It’s been a busy week and I apologize for skipping over my mid-week bulletin. I will try to keep this one snappy though and not twice the length!
The winter games at Sochi have ended, and Jamaica’s bobsled team represented Jamaica incredibly well, bringing extra life and energy to the competition. However, since they failed to win a medal the Jamaican Government chose to ignore them, apart from a Jamaica Tourist Board video that arrived much too late. A Washington Post article summed it up: “The warm reception the Jamaicans received in Sochi stood in stark contrast to the shrugs and indifference they receive at home, where Usain Bolt and the sprinters rule the sports roost and soak up all the local sponsorship money available.” Well, not quite true; many Jamaicans were rooting for them at home, despite their official non-recognition.
A marketing no-brainer: The bobsled team and a promo for the immensely successful “Cool Runnings” film of 1993.
What next for the bobsled team? P.S. Thanks to Samsung for their support too!
Anti-government protests in Caracas, Venezuela, February 14, 2014.
While rival demonstrators were marching in Caracas, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller opened a Venezuelan Government exhibition at the Jamaica Library Service HQ, called “Chavez Was Here.” Calling the late president a good friend of Jamaica, the PM mentioned the PetroCaribe agreement. The current President Maduro does not have the same charisma and political sensibility as his predecessor. He is struggling with high crime, food shortages and economic woes. He is already ruling by decree. Can he hold things together? Is PetroCaribe safe? Time will tell.
I went bird-watching with a group of educators via the Jamaica Environment Trust/Caribbean Birding Trail’s Bird Sleuth program last year. This large area around the pond is now to become a “Chinese Garden.” (My photo)
Talking of friends bearing gifts: Yesterday the PM and other officials broke ground for the J$240 million Chinese Garden inside Hope Gardens. This is a gift from the Chinese Government. Hope Gardens is a much-loved public space, and this large chunk of the gardens (eleven acres) has been fenced off for some time. What will become of our beloved pond, filled with waterbirds? And will the Jamaican public have to pay to enter the Chinese Garden?
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller (right), having a light discussion with Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency, Dong Xiaojun, at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Chinese garden project, at the Hope Botanical Gardens in Kingston, on February 20. The garden, which will be sited on 11 acres at the Lilly (sic) Pond, is the first of its kind in the Caribbean, and is being developed at a cost of $240 million. (Photo: JIS)
And could those millions of dollars not have been put to better use? To build a factory or two? To refurbish some of our dilapidated, neglected schools? To buy desperately-needed cancer equipment for our public hospitals? To fund a major renewable energy project? To purchase ambulances and fire engines? And so on…
“Chinese gardens are designed to express the harmony that should exist between man and nature. As a government, we remain committed to achieving that harmonious balance between the demands and impact of human development, and the care and preservation of our environment,” said the PM, without batting an eyelid, at the ground-breaking for the Chinese Garden. Yes, it’s very balanced in Beijing, where people have to stay indoors because of air pollution. Plenty of harmony planned for the destruction of Goat Islands, too. Oh, and JIS – “lily” is spelt with one “l” before the “y” – not two. Thank you.
“The greatest threat to the environment is poverty.” Finance Minister Peter Phillips trotted out this oft-repeated phrase again last week in connection with Goat Islands. No, Minister, the greatest threat is dynamiting, digging and destroying land, dredging untouched marine environments, and concreting over wetlands.
PPPs are cool…Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller with Acting British High Commissioner to Jamaica and Bahamas, Julia Sutherland, before the start of the February19 session of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) seminar, being hosted by UK Trade and Investment and the Development Bank of Jamaica. (Photo: JIS)
PPPs anyone? Cassava bread sounds actually rather yummy. It’s one of the good things to come out of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Research Days this week and it’s a partnership between UWI, the government and Continental Bakery. This is called a “PPP” - the latest thing the government has latched onto as one of the keys to economic success. Of course, it’s got to be in the interests of the “private” part of the partnership for it to work. Minister Phillips says he hopes the government (and therefore one assumes the people) will make lots of money out of planned PPPs, in connection with Kingston’s Norman Manley International Airport and Kingston Container Terminal. We shall see.
Our PM has been very visible the last two or three weeks, have you noticed? A lot of speeches being made. Now, in her first stint as Prime Minister, I remember her saying she wanted a pastor on every public sector board, to instill the right values. This seems to have fallen by the wayside; but now the PM is urging churches to play a more active role in schools (and what about in society as a whole?) Are we a little disappointed, Madam PM? Minister Peter Bunting is still seeking divine intervention in the crime fight; and another “peace march” is planned in East Kingston today. OK, then…
What is happening with EWI’s license? It seems the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) is now requesting more information from Energy World International (EWI) and Minister Phillip Paulwell, who said on January 19 he would be signing the license in a matter of days, has not yet done so. The OUR has actually not yet received the required information from EWI, including audited financial information, one television station reports. Hmm.
Sympathy: A policewoman offers a drink to Jacqueline Shawna Russell, who lost all her possessions in a fire in East Kingston. Russell was one of 13 victims of the blaze. (Photo: Karl McLarty/Jamaica Observer)
Despair and loss: The despair of a woman (described as an exotic dancer on television news last night) was very moving. She had lost all her possessions in a fire in East Kingston. Ms. Jacqueline Russell (seated, in a red dress in the photograph) said although she didn’t have a “big education” she had always worked to support herself, and never begged anything from anyone. The struggles of the inner-city woman – like many others, trying to keep her independence and her dignity – struck me forcibly as I listened to her hoarse-voiced monologue of grief.
Why has the man riding a jet ski, who struck and killed a tourist in Negril several weeks ago, still not been arrested?
Royal visit? I understand members of the Royal Family are to visit Jamaica next month. This means that the increasingly seedy environs of the City of Kingston might get a hasty face-lift.
University of the West Indies Mona Campus Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal Professor Archibald McDonald (left) shows the university’s cassava bread to Denise Herbol, mission director, USAID; Colombian Ambassador to Jamaica Luis Guillermo Martinez (second left); and Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson during Research Days this week. UWI has entered into partnership with the Government of Jamaica and Continental Baking Company Limited to produce bread and other by-products from cassava. The venture, McDonald said, will save Jamaica $1 billion per year. Research Days ran from February 19 to 21. (Photo: Aston Spaulding/Jamaica Observer)
(l-r) Dr. Marjan de Bruin and Yolanda Paul of UWI HARP with Noelle Ingledew on World AIDS Day last year.
Dr. Marjan de Bruin, Yolanda Paul and all the hard-working members of the UWI HIV/AIDS Response Programme (UWI HARP), who do so much to reach out, educate and raise awareness, in the student community and beyond, on sexual and reproductive health. I admire their energy and good humor!
Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson (left), takes a close look at the $11 million cheque, which Ambassador of Japan to Jamaica, His Excellency Yasuo Takase, (centre) is presenting to Executive Director, Jamaica Society for the Blind (JSB), Lola Marson. The money will go towards the building of the low vision resource centre at the JSB’s premises in St. Andrew. The signing ceremony for the grant assistance was held on February 20, at the Lion’s Club Resource Centre in Mona. (Photo: JIS)
Health Minister Fenton Ferguson (now officially Petchary’s Favorite Minister) for his support for all the right things and his focus on prevention. And you know, he actually apologized for being late (when he wasn’t really) at the Nuttall event a few days ago. Some of his colleagues could follow his courteous example.
CEO of Value Added Services Fabian Brown is a Jamaican I truly admire and respect. Here we are at Nuttall Memorial Hospital.
Nuttall Memorial Hospital and its partners, especially Value Added Services. Congratulations on the opening of the spanking new Accident and Emergency Department, and the opening of the office of the Jamaica Association of Professionals in Nutrition & Dietetics (JAPINAD). I love the special focus on wellness!
The Japanese Government for their support for two eminently worthy projects – a pilot project to grow sea island cotton, which is grown on a few other Caribbean islands on a small scale; and support for the Jamaica Society for the Blind.
Columnist Grace Virtue, who as always hits the nail on the head in her article “Education and employment is the solution, not State control of our bodies.” http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Education-and-employment-is-the-solution–not-State-control-of-our-bodies I hope that this gives Senator Ruel Reid food for thought.
G2K, the Opposition’s young professionals arm, for its community outreach efforts, including organizing blood donation drives recently.
In this May 20, 2010 file photo, residents gather outside their house riddled with bullet holes during a media tour organized by government authorities inside the Tivoli Gardens neighborhood in Kingston. In May 2010, in one of the bloodiest episodes in Jamaica’s recent history, over 80 civilians were killed over the course of a few days while security forces hunted drug kingpin Christoper “Dudus” Coke. We await the start of an enquiry into the incident, if it ever happens. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd, File)
And the police should think about these words from European Union Representative Paola Amadei, who said while opening a new police station in Tivoli Gardens, “To reduce violence effectively, we must acknowledge that you cannot treat violence with violence.” Can’t say it clearer than that. The people of Tivoli Gardens, nearly four years ago, lost between 85 and 100 of its residents (including many young men) in a massacre by security forces. Now, since last year, over 100 have been murdered in the West Kingston constituency to which Tivoli belongs, according to its Member of Parliament Desmond McKenzie. Mr. McKenzie spoke yesterday at the funeral of Nakeia Jackson, who was shot by the police in Orange Villa last month. By the way, I give huge credit to the dignified way in which his family have responded, and hope that Jackson’s death will not be in vain.
The police say 119 murders have taken place so far this year, which is 13 fewer deaths than for the same period in 2013. For this we are thankful, and hope that the downward trend will continue. 74 murders took place in January, and 45 in the first half of this month. The case of Ms. Carlene Young, a diabetic teen who ran away from a state-run home in Trelawny, is particularly painful. My condolences to the families of all, who are grieving at this time.
Rupert Robinson, 44, Majesty Gardens, Kingston
Ricardo Finlay, 18, Majesty Gardens, Kingston
Akeem Campbell, 19, Point, Hanover
Ian Wells, 36, Lucea, Hanover
Carlene Young, 16, Hague, Trelawny
Unidentified man, Gore Tuca/Portmore, St. Catherine
Sonia Gayle, McCooks Pen, St. Catherine
Franklin daCosta, 52, Grants Town, St. Mary
Orlando Cunningham, 20, Foga Road, Clarendon
Lloyd Robinson, 80, Four Paths, Clarendon
Please take care on the road! Last week the National Road Safety Council reported that 29 Jamaicans have died on the road since the start of 2014 – including 8 pedestrians, 5 pedal cyclists and 6 motorcyclists. On Friday night, 23-year-old Richard Gillespie lost control of his car while driving along the Discovery Bay main road and was killed. When reports note that the driver “lost control” of his vehicle, one takes it to mean he/she was driving too fast. Please, please slow down!
Little Trejaun Harvey, age 17 months, was shot dead in McIntyre Villa, East Kingston on February 13.
Fire personnel transport an injured man to the May Pen hospital, following an accident along the Bustamante Highway in Clarendon yesterday. The man was driving a Nissan Sunny motor car when it collided with a Leyland Freighter motor truck. (Photo: Llewellyn Winter/Jamaica Observer)
Norma Brown says her last words to her son Nakiea Jackson at his thanksgiving service held at the Assembly Hall Church on Orange Street yesterday. Jackson was shot dead by the police in his cook shop on January 20. (Photo: Michael Gordon/ Jamaica Observer
Yellow tape cordons off a crime scene in the salubrious and inappropriately-named Majesty Gardens, after two murders in the area – which is represented by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)