It’s the first day of the hurricane season, and yes! The Meteorological Service of Jamaica has reactivated its Twitter account. Follow them at @MetserviceJA. But I hear the National Works Agency say they will not have any money to do things like clear roads and clean drains. That sounds ominous.
Enough of that. Let’s just hope no storms arrive on our shores over the next six months.
The media and sensation: I am always hoping that the Jamaica Observer (especially the Sunday Observer) will raise its standards. But over the past couple of years it has succumbed to sensationalism, and now rivals the mass media Star newspaper in that department (but the Star has never pretended to be highbrow). Once I have skipped through the endless social pages, littered with photos of uptown Kingston having fun every night of the week, there is nothing to read. Editorials are usually shallow and poorly researched. I read one or two columns a week. Then up comes the headline “Terror, as gays armed with bottles chase photographer.” The article was written by a recent graduate from our top journalism school. I despair at the trivialization of issues; this story was supposed to be funny (was it?) If this is the kind of writing that CARIMAC is turning out, I am less than impressed. (“Mother vex (sic) that children not budging from death house” is another headline worthy of the Star…)
The star turn: Sir Salman Rushdie, against whom a fatwa was issued in 1989, is one of the leading lights of this weekend’s Calabash International Literary Festival in Treasure Beach. The fatwa was more or less set aside in 1998 I believe. But Jamaicans online seemed a touch nervous about him attracting a horde of fanatical Al Qaeda types down to the laid-back south coast town. Hard to imagine, but stranger things have happened. Sir Salman now says he is an atheist and lives in New York City.
Nothing is happening…is it? Our Agriculture Minister announced with a flourish some time ago that he had devised a wonderful scheme to prevent praedial larceny – that is the theft of livestock (and also produce). But we continue to see on our television screens stories such as one this week – a despairing, desperate tale involving discarded pieces of cattle lying by a roadside. Do we really think the microchips in cows idea is really going to work? And if so, when is it going to happen?
Exclusive World Cup rights: One of our local television stations, CVM Television, has acquired exclusive rights for broadcasting the football World Cup, which starts in two weeks. The Broadcasting Commission is expressing concern, as CVM’s coverage and quality of service is not what it should be right across the island. Quite understandable. As an avid football fan, I hope it is all sorted out so that everyone can watch World Cup from start to finish. Fingers crossed.
Jet skis are back! The hotel industry seems somewhat wary of the reopening of jet ski operations in Ocho Rios, after an island-wide ban in February. As this blog has noted, a string of serious accidents over the past few years have resulted in hotels being sued for damages. Meanwhile there is a task force (another one?) and a Green Paper in the making, Tourism Minister Wykeham McNeill assured us last week, to monitor things properly.
Minister Paulwell still wants us all to love and understand him; most of all, to forgive him. He took out a very long ad in today’s papers (who paid for it, I wonder) in which, in flowery language, he sought to bring “clarity” to some rather murky issues – not least, the shambles of Energy World International’s failed bid. In the ad, Minister Paulwell leaves no stone unturned. He refers to the Minister’s role, his “pioneering work” in the telecoms field in the past, and so on. He starts with a quote from the Bible and ends with one from U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and “God Bless Jamaica.”
Some people suggest that Mr. Paulwell is positioning himself for the Prime Ministership, somewhere along the line. He’s polishing up his image. But time will tell. Politics is a fickle business.
Throwing huge bouquets at:
- Live at Seven’s Yolande Gyles Levy for her interesting and detailed report on alien invasive species in Jamaica, with a nice detour to discuss the Jamaican Iguana conservation program (with cool footage!). Highly informative and well-researched. You can watch Live at Seven at 7:00 p.m. weekdays on CVM TV.
- DoGood Jamaica, founded by Deika Morrison, at dogoodjamaica.org is a great website that brings together Jamaican non-governmental organizations and civil society groups under one “roof.” DoGood recently launched a campaign encouraging/reminding Jamaicans to have good manners (sad that we have to do a song, video etc to get across this simple, basic message, but…) It’s called “Jamaican Mannaz.” Check it out!
- The Grand Palladium Resort and Spa – one of the Spanish mega-hotels – which has just installed the largest solar photovoltaic power plant in Jamaica. It will save them many millions per year. Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell is gung ho: “Solar will become the cheapest energy source by 2030 if we (Jamaica) continue to benefit from economies of scale,” he enthused. I wonder how Jamaica Public Service Company feels about this; they had better brace themselves for more such developments. They are also hoping to be considered for the power plant too, one understands from today’s Gleaner.
- The Acting Public Defender Matondo Makulu, who seems to have got the bit between his teeth since the departure of the unfortunate Mr. Earl Witter. He has resolved most of the 800 cases in the backlog he inherited. Perhaps he will be confirmed in this important post; no news yet on that appointment.
- The Ministry of Health and J-FLAG, who collaborated in the training of 64 public health care workers in working with men who have sex with men – to discourage discrimination in the health sector. The graduation ceremony at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel was last week and was reported on television – omitting any mention of J-FLAG, without whom it would not have been possible. But then, I am sure that if it was a sensational matter – a murder, perhaps, or a “controversy” like that of Professor Bain’s dismissal – J-FLAG’s name would have been all over the report. So much for our local media, on the whole.
- Mr. Lloyd D’Aguilar for keeping the focus on Tivoli Gardens. He often seems a lone voice in the wilderness, while everyone is talking about issues they consider much more important than the worst massacre of Jamaicans since the slaughter at Morant Bay. On the fourth anniversary of this bloodbath, in which at least eighty Jamaicans died, Mr. D’Aguilar led a small group of residents to Gordon House, including several ladies (one walking with a stick) and a young man in a wheelchair who had been injured in 2010, to deliver a letter. This peaceful group was bullied by police officers until they gave up and left. While the bullying was going on, the Prime Minister was whisked quickly into Parliament in the background; couldn’t she have stopped and spoken to the group? It was painful to watch on television. The colonial mindset is alive and well?
- Jamaica Constabulary Force for their impressive seizures of guns and ammunition this past week. Between January 1 to May 24, the police recovered 250 firearms and 3,417 rounds of ammunition and arrested 244 people. This is amazing! In addition, last Thursday they seized nine guns and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition after stopping a car in St. Catherine.
- Sunday Gleaner columnist Daniel Thwaites for making me chuckle, again, this time with his reminiscences of the incorrigible, irreverent Morris Cargill. I loved his acerbic and witty commentary. As Mr. Thwaites notes, he “wasn’t prone to glib resolutions of the country’s problems in 2 1/2 paragraphs.”
- This week is National Environment Awareness Week, and a series of “keep fit/go green” fundraisers will take place for Jamaica Environment Trust. I plan to join the TrueSelf Centre of Being’s “yogathon” – which goes on all day tomorrow with various classes. Several gyms will also have special sessions. Do join us for a very good cause! #SaveGoatIslands
It is only three days since I last posted, but it seems to me that the names below make up a shockingly long list of murders in just those three days. My deepest condolences to the families of…
Tashoy Lawrence, 42, Texton Road, West Kingston
Michael Dacres, Red Hills Road, Kingston
Winston Grayson, 51, Broughton/Little London, Westmoreland
Valdean Harris, 21, Broughton/Little London, Westmoreland
Denzel Dill, 65, Aleppo Town/Highgate, St. Mary
Rohan Wright, 39, Moneague, St. Ann
Courtney Edwards, 34, Great Pond/Ocho Rios, St. Ann
Horace Hamilton, 31, Pimento Walk/Ocho Rios, St. Ann
Robert Blake, 39, Pimento Walk/Ocho Rios, St. Ann
Kemar Waysome, Banga Gully/Portmore, St. Catherine
Gladstone Burke, 50, Irish Town, St. Andrew
Donald Simpson, 64, New Forest, Manchester
On the road: Sydney Reid, 62, the Vice Principal of Alpha Academy, was killed when he crashed into the back of a truck on the Harbour View main road yesterday. What a tragedy. He had only bought the car the day before.