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 Is the engineer's report a scam? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Is-the-engineer-s-report-a-scam-_18989499 It's a miserable time. I pay exorbitant fees to a man who ticks boxes on a form as an engineer's report (ER) on my car. Is it a devious move by the tax man? No! Last year it cost me over $3,000, but I held my peace. It's now some $6,000, so I am angry; a heat wave is on, my dog Dawande died, mate Dawanya is sad, and I work in steamy conditions; maybe I am losing it, but with my plants quailing, fruits falling force-ripe like my niece, my shower hot, I am prickly as to pay a fee which is 150 per cent higher than 2013 for a grown man to walk round my car, turn lights on off, open the bonnet, and kick the tyres is outrageous. With tax I get a notice and can appeal, but with these privateers no notice and no choice as I can't get insurance at this firm without this ER. I may switch insurers. Local Opinion Fri, 22 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT Fire out in the hills http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Fire-out-in-the-hills_18989173 THE wind has abated. The flames have been brought under control. In the hills, many acres of agricultural land were destroyed. Thankfully, no one was injured. No life was lost. What has been described as possibly one of the worst bush fires ever seen in lickle Jamaica has been brought under control. The worst-case scenarios are no more. To some naysayers in our Diaspora, it was another occasion to be derogative about our lack of First World capabilities. One even used the words Dark Ages. Those at home who were in the path of the fire, and are here to tell the tale, have enough reason to give thanks now that it's all over. Local Opinion Fri, 22 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT Worker participation and bush fires http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Worker-participation-and-bush-fires_18974577 SO National Labour Day comes around again this coming Monday. We have certainly come a long way from the days when the conditions that workers laboured under were similar to that of slaves. The problem today is that workers still do not own the business in which they work. It is as if worker participation has been thrown in the garbage heap. And this is sad! Local Opinion Thu, 21 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT Super 8 to decide http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Super-8-to-decide-_18981210 FIFTY-four years ago Jamaica, the envied country by its neighbours, and affectionately called the Pearl of the Caribbean, decided to opt out of the West Indies Federation and go it alone. It is, therefore, instructive that the same Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) that trumpeted separation is resurrecting a nationalist attitude -- whatever that means -- in relation to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) being installed as the final court of appeal for Jamaica. Local Opinion Thu, 21 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT Vision 2030 — A pipe dream? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Vision-2030---A-pipe-dream-_18971154 VISION 2030 is Jamaica's strategic road map to guide the country towards achieving its goals of sustainable development and prosperity by 2030. Its signposts are in line with the inclusive development goals of the United Nations that has graduated beyond basic food, clothing and shelter to integrate the standards and principles of human rights through participation, non-discrimination and accountability. The overall aim of Vision 2030 Jamaica, the national development plan, is to make Jamaica the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business. Local Opinion Wed, 20 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT Education must fuel the 'engine of development' http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Education-must-fuel-the--engine-of-development-_18957927 ON Tuesday May 11, 2015, The House of Representatives approved a Bill to entrench in the constitution the oldest form of government - local government. This act is an expression of confidence in the ability of one institution within Jamaica to change the developmental landscape of the country. Local Opinion Wed, 20 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT How many of us could really go to the Privy Council, Holness? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/How-many-of-us-could-really-go-to-the-Privy-Council--Holness-_18974604 IN opposition to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), the leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has gone as far as having senators sign pre-dated resignation letters which he keeps for use to "resign" any senator who may intend to vote against the stance. Local Opinion Wed, 20 May 2015 02:00:00 GMT MOCA must be given a strong brew http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/MOCA-must-be-given-a-strong-brew_18936101 IN his sectoral presentation to Parliament on May 29, 2015, National Security Minister Peter Bunting said, inter alia, "MOCA (Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency) is the vanguard agency for detection and investigation of criminal kingpins, corrupt public officials, and professionals who facilitate money laundering". Minister Bunting further noted: "Cabinet has issued drafting instructions for legislation to establish MOCA as a statutory body independent of the JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force)." Local Opinion Tue, 19 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT What makes a child vulnerable? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/What-makes-a-child-vulnerable-_18970597 I normally write on Sunday nights, leaving Monday mornings for tidying up, but at 8:00 am yesterday I had not written a line. With so much churning in my head after a week in Jamaica, I could not decide what to write or how to say it. Then, I logged onto my Facebook page and saw a quote from Pope Francis. "Many powerful people don't want peace because they make money off war," it said. Local Opinion Tue, 19 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT Grown up politics, please! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Grown-up-politics--please-_18952114 ONE of Jamaica's most backward political habits is this 'colour-terrorism' to the point where people avoid wearing the beautiful colours of orange and green, for fear of being labelled, and even being injured, as a follower of one political party or another. That is why I have time for Aloun Assamba, who showed up at an event when she was a People's National Party (PNP) member of parliament wearing green and replied to a puzzled query, "I am wearing green...because I like green!" Local Opinion Mon, 18 May 2015 01:00:00 GMT Is betrayal synonymous with politics? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Is-betrayal-synonymous-with-politics-_18957990 POLITICS and betrayal are intertwined as if blended to make an unholy alliance. Local Opinion Mon, 18 May 2015 01:00:00 GMT Made for TV http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Made-for-TV_18952682 NOT all television shows are for everyone. Local Opinion Mon, 18 May 2015 01:00:00 GMT Lights, cameras, Take 2 http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Lights--cameras--Take-2_18943545 We are what we repeatedly do. Local Opinion Sun, 17 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT Our appetite for doom and gloom is endangering our existence... Stop it! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Our-appetite-for-doom-and-gloom-is-endangering-our-existence----Stop-it-_18941049 AMONG its many other purposes, the hypothalamus in our brains controls our appetite. From the look of things, it would appear that some of us have an overactive political hypothalamus -- a very dangerous condition that can impair our ability to manage the production and consumption of doom and gloom. Local Opinion Sun, 17 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT Find creative ways to compensate our teachers http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Find-creative-ways-to-compensate-our-teachers_18939764 THE stand-off between the Government and the nation's teachers continues. Jamaica Teachers' Association President Doran Dixon is encouraging teachers to apply pressure on the Government. He has my full support, but I am doubtfull that any success will come from these actions. The main reason for my pessimism stems from the fact that teachers are directing their venom at the Government. This is because they refuse to accept the fact that it is the International Monetray Fund (IMF), and not the Government, that is running the country. If the Government is to be blamed for anything, it is for misleading us -- when in Opposition facing an election -- that they could wrap up a deal with the IMF in short order. It took them several months, and when it was finally done, they came to us with -- for all practical purposes -- a structural adjustment programme that is like a millstone around the neck of a drowning nation. Local Opinion Sun, 17 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT Shall we dance? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Shall-we-dance-_18942871 MEMBERS of Parliament in the House of Representatives voted strictly along party lines on Tuesday, May 12, 2015 to pass the three Bills that could pave the way to institute the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as Jamaica's final appeal court. Local Opinion Sun, 17 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT Is the sugar cane industry ready for 2017? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Is-the-sugar-cane-industry-ready-for-2017- AS global sugar prices continue to falter, it is no small wonder that the pages of local newspapers have been awash with speculation on the outlook for Jamaica’s own sugar cane industry. Local Opinion Sun, 17 May 2015 00:28:35 GMT KCT deal a brave and commendable move http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/KCT-deal-a-brave-and-commendable-move_18945441 With matters relating to the privatisation of Kingston Container Terminal (KCT) ongoing and the new lessee CMA CGM Terminal Link putting things in place to attract and secure the funding necessary to equip and manage the port, someone is seeking answers to questions concerning this deal. Local Opinion Sun, 17 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT The state of the Jamaican nation http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/The-state-of-the-Jamaican-nation_18929673 The country appears to be going through a moment of reckoning with all the seeming elements of "misfortune". Misfortunes happen every day to everyone, everywhere, even in developed countries, and I suspect in outer space. Since we know misfortunes are bound to happen, we should be prepared for them based on previous experience or knowledge, and manage them. Local Opinion Sun, 17 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT Urgent gov't action needed to make Child Month theme a reality http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Urgent-gov-t-action-needed-to-make-Child-Month-theme-a-reality_18909952 AT the end of April, at least 24 children had been killed in Jamaica for the calendar year. An average of six per month. In this context, National Child Month is being celebrated under the theme 'Children's Safety and Security -- Our Priority'. However, urgent action is needed to truly make this so. Local Opinion Sun, 17 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT NCEL is really an insult http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/NCEL-is-really-an-insult_18935299 In the context of a growing number of quality onshore and offshore universities accredited to give instruction in educational leadership and supervision one cannot help but bring into sharp focus the relevance of creating, financing and maintaining a National College of Educational Leadership (NCEL) in Jamaica at a time when the Government and individual school leaders are experiencing grave financial difficulties. Local Opinion Fri, 15 May 2015 02:00:00 GMT British elections and Jamaica http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/British-elections-and-Jamaica-_18939683 The recent UK elections are not irrelevant to Jamaica as we -- unconsciously or consciously -- model our institutions and conduct on the British. We are black, but Africa is not our role model. Britain is our legal, cultural and constitutional home. More than a million of us now live there for more than a generation, remit billions, and it is a place of choice to live and work for them. Local Opinion Fri, 15 May 2015 02:00:00 GMT Who burned the old mattress? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Who-burned-the-old-mattress_18939671 THE flames are still burning in the east St Andrew hills and moving into St Thomas. No one can predict when the fire-struck landscape will recover, but the personnel of the fire department, members of the Jamaica Defence Force and the Constabulary, along with citizens of the affected areas, are combining their efforts to get the ordeal over and done with. Local Opinion Fri, 15 May 2015 02:00:00 GMT The struggle for Caribbean unity http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/The-struggle-for-Caribbean-unity_18934885 IN the Sunday Gleaner of May 3, 2015, Bruce Golding gave a historical account of how the Jamaica Labour Party came to change its position on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). Golding also wrote that a real issue was raised by the People's National Party when they stated their concerns that a referendum campaign on the CCJ would not necessarily focus on the issue. In the words of Golding, the PNP was concerned that a referendum would be "more about everything else" rather than the CCJ. Local Opinion Thu, 14 May 2015 02:00:00 GMT Doing the 2016 General Election maths http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Doing-the-2016-General-Election-maths-_18888936 The 2016 General election may be several months away but, based on activities in the various constituencies by both political parties, it might be sooner than one would have thought. Organising and strategising for election victory has now become a clinical science wrapped in numbers, data and trends. The use of scientific data and numbers, and their application to transform sentiments and perception to votes in the ballot box has caused many a slip between the cup and the lip. Local Opinion Thu, 14 May 2015 02:00:00 GMT