The usual lunchtime rumblings (and I don’t mean my stomach) are in the air today. We have had thunder, lightning and varying amounts of rain for weeks, it appears. The garden is subdued – and very green. Our first winter visitor has settled down in the garden – a female American Redstart, or “Butterfly Bird” as we call them in Jamaica, with a flash of bright yellow as she flits among our bougainvillea bushes. I am looking out for more.
Well, Jamaica signed a modest-sized loan agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) this week. I am not sure what difference this will make to anything. It’s more debt.
The Commissioner: I am not comfortable with Police Commissioner Owen Ellington’s public utterances this week. There is a thinly veiled undertone of defensiveness and at the same time, threat. “We are not going to be delicate” when encountering criminals, says the Commissioner. “Take the offensive to the criminals,” is the title of his weekly force orders. In other words, go out and have lots of “shootouts”! Yes, like that has worked so well in the past… His further comments suggest resentment towards the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) which was set up to investigate police abuse. “It is unacceptable for you to be putting your lives on the line daily to protect the population and then having to expend your thin wages to pay for legal representations when your actions are being investigated,” he says. Well, don’t put yourselves in the position of having to be investigated, then! How about that.
Police raids: Returning to Kingston from Spanish Town on Friday afternoon, we were overtaken by a long stream of police vehicles of various shapes and sizes, heavily loaded with armed security forces. We learnt later that the police had scraped up some thirty people – one presumes, mostly young men – in St. Catherine. Two wanted men were amongst them, the police say (they always say this after they have killed someone, too). Presumably the remaining 28 or so would have been held for a while, “processed” (finger-printed etc) and released. There are major concerns about this kind of policing – and about the pending anti-gang legislation, as Judith Wedderburn of the 51% Coalition noted on the excellent Radio Jamaica program “That’s a Rap” this afternoon.
Oh yes, the flu IS here: I asked about the “swine flu” outbreak in the Caribbean; there have been several deaths. And oh yes – we do have some cases over here too, it turns out! So far as I know, there has been zero public education on the matter. Am I right, or am I right?
Is there anything wrong with hugging though? The two articles in today’s Sunday Observer appear to be an attempt to sensationalize what seems to me, on the face of it, fairly normal teenage behavior. I am pretty sure I hugged boys at that age! Of course there will be law-breakers (the shoplifters etc) and they should obviously be dealt with. But the reports had an air of “tut tut” about them, typical of the Victorian “children should be seen and not heard” attitude that still pervades Jamaican society. Yes, teenagers can be a real pain and they do misbehave, but… They are teenagers! Remember those hormones raging?
Far more disturbing (in the same newspaper today) is the story of a teenage girl who ran away from home, and ended up in an adult prison for a whole year. Her detailed description of conditions in the Fort Augusta women’s prison sets your hair on end. Human rights lobby group Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ), which has been campaigning tirelessly on this issue, notes that 73 per cent of children admitted to juvenile facilities last year had committed non-violent offenses. Thank God the girl’s grandmother contacted JFJ for help. And thank God for JFJ!
How attractive is Jamaica to foreign investors? Really? Some of us are wondering, after the 360 megawatt power project fiasco. I would suggest that the perception of corruption, the inescapable red tape and bureaucratic hurdles, crime and the high cost of energy are all factors for overseas investors. (A former councilor was arrested this week in connection with an illegal gas oil trading operation – all these stories combine to paint a picture). It must be easier to invest somewhere else.
“What’s going on here?” asks chair of the Economic Programme Oversight Richard Byles of the power project bidding process. Your guess is as good as mine, Mr. Byles.
We also learnt this week that there were no bids at all in the government’s auction of 700 MHz of spectrum. A more knowledgeable tweep has informed me, though, that this was not an attractive offer in the first place – no one would want to pay US$40 mil for a low spectrum in an already saturated market. OK.
At midnight on Wednesday, October 16 a group of residents (led by Derrick “Black X” Robinson) will leave the clock in Highgate, St. Mary and walk to Kingston, with a letter for the Prime Minister. They plan to arrive at Jamaica House at around 10:30 – 11:30 on Thursday morning to hand in the letter, in which they ask for Chief Tacky, who led an uprising in St. Mary in 1760, to be made a National Hero. I wish them well, and a safe journey. Last time the group planned to walk from Montego Bay to St. Mary, but I don’t think they managed it. If you are near Jamaica House or see them en route, please offer them your support and love!
1,001 kudos from Petchary to:
- Rootz Underground, a reggae band led by Stephen Newland, for their continued efforts through the Releaf Project. They are helping tremendously with environmental education in schools, and partnering with another entity with a social conscience, local manufacturer Lasco.
- Phase Three Productions: CEO Marcia Forbes has just discovered that her firm has produced over 100 hours of television in one year. Phase Three also sends live TV content overseas. Congratulations to the Forbes and their young, hard-working team on your continued quality performance!
- And talking of television: ivutv.com is a product of eMedia Interactive Limited. Take a look at the great trailers on their high-quality website – including a comedy called “Squaddy.” Congratulations to young entrepreneur Tyrone Wilson! Please tune in and enjoy…
- Mr. Lloyd (Tony) Chin, a concerned member of the Jamaican diaspora, recently started a group on LinkedIn called “Jamaica Social Networking Group.” If you are on LinkedIn, do join this group and participate in some interesting in-depth discussions with diaspora members and others on a range of issues. The URL is: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Jamaica-Social-Networking-Group-JSNG-5105196?gid=5105196 You can also find Lloyd on Twitter @TonyChin_Lloyd.
- World Learning, headed by Ruth Jankee, is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that is trying to make a difference for other NGOs. It held a meeting this week which I think was very important – in fact, probably the most crucial issue facing Jamaican NGOs today: sustainability. I wish more NGOs had been there. More on this to follow.
- The Sunday Gleaner’s Erica Virtue for her articles on the challenges facing young students and teachers of Denham Town Primary School (which currently has no science teacher, by the way). She writes: “The sound of the school bell at an unusual time signals the routine for children and teachers to rush to designated safe areas.” How terribly sad.
- All those involved in the refurbishment of Annotto Bay Hospital in the parish of St. Mary. The hospital was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy last year. The Japanese Embassy, as well as several government and private sector agencies partnered to make this happen. Even the Annotto Bay High School and the local Anglican church raised funds. Wonderful joint effort for a vitally important institution in this somewhat neglected rural area.
And from overseas (new section)… Just discovered these social media sites which I love:
http://www.pinterest.com/QLDEcotourism/ Queensland Ecotourism has become a great “Down Under” supporter of the “Save Goat Islands” campaign. Take a look at their directory of dozens of amazing and fascinating eco-tourism attractions – hundreds of images. And just think what we could do on our little island!
http://sueddie.wordpress.com If you are interested in Africa, and writing, take a look at this great blog from Su’eddie Vershima Agema, Vice Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Authors (Benue Chapter).
The atmosphere of violence is poisonous. At least two policemen have been attacked, and one killed, in the past few days. A mentally ill man attacked and injured several residents of Waterhouse in Kingston. The police killed two in St. James, where at least two were reportedly shot dead outside a supermarket today. Not much information on that so far. A house occupied by homeless gays (in Portobello, St. James) was fire-bombed. A suspected cow thief was killed by a mob. And it goes on. The sadness overflows for all the families and friends – many Jamaicans – who are grieving at the end of this week. Next week, there will be more mourners. And a protest by the grieving families of murdered Jamaicans took place outside the Foreign Office in London recently. Where is the closure – where is the justice?
Special Constable Jermaine Bartley, Irwin Meadows, St. James
Winston “Ronnie” McLean, 60, Lime Tree Oval, St. Catherine
Renardo Richards, 22, Old Harbour, St. Catherine
Unidentified man, Sutton, Clarendon (mob killing)
Killed by police:
Zenith Gayle, Mount Salem, St. James
Teshane Christie, Quarry, St. James
Several grieving families including those of Jamaican Errol F. Bennett staged a protest outside the Foreign Office in London yesterday demanding support for families. The bereaved families said the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and consulates are failing families who are desperate for answers surrounding the circumstances in which their loved ones died. The Jamaican family of Errol F. Bennett have called for answers after he was brutally murdered on December 17, 2011 at his home in Hector’s River, Portland. Bennett a returning resident was at home with his girlfriend, when both were attacked and their throats were slit. He later died in hospital, while his girlfriend has since recovered from her injuries. So far no one has been arrested in connection with the killing. (Photo: On The Ground News Reports)
Related links and articles:
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Jamaica-signs-US-60-million-loan-agreement-with-IDB Jamaica signs US$60 million loan agreement with IDB: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Finance-minister-calls-for-more-support-for-growth-agenda Finance minister calls for more support for growth agenda: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/EPOC-knocks–missteps–in-360-megawatt-project_15220558 EPOC knocks “missteps” in 360-megawatt project: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/No-bids-in-700-MHz-auction–Paulwell-disappointed No bids in 700 MHz auction, Paulwell disappointed: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Businesses-urged-to-make-use-of-alternative-energy Businesses urged to make use of alternative energy: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=48541 Peter Bunting case: Quant ordered to present proof of funds for legal fees: Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/morant-bay-rebellion-remembered-reignites-call-for-reparations Morant Bay Rebellion remembered, reignites call for reparations: RJR News
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Time-to-end-the-myth-that-the-death-penalty-reduces-crime_15226496 Time to end the myth that the death penalty reduces crime: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Commissioner-Ellington-tells-members-to-support-INDECOM-but— Commissioner Ellington tells members to support INDECOM but… Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=48609 Third man dies in brazen attack beside police station: Sunday Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Horror-of-a-14-year-old-girl-in-prison_15237652 Horror of a 14-year-old girl in prison: Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Most-juveniles-have-no-legal-support_15242236 Most juveniles have no legal support: Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Wanted-men-among-30-detained-in-St-Catherine-raid_15240886 Wanted men among 30 detained in St. Catherine raid: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/-Sandy–brings-about-new-look-Annotto-Bay-Hospital_15241665 ”Sandy” brings about new-look Annotto Bay Hospital: Sunday Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20131010/lead/lead5.html Dirty downtown Kingston roadside “pool”: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=48543 Three cases of deadly influenza virus confirmed in Jamaica: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20131008/ent/ent2.html REAP grows even more “Rootz”: Gleaner
Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington.
Derrick Robinson has been campaigning for years to have Coromantee Chief Tacky made a National Hero. Tacky was shot dead by a Maroon sniper working for the British during the 1760 rebellion he led. (Photo: Facebook page)
Students of Denham Town Primary School join officials and representatives of LASCO at the launch of the Releaf Environmental Awareness Programme on Friday, October 4. (Photo: Gleaner)
Chair of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) Richard Byles. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)
Minister of Finance and Planning Peter Phillips (left) and President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Luis Alberto Moreno. Another debt to repay! (Photo: Jamaica Observer)
Stephen Newland of Rootz Underground volunteers on the recent International Beach Cleanup Day at Fort Rocky near Kingston. (My photo)
Dr Ray Fraser acknowledged for his hard work at the Annotto Bay Hospital by a former patient of the institution, Rose Hardie, who was admitted there during the passage of Hurricane Sandy and was impressed by the service given by the team which operated on her. The refurbished hospital was officially reopened this week. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)
Students socializing at the Half Way Tree Transport Centre in Kingston before they take a bus home. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)