Thursday, January 29, 2015

Speaking the language of success

by Jean Lowrie-Chin | excerpt from Jamaica Observer column | 26 JAN 2015

It was good to learn that the recent business survey sponsored by the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce showed a resurgence in confidence. More of us are understanding that positivity is energizing while negativity is draining. Positivity demands energy to follow through on one’s resolve while negativity robs us of our will to succeed.
William Mahfood
PSOJ President William Mahfood (from Jamaica Gleaner)
A JIS report mentions the response of PSOJ President William Mahfood to the survey: “Mahfood says he is optimistic about Jamaica’s continued economic recovery and growth over the medium to long term, noting that a number of other private sector stakeholders share similar sentiments. This optimism, he informs, has manifested in “tremendous” investments which they have made, particularly over the last 18 months, to expand their operations.”
“I think a lot of these will now begin to reap the rewards,” he is quoted as saying. “There are still companies on the sidelines, which have been waiting for stability (in the economy), and I advise them that now is the time (to invest) as never, I think, in the future will we see an opportunity like now, to invest in the country."

I met the dynamic V. Sherry Tross, Executive Secretary in the OAS Secretariat for Integral Development last Friday, just before her organisation’s signing of a partnership with our Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce to support small businesses. As we discussed the importance of small business, she told us of a Guyanese young man who was chosen to display his solar-dried fruits at an exhibition in Central America some years ago.
“He arrived two days before the event and practiced important phrases in Spanish that would help him to market his products, working hard for a modest cash prize which he needed for his business,” recalled Ms. Tross. She said that he had prepared small packets of his products so visitors could sample them on the spot.  Lo and behold, a Brazilian distributor (yes the Portuguese and Spanish languages are quite similar) was bowled over and the young man is prospering, as his products are now being sold throughout Brazil!
Trevor Fearon
As Cuba opens up and we aspire to wider markets, it is important that we focus on Spanish language training in our schools and indeed all sectors. Ms Tross noted that the Government of Panama is moving to make their country a bilingual nation. Our own world champion boxer Nicholas “Axeman” Walters is virtually bilingual after using Panama as his training base.
The Jamaica Chamber of Commerce is onto something with a plan to equip businesses with Spanishlanguage skills. Their executive director Trevor Fearon noted in a letter to the business community, promoting a new Spanish learning project:"One fact that emerged during the JCC’s 2013 Procurement Seminar was that firms from the English-speaking Caribbean were at a competitive disadvantage in attempting to take advantage of the multi-billion markets … Now, with Jamaica positioning itself as one of the hemisphere’s  logistics nodes, it may be all the more important for our businesses to prepare themselves for greater interaction with the countries and businesses of the region – and a crucial step in that direction is literally speaking the same language!”

Friday, January 23, 2015

Arlene Harrison-Henry - Jamaica's new Public Defender

Arlene Harrison-Henry
Public Defender Arlene Harrison-Henry

Congratulations Arlene Harrison-Henry
How moving it was that Arlene Harrison-Henry, my early childhood classmate at St. Mary’s Academy in Savanna-la-mar, was sworn in as Jamaica’s Public Defender last Friday.  We met again on campus at UWI when Arlene supported the university’s workers’ demonstrations. Her passion for justice and human rights has been evident throughout her entire career.  No doubt, Jamaica will be well served by this brilliant patriot. - Jean Lowrie-Chin

Report from the Jamaica Observer
FORMER head of the Jamaican Bar Association (JBA), Arlene Harrison Henry, has been chosen as the new public defender.
Informed sources confirmed yesterday that both contenders for the post -- Harrison Henry and the current Acting Public Defender Matondo Mukulu -- have met with Governor General Sir Patrick Allen since December 11, and have been informed that the choice of the Public Service Commission (PSC) is Harrison Henry.
The local media had been reporting over the last six weeks, after the PSC took over the process of choosing the public defender, that Harrison Henry was the Government's choice and the strong favourite for the job.
In the past, the prime minister advised the governor general on the choice for the post, after consulting with the leader of the opposition. However, on this occasion, it was decided that the PSC should make the choice.
Harrison Henry's name was featured on both occasions in the past when public defenders were chosen. However, after the post was created in 2001, Howard Hamilton became the first public defender, succeeded by Earl Witter in 2006. Witter retired in April, and Mukulu was named acting public defender.
Public reaction to Mukulu's brief stint in office, however, had suggested that he would have been retained in the post as his proactive style has been welcomed as a "refreshing change" compared to the less-animated approach of his predecessors. However, the Jamaica Observer has learnt that the PSC felt that he was "too inexperienced" for the job.
But, in six months acting in the office, Mukulu seemed to have made a great impression on the public, tackling a number of issues, including discrimination against disabled persons, the confiscation and donation to charities of street vendors' goods, the manner in which people considered unfit to plea are detained at the island's two major prisons, and claims of human rights breaches from people affected by fires at the Riverton City dump in Kingston.
He also offered 40 statements to the Tivoli Enquiry to support its December start, held outreach meetings in a number of rural towns, and jointly sponsored a radio programme with the United Nations Development Programme to explain constitutional rights to the public.
However, this was not enough to convince the PSC, which met twice with both candidates before making their choice known to the governor general.
The Observer was told that, although the PSC had made its choice weeks ago, a decision was taken to delay the announcement until now as there was concern that it would trigger public opposition.
Harrison Henry is the current chair of the Independent Jamaican Council for Human Rights.
The Public Service Commission members, with effect from March 1, 2014, as listed by the Services Commission on its website are: Justice Lensley Wolfe, chairman; Anthony Irons; Shirley Tyndall; Elise Wright-Goffe; Rev Dr Karl Johnson; and Audrey Menzie Hastings. However, the Observer confirmed last night that Irons had resigned from the commission effective May this year.

More 'Darwin Awards' for the least evolved ...

The Darwins are out!!!!
Yes, it's that magical time of year again when the Darwin Awards are bestowed, honoring the least evolved among us.
Here is the glorious winner:
1. When his 38 caliber revolver failed to fire at his intended victim during a hold-up in Long Beach , California would-be robber James Elliot did something that can only inspire wonder. He peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again. This time it worked.

And now, the honorable mentions:
2. The chef at a hotel in Switzerland lost a finger in a meat cutting machine and after a little shopping around, submitted a claim to his insurance company. The company expecting negligence sent out one of its men to have a look for himself. He tried the machine and he also lost a finger.. The chef's claim was approved.
3. A man who shoveled snow for an hour to clear a space for his car during a blizzard in Chicago returned with his vehicle to find a woman had taken the space. Understandably, he shot her.
4. After stopping for drinks at an illegal bar, a Zimbabwean bus driver found that the 20 mental patients he was supposed to be transporting from Harare to Bulawayo had escaped. Not wanting to admit his incompetence, the driver went to a nearby bus stop and offered everyone waiting there a free ride. He then delivered the passengers to the mental hospital, telling the staff that the patients were very excitable and prone to bizarre fantasies.. The deception wasn't discovered for 3 days.
5. An American teenager was in the hospital recovering from serious head wounds received from an oncoming train. When asked how he received the injuries, the lad told police that he was simply trying to see how close he could get his head to a moving train before he was hit.
6. A man walked into a Louisiana Circle-K, put a $20 bill on the counter, and asked for change. When the clerk opened the cash drawer, the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the register, which the clerk promptly provided. The man took the cash from the clerk and fled, leaving the $20 bill on the counter. The total amount of cash he got from the drawer... $15. [If someone points a gun at you and gives you money, is a crime committed?]
7. Seems an Arkansas guy wanted some beer pretty badly.. He decided that he'd just throw a cinder block through a liquor store window, grab some booze, and run. So he lifted the cinder block and heaved it over his head at the window. The cinder block bounced back and hit the would-be thief on the head, knocking him unconscious. The liquor store window was made of Plexiglas. The whole event was caught on videotape...
8. As a female shopper exited a New York convenience store, a man grabbed her purse and ran. The clerk called 911 immediately, and the woman was able to give them a detailed description of the snatcher. Within minutes, the police apprehended the snatcher. They put him in the car and drove back to the store. The thief was then taken out of the car and told to stand there for a positive ID. To which he replied, "Yes, officer, that's her. That's the lady I stole the purse from."
9.. The Ann Arbor News crime column reported that a man walked into a Burger King in Ypsilanti , Michigan at 5 A.M., flashed a gun, and demanded cash. The clerk turned him down because he said he couldn't open the cash register without a food order. When the man ordered onion rings, the clerk said they weren't available for breakfast... The man, frustrated, walked away. [*A 5-STAR STUPIDITY AWARD WINNER]
10. When a man attempted to siphon gasoline from a motor home parked on a Seattle street by sucking on a hose, he got much more than he bargained for... Police arrived at the scene to find a very sick man curled up next to a motor home near spilled sewage. A police spokesman said that the man admitted to trying to steal gasoline, but he plugged his siphon hose into the motor home's sewage tank by mistake. The owner of the vehicle declined to press charges saying that it was the best laugh he'd ever had.

In the interest of bettering mankind, please share these with friends and family....unless of course one of these individuals by chance is a distant relative or long lost friend. In that case, be glad they are distant and hope they remain lost.

*** Remember.... They walk among us, they can reproduce, and they vote!!!!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

This is Jamaica, my Jamaica!

by Jean Lowrie-Chin Observer column for Mon 19 Jan 2015

Last week started in Negril, then it was back to Kingston preparing for various events including the Food for the Poor 5K launch. On Thursday it was north to St Mary for the opening of the Oracabessa Foundation’s Two Wheels-One Love BMX Track at the scenic Eden Park, and on Friday the RJR Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year Awards. At press time, I am looking forward to the grand finale of Digicel’s ‘Ultimate Mission’ campaign – I voted for Keisha, but then Sacha wooed us on Twitter and won our hearts. Such is the power of social media!
It was a hurried overnight to Negril as we wanted our niece to get even a few hours of our best beach (yes, it still is) before returning to her wintry home in the US.  Bathed in the benediction of this blessed land, she delighted in the school of tiny fishes nibbling at her toes, the softness of the sand, the warmth of the sea.  We took her to the legendary Cosmo’s for dinner, where we enjoyed great fare, including those super-sized fritters, and the good humour of the staff.
At the Montego Bay airport, we could not believe the buzz – hundreds arriving and many of those leaving garbed in souvenir black, red, green and gold as they lined up for check-in. On our way back to Kingston, it was smooth sailing within the various speed limits, and we were able to get to Kingston in three hours, not at all missing the circuitous route over Mount Rosser.

Shaggy, our National Treasure is a National Treasure who remains humble despite his huge achievements, and his name is Orville ‘Shaggy’ Burrell.  We had seen Shaggy on entertainment programmes, attended his Shaggy & Friends concerts and of course enjoyed his genius music which has earned him one Grammy (for Mr Boombastic) and six nominations including this year’s. However, we did not understand the depth of his engagement, and that of his lovely wife Rebecca, until they were approached to endorse the Food for the Poor 5K. 
Once committed, Rebecca attended every single planning meeting, checking her calendar to ensure that they would be present at the Launch and liaising with the dedicated Sharon Burke who introduced such stars as the wonderful Etana, Agent Sasco, Ding Dong and Nomadzz to lend their support as well. And so last Tuesday we had a star-studded media launch, which included Olympians Yohan Blake and Warren Weir.  All proceeds from the event will go towards building houses for needy Jamaicans.
On Friday at the RJR Sports Awards, an enthralling Shaggy gave us a memorable medley of his hits – including “Strength of a Woman” which will endure as an all-time classic. He was joined on stage by Christopher Martin for a sparkling rendition of his new single “I Need Your Love” which is already making waves on the international music scene.
Next month Shaggy will perform at the big Food for the Poor Florida fundraiser in Boca Raton, free of charge as he did five years ago for the Haiti earthquake relief fund, helping to raise millions which have been used to build over 5,000 houses there.
We understand that Shaggy has been signed by Sony and we wish him every success in this new alliance – no one could deserve it more.
BMX, Love and Forgiveness
Embedded image permalinkIt was some twenty years ago that our shop collaborated with the dynamic Elizabeth Phillips to launch the Oracabessa Foundation, a gift to the St Mary Community from its most famous resident, the legendary Chris Blackwell. And so it was a special joy to return after many years last Thursday for the opening of a BMX cycling track at Eden Park, where the current head Jonathan Gosse has spearheaded the ‘Two Wheels, One Love’ (TWOL) initiative.
An animated Jonathan explained that TWOL is a programme supported by the Fetzer Institute and Digicel Foundation that, over the course of 36 lessons teaches 250 children how to safely ride a bicycle, compete in BMX as a sport and also the value of love and forgiveness in their daily and sporting lives. He said Maliek Byndloss of Jamaican parentage, the 6th internationally ranked BMX rider, will be training at Eden Park, and participating in competitions to qualify to represent Jamaica at the 2016 Olympics.
Minister with responsibility for Sports the engaging Natalie Neita-Headley, described the huge crowds she saw watching BMX demonstrations in Germany, so this promises to become yet another great tourist attraction. How clever to pair a boy-friendly sport with a programme for love and forgiveness – this project should spark ideas for similar creative ways to promote harmony in our communities.
Hail Alia and ‘Axeman’!
Alia receives Jamaica Observer People's Choice Award from Digicel Jamaica CEO Barry O'Brien. Photo by Bryan Cummings
The audience at the RJR National Sportswoman and Sportsman Awards last Friday, glowed with pride as we listened to three amazing Jamaicans, guest speaker Bancroft Gordon, and champions Alia Atkinson and Nicholas ‘Axeman’ Walters. The nominees were all Jamaican greats, reminding us what a blessed country we are: winners emerged from the non-traditional fields of swimming and boxing, and we welcomed ‘mind games’ chess (much to the delight of Ian Wilkinson) and bridge.
Nicholas 'Axeman' Walters
Bancroft Gordon’s stories of his ‘Aunt Kitty’s’ high expectations drew amusement, but his  serious message was the importance of discipline and time-management which saw him excelling both in his studies and as a versatile sportsman, called up for three national teams after legendary representation of Excelsior High School.  He won a football scholarship to Howard University and then to Harvard Law School.  Now a top executive at the Marriott Group, he urged Jamaican businesses to convert sponsorships to ownerships, so that our sportspersons can make a career out of their skills.
In describing the unfailing support of her parents when she had no sponsors, Alia said that when she was facing challenges, her mother wrote her a letter of encouragement every month, and her father would address her as ‘The Fastest’ every time he phoned her during her lonely travels. She urged Jamaicans of note to “use your popularity for good … find a cause for Jamaica”.
Nicholas ‘Axeman’ Walters wowed us by speaking from his heart, telling Jamaica’s youth that they should use him as an example to follow their dreams.  He said he was a poor boy from Roehampton in Montego Bay who used juice boxes as boxing gloves, but with the support of his mother and father, who is his manager, he made it to the top.  Truly an inspiring evening!