Wet Wednesday: May 29, 2013


The rain started with a flurry of wind and grumbling thunder which made our usually brave dogs tremble. Since then it has continued in a determined way, not wanting to stop.

The JTA furore: This has rumbled on, coming and going like the thunder, since the recent “unfortunate” remarks by no less than three past presidents of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA). These gentlemen indirectly but quite obviously aimed their barbs at Education Minister Ronald Thwaites, culminating in Mr. Doran Dixon’s unpleasant comments about mongrel dogs. (Personally though, I think mongrels are more intelligent than pedigree dogs). The revered Mico University College (the oldest teacher training institution in the Western Hemisphere, no less) issued a press release disassociating itself from Mr. Dixon’s comments; he is a senior lecturer there. There has been much outrage in the newspaper columns. But in an effort to return to the core issues at stake, Simon Crosskill’s Live at Seven last night attempted to clarify the JTA’s concerns in an interview with its current president Clayton Hall. It really does appear that Minister Thwaites was somewhat premature, and indeed inaccurate, in some of his comments in Parliament recently. Just want to emphasize the need for reasoned dialogue… All of you. A link to the Live at Seven program is below… It is, as Mr. Hall says, “a sincere issue of trust…”

Thanks goodness, now, the Labour Minister is going to step in. Please, let good sense and understanding prevail.

The children: It has been a rough and rocky Child Month for Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna. On Monday, she attempted to address the criticism of her oblique and tentative approach to the issue of children in state care in a joint press briefing, flanked by the Ministers of Security and Justice. Flying solo she has not done so well in my view. A radio interview this week was (as Jamaicans for Justice have noted) sadly lacking in details. Her announcement that the government will be building special lockups for children in several parishes (using the government’s JEEP emergency employment program) is puzzling. So, new lockups for children and a “retrofitted” prison on the same compound as an adult prison? Great improvement, yes and no doubt at great expense. Meanwhile, the Children’s Advocate embarked on an exhausting tour of television and radio talk shows, explaining in great detail the current situation regarding her efforts to obtain compensation for the survivors of the terrible fire at the Armadale Juvenile Correctional Centre. She is encountering roadblocks from the Attorney General’s Department. It is quite distressing to hear that she has to go to court for the girls…and the court date is July 2014. No, that was not a typo.

“Stomach-churning”: A luridly-written piece by Karyl Walker of the Jamaica Observer informed us that a small group of homeless gay men have “taken over” a house in a very posh uptown residential area of Kingston called Millsborough. The very posh residents are expressing outrage at their behavior, which “churns their collective stomachs,”  to quote Mr. Walker’s colorful turn of phrase. Fingers are pointed at the non-governmental organization that advocates for gay rights, J-FLAG; this is the usual attitude of the average Jamaican towards human rights advocacy groups (Jamaicans for Justice have had their share of it over the years) These are homeless people, who may be breaking the law. If they are doing so, then the police should deal with them. The journalist clearly agrees with the residents, who believe it is the fault of the “disgusting,” stomach-churning gays who think they have rights. And how dare they think they have rights as Jamaican citizens? Sections of the media, Mr. Walker and his colleague, cartoonist Clovis included, encourage these attitudes enthusiastically.

Why don’t you get upset about rape, incest and child abuse, like Superintendent Gladys Brown?

Stressed-out Jamaica: Bloomberg recently posted a grid showing the “most stressed-out” countries in the world, based on things like perception of corruption, life expectancy and other factors. The top ten countries were in Latin America/Caribbean, with Jamaica rolling in at number eight. Most Jamaicans don’t seem particularly surprised at this finding. Slight shrug of shoulders. A tweep pointed out that not so long ago, some other survey concluded that Jamaica was one of the happiest countries in the world! We shrugged at that one, too. Can we be happy and stressed-out at the same time? And should we pay any attention to such matters?

A landmark case: See the useful links below from the blog of the insightful broadcast journalist Dionne Jackson-Miller. Along with J-FLAG, Dionne and Nationwide‘s Emily Crooks have been live tweeting this week from the Constitutional Court, where they are covering a very interesting and important case. Gay rights activist and attorney-at-law Maurice Tomlinson is suing three television stations – Television Jamaica, CVM Television and the Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica – for refusing to air a public service announcement encouraging tolerance and love for gay family members. Dionne’s blog includes neat summaries of the first two days of the hearing.

For your information, I am sharing the link to this highly offensive (?) ad below. See for yourself.

More worries about the fake beach: There is still skepticism about the plan to rebuild the fast disappearing “seven mile” beach in Negril, using a material that has not been patented, manufactured by a Florida-based company. One resident points out that the product has not been tested and there are no reviews; what about the effects on humans and on the marine environment and creatures that live on the beach? Apparently the artificial beach will be tested at two other locations in Jamaica first…

Two very important reports: I think I omitted to post the links to two key human rights-related reports on Jamaica. Amnesty International’s 2013 Report is at http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/jamaica/report-2013. The report of the Independent Commission of Investigations on police abuses in Jamaica is at http://www.indecom.gov.jm/Release/Safeguarding%20the%20Right%20to%20Life.pdf and is well worth reading. Neither report has received much more than a passing comment in the local media.

Kudos, kudos to:

  • Educator, founder of the Nexus Performing Arts Company, cultural activist – and our son’s form teacher at Hillel Academy – Hugh Douse writes his debut column in the Jamaica Observer today.  He makes a plea for the restoration of the historic Ward Theatre, a once-beautiful building in downtown Kingston, and the state of theater in Jamaica. A very good start!
  • Another newcomer – Joel Crosskill is now reporting for CVM Television, with a British accent! Ah, that name sounds familiar… Some very informative reports so far, young Crosskill!
  • Financial analyst and commentator Ralston Hyman, whose program “Real Business” on Power 106 FM is an endless mine of information on all aspects of finance and business, at home and abroad. I learn a lot from the interesting discussions, starting 9:00 a.m. weekdays…
  • Superintendent Gladys Brown, who heads the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA). She continues to be my favorite police person by far. I admire her outspoken, fearless defense of the weak and marginalized, and in particular victims of sexual crimes. She is now speaking out about increasing rape allegations against the police. I hope all these cases are fully investigated, that the names are made public and that justice is done.

We are shocked by the murders of a young girl and an as yet unidentified teenager. I am so sad for the family and friends of these two Jamaican girls. I also heard about the murder/rape of a 75-year-old woman a few days ago, which the media seem to be avoiding. It was only reported on one television news station. Our women. Our children. Our men, too…

Natasha Brown, 4, Duanvale, Trelawny

Ansell Williams Jr., 46, Rio Nuevo, St. Mary

Unidentified woman, Maxfield Avenue, Kingston

Related articles (with local posts in purple):

http://www.bloomberg.com/visual-data/best-and-worst/most-stressed-out-countries Bloomberg Visual Data: Most stressed-out countries: bloomberg.com

http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/34024 PM renews Africa/Jamaica bonds at African Union 50th anniversary celebrations: Jamaica Information Service

http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/34036 Number portability by March 2014: Jamaica Information Service

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/So-we-now-have-an-IMF-deal–yay-_14354056 So we now have an IMF deal, yay! Hugh Douse column/Jamaica Observer

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130529/lead/lead9.html Legislation for IMF requirements could delay other drafts: Gleaner

http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/34023 $185 million for renovation of facilities to house juveniles: Jamaica Information Service

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Girl-s-body-found-naked-in-front-of-church_14366208 Girl’s body found naked in front of church: Jamaica Observer

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130528/lead/lead1.html Shame! CISOCA boss decries apparent increase in rapes by cops: Gleaner

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Residents-say-gays-take-over-Barbican-house_14327913 Residents say gays take over Barbican house: Jamaica Observer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxZrp8oWHIE Unconditional love: The video Jamaican TV stations refused to air

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/JFJ-takes-children-s-case-to-IACHR_14366303 JFJ takes children’s case to IACHR: Jamaica Observer

http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/34022 Students attend Fulbright session: Jamaica Information Service

http://www.cvmtv.com/videos_1.php?id=1288&section=live7 Live at Seven discussion with JTA President Clayton Hall: CVM Television

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130529/lead/lead2.html Dixon’s comments have damaged Mico’s brand – Packer: Gleaner

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130528/cleisure/cleisure3.html Strengthen toothless anti-corruption laws: Victor Cummings op-ed/Gleaner

http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/topstory-Commentary%3A-The-conventional-state-of-mind-16088.html The conventional state of mind: Caribbean News Now/commentary

https://newsandviewsbydjmillerja.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/in-praise-of-reports-and-enquiries-in-jamaica/ In praise of reports and enquiries in Jamaica: newsandviewsbydjmillerja

https://newsandviewsbydjmillerja.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/highlights-day-1-maurice-tomlinson-v-tvj-cvm-and-pbcj/ Highlights: Day 1, Maurice Tomlinson v TVJ, CVM and PBCJ: newsandviewsbydjmillerja

http://newsandviewsbydjmillerja.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/highlights-day-2-maurice-tomlinson-v-tvj-cvm-and-pbcj/ Highlights: Day 2, Maurice Tomlinson v TVJ, CVM and PBCJ: newsandviewsbydjmillerja

http://hill60bump.com/2013/05/29/the-what-why-and-how-of-climate-change-resilient-building/ The “What?” “Why?” and “How?” of climate change resilient building in Jamaica: hill60bump.com

Jamaica Observer editorial cartoon showing the former Senate President crossing paths with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.
Jamaica Observer editorial cartoon showing the former Senate President crossing paths with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.

 

Jamaican Fulbright Scholar Dr. Marcia Forbes with Dr. Ruth Westheimer at the recently concluded Fulbright Conference in Montego Bay. (Photo tweeted by Marcia).
Jamaican Fulbright Scholar Dr. Marcia Forbes with Dr. Ruth Westheimer at the recently concluded Fulbright Conference in Montego Bay. (Photo tweeted by Marcia).
The Mico University College in Kingston is one of the oldest teacher training institutions in the world. (Photo: commons.wikipedia.org)
The Mico University College in Kingston is one of the oldest teacher training institutions in the world, and the oldest in the Western Hemisphere. (Photo: commons.wikipedia.org)
Maurice Tomlinson, Jamaican gay rights activist and winner of the inaugural David Kato Vision and Voice Award. (Photo: International Planned Parenthood Foundation website)
Maurice Tomlinson, Jamaican gay rights activist and winner of the inaugural David Kato Vision and Voice Award. (Photo: International Planned Parenthood Foundation website)

 

Educator and cultural activist Hugh Douse.
Educator and cultural activist Hugh Douse.

 

CISOCA head Superintendent Gladys Brown. (Photo: Norman Grindley/Gleaner)
CISOCA head Superintendent Gladys Brown. (Photo: Norman Grindley/Gleaner)

7 thoughts on “Wet Wednesday: May 29, 2013

  1. CVM TV carried this story on October 20, but at no time did the LGBT community in this country ever out-rightly asked for gay marriage rights and recognition, WHERE IS THIS DISHONEST PREAMBLE COMING FROM?

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  2. Especially good blog today, addressing important issues. Always interesting to see people freaking out over the bad gay boys’ mis-behavior ( yes, they are rude.)but barely a worry regarding fake beaches ( And WHY do you need fake beaches?! What have you done to the original beach?!), incarceration of juveniles, and Jamaican tv stations refusing to air gay equality and tolerance ads. Priorities, people!

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    1. Oh gosh! So many issues! But thank you for your kind words… Yes, the boys are badly behaved; they are homeless and discriminated against and totally marginalized. But if they are breaking the law then the police should deal with them, as simple as that. Whether they are gay or not is not the point? As for the beaches, Negril beach in particular has suffered from severe erosion as a result of the destruction of the coral reef, several tropical storms/hurricanes, and poor building methods – right on top of the beach. It’s a shadow of what it was twenty or even ten years ago. The beach is eroding fast and you cannot walk the whole length of it now as the sea has taken over. But it has taken our tourism interests (always bragging about this “seven mile” beach which is now barely five miles) SO long to realize that they need to SERIOUSLY take care of the environment…Now it’s almost too late. Sigh. Priorities indeed. Negril depends on the tourists so I suppose the fake beach comes first.

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