified man, Matthews Lane, Kingston

People's National Party Youth Organisation President Alrick Campbell with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller at a 2007 party rally. (Photo: Winston Sill/Gleaner)

People’s National Party Youth Organisation President Alrick Campbell with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller at a 2007 party rally. (Photo: Winston Sill/Gleaner)

Senate President Reverend Stanley Redwood makes his  farewell remarks on Friday. (Photo: Michael Gordon/Jamaica Observer)

Senate President Reverend Stanley Redwood makes his farewell remarks on Friday. (Photo: Michael Gordon/Jamaica Observer)

Athlete Yohan Blake distributes goods at Mount Olivet Boys' Home. (Photo: Gleaner)

Athlete Yohan Blake distributes goods at Mount Olivet Boys’ Home. (Photo: Gleaner)

A latrine at St. Mary's Primary School. (Photo: Launtia Cuff)

A latrine at St. Mary’s Primary School. (Photo: Launtia Cuff)

Team PPS winners of App Contest Grand Prize. (Photo: World Bank)

Team PPS winners of App Contest Grand Prize. (Photo: World Bank)

The Alpha Boys School Band.

The Alpha Boys School Band.

Police gather near the scene where two men were shot in downtown Kingston. They were allegedly robbers who engaged the police in a shootout. (Photo: Roktowa Facebook page)

Police gather near the scene where two men were shot in downtown Kingston. They were allegedly robbers who engaged the police in a shootout. (Photo: Roktowa Facebook page)

Another body is put onto the truck by the police. (Photo: Roktowa Facebook page)

Another body is put onto the truck by the police. (Photo: Roktowa Facebook page)

One of the men is loaded onto a truck by the police. (Photo: Roktowa Facebook page)

One of the men is loaded onto a truck by the police. (Photo: Roktowa Facebook page)

Bodies lie in a parking lot in downtown Kingston on Friday morning. One was reportedly dead and the other remains in hospital, according to newspaper reports. (Photo: Roktowa Facebook page)

Bodies lie in a parking lot in downtown Kingston on Friday morning. One was reportedly dead and the other remains in hospital, according to newspaper reports. (Photo: Roktowa Facebook page)

The NHT farce: This was Friday's editorial cartoon in the Jamaica Observer.

The NHT farce: This was Friday’s editorial cartoon in the Jamaica Observer.

Kelly Tomblin, President and CEO of the Jamaica Public Service Company. (Photo: Gleaner)

Kelly Tomblin, President and CEO of the Jamaica Public Service Company. (Photo: Gleaner)

Journalist Mattathias Schwartz wrote several pieces on the Tivoli massacre, and obtained additional information and video footage from the U.S. Government. (Photo from his website)

U.S. journalist Mattathias Schwartz wrote several pieces on the Tivoli massacre, and obtained additional information and video footage from the U.S. Government. (Photo from his website)

Patrick Lipton Robinson, president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. (Photo: Indiana University website)

Patrick Lipton Robinson, president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. (Photo: Indiana University website)

The Jamaican media on their "guided tour" of Tivoli Gardens some days after the so-called incursion by security forces. They were only allowed to walk on certain streets and were escorted by soldiers. I believe that they were they not allowed to interview residents. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)

The Jamaican media on their “guided tour” of Tivoli Gardens some days after the so-called incursion by security forces. They were only allowed to walk on certain streets and were escorted by soldiers. I believe that they were they not allowed to interview residents. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)

A handcart man with scrap metal pushing his cart in Kingston. The Kingston & St. Andrew Corporation has decided it would like to tax these men, who earn very little. Perhaps they should get themselves unionized.

A handcart man with scrap metal pushing his cart in Kingston. The Kingston & St. Andrew Corporation has decided it would like to tax these men, who earn very little. Perhaps they should get themselves unionized.

All is not well among PNP youth - and there is Kingston's Mayor Angella "What the F" Brown Burke on the sidelines! (Sunday Observer editorial cartoon)

All is not well among PNP youth – and there is Kingston’s Mayor Angella “What the F” Brown Burke on the sidelines! In the middle is PNP Deputy General Secretary Raymond Pryce, who told the opposing sides to cool it. (Sunday Observer editorial cartoon)

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/JPS-facing-death_14238670 Electricity theft, debt threaten company’s viability, says Tomblin: Jamaica Observer

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130511/cleisure/cleisure1.html Power thieves must be stopped: Gleaner editorial

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Samuda-labels-logistics-hub-a–pipe-dream-_14239407 Samuda labels logistics hub a “pipe dream”: Jamaica Observer

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130510/business/business5.html Jamaica Broilers invests $300 million in new plant: Gleaner

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130510/cleisure/cleisure1.html What, really, are agro parks? Gleaner editorial

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130510/business/business1.html Palmyra parent firm deemed a squatter: Gleaner

http://www.worldbank.org/en/results/2013/04/24/creating-employment-solutions-young-jamaicans Creating employment solutions for young Jamaicans in the virtual economy: worldbank.org

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Rating-Agency-reacts-to-IMF-Jamaica-agreement_14244183 Rating agency reacts to IMF-Jamaica agreement: Sunday Observer

http://www.caribjournal.com/2013/05/11/forbes-the-business-of-sport-in-jamaica/ The business of sport in Jamaica: Marcia Forbes op-ed/caribjournal.com

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/No-unlicensed-cable-operator-in-Jamaica_14239648 No unlicensed cable operator in Jamaica/Broadcasting Commission

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/No-justification-for-NWC-rate-hike_14237953 No justification for NWC rate hike: Jamaica Observer editorial

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130510/letters/letters1.html Handcart permit regime off the deep end: Letter of the Day/Gleaner

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Stop-the-bickering-_14239553 Pryce chides PNPYO for washing dirty linen in public: Jamaica Observer

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130510/lead/lead10.html Montego Bay mayor faces no-confidence vote: Gleaner

http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/arscott-defends-cost-of-local-government-delegation-to-uganda Arscott defends cost of local government delegation to Uganda: RJR News

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130512/focus/focus5.html Whose plan for Jamaica is it anyway? Jamaica Civil Society Coalition op-ed/Sunday Gleaner

http://www.caribjournal.com/2013/05/09/op-ed-does-jamaica-need-outside-help-to-deal-with-crime/ Does Jamaica need outside help to deal with crime? caribjournal.com

http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/man-implicated-in-murder-chopped-to-death Man implicated in murder chopped to death: RJR News

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130511/lead/lead2.html Daylight gun battles cause mayhem downtown: Gleaner

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Deadly-end—-Robbery-foiled–cops-kill-one-gunman–injure-another_14239031 Deadly end! Robbery foiled, cops kill one gunman, injure another: Jamaica Observer

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130512/lead/lead5.html Deadlock blanks downtown CCTV plan: Sunday Gleaner

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Why-the-Tivoli-enquiry-is-important_14246024 Why the Tivoli enquiry is important: Claude Robinson column/Sunday Observer

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Forget-the-enquiry–make-a-movie-instead_14246048 Forget the enquiry; make a movie instead: Tamara Scott-Williams column/Sunday Observer

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Pain-still-lingers-for-Tivoli-man–family_14247384 Pain still lingers for Tivoli man, family: Sunday Observer

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130510/news/news2.html West Kingston rejoices after cops kill thug: Gleaner

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Mothers-mourn-loss-of-son–daughter Mothers mourn loss of son, daughter: Sunday Observer

http://www.caribjournal.com/2013/05/09/op-ed-from-haiti-to-cuba-a-vision-for-the-caribbean-in-2030/ From Haiti to Cuba: A vision for the Caribbean in 2030: caribjournal.com

http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/complant-workers-protest  COMPLANT workers protest: RJR News

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130511/lead/lead6.html Pit latrines pose public health risk at St. Mary’s Primary: Gleaner

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130511/letters/letters8.html No water for farmers in Llandewey for decades: Letter to the Editor/Gleaner

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130511/letters/letters2.html Emergency call to action for Child Month: Letter from Jamaica Youth Action Network to the Gleaner

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130512/lead/lead61.html Condoms or abstinence: Guidance counselors ponder the best fit for schools: Sunday Gleaner

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/High-school-standard-bearers-of-excellence-_14239025 High school standard bearers of excellence? Lascelve Graham op-ed/Observer

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130511/lead/lead5.html Mount Olivet Boys’ Home a refuge from abuse: Gleaner

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Saturday-Social_14239033 Saturday Social: Jamaica Observer

http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-107/33829 More assistance for local exporters: Jamaica Information Service

 

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