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 Of excesses, moderation and drought http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Of-excesses--moderation-and-drought_17238667 LAST week the court ordered cigarette giant RJ Reynolds of Tobaccoville, NC, to pay US$7.3m to Cynthia Robinson, widow of Mike Johnson; US$9.6m to his son; and US$26.3billion in punitive damages -- Ouch! From age 13, Mike smoked three packs a day and died of lung cancer at 36. Cynthia claimed: "In 1996 she never knew nicotine was addictive and bad for his health." The verdict is a small step for health and may be a giant step against choice and personal responsibility. So 'Jim Screechy', the illiterate from 150 Lane, could claim the same defence. But is Mike without blame? And, can we use the lessons from cigarettes for other items? We have chronic health conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, heart disease and obesity -- all Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDS) and preventable. They cost our economy billions. Years of ingesting too much salt, fats, oils, and sugars -- who's to blame? The devil made me do it. Local Opinion Fri, 25 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT A little trip 'cross the water http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/A-little-trip--cross-the-water_17238672 I couldn't tell when last I visited Florida, especially South Florida, second home to countless Jamaicans who have settled in and are so entrenched, it would be easy to believe that they were all born there. Local Opinion Fri, 25 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT Energising the economy through energy reform http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Energising-the-economy-through-energy-reform_16996843 Amidst the positive news that the country has experienced another quarter of economic growth and high commendation from the Caribbean Development Bank, the country continues to encounter economic challenges such as high debt-to-GDP ratio, persistent depreciation of the Jamaica dollar, and adverse balance of payments. There is not a scintilla of doubt that the country is on the path of economic recovery, but we need to caution ourselves against premature celebration by squandering gains realised so far. The hard work has just begun; there is no time for insouciance. We need to relentlessly pursue objectives that will bring about sustainable economic growth. Local Opinion Thu, 24 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT Mandela's visit 23 years ago http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Mandela-s-visit-23-years-ago-_17230147 Nelson Mandela, freed from prison for more than a year and three years before becoming president of South Africa, landed in Jamaica for an official visit on July 24 1991. I was in attendance at the rally for Mandela in the National Stadium. I would not have gone had it not been for someone stupidly deciding to place Mandela in a car with a tinted glass from the Norman Manley International Airport to his first stop at the University of the West Indies. This was where the late Professor Rex Nettleford said that the children did not mispronounce his name when they said "Mandehya", but what they meant was "Man is here". Local Opinion Thu, 24 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT Don’t allow telecoms firms to drag Ja backwards http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Don-t-allow-telecoms-firms-to-drag-Ja-backwards_17215306 RECENTLY our telecoms providers have indicated their intent to block our access to VoIP services, and in so doing undermine the significant advances Jamaica has made in the manner in which we conduct business. Around the world today millions of people are communicating using VoIP services. It is one of the great equalisers, as it affords us the capacity to be freed of the onerous charges associated with the traditional public switched telephone network (PSTN). Local Opinion Wed, 23 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT Sir Howard Cooke: the leader who was a participant http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Sir-Howard-Cooke--the-leader-who-was-a-participant_17221571 THE passing at the envious age of 98 of Sir Howard Cooke — Jamaica's fourth native governor general since Independence in 1962 — has served to shine light on the power of idealism in public life adopted by the generation of Jamaicans who were moulded by the events of 1938 to participate to the fullest, and without equivocation, in the shaping of modern Jamaica. Local Opinion Wed, 23 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT A road already well travelled http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/A-road-already-well-travelled_17221581 EDMUND Bartlett, MP for East Central St James and the Opposition spokesperson on foreign affairs recently stated the JLP's position to consider, yet again, this "hot air" policy balloon namely, the unsatisfactory trade deficit with Caricom, stated as the decline in Jamaica's exports to Caricom of US$67.4m, which partially contributed to the total regional trade balance of US$881m. Local Opinion Wed, 23 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT When our leaders speak http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/When-our-leaders-speak_17215282 WHEN our leaders speak we ought to be able to believe them. Otherwise, the relationship is mostly pointless for leaders and followers alike. The cynicism and bitterness that some Jamaicans have toward politicians reflect what many feel is a pointless relationship. The frustration comes from the feeling of being trapped in it. Local Opinion Tue, 22 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT Of buggery and rationality http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Of-buggery-and-rationality_17210731 "Every dog have him day, every puss him twelve o'clock." — Jamaican proverb. Local Opinion Tue, 22 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT Sir Howard’s unshakeable faith in Jamaica http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Sir-Howard-s-unshakeable-faith-in-Jamaica_17210601 LAST July, I was part of a Food For the Poor contingent that presented a citation to our beloved late Sir Howard Cooke for his tremendous support of the organisation's work. I seized the opportunity to interview him and below are excerpts from the resulting column which was published on July 29, 2013. Local Opinion Mon, 21 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT Towards a level playing field http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Towards-a-level-playing-field_17209497 MUCH has been written about high school sports and the transfer of elite athletes between the top schools. For those who have weighed in on the subject of athletics in school I have no doubt that they have the best intentions for Jamaica's youth and would like to see improvement in the way our schools educate our youngsters. I have no doubt, also, that their time spent debating the ills of high school athletics have been counterbalanced by the work they do within these institutions to rectify the situation. Local Opinion Mon, 21 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT Predatory State? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Predatory-State-_17172792 "A wise government knows how to enforce with temper, or to conciliate with dignity, but a weak one is odious in the former, and contemptible in the latter." Local Opinion Sun, 20 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT Go free, Mr Bicknell, but not so fast, Mr Vaz http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Go-free--Mr-Bicknell--but-not-so-fast--Mr-Vaz_17192333 Plumbers do not refer to their fellow plumbers as 'my learned friend', and neither do auto mechanics with each other. My mechanic sometimes refer to me as 'my learned friend', but one suspects that he has spent too much of his time working on lawyers' cars, plus, he probably believes that I need a stoking of the ego, and if he does it I will gladly pay him an extra few thousand dollars for his excellent work. Local Opinion Sun, 20 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT The New Bank of BRICS: What's in it for small economies? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/The-New-Bank-of-BRICS--What-s-in-it-for-small-economies-_17186298 IT is news that should awaken the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from their complacent attitude toward developing countries. It is also news that should confirm to the G20 that what used to be the G7 — a group of the seven industrialised nations -- no longer controls the world's financial affairs. Local Opinion Sun, 20 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT How I spent my summer holidays http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/How-I-spent-my-summer-holidays_17186943 WITH World Cup finally out of the way, everything is back to normal in Jamaica. 'Normal' meaning that we now have more time to pay to, or for, the high cost of living, the Commissioner Ellington issue, water woes, the heat, Professor Bain and the UWI, a noticeable spike in crime reports since the television went back to ordinary news, and the JLP wranglings in court over the Arthur Williams case. Local Opinion Sun, 20 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT Malaysian jet tragedy could be Ukraine crisis game-changer http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Malaysian-jet-tragedy-could-be-Ukraine-crisis-game-changer_17193752 PARIS, France (AFP) — The apparent downing of a Malaysian passenger jet and the loss of nearly 300 lives could be a game-changer in the Ukraine crisis, piling pressure on key players, Russia foremost. Local Opinion Sun, 20 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT Economic shock therapy and the harsh road to progress http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Economic-shock-therapy-and-the-harsh-road-to-progress_17196281 The following is an edited version of a presentation to the Rotary Club of East Kingston and Port Royal on July 14, 2014. Local Opinion Sun, 20 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT Why are Germans so darn good? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Why-are-Germans-so-darn-good-_17186656 I am happy Germany won the World Cup. It was not the most skilful game or the most cliffhanging, but football is about goals; he who scores wins. Talent can be fickle, but you can bet on training, hard graft, and teamwork. If you run 5k every day you can do it today; the natural may score seven goals, but there are no guarantees. Talent wins the derby on a given day, but the book gives much more reliable results over the long haul. Local Opinion Fri, 18 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT Life and times of 'Teacher Cooke' http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Life-and-times-of--Teacher-Cooke-_17187086 IN a country where we can destroy someone's name without a shred of substantiating evidence, it is good to be able to speak with confidence of a man who has left his space with a life undiminished by "carry-go-bring-come". Whatever spot and blemish Howard Felix Hanlan Cooke may have had -- who doesn't? -- he goes to his final reward with a high rating from the land of his birth in which he took enormous pride and worked to make better. Local Opinion Fri, 18 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT A teacher and a gentleman: Sir Howard Cooke and Joseph Earle http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/A-teacher-and-a-gentleman--Sir-Howard-Cooke-and-Joseph-Earle_17179599 SIR Clifford Campbell was 99 years old when he died, Sir Florizel Glasspole was 91 when he died, and Sir Howard Cooke was 98 when he died. Do their lengthy lives have anything to do with the sedentary life at King's House? Incidentally, the first governor general of Jamaica was the last colonial governor, Sir Kenneth Blackburne. He was governor general for less than four months. Truly, it is way past the time that Jamaica should have been a republic. Local Opinion Thu, 17 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT The executive director of BGLC needs to answer http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/The-executive-director-of-BGLC-needs-to-answer_17179197 AN article in yesterday's Business Observer told of the experience of entrepreneur Evan Williams, who took five years to get approval for the building of a new hotel in New Kingston. Local Opinion Thu, 17 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT Voices from developing countries need better recognition http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Voices-from-developing-countries-need-better-recognition_17166790 Reviewing the World Cup games, I was constantly disappointed at the Chinese team's absence. However, when finding so many Chinese elements in the games, my disappointment was somehow mitigated. Local Opinion Wed, 16 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT Preparing a new breed of ‘prototype leaders’ in Caricom http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Preparing-a-new-breed-of--prototype-leaders--in-Caricom_17173389 In these small states of the Caricom we can so easily get carried away in our quest to indentify the brightest prospects for future leaders — the movers and shakers within our communities. And, while it is my earnest desire to see the expansion of this pool of outstanding young men and women, I humbly ask: What are the indicators by which we determine prospective leaders within our societies? What systems have we put in place to nurture a culture of excellence in leadership? How closely have we been looking at our public and corporate institutions in recent times? Local Opinion Wed, 16 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT Why progress is hard for us http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Why-progress-is-hard-for-us-_17166977 According to Charles Hamilton Houston — the late dean of Howard University School of Law who crafted the strategy to overturn segregation in the United States — a lawyer is either a social engineer or a parasite on society. Local Opinion Tue, 15 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT Guilty silence, indictable ignorance or what? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Guilty-silence--indictable-ignorance-or-what-_16981313 EVEN non-lawyers know that though an accused person need not utter a word in his/her defence — since the burden of proof is almost always on the prosecution — but that right to silence could be read as 'guilty silence'. Local Opinion Tue, 15 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT