Four years ago today, fire broke out at the Armadale Juvenile Correctional Centre in St. Ann. Seven girls – wards of the state – died as a result of the fire, and eleven were injured. It was a real pleasure today to meet some of the girls who survived this horror, and who are doing their best to move out beyond that horror. I think their day was an emotional one but also filled with hope. I will write more about this.
Devaluation of dollar welcomed by IMF: Well, some of us might have figured this out already. The steady drop in the Jamaican Dollar seemed inexorable and there was really very little comment on it from the Simpson Miller administration at the time. It was just…happening. The rest of us were saying, “What is going on? Help!” as it steadily dropped, day after day. Then suddenly the battered J$ (often depicted in cartoons wrapped in bandages and sticking plaster and hobbling on crutches) pulled itself to a screeching halt at 99 or so to the U.S. Dollar. Well, well. Our friends at the Implacable Masters Fund (IMF) approve of this; and, in fact, say they would like to see our dollar plummet a little bit more, stopping at, let’s say… What do you think? Where should it stop? This, by the way, is the “flexible exchange-rate regime” mentioned by the Jamaican Government in its April 17 Letter of Intent to the IMF (the link is below). Flexible is such a nice…flexible word, isn’t it?
I wonder if the Jamaican public can be as flexible as the Jamaican Dollar has turned out to be?
Trinidad start up weekend: Good luck to Ms. Ingrid Riley, our tech entrepreneur and inspirer extraordinaire, who is in Trinidad now at her Silicon Caribe Startup Weekend. 57 pitches! I attended a Jamaica session; it was lively and abuzz with ideas. I love Ingrid’s regional (Caribbean) approach, and wish more of us were doing that…
Duppy story: According to CVM Television news, a certain house in rural St. James is giving some trouble. In case you haven’t been following it, all kinds of drama has been going on in this very ordinary-looking little house. It has created lots of excitement among the local residents, who can be seen hurrying down the path to the house to witness the latest phenomenon. My husband is almost convinced that there’s a real duppy (to my non-Jamaican readers, that is a ghost) – and so am I. A poltergeist, perhaps? A mysterious fire on top of a wardrobe (could be an electrical short circuit, but…) And objects thrown out of the house when it is empty? A local was hit in the head by one such “missile” and bled profusely. Once bandaged up, he felt pretty good, escorted down the road from the clinic like a real celebrity. What’s going to happen next? I hope it’s not all special effects…
Is the JEEP warming up its engine? Remember JEEP – the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme? We haven’t heard much of it lately, but the Government has now found a way to create jobs by employing people to build concrete walls instead of zinc fences in selected Kingston communities. I suppose the concrete will screen off the poverty better – it will be harder to glimpse the earth-bare yards. But, Mr. Housing Minister, you know it won’t make any real difference. It’s just cosmetic. The same poverty is just a stone’s throw away…
African : It was announced today that our Prime Minister had flown off to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, along with the Foreign Affairs Minister, four other government officials, plus her support team (I am not sure how many people that consists of – it is always reported in government press releases as a collective noun). They will be back next Tuesday. One of the radio stations this evening stated that the cost of the trip, in recognition of the African Union’s fiftieth anniversary, will be J$8.6 million. I wonder what the Ineffable Masters Fraternity (IMF) thinks of such expenditure. I can think of a thousand different ways in which that money could have been spent for the benefit of the Jamaican people (the Armadale survivors, for example).
Yay! That money could, perhaps, have been spent on a few more real toilets that flush in Jamaican schools. But sixteen schools in western Jamaica must be groveling with thanks that they do, in fact, have real toilets and not stinking, dangerous holes in the ground, any more. Thank God for Petro-Caribe, anyway. Last time I heard – about a year or two ago – around 200 schools still had pit latrines. Hopefully the number has dropped considerably. It is baffling to me that this can still be an issue in 21st century Jamaica. Perhaps this should come before tablets?
Some things bring out the Great Cynic in me: Recent comments by our Finance Minister Peter Phillips filled me with great weariness. Waxing philosophical and presumably not sticking to his notes, the goodly Minister started to wonder out loud why Jamaica is in its current economic state: “How did it get to this? At least part of the answer, I believe, has to do with the nature of our political processes and the absence, up until recently, of effective paradigm oversight and absence of transparency.” What does this mean? Can someone translate? OK, let me try. The politicians have done nothing to create an “effective nation” (the Minister’s words) since Independence (until the current administration came into power). That’s how it “got to this”. By actually not leading (that’s the oversight part) and by keeping the people ignorant (absence of transparency). Something like that, perhaps?
The young and the generous: In a Twitter exchange just last night, my friend Jean Lowrie-Chin reminded me (the Great Cynic that I am) that the younger generations of those “big” families that have chosen to stay in Jamaica have not only prospered, but are “giving back” to their country. She cited young Adam Stewart, who heads the Sandals Foundation. National Bakery has started its “Bold Ones” Project to encourage youth entrepreneurship. And the young Mahfoods have taken up the mantle of the amazing charity that does so much good work, Food for the Poor. Jean is right – I must try to curb my innate suspicion of the privileged and powerful. I wish all of them had such good intentions as these gentlemen, and that they could all give back…more.
Get well soon: I have no doubt that heading the Police Federation, a union that represents the rank-and-file police force, is a highly stressful occupation. The current chair, Raymond Wilson, has actually been a number of years in the post, off and on. Mr. Wilson has been in hospital for the past few days, after suffering a heart attack at a relatively young age. I wish him a speedy recovery.
By the way, I hope the Reggae Boyz thrash that English football team from north London, Tottenham Hotspur, when they play them tomorrow. Oh, how I would love to see that happen! As a dedicated Arsenal fan (in case you didn’t know) I was delighted that the Gunners denied Spurs a Champions League place again when the English Premier League season ended. And I’m quite satisfied with our team’s strong performance this year, after a lousy start to the season…
It is encouraging to learn that “major crimes,” including murders, have fallen. I hope that this trend will continue. But I am keeping in my thoughts the families of the following Jamaicans whose lives have been taken in the past three days.
Dwayne Brown, Ocho Rios, St. Ann
Selvin Hincklewood, Kingston
Killed by the police:
Noel Williams, 42, Rose Town, Kingston
Jerome Spence, George’s Plain, Westmoreland
Related links and articles:
http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pr/2013/pr13186.htm IMF concludes staff visit to Jamaica: imf.org
http://www.imf.org/External/NP/LOI/2013/JAM/041713.pdf Letter of Intent to IMF from Jamaican Government, April 17, 2013: imf.org
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/IMF-gives-us-reality-check_14298943 IMF gives us reality check: Jean Lowrie-Chin column/Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130522/lead/lead7.html J$ depreciation an important correction, says Fund: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130522/business/business2.html Phillips, IMF defend “strenuous” fiscal target for Jamaica: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/CHASE-Fund–sports-continue-to-reap-big-benefits-from-SVL_14302742 CHASE Fund, sports continue to reap big benefits from SVL: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130521/lead/lead1.html Child extortionists: Judge, JPs step in as students make thousands of dollars a day: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130521/cleisure/cleisure3.html Tablets in schools, yes, but please…! Oniel Mantack/Op-ed: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/An-assault-against-human-dignity_14308320 An assault on human dignity: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130521/letters/letters4.html Normal school not for teen babymothers: Letter to the Editor/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130522/cleisure/cleisure2.html Erase the stupid idea of giving students condoms: George Davis column/Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/fourth-anniversary-of-armadale-fire Fourth anniversary of Armadale fire: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130520/cleisure/cleisure1.html Sounder logic from the other Mr. Thwaites: Gleaner editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130520/cleisure/cleisure4.html Deal with bullies before… Robert Lalah column/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130521/news/news8.html INDECOM concerned about police records: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Crime-now-at-uptown-doorsteps_14298922 Crime now at uptown doorsteps: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130522/lead/lead2.html More cops to be hauled before courts: Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/top-level-probe-into-reports-of-contract-on-lives-of-prosecutor-investigator Top-level probe into reports of contract on lives of prosecutor, investigator: RJR News
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/What-violence-torn-St-James–nay-all-Jamaica–can-learn-from-Flanker_14299652 What violence-torn St. James – nay all Jamaica – can learn from Flanker: Jamaica Observer editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130522/news/news2.html U.S. to give special training to MoBay firefighters: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Political-parties-alone-can-t-do-it—Phillips_14299845 Political parties alone can’t do it – Phillips: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Is-migrating-Senate-President-a-coward_14296192 Is migrating Senate President a coward? Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130520/news/news1.html G2K wants answers from Contractor General: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130522/lead/lead1.html Shady dealings: Public sector workers under scrutiny… Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/33972 Prime Minister to attend African Union 50th Anniversary: Jamaica Information Service
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130522/letters/letters3.html Stop magnifying wasteful high-rollers: Letter to the Editor/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130521/cleisure/cleisure2.html#.UZuRJBboiag.facebook Freudian slip or Gordian knot? Gordon Robinson column/Gleaner
Today is Malcolm X’s birthday; he would have been 88 years old. Tragically, his young grandson, Malcolm Shabazz, was murdered on May 9 at a Mexico City nightclub. But here’s a little Caribbean connection: Malcolm X’s mother Louise was born in Grenada - but she had a very sad life, too.
Well, with that useful and important fact stored away, let’s look at the last few days in Jamaica…
The voice of morality: Our pious Minister of Education, the Reverend Ronald Thwaites, told Parliament this week that he is not going to allow young Jamaican students to be “groomed” towards homosexuality (demonstrating his own mistaken beliefs on the subject); and that although he approves of (the right kind of) sex education, condoms in schools are out. None of us were surprised at this, were we – after all, the Minister’s Catholic faith strongly influences his prescriptions for our youth. The television program All Angles confronted the issue of condoms in schools last week with youth activist/commentator Jaevion Nelson, retired school principal Esther Tyson and the head of the guidance counseling association. The latter two both toed the Minister’s line as expected; were confused by the statistics Mr. Nelson produced to strengthen his case for contraceptive assistance in schools; and clumsily tried to catch him out, once or twice.
But a big, big silver lining: The same Minister folded his hands, turned his eyes to heaven and announced a change in government policy towards pregnant teens in school. Amendments to the Education Act and Regulations attached thereto will ensure that schools will keep open a space for a child who has had to leave due to pregnancy, so that she may continue her education afterwards. Huge kudos to Opposition Senator Kamina Johnson Smith for her strong lobbying on this issue; and to the Minister for seeing the sense and fairness of it. The Minister also announced a couple of pending measures that have ruffled the feathers of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association; more on that, probably, later. I don’t always agree with our overly preachy Minister; but at least he is trying to right some of the hundreds of wrongs afflicting our education system, one by one. He has some tricky issues to tackle, indeed.
“I’m so frustrated by this experience”: A quote from CEO of the Jamaica Public Service Company Kelly Tomblin on the seemingly very long and slow deliberations by the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) on who should receive the contract for a new 350 mw power plant. I can imagine how she feels. I often fail to see whether government agencies like the OUR, the Bureau of Standards (of toilet tissue infamy), the Urban Development Corporation and others do any good for the Jamaican people. I guess they provide jobs. How else do they serve our interests?
The truth is swimming away: In an enlightening radio interview with a frequently stuttering Transport and Works Minister Omar Davies on Thursday morning, it transpired that Davies’ junior minister Richard Azan told him two different stories about whether or not he knew that rental money was being collected at his (Azan’s) own constituency office for illegally constructed shops. There actually appear to be three different versions of this conversation, all aired on broadcast media. However, clearly Minister Davies seems to think that his junior minister means well, even if he has broken the law. He is eager to do good in the community, so let’s “give him a bligh,” nuh. The grammatically challenged Junior Minister had told Nationwide in an earlier interview, “Yes, I make a mistake for building the shops” (sic). But saying “My bad” sometimes has consequences, right?
This is a true patriot, Rev. Redwood: As I noted in my last blog post, the now-departed-on-a-jet-plane Senate President Reverend Stanley Redwood only dug a deeper hole for himself by responding to the cutting criticism of a Gleaner column in a letter to the newspaper. He actually called himself a patriotic Jamaican. The acerbic columnist Gordon Robinson today gives us a better idea of a patriotic Jamaican – one who has no choice but to struggle through our ramshackle health, justice and education systems with no special privileges, but who tries to help his fellow Jamaicans and ensure his family thrives.
Fresh face: Members of the 51% Coalition (including myself) are delighted at the appointment of a young attorney-at-law, Sophia Frazer-Binns. Great to see another woman in the Senate, and we look forward to her contribution. We note also that Ms. Frazer-Binns has some experience of working with youth. Good, too.
Two key meetings: J-FLAG and the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition (JCSC) had two key meetings this week: in recognition of International Day Against Homophobia, J-FLAG held a forum on homelessness and forced migration among the LGBT population; and the JCSC launched two publications arising from its lengthy series of consultations with communities on “People Participation in the National Budget Making Process.” Congratulations to both organizations for their efforts to keep seeking solutions to some of Jamaican society’s most intractable problems. I will be writing more on these meetings in the next week – in particular, on the “disconnects” between Jamaicans and Jamaicans. Need to overcome these…
Rooting for the children: Huge big-ups to the JN Foundation for providing desperately-needed funding for the Spanish Town-based non-governmental organization Children First. I had the honor of working with this organization on several occasions and have always been impressed by founder Claudette Richardson-Pious’ deep understanding of and clear-eyed focus on the complex and difficult lives of youth at risk. Since it is still Child Month, here are two other individuals who are quietly working on behalf of children: Deika Morrison of Crayons Count; and youth advocate Kemesha Kelly, who works with young people in St. Ann. Great role models.
Collecting: And Help JA Children, the lobby group formed one year ago, is busy collecting items for children in state care this month. Take your food, toiletries, clothes, books, magazines and other goodies to Kia Motors c/o HJC, 2 Chelsea Ave, Kgn 10. Tel: 920-5000. It will be hugely appreciated!
Kudos to Vaz: It’s Labour Day on Wednesday, when people undertake all kinds of tasks to make life better for their fellow-Jamaicans. One of former Prime Minister Michael Manley‘s better ideas, I think. Across the island, the infirmaries that are funded by local parish councils are in a terrible state of repair – often colonial-era buildings that have seen much better days. Now, a couple of months ago Member of Parliament for East Portland Daryl Vaz announced that he was going to give up five per cent of his salary, as a gesture of sacrifice in these tough times. He was praised in a half-hearted way by some. But now he has met with Port Antonio’s Mayor and decided the money he gives up will be earmarked for the Portland Infirmary, which is in a bad state. I really do like this. Did any other political representative follow Mr. Vaz’ example? I think not…
A waste of space: I am sometimes baffled by the sheer inanity and trivia that gets published in the newspapers each week. The random thoughts of commentators with nothing meaningful to say; the grinning men and women with wineglasses in their hands at an uptown party; yet another PR piece about some reggae/dancehall singer who is “making waves” overseas (playing in tiny clubs in the suburbs of big cities). If it’s online, at least with a click you can forget/delete it. But good trees are chopped down for this worthless nonsense.
Jamaican bloggers, sharpen your keyboards! Wednesday, May 23 – the third anniversary of the Tivoli Gardens Massacre – is Jamaica Blog Day, a “Day of Action for Jamaican bloggers on police and security force abuses.” The great little (growing) blogging community on the island, including myself, will be researching and writing and photographing on this subject. It’s going to be meaningful stuff. Do read and support our bloggers!
Coming up fast and not to be missed! The Fulbright Academy of Science and Technology will hold its 2013 Conference on Global Health in Montego Bay from May 24-27. It is open to the public. Important themes covered will be: Public Policy, Law and Economics in healthcare; Public Health and the Impact of Technology and Social Media; Emerging & Reemerging Infectious Diseases; Education, Sport and Wellness; Environmental Health (Global water supply & safety, Climate Change, Urban planning, engineering); and Human Sexuality. Visit the conference website at http://www.fulbrightacademy.org/page/HealthSummit/index.v3page;jsessionid=4j4dleqsqk0m4 And while I’m at it, big shout-out to all the fabulous Jamaican Fulbrighters (including Marcia Forbes, who will be presenting at the conference)… You make us proud!
I am relieved that the week, which started off so badly with homicides, has ended (hopefully) on a more peaceful note. However, my sympathies go out to the families and friends of Kenneth Kerr and Abasco Foster, who are grieving at this time. I hope that Mr. Foster’s companion recovers from serious injuries.
Kenneth Kerr, 54, Spanish Town, St. Catherine
Abasco Foster, 27, George’s Plain, Westmoreland
Related articles/links and local blogs in purple:
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130517/business/business4.html Economy contracts in March quarter: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130519/lead/lead6.html Kelly speaks her mind: Urges speedy decision on new power supplier: Sunday Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Stadium-built-with-Chinese-money-in-ruins_14278481 Stadium built with Chinese money in ruins: Sunday Observer
http://www.amnesty.org.uk/news_details.asp?NewsID=20784 Jamaica: Three years on, state of emergency still an open wound: Amnesty International
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130518/lead/lead1.html ”Act on Tivoli”: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130519/cleisure/cleisure2.html The methods of war have failed: Claude Clarke column/Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130518/letters/letters1.html INDECOM needs more power: Letter of the Day/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130517/lead/lead2.html Cops to be charged for schoolgirl’s murder: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Cop-dodges-court-as-DNA-shatters-lie-that-arrested-man-had-spliff_14284218 Cop dodges court as DNA shatters lie: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-122/33915 Senate elects first visually impaired President: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-122/33919 Attorney-at-law appointed to the Senate: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/33909 Contribution to 2013 Sectoral Debate: Mikael Phillips, MP: Jamaica Information Service
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130519/cleisure/cleisure2.html Of patriots and sellouts: Gordon Robinson column/Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130519/focus/focus6.html Saying goodbye and diaspora relations: Christopher Tufton op-ed/Sunday Gleaner
http://chatychaty.com/2013/05/jamaica-not-grooming-students-for-same-sex-unions-marriage-is-between-a-man-and-a-woman/ ”Jamaica not grooming students for same sex unions, marriage is between a man and a woman”: chatychaty.com
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-o2el_Gw8O8 Stop being naïve about sex! Jamaican high school students speak: YouTube
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/teen-mothers-to-be-reintegrated-in-school-system?utm_source=rjr&utm_medium=news Teen mothers to be reintegrated in school system: RJR News
http://keimiller.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/the-little-wine-that-hurt-somebody-or-soca-and-the-bad-behaving-gays-of-jamaica/ The little wine that hurt somebody; or, soca and the bad-behaving gays of Jamaica: Under the Saltire Flag blog
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130517/lead/lead1.html ”I give up!” Some parents no longer care about their runaway children: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130519/news/news1.html Cruel by choice: Thousands of Jamaican children intentionally injured by adults annually: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130519/lead/lead2.html Young and loveless: Teenage prostitute pushing for a fresh start: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130519/focus/focus3.html Condoms in schools: Martin Henry column/Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130516/news/news1.html Ananda Alert to be displayed on billboards: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130519/lead/lead8.html Rescue for Children First: JN Foundation comes to the assistance of charity set up to help Jamaica’s most needy youths: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130519/news/news5.html Portland infirmary to get Vaz salary cut: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130517/lead/lead Suspected dengue cases climb to 475, two confirmed deaths: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130517/news/news1.html Moneague Primary & Junior High cops LASCO environmental award: Gleaner
http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2013/05/16/3012766/caribbean-talks-conservation-on.html Caribbean talks conservation on Branson’s island: AP
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130516/news/news7.html Public gets say in Cockpit Country boundary debate: Gleaner
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130516/news/news1.html Eleven-year-old escapes croc attack, reptile snatches dog instead: Jamaica Star
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130516/news/news3.html KSAC, handcart men agree on registration fee: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130519/ent/ent1.html Balancing the act: Crawford seeks compromise between “want to eat” and “want to sleep”: Sunday Gleaner
An IDAHO State of Mind (petchary.wordpress.com)
May 15, 2013 (petchary.wordpress.com)
My week got off to a great start with a donation to Eve for Life from the Optimist Club of Sunset, Liguanea on Monday morning. We are indeed tremendously grateful for the gifts donated, and it was a huge pleasure to welcome President Lavern Brown, three members of the Walker family and Patrick Prendergast, a Facebook friend I had never met before! There are indeed some good and kind people in the world. Pictures to follow…
Are they serious? The Bureau of Standards, whose mission is (presumably) to maintain standards for us poor ignorant consumers, has been busy testing more toilet tissue. Remember the #TissueIssue? And guess what? It has found five more brands that are contaminated. This makes…four plus five…nine brands that are on their “No-Wipe” list. Problem is, the Bureau in its wisdom will not reveal the names of this new batch of miscreants, either. It is concerned about lawsuits from the manufacturers. So let’s worry about the manufacturers then. We will just sit there like idiots, in the dark.
Won’t happen again: It is incredibly sad that a World War I cannon has been stolen from a resident of Gordon Town, who treasured this as a memory of old friends as well as for its historical/cultural value. But no, the vampires are at it again, tiefing everything in sight. Presumably this is the scrap metal trade at work again. And speaking of scrap metal, we have learnt that the Transport Authority, in its wisdom, sold hundreds of motor cars that it had impounded for many years, mostly for scrap, in 2008. It says it did not profit from this sale. A representative said that they will make sure in future to obey their own rules – to auction cars every six months. Which they clearly had not been doing.
Murders this month: According to the Gleaner’s intrepid and seasoned crime reporter Glenroy Sinclair, up to May 13 we have already had thirty murders, give or take one or two. What is happening? Some seem to be domestic matters, others gangs, many others robberies. Most of the time, the motive is not clear. One thing we do know is that most of the murders will not be “cleared up” - in other words, solved - although if an alleged murderer is shot dead by the police, I think they count it as a clear-up. February has been the bloodiest month this year so far, with 92.
Random: The violence seems to just leap out at you. A man kills his partner because of jealousy or some argument; a policeman allegedly attacks a schoolboy who was studying with his daughter at his house and caught “in a compromising position” with said daughter; a man is shot dead while trying to rescue his neighbors from their burning house. If you care to look, these random acts of violence and aggression continue, day after day. If not reported in the traditional media, you soon hear on the social media when one of these crimes gets too close to home for one of your online friends – like the discovery of a woman’s body next to the Marcus Garvey Youth Information Centre in St. Ann’s Bay where one of my young friends works. I have shared several links below to individual stories, so you get the picture. These incidents have all occurred in the last two or three days.
Jamaica Blog Day: Anniversaries are difficult times for us all when they are remembrances of things that should never have happened. The pain returns. So it is with two adjoining anniversaries next week: On May 22, 2009, fire broke out at the Armadale Juvenile Correctional Centre in St. Ann in the “Office Dormitory” – a space big enough for five people. At the Commission of Enquiry in 2010, Justice Paul Harrison castigated the then Commissioner of Corrections for taking the decision to house 23 girls in this space. On that night, the girls were locked in, because they had been misbehaving. A policeman who actually threw a tear gas canister in the window allegedly exacerbated the fire. Five girls were killed that night and eleven injured; two more girls died later in hospital. Then, on May 23, 2010, security forces invaded the community of Tivoli Gardens in West Kingston in search of Christopher “Dudus” Coke, for whom there was an extradition warrant. We know that at least 75 civilians were killed and many injured; many still bear the physical and psychological wounds. The interim report of the Public Defender into the matter has just been released, and the Simpson Miller administration has announced that it will establish a Commission of Enquiry. No date has yet been set and we do not yet know the parameters of the enquiry. Jamaican bloggers will be writing about police abuses on May 23rd. If you are a blogger, or would like to post an article on Facebook or elsewhere, please join us. We must never forget. We want to make an impact!
The wonderful world of Twitter: I spend some time every day (and sometimes rather late at night) in Twitterland. It is an extraordinary place. There can be flashes of illumination, surprises, much amusement, even shocks. One of my followers, the wonderful comedian, writer and all-round creative person Owen “Blakka” Ellis received a severe jolt when I retweeted an article recently. I am an inveterate retweeter and like to share provocative viewpoints as well as useful information. The tweet asserted,“Black men think that hypermasculinity, sports obsession, extreme homophobia, sexism and belittling women makes a man, a man”. Now, this damning, sweeping generalization struck poor Mr. Ellis to the core. He responded to the original tweeter, and got slapped down at least twice more. Ouch! And ouch again! This compelled Mr. Ellis to write the article below. For the record, I feel Mr. Ellis had a right to protest and was treated harshly. (Oh, you can follow me on @petchary).
Scrambling for jobs: Figures released by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica this week show a 37 per cent unemployment rate among youth. The overall rate is 14.2 per cent. However, we know that these numbers are even higher in inner city communities and rural districts where jobs are extremely scarce. The large and profitable Jamaican firm GraceKennedy (GK) recently advertised ten internships, and received 780 applications. Yes, the job situation is desperate. As GK’s CEO Don Wehby says, local firms should offer more internships. At least, then, young people would have something on their resumé (how do you get work experience if there are no jobs?)
Boundless patriotism: Meanwhile the great patriot Rev. Stanley Redwood, who just stepped down as President of the Senate, has responded to a very sarcastic article in the Gleaner regarding his pending migration to Canada. Reverend Redwood clearly does not have much faith in the Jamaican education system. He pleads, “Many Jamaicans have sought opportunities for their children overseas. I do not believe there is any shame in seeking the best for my talented children. I am sure you would have done no differently.” But then, it is a fact that most government ministers and members of Parliament do send their children to school overseas; and when they are sick, they go overseas for treatment. They have such touching faith in the Jamaican education and health systems. And in fact, in Jamaica itself. And yet, we must “unite and build…”
The Sufferer: On top of all that, during a speech this week our Prime Minister decided to take up the cross of suffering, pointing out that she is the most criticized person in Jamaica, upon whose head all “negativity” is heaped. This was part of a speech in which she was encouraging her audience to hold their heads up high in the face of adversity. Madam Prime Minister, this air of martyrdom does not become you. In fact, it is embarrassing and unnecessary. Almost as embarrassing and unnecessary as those sinister-looking sunglasses that she has been wearing for years now. Not a good look. Where are her advisors?
The Silent One: I have not seen or heard Minister of National Security Peter Bunting on any newscast recently. Is he OK?
Since Sunday the following murders have been reported. It is heart-breaking. My condolences to the families and friends.
Shelly-Ann Maxwell, 21, Bombay Stud Farm/Bernard Lodge, St. Catherine
Cordel Steer, 22, Bombay Stud Farm/Bernard Lodge, St. Catherine
Unidentified man, George Lane, Kingston
Garth Simpson, 39, Gayle, St. Mary
Janice Burrell, 38, Islington, St. Mary
Leroy Robinson, 54, Little London, Westmoreland
Adina Bell, 36, St. Ann’s Bay, St. Ann
Killed by police:
Desmond McCalla, Bull Bay, St. Andrew
http://jablogday.tumblr.com Jamaica Blog Day
http://www.solarbuzzjamaica.com/2013/05/removal-of-illegal-connections-to-sugar-factories-to-cost-govt-200m-no-more-free-light/ Removal of illegal connections to sugar factories to cost government $200 million. No more free light! solarbuzzjamaica.com
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/five-toilet-paper-brands-pulled-due-to-high-levels-of-bacteria Five toilet paper brands pulled due to high levels of bacteria: RJR News
http://delanoseiv.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/wanted-full-disclosure-in-ritz-carlton-affair/ Wanted: Full disclosure in Ritz-Carlton affair: delanoseiv.wordpress.com
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130513/lead/lead22.html Playa replaces Ritz with Park Hyatt: Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/protest-action-escalates-at-complant Protest action escalates at COMPLANT: RJR News
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/-We-will-not-flinch-_142522042013-05-14T00-04-44 BITU head asserts commitment to workers’ rights: Jamaica Observer
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/new-law-paves-way-for-government-to-pass-imf-test New law paves way for government to pass IMF test: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130515/news/news1.html Exploring logistics hubs: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/The-rightness-of-the-Tivoli-enquiry_14252198 The rightness of the Tivoli enquiry: Jamaica Observer editorial
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Let-us-have-a-Garrison-Enquiry_14251339 Let us have a garrison enquiry: Jean Lowrie-Chin column/Jamaica Observer
http://digjamaica.com/blog/2013/05/13/a-look-at-jamaicas-human-rights-situation/ A look at Jamaica‘s human rights situation: diGJamaica.com
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130513/news/news12.html Wanted fugitive killed in shoot-out: Jamaica Star
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130514/lead/lead8.html Two persons killed per day: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Terror-in-Clifton_14268531 Gunmen invade community, fire-bomb five houses: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Murdered-for-good-deed_14271138 Gunman kills hotel worker trying to rescue neighbor: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=43114 Policeman allegedly attacks schoolboy with pipe iron and gun: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130515/lead/lead1.html Massive MoBay raid: Drugs, cash seized in 11-hour operation; Canadian held: Gleaner
http://speakmytruthwritemylife.blogspot.com/2012/11/let-he-that-is-without-sin-cast-first.html Let he that is without sin cast the first stone: speakmytruthwritemylife.blogspot.com
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130513/news/news10.html Residents shocked by chopping death: Jamaica Star
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130514/letters/letters1.html Don’t push gay men into closet marriages: Letter of the Day/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Cars-sold-as-scrap-metal_14263174 Cars sold as scrap metal: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130515/lead/lead93.html ”No profit made”: Transport Authority did not gain from sale of impounded motor vehicles: Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/mobay-mayor-lashes-out-at-detractors MoBay Mayor lashes out at detractors: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130514/cleisure/cleisure1.html The Redwood factor: Gleaner editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130515/letters/letters2.html I’m a patriot, but family comes first: Letter to the Editor from Rev. Stanley Redwood
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130513/news/news1.html Redwood’s resignation and Vision 2030/The Gavel: Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-117/33851 Prime Minister urges Jamaicans to assist the most vulnerable: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Prison-programme-providing-women-with-useful-skills_14260950 Prison program providing women with useful skills: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Amradale-report Brutal! Judge blames cop for starting deadly fire (February, 2010): Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130515/features/features1.html Damning declaration about black men: Blakka Ellis column/Jamaica Star
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/The-cost-of-inaction_14223127 The cost of inaction on climate change: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130514/lead/lead6.html World War I cannon stolen: Gleaner
http://cbcburke9.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/dancehall-mashing-up-hell-knows/ Dancehall mashing up hell knows: cbcburke9.wordpress.com
http://digjamaica.com/blog/2013/05/10/image-of-the-week-seaforths-artistic-excellence/ Image of the Week: Seaforth’s artistic excellence: diGJamaica.com
It’s a hot afternoon. It’s Mother’s Day in Jamaica, and the air is sleepy. Our gardener did some serious work yesterday and the yard looks scrupulously tidy. For now. Recent rain has brought back the many shades of green; and to my surprise, winter visitor warblers can still be seen flitting in the bushes. Time to travel north, young warblers!
Thinking about Tivoli: In the past few days since I last wrote, we have all been thinking more deeply about the Simpson Miller administration’s (wise) decision to hold a Commission of Enquiry into the massacre in Tivoli Gardens in May, 2010. There is some insightful commentary in the Sunday papers, and an indication that, three years later, many Jamaicans are more aware of the grave injustice and the horror of that day, when at least 77 Jamaicans lost their lives (we still do not know the exact figure; several people remain missing). For that, we at least partly have to thank the American journalist Mattathias Schwartz of the New Yorker; and the Public Defender Earl Witter, who finally produced the report. Today, Sunday Observer columnist Tamara Scott-Williams quotes the Jamaican president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Judge Patrick Robinson: “The simple, plain truth is that in no country with a Constitution that entrenches the right to life can 70 people be killed in peacetime in a single incident, whether by the security forces or by private persons, and national life and affairs continue as though nothing unusual has taken place.”
How can a monopoly not be viable? But that’s the way it apparently is with the Jamaica Public Service Company, according to its straight-talking CEO Kelly Tomblin. The eternal problem of widespread theft of electricity has still not been fully addressed; but as Ms. Tomblin said on radio, it is not just a question of devising ingenious ways of combating theft, but about lifting the company out of debt. Oh, two state-owned sugar companies were reportedly complicit in allowing neighboring communities to steal up to J$100 million worth. What kind of madness is that? Meanwhile, Ms. Tomblin has her work cut out – I am sure she has been aware of this for some time.
Leadership failures: The week’s fiasco involving the People’s National Party Youth Organization suggests, at the very least, weak leadership in the organization. Did President Alrick Campbell consult with his chapter leaders before sending out a press release that surprisingly refused to support the announced Commission of Enquiry into the Tivoli Gardens massacre? Similarly, Mayor of Montego Bay Glendon Harris is under pressure after a series of dreadful faux pas, culminating in the hospital re-naming fiasco. Do these people have any idea of public relations, either? Clueless.
NHT again: The whole National Housing Trust (NHT) business is still bugging me. It all seems wrong. One of my “tweeps” observed today, “How can the NHT force employers to make mortgage deductions from workers? Shoudn’t that be an arrangement between the Trust and its clients?” Very good question…
Blood on the streets: As usual, the social media was ahead of the traditional media on Friday morning, as several photos were pasted on Facebook of two apparently lifeless bodies – young men allegedly shot by the police in a parking lot in downtown Kingston. Reports appeared at least two hours later on the newspaper websites, noting a police report that ”brazen gunmen” had made a robbery attempt, and that three ”were in hospital” (dead on arrival?) According to the eye witnesses who posted the photos, the bodies were collected and loaded into vans within minutes, before the Crime Scene investigation unit or INDECOM (the Independent Commission of Investigations) arrived. Onlookers say the men were unarmed. I have shared the photos below. Meanwhile, the print media coverage of what actually happened in the middle of the day on Friday in busy downtown was muddled and lacking in detail.
Harassing the handcarts: Some genius at the Kingston & St. Andrew Corporation has come up with the startlingly brilliant idea of taxing handcart operators. These are rough-hewn carts with a primitive steering-wheel attached, operated by men in Kingston and most towns to transport small quantities of goods (and sometimes people). When I see men pushing and navigating these carts, sweating and straining in the hot sun, I think “what a hard life.” These are, basically, poor people. How could the Mayor think of doing such a thing?
I’m off now, but you guys can stay: President of the Senate Stanley Redwood is migrating to Canada, and made farewell comments last week before his departure. Methinks he doth protest too much. “No other Jamaican should be forced or feel forced to make the choice I have to make this month,” said the Senator, who has been beating himself up over departing for greener pastures for some time. It’s OK for me to go – but you guys stay here, stick it out… Not impressed, I’m afraid.
Power walks: While blood still stained the streets of downtown Kingston, a couple of miles away uptowners were preparing for two charity walks on Saturday – both good causes. Due to ongoing back problems, I was unable to participate in either. But I hope lots of money was raised for Dress for Success and the Nuttall Memorial Hospital, respectively. Next time!
Sick of them: There are certain things that always upset me when I watch the evening news on television. Of course, the ongoing bloodshed is one of those things. What also depresses me is the greed and selfishness of thieves who, like vampires, feed on hard-working Jamaicans. It seems that every week a school is broken into, and we see the anxious principal, his/her face creased with anxiety and stress, detailing all the items the school lost – of course, all the most valuable things that they can least afford to replace, many of them donated by kind-hearted people. Then there are the poor farmers, who go to the fields in the morning to see their precious animals hacked to pieces or their crops pulled out of the ground. On Friday, we heard that the bus belonging to Alpha Boys School was stolen in Spanish Town. I don’t know if they have found it. Alpha nurtures abandoned and orphaned boys, and is famous for its school band that has produced many great Jamaican musicians. Shame on you all, you vampires.
Pit latrines in schools: As I noted in my post of August 12, 2012, around 200 schools across Jamaica still have pit latrines. I doubt that much has changed since then. Perhaps we should consider this as a priority over tablets, Minister Paulwell? (Much as I love your tablets). The “sanitary conveniences” at St. Mary’s Primary School in rural St. Elizabeth are as old as the school itself (44 years) and pose a serious health risk. For a start, if a young child slips he/she can fall into them. The Florida-based Andrew Dixon Foundation is seeking to raise funds to replace them.
I was wondering… about the over 4,000 online jobs that the World Bank says it has created for young Jamaicans. The World Bank provides more details on its Digital Jam 2.0 program at the link below. It includes internships and fellowships at Howard University, pilot projects, incubators and so on. Brilliant!
Sports vs academics: The Gleaner recently published a table ranking Jamaica’s high schools in terms of their CSEC examination results. I’m trying to find a link to it. It was noticeable, however, that almost all the traditional boys’ high schools did quite poorly; unsurprisingly, the co-educational Kingston high school Campion College came out on top. A columnist yesterday pointed out that the low-performing boys’ schools are those that compete furiously and loudly at “Champs” (the high school athletics championships) and tout their sporting prowess. Is there a conflict here?
Less abatement? As I have noted before, Jamaica/Kingston is Party Central, and the noise must go on. I see the Ministry of National Security and Ministry of Entertainment as it seems to call itself are holding a public consultation on “changes to the Noise Abatement Act” on Wednesday at the Jamaica Conference Centre. What changes? Where? Is the noise to go on longer? I am suspicious of the “entertainment zones” that have been mentioned a few times by our enthusiastic Junior Minister Damion Crawford, who is young and therefore fond of “shelling dung” as the saying goes. And hey, do you think there may be more important things to be worrying about? I can only assume that, like the building of housing for poor people, this is a populist, vote-getting exercise.
Yohan Blake/boys home: I am very pleased with our young Olympian Yohan Blake, whose YB Afraid Foundation continues to support the Mount Olivet Boys’ Home in Manchester, in all kinds of important ways. The home’s infrastructure is steadily improving as a result. Thanks to Mr. Blake; you have a good, good heart.
It is very sad to report that in the past three days the following Jamaicans have been killed. My heart goes out to their families. Too much trouble in the world.
Clifton Drummonds, 55, John’s Town, St. Thomas (mob killing)
Winston Robinson, Mannings Hill Road, Kingston
Tiffany Shirley, Mannings Hill Road, Kingston
Killed by police:
Unidentified man, Pechon Street/Beckford Street, Kingston
Unidentified man, Matthews Lane, Kingston
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/JPS-facing-death_14238670 Electricity theft, debt threaten company’s viability, says Tomblin: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130511/cleisure/cleisure1.html Power thieves must be stopped: Gleaner editorial
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Samuda-labels-logistics-hub-a–pipe-dream-_14239407 Samuda labels logistics hub a “pipe dream”: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130510/business/business5.html Jamaica Broilers invests $300 million in new plant: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130510/cleisure/cleisure1.html What, really, are agro parks? Gleaner editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130510/business/business1.html Palmyra parent firm deemed a squatter: Gleaner
http://www.worldbank.org/en/results/2013/04/24/creating-employment-solutions-young-jamaicans Creating employment solutions for young Jamaicans in the virtual economy: worldbank.org
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Rating-Agency-reacts-to-IMF-Jamaica-agreement_14244183 Rating agency reacts to IMF-Jamaica agreement: Sunday Observer
http://www.caribjournal.com/2013/05/11/forbes-the-business-of-sport-in-jamaica/ The business of sport in Jamaica: Marcia Forbes op-ed/caribjournal.com
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/No-unlicensed-cable-operator-in-Jamaica_14239648 No unlicensed cable operator in Jamaica/Broadcasting Commission
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/No-justification-for-NWC-rate-hike_14237953 No justification for NWC rate hike: Jamaica Observer editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130510/letters/letters1.html Handcart permit regime off the deep end: Letter of the Day/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Stop-the-bickering-_14239553 Pryce chides PNPYO for washing dirty linen in public: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130510/lead/lead10.html Montego Bay mayor faces no-confidence vote: Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/arscott-defends-cost-of-local-government-delegation-to-uganda Arscott defends cost of local government delegation to Uganda: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130512/focus/focus5.html Whose plan for Jamaica is it anyway? Jamaica Civil Society Coalition op-ed/Sunday Gleaner
http://www.caribjournal.com/2013/05/09/op-ed-does-jamaica-need-outside-help-to-deal-with-crime/ Does Jamaica need outside help to deal with crime? caribjournal.com
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/man-implicated-in-murder-chopped-to-death Man implicated in murder chopped to death: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130511/lead/lead2.html Daylight gun battles cause mayhem downtown: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Deadly-end—-Robbery-foiled–cops-kill-one-gunman–injure-another_14239031 Deadly end! Robbery foiled, cops kill one gunman, injure another: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130512/lead/lead5.html Deadlock blanks downtown CCTV plan: Sunday Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Why-the-Tivoli-enquiry-is-important_14246024 Why the Tivoli enquiry is important: Claude Robinson column/Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Forget-the-enquiry–make-a-movie-instead_14246048 Forget the enquiry; make a movie instead: Tamara Scott-Williams column/Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Pain-still-lingers-for-Tivoli-man–family_14247384 Pain still lingers for Tivoli man, family: Sunday Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130510/news/news2.html West Kingston rejoices after cops kill thug: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Mothers-mourn-loss-of-son–daughter Mothers mourn loss of son, daughter: Sunday Observer
http://www.caribjournal.com/2013/05/09/op-ed-from-haiti-to-cuba-a-vision-for-the-caribbean-in-2030/ From Haiti to Cuba: A vision for the Caribbean in 2030: caribjournal.com
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/complant-workers-protest COMPLANT workers protest: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130511/lead/lead6.html Pit latrines pose public health risk at St. Mary’s Primary: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130511/letters/letters8.html No water for farmers in Llandewey for decades: Letter to the Editor/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130511/letters/letters2.html Emergency call to action for Child Month: Letter from Jamaica Youth Action Network to the Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130512/lead/lead61.html Condoms or abstinence: Guidance counselors ponder the best fit for schools: Sunday Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/High-school-standard-bearers-of-excellence-_14239025 High school standard bearers of excellence? Lascelve Graham op-ed/Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130511/lead/lead5.html Mount Olivet Boys’ Home a refuge from abuse: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Saturday-Social_14239033 Saturday Social: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-107/33829 More assistance for local exporters: Jamaica Information Service
We are refreshed by the rain, which has been coming down in oodles for the past few days, every afternoon on cue. It has turned the streets of Kingston into chaos and our lawn into a kind of marshland (previously it was desert). We are nevertheless thankful.
All that wet stuff has not washed away all the silliness that has been going on this week though, sadly. For a start…
The terrors of tweeting: The curse of the tweet has descended on Jamaica. You would think that our public officials would have learned from the sticky situations their overseas counterparts have got themselves into in the not too distant past. But Kingston’s Mayor dipped her toes into these dangerous waters, and got bitten. She used some of her 140 characters to exclaim “What the f!” and went on to complain that two Opposition representatives (including the leader) were appearing on the mid-week television current affairs shows. Now we all know what the “f” in the social media term WTF means (no, it does not stand for “frog”) and the Mayor pretty much acknowledged this in a sort of half-apology during a radio interview with Barbara Gloudon. So let’s move on from that, and the self-righteous indignation. Yes, certainly inappropriate for someone in her position, but let’s not overreact.
The show must go on: Several journalists responded sharply on social media and radio to the Mayor’s accusation of political bias. They pointed out (in fact, one even listed) the number of times they have requested the participation of the Prime Minister and other government officials, who have declined the requests. And the media knows that the show must go on, with or without them. Note: Mayor Angela Brown Burke is a stalwart of the People’s National Party and leader of the Kingston & St. Andrew Corporation, representing the majority party. Mayors are not directly elected in Jamaica – except for the Mayor of the Municipality of Portmore.
More importantly…This is all another manifestation of the uncomfortable relationship between the current administration and the media. Isn’t it? So badly out of sync. If I was the Prime Minister, I would gently relieve the current communications consultants (or whatever they call themselves) of their duties, and start afresh with a new “team.” At the moment, the whole thing is lurching from one faux pas to another. It’s painful to watch. And so unnecessary.
Is the press really free, or just comfortable? And talking of the press, there were some interesting remarks at the Press Association of Jamaica’s breakfast in recognition of World Press Freedom Day on Friday, May 3. The church person I have a great deal of time for, the head of Jamaica’s Anglican Church Bishop Howard Gregory, said he did not think either the current administration or the Opposition would want a Commission of Enquiry into the Tivoli Gardens slaughter, as suggested by the Public Defender and others. Why? Because “the complicity factor operates,” says Bishop Gregory. Both political parties will seek to preserve the status quo (see below) and not rock the boat. Who knows what might come out? It might not look good on either party. Best to just let sleeping dogs lie… or in this case, well over seventy dead Jamaicans. Professor Trevor Munroe of National Integrity Action warned against the “nine-day wonder” phenomenon, which a certain local government councilor predicted for the Azan affair recently. Soon blow over. Don’t let this happen! And broadcast journalist Emily Crooks suggested that her colleagues were “not pushing the envelope” – and were, therefore, quite comfortable compared to colleagues around the world who are harassed, attacked, even killed. We need a more “activist” and investigative press, one feels. Complacency is never desirable. The press must, and should, be prepared to rock that boat until the water slops over the sides.
Thievery reaches new heights: With the theft of over 200,000 liters of airplane fuel from the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay. Pardon the pun. The mind boggles. How? We wait with bated breath for more news on this… Or else we might just forget to ask?
Houses for the poor: Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller seems mighty pleased with her latest plan to revive the Inner City Housing Project, using funds from the poor old National Housing Trust (NHT) – the gift that keeps on giving. There, you see! She is doing something for the poor, after all. Who said she didn’t love them? Others are not so impressed. Responding to a question on TVJ News earlier this week, 91 per cent of viewers said that NHT funds should not be used to assist non-contributors. In a Sunday Gleaner column today, the irreverent Gordon Robinson asks: ”Why are otherwise intelligent persons twisting themselves into knots to defend this indefensible rape of poor people’s assets?” I think he (and we) know a few reasons why. One must not upset the applecart, as that sage People’s National Party councilor told CVM Television in relation to the Richard Azan/Spaldings Market fiasco. All hail the status quo! Long may it live!
Incidentally, the Prime Minister said she had no knowledge of the councilor’s remarks, when questioned by CVM. Rather surprising. Or not?
What Negril does/does NOT have: We noted recently that the tourist town of Negril is extremely short of water. We also now hear that it has had no fire engine for the past two months, and is dependent on trucks from the town of Savannah-la-Mar, a good twenty minutes’ drive away. A large house burnt down yesterday. As the Jamaica Environment Trust notes, the beach is rapidly disappearing, with the sea lapping at beachside attractions; there are dubious plans to revive it by injecting chemicals into it. Oh, and there is basically no coral reef and no fish – all connected with said dwindling beach, of course. I’m informed, also, that the Negril Recycling Centre, supported by the Sandals Foundation about three years ago, is also non-functioning. The nearest one now is in Montego Bay.
Help JA Children, a local lobby group formed just one year ago and founded by the still-ridiculously-young Brandon Allwood, has started a collection of items for children in state care. The collection drive will go on for the entire month of May (Child Month) at Kia Motors, 2 Chelsea Avenue, in New Kingston. Please go through your cupboards or pop down to the store and donate anything that you can spare – clothes, toys, books, stationery and school items, toiletries… Help JA Children has a Facebook page and is on Twitter (@HelpJAChildren).
Reparations, again: In 2001, our very own Barbara Blake Hannah – a passionate Rastafarian defender of Jamaica’s culture – attended the United Nations World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa. The conference made 19 excellent recommendations for ways in which the evils of slavery could be atoned for by, in Jamaica’s case, the British Government. A British Lord, Anthony Gifford – a Queen’s Counsel who practices law in Jamaica and the UK – has campaigned tirelessly on the subject; and so has the Jamaica Labour Party’s Mike Henry. And yet, sadly, little or no progress has been made. Essentially, the British have said sorry, but no. The discussions continue. Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves spoke for a remarkable 87 minutes (according to tweets from friends who attended) at the launch of a new book on the topic by Professor Hilary Beckles at the University of the West Indies this week. Mr. Gonsalves has offered to host a Caribbean conference on the topic in his country, at which he will no doubt drone on for another 87 minutes. To my mind, this does not advance us any further. What next? Not more words, please? Let’s have action! It is a burning question, it needs to be resolved, and long speeches are not going to cut it.
But then, this is part of the Pontification Syndrome for which Jamaica is well known. We talk too much!
I hate Page 2: In the current socio-economic climate, my dislike for the social pages in the daily newspapers has been steadily growing. I am developing a real hatred for Page Two and Something Extra and all the other nonsense. I think I am going to start a Campaign for the Abolition of Social Pages (CASP for short). Seriously. They are irrelevant, elitist, classist, and actually rather offensive – in light of the fact that when the IMF funds were disbursed, the government had to ask for a special sum up front for “budgetary support.” So they could pay public sector wage bills for April, perhaps? So can we wave goodbye to those people with drinks in their hands, posing for their photo? Goodbye!
Once again, it is very sad to note the names of those who have been murdered in Jamaica since Wednesday, May 1, when I wrote my last review. My condolences to all those who mourn them (and to the family, friends and neighbors of the twelve-year-old girl who committed suicide in rural St. Catherine last week):
Violet Marsh, 63, Temple Hall, St. Andrew
Phillip Bell, 39, Seaforth, St. Thomas
Leroy Reid, 42, Naggo Head, St. Catherine
Constable Michael Townsend, Effortville District, Clarendon
Killed by the police:
Orane Bowman, Clarendon
Related links and articles (local blogs in purple):
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/pnp-members-apologise-for-controversial-tweets PNP members apologize for controversial tweets: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130504/cleisure/cleisure1.html Controversy in 140 characters: Gleaner editorial
http://perceptualpost.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/can-you-hear-me-now/ Can you hear me now? Communication problems at Jamaica’s local government level: Perceptual Post
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/-Our-journalists-are-not-killed-but-many-stories-die-_14196488 ”Our journalists are not killed, but many stories die”: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130505/lead/lead7.html Jamaican journalists challenged to improve standards: Sunday Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/The-people-vs-Portia_14185042#disqus_thread The people vs Portia: Lloyd B Smith op-ed/Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Jamaica-will-find-it-difficult-to-implement-IMF-targets–Fitch-says Jamaica will find it difficult to implement IMF targets, Fitch says: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130505/focus/focus1.html Lack of accountability in the budget debate: Robert Wynter column/Sunday Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/33766 NDX Saves Gov’t $17 Billion in Payments Per Year on Domestic Bonds: Jamaica Information Service
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/our-to-hold-public-meetings-on-request-for-increased-water-rates OUR to hold public meetings on request for increased water rates: RJR News
http://www.solarbuzzjamaica.com/2013/05/energy-bill-reduction-falls-short-of-target/ Energy bill reduction falls short of target: Solar Buzz Jamaica
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Paulwell-s-statement-on-CAP-not-true–says-Golding_14191572 Paulwell’s statement on CAP not true, says Golding: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/33758 Clarendon Alumina Partners no cost on budget – Finance Minister: Jamaica Information Service
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20100423/lead/lead10.html NHT’s Inner City Housing Project causes headache: Gleaner – April, 2010
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130501/lead/lead1.html PM revives housing plan: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130505/cleisure/cleisure2.html The great NHT robbery: Gordon Robinson column/Sunday Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Upgraded-facility-to-benefit-St-Mary-farmers_14189002 Upgraded facility to benefit St. Mary farmers: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130504/western/western1.html Public beaches raise a stink: Gleaner
http://lowrie-chin.blogspot.com/2013/05/be-more-selective-ffpj-chair-andrew.html?m=1 ”Be more selective”: Food for the Poor Jamaica Chair Andrew Mahfood: lowrie-chin.blogspot.com
http://anniepaul.net/2013/05/04/britains-black-debt-the-logic-of-reparation/ Britain’s black debt: The logic of reparation: anniepaul.net
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Cut-the-talk-and-cut-the-red-tape_14201352 Cut the talk and cut the red tape: Sunday Observer editorial
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/RICHARD-AZAN–The-story-not-yet-told_14191123 Richard Azan: The story not yet told: Desmond Allen article/Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Spalding-shops–Parish-Council-knew_14201657 Spalding shops: Parish Council knew: Sunday Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130503/cleisure/cleisure1.html Beyond Mr. Witter’s windy diatribe: Gleaner editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130503/letters/letters3.html Witter wrong on ICC enquiry: Letter to the Editor from Lloyd D’Aguilar/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130503/lead/lead3.html We want $1 millon each: Tivoli residents put price on their loss: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Don-t-hold-your-breath-_14198207 Anglican bishop says government will do nothing about Tivoli report: Jamaica Observer
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/jamaicas-image-in-jeopardy-if-no-tivoli-enquiry-human-rights-activist Jamaica’s image in jeopardy if no Tivoli enquiry says human rights activist: RJR News
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/-Dudus–should-testify—Witter_14198889 ”Dudus” should testify – Witter: Sunday Observer
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130503/news/news10.html No disciplinary action yet – Albert Corcho: Jamaica Star
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/33762 Children’s Advocate calls for partnerships: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Give-us-clarity–Minister-Thwaites_14190349 Give us clarity, Minister Thwaites: Letter from Senator Kamina Johnson Smith/Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Child-s-suicide-leaves-void-in-St-Catherine-village_14198680 Child’s suicide leaves void in St. Catherine village: Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Revealing-Jamaica-s-soul_14198396 Revealing Jamaica’s soul: Jamaicans for Justice op-ed/Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Should-contraceptives-be-introduced-in-schools_14190754 Should contraceptives be introduced in schools? Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Contraceptives-in-schools–Don-t-just-dismiss-it_14197942 Contraceptives in schools: Don’t just dismiss it: Sunday Observer
http://digjamaica.com/blog/2013/05/03/chart-of-the-week-putting-all-our-eggs-in-one-basket-cargo-continues-to-decline/ Chart of the Week: Putting All our Eggs in One Basket? Cargo continues to decline: diGJamaica
http://perceptualpost.com/tablets-for-a-wounded-jamaica/ ”Tablets” for a wounded Jamaica: perceptualpost.com
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/-Time-for-Penwood-to-settle-down-_14189985 ”Time for Penwood to settle down”: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130505/lead/lead2.html Was Penwood stabbing staged for YouTube? Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130505/lead/lead3.html Prisoners party at Tower Street: Sunday Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/chronic-shortage-of-special-education-teachers Chronic shortage of special education teachers: RJR News
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Sports—the-opium-of-our-high-schools_14192172 Sports: The opium of our high schools: Lasceive Graham op-ed/Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Round-and-around-and-around-and-around-we-go_14192177 Round and around and around and around we go: Tamara Scott Williams column/Sunday Observer
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/33761 ODPEM gearing up for active hurricane season: Jamaica Information Service
http://jablogz.com/2013/05/portrait-of-an-elderly-man/ Portrait of an elderly man: lovely artwork from a young man from St. Mary: jablogz.com
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/influential-jamaican-saxophonist-cedric-brooks-dies-at-70/2013/05/04/80c5a052-b4e2-11e2-9fb1-62de9581c946_story.html Influential Jamaican saxophonist Cedric Brooks dies at 70: Washington Post”
What happened to the Negril Recycling Centre? Undated photo from Sandals Foundation showsHeidi Clarke (third left), director of programmes at the Sandals Foundation, hands over a cheque valued at $320,000 to Carey Wallace, president of the Negril Chamber of Commerce, operators of the Negril Recycling Centre. Looking on are Mark Swainbank of Environmental Resources Management (from left); Junior Gordon, director of the Negril Chamber of Commerce and general manager for Grand Pineapple Negril; Jermaine Robinson, manager of the Negril Chamber of Commerce; and Peter Reid, manager of the Negril Recycling Centre.
Dear and faithful readers: I hope you are finding the two-part review more convenient and timely. I certainly find it much more manageable, from the writing point of view! As you will see, I still add a lot of links at the end of the post, so that you can do further reading on the various topics. My two-part news reviews now appear on Wednesdays and Sundays.
The PM and the press: The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) met with Information Minister Sandrea Falconer on Thursday to discuss the issue of media access to the Prime Minister. How could this really be an issue? But there you go; it is. As the PAJ noted before, the Prime Minister has not done any “substantive” media interview since taking office fifteen months ago. Minister Falconer said this was not quite true. But sorry – I just don’t remember many “impromptu” interviews. The Prime Minister never does a press briefing alone. She is always flanked by several other protective ministers. I am also wondering about this “Support Unit” that the Prime Minister takes with her everywhere. How many are there and what do they do?
Blast from the past: The final sentence in the Jamaica Information Service press release (link below) caught my eye. “The (Information) Minister was accompanied by members of the Prime Minister’s Support Unit and Head of the Minister’s Taskforce [to keep press in line], Colin Campbell.” Slight raise of the eyebrows there. Mr. Campbell is a former Information Minister, People’s National Party general secretary and Member of Parliament, a man who is (or was) under a bit of a shadow in connection with the 2007 Trafigura scandal (alleged campaign donations to the party). He has been keeping a low profile for the past few years – apart from writing a newspaper article last December attacking the outgoing Contractor General (who, of course, investigates matters like Trafigura). Campbell called the CG “an abject failure.” Meanwhile, I understand the PAJ’s Vice President Arthur Hall says that the organization will not be part of any “protocol” to restrict access to Ms. Simpson Miller. This is, very definitely, the thin end of the wedge, and the PAJ recognizes it as such.
Paulwell announced some things: As I have noted before, I like Minister Phillip Paulwell because he seems to stay focused, generally restrains himself from scoring cheap political points, and actually seems to want to get things done. His contribution to the Budget Debate last week certainly contained much food to chew on. The government has decided not to sell its 45% stake in the hugely loss-making Clarendon Alumina Partners (the bauxite plant), Paulwell announced; although the Finance Minister had said something different. So this is a little confusing. The majority owners, Alcoa and Glencore, have written a report on the matter, that will be made public soon.
Venezuelan grey areas: The future of the long-delayed expansion of the Petrojam oil refinery now seems gravely in doubt, according to Minister Paulwell; the Venezuelan government has been a 49% shareholder since 2006. The death of Hugo Chavez and the election of the so far unimpressive Nicolas Maduro has also raised questions over the PetroCaribe agreement, on which Jamaica and other Caribbean nations are (too) heavily dependent. Minister Paulwell must be feeling very antsy about our socialist friends; Jamaica needs to know what’s happening, ASAP.
On and on and on: Opposition Leader Andrew Holness also made his contribution to the Budget Debate last week. It dragged on all afternoon (three hours). I would like to see all budget speeches shortened to twenty minutes or so. It’s more than possible – just boil down your announcements, package them neatly. There would be no more glazed eyes (and irritating side- conversations) in Parliament. Members would have to sit up and concentrate for a much shorter time. There would be no time for the heckling, aside jokes and guffaws from the other side of the room. Members of the public would be able to tune in and really listen, instead of just having the radio on as a kind of soporific background drawl. Generally, though, the Opposition Leader did quite well, by all accounts. His use of two baskets of groceries, to show how much less we can buy compared to December 2011, was effective and made for good television. He also made ten recommendations to the Government for digging itself out of the economic hole it finds itself in. The speech was remarkably lacking in rancor and political point-scoring. This must have surprised the Government side of the House, who were priming their weapons for battle. The usual insults and “banter” therefore stayed at a manageable level. Good, constructive stuff, Mr. Holness.
Yes, we have drugs: I’ve noticed a remarkable upsurge in major drug busts, lately. Two retirees from Florida have been arrested in connection with the discovery of 350 pounds of marijuana on Navy Island, a beautiful spot just off Port Antonio. 650 pounds of weed was found in West Kingston. 500 pounds of ganja was found in St. Elizabeth, always a productive area. On April 20, a security guard contractor was arrested with a huge amount of cocaine in Montego Bay. Hell, there was even a cocaine find on a Caribbean Airlines flight departing for Florida. Jamaicans are being arrested in the Bahamas and elsewhere on drug charges. One gets the feeling that the “war on drugs” has just been rekindled.
Water, water everywhere: The seaside resort of Negril is parched. During an edition of the call-in radio show “Justice” this week, there was a somewhat futile discussion on what happened to all the water in Negril, how it was being managed, etc. Local residents are upset that water is being diverted to the hotels, and the hotels are upset at having to give refunds to guests who leave because there is no water. Basically, there is not enough to go around. When Negril began developing rapidly some 15-20 years ago (and the Spanish have subsequently moved in with their monstrous hotels) there was concern among some that water, sewage systems etc. might be inadequate. The Powers that Were more or less dismissed these fears in the name of the mighty god of Investment, and we seem to have an insatiable appetite for more tourism rooms. Well, so it has come to pass: no water. Then, of course, there is the disappearing “world famous seven-mile beach” – which can no longer be called seven miles long by any stretch of the imagination. What is the Member of Parliament (also Tourism Minister) doing about all this? He seems to be preoccupied with arguing with his Opposition counterpart about tourism money, at the moment.
Could the Ministry of Foreign Affairs please tell me…? What does the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) do, apart from talk of course? What are its achievements? It has been meeting in Haiti this week. And why do we need to have an Embassy in Ecuador, as Minister of Foreign Affairs AJ Nicholson is suggesting? I thought that diplomatic missions abroad were very costly. What do Jamaica and Ecuador have to offer each other? Is Julian Assange going to be palmed off on us?
More details, please? Of the 4,000 online jobs that the World Bank says it has created for Jamaicans. Wasn’t aware…
Jamaica is slipping: And talking of IT, Jamaica has slipped down the rankings again in the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report – for the seventh consecutive year. With all that Minister Paulwell and IT entrepreneurs are doing (Ingrid Riley is doing a superb job to stimulate start-ups with her Kingston Beta) we are steadily slipping behind – for example, in network readiness, broadband subscribers, e-commerce, venture capital availability, and (depressingly) math and science education. Can we have some more discussion on this? What has gone wrong? Are we just dragging our feet? What do we need to be doing that we are not doing now?
Maybe the Member of Parliament can pay a visit with her Support Team: I hear the deprived and desolate inner-city community of Majesty Gardens (such a tragic misnomer), in the Prime Minister’s constituency, is “tense.” Perhaps their Member of Parliament can pay them a visit soon, and re-ignite the love.
Tears for Dr. Lewin: I was moved by former Prime Minister Edward Seaga’s very emotional farewell to Dr. Olive Lewin at her funeral yesterday. Dr. Lewin was founder of the Jamaican Folk Singers, cultural explorer and invigorator. She was also, as Mr. Seaga pointed out, an incredibly kind and humanitarian woman who cared deeply about our marginalized and poor children and quietly did much good work on their behalf. Mr. Seaga said, in a voice thick with tears, “I wish I could feel it in my heart that she was fully recognized in her own land.” I agree with him – she was not. No pretty speech from the Culture Minister or hugs from the Prime Minister can make up for that.
Phrases I don’t want to hear for a while: “Divine intervention” and “The relevant authorities.”
Tweet-grabbing: The Jamaica Observer is now reprinting Jamaicans’ tweets, with names and Twitter handles – especially the political ones. I am just wondering what the purpose is. If you look at page 27 of today’s Sunday newspaper you will see tweeters clearly identified alongside their tweets on the issue of the Prime Minister and the press. I suppose the newspaper doesn’t have to ask permission, but… They also have an address where you can “email your views” but must include your Twitter handle. Why?
The Energy God doth protest: A dancehall figure called Elephant Man is protesting against wild rumors that he is gay. This is the worst thing you can say to a macho dancehall man, in a sphere where homophobia still reigns supreme. The orange-haired Elephant Man claims to have “thirty-five pickney” [children] so how could he be gay? The last figure bandied about was apparently 22 pickney. Well, he has lived up to his name of “Energy God” it seems, and got busy. Keeping the population levels up there. So long as none of the pickney have orange hair.
I am very sad to report that the following Jamaicans have lost their lives in the past three days, since my last bulletin. My deepest condolences to all their families. Ms. Ricketts’ other son is also hospitalized. I cannot imagine how the father is feeling. I have noticed how often the names of Jamaicans killed by the police are not reported – or, as below, their nicknames are given. I suppose they are not so important?
Richard Aiken, 19, Beckford Town, St. Mary
Shawn Magnus, 31, Parry Town/Ocho Rios, St. Ann
Patrick Shakes, 51, Catadupa, St. James
Kereisha Ricketts, 34, Newtown, Westmoreland
Jafe Francis, 9, Newtown, Westmoreland
Killed by police:
“Piggy Deer,” Gregory Park, St. Catherine
Related articles (local posts in purple):
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130425/cleisure/cleisure2.html Poverty has little bearing on students: Jaevion Nelson column/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130425/lead/lead1.html Change a coming: Energy minister says positive move to reduce electricity rates on the horizon: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Four-bidders-for-power-plant_14144802 Four bidders for new power plant: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130426/business/business4.html Paulwell pins final hopes for Petrojam on Maduro: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130426/lead/lead6.html Bauxite revival: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130426/business/business2.html Jamalco to press ahead with coal plant: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130426/cleisure/cleisure1.html Will CAP decision undermine IMF deal? Gleaner editorial
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Phillips-says-public-sector-agencies-to-be-merged_14152187 Phillips says public sector agencies to be merged: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130426/news/news1.html Paulwell gives tablets to parliamentarians: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Students–teachers-at-30-schools-to-get-free-tablets_14151109 Students, teachers at 30 schools to get free tablets: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Cost-of-living–tun-up-_14143444 Holness blames government for people’s hardships: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130426/lead/lead1.html ”We’ve been butchered”: Holness tells government to backtrack on taxes, pitches 10-point formula: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130426/lead/lead3.html Charting a different course: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=44370 4,000 jobs created for young Jamaicans in virtual economy: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130424/business/business8.html Jamaica dips in new IT rankings: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/New-customs-tax-presents-nightmare-for-small-businesses_14137839 New customs tax presents nightmare for small businesses: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130425/cleisure/cleisure1.html Give details for the June IMF test: Gleaner editorial
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/in-caribbean-gridlocked-courts-hit-by-crime-wave-block-justice-and-stall-lives/2013/04/26/ff6984b0-ae9c-11e2-b240-9ef3a72c67cc_story.html In Caribbean, gridlocked courts hit by crime wave block justice and stall lives: AP/Washington Post
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Mayhem-on-Waltham-Avenue-in-Kingston_14152374 Mayhem on Waltham Avenue in Kingston: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130425/lead/lead2.html ”Let’s go get these bad guys”: U.S. sets eyes on scammers: Gleaner
http://ht.ly/kv5ld ”Dem call it scam, me call it a reparation”: Mark Wilson op-ed/Trinidad Guardian
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130427/lead/lead1.html Rolex probe widens: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20121209/cleisure/cleisure3.html Greg Christie was an abject failure: Colin Campbell op-ed/Gleaner, December 2012
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Shock-arrest_14159903 JPS contractors accused of stealing utility wires, street lamps: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130425/lead/lead91.html American nabbed in Portland drug operation, another on the run: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Cops-keeping-an-eye-on-tense-Majesty-Gardens_14131169 Cops keeping an eye on tense Majesty Gardens: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130425/lead/lead3.html Tivoli residents call on PM to “have a heart”: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130427/cleisure/cleisure1.html Tyranny in the ghetto: Gleaner editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130425/news/news2.html UNICEF donates vehicle to Eve for Life: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/-Show-love-to-our-children-in-entire-month-of-May-_14153267 ”Show love to our children in entire month of May”: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130425/lead/lead8.html Media Association joins PAJ’s call for greater access to public officials: Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/33683 Minister Falconer and PAJ meet on proposed protocol: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/719-children-missing-since-the-start-of-the-year 719 children missing since the start of the year: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130426/letters/letters1.html Gender-based quotas wrong: Letter of the Day/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Anglican-bishops-reject-same-sex-marriage_14150775 Anglican bishops reject same sex marriage: Jamaica Observer
http://jamlink.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=50:ghastly-pit-latrines-at-st-marys&Itemid=191 Ghastly pit latrines at St. Mary’s:
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/CDA-head-says-child-care-facilities-audit-almost-complete_14152607 CDA head says child care facilities audit almost complete: Jamaica Observer
http://arcthemagazine.com/arc/2013/04/usain-bolt-foundation-announces-samsung-camera-workshop-in-jamaica/ Usain Bolt Foundation announces Samsung camera workshop in Jamaica: Arc Magazine
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130425/cleisure/cleisure3.html Divine intervention is the Church promoting peace in the society: Bernard Headley op-ed/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130426/news/news4.html Port Maria Hospital gets well-needed lifeline: Gleaner
Well, dear readers, the first part of my weekly review can be found here: http://petchary.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/midweek-special-a-jamaican-news-update-for-april-17-2013/
Here is Part Two…
“No new taxes”…today: The presentation of the Budget came and went without much fanfare. Local media diligently reported, analyzed and tweeted highlights. But we do know that this annual ritual is…just that. There are likely to be supplemental budgets, adjustments, and the “allocated” amounts may, in fact, never be allocated for their specific purposes, at least not in full. One did however feel irritated by this announcement of “no new taxes” in Parliament. The Finance Minister was duly applauded for it, with the usual loud banging of desks, on his side. The Opposition was not so amused, pointing out that we are still reeling from a huge (J$16 billion) tax package announced in February. And we have a sneaking feeling that there may be more taxes in the offing in the next few months. At least, many callers to radio talk shows seem perturbed about the huge increase in property taxes. We are worried, too. My retired mother-in-law, who is on a pension, has just been hit with a 130 per cent increase. Ours is likely to be similar; and Minister Phillips says properties may be re-evaluated, and taxes increased again on the new valuations.
What about all those who don’t pay? This is just an obsession of mine, but it really bugs me that there are hundreds – nay, thousands – of individuals and organizations out there in society (and you know who you are) who are simply not paying their way. The National Water Commission has just applied for a 19 per cent rate increase, and at the same time we know that huge amounts of water are lost (about thirty per cent I believe) due to theft – and their own carelessness… We know all about the widespread theft of electricity, mainly in inner city communities, many of whom have never paid a “light bill” in their life. And then there are the non-taxpayers. The St. Catherine Parish Council now has to pay for its services – street lights, garbage collection etc – from property taxes only. And it has only ever collected fifty per cent of its property taxes… I wish them luck. Meanwhile, law-abiding Jamaicans have to pay for all this waste and thievery.
At arms’ length: The Prime Minister’s support team kept journalists at a distance as she departed from the Budget debate. For security reasons, it was said. More on this below.
Yes, and the tiefing continues: I thought receiving stolen property was an offense; can someone clarify this please? In any case, the Gleaner reported that a former Mayor has returned a nice Rolex watch he received from a “political activist” who is among five charged with committing a robbery at Swiss Stores in downtown Kingston recently. This is all such inspiring stuff, eh?
Poor farmers: Another kind of thieving that financial analyst Dennis Chung referred to in an interview is what is called “praedial larceny” (a term I had never heard until I came to Jamaica). This means stealing farm produce and livestock, which hard-working farmers have reared and grown. In other words, taking their livelihood away from them. Like Dennis, I cannot understand why this criminal act, which goes on year after year unabated, is not taken more seriously by law enforcement and the courts. Perhaps it is because it affects rural residents, and we really only care about what happens in Kingston and a couple of other towns. I don’t know. But I believe the penalties should be much higher and the pursuit of these criminals should be aggressive and unrelenting. This isn’t happening. And when someone spots an alleged goat thief, an angry and frustrated mob attacks him.
Negative, negative (negative?) Having successfully side-stepped journalists on the way to making a speech, our Prime Minister and leader Portia Simpson Miller referred to the Azan issue. She used the first part of her speech to talk about the prevailing “negative, negative” attitude towards politicians (only one repeat this time – usually it’s two, as in “working, working, working.”) Her stony face and strident tone certainly had a negative effect on me. Why was the Prime Minister so upset?
Young Turks: Veteran journalist Barbara Gloudon is concerned at the prelude to all of this – the post-Cabinet press briefing during which the Information Minister bravely fended off an enthusiastic “tag team” of young broadcast journalists. Minister Falconer wasn’t entirely successful. I described this lively encounter in my Wednesday post. Ms. Gloudon (and government officials, as well as other traditional journalists) are all concerned about this apparent shift in the dynamics of media. But didn’t we all see this new era arriving? Ms. Gloudon writes in her weekly column: “There is very little which does not end up broadcast far and wide, and it doesn’t need old media to do it. Everybody has become his/her own reporter and to hell with the niceties. Everyone has his/her own truth and it can be stretched either way.”
Blame social media: Of course, the dreaded social media is to blame for all this. I trust that no one is thinking of “regulating” it. Russia and China have their own sanitized versions of the social media, while other countries simply throw bloggers in jail, or block the social media. I’m a little concerned – but hopefully with no good reason.
The “gladiators”: The Prime Minister was apparently ruffled at the behavior of our over-zealous “gladiators” as Ms. Gloudon calls them. Ms. Simpson Miller will not comment on the issue of Minister Richard Azan and the seemingly illegal shops, as she says an investigation is going on. The Prime Minister observed, “Why should I make a comment?” adding, somewhat obscurely, “The time has come when we should put country ahead of any personal ambition… I have given all of my adult life to the service of this country…” (Who was she referring to? Over-ambitious journalists? Did she not have ambitions in her long political career, or was it all purely selfless?) The occasion was the opening of a new business showroom. “This should be the news, not anything else!” declared Prime Minister. OK, journalists – you have been told what the news is to be.
Procedure is important: The Prime Minister’s team believe that procedure is important in the interaction between politicians and journalists. Maybe they need to revisit procedures, together.
Laughing it off: Meanwhile, CVM Television’s Andrew Cannon is not letting this go. He did catch Minister Azan and sought to question him, but Azan’s response was, “I sent a release, and that is enough. Have a good evening.” He repeated the last sentence several times and then seemed to find this highly amusing, walking off chuckling with one of his sidekicks. No success for the gladiator there; he did not seem to get the joke. But Mr. Azan seems to have plenty of supporters, mainly members of the People’s National Party. The head of that party’s youth organization (the PNPYO) said it was a “very humanitarian move” to build the shops.
Opening a small can of worms: The #Tissue#Issue has basically remained unresolved. We are really none the wiser. But it seems to have provoked a mini-trade war with Trinidad & Tobago. The issue may go to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for resolution. What a tangled web of toilet paper we weave; a bit like that ad when the whole thing unrolls…
Digicel Foundation: The Digicel Foundation is doing so much good work that it’s hard to keep up with them. Their focus on literacy is excellent and commendable. Now they have teamed up with USAID on an enrichment program that will benefit 40,000. We have to keep fighting the literacy fight.
Crayons do count: And most awesomely (is there such a word?) the local Continental Bakery has donated J$50 million – no mean sum indeed! – to the wonderful Crayons Count program initiated by Ms. Deika Morrison. Of course, she is over the moon. I liked what Continental CEO Gary “Butch” Hendrickson says: “We cannot lose another generation of children in this country; we have lost too many.” For more on the program which is a huge enhancer for early childhood education, go to this website: http://dogoodjamaica.org/crayonscount/ Congratulations to Ms. Morrison – this is her passion. And kudos to Continental!
Ralston Hyman has a dry style. I love his program on Power 106 FM, “Real Business.” I learn a great deal from it. And it’s streamed live on their website, too.
Sadly, more Jamaican citizens are no longer with us. The following have been murdered since my last post on Wednesday:
Michael Coombs, 50, Spanish Town, St. Catherine
Wentworth Patterson, 50, Spanish Town, St. Catherine
Unidentified woman, 20, Greater Portmore, St. Catherine
Garnett Gray, 29, Waterford, St. Catherine
Silbeta Brown, 52, Hopeton District, Manchester
Kareem Hines, 29, Montego Bay, St. James
Carlton Stone, 39, Montego Bay, St. James
Bryan English, 42, Robin’s Bay, St. Mary
Killed by police
Michael Robinson, 41, Molynes Road, Kingston
Errol Irvin, 22, St. Catherine North
Related articles. Local blog posts are in purple…
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130419/lead/lead1.html The nation welcomes…no new taxes: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Shaw-accuses-Gov-t-of-deception-after-Phillips–announcement_14101004 No new taxes? Shaw accuses Government of deception after Phillips announcement
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/February-tax-package-no-secret—Phillips_14115125 February tax package no secret – Phillips: Sunday Observer
http://rjrnewsonline.com/business/full-text-of-budget-presentation-by-finance-minister-dr-peter-phillips Full text of budget presentation by Finance Minister Dr. Peter Phillips: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=44217 Phillips can’t say if property taxes will go up again: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130419/lead/lead2.html IMF deal by early May: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130421/focus/focus5.html Beyond the IMF: Ten things we must do to stimulate growth: Michael Ennis column/Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130419/lead/lead9.html Unemployment on the rise: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130419/letters/letters7.html A dry dock facility, seriously? Letter to the Editor/Gleaner from Jamaica Welding Institute
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/opposition-demands-removal-of-restrictions-to-interviewing-prime-minister Opposition demands removal of restrictions to interviewing Prime Minister: RJR News
https://www.facebook.com/notes/think-jamaica/to-the-21st-century-journalists/372179526232136 To the 21st century journalists: Facebook Note by Durie Dee
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Tag-teaming-the-minister-_14100136 Tag teaming the minister: Barbara Gloudon column/Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Honourable-means-honourable_14083533 Honorable means honorable: Letter to the Editor/Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130419/letters/letters3.html Questions on Azan-Spaldings Market saga: Letter to the Editor/Gleaner from Paul Ashley
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130421/cleisure/cleisure2.html Azan, defiance and impeachment: Gary Spaulding article/Sunday Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Leadership–governance-and-the-reform-agenda_14110492 Leadership, governance and the reform agenda: Claude Robinson column/Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Runwiddit–again_14101237 Runwiddit, again: Tamara Scott-Williams column/Sunday Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130421/lead/lead4.html Poorly-paid politicians: Jamaican political leaders among the worst paid in the region: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130419/lead/lead7.html Ex-Mayor returns Rolex: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=44251 Guardsman confirms arrest of a contractor in St. James drug bust: Sunday Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/arrest-warrant-issued-for-movado Arrest warrant issued for Mavado: RJR News
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Penwood-student-didn-t-have-to-die_14109184 Penwood student didn’t have to die: Sunday Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130421/lead/lead5.html Annual national survey on prisons shows mega increase in career criminals: Sunday Gleaner
http://dcjottings.blogspot.com/2013/04/if-we-are-to-solve-our-crime-problem.html If we are to solve our crime problem: dcjottings.blogspot.com
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=44255 Holness says state must adopt pro-citizen stance: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130419/news/news4.html Colin Mann freed of charges: Jamaica Star
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130421/news/news1.html Lessons from Boston – cops want more CCTVs: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130420/cleisure/cleisure1.html The new gun ID fallacy: Gleaner Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Gov-t-tables-CCJ-Bills_14100593 Government tables CCJ Bills: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130419/news/news1.html Gay students overrun school! Jamaica Star
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130421/ent/ent1.html Gender gap still hurts: Entertainers feel there is a far way to go before equality obtains: Sunday Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/row-deepens-over-renaming-of-cornwall-regional-hospital Row deepens over renaming of Cornwall Regional Hospital: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=44207 Theft of JPS cables resulted in corporate area water problems: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130421/lead/lead7.html Help coming for 40,000 students: Digicel Foundation and USAID join forces to increase literacy levels: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130419/cleisure/cleisure1.html The toilet paper debate: Gleaner editorial
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/toilet-paper-row-dispute-between-jamaica-and-tt-heading-to-caricom Toilet paper row dispute between Jamaica and TT heading to CARICOM: RJR News
This is the first of my twice-weekly bulletins. I am attempting to break down my focus on Jamaican happenings into more digestible chunks… Let me know what you think.
The Azan mess: On Monday, the Office of the Prime Minister issued a press release on the matter of the construction of allegedly illegal shops on government-owned land near the Spaldings Market in Clarendon, allegedly under the aegis of Member of Parliament Richard Azan. I use the word “allegedly” because the Simpson Miller administration appears to be retreating behind the quasi-legal argument of “It’s under investigation,” and “He’s innocent until proven guilty.” It’s not the first time the Government has used fake legality to wriggle out of a tight spot. Oh, sorry. The press release said that Minister Azan would remain a minister, pending an investigation by the Office of the Contractor General into the matter; I believe the Local Government Ministry and someone else are also investigating. The press release drew a distinction between Azan’s position as MP and as a Junior Minister in the Ministry of Transport and Works to justify this. This went down like a lead balloon. Disgust, resignation, cynical laughter were among the reactions on social media. The media and public have not stopped discussing it since.
…but no tissue to clean it up: The Bureau of Standards (BSJ) flatly refuses to disclose the names of the four brands (according to their latest release it is now three?) of toilet tissue that are reportedly contaminated with bacterial matter. The Bureau has posted a list of “OK” brands but are still testing. This is just a disgrace. Our tissue at home is not on the list. Is it contaminated? Well, sorry, you can’t have that information…
Corruption is only part of the story: The Prime Minister, in her inauguration speech of January, 2012, pledged a “zero tolerance” approach to corruption. But is the Azan affair simply a corruption issue? Mr. Azan said he had not benefited personally in any way from the Spaldings shops; but that is not the whole issue. This is poor judgment at best; and also a breach of regulations and possibly of the Parish Councils Act. Aren’t our elected public servants to abide by laws and regulations? After all, we ordinary citizens have to obey those laws. We don’t have the luxury of going back afterwards and say, “Oh, sorry, my bad…” Mr. Azan has admitted he made an “error”; therefore, why not at least step aside until the investigation is complete?
“He’s only human”: Yes, Minister Peter Bunting’s tears continue to resonate with some. He lost his mother, yes; he has so much to deal with, poor man. Yes, we are all human. But we elected him to lead, not to cry on our shoulder. Hard-hearted I may be. But if one can’t stand the heat… I would suggest that a man who has had a comfortable middle-class life, with a highly successful investment firm that basically took margins on government paper (nothing too tricky there), is bound to feel out of his depth tackling the complexities of Jamaica’s myriad crime issues. Yes, I do feel sorry for you, Mr. Bunting, because you have admitted failure. I think the Prime Minister should consider finding a new National Security Minister, who is not going to throw up his hands in despair and invoke divine intervention, in public. We need leadership and direction; not a public confessional.
The churches love it: Minister Bunting has certainly got the powerful and influential “Church” on his side. Of course, they agree on the Divine Intervention part. Another Member of Parliament, Mikael Phillips, dropped in a comment in a television interview on the importance of D.I., also scoring brownie points with the evangelicals. Now the Church is going to sit down and meet with Minister Bunting; and they are even considering the novel idea of mediation, according to a church leader. Never heard of mediation before, Reverend?
The journalistic tag team: The Minister of Information conducted the post-Cabinet press briefing today. Our elusive Prime Minister was absent. It was quite a departure from the usual briefing, during which journalists sit quietly and write down, word for word, the pronouncements of the Information Minister and others. I used to think, why not just hand out a sheet of paper to them all and have them duplicate it in the office? But our journalists are getting braver. Minister Falconer’s schoolmistressy voice and stern gaze did not deter a trio of intrepid broadcast journalists (the print media seems a little quiet these days) from besieging her with questions on the Azan issue. It was a little tag team of young men – Abka Fitz-Henley of Nationwide News Network, Andrew Cannon of CVM Television and Archibald Gordon of TVJ. Ms. Falconer remained fairly calm, and tried very hard to shut them down (“I am not going to say any more on this matter…I don’t want to comment further”) but started wading into deep water. It was not pretty, but she struggled through.
The Silent One: One would have thought that the Prime Minister would have spoken on the Azan issue. But no word directly from her. It appears that the Cabinet made a collective decision. Should she not have exercised some leadership here? But no. Silence.
Patriarchy rules OK: At the same press briefing, BSJ Chairman and Professor of Public Health Winston Davidson did not endear himself. He said there was “no need for mass hysteria” (yes, those silly hysterical women worried about vaginal infections) over the #TissueIssue. He stressed his decades of experience in such matters, describing the whole matter as of “minuscule” importance in the scheme of things – like most issues affecting women, perhaps. He said because it is so unimportant, no one should bother trying to file a lawsuit on the matter, or they will lose a lot of money. Meanwhile, the Bureau is hiding behind the “legality” of the matter and apparently fears a lawsuit itself – hence the non-disclosure.
The Silent One again: Could she, as a woman and responsible minister for women’s affairs, have put out a reassuring comment re: the #TissueIssue? No. Silence.
The last word: Thank God for Simon Crosskill, my new feminist hero! He really laid into the bureaucrats on the #Tissue#Issue. “How dare you” exercise this blatant discrimination against women, he said. He suggested that if a product affected men’s testicles (!) the matter would have been addressed very quickly indeed. Marvelously trenchant remarks. But although toilet tissue may have sparked hundreds of witty tweets, the issue of accountability, transparency and serving the public health interest is a very serious one indeed. How can they keep this information from us?
Ganja is not a seaweed: This comment by a Resident Magistrate made me laugh. She was listening to the pleas of a group of accused drug dealers, who allegedly threw their load of marijuana (ganja) overboard. I guess it didn’t sink.
A pat on the back: Last week in Miami, businesswoman and philanthropist Thalia Lyn received the Humanitarian Award from the American Friends of Jamaica, which is headed by the indefatigable former Ambassador to Jamaica Sue Cobb.
In the past three days, more Jamaicans have died, including a senior citizen in Kingston. What a sad world we live in.
Paul Brown, 55, Cabbage Hill/Cumberland, Clarendon
Lauriston McLarty, 93, Gilmore Drive, Kingston
Bundin Roper, 67, Tower Street, Kingston
Unidentified man, Harbour View, Kingston
Rosemarie Taylor, 44, Shanty Town/Bath, St. Thomas
Killed by police
Barrington McAnuff, 20, Lilliput, St. James
Related links: Local contributions in purple! If you pick out the links of interest to you, you will find much more detail on the above riveting stories!
Parched Earth Sunday: April 14, 2013 petchary.wordpress.com
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/OCG-probing-construction-of-shops-at-Spalding-market OCG probing construction of shops at Spalding Market: Jamaica Observer
http://thecrooksofit.livejournal.com/2338.html Probe of Clarendon market – official statement: thecrooksofit live journal
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/list/33576 Cabinet welcomes OCG probe into Spaldings Market shops issue: Jamaica Information Service
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130415/cleisure/cleisure1.html Callow Barnswell, shameless Azan: Gleaner editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=44128 I had no corrupt intentions, says Richard Azan: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130417/letters/letters1.html Will Azan prove himself to be an honorable man? Letter of the Day/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130416/cleisure/cleisure4.html Mayor Barnswell, you just don’t get it! Letter to the Editor/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Of-a-PM-s-persistent-silence_14077733 Of a PM’s persistent silence: Letter to the Editor/Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130417/cleisure/cleisure1.html The PM’s divestment of leadership: Gleaner editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130417/letters/letters1.htmlhttp://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Harrison-hits-out-at-corruption_14067493 Harrison hits out at corruption: Jamaica Observer
http://www.og.nr/rbt/13479-indecom-15-increase-in-fatal-shootings-by-the-police.html 15 per cent increase in fatal shootings by the police: On The Ground News Report
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130415/lead/lead1.html ”We feel like targets”: Clarendon business circle wary after murders: Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/farm-supervisor-gunned-down-in-st-thomas Farm supervisor gunned down in St. Thomas: RJR News
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/A-dark-night-of-the-soul_14082950 ”A dark night of the soul”: Full text of Minister Bunting’s remarks: Jamaica Observer
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/bunting-reaffirms-his-commitment-to-crime-fighting Bunting reaffirms his commitment to crime fighting: RJR News
http://lowrie-chin.blogspot.com/2013/04/un-must-act-now-for-safer-world.html UN must act now for safer world: lowrie-chin.blogspot.com
http://go-jamaica.com/news/read_article.php?id=44105 Swap the Peters: Gleaner/Power 106 FM
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Clampdown-_14068063 Over 20 government employees arrested in motor vehicle license racket: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Bunting-faces-contempt-of-court-action_14053699 Bunting faces contempt of court action: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130415/news/news8.html Jamaicans held for allegedly trafficking ganja: Jamaica Star
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/JLP-dismay-_14069932 JLP dismay! Party officials unhappy with latest Holness move: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130416/lead/lead7.html Shaw upset at being left out of party meeting: Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/bureau-of-standards-defends-decision-to-withhold-names-of-tissue-brands Bureau of Standards defends decision to withhold names of tissue brands: RJR News
http://cucumberjuice.wordpress.com/2013/04/16/toilet-paper-governance/ Toilet paper governance: cucumberjuice.wordpress.com
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130417/lead/lead7.html ”Women can take tissue issue to court”: Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/33583 Statement from Ministry of Health on contaminated tissue: Jamaica Information Service
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130416/cleisure/cleisure5.html NAJ President has a sick sense of logic: Letter to the Editor from a General Practitioner: Gleaner
http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2013/apr/16/jamaica-decades-debt-damaging-future Jamaica’s decades of debt are damaging its future: Guardian UK blog
http://digjamaica.com/blog/2013/04/15/further-slippage-bauxite-alumina-industry/ Further slippage: bauxite and alumina industry: diGJamaica.com
http://digjamaica.com/blog/2013/04/17/3688/ Inflation for March soars: diGJamaica.com
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/33580 International investors very keen on logistics hub initiative: Jamaica Information Service
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130417/business/business1.html Demystifying the logistics hub: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130417/ent/ent1.html Unlikely stars: Jamaicans become hugely popular on YouTube: Gleaner (re: fellow blogger/vlogger Carla Moore)
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130416/lead/lead3.html ”We want no condoms in schools”: JTA President says distribution would be unethical, illegal: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Gov-t-optimistic-about-new-funding-for-HIV-programmes_14083660 Government optimistic about new funding for HIV programs: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130415/news/news5.html 18 children benefit from heart surgery: Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-100/33570 Help for boys of Goodwin Park Hostel: Jamaica Information Service
Who is building Richard Azan’s home ? (commonsenseja.wordpress.com)
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
Yesterday, the tremor of Carnival shook the air. As the tired afternoon faded, the sounds continued, although more muted than earlier. Yes, it was party time again, and my Twitter feed was replete with photographs of festooned and feathered bodies, pouting faces with glitter attached to cheekbones and eyelids. Yes, it’s only once a year…
So on to the week’s shenanigans:
Stop press: The International Monetary Fund has just issued a statement on Jamaica, indicating that all documents are now in order and it is ready to submit Jamaica’s case to its board, which will meet by the end of April. You will find the statement here (note final paragraph): http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pr/2013/pr13107.htm
The mystery of it all: Last weekend, a burglary took place at a well-groomed villa in the lush and secluded San San, Portland. Depending on which report you read, a laptop, jewelry and cell phones were stolen – give or take a few items. Depending on which report you read, the stolen goods did/did not belong to National Security Minister Peter Bunting. Depending on which report you read, Minister Bunting was/was not with a female companion/two female companions. They were/were not held up at knife-point while sitting by the pool. The first reports that floated through Twitterland over the Easter weekend told one story. It seemed to be from the San San police, who are but a stone’s throw away from the villa. This report was seemingly quickly overridden by the police High Command, after the Minister himself dismissed the knife-point version of events. Now the local police and residents have reportedly taken a vow of silence. Will we ever know what really happened? Meanwhile, on Friday a man was charged with a “lesser offense” - housebreaking/larceny. The stolen goods were recovered, somehow; many theories about this, too. And where were the minister’s security men? The Gleaner calls it a “lack of clarity” involving, of all people, our National Security Minister.
A “flood tide of disrespect for the nation’s leaders”? This is how veteran journalist Barbara Gloudon described the public and media reaction to the murky “burglary” affair. Respect, as we have noted, is one of those two-way things. When did our politicians last show the people “true respect for all,” as noted in the Jamaican national anthem? Just asking.
Austerity begins at home: One of the intrepid journalists of Nationwide News Network managed to catch the Prime Minister outside a meeting one day last week, and asked her about U.S. President Barack Obama‘s five per cent pay cut. He had the temerity to ask our nation’s leader whether she might be willing to follow the President’s example. After being told that “this is not a press conference,” (?) Ms. Simpson Miller informed the young reporter that she was already making sacrifices. Of what nature, one might ask? Well, she lives at her private home and not at the old colonial Prime Minister’s residence in Vale Royal, Kingston (which already had some $14 million allocated for its upkeep in the new budget). So tell me now, does the Prime Minister not receive allowances for living in her own home, also? Maintenance, security (which is on the public purse – policemen?), wages of household workers etc? Someone, please correct me if I am wrong.
…and in the air: The Prime Minister also informed the reporter that she has foregone attendance at many conferences that she has been invited to, thus saving a packet on overseas travel – which, of course, is always first class. (“I don’t fly econ,” our leader announced during a speech recently. Her Ministers and Government agency heads are still “not flying econ” to Miami and beyond, though?) I would like to know how much has been saved by not attending these conferences?
Can we tone down the tone, please? That aggressive/defensive tone of voice is aggravating and comes across as arrogant. Please talk to us like human beings. Even the media are human beings, although that may be hard for politicians to conceive.
Nuh Go Deh: I don’t usually listen to the pulpit rantings of churchmen on television news, but Pastor Joseph Rose of the First Born Assembly put it succinctly. He told dons and older men: “Leave the pickney alone!” The non-governmental organization Eve for Life has been campaigning for some time about sex with children. Older men watch young teens grow up, discuss them among themselves, and literally prey on the girls. We need to change the hearts and mindset of these men, who encourage each other in this “macho” pursuit. We need to tell them, “Nuh go deh!” (Don’t go there). I fail to understand how forcing young girls – children – to have sex somehow enhances your manliness and your prestige. And make no mistake, very many of these sexual encounters are forced. It is in any event statutory rape and thus punishable by a prison term.
Sitting on the Throne: Our Governor General read the Throne Speech at the official opening of Parliament last week. As usual, the female politicians wore nice dresses and matching hats, and were duly celebrated in the Trivial Pages of the newspapers. Sorry, I mean the Social Pages. The gaggles of supporters of each party outside Gordon House were reduced in numbers and more subdued than usual. But please…may I remind Jamaicans that the Governor General represents the Queen of England? He, and not the Prime Minister, is our Head of State. He simply reads out the speech that is written by speechwriters at the behest of the political administration and handed to him by the Prime Minister. The Queen herself does the same thing in England; she reads out whatever meaningless nonsense the Prime Minister hands her. So why did people say they “expected more” from our GG? The speech is an overview of the Government’s plans and policies for the upcoming year. That’s it.
Vague platitudes? What concerns me, however, is the insubstantial nature of the speech. It starts and ends with platitudes (“The bright colors of our National Flag continue to fly in the face of all our difficulties; constantly reminding us that: ‘The land is fertile, the sun shineth and our people are still strong.’…) There is very little in between. Below are the main points:
- The Government wants “long-term concessionary funding” to fight climate change from the “international community.”
- The Government is worried about violence against women and children, and about car crashes. “We have to work much harder” to reduce the bloodshed, it says.
- The Government will go around the country trying to find out why we are not being nice to each other – an attempt to resuscitate the Values and Attitudes program instituted by former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson. The website, http://www.valuesandattitudes.info is under construction. Indeed.
- Having “terminated” the Liquefied Natural Gas program, the Government will look around for renewables etc. and “let the market determine” fuel costs.
- The Government is going to use more computers and be more friendly to the public.
- Aha! Net billing. That’s a good thing. Thanks, Minister Paulwell.
- Remember JEEP? Well, 18,000 Jamaicans were employed under the program last year. They tended grass verges, mended fences and generally tidied up the place.
- The Government has fulfilled all the “prior actions” required by the IMF (see Stop Press above).
- The Government has agreed with said IMF on a “minimum level of support for social intervention programs for the more vulnerable members of our society.” How minimum is that? Who are the vulnerable?
- The Government will try to be more efficient.
- The Government will do a bit more privatization of state assets. It will also try to pin down that nebulous creature, “The Growth Agenda.” Oh, here it is. Some Chinese projects. And aren’t we way behind with the logistics hub? Sounds like it.
- The meaningful part: More reliable and less expensive electricity.
- The Government is going to try to get more Russian tourists (like it tried to get more Chinese, Indians, Latin Americans…)
- The Government will launch eight agro-parks. What is an agro-park?
- Second meaningful part: The legislative agenda. (What is the Charities Bill all about? Taxing charities? “Regulating” them?)
- The JDF will train 500 youth at risk. And offer them jobs?
- The Government will especially strengthen ties with the almost-failed state of Venezuela, where the Chavez candidate told electors that he has put a curse on all who vote against him in the upcoming elections. But it will continue to hug up its “traditional partners” and seek to “enhance the free movement of Jamaican nationals in CARICOM.”
- Education and health: Nothing much.
- The End.
On Health: Or “‘Ealth” as our Minister would pronounce it… This sector gets a few lines in the Throne Speech. And yet, a few days ago, our doctors fell “sick” in protest at their reclassification exercise, which will result in some doctors being paid less than nurses. The ‘Ealth Minister says he is going to review the no-user-fee policy, after consultations. Well, I am glad he is consulting with the public, but hasn’t the decision already been made on that one? As for the Nurses Association of Jamaica, its tirade on radio Friday night left me open-mouthed. The nurses’ president got so carried away she even suggested that we could do without doctors altogether, because nurses are so much more highly qualified and important! Listen, don’t be silly. We need both. And is the government going to shoulder the cost of anti-retroviral drugs for Jamaicans living with HIV for at least the next two years or so, since overseas funding has now ended?
Is it true? Activist Betty Ann Blaine of the New Nation Coalition is calling for an investigation into the alleged purchase of two luxury bullet-proof vehicles at a cost of $30 million. I really don’t want to believe this and trust it is not true. OK. The Minister of Information says it’s NOT true.
How cool is that: Mr. Dennis Chung, the fresh-faced, straight-talking financial analyst, is the new CEO of the highly influential Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica. Many congratulations to the always cool, unpretentious and all-round decent Mr. Chung. I hope he will still have time for his cycling. I am also hoping this will mean the PSOJ focuses more on energy issues. I know renewable energy is a passion of his, and of crucial importance for our economic development. I understand Mr. Chung is himself almost totally “off the grid” at home.
Good works: Food for the Poor paid the fines of 81 prisoners in Jamaica, Haiti, Guyana and Honduras – 37 in Jamaica, just before Easter. These are inmates who were imprisoned simply because they were unable to pay their fines for non-violent, non-drug offenses. This is something Food for the Poor does regularly at Easter and Christmas. Huge kudos to them.
A passionate advocate: I met with the General Counsel of the U.S. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) last week. Her name is Kim Keenan and she is passionate about standing up and garnering support for important causes, pressing them forward. In the face of some “ifs” and “buts” from her audience of community activists and students at the University of the West Indies’ Faculty of Law, Ms. Keenan said “You have to make up your mind to be unpopular…It is never popular to challenge the status quo.” I will write more on this. Thank you so much to the U.S. Embassy’s Public Affairs Section for organizing Ms. Keenan’s visit to Jamaica; it was very timely.
My deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the following Jamaican citizens who were murdered in the past week, including one man who was shot dead as he drove in Half Way Tree, as Carnival revelers were preparing to hit the road in Kingston this morning. The man injured a pedestrian and crashed into a light pole, cutting off electricity in the area. I am not sure whether Carnival participants had to dance through or around the yellow crime scene tape.
Wayne James, 42, Half Way Tree Road, Kingston
Unidentified male, age 15 approx., Rockfort, Kingston
Everton Mills, 54, Red Pond, St. Catherine
Kirk Porter, Bog Walk, St. Catherine
Unidentified, Nain, St. Elizabeth
Edgar Clarke, 74, Bogue Village/Montego Bay, St. James
Devoney Morgan, 34, Whitehouse, Westmoreland
Vincent Brown, 42, Negril, Westmoreland
Related articles with local blog posts in purple:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXMPL0zflGM&feature=youtu.be People and Power: Island of Murder and Music – al Jazeera English
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130402/lead/lead1.html ”Don’t judge victims”: Violence Prevention Alliance head calls for training of police in dealing with abuse complaints: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Understanding-the-right-to-life_14009738 Understanding the right to life: Shawn Wilkinson op-ed/Sunday Observer
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130406/news/news9.html Teacher traumatized by alleged police harassment: Jamaica Star
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130407/cleisure/cleisure2.html Out of the closet, out of Jamaica: Dadland Maye op-ed/Sunday Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Killed-for-naseberries-_13987226 Killed for naseberries? Jamaica Observer
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/childrens-advocate-steps-in-following-assault-on-ward-at-fort-augusta Children’s Advocate steps in following assault on ward at Fort Augusta: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130407/news/news1.html Sick doctors get better: Sunday Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/health-ministry-reviewing-no-user-fee-policy Health Ministry reviewing no-user-fee policy: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130407/news/news2.html Cash crunch grips universities: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130402/cleisure/cleisure1.html Does Bunting get it? Gleaner editorial
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Portland-police–residents-clam-up-about-robbery-of-villa-where-Bunting-was-staying_14013025 Portland police, residents clam up about robbery of villa where Bunting was staying: Sunday Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130407/cleisure/cleisure1.html Outstanding questions on the villa break-in: Sunday Gleaner editorial
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130406/news/news3.html Files show security minister wasn’t robbed: Jamaica Star
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Playing-politics-and-crime_14004987 Playing politics and crime: Barbara Gloudon column/Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130402/letters/letters1.html Letter of the Day: Don’t make MPs ministers: Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/images/pdf/throne%20speech%202013.pdf The Throne Speech: April 4, 2013 – Jamaica Information Service
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130407/focus/focus1.html Benchwarmers all? Lawmakers as quick as snails: Martin Henry column/Sunday Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Is-the-Throne-Speech-losing-its-relevance_14012092 Is the Throne Speech losing its relevance? Sunday Observer
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/cabinet-pay-cut-will-not-improve-countrys-coffers-jcsa Cabinet pay cut will not improve country’s coffers – JCSA: RJR News
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/government-making-sacrifices-says-pm Government making sacrifices, says PM: RJR News
http://digjamaica.com/blog/2013/02/18/list-discretionary-waivers/ List: Discretionary waivers: diGJamaica.com
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130403/lead/lead1.html Never again! Clergyman urges Jamaicans to turn back on populist politics: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/It-s-revival-time-Jamaica-_13979313 It’s revival time Jamaica! Jean Lowrie-Chin column/Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130407/lead/lead4.html One in every three tourists is harassed: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130407/lead/lead1.html Mystery shops and a meddling minister: Sunday Gleaner
http://delanoseiv.wordpress.com/2013/04/05/mrs-simpson-miller-the-exit-is-to-your-left-t-h-i-n-k-jamaica/ Mrs. Simpson Miller, the exit is to your left: delanoseiv.wordpress.com
http://www.imf.org/external/pp/longres.aspx?id=4747 Caribbean Small States: Challenges of High Debt and Low Growth: imf.org
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130407/lead/lead3.html Government to grab $34 billion from state agencies this year: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130407/news/news4.html Secret deal: NHT paid $4 billion into government coffers last year: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130407/letters/letters4.html Has the Government gone mad? Letter to the Editor/Sunday Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/state-of-duhaney-power-station-worries-jps-head State of Duhaney Power Station worries JPS head: RJR News
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Chinese-Kingston-Hotel-targets-2014-opening_13991690 Chinese Kingston hotel targets 2014 opening: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Gov-t-eyeing-Montpelier-agriculture-lands-for-housing Government eyeing Montpelier agricultural lands for housing: Sunday Observer
http://dailycaller.com/2013/04/02/sen-graham-helps-import-jamaicans-for-work-at-elite-country-club/ Senator Graham helps import Jamaicans for work at elite country club: dailycaller.com
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/It-is-an-anachronistic-law_13922806 ”It is an anachronistic law”: Jamaica Observer
http://anniepaul.net/2013/04/07/why-twitter-is-essential-for-journalists/ Why Twitter is essential for journalists: anniepaul.net
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Food-For-the-Poor-secures-release-of-81-prisoners-for-Easter_14012690 Food for the Poor secures release of 81 prisoners for Easter: Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Identity-theft–data-espionage-not-covered-by-2010-Cybercrimes-Act_13963999 Identity theft, data espionage not covered by 2010 Cybercrimes Act: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Breathing-life-into–No-Man-s-Land-_13993565 Breathing life into “No Man’s Land”: Sunday Observer
http://go-jamaica.com/news/read_article.php?id=43818 Tarrant principal wins case after school board bungling: Gleaner/Power 106 FM
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Legal-Rebel_14009511 Kim Keenan putting her stamp on NAACP post: Sunday Observer