Mid-week News: July 17, 2013


PLEASE NOTE: Petchary’s Blog will be taking a short break. My next news update/commentary will be on SUNDAY, AUGUST 4, 2013. 

The bristling minister: Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna was wearing fashionable faded pink, matching soft pink lip gloss, and a lovely necklace at a press briefing today. She also used a lot of alliteration (mainly with words beginning with “d” – “disingenuous, dishonest, dangerous…” etc) in her beautifully modulated voice. But she made her barely suppressed anger (to coin a cliché) quite clear. Why was Ms. Hanna bristling with righteous indignation? She has got wind of an online petition (which I signed and shared on my blog recently) issued by human rights lobby group Jamaicans for Justice, calling on the government to act – yes, act – on the protection of children at risk. The Minister was flanked by the Ministers of Justice and National Security at the briefing, both looking grim-faced. They are upset about the tarnishing of Jamaica’s human rights image” (loud guffaw from me at this comment; Ministers, you are no doubt aware of the U.S. State Department, Amnesty International and other reports on our highly-polished, gleaming human rights record).

It’s about the children! On radio, JFJ’s Executive Director Carolyn Gomes pointed out that almost all of the Minister’s response in fact reinforced their position, adding, “This is not about the adults. This is not about the government. This is about the children.”  JFJ also tweeted their research on the matter, which you can find here: http://jamaicansforjustice.org/download/children_rights_and_abuse/CRWG-%20Media%20Brief,%20Lift%20Up%20Don’t%20Lock%20Up%20-%20Upgrading%20Police%20Lock-Ups%20[for%20posting].pdf

But hold on a minute! Didn’t the National Security Minister (who frowned disapprovingly throughout the press briefing) contribute to the tarnishing of Jamaica’s image by commenting at great length during a somewhat lurid U.S. documentary on Christopher “Dudus” Coke? At least, some people think that he did “Brand Jamaica” a major disservice through some of his comments.

Oh yes, Brand Jamaica: Incidentally, the government’s investment arm, JAMPRO, has started talking about Brand Jamaica again. Does anyone really believe Brand Jamaica exists, apart from government officials and spin doctors? Someone should do a survey – talk to the man on the street.

And talking of The Tarnished Image: The saga of the athletes’ positive drug tests winds its way on. One of the beleaguered ones, Asafa Powell, has returned to Jamaica and is seeking legal advice. One radio station – Nationwide News Network – has been diligently pursuing the issue in all its twists and turns, with various characters making comments, giving statements and contradicting each other (and themselves). Not being a huge follower of the sport (except during the Olympics) I confess I am puzzled and confused at all these people and their various roles. New names keep popping up, including a man whose name begins with X. The plot continues to thicken… The Prime Minister made a statement about the issue in Parliament (she is responsible for sports, but I think she might have expected it to be more fun than this).

Is it true that only one of MVP’s celebrated athletes actually completed their degree program at Kingston’s the University of Technology (Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce)?

A German! So we have a new coach for the Reggae Boyz. He’s German. I hope some of his German-ness rubs off on our team. He must be a man who likes a challenge!

Smokeless: I have to applaud Health Minister Fenton Ferguson’s firm stand on the anti-smoking laws, which came into effect on Monday, July 15. I am sorry, I don’t feel sorry for the cigarette manufacturers. Find another business to go into! The law may seem to have over-reached itself somewhat and may be difficult to enforce, but that’s another matter. The point is that Minister Ferguson made the effort, and has laid the health implications of smoking fair and square on the table. The public service announcement on TV works for me too – set an example for the youth. I do, however, worry at what seems to be the overly broad reach of the law.

What about the ubiquitous ganja smoking? The fine for smoking a marijuana cigarette (still illegal) is J$100. For smoking an actual cigarette (still legal), which costs around J$35, the fine will be J$50,000. This makes no sense to me. Does it to you?

Summer school scare and community tourism: The police killed a man near the Trench Town Reading Centre on Tuesday. This was an actual shootout, not an  “alleged” one this time. Although I like the idea of community tourism, when the well-meaning panelists on CVM Television’s Live at Seven this evening discussed lovely community visits to the area (which is, of course, famous for its Bob Marley/Wailers connections) I quietly said “Humph” to myself.

And amongst all the recent drama… The tottering Jamaican economy seems to have slumped into a back seat. At least, the media are hardly commenting on it. Let’s see.

“Big ups” to:

Jamaica‘s youth athletes, who have done fantastically well at the IAAF World Youth Championships and actually gained the most medals of any country. Their achievements have been sadly overshadowed by the doping issues, which broke at exactly the time they were competing in the Ukraine. I hope they don’t feel too disheartened.

Mr. Robert Fuderich, UNICEF’s representative in Jamaica, will be sadly missed by many when he leaves us after four years. The often outspoken, passionate Mr. Fuderich has made a powerful and meaningful contribution to the debate on children’s rights in Jamaica. Above all, he has urged action. I am not sure that he has seen much of that during his four-year stay. We wish him all the very best and good luck as he travels to Uzbekistan next. That will, indeed, be challenging. But thank you, Rob – and please come and visit us again one day!

Ms. Kelly Tomblin, President and CEO of the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS). I am so glad that JPS has taken on young Jamaicans for summer jobs. One of the painful realities here is that (with so few jobs around anyway) those jobs that are available often ask for experience, which many young graduates don’t have much of. Summer jobs, internships etc all provide that much-needed experience.

The absolutely marvelous writer and poet Kei Millerwho is the 2013 recipient of the Rex Nettleford Fellowship in Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies. It will be good to have him home again, at least for a while. Kei has been teaching in chilly old University of Glasgow, Scotland. If you have never read anything of his, I really loved “The Fear of Stones and other stories” – or just simply read them all.

P.S. Happy Mandela Day tomorrow. I hope you will be doing something – especially for our children.

For the first half of the year, the police have killed 127 Jamaicans. That’s 21 more than the same period in 2012. My deepest condolences to the families and friends and all those impacted by the violent deaths of these Jamaicans over the past three days:

Ricardo Brown, 19, Maxfield Avenue, Kingston

Garfield Dennis, 44, Troy, Trelawny

Marshall Lyons, 30, Mount Salem, St. James

Killed by the police:

Christopher Hill, 21, Wesley Crescent, St. Ann

Related articles:

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130715/cleisure/cleisure1.html No reason to crucify Bunting: Gleaner editorial

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130716/lead/lead4.html West Kingston address stigma hurts youth – MP: Gleaner

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/06/05/jamaicas_unrelenting_violence_against_children_condemned_by_unicef.html Jamaica’s “unrelenting violence” against children condemned by UNICEF: Toronto Star

http://chatychaty.com/2013/07/trainer-says-asafa-and-sherone-should-stop-using-him-as-scapegoat-for-their-doping/ Trainer says Asafa and Sherone should stop using him as a scapegoat for their doping: chatychaty.com

http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-117/34580 Update from the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission on adverse analytical findings: Jamaica Information Service

http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-128/34579 Statement to Parliament by Prime Minister Simpson Miller on doping allegations: Jamaica Information Service

http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/34576 Jamaica’s action against child abuse could attract study tours: Jamaica Information Service

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Chinese-under-siege—a-reply-from-Commissioner-Ellington_14691344 Chinese under siege: A reply from Commissioner Ellington: Jamaica Observer

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130716/cleisure/cleisure1.html Time for deep introspection: Gleaner editorial

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Ferguson–Gov-t-has-no-intention-to-reverse-smoking-ban_14691457 Ferguson: Govt has no intention to reverse smoking ban: Jamaica Observer

http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/34578 Ban on smoking: Health Ministry clarifies public places: Jamaica Information Service

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130716/lead/lead2.html Brand Jamaica safe, says JAMPRO: Gleaner

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Seabed-authority-laments-poor-infrastructure_14691302 Seabed Authority laments poor infrastructure: Jamaica Observer

Writer Kei Miller, who has received the Rex Nettleford Fellowship in Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies. It will be nice to have him back in Jamaica! (Photo: Gleaner)
Writer Kei Miller, who has received the Rex Nettleford Fellowship in Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies. It will be nice to have him back in Jamaica! (Photo: Gleaner)
The glamorous Youth and Culture Minister Lisa Hanna   was not amused, today.
The glamorous Youth and Culture Minister Lisa Hanna was not amused, today.
Trench Town Reading Centre screen printing
It terrifies me to think that any of the children at the Trench Town Reading Centre may have been in danger at the time of this week’s shootout, right by the centre. (My photo)
Ms. Kelly Tomblin, President/CEO of JPS, briefs young summer workers. (Photo: JPS/Twitter)
Ms. Kelly Tomblin, President/CEO of JPS, briefs young summer workers. (Photo: JPS/Twitter)
Mr. Robert Fuderich, UNICEF representative in Jamaica.
Mr. Robert Fuderich, UNICEF representative in Jamaica.
Winfried Schaefer is the Reggae Boyz' new coach. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)
Winfried Schaefer is the Reggae Boyz’ new coach. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)
Former world record holder Asafa Powell and Olympic medallist Sherone Simpson (right) have returned positive drug tests for banned substances. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)
Former world record holder Asafa Powell and Olympic medallist Sherone Simpson (right) have returned positive drug tests for banned substances. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)
17-year-old Yanique Thompson of Holmwood Technical High School stopped the clock at a blistering 12.40 seconds to win the Girls 100m hurdles event at the World Youth Championships, breaking the world youth record. (Photo: Gleaner)
17-year-old Yanique Thompson of Holmwood Technical High School stopped the clock at a blistering 12.40 seconds to win the Girls 100m hurdles event at the World Youth Championships, breaking the world youth record. (Photo: Gleaner)

2 thoughts on “Mid-week News: July 17, 2013

  1. We were all safe and once the Soldiers were done having breakfast in the classroom building, the children… who had been waiting in a nearby shop,,, came and Summer School began..The soldiers were respectful to all, the police well.. not so much. All the boots on the ground & hulking vehicles .. i kept thinking about Tivoli and how terrifying it must have been…. as opposed to the calm on First Street.. but with so much fire power around, one never knows.

    Also thank you for sharing our childrens excursion to Tak-A-Five interactive art event!

    LIsa H et all really do need to get a grip… children…not adults… not government and DEFINITELY not Jamaica’s image are the focus…
    I will be missing your informative and well placed pithiness!!
    Enjoy

    Like

    1. Glad to know everyone was OK, Ros. But it must have been really disturbing and quite a shock for the children. Interesting that the soldiers were respectful and the police… It must have been a frightening experience just having all that heavy firepower around, as if you were suddenly a military zone! Yes, you are right – the government have to be constantly reminded that the children are the focus. Not them and their manufactured “Brand Jamaica.” Sigh. (I’ll soon be back, Ros!)

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.