Saturday, November 27, 2010


National Journalism Week
November 28- Dec. 4




National Journalism Week 2010 takes on greater importance and resonance than in recent years, as the fraternity has been confronted with mounting criticisms. This commemorative week will present an opportunity for the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ), to not only rightfully celebrate its achievements, but to also reflect on its journey on the 'road' of democracy - assessing how far it has come and how much farther it has to go.

The PAJ for over sixty-five (65) years has been a purveyor of our country's democracy, consistently placing in the public domain, information with a high degree of credibility. This is crucial, especially in a dynamic environment, with competing forces and intents; and where fiction can oftentimes be skewed to resemble facts.

Our nation's journalists face a difficult task in the pursuance of their mandate, as they are vulnerable to massive lawsuits and libel charges. The Government has given its commitment to reviewing the outdated libel laws and has taken steps in that direction. We must recognize that while the truth must be ferreted out from those 'dark corners' and brought into the light; we should also be mindful that a balance must be reached between probity, accuracy and sensitivity and that the lawful rights and reputations of our people are not breached, but protected and remain in tact.

Jamaica boasts some of the best media practitioners who have brought the profession to a place of wide acclaim; and I would like to add my own commendations to these sterling professionals.

I wish for your organization every success in its planned activities for this important week.

Bruce Golding
Honourable Prime Minister

Message from PAJ President Jenni Campbell
We recognize the role of the press in Jamaica as critical to the very existence of our democracy. In fact, at the heart of what we do is how we interface with the public and provide our wider society with access to the national dialogue.
We ask questions of public officials on behalf of our people, we provide public information that leads to important personal choices.
In doing so, we bear a heavy burden of truth and accuracy. We must seek to get it right the first time. We know that often, words once spoken can hardly be retrieved and a good reputation is hard to come by.

We also know that being the eyes and ears of the public, we see and hear more than the average Jamaican.

We have seen the depth of poverty that many of our country men and women face daily. We have seen suffering, we have seen corruption. Equally, we have seen triumph and glory.

As passionate storytellers who stand in the gap, we are not immune to the true meaning of all that we see. We may claim that we are mere conduits, but we too, are often moved by the happenings about which we report daily.

As we face the job moving forward, I urge our fraternity to look within, seek out ways in which we can stand together to make positive changes in our society.

Earlier this year, we saw the RJR Group embark on a project to help our earthquake devastated neighbours in Haiti, we saw The Gleaner leading a campaign through its pages against crime and violence. As a body, the PAJ will lead national campaigns towards the restoration of respect for all and a return to the rule of law and order. We ask our membership to support these campaigns through public service announcements, blurbs and special projects, so that the message becomes a mantra to all of us.
If it is that we intend to live in Jamaica land we love, we must agree that things must be done differently, and as we stand in the gap - peddling truth, rights and integrity, we must be prepared to lead from our sphere of influence.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Jostling for power in the JLP

GOLDING... 2010 is his annus horribilis

Observer column | Jean Lowrie-Chin |Monday, November 22, 2010

Suddenly there is a chorus of "me first" in the Jamaica Labour Party. It seems that Christopher Tufton's triumph over Horace Chang for the JLP Area Four leadership has whetted the appetite of his Labourite colleagues. Deputy General Secretary Dr Aundre Franklin had been muscling up for the general secretary post when Daryl Vaz let him know that it would be no cakewalk. Mercifully, Karl Samuda has finally decided to withdraw from the race and so this will be a fight between the young bucks.

Then, out of the blue, veteran Mike Henry announced that he would be challenging fellow veteran Dr Kenneth Baugh for the chairmanship of the party. Karl Samuda has disclosed that he is backing Baugh. For this masterful campaigner to declare his support of two contenders in two different contests is significant. We should not forget that he was firmly behind the wheel for the 2007 JLP campaign and was able to take Bruce Golding past the popular Portia Simpson Miller, who had enjoyed a 20-25 per cent lead over her opponent just over a year before.

In a forum held at UWI's Mona School of Business a few months after the '07 elections, Karl Samuda told us of their unremitting efforts: "We drank gallons of coffee. We were a think tank that never slept." He said he had learnt an important lesson from the way the PNP had used their "cock mout' kill cock" campaign against him, after he had left them to return to the JLP. The savvy campaigner "started to use the voice of the individual to attack the individual".

Mr Samuda said they turned the spotlight on a negative incident featuring Mrs Simpson Miller. The "don't draw mi tongue" ad juxtaposing the then PM and Audley Shaw in what seemed like a heated argument featured clever editing and some digital manipulation at the end of the commercial. Sounds like whoever has Mr Samuda in his corner has a savvy strategist who has been able to win seats wearing either party hat.

If these internal party elections are allowed to proceed free from fear, we should have exciting matches to watch. However, fear has reared its ugly head in two sordid reports, from the west and from the east. One is an allegation that former Montego Bay Mayor Noel Donaldson has been threatened for his backing of Chris Tufton over the incumbent Horace Chang. Then there are the disturbing accusations of St Thomas businessman Ian Johnson against Member of Parliament and Mining and Energy Minister James Robertson.

We heard Johnson on the Newstalk programme Jamaica Speaks describing the trauma of seeing his mother in the morgue at the Princess Margaret Hospital with three bullet wounds. However, we have no idea who was responsible for her tragic demise, so we have to wait for a proper investigation before anyone can point fingers. To be falsely accused of a heinous crime must be one of the most devastating things to happen to a human being.

With these allegations of Labourite against Labourite, the Manatt, Phelps & Phillips issue, and this sudden jostling for power in the party, one wonders if there is some expectation that the leadership post may be vacated and if these contenders are lining up to be heir to the throne. To quote from Miss Lou's poem Back to Africa: "Wat a debil of a bump an' bore, rig-jig and palam pam!" This has been a hectic year and I would say to the hypertensive: make sure you fill your prescription because more excitement is definitely in store for us.

Olint head David Smith is now in the US, and the pundits are predicting that some of his evidence may very well "join the dots" in this ever growing mystery of who is in whose pocket.

There are calls for the prime minister to comment on the accusations against Mr Robertson. Perhaps Mr Golding is becoming a very silent philosopher after previous statements and apologies. He may be quietly hoping that this is a painful prelude to the "exorcism" of disgraceful political behaviour rightly demanded in an editorial in last week's Observer. Can he get away with saying nothing? Will he store up everything for his exit or for announcing a renewed JLP? This is being written two days before his address to the JLP conference - this morning we should know the direction he is taking.

Whatever may have transpired yesterday, every Jamaican should understand that we can have a hand in healing our country of this disease that has crippled our poor and dispossessed. Why is our music so violent and vulgar? Because it reflects the deprivation of our Jamaican brothers and sisters, trapped on the gully sides and in the ghettos by vote-seeking politicians. Because it expresses the depravity of those who are torn between becoming victim or aggressor.

Every time we shake our heads at the disturbing lyrics of the dancehall, we should know that they come out of this terrible environment. Every time we worry about our own personal safety, we should ask ourselves what we have done towards condemning the horrible politics in our country that has spawned so many menacing thugs.

We need to partner with our democratically elected political representatives - offer our support for impartial and honest constituency development and refuse to associate with any form of corruption. This is a very small country and politicians should stop being coy about what we know that they know.

Pollster Don Anderson announced on CVM-TV last week that Opposition Leader Simpson Miller is now 10 per cent ahead of PM Golding in the popularity ratings.

All in all, this has been Bruce Golding's annus horribilis, a year he could not have imagined on that mellow day of his inauguration as when he stated his resolve "that matter how shabbily he may be dressed ... will be protected and his dignity respected." Realising that this would be a huge challenge, he then added, "The task before me is enormous. But the Lord is the strength of my life. Of nothing shall I be afraid." For Jamaica's sake, we hope so.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Everyday Prayer

Dear Lord,
I thank You for this day.
I'm blessed because You are a forgiving God and an understanding God.
You have done so much for me and You keep on blessing me.
Forgive me this day for everything I have done, said or thought that was not pleasing to you.
I ask now for Your forgiveness.
Please keep me safe
from all danger and harm. Help me to start this day with a new attitude and plenty of gratitude.
Let me make the best of each and every day to clear my mind so that I can hear from You... Please broaden my mind that I can accept all things.
Let me not whine and whimper over things I have no control over. And give me the best response when I'm pushed beyond my limits. I know that when I can't pray, You listen to my heart. Continue to use me to do Your will. Continue to bless me that I may be a blessing to others. Keep me strong that I may help the weak...Keep me uplifted that I may have words of encouragement for others.
I pray for those that are lost and can't find their way. I pray for those that are misjudged and misunderstood. I pray for those that don't believe.
I pray for my family and friends. I pray for peace, love and joy in their homes; that they are well or recovering well, and all their needs are met.
I pray that every eye that reads this knows there is no problem, circumstance, or situation greater than God.
Every battle is in Your hands for You to fight.
I pray that these words be received into the hearts of every eye that sees it in Jesus' name.  
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Friday, November 12, 2010

JA book drive makes Guinness Book of Records!

Great news from Deika Morrison -  

The last time I communicated with the recipients of this email was the morning of May 1 2010.  Then I was announcing the official start of the Guinness World Record attempt.

The Rotary Clubs of Jamaica is now the official holder of the Guinness World Record for the Most Books Donated To Charity In Seven Days.  The record is now 657,061. 

All of you made this possible - in various ways.  We have thanked you in the press and now that it is official, I will write to each organization - more than 150 inside and outside of Jamaica who made this happen.  I just wanted you to know that the certificate arrived yesterday. 

Thank you so very much.  Jamaica has set another world record.  This time - a record for charity.  And we did so working together - public sector, private sector, NGOs, individuals, international partners.

Many, many thanks!
Best, Deika


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Friday, November 5, 2010

Prof. Barry Chevannes - Jamaica's Beloved Peacemaker

Professor Barry Chevannes - Rest in Peace

Barry Chevannes’ message to the gunman: 'You can choose not to kill'

Jean Lowrie-Chin | Jamaica Observer | Monday, January 31, 2005

If you know a gunman, if you know a don man, could you give him Barry's message? Mister gunman, Mister don man, Barry Chevannes wants you to know that you're human, not an animal. He knows you have the power of choice. You are not a fly that must breed in garbage, you can remove yourself from the garbage. Just as you chose to kill, you can choose NOT to kill. You have a human will - you are not programmed to kill.

If anybody feels your pain, it is Barry Chevannes. Sure, he has the handle of "Professor", but that journey took him to St George's College from Glengoffe, St Catherine, every day with no breakfast in his belly. "The priests noticed I was listless and arranged with a lady to serve me breakfast, but after a while I stopped going. I was self-conscious, embarrassed."

St George's was a caring institution, he recalls, and remembers the good times shared with lifelong friend and teacher Horace Levy, classmates Norman Wright, Trevor Appleton, Walter Campbell, Tony Wong and Peter Judah. He was also a contemporary of Trevor Munroe and Ronnie Thwaites. "The Jesuits instilled in us a sense of calling," he says. "They told us that God had a design and we were to find it."

They nurtured the ideals of this brilliant boy, who decided to serve his people by entering the priesthood. He studied in Massachusetts from 1959 to 1966 in the fine ferment of the Black Civil Rights Movement. Fate thrust him in the vanguard of a march down Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, sharing the frontline with none other than Martin Luther King Jr as he strode into history. "I kept looking across, watching his face. I was so moved by his passion for his people that I wanted to work with blacks in the south."

But Barry's homeland had plans for him. He was away when Jamaica became independent, but joyfully received her anthem and learned it by heart. "When the plane touched down in Kingston in 1966, I found myself singing the anthem, glad to be home."

Barry Chevannes taught Latin at Campion College while teaching himself how to play the guitar. Then he joined Father Schecher in a two-roomed house in Rose Town, as they decided that church was too far from the people and began to share more deeply in their lives. I remember the long-robed scholastic Mr Chevannes earnestly teaching the rudiments of philosophy to our joint Alpha-George's sixth-form class. Best of all, I remember the "Spirit of the Laad" in his hymns about Pentecost, the Birth of Christ, Ruth and Naomi.

After receiving permission from his superiors to enrol at the UWI to study sociology, he finally decided that a celibate life was not for him. His thesis on the Rastafarians earned him his degree in social anthropology, and he continued at Columbia University with an even more in-depth study on them.

But the teachings of his practical mother, his kindly father and the caring Jesuits at St George's remained with him, as he mentored his students and used his findings to make important initiatives. He was also influenced by sociologist C Wright Mills who believed that sociology should be solution-oriented. He founded Fathers Inc, the organisers of the Model Father Competition, in 1991, and Partners for Peace in 1997. The Centre for Studies in Public Safety and Justice established a few weeks ago, and headed by Dr Anthony Harriott, is a direct outcome of this movement.

A Study on Urban Poverty and Violence was a joint project of Horace Levy and Barry Chevannes. The title of the final publication was "They Cry Respect", as their findings showed the alienation and disrespect suffered by Jamaica's poor. "Unemployment and poverty are not causes, but the conditions that breed crime," Barry believes.

The passing decades have added an edge of urgency to his earnestness. The gun has now become part of the accoutrements of manhood among our poor youth, he observes. "These factors will not be solved overnight. This is a mind-set that will now have to be unset with re-education and transformation. I believe job creation is key to this transformation."

"We need to approach the gunman through his friends, and help him unravel this knot of discontent that sends bullets to a man's heart," Barry believes.

Barry and his wife Pauletta have seen too much good come out of their efforts to ever give up on their country. Pauletta was principal of Charlie Smith High School for many years and Barry remembers her commitment to her students - mentoring, feeding the football team in training. Barry has seen the Partnership for Peace help to transform several individuals, including Sandra Sewell of August Town, who became a powerful force for peace. "It was a terrible blow when she was murdered last year," he says painfully.

It could not be a coincidence that Barry attended a meeting called by the US visionary Robert Roskind last year, to discuss plans for a peace concert to mark Bob Marley's 60th birthday. "I thought, why not make it a violence-free day? Robert and Colin Leslie embraced the idea, and Dimario McDowell's inspired graphics have given it impact. It is heartening to see the support from our entertainment personalities, the Ministry of Health Violence Prevention Programme, Jamaica National Building Society, CVM, JIS, TVJ, Worldtron, Hands Across Jamaica. Both the PNP and the JLP have endorsed our project. Miss Lindsay from Devon House called to ask how she could help, and now has a sign outside Devon House supporting our cause."

Barry wants February 6, No-Violence Day, to be the beginning of our movement for peace. "I am not so naïve to believe this will be easy," he says. "We have to change the conditions to sustain the peace. But you have to start. If you sit and contemplate how far the journey is, instead of taking the first step, you will never start."

So blessed - it's a test!

This map with Tomas' track over the past week shows how blessed Jamaica is.

Just so we don't get too carried away, we need to remember that "to them that much is given, much is required."

Once more the good Lord wants to see how an uninjured Jamaica will help an injured Haiti.

Please go to and make your donation now.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Norma Shirley - Jamaica's Culinary Legend - Rest in Peace

The ever-attentive Norma Shirley as she checked on a diner at her restaurant.

Scenes from Norma's Adventures with Chef Renaa from Norway last August - what a lady! Giving thanks that we could enjoy the creations of this beautiful lady who brought such taste and style to our special celebrations.

Time to work on our strengths

TURNING THE CORNER ON CORRUPTION... DPP Paula Llewellyn and Contractor General Greg Christie greet each other heartily after Prof Trevor Munroe (centre) revealed that Jamaica had improved its standing in the Corruption Perception Index. (Photo: Aston Spaulding)

Jean Lowrie-Chin | Monday, November 01, 2010 | Jamaica

EVEN our non-VIP tickets for the Bill Clinton Lecture last Monday were pricey, so I hope that by sharing it in this column, readers will get my money's worth. The audience hung on to Mr Clinton's every word — not because he told us anything we didn't know, but because this former leader of the world's most powerful country laid out his findings so well.

Mr Clinton said the mapping of the human genome revealed that, regardless of race, colour, creed or financial status, the genome sequence is almost exactly the same (99.9 per cent) in all people. This is the "common humanity" which was the theme of his address. He appealed to us to change our mindset from focusing on the 0.1per cent of what makes us different, to the 99.9 per cent of what we have in common. "We have to find solutions in which everyone can win," he urged, as he described himself as a "clear-eyed, hard-headed idealist".

When moderator Nigel Clarke posed the question, "How would you restore hope?" Mr Clinton related the rise of Rwanda from the massacre of 1994, in which 10 per cent of the country's population, an estimated 800,000, was lost in a terrible genocide. "In 1998, Rwanda's per capita income was $268 per year. Ten years later, it was $1,000... The people of Rwanda made up their minds to imagine a future that was different from their past."

He told us the story of a Tutsi basket-weaver, "Miss Cassi", who had lost her husband and seven of her 10 children in the massacre (her other three children were serving elsewhere in the military). She reached out to another lady from the other ethnic group and said, "Let's begin again." They created such exquisite baskets that they became popular, even in New York department stores.

As the business grew, young men joined the workforce. One day a 26-year-old worker confessed to his boss, Miss Cassi: "I killed one of your children." So filled with remorse was he that he told her that she should send for one of her sons in the military to come and kill him. "What good would that do?" asked the noble lady. "Go back to work!"

Could our human rights groups challenge themselves to this higher form of thinking, instead promoting this toxic atmosphere of conflict in our society? Could they use their influence to help the PMI heal our communities?

The former US President also commented on Jamaica's burdensome cost of electricity. Referring to our access to solar and wind power, he said, "The Caribbean could be the only region in the world to become the most energy self-sufficient." But where is the political will? Nearly 20 years ago the Jamaica Flour Mills sponsored a solar-oven project implemented by the resourceful Claudette Wilmot. She used about $300 worth of material - cardboard, glass and aluminium foil - to create the solar oven in which a three-course meal was prepared for the media and several officials. Representatives from the then Ministry of Energy all sent their apologies for absence at the last minute!

"Rising countries like Jamaica need to improve and build against the onslaught from destructive forces," said Mr Clinton. "No one expects you to be perfect." He then described Colombia's fight against the narcotics trade. Narco-traffickers "owned" 30 per cent of Colombia until the government and people pushed back, to the point where they have reclaimed their capital Medellin, which recently hosted the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the Inter-American Development Bank. In the Colombia experience, he gave us this Q & A:

Q: Are the people in charge accused of excesses? A: Yes.

Q: Have they made progress? A: Yes.

Mr Clinton said that "disagreements are natural" but appealed to us to agree to "a core of central objectives ... Do not be discouraged by failure. Don't quit - do something else."

He referred to the once 'paralysed' Middle East that now has a new generation of leaders who have forged a partnership with Israel. In Bahrain, their government has agreed to share power equally with the private sector, with the single objective of improving their economic rating. Mr Clinton said that they had a world ranking of number 49 three years ago and had now moved up to number 13.

Mr Clinton wants us to look at Jamaica's strengths: "There is a reason why people keep coming here ... don't just work on your problems, work on your strengths."

Bill Clinton would have been pleased at the news that emerged the following day, when Professor Trevor Munroe, director of the National Integrity Action Forum, announced that Jamaica had improved her standing in the 2010 Corruption Perception Index. He said that Jamaica had "improved its global ranking from 99 out of 180 countries to 87 out of 178 countries after successive fall in rankings in 2007, 2008 and 2009."

People power seems to have had significant impact on this. Prof Munroe noted, "In 2008, a Don Anderson poll showed that Jamaicans for the first time regarded corruption as the second most important thing wrong with Jamaica ... This sentiment fuelled the widespread and overwhelming public demand for Christopher "Dudus" Coke's extradition and for upholding of the rule of law. Nine editorials/columns/letters in three newspapers in January 2010 rose to 216 in May."

Signs are that Jamaicans may be moving away from the constant haranguing which has neither dignity nor direction. On Thursday, news came that five private sector organisations had decided to resume talks with the government on the Partnership for Transformation, based on PM Golding's decision to establish a Commission of Enquiry into the Christopher Coke/Manatt issue.

Like Paula Llewellyn, Greg Christie and Danville Walker, let us be honest and energetic in doing the nation's business. Like the brave people of Rwanda, let us imagine a future very different from our recent past.