Both our political parties went into “shoot yourself in the foot” mode this week, in very different ways. But basically sparking the same general reaction among many of us: kiss teeth, shrug shoulders, sigh, laugh, cry, groan, make cynical noises. And of course, more great fodder for the media.
Let’s start with the party in power, the People’s National Party: As I warned you in Wednesday’s post, at five o’clock that evening the former Junior Minister in the Ministry of Transport and Works, Richard Azan had said he was not aware of any plans to reinstate him. The very next morning at nine o’clock he and his colleagues dutifully appeared all dressed up at King’s House. His colleagues applauded him as the Governor General swore him in. Everyone clapped. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller (wearing those hideous sunglasses again, indoors) gave him a warm hug and kiss. The Jamaica Labour Party‘s Daryl Vaz attended (hmm) because the Azans are family friends, or something. Yes, after all the hand-wringing, finger-pointing and recriminations, Mr. Azan is back. He resigned just two months ago after huge public pressure. His return was apparently “urgent” - the reason perhaps being that Mr. Azan’s boss Omar Davies is taking sick leave for an operation.
Oh, what of the promised single anti-corruption agency, which I understand the government had promised to create by year-end? Just a few weeks to go, and… Well?
Since the re-election of Andrew Holness as Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader at their conference a week ago, the machinations of the Opposition have become quite complex. The chain of events goes something like this (hope I get this right): Sunday: Holness is re-elected with 57.3% of the delegates’ votes, defeating Audley Shaw. (Fake?) smiles all round. Monday: Holness receives a bunch of resignation letters from Shaw supporters. Tuesday: Holness wants all eight JLP Senators to resign, and then says he didn’t say that. Holness announces his dreary old Shadow Cabinet. Audley Shaw and Ed Bartlett say they cannot accept positions because of certain issues (including the disputed nomination of two deputy leaders, Christopher Tufton and James Robertson). Wednesday: What happened? I can’t remember. Thursday: It seems five JLP senators have resigned. Two prominent ones (Christopher Tufton and Arthur Williams) will not. Oh yes, then they did. Williams says Holness used undated resignation letters! Friday: A confused Upper House sits with five out of six remaining JLP senators present. Oh, Holness appointed a new one. His name is Alexander Williams. Weekend: Head spinning. Winner: Andrew Holness. Losers: Audley Shaw. The JLP. Democracy. Governance.
Is Holness the “transformational leader” he thinks he is? Will the JLP ever win an election again? What of all the pieces in this manic chess game? Is there space for them, or have some been knocked off the board? I personally believe Holness has just been a little too “smart” for his own good. At least party chairman Bobby Montague seems to be keeping sane while everyone else is losing their heads…
Meanwhile the private sector is getting antsy again, and it’s not surprising. Businessman Gassan Azan gave a speech recently about this eternal business of “cutting red tape.” If you recall, Jamaica just slipped on the annual “Doing Business” rankings. Mr. Azan wants the government to do something about it, not just talk. But the relevant government ministers are all in a tizzy over the logistics hub. Red tape? Oh, that’s boring stuff. Here is an edited version of Mr. Azan’s speech: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Cutting-the-red-tape–and–making-it-easier-to-do-business–have-become-almost-meaningless_15447161
The Contractor General is right. What is the point of the whistleblower legislation passed during the JLP administration at the end of 2010? One could say there is no “culture” of whistle-blowing in Jamaica (how I hate that word sometimes). Instead, we have the “informer fi dead culture.” We are all afraid of our own shadows. No whistle-blowing round here.
Drums rolling and trumpets blaring for these awesome people:
- Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, along with singer Tessanne Chin, are keeping Jamaicans’ morale up. The two athletes were named World Athletes of the Year (Usain for the fifth time, Shelly-Ann for the first) by the IAAF in a glitzy affair in Monaco over the weekend. They both looked gorgeous – and they are two marvelous role models. We are proud.
- Sir Richard Branson and volunteer Josh Chamberlain who are working together on a project for the Alpha Boys School called Alpha Wear Jamaica. Sir Richard was in Jamaica recently. Read more on Kate Chappell’s blog: http://jamaicajournal.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/branson-visits-jamaica/
- Sheena South and the Portmore Youth Information Centre, who yesterday aired the “Girl Rising” documentary. Here’s Sheena’s Facebook message: “10X10 is a global campaign to educate and empower girls. At the center of the campaign is a feature film, Girl Rising. It’s by an Academy Award nominated director (Richard Robbins) and features performances from Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Selena Gomez, Salma Hayek, Alicia Keys, and others. This important film tells the stories of nine remarkable girls from around the world who are striving beyond circumstance, pushing past limits and demonstrating the extraordinary strength of the human spirit to overcome the odds. Yet it also carries a powerful message: if we educate girls, we can change the future of some 66 million girls around the world who today only dream of going to school.Together, we can create powerful change. I hope you’ll join this movement with me.” Great initiative!
- Dale and Evette Walker and the people of Bunker’s Hill in Trelawny (I love that name) who are working to build their community through the Bunker’s Hill Community Development Committee. “They used to call me typewriter at school,” says Evette, “because I was very good at writing.” Great story here: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/regional/Working-for-Bunker-s-Hill_15432245
- The people of Trench Town, who staged a special trade and development fair at Kingston’s Emancipation Park yesterday.
There has been a nine per cent increase in murders to date this year compared to last, according to police statistics. We have passed the 1,000 mark to 1,054. That’s 84 – yes, 84 – more deaths than the same time last year. A retired policeman was found murdered in his apartment, just down the road from our house. The brother of a journalist whom I know well, a netball coach, was also shot dead in Kingston. My condolences to their families and friends as well as to all those who continue to feel the pain of loss.
Kenneth Lynch, 66, Lady Musgrave Road, Kingston
Evon Powell, 48, Sutton/Duke Street, Kingston
“Raymond,” Darling Street/Spanish Town Road, Kingston
George Steering, 45, Spanish Town, St. Catherine
Oliver Kerr, 34, Sandy Bay, Hanover
Keeble Kerr, 36, Sandy Bay, Hanover
Clifford Lindo, 57, Palmers Cross, Clarendon
Infant male, York Town, Clarendon
Killed by the police:
Unidentified man, Spanish Town, St. Catherine
Unidentified man, Spanish Town, St. Catherine
Ryan Clarke, Retirement, St. James
To quote a Twitter friend tonight: “Yellow tape is good business.”
A few more articles on the Azan and JLP sagas:
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/civil-groups-strongly-object-reappointment-of-richard-azan_1 Local civil groups strongly object reappointment of Richard Azan: RJR News
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/-p-Opposition-slaps-Gov-t-over-Azan-s-reappointment–p—_15444623 Opposition slaps government over Azan’s reappointment: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20131116/cleisure/cleisure1.html Gleaner editorial: PM’s misstep on Azan
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Resigning-after-a-mandate-change-the-ethical-thing-to-do–says-Holness_15444642 Resigning after a mandate change the ethical thing to do, says Holness: Sunday Observer
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/principle-not-bitterness-shaw-defends-decision-to-decline-post-in-shadow-cabinet Principle, not bitterness: Shaw defends decision to decline post in Shadow Cabinet: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=49289 Holness criticized over Senate “resignations”: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20131116/lead/lead2.html Upper House passes irrigation resolutions after Tufton’s resignation
http://digjamaica.com/blog/2013/11/15/5-facts-the-jamaican-senate/ Five Facts: The Jamaican Senate (the photograph is not of a Senate sitting however).
Everything is pop-down again, it seems. (To my non-Jamaican readers: “pop-down” is quite a broad term meaning “exhausted, ruined,” or to coin another Jamaican phrase “mash-up.” It can also mean something is a flop or a failure).
The pop-downnest thing that I can think of right now is the economy. OK, we passed the first IMF test and re-submitted our proposal for completing tax reform measures (which are now late). BUT… (please note, I am not an economist. The notes below are just my layperson’s observations)…
* “There is no money in the system,” says local financier Aubyn Hill. He points out that the Bankers Association of Jamaica has been pleading for the Bank of Jamaica (BoJ) to put more Jamaican Dollars into the system, but the BoJ is “mopping up.” Interest rates will start rising, no doubt.
* The Jamaican Dollar is on a continuous downward slide. Let’s call it J$104 to US$1, now.
* Jamaica is in recession (yes, and hardly anyone wants to use that word, but we have been in recession for at least a couple of years)
* The IMF has put us on an austerity diet, and how can that not make our recession worse? We are starving already. Business is contracting!
* Our fiscal deficit is worsening. Government revenues are down because the economy is shrinking, people are spending less and there are fewer taxes to collect!
* While the Government pays lip-service to support for small businesses, micro-businesses are being squeezed and say they are being “hounded” by the Government, which often forces them into the “underground” economy. Businesswoman Dr. Blossom O’Meally Nelson says small businesses are being regulated, but not facilitated.
* Red tape is throttling business; corruption is choking the society. The World Economic Forum says it is the biggest deterrent to business, ahead of our crippling crime problem. And corruption.
* Our Finance Minister Peter Phillips is the Minister of IMF. He rarely talks about anything else, but says we should anticipate a coming era of productivity! How? Where?
* Thank God for Ralston Hyman’s “Real Business.” 9:00 to 10:00 a.m., Monday to Friday, Power 106 FM. At least he gives me information. The Government doesn’t.
And on the crime issue, murders are increasing again in and around Montego Bay, St. James. Is there (again?) a connection with the lotto scam (five people were arrested and charged just a few days ago, in an operation involving U.S. law enforcement, it is reported). Western Kingston is struggling with growing crime and violence – residents hear more gunfire at nights.
Meanwhile, the whining continues… The leader of the Opposition Andrew Holness is talking about “hurtfulness” and “lie” in delegates meetings. His demeanor and emphasis on “what dem seh” - “dem” being the supporters of his challenger Audley Shaw – is tedious and does not reflect well on his leadership abilities. Why doesn’t he talk about what would make him a better leader? His vision? A planned television debate will not take place. Well, this is not a national election after all, and just depends on the votes of 5,000 delegates. I’m getting a bit tired of the calls to radio talk shows though, about “Ardley Shar” and “Anju ‘Olness.” Ugh.
The megawatt muddle: The Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) is getting very antsy about the current state of the bidding process for 360 megawatts of energy to Jamaica. It transpires that none of the four entities which submitted proposals to provide 360 megawatts (MW) of base energy to Jamaica were able to convince the consultants that they could source the money to finance the project. What? What? Tomorrow is the deadline for the winning bidder, Azurest Cambridge, to come up with the security deposit. Can they do it? If so, can they deliver? If not, should the Chinese firm that Minister Phillip Paulwell allowed in at the last minute be the winner?
Why can’t the government follow its own rules? Why the obscurity, the confusion, the lack of transparency? Sometimes I get so confused I am wondering if these things are due to incompetence or corruption, or a bit of both. I suspect that many Members of Parliament, like Mr. Azan, flout the rules when it suits them. Whoever follows the rules “gets shafted,“ our current Finance Minister once said cynically. From the horse’s mouth…
As columnist Dr. Garth Rattray writes (he always makes sense), it took “political power” to get the Spalding Market shops there, and that is the reason why the Office of the Contractor General found a perception of “political corruption.” How are we going to deal with this kind of behavior among our leaders? Or are we going to just shrug our shoulders?
Finally Omar Davies has focused on the carnage on our roads. His ministry is, after all, responsible. He has managed to take his eyes off the exciting mega projects for one moment.
Friday October 11 is the International Day of the Girl. How can we empower our girls, so that they don’t fall into the pregnancy trap and become marginalized victims of the patriarchal, cold and unfeeling society we live in? Do read the article below (“Worrying Signs”) and consider it, before October 11.
Meanwhile, Port Maria is choked with garbage. Every time it rains the rubbish backs up, blocks drains, and hey presto! It floods!
“Let’s not forsake our future for short-term gains.” This comment comes at the end of an excellent article in HuffPost Green, on the Portland Bight Protected Area/Goat Islands.
Some people and things to feel good about:
- 8 Hillcrest Avenue was the former home of Dr. Olive Lewin. Apart from being an astonishing cultural powerhouse, this slender lady with a warm, intelligent smile was one of the kindest and most giving of Jamaican women, who loved her country and its people so deeply. She was also a lovely neighbor to us. After she became too frail to live there (she passed away on April 10) her former home was transformed into a courtyard with cafés, a cool art gallery and a deli, among other small businesses. I was so happy that last weekend there was a celebration of Dr. Lewin’s life and the dedication of a plaque by former Prime Minister Edward Seaga (always a celebrator of Jamaican culture) at #8. I shall pop along there shortly and see (good excuse for a cup of tea and other delights at Tea Tree Creperie!)
- Megan Deane is such a smart lady. I have great respect for her financial expertise and her sound business acumen. She is doing well with her credit bureau. Congrats, Megan!
- Three Caribbean tech entrepreneurs will be traveling soon – to compete before a live audience and a panel of mobile experts in Chisinau, Moldova on November 1. Jamaicans Dwayne Samuels and Jerome Campbell (both graduates of Ingrid Riley’s Kingston Beta) and Trinidad’s Ade Inniss-King were selected by the VentureOut Challenge, an initiative of infoDev and CRDF. I am sure they will make the most of this great opportunity. Good luck!
- Randy McLaren is the Kriativ Aktivis! A bright and creative young man with a mission to raise awareness among Jamaicans and create a kinder society. Read Kate Chappell’s great blog post about him, below.
And the sad list of names never seems any shorter. My deepest sympathies to the families of all those murdered in the past three days on this “pop-down” island of ours…
Clarence Morgan, 61, Brandon Hill, Clarendon
George Simpson, 77, Grays/Annotto Bay, St. Mary
Kenneth Simpson, 67, Anchovy, St. James
André Beckford, 27, Cambridge, St. James
Gemin Sinclair, 34, Cambridge, St. James
Brandon Wood, 19, Canterbury, St. James
Killed by the police:
Unidentified, Waterford/Passagefort, St. Catherine
Unidentified, Fraser’s Content, St. Catherine
Articles and links of interest:
http://www.our.org.jm/ourweb/evaluation-summary-–-base-load-capacity-project Evaluation summary: Base Load Capacity Project: Office of Utilities Regulation
http://go-jamaica.com/news/read_article.php?id=48323 Azurest was best option for 360MW project – consultants: Gleaner/Power 106 FM
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/-Pay-us-today–or-we-ll-strike–_15153200 ”Pay us today, or we’ll strike”: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20131001/lead/lead1.html Tough forecast: Phillips says difficult times still to come after completion of first IMF test: Gleaner
http://www.imf.org/external/np/speeches/2013/091913a.htm 2013 High-Level Caribbean Forum: “Caribbean Challenges, Growth and Progress on the Small States Initiative”: imf.org
http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pr/2013/pr13374.htm IMF completes first review under Extended Fund Facility for Jamaica… imf.org
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=48341 Jamaica submits second IMF letter of intent: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20131001/lead/lead4.html PSOJ welcomes new date for tax incentive law: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130929/business/business5.html GoJ owes financial companies J$16 billion: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20131002/lead/lead5.html Jamaica facing possible currency crisis: André Haughton column/Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/35141 Jamaica leads the region in setting up private credit bureaus: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Red-tape-worse-than-crime-for-businesses_15173793 Red tape worse than crime for businesses: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20131001/cleisure/cleisure1.html Cuba’s head start on logistics hub: Gleaner editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130929/business/business8.html Who has the will to deliver growth? David Jessop column/Sunday Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Guyana-welcomes-Fly-Jamaica_15155070 Guyana welcomes Fly Jamaica: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/What-Caricom-leaders-should-have-said-at-the-UN_15154883 What CARICOM leaders should have said at the UN: Jamaica Observer editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130930/cleisure/cleisure3.html Not cashing in on gay tourist dollar: Maurice Tomlinson op-ed/Gleaner
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20131001/news/news1.html Gays seek men with bathroom ads: Jamaica Star
http://marogkingdom.blogspot.com/2013/09/cleaning-up-beach-along-old-airport.html Cleaning up the beach along the old airport road, Montego Bay: Beyond the Marog Kingdom
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/charles-knapp-phd/back-from-the-brink-to-ba_b_4004730.html?utm_hp_ref=tw Back from the Brink to Back to the Brink: HuffPost Green
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Shaw-advocates-term-limits-at-campaign-launch Shaw advocates term limits at campaign launch: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=48305 JLP leader Holness, challenger Shaw to sign code of conduct today: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130930/cleisure/cleisure2.html Defining political corruption: Garth Rattray column/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/If-I-d-seen-it_15168326 If I’d seen it…says Herbert Thompson: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Tread-cautiously–Mr-Contractor-General_15155224 Tread cautiously, Mr. Contractor General: Sunday Observer editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20131002/letters/letters3.html OCG is my baby, not the PNP’s! Letter to the Gleaner from Edward Seaga, former Prime Minister
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Holness-offers-olive-branch_15161227 Holness offers olive branch: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130930/news/news7.html Ackee vendor still shaken up by police incident: Jamaica Star
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/murder-rate-continues-to-climb Murder rate continues to climb: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130930/news/news1.html Transport Ministry committed to reducing road fatalities: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130930/lead/lead4.html UTech staff have no confidence in the institution: Gleaner
http://jamaicajournal.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/kriativ-aktivis-randymclarenrm-talks-about-how-you-helped-him/ Kriativ Aktivis Randy McLaren talks about how YOU helped him: Jamaican Journal
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Worrying-signs_14877467 Worrying signs: 15 – 16-year-olds make up majority of teen mothers admitted to the Women’s Centre in 2011/2012L Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Canadian-sailors-bring-joy-to-Jacques-Road_15156555 Canadian sailors bring joy to Jacques Road: Jamaica Observer
Jamaicans have an amazing thing called “tek serious tings mek laugh” - in other words, making something humorous out of something serious. It’s a kind of coping mechanism that works well, even in the most dreadful and trying of times. And Lord knows, Jamaica has been through many such times.
Here is a poem by Michael Abrahams that may not be very accessible to non-Jamaican readers, since it is written entirely in patois. It is a biting commentary on the state of Jamaican politics and society. It is satire, and it is also a protest. Mikey brilliantly covers all the issues of corruption, lack of transparency, the ruin of the Jamaican economy.
Yes. On this small island, some of us truly live in a bubble. I would add that the bubble has a coating of Teflon. Nothing sticks.
BUBBLE by Michael Abrahams
Dem a wear party shirt an a call out fi Portia
An a wave orange flag like Dutch football supporter
Wave flag through car window an wave flag inna sky
Me haffi wonder if dem a wave dem flag fi fan fly
Fly weh a buzz roun di stench of corruption
Weh a flow like a river widout interruption
Wheels of justice turn slow like turtle
An di stinkness tun up til joncro waan circle
Trafigura an Spencer still inna court
Contractor General give damning report
Mix up and blenda wid Mr.Azan
Ova shop dat set pon government land
People cyaa afford light bill an rent
Unemployment up at sixteen percent
One o two Jamaican fi buy one U.S.
An IMF test nuh stop stress we inna wi economic mess
Millions spen pon Grand Gala fi jump an celebrate
But Glenhope an Windsor cyaa re-open dem gate
While di abuse a wi children tun national pastime
As we all feel di heat from a upsurge in crime
Leader go China an give interview
An look like she lost, like she doh have a clue
Goat Island talks transparent like thick black smoke
Chat bout “two likkle lizard” like wi environment is a joke
Local media kept at bay
Tun off microphone an gwaan di most way
Like seh dem nuh waan we fi know di truth
Wah kinda example dem a set fi wu yute?
Den PJ seh di party need “loving care and attention”
BUT A DI PEOPLE OF DIS COUNTRY NEED DI CARE AN DI ATTENTION!
Bout how old tree need “sustenance” fi mek it alright
(But old tree often rotten and harbour parasite)
Wi country pop dung an inna serious trouble
But some a we live inna one big everlasting soundproof titanium reinforced shock-absorbing bubble
A jump an a wave flag bout “tun up di ting”
But all me see around me…
Today the ruling People’s National Party‘s (PNP) Annual Conference is taking place at the National Stadium in Kingston. The party is also celebrating its 75th year. From my yard (quite a distance away from the Stadium) I can hear those mind-numbing vuvuzelas, much shouting over microphones and snatches of over-amplified music. In Jamaica, the songs played at political party conferences are always carefully selected to reflect the “message.” The conference made it quite clear that it is fully supporting former Junior Minister Richard Azan; one of the tunes I just heard was “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” The PNP Twitter account also “blessed up” Mr. Azan yesterday. In my yard, I also heard “three cheers” for the PNP’s founder and creator of one of the Two Tribes, Norman Washington Manley (who would probably be turning in his grave at all this).
In many other countries Mr. Azan’s party colleagues would not even want to be seen with him; with a possible charge of political corruption hanging over his head (as well as his own admission of wrongdoing) he would be sidelined. But in Jamaica, the PNP is celebrating him as some kind of hero, parading him on stage. And our Prime Minister (PM) is dancing around (yes, our politicians dance), while the poor (literally poor) masses of supporters soak it all up. They arrived at the Stadium in government buses, arms and whole bodies protruding from windows and doors. As night falls, the PNP followers are enjoying a lively dancehall session and some free curry goat and Red Stripe, before piling back into their buses and going home.
“I don’t talk until it is absolutely necessary to talk,” said our Prime Minister at the conference last night. She was responding to Jamaicans who have been “running up their mouths” (her words) about her extraordinary silence over the past several months. In fact, she has never – never – given a one-on-one interview since taking office a year and nine months ago. She clearly doesn’t feel that is necessary. This is astonishing arrogance. She speaks only when she feels it is needed; not if or when she is asked to speak. And this is the way she responds to criticism – dismissively, carelessly (and she often takes criticism far too personally).
Meanwhile, Jamaicans have to suffer the embarrassment (and it was embarrassing) of a BBC Radio Five Live report on the Azan affair by Nick Davies. We cringe. Link is below.
But let’s face it, the last few days have been pretty lousy for the PM and her administration…. Hence the defiant tone.
- Firstly, Richard Azan resigned as Junior Transport and Works Minister, three whole days after the Contractor General’s report on his actions in Spalding Market was tabled in Parliament. He has not resigned as Member of Parliament. His lawyers, with whom he consulted extensively while we waited for some word, clearly wrote the letter. Mr. Azan did not resign because he thought he had done wrong, and resigning was the right thing to do, on principle. He did so on the advice of the lawyers and his “comrades” (politicians of the PNP persuasion), who fully support him. At the same time strongly denying that he had done anything wrong.
[As usual, the government is taking a narrow view of corruption, pointing out that Mr. Azan did not personally profit from the illegally constructed shops in Spaldings Market. But surely corruption is much more than that. There is such a thing as political corruption, and this is what the Contractor General referred to specifically. Former Contractor General Mr. Greg Christie shared with me the Corruption Prevention Act of 2001. If you want a clear definition of corruption under Jamaica's law, just look up Section 14, here: http://www.moj.gov.jm/sites/default/files/laws/The%20Corruption%20Prevention%20Act.pdf ]
- Secondly, late in the week the news broke of a Constitutional Court ruling that Prime Minister Simpson Miller, PNP Chairman Robert Pickersgill, Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell, former Information Minister Colin Campbell and businessman Norton Hinds will have to testify in open court in another corruption issue – that of an alleged illegal payment to the PNP by Dutch firm Trafigura Beheer. The resulting scandal impacted the 2007 general elections, won by the Jamaica Labour Party. The five had refused to testify in 2010, thus bringing questioning on the matter to a halt, claiming it was a breach of their constitutional rights. The court disagreed. More to follow.
Suggestion from a concerned Jamaican citizen: If it really wants to get to grips with the ongoing issue of rampant child abuse in Jamaica, the Child Development Agency (CDA) should get out of its Kingston office and go into the communities. This government agency needs to truly understand the issues on the ground.
Much, much more to say on the corruption issues, of course. There is always more to say. Meanwhile, I am giving a big “shout out” to…
- Salvation Army, Mannings Hill Road: Just for being who they are. Did you know they have a Seniors Club on Wednesday? Donations are always welcome: food, clothing, old appliances. The Salvation Army deserves our support – just quietly serving the most vulnerable among us. Thank you!
- Fly Jamaica: So pleased that this rather new airline will be starting direct flights to Georgetown, Guyana – the inaugural flight will be on Thursday. I paid a short visit there some years ago but did not have a chance to explore this fascinating country. I would love to go back – and without having to travel to almost every island in the eastern Caribbean to actually get there! Hope to be flying with you soon…
- Former Contractor General Greg Christie, whose tweets continue to provoke me into thinking more deeply on governance. This week, Mr. Christie commented, “Corruption is never voluntarily addressed by those who benefit from it but by pressure brought by those who suffer because of it.” To which I would add, almost all of us do suffer because of corruption in some way; but even more tragically, many of us do not even realize that corruption is affecting us. It is insidious, a bit like one of those hidden viruses.
- Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) Program Director Suzanne Stanley and her amazing young team for their organization and their ability to remain strong and work hard. The International Coastal Clean-Up Day at Fort Rocky Beach surpassed all expectations. Congratulations to all who participated in clean-ups across the island on Saturday – well done!
- Oh, and Arsenal Football Club for their impressive and hard-fought win against Stoke yesterday. You made my day, Gunners! (Sorry… How did that slip in?)
Now, just a mile or two away from the celebrations at the National Stadium, blood was flowing on the streets on a Sunday morning. A triple murder took place early on Sunday – two women and a man were killed. Soon after, a 19-year-old was gunned down by the police in the same area. There is no doubt that our murder rate – and the general level of insecurity in the society – is getting worse. We don’t hear of “crime plans” any more. And the grief and suffering continues; my condolences to all the families and loved ones.
Post Script: 34 Jamaicans were murdered last week, according to official government statistics. That is almost five per day. Over to you, Minister Bunting…
Dorian Francis, Red Rose Market, downtown Kingston
Alrick Gooden, 28, Waltham Park Road, Kingston
Randy Collins, 22, Waltham Park Road, Kingston
Shantel Campbell, 21, Waltham Park Road, Kingston
Marcus Lorde, 32, Church Pen, St. Catherine
Wilton Boyd, Colonel’s Ridge, Clarendon
Alphonso Joseph, 48, Mandeville, Manchester
Trevor Anderson, 28, Berrydale, Portland
Killed by police:
Sanjay Bartlett, 19, Waltham Park Road, Kingston
Related articles and links:
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130919/cleisure/cleisure1.html#.UjtfjdkQ2Qw.twitter Another chance for decency, Mr. Azan: Gleaner editorial
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/-Build-more-shops-_15099787 Support for Azan at Spalding Market: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=48119 Richard Azan resigns over Spaldings Market scandal: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Messrs-Azan–Paulwell–The-way-to-hell-is-paved-with-good-intentions_15095630 Messrs Azan, Paulwell: The way to hell is paved with good intentions: Jamaica Observer editorial
http://newsandviewsbydjmillerja.wordpress.com/2013/09/22/urgently-needed-reform-of-treatment-of-ocg-reports/ Urgently needed: Reform of treatment of OCG reports: newsandviewsbydjmillerja.wordpress.com
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130920/lead/lead1.html No regrets: Azan shoots back at politically corrupt label
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGa56uOe5b0&feature=youtu.be BBC 5 Live reports on Azan controversy: YouTube
http://thinkjamaica.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/the-writing-on-the-wall/ The writing on the wall: ThinkJamaica.wordpress.com
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=48113 Trafigura application dismissed, PNP officials to testify in open court: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Trafigura-blow_15111055 Trafigura blow: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=48155 Controversial transshipment hub on Goat Islands may go ahead – Portia: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130920/cleisure/cleisure1.html Did they mean it? Peter Espeut column/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130922/lead/lead1.html ”JLP betrayed”: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130922/lead/lead2.html Portia safe! PNP MPs support Simpson Miller for another general election run: Sunday Gleaner
http://www.caribjournal.com/2013/09/23/are-women-in-jamaica-under-siege/ Are women in Jamaica under siege? Marcia Forbes op-ed/Carib Journal
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=48115 Robust economic growth has to be private sector-led – IMF: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130920/lead/lead3.html Civil servants buckle under economic pressure: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130920/cleisure/cleisure1.html Fingers crossed on Azurest: Gleaner editorial
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-19/jamaica-july-tourist-arrivals-by-country-of-origin-table-.html Jamaica July tourist arrivals by country of origin – table: Bloomberg.com
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-19/jamaica-july-cruise-passengers-by-port-of-call-table-.html Jamaica July cruise ship arrivals by port of call – table: Bloomberg.com
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130919/news/news1.html U.S. cops arrest alleged gang leader Tesha Miller for entering country illegally: Jamaica Star
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Businessman-s-murder-shocks-Mandeville_15117275 Businessman’s murder shocks Mandeville: Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Foul-smells-and-ruined-reputations_15106263 Foul smells and ruined reputations: Barbara Gloudon column/Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Legalising-marijuana-would-be-wrong_15118209 Legalizing marijuana would be wrong: Dayton Campbell op-ed/Sunday Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130920/lead/lead2.html Ban advertising of infant formula, UNICEF urges government: Gleaner
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130918/news/news6.html Sixty-two graduates benefit from entrepreneurship program: Jamaica Star
Two reports from the Contractor General (CG) came floating in on the news yesterday afternoon. Some of us were thinking that Mr. Dirk Harrison had been quiet for a long time; but as an online friend said, if this is what happens when he speaks, we don’t mind long silences (translating from the patois)!
OCG Report #1: Minister Azan… The CG has referred Richard Azan, Junior Minister in the Ministry of Transport and Works (headed by Minister Omar Davies) to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for conspiracy to defraud. He also says that Mayor of May Pen Scean Barnswell sought to mislead the CG’s office; and that Bridget Daley-Dixon, Azan’s constituency secretary, who collected the rental for the shops, should also be considered for prosecution. Parliament, he said, should also take action against Minister Azan, whom the CG called “at best, tantamount to being politically corrupt as defined by Transparency International.”
OCG Report #2: Electricity bid: In a report half as long as the first one (but, it seems, equally hard-hitting) the CG has also severely criticized the process by which the bidding for the 360 megawatt energy project was conducted. We had already learned that the deadline for bidding had been extended, and that a new bidder had been introduced – the Hong Kong-based Energy World International (EWI). It also emerged that Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell had met with EWI representatives while the bidding process was going on – an action which the CG calls “irregular and improper intervention.” Bear in mind that the other bidders had already complied with the original deadline of March 15, 2013 (yes, the deadline was postponed).
In a press briefing today, the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), the government agency that administered the bidding process, predictably denied that Minister Paulwell had interfered. So, of course, did the Minister. He responded swiftly that he was just trying to get the cheapest possible energy rates for the Jamaican people (so, I suppose, by any means necessary, Minister?) And the OCG doesn’t know what he is talking about. OK.
Well, as it turned out, the OUR announced the preferred bidder to be Azurest-Cambridge Joint Venture Association. Number Two is…EWI. This leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
“They haven’t had a chance”: There was another, much more touchy press briefing today. Right off the bat, Minister of Information Senator Sandrea Falconer informed the press, who were itching to ask her about the Azan issue, that “I am not going to entertain any questions on this matter.” Wow. But our trusty journalists are not the tame sheep that used to sit in government press briefings, writing down every word and asking one or two polite questions at the end. Those days are gone. In response to the inevitable questions on Minister Azan, Minister Falconer used her sternest voice and adopted the “blocking” stance (I think they do that in American football, don’t they?) after repeating several times that none of those whom the CG said received the reports on Monday had “had a chance” to peruse them.
One of the minions was eventually asked to disconnect the microphone of one particularly persistent journalist. He was undeterred. Can you imagine this happening at a White House press briefing, for example? All hell would break lose.
And as for our Prime Minister: I thought that if she only received the reports “late” on Tuesday evening, our Prime Minister and her team would have been sitting up all night examining them, with a view to urgently responding today. But she was interviewed very briefly by CVM Television late last night – or rather, a journalist waylaid her at a People’s National Party social event, all dressed up. Amazingly, Ms. Simpson Miller said that since the Azan matter had been referred to the DPP, she will wait and see what happens. And she “doesn’t know what’s going to happen.” Well, that unrehearsed response has told us a lot, Prime Minister. A lot.
Madam Prime Minister, did you not tell us when the issue first came to light that you would await the CG’s report on Minister Azan? Well, it is out. We now have to wait, again? What is all this? They used to call President Ronald Reagan the “Teflon President,” because no scandals seemed to affect him personally. Is our Prime Minister seeking “teflonship” status? Well, let’s put it this way…She likes to “defer.”
I am not impressed: The level of representation at the local government level seems very poor. That is not to say that there are not some serious councilors who are working hard on behalf of the communities they represent. But when CVM Television last night replayed remarks made by a Councilor Bailey of the Milk River Division earlier this year in defense of Minister Azan, I shuddered. It sounded even worse than the first time. “Comrades for life” - well, that kind of tribalistic partisanship is quite commonplace (on both sides). But to tell Minister Azan to just hang in there, and it will soon blow over - “A few days from now…Nine day talk” – that is not how a responsible leader should speak when a colleague is accused of corruption. And then, this week the Mayor of Savannah-la-Mar advised the police to “shoot first, ask questions after” in the face of rising crime in the parish of Westmoreland. Thankfully, the police more or less dismissed his words.
“Nature is a hell of a thing”: So said the head of the government’s Fisheries Division André Kong on television a few days ago. Yes, Mr. Kong. How right you are. Nature has a way of… well, having its way. We shall see…
Irony of ironies: We are actually importing fish now…from China.
Burning buses: Meanwhile, another Jamaica Urban Transit Company bus caught fire. Good grief! Whatever next? Any thoughts on that, Minister of Transport, Works, possibly Finance (and of course, environmental expert) Dr. Omar Davies? Any thoughts on the actions of your Junior Minister, come to that?
And a stinking city: The National Environment and Planning Agency is still trying to figure out the disgusting smell in and around the Kingston area. Could it be the salt pond in Yallahs, St. Thomas? Will we ever know? Please wait for the next exciting instalment.
Well…Petchary Bouquets go out to:
- Ayanna Dixon, a bright and highly talented fashion designer, who won a big prize at this evening’s Collection Moda Fashion Showcase in Kingston’s Hope Gardens. Congratulations, young lady!
- Women’s Media Watch for their great program on Roots FM “Equal Spaces.” Listen in tomorrow evening at 5 pm for a discussion on HIV and discrimination with Ainsley Reid.
- Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) for initiating a great tweet chat today on women’s reproductive rights in Jamaica. It was very interesting and well conducted. At some point, though, we will have to address the issue of our archaic colonial law (1864, no less) stating that a person can get life in prison for performing an abortion. More on this in due course.
- Food for the Poor (yet again!) for their speedy response to a family in desperate need, which I wrote about in Sunday’s blog. They brought much-needed supplies and I do hope will be able to assist with housing in the near future. Without judging the woman. Thank you, again!
- Ms. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, our star athlete, whose Pocket Rocket Foundation gave scholarships to seven needy students this week. She is a great girl.
“An eye for an eye”: Amidst all these dramas, Jamaicans continue to bleed. This week, a young woman was attacked, raped and murdered in roadside bushes in the rural district of Mullet Hall, in Clarendon. Residents suspected a man who had recently been released from prison after serving ten years for rape and had returned to the neighborhood. Residents attacked and stabbed him a day or two later. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” said one resident. CVM Television’s report was chilling. A tragic story that went almost unnoticed, this week.
My friend Dean Moriah (and loved by so many, I know) was buried on Saturday in Ramble, Hanover. And someone has been arrested and reportedly confessed to his murder. Rest in peace, dear Dean. You are sadly missed. So are all those who passed away in violent circumstances in the past three or four days. Here are their names:
“Teeky Locks,” Bread Lane, downtown Kingston
Unidentified man, Kingston Gardens, Kingston
George Willie, Old Harbour, St. Catherine
Unidentified man, Old Harbour, St. Catherine
Raskemo Gordon, Reece Pen/Portmore, St. Catherine
Dwayne Cameron, 25, Braeton, St. Catherine
Kenroy Thompson, 39, Exchange District, St. Ann
Clive Robinson, 47, Mandeville, Manchester
Shanique Wright, Mullet Hall/Chapelton, Clarendon
Shanique’s alleged murderer, Mullet Hall, Clarendon (mob killing)
Unidentified man, Dump Up Beach, Montego Bay, St. James
Killed by the police:
Unidentified man, Portmore, St. Catherine
Related articles and links:
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/OCG-refers-Azan–Barnswell-to-DPP_15094359 OCG refers Azan, Barnswell to DPP: Jamaica Observer
http://www.ocg.gov.jm/ocg/ Office of the Contractor General: Press Release and Reports on Azan issue and energy bid
http://constructedthoughts.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/portias-contempt-the-richard-azan-scandal/ Portia’s contempt: the Richard Azan scandal: Veritas
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adtf-3fczK4&feature=c4-overview&list=UUT6cAZGuOgJlXrEoPv8jtEw Video: press briefing on Azan, etc: YouTube
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=48075 Government mum on damning reports: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Contractor-general-slams-Paulwell–OUR-over-energy-project_15094005 Contractor General slams Paulwell, OUR over energy project: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Paulwell-welcomes-naming-of-360MW-preferred-bidder Paulwell welcomes naming of 360 MW preferred bidder: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Preservation–patriotism–pragmatism-and-profits_15091893 Preservation, patriotism, pragmatism and profits: Jamaica Observer editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=32360 Jamaica’s fish imports now at $7.8 billion: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130820/cleisure/cleisure4.html Should the environment lose every time? Op-ed by Dr Kurt McLaren, forest ecologist; Professor Byron Wilson, conservation biologist
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130915/focus/focus2.html Davies’ big mistake about “two likkle lizards”: Christopher Serju column/Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=48055 Diaspora against Goat Islands industrial development: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130917/letters/letters5.html Don’t ease up on Goat Islands advocacy: Letter to the Editor/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130917/cleisure/cleisure4.html Don’t play fast and loose with Portland Bight facts – JET: Gleaner
http://www.caribjournal.com/2013/09/12/jamaican-prime-minister-warns-against-criticism-of-chinese-investment/ Jamaican Prime Minister warns against criticism of Chinese investment: Carib Journal
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130916/letters/letters1.html Letter of the Day: Who will bear the cost? Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130917/letters/letters8.html Demanding answers on smelly city: Letter to the Editor/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130916/cleisure/cleisure1.html It’s time for private-sector muscle: Gleaner editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130916/cleisure/cleisure2.html Labourites, please vote for Jamaica: Garth Rattray column/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Race-is-on_15077280 Shaw says he’ll formally launch JLP leadership campaign on Sept 29: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=48021 Opposition Senator calls for changes to Offenses Against the Persons Act: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130918/lead/lead6.html Tivoli Committee satisfied after meeting with House Speaker: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130918/cleisure/cleisure1.html Sav’s Mayor should go: Gleaner editorial
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130916/news/news6.html Franklin Town cops test-run community policing initiative: Jamaica Star
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Kartel-s-jail-cell-searched-in-investigation-of-producer-s-killing Kartel’s jail cell searched in investigation of producer’s killing: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=48033 Tuberculosis worries at Horizon Remand Centre: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=48081 Update: Man reportedly confesses to murder of hospitality worker Dean Moriah: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Our-seniors-are-miracle-workers_15077963 Our seniors are miracle workers: Jean Lowrie-Chin column/Jamaica Observer
Kingston has sprung to life. The traffic is back, school is in, and it’s been a lively week so far.
More drama: The pending/possible challenge to Andrew Holness‘ leadership from former Finance Minister Audley Shaw seems to have stirred things up in the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). Previously calm (even stagnant) JLP waters are looking rather rough at the moment. Bobbing up and down on the waves on Monday night was a busload of rowdy delegates, which descended on party headquarters apparently in support of “the leader.” Also at sea were two prominent women in the party (former Culture Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange, and Joan Gordon Webley). There was a confrontation. Ms. Grange agonized over the matter on radio this morning, using words like “hypocrisy.” And these two ladies are veteran politicians, not young hotheads! I think they all need to take a deep breath.
“Spotlight” on the rabble: Now one learns that most of those delegates (who act as a kind of Greek chorus for the main actors, I suppose) are not even eligible to vote for a new leader! And talking of noisy crowds, I am commenting on the issue of these party parties in the latest issue of “Spotlight,” a beautiful monthly online magazine edited by Reggae Film Festival founder, cultural activist and author Barbara Blake Hannah. Ms. Blake Hannah also takes a pointed look at the recent Grand Gala, and the marketing of tourism in her home parish of Portland. She also invites you to be “royal”! Read more here: https://t.co/gLcDsSkAAo
Remember those Cuban lightbulbs? The media is quite distracted by the JLP shenanigans. But the corruption trial of former Member of Parliament Kern Spencer (a former young bright spark of the People’s National Party) and his associate, which was delayed for over a year thanks to the manipulations of various lawyers, started up again this week. It’s hard to think that far back; the whole affair – a major scandal at the time – seems lost in the mists of time. Let us please try and refocus and pay close attention to what transpires in court. More to follow.
Did I say corruption? Former Contractor General Greg Christie shared a number of very useful documents on corruption from the World Bank on Twitter this week. Here’s the link: http://www.scribd.com/mobile/users/WorldBankPublications/collections/3382219
And remember Mr. Richard Azan? We don’t need to cast our mind too far back, but this gentleman has got somehow lost in the mix. As one of his comrade councilors predicted, perhaps it was a “nine-day wonder.” We were told by the Prime Minister and others that the Member of Parliament and Junior Minister was deemed “innocent” of any wrongdoing in the construction of illegal shops until reports had emerged on the matter. That was back in April. The summer has passed, and it now emerges that a report from the Ministry of Local Government has absolved Mr. Azan. Well, I never! We still wait to hear the results of the Contractor General, who is also investigating. Not a peep out of his office so far.
OK, then? So the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) has withdrawn its call for the resignation of Television Jamaica Chairman Milton Samuda, after he apologized for confiscating tapes of an interview with two athletes whom Samuda represented as their attorney. As they used to say on one television show, “Really, PAJ? Really?” This debacle raised multiple issues of press freedom. It’s a disturbing business, and a former PAJ President has expressed his anger at the PAJ’s latest move online. Another former PAJ president is also describing the actions of the journalists throughout as “totally spineless.” Investigations into the incident are reportedly ongoing. Good grief!
Protest the logistics hub on Facebook: There is a Facebook page now (No! to port on Goat Island, Jamaica) to protest the proposed logistics hub in the Portland Bight Protected Area (Goat Islands and beyond). Do “like” if you are concerned about this issue here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/no.onportgoatisland/
And view a photo album there too: The Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB) has posted a beautiful photo album on its Facebook page, entitled “Portland Bight Protected Area 2013-2013.” Do browse through the photographs, taken by naturalist Ted Lee Eubanks of the U.S. Audubon Society, which show the amazing biodiversity of the area.
HOW many “active gangs”? Police say there are 67 “active gangs” operating in the lovely tourism mecca of Montego Bay, and that they are expanding. And there is the lotto scam connection. Do you ever visit Montego Bay, Minister Bunting, to see what’s really going on? Is anyone coming up with any solutions?
Jet skis/Live at Seven: I was very glad to see that Live at Seven last night addressed the issue of jet skis, which I raised in my blog of August 28. The regulation and licensing of these machines, whose macho operators have caused mayhem at our tourist resorts – including serious injury and deaths – appears to be problematic. Why? The Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) – a government agency, which is responsible – has questions to answer. We must do better.
Another shootout downtown: This is almost a weekly occurrence – a shootout between gunmen and police. I ask again: Is downtown really safe for Jamaicans to live and work?
And I have decided not to comment on the distressing photo of Roger Clarke that has circulated widely on social media since Sunday evening. You can see it at the link below. Well, by saying “distressing” I suppose you know how I feel about it, anyway. Enough said!
Meanwhile, major kudos are due to:
The Jamaica Observer (again): For their continued coverage of the proposed destruction of the Portland Bight Protected Area. An article today focuses on the endangered Jamaican Iguana, which is again threatened by the possible Chinese development. The newspaper reports that the twenty-year-old iguana conservation program was funded and supported by overseas donors (including two U.S. zoos) It notes that the development of an area where it has been re-introduced would certainly deter donor agencies from supporting future conservation efforts. I made the point in an earlier blog that all the support from overseas will evaporate if all the efforts (and money) for environmental projects is literally bulldozed.
ECCO Magazine: The new online environmental magazine (ECCO stands for Environmentally Conscious Consumer Operations) held its virtual launch yesterday on Twitter, and an interesting Twitter Chat with the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) took place today. Take a look at their beautiful website: www.eccomagazine.com - and join the conversation on social media (@ECCOMagazine and on Facebook). You can also read JET’s newsletter here: http://content.yudu.com/Library/A2efti/THEJETTERVOL1NO6/resources/index.htm
UTech Mentoring Program: Congratulations to the staff and alumni of the University of Technology (UTech) as well as private sector supporters on the launch of their 5th Annual Mentoring Program today. It is an excellent program that will no doubt empower students and encourage them along their career path in these difficult economic times.
There were five murders between last night and today. Despite the regular attempts at massaging the “major crime” figures, it is clear that murders are not down compared to last year. And that, for me, is the most major crime. Moreover, the police allegedly shot dead a pregnant woman – just over a year after a policeman shot dead a pregnant woman in Yallahs, St. Thomas in early September, 2012. My condolences to all the family and friends who mourn these Jamaicans:
Unidentified man, Olympic Gardens, Kingston
Orrett Walford, Lyndhurst Crescent, Kingston
Mario Jackson, 24, Linstead, St. Catherine
David Todd, Linstead, St. Catherine
Pamela James, Flanker/Montego Bay, St. James
George Kelly, 42, Lilliput, St. James
Donovan Murray, 34, Burnt Savannah, Westmoreland
Evon Gayle, 31, Burnt Savannah, Westmoreland
Dean McIntosh, 33, Negril, Westmoreland
Killed by the police:
Felicia Henry, 21, Dempshire Pen/Central Village, St. Catherine
Articles and links of interest:
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130902/lead/lead4.html Cedar Grove Academy opens: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130902/lead/lead8.html Ganja has potential to attract high-end tourists: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130902/lead/lead6.html School of Marijuana: Research facility to be established: Gleaner
http://digjamaica.com/blog/2013/09/02/dollar-continues-to-weaken/ Dollar continues to weaken: diGJamaica.com
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130903/lead/lead1.html No jobs for grads: Experts predict almost 20,000
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=47687 Roger Clarke blazes social media with the “chicken back” dance: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130903/lead/lead3.html Source: Azan emerges unscathed in Spaldings report: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=47744 Cuban light bulb trial: No oversight unit established to monitor program: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Environmental-preservation–economic-development-not-mutually-exclusive_14987651 Environmental preservation, economic development not mutually exclusive: Jamaica Observer editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130902/business/business1.html Yes, go to hell! Get on with Goat Island, megaprojects: Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-114/34958 No agreement on Goat Island – Dr. Davies: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Jamaican-Iguana-fighting-for-survival_15000242 Jamaican Iguana fighting for survival: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130902/lead/lead91.html Milton Samuda apologizes to PAJ: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=47719 Gunman hospitalized after shootout in Kingston: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130902/news/news5.html Police boast human rights efforts: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Dempshire-Pen-residents-protest-police-killing-of-pregnant-woman Dempshire Pen residents protest police killing of pregnant woman: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130902/cleisure/cleisure3.html Brand Jamaica August 10-18, 2013: Garth Rattray column/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130902/lead/lead1.html Homosexuals are not targeted for violent crime, say experts: Gleaner
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/30/jamaica-anti-gay-violence_n_3844356.html Jamaica anti-gay violence continues to escalate: Huffington Post
http://www.npr.org/2013/09/02/217296757/examining-jamaicas-homophobia Examining Jamaica’s homophobia: NPR
Jamaica is bleeding. I feel it is not only the blood seeping from the veins of those who have been murdered by their fellow citizens – including the police. It is the slow and exhausting drip, drip, drip of life-giving energy from the country. Since I wrote my mid-week update on June 5, I have had a growing sense of this. Maybe it’s the increasing heat of early summer that’s getting to me.
Dead children: The Director of UNICEF in Jamaica, Robert Fuderich, is a forthright man – which I love. He gave a speech this week, expressing distress at the murder and abuse of Jamaican children. So, the head of UNICEF is upset. So are many Jamaicans, by the way. Is the Prime Minister upset, one wonders? She is a woman who, as I have said before, has often expressed her love of children in speeches. Could she have made a statement about the recent shocking murders? Even that? Better still, could she have visited the families and the communities affected, to grieve with them and to express her condolences? I am not demanding that Portia Simpson Miller responds in every case, but a nice appropriate public gesture would have been good. Too late now, by the way.
…and neglected: The National Road Safety Council is expressing deep concern at a huge (400%) increase in child pedestrian fatalities on the road this year. But this does not surprise me. Yesterday, the Gleaner’s front page story reported that children are being dumped on other people to look after, etc. As if this is news? Why don’t we realize that children aren’t adults. They are vulnerable.
Where is the Prime Minister? Have we seen or heard from her since her return from Africa? I have scoured the Jamaica Information Service pages, looked under the Office of the Prime Minister – and find nothing at all that relates to her. Has she made any speeches? Maybe I missed something. No ribbon-cuttings or ground-breakings? Is she sick? Is she on vacation? (I am not trying to start rumors – just trying to explore possible explanations).
Women suffering too: You may have noticed that women are murdered every week. Whatever the motivation – sometimes a jealous lover, other times gang violence – it is becoming increasingly common. I remember when the murder of a woman was a shocking and unusual occurrence – now it’s commonplace. The Jamaica Observer’s Karyl Walker (whom I have criticized recently) wrote a very painful report in today’s newspaper about a young woman who has ended up on the street, abused and unwanted. Can someone please help?
And talking of trips: I know, I am obsessed. As I asked in my last bulletin, what actually took place in Africa? What did the Prime Minister and her large delegation achieve? Since we paid J$8.6 million for the trip, I am still hoping for a report card. But it’s been two weeks or so since they all came home, laden with souvenirs no doubt. So, I don’t hold out much hope. Now, we understand that our amiable Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke will soon be off to China, with a small delegation, at the invitation of the Chinese Government (hopefully the Chinese are paying, so taxpayers don’t need to dig into their pockets again for this one).
Dusting off the begging bowl: Meanwhile, the Finance Minister has just returned from a trip round Europe - he might have to wait for the flood waters to subside, though. I am afraid he may end up getting us into deeper debt (although Europe is not exactly flush with funds at the moment). It’s just a thought, but if we are going for growth rather than plunging ourselves into deeper debt, perhaps a trade and investment team, with a few private sector representatives, would have been be smarter? He has at least commented on the trip, though. See below.
Psychological barrier: On Friday morning word went out that the J$ had reached 100/US$1. It closed slightly above. A collective shudder went through the Twittersphere and radio talk shows. This is the end, we all declared – or the beginning of the end. In theory, of course, the devaluation might benefit us by making exports cheaper. Oh, but…We’re not exporting anything are we? Where is the Jamaica Exporters’ Association? Long time, no hear.
Elusive growth: As Dr. Damien King, economics prof and head of our local think tank CaPRI tweeted a few days ago, “The average growth rate of the world’s poor countries over the last decade was 6%, cutting worldwide poverty by half during that time.” But again – that doesn’t apply to Jamaica, does it? We can’t manage any growth at all, at the moment. None in sight; and more worryingly, no clear strategy for growth.
“We don’t want INDECOM, we want outcome!” The police killed five people, since I last wrote, and in the space of a little over 24 hours. This was the cry of one resident – which made me laugh a little, as Jamaicans have such a way with words. But very serious too. I know that the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) is working as hard as it can but is hampered (by very late police reports, for example) – but can’t blame people for getting impatient.
Another twist: You may be tired of hearing about this saga by now, but just to let you know that Doran “mongrel dog” Dixon is back in the race for the presidency of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, who have changed their mind and allowed him to run, after all. Meanwhile Mr. Paul “cocaine injection” Adams is not suffering any ill effects (he’s not running, anyway). I only hope that a sensible woman is elected to the presidency. I am tired of the male egos…
Earth matters: You know I am a big fan of CVM Television’s “Live at Seven.” I am glad that the program turned its attention to a whole bunch of niggling environmental issues that are not going to go away – the beach at Negril, for example.
Untouchable Usain: Some of my tweeps have been following the French Open tennis tournament, and were thrilled to see our very own Usain Bolt presenting the trophy to Rafal Nadal. I was a bit surprised. I thought it was usually rather dull officials (or royalty in the case of Wimbledon) who did this. The spotlight is supposed to be on the winner of the trophy – not on the presenter. I am told that Bolt is a “celebrity” so it is acceptable, and we are all proud of his achievements. But celebrities have a habit of popping up all over the place, like Kim Kardashian. I just thought it inappropriate, and upset several people on my Twitter timeline by suggesting that it was. Don’t get me wrong – I love Usain as much as anyone and have often praised him in my blog, but I don’t want it to get to the point where people say, “Oh no – not him again!” whenever he makes an appearance. He is worth more than that.
Still so much good things to say about…
- Dr Jean Beaumont, who has been doing great work as head of the USAID/Jamaica Basic Education Project. What could be more important than reading?
- Health writer Eulalee Thompson, who has a new blog and a new consulting practice. Find her at http://kingstontherapist.wordpress.com.
- Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater, who delivered a terrific speech on women’s leadership at the University of the West Indies‘ Faculty of Law on Thursday evening. I couldn’t make it, but hear the place was packed. I do have a copy of the speech, which I intend to post on this blog shortly.
- Dr. Rosalea Hamilton for her piece on nine-day wonders – with specific reference to the Richard Azan/Spaldings shops issue. Dr. Hamilton concludes, “It is time we move beyond complaining about our situation and seriously press for governance that is accountable to the people of this country.” Make your voice heard and put some pressure on.
- The Jamaica Medical Mission. We do tend to take this almost continuous stream of visiting medical teams, mostly from the United States, for granted. They often pay their way and sacrifice their vacations etc. to come over here and help Jamaicans who simply cannot afford to access our public health system. They are absolutely marvelous. I know the Jamaicans whom they treat appreciate their work; I hope the rest of us do, too. (This group of 157 doctors, nurses etc comes over every year and will treat at least 3,000 indigent Jamaicans).
- Nice to see an interesting report by environmental reporter Petre Williams-Raynor, now with the Gleaner. Check out her attractive blog, too. By the way, public consultations on the boundaries of our precious Cockpit Country are still ongoing. There is one in Kingston this week – I must check details.
- The Gleaner for two things: Firstly, its editorials have really hit the nail on the head in the past week. It’s worth reading them all. Secondly, on Friday evening its continuous, accurate tweeting of the World Cup qualifying match between Jamaica and the United States was streets ahead of the competition. Sprinkled, too, with marvelous photos from one of my favorite photogs, Mr. Ricardo Makyn. See a couple of the photos below…Hats off!
Petchary’s Pet Hate of the Week: Mosquitoes are plaguing us. Thank God for the electrifying plastic tennis racket – or the zapper, as it’s called in our house.
Petchary’s Quote of the Week: “Children are not just the future, they are the present” – Robert Fuderich, Director, UNICEF Jamaica.
The tragedies continue. Each Jamaican’s death is a tragedy for the families, friends. The following Jamaicans have died violently just in the past FOUR days:
Sophia Smith, 47, Mandeville, Manchester
Dwight Robinson, 28, Seaview Gardens, Kingston
Jerome Anthony Gooden, 33, Seaview Gardens, Kingston
Ricardo Lawes, 28, Seaview Gardens, Kingston
Omar Smith, 32, Seaview Gardens, Kingston
Killed by police:
Unidentified man, Kitson Town, St. Catherine
Junior Guy, Waterloo Villas/Tredegar Park, St. Catherine
André Ledgister, Waterloo Villas/Tredegar Park, St. Catherine
Kemar Thompson, Waterloo Villas/Tredegar Park, St. Catherine
Jevon Reid, 21, Granville, Trelawny
Related links and articles:
World Environment Day: June 5, 2013 (petchary.wordpress.com)
http://thinkjamaica.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/thanksgiving-service-for-the-jamaican-dollar-will-be-held-at/ Thanksgiving service for the Jamaican Dollar will be held at… ThinkJamaica.wordpress.com
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130607/news/news2.html “Jamaica debt burden a threat to human development” – UNDP: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130609/lead/lead1.html ”Don’t panic over sliding dollar”: Gleaner
Final chance for Jamaica, says Financial Times (commonsenseja.wordpress.com)
http://www.jis.gov.jm/component/content/article/111-ministry-of-science-technology-energy-and-mining/34169-minister-paulwell-urges-jamaicans-to-access-energy-fund- Minister Paulwell urges Jamaicans to access energy fund: Jamaica Information Service
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130607/business/business2.html Port divestment proceeds to dredge Kingston Harbour: Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/34162 Minister Hylton sets record straight on logistics hub: Jamaica Information Service
http://sonofstmary.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/democracy/ Anti-gay Christian groups undermine democracy: sonofstmary.wordpress.com
http://newsandviewsbydjmillerja.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/gay-rights-activist-seeks-to-challenge-belize-and-tt-laws/ Gay rights activist seeks to challenge Belize and TT laws: newsandviewsbydjmillerja.wordpress.com
http://perceptualpost.com/jamaica-observer-accused-of-staging-story-involving-gays-observer-report-tells-all/ Jamaica Observer accused of staging story involving gays: Perceptual Post
http://www.televisionjamaica.com/Programmes/AllAngles.aspx/Videos/26956 Discusion on homosexuality/All Angles/Television Jamaica, June 5, 2013
http://drtammyhaynes.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/homosexuality-choice-or-innate/ Homosexuality: Choice or innate: Dr. Tammy Haynes blog
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130606/lead/lead1.html ”We have the numbers”: Church leaders confident enough religious Jamaicans in island to prevent change to buggery law: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Woman-beaten–robbed–raped-in-Kingston_14442076 Woman beaten, robbed, raped in Kingston: Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Handling-of-rape-cases-irks-Montague_14444584 Handling of rape cases irks Montague: Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Allman-Town-wants-closure-to-boy-s-murder_14426032 Allman Town wants closure to boy’s murder: Sunday Observer
http://delanoseiv.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/g2k-writes-to-ocg-regarding-dead-silent-richard-azan-probe/ G2K writes to OCG regarding dead silent Richard Azan probe: delanoseiv.wordpress.com
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130416/lead/lead92.html Another nine-day wonder? Rosalea Hamilton op-ed/Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/more-work-needed-on-spaldings-market-probe-arscott More work needed on Spaldings market probe – Arscott: RJR News
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/more-road-blocks-in-claremont-as-residents-continue-protest More road blocks in Claremont as residents continue protest: RJR News
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Jamaica-leading-project-to-address-underachievement-in-boys_14424128 Jamaica leading project to address underachievement in boys: Jamaica Observer
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/montaque-questions-nicholson-on-status-of-reported-rape-cases Montaque questions Nicholson on status of reported rape cases: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130606/cleisure/cleisure3.html Condoms aren’t aphrodisiacs: Jaevion Nelson column/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130606/cleisure/cleisure4.html The crime of “uncontrollable”: Patrick Lalor op-ed/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Cabinet-approves-new-policy-for-pregnant-schoolgirls_14434151 Cabinet approves new policy for pregnant schoolgirls: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/UNICEF-concerned-about-child-killings_14424458 UNICEF concerned about child killings: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130607/lead/lead4.html Disabled, elderly should get free health care – CaPRI study: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130606/news/news4.html Reading coaches initiative making a positive difference: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130607/lead/lead5.html Dixon back in the race: Gleaner
https://blogs.worldbank.org/latinamerica/animation-could-mean-jobs-and-serious-business-jamaican-youths Animation could mean jobs and serious business for Jamaican youths: World Bank
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130607/lead/lead3.html Trench Town Ceramics and Art Centre – Using art to save the youth: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Downtown-Kingston-vendors-protest_14434985 Downtown Kingston vendors protest: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130607/news/news3.html 3,000 indigents to benefit from medical mission: Gleaner
http://wordsfrompetre.webs.com Petre Williams-Raynor environmental blog
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130607/news/news1.html Inside Cockpit Country: Project eyes conservation of key biodiversity areas: Gleaner
Today is 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)
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)