It’s been raining forcefully every afternoon for the past few days. Afternoons are gloomy, and evenings fill with rain. This must be dampening the Christmas season; shopkeepers and vendors are complaining.
The Instagram Minister, redux: Yesterday the Gleaner newspaper revived the issue of Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna’s regular postings of her well-toned body on social media. This already seems an “old” issue, but traditional media has just caught up. I am doubtful about politicians using social media to build their personal fan club in this way. But clearly this is a strategy, and since the Minister is a politician I assume it is a political strategy. Perhaps this is what women leaders in Jamaica feel they have to do to gain credibility and influence people – which is a sad commentary, if so. Very sad.
But why are we discussing Ms. Hanna’s “curvaceous thighs”? I am more interested in what she is doing for the youth – in particular, our most at-risk and marginalized children and young people – and her work on behalf of the Jamaican people. But all I hear about is her physical beauty. She is not a beauty queen any more; she is a government official. She should not get the two “persona” mixed up. What about the children’s homes? And how is she representing her St. Ann constituency? Does Minister Hanna really want to be defined by her six-pack?
Social media and the politicians: An underlying issue is how public figures handle their private lives vs their public ones. They need to handle social media with care. Many Jamaicans seem to see nothing wrong with mixing it all up. Interesting that today’s Gleaner front page stories both deal with social media. The Prime Minister (who celebrated her 79th birthday last week) is apparently uncomfortable with some People’s National Party members who have expressed their views on the Outameni issue on social media (including Julian Robinson; I always read his tweets and think he uses Twitter well and responsibly. But…)
NIS running out of money? Reports have emerged that the National Insurance Fund for state pensions is likely to have run out by 2020 (so soon!) Experts say the NIS is in a “really bad state” and the contribution should be doubled to ten per cent. There are currently 108,000 Jamaicans receiving the (very modest) old age pension. Some of it is actually diverted to the National Health Fund – an excellent scheme providing cheaper drugs that many Jamaicans, including pensioners, benefit from.
The Outameni issue (and, I believe, the mishandling of the chikungunya outbreak) appears to have put quite a dent in the administration’s popularity – and it’s not just the opinion of the “articulate minority” that comments on social media. Civil society has had its say on Outameni and the Opposition has filed questions in Parliament. Is that it? Can the Simpson Miller administration (and the NHT board) now relax and consider the matter over? According to a poll released today, 87 per cent of Jamaicans have reported that their family has been affected by “chik v” – 38 per cent severely affected. Also alarmingly, 49 per cent said they did not believe the virus was transmitted by mosquitoes, which means that the public education campaign fell down badly.
But on the topic of tourism – the outlook is rosy as the season begins today – according to the Minister and other players in the industry. Ever upbeat! January through October Jamaica 1.7 million stopover visitors, a 3.1 percent increase over the same period last year. The Minister expects the increase to double.
I am glad to see the Police High Command is taking a firm stance on freedom of the press. After a freelance journalist was arrested recently, the Commissioner’s Office pointed out that media should be allowed to film and record situations involving the police. The Gleaner reports it has followed up with a general reminder to the Jamaica Constabulary Force personnel that “the recording of people, activities or items plainly visible in public spaces is not a violation of Jamaican laws.” But otherwise? There seem to be grey areas that would be worth further investigation.
Perhaps I missed this, but what is the latest on A) the Trafigura court case and B) the 350 megawatt power project? Anybody?
Kudos to all!
Loshusan Supermarket New Kingston employs three young people with disabilities at checkout. I am told the service is excellent. This is the inclusiveness that Executive Director of the Digicel Foundation Samantha Chantrelle was referring to at the Foundation’s excellent Special Needs Forum last week.
Mayor Angela Brown Burke and the Kingston & St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) plan to increase AIDS awareness as well as seek to reduce stigma and discrimination. Ms. Brown Burke just returned from a UNAIDS Conference and I hope that the resolution passed by the KSAC will bring about positive results.
Hurrah! The first recycling collection point has opened in St. Mary on land provided by the local parish council. This is a project of Recycling Partners (a public-private sector program spearheaded by Francois Chalifour of Wisynco and other business people). I wrote about it in ECCO Magazine’s “Green Your Biz” newsletters in August and September. Take a look at the September edition here: http://issuu.com/eccomagazine/docs/sept_gyb_newsletter__1_ August issue, including my interview with Mr. Chalifour, is here: http://issuu.com/eccomagazine/docs/august_gyb_newsletter_final That’s for plastic bottles; I wish we could do something about styrofoam, now.
Congrats to the winner of the 2014 Aaron Matalon Award – Ebony G. Patterson; and the co-winners of the inaugural Dawn Scott Memorial Award, Kimani Beckford and Camille Chedda! The winners were announced at the official opening yesterday of JamaicaBiennial 2014, which was an exciting event. The Biennial is a must-see!
The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) is implementing a landslide and flood mitigation project in Bedward Gardens, August Town; it is part of a US$2.4 million Landslide Risk Reduction and Mitigation Program. I am not sure who the funder is.
As of Saturday evening, there were 307 fatalities on the road this year, surpassing last year’s total of 291 for the same period. Speeding appears to be a major cause. Interviewed on television, the traffic police said they did indeed conduct speed checks on Hope Road (an area I mentioned recently that is known for its “racing”) and wrote 25 tickets for speeding in two hours. The police also warned parents about allowing their teenage children to go out late at night and return early in the morning – often driven by someone who has had too much to drink. Please be careful people, over the holiday season!
Professor Alvin Wint of the University of the West Indies feels the local media have not been fully reporting on a steady decline in the murder rate – not just this year but over the past two to three years. He may have a point. I think the sense is that with the general crime rate remaining high, and the murder rate still one of the highest in the world, we are not seeing enough of a reduction. In a way, we are not “feeling” it. My sympathies to the families of the following:
Dale Davis, teen, Tivoli Gardens (killed by security forces – INDECOM)
Sadene Jackson, (the victim allegedly met her killer on Facebook)
Alphanso Douglas, 55, Beacon Hill, St. Thomas
The name of the gunman who fired at music promoter Corey Todd outside his Montego Bay nightclub last Thursday is 25-year-old Corey Grant of Kingston. Mr. Grant was shot dead at the scene by an off-duty policeman.