This month has started with a kind of numbing heat. Kingston nights are hot and dark; the days are hot and bright. Those annoying birds, the grackles have brought some screeching offspring into our yard. I chase them away, and it seems to make me feel better.
First things first…The PM is anxious about our athletes’ health: Remember now, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller is Minister of Sport. She must also be Minister of Defence, but national security is of lesser importance, I guess. Before taking a few days’ vacation, the PM met with a large group of people (you can see some of them sitting round the table in the photo below, which doesn’t even show all of them) to discuss the burning issue of a wellness center for our athletes. Top priority – not child abuse, children in lock-ups, crime and violence, the crisis in education, our failing health system, our failing justice system, the economy…
But the Reggae Boyz… Our national football team is now sadly on life support after its third consecutive defeat in Honduras last night. Moreover, our coach, former player Theodore Whitmore, has resigned. The “Road to Rio” - our World Cup campaign – seems to have faded beneath our feet. Several rather unkind memes have circulated online. I will not rub salt in the wounds by reproducing them here. Fact is, we cannot just throw together a team made up of mostly second- or third-tier overseas-based players. We need a serious national football training program.
Those trips again: I am glad that Opposition Senator Robert Montague stood up and asked a number of questions about yet another trip that I may not even have mentioned: the journey of Mayor of Kingston Angela Brown Burke and her entourage, including Local Government Minister Noel Arscott and various assistants, down to the good old continent of Africa. This is quite separate from the Prime Minister’s excursion (no report card yet, Madam Prime Minister? And yes, we know about the “teachers to Tanzania” concept. Apart from that). Since the good Senator has formally tabled questions, I hope he will get proper answers. The Mayor et al went first to Uganda and then down to South Africa, I understand.
Dollars nah run: My favorite minister Phillip Paulwell wants more people to apply for the (barely) “single-digit” interest rate energy loans. Amazing that 9.5% is considered a really low interest rate in Jamaica, isn’t it? I think that everyone’s running away from getting themselves into more debt at the moment. What does my economic guru Ralston Hyman have to say about this? I will have to listen in to his morning radio program to find out. Confidence in markets is everything. I learnt that during my years in the financial sector. Once it is gone…dawg nyam yuh supper.
And time a-wasting: A great report in today’s Gleaner notes the irritation of employers with the huge chunks taken out of their employees’ working days while they wait in line at banks and government agencies (the two prime culprits, but there are others). Yes indeed folks, in Jamaica you can wait up to two hours for service in a bank, in the middle of the day when you should be back at your workplace. It is utterly ridiculous. I know of one financial institution that my husband and I jokingly call the “sleepy place.” There is a large waiting area – rows of chairs, where customers regularly doze off while waiting. And no matter how many customers they have, there is almost always only one person to serve them. It’s an insult and it is a serious deterrent to productivity.
Oh, and no money for disasters? About two months or more ago (I will have to look it up) I mentioned in a blog post that there was absolutely no mention of budgeting for disaster preparedness. When I raised the issue, someone muttered something about help from overseas. So if we do get hit by a hurricane this year then we can always turn to these kind donors and say “help”? Now the Local Government Minister tells us that “it is apparent that the (National Disaster Fund) is not adequate…” God help us if a disaster hits. I don’t know who else will.
So now gays are “uncontrollable”: You’ve heard about the “uncontrollable” girls, such as those at the Armadale Juvenile Correctional Centre (and elsewhere) who are locked up because their parents (mothers) can’t cope with them. Well, the Jamaica Observer is now describing a small group of homeless young men who have occupied an abandoned house in an upscale area of Kingston as “uncontrollable.” Is it that any group of Jamaicans (young ones) who don’t behave “normally” is uncontrollable? These two groups have something in common: seriously marginalized. At least the newspaper tried to get a more balanced picture this time – actually speaking to J-FLAG and to the police – plus a so-called caretaker at the house.
I’m not very impressed… by radio journalist George Davis’ column in today’s Gleaner. He is trying to be too clever. But I do not think it particularly clever to refer to “a man who presents the major evening newscasts for one of our two major television stations” as homosexual. Why do that to a fellow journalist? Of course, no names mentioned but please!! It’s just tacky.
The meaning of service: The image many of us have of U.S. college fraternities is one of heavy-drinking, partying, crazy students. However, there is another side to fraternities: a tradition of service to others. The photograph below and the blog it comes from epitomizes the “giving back” that these fraternity brothers (Delta Upsilon) from several different colleges and universities are engaged in during a recent trip to Jamaica. The students are refurbishing a school in Westmoreland; I must find out which one. The contribution of these “farriners” - like the ongoing medical missions from overseas – is often greatly under-estimated. OK, I am sure these boys had fun in Negril too – but they also gave their time and energy, freely, to the children of Jamaica. They could have been sitting on their couches at home watching TV. I wish more young Jamaicans would catch on to the power of volunteerism. It is better to give than receive…
Word of the week: “Committed.” I think we (especially any government agency) should give this word a rest. It means “we’re going to do something but we haven’t done it yet. But yes, we think it’s a really good thing and a great idea. But…Not just yet.” Just read a Jamaica Information Service report: “Government committed to the elimination of child labor.” How? When?
And big ups to:
The U.S. Peace Corps volunteers: Since we are talking about service… Below you will find a link to the blog of one volunteer in Jamaica, who is living and working in rural St. Thomas, up in the mountains. The U.S. Peace Corps has been doing great work in Jamaica since Independence.
Ms. Virtue…: I met Ms. Erica Virtue quite a few years ago. I remember bumping into her in the Gleaner newsroom when visiting that worthy media house; and many rambling telephone chats. I have always had a healthy respect for her feisty, often provocative style. Now Erica is doing a weekly video commentary piece on the newspaper’s website, called “Erica’s Edge.“ I love it, and Erica’s biting and sometimes brutal humor. She may rub people up the wrong way sometimes – but she’s a journalist, not a shrinking violet…
…and Mr. Henry: When I first spoke to Darien Henry many years ago, he was an enthusiastic community-based reporter for Irie FM in Ocho Rios. I told him what a splendid radio voice he has. Now, it seems, he is putting pen to paper – or rather, fingers to keyboard. He has written a sensible column on education reform in the Gleaner. I look forward to more from the affable Mr. Henry.
Isle Chixx: Jamaicans eat chicken like there’s no tomorrow, and a relatively new local firm is doing well. They do Cornish hens. Managing Director Alex Antaeus will be opening a Greek restaurant in Kingston soon – so we can start eating healthier!
The Ministry of Justice: For posting the draft terms of reference for the upcoming Commission of Enquiry into the Tivoli Gardens massacre online for all to see. This kind of transparency and public consultation is laudable and I don’t believe this has been done with previous enquiries. You can find the discussion draft at http://www.moj.gov.jm/sites/default/files/pdf/Discussion%20Draft.pdf And you should submit your comments in writing to the Ministry not later than Friday, June 21.
And talking of consultations, I just returned from a complex, lengthy public consultation on the boundaries to the precious Cockpit Country in western Jamaica. More on that in a later blog.
The following Jamaicans have lost their lives violently in the past three days. I extend my condolences, as always, to the grieving families and friends who are left behind:
Errol Irwin, 57, Bog Walk, St. Catherine
Millar Bowen, 43, Bodles Research Station, St. Catherine
Rohan Clarke, 28, Cambridge, St. James
O’Neil Clarke, 34, Stettin, Trelawny
Unnamed infant, Stettin, Trelawny
Killed by police:
Davion Gordon, downtown Kingston
Okeen Edwards, 19, Greendale/Spanish Town, St. Catherine
Related links and articles:
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-117/34209 PM wants swift action on wellness center for athletes: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Montague-questions-Local-Govt-trip-to-Africa-in-May Montague questions local government trip to Africa in May: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Security-costing-taxpayers-million–for-ruined-Goodyear-factory_14447506 Security costing taxpayers millions for ruined Goodyear factory: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Ruined-Sligoville-Stadium-to-be-rescued–says-Neita-Headley_14435373 Ruined Sligoville Stadium to be rescued, says Neita-Headley: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130612/lead/lead1.html Bosses seeing red! Long wait in lines keeping their workers off the job: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130612/lead/lead3.html Tick, tick, tick: Jamaicans lose valuable production hours standing in line: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130612/lead/lead5.html Not enough money in the country’s hurricane coffers: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130610/lead/lead9.html ”I love UTech, but no”: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130611/cleisure/cleisure1.html Dr. Phillips must hold his nerve: Gleaner editorial
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/100-to-1–makes-sense-_14465183 100 to 1, makes sense? Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/More-takers-needed-for-energy-loans_14471505 More takers needed for energy loans: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130610/lead/lead1.html AJ, know your role: private sector fires back at Nicholson after “trade bickering” comments: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130610/news/news1.html Jamaica, China dreaming together: op-ed by Chinese Ambassador to Jamaica Zheng Qingdian: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130610/letters/letters2.html CARICOM an old boys’ club: Letter to the Editor from Joan Williams/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Why-we-are-glad—-and-mad-_14451547 Why we are glad – and mad! Jean Lowrie-Chin column/Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130610/news/news5.html Mass exodus! Senator warns teachers may leave in droves: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130611/cleisure/cleisure3.html Pay teachers better, then hold bar higher: Darien Henry column/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130611/lead/lead5.html More teachers than vacancies: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130610/cleisure/cleisure1.html Look at New York, Mr. Thwaites: Gleaner editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130611/lead/lead1.html Free health fallout: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Don-t-touch-it-_14451904 Don’t touch it! say Negril residents: Jamaica Observer
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/commissioner-of-police-knew-of-plans-to-settle-bribery-case-says-witness Commissioner of Police knew of plans to settle bribery case, says witness: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130610/cleisure/cleisure3.html Use human rights to save us: Garth Rattray column/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/J-FLAG-denies-abandoning-homeless-gay-men_14447331 J-FLAG denies abandoning homeless gay men: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130612/cleisure/cleisure4.html Those slow to accept gays are not evil: George Davis column/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=45647 Government invites comments on draft terms of reference for Tivoli enquiry: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130610/cleisure/cleisure2.html Judges can’t bail out cops: Peter Champagnie op-ed/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/High-hopes-for-Diaspora-conference_14464778 High hopes for diaspora conference: Jamaica Observer
http://wellreadrobin.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/the-sheltered-ones-are-not-yet-born/ The sheltered ones are not yet born: wellreadrobin.wordpress.com
http://aprilspeacecorpsblog.com/2013/06/10/life-in-the-valley/ Life in the Valley: April’s Peace Corps blog.com
http://deltaupsilon.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/gsi-jamaica-why-i-am-a-du/ GSI Jamaica: Why I am a DU: deltaupsilon.wordpress.com
Jamaica is bleeding. I feel it is not only the blood seeping from the veins of those who have been murdered by their fellow citizens – including the police. It is the slow and exhausting drip, drip, drip of life-giving energy from the country. Since I wrote my mid-week update on June 5, I have had a growing sense of this. Maybe it’s the increasing heat of early summer that’s getting to me.
Dead children: The Director of UNICEF in Jamaica, Robert Fuderich, is a forthright man – which I love. He gave a speech this week, expressing distress at the murder and abuse of Jamaican children. So, the head of UNICEF is upset. So are many Jamaicans, by the way. Is the Prime Minister upset, one wonders? She is a woman who, as I have said before, has often expressed her love of children in speeches. Could she have made a statement about the recent shocking murders? Even that? Better still, could she have visited the families and the communities affected, to grieve with them and to express her condolences? I am not demanding that Portia Simpson Miller responds in every case, but a nice appropriate public gesture would have been good. Too late now, by the way.
…and neglected: The National Road Safety Council is expressing deep concern at a huge (400%) increase in child pedestrian fatalities on the road this year. But this does not surprise me. Yesterday, the Gleaner’s front page story reported that children are being dumped on other people to look after, etc. As if this is news? Why don’t we realize that children aren’t adults. They are vulnerable.
Where is the Prime Minister? Have we seen or heard from her since her return from Africa? I have scoured the Jamaica Information Service pages, looked under the Office of the Prime Minister – and find nothing at all that relates to her. Has she made any speeches? Maybe I missed something. No ribbon-cuttings or ground-breakings? Is she sick? Is she on vacation? (I am not trying to start rumors – just trying to explore possible explanations).
Women suffering too: You may have noticed that women are murdered every week. Whatever the motivation – sometimes a jealous lover, other times gang violence – it is becoming increasingly common. I remember when the murder of a woman was a shocking and unusual occurrence – now it’s commonplace. The Jamaica Observer’s Karyl Walker (whom I have criticized recently) wrote a very painful report in today’s newspaper about a young woman who has ended up on the street, abused and unwanted. Can someone please help?
And talking of trips: I know, I am obsessed. As I asked in my last bulletin, what actually took place in Africa? What did the Prime Minister and her large delegation achieve? Since we paid J$8.6 million for the trip, I am still hoping for a report card. But it’s been two weeks or so since they all came home, laden with souvenirs no doubt. So, I don’t hold out much hope. Now, we understand that our amiable Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke will soon be off to China, with a small delegation, at the invitation of the Chinese Government (hopefully the Chinese are paying, so taxpayers don’t need to dig into their pockets again for this one).
Dusting off the begging bowl: Meanwhile, the Finance Minister has just returned from a trip round Europe - he might have to wait for the flood waters to subside, though. I am afraid he may end up getting us into deeper debt (although Europe is not exactly flush with funds at the moment). It’s just a thought, but if we are going for growth rather than plunging ourselves into deeper debt, perhaps a trade and investment team, with a few private sector representatives, would have been be smarter? He has at least commented on the trip, though. See below.
Psychological barrier: On Friday morning word went out that the J$ had reached 100/US$1. It closed slightly above. A collective shudder went through the Twittersphere and radio talk shows. This is the end, we all declared – or the beginning of the end. In theory, of course, the devaluation might benefit us by making exports cheaper. Oh, but…We’re not exporting anything are we? Where is the Jamaica Exporters’ Association? Long time, no hear.
Elusive growth: As Dr. Damien King, economics prof and head of our local think tank CaPRI tweeted a few days ago, “The average growth rate of the world’s poor countries over the last decade was 6%, cutting worldwide poverty by half during that time.” But again – that doesn’t apply to Jamaica, does it? We can’t manage any growth at all, at the moment. None in sight; and more worryingly, no clear strategy for growth.
“We don’t want INDECOM, we want outcome!” The police killed five people, since I last wrote, and in the space of a little over 24 hours. This was the cry of one resident – which made me laugh a little, as Jamaicans have such a way with words. But very serious too. I know that the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) is working as hard as it can but is hampered (by very late police reports, for example) – but can’t blame people for getting impatient.
Another twist: You may be tired of hearing about this saga by now, but just to let you know that Doran “mongrel dog” Dixon is back in the race for the presidency of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, who have changed their mind and allowed him to run, after all. Meanwhile Mr. Paul “cocaine injection” Adams is not suffering any ill effects (he’s not running, anyway). I only hope that a sensible woman is elected to the presidency. I am tired of the male egos…
Earth matters: You know I am a big fan of CVM Television’s “Live at Seven.” I am glad that the program turned its attention to a whole bunch of niggling environmental issues that are not going to go away – the beach at Negril, for example.
Untouchable Usain: Some of my tweeps have been following the French Open tennis tournament, and were thrilled to see our very own Usain Bolt presenting the trophy to Rafal Nadal. I was a bit surprised. I thought it was usually rather dull officials (or royalty in the case of Wimbledon) who did this. The spotlight is supposed to be on the winner of the trophy – not on the presenter. I am told that Bolt is a “celebrity” so it is acceptable, and we are all proud of his achievements. But celebrities have a habit of popping up all over the place, like Kim Kardashian. I just thought it inappropriate, and upset several people on my Twitter timeline by suggesting that it was. Don’t get me wrong – I love Usain as much as anyone and have often praised him in my blog, but I don’t want it to get to the point where people say, “Oh no – not him again!” whenever he makes an appearance. He is worth more than that.
Still so much good things to say about…
- Dr Jean Beaumont, who has been doing great work as head of the USAID/Jamaica Basic Education Project. What could be more important than reading?
- Health writer Eulalee Thompson, who has a new blog and a new consulting practice. Find her at http://kingstontherapist.wordpress.com.
- Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater, who delivered a terrific speech on women’s leadership at the University of the West Indies‘ Faculty of Law on Thursday evening. I couldn’t make it, but hear the place was packed. I do have a copy of the speech, which I intend to post on this blog shortly.
- Dr. Rosalea Hamilton for her piece on nine-day wonders – with specific reference to the Richard Azan/Spaldings shops issue. Dr. Hamilton concludes, “It is time we move beyond complaining about our situation and seriously press for governance that is accountable to the people of this country.” Make your voice heard and put some pressure on.
- The Jamaica Medical Mission. We do tend to take this almost continuous stream of visiting medical teams, mostly from the United States, for granted. They often pay their way and sacrifice their vacations etc. to come over here and help Jamaicans who simply cannot afford to access our public health system. They are absolutely marvelous. I know the Jamaicans whom they treat appreciate their work; I hope the rest of us do, too. (This group of 157 doctors, nurses etc comes over every year and will treat at least 3,000 indigent Jamaicans).
- Nice to see an interesting report by environmental reporter Petre Williams-Raynor, now with the Gleaner. Check out her attractive blog, too. By the way, public consultations on the boundaries of our precious Cockpit Country are still ongoing. There is one in Kingston this week – I must check details.
- The Gleaner for two things: Firstly, its editorials have really hit the nail on the head in the past week. It’s worth reading them all. Secondly, on Friday evening its continuous, accurate tweeting of the World Cup qualifying match between Jamaica and the United States was streets ahead of the competition. Sprinkled, too, with marvelous photos from one of my favorite photogs, Mr. Ricardo Makyn. See a couple of the photos below…Hats off!
Petchary’s Pet Hate of the Week: Mosquitoes are plaguing us. Thank God for the electrifying plastic tennis racket – or the zapper, as it’s called in our house.
Petchary’s Quote of the Week: “Children are not just the future, they are the present” – Robert Fuderich, Director, UNICEF Jamaica.
The tragedies continue. Each Jamaican’s death is a tragedy for the families, friends. The following Jamaicans have died violently just in the past FOUR days:
Sophia Smith, 47, Mandeville, Manchester
Dwight Robinson, 28, Seaview Gardens, Kingston
Jerome Anthony Gooden, 33, Seaview Gardens, Kingston
Ricardo Lawes, 28, Seaview Gardens, Kingston
Omar Smith, 32, Seaview Gardens, Kingston
Killed by police:
Unidentified man, Kitson Town, St. Catherine
Junior Guy, Waterloo Villas/Tredegar Park, St. Catherine
André Ledgister, Waterloo Villas/Tredegar Park, St. Catherine
Kemar Thompson, Waterloo Villas/Tredegar Park, St. Catherine
Jevon Reid, 21, Granville, Trelawny
Related links and articles:
World Environment Day: June 5, 2013 (petchary.wordpress.com)
http://thinkjamaica.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/thanksgiving-service-for-the-jamaican-dollar-will-be-held-at/ Thanksgiving service for the Jamaican Dollar will be held at… ThinkJamaica.wordpress.com
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130607/news/news2.html “Jamaica debt burden a threat to human development” – UNDP: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130609/lead/lead1.html ”Don’t panic over sliding dollar”: Gleaner
Final chance for Jamaica, says Financial Times (commonsenseja.wordpress.com)
http://www.jis.gov.jm/component/content/article/111-ministry-of-science-technology-energy-and-mining/34169-minister-paulwell-urges-jamaicans-to-access-energy-fund- Minister Paulwell urges Jamaicans to access energy fund: Jamaica Information Service
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130607/business/business2.html Port divestment proceeds to dredge Kingston Harbour: Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/34162 Minister Hylton sets record straight on logistics hub: Jamaica Information Service
http://sonofstmary.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/democracy/ Anti-gay Christian groups undermine democracy: sonofstmary.wordpress.com
http://newsandviewsbydjmillerja.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/gay-rights-activist-seeks-to-challenge-belize-and-tt-laws/ Gay rights activist seeks to challenge Belize and TT laws: newsandviewsbydjmillerja.wordpress.com
http://perceptualpost.com/jamaica-observer-accused-of-staging-story-involving-gays-observer-report-tells-all/ Jamaica Observer accused of staging story involving gays: Perceptual Post
http://www.televisionjamaica.com/Programmes/AllAngles.aspx/Videos/26956 Discusion on homosexuality/All Angles/Television Jamaica, June 5, 2013
http://drtammyhaynes.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/homosexuality-choice-or-innate/ Homosexuality: Choice or innate: Dr. Tammy Haynes blog
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130606/lead/lead1.html ”We have the numbers”: Church leaders confident enough religious Jamaicans in island to prevent change to buggery law: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Woman-beaten–robbed–raped-in-Kingston_14442076 Woman beaten, robbed, raped in Kingston: Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Handling-of-rape-cases-irks-Montague_14444584 Handling of rape cases irks Montague: Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Allman-Town-wants-closure-to-boy-s-murder_14426032 Allman Town wants closure to boy’s murder: Sunday Observer
http://delanoseiv.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/g2k-writes-to-ocg-regarding-dead-silent-richard-azan-probe/ G2K writes to OCG regarding dead silent Richard Azan probe: delanoseiv.wordpress.com
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130416/lead/lead92.html Another nine-day wonder? Rosalea Hamilton op-ed/Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/more-work-needed-on-spaldings-market-probe-arscott More work needed on Spaldings market probe – Arscott: RJR News
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/more-road-blocks-in-claremont-as-residents-continue-protest More road blocks in Claremont as residents continue protest: RJR News
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Jamaica-leading-project-to-address-underachievement-in-boys_14424128 Jamaica leading project to address underachievement in boys: Jamaica Observer
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/montaque-questions-nicholson-on-status-of-reported-rape-cases Montaque questions Nicholson on status of reported rape cases: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130606/cleisure/cleisure3.html Condoms aren’t aphrodisiacs: Jaevion Nelson column/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130606/cleisure/cleisure4.html The crime of “uncontrollable”: Patrick Lalor op-ed/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Cabinet-approves-new-policy-for-pregnant-schoolgirls_14434151 Cabinet approves new policy for pregnant schoolgirls: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/UNICEF-concerned-about-child-killings_14424458 UNICEF concerned about child killings: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130607/lead/lead4.html Disabled, elderly should get free health care – CaPRI study: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130606/news/news4.html Reading coaches initiative making a positive difference: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130607/lead/lead5.html Dixon back in the race: Gleaner
https://blogs.worldbank.org/latinamerica/animation-could-mean-jobs-and-serious-business-jamaican-youths Animation could mean jobs and serious business for Jamaican youths: World Bank
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130607/lead/lead3.html Trench Town Ceramics and Art Centre – Using art to save the youth: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Downtown-Kingston-vendors-protest_14434985 Downtown Kingston vendors protest: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130607/news/news3.html 3,000 indigents to benefit from medical mission: Gleaner
http://wordsfrompetre.webs.com Petre Williams-Raynor environmental blog
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130607/news/news1.html Inside Cockpit Country: Project eyes conservation of key biodiversity areas: Gleaner
Today is the second day of the 2013 Hurricane Season. Now, those large Atlantic maps appear on our televisions, with the forecasters looking further to the east to see what might, or might not, be making its way across the ocean from the West coast of Africa. Blobs of bright orange are the ones to look for, bringing rain and hopefully not much else.They also tend to hang out in the Gulf of Mexico and decide to pay us a visit, on occasion. I always look here: http://www.weather.com/newscenter/tropical/ where you can also find an animated Caribbean satellite map where the blobs actually move around… If you are into that.
Horror upon horror: That’s enough of the weather. The day after I wrote my last bulletin, the island went into a paroxysm of shock, despair and recrimination, which has lasted for the remainder of the week. It seems to have swamped almost everything else. Yes, it’s crime again – this time, a series of horrendous murders that began with the killing and dismemberment of four-year-old Natasha Brown in the small community of Duanvale on Tuesday. Duanvale has had a series of murders in the past few years; one wonders. Some residents think the best response is to “fast and pray.” If it makes them feel better…The death of another young girl, eight-year-old Temera Laing, in the impoverished March Pen area near Spanish Town, followed swiftly after little Natasha’s tragic demise. Immediately after that, the bodies of two men were found in the community. They were tagged with notes apparently blaming them for Temera’s death.
The finger-pointing began: “It’s the parents’ fault,” said some (for “parent,” read “mother” – the fathers are mere sperm donors in most cases). Why was the four-year-old walking home all by herself? Many Jamaicans say it is a traditional/common practice in rural Jamaica for small children to walk to and from school unaccompanied by an adult. Whether common practice or not, it amounts to child neglect in my view. It frightens me when I see small children, sometimes hand in hand, teetering on the edge of busy main roads. Anything could happen. Children aren’t adults, last time I checked. Well, OK, so maybe I am pointing fingers. But everyone gets blamed in these situations – the community, the police. The (silent) Minister of National Security. Of course, the Education Minister had to say something, about parenting, at a church. “We must not kill them – whether in the womb or whether by our behavior and treatment,” said the Reverend Thwaites when talking about the child murders. Could he perhaps, just for once, leave the religious dogma out of the discussion? But that is clearly quite impossible.
Child Month was depressing: Meanwhile Youth Minister Lisa Hanna took a deep breath and issued a regretful press release about the child murders. When I said in my last notes that she had had a rough Child Month, the last few days of it got a lot rougher. In fact, May ended on a note of horror…and hand-wringing.
But that was not all: In the past week, two elderly ladies have been murdered. A young man attacked an 83-year-old newspaper vendor on a busy morning in downtown Kingston with a machete. They say he was of “unsound mind.” I believe he is in hospital after onlookers set upon him. Meanwhile, an American tourist was reportedly caught in crossfire during a robbery and killed – in addition to a “wanted man”; a prisoner was stabbed to death in a police lock-up (how could this happen?); and more. But you don’t want to hear any more, do you?
And one newspaper has nothing better to do… So after its first sensational article, the Observer, in its desire to inflame its readers further on the shocking behavior of a small group of homeless men who happen to be gay, took a “team” up to Millsborough in uptown Kingston. What was the purpose of this? To try and get some salacious photographs of the gays getting on bad? To provoke some kind of confrontation? Well, they seem to have succeeded in the latter, as another so-called report appeared (this time with no byline) claiming that the gays attacked the journalists. This in turn sparked a disapproving release from the Press Association of Jamaica, addressed to J-FLAG.
J-FLAG responded, in part: “We condemn all acts of violence or intimidation either from or directed towards the LGBT community.” J-FLAG went on to point out that it is an advocacy organization agitating for the rights of LGBT Jamaicans. ”We do not have control over the behavior of the people we represent…We cannot be held responsible for the actions of any person who acts contrary to the norms of civil engagement, even if they are LGBT.” Tell me, if the offending group of squatters was made up entirely of women, would the PAJ write to the Association of Women’s Organizations of Jamaica? No? I thought not. Just call the police, for heaven’s sake!
Hey, corruption is a generational issue: This is what the zealous young politician Raymond Pryce seemed to imply during a radio discussion with Professor Trevor Munroe, who continues to maintain his laser-sharp focus on the corruption issue as head of the National Integrity Action lobby group. I was mighty surprised when Mr. Pryce suggested that the professor’s views on corruption were out of date…
The social divide: Meanwhile, tickets for the Jamaica Observer Food Awards were J$10,000 a pop, I heard. How happy and flourishing are the elite! How happy I am to see them so happy and flourishing, cocktails in hands, on the social pages! I just need to ask them one question: Do you live in the same Jamaica as me? Nevertheless, congratulations to Café Blue who won Best Café. One of our very favorite hang-out spots!
World Environment Day: Is on Wednesday, June 5. What will you be doing to reduce your carbon footprint? Here is the relevant link: http://www.thinkeatsave.org.
Throwing Petchary Bouquets to the following:
- Pan-Jamaican Investment Trust, who are going to bid in the Office of Utilities Regulation’s request for proposals for renewable energy generation. This is a first for the company. I am also glad to see that they are investing in the new Courtyard Marriott Hotel; ground will be broken this month.
- Dr. Carolyn Cooper for her relentless campaigning against the horrible, creeping over-development of the huge swathe of green that was Long Mountain, high above Kingston. Years ago I walked up there with environmental activist/journalist John Maxwell – before the concrete took over. I am afraid it will all end in tears…
- Jamaicans for Justice for their great series of articles in the Sunday Gleaner on children’s rights – outlining clearly the steps that must – must – be taken to improve the current situation.
- Police Commissioner Owen Ellington for a thoughtful piece in today’s Sunday Observer. Well worth a read. See the link below.
- Young Roneilla Powell and Breanna Marsh of Mona Heights Primary, winners of the school’s writing competition. Roneilla’s essay “Myself as a Clock” should make interesting reading. Kudos to to their supportive teachers and parents! I am all for creative writing – hope other schools will follow this example.
- Glad to hear that Sergeant Raymond Wilson, head of the Police Federation, is out of hospital and recovering from a heart attack. Take it easy and get well soon!
- And on a football note – Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (who has Jamaican roots by the way) who scored a cheeky goal for England against a star-studded Brazil team today; and the United States football team for beating the all-powerful Germans! Impressive.
As noted above, the death toll over the past four days has been depressing and the crimes horrifying. I would ask you, dear readers, to also read a report from the Jamaica Star (link below) on a widow’s efforts to ensure that the killers of her husband are brought to justice. It’s a sad and exhausting story. If you have any thoughts on it (or any pertinent information) please do let me know…
Sylvia Sewell, 83, Beckford/Orange Street, downtown Kingston
André Allison, 21, Central Police lock-up, downtown Kingston
Damion Spence, 19, Old Harbour, St. Catherine
Temera Laing, 8, March Pen, St. Catherine
Clayton Parkinson, 33, March Pen, St. Catherine
Tishawn Campbell, 24, March Pen, St. Catherine
Vera Knight, 75, Belle Plain, Clarendon
Unidentified U.S. national, Savannah-la-Mar, Westmoreland
Killed by police:
Unidentified man, Fraser’s Content, St. Catherine
“Bigga,” Savannah-la-Mar, Westmoreland
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130530/lead/lead2.html Help Tanzania if we have extra teachers – JTA President: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130530/lead/lead8.html TV stations defend refusal to air ad in tolerance case: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Men-in-house-said-occupied-by-gays-attack-Observer-news-team_14372677 Men in house said occupied by gays attack Observer news team: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130530/cleisure/cleisure4.html Protecting rights and freedoms for all: Jaevion Nelson column/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130530/cleisure/cleisure3.html Thwaites must stand firm on condoms in schools: Sean Major-Campbell op-ed/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/COJO-gives-generously-to-Maxfield-Park-Children-s-Home_14366437 COJO gives generously to Maxfield Park Children’s Home: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130602/lead/lead6.html Former Fort Augusta inmate
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/the-americas-blog/imf-approves-jamaica-loan-pain-no-gain IMF approves Jamaica loan: Pain, no gain: Center for Economic and Policy Research
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/The-regional-trade–political-and-economic-quagmire-_14366167 The regional trade, political and economic quagmire: Anthony Gomes column/Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130602/news/news5.html Opposition MP provides additional suggestions to spark development: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130602/business/business3.html Pan-Jam eyes renewable energy market: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130602/news/news7.html Better parenting needed, says Thwaites: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130602/focus/focus7.html Inspect education ministry too: Owen Speid column/Sunday Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/34048 Start-Up Jamaica to provide support for ICT entrepreneurs: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/We-are-nearing-on-the-mark_14366155 We are nearing on the mark: Letter from Housing Minister Morais Guy/Jamaica Observer
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/more-opposition-to-plans-to-amend-ocg-act More opposition to plans to amend OCG act: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130530/news/news1.html Judge us on commitments – Robinson: Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-103/34049 Renewed focus on cassava: Jamaica Information Service
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130530/news/news8.html Erosion control agent testing gets under way on Negril beach: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130602/lead/lead8.html Negril the only Jamaican star on CNN’s top 100 beaches: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130602/news/news2.html Visitor arrivals down – but summer looks “all right”! Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130530/news/news9.html Bad farming practices killing ecosystem: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130602/cleisure/cleisure3.html Raping virgin territory: Carolyn Cooper column/Sunday Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-106/34065 Dr. Ferguson appeals for continued external support for HIV/AIDS program: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Dealing-effectively-with-guns-and-drugs-for-improved-public-safety_14390368 Dealing effectively with guns and drugs for improved public safety: Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington article/Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Call-for-Duanvale-to–fast-and-pray-_14391939 Call for Duanvale to “fast and pray”: Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Madness_14388617 Madness: Tamara Scott-Williams column/Sunday Observer
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/body-of-slain-teenager-identified Body of slain teen identified: RJR News
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/top-cop-charged-with-rape Top cop charged with rape: RJR News
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130426/news/news12.html Man escapes police custody: Jamaica Star, April 26, 2013
- The Hurricane Season is Here: June 2, 2013 (petchary.wordpress.com)
The rain started with a flurry of wind and grumbling thunder which made our usually brave dogs tremble. Since then it has continued in a determined way, not wanting to stop.
The JTA furore: This has rumbled on, coming and going like the thunder, since the recent “unfortunate” remarks by no less than three past presidents of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA). These gentlemen indirectly but quite obviously aimed their barbs at Education Minister Ronald Thwaites, culminating in Mr. Doran Dixon’s unpleasant comments about mongrel dogs. (Personally though, I think mongrels are more intelligent than pedigree dogs). The revered Mico University College (the oldest teacher training institution in the Western Hemisphere, no less) issued a press release disassociating itself from Mr. Dixon’s comments; he is a senior lecturer there. There has been much outrage in the newspaper columns. But in an effort to return to the core issues at stake, Simon Crosskill’s Live at Seven last night attempted to clarify the JTA’s concerns in an interview with its current president Clayton Hall. It really does appear that Minister Thwaites was somewhat premature, and indeed inaccurate, in some of his comments in Parliament recently. Just want to emphasize the need for reasoned dialogue… All of you. A link to the Live at Seven program is below… It is, as Mr. Hall says, “a sincere issue of trust…”
Thanks goodness, now, the Labour Minister is going to step in. Please, let good sense and understanding prevail.
The children: It has been a rough and rocky Child Month for Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna. On Monday, she attempted to address the criticism of her oblique and tentative approach to the issue of children in state care in a joint press briefing, flanked by the Ministers of Security and Justice. Flying solo she has not done so well in my view. A radio interview this week was (as Jamaicans for Justice have noted) sadly lacking in details. Her announcement that the government will be building special lockups for children in several parishes (using the government’s JEEP emergency employment program) is puzzling. So, new lockups for children and a “retrofitted” prison on the same compound as an adult prison? Great improvement, yes and no doubt at great expense. Meanwhile, the Children’s Advocate embarked on an exhausting tour of television and radio talk shows, explaining in great detail the current situation regarding her efforts to obtain compensation for the survivors of the terrible fire at the Armadale Juvenile Correctional Centre. She is encountering roadblocks from the Attorney General’s Department. It is quite distressing to hear that she has to go to court for the girls…and the court date is July 2014. No, that was not a typo.
“Stomach-churning”: A luridly-written piece by Karyl Walker of the Jamaica Observer informed us that a small group of homeless gay men have “taken over” a house in a very posh uptown residential area of Kingston called Millsborough. The very posh residents are expressing outrage at their behavior, which “churns their collective stomachs,” to quote Mr. Walker’s colorful turn of phrase. Fingers are pointed at the non-governmental organization that advocates for gay rights, J-FLAG; this is the usual attitude of the average Jamaican towards human rights advocacy groups (Jamaicans for Justice have had their share of it over the years) These are homeless people, who may be breaking the law. If they are doing so, then the police should deal with them. The journalist clearly agrees with the residents, who believe it is the fault of the “disgusting,” stomach-churning gays who think they have rights. And how dare they think they have rights as Jamaican citizens? Sections of the media, Mr. Walker and his colleague, cartoonist Clovis included, encourage these attitudes enthusiastically.
Why don’t you get upset about rape, incest and child abuse, like Superintendent Gladys Brown?
Stressed-out Jamaica: Bloomberg recently posted a grid showing the “most stressed-out” countries in the world, based on things like perception of corruption, life expectancy and other factors. The top ten countries were in Latin America/Caribbean, with Jamaica rolling in at number eight. Most Jamaicans don’t seem particularly surprised at this finding. Slight shrug of shoulders. A tweep pointed out that not so long ago, some other survey concluded that Jamaica was one of the happiest countries in the world! We shrugged at that one, too. Can we be happy and stressed-out at the same time? And should we pay any attention to such matters?
A landmark case: See the useful links below from the blog of the insightful broadcast journalist Dionne Jackson-Miller. Along with J-FLAG, Dionne and Nationwide‘s Emily Crooks have been live tweeting this week from the Constitutional Court, where they are covering a very interesting and important case. Gay rights activist and attorney-at-law Maurice Tomlinson is suing three television stations – Television Jamaica, CVM Television and the Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica – for refusing to air a public service announcement encouraging tolerance and love for gay family members. Dionne’s blog includes neat summaries of the first two days of the hearing.
For your information, I am sharing the link to this highly offensive (?) ad below. See for yourself.
More worries about the fake beach: There is still skepticism about the plan to rebuild the fast disappearing “seven mile” beach in Negril, using a material that has not been patented, manufactured by a Florida-based company. One resident points out that the product has not been tested and there are no reviews; what about the effects on humans and on the marine environment and creatures that live on the beach? Apparently the artificial beach will be tested at two other locations in Jamaica first…
Two very important reports: I think I omitted to post the links to two key human rights-related reports on Jamaica. Amnesty International’s 2013 Report is at http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/jamaica/report-2013. The report of the Independent Commission of Investigations on police abuses in Jamaica is at http://www.indecom.gov.jm/Release/Safeguarding%20the%20Right%20to%20Life.pdf and is well worth reading. Neither report has received much more than a passing comment in the local media.
Kudos, kudos to:
- Educator, founder of the Nexus Performing Arts Company, cultural activist – and our son’s form teacher at Hillel Academy – Hugh Douse writes his debut column in the Jamaica Observer today. He makes a plea for the restoration of the historic Ward Theatre, a once-beautiful building in downtown Kingston, and the state of theater in Jamaica. A very good start!
- Another newcomer – Joel Crosskill is now reporting for CVM Television, with a British accent! Ah, that name sounds familiar… Some very informative reports so far, young Crosskill!
- Financial analyst and commentator Ralston Hyman, whose program “Real Business” on Power 106 FM is an endless mine of information on all aspects of finance and business, at home and abroad. I learn a lot from the interesting discussions, starting 9:00 a.m. weekdays…
- Superintendent Gladys Brown, who heads the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA). She continues to be my favorite police person by far. I admire her outspoken, fearless defense of the weak and marginalized, and in particular victims of sexual crimes. She is now speaking out about increasing rape allegations against the police. I hope all these cases are fully investigated, that the names are made public and that justice is done.
We are shocked by the murders of a young girl and an as yet unidentified teenager. I am so sad for the family and friends of these two Jamaican girls. I also heard about the murder/rape of a 75-year-old woman a few days ago, which the media seem to be avoiding. It was only reported on one television news station. Our women. Our children. Our men, too…
Natasha Brown, 4, Duanvale, Trelawny
Ansell Williams Jr., 46, Rio Nuevo, St. Mary
Unidentified woman, Maxfield Avenue, Kingston
Related articles (with local posts in purple):
http://www.bloomberg.com/visual-data/best-and-worst/most-stressed-out-countries Bloomberg Visual Data: Most stressed-out countries: bloomberg.com
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/34036 Number portability by March 2014: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/So-we-now-have-an-IMF-deal–yay-_14354056 So we now have an IMF deal, yay! Hugh Douse column/Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130529/lead/lead9.html Legislation for IMF requirements could delay other drafts: Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/34023 $185 million for renovation of facilities to house juveniles: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Girl-s-body-found-naked-in-front-of-church_14366208 Girl’s body found naked in front of church: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130528/lead/lead1.html Shame! CISOCA boss decries apparent increase in rapes by cops: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Residents-say-gays-take-over-Barbican-house_14327913 Residents say gays take over Barbican house: Jamaica Observer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxZrp8oWHIE Unconditional love: The video Jamaican TV stations refused to air
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/JFJ-takes-children-s-case-to-IACHR_14366303 JFJ takes children’s case to IACHR: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/34022 Students attend Fulbright session: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.cvmtv.com/videos_1.php?id=1288§ion=live7 Live at Seven discussion with JTA President Clayton Hall: CVM Television
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130529/lead/lead2.html Dixon’s comments have damaged Mico’s brand – Packer: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130528/cleisure/cleisure3.html Strengthen toothless anti-corruption laws: Victor Cummings op-ed/Gleaner
http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/topstory-Commentary%3A-The-conventional-state-of-mind-16088.html The conventional state of mind: Caribbean News Now/commentary
https://newsandviewsbydjmillerja.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/in-praise-of-reports-and-enquiries-in-jamaica/ In praise of reports and enquiries in Jamaica: newsandviewsbydjmillerja
https://newsandviewsbydjmillerja.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/highlights-day-1-maurice-tomlinson-v-tvj-cvm-and-pbcj/ Highlights: Day 1, Maurice Tomlinson v TVJ, CVM and PBCJ: newsandviewsbydjmillerja
http://newsandviewsbydjmillerja.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/highlights-day-2-maurice-tomlinson-v-tvj-cvm-and-pbcj/ Highlights: Day 2, Maurice Tomlinson v TVJ, CVM and PBCJ: newsandviewsbydjmillerja
http://hill60bump.com/2013/05/29/the-what-why-and-how-of-climate-change-resilient-building/ The “What?” “Why?” and “How?” of climate change resilient building in Jamaica: hill60bump.com
And I am not talking about the American state!
IDAHO is the acronym for International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. This afternoon in Jamaica, J-FLAG will host a discussion in Kingston on the issue of homelessness among the gay community – forced out of their homes, living on the street, harassed, abused, assaulted, despised, often in fear of their lives. The local media have made much drama out of the situation; and always the fact of their homelessness and subsequent (often defensive) “bad behavior” is linked to their being homosexual or transgendered.
If you are in Kingston, do try to join us for this discussion; we should also be streaming it live and I will share that link when I have it on Twitter (@petchary).
J-FLAG is seeking solutions. Not finger-pointing. Not hatred and intolerance. There is too much of that in the world already, isn’t there?
http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdPmbLflqNtiAzOd-Cxtffg ”We Are Jamaicans”: series of videos produced by J-FLAG in which Jamaican members of the LGBT community and their allies (including myself) speak about their experience and their views. Please do watch! These are powerful.
http://www.jflag.org J-FLAG website includes news, videos, much more…
http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/activists-worldwide-target-homophobia-jamaica-ukraine-and-south-africa-2013-05-16 Activists target worldwide homophobia in Jamaica, Ukraine and South Africa: Amnesty International
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/freedom-house/international-day-against_b_3287305.html International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia: Article by Freedom House
http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/05/17/william-hague-marks-international-day-against-homophobia-and-transphobia/ UK Foreign Secretary William Hague marks International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia: pinknews.co.uk
http://www.euronews.com/2013/05/17/georgia-clashes-on-international-day-against-homophobia/ Georgia: Clashes on International Day Against Homophobia:euronews.com
http://www.rferl.org/content/georgia-lgbt-equal-rights/24986492.html Georgian Prime Minister says sexual minorities have equal rights: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
http://petchary.wordpress.com/2013/01/23/jamaican-press-ignores-ground-breaking-gay-rights-video-campaign/ Jamaican press ignores ground-breaking gay rights video campaign: petchary.wordpress.com
http://petchary.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/i-admire-this-young-man/ I admire this young man: petchary.wordpress.com
http://petchary.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/op-ed-fighting-injustice-in-jamaica/ Op-ed: Fighting injustice in Jamaica: petchary.wordpress.com
http://petchary.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/lay-down-that-burden/ Lay down that burden: petchary.wordpress.com
http://www.rferl.org/content/russia-lgbt-gay-homophobia-petersburg-moscow/24988036.html St. Petersburg LGBT activists test “propaganda law” with tolerance event: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
This is my modest, personal contribution to an amazing series of videos, “We Are Jamaicans,” which is funded with the kind support of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) through its Global Fund Vulnerablised Project. These are short PSA-length videos – the voices of Jamaicans young and old, gay and straight, uptown and downtown – our personal stories, our thoughts, our perspectives.
My thought is that, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., hate is too great a burden to bear. So much better to lay it down. Let us embrace Jamaica and Jamaicans, in all their wonderful, human diversity.
For some reason I don’t know how to post videos to this blog. But here is the link to my story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctTekHlyrXE&feature=player_detailpage
And the entire series (a total of eighteen to date) can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/user/EqualityJA?feature=watch
Do browse through, enjoy, and post your feedback if you wish. Thank you!
- Jamaican Transgender Women Lend Their Voices To ‘We Are Jamaicans’ Campaign (repeatingislands.com)
- MLK: Marcus Garvey Was the First (youthandeldersja.wordpress.com)
- J-FLAG, Jamaica’s gay rights group, launches YouTube video campaign, ‘We Are Jamaicans’ (miamiherald.typepad.com)
- Playing Politics With Jamaica’s Future (petchary.wordpress.com)
- Jamaican trans women call for equality (thefword.org.uk)
- http://petchary.wordpress.com/2013/01/23/jamaican-press-ignores-ground-breaking-gay-rights-video-campaign/ Jamaican press ignores ground-breaking gay rights video campaign
- http://petchary.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/i-admire-this-young-man/ I admire this young man
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
Actually, the Ides of March were on Friday, March 15, just two days ago. We often hear the phrase “Beware the Ides of March,” without even understanding the sense of it. Blame Shakespeare. As a former student of Latin language and literature, I can assure you that the Romans were a highly superstitious lot, and very fond of omens. Reading animals’ entrails, birds, the weather, and all that. This period was not short of prophets of doom – and we have a few of those around ourselves, here in Jamaica.
It’s true that things are not looking rosy, in general. We were overwhelmed this week (and we knew it was coming) by the broadcast of a documentary on AXS TV on the “lotto scam,” narrated by Dan Rather, who visited Jamaica earlier this year. Segments were aired on CBS News and NBC News, and it was heavily publicized through Mr. Rather’s (and others’) social media outlets. Segments were, of course, aired on local television – including an interview with a young scammer in Montego Bay, who ran away when the journalist revealed that they were U.S. media. His face was clearly shown. I am not sure if you can download the full program somewhere – I’m not finding it online.
I understand that Mr. Rather is planning further investigations, so this may not be the end of this negative publicity. National Security Minister Peter Bunting had a sense of foreboding about this one, and rightly so. Since the testimony, and the documentary, there has been much discussion about the impact on so-called “Brand Jamaica.” Now, to me, Brand Jamaica is a fabrication of the politicians and tourism officials. How attractive is Brand Jamaica to ordinary Jamaicans, one of my friends asked on Twitter this week – “that is the real measure.” Indeed, but that is for another discussion. The government has naturally been scrambling to do “damage control,” according to local media. No reported “fallout” – yet.
But, why do the Americans have to clean up our mess again, other Jamaicans are asking? There are odd echoes of the “Dudus” affair… The same level of discomfort and a kind of humiliation. We are the bad guys, again. We are a very small nation, and we feel it. Yes, we take it to heart, even if we pretend not to.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, headed by Democrat Bill Nelson of Florida, sat on Wednesday to consider the matter, at the urging of advocacy groups such as the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). Minister Bunting had submitted written testimony. The recorded conversations between the criminals in Jamaica (what else can you call them?) and their sad, distressed elderly victims in Maine and other U.S. states; and the television interviews with them and their families – all made me cringe. It was very, very uncomfortable to watch and hear. A feeling of collective guilt infused many of the discussions on the matter – on radio talk shows, many expressed shame and at the very least, embarrassment. “Jamaica, the Nigeria of the Caribbean” was one online comment. We wondered how these old people could be so lonely, happy to hear the sound of a human voice even if it was that of a stranger with evil intent (I actually do consider the scammers evil, not a word I use lightly). Some called them “gullible” and “suckers” which I find unkind. Elderly people are vulnerable, almost like children.
My questions are: Why was the lotto scam allowed to continue for five or six years without any effective action being taken by the Jamaican government? Was the legislation – which the Senate will debate next week – only put together at the behest of the U.S. government? Who was/is benefiting from the lotto scam? Local politicians, businessmen, who exactly? Will they be brought to book? We all knew that Montego Bay has been booming for the last few years…How long will it take to extradite even one Jamaican – and how many are actually involved? Was someone “higher up” orchestrating the whole thing? Will the IT/call center business ever recover? Why was the local media, with some exceptions, unwilling to investigate over these past few years – were they under pressure?
According to at least one Opposition member, tourism is already in decline, even without all this unpleasantness. This is not good for our foreign exchange inflows, and I had heard that stopover visitors are seriously lagging behind cruise ship arrivals, even in the current winter tourist season. Suggestions are that cultural issues and environmental degradation are having a negative impact on visitors. Brand Jamaica is a tarnished mirror, in which we can hardly see ourselves any more, no matter how hard we try to wipe it clean. Let’s forget it.
And we should forget this one – quickly. Jamaica Tourist Board, what were you thinking? Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9KSiitCnXg (Mr. Nicolaisen, I don’t blame you – you are an actor and you are making a living, but...)
There is no doubt that the lotto scam comes under the heading “organized crime” and must be dealt with accordingly. Extradition to the United States is fine in my book, so long as they are given a fair trial and brought to justice. And talking of organized crime, what is going on in west Kingston, the former domain of the aforementioned extraditee Christopher “Dudus” Coke? I hear rumblings that a new power structure is in place. If you visit Coronation Market regularly, you may have seen the signs.
Meanwhile, the police have taken a Kingston businessman into custody and he could face numerous charges, including murder and money laundering. But he doesn’t have a name – so he must be a “big man.” I am sure if he was from Arnett Gardens or Denham Town, we would all know his name, address and aliases right away.
Talking of foreign exchange: some local manufacturers are among those complaining about a shortage of foreign exchange. Former head of the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association Omar Azan says the banks have waiting lists, and he was not able to get all the U.S. Dollars he needed to import raw materials. If this is a growing trend and it continues, there will be layoffs as production is cut. Opposition Finance Spokesman Audley Shaw already notes a “thriving black market” - he has been banging on about this for some time. More doom and gloom (if possibly exaggerated…in Audley Shaw’s somber tone…)
Do we need to be reminded of the “Cuban light bulb scandal”? It occurred during the previous People’s National Party administration, resulting in a corruption trial that is still not concluded. But hey! The program to provide free energy-saving bulbs from Cuba to poor households through Minister Phillip Paulwell’s energy ministry is back! That’s all we needed. Former junior minister Kern Spencer (who cried in Parliament when his Opposition counterpart accused him) has had his trial successfully postponed a number of times; he was first arrested over five years ago.
Well, I was on television myself last week. I appeared on CVM Television’s “Live at Seven.” I hope some of you were able to watch the program, which focused on whether pregnant teens should be “excluded” (in other words, kicked out) of high school or allowed to continue their education before and after giving birth. As Chair of Eve for Life Jamaica, I am firmly of the latter view. Education is empowerment, and many of these girls have suffered from rape, abuse, incest and are being punished for it. My co-panelist, the President-elect of the Jamaica Teachers Association, suggested that everything was fine and the girls can, at principals’ discretion, return to school (or a different school) afterwards. He also said that the state-funded Women’s Centre of Jamaica was most effective in supporting these vulnerable girls. In other words (as is often the case in these discussions on the media) one would be led to believe that all is hunky dory, and the system works perfectly… Unless one knew better, of course. In columnist Barbara Gloudon’s words, “It is the girl who must pay the price.” See her take on the issue, below…
More on this in another blog. Suffice it to say I was nervous as hell, this being my first television appearance; but I was impressed by Mr. Simon Crosskill, host of the program, and his great young production team. An excellent program. You can find the latest edition online here: http://www.cvmtv.com/videos_1.php?id=921§ion=live7 - updated daily.
A young lady I know and think highly of was also a guest on Power 106 FM’s youth program yesterday. Ms. Kemesha Kelly, who comes from a humble family in rural St. Ann, is a former Miss Jamaica Festival Queen. She is highly intelligent, enthusiastic and a terrific role model for girls. As usual, Ms. Kelly was overflowing with energy during her interview, discussing the “SWAG” (Something Worthwhile a Gwaan) initiative that she spearheads at the Marcus Garvey Youth Information Centre in St. Ann’s Bay. (A common refrain among youth is “Nutten Naah Gwaan” (nothing is going on). The project needs more funding support; if you are a local business or individual who would like to help, get in touch with Kemesha (or me).
When asked about the main challenges for Jamaican youth, Kemesha noted employment opportunities (lacking); crime and violence – youth are so often the victims and the perpetrators; and access to higher education, which she considers crucial. She is an aspiring human rights lawyer. I wish her all the very best…
More young people doing great (amazing) things: Over the last few days, the hotly-contested 103rd ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys’ and Girls’ Athletics Championships has taken the National Stadium by storm. Records broke left right and center, to the deafening sound of vuvuzelas (yes, they are still in use over here, unfortunately – we could hear them from our house!) Many congratulations to Calabar High School, who again came out on top, with two other Kingston boys’ schools, Jamaica College and Kingston College hot on their heels. The girls of Holmwood Technical High School overtook Edwin Allen High School, with St. Jago High School girls in third place – all, interestingly “out of town” schools in Manchester, Clarendon and St. Catherine respectively. Many, many congratulations to all! As someone observed, our successful athletes always rise above the divisiveness of Jamaican society. Do we care what political party they support, or which area of Kingston they come from? Of course not! They have transcended that political tribalism that breeds nothing but mediocrity.
And congratulations to all the winners of the Prime Minister’s Youth Awards. Special congratulations are due to Kimroy Bailey, a young engineer and fellow (award-winning) blogger who is highly focused on alternative energy. Let’s encourage those young people, in the sciences and other fields, who are doing the hands-on stuff and trying to raise awareness! We need those ideas. And action.
P.S. Just a word to journalists, especially the younger ones who are sometimes a little hurt when they are criticized. “Everyone tells us how to do our job,” one complained last week. Well, I for one will continue to criticize. As purveyors of the media product, you should also listen to what we – your consumers – have to say! I still maintain that there are far too many errors of spelling, grammar and pronunciation (some of them really embarrassing). And I also feel that browsing through the social media, commenting on what so-and-so is saying about such-and-such and reading it out, doth not good journalism make. It’s different if you are organizing feedback on a specific issue; fine. Otherwise, it looks like you are wasting time, and it’s irritating. It’s also not news – unless you suspect that the social media is more newsworthy than what your own radio/television station or newspaper produces?
This has been another week of terrible grief. The killing of three family members (including a fireman) in Westmoreland has traumatized the community where they live – and where they were setting up a small business, a cook shop. Residents of the lovely town of Lucea were horrified by a terrible murder/suicide (the suicide taking place in a busy public shopping plaza) which seems to have been the result of a woman trying to end an abusive relationship. My deepest condolences to the families, friends and neighbors. Whole communities in shock. We will all need group counseling, soon…
Omario Bryan, 17, Havannah Heights, Clarendon
Winston “Charlie” Dawkins, 63, Osbourne Store, Clarendon
Sean Powell, 31, Spanish Town, St. Catherine
Shane Stanley, 37, Green Acres, St. Catherine
Unidentified, Dyke Road/Portmore, St. Catherine
Unidentified, Dyke Road/Portmore, St. Catherine
Cameka Duhaney, 23, Lucea, Hanover
Sydney Smith, 43, Lucea, Hanover
Killed by police
Andrew Brydson, 28, Shrewsbury, Westmoreland
Tristan Brydson, 24, Shrewsbury, Westmoreland
Kingsley Green, 38, Shrewsbury, Westmoreland
Related articles: Local blogs in purple
http://www.cvmtv.com/videos_1.php?id=900§ion=live7 Live at Seven on teen pregnancy/March 12, 2013: CVM Television
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RznaKL7n1Ss Javed Jaghai talks about human rights in Jamaica: youtube.com
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=43373 Police Federation awaits word from Cabinet: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Cops-kill-fireman–brother-and-cousin_13873042 Cops kill fireman, brother and cousin: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Murderous-rampage-in-Lucea_13877726 Murderous rampage in Lucea: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130311/lead/lead5.html Defense attorney troubled by lottery scam law: Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-112/33244 Government pushes public awareness on lottery scam impact: Jamaica Information Service
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/govt-dismisses-claims-of-being-slow-in-addressing-lottery-scam?utm_source=rjr&utm_medium=news Government dismisses claims of being slow in addressing lottery scam: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=43472 Opposition supports extradition of scammers: Gleaner
http://www.aging.senate.gov/hearing_detail.cfm?id=340977& United States Senate Special Committee on Aging – Hearing on Lotto Scam: http://www.aging.senate.gov/ – Video and audio here: http://www.aging.senate.gov/hearing_detail.cfm?id=339898&
http://anniepaul.net/2013/03/15/doubletake-first-mattathias-schwartz-now-dan-rather-what-ails-jamaican-media/ Doubletake: First Mattathias Schwartz, now Dan Rather – what ails Jamaican media? anniepaul.net
http://chatychaty.com/2013/03/dan-rather-talks-about-investigating-the-jamaican-lottery-scam/ Dan Rather talks about investigating the Jamaican lottery scam: chatychaty.com
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130315/letters/letters2.html Americans continue to clean our house: Letter to Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Make-the-scammers–lives-hell_13860009 Make the scammers’ lives hell: Observer editorial
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-122/33255 Debate on lottery scam bill to continue on March 21: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Lottery-scammers-are-not-operating-alone_13865327 Lottery scammers are not operating alone: Mark Wignall column/Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Eradicate-the-culture-of-impunity-around-the-lottery-scam_13872254 Eradicate the culture of impunity around the lottery scam: Claude Robinson column/Sunday Observer
Dudus Part#2 – The Jamaican Lotto Scam extradition requests. (commonsenseja.wordpress.com) Dudus Part 2: The Jamaican lotto scam extradition requests: commonsenseja.wordpress.com
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/dpp-advises-police-to-charge-world-wise-operators DPP advises police to charge World Wise operators: RJR News
http://www.caribjournal.com/2013/03/15/jamaica-waives-visa-requirements-for-eastern-european-tourists/ Jamaica waives visa requirements for Eastern European tourists: caribjournal.com
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130313/letters/letters4.html Gangster country: Letter to the Editor/Gleaner
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130313/news/news2.html Cops fight at police station: Jamaica Star
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130317/lead/lead2.html Businessman held in money laundering, murder probe: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130317/lead/lead5.html Help needed: West Kingston’s plea: Sunday Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/fears-of-a-child-trafficking-ring-dismissed-by-police Fears of a child trafficking ring dismissed by police: RJR News
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Baby-Madda–story-come-back-again_13865068 ”Baby Madda” story come back again: Barbara Gloudon column/Jamaica Observer
http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/03/12/an-open-letter-to-caribbean-men-from-caribbean-women/?goback=%2Egde_118853_member_223341878#sthash%2EIhg06iZI%2Edpuf An open letter to Caribbean men from Caribbean women: rhrealitycheck.org
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130316/lead/lead6.html Nicola Hamilton on a mission to empower women: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130314/cleisure/cleisure3.html Do homosexuals have a place in Jamaica? Jaevion Nelson column/Gleaner
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130316/news/news1.html Men beaten for “funny behavior”: Jamaica Star
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130315/letters/letters4.html Haitians were treated fairly: Letter to the Gleaner from Jamaican immigration chief
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130311/lead/lead2.html New China road deal: Gleaner
http://delanoseiv.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/tourism-in-major-decline-concerns-about-crisis/ Tourism in major decline: Concerns about crisis: delanoseiv.wordpress.com
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/rural-st-andrew-water-sources-fall-short-of-who-guidelines Rural St. Andrew water sources fall short of WHO guidelines: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130313/lead/lead4.html Residents say bills too high: Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/controversial-cuban-light-bulb-project-to-be-reintroduced Controversial Cuban light bulb project to be reintroduced: RJR News
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-103/33221 Growth in export earnings: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Only-25–of-NHT-contributors-have-benefitted-in-37-years_13863877 Only 25% of NHT contributors have benefitted in 37 years: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Too-many-hypocrites-in-Jamaica_13800895 Too many hypocrites in Jamaica: Letter to the Editor/Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130313/news/news1.html 68-year-old killed in shark attack: Jamaica Star
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130316/business/business3.html Turning trash into treasure: Biochar oven: Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/trip-to-chavez-funeral-no-cost-to-government Trip to Chavez funeral no cost to government: RJR News
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Politicians-must-sacrifice-too_13626549 Politicians must sacrifice too: Francis J Mafar op-ed/Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Manley-Duncan–Shift-to–a-sacred-place-_13805888 Manley-Duncan: Shift to a “sacred place”: Jean Lowrie-Chin column/Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/magazines/allwoman/Change-is-possible—change-is-happening_13805613 Change is possible and change is happening: All Woman/Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/What-can-we-do-when-the–mother–school-system-fails_13782498 What can we do when the “mother” school system fails? Tashion Hewitt op-ed/Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130316/lead/lead3.html The wisdom of Old Folly – St. Ann residents unite for model community: Gleaner
http://carolynjoycooper.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/michael-freestylee-thompson-exhibits-at-the-university-of-the-west-indies-museum/ Michael “Freestylee” Thompson exhibits at the University of the West Indies Museum
http://www.tallawahmagazine.com/2013/03/home-front-christopher-john-farley.html Christopher John Farley keeps an open mind in life and art: Tallawahmagazine.com
One news item I did not touch on in my weekly news post was the re-emergence of the problem of young, homeless gay men who live and move around in the very area of Kingston where I live. Two front-page articles in the “Gleaner” newspaper have once again sparked a flood of condemnation and anti-gay sentiment.
Just to point out a couple of things:
They are by no means representative of the Jamaican gay community in general, as most Jamaicans should know.
They are loud and harass people, but if they break the law they should be arrested, like any other Jamaican who might be trespassing on private property, etc.
May I introduce one young, openly gay Jamaican whom I admire greatly. His is smart, he is hard-working, he has a great sense of humor. Did I say he was bright? Like many other young Jamaicans, he wants to “make a difference” in his country. He does the normal everyday things that Jamaicans, and young Jamaicans, do.
He IS a Jamaican.
The only unusual thing about Javed is his courage as an openly gay Jamaican. And that is enormous courage.
Dear Editor, Sir:
The Christian Brethren Assemblies Jamaica (CBAJ) recently hosted a press conference at which they discussed their position paper on homosexuality. While reading through the document, I lamented the fervor with which church leaders use homosexuality as a wedge issue to keep themselves relevant in public discourse on morality.
I encourage anyone interested in seeing firsthand the moral bankruptcy that guides The Church’s teachings on homosexuality to read the position paper. Its contents are used as talking points by all major Christian organizations.
Among the most predictable claims outlined, we are told that “homosexual behavior can be changed” because “many individuals who desire to abstain from homosexual acts have been able to do so.” However, sexuality is a well-defined predisposition that exists whether or not someone is sexually active. A celibate gay person, or a gay person who initiates intercourse with someone of the opposite sex for functional purposes, is still a gay person.
The position paper goes on to explain that “some homosexual [sexual] acts are physically harmful because they disregard normal human anatomy and function.” Firstly, gays and lesbians do not have a monopoly on any sexual practice. What the position paper refers to as “homosexual acts” really are just “sexual acts”. Secondly, while the CBAJ believes the gay “lifestyle” is “obsessed with and/or dominated by personal sexual fulfillment,” “homosexual acts” also include deciding between bush tea or coffee, going to work, volunteering at community-based charities and supporting friends and family.
Church leaders persistently employ double-speak in addressing homosexuality and homophobia. On one hand, they claim that “anyone struggling with homosexual temptation should evoke neither scorn nor enmity, but evoke our concern, compassion, help, and understanding.” On the other, “the Christian community must help society understand that homosexuality has grave spiritual, emotional, physical and cultural consequences” and “Christians should oppose legislative attempts to grant special rights based on sexual behavior.”
As self-proclaimed guardians of public morality, their statements sound noble, until one sees the well-oiled propaganda machine that church leaders utilize to demonize, disenfranchise and silence gay and lesbian people.
You cannot actively work to sustain the cultural environment that makes violence against gay people permissible while claiming you support non-violence. That is barefaced hypocrisy. In addition, it is telling that the CBAJ would label as “Special rights” the demands made by social justice advocates to recognize the humanity of gays and lesbians. The rights to privacy, to love, to self-expression and to dignity cannot be “special rights” if these are human rights and if these rights are already held by the majority.
The position paper includes a number of colourful fables about gay people: homosexuals engage in active recruitment, because, obviously, same-sex attraction is induced, never innate; homosexuals are non-monogamous and promiscuous by nature, while heterosexuals, by deduction, are predisposed to monogamy; homosexuality and pedophilia are essentially twin perversions, even though pedophiles are repulsed by adults and often molest children of both sexes, while the majority of child sex offenders who have adult relationships are heterosexual; and homosexual parents raise homosexual children, in the same way, I suppose, that heterosexual parents raise only heterosexual children.
Antiquated and harmful narratives about gay people get entrenched when those of us who know better refuse to challenge the fear-mongering and the ignorance of those we consider arbiters of morality and paragons of virtue.
The Church is dead wrong in its stance on homosexuality and it will pay dearly for its intransigence. As more gay and lesbian people affirm their sexual identities, it will become obvious that most are upstanding citizens who are struggling alongside heterosexuals to make the best of a difficult life in Jamaica. The ranks of the most respected professions are replete with gay people. In fact, many Jamaicans are employed and supervised by gays and lesbians.
As more Jamaican Christians engage with gay couples at home, at school, in communities, and in workplaces, they will reconsider whether God is truly infallible and if his admonition to condemn same-gender loving people is morally absolute. The lies woven into the fabric of public consciousness will begin to unravel and The Church will be held in contempt.
I love and admire Javed. If you met him, I think you would love him, too.
Javed Jaghai - http://youtu.be/BS2P6TvzuFM
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130129/lead/lead1.html ”Arrest errant gays”: Human rights advocate says homosexuals who run afoul of the law should face its full brunt: Gleaner
http://www.jflag.org/2013/01/j-flag-supports-police-intervention-in-new-kingston/ J-FLAG supports police intervention in New Kingston: http://www.jflag.org/
Let’s Build Our Country - http://youtu.be/ffys1xXGq3E
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130125/lead/lead1.html Gays wreak havoc: Cops say homosexuals too much to handle in South East St. Andrew: Gleaner
http://anniepaul.net/2013/01/25/the-creation-of-our-collective-homophobia/?replytocom=3277 The creation of our collective homophobia? Annie Paul.net – Jamaican blogger
http://www.og.nr/rbt/11417-gay-man-set-ablaze-in-st-andrew-central-open-lot.html Gay man set ablaze in St. Andrew Central open lot: On The Ground News Reports
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Rowdy-gays-upset-J-FLAG Rowdy gays upset J-FLAG: Sunday Observer
http://petchary.wordpress.com/2013/01/23/jamaican-press-ignores-ground-breaking-gay-rights-video-campaign/ Jamaican press ignores ground-breaking gay rights video campaign
Weekly Brief, Sunday 27/Monday 28 January, 2013: The Dawn of the New Scrap Metal Age (petchary.wordpress.com)
J-FLAG, Jamaica’s gay rights group, launches YouTube video campaign, ‘We Are Jamaicans’ (miamiherald.typepad.com)