Desilting, Bling and Sausages: Sunday, July 6, 2014

As the plucky Costa Ricans depart the stage, the sporting drama in Brazil is starting to release its grip on Jamaicans (many of whom never knew they were football fans before). With only four matches to go (albeit crucial ones) we will soon have to return to reality. And that’s not looking very pretty. Can we extend the World Cup into August, please?

Former Police Commissioner Owen Ellington. (Photo: Gleaner)
Former Police Commissioner Owen Ellington. (Photo: Gleaner)

Commissioner crisis: Jamaicans in general are not entirely convinced by the Ministry of National Security’s explanation for the sudden resignation of Police Commissioner Owen Ellington (it was necessary ahead of the Commission of Enquiry into the Tivoli Gardens massacre and with the ongoing investigation into “death squads”). Private Sector Organization of Jamaica President Chris Zacca suggests the government should look “outside” for a replacement. There is much conjecture and rumor (which I don’t intend to repeat here) – and of course, skepticism. It must be a very difficult time for National Security Minister Peter Bunting, who has said nothing more in the past week on the matter. National security is the most sensitive portfolio. Let us see.

Lotto scammers charged: Meanwhile, the never-ending struggle to track down the elusive “lotto scammers,” who prey on vulnerable senior citizens overseas, continues. A 16-year-old and his mother are due to be sentenced tomorrow; another received a three-year sentence. A luta continua!

Long hot summer: With no end in sight to the drought, water restrictions and lock-offs are kicking in this week; our yard is in an advanced state of desertification. A large fire in St. Elizabeth over the weekend affected about 600 acres of farmland. Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke (who is currently sick and appeared most unwell in a television interview this evening) says he has few resources to help farmers. The firemen did their best.

Hermitage Dam just outside Kingston. It is not as full as this now.
Hermitage Dam just outside Kingston. It is not as full as this now.

Successive governments, though, have fallen down on the business of managing water properly. The main reservoirs serving Kingston should have been desilted years ago (Hermitage was built in 1927, has never been desilted and is now 60 per cent silt!) Some (including the Opposition) are talking about desalination – as in Cayman Islands, which has no rivers – but this is a costly process that I fear Jamaica can scarce afford. Water Minister is talking about “recharging” aquifers and the National Water Commission says it will restore the polluted wells in the Kingston area. Who’s going to pay for that? I sense a mild panic setting in.

Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children Marta Santos Pais. (Photo: United Nations)
Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children Marta Santos Pais. (Photo: United Nations)

Yes! Beating your child with a belt IS child abuse: UNICEF Jamaica is once again seeking to bring the plight of Jamaica’s children to the nation’s attention. Many Jamaicans, however, are more upset about gays than the thousands of cases of child abuse. A common practice is the “disciplining” of children by their parents – that is, physically abusing them on a regular basis, because it’s good for them. “Well, my parents beat me and it never did me any harm, did it?” is the response from abusive parents. Well, yes, it did, you have also become a violent person! Many Jamaicans may feel Marta Santos Pais, special representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Violence Against Children, is interfering with their child-rearing practices, and will ignore her wise words: “Like a contagion, violence spreads through communities and is transmitted to future generations.” Here is the link to the Global Survey on Violence Against Children, conducted by Save the Children under the auspices of Ms. Santos Pais: http://resourcecentre.savethechildren.se/library/toward-world-free-violence-global-survey-violence-against-children

JJ Geewax has a very odd name but seems sensible and down to earth.
JJ Geewax has a very odd name but seems sensible and down to earth. Why DO Jamaicans love to show off so much?

Business bling: A young American IT entrepreneur (and millionaire) who has invested in four Jamaican firms says many Jamaican entrepreneurs are more interested in posing at fancy parties and wearing the latest name brand styles, rather than getting down to making money.“We need to stop caring about what people look like and focus more on results,” says JJ Geewax (is that his real name?), founder of JGX Labs. “It’s really not important how many times someone ends up in the newspaper. It’s way more important to know how many clients they stole from the people too busy partying.”  Touché!

The VOIP wars: There is some disquiet, especially in the growing (and young) IT sector, about the decision of our two telecoms providers to block  the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) service Viber. Some see it as the “thin end of the wedge” – in other words, could other applications be blocked in the future? State Minister for IT Julian Robinson says the Office of Utilities Regulations (OUR) is considering the matter, and those who have views should make them known to the OUR. Meanwhile I understand from an excellent source the OUR will meet with Digicel and LIME early this week. We expect some decision by the end of the week. Stay tuned.

State Minister for Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson (left), converses with Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) President, Christopher Zacca, during the PSOJ’s Economic Forum, held on July 3, at the Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston. (Photo: Jamaica Information Service)
State Minister for Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson (left), with Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) President, Christopher Zacca, during the PSOJ’s Economic Forum on July 3. (Photo: Jamaica Information Service)

Starting up: And talking of youth entrepreneurship, the State Minister has just launched Startup Jamaica (go to http://www.start-upjamaica.com to apply for funding). However, initial funds seem quite limited and clearly the government is expecting the private sector to pick up the slack.

A generic hot dog - in my book, it's junk food.
A generic hot dog – in my book, it’s junk food.

An obsession with sausages: Our local GraceKennedy food producers seem determined to push their sausages down our throats. Sorry, that was not intended to be rude, but rolling out 100 hot dog trucks across the country?  I have my concerns. And couldn’t they focus on something that is actually healthy? I like a tasty hot dog occasionally, but this is basically junk food. Am I right? (I saw a report recently that 80 per cent of Jamaican women are overweight or obese. Hmm). One young entrepreneur has already been doing good business with hot dog carts. Do we need any more?

Oh, come on… Opposition Senator Tom Tavares-Finson is unhappy about Jamaica’s participation in a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Commission on the Decriminalization/Legalization of Ganja (marijuana). But this won’t stop us forging ahead with the pending changes to local legislation. Jamaica is, after all, a member of CARICOM. Please find something more worthwhile to whine about, Senator.

Finance Minister Peter Phillips warmly greets IMF chief Christine Lagarde on her arrival in Jamaica. (Photo: Jamaica Information Service)
Finance Minister Peter Phillips greets IMF chief Christine Lagarde on her arrival in Jamaica. (Photo: Jamaica Information Service)

Looking back at Christine Lagarde’s visit: Do you think the Opposition might have been a little miffed at some of her remarks? They did indeed sound like a ringing endorsement of the People’s National Party administration. Don’t mess things up by holding an election, now…

The excellent, hard-hitting broadcast journalist Cliff Hughes starts a new talk show tomorrow morning.
The excellent, hard-hitting broadcast journalist Cliff Hughes starts a new talk show tomorrow morning.

Some of our male intellectuals who write columns need to please stop using up valuable column inches with inane comments like, “I’m just sick of the bad press and demonising of my country by stupid outsiders with unpatriotic locals collaborating.” I will give you one guess what this university lecturer and talk show host is discussing. I say “male intellectuals” since there are precious few female columnists or commentators around these days. By the way, broadcaster businessman Cliff Hughes makes his debut on Power 106 FM tomorrow morning, replacing Senator Marlene Malahoo Forte (whose program I very much enjoyed).

Paradise? Yeah right, says columnist Ronald Mason. This photo is of mangrove trees in a lagoon at sunset in the Portland Bight Protected Area of Jamaica. (Photo: Robin Moore)
Paradise? Yeah right, says columnist Ronald Mason. This photo is of mangrove trees in a lagoon at sunset in the Portland Bight Protected Area of Jamaica. (Photo: Robin Moore)

Another male commentator, talk show host, etc. Mr Ronald Mason in the Sunday Gleaner pours cold water on an article by Wendy Townsend (a weird female foreigner who raises lizards as pets) who dared to write about the threat to the critically endangered Jamaican Iguana from the planned Chinese megaport. She had the nerve to call the beautiful Portland Bight Protected Area “paradise.” Mr. Mason scoffed, “Paradise, indeed.”  How very sad.

The Morals Police are not letting up. Retired educator Esther Tyson is now stressed out about an art exhibit at the National Gallery a year ago, and wants children to be protected at all costs. While catching my breath, I read a sensible column by Archbishop Howard Gregory (as I have said before, certainly one of the most eminently sensible of our church leaders) which calmed me down. Quite reasonably, I believe, Archbishop Gregory commented, “From my perspective, there is no point in spending the energy and focus of this nation, faced with so many challenges, to continue to pry into this area of people’s life.” I’m afraid, however, that the obsession with anal sex, whoever is doing it and to whom, continues.

The "sickest" building in Kingston is, ironically, the Ministry of Health. (Photo: Gleaner)
The “sickest” building in Kingston is, ironically, the Ministry of Health. Now the A/C system has broken down entirely. But not to worry, staff are being relocated and the building, which was once the rather nice Oceana Hotel, is to be sold. (Photo: Gleaner)

Here’s a nice little article about Jamaica (sponsored by Virgin Holidays). Thanks, Sir Richard Branson: http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/comment/articles/2014-06/25/jamaica-richard-branson-entreprenuer-centre

Meanwhile, the Sunday Observer has found a few more stories about sex to titillate us with, today. An example of the low standards it now seems to embrace is a court report stating that “An elderly old man” (age 62?!) accused his companion of “giving him ‘bun'”  (that means, cheating on him). Lord help us.

Big ups to:

Cedella Marley.
Cedella Marley.
  • Cedella Marley – one of Bob’s daughters – who is helping the Jamaica women’s football team to raise money so that it can continue to compete in the Women’s World Cup qualifiers. The Reggae Girlz are hoping to raise up to $50,000 for “coaching, housing, proper nutrition and proper training” to carry the team through the next round. The crowd-funding site is here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/are-you-a-reggae-girl-help-fund-women-s-jamaican-soccer-team
  • Turmeric powder.
    Turmeric powder.
  • Farmer Downie Walker, who has invested in equipment to turn the turmeric that he grows in St. Catherine into capsules and tea bags, working with the Scientific Research Council to develop and get it approved. What they call value added, I believe. Did you know turmeric is especially good for your stomach and liver? And of course, in a good curry it’s essential!
Hansle Parchment after winning the 110 meters hurdles in Paris yesterday, breaking his own record.
Hansle Parchment after winning the 110 meters hurdles in Paris yesterday, breaking his own record.
  • The very awesome Hansle Parchment, who has broken his own national record, set just last year, to win the 110 meters hurdles at the Diamond League meet in Paris yesterday. 12.94 seconds sounds pretty fast to me!
Students from Cross Keys High School help build a bathroom extension for a needy community member. (Photo: Gleaner)
Students from Cross Keys High School help build a bathroom extension for a needy community member. (Photo: Gleaner)
  • The staff and students of Cross Keys High School in Manchester (in particular Project Coordinator Rosemarie Thompson Collins) who are actively involved in volunteerism. They recently built a bathroom onto the house of a visually impaired woman in the community. It is a wonderful idea to get young people involved in helping the less fortunate – and they actually gain from in it many ways themselves. Our son’s school had a community service program that he very much benefited from. Congratulations to all.

It’s a great relief to know that murders are on the decline. As you may have noticed, the list at the end of my bulletins has shortened. This is good news (and in particular, you will have noticed, the level of police killings has dropped dramatically). My condolences to the families of those who have died in the past four days:

Kimelee Ferguson, 33, Arnett Gardens, Kingston

Unidentified man, Allman Town, Kingston (shot by police)

Quanza Pryce, 35, Bucknor, Clarendon

Winston Lloyd Thomas, 47, Kitson Town, St. Catherine

Fiona Waugh, 33, Bannister, St. Catherine


3 thoughts on “Desilting, Bling and Sausages: Sunday, July 6, 2014

  1. I happened to ask some pointed questions of UNICEF Jamaica on Twitter on Thursday, after being on a plane with an abusive Jamaican parent, was glad to see the recent public comments. Maybe, action against it are limited, but it deserves place at the table of real issues.

    I can’t figure out if Jamaica is sex-obsessed or just liking vicarious thrills. Some have written cogently that it’s the former. Maybe, we should push to host the Sex Olympics, creating it, if needed.

    I know the country is dominated by male opinion, so marvel at the geezers (to use my 10 y/o daughter’s word of the week) getting recycled. How to contend?

    Ellington resignation seems like high politics, not low personal choices.

    Like

    1. Thanks so much Dennis. UNICEF Jamaica are not afraid to speak out on the harsh realities. Their former head Rob Fuderich was simply great. Yes, it is a real issue indeed. I am leaning towards thinking Jamaicans are sex-obsessed (at least, they like to talk and write and argue about it). But it’s so mixed up. Public displays of affection (even just holding hands) are SO rare. I have lived here so long, I am always startled when I go abroad to see couples kissing in the street!! Oh, I love that word “geezer.” Think I will use it a bit more. The geezers need some competition. As for the Ellington resignation, I can only ask, “What’s going on?”

      Like

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