We had an exhausting bout of endless, heavy rain yesterday, and just steamed gently in the sun today. Not bad for mid-week. With the holidays nearly over, Kingstonians are returning to whatever “normal” passes for these days. School hovers on the near horizon. It’s a weary time of year.
Exam fever: Once a year, the media and Jamaican public get all worked up about examination results, the relative performances of high schools, etc. There is little focus on education for the remainder of the year. Education Minister Ronnie Thwaites seems to have ruffled feathers, though, by suggesting to a very large crowd of unemployed teachers that they should volunteer their services meanwhile, with a view to getting a job. Perhaps it wasn’t the right moment to say this, Minister Thwaites – at a government-run jobs fair. There were a lot of long faces, and a lot of muttering. What to do… I hear the second day of the jobs fair went better. Perhaps it was just the lousy weather yesterday.
Crisis? What crisis? Oh, there IS? Meanwhile, Minister Thwaites wants to “avert a Maths crisis” based on the latest dismal results in that subject area, the Gleaner says. But are we on the brink? No, we are already well into the Maths crisis, and we have been for years. Well, at least the good Minister is using that word. Crisis.
So now it’s the Brazilians: We are to expect another wave of tourists from overseas – this time from Brazil. Jamaica’s Ambassador to Brazil Alison Stone Roofe (such a nice woman) is hopeful. But haven’t we heard this from tourism officials before? At one time we were expecting a flood of Chinese tourists; then Colombians; then Indians. Oh yes, and not long ago it was Russians! (How is that going, I wonder?) Meanwhile, our tourism figures are looking less than rosy. The stats for June 2013 showed gains over June in previous years, but there was a 4% decline overall for 2013 over the numbers for 2012.
BBC World Radio (which is on FM in Jamaica) had a fairly lengthy discussion on the recent mob killing of Dwayne Jones, led by their on-the-spot reporter in Kingston. He was sitting in a café on a very rainy morning. Blogger Annie Paul and a representative of the local LGBT community Jalna Broderick spoke on the phone, along with a church leader from Portmore. The local media as well as churches got some flak from both ladies on the phone for paying scant attention to the incident. But as Nationwide News Network‘s Emily Crooks noted on Twitter, isn’t Dwayne’s horrific murder all part of the general atmosphere of crime and violence pervading the country, which our journalists report on every day? However, Emily, this should not be an excuse for not reporting this incident in more depth – as overseas media houses have done. (An Associated Press report on the incident is, of course, all over the Internet on the websites of most major media houses). You can probably still find the many comments on the BBC’s “World Have Your Say“ Facebook page.
And the always thought-provoking “Live at Seven” followed up on an important discussion with prosecutor Caroline Hay (on the myriad difficulties of building a legal case in Jamaica) with a short piece on Dwayne Jones. CVM Television had interviewed him in another context – that of homelessness – some time ago. Images of Dwayne dancing round the room were poignant.
Police to be charged: The Director of Public Prosecutions has finally got around to ruling that two police constables are to be charged with the shooting deaths of three men in Shrewsbury, Westmoreland in March. This is how police killings go in court; sometimes the charges take much longer. The killing of the men (two of them brothers) caused deep anger and hurt among residents. One was a fireman.
Long hot summer downtown: Despite efforts to revive business in downtown Kingston, all is not really well, is it? We hear reports of rampant theft, regular shootings (and sometimes daylight shootouts with the police) and ongoing gang wars. Is downtown really that safe? What is happening with policing downtown?
What is going on in this country? I sometimes puzzle over strange and disturbing stories. On July 8, two brothers in deep rural St. Thomas were shot dead while working on their isolated farm. Now the Gleaner reports that at a wake for the brothers, Herman and Norman Rowe, a fisherman called Snake Eyes pulled a gun on a female relative of the men (at four in the morning). The woman’s husband, who was a policeman, disarmed and arrested Snake Eyes and also took a fourteen-year-old boy who was with him into custody. Snake Eyes and the boy were both from Bull Bay in St. Andrew – a good distance from quiet little Rolandsfield. What is really happening in Jamaica?
And what’s going on in the JLP? I understand there are rumblings in the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), and possible challenges to Andrew Holness‘ leadership. The local media has seized eagerly on this; political rumors are always to be relished. Now on top of that, JLP Member of Parliament for West Kingston and former Mayor Desmond McKenzie says he has received over thirty death threats in the past week! This seems to be a result of the MP’s comments after the tragic shooting death of eleven-year-old Tassanique James and the injury of two women in his constituency on Emancipation Day – August 1.
A shocking story: Fishermen near the town of Port Antonio complained about receiving electric shocks in the water, and guess what? Investigators found an illegal electricity cable running in the water along the shoreline – serving a nearby squatter community. A woman has been found guilty of stealing electricity. You can’t make this stuff up, can you? But the electricity thieves are apparently trying all kinds of tricks, and it’s not just the poorer communities we’re talking about: uptown, downtown, businesses and homes, they are all at it.
The hair biz: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has started a new business, selling swags of hair (real hair) to be attached to your own natural hair in various ways. This explains the shocking pink appendage that she wore for her championship-winning run in Moscow. “We retail different types of hair, namely Indian, Peruvian, Brazilian and Cambodian,” says Shelly-Ann. No offense to the lovely ladies of those countries who sell their hair, but I would feel most uncomfortable wearing an Indian or a Peruvian or a Brazilian or a Cambodian woman’s hair. To each her own, I suppose. What’s worse is the very poor writing in the Gleaner’s “Outlook” article on Shelly-Ann’s “Chic Hair Ja” - as a fellow-blogger pointed out to me. Just because an article is about some light, fluffy, “women’s” topic doesn’t mean it has to be written in a series of ghastly clichés, mixed metaphors and poor grammar – does it?
NEVERTHELESS…Special big ups to:
- Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who reclaimed her World Championship status in Moscow on Monday with a great 100 meters win. Both she and Usain Bolt had lost their titles in 2011, but now both have them back! Huge congratulations to them both.
- Gleaner photographer Ricardo Makyn, whose photos from the athletics World Championships in Moscow have been quite wonderful. Somehow he captures the essence and the spirit – not just of sport, but of people. Well done, Ricardo! (You can see a selection of his photos of Shelly-Ann’s win at the link below).
- And to all the students who were successful in the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) and Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations (in many cases, against all the odds). May all your dreams come true, boys and girls.
- My “tweep” Ms. Stacy-Ann Hayles, for the launch on Twitter this evening of her brand new website, http://www.socialmediachica.com. Stacy-Ann is aiming to empower small business through social media. Get in touch with her and hire her for all your social media strategy needs, advice and campaign development!
- Michael Abrahams for his delightful video – an overview of Usain Bolt’s career – painstakingly and cleverly done. Michael has a way with words. Very enjoyable. Link below…
- Fearless columnist Gordon Robinson, who has a great way of addressing issues of governance. In this week’s column Mr. Robinson writes about the fiasco of the confiscated tapes (an incident that occurred while I was away) and the issue of press freedom in Jamaica. He uses Janis Joplin‘s lyrics, among others, to illustrate his point. Nicely done, and sharply to the point.
It has been depressing returning from two weeks away to this unrelenting bloodshed. The deaths of these Jamaicans (since Sunday evening, just three days) leave grief and heartbreak in their wake. Let us spare a thought for the families, left behind to grieve:
Unidentified man, Orange Street, downtown Kingston
Unidentified man, Glenmore Road/South Camp Road, Kingston
Elaine Steele, 37, St. Thomas
Kishane Haughton, 31, Norwood, St. James
Anthony Spence, Glendevon, St. James
Evan Scott Wilson, St. James
Jessica King, 22, Port Antonio, Portland
Lenville Fleming, Grange Hill, Westmoreland
Killed by police:
Owen Lilly, 23, Gimme-Me-Bit, Clarendon
http://theterribletout.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/whos-to-blame-for-jamaicas-shame/ Who’s to blame for Jamaica’s shame? The Terrible Tout
http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pr/2013/pr13305.htm New IMF Resident Representative in Jamaica takes up post: imf.org
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/finance-minister-meeting-with-imf-team Finance Minister meeting with IMF team: RJR News
http://digjamaica.com/blog/2013/08/09/chart-of-the-week-overall-total-tourist-arrivals-for-june-2013/ Chart of the week: Overall total tourist arrivals for June 2013: diGJamaica.com
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130814/lead/lead1.html Brazilian benefits: Jamaica ready to boost tourism with links from South American nation: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130812/news/news1.html Stop wholesale distribution of national honors: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130813/cleisure/cleisure1.html Here’s the right message, Mr. Pickersgill: Gleaner editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130811/out/out10.html Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce launches Chic Hair Ja: Sunday Gleaner
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2LmE2xjn7U&feature=youtu.be Usain Bolt by Michael Abrahams: YouTube
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/2-000-plus-for-teachers–job-fair_14856342 2,000-pus for teachers’ job fair: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130813/lead/lead2.html Review planned for teacher training to avert Math crisis: Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-100/34794 Education Minister encourages trainee teachers to volunteer in the classroom: Jamaica Information Service
http://lowrie-chin.blogspot.com/2013/08/act-now-for-our-children.html Act now – for our children: Jean Lowrie-Chin blog
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Gov-t-takes-steps-to-address-child-behaviour-issues_14870943 Gov’t takes steps to address child behavior issues: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=47151 Photos: Shelly-Ann’s gold world-leading run: Gleaner – Ricardo Makyn’s great photos
http://www.mercurynews.com/my-town/ci_23848325/visit-jamaica-is-trip-paradise-just-ask-locals A visit to Jamaica is a trip to paradise – just ask the locals: San Jose Mercury
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Portland-woman-found-guilty-of-stealing-electricity-using-undersea-cables Portland woman found guilty of stealing electricity using undersea cables: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130814/lead/lead6.html Bird boys swoop down for hunting season: Jamaica Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/entertainment/Will-JA-come-out-of-the-closet-_7821305 Will Jamaica come out of the closet? Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/My-gay-family-did-what-my-parents-didn-t-14864006 My gay family did what my parents didn’t: Letter/Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Parents-make-kids-homeless_14870088 Parents make kids homeless: Letter/Jamaica Observer
http://iamquagmire.tumblr.com/post/58155073603/the-300-were-victorious The 300 were victorious: IAmQuagmire
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130813/cleisure/cleisure2.html Nothing left to lose: Gordon Robinson column/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130811/news/news4.html Cops calm Denham Town: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/-Spoilers–gang-war-rages-in-Kingston ”Spoilers” gang war rages in Kingston: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Marked-for-death_14871568 Marked for death: Police confirm threats sent to McKenzie: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/St-Thomas-village-still-in-shock-over-double-murder_14849748 St. Thomas village still in shock over double murder: Sunday Observer