Sunday, June 30, 2013


Lyssons, St. Thomas- June 30, 2013: Food For The Poor (FFP) has improved the monitoring and enforcement capabilities of the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), with the donation of a Yamaha 40 HP outboard engine and gas tank. FFP has announced that the engine is for JET's environment protection programme on the Pedro Cays and Banks.
The FFP donation to JET was handed over on Friday afternoon (June 28), at a Presentation Ceremony at the Lyssons Fishing Village in St. Thomas. Nakhle Hado, Technical Fishing Manager, FFP made the presentation to Llewelyn Meggs, JET Conservation Director, Pedro Banks Management Programme. In making the presentation, Mr. Hado said the gift was intended to help in enhancing the protection of Jamaica's fisheries, by helping JET to improve its mobility at sea.
The FFP Technical Fishing Manager asserted that the donation to JET will "facilitate its enforcement and management of the fisheries in the Pedro Banks Sanctuary."
JET has responsibility for spearheading the environmental protection of the Pedro Cays and the Pedro Banks. The Pedro Cays are located approximately 80 kilometres south of Jamaica's mainland. They are famous as a seabird nesting and roosting area, as well as a nesting area for many endangered turtles. Dozens of fisher folk who engage in deep sea fishing are domicile on the Cays. The Pedro Banks which are used by several fishermen are among Jamaica's largest fishing areas and contain very fragile coral and sea grass beds. They are also a primary harvesting area for conch.
Expressing his thanks, Mr. Meggs explained that it will be useful in assisting JET with having a designated boat for monitoring the waters off the Pedro Cays, especially in regard to the work it has been doing in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy (TNC). "We had leased a fisherman's boat in helping us to monitor the waters off the Pedro Banks, but now this donation from Food For The Poor will assist us in acquiring our own boat and thereby making us better able to patrol the fish sanctuary," the JET Conservation Director pointed out.
He said JET has trained six fishermen from the Pedro Cays in environmental awareness and protection/enforcement. Mr. Meggs advised that JET will be expanding that programme shortly.
At Friday's presentation exercise, FFP also rewarded fisherfolk who have demonstrated excellence in deep-sea fishing and business practices that are ecologically and economically sound. Out of the 200 fishers who are attached to Food For The Poor's 16 Fishing Villages islandwide, five attained top awards. Vanburn "Vannie" Levy of Manchioneal Fishing Village, Portland achieved first prize, while his colleague attached to the same Fishing Village, Clive "Hutchy" Johnson walked away with second prize. Mr. Levy also copped the Awards of Excellence for the 'Best Fisherman' and the 'Best Catch' for the period 2012-2013.
Third to fifth prizes went to the following fisherfolk respectively: Brad "Puddy" Blair, Seven Miles Fishing Village, St. Andrew; Marva Espuet, Lyssons Fishing Village, St. Thomas; and Trevor Bagnold, Annotto Bay Fishing Village, St. Mary.
For their prizes, Food For The Poor presented each of the five awardees with a Certificate of Excellence, a new Yamaha 40 HP outboard engine, a cooler for storing fish and a gas tank. They received additional prizes of life jacket vests and spark plugs from Yamaha Jamaica Ltd.
Mr. Hado outlined the aims of the presentation awards programme, "Many of these fishers risk their lives in going far out of sea regularly to earn a living. The best way we can reward them at this time is to boost their safety by ensuring that they have new outboard engines."
Trevor Bagnold was one of two fishers who responded on behalf of the awardees. Sharing that it was as a result of the FFP Fishing Village Programme that he learnt to fish in 2004, Mr. Bagnold beamed with pride, that "through FFP I can own a home." He expressed appreciation to the charity for providing he and his colleagues islandwide with access to fishing and environment-related training programmes at the Jamaica Maritime Institute. Mr. Bagnold added, "Food For The Poor has changed a lot of poor people lives, and turned their lives around, so that they can help their families."
Speaking at Friday's Presentation Exercise, Gary Isaacs, Chief Fisheries Instructor, Fisheries Division, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries praised the fishermen for the important role they are playing in helping to feed Jamaicans. He urged them to use the prizes in advancing their productivity and welfare: "We expect you to use what you are given in a responsible manner. Food For The poor has invested so much in you, so you need to be responsible in carrying out your acts." Among those participating in Friday's event were Jacqueline Johnson, Executive Director, FFP; Ron Burgess, Senior Director, Recipient Services, FFP; Selena Ledgister-Kellier, Agriculture and Fishing Manager, FFP; Assistant Superintendent Oral Foster, Marine Police Division and Lieutenant Leonard Wynter, Assistant Operations Officer, JDF Coast Guard.
Since 2000, FFP has established fishing villages across the island where fisherfolk are able to access proper fishing equipment, and are provided with gear sheds, coolers and freezers. FFP also trains fishermen in the several skills including: safety at sea, navigation, deep-water fishing, technical fishing, business management and environment protection. Those who benefit from the training are expected to transfer their skills and knowledge to the younger members of the community and are expected to look after the needs of the elderly. 
FFP also assists in boosting the fleet of the Marine Police, so that they will be better able to play a critical role in the search and rescue of fishermen, and crime fighting efforts in Jamaica's coastal waters.
Food For The Poor (FFP)-Jamaica is the largest charity organization in the country.  Food For The Poor Inc., located in Florida, USA, was named by The Chronicle of Philanthropy as the largest international relief and development organization. 

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Friday, June 28, 2013

Climate Change Puts Marine Economy at Risk, Scientists Say

Courtesy of Eva M Barnes – US Embassy, Kingston, Jamaica
By Charlene Porter | Staff Writer | 27 June 2013
A man crosses a river in Govindghat, India, where high monsoon floods — possibly linked to climate change — caused deaths and property damage.
Washington — Accelerating climate change is increasing the difficulty of maritime activities at the same time it heightens the risk of natural hazards, according to a joint statement issued by a scientific organization representing 65,000 members worldwide.
The American Geophysical Union (AGU) calls on policymakers, private institutions and organizations to "forge cooperation and make bold investments" in ocean research. Building scientific understanding of the oceans and climate change will help protect economic interests by broadening knowledge of shifting marine conditions and their potential consequences.
The statement was issued June 26 at the AGU's science policy conference in Washington, a day after President Obama outlined new actions his administration will take to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
The timing of the two announcements is coincidental, according to AGU president-elect Margaret Leinen. The dual conclusions that action is necessary are dictated by the science, Leinen said at a press briefing. Both the White House and the scientific community have reviewed the research and come to similar conclusions: The planet and the oceans are getting hotter. The environmental conditions of the 21st century will not be those we remember from the 20th century.
"Protection of life, property and critical infrastructure requires objective scientific analysis," says the AGU statement, "but it also necessitates an engagement between decision makers, the public and scientists to address our vulnerabilities to rising sea level, extreme storms, floods, droughts and tsunamis."
Scientists have been trying to explain the significance of climate change and the potential magnitude of its environmental havoc using scientific models, charts and graphs for more than 30 years now. The AGU's new position statement, linking climate change consequences to the economy, Leinen said, "highlights how much risk there is in not understanding" how warmer temperatures will change the oceans and all the resources humanity draws from them.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is making plans for better protection of the city after the devastation from an October 2012 storm.
The AGU issues the new position during a period when scientists worldwide are "feeling the pinch" of government budget cuts in research, Leinen said. At the same time, scientific findings are revealing ever more information about how great the magnitude of climate change will likely become.
"Science provides the new knowledge we need," according to the statement, "to respond to rising ocean temperatures, the decline of fisheries, expansion of low oxygen zones, and changes in the chemistry of the ocean caused by increased carbon dioxide."
AGU issues the new position statement at a time in the United States when severe weather events boost public awareness about climate change theories, even though scientists can't definitively say these changes cause any single weather event.
The supersized Tropical Storm Sandy that swamped coastlines and property in the northeastern United States in October 2012 gave millions of Americans a harsh education in how powerful an ocean storm can be. The storm caused an estimate $50 billion in property damage, while taking more than 100 lives.
It was "not an accident" that the U.S. Congress authorized increased funding for greater understanding of ocean surge and flooding, Leinen said, after forecast models underestimated how Sandy's storm waters would overrun densely populated seaside neighborhoods.
The AGU president-elect says the organization intends to work more closely with the U.S. Congress to heighten awareness of global warming threats and the risks to the many economic sectors that are at stake if action is not taken to protect them. Many people might think the work scientists do is obscure, Leinen said, so the AGU is working to demonstrate how science directly affects our world.

At Georgetown University, President Obama laid out his vision for the steps mitigate the impacts of climate change and lead the global effort to fight it. Check out these follow-up articles and materials:

Eva M. Barnes
Information Resource Associate/EducationUSA Adviser
Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy
142 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6, JAMAICA
Tel: 876-702-6172; Fax :876-702-6348
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"The definitive collection of Americana on the island of Jamaica"

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Strong & Gentle, Educated & Humble ...

From Deacon Clive Chambers - I think this applies to both genders ...

"We need women who are so strong that they can be gentle, so educated that they can be humble, so fierce that they can be compassionate, so passionate that they can be rational, and so disciplined that they can be free. We need uncommon women. And here you are. And how deeply reassuring to me it is to know that wherever we go—there you will be"

- Kavita N. Ramdas in her 2013 commencement address at Mount Holyoke College.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hazards on Norman Manley Highway (Airport Road)

Info from National Road Safety Council - please be aware of these hazards and proceed with caution!
The mangled Honda Civic motor car in which the two students were killed - via Twitter KingOwen/ce0 ‏@TuffGuy8189
The mangled Honda Civic motor car in which the two students were killed - from Gleaner via Twitter KingOwen/ce0 ‏@TuffGuy8189

1. Drivers tend to speed on this section of road. During a brief survey conducted on one morning in February 2013, 38% of drivers exceeded the 80 kph speed limit and 19% exceeded the 100kph design speed.

2. Growing use of the road by vulnerable road users. This section of road is a favourite for jogging, walking, bicycling and recreational fishing.

a. A boardwalk has been provided for pedestrians and joggers but there are no barriers to protect the boardwalk from runaway vehicles.

b. Sometimes large groups of bicyclists use this road. However, there is no separation between motorised vehicles and bicycles.

3. Three parking areas facilitate recreational use of the road. However, there is no signage to warn drivers about the locations of these parking areas and they are not well defined. There is a risk of crashes as drivers brake to enter the parking areas or to avoid vehicles leaving these parking areas.

4. The Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI) is an important venue on this roadway. Three issues:

a. A large number of students embark and disembark buses to leave/enter CMI. There are no defined bus stops or pedestrian crossing. This presents a risk of vehicles crashing into stopped buses or groups of CMI students.

b. There are no signs to warn drivers (who may be unfamiliar with the roadway) that vehicles could potentially slow down to enter the CMI or that vehicles could be leaving CMI and turning into the highway.

c. There is no "Stop" sign for vehicles leaving CMI.

5. There are no signs to warn drivers (who may be unfamiliar with the road) that they need to slow down when approaching the two roundabouts.

6. There is a section of road between the Harbour View roundabout and the gypsum yard where there is a steep embankment slope without any crash barriers to prevent vehicles running off the road.
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Jamaican Arts Odyssey

From Nakazzi Hutchinson:

Angels in our midst

Prof Don and Mrs Betty Wilson, Mrs Stephanie Christian (centre) spearheaded the renovation of the Retreat Centre at 3 Golding Ave, near Papine. They have been leaders in the inspiring Cursillo Movement, and Stephanie also heads the Family Life Centre at that location.
The former Ursuline Convent has been retiled and the bedrooms refurbished with the assistance of various donors.
Photos show the dynamic organisers, Archbishop Emeritus Donald Reece offering Mass for donors and one of the rooms sponsored by my family to honour our mother Maisie and late father Joscelyn Lowrie.
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Monday, June 24, 2013

Warren Weir and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce solid for Moscow!

Weir makes 'statement' by Ryon Jones, Gleaner Staff Reporter
Warren Weir (right) celebrates victory while Jason Livermore looks on in the 200m final at the JAAA/Supreme Ventures National Senior Championships at the National Stadium last night. Weir won comfortably in a personal best 19.79 seconds ahead of Nickel Ashmeade. Livermore finished third. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer
Warren Weir (right) celebrates victory while Jason Livermore looks on in the 200m final at the JAAA/Supreme Ventures National Senior Championships at the National Stadium last night. Weir won comfortably in a personal best 19.79 seconds ahead of Nickel Ashmeade. Livermore finished third. - Ricardo Makyn/Gleaner Staff Photographer

Olympic bronze medallist Warren Weir displayed similar swag to that of his Racers clubmate Usain Bolt, as he approached the finish line with arms outstretched followed by a thumping of the chest as he crossed it to capture the men's 200m. The slim-built sprinter brought the curtains down in emphatic style on yesterday's ultimate day of competition at the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association/Supreme Ventures Limited National Senior Championships.
Weir, who along with Bolt and Yohan Blake had captured all three medals on offer in the half-lap event at the London Olympics, was as comfortable as he was impressive, winning in a personal best 19.79 seconds.
"I am just letting the world know and Jamaica know it wasn't a fluke; this one is for real," said Weir after the race. "I wanted to run a fast time, to win and make a statement, and I think I accomplished that."
Last season's 200m Diamond League champion Nickel Ashmeade had to settle for second in 20.06, with Jason Livermore third in 20.13, as both booked their places for the sprint double at this summer's World Championships.
Olympic 200m silver medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce romped to victory in the women's equivalent, as she was unchallenged from start to finish, winning in 22.13 seconds.
"I am very happy this evening because I think I executed well," Fraser-Pryce shared. "Overall, I am pleased with the time, and the season is still young and many more races [are] to come."
Sherone Simpson also booked her place for the sprint double, as she was second in 22.55, with Anneisha McLaughlin third - to complete the MVP sweep - in a time of 22.58.
Novlene Williams-Mills saw off the challenge of new kid on the block Stephenie-Ann McPherson to retain her national 400m title after coming home in 50.01 seconds.

Personal Best

Warren Weir (left) spreads his arms as he approaches the finish line to win the men’s 200m final at the JAAA/Supreme Ventures National Senior Championships at the National Stadium last evening in 19.79 seconds ahead of Nickel Ashmeade (right). At centre is Jason Young, who finished fifth. (OBSERVER PHOTO: GARFIELD ROBINSON)

BY PAUL A REID Observer writer

Monday, June 24, 2013

SPREADING his arms wide as he neared the finish line, Warren Weir's posture said it all.
But he voiced it after his spectacular new personal best in winning the men's 200m in 19.79 seconds as the JAAA/Supreme Ventures National Senior Championships ended in a blaze of glory at the National Stadium last evening.

"This was no fluke, this one is for real," he said.
The men's 200m had promised to be the highlight of the four-day meet and it did not disappoint, as Weir, the Olympic Games bronze medallist, in the absence of Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake, took the event in a big way.
Nickel Ashmeade was second in 20.06 seconds, with Jason Livermore, who made the team to the Moscow World Championships in the 4x100m relay, taking third and cementing his place, running 20.13 seconds.
Running in lane six, Weir came off the curve in front and never trailed, despite a late surge from Ashmeade, as he maintained his form and spread his arms in triumph three strides from the line.
Weir then told reporters that he wanted to send a message that his 2012 season was no fluke, as he warned "Jamaica and the rest of the world" to take notice.
Olympic silver medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who skipped the 100m as she has a bye to the World Championships, sent a message with a world leading 22.13 seconds to win the women's race and said she just "came out to execute and was not that interested in times".
MVP runners swept the top three places in the event as Sherone Simpson was second in 22.55 seconds, and Anniesha McLaughlin made it to back-to-back World Championships teams when she placed third in 22.58 seconds.
The fourth day was arguably the best in terms of quality performances, as the 400m finals and women's triple jump produced quality results.
There's a new guard in the men's 400m, with the top three all making the team to a senior global meet for the first time in an individual capacity.
Javere Bell, who left Racers Track Club last year to stay with coach Bertland Cameron, won his first national senior title, running a new personal best, his second this year, 45.08 seconds, holding off Calabar High schoolboy school boy Javon Francis, who also ran a personal best 45.24 seconds, with Akheem Gauntlet third in 45.48 seconds.
Omar Johnson was fourth ahead of Edino Steel, while Olympian Rushane McDonald, who went out hard, faltered in the home stretch and placed sixth.
In the women's 400m final, Novlene Williams-Mills used all her experience to hold off Stephenie Ann McPherson with a resurgent Patricia Hall taking third.
Williams-Mills, who said she started training late this season, about six months ago due to a myriad of medical problems, clocked a season's best 50.01 seconds, as McPherson ran yet another personal best (50.28 seconds), and Hall, who was a semi-finalists in the 400m at the IAAF World Indoors last year, ran 51.13 seconds to hold off Anastacia Leroy.

Read more:

Tears and hope for VCB

Jean Lowrie-Chin | Jamaica Observer column | 24 June 2013
- from

When news broke that there was a doping allegation against Jamaica’s beloved Veronica Campbell-Brown, the country went into collective mourning.  VCB is our ‘Golden Lady’ – her legendary career started when she was Sweet Sixteen – triumphing as a member of the girls’ 100x4 relay team in 1996 at the CAC Junior Championships in San Salvador. She has won 22 Gold medals, 15 silver and 3 bronze – she is the most decorated Jamaican athlete in our track and field history.
In one of the many ‘VCB discussions’ last week, attorney-at-law Sandra Phillips remarked that the athlete was beloved “because she always gives 150%”.  How true – the moment VCB stands in her lane, we see a quiet determination, and when she takes off, every sinew in her body strains to give its utmost.  We agreed that her dignity, her stately demeanour made her a credit to our country, a great role model for our youngsters.
I remember live-blogging as we lined up to see the 200m women’s final in Beijing in August 2008.  “Is this Veronica’s night?” I asked.  Several screams and heartbeats later, I was able to blog, “It WAS Veronica’s night! Gold again for Veronica in the 200m!! She won in tremendous style - smooth and strong! Kerron Stewart took the bronze!” -
VCB after winning the 200m event in Bejing - China Daily photo

The next day, the China Daily’s report was headlined, “Veronica keeps Jamaica on top”: “Campbell-Brown bolted out of her blocks and immediately gained on Felix. She powered through the first 50m and had the psychological nudge on Felix coming around the bend. She was 2m clear of the field, with Stewart neck-and-neck with Felix for second spot. But no one could catch Campbell-Brown whose fluid style saw her coast through to the finish line.”
These are the reliable, winning ways, of VCB – joyfully invading our consciousness!  This is our tried-and-true sister, the one in whom we are truly well-pleased. 
You can imagine therefore, the tear-filled Twitter timelines and Facebook pages after the doping allegations surfaced. Most of us refused to believe that she would deliberately do such a thing though there were the hard-hitting realists who told us to give up on our dreams.  Sadly, there were also some very ugly comments in the vein of ‘now we know why those Jamaicans keep winning’. 
It was with measured relief that we heard the opinion of IAAF deputy general secretary Nick Davies last week.  Observer writer Paul Reid confirmed with him that he had said to an overseas reporter: "We can acknowledge that there is a case, but also take the opportunity to urge a sense of perspective... this seems, from evidence, to be a minor doping offence, according to our rules, so we want to remain realistic in our reaction, pending the conclusion of the case."
For us, VCB is family and we should continue to show our appreciation for the pride and joy she has brought us. We pray that the outcome will be just a small blip on her legendary run for our country.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bishop Burchell McPherson!

A moment that leaves you speechless – captured by Rach Mair Boxill

The busloads of Jamaicans from every corner of the island that converged on Montego Bay recently were testimony of the love of many for the humble, spirit-filled new Roman Catholic Bishop of Montego Bay, Most Rev. Burchell McPherson.   

They could not miss the episcopal ordination of their priest and colleague at the Blessed Sacrament Cathedral. The column by colleague Michael Burke on Bishop Burchell, gives a fascinating history of his Catholic journey ( see

We learn that this Jamaican non-Catholic teen attended a summer camp in his home district of Hall’s Delight in rural St. Andrew, and in spite of his cooperation at the camp declared that he was not interested in converting.  He eventually did, and was asked to manage the St Pius X parish in Olympic Gardens in the late eighties.  We enjoyed inspiring and light-hearted meetings with young Burchell McPherson as fellow members of the Pius X outreach committee led by the indomitable Sister Grace Yap. 

Later Bishop Burchell served as the Chairman of Food for the Poor Jamaica, and despite his pastoral duties, worked closely with the management and staff for many years in his service to the poor.  He is now a member of the International board of Food for the Poor in Florida.
Bishop Burchell demonstrates the importance of being an authentic Jamaican – no pretense, no airs – just a servant of God’s people, radiating God’s compassion. This is a modern priest who has cell phone numbers for everyone so when you call him, he answers you by name with no hint of impatience.  This is a priest with a marvelous sense of humour and hearty laugh.  Please visit the Sts Peter & Paul Facebook page to see highlights of the ordination courtesy of the tireless Rachael Mair Boxill.

We will miss him in Kingston, but know that our friends in Montego Bay will warm to their new Bishop in very short order.  We offer him hearty congratulations and continued prayers for this high calling.