We returned from a funeral in the country on Sunday, with everywhere (including our home city) soaked in rain. Who’s complaining? We needed it so badly…
Goat Islands update: Minister Omar Davies declared that there is nothing “ambivalent” (?) about plans to build a port and coal-fired power plant in a beautiful protected area. That’s not it, Minister. The issue is lack of transparency and secrecy. Minister Davies assured us that the Government plans to go ahead with the project, so whatever “due processes” it goes through, he intends to make it happen. Will Cabinet just be a rubber stamp, then? Will the Government railroad it through, regardless? “For a host of reasons, we are serious about implementing this project,” said Minister Davies. Minister, why don’t you give us an idea of one or two of these reasons? Why? Why Goat Islands?
Signatories to the online petition (http://www.change.org/petitions/prime-minister-portia-simpson-miller-et-al-no-trans-shipping-port-portland-bight-protected-area-jamaica) now number over 8,000 people around the world as well as in Jamaica. The Facebook page No! to Port on Goat Island, Jamaica has 2,300 members. The campaign is gaining strength and if you haven’t already watched Robin Moore’s beautiful little video from Old Harbour, please do so here:https://vimeo.com/93621704#login Mr. Moore, a highly accomplished conservation photographer, recently visited the area and captured some striking and moving images for National Geographic. “There is so much passion around this issue. I really hope it makes a difference,” he notes.
IMF gives us the thumbs up again: Despite the Jamaican Dollar creeping up to $111 to US$1 (frightening!) everything was upbeat as our supervisors, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) gave us a passing grade for its third review period, noting that things are improving, and we are “on track.” Our Finance Minister has not yet grasped a few nettles though; one of the most painful might be public sector reform, which the IMF says “needs to be stepped up without delay.” The Sunday Gleaner editorial notes that Ms. Veniece Pottinger-Scott is in charge of public sector transformation (appointed in January). You can read the IMF’s full statement here: http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pr/2014/pr14230.htm
James Forbes paid his fine within two hours: The senior superintendent of police convicted of perverting the course of justice, James Forbes, was fined J$800,000. Many expressed relief that he did not receive a custodial sentence; he was much respected and even admired. Broadcaster Fae Ellington was among his character witnesses. Now his future is uncertain.
Did you know that yachts from the “Spirit of Jamaica Chase” in the round-the-world Clipper Race arrived in Port Antonio over the weekend? Did you also know that during the Clipper Race’s stay at the Errol Flynn Marina there, there will be several opportunities for public to get on board and explore the Clipper 70 yachts during Open Boat tours? These tours are free of charge and will take place daily on May 20, 21 and 22 from 10.00 – 18.00. Of course, the Jamaica Tourist Board et al don’t seem to think the Jamaican public will be interested. We are only – almost exclusively – interested in track athletics, the Jamaican Government believes. With a bit of football and cricket thrown in. Other sporting events, including highly successful Jamaican athletes, are ignored. You can see many gorgeous photos from Port Antonio here: http://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/gallery/74/1798
Cheers, drum rolls and blaring trumpets for the following…
- Senator Imani Duncan-Price, whose motion entitled “Gender Equity: Motion to Advance Women’s Leadership in Politics and Decision-Making,” was passed in the Senate on Friday. I have been following the progress of this in my blog. This was a tremendous achievement. Kudos to the male AND female Senators on both sides of the House who supported the motion. A Joint Select Committee will be convened to study ways in which this intention can be furthered.
- J-FLAG for once again pushing the boundaries at a forum on Friday with four marvelous women speakers, in recognition of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). There were fascinating insights, rich dialogue with audience members, and much wit and humor. The theme: “Exploring Identity in Jamaica: Personhood, Sexual Citizenship and Religion.”
- WMW Jamaica for its great work empowering young women in the field of media and communications. WMW’s PowHERHouse program recently trained high school students in a program called “Her Voice, Her Power.”
- Arsenal Football Club, my beloved team, for winning silverware at last after nine long years! The FA Cup. I wish I had been in my old home – north London – celebrating with the lads…
- The volunteers from Projects Abroad, who cleaned up Alligator Pond beach recently. It is really sad that overseas volunteers have to come and clean up our mess. The litter on the beach is a constant headache for Everald “Blackie” Christian, owner of the popular Little Ochi Restaurant. Why don’t we care about keeping our environment clean when we are in a public space? I remember my mother when on holiday here years ago refusing to sit down on a public beach (which I shall not name) because it was covered in garbage.
- Montego Bay United (the underdogs) who beat Kingston team Waterhouse in the Jamaican Premier League final at the National Stadium this evening with an emphatic 5-2 scoreline! Congratulations to the Western team!
It saddens me to again share with you the following list of Jamaican citizens who have lost their lives violently in the past four or five days. My condolences to the family and loved ones… (This list seems rather long, to me).
Kimberley King, 27, Duhaney Park, Kingston
Unidentified woman, Portmore Lane/Portmore, St. Catherine
Livingston Garvey, 68, Mandela Highway, St. Catherine
Mario Cross, 26, Mandela Highway, St. Catherine
Ryan Whyte, 26, Gordon Pen, St. Catherine
Damion Battum, 24, Dovecot Memorial Park, St. Catherine
Sharon Thomas, 56, Browns Hall, St. Catherine
Kevin Simpson, 24, Exchange District, St. Ann
Dwayne Walker, 35, Negril Spot, Westmoreland
Donovan Johnson, 43, Harbour Street/Montego Bay, St. James
On the road: Among other accidents, a bus crashed into the back of a parked truck in Buff Bay, Portland; one passenger was thrown out of the bus and killed, and the driver is in serious condition. Was he not paying attention? Also, a 61-year-old man died after being knocked down by a car on Norman Manley Boulevard, Negril recently. This main road through Negril has been the scene of many fatal accidents involving pedestrians – locals and tourists; something needs to be done about the speed at which cars drive through the busy area.