Friday, August 30, 2013

Happy Birthday Michael Jackson

A Jamaican commemoration ... and some visitors trying to channel MJ.

'Clap soul-hands, tap soul-feet
And dance to heaven's mighty beat!'
- from Souldance (by Jean Lowrie-Chin)

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Rep John Lewis - 'change has come'

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who spoke at the March on Washington in 1963, delivered the following remarks at the "Let Freedom Ring" ceremony to commemorate the event's 50th anniversary on Aug. 28, 2013, at the Lincoln Memorial.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): President and Mrs. Obama, President Clinton, President Carter, I want to thank Bernice King, the King family and the National Park Service for inviting me here to speak today.

When I look out over this diverse crowd and survey the guests on this platform, it seemed to realize what Otis Redding sang about and what Martin Luther King Jr. preached about. This moment in our history has been a long time coming, but a change has come. (Cheers, applause.)

We are standing here in the shadow of Abraham Lincoln 150 years after he issued the Emancipation Proclamation and only 50 years after the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

We have come a great distance in this country in the 50 years, but we still have a great distance to go before we fulfill the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sometime I hear people saying nothing has changed, but for someone to grow up the way I grew up in the cotton fields of Alabama to now be serving in the United States Congress makes we want to tell them come and walk in my shoes. (Applause.) Come walk in the shoes of those who were attacked by police dogs, fire hoses and nightsticks, arrested and taken to jail.

I first came to Washington in the same year that President Barack Obama was born, to participate in a Freedom Ride. In 1961, black and white people could not be seated together on a Greyhound bus, so we decided to take a integrated (fashioned ?) ride from here to New Orleans. But we never made it there.

Over 400 of us were arrested and jailed in Mississippi during the Freedom Rides. A bus was set on fire in Anniston, Alabama. We were beaten and arrested and jailed, but we helped bring an end to segregation in public transportation.

I came back here again in June of 1963 with the Big Six as the new chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

We met with President Kennedy who said the fires of frustration were burning throughout America. In 1963, we could not register to vote simply because of the color of our skin. We had to pay a poll tax, pass a so-called literacy test, count the number of bubbles in a bar of soap or the number of jelly beans in a jar. Hundreds and thousands of people were arrested and jailed throughout the South for trying to participate in the democratic process. Medgar Evers had been killed in Mississippi.

And that's why we told President Kennedy we intended to march on Washington, to demonstrate the need for equal justice and equal opportunity in America.

On August 28th, 1963, the nation's capital was in a state of emergency. Thousands of troops surrounded the city. Workers was told to stay home that day, liquor stores were closed, but the march was so orderly, so peaceful, it was filled with dignity and self-respect because we believe in the way of peace, the way of love, the way of nonviolence. People came that day to that march just like they were on their way to religious service. As Mahalia Jackson sang, how we got over, how we got over, she drew thousands of us together in a strange sense. It seemed like the whole place start rocking.

We truly believe that in every human being, even those who -- violent -- who were violent toward us, there was a spark of the divine.

And no person had the right to scar or destroy that spark. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us the way of peace, the way of love, the way of nonviolence. He taught us to have the power to forgive, the capacity to be reconciled. He taught us to stand up, to speak up, to speak out, to find a way to get in the way.

People were inspired by that vision of justice and equality, and they were willing to put their bodies on the line for a greater cause greater than themselves. Not one incident of violence was reported that day. A spirit had engulfed the leadership of the movement and all of its participants.

The spirit of Dr. King's words captured the hearts of people not just around America but around the world. On that day, Martin Luther King, Jr. made a speech, but he also delivered a sermon. He transformed these marble steps of the Lincoln Memorial into a modern day pulpit. He changed us forever.

After the ceremony was over, President Kennedy invited us back down to the White House. He met us, standing in the door of the Oval Office, and he was beaming like a proud father. As he shook the hands of each one of us, he said, you did a good job, you did a good job. And he said to Dr. King, and you had a dream.

Fifty years later we can ride anywhere we want to ride, we can stay where we want to stay. Those signs that said "white" and "colored" are gone. And you won't see them anymore -- (cheers, applause) -- except in a museum, in a book, on a video.

But there are still invisible signs buried in the hearts in humankind that form a gulf between us. Too many of us still believe our differences define us instead of the divine spark that runs through all of human creation.

The scars and stains of racism still remain deeply embedded in American society, whether it is stop and frisk in New York or injustice in Trayvon Martin case in Florida, the mass incarceration of millions of Americans, immigrants hiding in fear in the shadow of our society, unemployment, homelessness, poverty, hunger or the renewed struggle for voting rights.

So I say to each of us today, we must never, ever give up. We must, ever give in. We must keep the faith and keep our eyes on the prize. (Cheers, applause.)

We did go to jail, but we got the Civil Rights Act. We got the Voting Rights Act. We got the Fair Housing Act. But we must continue to push. We must continue to work, as the late A. Philip Randolph said to organizers for the march in 1963.

And the dean of the civil rights movement once said, we may have come here on different ships, but we all are in the same boat now. So it doesn't matter whether they're black or white, Latino, Asian- American or Native American, whether we or gay or straight -- we are one people, we are one family, we are all living in the same house -- not just the American house, but the the world house. (Cheers, applause.)

And when we finally accept these truths, then we will be able to fulfill Dr. King's dream to build a beloved community, a nation and a world at peace with itself. Thank you very much. (Cheers, applause.)

(Transcript courtesy of Federal News Service.)
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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Our buzzing Jamaica

by Jean Lowrie-Chin - excerpt from Jamaica Observer column - 26 Aug 2013

What a Jamaica we live in!  On the international scene, we were the toast of Moscow, cheerleaders for China, and the ‘warnees’ of WADA, all in a few breathless days.  Back home, there were public servants being hustled out of their posts, a leadership issue in the JLP, growing bewilderment at JTA money and leader management and renewed interest in the medicinal qualities of marijuana.
Top of the world: Fraser-Pryce punches the air after storming home to claim gold
A Triumphant Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce after her runaway anchor leg in the 4x100 at the Moscow Championships
 From Moscow we heard that the Russians showed more interest in Jamaica than in any other country participating in the IAAF World Championships.   

Javon Francis - Ricardo Makyn photo
Javon Francis finishes with Silver.  Photo by Ricardo Makyn
We are a fascinating bunch – how can such a tiny country end up with the same number of Gold medals as the mighty USA?  And just when we thought Warren Weir was our biggest athletic surprise, completing the 1-2-3 in the London Olympics, a shy 18-year-old named Javon Francis astounded the world.  Taking Jamaica from 5th place in the 4x400M relay, Francis flew past his rivals to secure a silver, clocking 44.05 seconds, faster than Lashawn Merrit, who anchored the victorious US team, in a time of 44.77 seconds.

Stellar quartet: (from left) Jamaica's Kemar Bailey-Cole, Nesta Carter, Nickel Ashmeade and Usain Bolt celebrate after winning the men's 4x100m relay
Stellar quartet: (from left) Jamaica's Kemar Bailey-Cole, Nesta Carter, Nickel Ashmeade and Usain Bolt celebrate after winning the men's 4x100m relay
As for our triple Gold-medalists ‘Big Man’ Usain Bolt and ‘Pocket Rocket’ Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce – not only are they great athletes, but they are warm and easy Jamaicans who are the best possible representatives of our brand.  Warren Weir went one better with a silver in the 200, and we appreciated Nickel Ashmeade’s brave run. Kudos to Nesta Carter for his final reward of an individual medal – the bronze in the 100M event.

Another gold: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce leads Jamaica to 4 x 100m relay victory
Shelly-Ann runs for her Gold
The women’s and men’s 4x100 relays were magnificent. Many of us were understandably nervous after all baton mishaps by other countries in the heats, but our Jamaicans kept their heads and executed well.  Carrie Russell, Kerron Stewart, Schillonie Calvert and the phenomenal Shelly-Ann all alone at the finish, gave a flawless performance to win in a championship record of 41.29 seconds.  Bolt, Nesta Carter, Kemar Bailey-Cole and Nickel Ashmeade won in a blazing 37.36 seconds.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Your Internal Network Enhances Change

Today's Leadership Nugget from Sidjae Walia

Good day leaders,

Harvard Business Review published the results of a study tracking 68 change initiatives at the UK's National Health Service. The three major findings are: 1) informal network trumps position; 2) the shape of your network determines the type of reform; and 3) keep fence-sitters close but beware of resisters. We understand from levels of leadership that your title puts you at the first level of leadership, and your influence is only attributable to your position. The real foundation of influence lies in the next level of leadership, which is your ability to build relationships. A leader who is influential in the informal network of the organization will have better change results than even a CEO who is not connected. Successful change initiatives require buy-in from the members of the organization. Good relationships build trust and the willingness to support the leader in the change initiative.

Describe your level of influence in your organization's informal network? Do you have a good relationship with the people who can get things done? What can you do to move that relationship from 'good' to 'great'?

To Your Unlimited Possibilities,
Sidjae Walia
Training that expands your mind and life
"The mind, once expanded to dimensions of bigger ideas, never returns to its original size" - Oliver Wendell Holmes
Twitter ID:
(647) 927 9289

*Certified to administer the MBTI for individuals and groups. Give me a call if you are interested in learning how your personality impacts your work, team, and personal life.*
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Sunday, August 25, 2013

PAJ Resolution calling for resignation of Milton Samuda as TVJ Chairman


The following Resolution was passed today at the 70th Annual General Meeting of the Press Association of Jamaica. The motion was initiated by a member from the floor and was carried after a vote was taken.

Resolution Statement calling for the resignation of Milton Samuda as chairman of the board of Television Jamaica (TVJ):

Whereas a team of the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) led by Advisory Council chairman Wyvolyn Gager met with Mr Milton Samuda – board member of Radio Jamaica Limited and chairman of Television Jamaica (TVJ)
- and his lawyers at the PAJ Headquarters in St Andrew to discuss outstanding matters concerning the erasing of journalists tapes; and,

Whereas, Mr Samuda was afforded the opportunity to hold such discussions following controversy after allegations that he took possession of and erased portions of journalists’ interviews with his clients - athletes Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson, who have tested positive for using banned substances; and,

Whereas, despite the fact that frank and robust discussions between the teams took place with less than satisfactory outcome, and it was revealed that;
(A) Questions to be asked were requested of the journalists;
(B)Questions were re-worded and sent to journalists;
(C) Journalists working equipment were later taken when unapproved    questions were asked;

Whereas Mr Samuda has not apologised, and continues to insist that nothing was wrong with his actions;

This resolution calls for the resignation of Milton Samuda as chairman of the board of Television Jamaica (TVJ) given that his continued position on the board can only serve to compromise the position of journalists from that Group and question his commitment to press freedom specifically and generally, and;

Be it further resolved that, journalists, in the future desist from agreeing to pre-conditions with any individual without discussing same with their respective heads of news, as unilateral pre-conditions set troubling and dangerous precedents in media organisations, and compromise the delivery of unrestricted and journalistically verified information to the people of Jamaica.

Annual General Meeting of the Press Association of Jamaica: August 2013

Tribute to late Maj. Anthony Robinson (Ret'd)

My friend Ian Martin wrote this moving tribute to Major Anthony Robinson.  I had the pleasure of working with Anthony on the JMA-JEA EXPO trade shows when he was President of the Jamaica Manufacturers Association.  He was a truly patriotic Jamaican with a wonderful sense of humour.  Rest in Peace, Anthony.

Ian Martin's Tribute to Major Anthony R.F. Robinson 
Gauging by reports that I received from two individuals that were close to Major Robinson, I had been hoping for that which surpassed medical science, a miracle so to speak. The miracle that I hoped for did not seem to come about. However, Major Anthony Robinson’s death has granted me an opportunity to pay tribute to yet another member of the Dunstan Robinson (“Brig”) clan. Eight years ago, I penned a tribute to Major Robinson’s younger brother, Major Ian Robinson.

Major Anthony R F Robinson (“Tony”) who was an officer, an entrepreneur, a soldier, a pilot, a sportsman, and a fun guy departed this life on August 7, 2013.  He was another piece of fine fabric cut from the cloth of the Dunstan Family Robinson. He was stickler for high standards.

My first encounter with Tony was in the summer of 1972 less than a year after passing out (graduating) from the Jamaica Defence Force (“JDF”) Training Depot at Newcastle in Jamaica. My first encounter with Major Anthony Robinson is one I will always remember for the simple reason. It was my first experience of having being transported by an aircraft of which he was the first-pilot. Major Robinson then a captain and pilot at the JDF Air Wing had earlier picked up a platoon of soldiers from Alpha Company of the First Battalion Jamaica Regiment (“1JR”) that were on stand-by duty at the Donald Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay to man the same airport in light of a threatened strike by its civilian workers.

After his stint at the JDF Air Wing, Major Robinson became the company commander of Bravo Company 1JR. He was also the officer in charge of the JDF’s hockey program. In fact, he once invited me much to my surprise, or better put to my anguish, to training for the JDF hockey team. Beside my affinity for football, I did not want to cross the path with any member of the Dunstan Family Robinson. His father Brigadier Dunstan Robinson former Chief of Staff of the JDF was a senior officer in the JDF when I enlisted. He always wore a serious countenance and went by the nickname “Nero”, a name that spoke volumes. Furthermore, I had earlier experienced a tirade, seasoned with Jamaican French, thrown by his younger brother, Major Ian Robinson, then a captain and commander of the JDF Training Depot. The chiding tirade from Major Ian Robinson was directed to the platoon of recruits that was in training then and of which I had been a member.

However, the fearful feelings I had as a young soldier in the JDF would soon become water under the bridge. Brigadier Dunstan Robinson had made his exit from the JDF and Majors Tony and Ian Robinson were company commanders in 1JR and lived at the 1JR Officers mess of which I was a staff member by virtue of me being Captain Oliver Jobson’s batman. Perception would soon give way to reality. Major Ian Robinson and Captain Jobson were the very best of friends. His batman (Private Plummer) and I were  good friends. The friendship between Major Ian Robinson and Captain Jobson, as well as the friendship between his batman and me would in less than no time draw me close to Major Ian Robinson. Fact of the matter is Major Ian Robinson was the owner some of the best music playing equipment and such equipment, his motorcar and his liquor had ‘no bounds’ relative to his batman and me. Although I had now become comfortable being around Major Anthony Robinson, it was far from the comfort that I felt being around his younger brother, Ian. In the Jamaican parlance, Major Tony just never did come cross “irie like him bredda”.

It was after Major Anthony Robinson had left the JDF and the interactions thereafter with him that I discover the warmth of his heart and the smile that he seldom wore. On many occasions when Major Robinson threw a party, Captain Jobson also a friend of his, would detail me to work in the bar at some of these parties.

Approximately twenty-one year after I left the JDF, I was vacationing In Jamaica and paid Major Anthony Robinson a visit at his business place on Dunrobin Avenue in St. Andrew. As we sat there talking about some of the good old days that we enjoyed while serving in the JDF, I did not fail to remind him of the spine chilling flight that he commanded from Montego Bay to Up Park Camp. His smile and laughter was no different from that of the day when he commanded the flight. As a matter of fact, he related a story to me about him supposedly giving flying lessons to two officers from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (“Constabulary”). He told me that upon questioning the officers as to how they were selected by the Constabulary for the course, he sensed some political curry favoring on their part and their lacking of aptitude for flying. That would sooner than later turned the Constabulary officers’ dream into a nightmare.  According to Major Robinson, after taking the police officers for their first lesson, he performed a few looping maneuvers with the aircraft and the frightened students never showed up for their second lesson. I could not help but laughing.

And speaking of flying, I will never forget the simple illustration that Major Robinson gave me to a complex question that I posed to him as to how an aircraft get up off the ground. Without me going into the details, he explained to me that the whole process involved velocity of the aircraft on the ground and wind activities beneath and above the wings of the aircraft. To illustrate the process to me, he then folded a piece of paper in two and thereafter blowing over the folded crease and one half of the folded paper lifted. I sat there in awe asking myself “Is it that simple?”

At our sitting I learned so much about him. But what I learned from him and about him is one reason that propels me in paying this tribute. As I sat in his office, we also spoke about life after our JDF’s stints. We both agreed on what we thought was big blunder concerning a statement which had been recently issued by the then powers- that- be of the JDF about an incident that occurred while the JDF was conducting an operation in the Kingston Metropolitan Area.

Though time and diplomacy restrict me from mentioning some of the things we spoke about during my visit with him, I would be most remiss, if I failed to mention this. He inquired of me if I had any idea of what had become of a soldier by the name of “Easy, R”. Now, Easy was a soldier who could execute drill movements in grand style and pomp but he was as stubborn and defiant as they come when he was in a certain mood. He was one of those Bravo Company soldiers that would quickly remove their headdress and belt to make ready for a trip to the guard room to be locked up. Easy wore only two countenances that of a smile or that of tears rolling down his cheeks.

After informing him that I heard nothing of Easy since I left the army. I found the Major Robison’s inquiry to be interesting and decided to prolong the inquiry knowing the type of person Easy had been. I said to him using words to the effect “Major that soldier’s (Easy’s) nature and demeanor are as far away from his name is as the east is from the west”. He remarked “you’re telling me, I once had a run-in with him”. Knowing Easy, I was curious to know what the run-in was all about so I did not hesitate to ask Major Robinson the question.

In relating the incident, he told me that Easy was once marched into his office by the Company’s sergeant major for orders based on him Easy being charged for a military infraction. He said from thereon every order given to Easy by the sergeant major seemed to fall on deaf ears, According to him he sat in his office in total disbelief observing Easy’s display of obstinacy. If I had any doubt in my mind as to whom Major Robinson had inquired of me about, his description of that which took place in his office would have quickly displaced such doubt.

My jaws dropped as Major Robinson related the rest of the story to me. He said he ordered everybody out of his office beside Easy and locked his office door, took his shirt off, jumped upon his desk, stared down at Easy and challenged him to an unarmed combat. Noting that Easy did not accept the challenge, he said he jumped down from his desk grabbed Easy by his collars, sat him down in a chair and demanded that Easy tell him what were his problems. He said Easy sat there with tears rolling down his cheeks confiding in him things that really perplexed him Easy. Based on their conversation, he said Easy really had some issues.  In concluding the story, he said he let him Easy know that he was not pleased with his behavior reference his sergeant major and the other NCO’s but he would nevertheless dismiss the charge against him. He suggested to Easy that anytime he wanted to talk about anything that bothered him that he should not be afraid to come and see him no matter where in the JDF he Major Robinson was serving. As a matter of fact, he said he realized from their little chat that Easy was not really a bad soldier and he was instrumental in Easy being enlisted in the next junior NCO’s course. Based on the foregoing, I concluded that Major Robinson possessed sympathizing ears and may even be a psychologist in his own rites.

After the passing of his younger brother, I kept in touch with Major Robinson. We kept abreast of issues and events that impacted the JDF. Whenever and by what means we communicated, he never failed to ask me how the ex-JDF’s personnel here in New York and its surrounding metropolitans were doing.

Major Robinson also made his mark in the civilian world. After he hung up in his military berets, bush-hat, flying helmet, and peak caps, he donned the cap of the Presidents of Jamaica Manufacturers Association (“JMA”) and the Jamaica Men’s Hockey Association. His umbilical cord (navel string) was severed at Marascaux Road (now part of the National Heroes Circle). He was a Wolmerian to the core. He wore the Wolmers’ motto “Age Quod Agis” like a medal of honor and never ceased to utter it when his alma mater hit the air waves in pleasant outcomes.

Approximately three years ago he informed me that he was taking up a job offer from the Government of Jamaica. I wanted to ask him why he took up such an offer but could not garner the nerve. I sincerely believe that the answer to the question I did not asked of him is best summed up in one the many tributes that had been pouring in for him since his passing is one from an ex-soldier that said “served his country well without a doubt”.

Incidentally while formulating this little tribute to Major Robinson, I happened to take time out to say hello via Facebook to a friend of mine in Jamaica, namely Jean Lowrie-Chin, a respected newspaper columnist and public relation specialist. I had no idea she knew Major Robinson. After relating my mission to her, she had nothing but kind words for him. Here is what she said about him. “He was a wonderful man – worked on projects with him when he was JMA President.”

Forty-one years ago, I certainly would have disagreed with Jean Lowrie-Chin based solely on perception. However, today in this case, with evidence to the contrary my perception gives way to reality and must concur with Jean that Major Robinson had been a wonderful man.

To the man affectionately known as “TRob”, you were a noble and a royal guy, and to you I raise my arm offering you a royal salute. Rest in Peace, Major Tony. To his family, friends and relatives, in this your time of grief, “God is standing near and He sees your falling tears” However, it does not end there. Rest assured that “tears are a language God understands”. And so, I leave with you the following lines penned by a hymn-writer.

Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Ian Martin
Brooklyn, New York.