Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Jamaica's promise and Tivoli's emancipation

Bruce Walker, inspiring student from Tivoli Gardens

by Jean Lowrie-Chin | Monday, September 20, 2010

MY head spinning with various local issues, I decided to Google “Jamaica” and click on some of the links. Wikipedia says, “Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles…situated in the Caribbean Sea, about 145 kilometres (90 miles) south of Cuba, and 190 kilometres (120 miles) west of Hispaniola.”

What Wikipedia does not tell us is that if you spread out the map of the Americas, Jamaica is at its crossroads, the third largest English-speaking country in this side of the world. Being an English speaker makes you a world citizen – English-speaking tourists and investors enjoy easy communication with our workers and Jamaicans segue smoothly into the workplaces of the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Even without planting, seeds grow here, watered by our numerous rivers and springs, and yielding the most intense flavours in the world. In short, Jamaica has extraordinary attributes that have not been leveraged because of the crime and coarseness visited upon us for nearly 40 years by so-called “leaders”.

Continuing our virtual journey through Jamaica via Google, we see Xavier Murphy's www.jamaicans.com started as an after-work hobby at his home in Florida, and now in the top five Jamaican sites on Google. There is an interview by Jennifer Lumley with Jamaican Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to England's House of Commons.

Despite the prestige of her new post, the goodly pastor says, “My greatest accomplishment is to be a mother to my children, a wife to my husband and a priest and friend to the people of God given to my care. Cleaning up after an elderly parishioner is more important to me than a title.” She said she hopes to have “a positive, wholesome effect” on the diaspora: “They should never forget God's goodness and they can see the effect of God's love become reality.”

The JIS website – www.jis.gov.jm – reminds us of God's goodness with a heart-warming story about Bruce Walker, a St George's College sixth former and resident of Tivoli Gardens, who kept his focus during the May security operation, and was successful in the demanding CAPE examinations. “On the days when he had to sit the examinations, Bruce says he was escorted by the police out of Tivoli Gardens, and he stayed with a schoolmate's family and from there, went to the sittings at Ardenne High School,” reports Alphea Saunders.

Walker “speaks with pride and respect about his father, Melbourn Walker, describing him as a disciplinarian and the ‘backbone’ of his family, which includes three siblings, and his mother”.

Saunders quotes him on the transformation he sees taking place in his community: “You don't see people on the road as much. It's just different. If you live there, you can feel the difference in the people. Probably after this, children will start to stay in more and do their schoolwork." After its night of mourning, the community may finally be seeing a day of joy, an emancipation from mental slavery.

The report says Walker “believes that eventually Tivoli Gardens will be a better place, as the residents' eyes have been opened to a new reality, a new way of life”.

Does the transformation in Tivoli have anything to do with the continued lowering of the murder rate since June? Before my PNP friends come after me for actually saying something good about Jamaica, let me remind them that we are talking about Jamaican lives – not PNP or JLP – that have been spared.

The Observer website reports that, speaking at a recent private sector conference, Jamaica Defence Force's Head of Communications Colonel Rocky Meade said the events of May 23 – when organised criminal gangs in West Kingston launched their attack on the security forces – demonstrated that criminal elements were willing and had some ability to challenge the state.

“You've all got to realise what the illness was, but the illness is not yet cured,” Meade said. “The operation must be sustained and continued emergency powers would have further strengthened the security forces' efforts.”

Last Wednesday, the Jamaica Constabulary Force reported on the latest crime statistics. It turns out that in the three months after the Western Kingston operation, Jamaica has seen a significant decrease in murders, with August being the third consecutive month that the number of murders fell below 100. There were 81 murders committed last month, compared to 139 in August 2009, the best statistic for any one month since the start of the year.

"The overall figures for recorded murders from the start of the year to the end of August show a total decrease of 59 murders,” said a JCF release.

Even as we rightly demand that our leaders give us the facts, we should acknowledge that Jamaica has taken a step in the right direction in our fight against crime. We are puzzled over this back and forth between the PM and Harold Brady. As a colleague of mine said, PM Golding should not have even answered the question about Brady's membership in the party – he has a general secretary to deal with such matters.

What is happening to this prime minister who is legendary for his thorough approach to projects, his deep reading, quick grasp and analytical response? Could the answer lie in the very few hours of sleep he is taking? We hear stories about him, working late into the night and being back at his desk early in the morning. If this is a regular occurrence, it must take its toll. Studies are now showing that sleeping less than six hours per night can have a deleterious effect on our concentration and general good health. Has PM Golding become a victim of his own dedication?

Whatever decision he makes about remaining in office, history will remember that it was under Bruce Golding's watch that Tivoli Gardens took its rightful place as a community where its decent citizens were finally allowed to earn more respect than they had received for over three decades.

“Leader-ship” is a hard one to steer – let us see if the JLP captain can manoeuvre his vessel through these stormy waters.


Jah Selassi
Here we go with circular logics again. If a corrupted leader , in a desperate act to save his own dirty political future cleans up his own crime invested community he is now a hero. This madness must stop. Bruce is not hero, he is the worst of the worst. His motto is "Bruce for Bruce all time, no matter the price". After World War 1 Hilter brought back structure to the German population, should we hail him as a hero too?
george watson
I keep asking if this writer is the public relations representative. Why wont the Observer publish the posts.
I guess Facebook will provide the answer.
Ruby Shim
The small-minded among us will not give credit where it's due if it is not credited to the PNP. They will remain ever partisan and cannot see beyond their orange colour. What has the PNP ever done to clean up garrison politics. It will remain with us as long as the politicians see it as a way of it helping them to gain/remain in power. It was a brave move by Mr Golding and I sincerely hope other politicians will seek to rid their own constituency of the dons.
Kram Blake
It is an unquestionable fact that murder is down. We are pleased. The records show that it was under the JLP that it happened. Even if it was because of the incursion in Tivoli or SOE does that really matter? It was not the first incursion in Tivoli. We must give credit where credit is due.
Wharf Dawg
Jamaica has seen a significant decrease in murders, with August being the third consecutive month that the number of murders fell below 100. Stop the press!
I thought the State of Emergency was the reason why crime fell. Why is it continuing to fall?
Perhaps Mr Bunting was right after all. No safe haven means criminals are not as bold and if you noticed the arrest rates after crimes has also gone up.. Yes indeed Mr Bunting was RIGHT!!
Martial Law
Just goes to show that Tivoli was created as a criminal enterprise and hitting Tivoli Gardens lowers crime significantly. Tivoli should have been dealt with from it was in infancy. The security forces have always known this. Only the hypocrites in Jamaica including the media have pretended otherwise.

Monday, September 20, 2010


BBC | 20 September 2010 | Last updated at 10:34 GMT (click above for link)


1. What is the meaning of life?

2. Is there a God?

3. Do blondes have more fun?

4. What is the best diet?

5. Is there anybody out there?

6. Who is the most famous person in the world?

7. What is love?

8. What is the secret to happiness?

9. Did Tony Soprano die?

10. How long will I live?

20 September 2010 Last updated at 10:34 GMT

Top 10 'unanswerable' questions revealed

"What is the meaning of life?", "Is there a God?" and even "Do blondes have more fun?" - these are apparently the world's trickiest questions.

Internet search engine Ask Jeeves has compiled what it called a top 10 of "unanswerables" in the past decade.

The list is based on some 1.1 billion queries made on the site since its launch in 2000.

Other weighty issues include mortality, love and fame, but "did Tony Soprano die?" also made it on the list.
Continue reading the main story

Ask Jeeves said that this was because many users of the site had been inquiring about what happened to the TV gangster after the final episode of the popular US drama The Sopranos.

The site also said it was launching an "unanswerables" page to help people shed light on some of the most tricky questions.

Since its launch Ask Jeeves - with its trademark butler - has been struggling against more popular search engines, such as Google.

The original idea behind Ask Jeeves (known as Ask outside the UK) was to allow users to get answers to their questions, as well as traditional keyword searching.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

'Resigning' from Jamaica

Letter published in the Gleaner | Saturday 18 Sept 2010

The Editor, Sir:

Columnist Garth Rattary's article in The Gleaner of September 14 was quite instructive. This article reflects the feelings, emotions and actions of many Jamaicans who are disgusted and fed up with what is happening in our country, yet feel powerless in effecting any meaningful change.

My wife and I have five grown children, all of whom completed their tertiary-level education in Jamaica. Only one now lives and works here, although in earlier days they all had high hopes of contributing significantly to their country. The others live and work in other parts of the world. As parents, we are only happy that those who have left worked in Jamaica long enough to serve what could be considered voluntary 'bond' period.

Our second daughter, whom I considered well-positioned to lead a successful life in Jamaica with her family, called me one night five years ago, requesting of me some personal information, which I supplied, but which got me very curious. When I enquired what was the reason for her request, the response was "Daddy, we are planning to migrate."

Lost hope

"Why?" I asked. She explained that she was losing hope in the country's future and that if she remained her quality and standard of life would be compromised.

In addition, she said that the widespread crime wave and corruption throughout the system, uncertainty in our jobs and earning prospect made it difficult for her to be satisfied to raise her children here.

Shortly thereafter, she packed and left with her family. Where they are now, many of the challenges they faced in Jamaica are behind them. Our first son and his family packed and left Jamaica. The other son also migrated. Our first daughter had also left many years earlier.

At first, my wife and I were very disappointed that our children had opted to leave our beautiful country. However, they, like many others, are seeing things differently. They have resigned from Jamaica, only to pay the occasional visit. This is but one family. Think of the number of other families with a similar story.

Disgusted and frustrated

My observation is, while many of our leaders fiddle with the future of our country, many of our qualified young persons are disgusted and frustrated with what is happening in Jamaica. They seem not prepared to stand up and fight to rid the country of the many ills that beset us. Is it a cop-out, or have they tried as if they were hitting against a brick wall?

The young people, like many of us older ones, cannot understand why those elected to govern and manage the affairs of the country cannot be trusted; why the leaders place so much emphasis on party and so little on country, and why it seems their real intent is to gain and retain state power at any cost, even at the cost of their own integrity and the faith of the public.

Those of us who are not prepared to live elsewhere must join forces with persons of goodwill to chart a visionary and workable agenda to save this country, Jamaica, and move it forward for all the people.

A process of rescuing the country from those discredited leaders has started among some people. What we need now are leaders of integrity and trust to lead the change process to enable the people to regain hope in our country. Jamaica and Jamaicans deserve a chance to progress. Persons of goodwill, I make a public plea, in spite of our frustrations, let us not resign from Jamaica.

I am, etc.,


Sent from my BlackBerry® device from Digicel

Monday, September 13, 2010

'Love that body, make it last'

Wellness gurus Professor Denise Eldemire Shearer and Dr Anthony Vendryes.

by Jean Lowrie-Chin
Jamaica Observer | Monday, September 13, 2010

It was painful to hear our alarm go off at 5:45 am last Saturday. Crawling out of bed, we headed to Emancipation Park for a session with Tai Chi Master Stewart Maxwell. To our surprise the Park was a hive of activity — lots of folks were walking, jogging and stretching, a vision of active contentment. At the end of class we felt refreshed and finally happy to greet the day — those endorphins had kicked in.

We owe it to ourselves to be as well as we can possibly be. It is a part of our education that we have not emphasised enough, a shortcoming that can have serious implications for regional health care budgets as our population is rapidly greying. Three years ago, Caribbean Wellness Day was announced as one of the mandates of Caricom Heads of Government coming out of their landmark Summit on Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), held in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, in 2007. It is now observed annually on the second Saturday of September. This year's theme is "Love that body, make it last".

Chronic NCDs include diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, and cancer, which account for 60 per cent of deaths worldwide and are reported to be the leading causes of death, disability and illness in the Caribbean. In a region where we have an abundance of wholesome food crops and excellent weather, we should not be suffering from diseases which are largely brought on by poor diet, insufficient exercise and too few hours of sleep.

But let us take a closer look at our Jamaican society and see how some of our social issues affect our health. One overweight single mother admitted that from work to home, to housework and homework, she dealt with her stress by eating. A senior citizen has watched her once peaceful neighbourhood become a nightmare of night noises - now she hardly gets a good night's sleep. So afraid are we of the criminals in our midst that we will drive the shortest of distances to the corner store, instead of just walking as we used to do.

Illiteracy and misplaced values result in poor health management, and malnourished children. Nurses at the Bustamante Hospital for Children say that the condition of some of our children can be heartbreaking. They are fed the crumbs from the tables of greedy relatives who "bling out" on remittances from the children's parents.

As we became excited about FNO - a great concept to boost business, let us put our minds to attractive programmes that will help us to take control of our health. Kudos to Jamaica Producers for their campaign to promote the consumption of our delicious local bananas and the National Health Fund for their wise messages.

We are lucky that Jamaica, perhaps, has the healthiest fast-food chains, carrying vegetarian items and home-grown ingredients. However, I have heard that the crusts of our delicious patties contain animal fat - I hope this is not true.

Health management is important, and we welcome the introduction of the health ministry's passport for children in which their immunisation history can be entered. I also wish mothers of young children would desist from wearing those long, unhygienic nails - have you ever seen a nurse or a chef with nails that long? Take a hint!

In honour of Caribbean Wellness Day, allow me to share with you some important tips from those two gurus of good health, Prof Denise Eldemire Shearer and Dr Anthony Vendryes. This information was presented at a Wellness Seminar for the members of the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) (see this and Tai Chi demo at www.ccrponline.org).

Professor Eldemire Shearer described healthy ageing as "the ongoing activities and behaviours you undertake to reduce the risk of illness and disease and increase your physical, emotional and mental health."

She recommended, "Maintaining mental and physical health, avoiding disorders or disease and remaining active and independent." This last point helped me to respect the lifestyle choices of my octogenarian mother.

Professor Eldemire Shearer advised that "chronic disease which is manifest in adult life is the result of exposure to risk factors, the major ones being tobacco, alcohol, high-fat diet and low levels of exercise." She spoke of "the incredible ability of cells to survive, cellular repair systems and the fact that we can impact our ageing process."

"There are certain healthy habits that will influence healthy ageing," said Professor Eldemire Shearer. "These are: following a nutritious diet, exercising regularly and staying mentally active."

She quoted Garson Kanin: "Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art."

Dr Vendryes warned that "we are digging our graves with our teeth," and said that we should reduce abdominal fat. "Shape can be more important than weight," he said, pointing out that the fat in the abdomen could be more dangerous than fat on the thighs.

Exercise is important. "Use it or lose it!" counselled Dr Vendryes. "Exercise complements nutrition, has physical and emotional benefits and slows the ageing process." He recommended both aerobic exercise and resistance exercise, advising us to "start slowly, be consistent, enjoy what you do."

Dr Vendryes says wellness demands that we cleanse our bodies of poisons such as "cigarette smoke, alcohol, drugs (legal and otherwise), chemicals and pollutants. These toxins hasten ageing."

He urged proper stress management. "Stress is not a person or situation, it is a reaction or response," he explained. "It is the enemy within and it accelerates ageing. To manage stress, you should learn to know your stress reaction and learn the relaxation response."

Let us promise ourselves to make wellness a priority - the payback is endurance, productivity, and a positive outlook on life. To pursue wellness is the manifestation of your love for your family, your effort to be in your best condition so you can be fully "there" when they need you. Dr Vendryes quoted Hippocrates' age-old saying: "Your health is your greatest wealth."


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Keep your hands on the wheel


The Washington Post

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Shove that burger in your face, gloss your lips ruby red or send a quick text while behind the wheel, and it might cost you $250 in Fairfax County starting Monday.

Frustrated by a toothless law that the Virginia legislature passed last year, the Fairfax County Police Department is turning to an old law to wage war against distracted driving, and it won't just be illegal text messaging that gets people pulled over.

Although there's no law against eating, grooming or reading while driving through Virginia, you are required to "pay full time and attention" to your driving, officials said.

Click on link above for link to Washington Post
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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Facing the music and keeping the faith

BY JEAN LOWRIE-CHIN | Jamaica Observer | Monday, September 06, 2010

Janet Reno on Waco:"This was the hardest decision I have ever had to make."

LAST Thursday evening, about two dozen "opinion leaders", attended a meeting at Jamaica House with Prime Minister Golding. The PM related the chronology of the Christopher "Dudus" Coke extradition order on August 25, 2009, noting that he had been advised of a "significant flaw in the way in which the evidence was placed". He said that it was not unusual for the JLP as a political party to get involved in international relations and Harold Brady was asked to call a long-time friend of the Party, Frank J Fahrenkopf, Jr who had served as chairman of the Republican Party during Ronald Reagan's presidency.

Fahrenkopf told Brady that with the change of US government, it was better that he contact Chuck Manatt, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Golding admitted that when he heard that there would be a formal engagement of Manatt's law firm, "I should have shut it down", meaning the relationship with the firm.

The PM said that a friend, who read the script of his May 12 apology to the nation, advised him not to say that he had sanctioned the hiring of the legal firm, but rather that he accepted responsibility. "But I did sanction," said Golding, "and I was not going to hide." He said he decided to take the heat and apologise "profusely and sincerely". During last week's meeting, Golding took a good pounding from media and human rights representatives as he kept turning the other cheek - "Yes ... yes ... you are right."

Regarding the US$50,000 that had been used to pay Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, the PM said it had been provided by a longtime donor to the JLP. He said the individual was a business person who had asked that his name not be disclosed since he was running a business and did not want to become embroiled in the current controversy. I think Professor Trevor Munroe came up with a good suggestion: disclose the name to the selected members of the Electoral Commission and let them tell the country if they are satisfied with the person's bona fides.

I left the meeting sorry for Golding, but sorrier for Jamaica. As he himself said, "There were some things that went terribly wrong." What made it so "terrible" was the shock that this exemplary prime minister could have sanctioned such a deal. People who have held political office have told me that it is hard to understand the intricacies of political relationships at the constituency level, especially in a community once described as "the mother of all garrisons".

Once Golding took the decision to send the security forces into Tivoli, certain elements declared war on the state. Women marched with signs declaring, "I will die for Dudus", police stations were torched and gas cylinders were wired to be set off, if the barricades that had been set up around the community were breached. As the US State Department had done in Waco, Texas in 1993, numerous notices were sent out, appealing for residents to give up their self-appointed leaders.

After a 51-day standoff in Waco, a non-lethal gas was leaked into the compound to try to end the siege. However, as then Attorney General/Justice Dept Head Janet Reno related, "Six hours went by, six hours, and still no one came out. The rest you know. The Branch Davidians were recorded while they spread the fuels used to ignite the fire that resulted in the deaths of all but nine." Seventy-six persons, including four soldiers, died that day in Texas.

"This was the hardest decision I have ever had to make," said Reno, "probably one of the hardest decisions that anybody could have to make. It will live with me for the rest of my life. I'm accountable for it."

Perhaps this is in effect what Bruce Golding is saying to us. But forgiveness has to be earned. Perhaps if he pushes through the constitutional reforms giving term limits to the PM, and taking away his powers to call an election any time, and if he is able to get passage of the Organised Crime Act and amendments to contract award procedures, he could well win back our faith.

The PM should desist from calling out the media. He should understand that headlines and cartoons are the direct result of his self-confessed sanction. As he rightly pointed out at the meeting, "We will never bring closure to this matter." A colleague remarked to me that Golding has provided comfortable facilities for the Opposition party at West King's House Road to huddle for "nightmare planning" - no good deed goes unpunished!

He should take comfort from Dr Al Sangster's remark that it was the first time a Jamaican Prime Minister had said "I erred ... please forgive me." Dr Sangster urged him to turn his focus on "running the country".

I was criticised by a reader for listing "a litany of positives in the country" in last week's column. To his incredible suggestion that I was doing PR for the JLP, let me emphasise that my "litany" was about talented Jamaicans who were producing despite the challenges. Those of us who love Jamaica more than we love party, soldier on in our imperfect environment and give each other energy by supporting what is good about us.

This is why Governor General Sir Patrick Allen and Lady Allen hosted an "I Believe" -- themed luncheon last Tuesday to honour NCU's Xormis Team that captured the Microsoft Imagine Trophy in Poland earlier this year over such IT giants as the US, China, India and Japan. "For this modest-sized university in a small developing island to be the top in the world in an IT competition is nothing short of phenomenal," said the GG.

Since giving his classic "I Believe" Inaugural Address, Sir Patrick has founded, with Lady Allen, an "I Believe" programme, embodying "the ideal of a Jamaica in which individuals are inspired to believe in themselves, actualise their full potential, and contribute to the building of a prosperous, progressive and peaceful nation."

Did the Allens do this to make any politician look good? Of course not! Like all patriots, they believe in our possibilities and refuse to become immobilised by fear and cynicism. We should not blind ourselves to the goodness of so many around us, and the natural beauty we enjoy. Even as we come to terms with the tragic events of the past year, Jamaicans still have every reason to believe.


Trevor Dawes
Jean, back in the days of Waco, Janet Reno wa not the US Sec'y of State but the AG/head of the Dep't of Justice. Just to correct that mistake.
Kwame Gordon-Martin
In her quest to quash it, Jean has initiated more questions. Was this "significant flaw" in Dudus's case present in any previous extradition? Why did the party spend so much political capital in order to prevent Dudus's extradition? Where does the "party" stop and the government begin? At the end of the day, the JLP masquerading as "our" government expended every kind of capital, monetary, social, political to prevent the extradition of a wanted man. To me, that's enough reason for a resignation
Kram Blake
At some point Bruce will have to stop apologizing for his actions in the Dudus matter. A general election will eventually be called and if we accept his apology and thinks he is the best leader at that time we will vote for him. If we think Portia is better we will vote for her. How much apology can one person give? Whether or not we accept his apology it is time to move on.
Allan Jones
Is this the same Dr. Sangster who could not see any wrong in Mr. Golding when he had the Public Service Commission fired? He like this writer can obviously see no wrong in Mr. Golding and this article is obviously a part of the ongoing PR campaign as stated by the reader last week.
Ruby Shim
It seems Mr golding can do no right and Mrs DSimpson Miller no wrong. We never had this kind of angry outbursts when Trafigura was uncovered. Dont tell me Colin Campbell was the only one in the government who knew about the money being paid for favours. I suppose its not corruption if its done by the PNP. Mr golding should take Prof Munroe's advice and let us move on to rebuild our country.
Wa Tch
"Perhaps if he pushes through the constitutional reforms......"
No Ms. Lowrie Chin, opinion leader, what he has to do is resign?
By the way who are the other opinion leaders who were invited? Could they be apologists for Golding who hold the incredible view that he turned the other cheek. Is this lady describing the same arrogant PM who engages in disgusting tracing and distortion of facts. No madam he is not exemplary and should GO.
Beresford Davidson
You all, in the press, want something make fuss about that ended up costing lives and embarrassing the country. When the PNP was in power they could do no wrong; now the JLP is in power you want them to toe the line. That's hog wash and bs; the Jamaican press is as corrupt as those, in politics, they play blind to see and those they opposed claim to be.

Monday, September 6, 2010

RIP Carlos Lopez - message from Peter Brooks

September 6, 2010 will be remembered by me and probably many other Georgians as a day of monumental importance as it marks the closing of a chapter of one of the great stories of our fine institution.

Early this morning, Carlos Lopez, the most selfless and generous human beings it has ever been my privilege to know passed from this world to answer a higher calling.

As a former athlete at St. George’s (and it was impossible to be an athlete in the decade of the 70’s without him touching your life) I say goodbye to my friend, my mentor, my father and confidant. Carlos was all that and more to so many of us back then and no amount of words can adequately capture the gratitude I have for the man and the sorrow I feel now n his passing. If ever there were a man deserving of the hi
ghest honours our school can bestow it would be him.

Please offer your prayers for his soul and never let his memory die.

Funeral arrangements are being finalized but should be at the Holy Trinity Cathedral sometime between now and September 18.


Peter Brooks