Thursday, December 31, 2009
Dear Friend in Christ:
This has been a difficult year. People around the world have lost their jobs and their homes as a result of the recession; some have lost members of their families to wars, separation, divorce, illness and death.
We are happy that even throughout the hardships there are those who continue to remember the less fortunate, the abandoned, the homeless, the children who have been displaced. Surely the hand of God is with them. Is the Lord calling you to give of yourself, your time, your talent or your treasure and to reach out to someone in a beautiful way?
For the coming year, lets us develop a HABIT of thankfulness to others; this habit will form our character and in a short time we will be THANKING OTHERS AND GOD every minute of our lives!!!.. Try it… you will like it!!! Doing this will move us out of depression and bring us into the light of HOPE and personal JOY………
May your New Year be filled with God's richness.
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009
OUR ‘CHRISTMAS MIRACLE’... for this and more, let us be thankful.
Column by Jean Lowrie-Chin | Jamaica Observer | 28 December 2009
AS I watched the CNN report headlined "Christmas Miracle" last week, I wondered if we in Jamaica realise how blessed we are. In the last 10 days, we have seen new taxes, national outcry, drought broken, a plane crash with no loss of life, tax rollback. These are just the high notes against the constant hum of investments, crime, traffic mishaps, entertainment and sports.
Meanwhile, we are reading about scores of Europeans freezing to death in extreme weather, 50,000 Filipinos being evacuated from their homes as a volcano threatens to erupt and daily bombings in Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan. Somewhere between the ice and the fire is Jamaica, lauded by patriots and undermined by parasites of all stripes.
We are giving thanks for the miracle at Norman Manley Airport last Tuesday night involving an American Airlines flight. From all accounts, it could have been a huge tragedy. Additionally, at this delicate stage of the negotiations for the sale of Air Jamaica, we can imagine the repercussions if this incident had involved our national airline.
(click on title for full column)
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Panicked passengers screamed and baggage burst from overhead bins as Flight 331 from Miami careened down the runway in the capital, Kingston, on Tuesday night, one passenger said.The impact cracked open the fuselage, crushed the left landing gear and separated both engines from the Boeing 737-800, airline spokesman Tim Smith said. Crews evacuated dazed and bloodied passengers onto a beach from a cabin that smelled of smoke and jet fuel, passengers said. Rain poured through the plane's broken roof, one said.
Some 44 people were taken to hospitals with broken bones and back pains and four were seriously hurt, airport and Jamaican government officials said. American Airlines said two people were admitted to the hospital and nobody suffered life-threatening injuries.The plane skidded across a causeway road before coming to a halt on a grassy embankment. Two gaping cracks marked the fuselage, and the jet's mangled nose section tilted downward just short of the ocean.
Heavy turbulence on the way to Jamaica had forced the crew to halt the beverage service three times before giving up, Pilar Abaurrea of Keene, New Hampshire, told The Associated Press by phone. The pilot warned of more turbulence just before landing but said it likely wouldn't be much worse, she said."All of a sudden, when it hit the ground, the plane was kind of bouncing. Someone said the plane was skidding and there was panic," she said.U.S. investigators will analyze whether the plane should have been landing in such bad weather, Smith said, adding that other planes had landed safely in the heavy rain.Passenger Natalie Morales Hendricks told NBC's "Today" that the plane began to skid upon landing and "before I knew it, everything was black and we were crashing."
"Everybody's overhead baggage started to fall. Literally, it was like being in a car accident. People were screaming, I was screaming," she said."There was smoke and debris everywhere," after the plane halted, she said. "It was a mess. Everybody could smell jet fuel."
Passenger Robert Mais told The Gleaner newspaper of Jamaica that he had heard the engine's reverse throttle but that the plane didn't seem to slow as it skittered down the runway.The plane stopped about 10 to 15 feet (3 to 5 meters) from the Caribbean and passengers walked along the beach to be picked up by a bus, Mais said. Rain came through the roof of the darkened jet and baggage from the overhead compartments was strewn about the cabin, he said.
The plane originated at Reagan National Airport in Washington and took off from Miami International Airport at 8:52 p.m. and arrived in Kingston at 10:22 p.m. It was carrying 148 passengers and a crew of six, American said. The majority of those aboard were Jamaicans coming home for Christmas, Jamaican Information Minister Daryl Vaz said.Smith said there were two "significant" cracks in the fuselage, and the engines are designed to separate from the wings during an accident as a safety measure.
A team of six investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board was traveling to Jamaica from Washington on Wednesday morning to assist a probe led by the island's government, agency spokesman Keith Holloway said. The airport reopened early Wednesday after officials had delayed flights because of concerns that the plane's tail might be hindering visibility.
Four hundred passengers waited for their flights to be cleared for takeoff, Security Minister Dwight Nelson told Radio Jamaica.
Heavy rains that have pelted Jamaica's eastern region for four days are expected to dissipate by Thursday. Authorities said the rains washed away a 7-year-old girl on Tuesday and led to a bus crash in which two people died.
Associated Press writers Danica Coto, Ben Fox and Mike Melia in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Howard Campbell in Kingston, Jamaica; Carol Druga in Atlanta, Georgia; and Sofia Mannos in Washington contributed to this report.
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Monday, December 21, 2009
Lord, thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing older and will someday be old.
Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.
Release me from craving to straighten out everybody's affairs.
Make me thoughtful but not moody, helpful but not bossy.
With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all, but thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends in the end.
Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.
Seal my lips on my aches and pains.
They are increasing, and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by.
I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others' pains, but help me to endure them with patience.
I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others.
Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.
Keep me reasonably sweet;
I do not want to be a saint – some of them are so hard to live with – but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil.
Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places and talents in unexpected people.
And give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.
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Beverley East with her ‘biggest achievement’, son Diag Deje Davenport.
from Jean Lowrie-Chin's Observer column | 21 Dec 09
(click on title for full column)
“It was slow going at the beginning,” recalls Bev, “Until a friend suggested that I should write a book about graphology.” Thus, Beverley set herself to the task of producing “Finding Mr Write”, a four-year exercise which paid off handsomely. Random House accepted her manuscript, complete with a six-figure initial payout. “That put me on the map and changed my life,” said Bev.
After marrying an American, Bev moved to Washington DC where her only child, her cherished son Diag Deje Davenport, was born. She credits her former husband, a lawyer, for encouraging her to go into forensic document examination. Just before her book came out, Washington Post award-winning journalist, Patrice Gaines wrote a story on Bev’s work, and by coincidence (or ‘God-incidence’), a front page story got dropped and the story on Beverley East got top billing. “I got calls from so many people,” says Bev. “Even the White House called to ask me to analyse Monica Lewinsky’s handwriting!”
Beverley was contacted also by investigators to analyse the ransom note that had been found at the home of little beauty queen Jon Benet Ramsay on the night of her murder. Beverley did 26 speaking engagements on the subject. Her theory? “I believe the ransom note was dictated to the writer,” she says. “It did not appear genuine. It was too long and too detailed. There was no rhythm and lots of pauses.”
Strokes & Slants this year celebrated 20 eventful years in business. Beverley operates out of London, Washington DC and the Caribbean where she does a great deal of forensic work. In Jamaica, it is mostly Will & Testament and Land Transfer fraud. She is a one-woman business, sub-contracting when needed. “After 9/11 I had nine people working with me because death certificates from other states were being altered to say New York; people were trying to cash in on the special insurance that was being offered,” disclosed Bev. She was also a media consultant on the anthrax letters.
In interviews on ABC and MSNBC, seen on her website http://www.writeanalysis.com Beverley proves that she has mastered the science of graphology. Visit the site to learn how to analyse the handwriting in those romantic Christmas cards as you search for your ‘Mr/Ms Right’. Beverley East’s sparkling career grew from the courage of following up on her big idea. What is yours?
Thursday, December 17, 2009
|Distinguished Ambassador Anthony Hill (centre) after his Induction into the St George's College Hall of Fame with colleagues Noel Hall and Keith Lyn|
|Professor Emeritus and Nobel Laureate Anthony Chen receiving his Jamaica 50 Living Legacy Award from Prof Denise Eldemire Shearer, Chairman of the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons|
The authors: Anthony Hill is a retired Jamaican Ambassador.
A Anthony Chen is Nobel Laureate and Professor Emeritus, UWI.
Jamaica Observer | Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Science and its technology tools have made lifestyles generally the most comfortable since the dawn of contemporary history. Applied to energy transformation these technologies have been central to raising hundreds of millions out of poverty and improved living standards across the board.
Over the past 20 years science now demonstrates with a very high degree of confidence that modern man's lifestyles are now a decisive factor altering the naturally equilibrating forces in the earth's system. The greenhouse gases, emitted by an excess of carbon dioxide (CO2) mainly, now saturate the atmosphere and are bringing the system to a major tipping point.
Make no bones about it: the greenhouse gases emitted by releasing energy from the fossil fuels of oil and gas, the pressure on the declining soil and water resources, the demand for food, minerals and fossil fuels, the pollution of the atmosphere are well beyond the equilibrium-carrying capacity of the earth. In Jamaica we face a myriad of threats ranging from sea level rise and droughts (which we are now experiencing) to increased incidence of diseases (See, for example, http://www.america.gov/publications/ejournalusa.html#0909). These threats will increase in proportion to the increase in global warming which in turn depends on the increase in quantity of greenhouse gases emitted by man-made activity. The greatest harm will come to the poor and underprivileged who are less able to adapt to these threats. Globally, the greatest threat is the irreversible melting of the polar ice caps and Greenland due to what is termed "a positive feedback" where the melting feeds on itself.
It is to reduce these threats that the world began meeting in Copenhagen last week. The main areas for discussion include:
* Targets to curb greenhouse gas emissions, in particular by developed countries
* Financial support for mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change in developing countries
* A carbon-trading scheme aimed at ending the destruction of the world's forests (a sink for CO2) by 2030.
At the time of writing, the governments of the major greenhouse gas emitters meeting in Copenhagen are still not ready to take bold action, despite the high confidence of the scientific findings. It is clear that there will be no agreement of a legally binding nature, but a political best endeavour declaration. The Kyoto Protocol and its commitments will suffice, up to 2012.
The mature course of action for those countries faced with the heavy burden of adaptation to the hazards, with and without agreement in Copenhagen, is the sensible disposition of policy to our island circumstances. It will be necessary to devise an all-encompassing set of programmes, which lay the bases for individual, community and national activities. We consider this using the terminology widely adopted, namely the "low-carbon economy".
The transition to a low-carbon economy will not be easy. In the short and medium term the volume of greenhouse gases must increase in Jamaica, and perhaps rapidly so if the economy is to move to a new self-sustaining phase to meet its growing demand for goods and services.
This reliance on and increased use of fossil fuel energy sources make sense only in the context of built-in measures to use them efficiently and simultaneously increasing the share of renewable energy sources and technologies across all sectors of the society.
This requires phasing out as rapidly as possible several of the more technologically inefficient heavy fuel oil power generating plants with high heat rates and considerable polluting emissions of CO2. The replacement by technically and economically feasible renewable energy sources, such as wind and hydro power, will set Jamaica on track to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
The new breed of wind turbines reaching to higher heights and with increased energy output is a proven technology. This must now be applied to the Wigton Wind Farm if it is to overcome its early disappointment, as well as to other suitable wind sites. Further, legislation must be put in place for more equitable power purchase agreement.
The base year for the measurement of greenhouse gas emissions must be set, say 2010, overall and by sector. The basis for this exercise is to be found in Jamaica's "Final Report - Jamaica's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, which "presents Jamaica's greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory of anthropogenic emissions and removals of greenhouse gases (GHGs) not controlled by the Montreal Protocol.
This inventory should be refined and constitute an integral part of the National Development Plan Vision 2030. Targets set leading up to 2030 and 2050 will be an important measure for the efficient use of energy in producing goods and services and the rollout of renewable energy technologies.
The sectors in which the low-carbon strategy will make the most impact includes power generation across the national grid and its consumption by major industrial users, water utilities, communications and transportation firms, including airlines and ships within territorial space, distribution outlets, buildings, including hotels, hospitals and prisons and individual lifestyles.
The financial services sector, and importantly insurance must be a major and integral participant, underwriting, asset management and claims management of both private assets, and increasingly "public goods".
Major government-initiated or supported "investments", or both, through incentive measures and tax breaks, without integrating the low-carbon dynamic, is self-defeating and ultimately cannot be considered "visionary". Climate change with its immense uncertainties and risks "threaten human health, disrupt economic activity, damage natural ecosystems irreversibly, and even (in worst-case scenarios) lead to mass migration, food shortage, and other global humanitarian crises".
The governance structures as presently functioning, while admirably underpinning democratic pluralism, have shown themselves less than optimum to the task of delivering balanced growth, development and social harmony.
The challenges and risks posed by climate change offer the country a real opportunity to decentralise and devolve power from central government, redistribute bureaucratic expertise to local governments and communities and importantly to deconcentrate private capital.
The call for a "Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business" is possible only when there is a restored sense of solidarity and self-governing institutions at the local and community levels where climate change strikes first and hardest.
The ongoing turmoil of economic uncertainty notwithstanding, the Jamaican society stands to lose much, much more should it fail to be guided by the basic principle of survival, namely precaution.
Consider a Jamaica in 2050, without the results of fundamental changes to present governance institutions, principles, policies, programmes and lifestyles: less arable land with eroded coastal zones and denuded hillsides, less clean air with more pollution, less potable water with more floods and waste, a less healthy population, less to share but more, many more people angling to get their share.
Jimmy Cliff 's The Harder they come, the Harder they Fall will be ringing in our ears.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
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Sunday, December 13, 2009
Published: December 13, 2009
By Athaliah Reynolds, Staff Reporter
China is now the main market for Jamaican informal commercial importers. Some make the the cross-continental journey many times per year to buy goods ranging from furniture to clothing and appliances.
Judith, an ICI who sells children's shoes in the Oxford Mall in downtown Kingston, told The Sunday Gleaner that she made several trips a year to purchase goods instead of travelling to the usual places, such as Miami and Curaçao.
"Sometimes we travel in groups. So, like nine, 10 of us will pool together and share one container," she said.Judith said China's appeal lies in the fact that it works out much cheaper for the vendors and eventually, the consumer, because they are cutting out the middleman and going straight to the source.
"You can get children's shoes for all US$2.50, and adult shoes for about US$3 or $4, while in Fort Lauderdale they selling for like US$10," Judith said.availability of goods.
Another vendor, Conseta, who sometimes makes the two-day, 9,000-mile trek across the globe with Judith, said when one took into consideration the low prices and availability of goods, the long journey and high plane fare were a minor price to pay. A ticket to China can cost anywhere from about $200,000 to $300,000."
You don't have to go to Panama, Curaçao, Miami or Los Angeles anymore when you can just go straight to China," she said. "Plus, I always say, those same people that you buy from in those other countries are shopping in China, too.
"The vendors also said that the competition was often quite intense when they travelled to the United States as there was only a limited number of some of the fashionable items they might be interested in buying."
Sometimes it's like a race, because you have to be hurrying and running about to make sure you get to a certain shop before somebody else gets there when you in Miami. But in China, there is enough for everybody, and if it finishes, they can make more, because we go right to the factory," said Conseta.
The women said the trip was often tiring and time consuming as they often had to make a number of stops through several countries to get to their destination.Judith's preferred route is taking a one and a half hour trip from Kingston to Curaçao, where she stays in transit for three hours. She then boards a nine-hour flight to Amsterdam, where she spends an additional 13 hours.
"I will stay at a hotel, get something to eat, shower, get some sleep and then take a 12-hour flight from there to Hong Kong," she said.
One of the women's favourite towns to shop at when in China is Quanzhou.peace of mindJudith said she usually made about three to four trips a year, as she shopped based on the season and the level of need.
"We usually shop for Easter, back-to-school, Independence and Christmas," she said."Shopping in China is a big thing for most ICIs these days. Even recently, about 150 of us meet up there," she said. "It is not just the shopping for me. When I am there, my mind is at peace. It's quiet and nice and there is hardly any crime, and people are appreciative of the money you spend with them," Judith added.
And language isn't necessarily a hindrance, as, according to the women, close to 75 per cent of Chinese residents speak English. There is also a large number of interpreters always willing to translate on behalf of the buyers and sellers.
The vendors, however, admitted that there was just one draw back to travelling so far to buy goods.
"It take about 21-30 days for the goods to get here. You have to wait very long and you have to remember that fashion don't stay in style for long. Styles change very quickly and people don't want anything that is out of date, so that is sometimes a challenge," Conseta said.
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Thursday, December 3, 2009
Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn poses with Observer senior photo editor Michael Gordon (left), the Gleaner’s Winston Sill (second right) and videographer Ken Dawson after the Wray and Nephew-sponsored PAJ veterans’ luncheon at the Girl Guides Headquarters in Kingston, yesterday. TVJ videographer Rudolph Matherson, who was also recognised, was unable to attend. Llewellyn was guest speaker at the function. (Photo: Lionel Rookwood)
Observer senior photo editor among four honoured by PAJ
JAMAICA OBSERVER | Thursday, December 03, 2009
MICHAEL Gordon, senior Observer photo editor, was one of four veterans honoured yesterday by the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) at its annual veterans’ luncheon, held at the Girl Guides Headquarters in Kingston.
Gordon, along with Gleaner photographer Winston Sill, TVJ videographer Rudolph Matherson and videographer Ken Dawson were recognised by the PAJ, at the Wray & Nephewsponsored luncheon, for their years of excellent service to the media.
Gordon was introduced to the business of photography by his uncle at the tender age of 15. At the time he worked with his uncle in a photo studio at Church Street in downtown Kingston as an apprentice. His first lessons involved developing and printing photographs.
Gordon has, over the years, received awards for human interest, sports and news photography, one of which was that which captured former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller drawing caricatures in the House of Parliament during a speech by then Opposition MP Audley Shaw.
The photograph, which was dubbed ‘Doodling’, was taken on October 19, 2006 and won the Aston Rhoden award for news photography.
He won his first photography award in 1985 for the human interest photograph which captured the wife of former Prime Minister Edward Seaga embracing the wife of former Prime Minister Michael Manley.
In 1993, Gordon won the first-ever photography award in any for the Observer, which was founded that same year.
His photographs ‘Flying Floyd’, which caught a cricket bat flying from the hand of West Indian cricketer Floyd Reifer at Sabina Park in 1993 and ‘MoBay Massacre’ also won awards.
Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn, who was guest speaker at the luncheon, urged the media to join the band of the law-abiding and play their part in beating back the wave of crime affecting the country.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
By Keith Collister
Jamaica Observer | Friday, November 13, 2009
It is not possible to overstate the importance of the Jamaica Productivity Centre's three-day seminar that ended yesterday. Even the phrase 'productivity disaster' used in the headline does not do justice to the key conclusions of the Jamaica Productivity Centre's Productivity Summary Report, as it is also an economic, social and human disaster for Jamaica.
Over the 35-year period covered by the report, between 1972 and 2007, the productivity of the average Jamaican worker has declined at a rate of 1.3 per cent each year. Even worse, the fact that the rate of decline had doubled to 3.4 per cent per annum in recent years shows that not only are we going in the wrong direction, we are actually speeding up in the wrong direction.
As a clearly related consequence, the Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per person in Jamaica in 2007 was only 90 per cent of the level attained in 1972.
Many would respond that the report only confirms what those who were prepared to look at Jamaica's economic performance objectively had long known - namely that we have a severely unproductive economy.
The timing of the JPC's seminar, themed "Transformation for sustainable competitive advantage", in the midst of our most severe economic crisis since the 1970s, is impeccable.
It was therefore appropriate that the keynote speaker, Newfield Networks' Daniel Newby, appeared up to the task of outlining transformative leadership. Defining a leader as someone who "declares a future that others commit to", Mr. Newby outlined the difference between the old pyramid organisational structure, with a godlike Pharaoh at the top, and the new network model that has emerged, where one interacts with people over which one doesn't have direct control. Consequently, instead of issuing commands, this requires that individuals use language, emotion and presence to attract people to your vision.
Most organisations are, of course, a hybrid of people you control organisationally, and those that you don't control. A classic example of responsibility without authority is the typical project manager, who has enormous responsibility and absolutely no authority. A project manager needs to be in a position to make people want to help complete the project ("an influencer") to get things done.
According to Newby, such a situation requires that we understand the power of language - requests, offers, promises - as nothing happens in an organisation without these. Without traditional authority, one needs to be masterful at building alliances, and generating emotion to get people committed.
If one thinks of the requester as a customer, and the performer of the request as the "doer", one quickly sees "somebody should do this" is not a true request. A clear request requires conditions, time and a result.
According to Newby, in the impossible ideal the best leaders would do nothing, as their job is to make other people do the work, not do it themselves. They are "customers for other people's promises/performance".
Addressing the issue of trust as an example of the enormous importance of language, Newby argued that better communication requires that trust be viewed not as a moral issue, but as a willingness to coordinate action with others. This allows a different, more specific conversation about sincerity, competence and reliability to deliver on a promise.
If one applies Newby's insight to the prime minister's recent negotiations on the Memorandum of Understanding with the unions, the prime minister could have been sincere in his desire to reach an agreement, and have the skills to negotiate such an agreement, but simply ran out of time.
Why workers won't work
There is no better local example of the problem of trust, and its impact on productivity than the research embodied in the book Why workers won't work. The author, Kenneth Carter, uses the analogy of "the early bird catches worms that are early". His key finding is that Jamaican workers perceive management to be early birds and workers to be worms, and therefore it is rational behaviour for workers not to be early.
In more concrete terms, Carter argues that the vast majority of Jamaica's labour force is highly dissatisfied, short of both monetary and psychic pay, and sees no reward or advantage in being more productive. Whilst the book was based on research between 1974 - 1988, in a side conversation Carter argues that if anything the problem may have got worse over the past 20 years.
A critical part of improving productivity is process improvement, which is driven mainly by people and technology. In the view of Alan Krul, a leader in Deloitte Consulting's Global Practice on Lean Operations, the key issue is "how do you incorporate internal and external customers into your business process".
The birth of what is now called "lean operations" began more than 25 years ago with the rediscovery by American business of the work of an American engineer, W Edwards Deming, who had gained fame in post-war Japan for his statistically driven work on quality improvement.
Now called the father of the total quality movement, Deming published a book called Out of the Crisis in 1982 at a moment when American business had lost confidence in their ability to respond to Japanese competition. Deming argues simply "If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you are doing."
This total quality movement evolved into the six sigma movement in the early 1980s at Motorola, still emphasising, as did Deming, the need to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects (errors) and variability in manufacturing and business processes.
Lean manufacturing, of which the best example is Toyota's lean production system as outlined in James Womack's 1990 book The Machine that Changed the World is based on teamwork, communication, and efficient use of resources.
According to Krul, in the late 1990s the different approaches began merging into what came to be called lean six sigma, combining the reduction of variance and the reduction of waste and complexity. The focus is now on reducing waste and complexity, hence the term lean operations.
This approach emphasises process excellence, focusing on strategic projects that integrate what Krul calls "the voice of the customer".
In the old way of doing things, businesses would try to improve the different jobs they were doing, not thinking about the end-to-end process. The new way of doing things emphasises process mapping, so that one measure of the dynamism of company, in terms of productivity improvement, would be how many people are working on process improvement projects. Of course, process mapping is not managing change, which is a key part of structuring a project. Deloitte provides change management tools that provide a process improvement framework for projects that define, measure, analyse, improve, and control "high impact customer processes".
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Peter Moses has been selected to chair a special team which will oversee the recently established Public Sector Transformation Unit (PSTU).Moses, country manager for CitiBank, heads the six-member Consultative Monitoring Group. Others on his team are communications specialist Jean Lowrie-Chin, Cabinet Secretary Douglas Saunders, Financial Secretary Dr Wesley Hughes, lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Dr Alvin Wint, and Wayne Jones, president of the Jamaica Civil Service Association.
This is not the first government 'appointment' for the silver-haired Moses. In 1999, when he was president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, he was asked to chair a committee to examine, among other things, how the gas-tax hike, which sparked nationwide riots that year, could be substituted.In 2007, he was a member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Strategy Review Panel, chaired by Dr Herbert Thompson. Its mandate was to recommend wide-scale reform to the JCF.That committee issued its 86-page review with 124 recommendations in June 2008. The Government says it will consider implementing many of them over a three-year period.
Moses was educated at Calabar High School and Carnegie Mellon University in the United States.He has been at CitiBank since 1974. In 1990, he became the first Jamaican to head Citibank's local operations in the island. He was awarded the Order of Distinction (Commander Class) in 2000.In addition to his corporate profile, Moses is a footballer of some repute. He played for Calabar at Manning Cup level and for Real Mona in the Major and Masters leagues.He is currently president of Real Mona Football Club.
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Tuesday, November 24, 2009
(L-R) DANVILLE WALKER and GREG CHRISTIE... Independent-minded public sector leaders.
Observer column | JEAN LOWRIE-CHIN | Monday, November 23, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
It's with much regret that Kim-Marie Spence from Jamaica has had to leave the Kaspersky Lab Commonwealth Antarctic Expedition due to frost bite on her fingers.
The team left base camp at Patriot Hills at the wknd & started skiing the 900km to the South Pole on Sunday but,following medical advice,Kim-Marie has not joined them & is instead flying home
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Sunday, November 22, 2009
Cryptic clues and offbeat remarks? Check. Toronto pays tribute to a diagnostic magician with a global legacy...
[From Saturday's Globe and Mail Published on Friday, Nov. 20, 2009 10:29PM EST Last updated on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009 9:57AM EST]
‘What does the drooping face suggest, Jason?”
“Ah,” replies Dr. Herbert Ho Ping Kong, “you want to be pessimistic.”
It's Wednesday at 8 a.m., and a group of about 20 young doctors – third- and fourth-year students, junior and senior residents – are meeting around a conference table at Toronto Western Hospital for Morning Report.
The hour-long tutorial, based on a single patient's case file, is led every week by legendary internist Dr. Ho Ping Kong, who turns 70 Sunday. This week's case: a 54-year-old Vietnamese woman admitted to a hospital in Ottawa five hours after noticing facial droop.
Chinese-Jamaican by birth, the diminutive HPK – as he is known to his peers – is in medical circles a giant, a diagnostic magician with an encyclopedic memory and a winning bedside manner.
By title, he's senior consulting physician at the University Health Network; Chang chair in teaching of internal medicine at the University of Toronto; and co-founder of the Toronto General and Western Hospital's new Centre for Excellence in Education and Practice (CEEP). His many teaching awards notably include the 3M Fellowship Award (1999), the country's most prestigious prize for teaching at Canadian universities.
But the titles and accolades don't begin to encompass the range of his achievements. Nearly two generations of his disciples are now teaching and practising in universities and hospitals around the world.
“Give me an optimistic picture,” HPK says to the tutorial group. “So where's Todd?”
There is no doctor named Todd in attendance. The question is one of his characteristically obscure and playful clues, an allusion to Todd's paralysis (or paresis), weakness in the body after a seizure. Eventually one of the interns picks up the hint.
“Okay, what else,” Dr. Ho Ping Kong continues. “How about politics?”
“Bell's palsy,” one alert young doctor chips in immediately.
“How did you know that?” HPK asks, laughing.
This time, the word “politics” was a hint about former prime minister Jean Chrétien, who suffered from the condition, which is marked by paralysis of a facial nerve.
For Dr. Ho Ping Kong, the core case under discussion is merely an excuse for all manner of relevant digression, including geographic and ethnic medicine (to what illnesses might immigrant Vietnamese be most prone?). A little later, for example, informed that the patient's medical history is significant only for hyperthyroidism, he guides them through Graves' disease, Hashitoxicosis, the risks of atrial fibrillation, posterior inferior cerebellar artery syndrome, and the incidence of stroke among the young.
But he rarely lectures, relying instead on the Socratic method and lacing his rapid-fire questions and asides with cryptic verbal clues. Nothing he says is extraneous. His offbeat, seemingly incongruous remarks are designed to test what the assembled physicians know – and still don't know. The hour fairly whizzes by, probably as much as fun as any medical lesson could be.
HPK's diagnostic approach is more Oslerian (after 19th-century medical pioneer Dr. William Osler), based on the conviction that if a doctor listens carefully enough, the patient himself will deliver the diagnosis. When he enters a clinic room, HPK stands and stares at the patient for a long moment, taking in such indicia as colour, posture, energy, demeanour, eye contact – the telltale language of the body – all potential signs of illness. For all the advances in biochemistry and other disciplines, Dr. Ho Ping Kong is convinced that medicine remains as much about art as about science.
A gold medalist in medicine at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Dr. Ho Ping Kong completed post-graduate studies in the U.K., then spent more than a decade at McGill University, where he established the first division of internal medicine at Royal Victoria Hospital. He was lured to Toronto in 1984.
One Saturday night last month, an elite group of Torontonians gathered in a downtown hotel ballroom to pay tribute to him. There were half a dozen speeches (and numerous telegrams) extolling his prodigious diagnostic gifts and innovative teaching abilities – and one announcing a new, anonymous donation of $2.5-million to CEEP, established last year with his Toronto Western colleague, Dr. Rodrigo Cavalcanti.
As a result of the anonymous donation, the centre – designed to incubate new approaches to medical education – will henceforth have Dr. Herbert Ho Ping Kong's name permanently attached to the front of it. Among its prize acquisitions is “Harvey,” a $60,000 cardio-pulmonary simulator in the guise of a full-size manikin that mimics 30 cardiovascular conditions, everything from mitral regurgitation to atrial septal defect.
In his own remarks last month – he will be feted again next February, as a recipient of a vice-chancellor's award from the UWI – Dr. Ho Ping Kong insisted the evening was not only about him, but rather represented a call to all doctors, young and old, specialist and generalist, to seek the good in others, help those less fortunate, heal the sick and “not let even insurmountable difficulties stand in the way of good and heroic deeds. There is no greater joy than being your brothers' and sisters' keepers.”
Monday, November 16, 2009
LA Times photo
Jamaica Observer column by Jean Lowrie-Chin
Monday, November 16, 2009
"We are being programmed to be inferior," declares Barbara Blake Hannah. Unfortunately, the news of the day supports her. Barbara is very much the daughter of her nonconformist father, writer and publisher the late Evon Blake who famously challenged the racist status quo of the 50s by defiantly diving into the swimming pool of the exclusive Myrtle Bank Hotel on the Kingston Waterfront.
Barbara plunged into the schooling of her son Makonnen and, 23 years after his birth, has published a book about their experience, ending with one of the most impressive résumés a young person on Planet Earth could have. Her account of the care and attention given to her child is in sharp contrast to the conditions described by Betty Ann Blaine of children gone missing from their homes, many trying to escape the misery of abuse.
Blake Hannah made the home environment a place of comfort and learning. In spite of financial difficulties, she was able to provide her child with an education that saw him being invited to conduct sessions in collaboration with Harvard University and address the United Nations Economic and Social Committee.
In listening to Barbara's account of her carefully organised "alphabet wall" where her toddler learned his letters, their nature walks where he counted shells, I harked back to an important observation of Donna Duncan-Scott on Beverley Manley's radio programme: "If you want something to grow, you have to give it attention."
(click on title for full column)
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Minna Israel calling for 'greater financial literacy'
Jamaica Observer column | JEAN LOWRIE-CHIN
(click on title for full column)
Monday, November 02, 2009 - Last week, a fine young man Gary, from the inner city called to tell me his brother, Bob (not real names), had been murdered. Gary said that Bob did a little farming and each Saturday would set up his stall to sell his produce. Bob's only mistake was to be living in a section of a community from whence it was alleged a killer had taken the lives of two men from the other side. Community members decided to avenge their friends' death and Bob, out in the open trying to make an honest living, was an easy target. Another good life snuffed out by no-goods.
When we read such reports, sad to say, we check the address and mentally move on if the victim is not from our neighbourhood or our circle. If Gary had not become a friend of our family, we may have had the same reaction, so inured have we become to news of yet another terrible death. But Gary's brave voice, cracking as he described his grief and shock at seeing his brother's body, brought us to tears.
Gary was bright enough to get a place at a traditional high school, but sometimes had to walk several miles to attend classes on days when bus fare was short. Gary passed his subjects and now works and attends university part-time. He still has to skimp on food but is beloved at his workplace where he is energetic and creative.
Gary has decided to keep his faith and his dignity, fighting off all inclinations for bitterness or revenge. When someone asked him where were the police when his brother was killed, he answered, "They had been patrolling all day but they just can't be everywhere." What a refreshing reply from an inner-city dweller who has seen the shortcomings of some police throughout his life.
In order to keep Gary's dignity and hope alive, we have to promote an environment of productivity and harmony. If he were not supported by mentors, how could he know that he can still see a way in life despite his cruel loss? If he had not had positive experiences with good police, how would he still be able to defend them? This is the vital link between all the stakeholders in our society. This is the reason why the Partnership for Progress first proposed by the PSOJ must never be allowed to become a casualty of narrow partisan politics.
Profit from ethical business, support for honest endeavour, protection of the less fortunate and efficient government are necessary to keep Jamaica up and running. We support the recent call of Bankers Association President Minna Israel for "greater financial literacy" so more of us can understand the symbiotic relationship between individual responsibility, good business and strong government. While we must attend to our respective agendas, we cannot expect lasting outcomes if we do not operate within the context of Jamaica's greater good.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
|Two years after this column was written, Brian Wynter returned to Jamaica, and assumed the post of Governor of the Bank of Jamaica on December 1, 2009|
Excerpts from column - Brian Wynter goes regional
By Jean Lowrie-Chin
Jamaica Observer | Dec 10, 2007
WITH an international education in law and economics, and the world of high finance at his feet, Brian Wynter had his choice of big city life on either side of the Atlantic. Happily for us, he chose to return to Jamaica in 1988.
By 1995, he had risen to deputy governor of the Bank of Jamaica, and after the financial meltdown of the '90s, was tasked to design and implement all aspects for the creation of a new integrated financial sector regulatory entity.
Thus, under Brian Wynter's watch, the Financial Services Commission (FSC) was formed. The FSC is Jamaica's autonomous integrated financial services regulator that registers and supervises the entire gamut of financial operations, including insurance, securities, mutual funds/unit trusts and pensions sectors.
Wynter is a stickler for due process. He recalls that though he had been a main player in the setting up of the FSC, applications for CEO were invited locally and internationally, and he had to apply and attend interviews like any ordinary Joe. He was happy that the FSC started out on that proper footing, and says that his successor would be chosen in like manner.
Speaking at a series of fora with the theme "Think and Check Before You Invest", Brian Wynter has been warning his fellow Jamaicans that unregistered investment schemes "will separate you from your money". Wynter says that in listening to and reading recent utterances, he believes that people who are sincere but misguided can be the most damaging.
Wynter is very clear about entities that refuse to abide by the rules and regulations of the Financial Services Commission which demand transparency and accountability: "Anyone who does not register," he says, "is on a slippery slope".
Wynter is hoping that responsible members of the media will help to raise public awareness about these schemes. "In all fairness to the average person," he observes, "many do not understand the workings of financial organisations. They are so occupied with going about their daily lives that they allot only a few minutes to really examine where they are putting their money."
Wynter, who was a vice-president for international financial house Schroder Wertheim International Company, is glad that the Companies Act was amended in 2002 to allow for the establishment of mutual funds/unit trusts that will efficiently intertwine investment instruments and legally deliver more to the depositor.
Wynter has a striking resemblance to his father, the late Hector Wynter, Gleaner editor and JLP senator; eyes that shine with extraordinary intelligence and a positive, self-assured manner.
Although his parents separated before he was 10, and he and two siblings moved to France with their St Vincent-born mother, Hector remained a steadfast presence in their lives.
He and his brother Colin were educated in England where they had to dodge the occasional racist epithets hurled at them. "I do not consider myself to be from a privileged middle-class background," he mused. "Growing up in England, I was always aware that I was Black and a member of a minority group."
This mental toughness served him well as he toiled like a journeyman at the FSC. "You have to expect brickbats when you work in the public service," he observed. "You can't even say 'job well done' because this kind of job is never done. You always have to be dealing with new issues. But that is the nature of the challenges and I find it rewarding to have helped to take the organisation thus far."
The brothers and their sister Astrid have excelled academically and professionally: Colin is the first Black commercial lawyer in England to be awarded the QC and Astrid is a senior IDB representative in the Dominican Republic.
Now Brian Wynter is striking out again to new challenges, having given nearly eight years to the formation and leadership of the FSC. He will shortly be leaving for Barbados, where he will be technical assistance advisor to The Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre (CARTAC), a UNDP programme run by the IMF. Its operations span the 15 countries of Caricom as well as Cayman, Turks & Caicos, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Suriname.This is a logical progression for a man who has built an organisation regarded throughout the Caribbean as a model for financial regulation.
Wynter chuckles when he remembers that after months of discussions on the new post, confirmation of his appointment did not come until the Friday before Jamaica's September 3 general elections. "It was purely coincidental," he says.
As he leaves for his three-year stint, he maintains that "Jamaica is the most exciting place to work and live."
The dedicated family man's main concern for Jamaica is law and order. "Our judicial system is critical," says Brian, "I know that switching around resources is not easy, but we have to spend money on reforming the justice system and equipping our police force. This is the only way that we can address the 'big man vs small man' tensions in Jamaica."
Brian has a sense of satisfaction, mingled with the expected sadness as he looks back at the FSC he will be leaving. "We started out with only Sheila Martin and myself," he remarks. "Now we have high-achieving management and staff that have earned the respect of the financial institutions."
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Monday, October 26, 2009
Ja-Trini couple Dale and Francis Wade: “Change of behaviour will lead to fulfillment”
JEAN LOWRIE-CHIN | Observer Column | Monday, October 26, 2009
Francis Wade and his Trinidadian-born wife Dale love "tough, intense, unique, hard-to-solve, emotionally charged, corporate-culture-based problems". Their company, Framework Consulting, deals with "typically acute situations" in various Caribbean countries. The savvy consultants work with large corporations but their advice will help businesses of all sizes.
Francis, who returned to Jamaica in 2005 after 21 years abroad, is thoroughly fascinated by the complexities of the Jamaican workplace, which he thinks is not very far from the days of the plantation. He does not blame this "master-servant" relationship on either party. He believes that we unconsciously fall into these roles and recommends that to achieve transformation, leaders should "have the courage to show your imperfections and it will give you a better chance".
The Wolmer's graduate worked with AT&T's Bell Labs in the 80s and 90s when it was a huge entity of over 100,000 employees, but he much prefers his tougher and more exciting Caribbean assignments. "Being back here and dealing with various situations, you realise that even when Jamaicans quickly learn new behaviours abroad, things don't necessarily change at home," says Wade.
Francis Wade opines that the plantation syndrome translates into workers "giving very little and even practising sabotage". He says there is still the pressure of feeling that they are under the hand of the overseer, hence they view their tasks as "their work, not mine".
"I have found that under pressure, Jamaicans become rebellious, Barbadians become restrained and Trinidadians resort to humour," says the sought-after expert who loves giving free advice. (Check out his free e-zines, audios and video at www.fwconsulting.com where he has learned from Chris Anderson's FREE - The Future of a Radical Price to offer an unusual amount of content to all visitors.)
"Here in Jamaica, we enjoy protest a little too much," he says. He reflected on a study by Michael Carter entitled, "Why Workers Won't Work", in which Carter analyses a range of studies on our workplace. "He found that when someone gets promoted, they transform," relates Wade. "Thus a worker will say that he wants respect, appreciation, opportunities to improve, while the newly appointed supervisor will say that all the worker wants is money. The supervisor adopts the mindset of "management'."
Wade says that this situation doesn't really exist in the US. "Here we have problems in both directions: employees refuse to be responsible, wanting the boss to be fully and solely in charge, while the boss is expecting an unhealthy loyalty, a kind of subservience."
He contrasts this with the Trinidadian workplace where workers have no time for "the big man". He says that in Trinidad, they make fun of their leaders and the boss drives a modest car. "In Jamaica, even as we are criticising the boss, we may withhold our respect if he or she is not living large, complete with fancy car."
"We like to keep our leaders on a pedestal," says Wade. "And our politicians have exploited this over the years. They give themselves biblical names and offer manna-like promises. But this adulation is not useful because it doesn't build a healthy community."
Wade has seen people even doing good work and not taking the credit, as they fear it may lead to greater responsibility. "In some multinationals you will see the expatriates speaking up more frequently than their Caribbean counterparts not because they are smarter, but Europe and America train their executives to show leadership by speaking up. In several courses at the Harvard School of Business, as much as 60 per cent of the marks are awarded on spoken class participation."
Wade says Caribbean leaders will have to acknowledge a bigger context than the mere inheritance of a culture, and realise that however you proceed, you may be deemed "wicked": "You will just have to accept the context and take the actions."
There is a cultural minefield to be negotiated even by Caribbean executives working in another country in the region. "Trinidadians like to make jokes," says Dale Wade. "But their kind of joking may not be appreciated by everyone. The Jamaican tea lady who is teased about which fete she was at the night before may very well take offence, while her Trini boss believes he is being friendly."
Francis also warns against the labels we put on our businesses. "Workplaces are not families," he says. "If you promote this impression of family, when there has to be a firing there will be sense of betrayal. It is better to make the analogy of team in which the CEO is the coach, but the players know that in the event of non-performance or injury they may be replaced."
This time of recession, says Wade, presents the best opportunity to call people to "a different way of being". The savvy leader can change his organisation "from kingdom to team". He says it requires "bringing everyone on board, identifying acceptable behaviours and promoting a new level of collaboration".
"Not enough is being said about having opportunities and stepping up to the plate," Dale Wade believes. "We are dwelling too much on what's wrong. If we each took that one step, crime could be finished fast. If we decide that we would no longer be paying a single bribe, crime could end. Let us say, 'the act corrupts me and I refuse'."
"None of us is too small or insignificant to cause change," she says. "Change of behaviour will lead to fulfilment and ultimately success."
10/26/2009 2:10 AM
Francis has an accurate analysis of how most Jamaican workplaces operate - even the one inside the home, where the "helper" knows to act like she is mute & the employer makes derogatory remarks about the uselessness of the help, rather than acknowledge the work that has been done. A Trini friend visited Ja. earlier this year & one of the first things he said to me was, "why are Jamaicans so conscious of their place? Nobody even have to say it, but everybody seem to just know what their place is, and how to behave." The man had never set foot in Ja. before & noted that he got precious little accomplished during his trip because of the overly deferential &/or controlling behaviour of those he had to interact with. Until we have employers/supervisors who can think differently about how to organize the workplace & create a more collaborative and congenial work culture, I suspect Francis & Dale will make lots of money off this intractable problem that inheres even in the PM's Cabinet.
10/26/2009 6:50 AM
All I can say is Hallelujah and Amen!!!
Subservience is demanded and freely given!!
The bad thing is that the perpetrators and the victims do not even know that they are in a downward cycle of doom!!
10/26/2009 6:59 AM
hahahahaha Longbench. This is Jamaica and if you dare elevate them out of their place they accuse you of the worst things imaginable.
People are not empowered to think beyond their sphere or position. It is not their job.
10/26/2009 9:26 AM
I endorse Longbench's comments, but I think it goes way beyond mere subservience. For example, you enter a business place and ask the person at the front desk a question that maybe the person one rung above him/her may be the one to answer, but that front desk person does not even to try to get the answer or even to equip himself with the answer, it's just a don't care attitude and you go from one place to another and it's the same attitude. It's not within my purview, so why should I even know the answer - that type of attitude, and there is no effort to correct this on the part of employer/supervisor.
10/26/2009 9:56 AM
The problem is not equal........
"Managers" will not allow employers to shine........
Owners will not promote employers who have different ideas......who might shine...............80% of the educated leave Jamaica..........
Also, look at the politics of Eddie and Patterson......for the past 30 years......LOYALTY........
Tell me what the people are suppose to do......?...
Have a calypso song and dance.......?......
The people who excel are those like athletes and musicians who have nothing to do with our managerial and political class.........They are the only high achievers we have........
........and I cant help myself but add..........the EDUCATED managers.......they are more ruthless than the owner.........
.......even on the cheapest of salaries.......
Again......tell me what the ordinary Jamaican is to do....
10/26/2009 10:57 AM
Gwaan mIssa Wade brilliant.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Jamaica's goal attack, Nichala Gibson (right), looks to pass the ball over the hands of Australia's goal defence, Mo'onia Gerrard (second right), during the opening match of the two-Test Sunshine Series netball match at the National Indoor Sports Centre on Saturday. The Sunshine Girls rebounded yesterday to score an exciting 56-55 victory and tie the series 1-1. They had lost the opening game narrowly, 51-53 - Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer
Awesome victory! - Sunshine Girls net thriller to tie series against Australia
The Gleaner | Monday | October 19, 2009
Andre Lowe, Senior Sports Reporter
Jamaica's Sunshine Girls produced a scintillating display to get the better of world number-one team, Australia, 56-55, and secure their first win over the Diamonds since 1998 in their National Commercial Bank Sunshine Series matchup at the National Indoor Sports Centre yesterday evening.
The Jamaicans reversed Saturday night's 51-53 loss to the Australians, to tie the two-match series 1-1.
Overcome with emotion, a tearful Connie Francis, coach of the Sunshine Girls, was proud of her charges but was concerned with the number of turnovers that they surrendered.
"I am very happy. This is my first win over Australia as coach. I thought from the beginning that we had the talent within our team to do well, it was just for them to believe in themselves and they really went out there and asserted themselves," said Francis.
"I think we lapsed a little bit in terms of taking care of the ball, but we'll be working hard on that," she pointed out.
In a keenly contested encounter where both teams matched strides on every inch of the court, the Jamaicans managed to come out on top with quarterly scores of 15-14, 28-26, 41-43 in a see-saw game that offered everything in terms of excitement.
Experienced defenders Althea Byfield and Nicole Aiken showed all their class with a string of key interceptions and helped the Jamaicans to a five-point lead six minutes into the second quarter.
They were, however, stifled by a number of turnovers which allowed the Australians to cut the deficit and claw their way back into the game, to close the quarter two points behind, 28-26.
Seasoned campaigner Sasher-Gaye Henry was introduced in the third quarter in place of centre Paula Thompson, whose position was filled by Nadine Bryan.
The moves seemed to lift the Jamaicans' physical presence, but this did not stop the number-one ranked Australians from finally pulling level with 10 minutes left in the period.
Nicole Aiken went down injured and had to be replaced by 18-year-old national Under-21 standout, Malysha Kelly.
Kelly got involved in the thick of the action right away but could do little as the visitors racked up a 35-32 lead to silence the extremely loud masses inside the venue as the quarter ended 43-41 in favour of the Australians.
Nicole Aiken and Thompson returned for the final quarter, which is when the Jamaicans really showed their worth in a demonstration of intensity and determination that allowed them to firstly level and then pull in front 48-47 with nine minutes left.
Both teams exchanged the lead a couple of times before the locals closed the encounter with a moment of brilliance from captain Simone Forbes, who athletically played the ball to Romelda Aitken, who obliged by scoring the all-important winning goal.
Aitken shot 33 from 46 attempts, while Forbes supported with 23 from 26. For the Australians, Natalie Medhurst scored 22 from 24 to lead their lines with Catherine Cox, who got 12 from 16.
Australia's coach, Norma Plummer, said: "It was another tough encounter that went right down to the wire again and I must say congratulations to Jamaica.
"But it's a drawn series, I can't say that I am totally shattered by the loss but it was a tough series for us."
Meanwhile, president of the Jamaica Netball Association, Marva Bernard, could hardly contain her delight.
"This was an amazing display from the girls. They stuck out and fought hard ... this little island fought hard and defeated a continent, I am proud."
The Sunshine Girls will now turn their attention to tomorrow night's two-Test series-opener against New Zealand at the same venue.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Bennett... master teacher who lived the parable of the talents
One day, we will all be but a memory. But as testified by the many tributes, few will be as memorable as Wycliffe Bennett. Those lucky enough to have worked with this icon may have complained of his demands but are now grateful to have been blessed by them.
In the summer of 1974, I returned from holidays to hear that Wycliffe Bennett had left several messages. He had read a piece I had done for the Daily News and declared, "You and only you can write my press releases!" I had never written a release in my life and had committed to another job, but when Bennett made up his mind, it was futile to resist. Thus, Mr B started me on an exciting life career.
As it turns out, I am just one of the scores of Jamaicans who call Wycliffe Bennett mentor. Last week we heard Beverley Anderson Manley hailing him as hers, so too Gladstone Wilson, Errol Lee, Fae Ellington, Hopeton Dunn, Paula-Ann Porter, Naomi Francis and Simone Clarke-Cooper. Bennett did not stint on sharing his gifts, inspiring aspirants with his uncompromising demand for excellence.
Mr B chuckled joyfully as he related Oliver Samuels' unique tribute: "There we were, Hazel and I, enjoying Oliver's performance at Centrestage, when all of a sudden he spotted us and came out of character! He asked that the spotlight be put on us, and proceeded to tell the audience that he owed much to me." He paused and added the Wycliffe signature: "What a thing!"
At the Actor Boy Awards earlier this year, Jamaica's theatre fraternity poured plaudits on the distinguished graduate of Yale and Columbia universities, recalling the advice that helped them to make something of themselves: "Never apologise for your presence" and "Always occupy space, Darling."
Bennett would look for the largest of spaces to occupy: like the infield of the National Stadium where he had 25,000 dancers moving like clockwork representing the ethnic groups that are the diversity of the Caribbean in the unforgettable panoply (he loved that word!) of Carifesta 76.
Master conductor Bennett had recruited such virtuosos as Eric Coverley for design, Merrick Needham for logistics, Ancile Gloudon for construction, Ouida Tomlinson for music, George Carter for theatre management, Vilma McDonald for finance, Mortimo Planno for drummers, Joyce Campbell for dance and Emma Crooks for costume. In our PR department, we had Lorna Goodison, Harold Brady, Phillip Jackson, and Brian Meeks.
PLEASE CLICK ON TITLE FOR FULL COLUMN
Friday, October 9, 2009
President Barack Obama was announced as the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner today. The Norwegian Nobel Committee cited President Obama's "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." Of special note was President Obama's outreach to the Muslim world and attempts to curb nuclear proliferation.
The choice made Obama the third sitting U.S. president to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Other U.S. presidents to receive the prize were President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 and President Woodrow Wilson in 1919.
In their selection, the Nobel committee praised Obama's creation of "a new climate in international politics" and said he had returned multilateral diplomacy and institutions like the U.N. to the center of the world stage."His diplomacy," noted the Committee, " is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population."
Please see CNN report at http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/10/09/nobel.peace.prize/index.html <http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/10/09/nobel.peace.prize/index.html>
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Thursday, October 8, 2009
By ALICIA DUNKLEY Observer staff reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
EIGHTY-seven-year-old theatre and broadcast icon and stalwart Wycliffe Bennett yesterday took his final bow from the stage of life.
Bennett, who was ailing for some time, succumbed to his illness at the University Hospital of the West Indies in St Andrew.
During his lifetime, the retired educator served as a former general manager of the now defunct Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC), pioneering organiser of the National Festival of Arts, head of the Creative Production and Training Centre (CPTC), chairman of the Jamaica Drama League, and as a theatre director and producer.
Bennett, who mentored generations of media practitioners, was yesterday hailed for his contributions to theatre and the wider arts community.
He received many honours for his work in the arts, including the 2009 Actor Boy Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Order of Distinction (Commander Class), the Silver Musgrave Medal and the Centenary Medal from the Institute of Jamaica.
The CPTC's main television studio, which was destroyed by fire in 2005, was in 2007 renamed the Wycliffe Bennett Television Studio in recognition of Bennett's contribution to the organisation.
Yesterday, former JBC employee and chairman of the Broadcasting Commission, Dr Hopeton Dunn, said while saddened by the passing of Bennett - whom he succeeded as chairman of CPTC - he was celebrating a life well spent.
"Mr Bennett's passing removes from us an outstanding and deeply patriotic Jamaican who has made an indelible mark on the cultural and communication landscape of the country... he was a great leader in broadcasting and the theatre arts and a very notable trainer in a whole range of areas including elocution and public speaking," Dr Dunn told the Observer.
"I had the benefit of working quite closely with him in his more recent years but his great impact on me was while I served as a young broadcaster in Jamaica while he headed the JBC and also while I headed the CPTC. He was a mentor to a whole generation of persons involved in this field, always insisting on excellence and discouraging mediocrity," said Dunn, who was also responsible for a biographical production on Bennett's life.
Reflecting with the Observer, broadcaster and actress Fae Ellington said Bennett's contribution to theatre and the arts could not be questioned.
"Over the years he has done some magnificent productions influencing the lives of several Jamaicans young and old alike. He has been involved in training a host of persons and he also trained me as a broadcaster," she told the Observer.
"Wycliffe was for me a very giving person and as students I remember he and his wife Aunt Hazel going beyond the call of duty to facilitate us," she recalled.
"For me he was like a father figure and he still referred to me as 'little one' even on his death bed," Ellington said, noting that he will be remembered for his "very, very high standards".
Prime Minister Bruce Golding yesterday joined lovers of the arts and culture industry in mourning Bennett's passing.
Golding said Bennett, described by many as Jamaica's 'Man of the Arts', would always be remembered for his dedication to the training of young people in the areas of voice and speech, noting that he had dedicated almost 60 years of his life as an outstanding producer, director and trainer in the theatre, radio, and film industries.
The Press Association of Jamaica also mourned the icon and expressed condolences to Bennett's family.
Bennett is survived by his wife Dr Hazel Bennett, the noted author and pioneer in the Jamaica Library Service; his daughter Dr Carlene Bennett and his son Wycliffe Lincoln Bennett.
Unfortunately, Bennett passed before releasing the book - The Jamaican Theatre in the 20th Century: Highlights of The Performing Arts (UWI Mona Press) - which he co-authored with his wife and had planned to release this year.
The book is a collector's volume which carries photos of theatrical performances in Jamaica, set designs, art and architecture, some dating as far back as the 1600s.