Marley Celebrated, Women Abused, Opposition Embarrassed: Friday, February 6, 2015

Jamaica is supposed to be celebrating Bob Marley’s seventieth birthday today. Marley is getting plenty of “blessings,” as Kingston is drenched in rain. Oh – I would also like to sincerely wish media entrepreneur Tyrone Wilson a happy birthday, too! Tomorrow evening there will be a concert with some Marley sons (I am not sure which – there are quite a few to choose from) and others, at the downtown Kingston waterfront. And yet another Marley statue… My favorite is still the Christopher Gonzalez one that was shipped off to Ocho Rios because no one liked it. It’s the only one that portrays Marley’s spirit. I think we have enough Marley statues now, perhaps?

A new Marley statue to be set up in the Culture Yard on First Street. The old one will go up in the scruffy football field next to Trench Town Reading Centre, where Marley used to play. (Photo: Garfield Robinson/Gleaner)
A new Marley statue to be set up in the Culture Yard on First Street. The old one will go up in the scruffy football field (the so-called Vin Lawrence Park) next to Trench Town Reading Centre, where Marley used to play. (Photo: Garfield Robinson/Gleaner)

Women under siege… I’m tired of this nonsense now. Here are just four very recent examples of the disrespect (and far worse) meted out to women and girls in our society. On Monday a policewoman, whom the Resident Magistrate in Brown’s Town, St. Ann decided in her wisdom was in contempt of court, was placed in a holding area with several men. They proceeded to sexually assault her. What the hell! I am glad to see the Police High Command is taking this atrocious incident seriously and conducting a full investigation, while the woman is receiving counseling.

28-year-old cosmetologist Jodian McNair was stabbed to death by her common-law husband, who then hanged himself. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)
28-year-old cosmetologist Jodian McNair was stabbed to death by her common-law husband, who then hanged himself. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)

Secondly: A man was charged with “having sexual intercourse” with a minor – in other words, with a child (child abuse!). It is quite possible (a recurring issue with underage girls) that this was forced sex. The man received a two-year suspended sentence. What is the point? Thirdly: A mother of two (her young daughter is disabled) was killed by her abusive spouse, who hanged himself. I can hardly bear to read these stories of abuse ending in tragedy. Her common-law husband was apparently jealous of her growing independence; she had set up a cosmetology business, working long hours and had moved to her sister’s house.

Fourthly: The University of the West Indies (UWI) is rushing to deny last Sunday’s front page Gleaner report on “Halls of Horror” – admittedly an over-the-top headline. I understand, from those who know, that UWI has been in denial on the issue of sexual harassment and even assault of women on campus for a considerable length of time. But most of the incidents I have heard about over the years were not reported to the police and so not investigated properly or prosecuted. UWI issued a defensive statement, asserting there is insufficient data to back up the Gleaner’s allegations. But they know it happens, although not “wide-scale.” UWI used the cliché “a microcosm of society” to explain that some of its students behave in an anti-social manner. Another cliché was “zero tolerance” for sexual harassment. And yes, they have a policy in place and run workshops. So I guess we are going to continue burying our heads in the sand, until something dramatic happens, the problem becomes wide-scale” and urgent action is taken. Question: Are women safe at UWI? I understand the security guards do their very best. But problems there are. Let’s not pretend.

Andrew Holness (left) and former senator Christopher Tufton, who was thrown out by way of an undated letter - signed by himself. (Photo: Gleaner)
Andrew Holness (left) and former senator Christopher Tufton, who was thrown out by way of an undated letter – signed by himself. (Photo: Gleaner)

This is embarrassing: A Constitutional Court ruled today that Opposition Leader Andrew Holness did something unconstitutional – in its words, “inconsistent with the Constitution, contrary to public policy and… accordingly null and void.” If you recall, former Senator Arthur Williams challenged Holness’ use of undated, pre-signed (!) resignation letters, that Williams helped draft (?) in having Williams and former senator Christopher Tufton removed from the Senate. Excuse the brackets, but the whole thing seemed so nonsensical in the first place. Why did the senators sign undated letters? Didn’t Holness think this would backfire on him (personally) at some point? And that’s exactly what has happened. Holness has dug himself a hole and jumped straight into it. If he’s not careful, his opponents inside and outside the party will start shoveling earth into it.  If you want to wade through the whole thing, Nationwide News Network kindly shared the court’s decision here: http://nationwideradiojm.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Judgment-Daye-McDonald-Bishop-Batts.pdf What is not clear is whether the two senators appointed in Williams’ and Tufton’s place will now have to step down. Holness says not, but lawyers seem to disagree on the subject (as lawyers are wont to do). Not only Holness, but his party has truly messed up.

I am afraid the "fake Rastas" (an example here is the former "Snoop Lion") may lose out with this new legislation.
I am afraid the “fake Rastas” (an example here is the former “Snoop Lion”) may lose out with this new legislation. But Snoop himself is reportedly investing in a huge startup operation in the U.S. now – ganja, of course.

Ganja law passed in Senate: The debate in the Upper House today on the decriminalization of ganja (or whatever you want to call it) seemed to go all over the place, but they eventually passed the legislation (with five amendments). It will go to the Lower House for further debate some time in March. As I mentioned before, the question of Rastafarians’ use of the weed is a tricky one; not only will they have to prove they are Rastas (through membership in a Rasta organization) but also will have to obtain a license. I guess the “fake Rastas” (entertainers, rent-a-dreads etc) will have to prove they actually hold religious beliefs, besides flashing their locks. Opposition Senator Marlene Malahoo Forte called the legislation “very, very badly drafted, and incomplete”.

KellyTomblin
Ms. KellyTomblin, President/CEO of Jamaica Public Service Company.

JPS decides to appeal: The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) has been mulling over the Office of Utilities Regulation’s (OUR) decision not to grant it an electricity rate increase. It has decided (reluctantly, CEO Kelly Tomblin says) to appeal. In a long series of tweets, JPS explained: “The primary objective of the Appeal is to ensure that Jamaica has a strong energy sector that can fuel economic growth,” going on to talk about “equity.”

So I hear the Students’ Loan Bureau is giving priority to students studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – the so-called STEM subjects. This seems sensible to me. Don’t we have enough Sociology graduates struggling to find work? The cynical response is that all these STEM students, once qualified, will be shipped abroad. Be that as it may…

INDECOM-logo

The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) held a press briefing on Wednesday. A rather staggering number of police officers are now facing murder charges, INDECOM reported. Fifty-three. Yes, fifty-three! The fear of prosecution must certainly have been a factor in the drastically reduced number of extra-judicial killings in 2014 (from 258 in 2013 to 129).

Caribbean drug trafficking routes.
Caribbean drug trafficking routes.

Drug routes: Sharing with you a map of Caribbean drug-trafficking routes. Is it my imagination, or does Venezuela seem to be a bit of a hub, these days?  A go-fast speedboat to Jamaica does seem quite a trek, though.

Pulling no punches: Businesswoman Yaneek Page is refreshingly outspoken at all times. At the launch of an entrepreneurship competition at UWI last week, she chastised the Government for continuing to put up bureaucratic hurdles, citing the example of a pepper spray she has been developing for the past five years, with an investment of J$1 million. I spoke to Yaneek and fellow-striver Erica Wynter about their challenges (and successes) recently: https://petchary.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/keeping-the-faith-the-bright-energy-of-entrepreneurs/

Major “big ups” to:

Students of Mt. Alvernia High School receive a large cheque from the Spanish-Jamaican Foundation for Spanish exam fees. (Photo: Spanish-Jamaican Foundation/Facebook)
Students of Mt. Alvernia High School receive a large cheque from the Spanish-Jamaican Foundation for Spanish exam fees. (Photo: Spanish-Jamaican Foundation/Facebook)

The Spanish-Jamaican Foundation, which paid the CSEC Spanish Oral Exam fees on behalf of all students (over 4,000) slated to take the exam in St. Mary, St. James, Hanover and Trelawny. Spanish Ambassador Aníbal Jiménez Abascal also gave students at Mt. Alvernia High School in Montego Bay a “pep talk” about the importance of learning languages – at least one. I could not agree more! Having a language gives you that competitive edge, and Spanish is the most useful in this part of the world.

Following his Friday, February 6 swearing in as judge of the International Court of Justice in the Hague, Jamaican jurist, Patrick Robinson is flanked by Her Excellency, Vilma McNish, Ambassador of Jamaica to Belgium and his son the Hon. Julian Robinson, State Minister in the Ministry of  Science, Technology, Energy and Mining. (Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Foreign Trade)
Following his Friday, February 6 swearing in as judge of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Jamaican jurist, Patrick Robinson is flanked by Her Excellency, Vilma McNish, Ambassador of Jamaica to Belgium and his son the Hon. Julian Robinson, State Minister in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining. (Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Foreign Trade)

Justice Patrick Robinson, sworn in today as the first Jamaican to serve on the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Colin McDonald, CEO of Our Story Tours Limited (right) signs the lease agreement with Chair of the Old Harbour Development Area Committee Randy Finikin and Kadene Campbell, the Jamaica National Heritage Trust's legal officer, at Colbeck Castle. (Photo: Old Harbour News)
Colin McDonald, CEO of Our Story Tours Limited (right) signs the lease agreement with Chair of the Old Harbour Development Area Committee Randy Finikin (center) and Kadene Campbell, the Jamaica National Heritage Trust’s legal officer, at Colbeck Castle. (Photo: Old Harbour News)

The Old Harbour Development Area Committee, a community-based organization, which recently signed a one-year lease to manage and maintain Colbeck Castle, taking over from the Jamaica National Heritage Trust. If the Committee does a good job it will be eligible for a much longer lease. It is encouraging to see the development of community tourism in St. Catherine and in nearby Clarendon, an area with a rich cultural heritage.

That crazy young man Russhaine "Dutty" Berry (center) chats with Tourism Minister Wykeham McNeill and CEO of Jamaica Environment Trust Diana McCaulay at the launch of the "Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica" campaign. (Photo: Jamaica Environment Trust/Facebook)
That crazy young man Russhaine “Dutty” Berry (center) chats with Tourism Minister Wykeham McNeill and CEO of Jamaica Environment Trust Diana McCaulay at the launch of the “Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica” campaign. (Photo: Jamaica Environment Trust/Facebook)

Jamaica Environment Trust which launched its “Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica” public education campaign in support of the Ministry of Tourism’s pilot Clean Coasts Project, this week. Special, special kudos to the Tourism Enhancement Fund, which is funding it in full. Island Grill, headed by the dynamic Thalia Lyn, are producing eco-friendly containers; and Agricultural Chemicals, are providing branded bins (which I hope will be emptied regularly); and Diageo/Red Stripe. As for young Russhaine “Dutty” Berry – he was a delight, the perfect “Ambassador” for the campaign! Here is his very funny video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOKC3-tkKGc  Non-Jamaican readers, I am not sure you will understand it all!

UWI Medical Science Complex: UWI’s Mona campus really seems to be improving the quality of their product by investing a large amount in medical sciences. This makes sense to me. If they want to prioritize and save money they could at the same time “retire” some other departments that are less than effective, and focus on medicine, law and the sciences. Just my thoughts.

There were 97 murders in January (including ten women/girls, five teens and a little girl aged 3); plus at least eight killings by the police (one or two are disputed). This is not happy news, representing a 31% increase over January 2014. And now, in February, the following Jamaicans have been murdered. I extend my deepest sympathies to the families, who are grieving:

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller (second left) has a word with Dr Keith Mckenzie (centre), medical student from the University of the West Indies (UWI) Class of 1948, while he’s being greeted by UWI Vice Chancellor E Nigel Harris (left) at Wednesday’s ceremonial opening of the $4-billion Faculty of Medical Sciences Teaching and Research Complex at the institution’s Mona campus. Sharing in the moment are Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites (second left) and Professor Archibald McDonald, principal at UWI. (Photo: Aston Spaulding/Jamaica Observer)
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller (second left) has a word with Dr Keith Mckenzie (centre), medical student from the University of the West Indies (UWI) Class of 1948, while he’s being greeted by UWI Vice Chancellor E Nigel Harris (left) at Wednesday’s ceremonial opening of the $4-billion Faculty of Medical Sciences Teaching and Research Complex at the institution’s Mona campus. Sharing in the moment are Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites (second left) and Professor Archibald McDonald, principal at UWI. (Photo: Aston Spaulding/Jamaica Observer)

Jamieke Smith, 16, Fletcher’s Land, Kingston

Dennis Roye Wright, 49, Kingston 11

Jodian McNair, 28, McCook’s Pen, St. Catherine

Logan Taylor, 36, Bog Walk, St. Catherine

Unidentified man, Shelter Rock, St. Catherine

Unidentified man, Mt. Salem, St. James

Delano Campbell, 32, Norwood Gardens, St. James

Carlton Reid, 54, Seaforth, St. Thomas

Daniel Montaque, 71, Frome, Westmoreland


8 thoughts on “Marley Celebrated, Women Abused, Opposition Embarrassed: Friday, February 6, 2015

  1. Not so sure I agree with you about UWI ‘retiring’ some departments. Which ones?

    I agree with the SLB pushing more students into the STEM subjects based on Jamaica’s current economic situation, but we cannot forget that this world needs artists just as much as scientists (and not just artists who are rich enough to fund their own schooling).

    Like

    1. Well, this idea is a bit radical I agree Robyn! But trying to maintain numerous departments in every subject under the sun is a costly affair, and UWI is stretched for funds. As far as providing value for money is concerned (and the possibility that students might actually find a job after graduating) the STEM subjects obviously offer great job opportunities. Yes, we do need artists and arts graduates, but don’t you pay high enough fees at UWI anyway? And there is the Edna Manley College, which is not private and full of rich kids? I guess I am suggesting that UWI specialize more in specific areas rather than spread itself so thin.

      Like

  2. Learning more from you about the region than many of the major papers combine: Your Reference: “Following his Friday, February 6 swearing in as judge of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Jamaican jurist, Patrick Robinson.”

    Thank you for highlighting some other good news, and unlike some seen coming out of the region that can be very depressing. Yes! i have plenty here @ home and despite the cold weather: However, the impact can have more of a lasting effect there. Nevertheless, a proud moment as mom’s would say. Please keep us informed. Glad I ran in to an objective outlet that is more tahn a blog. “Hope you’re getting paid. 🙂

    Like

    1. Thanks so much for your comments! I always try to highlight the “good news” – there are many people doing interesting and useful work that does not get talked about. Yes, it can be depressing but we have to keep trying to move onwards and upwards! I’m so glad you enjoy my blog. I try to be as objective as I can – although I guess not altogether so, as these are my opinions really! No, I don’t get paid actually, it’s a labor of love. I do get paid for another weekly article I write for the Gleaner at http://gleanerblogs.com/socialimpact/ which you might like to read too! All the best.

      Like

      1. Great, the Gleaner could use more voices like yours with that inside-outside approach to the plights of so many. I’ve always like the Gleaner. My mom still reads it, but I think by the time the stories get here, some of the real aspects have been edited to fit the America news stand. Just my thought…. For me, writing is simple clearing the mid after a long day in the public safety environment, and to start a dialog . I have a huge outlet , and since I do not have any one paying me off as to what to say, and so I feel free to explore as long as I can back it up with data, and personal experience, and stay aways from my work information, they will have it. Take care, and as they often say on your side of town, “Walk Good.” Again, nice meeting you and the blog. If you need anything that can be of assistance as long as it is legal, let me know. I can only say no or yes! Lol….

        Like

      2. You should get your mom to read the Gleaner online, perhaps! All the traditional media now have websites obviously, and to keep up with news that’s already broken on Twitter etc. they have to update their news pages throughout the day. The way you describe writing is exactly how I see it! I am now retired so have time to chew over lots of issues affecting this country – which I was already more than aware of when I was working actually! Thank you so much for your support, and please keep reading and commenting. I really appreciate it! 🙂

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.