BACKGROUND NOTE: Ja Blog Day 2013 commemorates the third anniversary of the Tivoli Gardens Massacre, when Jamaican security forces invaded the community in west Kingston in search of an alleged drug trafficker and “don” Christopher “Dudus” Coke. A huge gun battle with gangsters defending the area allegedly took place. The police found just a few illegal guns – six in total, I believe – after it was over. On May 1, 2013, the Public Defender tabled his long-awaited interim (yes, interim) report on the Tivoli Gardens “incursion” in the House of Representatives. He is not sure exactly how many Jamaicans died on May 23, 2010 but records at least 76 civilian deaths (four are still missing, presumed dead) and one member of the Jamaica Defence Force killed. The Public Defender is investigating 44 complaints of extra-judicial killings (unjustifiable homicide) in Tivoli on that day. There are literally thousands of complaints of injury, malicious damage to property, theft and other abuses; and there are many ballistics reports outstanding from the security forces that have not yet been supplied to the Public Defender – who has faced many challenges in conducting his investigation. Mr. Earl Witter in his report describes the event as a “siege” (residents barricaded the entrances to the neighborhood). You may find a link to the complete report at http://www.jis.gov.jm/docs/Tivoli-Report.pdf. The government has now announced that it will hold an official Commission of Enquiry into Tivoli; we wait to hear the terms of reference, in the next two weeks.
My thoughts on the issue of police and security force abuses – the topic that Jamaican bloggers are focused on today – are below.
Johnny Was. The first Bob Marley album I bought was “Rastaman Vibration.” The songs are not as often played as some of his more commercial albums. But “Johnny Was” always touched me, more deeply than the sentimental “No Woman No Cry.” The repetition of the line “Johnny was a good man,” over and over, echoes in my mind every time I see a woman on television, grieving publicly and painfully over the death of her young son. Her shoulders collapse; her body sags like a punch-drunk boxer; she gasps for breath, tumbles backwards onto the greasy pavement where her child lay bleeding, before being thrown into the back of a police pick-up truck to be transported to hospital. Neighbors and family members hurry to lift the woman up, support her weight and control her flailing arms. They wipe her face, distorted, wet with tears and dirt and the sweat of her grieving.
To the woman who cries in the song, Johnny “never did a thing wrong.” He was, simply, her child. That is how mothers are. I want to say this: Every man, woman and child cut down in an alleged shootout with the police has a mother, a father, a family, a friend. They are, and should not be, defined as “wanted men” with street names. But this is how the dispassionate police press releases describe them – in a specific format repeated generally, word for word, by the media – name/street name, age, and if possible, one or two crimes or murders that they may or may not have committed. I suspect they have a template in their computer with blank spaces for the names and ages and the type of gun found. (And almost always, a gun is found on the dead person; but one thing I have noticed is that when the police kill two or three at a time, they don’t find two or three guns. That means that, according to their own accounts, they have killed at least one unarmed citizen.)
But we, the Jamaican public, should see them differently. Those killed by the police are not alien creatures, living in their own world somewhere. They are a young man hanging out at a small cookshop, by the side of the road, holding a Dragon Stout between two fingers; they are a woman trying to make a life in a poor country town, with several children and no job; they are three family members, one a fireman, the other a “pillar of the church,” about to start a small business; they are a boisterous schoolgirl, who loves boys too much and loves to dance but wants to do well in high school; they are 13-year-old Janice Allen, shot dead at her gate in Trench Town, Kingston, on April 18, 2000. A policeman was charged with her murder, but was freed in 2004 after the Supreme Court directed the jury to bring a verdict of not guilty. Her mother, Millicent Forbes (“Miss Jenny”), died ten years later after fighting determinedly to get justice for her child. With the death of Miss Jenny – who, in Bob Marley’s words again, “never gave up the fight,” - the case was closed forever. Janice would be 26 now, perhaps with a husband and children of her own.
They are fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, friends, co-workers, neighbors, husbands, wives, lovers, baby mothers, baby fathers. Their brutal deaths leave behind a trail of grief and bitterness that is growing so long and so wide that you can see it covering the island, twisting and turning in all directions; like the termite trails on our old tree in the back yard.
By the way, if you want a completely different take on “Johnny Was,” an Irish punk band called Stiff Little Fingers produced a very loud, passionate rock version of the song. The mood is completely different; it is defiant and angry. The band’s version of the song appeared in 1979, not long after a highly troubled period in Northern Ireland’s history had begun.
But then, maybe that is the mood Jamaicans need to be in. Dry your tears. Stop your wailing. Get angry. And most of all, cry for justice.
Woman hold her head and cry,
As her son had been shot down in the street and died
Just because of the system.
Today is Malcolm X’s birthday; he would have been 88 years old. Tragically, his young grandson, Malcolm Shabazz, was murdered on May 9 at a Mexico City nightclub. But here’s a little Caribbean connection: Malcolm X’s mother Louise was born in Grenada - but she had a very sad life, too.
Well, with that useful and important fact stored away, let’s look at the last few days in Jamaica…
The voice of morality: Our pious Minister of Education, the Reverend Ronald Thwaites, told Parliament this week that he is not going to allow young Jamaican students to be “groomed” towards homosexuality (demonstrating his own mistaken beliefs on the subject); and that although he approves of (the right kind of) sex education, condoms in schools are out. None of us were surprised at this, were we – after all, the Minister’s Catholic faith strongly influences his prescriptions for our youth. The television program All Angles confronted the issue of condoms in schools last week with youth activist/commentator Jaevion Nelson, retired school principal Esther Tyson and the head of the guidance counseling association. The latter two both toed the Minister’s line as expected; were confused by the statistics Mr. Nelson produced to strengthen his case for contraceptive assistance in schools; and clumsily tried to catch him out, once or twice.
But a big, big silver lining: The same Minister folded his hands, turned his eyes to heaven and announced a change in government policy towards pregnant teens in school. Amendments to the Education Act and Regulations attached thereto will ensure that schools will keep open a space for a child who has had to leave due to pregnancy, so that she may continue her education afterwards. Huge kudos to Opposition Senator Kamina Johnson Smith for her strong lobbying on this issue; and to the Minister for seeing the sense and fairness of it. The Minister also announced a couple of pending measures that have ruffled the feathers of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association; more on that, probably, later. I don’t always agree with our overly preachy Minister; but at least he is trying to right some of the hundreds of wrongs afflicting our education system, one by one. He has some tricky issues to tackle, indeed.
“I’m so frustrated by this experience”: A quote from CEO of the Jamaica Public Service Company Kelly Tomblin on the seemingly very long and slow deliberations by the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) on who should receive the contract for a new 350 mw power plant. I can imagine how she feels. I often fail to see whether government agencies like the OUR, the Bureau of Standards (of toilet tissue infamy), the Urban Development Corporation and others do any good for the Jamaican people. I guess they provide jobs. How else do they serve our interests?
The truth is swimming away: In an enlightening radio interview with a frequently stuttering Transport and Works Minister Omar Davies on Thursday morning, it transpired that Davies’ junior minister Richard Azan told him two different stories about whether or not he knew that rental money was being collected at his (Azan’s) own constituency office for illegally constructed shops. There actually appear to be three different versions of this conversation, all aired on broadcast media. However, clearly Minister Davies seems to think that his junior minister means well, even if he has broken the law. He is eager to do good in the community, so let’s “give him a bligh,” nuh. The grammatically challenged Junior Minister had told Nationwide in an earlier interview, “Yes, I make a mistake for building the shops” (sic). But saying “My bad” sometimes has consequences, right?
This is a true patriot, Rev. Redwood: As I noted in my last blog post, the now-departed-on-a-jet-plane Senate President Reverend Stanley Redwood only dug a deeper hole for himself by responding to the cutting criticism of a Gleaner column in a letter to the newspaper. He actually called himself a patriotic Jamaican. The acerbic columnist Gordon Robinson today gives us a better idea of a patriotic Jamaican – one who has no choice but to struggle through our ramshackle health, justice and education systems with no special privileges, but who tries to help his fellow Jamaicans and ensure his family thrives.
Fresh face: Members of the 51% Coalition (including myself) are delighted at the appointment of a young attorney-at-law, Sophia Frazer-Binns. Great to see another woman in the Senate, and we look forward to her contribution. We note also that Ms. Frazer-Binns has some experience of working with youth. Good, too.
Two key meetings: J-FLAG and the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition (JCSC) had two key meetings this week: in recognition of International Day Against Homophobia, J-FLAG held a forum on homelessness and forced migration among the LGBT population; and the JCSC launched two publications arising from its lengthy series of consultations with communities on “People Participation in the National Budget Making Process.” Congratulations to both organizations for their efforts to keep seeking solutions to some of Jamaican society’s most intractable problems. I will be writing more on these meetings in the next week – in particular, on the “disconnects” between Jamaicans and Jamaicans. Need to overcome these…
Rooting for the children: Huge big-ups to the JN Foundation for providing desperately-needed funding for the Spanish Town-based non-governmental organization Children First. I had the honor of working with this organization on several occasions and have always been impressed by founder Claudette Richardson-Pious’ deep understanding of and clear-eyed focus on the complex and difficult lives of youth at risk. Since it is still Child Month, here are two other individuals who are quietly working on behalf of children: Deika Morrison of Crayons Count; and youth advocate Kemesha Kelly, who works with young people in St. Ann. Great role models.
Collecting: And Help JA Children, the lobby group formed one year ago, is busy collecting items for children in state care this month. Take your food, toiletries, clothes, books, magazines and other goodies to Kia Motors c/o HJC, 2 Chelsea Ave, Kgn 10. Tel: 920-5000. It will be hugely appreciated!
Kudos to Vaz: It’s Labour Day on Wednesday, when people undertake all kinds of tasks to make life better for their fellow-Jamaicans. One of former Prime Minister Michael Manley‘s better ideas, I think. Across the island, the infirmaries that are funded by local parish councils are in a terrible state of repair – often colonial-era buildings that have seen much better days. Now, a couple of months ago Member of Parliament for East Portland Daryl Vaz announced that he was going to give up five per cent of his salary, as a gesture of sacrifice in these tough times. He was praised in a half-hearted way by some. But now he has met with Port Antonio’s Mayor and decided the money he gives up will be earmarked for the Portland Infirmary, which is in a bad state. I really do like this. Did any other political representative follow Mr. Vaz’ example? I think not…
A waste of space: I am sometimes baffled by the sheer inanity and trivia that gets published in the newspapers each week. The random thoughts of commentators with nothing meaningful to say; the grinning men and women with wineglasses in their hands at an uptown party; yet another PR piece about some reggae/dancehall singer who is “making waves” overseas (playing in tiny clubs in the suburbs of big cities). If it’s online, at least with a click you can forget/delete it. But good trees are chopped down for this worthless nonsense.
Jamaican bloggers, sharpen your keyboards! Wednesday, May 23 – the third anniversary of the Tivoli Gardens Massacre – is Jamaica Blog Day, a “Day of Action for Jamaican bloggers on police and security force abuses.” The great little (growing) blogging community on the island, including myself, will be researching and writing and photographing on this subject. It’s going to be meaningful stuff. Do read and support our bloggers!
Coming up fast and not to be missed! The Fulbright Academy of Science and Technology will hold its 2013 Conference on Global Health in Montego Bay from May 24-27. It is open to the public. Important themes covered will be: Public Policy, Law and Economics in healthcare; Public Health and the Impact of Technology and Social Media; Emerging & Reemerging Infectious Diseases; Education, Sport and Wellness; Environmental Health (Global water supply & safety, Climate Change, Urban planning, engineering); and Human Sexuality. Visit the conference website at http://www.fulbrightacademy.org/page/HealthSummit/index.v3page;jsessionid=4j4dleqsqk0m4 And while I’m at it, big shout-out to all the fabulous Jamaican Fulbrighters (including Marcia Forbes, who will be presenting at the conference)… You make us proud!
I am relieved that the week, which started off so badly with homicides, has ended (hopefully) on a more peaceful note. However, my sympathies go out to the families and friends of Kenneth Kerr and Abasco Foster, who are grieving at this time. I hope that Mr. Foster’s companion recovers from serious injuries.
Kenneth Kerr, 54, Spanish Town, St. Catherine
Abasco Foster, 27, George’s Plain, Westmoreland
Related articles/links and local blogs in purple:
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130517/business/business4.html Economy contracts in March quarter: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130519/lead/lead6.html Kelly speaks her mind: Urges speedy decision on new power supplier: Sunday Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Stadium-built-with-Chinese-money-in-ruins_14278481 Stadium built with Chinese money in ruins: Sunday Observer
http://www.amnesty.org.uk/news_details.asp?NewsID=20784 Jamaica: Three years on, state of emergency still an open wound: Amnesty International
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130518/lead/lead1.html ”Act on Tivoli”: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130519/cleisure/cleisure2.html The methods of war have failed: Claude Clarke column/Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130518/letters/letters1.html INDECOM needs more power: Letter of the Day/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130517/lead/lead2.html Cops to be charged for schoolgirl’s murder: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Cop-dodges-court-as-DNA-shatters-lie-that-arrested-man-had-spliff_14284218 Cop dodges court as DNA shatters lie: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-122/33915 Senate elects first visually impaired President: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-122/33919 Attorney-at-law appointed to the Senate: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/33909 Contribution to 2013 Sectoral Debate: Mikael Phillips, MP: Jamaica Information Service
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130519/cleisure/cleisure2.html Of patriots and sellouts: Gordon Robinson column/Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130519/focus/focus6.html Saying goodbye and diaspora relations: Christopher Tufton op-ed/Sunday Gleaner
http://chatychaty.com/2013/05/jamaica-not-grooming-students-for-same-sex-unions-marriage-is-between-a-man-and-a-woman/ ”Jamaica not grooming students for same sex unions, marriage is between a man and a woman”: chatychaty.com
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-o2el_Gw8O8 Stop being naïve about sex! Jamaican high school students speak: YouTube
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/teen-mothers-to-be-reintegrated-in-school-system?utm_source=rjr&utm_medium=news Teen mothers to be reintegrated in school system: RJR News
http://keimiller.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/the-little-wine-that-hurt-somebody-or-soca-and-the-bad-behaving-gays-of-jamaica/ The little wine that hurt somebody; or, soca and the bad-behaving gays of Jamaica: Under the Saltire Flag blog
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130517/lead/lead1.html ”I give up!” Some parents no longer care about their runaway children: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130519/news/news1.html Cruel by choice: Thousands of Jamaican children intentionally injured by adults annually: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130519/lead/lead2.html Young and loveless: Teenage prostitute pushing for a fresh start: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130519/focus/focus3.html Condoms in schools: Martin Henry column/Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130516/news/news1.html Ananda Alert to be displayed on billboards: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130519/lead/lead8.html Rescue for Children First: JN Foundation comes to the assistance of charity set up to help Jamaica’s most needy youths: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130519/news/news5.html Portland infirmary to get Vaz salary cut: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130517/lead/lead Suspected dengue cases climb to 475, two confirmed deaths: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130517/news/news1.html Moneague Primary & Junior High cops LASCO environmental award: Gleaner
http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2013/05/16/3012766/caribbean-talks-conservation-on.html Caribbean talks conservation on Branson’s island: AP
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130516/news/news7.html Public gets say in Cockpit Country boundary debate: Gleaner
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130516/news/news1.html Eleven-year-old escapes croc attack, reptile snatches dog instead: Jamaica Star
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130516/news/news3.html KSAC, handcart men agree on registration fee: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130519/ent/ent1.html Balancing the act: Crawford seeks compromise between “want to eat” and “want to sleep”: Sunday Gleaner
An IDAHO State of Mind (petchary.wordpress.com)
May 15, 2013 (petchary.wordpress.com)
My week got off to a great start with a donation to Eve for Life from the Optimist Club of Sunset, Liguanea on Monday morning. We are indeed tremendously grateful for the gifts donated, and it was a huge pleasure to welcome President Lavern Brown, three members of the Walker family and Patrick Prendergast, a Facebook friend I had never met before! There are indeed some good and kind people in the world. Pictures to follow…
Are they serious? The Bureau of Standards, whose mission is (presumably) to maintain standards for us poor ignorant consumers, has been busy testing more toilet tissue. Remember the #TissueIssue? And guess what? It has found five more brands that are contaminated. This makes…four plus five…nine brands that are on their “No-Wipe” list. Problem is, the Bureau in its wisdom will not reveal the names of this new batch of miscreants, either. It is concerned about lawsuits from the manufacturers. So let’s worry about the manufacturers then. We will just sit there like idiots, in the dark.
Won’t happen again: It is incredibly sad that a World War I cannon has been stolen from a resident of Gordon Town, who treasured this as a memory of old friends as well as for its historical/cultural value. But no, the vampires are at it again, tiefing everything in sight. Presumably this is the scrap metal trade at work again. And speaking of scrap metal, we have learnt that the Transport Authority, in its wisdom, sold hundreds of motor cars that it had impounded for many years, mostly for scrap, in 2008. It says it did not profit from this sale. A representative said that they will make sure in future to obey their own rules – to auction cars every six months. Which they clearly had not been doing.
Murders this month: According to the Gleaner’s intrepid and seasoned crime reporter Glenroy Sinclair, up to May 13 we have already had thirty murders, give or take one or two. What is happening? Some seem to be domestic matters, others gangs, many others robberies. Most of the time, the motive is not clear. One thing we do know is that most of the murders will not be “cleared up” - in other words, solved - although if an alleged murderer is shot dead by the police, I think they count it as a clear-up. February has been the bloodiest month this year so far, with 92.
Random: The violence seems to just leap out at you. A man kills his partner because of jealousy or some argument; a policeman allegedly attacks a schoolboy who was studying with his daughter at his house and caught “in a compromising position” with said daughter; a man is shot dead while trying to rescue his neighbors from their burning house. If you care to look, these random acts of violence and aggression continue, day after day. If not reported in the traditional media, you soon hear on the social media when one of these crimes gets too close to home for one of your online friends – like the discovery of a woman’s body next to the Marcus Garvey Youth Information Centre in St. Ann’s Bay where one of my young friends works. I have shared several links below to individual stories, so you get the picture. These incidents have all occurred in the last two or three days.
Jamaica Blog Day: Anniversaries are difficult times for us all when they are remembrances of things that should never have happened. The pain returns. So it is with two adjoining anniversaries next week: On May 22, 2009, fire broke out at the Armadale Juvenile Correctional Centre in St. Ann in the “Office Dormitory” – a space big enough for five people. At the Commission of Enquiry in 2010, Justice Paul Harrison castigated the then Commissioner of Corrections for taking the decision to house 23 girls in this space. On that night, the girls were locked in, because they had been misbehaving. A policeman who actually threw a tear gas canister in the window allegedly exacerbated the fire. Five girls were killed that night and eleven injured; two more girls died later in hospital. Then, on May 23, 2010, security forces invaded the community of Tivoli Gardens in West Kingston in search of Christopher “Dudus” Coke, for whom there was an extradition warrant. We know that at least 75 civilians were killed and many injured; many still bear the physical and psychological wounds. The interim report of the Public Defender into the matter has just been released, and the Simpson Miller administration has announced that it will establish a Commission of Enquiry. No date has yet been set and we do not yet know the parameters of the enquiry. Jamaican bloggers will be writing about police abuses on May 23rd. If you are a blogger, or would like to post an article on Facebook or elsewhere, please join us. We must never forget. We want to make an impact!
The wonderful world of Twitter: I spend some time every day (and sometimes rather late at night) in Twitterland. It is an extraordinary place. There can be flashes of illumination, surprises, much amusement, even shocks. One of my followers, the wonderful comedian, writer and all-round creative person Owen “Blakka” Ellis received a severe jolt when I retweeted an article recently. I am an inveterate retweeter and like to share provocative viewpoints as well as useful information. The tweet asserted,“Black men think that hypermasculinity, sports obsession, extreme homophobia, sexism and belittling women makes a man, a man”. Now, this damning, sweeping generalization struck poor Mr. Ellis to the core. He responded to the original tweeter, and got slapped down at least twice more. Ouch! And ouch again! This compelled Mr. Ellis to write the article below. For the record, I feel Mr. Ellis had a right to protest and was treated harshly. (Oh, you can follow me on @petchary).
Scrambling for jobs: Figures released by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica this week show a 37 per cent unemployment rate among youth. The overall rate is 14.2 per cent. However, we know that these numbers are even higher in inner city communities and rural districts where jobs are extremely scarce. The large and profitable Jamaican firm GraceKennedy (GK) recently advertised ten internships, and received 780 applications. Yes, the job situation is desperate. As GK’s CEO Don Wehby says, local firms should offer more internships. At least, then, young people would have something on their resumé (how do you get work experience if there are no jobs?)
Boundless patriotism: Meanwhile the great patriot Rev. Stanley Redwood, who just stepped down as President of the Senate, has responded to a very sarcastic article in the Gleaner regarding his pending migration to Canada. Reverend Redwood clearly does not have much faith in the Jamaican education system. He pleads, “Many Jamaicans have sought opportunities for their children overseas. I do not believe there is any shame in seeking the best for my talented children. I am sure you would have done no differently.” But then, it is a fact that most government ministers and members of Parliament do send their children to school overseas; and when they are sick, they go overseas for treatment. They have such touching faith in the Jamaican education and health systems. And in fact, in Jamaica itself. And yet, we must “unite and build…”
The Sufferer: On top of all that, during a speech this week our Prime Minister decided to take up the cross of suffering, pointing out that she is the most criticized person in Jamaica, upon whose head all “negativity” is heaped. This was part of a speech in which she was encouraging her audience to hold their heads up high in the face of adversity. Madam Prime Minister, this air of martyrdom does not become you. In fact, it is embarrassing and unnecessary. Almost as embarrassing and unnecessary as those sinister-looking sunglasses that she has been wearing for years now. Not a good look. Where are her advisors?
The Silent One: I have not seen or heard Minister of National Security Peter Bunting on any newscast recently. Is he OK?
Since Sunday the following murders have been reported. It is heart-breaking. My condolences to the families and friends.
Shelly-Ann Maxwell, 21, Bombay Stud Farm/Bernard Lodge, St. Catherine
Cordel Steer, 22, Bombay Stud Farm/Bernard Lodge, St. Catherine
Unidentified man, George Lane, Kingston
Garth Simpson, 39, Gayle, St. Mary
Janice Burrell, 38, Islington, St. Mary
Leroy Robinson, 54, Little London, Westmoreland
Adina Bell, 36, St. Ann’s Bay, St. Ann
Killed by police:
Desmond McCalla, Bull Bay, St. Andrew
http://jablogday.tumblr.com Jamaica Blog Day
http://www.solarbuzzjamaica.com/2013/05/removal-of-illegal-connections-to-sugar-factories-to-cost-govt-200m-no-more-free-light/ Removal of illegal connections to sugar factories to cost government $200 million. No more free light! solarbuzzjamaica.com
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/five-toilet-paper-brands-pulled-due-to-high-levels-of-bacteria Five toilet paper brands pulled due to high levels of bacteria: RJR News
http://delanoseiv.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/wanted-full-disclosure-in-ritz-carlton-affair/ Wanted: Full disclosure in Ritz-Carlton affair: delanoseiv.wordpress.com
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130513/lead/lead22.html Playa replaces Ritz with Park Hyatt: Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/protest-action-escalates-at-complant Protest action escalates at COMPLANT: RJR News
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/-We-will-not-flinch-_142522042013-05-14T00-04-44 BITU head asserts commitment to workers’ rights: Jamaica Observer
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/new-law-paves-way-for-government-to-pass-imf-test New law paves way for government to pass IMF test: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130515/news/news1.html Exploring logistics hubs: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/The-rightness-of-the-Tivoli-enquiry_14252198 The rightness of the Tivoli enquiry: Jamaica Observer editorial
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Let-us-have-a-Garrison-Enquiry_14251339 Let us have a garrison enquiry: Jean Lowrie-Chin column/Jamaica Observer
http://digjamaica.com/blog/2013/05/13/a-look-at-jamaicas-human-rights-situation/ A look at Jamaica‘s human rights situation: diGJamaica.com
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130513/news/news12.html Wanted fugitive killed in shoot-out: Jamaica Star
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130514/lead/lead8.html Two persons killed per day: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Terror-in-Clifton_14268531 Gunmen invade community, fire-bomb five houses: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Murdered-for-good-deed_14271138 Gunman kills hotel worker trying to rescue neighbor: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=43114 Policeman allegedly attacks schoolboy with pipe iron and gun: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130515/lead/lead1.html Massive MoBay raid: Drugs, cash seized in 11-hour operation; Canadian held: Gleaner
http://speakmytruthwritemylife.blogspot.com/2012/11/let-he-that-is-without-sin-cast-first.html Let he that is without sin cast the first stone: speakmytruthwritemylife.blogspot.com
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130513/news/news10.html Residents shocked by chopping death: Jamaica Star
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130514/letters/letters1.html Don’t push gay men into closet marriages: Letter of the Day/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Cars-sold-as-scrap-metal_14263174 Cars sold as scrap metal: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130515/lead/lead93.html ”No profit made”: Transport Authority did not gain from sale of impounded motor vehicles: Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/mobay-mayor-lashes-out-at-detractors MoBay Mayor lashes out at detractors: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130514/cleisure/cleisure1.html The Redwood factor: Gleaner editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130515/letters/letters2.html I’m a patriot, but family comes first: Letter to the Editor from Rev. Stanley Redwood
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130513/news/news1.html Redwood’s resignation and Vision 2030/The Gavel: Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-117/33851 Prime Minister urges Jamaicans to assist the most vulnerable: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Prison-programme-providing-women-with-useful-skills_14260950 Prison program providing women with useful skills: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Amradale-report Brutal! Judge blames cop for starting deadly fire (February, 2010): Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130515/features/features1.html Damning declaration about black men: Blakka Ellis column/Jamaica Star
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/The-cost-of-inaction_14223127 The cost of inaction on climate change: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130514/lead/lead6.html World War I cannon stolen: Gleaner
http://cbcburke9.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/dancehall-mashing-up-hell-knows/ Dancehall mashing up hell knows: cbcburke9.wordpress.com
http://digjamaica.com/blog/2013/05/10/image-of-the-week-seaforths-artistic-excellence/ Image of the Week: Seaforth’s artistic excellence: diGJamaica.com
Seretse Small has a face that you cannot forget once you have seen it – rather chubby, with strong brows and large brown eyes. He also has an infectious chuckle, especially when talking about his favorite things.
The Jamaican musician introduced us to some of these at Bookophilia this evening – and his favorites were, essentially, creative people. He began with his mother, Jean Small – educator, linguist, actress, writer, storyteller. Seretse paid an unsentimental tribute to Jean, who was sitting in the front row, speaking of the “international awareness” he grew up with. Seretse studied at the Jamaica School of Music in Kingston and Berklee College in Boston, USA. His musical heroes include, therefore, Bob Marley (almost a cliché, but you cannot ignore the richness of his songs, said Seretse); and Quincy Jones. Seretse has that jazz feel and inserted a refreshing burst of scat into one of the songs. But he also spoke passionately at one point about the comfort and sense of nurturing he feels at home on his island, Jamaica.
Now, what were the components of this evening of pre-Mother’s Day favorites? Firstly, Seretse has teamed up with two other amazing musicians – Wayne Armond and Steve Golding, to form Jakoostik. (Go and buy their CD – it was all recorded in one take, just like that, and is available at Bookophilia). The three put together create astonishingly soulful, delicately structured harmonies through their versions of well-known songs. Beres Hammond‘s “Putting Up Resistance,” slowed down and sung by Armond, takes on an added soulfulness. Golding, who has played with Peter Tosh, Chalice and others, began softly singing a Tosh song – one of quiet resilience, “Pick Myself Up,” which the other two continued. A wisp of sweet nostalgia caught me – and again, as they sang the Heptones classic “Book of Rules” - a simple tune with extraordinary lyrics, sung with passion by Armond (who is, by the way, a wonderful guitarist in his own right). Whatever your Book of Rules is, it is the guiding light you live by.
Words and music go together – and following these powerful songs, Seretse introduced a friend. Jean Lowrie-Chin read from her beautiful little book of poems and writings, “Souldance.” Jean says this book encapsulates a philosophy – the belief that each one of us has many facets – like a shining cut diamond. We are all so rich, aren’t we.
Bringing three poems, Jean focused on the family. She described the joy of her Chinese Jamaican husband dancing “to the riddim of Jah” (smilingly dedicating this poem to Steve Golding). She also read “Pick-up Time” - about the simple pleasure of going to pick up your children from school in the middle of a busy working day. The last lines made many of the working mothers in the audience smile…“Freeze the moment/Stop the clock…I live for pick-up time.” She ended by walking along the road built by her mother, firm and strong and “stadium-lit with love.”
Di Blueprint Band, comprising former students of the Jamaica School of Music, is the winner of the 2012 Global Battle of the Bands (that’s 3,000 bands from around the world, by the way). Three members of the band played for us – just keyboard and voice. Alex Gallimore has a strong, flexible voice with beautiful phrasing. He sang about love – and nothing wrong with that either. Their last song, “Back to Life,” was about vision, determination and “regaining what we have lost,” as Alex put it. I think he has a fine voice for rock music; Wayne Armond thought he had a great reggae voice. Well, both perhaps?
They say love makes the world go round. My grandmother always used to tell me that, and as a small child I used to wonder how exactly that worked. I think I’ve got it, now. Music and poetry certainly helps one towards that belief.
P.S. It’s not too late. “Souldance: Poems and Writings” by Jean Lowrie-Chin would make a beautiful Mother’s Day gift. Or a birthday present, or just a gift for someone you care about. It will enrich their lives, and yours. And pick up Jakoostik’s CD while you’re at it. What a package of sweetness that would be!
We are refreshed by the rain, which has been coming down in oodles for the past few days, every afternoon on cue. It has turned the streets of Kingston into chaos and our lawn into a kind of marshland (previously it was desert). We are nevertheless thankful.
All that wet stuff has not washed away all the silliness that has been going on this week though, sadly. For a start…
The terrors of tweeting: The curse of the tweet has descended on Jamaica. You would think that our public officials would have learned from the sticky situations their overseas counterparts have got themselves into in the not too distant past. But Kingston’s Mayor dipped her toes into these dangerous waters, and got bitten. She used some of her 140 characters to exclaim “What the f!” and went on to complain that two Opposition representatives (including the leader) were appearing on the mid-week television current affairs shows. Now we all know what the “f” in the social media term WTF means (no, it does not stand for “frog”) and the Mayor pretty much acknowledged this in a sort of half-apology during a radio interview with Barbara Gloudon. So let’s move on from that, and the self-righteous indignation. Yes, certainly inappropriate for someone in her position, but let’s not overreact.
The show must go on: Several journalists responded sharply on social media and radio to the Mayor’s accusation of political bias. They pointed out (in fact, one even listed) the number of times they have requested the participation of the Prime Minister and other government officials, who have declined the requests. And the media knows that the show must go on, with or without them. Note: Mayor Angela Brown Burke is a stalwart of the People’s National Party and leader of the Kingston & St. Andrew Corporation, representing the majority party. Mayors are not directly elected in Jamaica – except for the Mayor of the Municipality of Portmore.
More importantly…This is all another manifestation of the uncomfortable relationship between the current administration and the media. Isn’t it? So badly out of sync. If I was the Prime Minister, I would gently relieve the current communications consultants (or whatever they call themselves) of their duties, and start afresh with a new “team.” At the moment, the whole thing is lurching from one faux pas to another. It’s painful to watch. And so unnecessary.
Is the press really free, or just comfortable? And talking of the press, there were some interesting remarks at the Press Association of Jamaica’s breakfast in recognition of World Press Freedom Day on Friday, May 3. The church person I have a great deal of time for, the head of Jamaica’s Anglican Church Bishop Howard Gregory, said he did not think either the current administration or the Opposition would want a Commission of Enquiry into the Tivoli Gardens slaughter, as suggested by the Public Defender and others. Why? Because “the complicity factor operates,” says Bishop Gregory. Both political parties will seek to preserve the status quo (see below) and not rock the boat. Who knows what might come out? It might not look good on either party. Best to just let sleeping dogs lie… or in this case, well over seventy dead Jamaicans. Professor Trevor Munroe of National Integrity Action warned against the “nine-day wonder” phenomenon, which a certain local government councilor predicted for the Azan affair recently. Soon blow over. Don’t let this happen! And broadcast journalist Emily Crooks suggested that her colleagues were “not pushing the envelope” – and were, therefore, quite comfortable compared to colleagues around the world who are harassed, attacked, even killed. We need a more “activist” and investigative press, one feels. Complacency is never desirable. The press must, and should, be prepared to rock that boat until the water slops over the sides.
Thievery reaches new heights: With the theft of over 200,000 liters of airplane fuel from the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay. Pardon the pun. The mind boggles. How? We wait with bated breath for more news on this… Or else we might just forget to ask?
Houses for the poor: Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller seems mighty pleased with her latest plan to revive the Inner City Housing Project, using funds from the poor old National Housing Trust (NHT) – the gift that keeps on giving. There, you see! She is doing something for the poor, after all. Who said she didn’t love them? Others are not so impressed. Responding to a question on TVJ News earlier this week, 91 per cent of viewers said that NHT funds should not be used to assist non-contributors. In a Sunday Gleaner column today, the irreverent Gordon Robinson asks: ”Why are otherwise intelligent persons twisting themselves into knots to defend this indefensible rape of poor people’s assets?” I think he (and we) know a few reasons why. One must not upset the applecart, as that sage People’s National Party councilor told CVM Television in relation to the Richard Azan/Spaldings Market fiasco. All hail the status quo! Long may it live!
Incidentally, the Prime Minister said she had no knowledge of the councilor’s remarks, when questioned by CVM. Rather surprising. Or not?
What Negril does/does NOT have: We noted recently that the tourist town of Negril is extremely short of water. We also now hear that it has had no fire engine for the past two months, and is dependent on trucks from the town of Savannah-la-Mar, a good twenty minutes’ drive away. A large house burnt down yesterday. As the Jamaica Environment Trust notes, the beach is rapidly disappearing, with the sea lapping at beachside attractions; there are dubious plans to revive it by injecting chemicals into it. Oh, and there is basically no coral reef and no fish – all connected with said dwindling beach, of course. I’m informed, also, that the Negril Recycling Centre, supported by the Sandals Foundation about three years ago, is also non-functioning. The nearest one now is in Montego Bay.
Help JA Children, a local lobby group formed just one year ago and founded by the still-ridiculously-young Brandon Allwood, has started a collection of items for children in state care. The collection drive will go on for the entire month of May (Child Month) at Kia Motors, 2 Chelsea Avenue, in New Kingston. Please go through your cupboards or pop down to the store and donate anything that you can spare – clothes, toys, books, stationery and school items, toiletries… Help JA Children has a Facebook page and is on Twitter (@HelpJAChildren).
Reparations, again: In 2001, our very own Barbara Blake Hannah – a passionate Rastafarian defender of Jamaica’s culture – attended the United Nations World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa. The conference made 19 excellent recommendations for ways in which the evils of slavery could be atoned for by, in Jamaica’s case, the British Government. A British Lord, Anthony Gifford – a Queen’s Counsel who practices law in Jamaica and the UK – has campaigned tirelessly on the subject; and so has the Jamaica Labour Party’s Mike Henry. And yet, sadly, little or no progress has been made. Essentially, the British have said sorry, but no. The discussions continue. Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves spoke for a remarkable 87 minutes (according to tweets from friends who attended) at the launch of a new book on the topic by Professor Hilary Beckles at the University of the West Indies this week. Mr. Gonsalves has offered to host a Caribbean conference on the topic in his country, at which he will no doubt drone on for another 87 minutes. To my mind, this does not advance us any further. What next? Not more words, please? Let’s have action! It is a burning question, it needs to be resolved, and long speeches are not going to cut it.
But then, this is part of the Pontification Syndrome for which Jamaica is well known. We talk too much!
I hate Page 2: In the current socio-economic climate, my dislike for the social pages in the daily newspapers has been steadily growing. I am developing a real hatred for Page Two and Something Extra and all the other nonsense. I think I am going to start a Campaign for the Abolition of Social Pages (CASP for short). Seriously. They are irrelevant, elitist, classist, and actually rather offensive – in light of the fact that when the IMF funds were disbursed, the government had to ask for a special sum up front for “budgetary support.” So they could pay public sector wage bills for April, perhaps? So can we wave goodbye to those people with drinks in their hands, posing for their photo? Goodbye!
Once again, it is very sad to note the names of those who have been murdered in Jamaica since Wednesday, May 1, when I wrote my last review. My condolences to all those who mourn them (and to the family, friends and neighbors of the twelve-year-old girl who committed suicide in rural St. Catherine last week):
Violet Marsh, 63, Temple Hall, St. Andrew
Phillip Bell, 39, Seaforth, St. Thomas
Leroy Reid, 42, Naggo Head, St. Catherine
Constable Michael Townsend, Effortville District, Clarendon
Killed by the police:
Orane Bowman, Clarendon
Related links and articles (local blogs in purple):
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/pnp-members-apologise-for-controversial-tweets PNP members apologize for controversial tweets: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130504/cleisure/cleisure1.html Controversy in 140 characters: Gleaner editorial
http://perceptualpost.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/can-you-hear-me-now/ Can you hear me now? Communication problems at Jamaica’s local government level: Perceptual Post
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/-Our-journalists-are-not-killed-but-many-stories-die-_14196488 ”Our journalists are not killed, but many stories die”: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130505/lead/lead7.html Jamaican journalists challenged to improve standards: Sunday Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/The-people-vs-Portia_14185042#disqus_thread The people vs Portia: Lloyd B Smith op-ed/Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Jamaica-will-find-it-difficult-to-implement-IMF-targets–Fitch-says Jamaica will find it difficult to implement IMF targets, Fitch says: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130505/focus/focus1.html Lack of accountability in the budget debate: Robert Wynter column/Sunday Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/33766 NDX Saves Gov’t $17 Billion in Payments Per Year on Domestic Bonds: Jamaica Information Service
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/our-to-hold-public-meetings-on-request-for-increased-water-rates OUR to hold public meetings on request for increased water rates: RJR News
http://www.solarbuzzjamaica.com/2013/05/energy-bill-reduction-falls-short-of-target/ Energy bill reduction falls short of target: Solar Buzz Jamaica
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Paulwell-s-statement-on-CAP-not-true–says-Golding_14191572 Paulwell’s statement on CAP not true, says Golding: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/33758 Clarendon Alumina Partners no cost on budget – Finance Minister: Jamaica Information Service
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20100423/lead/lead10.html NHT’s Inner City Housing Project causes headache: Gleaner – April, 2010
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130501/lead/lead1.html PM revives housing plan: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130505/cleisure/cleisure2.html The great NHT robbery: Gordon Robinson column/Sunday Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Upgraded-facility-to-benefit-St-Mary-farmers_14189002 Upgraded facility to benefit St. Mary farmers: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130504/western/western1.html Public beaches raise a stink: Gleaner
http://lowrie-chin.blogspot.com/2013/05/be-more-selective-ffpj-chair-andrew.html?m=1 ”Be more selective”: Food for the Poor Jamaica Chair Andrew Mahfood: lowrie-chin.blogspot.com
http://anniepaul.net/2013/05/04/britains-black-debt-the-logic-of-reparation/ Britain’s black debt: The logic of reparation: anniepaul.net
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Cut-the-talk-and-cut-the-red-tape_14201352 Cut the talk and cut the red tape: Sunday Observer editorial
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/RICHARD-AZAN–The-story-not-yet-told_14191123 Richard Azan: The story not yet told: Desmond Allen article/Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Spalding-shops–Parish-Council-knew_14201657 Spalding shops: Parish Council knew: Sunday Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130503/cleisure/cleisure1.html Beyond Mr. Witter’s windy diatribe: Gleaner editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130503/letters/letters3.html Witter wrong on ICC enquiry: Letter to the Editor from Lloyd D’Aguilar/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130503/lead/lead3.html We want $1 millon each: Tivoli residents put price on their loss: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Don-t-hold-your-breath-_14198207 Anglican bishop says government will do nothing about Tivoli report: Jamaica Observer
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/jamaicas-image-in-jeopardy-if-no-tivoli-enquiry-human-rights-activist Jamaica’s image in jeopardy if no Tivoli enquiry says human rights activist: RJR News
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/-Dudus–should-testify—Witter_14198889 ”Dudus” should testify – Witter: Sunday Observer
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130503/news/news10.html No disciplinary action yet – Albert Corcho: Jamaica Star
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/33762 Children’s Advocate calls for partnerships: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Give-us-clarity–Minister-Thwaites_14190349 Give us clarity, Minister Thwaites: Letter from Senator Kamina Johnson Smith/Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Child-s-suicide-leaves-void-in-St-Catherine-village_14198680 Child’s suicide leaves void in St. Catherine village: Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Revealing-Jamaica-s-soul_14198396 Revealing Jamaica’s soul: Jamaicans for Justice op-ed/Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Should-contraceptives-be-introduced-in-schools_14190754 Should contraceptives be introduced in schools? Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Contraceptives-in-schools–Don-t-just-dismiss-it_14197942 Contraceptives in schools: Don’t just dismiss it: Sunday Observer
http://digjamaica.com/blog/2013/05/03/chart-of-the-week-putting-all-our-eggs-in-one-basket-cargo-continues-to-decline/ Chart of the Week: Putting All our Eggs in One Basket? Cargo continues to decline: diGJamaica
http://perceptualpost.com/tablets-for-a-wounded-jamaica/ ”Tablets” for a wounded Jamaica: perceptualpost.com
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/-Time-for-Penwood-to-settle-down-_14189985 ”Time for Penwood to settle down”: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130505/lead/lead2.html Was Penwood stabbing staged for YouTube? Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130505/lead/lead3.html Prisoners party at Tower Street: Sunday Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/chronic-shortage-of-special-education-teachers Chronic shortage of special education teachers: RJR News
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Sports—the-opium-of-our-high-schools_14192172 Sports: The opium of our high schools: Lasceive Graham op-ed/Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Round-and-around-and-around-and-around-we-go_14192177 Round and around and around and around we go: Tamara Scott Williams column/Sunday Observer
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/33761 ODPEM gearing up for active hurricane season: Jamaica Information Service
http://jablogz.com/2013/05/portrait-of-an-elderly-man/ Portrait of an elderly man: lovely artwork from a young man from St. Mary: jablogz.com
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/influential-jamaican-saxophonist-cedric-brooks-dies-at-70/2013/05/04/80c5a052-b4e2-11e2-9fb1-62de9581c946_story.html Influential Jamaican saxophonist Cedric Brooks dies at 70: Washington Post”
What happened to the Negril Recycling Centre? Undated photo from Sandals Foundation showsHeidi Clarke (third left), director of programmes at the Sandals Foundation, hands over a cheque valued at $320,000 to Carey Wallace, president of the Negril Chamber of Commerce, operators of the Negril Recycling Centre. Looking on are Mark Swainbank of Environmental Resources Management (from left); Junior Gordon, director of the Negril Chamber of Commerce and general manager for Grand Pineapple Negril; Jermaine Robinson, manager of the Negril Chamber of Commerce; and Peter Reid, manager of the Negril Recycling Centre.
Dear and faithful readers: I hope you are finding the two-part review more convenient and timely. I certainly find it much more manageable, from the writing point of view! As you will see, I still add a lot of links at the end of the post, so that you can do further reading on the various topics. My two-part news reviews now appear on Wednesdays and Sundays.
The PM and the press: The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) met with Information Minister Sandrea Falconer on Thursday to discuss the issue of media access to the Prime Minister. How could this really be an issue? But there you go; it is. As the PAJ noted before, the Prime Minister has not done any “substantive” media interview since taking office fifteen months ago. Minister Falconer said this was not quite true. But sorry – I just don’t remember many “impromptu” interviews. The Prime Minister never does a press briefing alone. She is always flanked by several other protective ministers. I am also wondering about this “Support Unit” that the Prime Minister takes with her everywhere. How many are there and what do they do?
Blast from the past: The final sentence in the Jamaica Information Service press release (link below) caught my eye. “The (Information) Minister was accompanied by members of the Prime Minister’s Support Unit and Head of the Minister’s Taskforce [to keep press in line], Colin Campbell.” Slight raise of the eyebrows there. Mr. Campbell is a former Information Minister, People’s National Party general secretary and Member of Parliament, a man who is (or was) under a bit of a shadow in connection with the 2007 Trafigura scandal (alleged campaign donations to the party). He has been keeping a low profile for the past few years – apart from writing a newspaper article last December attacking the outgoing Contractor General (who, of course, investigates matters like Trafigura). Campbell called the CG “an abject failure.” Meanwhile, I understand the PAJ’s Vice President Arthur Hall says that the organization will not be part of any “protocol” to restrict access to Ms. Simpson Miller. This is, very definitely, the thin end of the wedge, and the PAJ recognizes it as such.
Paulwell announced some things: As I have noted before, I like Minister Phillip Paulwell because he seems to stay focused, generally restrains himself from scoring cheap political points, and actually seems to want to get things done. His contribution to the Budget Debate last week certainly contained much food to chew on. The government has decided not to sell its 45% stake in the hugely loss-making Clarendon Alumina Partners (the bauxite plant), Paulwell announced; although the Finance Minister had said something different. So this is a little confusing. The majority owners, Alcoa and Glencore, have written a report on the matter, that will be made public soon.
Venezuelan grey areas: The future of the long-delayed expansion of the Petrojam oil refinery now seems gravely in doubt, according to Minister Paulwell; the Venezuelan government has been a 49% shareholder since 2006. The death of Hugo Chavez and the election of the so far unimpressive Nicolas Maduro has also raised questions over the PetroCaribe agreement, on which Jamaica and other Caribbean nations are (too) heavily dependent. Minister Paulwell must be feeling very antsy about our socialist friends; Jamaica needs to know what’s happening, ASAP.
On and on and on: Opposition Leader Andrew Holness also made his contribution to the Budget Debate last week. It dragged on all afternoon (three hours). I would like to see all budget speeches shortened to twenty minutes or so. It’s more than possible – just boil down your announcements, package them neatly. There would be no more glazed eyes (and irritating side- conversations) in Parliament. Members would have to sit up and concentrate for a much shorter time. There would be no time for the heckling, aside jokes and guffaws from the other side of the room. Members of the public would be able to tune in and really listen, instead of just having the radio on as a kind of soporific background drawl. Generally, though, the Opposition Leader did quite well, by all accounts. His use of two baskets of groceries, to show how much less we can buy compared to December 2011, was effective and made for good television. He also made ten recommendations to the Government for digging itself out of the economic hole it finds itself in. The speech was remarkably lacking in rancor and political point-scoring. This must have surprised the Government side of the House, who were priming their weapons for battle. The usual insults and “banter” therefore stayed at a manageable level. Good, constructive stuff, Mr. Holness.
Yes, we have drugs: I’ve noticed a remarkable upsurge in major drug busts, lately. Two retirees from Florida have been arrested in connection with the discovery of 350 pounds of marijuana on Navy Island, a beautiful spot just off Port Antonio. 650 pounds of weed was found in West Kingston. 500 pounds of ganja was found in St. Elizabeth, always a productive area. On April 20, a security guard contractor was arrested with a huge amount of cocaine in Montego Bay. Hell, there was even a cocaine find on a Caribbean Airlines flight departing for Florida. Jamaicans are being arrested in the Bahamas and elsewhere on drug charges. One gets the feeling that the “war on drugs” has just been rekindled.
Water, water everywhere: The seaside resort of Negril is parched. During an edition of the call-in radio show “Justice” this week, there was a somewhat futile discussion on what happened to all the water in Negril, how it was being managed, etc. Local residents are upset that water is being diverted to the hotels, and the hotels are upset at having to give refunds to guests who leave because there is no water. Basically, there is not enough to go around. When Negril began developing rapidly some 15-20 years ago (and the Spanish have subsequently moved in with their monstrous hotels) there was concern among some that water, sewage systems etc. might be inadequate. The Powers that Were more or less dismissed these fears in the name of the mighty god of Investment, and we seem to have an insatiable appetite for more tourism rooms. Well, so it has come to pass: no water. Then, of course, there is the disappearing “world famous seven-mile beach” – which can no longer be called seven miles long by any stretch of the imagination. What is the Member of Parliament (also Tourism Minister) doing about all this? He seems to be preoccupied with arguing with his Opposition counterpart about tourism money, at the moment.
Could the Ministry of Foreign Affairs please tell me…? What does the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) do, apart from talk of course? What are its achievements? It has been meeting in Haiti this week. And why do we need to have an Embassy in Ecuador, as Minister of Foreign Affairs AJ Nicholson is suggesting? I thought that diplomatic missions abroad were very costly. What do Jamaica and Ecuador have to offer each other? Is Julian Assange going to be palmed off on us?
More details, please? Of the 4,000 online jobs that the World Bank says it has created for Jamaicans. Wasn’t aware…
Jamaica is slipping: And talking of IT, Jamaica has slipped down the rankings again in the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report – for the seventh consecutive year. With all that Minister Paulwell and IT entrepreneurs are doing (Ingrid Riley is doing a superb job to stimulate start-ups with her Kingston Beta) we are steadily slipping behind – for example, in network readiness, broadband subscribers, e-commerce, venture capital availability, and (depressingly) math and science education. Can we have some more discussion on this? What has gone wrong? Are we just dragging our feet? What do we need to be doing that we are not doing now?
Maybe the Member of Parliament can pay a visit with her Support Team: I hear the deprived and desolate inner-city community of Majesty Gardens (such a tragic misnomer), in the Prime Minister’s constituency, is “tense.” Perhaps their Member of Parliament can pay them a visit soon, and re-ignite the love.
Tears for Dr. Lewin: I was moved by former Prime Minister Edward Seaga’s very emotional farewell to Dr. Olive Lewin at her funeral yesterday. Dr. Lewin was founder of the Jamaican Folk Singers, cultural explorer and invigorator. She was also, as Mr. Seaga pointed out, an incredibly kind and humanitarian woman who cared deeply about our marginalized and poor children and quietly did much good work on their behalf. Mr. Seaga said, in a voice thick with tears, “I wish I could feel it in my heart that she was fully recognized in her own land.” I agree with him – she was not. No pretty speech from the Culture Minister or hugs from the Prime Minister can make up for that.
Phrases I don’t want to hear for a while: “Divine intervention” and “The relevant authorities.”
Tweet-grabbing: The Jamaica Observer is now reprinting Jamaicans’ tweets, with names and Twitter handles – especially the political ones. I am just wondering what the purpose is. If you look at page 27 of today’s Sunday newspaper you will see tweeters clearly identified alongside their tweets on the issue of the Prime Minister and the press. I suppose the newspaper doesn’t have to ask permission, but… They also have an address where you can “email your views” but must include your Twitter handle. Why?
The Energy God doth protest: A dancehall figure called Elephant Man is protesting against wild rumors that he is gay. This is the worst thing you can say to a macho dancehall man, in a sphere where homophobia still reigns supreme. The orange-haired Elephant Man claims to have “thirty-five pickney” [children] so how could he be gay? The last figure bandied about was apparently 22 pickney. Well, he has lived up to his name of “Energy God” it seems, and got busy. Keeping the population levels up there. So long as none of the pickney have orange hair.
I am very sad to report that the following Jamaicans have lost their lives in the past three days, since my last bulletin. My deepest condolences to all their families. Ms. Ricketts’ other son is also hospitalized. I cannot imagine how the father is feeling. I have noticed how often the names of Jamaicans killed by the police are not reported – or, as below, their nicknames are given. I suppose they are not so important?
Richard Aiken, 19, Beckford Town, St. Mary
Shawn Magnus, 31, Parry Town/Ocho Rios, St. Ann
Patrick Shakes, 51, Catadupa, St. James
Kereisha Ricketts, 34, Newtown, Westmoreland
Jafe Francis, 9, Newtown, Westmoreland
Killed by police:
“Piggy Deer,” Gregory Park, St. Catherine
Related articles (local posts in purple):
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130425/cleisure/cleisure2.html Poverty has little bearing on students: Jaevion Nelson column/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130425/lead/lead1.html Change a coming: Energy minister says positive move to reduce electricity rates on the horizon: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Four-bidders-for-power-plant_14144802 Four bidders for new power plant: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130426/business/business4.html Paulwell pins final hopes for Petrojam on Maduro: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130426/lead/lead6.html Bauxite revival: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130426/business/business2.html Jamalco to press ahead with coal plant: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130426/cleisure/cleisure1.html Will CAP decision undermine IMF deal? Gleaner editorial
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Phillips-says-public-sector-agencies-to-be-merged_14152187 Phillips says public sector agencies to be merged: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130426/news/news1.html Paulwell gives tablets to parliamentarians: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Students–teachers-at-30-schools-to-get-free-tablets_14151109 Students, teachers at 30 schools to get free tablets: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Cost-of-living–tun-up-_14143444 Holness blames government for people’s hardships: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130426/lead/lead1.html ”We’ve been butchered”: Holness tells government to backtrack on taxes, pitches 10-point formula: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130426/lead/lead3.html Charting a different course: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=44370 4,000 jobs created for young Jamaicans in virtual economy: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130424/business/business8.html Jamaica dips in new IT rankings: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/New-customs-tax-presents-nightmare-for-small-businesses_14137839 New customs tax presents nightmare for small businesses: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130425/cleisure/cleisure1.html Give details for the June IMF test: Gleaner editorial
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/in-caribbean-gridlocked-courts-hit-by-crime-wave-block-justice-and-stall-lives/2013/04/26/ff6984b0-ae9c-11e2-b240-9ef3a72c67cc_story.html In Caribbean, gridlocked courts hit by crime wave block justice and stall lives: AP/Washington Post
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Mayhem-on-Waltham-Avenue-in-Kingston_14152374 Mayhem on Waltham Avenue in Kingston: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130425/lead/lead2.html ”Let’s go get these bad guys”: U.S. sets eyes on scammers: Gleaner
http://ht.ly/kv5ld ”Dem call it scam, me call it a reparation”: Mark Wilson op-ed/Trinidad Guardian
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130427/lead/lead1.html Rolex probe widens: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20121209/cleisure/cleisure3.html Greg Christie was an abject failure: Colin Campbell op-ed/Gleaner, December 2012
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Shock-arrest_14159903 JPS contractors accused of stealing utility wires, street lamps: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130425/lead/lead91.html American nabbed in Portland drug operation, another on the run: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Cops-keeping-an-eye-on-tense-Majesty-Gardens_14131169 Cops keeping an eye on tense Majesty Gardens: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130425/lead/lead3.html Tivoli residents call on PM to “have a heart”: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130427/cleisure/cleisure1.html Tyranny in the ghetto: Gleaner editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130425/news/news2.html UNICEF donates vehicle to Eve for Life: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/-Show-love-to-our-children-in-entire-month-of-May-_14153267 ”Show love to our children in entire month of May”: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130425/lead/lead8.html Media Association joins PAJ’s call for greater access to public officials: Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/33683 Minister Falconer and PAJ meet on proposed protocol: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/719-children-missing-since-the-start-of-the-year 719 children missing since the start of the year: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130426/letters/letters1.html Gender-based quotas wrong: Letter of the Day/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Anglican-bishops-reject-same-sex-marriage_14150775 Anglican bishops reject same sex marriage: Jamaica Observer
http://jamlink.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=50:ghastly-pit-latrines-at-st-marys&Itemid=191 Ghastly pit latrines at St. Mary’s:
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/CDA-head-says-child-care-facilities-audit-almost-complete_14152607 CDA head says child care facilities audit almost complete: Jamaica Observer
http://arcthemagazine.com/arc/2013/04/usain-bolt-foundation-announces-samsung-camera-workshop-in-jamaica/ Usain Bolt Foundation announces Samsung camera workshop in Jamaica: Arc Magazine
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130425/cleisure/cleisure3.html Divine intervention is the Church promoting peace in the society: Bernard Headley op-ed/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130426/news/news4.html Port Maria Hospital gets well-needed lifeline: Gleaner
Well, dear readers, the first part of my weekly review can be found here: http://petchary.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/midweek-special-a-jamaican-news-update-for-april-17-2013/
Here is Part Two…
“No new taxes”…today: The presentation of the Budget came and went without much fanfare. Local media diligently reported, analyzed and tweeted highlights. But we do know that this annual ritual is…just that. There are likely to be supplemental budgets, adjustments, and the “allocated” amounts may, in fact, never be allocated for their specific purposes, at least not in full. One did however feel irritated by this announcement of “no new taxes” in Parliament. The Finance Minister was duly applauded for it, with the usual loud banging of desks, on his side. The Opposition was not so amused, pointing out that we are still reeling from a huge (J$16 billion) tax package announced in February. And we have a sneaking feeling that there may be more taxes in the offing in the next few months. At least, many callers to radio talk shows seem perturbed about the huge increase in property taxes. We are worried, too. My retired mother-in-law, who is on a pension, has just been hit with a 130 per cent increase. Ours is likely to be similar; and Minister Phillips says properties may be re-evaluated, and taxes increased again on the new valuations.
What about all those who don’t pay? This is just an obsession of mine, but it really bugs me that there are hundreds – nay, thousands – of individuals and organizations out there in society (and you know who you are) who are simply not paying their way. The National Water Commission has just applied for a 19 per cent rate increase, and at the same time we know that huge amounts of water are lost (about thirty per cent I believe) due to theft – and their own carelessness… We know all about the widespread theft of electricity, mainly in inner city communities, many of whom have never paid a “light bill” in their life. And then there are the non-taxpayers. The St. Catherine Parish Council now has to pay for its services – street lights, garbage collection etc – from property taxes only. And it has only ever collected fifty per cent of its property taxes… I wish them luck. Meanwhile, law-abiding Jamaicans have to pay for all this waste and thievery.
At arms’ length: The Prime Minister’s support team kept journalists at a distance as she departed from the Budget debate. For security reasons, it was said. More on this below.
Yes, and the tiefing continues: I thought receiving stolen property was an offense; can someone clarify this please? In any case, the Gleaner reported that a former Mayor has returned a nice Rolex watch he received from a “political activist” who is among five charged with committing a robbery at Swiss Stores in downtown Kingston recently. This is all such inspiring stuff, eh?
Poor farmers: Another kind of thieving that financial analyst Dennis Chung referred to in an interview is what is called “praedial larceny” (a term I had never heard until I came to Jamaica). This means stealing farm produce and livestock, which hard-working farmers have reared and grown. In other words, taking their livelihood away from them. Like Dennis, I cannot understand why this criminal act, which goes on year after year unabated, is not taken more seriously by law enforcement and the courts. Perhaps it is because it affects rural residents, and we really only care about what happens in Kingston and a couple of other towns. I don’t know. But I believe the penalties should be much higher and the pursuit of these criminals should be aggressive and unrelenting. This isn’t happening. And when someone spots an alleged goat thief, an angry and frustrated mob attacks him.
Negative, negative (negative?) Having successfully side-stepped journalists on the way to making a speech, our Prime Minister and leader Portia Simpson Miller referred to the Azan issue. She used the first part of her speech to talk about the prevailing “negative, negative” attitude towards politicians (only one repeat this time – usually it’s two, as in “working, working, working.”) Her stony face and strident tone certainly had a negative effect on me. Why was the Prime Minister so upset?
Young Turks: Veteran journalist Barbara Gloudon is concerned at the prelude to all of this – the post-Cabinet press briefing during which the Information Minister bravely fended off an enthusiastic “tag team” of young broadcast journalists. Minister Falconer wasn’t entirely successful. I described this lively encounter in my Wednesday post. Ms. Gloudon (and government officials, as well as other traditional journalists) are all concerned about this apparent shift in the dynamics of media. But didn’t we all see this new era arriving? Ms. Gloudon writes in her weekly column: “There is very little which does not end up broadcast far and wide, and it doesn’t need old media to do it. Everybody has become his/her own reporter and to hell with the niceties. Everyone has his/her own truth and it can be stretched either way.”
Blame social media: Of course, the dreaded social media is to blame for all this. I trust that no one is thinking of “regulating” it. Russia and China have their own sanitized versions of the social media, while other countries simply throw bloggers in jail, or block the social media. I’m a little concerned – but hopefully with no good reason.
The “gladiators”: The Prime Minister was apparently ruffled at the behavior of our over-zealous “gladiators” as Ms. Gloudon calls them. Ms. Simpson Miller will not comment on the issue of Minister Richard Azan and the seemingly illegal shops, as she says an investigation is going on. The Prime Minister observed, “Why should I make a comment?” adding, somewhat obscurely, “The time has come when we should put country ahead of any personal ambition… I have given all of my adult life to the service of this country…” (Who was she referring to? Over-ambitious journalists? Did she not have ambitions in her long political career, or was it all purely selfless?) The occasion was the opening of a new business showroom. “This should be the news, not anything else!” declared Prime Minister. OK, journalists – you have been told what the news is to be.
Procedure is important: The Prime Minister’s team believe that procedure is important in the interaction between politicians and journalists. Maybe they need to revisit procedures, together.
Laughing it off: Meanwhile, CVM Television’s Andrew Cannon is not letting this go. He did catch Minister Azan and sought to question him, but Azan’s response was, “I sent a release, and that is enough. Have a good evening.” He repeated the last sentence several times and then seemed to find this highly amusing, walking off chuckling with one of his sidekicks. No success for the gladiator there; he did not seem to get the joke. But Mr. Azan seems to have plenty of supporters, mainly members of the People’s National Party. The head of that party’s youth organization (the PNPYO) said it was a “very humanitarian move” to build the shops.
Opening a small can of worms: The #Tissue#Issue has basically remained unresolved. We are really none the wiser. But it seems to have provoked a mini-trade war with Trinidad & Tobago. The issue may go to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for resolution. What a tangled web of toilet paper we weave; a bit like that ad when the whole thing unrolls…
Digicel Foundation: The Digicel Foundation is doing so much good work that it’s hard to keep up with them. Their focus on literacy is excellent and commendable. Now they have teamed up with USAID on an enrichment program that will benefit 40,000. We have to keep fighting the literacy fight.
Crayons do count: And most awesomely (is there such a word?) the local Continental Bakery has donated J$50 million – no mean sum indeed! – to the wonderful Crayons Count program initiated by Ms. Deika Morrison. Of course, she is over the moon. I liked what Continental CEO Gary “Butch” Hendrickson says: “We cannot lose another generation of children in this country; we have lost too many.” For more on the program which is a huge enhancer for early childhood education, go to this website: http://dogoodjamaica.org/crayonscount/ Congratulations to Ms. Morrison – this is her passion. And kudos to Continental!
Ralston Hyman has a dry style. I love his program on Power 106 FM, “Real Business.” I learn a great deal from it. And it’s streamed live on their website, too.
Sadly, more Jamaican citizens are no longer with us. The following have been murdered since my last post on Wednesday:
Michael Coombs, 50, Spanish Town, St. Catherine
Wentworth Patterson, 50, Spanish Town, St. Catherine
Unidentified woman, 20, Greater Portmore, St. Catherine
Garnett Gray, 29, Waterford, St. Catherine
Silbeta Brown, 52, Hopeton District, Manchester
Kareem Hines, 29, Montego Bay, St. James
Carlton Stone, 39, Montego Bay, St. James
Bryan English, 42, Robin’s Bay, St. Mary
Killed by police
Michael Robinson, 41, Molynes Road, Kingston
Errol Irvin, 22, St. Catherine North
Related articles. Local blog posts are in purple…
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130419/lead/lead1.html The nation welcomes…no new taxes: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Shaw-accuses-Gov-t-of-deception-after-Phillips–announcement_14101004 No new taxes? Shaw accuses Government of deception after Phillips announcement
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/February-tax-package-no-secret—Phillips_14115125 February tax package no secret – Phillips: Sunday Observer
http://rjrnewsonline.com/business/full-text-of-budget-presentation-by-finance-minister-dr-peter-phillips Full text of budget presentation by Finance Minister Dr. Peter Phillips: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=44217 Phillips can’t say if property taxes will go up again: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130419/lead/lead2.html IMF deal by early May: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130421/focus/focus5.html Beyond the IMF: Ten things we must do to stimulate growth: Michael Ennis column/Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130419/lead/lead9.html Unemployment on the rise: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130419/letters/letters7.html A dry dock facility, seriously? Letter to the Editor/Gleaner from Jamaica Welding Institute
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/opposition-demands-removal-of-restrictions-to-interviewing-prime-minister Opposition demands removal of restrictions to interviewing Prime Minister: RJR News
https://www.facebook.com/notes/think-jamaica/to-the-21st-century-journalists/372179526232136 To the 21st century journalists: Facebook Note by Durie Dee
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Tag-teaming-the-minister-_14100136 Tag teaming the minister: Barbara Gloudon column/Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Honourable-means-honourable_14083533 Honorable means honorable: Letter to the Editor/Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130419/letters/letters3.html Questions on Azan-Spaldings Market saga: Letter to the Editor/Gleaner from Paul Ashley
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130421/cleisure/cleisure2.html Azan, defiance and impeachment: Gary Spaulding article/Sunday Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Leadership–governance-and-the-reform-agenda_14110492 Leadership, governance and the reform agenda: Claude Robinson column/Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Runwiddit–again_14101237 Runwiddit, again: Tamara Scott-Williams column/Sunday Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130421/lead/lead4.html Poorly-paid politicians: Jamaican political leaders among the worst paid in the region: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130419/lead/lead7.html Ex-Mayor returns Rolex: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=44251 Guardsman confirms arrest of a contractor in St. James drug bust: Sunday Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/arrest-warrant-issued-for-movado Arrest warrant issued for Mavado: RJR News
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Penwood-student-didn-t-have-to-die_14109184 Penwood student didn’t have to die: Sunday Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130421/lead/lead5.html Annual national survey on prisons shows mega increase in career criminals: Sunday Gleaner
http://dcjottings.blogspot.com/2013/04/if-we-are-to-solve-our-crime-problem.html If we are to solve our crime problem: dcjottings.blogspot.com
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=44255 Holness says state must adopt pro-citizen stance: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130419/news/news4.html Colin Mann freed of charges: Jamaica Star
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130421/news/news1.html Lessons from Boston – cops want more CCTVs: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130420/cleisure/cleisure1.html The new gun ID fallacy: Gleaner Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Gov-t-tables-CCJ-Bills_14100593 Government tables CCJ Bills: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130419/news/news1.html Gay students overrun school! Jamaica Star
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130421/ent/ent1.html Gender gap still hurts: Entertainers feel there is a far way to go before equality obtains: Sunday Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/row-deepens-over-renaming-of-cornwall-regional-hospital Row deepens over renaming of Cornwall Regional Hospital: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=44207 Theft of JPS cables resulted in corporate area water problems: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130421/lead/lead7.html Help coming for 40,000 students: Digicel Foundation and USAID join forces to increase literacy levels: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130419/cleisure/cleisure1.html The toilet paper debate: Gleaner editorial
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/toilet-paper-row-dispute-between-jamaica-and-tt-heading-to-caricom Toilet paper row dispute between Jamaica and TT heading to CARICOM: RJR News
It has been a strange and difficult week for the Jamaican Government. Not much joy. And the drought is biting so hard in Kingston, our garden is literally parched earth…
Psalms don’t help: Junior Minister in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing and Member of Parliament for North West Clarendon Richard Azan has been in boiling hot water for the entire week. Last Sunday’s Gleaner broke the news that Azan had allegedly arranged the unauthorized construction and illegal rental of ten shops at Spaldings Market. The local media are not letting him off the hook and nor is civil society. National Integrity Action’s Professor Trevor Munroe has called for Azan’s resignation and the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition is also wants a full and thorough investigation. Questions regarding the relationship between Azan and the contractor, etc., remain unanswered. Mr. Azan’s response included a quote from the Bible which did not greatly strengthen his case, in my view; he wants to “move on” after his “error,” he says. The role played by the Clarendon Parish Council certainly leaves much to be desired and raises many questions about governance in Jamaica. Comments by one councilor on television reeked of hypocrisy and thinly veiled “tribalism.” The whole affair is “smelly” as the media like to say.
Going for an Oscar? Or was it genuine despair/stress that prompted Minister of National Security Peter Bunting’s choked-up performance during a speech in Clarendon last week? I get a little edgy and suspicious when politicians resort to tears, publicly. But it was worrying. Minister Bunting called for “divine intervention” as the only solution (?) during the speech. I started to feel a little panicky at this point. If Minister Bunting is throwing up his hands at our steadily rising crime rate, then what should we, the poor citizens do? Is Minister Bunting admitting failure? If so, is he going to step aside? See the transcript below from journalist Emily Crooks. The Private Sector Organization of Jamaica’s Christopher Zacca’s suggestion that the ministries of national security and justice be reintegrated seems worthy of consideration. CVM TV has, however, pointed out that the Minister’s mother died recently – my condolences.
And the Prime Minister is quiet. Well, she did say she allowed the Ministers to get on with their job without interference. So mum’s the word.
Them taters: Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke disappointed me with his gratuitous remark that bad potato seeds were supplied by the previous administration, during a sitting of a parliamentary committee. Can’t see the point of all this. Can you please supply the poor farmers with some good seeds, then, Minister? Thanks. Enough already. (Oh yes, and both parties are equally guilty of this kind of partisan sniping and finger-pointing).
Itching to leave? We were greatly surprised this week to hear that the President of the Senate, the Reverend Stanley Redwood (a twice unsuccessful People’s National Party candidate in his native St. Elizabeth) is migrating! Ostensibly for family reasons. Is he a green card holder? One assumes so… Moreover, the wife of our Governor General Lady Allen caused a stir with some more “candid” comments while addressing schoolchildren last week. “Yesterday morning when I woke up, I didn’t want to be a Jamaican, I must be honest with you… I didn’t want to be in Jamaica any more…” She was commenting on the murder of a policeman who had served in her security detail at one time. She went on to express hope for the future, though.
An objectionable report: Human rights lobby group Jamaicans for Justice partnered with the University of Technology for a fascinating and indeed at times emotional public forum on the report of the Inter American Council for Human Rights (IACHR) on Human Rights in Jamaica, which has taken three years to compile. According to JFJ, the Jamaican Government has strongly objected to aspects of the report, and as a result the IACHR Commissioner scheduled to visit Jamaica for the launch (a Barbadian woman) canceled her trip. It transpires that the Government objected on legal grounds, as JFJ has in the past been involved in legal action via the IACHR. So, a little tricky. Putting that on one side, it was a powerful meeting that was hardly covered by local media except for a perfunctory report in the Gleaner. This is how human rights issues are generally treated. Link to the full report is below…
Talking about rights: Jamaican workers on one of the Chinese-funded mega projects that Jamaican governments have been so fond of in recent years were upset recently. Apparently the ratio of Jamaicans to Chinese should be 70% – 30%. The Jamaicans complained that there are more Chinese workers on the road project in St. Ann than there are locals, and that qualified masons, plumbers etc. are being sidelined and replaced by Chinese. Well, he who pays the piper calls the tune. Right?
Tief! Tief! Some major tiefing (stealing) has been going on lately. The theft of 53 solar batteries from the Mandela Highway, resulting in the operators (Trans Jamaican Highway) removing the remainder to ensure that they secure them better; large amounts of cable from Flow Jamaica, who are trying to roll out their services – internet etc – across the island; and to cap it all, the theft of J$15 million worth of oil from the Shell plant in Rockfort, East Kingston last Tuesday. 133,000 liters, no less. We are a nation of tiefs. Businesses and Jamaicans in general suffer…
Staying in St. Ann… A visitor from the UK, Angelia Christian, recently donated two ambulances and a lot of equipment to the A&E department at the St. Ann’s Bay Hospital through her Angel Foundation. This was because her daughter nearly died in 2011 after a swimming pool accident, and she was “shocked” at conditions in the emergency department. We are indeed grateful.
And speaking of ’Ospitals: Minister of ‘Ealth Fenton Ferguson (sorry, but he consistently drops his “h”s) visited the May Pen Hospital last week. I was amazed at how run-down it looked. Was it shoddy workmanship? The ceilings appeared to be leaking, paint peeling etc. The hospital was built in 1997 and I remember how great it looked then. Sure needs a “facelift” now…
A brilliant lady: Dr. Olive Lewin, described as a “cultural icon,” passed away last week. By “brilliant” I mean not only smart and intelligent – but shining. We saw her a year or so ago for the last time and although her body was fragile, her spirit was as strong as ever. I remember taking my parents to a performance by the Jamaican Folk Singers, which she founded. My father was quite entranced by Dr. Lewin and by the music, cheering loudly after each song. It was his introduction, as a foreigner, to Jamaican culture. Dr. Lewin was also a close neighbor of ours in Kingston when we first moved here, until she became sick and sold her house; we used to stop by the gate and chat. We will miss you.
I-PLEDGE: I remember when Western Union‘s I-PLEDGE program was launched years ago now, with the blessing and support of former U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica Sue Cobb. Western Union (Grace Kennedy Remittance Services operates the Jamaican franchise) had a special Reading Week last week and launched the program in St. James in support of reading and primary school education. Great stuff!
Empowering businesswomen globally: Congratulations to dynamic entrepreneur Yaneek Page and her team, who recently launched a local branch of WEConnect International, a non-profit organization that helps to empower women business owners to succeed in global markets. They will be holding a conference in June. More info on their Facebook Page WEConnect International in Jamaica. Good luck to all!
And here are some great women in media: I must say I am a huge fan of several women working in Jamaican broadcast media. Their standards are high, and they are fair and fearless. Senator Marlene Malahoo Forte does a quietly awesome job, with impeccable good manners, on her radio talk show “Justice” on Power 106 FM; Emily Crooks seeks out the truth every weekday morning on Nationwide News Network, and tweets up a storm (including on Arsenal match days!); the experienced Dionne Jackson Miller roots out stories and never misses a beat on RJR every evening; and former politician Sharon Hay Webster makes waves every morning on Newstalk 93 FM. Kudos to you all, ladies – keep enlightening us!
I must add kudos to the University of Technology: Since last year’s shameful episode on the UTech campus, in which security guards, egged on by a mob of students and others, beat an alleged homosexual, UTech has spearheaded an initiative to encourage tolerance and understanding among its student body. Dr. Rohan Lewis spoke about this at the JFJ Forum last week, and I believe that Dr. Rosalea Hamilton has been leading this charge; another Jamaican woman I have a lot of time for.
And VERY special kudos to a Jamaican playwright: Ms. Janet Morrison won the English as a first language category of the BBC World Service/British Council/Commonwealth Writers 23rd International Playwriting Competition. Her 55-minute radio play, “The Fisherman,” was aired on RJR this afternoon and can be heard here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p016tq12
More tragic loss last week. My condolences to ALL, and especially to the family of young Nario Coleman, who got involved in a classroom fight in Penwood High School.
Adolf Campbell, 48, Lyndhurst Road, Kingston
Michael Francis, Lyndhurst Road, Kingston
Unidentified, Lyndhurst Road, Kingston
Sgt. Courtney Simpson, Harbour View, Kingston
Nario Coleman, 16, Penwood High School, Olympic Gardens, Kingston
Kirkland Anderson, Bay Farm Road, Kingston
Hugh Campbell, 75, Manchester
Unidentified man, Lincoln, Manchester
Christopher Campbell, 41, Bog Walk, St. Catherine
Michael “Willy” Cole, 50, Victoria, St. Catherine
Unidentified man, Waterford, St. Catherine
Rainford McDonald, 50, Clarendon
Anthony Donaldson, 49, Four Paths, Clarendon
Mark Anderson, 30, Dean Pen, St. Mary
Chase Scarlett, 25, Alma District, Westmoreland
Robert Davis, 24, Alma District, Westmoreland
Killed by the police:
“Street Light,” Parry Town/Ocho Rios, St. Ann
Barrington McAnuff, St. James
By the way, there are some interesting local blog posts this week – in purple. Do take a read when you can, and comment – support Jamaican bloggers! And we bloggers do love comments…
http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/docs/pdf/Jamaica2012eng.pdf Inter American Commission on Human Rights Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Jamaica: http://www.oas.org
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130414/lead/lead1.html Five questions for Richard Azan: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130410/letters/letters2.html I wasn’t accusing Azan of political interference: Letter from Mayor of May Pen to the Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130410/cleisure/cleisure1.html PM should fire Azan: Gleaner editorial
http://delanoseiv.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/govt-minister-azan-in-your-face-corruption/ Government Minister Azan and in your face corruption? delanoseiv.wordpress.com
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llyUQGBwIhc&feature=youtu.be CVM Television Newswatch: April 13, 2013 including Minister Bunting’s comments
http://thecrooksofit.livejournal.com/1974.html In his own words: Peter Bunting: thecrooksofitlivejournal.com
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130414/lead/lead83.html I’m not done with Jamaica: Redwood: Sunday Gleaner
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-09/worst-western-hemisphere-currency-rout-prompts-jamaica-note-sale.html Worst Western Hemisphere currency rout prompts Jamaica note sale: bloomberg.com
http://digjamaica.com/blog/2013/04/12/chart-of-the-week-the-downward-streaking-nir-vs-the-sliding-jamaican-dollar/ Chart of the Week: The downward-streaking NIR vs the sliding Jamaican Dollar: diGJamaica.com
http://www.caribjournal.com/2013/04/13/bureaucracy-and-jamaican-growth/ Bureaucracy and Jamaican growth, by Dennis Chung: Carib Journal
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/ndx-wipes-out-j8-billion-of-national-insurance-fund NDX wipes out J$8 billion of National Insurance Fund: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130413/business/business1.html Jamaica can export agro expertise, says FAO: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/The-IMF-will-not-grow-our-economy-for-us_14029562 The IMF will not grow our economy for us: Jamaica Observer editorial
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/33565 Industry Minister and MSME stakeholders to discuss hub initiative: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-107/33566 MSMEs to benefit from $439 million government allocation to productive sector: Jamaica Information Service
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/flow-vows-to-combat-theft-of-its-installations Flow vows to combat theft of its installations: RJR News
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/police-probe-theft-of-batteries-from-solar-lighting-system-on-mandela-highway Police probe theft of batteries from solar lighting system on Mandela Highway: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130413/lead/lead1.html Businessman among three dead in gun attack: Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/bad-seeds-bankrupt-irish-potato-farmers-clarke Bad seeds bankrupt potato farmers – Clarke: RJR News
http://chatychaty.com/2013/04/wanton-behaviour-by-brazen-homos-cause-chaos-in-carnival-parade/ Wanton behavior by brazen homos cause (sic) chaos in carnival parade: chatychaty.com
http://jamaicajournal.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/gyrating-gays-spark-melee-throw-missiles-at-carnival/ Gyrating gays spark melee, throw missiles at carnival: jamaicajournal.wordpress.com
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130411/cleisure/cleisure3.html Hurling the first stone: Jaevion Nelson column/Gleaner
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130412/features/features1.html A country of hypocrites! Leighton Levy column/Jamaica Star
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130413/news/news5.html Jamaicans urged to be more vocal on human rights: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Wanted–Children-s-Advocates_14019480 Wanted: Children’s advocates: Alexis Goffe op-ed/Jamaica Observer
http://guardian.co.tt/news/2013-04-09/jamaica-complainant-immigration-matter-claims-sexual-assault Jamaica complainant in immigration matter claims sexual assault: Trinidad Guardian
http://www.caribjournal.com/2013/04/12/forbes-online-media-and-national-identity-in-jamaica/ Forbes: Online Media and National Identity in Jamaica: Carib Journal
http://constructedthoughts.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/in-defence-of-portia-a-supporter-speaks-out/ In defense of Portia: A supporter speaks out: Veritas blog
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/33555 No truth to report of Cabinet reshuffle: Jamaica Information Service
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130413/letters/letters1.html Letter of the Day: West End needs no noise: Gleaner
http://petchary.wordpress.com/2013/03/31/jamaica-is-party-central/ Jamaica is Party Central: petchary.wordpress.com
http://carolynjoycooper.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/vybz-kartels-book-for-cxc/ Vybz Kartel’s book for CXC: Carolynjoycooper.wordpress.com
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Major-quake-could-ruin-Palisadoes-Road_13979551 Major quake could ruin Palisadoes Road: Jamaica Observer
http://lowrie-chin.blogspot.com/2013/04/viv-logan-lives-on.html Viv Logan lives on: Lowrie-Chin.blogspot.com
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130413/lead/lead6.html Near-death experiences takes two ambulances to St. Ann’s Bay Hospital: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/westernnews/initiative-gets-underway-in-St-James_14038764 I-PLEDGE initiative gets underway in St. James: Jamaica Observer
A belated Happy Easter, everyone. Whatever it means to you, I hope it has been a good one.
Easter is a strange time for me. I usually miss chocolate Easter eggs, and daffodils and hot cross buns. Here in Jamaica it is a long weekend, a nice spring break, the weather’s getting hotter and party central is in full gear (see my previous blog post https://petchary.wordpress.com/2013/03/31/jamaica-is-party-central/). The religious among us, and there are many, make special trips to church. And we all eat lots of bun and cheese. In fact, I am eating a piece right now…
Bit of an odd mixture this week, but here goes…
- The shock: Good Friday got off to a terrible start with a murder in my neighborhood – just round the corner from our house. We were sleeping late and sadly unaware. Gregory Archer, a network engineer at Digicel, was shot while taking an early morning walk with his young son, and died later in hospital. His son was unharmed. For some reason, this tragedy was only reported by one radio station; the local media ignored it until three days later, even though it was discussed at length in the social media. I guess the “traditional” media has gone to sleep for Easter; after all, at least one broadcast journalist recently admitted that he didn’t know anything about Twitter, etc! Meanwhile, our “upscale” uptown semi-residential neighborhood is not, for me, a safe place to walk any more. How very sad. And media, please wake up. A reader on the Jamaica Observer website alleges that other murders, especially in the Bog Walk area of St. Catherine, have not been reported. He mentioned a particular murder last Thursday night. Explanations are needed, I think.
- The prior actions: I’m rather worried about this. Can we have a list of them? If Jamaica has fulfilled all of them – something which our Finance Minister has mentioned several times – then why hasn’t the agreement being signed? I am sure I am missing something, and wish I really understood what is going on in the grinding saga of the International Monetary Fund. I cannot imagine what Minister Phillips’ blood pressure must be like.
- Surprise! Minister Phillips conceded that, contrary to his predictions/hopes/assurances, a formal deal with the IMF was not going to happen by the end of March, after all. I realize that he is now making lots of statements, in his efforts to keep us updated; the Jamaican public had earlier complained about lack of details. But we are now…confused. Or is it just me?
- Mum PM: Meanwhile, our Prime Minister is saying almost nothing about anything, except for the occasional exhortation for us all to be united. Oh, I think she cut another ribbon last week.
- A bit of a dig: I see that former senator and People’s National Party stalwart Delano Franklyn, in an article in the Sunday Observer, goes out of his way to takes quite a vicious dig at a media house that had the temerity to criticize the recent Government retreat. Mr Franklyn notes that said media house owes lots of taxes.
- The dilemma: Our Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Dr. Wykeham McNeill, appears to be on the horns of one. The horns are the two different parts of his portfolio. On the one hand, he wants to improve the reportedly flagging tourism figures. On the other hand, he wants to keep his constituents in the tourist resort of Negril happy. But the tourists are not too pleased with the decibel level in Negril, according to a CVM Television report a few days ago; they have been complaining. It appears that local promoters are allowed to go on after the legal 2:00 a.m., with special permission. Now the Minister tells us that he has made some proposals to change the Noise Abatement Act. In a CVM interview (the link is below) he says: “We have to find a balance,” and that he wants to “regularize” the situation. We shall see how this turns out. It’s a tricky one!
- Those scammers: Last week, the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force (MOCA), which sounds like a cup of coffee, made some arrests in Montego Bay. Once again, we saw “high-end vehicles” that had been seized, etc. As the anti-lottery scam legislation has only just been passed, I wonder if any charges are going to be made, and whether they will stick.
- As predicted: The group of Haitians and fellow CARICOM nationals who arrived on our shores recently were “processed” (finger-printed like criminals) and shipped straight back last week. I told you so.
- Mi Happy (again): The Jamaica Tourist Board has regrettably brought out another video with the man from Minnesota (the VW ad). This is really milking it. You can find the link below, and well… It’s actually not as painful as the first one. What are your thoughts, dear readers?
- Mi Not Happy: With the weather. In eastern Jamaica, a bridge was washed away and hundreds stranded for a day or two by a swollen river after heavy rains. On the other side of the island, in Kingston at least, barely a drop has fallen. Mi wasn’t happy, either, with the long power cut on Saturday that affected almost the entire island. It seems that, on the energy front too, something’s got to give. The Jamaica Public Service Company is still awaiting word on its latest expansion proposal from the Government. What is really happening on energy, especially the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project? I’m confused, again. Meanwhile, financial analyst Dennis Chung tweeted that he is basically off the grid and did not suffer… Sensible man, went for solar power.
- The patriarchy strikes back: Roman Catholic deacon Peter Espeut, a “human rights advocate,” responded in somewhat heavy-handed fashion to fellow Gleaner columnist Jaevion Nelson’s column advocating for a change in the abortion laws. Well, Mr. Espeut is Roman Catholic, so we might expect that he would be anti-abortion. But it is a patronizing put-down (“Young Jaevion needs to put a little more balance in his writing, and his editors should guide him”!) of a bright, forward-thinking activist, who is trying to find solutions. Mr. Espeut concludes: “Thank God Jaevion Nelson is not typical of Jamaican young people, or I would despair where our beloved country might end up.” So that’s “young Jaevion” put in his place, good and proper. He’s not typical, Mr. Espeut claims; and since he is not, we can dismiss his opinions. Mr. Espeut says he works with young people, and I trust they are subservient.
- “From Coral Gardens to Tivoli Gardens”: The Rastafarian community last week marched through downtown Kingston to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of a violent incident in Coral Gardens, Montego Bay on Holy Thursday, 1963. At that time, Rastafarians suffered from widespread discrimination and abuse from the police force and general public. But the march (seeking compensation for Rastafarian elders who are still suffering, and an apology from the Government) was about more than the Coral Gardens injustice. It was about the human rights situation in Jamaica right here and now (the quote above was from a placard I saw held up). According to one participant, the actual theme was “Outrage against an unjust Justice system; Landlesness; Police Brutality” - it was never just a “Rasta thing” as some media characterized it. ”The people reach the stage where the State a do what dem used to do to Rastafari to dem,” said poet/activist Mutabaruka at the group’s rally in Half Way Tree. In other words, if they come for me in the morning, they will come for you in the evening.
- Fairness: In a comment on a recent blog post of mine, a fellow-blogger discussed “equality” when I was talking about “equity.” Of course, they are not the same thing at all. I recommend to you a column by Lawrence Powell of World Watch in yesterday’s Sunday Gleaner (link below), in which the writer makes an apposite comment: “It looks like [Minister] Omar [Davies] and the People’s National Party (PNP) will find themselves going against the grain of popular sentiment if they assume shared sacrifice is politically irrelevant, and that the perceived disparities between treatment of privileged and underprivileged groups are “frivolous”, and don’t matter.” Against the grain, indeed, and the tide of popular opinion.
- Poster comeback: So glad to see that overseas-based Jamaican Michael Thompson has launched the second annual International Reggae Poster Competition 2013. The theme is: Toward a Reggae Hall of Fame: Celebrating Great Jamaican Music. Deadline is April 21. More details at http://www.reggaepostercontest.com. Really hope the Reggae Hall of Fame comes to fruition, some time in the near future. And I really hope we will get more Jamaican entries this time!
- Yummy postscript: Drop by the Tea Tree Creperie (in my ‘hood) for delicious nibbles, including homemade hummus with fresh-baked pesto pita chips! http://www.teatreecreperie.com
- Good work: The Jamaica 50 Photo Album was a really good product from the Jamaica Information Service, and I am glad it has won an award in the U.S. I bought a few items for friends and family at home in the UK last year… Their favorites though were the Jamaica 50 glasses!
I am sick and tired of posting this sad list of names every week. But I don’t want us to forget those Jamaicans, young and old, who have lost their lives – and the grieving families and friends they leave behind, week after week. My condolences to them all. By the way, a comment following the online report on Gregory Archer’s death noted that several murders have gone unreported in local media, including that of Kirk
Vivian Grant, 29, Waltham Park Road, Kingston
Unidentified, Lopez/Bryden Streets, Kingston
Gregory Archer, 33, Upper Montrose Road/Vale Royal, Kingston
Unidentified man, Ferry, St. Andrew
Korine Bailey, 43, Linstead, St. Catherine
Sheldon Pennant, 38, Linstead, St. Catherine
Unidentified, Lennox Bigwoods/Darliston, Westmoreland
District Constable Brian Gray, 32, Mount Salem, St. James
Maxine Campbell, 37, Green Island, Hanover
Cornel Grizzle, 46, Comfort Hall, Trelawny
Beres Thompson, 32, Victoria Town, Manchester
Killed by police:
Basil Blackwood, 27, Spanish Town, St. Catherine
Unidentified man, Westport/Portmore, St. Catherine
Unidentified man, Texton Road, Kingston 14
Related articles (Local blogs are in purple):
http://digjamaica.com/blog/2013/03/25/chart-of-the-week-number-of-persons-fatal-shootings-by-the-police/ Chart: Number of fatal shootings by the police: diGJamaica.com
http://petchary.wordpress.com/2013/03/31/jamaica-is-party-central/ Jamaica is Party Central: petchary.wordpress.com
http://petchary.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/exclusion-versus-empowerment/ Exclusion versus empowerment: petchary.wordpress.com
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Gregory-Archer-s-wife-a-broken-woman_13980114 Gregory Archer’s wife a broken woman: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130327/cleisure/cleisure2.html Only in this country! George Davis column/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130330/letters/letters1.html Salvaging what’s left of Jamaica: Letter to the Editor/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130331/cleisure/cleisure1.html The next act against the scammers: Sunday Gleaner editorial
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/The-Cabinet-retreat-and-the-country-s-economic-challenges_13970514 The Cabinet retreat and the country’s economic challenges: Delano Franklyn op-ed/Sunday Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130331/focus/focus4.html Trust deficit: Government, IMF and Haiti: Orville Taylor column/Sunday Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Is-Jamaica-destined-to-be-poor-forever_13962991 Is Jamaica destined to be poor forever? Mark Wignall column/Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130328/cleisure/cleisure2.html Terminating pregnancies should be legal: Jaevion Nelson column/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130330/cleisure/cleisure4.html Advocating youth responsibility: Peter Espeut column/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Contraceptives-in-schools–Let-s-at-least-discuss-it_13941256 Contraceptives in schools? Let’s at least discuss it: Jamaica Observer editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=43689 NDX2 or PEX? GraceKennedy confirms participation: Gleaner
http://delanoseiv.wordpress.com/2013/03/27/peter-phillips-the-imf-must-read-t-h-i-n-k-jamaica/ Peter Phillips and the IMF: delanoseiv.wordpress.com
http://www.caribjournal.com/2013/03/25/construction-on-trinidad-barbados-gas-pipeline-could-begin-next-year/ Construction on Trinidad-Barbados gas pipeline could begin next year: Carib Journal
http://www.caribjournal.com/2013/03/27/op-ed-bringing-google-to-jamaica/ Op-ed: Bringing Google to Jamaica: Carib Journal
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=43706 Nurses await further discussions on wage claims: Gleaner
http://www.cvmtv.com/videos_1.php?id=985§ion=watch CVM Television report on noise nuisance in Negril (10 minutes into newscast)
http://www.cvmtv.com/videos_1.php?id=987§ion=watch CVM Television report on Tourism Minister’s response to noise complaints (17 minutes into newscast)
http://soundclash.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/party-circuit/ Party circuit: soundclash.wordpress.com
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130327/lead/lead5.html Two mobile licenses to be put on auction – Paulwell: Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/33339 Foreign Minister wants rethinking of treatment of middle income countries: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/33358 Access to information progress lauded: Jamaica Information Service
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/thirty-three-haitians-to-be-transported-home-today Thirty-three Haitians to be transported home today: RJR News
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Let-peace-reign_13964282b West Kingston residents decry deadly power struggle among criminals: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/No-longer-just-a-Rasta-thing_13974690 No longer just a Rasta thing: Claude Robinson op-ed/Sunday Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130330/lead/lead1.html Police to charge popular sports personality after Montego Bay raids: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130327/lead/lead8.html ”Woeful lack of leadership”: Gleaner
http://www.caribjournal.com/2013/03/07/women-and-the-jamaican-work-force/ Women and the Jamaican work force: Marcia Forbes op-ed/Carib Journal
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130326/ent/ent4.html Flow, Jamaicans happy with Earth Hour concert: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130330/letters/letters4.html Wake up and smell the smog! Letter to the Editor/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/NWC-to-address-city-s-sewer-problems_13894839 NWC to address city’s sewer problems: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Tamarind-and-beetroot-shine–but-what-happens-after-_13975042 Tamarind and beetroot shine, but what happens after? Joan Francis op-ed/Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=43739 Kingston, St. Andrew, St. Thomas worst hit by drought: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=43749 Belvedere residents remain cut off: Gleaner
- Jamaica is Party Central (petchary.wordpress.com)
- Exclusion versus Empowerment (petchary.wordpress.com)
- My Birthday: Sunday, March 24, 2013 (petchary.wordpress.com)
Boom boom! Thump thump! Amplified screeches, wails and shouts fill the air.
Jamaica is a noisy country, I think most of us would agree. But the noise is not that of production – machines whirring, factories under construction, people hurrying to and from work.
No, this is the sound of revelry; the clamor of partying. And we take our fun seriously.
I know – you are going to accuse me of being “miserable” - in Jamaican parlance, a killjoy, a wet blanket. But I like parties, too! I have a loud voice, my father often told me (he who had an even louder one). I like music; my dancing skills are barely adequate, but I try. And having grown up on a diet of rock music (I once went to a Led Zeppelin concert and my ears rang for a week afterwards) I do know what loud music is all about. But I don’t recall it being inflicted on the entire neighborhood, much. The music festivals I attended were usually in a muddy field with inadequate sanitary arrangements, miles from anywhere; and the concerts were in cavern-like town halls and old converted cinemas, even warehouses.
But hey, “It’s our culture,” I hear you cry. Yes, and other cultures have their festivals and celebrations, too. The Carnival of Venice, for example, dates back to the twelfth century. New Orleans has its Mardi Gras. When I was in Japan, I discovered all sorts of odd little festivals (omatsuri) – there was one in every small town and in fact one at every shrine, too. Never a dull moment. But let’s keep it in proportion, shall we? In Jamaica, it has become an obsession.
And I do know it to be true that Jamaica has far more to offer in terms of culture than braying into microphones at all hours of the day and night, consuming large amounts of alcohol and marijuana, and standing around dressed up to the nines in short shorts.
This is all replicated on our local television sets daily, by the way. The two major local stations believe that their demographic in prime time (holidays, weekends, evenings) is primarily aged fourteen to twenty-four years (maybe older), with an insatiable appetite for dancehall music. I suppose the videos of women with gyrating backsides must come cheap, along with the lame re-runs of eighties/nineties American network series I have never heard of. Jamaicans not in this niche audience need to find something else. Thank God for cable television.
Another argument goes something like this: Well, poor people – they don’t have anything else in their lives. They need something to relieve the stress (how patronizing is that!) So let them inflict a cacophony of noise until five in the morning on the rest of the populace – the sick, the elderly and people who are just tired and need their sleep.
I’d suggest that one way of relieving the stress of our urban (and rural) poor might be to offer them decent job opportunities – work! Then they would have to get to bed earlier so they could get up in time to go to their place of employment. How about that? Similarly, we are told that these dances (where, if you are lucky, two or three people actually dance and the others stand around and watch) generate income for the community. People sell stuff (local drug dealers included) and they depend on these parties for their income. But these are mostly hustling; again, if they had an actual job to go to… etc, etc.
Having said that, partying does seem to be big business in Jamaica – along with the security industry (armed guards, ferocious dogs etc) and funeral homes. You can’t go wrong. “Promoters” have clout – even with politicians and the police. Politicians and police often support the promoters of noise. And it is by no means a “working class” phenomenon – although that is the wrong euphemism really, as they mostly aren’t working. The middle-class embrace the partying whole-heartedly. Academics praise it as if it is some hallowed space, wherein meaningful social interactions take place. I suppose that is the men rubbing their hips up against women’s hips part; or the fights over who steps on who’s toe, or who has stolen who’s girlfriend/boyfriend. And the middle classes love to have their photo in the newspaper – on the ubiquitous, daily “social pages.” They pretend to be embarrassed when they appear on those pages of partygoers, but they are not, really. It shows they are serious party people.
Partying is cool, and don’t you dare say anything different, or it insults our culture. The noise must go on, no matter what. It is sacrosanct.
It seems some of our visitors aren’t so keen, though. A small hotelier in Negril interviewed on television (with a loud thumping noise in the background) said his guests frequently complain about the non-stop noise in that tourist resort. Whenever they complain to the tour operator, the operator has to compensate the guest, and then deducts money from his payment to the hotel. So he, a Jamaican small business owner, is actually losing money because of noise.
But, I am told, why should tourists expect special treatment? Well, tourism is still our biggest earner of foreign exchange, last time I checked; and there is currently a reported shortage in that department. We sure aren’t exporting anything much, although we try. Whether we like it or not, we do depend on the tourists’ approval.
Well, if they don’t like noise they can go to one of those little quiet islands, I am told; Jamaica is the fun island. Yes, they can; and they likely will after several sleepless nights in a row, taking their dollars and euros with them. Can we remind ourselves that these tourists are mostly working people who like to sunbathe, read a book on their lounger in the sun (yes, you have seen them), take a dip in the sea and eat and sleep a lot. They are tired and stressed and want to rest and relax. Constant noise is not relaxing?
But, don’t these tourists come here for the exciting fun of “Brand Jamaica”? Most of them, the small hotelier asserts, do not go to local dances/parties – 99 per cent of the revelers are locals. If we do only want the fun-and-excitement-loving tourists, then we could abandon the hard-working ones with lots of foreign currency in their pockets. We could seek to attract more of the travelers who think Jamaica is some kind of ganja heaven; and that sex with a “rent-a-dread” is somehow more thrilling than with dull, pale-skinned boys at home (my apologies to the Rastafarian brethren and sistren who may be reading this – I am talking about those fake ones that we know so well).
Talking of “Brand Jamaica” (a phrase that government tourism officials are very fond of, but the rest of us are uncertain what it actually is)… We do, of course, have our very own Minister of Partying. He is the Hon. Damian Crawford, who is State Minister in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, with responsibility for the Entertainment part. Well, he is young, has a nice big smile and dreadlocks. I like Damian. And he is certainly having lots of fun in his job, while working to make changes to the Noise Abatement Act. There is no abating likely any time soon. The reverse, I am afraid, is lurking on the horizon.
So I would recommend to tourists who don’t want their eardrums assaulted that they avoid populated areas and especially, the coastline. Where there is a beach, there is noise.
Perhaps the worst thing about the partying is that it is all so mindlessly boring. It is all the same, over and over again. The same jumping up and down, drinking out of plastic cups, displaying of one’s body parts. It builds to a frenzy around public holidays; this is the noisiest Easter weekend we have had for some time. There’s Christmas, and then there’s the entire summer… and so on. But it is all the same. If you have been to one of these parties, you have been to them all.
I have also been told that this is part of our “creative industries.” Well, how about doing something really creative, really different. Let’s educate our people, and provide jobs for them.
Then, on their days off, they can party to their hearts’ content, and with money in their pockets.