“It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.” Well, it has been a windy week and our yard has filled with crackling dry leaves. It’s hard to find anything good blowing for anybody, just at the moment.
A terrible tragedy: Everyone has run out of adjectives to describe the murder of three schoolboys and a man in Clarendon on Wednesday night. The nature of the crime and the youth of three of the victims hit the headlines hard, and we are struggling to make sense of it. I now hear the motive for the shooting deaths (or executions?) of three boys returning from the gym and a neighbor may have been in “reprisal” – which really could be anything. The fact is that three young lives have been snuffed out. It is callous and cold. We can’t catch our breath.
Our children: The Gleaner reports today that “at least” 24 children have been murdered this year, to date. There is no doubt that the murder rate this year has been building steadily, and what Minister of National Security Peter Bunting called a “spike” in January (suggesting it is temporary) now appears to be turning into a longer-term trend. But I did a count of the number of children (eighteen years and under) killed this year through the tracking on my blog. My total was 27 (not including these three boys) although this may not be accurate. So I would also say “at least” thirty, 18 of them boys, and two of those killed by the police.
Words… “My heart is full of sadness that such wickedness has become part of the Jamaican reality,” the Prime Minister said. She and Youth Minister Lisa Hanna visited the boys’ families and expressed sympathy. That is, of course, the right thing to do…and say. But won’t there be a next time? More hand-wringing, more tears, no end in sight.
Another teenager who made the news, the alleged would-be traveler to join Islamic State, remains in police custody until Tuesday while more investigations and social enquiry reports take place. I hope this will have a reasonably happy ending.
Coming clean: Well, as some had guessed, former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, through his attorney, wrote that it was indeed his, Golding’s identity that former Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington was hiding when he refused to disclose a name to the Commission of Enquiry into the Tivoli Gardens massacre. So the then Prime Minister told Ellington to discuss Christopher “Dudus” Coke’s possible surrender to the security forces with two church men, Rev. Al Miller and Bishop Herro Blair. After early adjournment on Friday, it seems Mr. Ellington will return to the witness stand tomorrow. All of this leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
Talking of sourness, columnist and government employee Ian Boyne is still chewing over President Obama’s recent visit (perhaps Mr. Boyne should move on now). I am not sure what he expected from a less than 24-hour visit, but he concludes: “It’s good to come here, woo our youth, and enjoy that visit to the Bob Marley Museum. But we are not just to be romanticized and celebrated.” I would say perhaps our disillusioned youth are in need a bit of wooing; and I thought we all loved Bob – or don’t you believe in the “romanticization” of Brand Jamaica, Mr. Boyne? Perhaps you can tell us what was discussed between the President and CARICOM leaders, since no communiqué was released afterwards (I checked with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)? Could it have included…? (see next item).
The Gleaner editorial and other commentators, reading between the lines, see some of the President’s comments in Jamaica as a subtle hint that the country, and the region, needs to get serious about corruption. The Prime Minister herself pledged to tackle this in her inaugural speech. Were these mere words? The Gleaner wants Portia Simpson Miller to urgently prepare for battle against the insidious enemy. I don’t see her even strapping on her leg armor yet (sorry, I’ve just been watching Game of Thrones, and the women are very empowered in that television saga).
Malfunctioning: A World Economic Forum (WEF) public opinion survey ranks Jamaica at 3.4 out of 7 in terms of having an effective Parliament. This is hardly surprising, but it’s a little embarrassing to be rubbing shoulders with countries like Bangladesh in this respect. You can find an overview of the Global Information Technology Report 2015 for Jamaica here: http://reports.weforum.org/global-information-technology-report-2015/economies/#economy=JAM It seems many of us are not prepared for what the WEF calls the “ICT revolution.” I would love to think that for Jamaica ICT is “a vector of social development and transformation… improving access to basic services, enhancing connectivity, and creating employment opportunities.” We are not there, yet. Also, let’s have a new Parliament building!
Reminder: The annual Closed Season for spiny lobsters began on April 1 and ends on June 30, 2015. There are new, tighter regulations, which can be read here: http://jis.gov.jm/public-announcement-annual-lobster-close-season-april-1-june-30/ The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List notes there is insufficient data to determine how endangered the spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) is – but confirms numbers are on the decline due to over-fishing.
What is happening with the proposed transshipment port at Goat Islands, you may ask? Ah, well… Let’s see.
Jamaicans like Usain Bolt really inspire and uplift us – and do we need that! He acted as a guide runner for a blind Brazilian Paralympic runner in Rio last week, and she says he did a great job. This is heart-warming to me.
Congratulations to the students of the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) at the University of the West Indies on the launch of their great new print publication, the “CARIMAC Times 2015” last Friday. The theme was “Watergate” – that is, investigative journalism. The students planned and organized the event themselves, and they were impressive. Special kudos to Rosheika Grant, who coordinated the event. The guest speaker, influential broadcast journalist Emily Shields gave some down-to-earth advice.
The Jamaica Cancer Society is sixty years old this year. It has as its theme “Never Giving Up.” Relay For Life is the overnight fundraiser (June 13-14 at the Police Officers’ Club in Kingston). Please support them in any way you can.
Meanwhile, we have to keep singing, in the words of Mr. Marley… Oh, and of course, praying. For those who pray.
Today there was a memorial service for Jamaica’s murder victims at the St Andrew Parish Church. I hear the turnout was no more than that for a regular Sunday; but perhaps people were not aware of the service. Be that as it may, we have to get beyond prayers and symbolic gestures to the root of our crime problem, and address it. No more calls for “divine intervention,” please Minister Bunting. Something is not working. Do we need to press the restart button, or have a complete rethink? Do let us know. Meanwhile, we must remember that these are all Jamaicans – human beings, not statistics. My condolences to the families.
Ricardo Jarrett, 35, Mona, St. Andrew
Nathan Dixon, 20, Portmore, St. Catherine
Jamie Ridley, 34, Braeton/Portmore, St. Catherine
Marquis Hamilton, 35, Moneymusk Housing Scheme, Clarendon
Alex Turner, 16, Moneymusk Housing Scheme, Clarendon
Ricardo Briscoe, 14, Moneymusk Housing Scheme, Clarendon
Raymond Givans, 14, Moneymusk Housing Scheme, Clarendon
Clayton Howell, 21, Frankfield, Clarendon
Ricky Ricketts, York District, St. Thomas (killed by police)
Worrell Terrelonge, 27, Morant Bay, St. Thomas