As a combination of carcinogens wafts gently towards the mansions perched on the hills surrounding Kingston (see previous post) we are told, reassuringly, that the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has activated its emergency plan. ODPEM also tells us to cover our noses, as the accumulated carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and other chemicals spread across the city. Great. Is this a ploy to soften up the general public, in anticipation of the coal-fired power plant that is planned for our largest protected area?
Whether the fire was deliberately set or not, whether there was not enough water to put it out etc. is neither here nor there. The fact is that our numerous environmental laws and regulations are neither obeyed nor enforced. The government agencies responsible are delinquent in their duties. The head of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) said just a few days ago that the Riverton City dump that is now on fire is operating without a license and therefore illegal; but that there was no point in issuing a license, as the operators would be in breach of it. The logic of that frightens and baffles me.
Well, the only other big story this week, our local media informs us, is the conclusion of a very long murder trial – that of dancehall star Vybz Kartel. He and some of his followers were found guilty of murder and disposing of the body of Clive Williams, known as “Lizard.” I have hardly commented on it over all these weeks, but it has sucked all the air out of many a newscast, causing me to reach for the “off” button on many occasions. Now over the past three days we have endured the semi-hysteria among some journalists over the verdict; followed by endless analyses and hyperbole about Mr. Kartel’s incredible talent (including his obligatory misogynistic lyrics, one assumes). Some commentators seem to think Mr. Kartel should have been “given a chance.” Others think…whatever. Fact is, some men were tried for murder, and all except one found guilty. And the victim’s family is left to suffer; his sister (who poured her heart out on national radio this week) has been warned not to express her grief and pain publicly any more and is now under police protection because of death threats. At least the media eventually took notice of the human lives affected in all of this.
I guess I am tired of the tabloid sensationalism that is spreading through our journalism landscape (at least in the traditional media). Of course there are some exceptions (such as the solid environmental reporting in the Jamaica Observer). But in general I get more information (and enjoyment) from online commentary and media and blogs, these days. Plus, as we all know, Twitter in Jamaica is always ahead of the local news.
But wait! For those Jamaicans (and media practitioners) suffering from withdrawal symptoms after the thrills and spills of the Kartel trial, another “dancehall star murder” trial is about to begin, I am informed, on April 7… That of Desmond “Ninja Man” Ballentine, who is charged with murder along with his son.
Talking of murder (I wish I wasn’t) it may have escaped some Jamaicans’ notice that Police Constable Collis “Chuckie” Brown has been charged with four counts of murder and two of wounding with intent. He was arrested in January after a search of the Mandeville Police Station, where a number of weapons were found. Congratulations to the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) for their dedicated work. A few years ago, such a thing would have been unheard of.
Good to hear that a Spanish firm called Hospiten is building a new state-of-the-art hospital in Montego Bay. This is in the name of “medical tourism,” I understand. It is hardly likely that many Jamaicans will be able to get treatment at this private facility, of course.
I am not impressed that the Barbados government has still not paid Ms. Shanique Myrie the J$3.6 million damages awarded after the Caribbean Court of Justice found that it breached her right to enter the country under Article 5 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. The Barbadians claim there are still some legal fees to sort out but have promised to comply. I should hope so. Just get on and do the right thing, now. Or are they waiting for our wretched Jamaican Dollar to devalue some more? As it certainly has since the October, 2013 ruling.
Jamaican Internet access according to the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development, has improved from 31.5 per cent to 46.5 per cent since 2011. Not bad at all, but we still have a long way to go.
Muchissimos kudos to:
- All participants in the ongoing debate in the Upper House on quotas for women in the public service, which was sparked by Senator Imani Duncan-Price’s excellent presentation (which I published in full here: https://petchary.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/we-have-to-shock-the-system-senator-imani-duncan-prices-presentation-in-parliament-march-7-2014/) Those who spoke on Friday (Senators Angela Brown Burke and Sophia Binns on the government side, and Nigel Clarke and Kavan Gayle on the Opposition side) acquitted themselves well. I was happy to see that the male Opposition Senators – both in eloquent and well-reasoned presentations – supported Senator Duncan-Price. It was a most rewarding and interesting Friday morning. The debate continues on Friday 21st March at 10:00 a.m. at Gordon House. Why not go down there and listen in? But as someone pointed out to me, our Parliament is completely inaccessible for people with disabilities. Yes.
- Palace Amusement Company for simply making our weekend with its live HD broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera of New York. The production of “Werther,”
- Shauna Fuller Clarke for the tremendous success of Jamaica’s first-ever participation in the global MIllion Woman March for Endometriosis on Thursday. Congratulations to all who supported her BASE Foundation. Over 500 Jamaicans attended which was an incredible turnout. Well done Shauna, and all!
- Please read my online friend Dennis Jones’ thought-provoking blog. He writes regularly and his observations on Jamaican happenings and life are most refreshing. Find it here: http://jamaicapoliticaleconomy.wordpress.com/
- Another fellow-blogger (and an excellent writer) Barbara Blake Hannah tackles some Rastafari-related issues in her weekly post, here: http://barbarablakehannah.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/rastafari-lives/ And these are very relevant issues, by the way. Not esoteric in any way…
My deepest condolences to the families of the following Jamaican citizens, who lost their lives to violence in the past four days:
Louie Cooper, 62, Willowdene, St. Catherine
Fitzroy Miller, Frankfield, Clarendon
Raymore Wilson, 47, Cornwall Courts/Montego Bay, St. James
Desmond Williams, 50, Baxters Mountain/Annotto Bay, St. Mary