New Year Homilies, The Gas Gets Worse and Honoring a National Hero: Sunday, January 3, 2016

My first news post of 2016, and nothing of great moment so far – except that Jesse and Walt are in trouble again, this time with Mexican drug dealers… Oh, sorry. We acquired Netflix recently and have become immersed in “Breaking Bad,” which if you haven’t seen it is superior television, even if emotionally draining.

A rather good photo of Opposition Leader Andrew Holness at a party rally. (Jermaine Barnaby/Gleaner)
A rather good photo of Opposition Leader Andrew Holness at a party rally. (Jermaine Barnaby/Gleaner)

New Year Messages: If you want to read them in full, you can find them on the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) website. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller’s message contained the usual Marcus Garvey quotes (two) and the usual exhortations, such as: “Fellow Jamaicans, fighting crime is not just ‘a government business’, it is OUR business.” Our Head of State, Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, was as usual more inspiring and less vague, focusing on specific issues we need to share responsibility for: One of these challenges that we must confront is the persistent abuse of our women, children and youth.” The GG advocates getting involved in our communities, and mentoring. Opposition Leader Andrew Holness’ message was a little wordy, with an economic slant: “The Jamaica Labour Party has always held the view that fiscal discipline and growth can be achieved simultaneously.” 

Bad gas: So once again the Government has gone for transparency (read that with sarcasm attached), with the Jamaica Information Service reporting that “the names of petrol stations and suppliers implicated in the substandard petrol investigations will remain classified,”  – so as not to harm law-abiding players in the gas business, says Minister Paulwell. And if in doubt, appoint a Committee, or a Task Force. This time it’s the former, chaired by Noel DaCosta and its mandate is to examine, review…etc, etc. Intrepid reporter Abka Fitz-Henley has told us meanwhile that the contaminated gasoline has been traced by the Bureau of Standards to a Rubis warehouse in East Kingston. Rubis is the other authorized importer of fuel to Jamaica, in addition to the state-owned Petrojam, and supplies other dealers including Total and Texaco. Everyone is seeking legal advice! And according to a recent Gleaner editorial, corruption is rife in the petroleum trade, citing alleged “illegal mixing stations.” My Lord.

Senator Marlene Malahoo Forte.
Opposition Health Spokesperson Marlene Malahoo Forte.

Another smoking dump: Opposition Spokesperson on Health Marlene Malahoo Forte appeared on television this weekend with several Jamaica Labour Party supporters in face masks, with a smoking open garbage dump as the backdrop. This was Retirement Dump near Montego Bay, which was allegedly deliberately set on fire on New Year’s Day. When firemen arrived to douse the fire they were reportedly met by armed men, who didn’t want it put out. It’s now under control, and today the Member of Parliament and a bunch of People’s National Party representatives hurried down there to discuss how to fix the problem of a large illegal dump nearby (how are these things allowed to happen, I ask myself?)

Damion Crawford seems to have got himself back on track.
Damion Crawford seems to have got himself back on track.

Damion Crawford seems to have got a new lease on life. I was impressed today by his Jamaica Observer article, in which he refuted allegations of inaction in his East Rural St. Andrew constituency by Opposition candidate Juliet Holness (wife of Andrew) and gave full details of his education program in the constituency. Mr. Crawford observed, rather perspicaciously I thought: Upon entering politics, my own naïveté led me to believe that the truth will always, eventually, emerge. However, the evidence gathered since then has proven me very wrong: propaganda left uncorrected is readily accepted as the truth by an anti-research public.” This is sadly true, for the most part. Do your homework, people!

Here are some New Year “Big Ups”:

Sean Paul at the Paris Conference on Climate Change. (Photo: AP)
Sean Paul at the Paris Conference on Climate Change. Apparently a ride in an electric car inspired him to advocate. (Photo: AP)

DJ advocates on climate change: It’s really good to see that Jamaican DJ Sean Paul has been inspired to support the Caribbean in the fight against climate change. Other Caribbean musicians participated vigorously in the “1.5 To Stay Alive” campaign spearheaded by Panos Caribbean, who initiated Voices for Climate Change some years ago now.

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Major kudos also to Shaggy, whose annual concert in aid of the Bustamante Hospital for Children took place last night. It was accompanied by a huge fund-raising campaign, and I do hope they raised lots of money. It’s certainly not too late to support Shaggy’s efforts, from wherever you are in the world – the funds are badly needed. Go to http://shaggyfoundation.org for full details.

Steadman Fuller, custos of Kingston, lays a floral tribute in honour of The Right Excellent George William Gordon at the National Heroes Park on Wednesday. (Photo: Jermaine Barnaby/Gleaner)
Steadman Fuller, Custos of Kingston, lays a floral tribute in honor of George William Gordon at the National Heroes Park on December 30. (Photo: Jermaine Barnaby/Gleaner)

National Hero George William Gordon, who was born 200 years ago. Gordon’s father was a planter and his mother a slave. An attorney and landowner, he went into politics and advocated for the human rights of the majority.  He was arrested, charged for complicity in what is now called the Morant Bay Rebellion, which was brutally repressed in 1865, and executed. It was good to see human rights defender Dr. Carolyn Gomes, who heads Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and Education Minister Ronald Thwaites among those laying a wreath in National Heroes Park in honor of his Bicentennial, which was recognized on December 30. They are descendants of George William Gordon. I wish I had been there myself to pay tribute to him. Many thanks to the Office of the Prime Minister, which responded promptly to a confused tweet of mine. I noticed that most records state that Gordon was born in 1820. However, the OPM explained to me that after further research, Gordon’s baptismal record was found, indicating that he was in fact born in 1815.

A fellow blogger is trying to rouse some Jamaican bloggers from their torpor and get them posting regularly again. You can’t call yourself a blogger if you haven’t posted for months (or in some cases, years). But here’s one consistent blog on a range of issues from Lindsworth Deer: http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com And here’s Warren’s Blog: http://commonsenseja.wordpress.com Bloggers, awake! It’s a New Year! Meanwhile, the best of Jamaipanese – a blogger with true longevity – is now available for your browsing pleasure at http://jamaipanese.com/best-of-jamaipanese-com-2015/

“How can life be so unfair?” cried a friend of Richard Mattie, his head turned away from the television camera as he leant against the wall. Mattie was shot dead by the police downtown, just as the New Year fireworks display started. He was accused of doing a gun salute with several other men, who allegedly then fired on the police, who were on patrol. The three other men were injured and hospitalized. Below are the names of those Jamaicans who have already been killed this year. I will try to add a note here and there as to the circumstances of their deaths. It is very sad to see that already two women have been murdered, allegedly by their partners, on New Year’s Eve and the first day of the year. Meanwhile, the police are working hard, having already seized quite a few guns since Christmas; and have arrested one or two alleged murderers – including a police constable, who shot his girlfriend dead on Christmas Day. My sympathies are with the families of those who have died in such terrible circumstances.

Richard Mattie, 36, Princess Street, Kingston (shot dead by the police)

Stephanie Warren, 39, Crescent Road, Kingston 5 (allegedly stabbed to death by her husband; citizen of Scarborough, Ontario, Canada. This case seems to be linked to a  tragic and high profile child abandonment case in Toronto and another in Kingston. The whole depressing story (and believe me, it is) can be read in the Toronto Star story here: http://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2016/01/03/mother-of-abandoned-baby-angelica-stabbed-to-death-in-jamaica.html?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed

Exroy Thompson (“Pops”), 39, Spanish Town Bypass, St. Catherine

Lesha Cooper, 20, Lacovia, St. Elizabeth (chopped allegedly by her boyfriend, who then reportedly attempted suicide)

Fredrick Lewis, 53, Port Maria, St. Mary (o/c “Chupsy”; stabbed to death by another man during a dispute)

Damion White, Fort George Road, Broadgate, St. Mary (found in a shallow grave)


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