Mid-week Mutterings: July 10, 2013


Another week is flying past, breezy and rainless. And a storm is fluttering around.

Chantal brushing past… Our Meteorological Office decided that Tropical Storm Chantal was “not a threat” to Jamaica before she even arrived in the Caribbean Basin. A little premature, and indeed Chantal did not follow her projected course. For a while Jamaica was on Tropical Storm Watch, but happily the storm has weakened. Chantal may bring some rain in her wake, and we will be happy for that. Kingston’s reservoirs are getting low, again. Perhaps the Met Office could wait and see a little bit. We have been surprised in the past by storms, haven’t we… I am thankful for the National Hurricane Center and weather.com.

Oh, and Chantal has actually given our Prime Minister an opportunity to speak. She has told us to be cautious.

…but a bit of drama brewing: Was it poor judgment by the current National Security Minister Peter Bunting to participate in a Biography Channel documentary on the now-incarcerated Tivoli Gardens “don” Christopher “Dudus” Coke? The Jamaica Labour Party believes so, and is now busy “examining” the Minister’s statements. I missed the program, but I found the full episode  von the channel’s website; however, a voice tells me, “This content is currently unavailable.”  Rather odd. This seems to be another ingredient in the murky soup in which the upcoming Commission of Enquiry is swimming; the pot is bubbling and brewing. But I am still far from impressed by the JLP leader’s deeply opaque remarks on the Commission. Mr. Holness now says the party is not opposed to the Commission taking place, but… Oh, I dunno. Can we not just cool down a little and stop politicizing for just a minute or two? (Oh, the documentary is in a series called “Gangsters: America’s Most Evil.” A Jamaican tweep commented, “Oh, so Dudus is American now?” )

The Septuagenarian: Meanwhile, the JLP, founded by Sir Alexander Bustamante, celebrated its seventieth birthday on July 8. Former Prime Minister Edward Seaga made a speech (in which he spoke about the potentially liberating effect of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, among many other things). I have received a copy, but don’t know how to add it to this blog as I don’t have a link to it yet, only a document. Yes, I am (quite often) technologically challenged. Advice, anyone? I think it will soon be online and will post the link as soon as I get it.

That diaspora conference: Yes, like Senator Christopher Tufton, I do have some questions. It was all the rage in the media a few weeks ago. Now what? Follow-up, monitoring, evaluation, results? Too early for results, I guess – but what plans and what timelines? We would love to know. Plus, of course, the cost to taxpayers, if it hasn’t been divulged already.

Wondering where the tablets are? Hold your horses. The Government hasn’t actually sourced the 30,000 tablet computers it intends to distribute to 35 selected schools come the new academic year in September. They are inviting bids.

Hotel puzzle: After a fire back in March, the Wyndham Kingston Hotel (which was the Hilton until quite recently) closed for renovations. Now the Wyndham is leaving altogether. I realize that there is some legal dispute, but one wonders – will the hotel, a prominent landmark in New Kingston, reopen any time soon? Are there any other reasons why the Wyndham is leaving? We have already lost the Ritz Carlton in Montego Bay (and does anyone have an update on that?)

The plight of the homeless: In a way, the media histrionics (not all of the media) over homeless gay men may have helped to highlight the agonizing plight of what seems to be a growing number of homeless people of all ages and backgrounds. A woman has been living on a bench outside Kingston Public Hospital for the past three weeks, according to the report below, having been abandoned there by her family. The most painful part of the story is the final comment by a health official: “It has reached a stage where when they (families) no longer want to take care of them, they dump them on the hospital compound.” (But it seems the authorities were aware of this situation. And…? Did nothing?)

Petchary Appreciation Awards:

  • All those Jamaican men who support women’s right to choose what they do with their bodies and their lives! I can mention a number of names…But you know who you are. And we do so appreciate you! Thank you.
  • “Beyond the Headlines” – a consistently good current affairs program on Radio Jamaica, ably moderated by Dionne Jackson-Miller. This evening’s program with J-FLAG’s Dane Lewis and attorney-at-law Gordon Robinson diligently sought solutions to the complex and painful issue of the gay homeless men – an issue that has created much sensationalism in other parts of the media. Some steps forward were suggested – including that the criminal elements in this group (who are a minority) must be separated from the law-abiding ones, first. Listeners texted irritably about the gays getting special treatment, etc., and they wish they would go away, not our problem. But, as Dionne noted, ignoring a problem won’t make it go away. it will get worse, and come back to slap you in the face later. And as Dane Lewis pointed out, the root cause is discrimination. (But we are not very good at identifying root causes and addressing them, are we?)
  • Broadcaster and Gleaner columnist George Davis, who always tries to be provocative. Sometimes his efforts fall flat, but this week’s was spot on (“Why are we lying to ourselves?” ) But George, you know Jamaicans have been busy sweeping problems under the carpet for donkeys’ years (if you will pardon that rather odd expression). And you must have an inkling of when the “rot set in”? As for the pot boiling over, I think a more apt metaphor would be that of the frogs in the pot of water. The Jamaican frogs have suddenly realized, too late, that the gently heating water is now too hot. It’s basically the same theme as Dionne’s discussion this evening – Oh, it’s not happening to US…Oh, ow, yes, it IS!
  • Digicel Foundation and the Camara Jamaica Foundation, which recently donated computers and educational software to a high-performing school in deep rural St. Thomas (and yes, Arcadia really is rural!) I am sure the young students of Arcadia Primary School will make good use of them. And I hope that they are well secured and that the surrounding community will also ensure that no one preys on our educational institutions. I’m sorry, but this has happened with frightening regularity, and it’s heart-breaking when schools are robbed.

Three sets of brothers were killed – among nine (yes, nine) murders that have taken place since Sunday – plus an additional shooting victim who succumbed to injuries a few days ago. Anyway, that makes THREE per day.  Additionally, two of the six brothers were killed by the police in Kingston, provoking the usual angry protests that prevented the Independent Commission of Investigation (INDECOM) from gaining access to the scene to investigate. This is utterly tragic.

Norman Rowe, Rowlandsfield/Golden Grove, St. Thomas

Herman Rowe, Rowlandsfield/Golden Grove, St. Thomas

Kevin Reid, 22, Tucker Irwin, St. James

Oshane Ebanks, 18, Tucker Irwin, St. James

Damion Cousins, 30, Hart Hill, Portland

Erica Foster, 38, May Pen, Clarendon

Michael Williams, 56, Red Ground/Old Harbour, St. Catherine

Unidentified man, Bridgeport, St. Catherine

Wayne Williams, 42, Pike, Manchester

Leo McLaughlin, 18, Westmoreland

Killed by police:

Gary Cooke, 29, Red Hills Road, Kingston

Soyoga Cooke, 20, Red Hills Road, Kingston

Related links and websites (local blogs in purple):

http://digjamaica.com/imf IMF Special Report: diGJamaica.com

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Tufton-tables-questions-on-recent-diaspora-conference_14658091 Tufton tables questions on recent diaspora conference: Jamaica Observer

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130710/cleisure/cleisure2.html Why are we lying to ourselves? George Davis column/Gleaner

http://drtammyhaynes.wordpress.com/2013/07/07/connecting-the-dots-a-word-on-legalizing-abortion-in-jamaica/ Connecting the dots: A word on legalizing abortion in Jamaica: Dr. Tammy Haynes blog

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Buggery-law–Government-will-bow_14640324 Buggery law: Government will bow: Jamaica Observer

http://redforgender.wordpress.com/2013/07/07/the-double-injustice-of-buggery-laws/ The double injustice of buggery laws: Feminist Conversations on Caribbean Life

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130709/letters/letters2.html Turn off gaydar and rescue homeless: Letter to Gleaner from hotelier Josef Forstmayr

http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130710/news/news1.html Woman lives on hospital bench: Jamaica Star

http://www.caribbean-beat.com/issue-122/j-flag-respecting-difference J-FLAG: Respecting difference: CaribbeanBeat.com

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=46321 Police kill two brothers off Red Hills Road: Gleaner

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130708/news/news1.html Perilous times: Parliament should urgently debate motions on natural disasters: The Gavel/Gleaner

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130709/cleisure/cleisure1.html Graduating from what? Gleaner editorial

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130709/letters/letters5.html Have a glass of facts with your cake, Gary: Letter to the Gleaner

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Montague–JLP-has-lived-up-to-its-core-values_14652515 Montague: JLP has lived up to its core values: Jamaica Observer

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/JLP-to-celebrate-70-over-next-12-months_14652883 JLP to celebrate 70 over next twelve months: Jamaica Observer

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130707/arts/arts1.html Art repurposed: an eclectic mix of creativity, technology: Sunday Gleaner

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAcCqVWFRFE&feature=youtu.be I support Jamaica because… Jamaica National Foundation video

http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130710/news/news5.html Digicel Foundation powers Arcadia Primary with ICT: Jamaica Star

http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/34513 Small island states must address climate change mitigation: Jamaica Information Service

http://repeatingislands.com/2013/07/08/top-jamaican-chef-brian-lumley-wins-taste-of-the-caribbean-chef-of-the-year-award/ Top Jamaican chef Brian Lumley wins Taste of the Caribbean Chef of the Year award: Repeating Islands

http://jablogz.com/2013/07/the-challenged-chronicles-four/ The Challenged Chronicles Four: article by Maia Chung on jablogz.com

Christopher "Dudus" Coke. (Photo: Wikipedia)
Christopher “Dudus” Coke. (Photo: Wikipedia)
Former Prime Minister Edward Seaga. (Photo: Gleaner)
Former Prime Minister Edward Seaga. (Photo: Gleaner)
Technology Minister Phillip Paulwell holds up one of the tablets while speaking at a school computer donation. (My photo)
Technology Minister Phillip Paulwell holds up one of the tablets while speaking at a school computer donation by GTECH. (My photo)
Fire at the Wyndham Kingston Hotel in March. (Photo: Contributed/Gleaner)
Fire at the Wyndham Kingston Hotel in March. (Photo: Contributed/Gleaner)
This woman has been living on this bench outside the Kingston Public Hospital for the past three weeks. (Photo: Chad Bryan/Jamaica Star)
This woman has been living on this bench outside the Kingston Public Hospital for the past three weeks. (Photo: Chad Bryan/Jamaica Star)
Lindsay Templer (background) of the Digicel Foundation and Karl Gaynor, CEO of the Camara Jamaica Foundation, give Rasheda Samuels (foreground) and Chadane Webb their first lesson on the computer yesterday, after the donation of two computers to the Arcadia Primary School in St Thomas. (Photo: Norman Grindley/Gleaner)
Lindsay Templer (background) of the Digicel Foundation and Karl Gaynor, CEO of the Camara Jamaica Foundation, give Rasheda Samuels (foreground) and Chadane Webb their first lesson on the computer yesterday, after the donation of two computers to the Arcadia Primary School in St Thomas. (Photo: Norman Grindley/Gleaner)
Water boots and machetes which residents say belonged to the two murdered brothers in Rowlandsfield, St. Thomas. (Photo: Lionel Rookwood/Jamaica Observer)
Water boots and machetes which residents say belonged to the two murdered brothers in Rowlandsfield, St. Thomas. (Photo: Lionel Rookwood/Jamaica Observer)
Road blocks cleared on Red Hills Road, Kingston after police killed two brothers the night before. (Photo: Chad Bryan/Gleaner)
Road blocks cleared on Red Hills Road, Kingston on Tuesday, after police killed two brothers the night before. (Photo: Chad Bryan/Gleaner)

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