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 Gov't flush money down drain, then ask kids to carry water http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Gov-t-flush-money-down-drain--then-ask-kids-to-carry-water_17395562 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> In my time at school, I learned that a government was duty-bound to do for a tax-paying nation what it would otherwise have been imprudent or chaotic to do as individual citizens. Example, governments should have the roles of guarding our coastline; providing primary health care, basic education, roads, water and waste management.<br /> <br /> Fast-forward to a recent pronouncement suggesting that students may have to take water to keep school toilets clear. I first assumed that the headline was pure drama &mdash; done to grab the attention of readers. When I read that parents would be called upon to provide their children with drinking water, I thought surely that was a reasonable request to ensure that children were consuming boiled water, instead of poor water from tanks.<br /> <br /> I also thought the Health Minister would be thrilled that children would be given a bottle of water instead of sugar-laced drinks. Great! Right direction, so on I read. I should really have finished reading that sentence before getting that euphoric feeling about students taking clean water from home to drink.<br /> <br /> Putting responsibility on parents and students to bring water to wash their hands and flush toilets is as impractical as it is preposterous. This is not just an 'inconvenience' as was suggested, this is downright unfair, burdensome and further agitating to parents already struggling to find lunch and bus fare.<br /> <br /> Then I read a threat of school closures if parents do not step up for September. Surely there are more than two choices. How about some budget re-arranging? Siphoning money used for poorly attended and lavish celebrations into water catchment and storage tanks is another choice. Another idea is a campaign for private sector and community donations to schools for their own storage tanks for hand-washing and flushing. Schools are used for socials and meetings; it would be in everyone's interest to have working toilets. A 2,000-gallon plastic tank costs $110,640 and $57 million was allocated for the staging of the Independence Grand Gala at the National Stadium. Sixty three schools could have been equipped with tanks for sanitary conveniences had they shaved off $7 million off a Grand Gala which had empty bleachers seats. Cut excessive and wasteful spending and invest in sanitary schools.<br /> <br /> Sandra M Taylor Wiggan<br /> <br /> sandra_wiggan@yahoo.co.uk<br /> <br /> Gov't flush money down drain, then ask kids to carry water<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10974243/MoneyFlushing_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, August 22, 2014 2:00 AM Ignore the JLP; fares must increase http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Ignore-the-JLP--fares-must-increase_17395642 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> There are reports that the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is planning street protests to register its opposition to the announced bus fare increase. While it would seem that the JLP is better at making a lot of noise than proposing real solutions, I would urge Jamaicans to ignore the JLP.<br /> <br /> While the increase in the bus fare is something that most of us would not want, the truth of the matter is that the JUTC is broke and it cannot sustain its operations for much longer with the current fares. I don't think any of us would want to see the JUTC collapse, returning us to the days of the middle passage.<br /> <br /> However, I do think that the increase as it relates to seniors is a bit steep. Then again, in order to help mitigate the increase, I would suggest that passengers consider using the smarter card instead of paying by cash.<br /> <br /> The transport minister recently announced a plan whereby passengers using the card will get a discount. I suspect that that plan is still to be implemented.<br /> <br /> I really was hoping that the JLP would have shown some maturity by suggesting practical ways in which the JUTC could have reduced expenses or increase its revenues by means other than a fare increase. Instead, it has fallen back on its old habit of planning public protests -- as if they are going to make any difference.<br /> <br /> Michael A Dingwall<br /> <br /> michael_a_dingwall@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> Ignore the JLP; fares must increase<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10971273/JLP-press-confrence_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, August 22, 2014 2:00 AM Critical thinking and incisive opinion writing http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Critical-thinking-and-incisive-opinion-writing_17389180 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I wish to thank the Jamaica Observer newspaper for yet another pithy yet tartly irreverent weekday edition on Wednesday, August 20, 2014.<br /> <br /> Firstly, I was struck by your bitingly feisty editorial question, 'Has the Jamaica Teachers' Association gone rogue?' Then, as I dived into the piece, I had to pause to consider each sentence. The phrase-picture of the JTA as the "new virago of the times" was priceless. You nudged me to imagine an era when the Jamaican word 'tegereg' would insistently whisper and hiss to be included in a more populist name for our amazing teachers' union such as JTA-N; "N" for Nicely and "T" for...<br /> <br /> Secondly, the column which discussed the VOIP question, 'Is Viber the problem or the victim' is, to me, a masterpiece of critical thinking. The writer should be urgently recruited to serve as counsellor extraordinaire to each and every Jamaican Cabinet minister and awarded a grateful pension from the public purse. And the parliamentary Opposition should seek his services as a private lessons tutor for all of its spokesmen who are not in the Senate.<br /> <br /> As extra-curricular activity, the author could start and nurture a Jamaican charity to perpetually oversee releases from the newly irrational JTA-N, the Rev Al Miller, the Police High Command, and its Barnett Street officers and, of course, The JFJ-S ("S" for slackness) in thinking straight (no pun intended).<br /> <br /> By the way, should LIME and Digicel deem it fitting, they could allow Portia, Kamla and even Phillip to have 6G Wi-Fi access to overseas connectivity whenever and wherever the need arises...er, via Skype.<br /> <br /> Dennis A Minott, PhD,<br /> <br /> Scientist and CEO of A-QuEST<br /> <br /> Critical thinking and incisive opinion writing<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Friday, August 22, 2014 2:00 AM Waiting for godot http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Waiting-for-godot_17389027 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> If the recent incident serves to enlighten members of parliament, ministers of government, and the judges in the courts on how the poor black in Jamaica are treated to enforce law and order, Mario Dean would not have died in vain. It is from them that Mario expected protection for his personal security and the rest of us are waiting on them for peace in the nation.<br /> <br /> To our shock and horror we have come to realise that the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), the principal agent of the State entrusted to enforce the rule of law and protect us against crime and violence, is itself now involved in what it was sworn to prevent. The media is constantly reporting allegations of corruption and extrajudicial killings by the police that worsen the lawlessness in the society.<br /> <br /> Cleaning up the police force is a must as part of any plan to uphold the rule of law for peace to prevail.<br /> <br /> It must be recognised, however, that in the fight against crime the JCF is seriously handicapped by the unfriendly society in which it operates (not without reason); the frequent tragic events in which the police are involved generate unconcealed hostility towards them, making their job so much harder while the minister of security waits for divine intervention.<br /> <br /> It is no secret that underfunding is common among most, if not all, of the agencies of the State with responsibility for citizens' rights and welfare; this frustrates efforts for peace and prosperity as the ultimate objective for government.<br /> <br /> Limited resources are used to maintain too many public bodies. Central Government with 20 ministers and departments run the country, sharing administration with 14 local governments<br /> <br /> In addition, there are 191 active public bodies, 6 commissions of parliament and innumerable consultants partaking in managing a country of less than 3 million people but still not getting it right.<br /> <br /> The present practice where the Cabinet is appointed from the Senate and the House creates the danger from serving two masters with a conflict of interests in the administration. The mingling of legislative responsibility with the executive functions is a recipe for mismanagement, which may end in a "corruption of conscience" where a sense of right and wrong is compromised. It is painful to hear about ministers telling their party supporters how they utilise governmental policy to ensure a return to office at an election. It is time for a change.<br /> <br /> Earlier suggestions for prohibiting the people's representatives from executive functions have resurfaced and merit renewed consideration. Appointment of ministers should not be from among the elected members; instead, all should be from the Senate.<br /> <br /> Immediate financial benefit is savings from reducing the size of the Cabinet to 13. The most important benefit will undoubtedly be the improvement and the strengthening of efficiency in performance by public officials. The proposal allows the members of parliament to give undivided attention to their primary, solemn and supreme obligation to represent the people in a democracy.<br /> <br /> When our leaders are unaware or reluctant to make the changes for good governance, too many of our people are waiting too long for the protection of their security and deliverance from poverty.<br /> <br /> Frank M Phipps QC, OJ<br /> <br /> Kingston<br /> <br /> frank.phipps@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Waiting for godot<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10940216/Mario-deane_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, August 22, 2014 2:00 AM Broadcasting Commission has no legal basis for intervene http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Broadcasting-Commission-has-no-legal-basis-for-intervene_17388774 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I write in response to a letter to the editor titled 'Again, why block our cable shows', published in the Daily Observer of August 20, 2014.<br /> <br /> While the Broadcasting Commission appreciates the concerns raised, it has no legal basis on which to intervene in legitimate commercial agreements between content owners, such as the producers of Suits and programme distributors, such as local television stations.<br /> <br /> Subscribers to cable television should be aware that cable operators are distributors of channels and they do so under licences which give them no ownership or control over content. So, even though a cable operator might have a licence to a channel, the channel owner, owners of specific programmes or any entity which has obtained the rights to a particular programme, can require the cable operator to block the programme in question. So, it is quite legitimate that from time to time, a channel will be blocked because it is carrying a programme which has not been cleared for the Caribbean or has been sold to other interests such as a cinema owner or television station.<br /> <br /> As an illustration, I have extracted the following provision from a licence which has been entered into between cable operators and a channel owner:<br /> <br /> The licence granted under this agreement is non-exclusive. Licensor may itself distribute or exhibit or grant to other persons licences to distribute or exhibit any of the Services or the content contained therein in any location, on any media and on whatever terms and conditions licensor desires.<br /> <br /> The content, selection, scheduling, substitution and withdrawal of any programming, advertising, promotion or other content on the services shall remain at all times within the sole discretion of the licensor and may be changed at any time with notice to operator in accordance with licensors standard practise.<br /> <br /> This clause makes it abundantly clear that the cable operator has only a non-exclusive licence and the channel owner can therefore make any arrangement it wishes in relation to content. But more to the point, the individual owner of a programme is also entitled to sell it to a USA-based cable channel for distribution only in the USA, in which case, the cable operator cannot show that programme in Jamaica.<br /> <br /> These are matters pertaining to copyright and private commercial arrangements. The Broadcasting Commission cannot interfere because it has no legal jurisdiction to do so, save in instances where copyright is being breached.<br /> <br /> Having said this, it must be noted that in the dynamic, digital, converged communication environment, consumers want to access content when, where and how they choose. So, therefore, there is a need for business models to be reviewed by both content owners and distributors of content, taking full account of the expectations of viewers and subscribers.<br /> <br /> Cordel Green<br /> <br /> Executive Director<br /> <br /> Broadcasting Commission <br /> <br /> Broadcasting Commission has no legal basis for intervene<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10970835/Cordel-Green_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, August 21, 2014 12:05 AM Teach Ja's youth the strength of blacks http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Teach-Ja-s-youth-the-strength-of-blacks_17388535 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> As our education minister battles to get our children doing better in mathematics, I would love for more emphasis to be placed on the foundation of African thoughts in the sciences and the philosophy.<br /> <br /> Take a book like Civilization or Barbarism' by Cheikh Anta Diop, which states: "The Rhind Papyrus shows that the Egyptians were the inventors of arithmetic and geometric progressions. Now, the most famous 'supposed' discoveries of Pythagoras deal with diverse operations in the arithmetic and geometric series."<br /> <br /> For decades we have been teaching our children that Pythagoras discovered these mathematical formulas, when this is not true. Our Papyrus scrolls and the inscriptions in the pyramids of East Africa, clearly shows that many of these theorems were written hundreds of years before Pythagoras was even born.<br /> <br /> Another book which should be a text in our High Schools is An Introduction to African Civilizations by Willis Hoggins and John Jackson. This book shows that Al Kharizmi, a black man, introduce the zero as a mathematical quantity in the ninth century. The (black) Moslem Mathematicians added Algebra and plane and spherical trigonometry to the Euclidean geometry.<br /> <br /> The (black) mathematician, Mohammed Ben Musa, substituted sines for chords in trigonometry, and in algebra, devised a method for solving quadratic equations.<br /> <br /> Maybe, if we start teaching our children, that we the black people invented many of these Mathematical formulas and principles, and that the DNA of those inventors runs through our veins, then our children may return to a natural love for Mathematics and attain dazzling heights.<br /> <br /> Thereafter, not only will we learn to apply the principles in our daily lives, as the Africans did, but add to, and develop on them.<br /> <br /> Miguel Lorne<br /> <br /> East Street<br /> <br /> Kingston<br /> <br /> Teach Ja's youth the strength of blacks<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10507470/ZZ398AE4F9_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, August 21, 2014 12:05 AM Jubilee not the whole picture http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Jubilee-not-the-whole-picture_17377347 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I write this letter with great concern but also pride and hope. The recent incident at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital in Kingston is very unfortunate and no one should be treated in such a manner no matter their status in society. We need to stop looking down on people. But with that said, let's not allow that incident to distract us from the many improvements that have taken place in the health sector.<br /> <br /> The Government's thrust with primary health care has been of great success so that there will be an expansion this year. The clinics, on a whole, have improved in such a way that even more dental visits are now being made by dentists, and some clinics are doing more surgeries. Health facility compounds are much cleaner, so going there is more comfortable; when you enter the place is very clean and smelling fresh.<br /> <br /> The delivery of health care is moving much faster now and continues, with more training of health workers. There was a time when going to the hospital was a frightening experience because of the language and approach of the workers. Some made you fear even asking questions. Now there is personnel at the hospital who come and ask you questions to see if you are getting assistance; this is of great help.<br /> <br /> But with all the changes one of the most profound improvements has been in the mental health sector. This has been a sticking point in health care. At one time there were a lot of mentally-ill people on the roads, I am sure everyone has seen a great reduction in the numbers complemented by the fact that more young people are entering the health profession with a focus on the mental health sector.<br /> <br /> People with kidney disease have more beds in public hospitals. Cancer and other research have reached significant levels with much more to come with the discovery of the potent form our national flower to combat HIV.<br /> <br /> Let us bless the hard-working people in the health sector who are making great sacrifice to keep us healthy and the Government for keeping their promise to improve the sector.<br /> <br /> John Polack<br /> <br /> cdepolack@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Jubilee not the whole picture<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10967387/Victoria-jubilee-hospital_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, August 21, 2014 12:05 AM Fenton Ferguson's action threatening to Ja http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Fenton-Ferguson-s-action-threatening-to-Ja_17383561 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Is Fenton Ferguson a communist dictator or what? Why is he so keen on letting 'big government' control everything we do?<br /> <br /> Of late he has turned his attention at tobacco and alcohol companies and likening them to evil entities focused on destroying people's lives.<br /> <br /> In relation to tobacco Dr Ferguson is quoted as saying "smoking is one of the evils of mankind" and must come to an end in "our lifetime". It is no wonder then that the ganja laws are taking so long to be changed.<br /> <br /> Ferguson's positions are frankly anti-business and anti-growth and threaten to undermine industries that contribute billions in tax revenues; and in the case of ganja billions more if made legal. We should work to grow and develop businesses, not destroy them.<br /> <br /> While I in no way dispute that tobacco and alcohol abuse should be curbed, the approach being taken by the minister can have a damaging impact on the Jamaican economy. I pray, therefore, that this is just another PR stunt by the minister who is in love with the camera and is known to harbour ludicrous leadership ambitions.<br /> <br /> The minister needs to step back, think, and wheel and come again. I am sure he does not want to be remembered as the man who spent all his time destroying critical job-creating sectors of the economy.<br /> <br /> Jennifer DaCosta<br /> <br /> Jdacosta08@hotmail.com <br /> <br /> Fenton Ferguson's action threatening to Ja<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10967397/Fenton-Ferguson3_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, August 20, 2014 2:00 AM Again, why block our cable shows? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Again--why-block-our-cable-shows-_17383487 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I join with other numerous Flow cable subscribers who have been complaining about a noticeable trend of blocking our cable shows when the rights have been bought by local television stations. If we allow this trend to continue, cable subscribers will be paying for a service that is being reduced at intervals to which we have no control.<br /> <br /> Yes, some of us have the power of disconnecting our cable subscription from Flow, but since they are the current giant in the industry, we really have no choice but to subscribe.<br /> <br /> This matter was noted publicly with the blocking of The Voice on NBC last year when the rights to that programme were bought by TVJ. No notice was given to cable subscribers other than the blocking note posted on NBC's channel at the time of the programme. Viewers were appeased because The Voice was being aired locally, albeit with a little delay, but we were not deprived of seeing our very own songbird Tessanne Chin perform on a global stage.<br /> <br /> Currently the thrilling cable show Suits has been blocked when only three episodes had remained in the series; due to the rights being bought by CVM Television. Again, no prior notice given by the cable provider, except for the blocking note posted on the station at the time of the programme. To compound the matter the programme has been scheduled for viewing locally and they will start from the beginning of the series.<br /> <br /> Checks with the Broadcasting Commission have proven futile. So who will protect the paying cable customer?<br /> <br /> Disgruntled Cable Subscriber<br /> <br /> Kingston<br /> <br /> Again, why block our cable shows?<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10967402/cableguy_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, August 20, 2014 2:00 AM PR and czars alone won't fix agriculture http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/PR-and-czars-alone-won-t-fix-agriculture_17383469 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> It is public knowledge that the agriculture sector in Jamaica is lagging behind global standards, therefore persons entrusted with its development should provide us with tangible solutions and not sound bites.<br /> <br /> However, Don McGlashan, the director general in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, doesn't seem to grasp this concept, instead of articulating his vision for the agricultural sector at a recent forum, he bemoaned its parlous state.<br /> <br /> "Where is that leader to drive the industry, to give our farmers the tools and that knowledge base to make their production better and more efficient. The truth is, there needs to be somebody... there needs to be a coordination of all that we have spoken about today. There needs to be a driver, there needs to be a focal point to really bring this together," he said.<br /> <br /> The thinking of public officials like Mr McGlashan is so flawed. These people seem to believe that the solution to every problem is to create a czar, when it's easier to reform our institutions. Since, he is so interested in transforming the agricultural sector, why doesn't he follow our developed counterparts and recommend the creation of a world-class agriculture research institute? Small countries like New Zealand are punching above their weight in agriculture due to the ingenuity of their institutions in developing agro-technologies and new varieties of agricultural produce and Denmark's Knowledge Centre for Agriculture provides a wide variety of services from IT consultancy to finance. However, in Jamaica, there is little interest to modernise our systems, since we care more about public relations than actual policies, we prefer czars who strongly believe that politicians owe them something, luckily for them the propagandists in the media are quite happy with the state of affairs and the masses are not interested.<br /> <br /> Lipton Matthews<br /> <br /> lo_matthews@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> PR and czars alone won't fix agriculture<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, August 20, 2014 2:00 AM Put an end to reckless sex http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Put-an-end-to-reckless-sex_17251184 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> This is in response to a disturbing advertisement repeatedly aired in the local media where two young women discuss the concern of having children early. Instead of promoting abstinence until marriage, the ad's core message is 'Choose 2: take an injection and use a condom'.<br /> <br /> This promotes a false sense of safety while encouraging persons to do whatever they want. This concept generally pervades today's society and the argument is frequently made that "they are doing it anyway, might as well be safe".<br /> <br /> But one really has to ask, how 'safe' are these methods of contraception? Do they really protect an individual from the enduring emotional attachment or the physical consequences sexual activity entails? The use of condoms is promoted as a way to ensure safe sex, giving pseudo-hope that you can be promiscuous without suffering the consequences of pregnancy or STDs; however, the reality is not so.<br /> <br /> Dr Edward Green, former director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project, Harvard, in the documentary Cultural Imperialism: The sexual rights agenda, has shown that as condoms become more available in countries worldwide, instead of infection rates decreasing, they actually rise. Infection rates were considerably higher in countries with signifcant condom use, such as Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe, compared to countries like Uganda, which promoted abstinence first, being faithful to one partner, and then the use of condoms as the last alternative.<br /> <br /> In the face of such information, why advertise "choose 2" as if they are 100 per cent effective? Was abstinence purposely omitted because it would not bring the monetary gain that condoms and injections bring? Too many lures for early sexual involvement already exist in our society &mdash; from the age of consent being 16 to lewd lyrics and sexually explicit music videos.<br /> <br /> Currently, too many Jamaican children are born out of wedlock, and many of the ills of our society stem from the lack of stable family life. Since abstinence is the only truly safe way, it should not be swept aside in family planning discussions. Ignoring abstinence as the most plausible and safest option to prevent having children early will only encourage more reckless and irresponsible sexual behaviour.<br /> <br /> I encourage everyone reading this, especially the youth, not to let the pressures of society lure you to give in to the 'pleasures of this world', which can cause disappointments. If you are unmarried, I challenge you to realise your value and join the thousands of us who are waiting until marriage before engaging in sexual activity. If you are married, remain faithful to your partner. Let us return to the ideals that God, the designer of sex, created.<br /> <br /> Sarah Buckland<br /> <br /> s131993@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Put an end to reckless sex<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, August 20, 2014 2:00 AM Good going, Minister Hanna http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Good-going--Minister-Hanna_17383709 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> It is a welcome move by Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna on her Ice Bucket Challenge. I am truly inspired by her stance. This is for a worthy cause and we need to put politicking aside and decide on a solid path forward.<br /> <br /> The social ills which we are encountering will definitely benefit from these positive moves. I am glad she took the challenge for the betterment of our society. One can clearly remember this worthy cause could help any one of us who fall to this neurological disease in future. Popular former Jamaica national soccer player Barrington 'Cobra' Gaynor died a few years ago from this same disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.<br /> <br /> Though Usain Bolt placed her to the sword it was for a good deed and it will not go without societal benefits. God will bless you, Lisa.<br /> <br /> The Ice Bucket Challenge has been done to generate money for the upliftment of the sick and needy who are unable to help themselves.<br /> <br /> I do hope other celebrities will not downplay the challenge for the fixing of our society from an awkward reality. Keep up the good work Lisa you are a symbol of hope and prosperity.<br /> <br /> Paris Taylor<br /> <br /> Greater Portmore<br /> <br /> paristaylor82@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> Good going, Minister Hanna<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, August 20, 2014 2:00 AM Pack your bags, Pickersgill http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Pack-your-bags--Pickersgill_17377201 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> When some Jamaicans get angry they identify several routes to vent their anger, among them roadblocks, fiery protests, and the hurling of abuse at government agencies and the wider public sector. In some cases its not hard to understand why my fellow Jamaicans resort to the above mentioned routes. Well time come... that is for me to vent my anger.<br /> <br /> I have silently vented and cursed over the lack of water to the residents of Hellshire, and by extension Greater Portmore. I am now making my voice heard publicly.<br /> <br /> I am of the firm view that the time has come for Minister Robert Pickersgill to resign. My call comes in light of the fact that I have now lost respect for the man whom I held in high esteem. He holds the powerful water portfolio and I am of the firm belief that he has failed miserably.<br /> <br /> The Pickersgill I know used to exude vim, vigour and vitality. Now, however, I call for Minister Pickersgill to walk away because too many law-abiding citizens are being provoked to wrath without even a single drop of water.<br /> <br /> Instead of mounting a protest, I am forced to wait until whenever the powers that be deem it necessary to have the water supply restored. I continue to be a victim of not knowing when I will be able to bathe.<br /> <br /> Even when there was no drought I can speak to being without the precious resource for weeks with no indication from the National Water Commission when water will return. Let the ministry and the National Water Commission dispute my claim.<br /> <br /> As I rant my black tank is now empty, and I am 100 per cent sure Minister Pickersgill is enjoying the refreshing sound of tap water at his place of residence. Minister Pickersgill, you have been dubbed by some as "Chairman for Life" in relation to your political hat. This could only mean you are doing something right for your party. My wish is for you to take a permanent break as water minister, thereby freeing up space for someone with more than enough energy to identify new ideas and hopefully assist Portmore residents to at least enjoy a decent shower.<br /> <br /> My usually reliable NWC sources inform me that the NWC Board is at its wits end trying to supply water to the nation; however, lack of resources and corruption continue to stymie those efforts.<br /> <br /> The hard-working NWC employees also quietly say they are fed up, agreeing that paying NWC customers deserve more. I wait patiently.<br /> <br /> Rohan Powell<br /> <br /> Up-to-date NWC customer<br /> <br /> Hellshire, St Catherine<br /> <br /> Pack your bags, Pickersgill<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10964139/Robert-Pickersgill-1_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, August 19, 2014 2:00 AM Schools may be breeding ground for Chikungunya http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Schools-may-be-breeding-ground-for-Chikungunya_17371493 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The threat posed by the Chikungunya virus to schools and other public places of gathering is real.<br /> <br /> From all accounts, the cases of domestic Chikungunya virus have been on the increase with almost daily confirmations from the Ministry of Health. Jamaica has had 10 confirmed cases to date.<br /> <br /> As citizens, we have been advised to take a number of precautionary measures to minimise the breeding areas of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito which is responsible for transmitting this virus. However, not much has been said during this discourse about possible Ministry of Health or Education intervention strategies regarding our school plants on the eve of the start of the new academic year.<br /> <br /> For the most part, our schools, both public and private, have been left idle for the greater part of the summer holidays and as such many of them have become potential breeding ground for the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. The seriousness of the threat posed by Chikungunya virus to schools was recently reinforced with the confirmation from the Caribbean Public Health Agency, headquartered in Trinidad and Tobago, of at least one case of Chikungunya at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies. It is very clear that government ministries and departments must work together in crafting and implementing prevention strategies to minimise the threat posed.<br /> <br /> With the start of the 2014/2015 academic year only a few weeks away, it should be imperative on the part of the Ministry of Health in consultation with the Ministry of Education to conduct an audit of all school plants to ensure that possible breeding areas are not present. This action should be a part of a wider plan of action by the Government as the cases of Chikungunya virus have now been confirmed in at least five parishes.<br /> <br /> Our students and teachers, as well as other stakeholders in the education system, will likely be put at risk if the Government does not take a proactive approach in eliminating breeding grounds for mosquitoes from in and around our educational institutions. There is also an urgent need for the Jamaican Government to increase their public education campaign in order to heighten awareness of the devastating impact of Chikungunya virus. An ounce of prevention is always better than cure.<br /> <br /> Wayne Campbell<br /> <br /> waykam@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> www.wayaine.blogspot.com<br /> <br /> Schools may be breeding ground for Chikungunya<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, August 19, 2014 2:00 AM In the face of more death http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/In-the-face-of-more-death_17377154 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> When I lost my brother Nakiea Jackson on January 20, 2014, my immediate reaction was how could I prevent another family from facing similar fate.<br /> <br /> The truth is, it wasn't that I was not hurting, it wasn't that my family wasn't devastated, but in my eyes the act was done, and the need for immediate remedy was at my doorsteps, my promise to him would be kept.<br /> <br /> I had the rest of my family to protect and by extension the nation. The accountability we clamoured for would temper the wanton disregard for human rights. The country was haemorrhaging and our youth are paying the price.<br /> <br /> I made a call for action. I charged our leaders and those in positions of influence to work at a resolution. I wanted to help the nation, and with this change would come my healing.<br /> <br /> The questionable deaths involving police officers and the subsequent stories do not offer consolation. They only give people the ammunition to describe me as an idealistic lunatic out of touch with reality.<br /> <br /> In other words they have given up; hopelessness is the order of the day. Even in my unwaning optimism and love for country, I am forced to give thought to these opinions.<br /> <br /> The tears flow unceasingly with each new case, causing me to think I couldn't save my brother and won't be able to save the next in line.<br /> <br /> I honestly thought Nakiea's death would have made a difference; it should have been an eye-opener; the right to live, the right to a fair trial would come from this, due process would take its rightful place.<br /> <br /> Jamaica has to recognise that we are under the microscope, and our progress will be measured by how we treat our citizens. For every family that feels victimised at the hands of the safe-keepers of the law, policing becomes harder. Those who pass on are free from the perpetual hurt that those they leave behind are forced to navigate.<br /> <br /> S Jackson<br /> <br /> Kingston<br /> <br /> In the face of more death<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, August 19, 2014 2:00 AM No more arrests for 'badwud' and 'likkle' weed http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/No-more-arrests-for--badwud--and--likkle--weed_17371827 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> "Once identification is verified, the person should be granted bail on his or her own recognisance," the National Security Minister Peter Bunting said.<br /> <br /> Why all this convolution? Just do not arrest the people. Most youth out there will not have any ID when caught with or seen smoking a spliff. Just say do not arrest people for these small quantities of ganja.<br /> <br /> Arrests for a ganja spliff and expletives are two oppressive and backward pieces of legislation that the police use to bear malice on poor people; sometimes killing or maiming them in the process.<br /> <br /> Some politicians are parasites and hypocrites who want to milk the ganja law until close to election for the most votes, while poor people die.<br /> <br /> We need a revolution; we need a turnaround in the thinking of the Government and their appendages for any meaningful change to take place so that others like Mario Deane will not meet the same fate of gross brutality or death in the custody of any arm of the State, particularly the police who are supposed to serve, protect and reassure.<br /> <br /> Where are the enlightened voices in parliament like "plain clothes Rasta" Mike Henry &mdash; according to poet Mutaburuka &mdash; or even Omar Davies, who is a student of the "stepping razor" Peter Tosh. The leaders know what to do but are they listening to the wrong advice or are just cowards.<br /> <br /> The prime minister should just wake up and announce the change of "no more arrests". Sister P would go down in history as the prime minister who removed a piece of the chain around black people in Jamaica. What better time to do this than now when Marcus Garvey is being celebrated.<br /> <br /> Michael Spence<br /> <br /> Kingston 6<br /> <br /> micspen2@Hotmail.com<br /> <br /> No more arrests for 'badwud' and 'likkle' weed<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, August 19, 2014 2:00 AM We can't just sit by and watch the brutality http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/We-can-t-just-sit-by-and-watch-the-brutality_17371714 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> It is very evident that Jamaica has a broken system. The sad thing is it has been broken for years and is only highlighted when someone is hurt or killed.<br /> <br /> The list of citizens who have either died or suffered brutality in the presence of the police tells us that clearly there is a need for issues to be addressed. Recall Agana Barrett, Robert Hill, Nakiea Jackson, and Kayann Lamont, who, lest we forget was eight months pregnant when she was shot to death after uttering curse words to a police officer.<br /> <br /> When citizens are in the custody of the State, for whatever reason, they should be protected by the same State. For anyone to be beaten or harmed in any way is wrong, and be it by other inmates or by the police the same State is responsible.<br /> <br /> When a person is placed in custody it is the responsibility of that State to ensure the safety and well-being of the individual.<br /> <br /> If it takes the beating death of Mario Deane for the minister of national security to demand a report on the care and protection on those in the custody of the police, then clearly something is wrong. As minister it is his job to make sure that every single citizen is being treated humanely while in State custody. It is his job to visit these government facilities and make sure that things are up to standard. Even if he does not go himself, he should see to it that it be done.<br /> <br /> The irony of all this is that the police allege that Mario was beaten by fellow inmates, one suffering mental illness. So the question is why do you place a schizophrenic in a cell where he could be beaten by other inmates? What is in place to handle inmates with illnesses of this kind?<br /> <br /> We cannot continue to sit by and accept this travesty. Once again, do not make this an issue that will divide us as a people, this is an issue that affects each and every one of us regardless of our political affiliation. When we vote, we do not vote to be treated like animals, or to have our dignity or pride swept away by those whom have sworn to serve and protect.<br /> <br /> Michelle Bradshaw<br /> <br /> michelleannmariebradshaw@gmail.com<br /> <br /> We can't just sit by and watch the brutality<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10961512/Peter-Bunting-2_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, August 18, 2014 1:00 AM Beware! One fool makes many http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Beware--One-fool-makes-many_17371712 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I have an issue with the way the media has been handling the iKon D Link situation. The incident where he climbed the radio tower and threatened to jump if his music wasn't played should not have got the coverage it did and continues to get over local news.<br /> <br /> As a matter of fact, I put that coverage in the same category as that of the incident when Wayne 'Selassie' Saunders was shown jumping from the Kingston Public Hospital's third floor in 2008. It is simply careless and sloppy journalism.<br /> <br /> This demonstrates a lapse in judgement about what should be talked about and what stories should have audiovisuals. It was fine to show images of the starving artiste descending the radio pole simply because of the human interest that is at the centre. However, the news coverage went too far when it allowed the artiste to show what limited skills he has in spitting lyrics impromptu. He successfully manipulated something as powerful as the media with a very public stunt.<br /> <br /> While the radio station did the right thing by taking his threat to commit suicide seriously, other media outlets should have known how serious he was since he was lucid enough take a selfie and post online. Not only was this artiste's intention made clear, but he has now been given the platform to spread the message of doing careless things such as to threaten suicide to get what you want.<br /> <br /> The recent ER segment in which he was featured highlighted just how nonchalant he was about his actions. It is a reality that Jamaica's music industry is characterised by a dichotomy of starving artistes versus popular ones, as well as enduring politics over airplay. Although it is the media's role to inform people, it is, however, unwise to compromise standards.<br /> <br /> One fool makes many and the copycat suicide culture that could ensue must be discouraged rather than hyped.<br /> <br /> Yohan Lee<br /> <br /> Kingston 10<br /> <br /> yohan.s.r.lee@live.com<br /> <br /> Beware! One fool makes many<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10961510/TOWER_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, August 18, 2014 1:00 AM Send help for St Thomas http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Send-help-for-St-Thomas_17332035 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Travelling from Kingston to St Thomas to meet my brother's new American wife I looked at the road through the eyes of a first-time visitor and found myself disgusted with the conditions.<br /> <br /> I was disgusted not only by the road surface itself, in all its undeniably potholed glory, but also by the garbage littering the roadway. Why are we so nasty? Why must we throw our garbage out the nearest window of a moving vehicle? From Bull Bay to Yallahs has to be the dirtiest stretch of road in Jamaica: plastic bottles, bags, wash pans &mdash; seriously?!<br /> <br /> JEEP has a plastic-recycling initiative. Can St Thomas please be included in this? The bushes, trees and random piles of sand need to be removed. What is the parish council doing? Where is our civic pride or just general cleanliness? It saddens me that this was my sister-in-law's first impression of my home parish and Jamaica in general.<br /> <br /> Morant Bay, the capital, is even more depressing; blocked drains with stagnant water, again those poor plastic containers, broken sidewalks with grass and small trees growing in them, and unpainted buildings. Parish council, what did you do with your allocation? It is clearly not being spent on keeping the roads repaired and cleaned. The arcade, with its broken-down, wooden stalls, is a sure haven for vermin and needs to be rehabilitated or, better yet, just demolished. I remember when there used to be a garbage bin on every corner and a time when people used them, and I'm in my 30s. There is just one major road through the town, why must it be in that condition? Store owners are just as bad. But we sit and we accept it.<br /> <br /> Speaking to an acquaintance, he was of the opinion that this was how people liked it. They are quite happy walking about, sitting in, and selling their wares in what has to be the ugliest, dirtiest and most depressing town centre in Jamaica. It didn't even bother him anymore to throw his trash in the drain, since the whole place already looks so bad. He says he comes into Kingston when he wants to lift his spirits. Portland and St Mary are also poor parishes but their town centres seem to be more maintained and are certainly cleaner.<br /> <br /> The people of St Thomas keep electing the same officials every election even though they have done nothing to improve the parish. Yes, there may be limited job prospects, but must we also sit in our own filth and be happy about it? I believe that the way we keep our surroundings is a reflection of our state of mind. Are we so short-sighted that we do not see the long-term benefits of a clean, well-maintained parish? When people are uplifted in and by their surroundings they are more likely to be creative and this creativity can lead to great productivity, which is something sorely needed in this parish and Jamaica, as a whole.<br /> <br /> RF<br /> <br /> renroc18@gmail.com <br /> <br /> Send help for St Thomas<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10833388/country-bus_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, August 18, 2014 1:00 AM G2K supports justice for Mario Deane http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/G2K-supports-justice-for-Mario-Deane_17371939 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> We note with dismay your headline in the Sunday Observer, August 17, 2014 'G2K no show, but PNPYO supports Mario Deane', which not only suggests that G2K reneged on its commitment to show but seems to question the support of the organisation on the Mario Deane issue.<br /> <br /> For the record, G2K planned no joint protest with the PNPYO. In fact, when it was being reported by the media that it was a joint initiative it was without confirmation from us. G2K subsequently issued a press release to state our position.<br /> <br /> To be clear, when the proposal was brought to our attention, our local representative raised to the PNPYO our concerns regarding the lack of specifics provided and the short notice period, among other things. We suggested a meeting to jointly plan. Nonetheless, having gone ahead, we sent a representative to the protest who met with the PNPYO Chairperson to reiterate our support of the advocacy on the issue.<br /> <br /> We remain committed to continue fighting for better treatment of persons who are in the care of the State. This is an issue which the organisation has championed from its inception, and which it repeatedly raised forcefully on the deaths of Vanessa Wint, Kamoza Clarke, and now Mario Deane. It is for that reason we called on the ministers of national security and justice to focus on the bigger issue of persistent human rights abuses of people in State care, instead of focusing the discussion on ganja law reform.<br /> <br /> We will continue to champion these issues and remain willing to work with every group regardless of political affiliation on this issue. Together we can create a Jamaica where justice is paramount and all citizens are treated equally.<br /> <br /> Floyd Green<br /> <br /> President, G2K<br /> <br /> Kingston<br /> <br /> G2K supports justice for Mario Deane<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10960457/Green_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, August 18, 2014 1:00 AM Why block our cable shows? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Why-block-our-cable-shows_17371833 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I have noted a worrying trend regarding our local television stations buying the rights to several cable series, example Suits and Scandal, and thereby blocking paying cable subscribers from viewing these on the cable provider network.<br /> <br /> Soon we will not be able to see anything on our cable service of any consequence.<br /> <br /> I, like many other viewers, mainly watch the news on both local TV stations to keep abreast of what is happening in our country and then switch back to the paid cable service.<br /> <br /> The shows that they have blocked all start at the beginning of the series, while on the cable the season is soon to end with maybe two or three episodes left.<br /> <br /> If one wants to watch from the beginning one can switch to the local channels; however, I see no reason for blocking these shows.<br /> <br /> I would appreciate if the Broadcasting Commission or Office of Utilities Regulation would investigate this trend and protect the paying cable customers.<br /> <br /> Over to you.<br /> <br /> Concerned Cable Subscriber<br /> <br /> Kingston <br /> <br /> Why block our cable shows?<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10746619/Flow_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, August 18, 2014 1:00 AM In the wake of Mario Deane's death... http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/In-the-wake-of-Mario-Deane-s-death---_17355597 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The horrific stripping away of the life of Mario Deane while in the custody of the police has received the most robust reaction from the Jamaican public I have ever seen.<br /> <br /> As Jamaicans, at least starting with this matter, we are finally shouting that enough is indeed enough!<br /> <br /> While the true events leading up to the gruesome death of Mario are yet to be revealed, and I have all confidence that they will, there is one undeniable fact, and that is that Mario met his demise while in the custody of those who swore to "serve, protect and reassure" him.<br /> <br /> I believe this incident hits us to the core of our being, because it is a harsh image as to how we all might meet our demise while in the hands of the island's constabulary force, no matter the reason for which we are jailed.<br /> <br /> What I am most proud of is the fact that the reaction of the community and civil society groups alike pushed the Jamaican Government to finally zero in on the questionable activities of the police and how they treat citizens, much to the displeasure of the Government, who would rather have us discuss the decriminalisation of ganja instead of the death of a mother's child in police custody.<br /> <br /> Out of this sad and very important issue must come the following:<br /> <br /> 1. Strict measures clearly outlining regulations and standards for the treatment of citizens while in lock-up, regardless of the reason they are jailed; be it for a spliff or even mistaken identity.<br /> <br /> 2. Regulations as to how inmates are housed in lock-up, because I am yet to fathom why, according to the police, Deane was placed in lock-up with mentally unstable men.<br /> <br /> 3. Placement of closed-circuit television/recordings inside lock-ups, monitored offsite by INDECOM. The reason for this is very obvious. I would rather $57 million be used to upgrade police stations to protect citizens than to fund Independence celebrations -- but that is another issue for another day.<br /> <br /> 4. A clear reminder of the police as to the regulations of the Bail Act, with stiff penalties for any violation of the same.<br /> <br /> 5. The officers who should have seen to it that Deane and all other citizens in lock-up were safe at all times, should be charged with, at the very least, negligence and misconduct, and penalties ranging from termination to jail time be meted out to them; because we, the Jamaican people, have lost all confidence in their commitment to "serve, protect and reassure" us.<br /> <br /> 6. Mario Deane's family must be duly compensated by the Jamaican Government for all the expenses incurred as a consequence of their son being killed while in police custody.<br /> <br /> 7. Finally, both the ministers of justice and national security must present to the Jamaican people clear and comprehensive guidelines, within the next three months, which will assure us that the recurrence of this incident will not be tolerated.<br /> <br /> As stakeholders of this growing, broken, yet redeemable nation, let us continue to pressure those who commit themselves to public service to do so with integrity and respect for human life, because only then will "justice, truth be ours forever".<br /> <br /> Omrie Samuels<br /> <br /> omries@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> In the wake of Mario Deane's death...<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10940216/Mario-deane_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, August 15, 2014 2:00 AM Has democracy failed Ja? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Has-democracy-failed-Ja-_17332072 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> "Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education." &mdash; Franklin D Roosevelt.<br /> <br /> As we have just reflected on the true meaning of August 6, we must consider whether we are truly independent or not, whether there is anything to celebrate, or whether the Grand Gala was a waste of time and money. More than that, I am wondering if Jamaica is truly a democratic country.<br /> <br /> In any country where the Government is selected through democratic means the common thought that rests upon the people's minds is that majority rules or majority counts. Universal adult suffrage was first introduced in Jamaica on November 20, 1944. The aim of such was to create a system that extended voting rights to all adults irrespective of race, sex, or social class. It was to set the foundation for our political system today, and in, a sense, catalysed the movement toward self-government for Jamaica. It was to set the pace for equity and equality. Universal adult suffrage was embedded in the concept that Jamaica ought to be a democratic nation, where its people would decide who should lead the country and chart their own future as a nation. The process was led by Norman Manley, and Alexander Bustamante would later become the island's first prime minister.<br /> <br /> Before universal adult suffrage the right to vote was determined by the amount of wealth or property a man held.<br /> <br /> Only a few in Jamaica really understand the fundamental right to vote. The garrison and bandwagon mentalities cloud our judgement and, as such, our decisions are misinformed and unwise. We need to forget that whomever we choose to lead us is either going to steer us to prosperity or damnation.<br /> <br /> Over the years, we have seen a significant decline in the voter turnout. In the 2011 elections, of 1,648,036 eligible to vote, only 869,438 voted (52.76 per cent). Why did 47.24 per cent not vote? In our 52 years of Independence what have we achieved? Struggling to pass some IMF tests while crime, abuse and poverty escalate? In a democracy, people are to select a government that will manoeuvre the obstacles to achieve success; where living is affordable, opportunities readily available, where we <br /> <br /> embrace modernisation and globalisation, and have access to 21st-century educational and health services. Innovation becomes a part of us, where we advance in the world of technology and surpass Vision 2030.<br /> <br /> However, poor governance is a plague upon our nation. I am yet to see the political party that stands out; they are both the same. What is the point of choosing if there is nothing to choose?<br /> <br /> Kenroy Davis<br /> <br /> Clark's Town, Trelawny<br /> <br /> kenroy.davis20@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Has democracy failed Ja?<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Friday, August 15, 2014 1:00 AM Make hay while the sun shines, WICB http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Make-hay-while-the-sun-shines--WICB_17336817 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I write to express my desire to see the West Indies Cricket Board become very pro-active towards taking serious note of Mickey Arthur's interest in coaching the West Indies cricket team.<br /> <br /> With his knowledge and experience of previously coaching the former number one and current number one Test teams -- Australia and South Africa -- this should be sweet music to the administrators' ears.<br /> <br /> As opportunity peeps his eye towards West Indies, I urge the head of the West Indies Cricket Board to grab at this moment and take Arthur's interest seriously.<br /> <br /> Make hay while the sun shines at this moment. This could be a blessing in disguise.<br /> <br /> The South African who is the present coach of the Tallawahs in the Limacol Premier League has certainly demonstrated his prowess in the assistance to Jerome Taylor and the others who have demonstrated the win culture that West Indies cricket badly needs at this time. He could make us number one again.<br /> <br /> Patrick "Capo" Johnson<br /> <br /> pat.johnson34@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Make hay while the sun shines, WICB<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10951540/Mickey-Arthur_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, August 15, 2014 1:00 AM Take stock in the value of life http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Take-stock-in-the-value-of-life-_17355763 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Several tragic events have unfolded over the past few weeks, catching the attention of both the local and international media: from a string of reported police brutalities locally, to the apparent suicidal death of comedian Robin Williams, and a local entertainer climbing the Irie FM tower threatening to jump.<br /> <br /> These events call to mind a serious topic which also explains the high murder rate in this country. One may ask: What do all these events have in common? The underlying unifier of all these events is the failure of the masses to regard the value of their own lives and the lives of all human beings.<br /> <br /> Unfortunately, we live in a world where many of us are driven by personal gain, with virtually no regard for the well-being of our fellow citizens. Many see the only meaning of life to be self-gratification -- even if it means hurting others.<br /> <br /> Unfortunately, we live in a world where many of us are driven by personal gain, with virtually no regard for the well-being of our fellow citizens. Many see the only meaning of life to be self-gratification -- even if it means hurting others.<br /> <br /> The truth is that it is only when people realise that there is a God who loves us, and created us with a unique purpose, can we really feel that fulfilment in life, even in life's apparent lows.<br /> <br /> Without this knowledge, our attitude towards our own lives will be one of emptiness and, in return, there will be hardly anything stopping us from ruining the lives of others for our own gain.<br /> <br /> Bringing Mario Deane's brutal death into focus, however, all could also have been avoided if the perpetrators of the crime really believed that life is valuable. Similarly, we may not necessarily directly commit crimes, but do we really have the love and respect for others as we should?<br /> <br /> The entertainer's recent decision to climb the Irie FM tower speaks volumes. But to make matters worse, crowds of Jamaicans were cheering him on to jump. Just to think that if more of us operated under the Biblical principle of loving our neighbour as we love ourselves, many tragic circumstances could be avoided.<br /> <br /> On behalf of the church community, I would like to send sincere condolence to the family of Mario Deane, and to all others who have lost friends and/or family members, particularly because of the widespread disregard for the value of human life which pervades our society. We mourn with you all. Let us try our best to look out for each other, so that we will truly have God's blessing as a nation.<br /> <br /> Cristiana Fiel<br /> <br /> Take stock in the value of life <br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Friday, August 15, 2014 1:00 AM