Monday, September 30, 2013

Observer column - Desperadoes on our roads

Observer column for MON 30 September 2013
by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Health Minister Hon Dr Fenton Ferguson and SSP Lewis, Head of Police Traffic Division at World Remembrance Day Service for Crash Victims - Webster Memorial Church
We were stunned by the news that Holmwood Tech again lost four young lives, allegedly through reckless driving last Wednesday.  To see the tears of relatives and fellow students, to hear of the suffering of one particular child who died after there was difficulty in extracting her from the crashed vehicle – one would believe that such scenarios would be a deterrent to recklessness on our roads.  However, it seems that this society has spawned a bunch of desperadoes, posing as bus and taxi drivers.  Senior Supt Radcliffe Lewis head of the Police Traffic Division, alleged that two of the drivers involved each had over 100 unpaid traffic tickets!
Now, if you have ever been on the road when our two major political parties are on the campaign trail, you would have seen abject recklessness.  There are party supporters hanging out of bus windows, some barely balancing on top of vehicles.  When you brainwash people into thinking that they cannot trust in themselves and their God, but trust only in you to ‘eat a food’, it destroys their dignity and results in brutishness. Come on now leaders, let us see you banish this double-standard and agree that you will no longer be contributing to this indiscipline, born out of desperation. 
Because, make no mistake about it, it is indiscipline that killed those children on our roads.  It is indiscipline that has caused our road safety statistics to soar way beyond last year’s encouraging figures.  On September 26 road fatalities had jumped to 219 since the beginning of the year, compared to 187 in the previous year. 
Zoleka Mandela and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce at the UN Forum
Even as we were mourning the Holmwood students last Thursday, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller was delivering remarks at the UN Forum on Sustainable Transport and Road Safety. She lauded Zoleka Mandela, the grand-daughter of Nelson Mandela, who had lost her 13-year-old daughter Zenani in a crash in 2010, and Jamaica’s own Road Safety Ambassador, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who has joined the campaign which was launched by the Mandela family to honour the memory of the child.

“I welcome the UN Secretary General’s inclusion of road safety as a health priority in his report ‘A Life of Dignity for All’,” said the Prime Minister.  Let us take that message of dignity to our political platforms to promote greater self-respect among all Jamaicans.  It is only then that we will feel safer on our roads, and indeed in our homes and communities.
Kenya attack
The madness that unfolded in a Nairobi Mall last weekend reminded us that the evil of terrorism can strike anytime, anywhere. We extend our sympathy to the people of Kenya. Followers of all faiths including Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, need to ask ourselves if we have been diligent enough in spreading our message of peace, love and respect.  This calculated, cruel terrorism tells us that we have not.  Let us make the effort to soften the hearts of our disaffected human family with the understanding and compassion that is the foundation of all these great religions.
Governor General Most Hon Sir Kenneth Hall unveils a 'Bold Ones' bread truck featuring logos of the small manufacturers sponsored by National Bakery.  Looking on are Lady Hall, National/Continental Chairman Gary 'Butch' Hendrickson and Steven Sykes.
If you think Jamaicans are giving up on their country, think again! A galaxy of 32 leaders in business and outreach were nominated for various Awards offered by the American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica.  The ‘Bold Ones’ of manufacturing, identified and empowered by National Baking, were delighted to learn that their pillar of strength, Gary ‘Butch’ Hendrickson received the top Award for Civic Leadership.  Here is a man who has spent millions assisting new manufacturers to market themselves, including painting their logos and products on his bread trucks.  His company also sponsors the islandwide Crayons Count educational project, as well as the ‘Talk up Yout’ programme. 
Hope Zoo benefactor and generous philanthropist Kenny Benjamin, ground-breaking scientist Dr Henry Lowe, and tireless outreach worker Gloria Palomino were honoured in this category.  Congrats also to the great outreach organisations and nominees in arts and culture including colleagues Hon Barbara Gloudon, Marjorie Whylie, Winston ‘Sparrow’ Martin, and Sonita Abrahams.
Prof Palmer rewards Sunshine Girls
Last Tuesday the Jamaica Under-21 “Sunshine Girls” National Netball Team donated an 18th century map of Jamaica to the National Library of Jamaica (NLJ). A valuable addition to the NLJ's collection, the map was a gift to the team by Professor Emeritus Godfrey Palmer of Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. The proud Jamaican was present at the third-place play-off for the International Netball Competition in Glasgow in August, where the junior Sunshine Girls defeated arch-rivals England 52-33, capturing the bronze medal. Prof Palmer told JNA President Marva Bernard that the presentation “was a small token of thanks to the management and team for the wonderful display of talent and excellence.”
Dr Shane Alexis new MAJ President
MAJ President Shane Alexis as he addressed the Rotary Club of Kingston Luncehon last week.
Yesterday Dr Shane Alexis succeeded Dr Aggrey Irons as President of the Medical Association of Jamaica.  He has big shoes to fill, but will no doubt benefit from the wise mentorship of the legendary Dr Irons.  Last week he addressed the Allison Peart-led Rotary Club of Kingston on challenges in the health sector, reminding us that the budget allocation for health in Jamaica is woefully low.  He gave us statistics from Trinidad and the US to demonstrate that good health care is linked to the economic well-being of our people. “Health care is not a cost: it is an investment,” he noted. We look forward to hearing more from this brilliant young leader.
Minister Paulwell – strong communicator
Whether you may agree with him or not, the statement to Parliament by Science, Technology, Energy & Mining Minister Phillip Paulwell in response to the Contractor General, was a model.  Mr Paulwell, who is a lawyer by profession, did not drown us in legalese, but rather stated the OCG’s conclusions and answered them point by point, clearly and concisely.  The statement is a good study for those of us in the business of communications.
Tessanne Chin - photo from
Tessanne did it!  
Jamaicans held our collective breath as we awaited the arrival of Tessanne Chin on stage for her audition on “The Voice” on NBC.  She did not disappoint – the competition requires that at least one of the four judges who start out with their backs turned to the stage, turn around and offer to coach her.  As she belted out Pink’s ‘Try’, every single chair turned and we enjoyed the ‘begging’ by her judges - she chose Adam Levine of the Maroone 5 Band to be her coach. Tessanne – a true Jamaican blend of Chinese, African, European and Cherokee united us and made us proud with her well-developed talent, her authenticity and humility.  Kudos to Jimmy Cliff for his mentorship and to Shaggy for encouraging her to audition on The Voice. Let’s get her those votes!

Tessanne thanks Damian Marley for support

Heartwarming exchange today on Twitter between Damian 'Junior Gong' Marley and 'The Voice' thriller Jamaica's Tessanne Chin ...

@damianmarley: Support @Tessanne on the Voice !!! #teamtessanne

@Tessanne: @damianmarley you have no idea what a huge fan I am and how much I rate you :) thank you so Much for the support :) maximum respect !!!

Sent from my BlackBerry® device from Digicel

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Get your emergency Go-Bag together!

The strong earthquake in Pakistan is a reminder that we should always be prepared for disasters.  Below is a list of items you should have.  Don't forget to keep extra meds for persons with chronic conditions - eg diabetes and hypertension! - jlc


Build a Kit

After a major disaster the usual services we take for granted, such as running water, refrigeration, and telephones, may be unavailable. Experts recommend that you should be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least three days. Store your household disaster kit in an easily accessible location.  Put contents in a large, watertight container (e.g. a large plastic garbage can with a lid and wheels) that you can move easily.

Your basic emergency kit should include:
  • Water – one gallon per person per day
  • Food – ready to eat or requiring minimal water
  • Manual can opener and other cooking supplies
  • Plates, utensils and other feeding supplies
  • First Aid kit & instructions
  • A copy of important documents & phone numbers
  • Warm clothes and rain gear for each family member.
  • Heavy work gloves
  • Disposable camera
  • Unscented liquid household bleach and an eyedropper for water purification
  • Personal hygiene items including toilet paper, feminine supplies, hand sanitizer and soap
  • Plastic sheeting, duct tape and utility knife for covering broken windows
  • Tools such as a crowbar, hammer & nails, staple gun, adjustable wrench and bungee cords.
  • Blanket or sleeping bag
  • Large heavy duty plastic bags and a plastic bucket for waste and sanitation
  • Any special-needs items for children, seniors or people with disabilities. Don’t forget water and supplies for your pets.
A component of your disaster kit is your Go-bag. Put the following items together in a backpack or another easy to carry container in case you must evacuate quickly.  Prepare one Go-bag for each family member and make sure each has an I.D. tag. You may not be at home when an emergency strikes so keep some additional supplies in your car and at work, considering what you would need for your immediate safety.
  • Flashlight
  • Radio – battery operated
  • Batteries
  • Whistle
  • Dust mask
  • Pocket knife
  • Emergency cash in small denominations and quarters for phone calls
  • Sturdy shoes, a change of clothes, and a warm hat
  • Local map
  • Some water and food
  • Permanent marker, paper and tape
  • Photos of family members and pets for re-identification purposes
  • List of emergency point-of -contact phone numbers
  • List of allergies to any drug (especially antibiotics) or food
  • Copy of health insurance and identification cards
  • Extra prescription eye glasses, hearing aid or other vital personal items
  • Prescription medications and first aid supplies
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Extra keys to your house and vehicle
  • Any special-needs items for children, seniors or people with disabilities. Don’t forget to make a Go-bag for your pets.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

US Ambassador Bridgewater urges 'people-centred leadership'

Remarks by US Ambassador to Jamaica Hon. Pamela E. Bridgewater 
at Leaders to Leaders Speaker Series, Kingston, Jamaica 
Monday September 23, 2013
Thank you for inviting me to speak on the topic of Closing the Leadership Gap: Why Women Can and Must Help Rule the World.    I am especially happy to share this occasion with these distinguished fellow speakers and friends, who have distinguished themselves as bold and dynamic leaders in their own spheres.  I must say, however, that I take exception to the word 'Rule,' which often describes a harsh and controlling style of leadership.  I would much rather use the word 'Govern,' which describes a more consultative and people centered method of leadership. 

Former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who said, "Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world."   I agree with Mrs. Clinton, who through her work and travel saw the significant disparity between the number of males who occupy seats of power compared with their fully capable female counterparts.  There are examples of proven women's leadership throughout the world, some of which I will share with you.  

One outstanding woman is Dr. Frene Ginwala, South Africa's first woman Speaker of the House of Parliament, who held this position from 1994-2004, after the first non-racial elections and within the democracy of South Africa's new constitution. Prior to her appointment, Dr. Ginwala worked very closely with the African National Congress (the ANC) and was instrumental in many of the freedoms that people of color in South Africa enjoy today. Although she is "retired" and over 80 years old, Dr. Ginwala still serves in a number of international organizations, including as Trustee of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. 

Then there is Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first and current female president of the African nation of Liberia. President Johnson Sirleaf was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her involvement in the non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights. She was also the 2012 recipient of the Indira Gandhi Peace Prize, for serving as an example and an inspiration for the return of peace, democracy, development, security, and order in Liberia.  

In the global edition of the New York Times, an article headlined, "The Fairer Leaders" outlined statistics which show that female political representation throughout Africa has increased.  This demonstrates that the roles being played by Dr. Ginwala and President Johnson Sirleaf are not in vain.  In Rwanda, 56 percent of seats in Parliament are held by women, while in Kenya, a new Constitution mandates that one-third of seats in Parliament be occupied by women. The article also stated that the very presence of female politicians has been shown to diversify the policy agenda and promote equity and justice. 
In the United States, we have also seen the display of strong female leadership through former Secretaries of State Madeline Albright, Condoleeza Rice, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, who made tough decisions which shaped world events.  Also persons such as former Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Jamaican born Congresswoman Yvette Clarke and Claudia Gordon, recently named by President Obama to be the head of the White House Office on Persons with Disabilities. 

The Caribbean has made its mark in history through a pioneering female leader.  Dame Mary Eugenia Charles occupied Dominica's highest office for 15 years, making her the world's longest continuously serving female Prime Minister.   Known as the Iron Lady or Grand Dame of the Caribbean, Dame Charles led an outstanding life of leadership and commitment to causes which have transcended her life and time.  Her personal standards, commitment to education, anti-corruption, and individual freedoms set the platform for her to chair the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States and her leadership in the 1983 events in Grenada. 

Jamaica's own Prime Minister, the Honorable Portia Simpson Miller, and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, the Honorable Kamla Persad Bissessar, have also signaled their strength and ability to lead in the face of harsh criticism.  They continue to be outspoken on political, social and economic issues which affect the people of their islands.  But let me hasten to note that when I speak of female leadership and empowerment, it is not at the exclusion of males, because we all must work together and draw respectfully from each other's strengths.

May I turn our attention to one particular field of endeavor for an example, and that is in the field of agriculture where females collaboration and involvement with males can reap huge dividends. Though male dominated  women are making impressive gains in agriculture.  At the recently held Women in Agriculture conference, under the theme of Supporting Economic Empowerment and Development in the Caribbean and the Pacific, it became evident that more must be done to enhance food security for the most vulnerable populations.   According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the world currently produces enough food for everyone.  But the challenge remains to overcome inequality caused by lack of access, poor agricultural management practices, declining water resources, changing weather patterns, and a lack of knowledge about potential adaptive measures—all contributing to food insecurity among the most vulnerable populations. 
We know that women are just as efficient agricultural producers as men are, and can achieve similar yields when given equal access to resources, including training and services.  The FAO estimates that if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30 percent.  Additionally, women tend to devote a larger fraction of their income to their children's health and nutrition, laying the foundation for their children's lifelong cognitive and physical development.  When women's productivity and incomes increase, the benefits amplify across families and generations.  This is one major reason why we should help to govern this world.

For our part, the U.S. Government takes the issue of women's rights and gender equality very seriously. Ensuring the meaningful participation and protection of women and girls in countries affected by crises and conflicts is critical to building lasting peace and to achieving long-term development objectives. In these, as in other areas, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) invests in gender equality and women's empowerment to promote the rights and wellbeing of women and girls, as well as to foster peaceful and productive communities that are equipped to cope with adversity, recover from crises, and pursue development progress.

To forcefully counter the challenges which still exist, in December 2011, President Obama released the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security and signed an Executive Order directing the Plan's implementation. In accordance with the Executive Order, USAID has developed this Implementation Plan to identify actions the Agency will take in support of the objectives of the National Action Plan (NAP), as well as to highlight our current work to advance this agenda around the globe. The objectives of the National Action Plan are to:
       Integrate and institutionalize a gendered approach to peace and security
       Promote women's participation in peace processes and decision making
       Strengthen protection of women and children from harm, discrimination, and abuse
       Promote women's roles in conflict prevention

Jamaica continues to progress towards an improved status for women in the island. With greater emphasis by local financial institutions and the support of international development partners to strengthen the female entrepreneurial spirit, women in business are acquiring expanded access to financing of small and medium enterprises. This shift signals that Jamaica is fully aware of its challenges and taking steps to overcome them.
I have had outstanding male and female supervisors -- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leaps to mind, as does Ambassador Aurelia Brazeal,-- and the things they had in common were tremendous attention to detail, an insistence on being prepared, a willingness to listen, energy, drive, not being afraid to stand up against what was wrong, and the ability to discipline individuals who could benefit from a positive intervention. Good leadership is not the exclusive domain of male or female.

I have learned that there are certain key qualities which are common to distinguished leaders, irrespective of gender.   A recent Forbes article named ten key components to good leadership, which are: 

                      Having a Sense of Humor 
                      Positive Attitude
                      Ability to Inspire 
                      and the Ability to Delegate

One critical component of sound leadership, which is missing from this list, is the creative and effective use of time.  As leaders, our time is demanded of us 24 hours a day.  We work to meet extreme deadlines, which stretch our mental capacities and challenge our colleagues and staff to achieve what they may have seen as impossible.  We devote long hours to the office and then go home to do what we need to do to support our families.  For many working mothers and fathers, I know that this is a challenge.  These many demands often lead to excesses and undue stresses on our minds and bodies, which may prove harmful in the long run.

It is for these reasons that I implore the leaders here, to make the best use of your time.  It is important that you do not overbook or overextend yourself, be selective in taking on tasks, and learn to delegate to others who are there to support your objectives.  Take time to be and stay healthy, address health needs and exercise.

I have shared with you examples of powerful women in leadership.  I now implore you, both women and men, to continue to advance in your careers.  Seek not only your personal gain, but make your contributions to promoting the voices of women in your communities and at work. As Prime Minister Persad Bissessar has said, "We lead not to gain power or material comforts but to lead the way and build a society based on service."

Victim Elif Yavuz - Nairobi mall attack

Posts from
Elif Yavuz died alongside her partner Ross Langdon, an architect who had dual British-Australian citizenship

Post 1108 (BBC website)
Former US President Bill Clinton has paid tribute to one of the victims of the attack who was working for the Clinton Foundation. In a statement on their website, the Clintons said Elif Yavuz, who was heavily pregnant, was "brilliant, dedicated, and deeply admired by her colleagues". They said she had "devoted her life to helping others, particularly people in developing countries suffering from malaria and HIV/Aids".

Eyewitness report
Art Shah was shopping with friends and family when the attack happened. She told the BBC the shooting began when she and a friend arrived in a bank: "My friend was screaming and desperate to get out to her three-year-old daughter who she'd left on the second floor. I had to drag her in and try and calm her down as I was afraid we'd be discovered. I was desperately trying to reach our friends but none of them were picking up their phones. At around 2pm we managed to make contact with some in our party who said they'd managed to escape with my friend's daughter and that calmed her a lot. Another friend called to say he was trapped in a washroom and all he could see were bodies."

Sent from my BlackBerry® device from Digicel

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dynamic media supporting better leadership

by Jean Lowrie-Chin | Observer Column | MON 23 September 2013

As we look back on the past week’s events, we cannot be too grateful that Jamaica has a free press.  This has come at great price for those veterans who were subjected to death threats when they were less in number and thus easily singled out by those terrible thugs.  From a mere five media houses, Jamaica now boasts nearly 20 radio stations, about eight television stations including the free-to-air CVM and TVJ, and three dailies.  In addition to traditional media we have about 600,000 folks on Facebook, perhaps about a quarter of that on Twitter, thousands of YouTube postings, hundreds of websites and a couple thousand blogs. 

My dear goodly Jamaicans – through the expansion of traditional media, and the galloping social media, we have outnumbered those horrible, threatening thugs!  Free speech is now triumphant! Anyone who dares to disrespect our right to pronounce our truth or to ask questions of those we pay through our hard-earned taxes, will be humbled.  And so, dear FB friends and Twitter Fam, take a bow for helping former Junior Minister Richard Azan to do the right thing – to resign after the very sobering report from the Office of the Contractor General.

Let our political representatives know that this new, open environment will serve the genuine leader very well.  Since we are all human, we do not expect MPs, councilors and caretakers to be faultless, but we do expect them to be aware and humble enough to know when they are doing wrong, to admit to it, and to resign if the very body appointed by the Parliament, exposes questionable actions.
Although every square inch of Jamaica has two political representatives – MP and Councillor, the country is looking as unkempt as a long term street person, and alas, smelling likewise.  How are we going to manage the piles of garbage, the clogged gullies and drains and the increasingly chaotic cities and towns, if our paid servants are spending more time plotting, bickering and profiling rather than planning, building and producing?  As for the ‘better’ representatives: is the power so sweet, are the perks so enticing, that you will ‘see and blind, hear and deaf’? 

A new wave of brain-drain has been wracking Jamaica, and those of us who have watched this happen repeatedly over so many decades were almost giving up … until we listened to reports of the 50th anniversary celebration of the historic March on Washington led by Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr on August 28, 1963.  Dr King, an intellectual and a Minister of Religion was repeatedly imprisoned, but refused to become embittered.  He believed that in order to fight evil, one had to purify one’s soul, and so he infused his writings and speeches with righteous challenges. 
In his famous “Letter from a Birmingham jail” written on April 16, 1963 to fellow clergymen who were wary of his tenacity, he said:

“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.”

A few months, later, on that Mall in Washington DC, we saw that God had firmly taken the hand stretched out to him by his co-worker Martin Luther King Jr.  How do we know this? MLK took the podium with a written script, but then the famous gospel singer Mahalia Jackson said, “Tell them about the dream Martin!”  At that point, MLK pushed his script aside, and, obviously filled with the Holy Spirit, proclaimed his Dream:

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal’ …. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.” Please read the full script of the speech at Historians have observed that no one has ever been able to match the level of Dr King’s oratory that descended like a cleansing rain upon the people of all races who had travelled thousands of miles to support the cause. 

Clearly, our clergy must step up as Rev Dr King did, and join hands with our God of justice to halt this rapid slide of our nation into lawlessness, indiscipline and poverty.  Why have they not spoken up on the report from the OCG? Why are they not demanding not only a Tivoli enquiry, but also a garrison enquiry, so that our benighted sisters and brothers will finally be free of the reign of thugs over them?