Friday, December 30, 2011

Hughes called it at 7.45 PM!!

A telling Election Timeline

7.11pm PNP leading in 39 seats – at 40% counted – 7.11 pm – PNP ‘winning handsomely’ - 2766 boxes – PNP 52.7% JLP 47.4% - 184,000 vs 166,000 votes

7.25 declaring Wheatley SE St Catherine

7.34 PNP leading 36/JLP 27 – Cliff: PNP enjoying a comfortable lead 57% to 43% JLP

7.45 Cliff Hughes has called it! PNP has won the election!

7.58 West Rural St Andrew lost by Andrew Gallimore – won by Buchanan

Montague trailing

8.08 5,955 BOXES COUNTED – PNP 404,400 votes

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Looking for Christ in our leaders

Jean Lowrie-Chin | Observer column | Tuesday 27 Dec 2011

As we avidly watched the news with the Election highlights, the telephone rang. It was Anne Marie Rhoden who assigns readers for our church services – she asked us to participate in the New Year’s Eve Mass. Suddenly we were reminded that we as Christians were in the midst of one of the most important religious celebrations and that we should be looking beyond this struggle for earthly power.

“The people who walk in darkness will see a bright light…A child will be born for us. A son will be given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. He will be named: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and peace will have unlimited growth … He will uphold it with justice and righteousness now and forever.” (excerpt from Isaiah 9:2-7)

This ‘justice and righteousness’ is what we are seeking in our leaders, as we head to the polls on Thursday. Here are some thoughts from an address I made recently to a splendid group of young people from The St John the Baptist and Our Lady of the Angels church parishes.

It may seem like a far stretch, but we can actually draw inspiration from the electoral process that is unfolding around us at this time. Like the good servant who multiplied his talents, our electoral officials have continued to improve on an excellent system, developed through the collaboration of our two political parties.

For one thing, we can take great pride in the fact that, through the efforts of the founders of the two parties and other noble pioneers, Jamaica achieved universal adult suffrage (one person, one vote) before the United States and many other world powers did. Jamaica had our first election under universal adult suffrage in 1944, the same year that France introduced adult suffrage including women. Japan came on stream similarly in 1945.

All American citizens were supposed to have had the right to vote long before us, but that was an illusion. Many southern states prevented African Americans from voting. It was only in 1965 that America achieved universal adult suffrage, thanks to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For Switzerland it was 1971, for South Africa it was 1994 before every citizen had the right to vote, and in Kuwait, it was only six years ago that women got the vote – provided they vote in polling stations separate from those used by men!

We are indeed fortunate to live in this God blessed country. Our electoral system has had the approval of the Carter Centre in the US and our local group CAFFE has been monitoring proceedings for the last four elections.
Our Jamaican system is so well respected that our officials are now being asked to help organize and preside over elections all over the world. ECJ Chairman Professor Errol Miller said that recently, two officials from Tunisia visited Jamaica to familiarize themselves with our system on the recommendation of an international funding organisation, as that country resolves to become a democracy following the demands of a popular uprising.

Last Thursday we went to our EOJ Constituency office to collect our new Voter Identification cards, and were out in five minutes! The professional, courteous officials located the cards quickly and presented the documents for us to sign in confirmation of collection. This is a well-oiled, proper functioning system of which we can all be proud.

Remember to check if you are on the Voters’ List at Once you are on the list, you have a right to vote, whether or not you collected your voter ID card. Remember that the ballot is secret. Your vote cannot be traced back to you. Vote with pride – you have the same single vote as the most powerful person you know. On Thursday, you will make your mark for a democratic Jamaica. Whatever the result may be, let us respect the will of the majority.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Dave Rodney!

Advertising/PR executive/author Jean Lowrie-Chin of PRO Comm (third from right) hosted a birthday luncheon for Dave Rodney, (third from left) visiting media marketing specialist from New York, on Wednesday at Devon House On The Terrace. Others from left are: Barbara Ellington, Gleaner Lifestyle Editor; Alison Ross, SVP, The Portfolio Marketing Group, New York, Sharon Shroeter, TVJ

Dave Rodney is a down-to-earth intellectual, speaker of many languages, talented organist and publicist par excellence. It was wonderful to celebrate this special Jamaican, now co-Principal of IMAGES Media LLC in New York.

Here He is - Holy! Holy!

Christmas Message from Mustard Seed

Please stop what you are doing and think on this. It is a prayer we say with our children every morning at 3:45 in the Chapel.

As we prepare to RECOGNIZE Christ even more in this Christmas Season we should know that:


Sent from my BlackBerry® device from Digicel

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Food For The Poor Organises release of 85 Prisoners

Food For The Poor Organizes Prisoner Releases

Nonviolent Offenders Freed in Jamaica, Guyana, Haiti and Honduras


COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Dec. 20, 2011) – In anticipation of Christmas, Food For The Poor released prisoners who have committed nonviolent offenses in Jamaica (22), Guyana (25), Haiti (36) and Honduras (2). They were incarcerated due to their inability to pay required fines. Eighty-five prisoners have been released in these countries in time to spend Christmas with their families.


"When you visit a prison, desperate eyes peer out of the dark cells, into the light, pleading silently for help," said Robin Mahfood, Food For The Poor's CEO/President. "They want to feel a connection with the outside world, to be a brother in Christ, to be prayed for – and to not be forgotten."


In developing countries, the destitute sometimes have no way to feed their families other than to steal food. The consequence often is imprisonment without first appearing before a judge, or receiving a prison sentence. Sometimes, by the time they are tried, they have spent years longer in jail than their prison sentence requires.


Food For The Poor's Prison Ministry Program is based on the scripture, "When was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you," (Matthew 25: 31-46).


Mahfood visited a prison in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, this year with 17 priests and pastors. Together they prayed for the inmates, who live in decrepit buildings and are at the mercy of disease outbreaks, such as cholera. Prison cells measuring 16-by-16 feet sometimes hold more than 30 men.


Since the inception of Food For The Poor's Prison Ministry Program in 2000, more than 1,048 prisoners have been reintroduced back into the community as productive citizens. Food For The Poor works with the prisoners before and after they are released to ensure they will not be repeat offenders.


"Behave yourself, because in there [it is] rough," said a 34-year-old former Jamaican inmate, when asked if he had any advice for youngsters outside of the penal institutions. "I appreciate the help from Food For The Poor," he continued, "because my mother had been helping to take care of my children while I was in there, but they are my responsibility and I just wanted to come out and be a father to them."


This year in Jamaica, a total of 22 inmates were released from prisons in Mandeville, Spanish Town and St. Catherine.


"All of us deserve a second chance and we have given these men and women that opportunity," said Sandra Ramsay, administrator of the prison ministry at Food For The Poor-Jamaica.



Twice a year – during the Christmas and Easter seasons – the Food For The Poor Prison Ministry Program releases inmates who have committed minor offenses. Prison authorities have found Food For The Poor's Prison Ministry Program to be so successful that they have implemented a similar program themselves. Some prisons now offer inmates jobs in the prison where they are held so that they can earn money to pay off their fines.


Food For The Poor, the largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian agency provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For more information, please visit                



Photo credit: Food For The Poor

Photo captions:

 The sole female inmate to be released from the Fort Augusta facility was a 25-year-old mother of three who was convicted of larceny after taking money from a family member, without permission, to purchase food and other items for her sick infant.

 Some of the inmates shed tears as they learned their fines had been paid, and that they would be reunited with their families in time for Christmas.

Jennifer Leigh Oates
Public Relations
954-427-2222 x 6054

Food For The Poor, Inc.

6401 Lyons Road

Coconut Creek, Florida 33073 USA

Main Tel: 954-427-2222 

Main Fax: 954-570-7654

Food For The Poor (FFP), the largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed the millions of hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian agency provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96% of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor.

For more information visit our Web site at

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Black Belgian Nurse Who Saved GIs In WWII Honoured

Augusta Chiwy (Photo: Clark Boyd)

Thank you Neville 'Gladdy' Hoo for sharing this story!
BRUSSELS December 12, 2011, 04:32 pm ET
BRUSSELS (AP) — A Belgian nurse who saved the lives of hundreds of American soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge at the end of World War II was given a U.S. award for valor Monday — 67 years late.

Congolese-born Augusta Chiwy, now 93, received the Civilian Award for Humanitarian Service medal from U.S. Ambassador Howard Gutman at a ceremony in the military museum in Brussels.

"She helped, she helped, and she helped," Gutman said at the ceremony. He said the long delay in presenting the award was because it was assumed that Chiwy had been killed when a bomb destroyed her hospital.

The Battle of the Bulge was a ferocious encounter in the final stages of World War II. In desperation, Adolf Hitler ordered a massive attack on allied forces in the Ardennes, in southern Belgium. More than 80,000 American soldiers were killed, captured or wounded.

Chiwy had volunteered to assist in an aid station in the town of Bastogne, where wounded and dying U.S. soldiers in their thousands were being treated by a single doctor in December 1944 and January 1945. Chiwy braved the gunfire, helping whoever she could, and saving the lives of hundreds of American GIs.

The Nazis hoped the surprise attack would reach the sea at the Belgian port of Antwerp and cut off the advancing allied armies. Bastogne, a market town that was also a critical road junction, was quickly besieged.

The U.S. troops — led by paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division — found themselves surrounded. But they resisted fiercely, and the key crossroads was never taken.

During the battle, Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe, the 101st's acting division commander, delivered his famous reply to a German surrender demand when he scribbled: "To the German commander: Nuts! The American commander."

In the ensuing siege, Bastogne was heavily shelled and quickly reduced to ruins. Another Belgian nurse — Chiwy's friend Renee Lemaire — was killed along with about 30 patients when a bomb penetrated a cellar where she was tending to the wounded.

Gutman said the diminutive Chiwy combed battlefields during the battle, often coming under enemy fire, to collect the wounded in the deep snow.

"What I did was very normal," Chiwy said during the ceremony. "I would have done it for anyone. We are all children of God."

But Col. J.P. McGee, who commands a brigade of the 101st Airborne Division based in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, said that to the wounded soldiers Chiwy was "a goddess."

"Men lived and families were reunited due to your efforts," he said.

McGee said the army's doctor in Bastogne, John Prior, had joked that the German snipers couldn't hit Chiwy because she was so tiny. But Chiwy, who moved to Belgium from the colony of Congo before the war, responded that they were just bad shots.

Historian Alexander Omhof, who has dealt extensively with the history of the allied advance, also praised Chiwy's deeds during the month-long battle.

Chiwy then received a letter of appreciation from Gen. David Petraeus, himself a former commander of the 101st Airborne.

After the battle, Chiwy slipped into obscurity, working as a hospital nurse treating spinal injuries. She married a Belgian soldier and had two children.

She was finally located several years ago by a British author and historian, Martin King, who had heard stories about a black nurse at Bastogne.

Chiwy was knighted by the Belgian king in June.

Sent from my BlackBerry® device from Digicel

Thursday, December 15, 2011

News Alert: Breaking News: U.S. formally ends war in Iraq

Thursday, December 15, 2011 5:50:49 AM
U.S. formally ends war in Iraq BAGHDAD — Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta paid solemn tribute on Thursday to an "independent, free and sovereign Iraq" and declared the official end to the Iraq war, formally wrapping up the U.S. military's 81 / 2-year mission in the country."After a lot of blood spilled by Iraqis and Americans, the mission of an Iraq that could govern and secure itself has become real," Panetta said at a ceremony at Baghdad 's international airport. "To be sure, the cost was high – in blood and treasure for the United States, and for the Iraqi people. Those lives were not lost in vain. "The 1:15 p.m. ceremony (5:15 a.m. in Washington) effectively ended the war two weeks earlier than was necessary under the terms of the security agreement signed by the U.S. and Iraqi governments in 2008, which stipulated that the troops must be gone by Dec. 31.But commanders decided there was no need to keep troops in Iraq through the Christmas holidays given that talks on maintaining a U.S. presence beyond the deadline had failed. The date of the final ceremony had been kept secret for weeks, so as not to give insurgents or militias an opportunity to stage attacks. Read more at visit TO A FRIEND
Sent from my BlackBerry® device from Digicel

Monday, December 12, 2011

A professor, a bishop and two Delanos

ECJ Chairman Professor Errol Miller
Political Ombudsman Bishop Herro Blair

Observer column by Jean Lowrie-Chin | 12 December 2011

This Jamaica takes us through so many highs and lows! We have been enjoying a great deal of sober public discourse on all sides about the December 29 general election. But then, we see these disturbing clips of gunmen engaging the police in a shootout on the grounds of St Jago High School in Spanish Town. (Thankfully, the students were unharmed.) The news also carries the usual political platform drama, with KD warning Dwight, Andrew apologising to media, and Portia wagging her finger at Andrew.

We saw an excellent group of Jamaicans on TVJ's Impact last Thursday, signalling that Jamaica's electoral system was in very good shape. The probing Emily Crooks hosted Professor Errol Miller, chairman of the Electoral Commission; Bishop Herro Blair, political ombudsman; and those cookie-cutter campaign spokespersons Delano Franklin and Delano Seiveright for the PNP and JLP respectively.

We learned a lot. Prof Miller made three important points:

*If you are not on the voters' list published on November 30, you simply cannot vote. He said that voters may check for their names at post offices or on the web - You should vote at your location on the list, even if you have changed the address of your residence since being enumerated.

* Agreement on the location of polling stations was reached after dialogue with both political parties and much planning. He emphasised that there can be no change of these locations.

* The ballot in Jamaica is absolutely secret. If you expose your "X", the ballot will be taken away from you. The presiding officer may not look at your choice and may not ask for whom you voted. The ballot is folded in such a way that even when the numbered counterfoil is being removed, the section with your mark remains folded and unexposed. Once the counterfoil is removed, and the ballot placed in the box, there is absolutely no way that it can be traced back to the voter.

Prof Miller also mentioned a criticism of a party representative that four candidates with dual citizenship had been accepted for nomination for the last general election by the respective returning officers. Prof Miller made it clear that the Electoral Office has no jurisdiction over such matters. Today, nomination day, we should bear in mind that the returning officer must accept the nomination of the candidate once the person satisfies three requirements:

(1) The prospective candidate has the endorsement of 10 registered voters

(2) The individual makes his/her application at the designated location between 10 am and 2 pm

(3) The individual pays a nomination fee of $3,000.

Congrats to the Women's Political Caucus of Jamaica supported by the Rose Leon Memorial Trust - they will pay nomination fees for all women candidates, irrespective of their political affiliation. For this election, there are 18 such candidates - five from the PNP led by Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller and 13 from the JLP - the highest ever in Jamaica's history.

Bishop Herro Blair disclosed that he had been kept extremely busy. "It is the first time since 2002 that I have had so many calls and complaints," he said. He explained that if his office decides to pursue a complaint, it is heard by a tribunal comprising the general secretaries of both political parties. Some of the matters they have dealt with for this election include the defacement of the Danville Walker billboard in Central Manchester.

The political ombudsman says there are 20 investigators attached to his office, all of whom are sergeants with the JCF. He says it is incumbent on the political parties to field candidates who are "people beyond doubt". He is asking the parties to quell "unacceptable behaviour" and reminding them that it is illegal to hoist green and orange flags to mark areas that are purported to be JLP or PNP. "There are provisions under the NSWMA Act against affixing anything in a public place, as this is contributing to the defacement of the environment," he noted. "This includes light posts."

Of course, both Delanos declared victory for their respective parties. "The JLP is on the verge of a possible landslide," opined Seiveright. "The people want something different, we are about Jamaica, about moving our country forward."

Franklin predicted that his party "will take 32 and more" and that they are campaigning aggressively because "Jamaicans want something new and different". Pundits are looking at a worldwide tendency to vote out incumbents in two ways: it could be a win for the PNP or it could be that the recently appointed JLP leader is seen as a fresh face in politics.

Read more:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Lowell Hawthorne - From Minibus Driver to Observer Business Leader

We continue to be inspired by courageous entrepreneurs, and this year Moses Jackson and the Observer Team shone the light on Jamaican entrepreneurs in the Diaspora. Lowell Hawthorne, Co-Founder and CEO of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery and Grill emerged the Business Leader of the Year. With his six siblings, The Oberlin High School graduate and former minibus driver, inspired by the example of his parents, started a bakery in the Bronx. Now they have 122 branches in nine states, 1,800 employees and more than US$100 million in gross annual sales!

Please read the amazing stories of courage and perseverance of all eight nominees on the Observer website. We salute Verona Greenland, Monique Hamaty-Simmonds and Marcus Simmonds, Vincent and Janette HoSang, Vincent and Lorain Lai, Beverly Nichols, Richard Powell and George Yap. Everyone a true winner!

Read more at:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Jamaica – not all about elections

Patricia Sinclair McCalla - CEO of the Jamaica's Public Sector Transformation Unit

Observer column for MON 5 December 2011
by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Don’t let the headlines fool you. Today’s Jamaica is not all about elections. As a matter of fact, because we know what must come right after elections, regardless of the winner, discerning Jamaicans know we are in a serious plight. What must come very soon, is no indictment on one party, nor a recommendation for the other – what is coming is akin to an unstoppable weather system, where the global economic storms demand clear thinking and preparedness.

Lucky for us, our geographical position, natural beauty and the gift of the English language, bestowed on us by General Penn and Admiral Venables, have made us an attractive destination. However, the international community which has been hugely supportive in the past must now attend to financial crises on the home front.

Jamaica really needs to grow up and have a conscience. How some of our benefactors wish that they could produce crops all year round, that their summer facilities could remain open after October, that their homeless would not be in danger of freezing to death. For decades, Barbados gave tax relief to homeowners who installed solar water heaters. I am still not sure what incentives exist to harness this unlimited solar power around us.

We have to make productivity a priority. Patricia Sinclair McCalla, CEO of the PSTU recently gave us a snapshot of the public sector in a public lecture: “Sixteen ministries, approximately 230 entities, including statutory bodies, limited liability companies and other public bodies, to include executive agencies that are departments of Government, all of which comprise over 120,100 public officers, excluding the 4,500 Jamaica Defence Force personnel. The Government is in fact, the largest employer contracting just over ten per cent of the Jamaican labour force.”

She reminded us that we have a public sector wage bill of $127.9b, which currently stands at 10.4 per cent of GDP in the current financial year, “and which is expected to be reduced to 9.0 per cent of GDP by 2015/16”

She had good reason to cite the Singapore transformation, explaining that their public servants were not only well-trained, but also well paid to minimise the temptation of corruption. “The enabling environment was created by Lee Kuan Yew, through the provision of education to its citizens focusing on, English language, science and technology,” said Mrs Sinclair McCalla. “He challenged old cultural norms ...ensured that his ministers were already successful businessmen who were highly educated and well resourced.”

“In Jamaica where there resides little faith in political agencies and government institutions, governance is vitally important,” wrote Al Edwards Caribbean Business Report’s editor in his timely lead in Friday’s Observer. “The country has declared that it wants to hold developed-country status by 2030, that status would be difficult to attain without adhering to good governance practices.”

Such practices have to be underpinned by strong values. Our impressionable youngsters are fed a steady diet of images on television and the internet which create false expectations and lower their self-esteem. Unfortunately, they are getting a lot of these very images on the campaign trail as well, and we should be watching to see how the leadership of both parties panders to this element in the coming weeks as election fever takes hold.

As we look back on a successful Journalism Week spearheaded by dynamic PAJ President Jenni Campbell, and the tributes to the brilliant Dr Aggrey Brown, media practitioners are reminded of their responsibility to nation building. Certainly, we have the attention of the nation and therefore we are important participants in Jamaica’s development.

Women’s Media Watch’s new study and training manual, “Whose Perspective: A Guide to Gender-Aware Analysis of Media Content”, describes the negative effect media images are having on impressionable minds and challenges us to move out of our comfort zone.

Judith Wedderburn of the FES Institute pointed to the expanding impact of social media, commenting, “This now makes the process by which the media itself shapes and reflects political culture and public discourse far more complex, fluid and challenging.” Those of us who have been blessed with an education can use social media to enlighten and inspire. Nothing wrong with the great jokes, but let us stay away from bile and vulgarity. We have young minds to mould and a country that needs positive thinking and action, to take us beyond Election Day.