Tuesday, January 31, 2012

For Haiti - please help!

President, CEO
Food The Poor

Right now we have more than $17.9 million worth of food and other essential aid waiting to be sent, but we need to raise more than $1 million to ship and distribute these goods.

We need your help to get this critical shipment of food and other goods to Haiti! Every dollar you give to help us ship these goods will be transformed into $17.93 worth of tangible aid for hungry, hurting children and their families.

Please send your most generous donation today to help our poorest brothers and sisters.

Robin G. Mahfood
President, CEO
Food The Poor


Sent from my BlackBerry® device from Digicel

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

John Pringle - Jamaica's tourism genius

JOHN PRINGLE - Muna Issa photo

Flashback - Great report via Rob Mullally 

Telegraph (London) - 27 January 2007

John Pringle, who has died aged 81, played a central role in the creation of Jamaica as a holiday destination, initially as founder of one of the great post-war hotels, Round Hill, and then as the country's first director of tourism.

Pringle's grandfather, who had begun as a doctor in Scotland, eventually amassed 100,000 acres of Jamaica's plantations. Yet the collapse of sugar prices, and the fondness of Pringle's father for the racetrack, meant that by the 1930s his mother had to make shift by running a fashionable hotel in Montego Bay.

This, and the open house his father kept for friends such as the Duke of Sutherland and the jockey Steve Donoghue, served as Pringle's model when, aged 26, he began to plan his own establishment on the island's north shore. He envisaged it as a village resort of 25 cottages served by a central hotel, all overlooking the Caribbean. It was a model widely copied afterwards, for instance by the Aga Khan on Sardinia.

Pringle proposed to sell the cottages to individual stakeholders, thus raising the money for their construction. His first stroke of luck was to find himself next to Noël Coward on a flight to New York. Pringle pestered him with photographs until, in desperation, Coward grasped his knee and said: "If you'll only stop boring me, I'll buy one of your effing cottages." The next day, Pringle sold a second to Adele Astaire.

Opened by Coward in 1953, Round Hill would play host to President Kennedy and Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock and Paul Newman, Princess Margaret and Clark Gable. Cole Porter sang in the bar, while Rodgers and Hammerstein worked on The Sound of Music there.

Over it all presided Pringle, less the owner of a hotel than the giver of a very good party, albeit one who was partial to ribald anecdotes. Typical was the one which began: "My dear, have I told you about the time Errol Flynn and I burned down a whorehouse in Trinidad?"

Once Pringle had to rescue a terrified French aristocrat who had planned to pass a week there with his mistress, only to discover his brother-in-law was in the neighbouring cottage. When Rex Harrison accused Pringle's beach manager of swiping a signet ring, Pringle promptly ejected the actor, and for good measure rang the newspapers with the story. "I adore personal publicity," he would remark disarmingly.

Yet his success came as much from hard work as from commercial acumen. For 10 years Pringle rose at 5am to supervise each breakfast tray, believing that the first impression of the day is the most telling. He employed only American barmen ("English ones fumble around, like men in a chemist's shop") and even told the maids to clean the tops of toothpaste tubes in the bathrooms.

Though Round Hill was a success, Pringle was only a part-owner and did not make his fortune from it. Indeed, in 1962 his doctor feared that Pringle was working himself so hard that he sent him for a year to Switzerland as a rest cure ("so dull, like immersing yourself in a glass of milk"). From there, he was summoned home to become the first director of tourism for Jamaica.

In four years Pringle transformed the fortunes of an industry in the doldrums, tripling tourist revenue from $30 million to $100 million. He believed in the creative potential of white and black Jamaicans alike, and was instrumental in establishing an image of the country abroad that was not simply about beaches.

For a time he was Jamaica's youngest MP, and close to his childhood friend Michael Manley, leader of the leftist PNP; but unlike Manley he believed the best way to empower Jamaica was by bringing in money from outside, rather than by implementing social change. Pringle's ideas did, however, influence his cousin Chris Blackwell, whose Island Records label was to bring the country's music to a global audience.

John Kenneth McKenzie Pringle was born at Claremont, Jamaica, on October 4 1925. He proved averse to education, and claimed to have been ejected from school after being identified in a strip club by his college tie.

In 1943 he was commissioned into the 7th Hussars and then served briefly as the most junior of the Duke of Windsor's equerries in Nassau. He soon fell under the Duchess's spell, testing shades of face powder for her by chalking them on the expensively refurbished walls of Government House. The Duke he found "a spoilt, sad little man", and their relationship had to survive a difficult first night when Pringle forgot the names of all the guests assembled to meet the Governor.

After the war Pringle worked for the cosmetics empress Elizabeth Arden. She was, he recalled, "enormously rich and completely mad. The most fearful language. Shouting her head off at salesmen, yards of chiffon flying everywhere." In 1948 he married Liz Benn, one of the world's leading models.

Pringle's infectious enthusiasm prompted the advertising agency DDB to make him their European chairman in 1967. He tripled the firm's profits in a decade, while also working as an ambassador-at-large for Jamaica. He later moved into film and television as a producer. In the 1990s he advised Blackwell on his hotels in Jamaica, such as Strawberry Hill, and in Florida. It was characteristic of Pringle's sense of priorities that at the Tides, Miami, he should install a telescope in each bedroom, for scanning the beach.

John Pringle was a complex man, capable of both shrewd opportunism and great generosity, as long as he was not being bored. He could be pernickety yet open-minded, childishly naughty (though never malicious) and entertainingly outrageous, a trait encouraged in recent years by the slow onset of Alzheimer's Disease. He also had superb taste, shown to advantage in his house at Compton Bassett, Wiltshire, and in his fondness for Doug Hayward's tailoring.

Pringle was appointed CBE in 1965, and also held the Order of Jamaica. In 2004 he and Round Hill appeared on a set of the nation's stamps. He died on December 12. He and his wife had divorced, but remained close. His daughter survives him.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Frightening Road Fatalities

From Jamaica Observer - excerpt from Jean Lowrie-Chin's column Mon 16 Jan 2012

The heart-rending cries of family members and the mangled motor vehicles featured on major newscasts since the beginning of this year, are a stark warning to road users. At a meeting chaired by National Road Safety Council convenor Dr Lucien Jones and hosted by Jamaica National’s Earl Jarrett, some of the island’s leading experts on road safety shared useful information.

Most crashes occur later in the day and on weekends. Motorists should remember that visibility is reduced at night, so they must proceed with caution especially where there are no street lights. Pedestrians should remember to wear light colours at night so they can be easily seen. Parents and guardians are to ensure that toddlers and young children are accompanied on the road.

The police is stepping up road surveillance this year. Use seatbelts and other safety devices, reduce your speed, don’t drink and drive. We understand that in this tightening job market, more employers will be checking on road violations. Slow down, take care: don’t lose your license, your job and worst of all, your precious life.

An honest look at Jamaica

Observer column | Mon 16 Jan 2012 (excerpts)
Jean Lowrie-Chin

In our already tiny country, social media is putting us under the miroscope and will herald a new breed of leaders, whether already clean or newly reformed. It’s a good thing that Contractor General Greg Christie did not need this kind of scrutiny to do his job well, and so he hastened the process of getting folks to straighten up and fly right. We are proud that the Trinidad & Tobago Parliament has invited him to share his experiences as they develop their guidelines for the award of contracts.

Those who have never passed a dollar under the table to get anywhere, have a simple secret: we were brought up to love honest work and to despise dishonest gain. In circles where graft is a given, we have been burned many times, but are still dismayed every time it happens.

How are we going to nurture a more honest nation? We will have to promote the value of diligence alongside the importance of a good education. This nation was built by Jamaicans who, before they picked up their schoolbooks and headed off to school, hewed wood and drew water. They became accomplished women and men, never shy of heavy lifting and confident in themselves. Capable and honourable people do not stoop to the devious acts of second rate shysters.

Our leaders need prayer

We have been seeing many prayerful moments with the installation of a new administration. This Thursday, representatives of Government and Opposition will gather at the annual National Leadership Prayer Breakfast to ask for God’s guidance. Each year as the Prime Minister - sometimes JLP, sometimes PNP - ascends the stage to read, we note that the only constant and enduring presence there is the Holy Bible.

It is a sober reminder that we are all frail humans who must eventually return to our Maker and account for the conduct of our lives. In the United States of America, today is celebrated as the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr, a man whose relentless non-violent struggle for equality for people of colour resulted in the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.

It is worthwhile to remember MLK’s ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’ as our leaders make themselves ready, whether for Parliament, the Senate, cabinet, shadow cabinet or parish council.

“More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will,” wrote Dr King. “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

He continued, “Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood.”

Thank you and Happy Birthday Dr King.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Leila Maisie Through the Years - Happy Birthday!

Ackee & Saltfish National Geographic Global #2!

- Ray Valentine Photo

From Ruby Martin and Hermine Metcalfe:

So amid all this campaign activity, I came across an article in National Geographic which rated Jamaica 's national dish, ackee and salt fish, as No. 2 in a list of the top 10 national dishes from around the world.

This may seem like a matter of little consequence to the average person, but I was really thrilled to see another positive story about our country in the international media, since we are so often pilloried and beaten down by others. I was a little indifferent to the fact that hamburger was rated number one, nonetheless, I felt good that there is strong acceptability of our culinary delights by others outside Jamaica .

It matters not that salt fish (cod) is not a native of the island. Our motto, 'Out of Many, One People', speaks to the diversity of our people and Jamaica 's cuisine has always been open to foreign influences. Think curried goat, mackerel and bananas. We have found a way to combine salt fish with the exotic yellow fruit and made it into something distinct and delectable.

For me, nothing beats a meal of ackee and salt fish. It's such a versatile dish that it can be served with roast breadfruit, boiled yam and bananas, fried dumplings, festival, and bammy.

Although commonly served at breakfast, it can be had for lunch and dinner and I have seen some creative people use it for cocktails as a dip with breadfruit slices. Are you hungry yet? Jamaicans are always in concert with their tastes and this rating by as prestigious a publication as
National Geographic puts our little country way up on the world's cuisine map.

O, how the Jamaica Tourist Board and the Ministry of Tourism are missing out on opportunities to play up such positive endorsements. I submit that no visitor to the island should escape a taste of ackee and salt fish because, as they say, 'If you have it, flaunt it.'

Kind regards

Friday, January 13, 2012


Samantha Chantrelle has joined the Digicel Foundation in the role of Executive Director, it was announced today.

This role will see Samantha taking responsibility for ensuring the continued positive progress of the Digicel Foundation, particularly in the critical areas of community upliftment, education and special needs. Samantha replaces Major General Robert Neish, who led the Digicel Foundation for over seven years and has now been promoted to the role of Executive Vice Chairman.

A development specialist, Samantha brings with her a wealth of experience having set up the NCB Foundation and worked in the areas of human development and poverty reduction with organisations like the United States International Development Agency (USAID) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Samantha has also volunteered with organisations like youth to youth leadership group, Beacons for Peace and Achievement (BPA) and Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) and holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in Sociology from the University of California at Berkley and the University of the West Indies.

The Digicel Foundation, which was founded in 2004, has undertaken over 200 community projects to benefit education, sport and culture and community empowerment across Jamaica. In her role as Executive Director, Samantha will be responsible for ensuring the continued work of the Foundation, particularly in the critical areas of community upliftment education and special needs.

Commenting on her appointment, Samantha Chantrelle said; "For many years, I have admired the work that the Digicel Foundation has done all over the country.  It is truly committed to making long term sustainable change to help people and the communities in which they live.  I hope to continue along with this tradition by helping to move our communities forward in a positive way."

Lisa Lewis, Chairman of the Digicel Foundation, comments; "We are delighted to have Samantha on board as Executive Director of the Digicel Foundation. With her wealth of development experience both in Jamaica and further afield, we are looking forward to taking the Digicel Foundation to new heights in 2012 and positively impacting the lives and futures of more Jamaicans."

Paulwell endorses new Digicel-Claro merger condition


The newly appointed Information and Communications Technology
Minister, Phillip Paulwell says he has no difficulty with the change
in a condition for the Digicel/Claro merger.

Paulwell says he did not believe the original stipulation was practical.

When then Prime Minister, Bruce Golding approved the Digicel/Claro
merger in August, he insisted Digicel must continue operating two
separate networks.

The move was meant to keep in check Digicel's dominance in the market.

But yesterday, the Office of Utilities Regulation revealed that former
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, withdrew the condition after he assumed
the mantle in October.

However, Paulwell says he will be immediately reviewing proposed
legislation aimed at encouraging competition.

Among the issues he wants urgently resolved is the rate for calls
between networks.


Sent from my BlackBerry® device from Digicel

Thursday, January 12, 2012

TT Parliament asks JA CG to share experiences

Jamaica's Contractor General Greg Christie


Trinidad and Tobago Parliament Invites Contractor General to Share Experiences Aimed at Assisting in Reform of Country’s Procurement Framework

Kingston; January 12, 2012 – Jamaica’s Contractor General, Greg Christie, has accepted an invitation to pay a one-day visit to Trinidad and Tobago to hold in camera discussions with members of that country’s Joint Select Parliamentary Committee on Public Procurement, as the Committee seeks to gain a first-hand and expert account of the operation and oversight of Jamaica’s procurement systems.

The Trinidad and Tobago Government is currently engaged in the process of reforming its procurement framework to secure, among other things, improved levels of effectiveness and transparency in the award and oversight of Government contracts. In consequence, the Parliament has been reviewing certain legislative proposals which have been submitted to it for pre-legislative scrutiny.

In his letter of invitation to the Contractor General, which was dated January 3, 2012, the Speaker of the Trinidad and Tobago House of Representatives, the Hon. Wade Mark, advised that the Parliament’s Joint Select Committee on Public Procurement had become “aware of the progress that has been made in Jamaica since the establishment of the country’s Office of the Contractor General (OCG)”.

The Committee was, therefore, of the view that “it would be beneficial to hold discussions with the Contractor General of Jamaica in order to hear of the experiences of your Office and to gain a better understanding of the procurement process and the system as it operates in Jamaica”.

The Trinidad and Tobago Joint Select Parliamentary Committee on Public Procurement has among its members its Chair, the Minister of Planning and the Economy, the Minister of Legal Affairs, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Education, the Attorney General and the Leader of the Opposition.

Only recently, in September 2011, a similar overture for assistance was made to the Contractor General by the Deputy Governor of the Cayman Islands (CI) Government, the Hon. Donovan Ebanks. Subsequently, on November 28, 2011, an official CI Government Delegation, which was led by the country’s Premier, the Hon. McKeeva Bush, met with the Contractor General and other OCG officials in Jamaica when they were briefed on the OCG’s role in the monitoring and investigation of Government of Jamaica contracts and licences. While in Jamaica, the CI Delegation also received briefings from the Office of the Financial Secretary and the National Contracts Commission.

The Contractor General is scheduled to travel to Trinidad on Sunday and to return to the island on Tuesday. He will be accompanied by Mr. Craig Beresford, the OCG’s Senior Director of Monitoring Operations, Corporate Communications and Special Projects, and Ms. Sashein Wright, Special Projects Assistant to the Contractor General, Communications Officer and Special Investigator.

The OCG, which is an Independent Anti-Corruption Commission of the Parliament of Jamaica, is vested with the exclusive statutory and quasi-judicial authority to monitor and to investigate the award and termination of all Government of Jamaica contracts and licenses – this with a view to ensuring probity, impartiality, merit, propriety and the absence of irregularity in the Jamaica Public Sector procurement, contract award and licensing processes.

The OCG’s jurisdiction currently covers the activities of roughly 200 ministries, agencies, departments and statutory corporations of Government. Together, they issue more than 600 different categories of licences and permits, and award in excess of 11,000 high-value construction, goods, services and asset divestment Government contracts, each year, valuing an estimated $110 billion, or an amount which is equivalent to roughly one-fifth of the overall annual expenditure budget of the Government of Jamaica.

The award of Government contracts and licences, and the divestment of State-owned assets, are recognized as constituting the single largest corruption enabling conduit that exists today in any country in the world.


Contact: The Communications Department, Office of the Contractor General of Jamaica
C/o Craig Beresford, Senior Director of Monitoring Operations, Corporate Communications and Special Projects
E-mail: communications@ocg.gov.jm. Tel: 876-929-8560; Direct: 876-926-0034; Mobile: 876-564-1806

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

PM Simpson Miller greets Digicel Jamaica CEO

Prime Minister The Hon Portia Simpson-Miller chats with Digicel Jamaica's CEO Mark Linehan at the Racers Awards held at The Pegasus Hotel on Friday January 6. - Gleaner

Click on title for link to Gleaner photo gallery

Monday, January 9, 2012

President Obama Congratulates Prime Minister Simpson Miller

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
January 09, 2012
Readout of the President’s Call with Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller

Earlier today, President Obama called Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller of Jamaica to congratulate her on her recent electoral victory and to commend the Jamaican people for their dedication to democracy. The Leaders discussed their shared responsibility for enhancing citizen security and underscored the importance of economic growth in advancing the well being of all Jamaicans. President Obama also underscored the strong bonds of friendship between the American and Jamaican people, which includes the contributions of so many Jamaican-Americans. The President said that he looked forward to working with the Prime Minister on bilateral and regional issues at the Summit of the Americas, which will occur in April 2012 in Cartagena, Colombia.

US Embassy celebrates 50 Years of Friendship with Inspiring Johnny Johnson Exhibition

The celebrated Virginia artist Johnny Johnson says about his work, “My inspiration comes from my love of people and our natural environment. An effort is made to express the essence of the subject without unnecessary details. I enjoy the challenge of forcing the viewer to look at the work from many different perspectives. Social commentaries are often present in my work and are based on my own life experiences. It is exciting for me to experiment as I create.”

· The exhibition will consist of forty paintings by Johnny Johnson, many of which are from Ambassador Bridgewater’s collection at her Kingston residence. Mr. Johnson is a life-long friend of the Ambassador. The paintings are energetic, vibrant and provide splashes of vivid colour and movement. Please see examples of his work at http://www.artfirstgallery.com/artists/johnnyjohnson/ and

· Johnny Johnson was born in 1936. He obtained his first degree in art education from Virginia State University, and his Masters in Fine Arts from Howard University. Mr Johnson left his home town of Henderson, North Carolina and came to Fredericksburg, Virginia for his first job as an art teacher. Since then, he has worked in the Fredericksburg Public School System and has taught at Mary Washington College and Germanna Community College in Fredericksburg, among others. Mr Johnson was very much involved in the civil rights movement and was a member of the NAACP and the regional Council on Human Relations. He has always been involved with several civic organizations – including Big Brothers. He was the first black teacher at Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg. “I always wanted to be both a teacher and an artist,” he says. He received the Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Virginia Teacher of the Year, Citizen of the Year and numerous other art awards for his watercolor and mixed media paintings. Mr Johnson has conducted numerous workshops.

· Johnny Johnson’s paintings have been included in the U.S. State Department’s Art in Embassies program (established by President John F. Kennedy in 1963) in three African countries (Benin, Eritrea and Ghana). The programme curates temporary and permanent exhibitions for the representational spaces of all U.S. chanceries, annexes, consulates, and embassy residences worldwide, commissioning and selecting contemporary art from the U.S. and the host countries.

- Courtesy of Public Affairs - U.S. Embassy, Kingston, Jamaica.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

John Maxwell speaks about PNP leader from beyond the grave

Portia faces life

Jamaica Observer | Thursday, January 05, 2012

The late veteran journalist John Maxwell wrote this column which was published on March 6, 2006 on the eve of her first selection as prime minister to succeed P J Patterson. Following are excerpts from that column which is as relevant today as it was then. It is as if John had written it from beyond the grave:

Most people who know me are aware that I have been a partisan of Portia Simpson's for a very long time.The reason is simple: I believe that she is the only leader in the People's National Party (PNP) who really understands what the PNP was founded to achieve and who realises that those original aims and objectives are not only unfulfilled, but in urgent need of fulfilment.

The PNP was always a small people's party despite the propaganda generated by Bustamante's 'dutty shu't" (Dirty shirt) rabble-rousing of the 1940s which allowed Ulric Simmonds and almost every other journalistic commentator in Jamaica to label the PNP 'the intellectuals party' or the 'middleclass party' or 'the school-teachers' party' or even the 'policemans' party'. If that were true, the PNP could never have won an election in Jamaica nor could it have become by the 1960s the natural majority party in the country.

The real point about the PNP is that it began to work to create out of the disinherited masses of Jamaica the 'labourers', the peasantry and the unemployed, a productive and relatively prosperous community of Jamaicans united to work together for 'the good and welfare' of all. What you might call, perhaps, a 'populist' movement towards a plural society with fair shares for all and no one left out.

Populism has become, a dirty word under the influence of American fundamentalist capitalists and the Washington Consensus of international financial institutions. The World Bank has even paid a West Indian scholar whose name escapes me at the moment, to write a learned disquisition about the evils of populism. I doubt, however, that any of those bandying the word about recently could provide a coherent definition of 'populism'.

Which is sad, since it is a reputedly fatal affliction from which Portia and so many others of us suffer.

Writing before last week's election, in my column published last Sunday, I referred to one of the priorities I believed our next PM would have to confront. I was confident enough to refer to that person as 'she' ? because I had no doubt that despite the scads of foreign and local money against her campaign, you could almost always trust the ordinary Jamaican people to do the right thing, or, as her adversaries might say, the 'Left' thing.

Fortunately for us, Portia is neither right nor left, not an ideologue except in the more barren wastelands of American journalism. But, realistically, anyone who champions the cause of the poor must be 'Left' in one way or another.

The fat ladies sing

It isn't all over, even if the fat ladies of the PNP have sung. It hasn't even started in real terms. Winning the leadership of the PNP was the easiest thing Mrs Simpson-Miller will have to do for a long time to come. Facing her are all kinds of expectations, not least from the most well-off in the society, who think the gravy train has got to keep running on their tracks. Realism should tell them different.

The major problems facing Portia are problems neglected by every government of Jamaica since 1980, including Michael Manley's third term. Our governments have chosen to fight irrelevant wars on battlegrounds chosen by their opponents and with everything stacked against them. We have bought into deregulation, privatisation, liberalisation, globalisation and the continuing devaluation of the Jamaican people (and their currency).

As the financiers, loan sharks and usurers,would say, we are 'not competitive' and we won't be competitive until the free market has reduced us to the condition and status of Haiti and the Central African Republic.

Portia has said she wants to "Make Jamaica Work" and I understand from this not only that she wants to get people back to gainful employment, but that she wants Jamaica to begin to function again as a civilised, safe and peaceful community of productive and happy people.

To do this she has proposed that she will work to get the people to plan and design their future themselves, to get them to be wholly invested in the making of the significant decisions which order their lives. She says she wants to end patronage politics, the Lady Bountiful politics in which members of a distant middle class are intermediaries between the people and the power.

What she appears to be suggesting is that the people should 'name' their own deputies, worker delegates or shop stewards and that local government should be where the action is. We are, of course, speaking of popular empowerment, a prospect which terrifies the haute bourgeoisie in its less rational moments. Yet, the paradox is that for all of us, and for the wealthy elite most of all, Jamaica cannot continue business as usual without an almighty explosion. Jamaica cannot continue the bleeding of its resources into foreign bank accounts and the starvation of the social services. Carl Stone, no leftist, projected a bloody explosion if Michael Manley's PNP had not won the 1972 election, I wonder what he would say now, after 17 years of 1960s laissez faire capitalism?

Children first

So Portia will need volunteers from every class if she is going to be able to listen to the ordinary Jamaican people and help them organise themselves out of penury, misery, disease dependency and crime. I believe she will need to set up a special secretariat to organise the sampling of Jamaican public opinion, to harvest the wisdom of the people. And I also believe that when she calls on Jamaicans to volunteer she will get an enthusiastic response from all classes.

It is my belief that the first thing that people will say is that they want safer, cleaner, more harmonious communities because without them, we cannot protect our children and nurture them so that they can fulfill their best selves, the most basic prerequisite of a civilised society.

We, the Jamaican community in Jamaica and abroad, have long understood that we must put children first. That is the reason so many of our brightest, most vigorous young people go abroad in search of a better life for their children, even more than themselves. What we need are the facilities to do this. We need nutrition programmes, so that mothers can be able to breastfeed their babies for at least six months, giving them a headstart on life. The World Bank, on Friday, published a report on Health, Nutrition and Population which says it is now provable that nations can add between 2 and 3 per cent to GDP simply by improving the nutrition of the poorest. "Children are irreversibly damaged by malnutrition by age 2, long before they begin primary school". Programmes begun after 2 can never reverse the stunting, physical and mental, that occurs in the first two years of childhood.

If mothers are going to be helped to nurture their children they will clearly need better organised, safer and healthier communities with more convenient schools and community and sports facilities. . Much of this work can be accomplished by the people themselves, although programmes of this sort (like the 'Crash programme' of the 70s) are regarded by some boobies as giveaways and handouts. If we expect people to work for nothing we should realise that they know that getting a firearm is easier and more cost-effective.

Which brings us to crime. Healthier communities means that we've got to stop burning garbage as well as to stop turning young people into garbage. I keep saying that there are Einsteins and Colin Powells cutting cane in Jamaican fields. There are Mozarts and Muhammad Alis on Death Row, as the Barnett Report on Jamaican prisons suggested 30 years ago...

We can help Jamaica to work again and in doing so, help the whole world to work better. We don't need cash so much as the inspiration and the will.

Which is why I believe Portia Simpson if she gets a fair chance, may transform our civilisation. She has what it takes.

Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Portia-faces-life_10497446#ixzz1ic5WJAxI

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Jamaica Snapshots on the eve of a new administration - headlines

Observer headlines

Gallimore confirms resignation

No vuvuzelas or horns at swearing in ceremony — Simpson Miller

GG gets election results

PNP receiving full cooperation from outgoing administration — Davies

Three women among 8 Jamaicans wanted by DEA for drug offenses

'Ignore the poor at our peril' - Bishop warns Government

Permanent memorial to be erected for J'can 9/11 victims

More Jamaican children said trafficked to US

Unions want labour market reform high on gov't agenda

Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Three-woman-among-8-Jamaicans-wanted-by-DEA-for-drug-offenses#ixzz1iXvB7q52

Gleaner headlines

PNP urgently looking at JDIP

The People's National Party says it will be immediately seek to renegotiate aspects of the Chinese loan for the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme. 5:40 pm EST
Tufton concedes defeat
New Year brings higher gas prices 5:30 pm EST
All set for new school term 5:23 pm EST
Cop in Christmas Day killing granted bail 5:21 pm EST
UK police inquiry focuses on missing women
Sugar prices drop
Davies says all on target, ensures fully functioning government
PNP Gov't to engage Derek Latibeaudiere

Monday, January 2, 2012

The people spoke for Portia

Prime Minister Designate Hon Portia Simpson Miller

Jean Lowrie-Chin | Observer column for Monday 2 January 2012

Hearty congratulations to that seasoned campaigner Portia Simpson Miller, President of the People’s National Party, and her triumphant team who reminded us that the PNP are master organisers.

Commiserations to JLP President Andrew Holness and his hard-working team. Above all, commendations to us, the people, who conducted ourselves peacefully as we discharged our sovereign duty as electors last Thursday.

I was in the supermarket the Saturday before the general election when I could not help overhearing a political discussion. “I going vote them out!” a woman shouted. “Time too hard!” On Wednesday a successful professional told me that “bad as bad”, he had always supported the PNP – he would not have been able to go to UWI if Michael Manley hadn’t lowered the fees. Out of these discussions, an interesting demographic of the PNP supporter emerged. On the one hand, there was this woman, living on the margin of poverty; on the other, a well-heeled party loyalist.

This supporter was confident of a PNP victory. When I mentioned some of the negatives that were being discussed about the PNP, he waved them aside. “Debate?” he asked. “Middle class people don’t have a clue – the ordinary Jamaican is not interested in that. They are interested in getting a job, getting food on the table, and getting their utility bills paid. People are really suffering – they are going to vote out the JLP.”

In a conversation with Jamaican friends visiting from the US, I realised how deeply they felt about the Manatt-Dudus imbroglio and Jamaica’s reputation for homophobia. “I was so embarrassed over this Dudus thing,” one said. “People kept asking me why the Jamaican government was protecting a criminal.” A relative said she had suggested Jamaica as a vacation spot to a friend who replied that, “They hate gays too much. I am not going there.” Even as we respect the beliefs of the church, we have to remember that only the sinless should be casting stones. I have seen too much anguish and loneliness in my gay friends to condemn them – they do not choose to be gay, they simply are.

I think we have many more pressing national issues to address. We have over 500 children missing in the year 2011. We have waves of new graduates expecting employment in a shrinking job market. We have a growing senior population living on pensions that can barely cover a single utility bill. These issues of safety and survival are crying out for immediate attention.

The JLP had several commendable accomplishments, but spent too much of their campaign funds on negative images. One class of Jamaicans probably thought the ‘no piece of paper’ and ‘don’t draw my tongue’ ads were showing up PNP President Portia Simpson Miller. They did not understand the emotional connection between Portia Simpson Miller and the Jamaican people. We are a matriarchal society and Sister/Mama P is that humble relative who makes the family proud. Contrary to the cartoon portrayals, she is attractive and charismatic. The more sophisticated among us would probably opt for a more articulate leader but her people are quite fine with how she speaks and those bouts of temper only make her more human in their eyes.

When G2K copied media an urgent letter protesting a delay by a television station in carrying an anti-Portia ad, I wrote back, “Enough is enough”. As Kevin O’Brien Chang maintained in his election commentary, the JLP had several significant achievements which were overshadowed by their insistent Portia-bashing. We heard little about reduction in crime and not enough explanation about the importance of a stable dollar to the man-in-the-street. JLP president Andrew Holness said in a post-election interview, “This is a time of introspection – we will rebuild.” In response to a question from the press on how the Manatt Dudus may have affected the results, he replied, “It was always in the background.”

There is also speculation about the unusual timing of the general elections. It was colleague columnist Franklin Johnston who first expressed his dismay at elections being run in Christmas week, ascribing the act to the lack of enthusiasm felt by Mr Holness’ denomination for this significant religious event. An ardent JLP supporter said he felt it was insensitive – “Imagine, I couldn’t turn on my radio on Christmas Day without hearing a political ad!”

In the meanwhile, the master strategist former Prime Minister and PNP president PJ Patterson had been assisting in organizing the party, bringing in well-seasoned heavyweights. Malcolm Gladwell, that gifted writer with Jamaican roots, said that to excel at anything, you need to do it 10,000 times. That is why our most memorable mentors are the seniors in our lives. That is why one should never underestimate the political clout of that grassroots veteran Portia Simpson Miller.

As we perform those tasks, 10,000 times over, we become masters. It happens with a student practising math or a concert pianist practising Bach. And so, as Portia Simpson Miller ascended the stage at PNP headquarters last Thursday evening, flashing her famous smile, and hugging her candidates one after the other, we saw a woman practiced in the way of politics, hitting all the right notes and ensuring that there was “no piece of paper” in her hand.

She started with a well known Bible verse. Then the DJ played Tony Rebel’s song, “Mind what you say to yu sister – she could be the next Prime Minister,” an in-your-face reply to the G2K ads. She thanked among many, “Comrade PJ Patterson”, her helper Marva and Andrew Holness who had called to congratulate her, saying that “he was very gracious”. She referred to the welcome sight we saw more of in this than any other previous election, “PNP supporters in orange and JLP supporters in their green hugging in friendly rivalry.”

On a sad note, Mrs Simpson Miller spoke of her good friend and faithful campaigner, the late Howard Aris as “one sweet spirit that is smiling right now – my friend and brother ‘Fudge’ Aris that left us on the campaign trail.” Significantly, she observed, “Today was a rough day for members of the media … and I want to thank them.”

The Prime Minister-designate appealed: “Work with us as we will be working with you. [There will be] consultation and dialogue … we will hide nothing from you. …to all business persons, you have a government that you can trust.”

Let us hold our leaders to their promises by taking active part in our nation’s business. Onwards into 2012 with faith, focus and diligence! Happy New Year!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

My Blogging Story

I have been blogging for over four years - inspired by Annie Paul's 'Active Voice'. The most exhilarating time for my blog 'Lowrie-Chin Post' was the summer of 2008, when we attended the Beijing Olympics. There I was capturing in real time Jamaica's most amazing Olympic outing in our history! Three World Records involving the phenomenal Usain Bolt! A cornucopia of Gold from Usain, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Melaine Walker, Shelley-Ann Fraser, and the Relay Team of Bolt, Asafa Powell, Michael Frater and Nesta Carter.
I was blogging in the line, in our seat at the Bird's Nest, and capturing the lead stories in the China Daily. I was the envy of my friends as I blogged about partying with our Olympians.
After that I had regular visitors to the blog, and have been posting my weekly Observer column, local and international news highlights, and family events. I have also created a sub-blog for my book 'Souldance'
Interestingly, I am now using the Search feature to share interesting content with friends and to actually research for current pieces.
I now have over 30,000 visits to my blog from mostly Jamaica, the US, Canada and the UK. I do have followers from as far away as the Far east and New Zealand.
As millions create their blogs, media has been democratised and we are feeling our influence as we can Facebook and Tweet our posts. The blog is a great innovation - may we use it for enlightenment and empowerment!
Jean Anita
Sent from my BlackBerry® device from Digicel