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 God is speaking to our nation in the drought http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/God-is-speaking-to-our-nation-in-the-drought_17260037 "If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit in due season." Leviticus 26: 3-4 Local Opinion Tue, 29 Jul 2014 01:00:00 GMT What does it mean to be Jamaican? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/What-does-it-mean-to-be-Jamaican_17260199 MANY of us, at home or abroad, have a love-hate relationship with our country. The love part is about the richness of our natural resources and the vibrancy of the culture we have created from the fusion of our predominantly African ancestry, sprinkled with Taino, Asian and Europeans. It manifests itself in our world view and lifestyles that are uniquely and proudly ours. The part that many of us are challenged by is our relationship to the State -- the political arrangement that has as its primary responsibility the protection of the well-being of its citizens. Sure, we are so much better off than many, but we have a far way to go. Local Opinion Tue, 29 Jul 2014 01:00:00 GMT Jamaica's Federation of courageous women http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Jamaica-s-Federation-of-courageous-women_17251236 It is a myth that Jamaican women do not support each other. Jamaica is blessed in her brave and compassionate sisters who have empowered not only women but all members of their national family. Local Opinion Mon, 28 Jul 2014 01:00:00 GMT 'Free paper soon bun' — Homework time http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/-Free-paper-soon-bun----Homework-time_17251745 — John Cotton Dana Local Opinion Mon, 28 Jul 2014 01:00:00 GMT Let us pray ...for rain http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Let-us-pray----for-rain_17246674 THE God of the Judeo-Christian tradition, as portrayed in the Bible, is one who is concerned with the providential care of his people, which includes the forces of nature and history for the well-being of his people. Indeed, for those unfamiliar with this notion, Psalm 104 may be considered a song of praise to the God of creation capturing every facet of God's involvement in the life of the created order through the seasons and, most specifically for our purpose, the provision of the rains for the sustenance of the creation. So, from the story of creation in the Book of Genesis, through the wanderings of the children of Israel through the desert, water has been a major concern for people and a matter of major concern in their relationship with God. Local Opinion Sun, 27 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT The flood of economic woes in the drought http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/The-flood-of-economic-woes-in-the-drought It was a whopping 96 degrees in the shade last Thursday afternoon in the Grant’s Pen community as Liz complained to me that the drought was 'mashing up' her life. Local Opinion Sun, 27 Jul 2014 01:00:01 GMT Passing IMF tests necessary, but not sufficient http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Passing-IMF-tests-necessary--but-not-sufficient_17246482 "Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it." Local Opinion Sun, 27 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT When Norman Manley won and lost a referendum (Part 1) http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/When-Norman-Manley-won-and-lost-a-referendum--Part-1-_17246629 1953 was an active year for pioneer bauxite/alumina activities in Jamaica. Early in the year, on January 7, Alumina Jamaica (later known as Alcan), made its first alumina shipment, 2,300 tons, 'packed in stout paper bags', on the SS Trident, from Railroad Pier No 3 in Kingston. Local Opinion Sun, 27 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT Stormy politics in Guyana for changing of PNC leadership http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Stormy-politics-in-Guyana-for-changing-of-PNC-leadership_17246610 IN PARTY politics, they say, "all things are possible", however questionable or surprising at times. Local Opinion Sun, 27 Jul 2014 02:00:00 GMT China will cast a huge shadow as Japan meets CARICOM http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/China-will-cast-a-huge-shadow-as-Japan-meets-CARICOM_17246656 The word will not be spoken in any formal speeches and it won't be mentioned in final statements and declarations, but it will be talked about in the corridors and it will be at the back of everyone's mind as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits five Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) nations from July 25 to August 2. The word is "China". Local Opinion Sun, 27 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 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 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