Wednesday, April 29, 2015


The Philharmonic Orchestra of Jamaica will stage its second annual Spring Concert season on May 2-3 at the University Chapel, Mona. The first season in 2014 was hailed as a massive stride in the local music scene and featured the premiere of  a seminal new work the "Nyabinghi Symphony" composed by Dr. Andrew Marshall.
This year's  concert is titled "Sounds from the New World". Music Director and Conductor Franklin Halliburton states that "the title reflects the mix of musical items on the programme" which includes several pieces that were influenced in some way by events in the New World or written by composers from the Americas. "Antonin Dvorak's New World Symphony is a perfect fit for this theme and the 4th movement will be on the program" says Halliburton.
In keeping with the orchestra's goal and custom, the programme will also have a strong representation of works by Jamaican composers including Paulette Bellamy, Peter Ashbourne and Jon Williams.
Appearing as a guest will be Ellan Neil, a classically trained Mezzo Soprano who sang with the University Singers for over seven years.  Of late, she has expanded her scope to the Jazz circuit. She has sung across the Caribbean, USA and the UK to widespread acclaim.  Her repertoire is said to span Operatic arias for dramatic Mezzo, American Negro Spirituals, Jazz and Contemporary Pop.
The Jamaica Youth Chorale under the direction of Gregory Simms is also expected to perform at the concerts and should add texture and variety to the programme.
The Philharmonic Orchestra of Jamaica is a not-for-profit organization that was formed in 2013 by a group of like-minded musicians who have a vision of creating a high quality orchestra for Jamaica that provides a viable outlet for classically-trained musicians, conductors and composers. The management team led by corporate senior manager Andrew Ho has been recently strengthened by the addition of respected figures such as retired Permanent Secretary Patricia Sinclair McCalla and Angella Elliott of the Music House.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Five Living Legends of Jamaica

Excerpt from Jamaica Observer column by Jean Lowrie-Chin | 27 April 2015 .. and revised
Recipients of the 2015 CCRP (Caribbean Community for Retired Persons) Jamaica Living Legacy Awards celebrate with board representatives at the Awards ceremony on Thursday, April 23 at The Devonshire in Kingston. From left are: Mrs. Jean Lowrie-Chin, Founder/CEO, CCRP, Mrs. Merel Hanson, Dr. Badih Shoucair, Mrs. Beverly Hall-Taylor, Ambassador K.G. Anthony Hill, Mr. Ken Jones and Professor Denise Eldemire Shearer, Chairman, CCRP.
It was especially significant to me that the NHT and NSWMA Board appointments took place in the very same week that the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) recognized five of our finest as Living Legacies.  As we researched their achievements, we reflected that these patriots had given much to build this beloved country and that we must not allow their efforts to go to naught by turning a blind eye to corruption and poor governance.  

The awards ceremony was held at The Devonshire at Devon House, and we believe its original owner, George Stiebel, Jamaica's first Black millionaire, must have been smiling down to see our seniors enjoying his beautiful property. 
The five stalwarts included 
* 92-year-old Dr Badih Shoucair, who has served a wide cross section of Jamaicans, providing free service to the less fortunate, and compassionate guidance to many.  He declared that if he had his life to live over again, he would do it the very same way. 
* Ken Jones, the distinguished author and columnist for this very newspaper, reminded us of a simple truth: the present is the most important moment in which you can make a contribution, so do not waste your time regretting what is past or pining after the future. As a 68-year veteran of media, Ken Jones remains as relevant as ever in his commentaries, and his publications on Marcus Mosiah Garvey have distilled the important messages of Jamaica’s first National Hero.
* Ambassador K.G. Anthony Hill, legendary St. George’s footballer and career diplomat, serving Jamaica in posts around the world, has not rested on his laurels since retirement. He has been collaborating with yet another CCRP Living Legacy recipient, Nobel Laureate Professor Anthony Chen, to promote public awareness on climate change.  CCRP board member, economist Dennis Jones noted, “[Ambassador Hill] argued that the two issues of aging population and climate change pose Jamaica’s biggest challenge. He wondered if it was time to consider a National Retirement Service, so that those whose age meant that formal work may have to stop, would still have ample opportunities to give of their experience and energies.”
* Beverly Hall-Taylor, who retired as Executive Director of the National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC) in 2013, has been spearheading volunteer activities to assist the elderly and children in her Old Harbour Community.  Her advice to the audience: “Never let a day pass, without doing something for someone.”
* To honour founding director the late Syringa Marshall Burnett, CCRP named an annual award in her honour, the first of which was presented to Merel Hanson, past president of the Nurses Association of Jamaica, and the only Jamaican nurse to have served on the Executive of the International Nursing Council.  Merel Hanson is now the acting chairman of the NCSC, and paid tribute to the memory of our unforgettable Syringa. 

At the end of the formalities, yet another CCRP ‘Living Legacy’, Ernie Smith, had the recipients and the audience on their feet.  Dennis Jones has Instagram posts of the action, so please check Dr Shoucair dancing up a storm with his beautiful daughter Odette!  

The event was held on the Fifth Anniversary of CCRP, which now has a membership of close to 1,400. Our Board of Directors are:
Most Hon. Professor Denise Eldemire Shearer - Chairman
Most Hon. Professor Sir Kenneth Hall - Honorary Director
Mrs Jean Lowrie-Chin - Founder and CEO
Mrs Hermine Metcalfe
Mr Lester Spaulding
Mr Michael Fraser
Mrs Carmen Chen
Dr Owen James
Mr Dennis Jones
Mr Peter Mais.

Kudos to our Legacy Awards Committee members Mrs Vilma McDonald (who also served as MC), Mrs Annette Lewis, Mrs Dorett Linton and Mrs Angela Foote, as well as the staff of PROComm, the major sponsors and facilitators of this fast-growing organisation.

A big Thank You to sponsors of the Event -- PROComm, Ernie Smith, The Terra Nova Hotel, Novelty Party, The Grog Shoppe, Massy Distr. Limited, May Wines, Sports Video - Jose Walton, Ena Wong Sam & Company, and The Gleaner Company.
 Here is a link to a bit of Ernie Smith's performance.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Obama Proclamation on Earth Day 2015

Office of the Press Secretary
Washington, D.C.
April 21, 2015



Forty-five years ago, millions of Americans celebrated the first Earth Day in cities across our Nation. Having borne witness to years of environmental neglect, these ordinary citizens gathered in the streets, in parks, and on college campuses to demand change and commit to leaving a healthier planet for the next generation. Faced with contaminated rivers and polluted cities, they stood up, spoke out, and fought for air, water, and wildlife protections. Their voices galvanized a movement -- leading to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act -- and ignited a spirit of stewardship that continues to drive us to meet the challenges of our time.

Today, our planet faces new challenges, but none pose a greater threat to future generations than climate change. Science tells us the earth is warming -- last year was the planet's warmest on record, and 14 of the 15 warmest recorded years have come in the first 15 years of this century -- and human activity is the primary driver of the rapid warming of the past half-century. Climate change will have profound impacts on all humankind, and many Americans are already feeling the effects. The costs of more severe weather disasters can be measured in lost lives and livelihoods and in billions of dollars of emergency services, and the costs will only increase with time. Firefighters are braving longer wildfire seasons; farmers are confronting adverse growing conditions; and our children and most vulnerable populations are experiencing a range of climate-related health effects.

As a Nation, we must act before it is too late. That is why my Administration has taken a series of ambitious steps to combat climate change and protect our planet for our children and grandchildren. As part of my Climate Action Plan, we have proposed the first-ever carbon pollution limits for existing power plants. We have also partnered with communities to prepare for the impacts of a changing climate that we can no longer avoid. And I have protected more than 260 million additional acres of public lands and waters, safeguarding the natural bounty of our planet for ages to come.

The United States is committed to our role as a global leader in the fight against climate change, and last year, we jointly announced with China ambitious but achievable new targets for reducing greenhouse gases. I am also ensuring that our Federal Government leads by example by working to reduce Federal greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent. My Administration will continue to engage with key stakeholders at home and abroad who share our hope for a cleaner world.

Protecting our planet will also require us to change the way we use energy, and my energy strategy recognizes this critical need. My Administration has made the largest investment in clean energy in American history, and today the United States generates more renewable energy than ever before -- we harness 3 times as much wind power as we did when I took office and solar electricity generation has increased 20-fold. Mayors, Governors, and business leaders across the country are taking steps to deploy clean energy, boost energy efficiency, and create more sustainable communities and supply chains. We are promoting energy efficiency in our buildings and cars and working to ensure our Nation is a leader in the energy sources of tomorrow.

As caretakers of our planet, we all have an obligation to combat climate change and protect our earth for the next generation. The decisions we make today and in the years ahead will have a profound impact on the world we leave behind, and we must each do our part. We can reduce the energy used in our homes and offices; we can help protect our resources by recycling as part of our everyday routine; and we can raise our voices to support policies like the ones my Administration has put forth to protect our environment while strengthening our economy. On Earth Day, let us join with communities around the world, and as one people -- who share one planet -- let us recommit to meeting the test of our time and continuing our work to build a cleaner, safer, more stable world.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 22, 2015, as Earth Day. I encourage all Americans to participate in programs and activities that will protect our environment and contribute to a healthy, sustainable future.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-first day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.


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Friday, April 17, 2015

Obama and PJ: “Wah gwaan Jamaica?

President Obama addresses Jamaican Young Leaders

Observer column for MON 13 April 2015
by Jean Lowrie-Chin

It was a privilege to have been present at two moving events last week:  President Obama’s Town Hall Meeting and former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson’s 80th birthday celebrations.  Both politicians were outstanding law students and have been acknowledged for their even temperament. In campaigning, they were nicknamed, “No-drama-Obama” and PJ, the “Fresh Prince”, who was not given to the platform dramatics of his predecessors.
Former PM Patterson celebrates with his grandchildren
Ever since the young African American Barack Obama was nominated as a US presidential candidate in May 2004, Jamaicans have been journeying with him, and so expectations were high when we heard that finally, he would be landing on our soil on April 8.  But even those expectations were surpassed. 
GraceKennedy CEO Don Wehby noted at a press event on Friday: “Jamaica’s ‘love meter’ was on a high when President Obama arrived, as he reminded us how important it was to have humility.” 
Well, I believe that ‘love meter’ exploded when he walked into the UWI Assembly Hall and hailed his audience with “Greetings, massive!  Wah gwaan, Jamaica?  … I want to thank the University of the West Indies for hosting us.  Big up, You-Wee!  Thank you.  I’ve been making myself at home here.”
The President visits the Bob Marley Museum
As we awaited his arrival, all the talk was about his visit to the Bob Marley Museum, his singing along to “Exodus” and “One Love”, his reference to his collection of Marley albums.  We knew he had hosted the Marley family during his first term as President, and this was confirmation that he was a true fan of our beloved Bob.
This President touched a special chord when he referred to Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce: “I get a chance to say hi to Usain Bolt and Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce. When you have the fastest people on the planet, you’ve got to say hi to them, right?  Because that’s fast. There are a lot of people out there, and they’re the fastest!”  
In a more serious tone, he discussed America’s commitment to the Caribbean and Jamaica: “Now, we are not just nations, we’re also neighbors. Tens of millions of Americans are bound to the Caribbean and the Americas through ties of commerce, but also ties of kin.  More than one million Americans trace their ancestry to Jamaica.  More than one million Americans visit Jamaica each year.  So we’re committed to you and this region.  And as I’ve said before, in our foreign policy there are no senior or junior partners in the Americas; there are just partners.”
President Obama strikes "To the world!" pose with Usain Bolt
The President then turned to his historic decision to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba, a country that has been a compassionate neighbour to Jamaica.
We applauded President Obama’s declaration: “I believe that engagement is a more powerful force than isolation, and the changes we are making can help improve the lives of the Cuban people.  And I also believe that this new beginning will be good for the United States and the entire hemisphere.”
Mr Obama underscored the importance of our young people. “More than 100 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean are between the ages of 15 and 24.  Most of the region is under 35,” he noted, “And what gives me so much hope about your generation is that you’re more interested in the hard work of waging peace than resorting to the quick impulses of conflict.  You’re more interested in the hard work of building prosperity through entrepreneurship, not cronyism or corruption.”
PJ Patterson with an admirer and Minister Phillip Paulwell

There was loud applause as the president pronounced the words “cronyism and corruption”, and I reflected on the fact that this was the reason given by several young people who have not registered to be on the Electoral Office of Jamaica’s voters’ list.
Many years ago, early in his role as Prime Minister, P.J. Patterson launched his “Values and Attitudes Campaign”.  It is with great sadness that I remember the cynical comments from political opponents and media commentators alike as the campaign was laughed to scorn. At that time the writing was on the wall for Jamaica, as children were having children, who then evolved into “barrel children”.  These “barrel children” were so named because they had been left behind by migrant parents, who sent them barrels of food and clothing. Some of these children were exploited by greedy relatives, some left to fend for themselves in violence ridden tenements. These tenements continue to exist, and are a reproach to those who say they care for their constituents
But, where there is life there is hope, and as we give thanks that Mr Patterson has arrived at his 80th year in good health, we ask both political parties, many of whose representatives were present at his birthday celebrations, to give him a lasting gift for national stability.  Let the PNP and JLP join together to develop and sign a P.J. Patterson 80th Birthday Charter for Values and Attitudes, declaring that together, they will work selflessly for our beloved Jamaica.
Although he is no longer in active politics, P.J. Patterson is an active member of the Madrid Club, composed of 80 former world leaders, the Global Leadership Foundation and is regarded as the most respected adviser to the People’s National Party. 
President Obama with PM Simpson-Miller
In his reply to tributes from family and friends, he harked back to that day in his young life when his mother, a teacher in Somerton, St James, put her bright young son on the bus to begin studies at Calabar High School, and his extraordinary political journey, beginning with his appointment to the Senate in 1969 by N.W. Manley. He noted that his circle of friends included members of both political parties, acknowledging that their common aim was Jamaica’s development.
As he pondered Jamaica’s future in a 1992 interview, Mr Patterson told Black Enterprise Magazine, “With creativity, discipline, determination and hard work, we will enter the 21st century as a strong nation.”  This is the same formula we distilled from President Obama’s responses at his Townhall Meeting at UWI, when he noted that the small country of Singapore “has one of the highest standards of living in the world.”
He shared: “What is it that Singapore did that might be replicable? Well, one of the most important things they did was they made an enormous investment in their people. And if you’ve got a highly skilled, highly educated workforce, if you’ve set up rules of law and governance that are transparent and non-corrupt, then you can attract actually a lot of service industries to supplement the tourist industry, because people would want to locate in your country.” 
The most powerful leader on our soil, an elder statesman in our midst – may they inspire fellow leaders to earn the respect of Jamaica’s disillusioned young people.