Happy World Environment Day!
The first part of this week has been eventful, as always. Here are a few highlights…
Come on now, kids: I am so tired of the childish posturing of members of the Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA) – in particular, Mr. Doran Dixon – that I could scream. The Education Minister is wisely keeping quiet while the former heads of the JTA use up valuable radio and television time with their arguments. Meanwhile the male egos continue to puff themselves up. Which brings me to this thought (and I don’t mean to sound sexist): Could the JTA consider a female candidate next, please? The few female presidents they have had in the past have performed very creditably, I think. And considering that 80 per cent of the teaching profession (at a rough guess) consists of women, why do they always vote in male presidents?
A slightly surprising appearance: Who should pop up in the Lower House today, struggling through a speech, but Junior Transport and Works Minister Richard Azan? I am puzzled as to what has happened to the pending reports on Minister Azan’s misconduct (which he admitted) over the construction of illegal shops at Spaldings Market. What has happened to the Contractor General’s report? He apparently started investigating the matter as long ago as March 6. That’s three months ago! Perhaps the media could enquire. Or perhaps, for them too and as predicted by one highly supportive councilor, it has all blown over. Can we call it a thirty-day wonder?
Report cards, please, anybody? When someone travels abroad for work purposes (or even for pleasure), those left behind generally expect some kind of report on what transpired when the weary traveler returns. National Security Minister Peter Bunting went to a CARICOM meeting with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. At the same time, a good-sized delegation led by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller toddled off to Africa for the best part of a week, at a cost of J$8.6 million. They returned last week. Have we, the Jamaican people who funded these trips, received any kind of report on what happened? Any agreements signed? Any discussions on cooperation, etc? Any business transacted? And no, dressing up, going to banquets and making speeches don’t count. But even some photographs would be nice?
Murders upon murders: The murder rate continues to escalate steadily, and apart from an expression of regret from the Youth Minister there has not been a peep out of the aforementioned ministers, Bunting and Simpson Miller. Our Prime Minister, who has often told us breathily that she loves children, has not even expressed sadness at the horrible deaths of two young girls last week. And the National Security Minister – is he still living here?
Health worries: The Minister of ‘Ealth is worried about HIV/AIDS and the expected decline in overseas assistance in this area. Minister Ferguson has good reason to be concerned; virtually all the government’s HIV Program is overseas-funded. He is also worried about an outbreak of gastroenteritis, apparently made worse by a lack of clean water in some areas. Let’s stay on top of this one; and with all the rain we are now having, I would like regular updates on dengue fever cases, too.
Uh oh: The Ministry of Local Government has reportedly set up committees in each parish, so that local parish councils can give out waivers on property taxes to various people/organizations. I have two concerns: firstly, I thought tax waivers had been abolished, per IMF decree. Secondly, isn’t this another lovely opportunity for – dare I say it – corruption? Not necessarily, but you know, benefits for friends?
One a day: That is the record over the past week or so with the police killings. One in Claremont, St. Ann, in which a farmer lost his life, sparked such anger and grief among residents that fiery roadblocks were set up, and the Independent Commission of Investigations could not reach the scene and had to come back the next day. The police couldn’t seem to come up with a story this time about how the allegedly unarmed Mr. Leroy Henry died. A senior policeman visited the grieving family – Leory Henry Snr. sat on his verandah in complete shock.
But now, Petchary gives some kudos:
- Jamaicans are extremely fond of spelling bees, and for many years now Jamaica has been competing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Maryland, U.S.A., with considerable success. Although our Jamaican champion Christian Allen did not do as well as he had hoped, he says it “made him a stronger person.” Well done, you did your best, Christian! Good attitude.
- Technology Minister Paulwell for presiding over the second, and considerable reduction in mobile phone rates. How could I have omitted to mention this? I do still like this Minister!
- Returning resident Judith Williamson for organizing a dialysis unit in May Pen, Clarendon. Absolutely brilliant! She has overcome yards and yards of red tape for over two years to make this happen. Why can’t the government make it easier for generous and kind individuals at home and abroad to provide much-needed assistance?
- Carol Narcisse of the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition (JCSC), who gave a strong case this evening for the inclusion of J-FLAG in the Coalition, and for the recognition of gay rights in Jamaica. JCSC’s core values include respect for diversity and human rights. Carol quieted down university lecturer Orville Taylor‘s odd posturings; he said that if the anti-buggery law is repealed, then why not allow him to marry his father? Dear me. The reverend gentleman made much more sense than the educator, during this interesting and thoughtful discussion on Television Jamaica‘s “All Angles” on what Jamaicans like to call the “homosexual lobby.” I will post the link when it’s up. TVJ takes a while to put this program on their website.
- Overseas-based NGO Projects Abroad and dedicated Country Director Dr Bridgette Barrett, who have been working assiduously towards the construction of a residential facility for Jamaicans living with HIV/AIDS in Manchester, including a women’s center. I really hope they get all the funding support for this project – they have already acquired the land. Projects Abroad does great work here in Jamaica.
- Last but not least: Youth Crime Watch of Jamaica, a fantastic non-governmental organization. With the support of the University of the West Indies‘ Faculty of Science and Technology, the UNDP and the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Program, YCWJ launched its biodiesel initiative – a waste to fuel conversion project. More on this in a later blog! But huge congrats to Edward Dixon, Latoya West Blackwood, Deon Edwards-Kerr, Marlon Moore and all the community members and children involved. So proud of you all!
It has been another grim few days. My deepest sympathies to all those whom the following, murdered Jamaican citizens have left behind in the past four days:
Kenisha Nembhard, 19, Somerset, Manchester
Sheldon Najair, 29, Lakes Pen, St. Catherine
Rudolf Derson, 47, St. Catherine
Leon Bennett, 32, Lime Tree Grove, St. Catherine
Kevin Mussington, 24, Greater Portmore, St. Catherine
“Bentley,” Greater Portmore, St. Catherine
Jenese Burrell, 38, Islington, St. Mary (on May 14)
Killed by police:
Nicholas Whyte, 30, Little London, Westmoreland
Leroy Henry, 28, Claremont, St. Ann
Luke Levels, Glen Road, Kingston
Related articles and links (Local blogs in purple):
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/jhta-keeps-close-watch-following-murder-of-tourist JHTA keeps close watch following murder of tourist: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130603/lead/lead4.html Tourist killing not the norm: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130603/lead/lead9.html “Falmouth needs a facelift”: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=45448 Caribbean tourism “barely keeping head above water”: Gleaner
http://f.cl.ly/items/3r1I2Z3C1r1C1n0J0X2P/Screen%20Shot%202013-06-04%20at%208.55.45%20PM.png GK unapologetic about executive pay
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130603/cleisure/cleisure5.html Whither local government in development? Pauline Gregory-Lewis article/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/China-offers-US-3-billion-concessionary-facility-to-Caricom_14412491 China offers US$3 billion concessionary facility to CARICOM: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130603/flair/flair91.html Send Clayton Hall, Paul Adams et al to Tanzania: The Soloist/Flair/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/More-power-for-education-minister_14413140 More power for education minister: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130605/lead/lead22.html The other JTA hopefuls: Gleaner
http://wellreadrobin.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/the-price-of-physicians/ The price of physicians: wellreadrobin.wordpress.com
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/One-step-closer_14392510 One step closer: Lease approved for site of proposed HIV/AIDS facility in Manchester: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130604/lead/lead1.html Church won’t bow to gays: Clergyman calls for religious leaders to stand firm against homosexuality: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130605/letters/letters9.html Church stands resolute against buggery backers: Letter from Rev Al Miller/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130605/cleisure/cleisure1.html PBCJ in the debate for tolerance: Gleaner editorial
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/We-don-t-love-poor-people_14420377 We don’t love poor people: Henley Morgan column/Observer
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130603/news/news1.html Jamaicans sell sex abroad: Jamaica Star
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/police-kill-suspect-in-murder-of-teenager Police kill suspect in murder of teenager: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130605/letters/letters1.html Rogue cops killing faith in police force: Letter of the Day/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130605/lead/lead3.html Five killed within hours: Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/34087 Ministry of Health establishes International Cooperation Unit: Jamaica Information Service
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130603/letters/letters1.html Nobody stopped to listen: Letter of the Day/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130604/cleisure/cleisure2.html Beat down Babylon: Gordon Robinson column/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130604/cleisure/cleisure4.html “Dockie” Maragh: committed champion of religious unity: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130603/lead/lead6.html “I am a stronger person”: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130605/lead/lead41.html St. Thomas not ready for Bogle: Gleaner
http://stacyannhayles.com/2013/06/03/its-not-who-you-know-its-who-knows-you/ It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you: stacyannhayles.com