Jamaica Observer http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/ JamaicaObserver.com, the most concise and in-depth website for news coverage on Jamaica and the Caribbean. Updated daily 7 days a week, 24 hours a day en-us copyright Jamaica Observer, 2011 PNP should aim for speedy and smooth transition http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/PNP-should-aim-for-speedy-and-smooth-transition_82637 MUCH has been said and will continue to be said about Mrs Portia Simpson Miller having broken the &ldquo;glass ceiling&rdquo; for women in Jamaican politics when she became President of the People&rsquo;s National Party (PNP) and Prime Minister of this country in 2006.<br /> <br /> Her mark became even more emphatic when she led her party to a landslide triumph in December 2011.<br /> <br /> However, from this newspaper&rsquo;s perspective, her greatest contribution to good governance in Jamaica came in the four years after that December 2011 victory, because it was that PNP Government, led by Mrs Simpson Miller, which brought a long-overdue sense of stability to Jamaica&rsquo;s dysfunctional economy.<br /> <br /> More than that, Mrs Simpson Miller&rsquo;s Government laid the platform from which the current Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Administration, led by Mr Andrew Holness, can confidently push for sustainable and meaningful economic growth in the years ahead, even while recognising that it must maintain strict fiscal discipline.<br /> <br /> Some may argue that credit for the macroeconomic successes of Mrs Simpson Miller&rsquo;s Administration should only go to her Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips. That argument ignores the reality that as Prime Minister and head of the Cabinet, Mrs Simpson Miller stood firmly with Dr Phillips, even on those occasions when tough decisions led to substantial loss of political capital.<br /> <br /> Her support for Dr Phillips was even more commendable since he was twice her fierce rival in leadership contests over the past decade.<br /> <br /> Sadly, after losing the February 25 parliamentary election, Mrs Simpson Miller ignored well-meaning advice from many, including this newspaper, and overstayed her welcome.<br /> <br /> Had she set a timetable for departure immediately after February 25, the PNP by now would have been well on the way to organising itself under new leadership, and with fresh thinking.<br /> <br /> As it turned out, a financially embarrassed, disorganised and demotivated PNP &ndash; dogged by allegations of misconduct in the handling of campaign funds for the February 25 poll &ndash; stumbled into the November 28 Local Government Election with no credible hope. In the circumstances, the party probably did far better than should have been reasonably expected.<br /> <br /> That latter thought is one the PNP should hold to the fore as it presses forward in the months ahead to elect new leadership, streamline its affairs, and re-energise the support base.<br /> <br /> The party, we suspect, will want to go through this process quickly, given the ruling JLP&rsquo;s one-seat majority in Parliament and what must be a desire on the part of the latter to gain a safer margin. In the circumstances, a call for Jamaicans to return to the polls sometime in 2017 seems perfectly logical. Mr Holness appeared to signal that very thing in his recent victory speech.<br /> <br /> The popular expectation is that the PNP will be looking to a choice between Messrs Phillips and Peter Bunting for leadership. But politics is an uncertain business. Much could change very quickly.<br /> <br /> Whatever happens, it will be crucial for the good of the PNP and for the country that the changeover is as smooth as possible.<br /> <br /> Like all Jamaica, this newspaper looks forward to interesting times ahead.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13348413/Portia-thinks_w300.jpg Editorial Monday, December 05, 2016 12:00 AM Pray that we did not squander the benefits of lower oil prices http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Pray-that-we-did-not-squander-the-benefits-of-lower-oil-prices_82512 Mr<br /> <br /> Phillip Paulwell is right to sound the alert that oil prices could begin the disastrous climb to levels the world has not seen in a long time, following the decision just taken by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to reduce oil production.<br /> <br /> The OPEC oil cartel made a decision last week in Vienna, Austria, to set the ceiling of oil production at 32.5 million barrels per day, a reduction of 1.2 million barrels per day by January, to help force down the oversupply of oil. The impact was immediate as benchmark oil prices jumped by 10 per cent and energy companies saw stocks soar.<br /> <br /> The deal is supposed to only last for the first half of 2017, but is boosted by the decision of non-OPEC producers to drop their production by 600,000 barrels per day.<br /> <br /> We in Jamaica have known the bitter fact of what high energy cost has done to our manufacturing sector and to our prospects for economic growth in general. In fact, Jamaica has never really recovered from the first major oil price shock when OPEC emerged as a cartel and pushed prices up in the early 1970s.<br /> <br /> The last time OPEC dropped production to stave off falling oil prices was eight years ago. We sincerely hope that Jamaica has used to the fullest that breathing space to retool and create greater efficiencies and economies of scale to put us in a position to handle future oil price increases. That, of course, we could soon see.<br /> <br /> One of the more obvious benefits of lower oil prices in the period is that Jamaica recorded its first quarterly current account surplus in a decade, due in part to sustained reductions in oil prices, with imports falling at twice the pace of the decline in exports, based on 2015 central bank figures.<br /> <br /> The challenge is always to not squander rare opportunities such as that. Fortunately for us, the stringency of the International Monetary Fund programme in the past three to four years has forced us to be fiscally disciplined. The hedge fund against oil price increases will also prove to be sensible and visionary.<br /> <br /> The problem with oil price increases is that it is a mixed bag &ndash; favourable to some and disastrous to other economies. So while some are rejoicing, like Venezuela&rsquo;s President Nicolas Maduro who hailed the OPEC agreement to cut production, many non-oil producing, developing countries are fretful.<br /> <br /> Jamaica will be happy for Venezuela which has suffered bitterly from plummeting oil prices, but especially because price stability makes it more likely that the PetroCaribe deal from which we benefit will continue. Our sister island of Trinidad and Tobago will also be in the group of favoured nations.<br /> <br /> We, however, stand to lose in a general way, given that we are not yet energy sufficient from alternative forms of energy that are being pursued, such as solar and wind.<br /> <br /> It is also to be hoped that our conservation programmes were not buried under the impact of lower oil prices and can be quickly re-energised. Let us also hope that oil drilling efforts by the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica bear fruit, and soon.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11339073/gas-pump_w300.jpg Editorial Sunday, December 04, 2016 12:00 AM ISSA, school leaders need reality check http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/ISSA--school-leaders-need-reality-check-------_82496 It&rsquo;s getting close to Christmas and the hectic schoolboy football season is closing down.<br /> <br /> Much attention has been focused on the Under-19 competitions organised by the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) and sponsored by Telecoms giant FLOW.<br /> <br /> Two weeks ago, unfancied Lennon High won the Ben Francis knock-out title contested among rural schools, beating St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) which had won the title six times in a row up to 2015. And earlier this week Kingston College (KC) defeated long-time rivals Jamaica College (JC) to take the urban knockout competition, the Walker Cup.<br /> <br /> A week ago, JC had turned in an impressive display to defeat Wolmer&rsquo;s Boys&rsquo; School and successfully defend the Manning Cup &mdash; long-standing symbol of urban schoolboy supremacy.<br /> <br /> Today, defending champions STETHS will face the highly fancied Cornwall College in the final of the all-rural daCosta Cup at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.<br /> <br /> The winner of today&rsquo;s highly anticipated clash will next face JC for the all-island Olivier Shield, which has been dominated by urban schools, especially JC, in recent years.<br /> <br /> But even as Jamaican football lovers have been fascinated by the happenings at the Under-19 level, there has been very interesting action at the Under-14 and Under-16 levels.<br /> <br /> KC are among those obviously intent on patiently building a sustainable, long-term programme. So we are being told that when KC lost the ISSA/Tru-Juice Under-14 title to Tivoli Gardens High this week, they were losing for the first time since 2013.<br /> <br /> Not surprisingly, given their dominance at Under-14, KC are now dominating at the Under-16 level. Last Saturday, KC easily beat Calabar High 3-0 to retain their ISSA/Tru-Juice Under-16 title.<br /> <br /> Here comes the part which leaves this newspaper very troubled. Only one day before, KC had defeated Wolmer&rsquo;s Boys&rsquo; School 4-0 in the rescheduled Under-16 semi-final.<br /> <br /> We are informed by the Observer report of Tuesday, November 29 that KC turned in a &ldquo;virtuoso performance&rdquo; and &ldquo;showed no ill effects&rdquo; of having played their semi-final game &ldquo;just over 24 hours&rdquo; earlier. <br /> <br /> Virtuoso performance or not, this newspaper considers this particular Under-16 scheduling to be reckless behaviour on the part of the organisers, ISSA. We are equally disturbed that the coach and school leadership of KC could have agreed to such an arrangement. <br /> <br /> One would have imagined that, given the tragedies that have struck school sport in recent months, ISSA and school leaders would have been doing all in their power to ensure best practice in relation to the good health and well-being of their young athletes.<br /> <br /> We refer, of course, to the death of St George&rsquo;s College Under-19 football Captain Mr Dominic James during a football game in September, and of Mr Saymar Ramsey, the Spot Valley High basketballer, shortly after a game in early November.<br /> <br /> Much has been said in recent months about the need for schools and schools&rsquo; sports organisers to be extra vigilant in taking care of student athletes. Asking KC&rsquo;s Under-16 footballers to play two highly competitive games in just over 24 hours amounts to the exact opposite. <br /> <br /> Those responsible need to take a reality check. At the very least, it must not happen again. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13465233/243707_70483_repro_w300.jpg Editorial Saturday, December 03, 2016 12:00 AM Press the pedal now that there&rsquo;s fuel for growth http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Press-the-pedal-now-that-there-s-fuel-for-growth_82345 We can&rsquo;t say we are surprised at the statements of satisfaction from exhibitors at the just-concluded A Jamaican Made Christmas staged by Continental Baking Company.<br /> <br /> After all, the event, conceptualised by Mr Gary &ldquo;Butch&rdquo; Hendrickson, Continental&rsquo;s chairman and managing director, is designed to help small and medium-sized businesses get exposure and sales of Jamaican products, especially for the festive season.<br /> <br /> But Mr Hendrickson&rsquo;s wider goal in staging this event for the second consecutive year is, as he told us last year, to get those businesses to the stage of exporting their products overseas.<br /> <br /> Mr Hendrickson cannot be commended enough for this initiative, which speaks not only to his selflessness, but also to his deep commitment to Jamaica achieving economic growth. For, as he correctly points out, &ldquo;The small and medium sectors represent a real opportunity for the country to grow.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The United States Government has told us that small and medium-sized businesses employ more than half of the workforce in the Western Hemisphere.<br /> <br /> Readers will recall that in May this year US Secretary of State John Kerry reminded delegates attending the Council of the Americas&rsquo; 46th Annual Washington Conference that American President Jimmy Carter, during his tenure in office, created the US Small Business Development Centre Network.<br /> <br /> The facility, Mr Kerry pointed out, serves nearly one million small businesses annually.<br /> <br /> He said that it was with that model in mind that the current US President Barack Obama launched the Small Business Network of the Americas to connect thousands of small business service providers throughout the hemisphere.<br /> <br /> As we understand it, this network comprises just over 1,000 community-based small business development centres that are helping more than two million entrepreneurs and small business people in the US create jobs.<br /> <br /> The centres offer long-term business counselling, managerial training, and market research services for little or no cost.<br /> <br /> Additionally, they can connect with thousands of similar centres throughout the Western Hemisphere, thus helping to extend business links beyond national borders.<br /> <br /> We hope that Washington will remain committed to that kind of trade policy, as it will help to grow small and medium-sized businesses in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.<br /> <br /> Of course, the Inter-American Development Bank&rsquo;s Competitiveness Enhancement Programme, which is designed to improve access to finance and financial market development as well as the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and Entrepreneurship Policy passed in Parliament in July 2013 are designed to help that sector.<br /> <br /> The owners of small and medium-sized businesses would also have been encouraged by the establishment, in May this year, of a training centre at the Restoring Entrepreneurial Success Through Education and Technology (RESET) Caribbean Foundation.<br /> <br /> That centre was made possible through a US$103,000 donation under the Japanese Government&rsquo;s Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project.<br /> <br /> All these initiatives, we believe, give the Government more than enough fuel to accelerate its economic growth policies.<br /> <br /> The Administration, therefore, needs to press the pedal without, of course, wasting fuel and driving recklessly. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13462989/243747_70381_repro_w300.jpg Editorial Friday, December 02, 2016 3:00 AM What on earth is happening with Mrs Simpson Miller? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/What-on-earth-is-happening-with-Mrs-Simpson-Miller-_82185 We have been, over the years, very taken with Mrs Portia Simpson Miller, recognising her as an extraordinary politician &mdash; exit the party spectacles &mdash; who has achieved well beyond what would have been expected from someone of such humble antecedents.<br /> <br /> Mrs Simpson Miller has shattered the Jamaican glass ceiling, becoming the first woman to be elected prime minister and leader of her country.<br /> <br /> That achievement has not yet been realised even the mighty United States, the world&rsquo;s only superpower and the bastion of Western democracy.<br /> <br /> Yet, in recent times, she has given us cause for pause. We, and many others in this country, have grown exceedingly concerned about the decisions of Mrs Simpson Miller, the current leader of the Opposition and president of the People&rsquo;s National Party (PNP), Jamaica&rsquo;s other great political party. Three examples will suffice.<br /> <br /> First, in the campaign for the February 25, 2016 General Election, she opted not to participate in the leadership debates that &mdash; not to put too fine a point on it &mdash; would help some voters to make up their minds about which party to vote for and direct the campaign towards issues.<br /> <br /> Second, her words and tone to a PNP political meeting in St Ann South Eastern just ahead of the local government election led to the inescapable conclusion that she was threatening and coercing her own supporters in a PNP stronghold, apparently because they disagreed about whom the candidates should be.<br /> <br /> Third, Mrs Simpson Miller failed to show at PNP headquarters on election night to concede her party&rsquo;s loss in the municipal polls and thereby honour the great tradition of showing graciousness in leadership and dignity in defeat. To date she has not done so.<br /> <br /> To those who would point to Mrs Hillary Clinton, the losing Democratic presidential candidate who did not concede the same night, she at least did so the very next morning, after indicating on election night, November 8, that she would.<br /> <br /> These three examples are bereft of what we have come to expect from leadership and, we fear, could send a terrible signal to young and up-and-coming politicians that the bar need not be set any higher.<br /> <br /> Indeed, the failure to concede the local government loss plays right into the view that those elections get no rating, by suggesting that one of the principal leaders has no respect for the process. If that is so, how could anyone fault the voters who have shown their disdain by staying away from the polls in historic droves?<br /> <br /> We leave it to politicians to extrapolate great things about what the election results mean and what mandate it proffers. But we in this space remain deeply worried that after all the advances we have made since adult suffrage in 1944, we are, in 2016, achieving the lowest voter turnout &mdash; 30 per cent &mdash; in the history of local government elections.<br /> <br /> This is a time in a country&rsquo;s life when the need for great leadership could not be more palpable. It is a time when Mrs Simpson Miller, the leader of one of the two parties that can form the government when called upon to do so, should be stepping forward and not backward.<br /> <br /> What on earth is happening to Mrs Simpson Miller? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13454872/Portia-1_w300.jpg Editorial Thursday, December 01, 2016 12:00 AM Mere crocodile tears over low voter turnout http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Mere-crocodile-tears-over-low-voter-turnout_82006 There&rsquo;s a lot of hand-wringing in the country over the fact that Monday&rsquo;s Local Government Election has been dubiously distinguished by the inability of both major political parties to persuade the majority of Jamaicans to vote.<br /> <br /> Voter turnout, we are told, was a mere 30 per cent &mdash; the lowest in local government election history in this country.<br /> <br /> Both the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), which won the election, and the vanquished People&rsquo;s National Party (PNP) have said they need to determine why more voters are not moved to engage in the democratic process.<br /> <br /> The truth is that this day was a long time in coming, as the seeds of this unfortunate place in which the country now finds itself were planted decades ago and nurtured by politicians, and their blinkered supporters, who placed party and individual interests above the country.<br /> <br /> We recall the director of elections report on the March 6, 1990 parish councils&rsquo; election that listed a range of reprehensible acts that no doubt undermined the process.<br /> <br /> Among them were the destruction of ballot boxes and ballots, the removal of poll books and ballots, destruction of integrity kits, intimidation of presiding officers, presiding officers forced to sign ballots, ink thrown on a presiding officer in one constituency, theft of ballots, invasion of polling stations by gunmen who stole ballot papers, and the arrest of a presiding officer for fraud.<br /> <br /> Let us not fool ourselves that these despicable acts were committed without instruction and, most likely, the promise of reward. It took a Herculean effort by the Electoral Office of Jamaica, during the period when that entity was headed by Mr Danville Walker, to divest the electoral process of those kinds of fraud.<br /> <br /> Today, while the country can vouch for the integrity of the electoral process, there still exists deep public scepticism about the sincerity of the individuals who offer themselves for representational office.<br /> <br /> And therein lies the rub.<br /> <br /> The cold, hard fact is that the cynicism that the public holds in relation to political representatives has been engendered by too many of the individuals who enter representational politics. Just reflect on the many scandals involving some of those individuals in recent decades and the poor excuses given by their party leadership to protect them from sanctions.<br /> <br /> How, therefore, can the political parties now whine about the lack of interest in the electoral process? Their crying over that spilt milk is nothing more than crocodile tears.<br /> <br /> It seems to us that their first priority now must be to set their houses in order, meaning that they should not only talk about vetting candidates for integrity, but act to expel those who are proven to be untrustworthy and who breach public trust.<br /> <br /> There should be no place in the ranks of political parties for individuals of questionable character and whose behaviour will continue to feed the distrust that hobbles politics.<br /> <br /> The political parties, we hold, need to be reformed if the country hopes to see more citizens engaging in the electoral system and voting because they can see the clear benefits.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13465541/244062_70545_repro_w300.jpg Editorial Wednesday, November 30, 2016 12:00 AM Why Grenadians rejected the CCJ http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Why-Grenadians-rejected-the-CCJ_81970 We are not in the least bit surprised that the people of the Eastern Caribbean island of Grenada voted overwhelmingly last week in a referendum to reject the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as their appeal court of last resort.<br /> <br /> We have in the past embraced the notion of a Caribbean court of appeal that might enrich regional jurisprudence and conceivably be less expensive to access than the United Kingdom Privy Council based in London. But over the years we have grown more despondent as we see the propensity of our politicians for control of the justice system.<br /> <br /> The political &lsquo;old boys club&rsquo; has managed to maintain a strong influence over all regional institutions, often robbing them of the impartiality that is paramount to public confidence in their integrity. The last bastion of democracy and freedom is the justice system. If that goes it does not take rocket science to envisage the chaos that will be unleashed upon us.<br /> <br /> As usual, the arguments for the CCJ were eloquently expounded in the Grenadian referendum. Pro-CCJ surrogates argued that accepting the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ deepens the rights of Grenadians, expand the people&rsquo;s access to justice, build a stronger platform for greater economic sustainability, develop the process of democracy, strengthen the concept of governance, and eliminate the opportunity for political excesses.<br /> <br /> As our readers know, we have, in the past, leaned towards supporting the idea of the CCJ, based on our very solid commitment to regionalism. But given developments, such as that in St Kitts and Nevis earlier this year, we are increasingly worried about dispensing with the Privy Council at this point in time.<br /> <br /> The St Kitts matter involved an attempt by the then Government to change electoral boundaries a month before general elections. The then Opposition took the matter to court and it ended up at the Privy Council, which ruled that the election must be conducted using the existing boundaries.<br /> <br /> That decision did not please the prime minister at the time, Mr Denzil Douglas, who claimed that it was at variance with the mood of the ordinary man and woman on the streets of St Kitts and Nevis.<br /> <br /> As we pointed out before in this space, Mr Douglas may have had good reason to say that. However, we doubt that the mood of which he spoke was as widespread as he wanted us to believe. For we are not aware of any outpouring of dissent to the Privy Council ruling among the general populace of St Kitts and Nevis.<br /> <br /> In fact, the result of the election, in which Mr Douglas and his party won only four of the 11 seats contested, suggested that there was general agreement among the people of St Kitts and Nevis with the Privy Council ruling.<br /> <br /> It will be difficult, we reiterate, for the proponents of the CCJ to convince the region&rsquo;s peoples that the decision of the court in St Kitts to support the electoral boundaries change was not influenced by political considerations.<br /> <br /> It is instructive that the Grenadians also voted &lsquo;no&rsquo; to renaming the Supreme Court of Grenada and Associated States as the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, clearly not willing to divest their appeal process to the sub-regional court; a fixed term for the prime minister; fixed election date and dispensing with the provision for public officials swearing allegiance to The Queen.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12578081/CARIBBEAN-COURT-OF-JUSTICE_w300.jpg Editorial Tuesday, November 29, 2016 12:00 AM Local government suffering from low credibility http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Local-government-suffering-from-low-credibility_81908 This newspaper would not be surprised if voter turnout for today&rsquo;s local government elections is a record low.<br /> <br /> Anecdotal evidence suggests very little enthusiasm for the poll; nor do many Jamaicans even see the need.<br /> <br /> In such circumstances, the two major political parties should be wary of reading too much into victory or defeat.<br /> <br /> As we have indicated previously in this space, ruling parties are usually favoured when a local government election is called within months of parliamentary triumph. Of course, there have been exceptions.<br /> <br /> The ruling Jamaica Labour Party which &mdash; we dare not forget &mdash; won the February 2016 General Election by just one seat will be anxious for a substantial majority of parish councils in order to further legitimise and consolidate its position.<br /> <br /> The Opposition People&rsquo;s National Party &mdash;hamstrung by a lack of money in what has been a very low-keyed campaign &mdash; is virtually marking time, waiting for the inevitable renewal process at leadership level to surge into motion.<br /> <br /> That said, if, as we suspect will happen, voter turnout is very low, the ongoing discussion regarding the relevance or otherwise of local government will only intensify.<br /> <br /> Mayor of Kingston Dr Angela Brown Burke, like many others on both sides of the political fence, argue that the local elected authorities are relevant and have an important role to play in modern Jamaica going forward.<br /> <br /> However, it seems to this newspaper that instead of an over-indulgence in airy-fairy talk about local government reform and such, there needs to be a proper hearing from the public about their experiences in dealing with local authorities.<br /> <br /> This newspaper contends that poor customer service has much to do with the very negative perception of municipal and parish councils. Vendors in markets all across Jamaica, people seeking amusement licences, and people seeking building permits are among those with very negative stories portraying inefficiency, inconsistent and uncaring attitudes, and corrupt practices among officials and staff at the local authority level. <br /> <br /> With time, perceptions &mdash; fed by personal and second-hand reports of bad experiences &mdash; have hardened and concretised into cynicism. For many Jamaicans, elected local authorities are seen as no more than training grounds for low-level politicians; and feeding troughs for the latter, their supporters and opportunistic members of council staff.<br /> <br /> Perhaps the audits championed by Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie and the various anti-corruption probes conducted earlier this year, which led to at least two arrests, will help. But after today, as a matter of the greatest urgency, local authorities will have to become far more efficient, professional, transparent and customer-friendly. Otherwise, already depressingly low credibility in the public space will simply fall through the floor. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12686848/purple-finger_w504_w300.jpg Editorial Monday, November 28, 2016 12:00 AM Will history absolve President Fidel Castro? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Will-history-absolve-President-Fidel-Castro_81830 Mr Castro was one of those rare leaders who devoted his whole life to working for the betterment of his compatriots, a majority of whom revered and loved him for changing Cuba from a decadent plantation society ruled by a series of dictators and used as the playground of rich Americans. <br /> <br /> At his death he could point to a country which at one point provided full employment, free education and healthcare to all its citizens, on par with and in some cases exceeding the standards of developed countries. <br /> <br /> But his charismatic rule from 1959 to 2008 was heavily criticised for not allowing the conventional two-party democracy, a free press and capitalist enterprises. One of his several failures was in not being able to reduce the role of sugar. While Mr Castro was admired for his unwavering commitment to his ideals, that consistency made him inflexible in modifying the Cuban economic model, leaving it behind the modern world.<br /> <br /> As a law student at the University of Havana, Mr Castro became involved in political activity. His first attempt to overthrow the dictatorship of the Batista regime by attacking the Moncada Barracks in 1953 ended in failure and imprisonment. He claimed the morality of his actions in his famous speech at his trial: &ldquo;History will absolve me.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> He succeeded on his second attempt in what has become the stuff of romantic legend. He and 81 men sailed on a small yacht, the<br /> <br /> Granma, from Mexico and got lost in the Sierra Maestra mountains.<br /> <br /> The United States opposed Mr Castro&rsquo;s Government, which contributed in his transformation from a radical nationalist in the 26th of July Movement to a Soviet-inspired Communist. <br /> <br /> Mr Castro will be especially remembered for sending Cuban troops to fight for the liberation movements in Southern Africa and to break the stranglehold of the military of Apartheid South Africa. His support for the Non-Aligned Movement and his advocacy for self-determination, anti-imperialism and alternative economic development gained him respect in the developing world. <br /> <br /> His provision of medical doctors to help numerous countries won Mr Castro acclaim and goodwill for Cuba. Although being poor itself, Cuba educated thousands of foreign students, including Jamaicans under close relations promoted by late Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley. <br /> <br /> Mr Castro was a mentor to radical leaders such as Venezuela&rsquo;s Hugo Chavez whose reciprocity took the form of supplying oil through the PetroCaribe arrangement. It was Mr Castro who suggested extending it to the rest of the Caribbean. <br /> <br /> He survived many attempts to remove him, notably in the Bay of Pigs fiasco, botched assassination attempts and the longest running economic blockade. He lived, however, to see a dramatic thawing of relations with the United States under President Barack Obama.<br /> <br /> The name Fidel Castro will remain indelibly etched in human history and continue to inspire those committed to a better world for mankind. But only time will tell whether, as he boldly prophesied, history will absolve him. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13461483/243654_70216_repro_w300.jpg Editorial Sunday, November 27, 2016 12:00 AM Taxpayers, cricket watchers deserve respect http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Taxpayers--cricket-watchers-deserve-respect_81761 In the build-up to the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean, the Jamaican Government spent more than US$100 million on infrastructure and other preparations for the Jamaica leg of that tournament.<br /> <br /> Well in excess of US$60 million was spent on stadia. About half of that money went to the building of the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium close to Falmouth, the other half to the modernisation and virtual rebuilding of the nation&rsquo;s historic headquarters of cricket, Sabina Park in Kingston.<br /> <br /> The extent of the expenditure wasn&rsquo;t an easy sell. Sceptics, not least the then Opposition Jamaica Labour Party, led at the time by Mr Bruce Golding, argued that it was a flagrant waste of taxpayers&rsquo; money.<br /> <br /> There were reports at the time suggesting that even within his own Cabinet, then Prime Minister Mr P J Patterson had to deal with objections to the cricket World Cup spend.<br /> <br /> Part of Mr Patterson&rsquo;s defence was that the two modern stadia would serve as lasting &ldquo;legacies&rdquo; for the benefit not just of the cricket fraternity, but for sports and entertainment in Jamaica.<br /> <br /> At Sabina Park, the improvements were very visible in terms of an expanded George Headley Stand and the imposing North Stand. Pleasing to the eye were impressive, privately leased luxury boxes; modern facilities for players, officials and media; comfortable seating; and superbly appointed restrooms for the general public.<br /> <br /> For traditional cricket watchers, equally, if not even more impressive, was the work on the Sabina outfield. It was dug up and resurfaced with modern drainage systems installed.<br /> <br /> The proof of the pudding is always in the eating and pretty soon cricket watchers knew the work on the outfield constituted money well spent. For even after the heaviest downpours, Sabina was ready for play within minutes &mdash; surface water having drained way and disappeared.<br /> <br /> For years, Sabina could boast of being among the fastest draining cricket grounds anywhere. Of course, it was also accepted that maintenance had to be a key element. Without proper maintenance even the best built facility comes under threat. <br /> <br /> Against all that backdrop comes the news that last week, for the first two days of the four-day franchise game between Jamaica Scorpions and the Windward Islands Volcanoes, only 60-odd overs of play was possible because of a wet outfield. Light rain, which in times past would have had only negligible effect in terms of moisture on Sabina&rsquo;s playing surface, had left wet spots which simply would not go away &mdash; poor drainage being the obvious culprit.<br /> <br /> Play yesterday in the game between the Scorpions and Barbados Pride was abandoned, and even more time is likely to be lost over the next three scheduled days.<br /> <br /> We note that the authorities at Sabina Park have pledged to conduct a probe to determine what has gone wrong with the drainage. This newspaper expects that the findings will be made public and that anyone found culpable will be held accountable. <br /> <br /> The Jamaican taxpayers should expect no less. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13460890/243558_70130_repro_w300.jpg Editorial Saturday, November 26, 2016 12:00 AM If you are healthy, thank a doctor http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/If-you-are-healthy--thank-a-doctor_81640 It might have been lost in all the fuss about local government elections and the bloodletting &mdash; yet again &mdash; in Western Kingston. But last Saturday night, the medical alumni of The University of the West Indies (UWI) closed a series of events with a banquet bringing together UWI graduates from as far back as 1948 when the first batch of medical students entered the Mona Campus.<br /> <br /> The 12th reunion banquet of the UWI Medical Alumni Association was preceded by a conference on &lsquo;UWI and Medicine in the 21st Century&rsquo;, a very timely theme as the world of medicine undergoes rapid changes, with new technology, new treatments, new medications, new research, new philosophies, and new horizons.<br /> <br /> The medical profession in Jamaica, as in the rest of the world, faces challenges such as the cost of training doctors, maintaining a high quality of public health, achieving adequacy of doctors per head of population, modernising equipment, introducing new technology, and combating global pandemics.<br /> <br /> Jamaican health planners are understandably fretful about the incidence of prostate cancer in Jamaican males and the migration of doctors and nurses. There are also concerns about a perceived inability to capitalise on opportunities such as medical tourism, offshore health care and telemedicine.<br /> <br /> It is hard to think where the medical profession and the perennially underfunded public health in the Caribbean would be without the doctors and nurses trained by the UWI medical schools at Mona, Jamaica; St Augustine, Trinidad; and Tobago and Cave Hill, Barbados. We salute The UWI and its medical alumni for their respective contributions. They are entitled to celebrate as they recommit themselves to a more healthy future. <br /> <br /> We in this space recognise that we don&rsquo;t say &lsquo;thank you&rsquo; enough to our hard-working doctors. The importance of their professional role cannot be overstated. We appreciate their ability to be reassuring to those among us who shy away from visiting the doctor because we fear telling them our personal information, or are embarrassed to have our bodies examined, or fear the possible diagnosis of a life-threatening illness.<br /> <br /> In this respect, men seem to need more reassurance than women who, anecdotal evidence suggests, are more willing to visit a doctor and so are more likely to nip a potentially bad disease in the bud. This pattern of reluctance among men exists across classes, income groups and education levels. Thankfully, less people are avoiding doctors and putting their faith in religion or resorting to folk remedies.<br /> <br /> Still, doctors are likely to find a new threat in the number of people circulating medical advice on a variety of illnesses, from the basic to the complex, on the Internet. It has become almost a pastime for people to pass on these advice by e-mail in the form of the chain letters of old.<br /> <br /> As the doctors reflect on their contribution to the nation&rsquo;s health, let us show them our appreciation for the daily miracles they perform in saving lives or mending disease-ravaged bodies, bringing life into the world and preserving it. There is hardly a more noble vocation. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13458084/241599_w300.jpg Editorial Friday, November 25, 2016 12:00 AM How much should we rely on polls? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/How-much-should-we-rely-on-polls_81475 American political polling organisations, still smarting from how badly off their predictions were for who would win the November 8, 2016 presidential elections, can take some consolation from the latest polls showing they might not have been as inaccurate as they thought.<br /> <br /> Gallup, one of the oldest polling organisations in the United States, now says that Mrs Hillary Clinton&rsquo;s margin over Mr Donald Trump in the national popular vote will be close to two percentage points, making the 3.3 point Clinton margin in the pre-election national poll average &ldquo;remarkably accurate&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> Mr Trump, the Republican nominee, eked out an unlikely victory and shocked the world by taking the Electoral College votes, against predictions by most polling organisations, including the most credible of them that showed a narrow win for Mrs Clinton up to the day before the election.<br /> <br /> The Trump win shook the polling world and raised questions about whether electors should continue to place faith in public opinion surveys. Jamaica had its own version of this in February this year when the Don Anderson polls showed the People&rsquo;s National Party with a four percentage point lead going into the general election.<br /> <br /> Of course, the Jamaica Labour Party won, albeit by a one-seat margin. But the results did severe damage to the reputation of the Anderson polls for their historic accuracy, especially coming after an earlier failure in St Lucia.<br /> <br /> Political polling has become a staple of modern elections in the free world and more investment is being pumped into collection and interpretation of data. The big US television networks forked out a tidy sum to keep viewers riveted on the poll results.<br /> <br /> The unusual success of Nate Silver&rsquo;s FiveThirtyEight blog in The New York Times in the 2012 cycle caused a swell in the ranks of pollsters who emerged in the 2016 campaign.<br /> <br /> But this year was bad for polling, starting with the shock vote by the British to leave the European Union, with polls showing the majority would elect to stay in, after a brisk campaign now known as Brexit. Mr Trump, in his campaign, predicted that he would pull off an American version of Brexit...and did.<br /> <br /> Gallup, however, says American pollsters were not so wrong after all, arguing that this was a complex election since Mrs Clinton won the popular vote and Mr Trump won the Electoral College.<br /> <br /> The organisation&rsquo;s editor-in-chief, Dr Frank Newport, is quoted as saying: &ldquo;As of this writing, Clinton is ahead of Trump by 1.5 percentage points (48.1 per cent to 46.6 per cent), representing the fact that she has received over two million more votes than Trump. The margin could grow to two points.<br /> <br /> Gallup reasoned that the average &ldquo;gap&rdquo; estimate on the national popular vote, as calculated by RealClear Politics prior to the election, was 3.3 points, which meant that the national popular vote estimate would end up being significantly closer to the actual result than was the case in 2012, and well within the margin of error.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;To come within less than two percentage points on the gap is a remarkable polling achievement and should be applauded,&rdquo; it suggested.<br /> <br /> Much of this, of course, is academic, because in the US system, the Electoral College determines the winner, an arrangement said to give smaller states a bigger stake in the elections for president.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13433455/237731_67583_repro_w300.jpg Editorial Thursday, November 24, 2016 12:00 AM If journalists accept just this one suggestion... http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/If-journalists-accept-just-this-one-suggestion---_81350 The 73-year-old Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ), the umbrella organisation of journalists, is in the throes of what is an annual ritual &mdash; celebration of National Journalism Week in which the media men and women are encouraged to reflect on their raison d&rsquo;etre.<br /> <br /> As part of the group performing that exacting and mostly thankless function of holding up a two-faced mirror to the nation, we here in this space do not regard it as within our prerogative to pronounce on how well this function is being carried out.<br /> <br /> We leave it to the forces of the market to determine how satisfied it is with the Jamaican media, even though we continue to marvel at the survival to date of so many media entities in almost 30 radio stations, three free-to-air television stations, two national daily newspapers, a handful of community journals, hundreds of cable channels and the Internet which has unleashed an unquenchable social media appetite through<br /> <br /> Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like.<br /> <br /> Still, we take some paternal pride in the fact that the Jamaican media ranks in the top 10 of countries enjoying freedom of the press, often doing even better than the United States which has been somewhat the world standard for the practice of a free press.<br /> <br /> And speaking of the United States, we fear that that country now risks falling farther down the World Press Freedom rankings, based on recent developments concerning their media and their new President-elect Donald Trump.<br /> <br /> We hasten to point out that we have not been among those critics who seem prepared to write off Mr Trump before he has even had a chance to be inaugurated as president. The democratic process which we cherish here, or at least say we do, calls for acceptance of newly elected leaders in free and fair elections, even if we did not vote for them. Otherwise we plunge into chaos.<br /> <br /> However, we are flabbergasted by news that Mr Trump spent the first part of his meeting with the heads of the big US television networks to chastise them for their treatment of him. And it is true that the nightly news shows have been especially harsh on him.<br /> <br /> But Mr Trump should understand that people in leadership do not escape public opprobrium and he need not be thin-skinned about it. Even President Barack Obama, nicknamed the &ldquo;No drama Obama&rdquo; has had his fair share at the butt of the media.<br /> <br /> If we were in a position to advise, him, and we are not, we would suggest to Mr Trump that he take it in stride and remember that his use of and his presence in media are in large measure responsible for the fame and celebrity status which helped to propel him to the presidency.<br /> <br /> One of the great advantages of today&rsquo;s media is the unprecedented variety of outlets that offer choices beyond the imagination. For example, while Democratic-leaning<br /> <br /> NBC was very kind to his opponent, Mrs Hillary Clinton,<br /> <br /> Fox News was equally if not more generous to Mr Trump.<br /> <br /> The big challenge for the US, as for Jamaica, is to maintain and promote quality journalism, making sure that there is a haven for facts and truth which are currently under great assault from fake news peddlers on social media.<br /> <br /> If Jamaican journalists accept just this one suggestion, Journalism Week would have been worth it.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13441771/241593_w300.jpg Editorial Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:00 AM Don&rsquo;t be penny wise, pound foolish on climate change http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Don-t-be-penny-wise--pound-foolish-on-climate-change_81242 Flooding and its devastating effects are not uncommon to the people of St Thomas, Portland and St Mary.<br /> <br /> Indeed, the country has been conditioned to expect that many communities in these parishes will be affected by severe flooding each rainy season.<br /> <br /> The latest episode of flooding took place last week, affecting Portland in particular and leaving residents in fear for their lives and property.<br /> <br /> Last week&rsquo;s rains came after large sections of that parish were devastated by flooding from heavy, persistent showers just the week before.<br /> <br /> Communities such as Bellevue, Rio Grande Valley, and Spring Gardens appeared to have taken the brunt of the damage, which, we expect, will amount to tens of millions of dollars.<br /> <br /> Unfortunately, this type of expense is forced on the country each year, unless, of course, there is severe drought.<br /> <br /> We accept that it is difficult to plan for nature&rsquo;s fury. However, we hold that installation of proper infrastructure can go a far way in limiting the effects of adverse weather systems.<br /> <br /> If we accept that some sections of the island receive more rainfall than others, it stands to reason that greater attention would be given to drains, gullies, roads, bridges and other vital infrastructure in those areas that are at greater risk.<br /> <br /> As it now stands, we don&rsquo;t get the impression that the authorities, particularly at the local government level, engage in the kind of forward-thinking and planning needed to adequately deal with these issues.<br /> <br /> Have, for instance, the local authorities, or indeed the central government, come up with developmental plans for not only St Thomas, Portland, or St Mary, but for the other parishes across the island?<br /> <br /> We are speaking here of plans that would significantly address geographic designs, traffic flow, and projected demand on infrastructure all done with acceptance of the expected effects of climate change.<br /> <br /> Given the changes the world has been seeing in weather patterns, it stands to reason that we should be planning, and implementing measures to deal with the impacts of global warming that will affect us in years to come.<br /> <br /> That is even more relevant to Jamaica due to the fact that we are susceptible to hurricanes each year.<br /> <br /> We acknowledge that there is great demand from many sectors on the thin financial resources at the disposal of the Government.<br /> <br /> Vital services such as water, education, health, and security, to name but a few, require a lot. However, even as we accept that what we are proposing will demand heavy injection of funds, it will, in the long run, cost the country more to correct the problems.<br /> <br /> Plus, the larger incentive in being prepared is that it can save lives.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13441744/235987_63293_repro_w300.jpg Editorial Tuesday, November 22, 2016 12:00 AM Our job for the next generation http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Our-job-for-the-next-generation_81087 It&rsquo;s easy to be angry and eager for revenge when contemplating the death of Jamaica College schoolboy, 14-year-old Mr Nicholas Christopher Francis.<br /> <br /> Hence this newspaper fully understands the response of a woman when clergyman Father Carl F Clarke urged forgiveness for the boy&rsquo;s murderer.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;No, mi nuh ready yet,&rdquo; she reportedly cried out.<br /> <br /> Emotions and reactions stretch the gamut. So we hear from Education Minister Senator Ruel Reid, not for the first time, that Jamaicans must learn to stand firm against criminals.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Let us move beyond anger, frustration and fear to action... even as we exercise caution in protecting ourselves and our families,&rdquo; and further that &ldquo;we cannot allow ourselves to be petrified by fear, otherwise the criminals will succeed in their desire to intimidate the rest of us.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> All true. The problem is how to nurture and grow a culture capable of overcoming crippling fear triggered by criminal savagery.<br /> <br /> Spare a thought for those on that bus, frozen, as young Mr Francis&rsquo;s killer savaged him. Those who witnessed will probably never forget.<br /> <br /> Against that backdrop we hear the plaintive cry of Father Clarke: &ldquo;How did we get here as a nation? How did we get here, where people are so cold?&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Though many choose to believe otherwise, the brutal truth is that Jamaica has never been a well ordered or very compassionate society. Centuries of slavery and exploitive domination provide an original basis for vitriolic anger and resentment among large numbers of the less privileged and a tendency by the better off to cultivate social demarcation. The latter tendency only reinforces destructive resentment.<br /> <br /> Progressive and wholesale policies to reduce ignorance and universalise education have obviously not moved fast enough. In Jamaica&rsquo;s most impoverished communities there are still large numbers missing out on schooling and consequential positives. High unemployment means that, even with education, far too many are unable to get legitimate jobs. Far too many find it easier to &ldquo;hustle&rdquo; on the wrong side of the law.<br /> <br /> Poverty and ignorance lead to awful negatives as children having children. Far too many of our people are having children without the capacity, either socially or economically, to support their offspring.<br /> <br /> Inevitably, many who grew up without education, love, care, or adequate socialisation, become parasites, preying on the rest.<br /> <br /> If as a society, we are to minimise incidents such as the one which took the life of young Mr Francis, the issues explored here must be addressed. Individuals, communities can all play a role, abiding by the universally accepted principle that it takes a village to raise a child.<br /> <br /> But it seems to us that it must go beyond that. As a matter of policy, Jamaicans must come to the consensual realisation that they cannot continue to leave so many behind. There must be a concerted effort, driven by self-interest, to bring the economically and socially deprived in the shanty towns, on the gully banks, behind the zinc fences, into the light.<br /> <br /> Let&rsquo;s all, as a people, as a nation, set about doing it. The fruits won&rsquo;t be reaped in a hurry; it&rsquo;s bound to take time. But history will remember this generation kindly if the next generation benefits. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13446662/242100_68726_repro_w300.jpg Editorial Monday, November 21, 2016 12:00 AM China, a ripe tourism market http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/China--a-ripe-tourism-market_81007 We hope that tourism officials in Jamaica and the Caribbean have taken note of the latest push by Britain to attract visitors from China.<br /> <br /> A Xinhua news story on Page 43 of this edition tells us that more than 80 travel trade delegates from Britain, including officials from tourism bodies, hotels, retailers and tour operators, have gone to Shanghai for a three-day trade fair where they intend to show more than 100 buyers from 15 cities across China the latest tourism products and services from across Britain.<br /> <br /> More than 7,000 business appointments, we are told, will take place during the trade fair aptly named &lsquo;Destination Britain China&rsquo; and which has been running since 2009 as an important event on the VisitBritain calendar.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Our &lsquo;Destination Britain China&rsquo; event gives British travel suppliers the chance to forge valuable business connections with the Chinese travel trade,&rdquo; the Xinhua report quotes VisitBritain CEO Ms Sally Balcombe.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;This is a fantastic opportunity for travel suppliers and local destinations to get their tourism products and services to inspire more visitors to come and explore more of our nations and regions,&rdquo; she added.<br /> <br /> According to Ms Balcombe, last year was a record-breaking year for visits from China to Britain with 270,000 visits, 46 per cent up on the year before. The visitor spend, she said, increased by 18 per cent to &pound;586 million, moving China into Britain&rsquo;s top-10 most valuable inbound markets for the first time.<br /> <br /> Ms Balcombe also revealed that the latest data show that flight bookings from China for November this year to January 2017 are up 17 per cent on the same period last year.<br /> <br /> That, she said, has given VisitBritain the impetus to work at doubling the earnings from Chinese visitors to &pound;1 billion by 2020.<br /> <br /> Data from the China Tourism Research Institute show that last year that country had 120 million outbound visitors who, in total, spent US$104.5 billion &ndash; increases of 12 per cent and 16.7 per cent, respectively, compared with 2014.<br /> <br /> According to the Institute, the main driving forces for the increases included personal income rise, favourable policies, and appreciation of the RMB &ndash; the official Chinese currency.<br /> <br /> Jamaica Tourist Board data show that in 2014 the island attracted just over 2,600 stopover visitors from China. While we were unable to find data for 2015, we don&rsquo;t suspect that the figure, if it increased, went up by much.<br /> <br /> That, we expect, has a lot to do with air link and a language barrier. Hopefully, though, those issues are being addressed, as travel analysts have told us that the Chinese are among the world&rsquo;s top travellers.<br /> <br /> Britain&rsquo;s tourism authorities obviously share that view and they are pulling out all the stops to attract the Chinese, from castles and royal palaces, to the theatres of London&rsquo;s West End and that city&rsquo;s fashionable Carnaby Street, to historic attractions in Scotland and Wales.<br /> <br /> This is a market that we here in the Caribbean can capitalise on, especially given the interest of Chinese infrastructure development companies, and indeed the Chinese Government, in this region.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13447341/chinese-t_w300.jpg Editorial Sunday, November 20, 2016 12:00 AM Interesting developments in national football http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Interesting-developments-in-national-football_80967 Jamaican football lovers joined the leadership of the football federation in a collective sigh of relief following the national team&rsquo;s 1-0 win over Suriname in the National Stadium on Sunday night.<br /> <br /> Readers will recall that the national programme went into tailspin in September following the Reggae Boyz&rsquo;s elimination from the semi-final stage of CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers.<br /> <br /> Had the team &mdash; now guided by interim coach Mr Theodore Whitmore, following the sacking of Mr Winfried Schaefer &mdash; lost to Suriname, the effect would have been so much more traumatising.<br /> <br /> As it is, Jamaica are now through to the Scotiabank CFU Men&rsquo;s Caribbean Cup semi-finals and a place in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, both set for next year. Jamaica are defending champions in the Caribbean Cup and reached the final of the Gold Cup last year.<br /> <br /> It wasn&rsquo;t easy against Suriname. Reckless play meant Jamaica survived the last two-thirds of the game with 10 men after defender Mr Damion Lowe was red-carded.<br /> <br /> If nothing else, it showed that this team is not short on character and mental strength. Let&rsquo;s not forget that those qualities also came to the fore in the opening Caribbean Cup fixture against Guyana in that country last month. Back then, they had to come from two goals down at half-time, to win 4-2 in extra time.<br /> <br /> A crucial point is that the squad which earned success against Guyana and Suriname is very different from that which fell to last place in their group of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. For these last two matches, the Reggae Boyz squad has been made up entirely of players born and bred here &mdash; a mix of local and North America-based semi-pros and pros.<br /> <br /> The core of the squad in the World Cup qualifiers was made up of hardened, overseas-based professionals &ndash; a number of them born, bred and based in Britain with only limited knowledge of Jamaican football prior to joining the Reggae Boyz.<br /> <br /> An immediate consequence of Jamaica&rsquo;s exit from World Cup qualifiers is that those players are no longer with the programme. To begin with, sponsorship and other support have largely dried up, meaning there is simply not enough money to cover the high cost of match fees and transportation for British-based professionals. Bear in mind also that the Jamaica Football Federation owes huge sums in outstanding emoluments to Mr Whitmore&rsquo;s predecessor, Mr Schaefer. As this newspaper understands it, several of those who played in the failed World Cup-qualifying campaign are also owed large sums.<br /> <br /> High costs aside, there are those who feel very strongly that over the last 15 years the federation has gone overboard in its reliance on players of Jamaican ancestry, born and bred elsewhere.<br /> <br /> Intriguingly, the head of Jamaican football, Captain Horace Burrell, who argued for years that the country had no choice but to rely on players born elsewhere because of the weak state of local football, appears now to be singing a different tune. That is, if we are to take his words in a recent television interview at face value.<br /> <br /> We will watch further developments with great interest.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13431117/240877_67477_repro_w300.jpg Editorial Saturday, November 19, 2016 12:00 AM A lousy local gov&rsquo;t debate http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/A-lousy-local-gov-t-debate_80836 Except for Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie and Kingston Mayor Angela Brown Burke, Wednesday night&rsquo;s debate between representatives of the People&rsquo;s National Party (PNP) and Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) suffered from a lack of intelligent discourse on policy issues.<br /> <br /> We would not be surprised if anyone who doubted the cerebral capacity of local government candidates would have felt justified in holding that view after watching the event, which was organised by the Jamaica Debates Commission to help voters make informed choices at the November 28 local government election.<br /> <br /> In fact, we got the impression that the debaters were more interested in dodging the questions asked by the panel as well as the public, and were more intent on scoring political points.<br /> <br /> The JLP must be regretting the decision to include Ms Kenisha Allen on its team because, outside of her propensity for trivia, she demonstrated to the country that she has no clue that a debate is a forum for discussion rather than a tenement-like brawl.<br /> <br /> On the other side, the PNP lost points from Messrs Donovan Mitchell and Everton Fisher, who unashamedly declared that their party does not condone corruption.<br /> <br /> Really?!<br /> <br /> We can only hope that the second debate will be worth the public and the commission&rsquo;s time and effort.<br /> <br /> When State agencies break the law<br /> <br /> We would be extremely surprised if anyone is sanctioned for any of the breaches of State procedures reported in two stories published in this newspaper on Sunday and Monday this week.<br /> <br /> For it is obvious that the norm in this country is for public entities and officials to ignore laws and procedures with impunity because they know that no effort will be made to bring them to book.<br /> <br /> The breaches highlighted in a study carried out by the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition and the Caribbean Vulnerable<br /> <br /> Communities<br /> <br /> Coalition<br /> <br /> and<br /> <br /> published<br /> <br /> on<br /> <br /> Sunday<br /> <br /> have<br /> <br /> been<br /> <br /> reported<br /> <br /> before<br /> <br /> by<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> media.<br /> <br /> Indeed,<br /> <br /> a<br /> <br /> lot<br /> <br /> of<br /> <br /> discussion<br /> <br /> followed<br /> <br /> on<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> revelation<br /> <br /> that<br /> <br /> in<br /> <br /> 2013<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> Universal<br /> <br /> Access<br /> <br /> Fund<br /> <br /> made<br /> <br /> payment<br /> <br /> advances<br /> <br /> of<br /> <br /> US$78.4<br /> <br /> million<br /> <br /> with<br /> <br /> no<br /> <br /> evidence<br /> <br /> of<br /> <br /> approval<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> expenditures.<br /> <br /> We<br /> <br /> also<br /> <br /> recall<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> public<br /> <br /> attention<br /> <br /> generated<br /> <br /> by<br /> <br /> news<br /> <br /> that<br /> <br /> scholarship<br /> <br /> recipients<br /> <br /> owed<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> Government<br /> <br /> millions<br /> <br /> of<br /> <br /> dollars<br /> <br /> as<br /> <br /> they<br /> <br /> failed<br /> <br /> to<br /> <br /> honour<br /> <br /> their<br /> <br /> bonds.<br /> <br /> As<br /> <br /> far<br /> <br /> as<br /> <br /> we<br /> <br /> can<br /> <br /> remember,<br /> <br /> no<br /> <br /> move<br /> <br /> was<br /> <br /> made<br /> <br /> in<br /> <br /> either<br /> <br /> case<br /> <br /> to<br /> <br /> hold<br /> <br /> anyone<br /> <br /> accountable.<br /> <br /> This<br /> <br /> lack<br /> <br /> of<br /> <br /> regard<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> law<br /> <br /> and<br /> <br /> order<br /> <br /> feeds<br /> <br /> on<br /> <br /> itself,<br /> <br /> resulting<br /> <br /> in<br /> <br /> people<br /> <br /> believing<br /> <br /> that<br /> <br /> they<br /> <br /> can<br /> <br /> do<br /> <br /> whatever<br /> <br /> they<br /> <br /> please<br /> <br /> without<br /> <br /> facing<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> consequences<br /> <br /> of<br /> <br /> their<br /> <br /> action.<br /> <br /> It<br /> <br /> is<br /> <br /> obvious<br /> <br /> that<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> same<br /> <br /> attitude<br /> <br /> informs<br /> <br /> behaviour<br /> <br /> as<br /> <br /> it<br /> <br /> relates<br /> <br /> to<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> timely<br /> <br /> submission<br /> <br /> of<br /> <br /> audited<br /> <br /> reports.<br /> <br /> Last<br /> <br /> week,<br /> <br /> we<br /> <br /> learnt<br /> <br /> through<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> Public<br /> <br /> Administration<br /> <br /> and<br /> <br /> Appropriations<br /> <br /> Committee<br /> <br /> (PAAC)<br /> <br /> of<br /> <br /> Parliament<br /> <br /> that<br /> <br /> 111<br /> <br /> public<br /> <br /> bodies<br /> <br /> submitted<br /> <br /> financial<br /> <br /> reports<br /> <br /> late,<br /> <br /> some<br /> <br /> up<br /> <br /> to<br /> <br /> nine<br /> <br /> years<br /> <br /> after<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> deadline.<br /> <br /> And<br /> <br /> just<br /> <br /> when<br /> <br /> we<br /> <br /> thought<br /> <br /> it<br /> <br /> couldn&rsquo;t<br /> <br /> get<br /> <br /> any<br /> <br /> worse,<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> PAAC<br /> <br /> told<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> country<br /> <br /> that<br /> <br /> it<br /> <br /> had<br /> <br /> no<br /> <br /> records<br /> <br /> of<br /> <br /> 23<br /> <br /> of<br /> <br /> State<br /> <br /> entities<br /> <br /> ever<br /> <br /> submitting<br /> <br /> an<br /> <br /> audited<br /> <br /> report<br /> <br /> &mdash;<br /> <br /> all<br /> <br /> in<br /> <br /> clear<br /> <br /> breach<br /> <br /> of<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> Public<br /> <br /> Bodies<br /> <br /> Management<br /> <br /> and<br /> <br /> Accountability<br /> <br /> Act.<br /> <br /> What<br /> <br /> moral<br /> <br /> authority<br /> <br /> can<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> Government<br /> <br /> now<br /> <br /> have<br /> <br /> to<br /> <br /> enforce<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> country&rsquo;s<br /> <br /> laws<br /> <br /> after<br /> <br /> having<br /> <br /> failed<br /> <br /> to<br /> <br /> hold<br /> <br /> these<br /> <br /> State<br /> <br /> entities<br /> <br /> accountable<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> breaches<br /> <br /> they<br /> <br /> have<br /> <br /> committed?<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13428784/240576_67283_repro_w300.jpg Editorial Friday, November 18, 2016 3:00 AM Imagine a Jamaica without charity http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Imagine-a-Jamaica-without-charity_80696 We are completely in agreement with the notion of the Government doing all it can to encourage charitable giving, including the provision of tax incentives above what it now offers.<br /> <br /> It is impossible to quantify the full value of the countless acts of charity, without which we cannot imagine the degree of suffering that our people, especially the poorest Jamaicans, would be experiencing, nor how far behind we would be in national development of our country.<br /> <br /> For that reason, we embrace Tuesday&rsquo;s call by some of Jamaica&rsquo;s leading supporters of charity for changes to the country&rsquo;s tax laws that would boost the amount of money that corporations now give to philanthropic causes.<br /> <br /> By credible estimates, over the past 10 years, eight of the island&rsquo;s most generous corporate givers &mdash; who have now been nominated for this year&rsquo;s Jamaica Observer Business Leaders Award &mdash; have cumulatively contributed more than $7 billion to various charities.<br /> <br /> This $7 billion surely is nothing to scoff at, given that it relates only to eight companies. Yet we believe that it is a mere drop in the bucket when one factors in the innumerable acts of daily charitable giving by the private sector as a whole and the thousands of Jamaicans from whom flows the milk of human kindness.<br /> <br /> From simple acts of giving, Jamaicans have constructed impressive entities to receive and distribute resources to a wide array of organisations and individuals whose very survival is at any moment in danger.<br /> <br /> An army of Jamaicans organised in groups calling themselves service clubs devote lifetimes to helping the poor and unfortunate. Scores of their members take time to visit shut-ins, prisoners, state homes for children, or to sing carols at Christmas to bedridden patients in hospitals.<br /> <br /> Schools have come to depend heavily on their past students for things ranging from even basic items to modern computers and science laboratories. Churches, longest in the game of giving, bring in numerous groups of doctors in a variety of fields, as well as medical supplies for health fairs that benefit thousands.<br /> <br /> And even at that, we still have not yet talked about the relatives who, taking the term &ldquo;charity begins at home&rdquo; literally, share their worldly goods with impoverished family members, some of them sending home billions of dollars yearly in remittances from abroad.<br /> <br /> We are aware that the Government is doing a fair bit in tough economic times to assist these charitable endeavours. Yet we sense that more can be done in the nature of the suggestion by Mr Earl Jarrett, the general manager of the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS), that the State should allow family and corporate foundations to direct contributions to their favourite causes while receiving a total write-off for this expenditure.<br /> <br /> Another useful suggestion came from Mrs Patricia Duncan Sutherland, chairman of the Joan Duncan Foundation, who felt the Government could allow big charitable givers to work collectively to identify a consequential national need and fill the gap, thus relieving the State of that obligation.<br /> <br /> The eight corporations nominated for this year&rsquo;s Business Leader Award are JNBS, Digicel Jamaica, Heineken, JMMB, National Baking Company, NCB Group, Sagicor Group, and Scotiabank Group.<br /> <br /> They are already all winners. Ask any homeless or indigent Jamaican. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13436531/ZZ7569630B_w300.jpg Editorial Thursday, November 17, 2016 12:00 AM President Barack Obama &mdash; a real class act http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/President-Barack-Obama---a-real-class-act_80567 Watching how United States President Barack Obama treats President-elect Donald Trump is a fascinating lesson in how to honour a political opponent and remain true to the hallowed traditions of US politics.<br /> <br /> Mr Obama, as the first black president, has brought intellect, poise, grace and dignity to the most powerful office in the world, and demonstrated that despite probably the most bitter presidential election campaign in modern US history, a new president-elect is deserving of the respect that befits the leader of the free world.<br /> <br /> In his first actions and words since the November 8, 2016 elections, he has endeavoured to calm Americans and set an example of how a peaceful transition of power should work in a democracy. And all this while tens of thousands of Americans were protesting against Mr Trump&rsquo;s election, shouting &ldquo;Not my president&rdquo; and citing the fact that his opponent, Mrs Hillary Clinton, got the majority of the votes.<br /> <br /> We are particularly impressed that Mr Obama went beyond the call of duty to point out to Mr Trump some of the pitfalls that a new president could encounter and offered him a measure of sobriety that the country is run by laws, rules and regulations which have their basis in hard reality.<br /> <br /> As he said, the American ship of State is not a rowboat, but an ocean liner that cannot be turned suddenly at the whim and fancy of a leader, no matter how well intentioned. This is wise advice for Mr Trump, who has promised to replace and introduce many policies in his first 100 days in office.<br /> <br /> Not all Democrats, many of whom are still smarting from their upset loss, are happy with Mr Obama&rsquo;s approach to the transition. But it is worth noting that his approval rating has jumped to a four-year high of 57 per cent, according to the latest public opinion survey by Gallup, one of the oldest polling organisations in the United States.<br /> <br /> This popularity will hold him in good stead during his final tour of Europe as president, which started in Greece yesterday. He will have fond memories of Germany where he drew a record 200,000 people to a rally in 2008 during his first election campaign for president.<br /> <br /> In Europe he will try to calm nerves jangled by the election of Mr Trump who, while campaigning, gave mixed signals about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization which has kept Europe and the free world safe and at peace. Europe, fast allies of America, is also wary of Mr Trump&rsquo;s approach to Russia, their age-old enemy.<br /> <br /> Jamaica has had a long tradition of peaceful transfer of power, even after bloody elections, as in 1980, and so we are fully appreciative of the actions of Mr Obama. The alternative would be too grim to contemplate.<br /> <br /> This is indeed a good time to remind ourselves that, although imperfect, democracy is still our best hope. Mr Obama typifies this ideal. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13433216/oba_w300.jpg Editorial Wednesday, November 16, 2016 12:00 AM A time for bold government, expansive thinking http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/A-time-for-bold-government--expansive-thinking_80469 There was little doubt, in our mind, that the executive board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would have approved Jamaica&rsquo;s application for a new precautionary three-year Stand-by Facility.<br /> <br /> After all, the Jamaican Government has demonstrated that it can maintain fiscal discipline, a particularly difficult achievement given Jamaica&rsquo;s harsh economic climate that has had a severe impact on social conditions.<br /> <br /> The IMF announced on Friday that under the new stand-by arrangement Jamaica will have access to about US$1.64 billion. However, the Government has indicated that it will not draw on the arrangement &ldquo;unless exogenous shocks generate an actual balance of payments need&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> The executive board approval, the IMF pointed out, &ldquo;will make about US$411.9 million (SDR 300.1 million) immediately available, and the remainder in six tranches upon completion of semi-annual programme reviews&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> As we pointed out in this space a few weeks ago, in addition to maintaining fiscal discipline, this new agreement will seek to achieve the long-awaited public sector transformation, while focusing new expenditure on infrastructure, social protection and security. Other objectives include keeping inflation low, bolstering the resilience of the financial system, and tax reform.<br /> <br /> We have already discussed those objectives and the challenges the country will face in achieving them. While we accept that the task is difficult, we are encouraged by the measures being taken by the Government, particularly in the area of stimulating economic growth.<br /> <br /> For instance, the shift from direct to indirect taxation, which the IMF describes as &ldquo;growth-friendly&rdquo;, is most commendable because it will , as the fund so correctly noted, improve efficiency in the tax system and widen the tax base.<br /> <br /> Maintaining fiscal discipline, we accept, is good and vital, but, as we have seen in the recent past, holding the fiscal reins tight will not, by itself, improve conditions in the country. It must be accompanied by policies that spur economic growth that will, in turn, reduce debt.<br /> <br /> We have repeatedly used this space to highlight a number of initiatives in the United States that have encouraged businesses to invest and contribute to economic growth in that country.<br /> <br /> Among them was the case of Washington State, which competed intensely with more than 20 other states, offering a range of tax incentives to ensure that aircraft manufacturer Boeing kept its 777X assembly plant there.<br /> <br /> Essentially, Boeing was offered nearly US$9 billion in tax breaks as the Washington State authorities calculated that keeping the 777X plant there would result in US$21.3 billion in tax revenue for 15 years, based on a total of approximately 57,000 jobs.<br /> <br /> We also cited the case of New Jersey convincing<br /> <br /> Forbes<br /> <br /> magazine to move 350 jobs from New York with an offer of US$21.1 million in tax incentives over 10 years. The New Jersey Economic Development Agency had calculated that<br /> <br /> Forbes<br /> <br /> &rsquo; move would result in a net estimated benefit to the state of US$72 million over 20 years.<br /> <br /> There are examples in the Caribbean of forward-thinking governments offering incentives to investors that have been mutually beneficial.<br /> <br /> As we have clearly stated before, we don&rsquo;t expect the Jamaican Government to give away the country, but it needs to be bold in making these kinds of deals, as long as it is convinced they will redound to Jamaica&rsquo;s benefit.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12000263/IMF-Building_w300.jpg Editorial Tuesday, November 15, 2016 12:00 AM Local Government&rsquo;s unsteady status http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Local-Government-s-unsteady-status_80357 Even as Jamaicans and much of the world continue to react with disbelief and shock at the triumph of Mr Donald Trump in the US presidential election, nominations for Jamaica&rsquo;s Local Government poll on November 28 passed very quietly. <br /> <br /> Indeed, if the celebrated experience of Rip Van Winkle wasn&rsquo;t just a fable, and in reality commonplace, then there would have been some pleasantly surprised Jamaicans viewing last Friday&rsquo;s Nomination Day. <br /> <br /> For in sharp contrast to many years ago when the threat of violence was ever-present, and tension was so thick you could metaphorically cut it with a knife, the atmosphere surrounding Friday&rsquo;s candidate nominations was relaxed, with the security forces having little to do.<br /> <br /> We are not forgetting the shooting incident in West Kingston or other violence around the country, but none of those was even remotely related to party politics.<br /> <br /> Given the unfortunate tendency for many Jamaicans to downgrade their own, it is useful to make the point that the stabilising and reformation of the electoral system are among this country&rsquo;s outstanding achievements.<br /> <br /> All those, alive and dead, who contributed so significantly to improving the conduct and execution of elections in this country deserve acclamation. <br /> <br /> We feel sure that eventually, as old belief systems wither and are brushed aside by those of a younger generation, even the accursed political tribalism which for so long has slowed national development will, too, become a historical relic.<br /> <br /> So what of the November 28 elections? The historical tendency has been for governing parties to have a strong upper hand in local government polls called within months of the parliamentary version. Of course, there have been exceptions, very notably in 2002. <br /> <br /> Part of the reason for the dominant trend is that supporters of a newly elected governing party do tend to be more motivated to vote. Also, there has always been a kind of unspoken perception at the grass roots level that local governance is far more efficient if Government and the parish councils are politically aligned. To the extent that&rsquo;s true, far more Comrades than Labourites will stay at home come November 28.<br /> <br /> For those reasons, it seems reasonable to expect that the ruling Jamaica Labour Party will comfortably defeat the Opposition People&rsquo;s National Party, which is cash-strapped and virtually in limbo as it awaits leadership changes that must come soon.<br /> <br /> The bigger truth, which has become even more so with the passage of years, is that the majority of Jamaicans place very little weight on the value of local authorities. So this newspaper would not be surprised if there is a record low vote on November 28. <br /> <br /> The irony is that, even as there is the push at leadership level to transform local government, including entrenchment in the Jamaican Constitution, a growing number &ndash; possibly the majority &ndash; of Jamaicans consider it largely irrelevant and more trouble and expense than it is worth. That negative perception is the natural offshoot of years of alleged corruption, chronic waste, inefficiency, and woefully poor service to the public.<br /> <br /> Those who believe that local government should remain central to Jamaican democracy and governance are likely to have an increasingly tough task convincing others in the years to come. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11718510/ballot-box2_w300.jpg Editorial Monday, November 14, 2016 12:00 AM The dilemma of the American working class http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/The-dilemma-of-the-American-working-class_80302 Many white working-class Americans, nostalgic for the better economic times of the past, believe Mr Donald Trump, the president-elect, will improve their circumstances and prospects. <br /> <br /> The dilemma, however, is that the policies they voted for may do little to alleviate their marginalisation from the modern US economy and alienation from the unavoidable involvement with the global economy.<br /> <br /> It is still not yet clear what the policies of a Trump Administration will be. He has not made specific statements about most subjects, hence there is dystopian speculation and apprehension about US policy after January 2017.<br /> <br /> A major challenge for the new Administration will be in how it handles the traditional social divisions which have re-emerged, as fears have been aroused among non-white Americans and Muslims. <br /> <br /> Regrettably, the reality of the first black president in Mr Barack Obama seems to have stirred up innate racism, particularly in the southern United States. And whenever an economy is simultaneously experiencing higher than usual unemployment and structural adjustment, there is a tendency for xenophobia to develop and to blame unemployment on foreign goods and migrants. <br /> <br /> Ironically, reduced foreign goods and less migrants would worsen the plight of the unemployed and the working class who would face a steep rise in the cost of living. In any case, if less expensive migrant workers are not available, American companies are very likely to relocate production abroad in order to survive global competition. There may be no net increase in available jobs. <br /> <br /> Unbridled anti-globalisation sentiments that resile from existing and future trade agreements and a reduction in migrants could threaten the survival of sectors such as agriculture, services and construction. There would be a serious escalation in cost of domestically produced food and a sharp rise in construction costs, particularly for housing. <br /> <br /> In any event, these jobs are not what most of the white working class want, which is why they are filled by migrants. Increased cost of production will impair international competitiveness of American exports and will likely curtail domestic output, leading to more unemployment.<br /> <br /> The jobs which are being created cannot be filled by unskilled, displaced workers in the manufacturing sector and the &ldquo;Rust Belt&rdquo; because the new jobs require a higher level of education. <br /> <br /> The hope is that if the Trump Administration can stimulate economic growth and job creation it will alleviate the unemployment of the white rural working class, even as experience shows that rates of growth have fluctuated but income inequality has continued to increase over the last 40 years.<br /> <br /> In that regard, all Americans need to accept that social and political polarisation is not conducive to investment and economic growth. <br /> <br /> Still, we hope that Mr Trump can produce something we have not yet seen that can defy the odds. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13424070/240269_w300.jpg Editorial Sunday, November 13, 2016 12:00 AM Make medical screening in school sports a reality http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Make-medical-screening-in-school-sports-a-reality_80273 Whatever happens over the next few weeks until year-end, it&rsquo;s certain that 2016 will be remembered with great sadness by many in the school sports fraternity. <br /> <br /> With the death on the football field of St George&rsquo;s College student Mr Dominic James in September still fresh in the memory, came the terrible news over recent days of the passing of another high school athlete, basketballer Mr Saymar Ramsay.<br /> <br /> A student of Spot Valley High in St James, young Mr Ramsay had only just participated in an Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/Western Conference Under-19 game against Cornwall College in Montego Bay when he collapsed on his way home and was later pronounced dead at a medical facility.<br /> <br /> Mere words cannot assuage the terrible sense of loss and grief for family, friends and the Spot Valley High School community. The rest of us can only hope that with time the pain will ease and that meaningful measures taken to minimise such tragic occurrences will help Mr Ramsay&rsquo;s loved ones to find some comfort.<br /> <br /> Of course, as we have said in this space previously, tragedies such as have taken the lives of Messrs Ramsay and James are not new.<br /> <br /> Many Jamaicans will readily recall 2014, when Mr Cavahn McKenzie, a teenaged student of St Jago High, collapsed and died following a long distance race in Tobago.<br /> <br /> Also in 2014, there was the case of 17-year-old Mr Rushane Ricketts, of Seaview Gardens, who died during a Jamaica College summer football training camp at St Elizabeth Technical High School grounds. Word at the time was that the teenager was resting after a training session when he collapsed. <br /> <br /> We are pleased that the authorities, including the Ministry of Education and ISSA &mdash; which manages school sports &mdash; have moved to collaborate towards medical screening of student athletes and other protective measures. <br /> <br /> We note comments from Mr Deon Williams, vice-president of the Western Basketball Association and coordinator of the ISSA competitions in western Jamaica, regarding the dangers posed by energy drinks.<br /> <br /> While apparently not suggesting that the consumption of such products led to Mr Ramsay&rsquo;s death, Mr Williams is reported as suggesting an &ldquo;education campaign&rdquo; to warn of any &ldquo;adverse effect&rdquo; that could be caused.<br /> <br /> We expect that the Ministry of Education and ISSA will be leaning on the medical fraternity in this regard so that not just an education campaign, but appropriate regulations and protocols can be developed. <br /> <br /> At a broader level, Mr Williams makes the obvious point that medical screening must now become an essential ingredient in school sports. &ldquo;We talk about how expensive screening is, but we have to do it to see if there are any underlying problems before they (children) start playing,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> It&rsquo;s tough, but for those who organise and manage school sports there really is no choice. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13303806/229994__w300.jpg Editorial Saturday, November 12, 2016 12:00 AM An encouraging signal from Mr Trump http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/An-encouraging-signal-from-Mr-Trump_80163 Mr Donald Trump&rsquo;s acceptance speech early Wednesday morning has set an encouraging tone that we hope will come to define his presidency and prove his detractors wrong about him.<br /> <br /> After an extremely bitter election campaign that has left the United States deeply divided, Mr Trump told Americans that it was now time for the country to heal:<br /> <br /> &ldquo;To all Republicans and Democrats, and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans&hellip; For those who have chosen not to support me in the past&hellip; I&rsquo;m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> That, we believe, was a very important signal from Mr Trump, given his campaign rhetoric that contributed, in no small measure, to the fissure and which has led to the current wave of street protests against his election in scores of cities across America.<br /> <br /> In any contest, there must be a winner and a loser. The latter will naturally feel pain. But, as President Barack Obama so correctly said later Wednesday morning, that&rsquo;s the nature of politics:<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We try really hard to persuade people that we&rsquo;re right, and then people vote, and then if we lose we learn from our mistakes, we do some reflection, we lick our wounds, we brush ourselves off, we get back in the arena. We try even harder the next time.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The point, though, is that we all go forward with the presumption of good faith in our fellow citizens, because that presumption of good faith is essential to a vibrant and functioning democracy,&rdquo; President Obama added.<br /> <br /> Mrs Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party candidate who lost the election to Mr Trump, was equally gracious, telling her supporters that they owe Mr Trump an open mind and a chance to lead.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power, and we don&rsquo;t just respect that, we cherish it,&rdquo; she said.<br /> <br /> As we argued in this space on Tuesday, the Democrats and Republicans who stood in the elections for Senate and House seats also have a vital role to play in influencing public thinking and behaviour after the vote.<br /> <br /> A lot, too, will depend on whether, after taking office in January next year, President Trump will be able to separate himself from Donald Trump the divisive candidate.<br /> <br /> We expect that he will, because, as we have often pointed out in this space, candidates for political office campaign on promise, but govern in reality.<br /> <br /> The wounds inflicted by the campaign will, we accept, remain raw for a long time, but they must be treated and allowed to heal if Americans hope for a better life and if they want the international community to maintain its respect for the United States&rsquo; unwavering commitment to the ideal of democracy.<br /> <br /> The healing process, we believe, would be greatly enhanced if the Republicans show magnanimity towards Mrs Clinton, whom they accused of corruption, by dropping the unwise campaign promise to prosecute her over the use of a private e-mail server while she was secretary of state.<br /> <br /> It would also help greatly to remove the pall of fear hanging over the country by repudiating the promise to deport more than 11 million undocumented immigrants. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13424070/240269_w300.jpg Editorial Friday, November 11, 2016 1:00 AM