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 Have the managers of the Universal Service Fund become Eskimos? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Have-the-managers-of-the-Universal-Service-Fund-become-Eskimos-_90333 The Universal Service Fund (USF) has turned out to be one of the most important and lasting initiatives to have come out of a People&rsquo;s National Party (PNP) Administration. Despite his other shortcomings at the ministerial wicket, Phillip Paulwell, under whose stewardship USF came into being, must be credited for this important introduction to the country&rsquo;s digital space. One well remembers the struggles to get service providers to even grudgingly accept that a fee had to be paid on telephone calls terminated in Jamaica.<br /> <br /> Indeed, if one can forgive some stumbles, it is in the area of telecommunications that Paulwell has made some of his most important contributions to government. He fought hard and successfully for the break-up of the telecommunications monopoly enjoyed by Cable & Wireless. Today, the country enjoys a broad spectrum of telecommunication services which would not have been possible in an earlier era.<br /> <br /> Since its inception, USF has become a virtual cash cow. It has been able to undertake a number of projects that have increased the possibility for many Jamaicans to participate in the digital economy. Of worthy mention is the distribution of tablets in schools, which is being expanded. But, like all cash cows, there is a tendency to spend in areas where it is not necessary. Of immediate concern is USF&rsquo;s desire to spend $700 million on acquiring corporate space. It has been said that when Eskimos find themselves with money they buy igloos.<br /> <br /> I would hope this is not the case with the USF, as this would be a betrayal of its mission and vision statements: &ldquo;To positively impact Jamaica&rsquo;s socio-economic development by enabling a knowledge-based society through universal access to the Internet and digital inclusion.&rdquo; This is a worthy mission and goal which one assumes has to be at the core of what the USF does. Any deviation from these stated goals is not welcomed.<br /> <br /> The fund must determine whether the spending of $700 million at this time for such a project is consistent with this mission or whether it is a reckless use of capital that should be expended on carrying out its core functions. In other words, has the USF exhausted all available options to acquire corporate office space within the context of government infrastructure that might be available? One makes this point against the background of the existence of government buildings that are not being utilised or are underutilised. If the USF looks carefully and diligently one can be sure that space can be found within the existing infrastructure that would be less costly. But everyone likes the smell of new furniture in new offices, and especially in new buildings.<br /> <br /> This column has been a persistent critic of the lackadaisical approach of successive governments to put into maximum use the available real estate it has at its disposal. To the best of one&rsquo;s knowledge, no audit has been carried out to ascertain space that is available or whether maximum and productive use is being made of available real estate. What is known is that there are buildings that are idle, or space that is being wasted. Yet the Government spends millions of dollars per year on rented property.<br /> <br /> I agree with the Opposition PNP that spending $700 million on this office project would be an egregious misuse of available resources. I further agree that such resources must be put to the core function of the USF, to build out other access areas throughout Jamaica that can assist more Jamaicans to participate in the digital economy.<br /> <br /> USF&rsquo;s managers and Minister Andrew Wheatley, under whose portfolio the fund falls, would be strongly advised to discourage this use of scarce resources and commit to the continued expansion of the Tablets in Schools programme, and the further build out of community infrastructure that will enable Jamaicans to gain more robust access to the Internet. This is their mandate and they should stick to it.<br /> <br /> As we are on the subject of the proper use of taxpayers&rsquo; money, it seems that the Government is poised to intrude on the resources of the National Housing Trust (NHT) for budgetary support for the new fiscal year. This is another example of a cash-rich entity being abused to satisfy the demands of the Government for revenue. When Michael Manley proposed and had the NHT established, the intention was to solve the chronic housing shortage in the country. Most people could not dream of owning a home. So many years after, there has not been any significant indication that much has changed. People have been helped, but many more could be if successive governments were committed to carry out the true mandate of the NHT, which is to provide housing for people.<br /> <br /> When it is not being used as political grease to lubricate the political fortunes of a respective political party, it is used as an economic tool to provide support to the Consolidated Fund. This is not to judge or cast aspersion on the relative merit of such actions, but to call attention to the use of the funds for projects other than intended. There is a lot of money sloshing around in the NHT&rsquo;s coffers, and this is strictly for the reason that such money is not being used in a robust manner for the purpose intended. This is also the case with the USF. When money lies around idly, and is not deployed for the purposes for which it was collected, it becomes a target for the predatory instincts that lurk in every politician. That has been the bane of the NHT, and it now appears the USF.<br /> <br /> Basil Bennett<br /> <br /> Let me extend condolence to the family of Basil Bennett, former principal of the Nain Junior High and active resident of St Elizabeth, who died recently. I met him over 30 years ago when he was principal of the then Nain Primary School. One can attest to his high sense of integrity, hard work and the fixity of purpose that he brought to the various undertakings that he was engaged in.<br /> <br /> Bennett is one of many Jamaicans, especially from the rural areas, who have served their country well and who are not often given the honour due to them. I know he has been recognised in St Elizabeth for his community service, but one cannot recall him getting a national honour for his services to education and the community. Yet, his contribution in these areas has been stellar. Now he looks to a greater reward for which he toiled below. May his soul rest in peace.<br /> <br /> Dr Raulston Nembhard is a priest and social commentator. Send comments to the Observer or<br /> <br /> stead6655@aol.com.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12623582/183683_w300.jpg Local Opinion Wednesday, February 22, 2017 12:00 AM If we must use preventative detention... http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/If-we-must-use-preventative-detention---_90326 A few weeks ago, the Government announced a number of measures that will be encouraged and taken to address our country&rsquo;s high crime rate. Amongst these measures was the resurrection of the concept of preventative crime detention. That this measure is a resurrection &mdash; and therefore not anything new &mdash; comes from the existing laws that govern us.<br /> <br /> The Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms within our constitution expressly provides for preventative crime detention. Section 14 (1) f (ii) under our Charter states that on reasonable grounds in accordance with fair procedures established by law, a person can be deprived of his liberty &ldquo;where it is reasonably necessary to prevent his committing an offence&rdquo;. It should be noted that our Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms was last revised and came into effect approximately 16 years ago, with this concept of preventative crime detention included in it. At that time, there was hardly, if at all, any vehement opposition to it as there seems to be now from various quarters of society.<br /> <br /> Quite apart from our constitution, which assumes supremacy in terms of law, Section 5 of the Domestic Violence Act of 1998, Section 15 of the Child Care and Protection Act 2005, and Section 15 of the Mental Health Act, 2001, have all embodied the concepts of preventative crime detention. For example, Section 15 of the Child Care and Protection Act gives the power to a constable to detain a person for whom he has reasonable grounds to believe that that person will abscond from lawful process. Once again, there was hardly, if at all, any voices of discontent in relation to this provision, or indeed in relation to any of the sections of the Acts mentioned above.<br /> <br /> The concept of preventative crime detention has not only been laid out plainly in various legislation enacted by our Parliament, but also in decided cases that have come before the courts. Indeed, as recently as February 15, 2017 the Court of Appeal England and Wales, through the case of R (on the application of Hicks and Another) v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, affirmed the principles of preventative detention. In that case, individuals had been detained by the police on the basis that there was reasonable belief that their detention was necessary for the prevention of an imminent breach of the peace. The people were subsequently released without being charged. As a result, these individuals brought an action against the police. The claim made was that, by their detention, the police violated their rights to liberty under Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court of Appeal ruled that the police were well justified in so acting and that, in law, this was permissible. In ruling as it did, the English Court of Appeal underscored the concept of preventative crime detention. The law, therefore, is clear on this subject and need not be complicated or confused by those casting doubts on its legitimacy.<br /> <br /> The focus must be on whether we can expect the police to base their detention of people on reasonable grounds, as opposed to none at all, in the execution of preventative crime detention. This is the real issue at hand. Regrettably, empirical evidence suggests that some members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force very often fall short of having reasonable grounds for an individual&rsquo;s detention, whether it be for the prevention of a crime or otherwise. The tendency is always either to detain for inordinate periods and release; or detain, charge and then investigate. Whichever approach is utilised by the police represents an abuse of their powers and an injustice to the citizen. Indeed, the approach of detain, charge, and then investigate, contributes immensely to the backlog of cases in our courts, as such cases drag on for months without any firm trial dates while investigations continue.<br /> <br /> The simple solution, it would seem, is to devise a system which itself prevents the necessity of resorting to the concept of preventative crime detention. Against this background, reference can be made to what obtains in other neighbouring countries. In the Cayman Islands, for example, the police is given the power under their Bail Law of 2015 to impose reporting conditions upon a person while that person enjoys his/her freedom until the completion of an investigation. At the end of the investigation the person is the placed before the court for consideration of bail, settlement of legal representation, or an agreement of a trial date. In that jurisdiction, multiple mention dates before the court for completion of police investigation are unheard of.<br /> <br /> It is time for us to take a similar approach in Jamaica by making the necessary amendments to our Bail Act. Then again, this solution may make too much sense and therefore not be attractive for implementation by those who continue to play politics with or give lip service to the reform of our justice system.<br /> <br /> Peter Champagnie is an attorney-at-law. Send comments to the Observer or <br /> <br /> peter.champagnie@gmail.com.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13660800/260045__w300.jpg Local Opinion Wednesday, February 22, 2017 12:00 AM Mathematics education: A case for problem-solving http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Mathematics-education--A-case-for-problem-solving_90150 A country&rsquo;s entire economy and growth revolves around different aspects of mathematics. The role of mathematics in national, regional and international developments has become more evident in contemporary societies, as emphasis is now being placed on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).<br /> <br /> The school subject of mathematics has always presented challenges for learners at all levels of the educational system. Since the 1980s, the Jamaican Ministry of Education has embarked on various projects or initiatives to address the poor performance in mathematics by students who sit the national assessment tests or the Caribbean Examination Council&rsquo;s Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate Examination (CSEC). However, despite these interventions, the performance continues to be below expectations. For example, in 2016, 57 per cent of the grade six candidates gained mastery of mathematics in the Grade Six Achievement Test and only 44 per cent of the candidates passed the CSEC mathematics, falling from 62 per cent in the previous year. What accounts for such low scores in mathematics?<br /> <br /> The system continues to engage in the blame game. In my own experience as a former classroom mathematics teacher in the upper grades at traditional and non-traditional schools, there were certain basic mathematical ideas that students were expected to know and understand from primary school or the lower grades that they had no clue about, did not remember, or had misconceptions. In those 20-odd years ago, my colleagues and I were quick to blame the teachers of the lower grades for students&rsquo; lack of knowledge, understanding, and skills. And, based on the thoughts expressed in the newspapers and on radio talk shows, many people hold the view that teachers are to be blamed. In fact, I recall hearing a news item that the Ministry of Education, Youth & Information attributed the fall in the CSEC passes to the migration of many mathematics teachers. What then does this imply?<br /> <br /> Is it fair to blame the teachers when school boards and principals, and by extension the ministry of education, to continue to employ individuals to teach mathematics who are qualified in areas other than mathematics education? How effective are those teachers who lack the requisite training for content and methodology?<br /> <br /> Contrary to these thoughts of fully blaming the teachers, findings from my own research on grade four teachers&rsquo; opinions on their teaching of mathematics indicated that large class sizes, lack of resources, and overloaded curricular content significantly impact their ability to deliver the curriculum as expected (Buddo, 2012). Even though such data were collected five to six years ago, those findings are still applicable in the mathematics classrooms of today. In such settings, with ratios of one class teacher to over 40 students, in many cases, it is impossible for all the students to receive individual attention, and for the teacher to cater for the diverse needs, interests, learning styles, competencies, and abilities of the learners. Also, without adequate resources, the students are denied the opportunities to engage fully with the mathematics through concrete, pictorial and symbolic representations of the ideas.<br /> <br /> The Ministry of Education is always seeking ways to improve performance in mathematics at both the primary and secondary levels, and is to be commended for this. For some time now, mathematics specialists and coaches have been employed to assist with the professional development of practising teachers and in their implementation of mathematics curricula. However, the data on the extent to which the specialists and coaches are positively impacting mathematics teaching and learning are yet to be known or communicated.<br /> <br /> Since September 2016, the new standards-based curricula developed by the Ministry of Education are being implemented in grades 7-9 at the secondary schools and in grades 2 and 4 at the primary schools. Although this is the case, I am surprised that the School of Education, the teacher-training unit at The University of the West Indies, Mona, has not yet received a copy of the draft curricula nor have we been invited to attend any of the training workshops. I do not know the situation for other teacher-training institutions. I have, however, learnt from a few teachers who were trained in summer 2016 that the focus is on the development of higher-level thinking skills such as creative thinking, critical thinking and problem-solving through activity-based lessons in students-centred settings. This certainly is a welcome change from the traditional chalk-and-talk, drill-and practise, rote learning methodologies. In these changing times, graduates are required to have developed competencies in being able to think logically and creatively, and to make informed decisions.<br /> <br /> On the matter of problem-solving skills, this is an area that the School of Education has always sought to develop in students who pursue the undergraduate mathematics education programmes. Since 2000, the course titled &lsquo;Investigations and Problem-solving&rsquo; has been offered as a compulsory specialisation course in its bachelor&rsquo;s degree in mathematics education and bachelor of science in mathematics with education programmes. The assessment for the course initially had students in the programmes working in selected mathematics classrooms teaching and developing these higher-level skills in the secondary students. Today, the objective of engaging students in problem-solving has blossomed into the annual staging of the Grade 9 Mathematics Problem-Solving Competition by the School of Education since 2002. <br /> <br /> The School of Education showcases this competition annually among grade 9 students across the island to motivate them and to promote the development of students&rsquo; problem-solving skills and teamwork as participants are required to collaborate and present the written solutions to three or four problems. Problem-solving skills are necessary in this highly technological and competitive global environment, and problem-solving is the springboard for the development of other higher-level thinking skills and equips students more readily with the ability to solve problems in situations for which standard algorithms do not necessarily apply.<br /> <br /> Mathematics underpins many disciplines, and by doing and learning mathematics, students develop the habits of mind and become empowered in their abilities to apply mathematical ideas in different scenarios. This year, the competition will be held on Thursday, April 6, 2017 at the Assembly Hall of the Mona Campus. We invite schools to participate in the competition and to express their interest by sending an e-mail to<br /> <br /> problemsolvingcompetition@gmail.com.<br /> <br /> I commend the Ministry of Education for the initial steps that have been taken to ensure that their teachers of mathematics are qualified in the discipline. I look forward to a reduction in class sizes and more schools having adequate instructional materials. I wish the ministry, schools, teachers, and other stakeholders every success in the implementation of the new curricula. I sincerely hope that not only will students&rsquo; performance in mathematics improve, but students will also develop a deep understanding of the mathematical ideas and be able to apply them in real-world contexts.<br /> <br /> Dr Camella Buddo is a mathematics education lecturer at the School of Education, The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. Send comments to the Observer or camella.buddo02@uwimona.edu.jm.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13657976/259789_86282_repro_w300.jpg Local Opinion Tuesday, February 21, 2017 12:00 AM Fight crime with science, not &lsquo;sciance&rsquo; http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Fight-crime-with-science--not--sciance-_90149 Jamaica continues to be punched into the corner by an unbridled crime monster. And, disturbingly, a still much-divided country based on partisan lines continues to believe that the responsibility of dealing with crime rests solely with the Jamaica Labour Party or the People&rsquo;s National Party &mdash; whichever is in power. Yes, it is the primary duty of every administration to ensure the safety and well-being of its citizens, but crime is such a complex issue that it demands a consensual approach that must involve all sectors of the society.<br /> <br /> Against the backdrop that the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) was initially established after the Morant Bay Rebellion (1865), as a paramilitary body, over these many decades the modus operandi of the police has been to use physical force to curb criminal activities. The political directorate has also bought into this mantra which led, for example, to the Suppression of Crimes Act, which gave law enforcement men and women seemingly unbridled powers to nab and detain, as well as gave room for unscrupulous and roguish cops, in some instances, to carry out extrajudicial killings.<br /> <br /> In the meantime, the highly touted community policing strategy has failed, for the most part, because of the prevailing &ldquo;informa fi dead&rdquo; culture, as well as the high level of corruption in the JCF itself. To put it bluntly, the ordinary, working class Jamaican does not trust the police, while those in the higher echelons of the society know that they can easily bribe their way out of a problem. So our prisons are overflowing with &ldquo;ghetto youths&rdquo; while many upper class criminals go about their nefarious activities untouched. And to add insult to injury, the involvement of politicians, particularly in our impoverished, inner-city communities, in various acts of victimisation, intimidations, handouts, cronyism, the &ldquo;parson must christen him pickney fus&rsquo; &rdquo; syndrome, drugs and gun trading, and donmanship tactics have already been well recorded for posterity.<br /> <br /> Over the last two administrations, the two national security ministers, namely Peter Bunting and Robert Montague, have expressed their frustrations when all else appears to have failed, by firstly appealing for divine intervention, and latterly a nuanced espousing of the legitimacy of obeah as a possible counter-attack against heinous and wily miscreants. While our politicians continue to pussyfoot around the subject, all the while seeking cheap mileage, the police force has seen its own cycle of diminishing returns with the continuing attrition of police commissioners &mdash; the majority of whom have had to quit amidst perceptions of an inability to get the job done, chief of which is to bring down the murder figures.<br /> <br /> So we are now back at square one and much pressure is being placed on Minister Montague and Acting Police Commissioner Novelette Grant who seem to be already being drawn into that inevitable vortex of the Peter Principle (the principle that members of a hierarchy are promoted until they reach the level at which they are no longer competent). Of course, the bottom line is that divinations and wild imaginings as well as half-baked, not-well-thought-out policies that are not data driven or reliant on scientific analysis are part and parcel of a national plan destined to fail. In other words, we must fight crime with science, not &lsquo;sciance&rsquo;.<br /> <br /> The<br /> <br /> Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines science as, &ldquo;The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment; a systematically organised body of knowledge on any subject.&rdquo; Thus, forensics inclusive of the full use of DNA technology, utilising more data from psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers, transforming how our police force operates by drastically changing its culture and hierarchical structure based on reliable research, and taking crime fighting out of the clutches of narrow, partisan one-upmanship are but some of the methodologies that must be embraced.<br /> <br /> This writer strongly believes that every person that has been incriminated should be part of a DNA database established with the necessary checks and balances. And we need to see more meaningful research studies coming out of our universities, as well as graduates trained to fight crime in its various aspects.<br /> <br /> This country already has too many lawyers and too few genuine, committed crime fighters. There needs to be an appreciable balance. Criminology in all its aspects must be touted as a preferred career path, or is it that the nation&rsquo;s only response to crime fighting is to produce defence lawyers that thrive professionally and financially from this pursuit? <br /> <br /> I am not attacking our lawyers, but how many of them have ventured into social advocacy in a society where there is so much inequity and iniquity? It must be understood that one of Jamaica&rsquo;s foremost problems that stares us in the face everyday is the high level of inequality. And if we do not deal with it, one day the chickens are going to come home to roost. In real terms, much of our politics is more aligned to &ldquo;sciance&rdquo; than to science in that we oftentimes resort to hocus pocus methods in tackling national challenges.<br /> <br /> An example, I believe, is the decision to remove tints from public passenger vehicles (and, as is being encouraged, private vehicles as well). Is it based on credible data or just a knee-jerk policy decision based on perception more than reality?<br /> <br /> Incidentally, a large number of impoverished youths who provide tinting services will soon be out of a gainful livelihood. Will they then turn to a life of crime? In that same breath, what of the many youngsters who have been scamming their way to much wealth but are gradually being forced out of that criminal activity? Is there any plan to fill that vacuum? Is there no redemption?<br /> <br /> &lsquo;Aiiy sah,&rsquo; Jamaica really needs to visit a balm yard, or will our various experts come forward with the right solutions and not just public relations gimmickry? &ldquo;Hubacaba, cabacaba, mek mi tun mi roll. Sciance again!&rdquo;<br /> <br /> lbsmith4@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Editor&rsquo;s note: <br /> <br /> The term &lsquo;sciance&rsquo; is a colloqial synonym for obeah.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13657975/259736_86283_repro_w300.jpg Local Opinion Tuesday, February 21, 2017 12:00 AM Jamaica&rsquo;s getting well-tuned http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Jamaica-s-getting-well-tuned_90045 Garfene Grandison posted a query in social media about the heavy traffic in the Corporate Area since the beginning of the year. My response was that I was hearing and seeing growing interest in Jamaica. The latest Don Anderson Business Confidence Survey indicates a positive outlook from businesses and high expectations from consumers.<br /> <br /> We are able to track the facts and figures on national development via regular reports from the Economic Growth Council, the Economic Programme Oversight Committee, and the Public Sector Transformation Oversight Committee. Only last week, Bank of Jamaica Governor Brian Wynter announced that Jamaica is one of the first countries in the world, and the first in the Caribbean, which will have an International Monetary Fund-approved National Summary Data Page.<br /> <br /> A Jamaica Observer business report quoted Wynter: &ldquo;This display of greater transparency and accountability, this structured effort, is itself of great interest to international rating agencies and others, and will contribute to better credit ratings for the country.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The Jamaica Stock Exchange has been on a bull run since the start of the year, and the business process outsourcing sector is expanding rapidly. Let us never forget those matriarchs and patriarchs who have set us on this dynamic trajectory, including such legends as Chris Blackwell, Hyacinth Chen, Glen Christian, Oliver Clarke, Karl Hendrickson, Audrey Hinchcliffe, Lorna Myers, Peter McConnell, Gordon &ldquo;Butch&rdquo; Stewart, the late greats Carlton Alexander, Gladstone Chang, Joan Duncan, Maurice Facey, Rose Leon, and Saleem Mahfood. Add to that list the names of their younger family members and the new stars of enterprise. Suffice it to say that an energetic generation of entrepreneurs is making its mark.<br /> <br /> Let us study these successful journeys to plan our own path to prosperity. Stay tuned to business news and read those financial supplements carefully. The Jamaica Stock Exchange website has links to all the listed companies. Never has information been so accessible.<br /> <br /> Now that we are opening this new path of data-powered strategy and transparency, the risk of being damaged by corrupt practices has been minimised. It is an excellent time to venture out, using your education and talents to create opportunities for yourself and others.<br /> <br /> Operation Clean Sweep<br /> <br /> No country can prosper in a crime-ridden environment, so we are encouraged by the Jamaica Constabulary Force&rsquo;s (JCF) Operation Clean Sweep initiative. A JCF release dated Sunday, February 12, 2017 notes: &ldquo;Police officers, along with members of the military, continue to dominate our public spaces through &lsquo;Operation Clean Sweep&rsquo;. St Catherine North maintained momentum with additional successes recorded on Saturday, February 11.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Between the hours of 2:00 pm and 5:30 pm, during the operations:<br /> <br /> &bull; A total of 346 persons and 250 motor vehicles were searched.<br /> <br /> &bull; The police also issued 138 tickets; seized one pound of ganja, 11 offensive weapons, 23 persons arrested, processed 16 individuals; and seized $57,718 in cash.<br /> <br /> &bull; A total of 31 packs of illegal cigarettes were also recovered.<br /> <br /> &bull; Five persons prosecuted [were] for not having a spirit licence.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The release noted that, &ldquo;Operation Clean Sweep was launched on January 28, 2017 to restore order in public spaces and, so far, several areas across the island have seen increased presence from members of the security forces.&rdquo; Good going.<br /> <br /> Hands and hearts<br /> <br /> My late, beloved mother would term community programmes as a way &ldquo;to put hands and hearts together&rdquo;. After a visit to Oracabessa, our spirits were refreshed as we could walk uninterrupted in a quiet development, enjoying the wide variety of Jamaican fruits and flowers planted with pride and apparent confidence. The Oracabessa Police Station had a clean, freshly painted look, which would have contributed to the morale of those who are in charge of the security of that community. Better facilities will result in better services from our overwhelmed police officers.<br /> <br /> I hark back to that beautiful day in the 90s when we assisted Elizabeth Phillips, then executive director, in the launch of the Oracabessa Foundation, sponsored by Jamaican hotelier and music mogul Chris Blackwell. What a joy it was last year to see that the work of the foundation was continuing under current Executive Director Jonathan Gosse. He has created a &lsquo;Two Wheels, One Love &rsquo; cycling programme for primary school children in collaboration with the Digicel Foundation and other partners. This emphasis on community development is bearing fruit. <br /> <br /> Start with the children<br /> <br /> Hilary Nicholson, a founding member of WMW Jamaica (formerly Women&rsquo;s Media Watch) and a member of the 51% Coalition, made an important point in an interview with Althea McKenzie on the<br /> <br /> Power 106 FM programme<br /> <br /> Independent Talk. She is urging more Jamaicans to mentor our children, as abused children tend to become abusive adults.<br /> <br /> In our shop, each account executive has responsibility for one of our Grant&rsquo;s Pen scholars. They call them regularly and always on their birthdays. We meet with them for Mandela Day in July and again at Christmas. You can imagine our joy when our first scholar, Etmour Williams, started Grade Six Achievement Test classes for the children in the community. The successful young professional was on hand last December to share his experiences and encourage the children.<br /> <br /> On leaving the bowling alley in Manor Centre last week at minutes to 9 o&rsquo;clock, our family was shocked to see a woman walking in with three well-dressed tiny tots. These children were not a day over four years old. The only place they should have been was in their beds. If there is no law denying entry to small children in places of entertainment after certain hours, we are pleading with the Child Development Agency to have this introduced. Our children need a nurturing environment to thrive. A noisy bowling alley at 9:00 pm is clearly no such thing.<br /> <br /> Nicholson also reminded listeners that, some 15 years ago, the Government had promised to build a shelter for battered women in each of our parishes. However, Jamaica still only has one such shelter in the Corporate Area and it is struggling to stay open.<br /> <br /> Assistance for Cornwall Regional<br /> <br /> Cornwall Regional Hospital has been facing a serious environmental issue which may take up to six months to address. It was therefore great news that organisers of the Rainforest Seafood Festival will be contributing all proceeds to the hospital once again. So far, previous events sponsored by the company have raised $25 million for the hospital. This column hopes the situation at the beleaguered hospital will be remedied soon.<br /> <br /> lowriechin@aim.com<br /> <br /> www.lowrie-chin.blogspot.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12771115/191718_63465_repro_w300.jpg Local Opinion Monday, February 20, 2017 12:00 AM The real &lsquo;Portia Effect&rsquo; http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/The-real--Portia-Effect-_90089 Columnist Garfield Higgins &mdash; in his piece on former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller in the Jamaica Observer&rsquo;s The Agenda in yesterday&rsquo;s edition &mdash; said, in part, &ldquo;&hellip;the PNP&rsquo;s National Executive Committee meeting held in Hatfield, Manchester... witnessed a bitter and toxic explosion from Simpson Miller. In her rage, she went off script and emptied her political soul&hellip;&rdquo; My view is that she has finally decided to vent her feelings over 40 years of less than welcoming behaviour by various factions in this country.<br /> <br /> I have been observing, and when I read between the lines and assessed the body language of Jamaicans at different times, our attitude toward her can be described as impudent, uncivil, pert, flippant, aweless, impious, contumelious, nervy, presumptive, saucy, and salty.<br /> <br /> Portia Simpson Miller freely admits that she comes from Wood Hall. Wood where? That is a one-horse village in the most rural and rustic part of St Catherine. It should come as no surprise that her beginnings were humble. Everything in Wood Hall is humble. Most of its residents, bold enough to head for Kingston in search of a living, would be more than pleased to hold on to a non-clerical job and do their best to keep it. She entered politics and, from those simple beginnings, rose to the pinnacle of political accomplishments in the country.<br /> <br /> When the history of the People&rsquo;s National Party (PNP) is spoken about, we immediately talk of the Manleys. But Norman Manley would not have made it without Wills Isaacs, Allan Coombs and Ivan Lloyd. And did Michael have D K Duncan&rsquo;s skills? I think not. Did Portia Simpson Miller need anybody&rsquo;s help to keep the party in government for so long? Long before she became leader? Longer than anyone else? No!!<br /> <br /> She is not a man. She is not brown. She did not attend &lsquo;Sinaandrew&rsquo; High. She has none of the dialectical cant that typifies the upper St Andrew crowd. And the PNP had more than its fair share of PhDs. Yet she skilfully manoeuvred her way around and through them to the top.<br /> <br /> Why is it so difficult for us to recognise that this is a remarkable accomplishment and that one has to be a special and unique treasure to make this happen? Why is it so difficult for us to see her for what she is &mdash; a rare, remarkable human?<br /> <br /> I was having a Pepsi with Roger Clarke at his favourite watering hole just outside Old Harbour a few months before his last fateful flight. He mentioned that a certain well known person did not seem to like him. I told him he had the &ldquo;Portia Effect&rdquo;. Nobody disliked him. He raised his eyes and his voice and replied, &ldquo;You mean Portia has the &lsquo;Roger Effect&rsquo;,&rdquo; before laughing long and hard. Which is true?<br /> <br /> Even if we don&rsquo;t vote for them, nobody dislikes them. Interestingly, they are the only two politicians that ever responded to my letters to them about portfolio matters.<br /> <br /> But despite Simpson Miller&rsquo;s success at keeping her party winning for so long, she struggled for her entire political career against thinly disguised misogyny. Not many people could carry that burden for so long. I don&rsquo;t like the way we have treated her, and our behaviour in this matter tells me more about ourselves than it does about this remarkable woman.<br /> <br /> In the early 70s, I spent many afternoons in the company of Marcus Garvey&rsquo;s widow at her home on Monroe Road. I learned a lot that is very different from the stories we have been told about our history. Most of us would be hard-pressed to write two sentences about some of the &lsquo;true revolutionaries&rsquo; because we never heard their names called.<br /> <br /> It is my hope that we will emancipate ourselves from gender and class bias before we write the next chapter in our nation&rsquo;s history.<br /> <br /> Glenn Tucker is an educator and a sociologist. Send comments to the Observer or <br /> <br /> glenntucker2011@gmail.com.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13264918/226580__w300.jpg Local Opinion Monday, February 20, 2017 12:00 AM Henry Garrett and white myths http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Henry-Garrett-and-white-myths_89602 There is, among some white folk, the view that once you think of ancient Africa &mdash; or modern Africa for people like Henry Garrett &mdash; you think of a monolithic primitive society and of savages. Ignorance is commingled with ethnocentric or racist arrogance and each feeds on and fuels the other, and together they provide a fertile setting for ethnocentric or racist myths or exaggeration.<br /> <br /> One can concede that there were and are Africans who could be legitimately described as savages, but what would Garrett say if he knew that before the modern malady of colour prejudice blacks were not stereotyped in Egyptian, Greco-Roman or Christian records as primitives or savages?<br /> <br /> One is tempted, mischievously, to seek a comment from Garrett and his kind on the fact that Strabo, Greek historian and geographer from Pontus on the Black Sea, regarded whites, not blacks, as the most savage. For Strabo, the ancient inhabitants of Ireland were even more savage than the Britons because the ancient Irish deemed it honourable to eat their fathers when they died and have sexual intercourse with their mothers and sisters.<br /> <br /> Assuming that Strabo&rsquo;s observations are historically reliable, are the modern Irish to be labelled and libelled because of an unfortunate episode in history? We would not place before Garrett the more debatable historical claims of some Afrocentrists, but neither can we fail to lay out a minute portion of the incontestable legacy of ancient Negroes.<br /> <br /> From the ancient Egyptian records, especially Egyptian art, we know that the peoples living south of Egypt, in Lower and Upper Nubia (roughly modern Sudan) had features that would qualify in modern terms for the description Negro; they had, on the whole, dark or black skins, broad noses, thick lips, and tightly coiled hair. They were called Ethiopians (from the Greek aithiops &lsquo;sunburnt face&rsquo;), Nubians and Kushites. <br /> <br /> From as far back as the First Dynasty in Egypt (c 3100-2890 BC) there were attempts to subjugate Nubia. The Kushites resisted these incursions into Nubia but periodically had thousands of their people taken as prisoners and eventually were forced to surrender control of Lower Nubia. <br /> <br /> It is to be noted though that the so-called &lsquo;Execration Texts&rsquo; dating from the reign of Sesostris III (c 1878-1843 BC) and shortly after, mention the names of approximately 30 Nubian peoples and Asiatic enemies seen as dangerous. By the late Intermediate Period (c 1786-1567 BC) the peoples of Kerma, near the third Cataract, extended their influence northward and their rulers gained control of Lower Nubia over the Pharaohs. <br /> <br /> King Kamoze of the 17th Dynasty (c 1650-1567 BC) admits to a shared rule of Egypt with Kushites and the Hyksos. On a stela erected at Karnack, Kamoze indicates that he intercepted a letter from the Hyksos ruler Apophis to the ruler of Kush. He quotes the letter which shows the emerging might of Kush: &ldquo;... Apophis, sending greetings to my son, the ruler of Cush. Why do you arise as a ruler without letting me know? Do you see what Egypt has done to me: the ruler who is in it, Kamoze the Strong... Come north. Do not falter. See he is here in my hand, and there is no one who is waiting for you in this (part of) Egypt. See, I will not give him leave until you have arrived. Then we shall divide the towns of this Egypt, and our [two lands] will be happy in joy.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The skirmishes between Egypt and the Kushites continued for another 700 years or so until the rise to prominence of the Napatan Kingdom of Kush which conquered Egypt and ruled it as the 25th Dynasty from c 750 to 663 BC when the Assyrians drove them out of Egypt. <br /> <br /> Nonetheless, the Napatan Kingdom of Kush thrived until AD 350. The capital of the kingdom was moved from Napata to Mero&Atilde;&laquo;, farther south, thus giving rise to the Meroitic Kingdom of Kush. The Meroitic Kingdom of Kush was destroyed by the Kingdom of Axum (Abyssinia). <br /> <br /> The history and archaeology of the peoples of the Nile Valley, south of Egypt, indicate a lengthy period of cultural and artistic achievement and even if Egyptian influence on this achievement be granted the issue is not that whites are influencing blacks, but that people of colour are influencing other people of colour.<br /> <br /> NB: The above is excerpted and lightly edited from my book Revelations on Ras Tafari, 2008.<br /> <br /> Rev Clinton Chisholm is a minister of religion and scholar. Send comments to the Observer or to<br /> <br /> clintchis@yahoo.com.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12907130/199683_28619_repro_w300.jpg Local Opinion Monday, February 20, 2017 12:00 AM Portia Simpson Miller: Pushed out &lsquo;legacy-less&rsquo; http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Portia-Simpson-Miller--Pushed-out--legacy-less-_89748 The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him. &mdash; Niccol&Atilde;&sup2; Machiavelli<br /> <br /> An excerpt from Aesop&rsquo;s fable<br /> <br /> The Farmer and Stork: A farmer placed nets on his newly sown plowlands and caught a number of cranes which came to pick up his seed. With them, he trapped a stork that had fractured his leg in the net and was earnestly beseeching the farmer to spare his life. &ldquo;Pray, save me, Master,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;and let me go free this once. My broken limb should excite your pity. Besides, I am no crane, I am a stork, a bird of excellent character; and see how I love and slave for my father and mother. Look, too, at my feathers; they are not the least like those of a crane.&rdquo; The farmer laughed aloud and said, &ldquo;It may be all as you say, I only know this: I have taken you with these robbers, the cranes, and you must die in their company.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Moral/Interpretation: Birds of a feather flock together.<br /> <br /> The embers of Portia Simpson Miller&rsquo;s presidency of the People&rsquo;s National Party (PNP) are almost extinguished. In a few weeks, Dr Peter Phillips, who last February led a failed general election campaign, will be rewarded with the most coveted leadership prize in Norman Manley&rsquo;s party. Phillips directed and captained a campaign that was driven by an antiquated mentality of political impunity. The PNP&rsquo;s campaign was simultaneously fuelled by &lsquo;bad mind&rsquo;. Failure, it seems, is a premium at 89 Old Hope Road.<br /> <br /> Simpson Miller is, I believe, our worst prime minister to date. She has to accept the blame for her own downfall. Simpson Miller, in the main, made two critical mistakes. She did not prepare herself adequately for statecraft, and she surrounded herself with low-voltage thinkers whose primary objective was personal and political self-aggrandisement. As a consequence she was relegated to little more than a political figurehead during her time in the highest elected position in our land.<br /> <br /> The designation of the likes of Phillip Paulwell, Robert Pickersgill, A J Nicholson, Sandrea Falconer, Dr Fenton Ferguson, Noel Arscott, Richard Azan, Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams and Anthony Hylton as ministers did not help Simpson Miller in any useful political manner. These appointments turned out to be political albatrosses. This was predictable.<br /> <br /> Without legacy<br /> <br /> Legacy-less [my coinage] is the apropos description of Portia Lucretia Simpson Miller&rsquo;s time as prime minister of Jamaica. I say this on the basis that ex-Prime Minister Simpson Miller was not a positive political game-changer, nor did she do anything that was similarly game-changing during her 41 years in local party politics.<br /> <br /> What or who is a game-changer. What constitutes game-changing?<br /> <br /> The first known use of game-changer was in 1993, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary. Some credible sports references maintain, however, that game-changer has been in use since the 1950s. Notwithstanding the doubts about the origin of the term, it is accepted that game-changer was made popular in the title of the book:<br /> <br /> Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime by political journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. In simple terms, a game-changer is a person or thing that dramatically or foundationally shifts the course, strategy, character, etc, of something.<br /> <br /> Events that alter the course of history and weave themselves into the fabric of our consciousness are game-changers. These often result in seismic shifts. For example: The Haitian Revolution was the first and only successful slave revolution. It was led by Toussaint Louverture. The American Marshall Plan enacted post-World War II saved Europe from financial ruin. The election of America&rsquo;s first president of African descent is universally accepted as a watershed moment. The Berlin Conference of 1885 saw Africa divided up among European countries for the purpose of territorial and natural resource control. The World War II Pearl Harbour attack by Japan on US Naval Forces led to the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the end of the most costly war in recorded history. Neil Armstrong&rsquo;s landing on the moon&hellip; and I could go on and on.<br /> <br /> Here are two examples of local political game-changing: Michael Manley and his social transformation policies in the 1970s. Edward Seaga and his construction of a reservoir of functional institutions over a 30-year period.<br /> <br /> According to information posted on the<br /> <br /> Jamaica Information Service (<br /> <br /> JIS) website: &ldquo;Mrs Simpson Miller&rsquo;s ascension to Jamaica&rsquo;s highest political office came after having served for 17 years as a Cabinet minister with portfolio responsibility for labour, social security and sport; tourism, entertainment and sport; and local government, community development and sport. Mrs Simpson Miller also had portfolio responsibilities for women&rsquo;s affairs.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> In which of these portfolios did Simpson Miller do anything game-changing?<br /> <br /> The<br /> <br /> JIS lists Simpson Miller&rsquo;s major contributions as follows:<br /> <br /> &bull; Simpson Miller was the leading architect of Jamaica&rsquo;s Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism Development.<br /> <br /> &bull; As minister of labour, welfare and sport, she presided over the significant expansion of Jamaica&rsquo;s Overseas Work Programme.<br /> <br /> &bull; Under her watch the National Insurance Scheme was transformed into a major component of the Government&rsquo;s social protection system.<br /> <br /> &bull; She was also instrumental in establishing a labour chair in The University of the West Indies, Department of Government.<br /> <br /> &bull; The Municipality of Portmore, in the parish of St Catherine, was established while she had ministerial oversight of the local government portfolio.<br /> <br /> Those who exaggerate Simpson Miller&rsquo;s record at best are involved in a brave attempt to, as we say in local parlance, make &ldquo;what gawn bad ah morning come good ah evening&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> Simpson Miller has not done anything to date that has seismically shifted her constituency or our country forward. I am hopeful that she will do so in her last national budget presentation.<br /> <br /> Sitting on the kerb<br /> <br /> Simpson Miller has been thrown to the political kerb, contrary to what the PNP would want us to believe. <br /> <br /> I found this headline and related details quite laughable: &lsquo;No, no, no, nothing like that,&rsquo; says Portia of being &lsquo;pushed out&rsquo; of the PNP.&rsquo; (<br /> <br /> Loop Jamaica, February 11, 2017)<br /> <br /> The same story said among other things: &ldquo;Despite having reportedly advised members of the People&rsquo;s National Party&rsquo;s National Executive Council last weekend not to call her to help win another election, outgoing Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller says she was not pushed from the party.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Speaking outside Parliament, Simpson Miller brushed aside reports that she was bitter about being supposedly rushed out of the leadership of the party after two consecutive national electoral defeats.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Simpson Miller is to resign as Opposition leader and PNP president on April 2.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Talk her mind<br /> <br /> Those with eyes and ears to the political ground and reliable sources like the John Chewits, Banana Quits and Black-Bellied Plovers know that the PNP&rsquo;s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held in Hatfield, Manchester, on Sunday, February 5, 2017, witnessed a bitter and toxic explosion from Simpson Miller. In her rage she went off script and emptied her political soul.<br /> <br /> She did tell the meeting, &ldquo;Like how you glad fi si mi out, don&rsquo;t be glad to call mi when you need mi to win election.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> She did tell the NEC that she was pushed and nobody has to tell her to leave. Simpson Miller at the Hatfield &lsquo;hanging&rsquo; meeting did castigate Comrades, saying, &ldquo;I worked like a donkey for this movement.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> At the Hatfield political OK Corral, Simpson Miller fumed that some in the PNP were party to leaks of internal PNP information. The ex-prime minister fired salvos at men who, she said, &ldquo;don&rsquo;t like female leadership&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> Simpson Miller unsuccessfully challenged P J Patterson for leadership of the PNP in 1992. She evidently did not learn about political nuances even after her first inauguration on March 30, 2006.<br /> <br /> But where did we see the narcissistic, harridan-like outburst of Simpson Miller in recent times? These excerpts are instructive:<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I represent one of the strongest constituencies in Jamaica; don&rsquo;t play with me, I don&rsquo;t play games. I work hard for this movement from 1974 &lsquo;til now; nuh boy, nuh gyal can&rsquo;t talk to me&hellip; I will come back here for another meeting, and I know who I will bring...I&rsquo;m not afraid of anyone.&rdquo; These are the direct words of Simpson Miller. She was chiding dissenting Comrades at the meeting, which was held on Wednesday, November 16, 2016, in Claremont, St Ann. At that meeting, she also warned Comrades, &ldquo;This is one woman who never run from a fight with anyone yet.&rdquo; (<br /> <br /> Jamaica Observer, November 19, 2016)<br /> <br /> In charge?<br /> <br /> While Simpson Miller and a moribund PNP continue to say the ex-prime minister was not &ldquo;pushed&rdquo;, the public I am sure remembers Simpson Miller&rsquo;s famous interview with Emily Shields, host of RJR&rsquo;s<br /> <br /> Hotline in April of last year. Simpson Miller was asked why she had avoided a one-on-one interview with local journalists for nearly four years. <br /> <br /> These excerpts of a story that was broadcast on<br /> <br /> NationWide News Network are mind-opening: &ldquo;Mrs Simpson Miller shocked sections of the media fraternity last week when she told Emily Shields that she did not grant a one-and-one interview during her four years as prime minister because she was not asked.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Several media houses have reported that formal requests to interview Mrs Simpson Miller were sent to the Office of the Prime Minister.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The Press Association of Jamaica also expressed concern regarding Mrs Simpson Miller&rsquo;s statement.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The former prime minister dismissed the suggestion when questioned whether she conducted checks to ascertain whether her staff received interview requests but did not pass them on to her.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Said she: &ldquo; &lsquo;I never asked, I never asked the people at the office, but I know if requests had come in, it would have been brought to my attention.&rsquo;<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Mrs Simpson Miller says she has never refused an interview request when journalists approached her at Parliament.&rdquo; (<br /> <br /> NationWide News Network, April 5, 2016)<br /> <br /> Indispensable<br /> <br /> Simpson Miller unwisely believed that she was indispensable.<br /> <br /> The former prime minister&rsquo;s comments in<br /> <br /> The Gleaner of January 31, 2016 said as much: &ldquo; &lsquo;For all the critics who say I am weak, put me in an open-top bus where I drive on the road. And those who are criticising, put them beside me and see who the people shout for,&rsquo; added Simpson Miller, as she dismissed claims that the infighting in some constituencies to represent the party in the next general election reflected that she was not in control.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The PNP president, who is expected to today officially launch her quest for another term as prime minister, is adamant that she remains in charge of the party and has no plans to leave until she is satisfied it will be in good hands. &lsquo;No, I don&rsquo;t know. I can&rsquo;t tell you that,&rsquo; said Simpson Miller in response to a question about when she will walk away from the political arena.<br /> <br /> &ldquo; &lsquo;I am carrying out my responsibilities, and it is one day at a time. If you can show me someone in the PNP right now who will be able to pull the people when they go out there on a campaign trail, then I could say yes...But if you can&rsquo;t show me that person, then I can&rsquo;t tell you goodbye,&rsquo; she stated with the political steel of a lion leading the pride.&rdquo; (<br /> <br /> Sunday Gleaner, January 31, 2016)<br /> <br /> She might not have adopted this attitude if she had read the writings of French statesman Charles De Gaulle, who famously said: &ldquo;The graveyards are full of indispensable men.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> I heard the ex-prime minister on<br /> <br /> Television Jamaica&rsquo;s Prime Time News recently telling a journalist that she has been getting calls from people across the world who want Portia [she consistently speaks about herself in the third person] to come work with them. I wish her luck.<br /> <br /> The truth may be denied, but it will never be defeated. &mdash; Will Spencer<br /> <br /> Garfield Higgins is an educator; journalist; and advisor to the minister of education, youth and information. Send comments to the Observer or<br /> <br /> higgins160@yahoo.com.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13539948/250274_w300.jpg Local Opinion Sunday, February 19, 2017 12:00 AM They&rsquo;re going to do it http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/They-re-going-to-do-it_88994 It is now clear that the Government, in order to fund the second tranche of the so-called &lsquo;$1.5-million tax break&rsquo;, will resort to either increased taxes or a further drawdown on funds from the National Housing Trust (NHT), or both.<br /> <br /> This reality is worth noting for two important reasons: In the first place, the Government, which was in Opposition at the time, had promised that, in implementing this tax break (that is, increasing the tax-free threshold from $592,000 to $1.5 million), it would not impose new taxes or increase taxes. Some online readers have contested the accuracy of this assertion which I made in a previous column, but in addition to the basic reality that no political party would campaign on increasing taxes on everyone, there are extant records of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) promising that the tax break would not result in increased taxes.<br /> <br /> The second reason the proposed funding of the tax break is a reality worth considering is that, in 2013, when the Portia Simpson Miller-led People&rsquo;s National Party (PNP) Administration had indicated that it would plug a hole in the budget by taking just over $11 billion from the NHT each year for four years, then Opposition Leader Andrew Holness criticised the decision, and the JLP threatened court action to test the legality of the amendment to the NHT Act that made possible the drawdown on the NHT funds.<br /> <br /> Institutionalised system needed to vet political promises<br /> <br /> Let us be clear. Both the JLP and the PNP have made promises they knew at the time of making could not be kept. Indeed, it is one of the dark sides of our politics that political leaders have made the making of promises the hallmark of campaigning.<br /> <br /> The Government may argue that, in relation to the $1.5-million tax break, it has kept its promise. But that assertion, when made, must take into account the fact that a self-imposed condition of that promise was that it would not involve any new taxes.<br /> <br /> In the first round of the tax break, the Government imposed the equivalent amount of taxes to cover the cost of the increase of the threshold from to the approximate $1 million that is now in place, and is probably planning to do the same for the further increase of $500,000. The arguments for and against this give-and-take-back, which Finance Minister Audley Shaw defends by saying, &ldquo;It is an open secret that there would be tax increases,&rdquo; have been inadequate. So I wish to revisit a suggestion I made before.<br /> <br /> Brian Roach (2010) in a paper &lsquo;Taxes in the United States: History, Fairness, and Current Political Issues&rsquo;, reminds us that tax policy is intended to serve both political and economic ends. To the extent that this $1.5-m tax break was the centrepiece of the JLP&rsquo;s election campaign, one can see the rationale for pressing on with it. But one would not expect the Government to press on with this tax plan for political reasons, regardless of the economic consequences. Clearly, if the economic impact of this plan is that there is increased employment and growth in gross domestic product (GDP), then the plan could be justified regardless of the cost of the tax break.<br /> <br /> The Government has cited the fact that PAYE payments are above budgeted levels, thus proving that the first tranche of the increase has not hurt the economy. I am not sure that the fact of more PAYE is evidence that the tax break is a success. I would suggest that more long-term metrics such as GDP growth and increase in the number of small businesses being opened would be a more valid measure of the impact of the tax break. The question of how we measure the impact of this policy decision is, I believe, the heart of the issue.<br /> <br /> In an earlier column I proposed the setting up of a non-partisan Office of Budgets and Fiscal Analysis. This office would be a commission of Parliament and would have as its chief remit the analysis of political promises (which have financial and budgetary implications) and proposed fiscal and monetary policies. This non-partisan office would present its analyses to Parliament as well as to bilateral funding partners, and the Parliament would be required to vote on whether to be guided by the recommendations and technical guidance of this body in relation to each proposal advanced by the Opposition and policies being introduced by the Government.<br /> <br /> While we await the implementation of some institutionalised body to examine proposed financial and monetary promises, proposals, and policies, it would be good if Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI) were to conduct an assessment of the likely economic impact of the $1.5-million tax break to determine whether it has really served its intended economic purpose.<br /> <br /> Not too late to change course<br /> <br /> The Government has presented the budget for 2017/18, but in the context of the debates there would be nothing unusual for alterations to be made before it is passed. The tough issue that the Government must consider is whether the country can really afford this tax break.<br /> <br /> And, bearing in mind that this is not a one-off payment, can the NHT take the weight of $27 billion into the indefinite future? Further, if the Government does not propose to place the full weight on the NHT, but to impose indirect taxes, as Minister Shaw has said, the question is, do taxpayers have the capacity to take a hit to the tune of any amount up to $16 billion?<br /> <br /> Separate and apart from the fact that it appears to be illogical to give a tax break and to impose new (indirect) taxes to fund it, the Government still has an important issue of how it interprets and applies the principles of tax policy. One of the distinct downsides to indirect taxes is that they violate the most sacred principle in tax policy, namely fairness.<br /> <br /> According to Richard Bird and Eric Zolt (2003), who wrote a course on practical issues in tax policy for developing countries on behalf of the World Bank, &ldquo;Fairness or equity is a key issue in designing a tax regime.&rdquo; They contend that the very purpose of taxes is to secure equity. Governments, they argue, need not tax people to secure funds - they could simply print money to fund the operations of government. But since printing money is not a fair and sustainable mechanism of public financing, taxes were designed. Taxes therefore represent a mechanism through which everyone contributes to the operations of the State.<br /> <br /> According to Bird and Zolt, the essential element of fairness is that, &ldquo;Those who have the same ability to pay should bear the same tax liability&hellip; [thus] it makes good sense for there to be appropriate differences for taxpayers in different situations.&rdquo; Indirect taxes do not meet this important requirement of fairness, since differences in the capacity of taxpayers are not taken into account. Thus, in addition to the question of the wisdom of taking a dollar from the taxpayer to give a 99-cent rebate, and the question of whether some citizens can afford that dollar in the first place, is the larger question of equity in taking the same dollar from everyone, given that some are more able than others.<br /> <br /> If there is one communist principle to which I hold dear, it is this: &ldquo;From each according to ability, and to each according to need.&rdquo; Jesus, in some ways, echoed this principle: &ldquo;To whom much is given is more required.&rdquo; It cannot be good public policy when an ancillary worker is indirectly taxed so that a teacher or police sergeant can earn more. It is simply not equitable.<br /> <br /> A number of people have suggested that, given the likely impact on people&rsquo;s pockets, and the likely adverse impact on economic growth, the Government should abandon the $1.5-million tax break plan and not implement the second phase. These recommendations have come from experts in the trade union movement (the people who represent workers who are likely to be hardest hit); the former co-chair of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee, Richard Byles; and political commentator and JLP supporter Kevin O&rsquo;Brien Chang. None of these individuals can be said to be attempting to undermine the good name or intent of the Government. So the question is &mdash; what is it that they are seeing that has led to their recommendations?<br /> <br /> While I can appreciate the political implications (&lsquo;egg on faces&rsquo; and &lsquo;I told you so&rsquo;) for the Government if it were to back down from its sacrosanct &ldquo;1.5&rdquo;, I suspect that there could be greater political fallout if this tax break turns out to be a burden on the population. My advice to the Government is that it should quit while it is still ahead. My fellow commentator Garfield Higgins often reminds us that Peter Phillips imposed $58 billion in new taxes in four years. If the Government proceeds with its plan, the performance would be north of $30 billion in one year! Can we afford this?<br /> <br /> Dr Canute Thompson is a management consultant and lecturer in educational policy, planning, and leadership at the School of Education, The University of the West Indies. He is also co-founder of the Caribbean Leadership Re-Imagination Initiative and author of three books on leadership. Send comments to the Observer or <br /> <br /> canutethompson1@gmail.com.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13553694/251324_w300.jpg Local Opinion Sunday, February 19, 2017 12:00 AM We reap what we sow http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/We-reap-what-we-sow_89984 Are any of you afraid of croaking lizards? I am talking about the big, white, pale, juicy ones, about 10&rdquo; long, and fat that slither across the wall... Can you see it on the wall now? Well, what if one night as you opened your bedroom door, just before you reach for your light switch, you feel something hit you on the top of your head and grab onto your hair?<br /> <br /> When you reach to feel what it is, it begins to crawl and move, and you realise it is a big, fat juicy croaking lizard.<br /> <br /> You&rsquo;re alone. What do you do? Does your heart start to race? Do you scream? Can anyone hear you? Does anyone come to assist you? Are you frantic? Do you feel like you&rsquo;re about to pass out?<br /> <br /> You finally manage to get the lizard off. It runs away, but hides under your bed. Adrenaline is still pumping; you&rsquo;re sweating and out of breath. Would you sleep in the bedroom that night knowing the lizard is still out there? What would you do to give yourself peace of mind and make you feel safe on that night and others to come? Who said &ldquo;kill it&rdquo;?<br /> <br /> Adrenaline when released into the bloodstream serves as a chemical conductor to convey nerve impulses to various organs. Adrenaline&rsquo;s overall effect is to prepare the body for a &lsquo;fight or flight&rsquo; response in times of stress. Key effects of adrenaline include increasing heart rate and blood pressure, expanding the lungs&rsquo; air capacity, enlarging pupils, redistributing blood to the muscles, and altering the body&rsquo;s metabolism. All this happens very quickly, within two to three minutes of the stressful event being encountered.<br /> <br /> I want you to imagine now a little boy going home every night to see his mother&rsquo;s boyfriend beat her and then turn on him. Or a little girl who is sexually molested every night by her uncle? Imagine the levels of adrenaline build up in those two children to prepare for &ldquo;fight or flight&rdquo; every night of their lives. This is a gigantic Jamaican problem &mdash; one that has become normal to our everyday lives &mdash; and we need to stop pretending it doesn&rsquo;t exist. Like the Jamaican croaking lizard, many of us know it exists, we can hear it, but as long as we don&rsquo;t see it, we&rsquo;re fine.<br /> <br /> Last year&rsquo;s UNICEF State of the World&rsquo;s Children report featured some disturbing statistics for Jamaica on violent discipline for children 2-14 years old: 87 per cent (males) 82 per cent (females)<br /> <br /> The latest UNICEF report on Children and Violence in Jamaica indicates that males between the ages of 11-17 were more likely than females to be murdered, robbed or shot; whereas females within the same age cohort were more at risk of being sexually assaulted. A gun was the main weapon used to attack victims, especially for murders and robberies. Victims of sexual assault, in particular rape, tend to be physically restrained or lured to a particular location where they were taken advantage of, especially within the St Andrew South Division, Kingston and St Andrew where between 2011-2015 we recorded the highest number of child murders. (The Ministry of National Security Jamaica Crime Observatory Integrated Crime and Violence Information System JCO-ICVIS)<br /> <br /> While serving as minister I not only studied, but witnessed first hand how the abuse of our children, and the impact of violence in their homes and communities, affected their emotional well-being, overall attitude, and mental health. Many of our children suffered in silence but would share with me their depression, their harmful lifestyle choices, and their thoughts of suicide. One little girl at South Camp Road told me in detail how she planned to kill her mother then she decided against it, instead she was going to set broken glass around her bed so as to damage her mother&rsquo;s feet.<br /> <br /> Research from Dr Nadine Burke Harris, founder and CEO of the Center for Youth Wellness in California, concludes that early adversity harms children&rsquo;s developing brains and bodies and, if not addressed, will adversely affect their health as adults, and will have devastating results for our public health care system and society at large. Her research demonstrates that adrenaline and consistent stress from a child&rsquo;s constant &ldquo;fight or flight&rdquo; mode will lead to future ailments such as diabetes and cancer. She also concluded other post-traumatic stress manifestations are likely resulting in the children becoming violent adults. She believes we must revolutionise paediatric medicine and transform the way society responds to children exposed to significant adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress.<br /> <br /> I agree with her. That&rsquo;s why, as minister, I convinced the US Embassy to bring her to Jamaica to speak with childcare professionals who worked throughout other agencies in the ministry.<br /> <br /> Also during my time, in 2013, an inter-ministerial committee for children which I chaired worked to foster a team approach, rather than working in silos, with clear priorities within the ministries of youth, justice, national security, education and health, and other Stated agencies such as the Office of the Children&rsquo;s Advocate.<br /> <br /> This approach yielded great results, including the separation of children from adult correctional facilities and police lock-ups; the introduction of the Arts For Life programme at the South Camp Facility for Girls to teach drama, dance and art; the allocation of increased resources to help find missing children under the Ananda Alert System; a 50 per cent reduction in violence in schools under the Safe Schools Programme; more children being removed from State care to family environments; the introduction of the Smiles Mobile Unit to help children with counselling; additional resources to build child-friendly spaces at police stations across the country; the introduction of the Children&rsquo;s Advisory Panel; and the implementation of the Keating Report, to name a few.<br /> <br /> I also brought to Jamaica Marta Santos Pais, the UN secretary general&rsquo;s special advisor on children and violence. The first-ever regional conference was held in Jamaica to discuss best practices and solutions.<br /> <br /> A Jamaican delegation journeyed to Switzerland to table our report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2014, which I had the privilege to lead, recorded solid progress, especially with finding solutions to persistent problems involving child rights. Jamaica&rsquo;s success, particularly in the way we turned around our approaches to children in lock-ups and correctional facilities, resonated globally through the walls of the UN.<br /> <br /> From these interventions and programmes, Jamaica moved up 52 places in the most recent UNICEF Kids Rights Index to be ranked 51 out of 163 countries globally. This means today&rsquo;s Jamaican children are enjoying better protection of their rights than those living in more developed countries, including Canada, Italy Luxembourg, Greece, and China; and regional states such as Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana.<br /> <br /> But the sad reality is, even with all of these interventions, programmes and policies, today we are a country mired in abuse against our women and children, who are gripped with fear, anguish, and helplessness.<br /> <br /> I was saddened and devastated when I was confronted with reports of death, rape, neglect; brutal beatings of children; fathers having sex with their daughters and having the sisters watch; little boys and girls raped by taxi men, pastors police, politicians, teachers, all professions.<br /> <br /> But the truth is we&rsquo;re merely reaping what we&rsquo;ve sown. I&rsquo;ve been privileged to change policy at the highest level of this country. I&rsquo;ve seen Jamaica through different lens and I&rsquo;m bound to say that legislation by itself won&rsquo;t change the direction in which we&rsquo;re heading. We must change our culture.<br /> <br /> This won&rsquo;t happen overnight. But we need the commitment and honesty to start with getting rid of some things that have crept into the way we do things as Jamaicans, which have assisted the continued cycles of abuse.<br /> <br /> 1. We cannot have daughter, mother and grandmother being 10 or 12 years apart, often competing for the same man&rsquo;s attention.<br /> <br /> 2. We cannot continue to turn a blind eye while listening to the new music on the radio being churned out almost weekly by individuals who we know are incarcerated and/or of questionable values.<br /> <br /> 3. We cannot continue to allow &ldquo;di big man dem&rdquo; to abuse children. <br /> <br /> 4. No parent must have the temerity to verbally or physically threaten or assault any teacher at their child&rsquo;s school.<br /> <br /> 5. We must teach our parents how to cope and how to build their own self-esteem; that even though they were not loved, they don&rsquo;t have to continue that cycle. We must find patience and love &ldquo;fi nuh wahn fi murder and beat off wi pickney dem&rdquo; when they have done something wrong.<br /> <br /> A country is judged by the way it treats its children. Our goal as leaders must be to improve the lives of all Jamaican children, no matter which political party is in power. Their best interests must supersede tribal politics and partisan approaches because those misguided values will only impede the development of their best potential.<br /> <br /> The effects of abuse and violence on our society are real, especially regarding our children&rsquo;s growth and development. If what UNICEF presents is accurate &mdash; that over 85 per cent of our children experience violent discipline &mdash; then we need to take a step back and do some re-evaluation. Too many of our children live in &ldquo;fight or flight&rdquo; mode. Love, time, patience and care is what all children desire. It&rsquo;s what our nation needs! Let&rsquo;s sow these seeds in their best interest.<br /> <br /> Lisa Hanna is the Member of Parliament for St Ann South Eastern. Send comments to the Observer or <br /> <br /> mplisahanna@gmail.com.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12630313/183593_14085_repro_w300.jpg Local Opinion Sunday, February 19, 2017 12:00 AM A sit-down with a living legend http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/A-sit-down-with-a-living-legend_89865 The following is a lightly edited version of an interview with Lloyd Lindbergh<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Lindy&rdquo; Delapenha in 2006 which was published in the 150th anniversary edition of Munro College&rsquo;s school magazine, The Munronian:<br /> <br /> The words &lsquo;maestro, sportsman extraordinaire, prodigy&rsquo; describe Lloyd Lindbergh &ldquo;Lindy&rdquo; Delapenha. Those of us who are old enough to know will nod in agreement. Those not in the know will soon utter oohs and aahs.<br /> <br /> Alcia Morgan Bromfield (AMB): During what years were you a student here at Munro College?<br /> <br /> Lloyd &ldquo;Lindy&rdquo; Delapenha (LD): 1941 - 1945<br /> <br /> AMB: I know you are from Kingston, North Street to be exact, and there are several schools there of equal status as Munro. What led you here? Was it your decision?<br /> <br /> LD: You&rsquo;re right. I was a student at Wolmer&rsquo;s Boys&rsquo;, but left there in third form. I did not want to leave town, but my mother insisted. She said I was wasting my time and Munro would do me good.<br /> <br /> AMB: What was your first impression of Munro College?<br /> <br /> LD: It was a very lonely place at first. The loneliness disappeared quite quickly, though, as I adapted easily to my new home. I also developed friendships easily, as among the 150 to 160 population, most of the students were from Kingston and the Cayman Islands. There were a few from Malvern. Local boys were few in those days.<br /> <br /> AMB: A number of parents whose sons will be in boarding in September may feel some trepidation at the idea. What was your main concern as a new student?<br /> <br /> LD: I did not give it much thought. I never had the time. Munro provided an excellent home-away-from-home situation. We felt like a large family. What I failed to learn at home all my life I learnt at Munro in my four years there. I learnt independence and discipline. Those are key ingredients for success at any level.<br /> <br /> AMB: What was your typical day at Munro?<br /> <br /> LD: Between 5:30 to 5:45 we washed, changed, dressed, and got out of the dorms. We also walked the barbecue before classes.<br /> <br /> AMB: Walked the barbecue?<br /> <br /> LD: Yes. Just walked up and down its length while we talked to each other. It was a well-established procedure. Then we&rsquo;d head on to classes. At the end of the day we&rsquo;d play until 5:30 pm, then shower in freezing water. We&rsquo;d have dinner at six o&rsquo;clock followed by prep. We had no day boys then, and there were four houses: Calder (pink/red), Harrison (blue), Sangster (yellow), and Pearman (green). We also had to attend chapel every evening and on Sundays with Rev Frazer.<br /> <br /> AMB: Did you ever break bounds, get suspended or detention?<br /> <br /> LD: Never had to. I did not want to risk being caned by Mr Dunleavey. Anyone unfortunate enough to be caned by him could<br /> <br /> not play sports for a few weeks and was confined to the classroom. Additionally, I did cross-country running, and that got me out of school. I also played cricket in Malvern. Boys would sneak out to buy bun from the shops in the village, though, as the &ldquo;purro&rdquo; meat gave them diarrhoea. They would leave as soon as they smelt it.<br /> <br /> AMB: Were you as prolific a performer in academics as you were in sports?<br /> <br /> LD: I was not much of an academic person. Also, I knew I was there for sports. I lived for sports. However, I was an outstanding student in language and literature. [I] did these at Senior Cambridge, along with geography and biology. Algebra, Latin and physics were not my cup of tea. I learnt maths, but only later at the racetrack.<br /> <br /> AMB: What inspired you to become involved in sports?<br /> <br /> LD: As far back as I can remember, my gifts have been sport-oriented. For birthdays and Christmas my presents were associated with sports. I would get things like swim trunks and a cricket bat and ball. I lived at Ocean View Avenue (Rae Town). Sometimes I&rsquo;d spend the whole day at Barnett Beach in my trunks. Also, Bournemouth Gardens had a pool but it was fenced in. That did not keep me out. (He chuckles.) I also had some friends, the Alexanders, who had a sail boat. Sadly, though, there was no swimming at Munro. One or two boys got expelled for swimming in the drinking water.<br /> <br /> AMB: What do you think made you the excellent player that you were?<br /> <br /> LD: I have always had the inclination and the aptitude for sport [but] it wasn&rsquo;t until I got to Munro that I found a mentor in the form of the sports master Ken Dunleavey. He had played professional football in England and he had a passion for sports and seeing us excel. He was feared, but highly respected. He drove us to excellence but we were never driven to the ruthless exhaustion that some coaches do to their young talents. Our skills, under Ken Dunleavey, were honed until they shone. The fact that I had a natural ability in any game I played was an added bonus for me. When I later played professional football, I did it for the sheer love of the game. Sadly, the megalomaniac attitude of some sportsmen today is the cause of the downfall of many teams.<br /> <br /> AMB: I have heard and read glowing reviews of your prowess. Trace your career in sports for me.<br /> <br /> LD: I went to St Aloysius Primary School. There I played cricket. At Wolmer&rsquo;s I played both cricket and football and entered the Endowed Schools Championships (now Boys&rsquo; and Girls&rsquo; Champs) in my first year. At Munro, I was in athletics and played cricket, football, hockey, tennis, and also did gymnastics and boxing. I excelled in all and won school colours for all of these. And when I went on to England, I earned the Oxford Blues in these sports too. However, football was my favourite.<br /> <br /> AMB: Because of you, a ruling was made that no entrant in the national championships for schools should enter more than four events. Tell us about this.<br /> <br /> LD: In 1945 I ran in 16 events &mdash; eight heats and eight finals. I was on the track from 4:00 pm Friday to 6:00 pm Saturday. Granted, I did not win all my events, but I came no less than third. In retrospect, if I [had] concentrated on fewer events I could easily have won all of them. That year I set a record of 10.1 in the 100m. I did this same time several times after. At the end of my performance, I was examined by a doctor and his diagnosis of my muscles led to that ruling.<br /> <br /> AMB: I understand that a certain medical doctor bows to you every time he sees you. Even if he is driving, he stops his car and showers accolades on you. Is this the same doctor? What is responsible for this?<br /> <br /> LD: Oh, my word! (He laughs.) No. That would be Dr Cleo Taylor. He is responsible for those stories. I know he thinks highly of me and he often speaks of this feat with something akin to reverence. That stems from a football match played at Munro. We were down 4-1 to Calabar with ten minutes to go, and one of our players had been sent off. When the final whistle was blown, Munro won the match 5-4. It was the most talked of game in many years to come.<br /> <br /> AMB: What was your contribution to that game?<br /> <br /> LD: I scored the first goal, but there were also key players like Johnny Taylor (captain), A B Cowans of the Cayman Islands, and Keifa, the goalkeeper. The Calabar team had Dr Basil Keane, who is now a dentist. Back then we played for the love of the games. Back then, when I ran for Munro or entered other competitions I did not think about the fame I would get. I did it for the love of the school and the love of the sport.<br /> <br /> AMB: At what point did you live in England?<br /> <br /> LD: At the end of my schooling at Munro my coach advised my parents to send me to England. He recommended that whilst over there I enlist in the army. I decided to get it over with and signed up for a short two years of primary corps training. After that, I was allotted [to] a regiment &mdash; Fusiliers, the City of London Regiment. We were the only ones that were allowed to walk through London with fixed bayonets.<br /> <br /> AMB: Did you spend all your &lsquo;war years&rsquo; in the motherland?<br /> <br /> LD: Not at all. In fact, following my training, I was posted overseas to Egypt.<br /> <br /> AMB: How did you make the transition from sports to war?<br /> <br /> LD: There was no transition; I was a sportsman in the war. While in Egypt (1946-47) I represented the British Army in cricket, athletics, hockey, and football. The colonel in charge of my battalion had great respect for me. He later sent me to Palestine for physical education training in Gaza. Of the 60 people in this programme, I came out on top and earned the Instructor&rsquo;s Badge. I later became a physical training instructor with the Royal Fusiliers at Fayid in Egypt. At the end of the war, I was &ldquo;demobbed&rdquo; from the army, given a suit, civilian clothes and money and was sent back to England. After 18 months there, the colonel recommended me to the British Olympic Committee. He wanted me to run for England in the 1948 Olympics. That&rsquo;s not what I wanted. I wanted to play professional football.<br /> <br /> AMB: Well, did you?<br /> <br /> LD: Oh yes. That year I signed up with Portsmouth, a first division team. We won the league championship for two consecutive years. I then moved on to Middlesbrough. I stayed there for nine years (1950-59). I later played for Mansfield Town, a third division team in Nottingham. By then I was in my 30s. I stayed there for three years. Then I spent a year as a regular member of Southern League Cup winners, in Burton, Albion. I returned to Jamaica in 1964.<br /> <br /> AMB: You did not hang up your boots then, did you?<br /> <br /> LD: Good heavens, no. Even now, at age 78 &mdash; I&rsquo;ll be 79 this month &mdash; I can&rsquo;t even say I have retired, as I still play golf. And at<br /> <br /> KLAS Sports Radio, I am a racing analyst with Dr Paul Wright. We do previews of the races and analysis of the English Premier League. I will also be doing analysis of the Football World Cup. What&rsquo;s that, dear? (This to his wife of 53 years, Joan Francis Crawford.) To me, he says, &ldquo;She says I&rsquo;m 77. Don&rsquo;t listen to her. I was born May 20, 1927.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> [The couple had three children. Their son predeceased them. Daughter Marie Claire is a former beauty queen, and Linda teaches at Mona. They have three grandchildren: Britney, Scott and Bradley.]<br /> <br /> AMB: What did you do on returning to Jamaica?<br /> <br /> LD: On my return, I worked with the 18 sugar estates as sports co-ordinator. Once a year they all would meet for a field day. Throughout the year I also had to plan activities for individual estates as well as games against each other. Sugar went bad, however, and that came to an end. I was given enough money to pay my passage back to England and buy a car.<br /> <br /> AMB: Did you go back?<br /> <br /> LD: No. I was inveigled into selling life insurance, but did this for only six or seven months. I left that and went to the<br /> <br /> Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation, now<br /> <br /> Television Jamaica, where I succeeded Roy Lawrence, another Munro old boy, as sports director. I stayed there for 36 years.<br /> <br /> AMB: Were you [to be] young again, would Munro be your school of choice?<br /> <br /> LD: No doubt. It&rsquo;s a marvellous place. A wonderful place. It also has some old-fashioned principles that I like, as I was brought up that way.<br /> <br /> AMB: Where on the campus would you call your favourite place?<br /> <br /> LD: Top wall. The view from there is awesome. To this day, the picturesque scene of the setting sun is indelibly etched in my mind.<br /> <br /> AMB: Thank you so much, Lindy. Please convey thanks also to Joan for allowing me these two hours of your time. This was quite a refreshing experience, and I am so happy that I got an opportunity to talk with a living legend.<br /> <br /> LD: Thank you, Miss Alcia. Joan, did you hear that? I&rsquo;m a legend. A living one. You better take better care of me. (He then smiles when Joan says something indecipherable to the interviewer from the kitchen a short distance away.)<br /> <br /> Alcia Morgan Bromfield, MEd, is an educator, linguist, communication specialist, author, and poet. Send comments to Observer or <br /> <br /> alcia.morgan910@gmail.com.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13606311/255261_82121_repro_w300.jpg Local Opinion Sunday, February 19, 2017 12:00 AM Facing the truth &mdash; Part 1 http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Facing-the-truth---Part-1_89866 I have often said, and history confirms, that it is the spiritual and moral that determines the social and economic realities of a society. The spiritual and moral answers &lsquo;who we are&rsquo;; the social and economic reflects &lsquo;what we do&rsquo;. And what we do is governed by who we are.<br /> <br /> The current crisis and problems the nation is experiencing: high crime rate, corruption, sexual abuse, scamming, low productivity and poverty are the result of what we are doing, which, in turn, is a direct outflow of who we are being. Change the &lsquo;who we are&rsquo;, and the &lsquo;what we do&rsquo; will automatically be transformed.<br /> <br /> Moral foundations<br /> <br /> No society can long survive or be made strong without clearly defined and practised moral underpinnings; for it is those moral underpinnings that define and drive &lsquo;who we are&rsquo;. Moral here refers to new or revived belief codes and related behavioural practices held in common by all, and not something mystical or religious, which only few may feel inclined to embrace.<br /> <br /> To build the new, preferred Jamaica we must revisit and determine the moral underpinnings on which we will build. We must rebuild where there has been breakdown and determine what is missing and known to be necessary for prosperous rebuilding.<br /> <br /> Justice and truth<br /> <br /> Over the past weeks we have been discussing the point that one of the most critical issues facing Jamaica today is that of injustice. This means, of course, that if we are to build a prosperous society, a primary pillar in that building must be justice for all.<br /> <br /> The battle to overcome the crime monster must focus on the injustice experienced by the perpetrators, even as it focuses on the injustice the perpetrators have caused to others.<br /> <br /> There are, in my view, a number of other fundamental pillars that are required for us to have the kind of strong, functional and prosperous society that we long to see. One pillar for consideration is truth: a need recognised by our founding fathers and echoed in our national anthem &mdash; &ldquo;justice, truth be ours forever&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> Truth is a statement or idea which is a verifiable, undeniable and unchangeable fact or reality. A standard based on an absolute time-tested and proven foundation. As a nation we must commit ourselves to the principle of truth. This goes beyond a personal responsibility to be honest, although this is critical. At the national level, we must be willing to speak the truth about our situation and face the stark realities of who we are as a nation, and where we are as a people.<br /> <br /> No truth...no trust<br /> <br /> The principle of truth is essential to every facet of society; its absence is devastating. Truth in society is a standard to live by. Truth-telling is a way of relating to others for wholesome relationships. When practised in community, truth provides the base for honesty, informs justice, and engenders trust &mdash; all keys to a prosperous society.<br /> <br /> No group of people can work together, or work for long, without trust. Research has shown that in societies where trust levels are high, productivity levels are also high and crime levels overall are lower. A recent survey conducted by USAID for Jamaica showed that Jamaica had one of the lowest trust levels in the region and correspondingly low productivity levels. USAID observed that: &ldquo;A large plurality of [Jamaican] households&hellip;believe that statutory agencies are performing worse&hellip;or are less deserving of public trust and confidence&hellip;&rdquo; USAID went on to say that, &ldquo;When asked, interviewees and&hellip;participants frequently voiced distrust of the police, tax and licensing authorities&hellip;&rdquo;<br /> <br /> In Jamaica, a common anecdotal comment is that, &ldquo;Nobody nuh trust nobody more dan so.&rdquo; The Labour Market Reform Commission, through its Technology, Innovation and Productivity Committee, validated this. They commissioned a Human Factors Working Group to look at &ldquo;human factors affecting productivity in Jamaica&rdquo;. The findings of their technical report noted that &ldquo;results showed a negative and statistically significant relationship between citizens&rsquo; level of trust in one another and perception of insecurity&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> These empirical and anecdotal observations must be reversed if we are to experience growth and prosperity. The answer is a recommitment to truth as a standard and to truth-telling as a norm.<br /> <br /> The effects of the erosion of truth in our society are not only mistrust and feelings of insecurity. There are also economic effects. No one wants to do business with or relate to individuals who cannot be trusted.<br /> <br /> No truth...greater fear<br /> <br /> The absence of truth allows fear and deception to creep in and blind the eyes to reality. This causes us to ignore or hide from the truth, which in turn results in bondage and enslavement to, or tolerance of evil practices, such as the breakdown of family, corruption, garrisonisation, greed, and other vices.<br /> <br /> When the bondage sets in, feelings of helplessness overtake us, and both leaders and the people start to compromise or become comfortable in the devastating condition. So, to survive, they bury their heads in the sand or look the other way; accept the status quo and work with it in the hope that it will one day go away.<br /> <br /> The truth is that none of these negative issues are tied to the absence of truth. Truth says when you are in this kind of bondage, &ldquo;You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.&rdquo; As a nation we must now take off the blinkers, face the truth, and deal with the issues. So let&rsquo;s speak the truth!<br /> <br /> Here are some of the hard truths we must face, and move to deal with by devising plans to transform them progressively:<br /> <br /> 1. Strengthen the family by tackling fatherlessness: Current international data shows that, &ldquo;Children from fatherless homes are more likely to be poor, become involved in drug and alcohol abuse, drop out of school, and suffer from health and emotional problems. Boys are more likely to become involved in crime, and girls are more likely to become pregnant as teens.&rdquo; Locally, over 70 per cent of our homes are fatherless, and over 85 per cent of children are born to single mothers.<br /> <br /> 2. Address crime and poverty: Statistically, this provides a breeding ground for crime and sustained poverty. The majority of our young males in poor and low-income urban and rural centres are uneducated, unemployable, ganja and alcohol users, with a deep sense of hopelessness. No wonder that they end up being the highest crime offenders and we continue to be poor as a nation; for they have the untapped potential to be valuable producers and contributors to our national economy. <br /> <br /> Facing the truth<br /> <br /> Are we courageous enough to face the truth about our devastating issues? Let us commit to fulfilling the words of our national anthem: &ldquo;Justice, truth be ours forever, Jamaica, land we love.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Al Miller is pastor of Fellowship Tabernacle. Send comments to the Observer or <br /> <br /> pastormilleroffice@gmail.com.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13652385/259050_w300.jpg Local Opinion Sunday, February 19, 2017 12:00 AM The gig economy can erode youth unemployment http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/The-gig-economy-can-erode-youth-unemployment_89840 The old vision of employment with hundreds streaming through factory gates at 6:30 am is giving way to gigs. Work is changing. What firms need and employees want may remain the same, but how to get it and pay for it is evolving, so the State, trade unions should re-jig in line with job market and labour force reality.<br /> <br /> Young workers are not in to get a retirement plaque so gigs &mdash; contract work via an app &mdash; will aid growth. In 2016, McKinsey reported &ldquo;162 million people in America and Europe, or more than 20 per cent of the working age population, work outside normal employment,&rdquo; and a half of those rely on gigs for their primary income, and happily so. (<br /> <br /> The Economist, November 5, 2016)<br /> <br /> What people need from a job may be better satisfied by gigs than a nine-to-five, as many value leisure, flexibility, no boss or time clock, want to see their kids in daylight, and aim to avoid PAYE and bank the gross. As we move to indirect taxes &mdash; so suggests this Administration &mdash; the gig economy is timely and young workers could be at the forefront of gigs and growth.<br /> <br /> The UK has some five million employees in this model, as businesses work to end the problems of peaks and troughs, absenteeism, and low productivity. They aim to simplify processes, for example pay for gigs go to your bank &mdash; no mounting paperwork! All have 360 degree information and software allows giggers to swap shifts and more &mdash; no hassle. Use of robots, standardised work, task management, means job packaging, so output can be disaggregated to check a worker&rsquo;s productivity &mdash; ideal for gigs. Some wish a nine-to-five &mdash; wake 5:30 am, get kids ready, school at 7:00 am, and struggle to get back home by 7:00 pm &mdash; but youth wish to own their time, so gigs are fine. All parties interface with an app, which moderates the entire job chain &mdash; search, terms, and online exit appraisal of performance, customer satisfaction. All are accountable.<br /> <br /> Our unemployment rate in January 2015 was 14.2 per cent, and among youth aged 14 to 24 was 34.5 per cent. It takes some $5 million to create a job and many small businesses only create one; and if a good job offer comes, all bets are off. Many cannot abide the tyranny of a small business &mdash; no vacation or personal day, no pension, and at times no money to pay self. Yet going forward career jobs will be few, so gigs will grow, firms will get high-energy workers, and giggers are happy not to be locked in and to get paid gross.<br /> <br /> Workers and employers both want flexibility, top productivity and big income, so gigs are ideal. For youth, a job with pension, health care, holiday, gold watch after 35 years, is no better than gigs &mdash; flexible, varied work, maximise earnings, and sleep in on Wednesdays.<br /> <br /> In 2016,<br /> <br /> Bloomberg featured Snagajob with 10 million users &mdash; bringing &ldquo;the principle of swipes, geolocation and people-matching algorithms to hourly job recruitment&rdquo; via a smartphone. And now, teamed with LinkedIn, it offers professional gigs, not just low-end ones.<br /> <br /> Contract work gets a bad rap, but let all grow. Private security is often in dispute, but we can flip the script. Firms use gigs for costs, flexibility, good customer experience, rapid growth. So CityHour, Uber, AirBnB did not exist 10 years ago &mdash; multi-billion-dollar firms, but own no car or building. They say gig workers are more dedicated, productive, and customers &ldquo;feel the care&rdquo;; so what do workers want &mdash; variety, quality life, gym at 11:00 am, meet people, pick up sons at school, go to the range, and maximise earnings. Some juggle household chores and gigs, earn more than most, invest, pay into a health scheme, and live. Youth want work to fit their lifestyle; but to older workers the job seems life itself. Youth time now!<br /> <br /> The state should facilitate gigs by HEART Trust/NTA courses, good databases, ease of getting documents, and bringing order to the market. Firms create permanent jobs and gigs as needed so do not hassle them. Existing firms must lead as new firms may take years to get to job creation stage. Training make youth gig-ready, so schools should use language courses as Duolingo, Babbel or Rosetta Stone or HEART Trust/NTA may develop apps for smartphone using good English speakers, so we see students on buses with earphones on mouthing good speech models &mdash; normal among students in Britain.<br /> <br /> Today, the gigger may be a lady driving Uber who does babysitting three afternoons, a relief shift driving a bus on Sunday, and earns good money. You need government ID, smartphone; and for gigs in banking, security, childcare they should get a police certificate. We want maximum regular jobs and maximum gigs, so Cabinet must create the legal framework &mdash; no hassle for new bank accounts, and so on. The State and groups must stop fighting down contract work as it is better the youth do gigs than steal. We have never mass-produced career jobs, but if via gigs everyone is earning and gross domestic product is growing. Why fight it?<br /> <br /> Michael Lee-Chin should ensure we create &ldquo;gig apps&rdquo; for industries, occupations by funding incubators at The University of the West Indies; University of Technology, Jamaica; Northern Caribbean University. Existing firms must be the focus to get quick growth as new investment may take years to create jobs and small firms may create only one job.<br /> <br /> The American experience, a la The New York Times, is that in 2010 a new entrepreneur needed US$15,000 to start; a third of all starters would have an &ldquo;up and running&rdquo; business in six years and about one in five of these would have employees. The Small Business Association estimates 5.6 jobs are created at &ldquo;a cost per job of US$31,169&rdquo;. Thus it takes 16 people entering the start-up process to produce one firm which hires. What do data for Jamaica say?<br /> <br /> HEART Trust/NTA should survey firms ready to go gig and what they offer. Young people may take four hours, three days a week, to add to a gig of three hours, five days a week, and so on. No firms should be excluded &mdash; services, manufacturing, sales, accounting, hard skills, and unskilled. Then, as Europe increases retirement age to reach near 70 (so pension schemes don&rsquo;t crash), we too cannot afford to retire proven expertise at age 65. So promote the gig economy. Jobs for youth, jobs for all must increase so we grow and prosper. Stay conscious!<br /> <br /> Franklin Johnston, D Phil (Oxon), is a strategist and project manager. Send comments to the Observer or<br /> <br /> franklinjohnstontoo@gmail.com.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13649694/259023_85458_repro_w300.jpg Local Opinion Friday, February 17, 2017 12:00 AM The crime thing: What&rsquo;s gone so wrong? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/The-crime-thing--What-s-gone-so-wrong-_89833 THE crime epidemic is upon us and we are turning in every direction to find the solution. There is no shortage of suggestions and recommendations, even as the doubts and fears continue. Never mind the obeah story, this is no time for jokes. Every life taken brings pain to everyone, even if we didn&rsquo;t know the victim. We want to live in a safe environment. Crime and violence are not unknown elsewhere in the universe, but that is of little comfort to us. What we want to have is our own safety.<br /> <br /> One of the most heart-rending reports featured on the front page of this publication on Wednesday was the slaughter of a beautiful 15-year-old child and her mother, family of a Jamaican singer. The man charged with the double killing was &ldquo;another one of us&rdquo;, who was one of our many migrants in the US. After his bloody act, he confessed to the police, admitting that he would be spending the rest of his life in prison. His identification as Jamaican hit us hard again.<br /> <br /> Sometimes, in trying to understand the behaviour of the killers, we have to wonder if &ldquo;dem head tek dem&rdquo;! It is a question we ask every day, as the reports of irrational behaviour are made known. We seem cursed with the unlimited capacity for violence outside and inside our families. Some of our killers behave as if they had never heard the words &ldquo;sensible&rdquo; and &ldquo;conscience&rdquo;. <br /> <br /> The news has also come of &ldquo;one of us&rdquo; who must be out of his head enough to threaten a US immigration judge who was trying a case with him. Can you imagine disrespecting the judge, especially at this time in &lsquo;Merica&rsquo; when immigration is not a word to joke with? This particular &lsquo;joker&rsquo; had been in custody awaiting deportation when he played the fool with his bizarre action.<br /> <br /> He may well have been deported back here right away, to add to our problems, but he will be in residence in an American lock-up for years to come, paying for his stupidity, serving three years and five months in a country where incarceration is not taken lightly.<br /> <br /> The report said, after serving time, it is likely that he will be sent back to &ldquo;his native Jamaica&rdquo;, which we know is already overburdened with crime issues. America will remind us that they have their own problems. &ldquo;Go home now!&rdquo;<br /> <br /> This certainly is not a Diaspora success story. It is reported that not only did the accused man threaten the immigration judge, but he turned on her husband too. Di bwoy obviously is not bright. He is lucky he did not get a longer sentence.<br /> <br /> As we find ourselves sinking more into the crime muck we&rsquo;ve begun to panic. There can be no doubt that it is time for the authorities &mdash; and us &mdash; to begin to take a stronger look at how some of our people, at home and abroad, treat others &mdash; family members, in particular. We must have noticed by now the frequency of incidents of domestic violence among us, with men and partners battering spouses and, sad to say, all too often, resulting in the death of one &mdash; the woman, more often than not. Sensibly, we have begun to talk again about justices of the peace and other members of communities to gain the skill of mediation, which could make a difference in educating for survival.<br /> <br /> Some of our people have a long way to go in accepting the value of talking out and settling conflicts, instead of violent action. We do not emphasise enough how to reason things out rather than act out in an uncivilised manner.<br /> <br /> Someone has pointed out that mediation doesn&rsquo;t necessarily mean that an individual who behaves in an irrational manner has no sense at all and couldn&rsquo;t help himself or herself from resulting in the spilling of blood and tears. But as outsiders, we seem comfortable in believing that it is sheer stupidity which drives so many to violence. There is even more to it than we hear. A social worker once indicated that it was not only stupid, but dangerous, to believe that all bad people behave the way they do because &ldquo;dem evil&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> As much as it disturbs us, the violence business can&rsquo;t be defined only as a domestic matter. We have to find the way to start shaping the mind of more young people to understand why law and order are for them too. Tomorrow will soon be theirs. Isn&rsquo;t this the kind of dialogue which should be carried on across the nation? And shouldn&rsquo;t collective effort be made for one and all to share the same vision for survival? It shouldn&rsquo;t be the elders alone whose voices are heard.<br /> <br /> A word to the wise<br /> <br /> Hauling people and packing them up in jail &ldquo;because somebody seh dem do dis or dem do dat, although we can&rsquo;t prove it, is another step to futility.<br /> <br /> We&rsquo;ve been there before. Do we really want to go there again? Lock them up because &ldquo;wi a show dem seh wi nah tek no foolishness&rdquo;? Get real!<br /> <br /> Today is not yesterday, tomorrow needs more than that.<br /> <br /> Cyber madness<br /> <br /> It would happen sooner or later. Abuse of social media was inevitable. The day of reckoning has come. The law having got wide awake; the crazies who thought they had found a way of destroying others had better think again. About time!<br /> <br /> Good news<br /> <br /> Ward Theatre is to reopen again? Finally!<br /> <br /> Condolence<br /> <br /> I extend condolence to Minister Olivia &ldquo;Babsy&rdquo; Grange on the passing of her mother, a very pleasant lady, resident for years in Toronto.<br /> <br /> Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or <br /> <br /> gloudonb@yahoo.com.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13649688/259014_85441_repro_w300.jpg Local Opinion Friday, February 17, 2017 12:00 AM Take the PNP back to Norman Manley, Peter Phillips http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Take-the-PNP-back-to-Norman-Manley--Peter-Phillips_89642 So Peter Phillips will succeed Portia Simpson Miller as president of the People&rsquo;s National Party (PNP). I have known Peter Phillips for more than half of a century. My first-ever published work was printed in the Jamaica College (JC) magazine of 1967 while a student there. Peter Phillips, as a co-editor of that magazine, insisted that I contribute an article, as there was none yet from the junior section of the school. At that time Phillips was a prefect at JC and I was coming to the end of my third year at the school.<br /> <br /> By the way, at no time was there ever a contest between Bruce Golding and Peter Phillips for head boy. When Bruce Golding was head boy, Phillips was not yet a prefect, and the head boy was usually chosen from the prefects. Phillips is two years younger than Bruce Golding and was appointed a prefect the following year. In boarding school Phillips was the monitor at the head of the dining room table I sat at while in second form.<br /> <br /> In his university years Phillips became a Rastafarian. I have seen him go from bald head to dreadlocks to bald head again.<br /> <br /> Now that Peter Phillips is the president-designate of the PNP I have a few suggestions for him. The PNP needs to return to Norman Manley&rsquo;s vision, which was the source of all of Michael Manley&rsquo;s policies in the 1970s.<br /> <br /> Phillips should attract young people to the PNP by having essay competitions and other such things about Norman Manley. And the PNP parliamentarians need to learn more about Norman Manley also. Perhaps the PNP parliamentarians should be taxed an extra $5,000 per month until they get their political education right.<br /> <br /> We seem to have come full circle in recent times with the merger of some entities. In the 1970s Michael Manley took Social Development Commission (SDC) &mdash; originally Jamaica Welfare, founded by his father Norman Manley in 1967 &mdash; and made each department stand on its own. The SDC&rsquo;s &lsquo;Each one teach one&rsquo; adult literacy classes became the national literacy programme &mdash; later known as Jamaican Movement for the Advancement of Literacy (JAMAL), now Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL).<br /> <br /> The Youth Development Agency, renamed Youth and Community Services in the 1970s, was the department for the youth camps and youth clubs. During the 1980s the youth camps evolved into the Human Employment and Resource Training (HEART) Trust programme, as done by Edward Seaga.<br /> <br /> More than decade ago JAMAL became the JFLL. Now that entity is to be merged with HEART Trust, along with National Youth Service, apparently from a recommendation made by the Public Sector Transformation Unit in the Public Sector Master Rationalisation Plan of 2011.<br /> <br /> The PNP needs to emphasise cooperatives also as part of the Manley vision. In the 1940s, co-operatives were seen as a way of combating destitution in Jamaica. Today, destitution has been replaced by stress as just about everyone seems worried that some collector or other will come for outstanding payments or seize goods. At least co- operatives, which by definition are owned by its members, will provide an income so that their bully bosses will not stress them out just because they know that they have bills to be paid.<br /> <br /> At the same time, the credit union movement needs to go back to its earlier teaching about thrift. No one should hang his/her hat higher than can be reached; although the owners of big businesses do not mind as long as they make their sales. But there are consequences for the labour force when they are stressed out in terms of production and economic growth.<br /> <br /> In recent times we have heard of plans to have Parliament reduce the democracy in co-operatives by disallowing nominations from the floor. This must be sharply resisted by the members. I have argued over the years that rights to join co-operatives, on the one hand, and privately owned companies on the other, should be enshrined in the Constitution of Jamaica so that politicians cannot change this law at a whim.<br /> <br /> I can only hope that good sense will prevail. Finance Minister Audley Shaw relies heavily on voters in his constituency who are members of the Christiana Potato Growers Co-operative. But the PNP should never allow this to happen, given its own history in the development of co-operatives in Jamaica. Indeed, for the PNP to be a viable alternative it needs to take back the left. In recent times it seems as if the Jamaica Labour Party is to the left of the PNP, instead of the other way around.<br /> <br /> To do all of this, the PNP needs to set up a task force for youth and get them into action. In any case, whether or not Peter Phillips becomes prime minister, or is only a transitional leader as some are suggesting, it would be good if he does this. I do not take the view that his age will make a difference. With regard to elections in Jamaica, it is the party that mobilises more of its voters that will win the election.<br /> <br /> The young voters are still turned off by the electoral process. I have written that if the young voters had voted on the basis of which leader is younger then the JLP would have won 56 seats in February 2016 General Election, not a mere 32. The young people need to be engaged in the political process, and this can be done even in Opposition. But whichever way the next election goes, Peter Phillips is the best person to be the president of the PNP in 2017.<br /> <br /> From the perspective of socialism, young people need to know that so-called capitalist prosperity does not work for the poor, because the trickle-down theory does not work. The stronger economy of the 1950s and 1960s was of very little benefit to the poor, as was manifested in the living conditions at the time. One photograph of primary school children in the 1960s should suffice. The main thing that will be noticed is that they went to school barefooted.<br /> <br /> Young voters, indeed, individuals of all ages, need to know the importance of working together. Socialism has to be sold as a programme of working together for the benefit of all, which is really what co-operatives are all about.<br /> <br /> With respect to Caricom, it was the former Secretary General Edwin Carrington who said that it&rsquo;s either we swim together or drown separately. That statement is far more applicable to Jamaica than perhaps anywhere else.<br /> <br /> ekrubm765@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13630295/257268_83936_repro_w300.jpg Local Opinion Thursday, February 16, 2017 12:00 AM Will insurers begin covering medical marijuana? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Will-insurers-begin-covering-medical-marijuana_89641 Medical marijuana has a long history of being denied coverage by insurance companies. Up to now most insurance companies refuse to cover cannabinoid treatments, typically citing federal regulations as the main reason to decline medical marijuana coverage. This is especially true in the United States where cannabis is a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act with &ldquo;no perceived medicinal value&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> In New Mexico, an employee hurt on the job was denied medical marijuana coverage under his worker&rsquo;s compensation insurance and his suit to force the coverage failed. Beside the ruling in New Mexico, lower courts in Michigan, Maine, Massachusetts, and Connecticut have given similar verdicts to workplace insurers.<br /> <br /> However, a recent Canadian Human Rights decision and a New Jersey administrative law court decision may open the door for a new chapter in the medical marijuana story.<br /> <br /> The human rights board in Nova Scotia made a landmark decision to require a medical marijuana patient&rsquo;s employee insurance plan to cover the cost of his cannabis treatments. Gordon Skinner has been using medical marijuana for the treatment of an on-the-job injury that has kept him from work for the past six years. He argued that he was being discriminated against due to his use of medical marijuana.<br /> <br /> The board agreed with Skinner, citing the requirement of a doctor&rsquo;s prescription to obtain the needed cannabis. By denying his claim for coverage for a doctor&rsquo;s prescription, the board claimed that the insurance company&rsquo;s actions amounted to a prima facie case of discrimination, the ruling states.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The discrimination was non-direct and unintentional.&rdquo; The board went on to state that the insurance plan contravened the province&rsquo;s Human Rights Act, and must now cover Skinner&rsquo;s medical marijuana expenses &ldquo;up to and including the full amount of his most recent prescription&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> This opens up the possibility of patients in other provinces to appeal insurance denials under their local human rights authorities, says Jonathan Zaid of the Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana.<br /> <br /> Beyond the Nova Scotia board, Canadian Insurers Sun Life and BMO recently changed their policies to differentiate between tobacco and cannabis smokers, dropping the coverage fees for cannabis-only smokers considerably as based on the known scientific evidence marking yet another advancement of medical marijuana in the insurance industry.<br /> <br /> In the United States, a new, similar story is beginning to unfold. A New Jersey man won a case against a workmen&rsquo;s compensation insurer. In December 2016, Judge Ingrid French decided in favour of Andrew Watson of Egg Harbor Township. In her decision, Judge French stated, &ldquo;While the court is sensitive to the controversy surrounding the medicinal use of marijuana, whether or not it should be prescribed for a patient in a state where it is legal to prescribe it, is a medical decision that is within the boundaries of the laws in the state of New Jersey. In this case, there is no dispute that all of the credible evidence presented confirms that this petitioner is an appropriate candidate for New Jersey&rsquo;s medical marijuana programme.&rdquo; The insurer will be required to reimburse Watson for the cost of his treatments in the past as well as &ldquo;any medical treatments using cannabis in the future&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> What could this mean for medical marijuana patients and insurance companies in the United States?<br /> <br /> Currently, 28 states plus the District of Columbia have medical marijuana programmes. There are approximately 1.2 million medical marijuana patients who purchase medical marijuana in those states and many have difficulties paying for their cannabinoid treatments, some of which can be up to US$300 per week for intensive cancer treatments. Patients need to cover those expenses out of pocket, and many low-income patients are left suffering without a way to pay for those costs.<br /> <br /> an initial chemotherapy treatment can cost upwards of US$7,000, and an eight-week regime could cost up to US$40,000. At US$300 per week, the cost of cannabis treatments is only US$2,400-US$3,000 over an eight-week period. From the perspective of the insurance company, they should be encouraging patients to use cannabis.<br /> <br /> The two cases now give precedent for attorneys who are fighting insurance company denials for medical marijuana treatments. We may end up seeing more cases of judges favouring for the patient in states with legal medical marijuana programmes.<br /> <br /> NB: This article was originally posted on the GreenSea Distribution blog. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13647020/258670_85275_repro_w300.jpg Local Opinion Thursday, February 16, 2017 12:00 AM Scale up HIV/AIDS programmes behind bars http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Scale-up-HIV-AIDS-programmes-behind-bars_89640 The issue of HIV/AIDS among inmates continues to pose a public health risk. This delicate issue is one which requires a more comprehensive approach even as international funding to combat HIV/AIDS continues to dwindle.<br /> <br /> Global research indicates that correctional administrators continue to struggle with meeting the needs of inmates with HIV/AIDS. This situation is further complicated by the fact that there is a taboo culture which prohibits open discussions about sexual issues behind bars.<br /> <br /> HIV hit prisons early and hit them hard. Data indicates that the rates of HIV infection among prisoners in many countries are significantly higher than those in the general population. While most of the prisoners living with HIV in prison contract their infection outside prison, before imprisonment, the risk of being infected in prison is heightened.<br /> <br /> The importance of implementing HIV interventions in prisons was recognised early in the epidemic. After holding a first consultation on HIV in prisons in 1987, World Health Organization (WHO) responded to growing evidence of HIV infection in prisons worldwide by issuing guidelines on HIV infection and AIDS in prisons in 1993. With regard to health care and prevention of HIV, the guidelines emphasised that, &ldquo;All prisoners have the right to receive health care, including preventive measures, equivalent to that available in the community without discrimination, in particular with respect to their legal status or nationality.&rdquo; This was recently reaffirmed in the 2006 framework for an affective national response to HIV/AIDS in prisons, jointly published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, WHO, and United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS.<br /> <br /> Since the early 1990s, various countries have introduced HIV programmes in prisons. However, many of them are small in scale, restricted to a few prisons, or exclude necessary interventions for which evidence of effectiveness exists. There is an urgent need to introduce comprehensive programmes, (including information and education, particularly through peers; needle and syringe programmes; drug dependence treatment, in particular opioid substitution therapy with methadone and/or buprenorphine; voluntary counselling and HIV testing; and HIV care and support, including provision of antiretroviral treatment) and to scale them up rapidly.<br /> <br /> Jamaica has made attempts to expand its HIV/AIDS programme in prisons, but these efforts need to be sustained if the gains made are to be lasting. At a time where there is a small window of opportunity to benefit from the little international funding that is still available for HIV/AIDS programmes, the Government should seek to tap into this funding and direct it towards correctional facilities.<br /> <br /> Prisoners eventually return to the communities from which they come and they carry with them everything they would have picked up in prison. Scaling up AIDS/HIV intervention in prisons is therefore in the best interest of not only the prison community but also the fragile health system and the nation at large.<br /> <br /> Carla Gullotta is executive director for Stand Up for Jamaica, a human-rights groups that carries out rehabilitation work with inmates in the island&rsquo;s correctional facilities. Send comments to the Observer or<br /> <br /> sufjmedia@gmail.com.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13647019/258671_85277_repro_w300.jpg Local Opinion Thursday, February 16, 2017 12:00 AM Let&rsquo;s put Trelawny to the &lsquo;TEST&rsquo; http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Let-s-put-Trelawny-to-the--TEST--_89657 As I watch the parish of Trelawny position itself to become a major player in the fundamentals for the country&rsquo;s economic growth, my thoughts reflect on the general citizenry &mdash; on whether they, too, are positioning themselves to benefit from the growth and development in the parish. <br /> <br /> Since 2000 the parish has seen massive growth in its housing stock, agricultural production, tourism (including cruise shipping) and small business, yet the indices of poverty and unemployment remain very high in the vast majority of communities. <br /> <br /> Trelawny was once one of the richest parishes in the western hemisphere. The parish was the home of two of Europe&rsquo;s richest planters in James Tharpe and Edward Barrett. <br /> <br /> So prosperous were the major players that the talk in Europe was that everyone wanted to be as rich as a Trelawny planter. <br /> <br /> Although the major players were endowed with indices of riches, the average Trelawny resident remained rooted in poverty and a low quality of life. <br /> <br /> I view the future of the parish with some trepidation as it relates to how the average citizen will be able to benefit from planned developmental interventions such as Harmony Cove, housing, crop production, commerce, cruise shipping, sports and tourism. <br /> <br /> With that in mind, I am calling on major stakeholders in the parish to establish a &lsquo;Trelawny Economic Support Taskforce (TEST), to develop an intervention strategy in an effort to have a holistic approach to development and how those developments can impact the quality of life of the people of the parish. <br /> <br /> The taskforce should consist of players from the political directorate, civil society, former Members of Parliament, custos, business community, the Trelawny Diaspora and community-based groups. <br /> <br /> The terms of reference of such a taskforce could include: <br /> <br /> &bull; Consultative approach to development; <br /> <br /> &bull; Participation in the decision-making processes from the political directorate; <br /> <br /> &bull; How the development will impact the environment and the citizens; <br /> <br /> &bull; How development will impact on community development; and <br /> <br /> &bull; Strategies to make the quality of life of the people of Trelawny synonymous with all developments. <br /> <br /> For too long the people of Trelawny have remained behind the curtains and zinc fences in the parish&rsquo;s development. <br /> <br /> Both central and local governments have played lip service to improving the quality of life in the parish. <br /> <br /> In the midst of a plethora of projects in Trelawny, we are yet to see the upward corresponding movement in the happiness index of the people. <br /> <br /> TEST, once properly put together, can be the catalyst to spur hope and aspiration of the people. <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> Fernandez &ldquo;Bingy&rdquo; Smith is a former councillor for the Sherwood Content Division in Trelawny.<br /> <br /> E-mail: fgeesmith@yahoo.com http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13646727/258581_85170_repro_w300.jpg Local Opinion Thursday, February 16, 2017 12:00 AM The Church, pressed on every side, but not crushed http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/The-Church--pressed-on-every-side--but-not-crushed_89595 In recent weeks the Church has come under withering criticisms because of untoward and even criminal behaviour alleged to have been committed by members of the Church. The Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse, in a recent damning commentary, indicated that pastors and members of the police force are among the leading high-profile cases of criminal sexual abuse of minors in the society. This is a worrying trend, and the society has been understandably incensed at what is happening to our children.<br /> <br /> Criticism of the Church in this regard is necessary and should not be easily brushed aside. Such behaviour cannot be excused among those who should be seen as the greatest upholders of integrity in the land. The Church often gets unnerved by such criticisms, but people have a right to expect the best standards of behaviour from those who claim to be different because of their assumed proximity to the creator.<br /> <br /> In criticising the Church, however, one must be careful not to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. One can understand that people become more outraged at egregious behaviour demonstrated by those from whom you would least expect it, especially from leaders of the Church. But there is a tendency to use a broad brush to paint the Church and to bring everyone under the judgement that should be best reserved for the few.<br /> <br /> Even the most ardent critic of the church and of things holy will admit that it is just a percentage &mdash; and I would suggest a small percentage &mdash; of pastors who are involved in these dastardly acts. I would further suggest that where bad conduct is seen, this assessment can also be made of people in other professions.<br /> <br /> The vast majority of ministers take their call to ministry seriously. Many have come under temptations themselves, but they have held fast, tenaciously and faithfully, to what they believe to be God&rsquo;s call on their lives. The vast majority continue to work assiduously under dire circumstances. Notwithstanding the misinformation and tomfoolery that come from prosperity preachers as to the lucrative nature of ministry, many soldier on hardly able to make ends meet for themselves and their families.<br /> <br /> It must also be said that despite the &lsquo;bad eggs&rsquo; in the Church, it continues to be a force for good in the society. This fact must not be lost on even the fiercest critic, neither should it be shrouded in the palpable anger that many have correctly directed at the Church for the behaviour of its members. In the areas of medicine, education, cultural and social programmes, the Church continues to contribute greatly to the progress of the Jamaican society. Vulnerable groups and individuals have continued to benefit from its social programmes. Those who often glibly argue for the demise of the Church, or the evisceration of anything religious, must ponder what will replace the Church&rsquo;s contribution if their best wishes should ever be realised. They must ponder the cost to society if the Church should be crippled and rendered inoperable. <br /> <br /> It is in this vein that one calls attention to the suggestion that the Government may want to impose property taxes on the churches. One fervently hopes that this suggestion is not based on any calculation on the part of the Government that now that the Church is in a weakened state because of its sex scandals, the opportunity is ripe to make a pre-emptive strike on it for property taxes. This would be unfortunate, as matters of such import as taxation should be considered on their own merit and not be subject to opportunistic caprice.<br /> <br /> The issue of taxing the Church is not new, but suggesting that this can be done at this time does not appear to be coincidental with budgetary considerations, but is an attempt to exact tribute from what might be perceived as a weakened institution. If this is the Government&rsquo;s thinking, it would be well advised to disabuse itself of it. There is a reason churches, as not-for-profit organisations, are granted tax-exempt status.<br /> <br /> In the United States, for example, it is a given and churches do not even have to apply for this status as do other non-government organisations or other charitable organisations. Once an organisation is deemed a church within the narrow confines of the definition pertaining to sacerdotal (priestly, ministerial) functions, tax exemption is almost automatic courtesy of congressional approval.<br /> <br /> But tax exemption for churches, and other charitable organisations for that matter, are appropriate for the reasons outlined above in terms of the work these organisations do in the society. Without the intervention of the Church, the Government would find it difficult, all by itself, to carry out these social and economic functions. In this sense, the Church is a useful ally and not the enemy of the State. This must not be easily set aside. Taxation, at any time, constrains an organisation in the work it does, especially when such an organisation is dedicated to charitable endeavours and is not in the business of making profit.<br /> <br /> So the Church may be down, but it is not out. The behaviour of some in recent weeks has certainly sullied its reputation and the criticisms from the society, in general, are well intentioned in the context of bad behaviour. It is sad to say, but one would be na&Atilde;&macr;ve to think that there will not be a repeat of such behaviour in the future. One can only appeal to those who need psychological, pastoral and psychosocial help to get it. Such help is abundantly available both within and without the church community.<br /> <br /> The Church has persisted throughout the years, warts and all, because its foundations do not rest on the whims or ordinances of men, but on Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever. As the great hymn of the Church reminds us, with scornful wonder the world sees her oppressed, by schisms rent asunder and by heresies distressed. But with all of this, the saints continue to keep watch. It is the vigilance of the faithful that will win the day, with God&rsquo;s help.<br /> <br /> Dr Raulston Nembhard is a priest and social commentator. Send comments to the Observer or<br /> <br /> stead6655@aol.com.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13105917/212756_w300.jpg Local Opinion Wednesday, February 15, 2017 12:00 AM Marriages a fix for Jamaica's crime problem? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Marriages-a-fix-for-Jamaica-s-crime-problem-_89499 In a time when pastors, in particular, and by close association the Church in general, have come under great scrutiny and judgement for their dereliction of the responsibility of being the first and last gatekeepers of the preservation of humanity and its interest to be safe, there was a beacon of light seen at my last visit to church.<br /> <br /> These days I hardly go to church, for one reason or the other. While I grew up on the tenets of Christian doctrine, it somehow has lost its appeal to me in adult life. It was a pleasant surprise when I journeyed to my childhood congregation on Sunday, February 12, 2017 at the May Pen New Testament Church of God, Clarendon, that I was seriously impressed with the sermon that was being dished to the congregants.<br /> <br /> It was dubbed &ldquo;Couples Sunday&rdquo;, which really focused on the need for togetherness and building strong bonds within the marriage union. Couples were seen together carrying out various functions and playing different roles during the programme. It was a very pleasant thing to see; it was most pronounced given the circumstances that the Church faces now. Infidelity and other forms of social and ethical breaches often outshine the good that the Church portrays. This was a subtle but powerful resistance of the latest status quo.<br /> <br /> The sermon was delivered by a guest speaker, Dr Michael Coombs, former chief medical officer in the Ministry of Health; however, his efforts of late have been towards championing the cause of restoring and sustaining marriages and good family values. This all seemed liked a trip down memory lane for me. It really seemed outdated, to say the least, echoing these sentiments in such a changed society. But really what this brought to light was the distance from which society has departed what was once considered a general and accepted way of living.<br /> <br /> The theme he spoke on was &lsquo;An Urgent Call to Restore Marriage and the Family as God Intended&rsquo;. It became clear to me, without evaluating his research, that there must be a correlation between the breakdown in family values and the spate of crime that is crippling this nation, especially those targeting females.<br /> <br /> I read and listened to the Government&rsquo;s plans to tackle crime in this country and I personally thought that any effort towards curbing same is commendable, no matter how trivial it may seem. The threat we face as a nation is just too much to sit back and do nothing about. Then it occurred to me that the focus can be bolstered by implementing a drive to restoring marriages and good family values.<br /> <br /> With recent statistics pointing to the fact that marriages have declined by almost 50 per cent over the period 2005 to 2015, and that 85 per cent of the births recorded in this country are by unmarried women, topped by a continuing rise in the number of divorce cases before the courts, it is only common sense to think that the root cause of our crime problem lies within these unwelcoming statistics. The role of men in the household, and certainly as a key player in the economics of raising a family and giving rise to wholesome living, is severely threatened.<br /> <br /> The speaker made a call for men to &ldquo;man up!&rdquo; and this is a fitting appeal to the nation in general. If men are not heads of their households, then what are they &mdash; criminals? We have often fought the fight for gender equality, but to what end? Have we sacrificed the role of men for the uprising of women?<br /> <br /> Jamaica is known to have established itself as a front-runner in promoting the well-being of women, and statistics support the triumphs of women in this country &mdash; if in doubt, just take a journey to one of the premier learning institutions in Jamaica and let not your eyes deceive you. This is a woman&rsquo;s country. While this is credible, it has left the development of men wanting, and has somewhat crippled the balance society once had.<br /> <br /> I must admit that my first response to this sermon was to greet it with great disdain. I thought to myself this was a backward way of thinking; however, it had an impact on my common thinking, not the sophisticated and modernised part of my brain. And then I thought that we may, like me, be over-thinking the solution to Jamaica&rsquo;s problems. Fixing the family could be the panacea; it could be the golden nugget, the piece of the puzzle being ignored in the fight to rescue Jamaica.<br /> <br /> rickettslj@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12928684/201096_w300.jpg Local Opinion Wednesday, February 15, 2017 12:00 AM The absurd consequences of a &lsquo;right to privacy&rsquo; http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/The-absurd-consequences-of-a--right-to-privacy-_89610 British Member of Parliament&rsquo;s David Davis&rsquo;s text messages poking fun at the appearance of a female colleague make him the latest whipping boy for those determined to root out sexism and misogyny in public life, the <br /> <br /> Daily Mail reports. Curiously, they also make him the latest poster boy for exponents of an expansive &ldquo;right to privacy&rdquo; like Brendan O&rsquo;Neill of sp!ked magazine.<br /> <br /> I&rsquo;m not sure how Davis&rsquo;s text messages &mdash; in which he denied attempting to kiss Member of Parliament Diane Abbot because &ldquo;I am not blind&rdquo; &mdash; became public. The Daily Mail doesn&rsquo;t say. Perhaps the recipients talked about them. Perhaps his phone was hacked.<br /> <br /> If it is the latter, there are certainly moral and legal aspects of the matter which bear at least tangentially on privacy. But O&rsquo;Neill takes those aspects far beyond the realm of the reasonable. He asserts a general ethical constraint along the lines of the legal &ldquo;fruit of the poison tree&rdquo; standard under which evidence illegally obtained cannot be used in trials, but on steroids.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;That Davis&rsquo;s texts were leaked,&rdquo; writes O&rsquo;Neill, &ldquo;doesn&rsquo;t make it okay to haul him over the coals for them, to insist that he retract and repent, because this still amounts to shaming someone for a private conversation.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Under O&rsquo;Neill&rsquo;s standard of personal behaviour, you cannot allow something that you learn about me to affect your opinion of me or your behaviour toward me in any way if I did not intend for you to be aware of it.<br /> <br /> If I&rsquo;m a Christian clergyman and a parishioner catches me praying in the Islamic manner, or engaged in sexual congress with a woman not my wife when he barges into the parsonage uninvited, well, he should just keep his mouth shut about it &mdash; and even if he doesn&rsquo;t, the congregation certainly shouldn&rsquo;t discharge me or ask their denomination to defrock me. After all, that would be a violation of my privacy!<br /> <br /> That&rsquo;s absurd!<br /> <br /> A number of rights do, in effect, protect personal privacy. The rights of free speech and free press include the right to refrain from speaking or publishing if there&rsquo;s something I don&rsquo;t want to tell you. Property rights mean that I can bar you from my house and knowledge of what goes on there absent a warrant issued on probable cause to believe I&rsquo;ve committed a crime. It&rsquo;s proper that information gained in violation of those rights be excluded from criminal proceedings, if for no other reason than to discourage police from violating those rights.<br /> <br /> But personal and public opinion aren&rsquo;t court proceedings, such as those referred to by Edward Coke when he said (as quoted by O&rsquo;Neill), &ldquo;No man, ecclesiastical or temporal, shall be examined upon the secret thoughts of his heart, or of his secret opinion.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Nor is there a &ldquo;right to privacy&rdquo; &mdash; a right to forbid other people to know things &mdash; as such. Privacy is merely an effect &mdash; an imperfect intersection of penumbrae emanating from other rights.<br /> <br /> Like the European Union&rsquo;s &ldquo;right to be forgotten&rdquo;, O&rsquo;Neill&rsquo;s &ldquo;requirement to forget&rdquo; is illiberal and Orwellian.<br /> <br /> Thomas L Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida. Send comments to the Observer or<br /> <br /> @thomaslknapp http://thegarrisoncenter.org/archives/9440<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13644159/258452_85096_repro_w300.jpg Local Opinion Wednesday, February 15, 2017 12:00 AM Police officers must not act as judges http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Police-officers-must-not-act-as-judges_89484 On more than one occasion I have been prevented from entering or questioned before being allowed to enter the several courts of this island. The police officers who man the entrances of the courts have now taken it upon themselves to determine who is, and who is not eligible to watch proceedings in court. If you are not a party to proceedings in court, or are an accused in the matter, it is likely that police officers will deny you entry.<br /> <br /> It has been my experience that the rural courts and the traffic court in Kingston are the most susceptible to the practice of this unconstitutional denial of entry into the courts, save where a person is a direct party to the proceedings. It is easy for these police officers stationed at the courts to act unconstitutionally, because the average person is unaware that they do not need to have a reason nor be a party to a case to be able to watch court proceedings.<br /> <br /> The most eventful experience I had at being denied entry was at the traffic court in Kingston. A police officer at this location has, on at least one occasion, denied me entry because I did not have a matter before the court. In fact, I was informed by that particular officer that, &ldquo;Me run da court yah!&rdquo; when I questioned why I was being denied entry. I was also told that there was no space for me in the courtroom, although there were rows and rows of empty seats. I was only let in after counsel informed the police officer that there was no reason to deny me entry.<br /> <br /> The police high command ought to re-educate or, rather, educate its officers, especially those stationed in the courthouses that, under the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, particularly s.16(3), court proceedings, which include the delivery of decisions by the court, are to be held in public. Of course, the constitution provides caveats for court proceedings to be held in public, and the public can be excluded if the matter, in the court&rsquo;s opinion, is one which involves public safety, the welfare of children, protection of private lives, or even in interlocutory injunctions among other sensitive issues.<br /> <br /> Of particular importance is the fact that it is the court, not the police officer, who has the discretion to exclude the public from proceedings. Notwithstanding these caveats, police officers have no right to be the final judge of whether or not a person, especially a citizen of Jamaica, has the right to enter the courtroom.<br /> <br /> Since when did police officers gain the right to question persons entering the courtroom about their reason for wanting to watch proceedings? Police officers are, in general terms, responsible for the safety and protection of courthouses, and their responsibilities have not extended to being judges of who ought to, and ought not to enter. If a police officer has any doubt as to whether entry should be allowed, based on what that officer believes to be the substance of the case, he or she ought to refer their concern or question to the presiding judge or tribunal.<br /> <br /> I also urge the police high command to remind its officers that, under the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, any refusal of entry into the several courts of this island, without a justifiable ground, can amount to a breach of constitutional rights. If the right person is denied entry and is willing to challenge this unconstitutional behaviour by police officers, then an action can be brought against both the commissioner of police and the attorney general for breach of constitutional rights. This, in my opinion, is a waste of court time and taxpayers&rsquo; funds, whereby the state will have to defend such an action, because of haughtiness by police officers and their belief that they have a right to act unconstitutionally knowing that the average person is ignorant of the law.<br /> <br /> Wendy Beswick is an attorney-at -law. Send comments to the Observer or <br /> <br /> wendybeswick@gmail.com.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13195232/220468__w300.jpg Local Opinion Tuesday, February 14, 2017 12:00 AM No to preventative detention! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/No-to-preventative-detention-_89460 Preventative detention contains all the ingredients needed to escalate hate, disputes and vindictiveness in domestic relations. The recent announcement by the Government that such a policy will be pursued and implemented by the police is not the best option for addressing the crime situation.<br /> <br /> It is also not the first occasion on which effort is being made to address the matter of domestic violence. From as far back as 1998, the Domestic Violence Act was brought into being by Parliament. This Act is intended to ensure that parties in domestic relations can apply to the court for protection in circumstances where they are being abused by the other party. Thus, a spouse or a parent of a child may apply to the parish court (former resident magistrate court) for a protection order, and this order will prohibit the offending spouse from entering or remaining in the household and from visiting the areas where it is deemed the residence is located. The order may also prohibit the offended spouse from visiting the workplace of the other spouse or from visiting the educational institution being attended by a child involved.<br /> <br /> A protection order can go on to prohibit the offending spouse from watching or besetting the residence, place of work or the school of the person being protected. The order can even go as far as to prohibit the making of telephone calls to the party being protected. In making the order, the court needs only be satisfied that the offending party &ldquo;...has used, or threatened to use, violence against, or cause physical or mental injury to&hellip;&rdquo; the person seeking the protection of the court. It is of importance to note that an application for protection order can be made ex parte, that is to say in the absence of the offending party.<br /> <br /> The protection order gives a constable the power to arrest, without warrant, a person whom he has reasonable cause to suspect of having committed a breach of the protection order. The Act requires that anyone so arrested by a constable shall be brought before the court within a period of 48 hours from the time of being arrested.<br /> <br /> It is very important for us to appreciate and understand that under the Domestic Violence Act, the interest of the parties, and in particular the rights of the offending party, are subject to the directions and decision of a parish judge. Preventative detention places too much power, I submit, in the hands of a constable, and this can lead to abuses, as was the case under the Suppression Of Crime Act. The procedure places too burdensome a responsibility on a constable. It requires a constable to rely on a mere oral report/complaint to him to make a decision to deprive a citizen of his right to freedom of movement and the right to protection from arbitrary arrest. This should be compared and contrasted with the procedure under the Domestic Violence Act, where the applicant for a protection order is usually required to submit an affidavit setting out the nature, details and particulars of the complaint.<br /> <br /> A better course for the Government, in its effort to address domestic violence, is for it to strengthen the Domestic Violence Act by providing for applications to be made orally to the court, as is the case now with an application for habeas corpus. An application for habeas corpus can now be made to a parish judge by an attorney addressing the judge and bringing to the court&rsquo;s attention that a citizen has been in custody for a period of time, and that his rights are being breached. The judge will forthwith instruct the clerk of court to list the detainee in the court list for that day and will give it priority. The judge will hear submissions from the attorney and will make appropriate orders, including requiring the police officers to explain and account for the citizen being held in custody. The Government could perhaps amend the law to provide that domestic violence matters may initially be brought to court this way.<br /> <br /> We must accept, however, that despite our best effort, no law or legal procedure can prevent some instances of domestic violence. Individuals who are irrationally committed to rule the life of another will take the life of another then take their own lives. And unless a police constable is present constantly in the household, there is no certainty that laws will be a deterrent to such people.<br /> <br /> Preventative detention casts a dark shadow of constitutional violation over Jamaica, land we love. It is always better for matters of detention and the denial of citizens to rights be managed and administered by judges rather than by constables.<br /> <br /> Linton P Gordon is an attorney-at-law. Send comments to the Observer or lpgordon@cwjamaica.com.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12841063/195927__w300.jpg Local Opinion Tuesday, February 14, 2017 12:00 AM Are we going to allow these posts to propel Jamaica into a crisis? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Are-we-going-to-allow-these-posts-to-propel-Jamaica-into-a-crisis-_89458 There seems to be an orchestrated, macabre plan being implemented to increase the fear of criminal victimisation of young girls and women who are being abducted for sexual gratification and/or the sale of human organs.<br /> <br /> Social media is their preferred mode to implant the seeds of this fear &mdash; this medium is recognised or deemed to be the quickest route to get information across, whether they be true or false. This is where the targeted audience has been spending time communicating on national issues affecting the cohort most vulnerable to criminal victimisation. What would motivate someone, or some groups, to instil such fear in a nation?<br /> <br /> There is no escaping the fact that Jamaica has a chronic problem with violent crimes, especially murders. The country is currently placed in the top 10 percentile of murderous nations. Criminal gang activities account for the vast majority of these murders, at close to 58 per cent, while domestic murders are just above 32 per cent, and the other 10 per cent are from petty crimes going wrong or unknown.<br /> <br /> No murder was identified as being committed for the sale of human organs, visually, or by post-mortem examination, yet social media postings are suggesting this is the case. The illegal harvesting of human organs for implant into another human being is a technical and complex process which would suggest there is collusion between medical personnel and organised criminal networks. This linkage, although not far-fetched, has proven not to be the case from investigations. The closest connections found between the two groups were in the treatment of life-threatening injuries from gunshots or other types of haemorrhaging from open wounds. <br /> <br /> An analysis of the original postings using IP addresses, post-mortem reports, missing persons&rsquo; reports, and other open source data highlights interesting facts. For 82 per cent of the time, these mendacious acts are perpetrated by individuals living in the Diaspora, with the UK leading the charge. As for false allegations of abduction for sexual gratification, the information gleaned is that most originate here, with St Catherine leading the deceitful acts, followed by Kingston and St Andrew, St Ann and St James. Very interesting is that these unverified posts are reposted more than 2000 per cent at times, with people claiming that they are sensitising the population. It was, however, heartening to see the divisional commander for St James clearly stating for the public that the information posted about the schoolgirl was by a hallucinating person.<br /> <br /> It boggles the mind why someone who has connections to Jamaica, by kinship or otherwise, would want to damage Brand Jamaica&rsquo;s reputation with these fallacies about kidnapping and the sale of human organs to the international community. Are they working to start civil disturbance here? Are they working to bring the Government down by increasing the fear factor? It was a group of unknown schoolboys who used spray paint to cause the Syrian War which is still destroying that nation today. Are we going to allow these posts to propel Jamaica into a crisis?<br /> <br /> Why would someone post &lsquo;Breaking! Retired Commissioner of Police Dr Carl Williams Shot Dead&rsquo;. It could not be for money, political advantage, or for revenge. Similar false posts were made against a former a prime minister, and a deputy police commissioner, but to what avail.<br /> <br /> The intent of these mendacious posts invalidates every single hypothesis proffered as a logical reason for the postings. Psychologists, sociologists and intelligence experts need to brainstorm this development for logical reason and meaning.<br /> <br /> ianhaughton46@gmail.com http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13386319/236942_63840_repro_w300.jpg Local Opinion Tuesday, February 14, 2017 12:00 AM A case of life and death... literally http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/A-case-of-life-and-death----literally_89346 Women and men from all walks of life gathered with purpose last Tuesday evening to plan and act with urgency as we grieved the tragic loss of an alarming number of women and children. There is a term &ldquo;collective grief&rdquo; which is said to permeate a community or country after repeated incidents of tragedy and trauma. Jamaica is in that state. This &lsquo;collective grief&rsquo; has the potential to immobilise us, even as we strive for the objectives of the Economic Growth Council &mdash; five per cent growth in four years.<br /> <br /> Therese Turner-Jones, Caribbean representative for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), has emphasised continuously the serious effect that crime has been having on Jamaica&rsquo;s economy. The IDB recently released a four-year study (2010-2014) of 17 countries titled, &lsquo;The Costs of Crime and Violence: New Evidence and Insights in Latin America and the Caribbean&rsquo;.<br /> <br /> Ana Maria Rodriguez-Ortiz, the IDB&rsquo;s manager Institutions for Development Department, noted that Jamaica has the fourth-highest impact, losing 3.99 per cent of gross domestic product due to crime. However, crime expert Professor Anthony Clayton says that the indirect cost of crime nearly doubles that percentage.<br /> <br /> In a recent report, he notes: &ldquo;The indirect costs included investments that might have come to this country but didn&rsquo;t because of concerns about crime and corruption. Then there&rsquo;s the loss of human capital &mdash; we lose a lot of our skilled people migrating to other jurisdictions. It [crime] has an effect on people&rsquo;s propensity to save and invest in Jamaica. People are less likely to invest if they think that they&rsquo;re going to become the victims of extortion&hellip; When you take into account these other costs, then I believe from work that we&rsquo;ve done, that you&rsquo;re looking at somewhere just over seven per cent of GDP.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Even as we applaud the work of the Economic Growth Council and the encouraging statistics from chairman of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee Keith Duncan, we will not be able to make the projected strides without serious funding of programmes to end violence against women and children. It was disheartening to hear a woman from the Jamaica Association of Transport Owners and Operators defending the heavy tint on taxis which may be hiding a multitude of sins. Her argument: The heat as taxi drivers wait for passengers. Please, lady, what is a little heat compared to the brutal murder and rape of your people?<br /> <br /> Prime Minister Andrew Holness&rsquo;s message on his Facebook page on Friday makes it clear: &ldquo;By Monday February 13th, public passenger vehicles, in particular registered taxis, must remove their window tints. It is already the law! #SaferJamaica #ProtectOurWomen #ProtectOurChildren&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse, a branch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, has identified some of the top abusers as pastors, teachers and police officers. There are also allegations on social media that this group may include politicians. This is a sad commentary on those to whom our country should look for leadership, protection and ethical behaviour. This column is calling on the decent members of these groups to create stricter screening and disciplinary actions against those who are sullying their good name. They should be warned that, with the growth of social media, evil deeds are going to be exposed sooner or later.<br /> <br /> It is alleged that some of the young women who have been abducted and killed may have been used as couriers for scammers whose identities had become known, and that they may have been forced to play this role because of threats to their families.<br /> <br /> Recommendations from 51% Coalition<br /> <br /> A release on last week&rsquo;s meeting from the 51 % Coalition stated these pointed recommendations:<br /> <br /> &bull; allocation of funds for a shelter for abused women in every parish by the end of 2017;<br /> <br /> &bull; influencing the prime minister, as head of the social partnership, to &ldquo;step up and lead&rdquo; on the issue;<br /> <br /> &bull; strengthened restorative justice and psychological support for victims;<br /> <br /> &bull; working with youth (counselling and mentoring);<br /> <br /> &bull; strengthened community policing and special training for police;<br /> <br /> &bull; &ldquo;targeted activism&rdquo; in schools, communities and the workplace; and<br /> <br /> &bull; using critical &ldquo;touch points&rdquo; such as health services for speedier interventions.<br /> <br /> The statement continued: &ldquo;Moderated by Indi McLymont Lafayette, the meeting began with a minute&rsquo;s silence for the victims and survivors of gender-based violence. Head of the Association of Women&rsquo;s Organizations Dr Hermione McKenzie spoke on the dangers of trafficking in women and girls, and Maria Carla Gullotta of Stand Up for Jamaica emphasised that sexual abuse is a key factor in so-called &ldquo;uncontrollable&rdquo; girls who find themselves in conflict with the law. Glenroy Murray of WE-Change spoke on the Sexual Offences Act currently under review by a Parliamentary Committee. Patricia Donald Phillips brought a strong statement from women church leaders.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> We understand that there is a great deal of fear on the part of witnesses, so we need to study the best practices of countries who have successfully tackled these problems so that our witness protection system gives confidence to those who want to step forward. We urge our leaders in every sphere of life to put in the checks and balances that are required for us as a nation to earn the respect of the international community.<br /> <br /> The buck stops at Jamaica House. It stops there because these are the individuals who campaigned to lead our country and who must now lead the transformation of Jamaica into the safe and secure place that it can be. Members of the Partnership for Transformation committee are well positioned; there can be no napping because this is literally a case of life and death.<br /> <br /> NCSC 40th anniversary<br /> <br /> Congratulations to the National Council for Senior Citizens on its 40th anniversary. It was wonderful to be with the stalwarts last Thursday for their colourful celebration. Kudos to former chairmen Professor Denise Eldemire-Shearer, Merel Hanson, and former Executive Director Beverley Hall-Taylor on their enduring contribution, as well as to their newly appointed Chairman Dorothy Finlayson.<br /> <br /> We had fond memories of our inspiring friend, former chairman and senator, the late Syringa Marshall-Burnett, whose advocacy resulted in getting the then Government to roll back bus fares for our seniors. Speeches from distinguished leaders, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Minister Shahine Robinson, Member of Parliament Dr Fenton Ferguson, and Planning Institute of Jamaica Chairman Dr Wayne Henry all pointed to one very important fact: the population is ageing. And this brings both challenges and opportunities.<br /> <br /> Upbeat book from Pat Reid-Waugh<br /> <br /> Patricia Reid-Waugh, my colleague from Calabar teaching days, has written a lively book titled<br /> <br /> Retirement &ndash; A New Adventure. It explores a variety of topics including budgeting, travelling and wellness. Pat is a perfect example of a happy retiree; she took up the violin only two years ago and performed beautifully at the launch of her book last Sunday. We enjoyed the humorous and dynamic presentations by Dr Lilieth Nelson and Dr Nsombi Jaja. Congratulations, Pat!<br /> <br /> lowriechin@aim.com<br /> <br /> www.lowrie-chin.blogspot.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13638973/258072_84753_repro_w300.jpg Local Opinion Monday, February 13, 2017 12:00 AM