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 Minister Lisa alone can't do it http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Minister-Lisa-alone-can-t-do-it_17836397 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I read with interest your editorial of Thursday, October 30, 2014 regarding the celebration of Youth Month and the non-acceptance of failure from Minister Lisa Hanna.<br /> <br /> While I agree somewhat with your charge to the minister, I believe it is totally unfair to lay it all at her feet,,,,,, largely. I was in Jamaica over the Heritage Week celebrations and, from my observation, I lay the blame squarely on the family and more so our men.<br /> <br /> Going to two different churches in Falmouth on October 19, the absence of able-bodied men was glaring, young men almost non-existent. On Tuesday, October 21, I visited my old elementary school and was stunned at the attitude of a group of young men. Given the opportunity to address the class I saw in the boys' eyes a hopeful look; "things can be different for me".<br /> <br /> Too many men in Jamaica abscond their fatherly and manly roles. It is way easier to hang together, socialising drinking, or playing dominoes. I am appealing to my Jamaican brothers to give at least an hour in a local school; you do not have to teach, just your presence and consistent attendance will make a difference. Get to know these young men, especially those who will come to rely on you and possibly seek your advice.<br /> <br /> Finally, get back to the days when we were organised by men and women our present age through youth clubs. We were taught citizenship, community responsibility, and most importantly how to resolve differences with words not weapons. At the risk of bening called sexist, our women cannot teach boys how to be men. Arise, Jamaican men, from your selfishness and slumber, your country needs you.<br /> <br /> Patrick A Beckford, OD<br /> <br /> New Jersey, USA<br /> <br /> Pbeckf01@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Minister Lisa alone can't do it<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11199932/Lisa-Hanna2_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, October 31, 2014 2:00 AM Children being sexualised too early http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Children-being-sexualised-too-early_17820598 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> On October 27, 2014 a member of the group Jamaicans United Against Domestic Violence and Child Abuse shared the following article with the group:<br /> <br /> "A family planning official is encouraging parents to talk with their children about sex at an early age as an increasing number of children are experimenting with sexual intercourse.<br /> <br /> "Shauna-Kay Rowe of the Family Planning and Education Unit of the Jamaica Red Cross told the Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange meeting of editors and reporters that children are becoming more exposed to sex through cellphones and other devices.<br /> <br /> "She said that parents need to educate their children about sex and monitor their use of the Internet closely.<br /> <br /> "Meanwhile, Dr Sandra Knight said parents should start talking to their kids 'as young as they need it'.<br /> <br /> "'We have kids who are masturbating at age five...,' she said."<br /> <br /> Members were appalled that as prestigious an organisation as the Family Planning and Education Unit of the Jamaica Red Cross could be so narrow-minded as to point to children experimenting with sexual intercourse as a result of exposure through cellphones and other devices, while totally sidestepping the scourge of sexual violations against children at an early age in Jamaica. The current statistical evidence highlights the need to teach children about sex at an early age. It would appear that, based on the current Office of the Children's Registry final quarterly 2013 report, an intolerable number of children, 3,386 to be exact, were sexually abused. Of that whopping number of reported cases (bearing in mind that rural cases are seldom reported) 56 per cent were children under the age of 16, the majority being female.<br /> <br /> Ms Rowe could have engaged in more effectual public parental education by pointing out the necessity to employ modesty in the presence of children. She seems to forget that there are certain sectors of Jamaican society where parents and children share the same bedroom. Jamaican society has entered a period of moral decay as never before. The images of inappropriate sexual conduct by teenagers and adults alike as demonstrated in manner of dance and bodily language bared open to the child's view, without shame. And while the media plays a role, the dominant factor remains what children see as normal behaviour at home.<br /> <br /> The reader is left with the impression that the Family Planning and Education Unit is merely dressing up an awkward topic for discussion, which is the early sexualisation of Jamaican children by the reckless behaviour of adults. This does no justice to the audience they are seeking to educate, let alone the children who now appear victimised when one considers what children are undergoing at an early age in Jamaica.<br /> <br /> Dorian Douglas<br /> <br /> Founder<br /> <br /> Jamaicans United Against Domestic Violence and Child Abuse <br /> <br /> Children being sexualised too early<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11187669/more-sex_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, October 31, 2014 2:00 AM 'Gov't tek people fi poppyshow' http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/-Gov-t-tek-people-fi-poppyshow-_17829214 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The recent phone bill brouhaha should come as no surprise to the Jamaican populace. For, all politicians do in this country is 'tek poor people fi poppyshow'.<br /> <br /> There is no accountability in this country. I was informed that democracy is government by the people and for the people. Interestingly, the former is being practised to the fullest, while the latter is significantly lacking. It seems the needs of the Jamaican people are considered inconsequential while the government continues to squander taxpayers' money.<br /> <br /> Since the PNP has being elected into office, we are constantly hearing of controversial issues, whereby money is being spent while there isn't any physical evidence of accountability or benefit to the Jamaican people.<br /> <br /> To put all the waste into context, let us review all the controversial issues. The prime minister spent over $117.8 million on overseas strips, more than $60 million spent on acquiring SUVs for ministers, $4 million spent to hire a private jet over a week ago to transport home Trinidad Muslim leader Yasin Abu Bakr, and over $5 million on telephone bills over a 12-month period. That is approximately $186.8 million spent of which there is no direct evidence of benefit to Jamaica.<br /> <br /> The last time I checked, over 1.1 million people still live near the poverty line and the unemployment rate hasn't decreased.<br /> <br /> My question is, do we know what $186.8 million could do for us? It is senseless to reiterate what the masses already know. It is also senseless to suggest ways in which ministers could cut down on telephone bills because they know how to. They are all cognisant that we have to operate within a tight fiscal space. But, instead of using their discretion, showing that they have a conscience, they are busy taking poor people 'fi poppyshow'.<br /> <br /> Kenroy Davis<br /> <br /> Clark's Town, Trelawny<br /> <br /> kenroy.davis20@gmail.com<br /> <br /> 'Gov't tek people fi poppyshow'<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11197564/Arnaldo-Brown-Phone-ld_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, October 31, 2014 2:00 AM The time has come, KCOBA http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/The-time-has-come--KCOBA_17819395 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> As one with close familial ties to Kingston College and who advocates for the advancement of women's empowerment and gender equality, I note with concern a headline in the Sunday Observer of October 26, 2014: 'Anger as KC Old Boys' Association bars women from annual dinner'.<br /> <br /> After so many years of advocacy on women's rights globally, and in our own nation, for such a stance to be taken in 2014 by the KC Old Boys' Association (KCOBA) is ludicrous and discriminatory.<br /> <br /> I note that this has been a long-held practice of the KCOBA, except for 1975 when the then Prime Minister Michael Manley would not accept the invitation to be guest speaker if his wife was not allowed to attend the function.<br /> <br /> The year 1975 was a watershed year for the global women's agenda. It ushered in a new era of consciousness of women's rights coupled with that of black identity and self-awareness for us here in Jamaica and the Caribbean. Quite significantly, the year 1975 was designated by the United Nations as International Year for Women and saw, for the first time, the recognition of International Women's Day &mdash; now celebrated each year on March 8. In Jamaica, we witnessed, inter alia, an institution to address policies on women being established and a raft of new legislation on women's rights being enacted with archaic ones amended or repealed. Since then, the situation of women and girls has improved significantly.<br /> <br /> Kingston College was established by the Anglican Church with roots in the Church of England. It is, therefore, interesting to note that, in 1994, the Church of England for the first time ordained women to the priesthood, recognising the principle of gender equality. On Friday, October 24, 2014, the Anglican Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands held a 20th anniversary banquet to celebrate the ordination of women in the Province of the West Indies. The Rt Rev Ellinah Wamukoya, Bishop of Swaziland, was the guest speaker at this event.<br /> <br /> It is against this background that I would appeal to the KCOBA to move beyond this old mindset to allow women entry to its annual dinner. This will, I am sure, facilitate an even greater social and intellectual enhancement of KC old boys.<br /> <br /> I am pleased to see that many of the old boys are not in agreement with such a position and deem it, rightly so, important to have their spouses attend with them.<br /> <br /> I do appreciate that there will be occasions when separate meetings for men and women would be required, and as such would not expect that women would attend KCOBA regular meetings, making administrative and other decisions. But to deny women/wives attending an annual KCOBA dinner smacks of sexism.<br /> <br /> I believe that the time has come for the KCOBA to review, with a gendered lens, this outmoded practice and any such outdated aspect of their constitution. I trust that good sense will prevail and that the KCOBA, as leaders in their own class, will show genuinely objective leadership in this regard. I wish for you a successful and rewarding 2014 awards function.<br /> <br /> Faith Daye-Webster<br /> <br /> Kingston 20<br /> <br /> dougfaithe@gmail.com<br /> <br /> The time has come, KCOBA<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11195649/Kingston-college_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, October 31, 2014 2:00 AM CHIKV on the brains, Wignall? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/CHIKV-on-the-brains--Wignall-_17834463 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> As a Kingston College old boy (Class of 81) I was intrigued by the defence put up by Mark Wignall of the decision by the KC Old Boys' Association president to revert to an all-male annual dinner.<br /> <br /> I was struggling to find the usual substance in Mark's writing, until I reached the end paragraphs and discovered that he wrote the piece while suffering from chikungunya. So now we have evidence that the virus also affects the mind.<br /> <br /> Trevor Riley<br /> <br /> jamaicatrev@icloud.com<br /> <br /> CHIKV on the brains, Wignall?<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11146966/Aedes_aegypti_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, October 31, 2014 2:00 AM Botched rationale for abortions http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Botched-rationale-for-abortions-_17826889 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Your issue of October 28, 2014 reports the demand for legalised abortions by the head of the National Family Planning Board (NFPB) Dr Sandra Knight. The first rationale provided is that "it is happening anyway". This justification is logically flawed.<br /> <br /> Murder,child sex abuse, and corruption are examples of behaviours all rampant in Jamaica. Prevalence, therefore, would not justify legalisation.<br /> <br /> The second rationale is the well-used "botched abortion" coat hanger argument. This argument must be balanced by first acknowledging what an elective abortion is. It is, in fact, the deliberate killing of a unique human being.<br /> <br /> The experience of other countries has shown that legalisation will not necessarily eradicate illegal procedures. In fact, illegal abortions often flourish in the more permissive ethos that exists. "Underground" operators do not cease, they often simply come above ground. The Kermit Gosnell debacle is but one example of this.<br /> <br /> Another rationale was the inference that legalised abortion would improve maternal health. The Lancet in 2010 published figures for maternal mortality by region and country (Vol 375 Issue 97 pp 1609-1623). In this report, there was significant decrease in maternal mortality for several countries which had introduced very restrictive laws against abortions. Notable among them were Chile and El Salvador, in which mortality rates fell after abortion was made illegal.<br /> <br /> The head of the NFPB asserted that "religion and politics cannot be taken into account when making public health decisions". I contend that the push for legalising abortion is primarily on philosophical grounds, and that biology, philosophy and the health of the society are valid factors to be considered.<br /> <br /> Dr D Brady-West<br /> <br /> drbradywest@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Botched rationale for abortions <br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11195644/Sandra-Knight_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, October 30, 2014 2:00 AM Talking at the people's expense http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Talking-at-the-people-s-expense_17826912 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> What is our priority as a nation? How can the Government continue to tell public sector workers to "hold strain" and endure years of wage freeze when it all seems to be going to waste on not only chartered flights for deportation but also on loquacious ministers.<br /> <br /> A recent news report highlighted the phone bills of some government ministers and the most outstanding was that of the junior minister in the Foreign Affairs Ministry, who amassed a bill in excess of one million dollars between the period August 2013 and July 2014; $410,000, or almost 50 per cent, of that bill was accumulated in one month. Indeed, this junior minister is an expensive talker to the point of exceeding the monthly salary of many top executives in both the private and public sector. His annual bill exceeds the annual gross salary of many in the private sector that offers essential services such as the police, nurse, military, teacher and the firefighter.<br /> <br /> But, should our vitriol, disgust and cry of shame be directed at the junior minister? The only qualms I have with him is the absence of conscience, for not exercising any restraint in the use of the government telephone that was assigned to him, thereby leading to its abuse.<br /> <br /> Then again, can you blame him? Whoever created the policy that governs the use of phones by government ministers is also unconscionable. In an era when the Government should be exhibiting tight fiscal discipline, under a rigid IMF programme, I am befuddled as to how phone usage by ministers is not among the targeted expenditures to be cut. We see critical ministries such as education, health and national security operating on a shoestring budget and the contemplation of further cuts due to the inability to meet revenue targets.<br /> <br /> Despite this, there is nothing in place that enforces a limit on how much is allocated for government ministers to talk. What should obtain is that, where the government is responsible for covering the cost of a minister's phone usage, there should be a monthly limit.<br /> <br /> Basil Harriott<br /> <br /> New Harbour Village II<br /> <br /> harriott_200@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> Talking at the people's expense<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11197564/Arnaldo-Brown-Phone-ld_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, October 30, 2014 2:00 AM All Muslims must discover the conditions for peace http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/All-Muslims-must-discover-the-conditions-for-peace_17826893 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> While most would agree with your commendation of the Canadian Government's defiance in your editorial of October 28, many, including some Muslims, would question your blanket assertion that Islam preaches "peace, tolerance and respect for life".<br /> <br /> Your statement could be questioned on three grounds. Firstly, the identity of the people who carried out the World Trade Center bombings, the bombings at embassies and nightclubs across the world, and the mayhem and violence in Iraq and Syria run counter to your assertion. Admittedly, though, one could rebut by differentiating the actions of believers from the teachings of the faith.<br /> <br /> Secondly, the pronouncements of leaders of that religion: The Grand Mufti of Egypt Dr Ali Gomaa is quoted as saying in 2008 that "Muslims must kill non-believers, wherever they are, unless they convert to Islam". Thankfully most Muslims do not currently follow the Grand Mufti's dictates, and one could again retort that the Mufti does not necessarily represent the true face of Islam.<br /> <br /> Finally we could examine the writings of the Quran, which command the killing of "mischief makers"(5:33); and writings of the Hadith which command the killing of apostates (Sahih Bukhari 9.84.57-58, 64, 72).<br /> <br /> The word Islam is said to be derived from the root word "Saleema" which means peace, purity, submission and obedience. These words mean very little by themselves; one must also discover the conditions for peace and the nature of the demands to which submission and obedience are required.<br /> <br /> Claire Edwards-Darby<br /> <br /> Mona<br /> <br /> daviddaughter57@gmail.com<br /> <br /> All Muslims must discover the conditions for peace<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11183335/Canada-Shooting_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, October 30, 2014 2:00 AM Ja's burning house of cards http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Ja-s-burning-house-of-cards_17826887 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> "Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters." This quote is attributed to Abraham Lincoln.<br /> <br /> While I must agree with "honest Abe" on the principle of not falling into the apathy caused by the "harassing" and "bombarding" thoughts of the daily political absurdity that occurs during the process of governance, what we Jamaicans endure can no longer be categorised as good or bad, but simply as mediocre, opaque and devoid of real purpose.<br /> <br /> We have seen a continuous display of a system of governance that has been in place for too long and needs to be removed so as to revitalise regular citizens' trust, confidence and participation in the process that only works when everyone's hands are above the table.<br /> <br /> We must decide to force the political leadership of this country to put their pride and ego aside to deal with the elephant in the room of deep constitutional governance reform.<br /> <br /> We must decide to remove ourselves from the critical part of the process and turn our backs to burning house of cards that has been leading us. Any move towards economic stability cannot be supported by a crooked and unbalanced governance structure that prefers to keep the politicians in their seat rather than the give the people who put them there the power to remove them.<br /> <br /> Mario Boothe<br /> <br /> m.raphael.b@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Ja's burning house of cards<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11139969/JLP-Meeting_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, October 30, 2014 2:00 AM Hello... national disgrace calling http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Hello----national-disgrace-calling_17819794 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> It is bad enough that in the midst of a debt crisis, when the Government has insisted that they have no money to help the poor and dispossessed to survive, the prime minister of Jamaica stubbornly maintains a Cabinet of over 20 ministers to administer the affairs of a mere 2.7 million people.<br /> <br /> When the economic crisis first threatened to totally devastate the nation, concerned people called on the Government to take a symbolic salary cut to demonstrate to the hurting nation that they, too, were prepared to make sacrifices, but even this symbolism was resisted by the prime minster. And, despite the cutbacks in education, health, security, and other areas critical to the welfare of the nation, the Government has done nothing to curb the voracious appetite of the petty politicians who deem themselves the gods of our universe as they strut around in high-end vehicles supplied by taxpayers and flaunt all the expensive perks of power.<br /> <br /> We should therefore not be overly surprised that members of a government like this have also been abusing the public purse in how they use the taxpayer-provided cellphones, as they, no doubt, individually set out to impress god knows whom. So, here we have Arnaldo Brown, a junior minister to boot, racking up a cellphone bill of $1.09 million for one year, according to the excellent investigative reporting done by RJR. And his is just the most obscene of the revelations so far, as only half of the Cabinet has supplied the information requested and that half alone has racked up a total bill in excess of $5 million for chatting for one year. What is enlightening, too, is the appearance that those who have been the most expensive in this exercise have been the least productive. For what has Arnaldo Brown been doing that is a real asset to the country? On the other hand, we see where Justice Minister Mark Golding, who has been doing a reasonable job, has not cost the taxpayer one red cent for unnecessary chatting. That tells quite a story, doesn't it?<br /> <br /> Of course my advice to all who are expecting the prime minister to do anything about this latest national disgrace is, please do not hold your breath.<br /> <br /> Hello... national disgrace calling<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11192431/Arnaldo-Brown_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11192430/Mark-Golding_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, October 29, 2014 2:00 AM Dr Sandra Knight is right! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Dr-Sandra-Knight-is-right-_17819844 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I am not the head of the National Family Planning Board, particularly because I have never had the requisite qualifications for that or its related fields. I am clueless about formulating legislation and have no aspirations where serving in Parliament is concerned. At best, I am a concerned citizen who only knows that, while I want the citizenry to participate and contribute, I want a political directorate that leads.<br /> <br /> The role of the church in Jamaican society is undeniably marked by a rich history of service in education, health, social justice, and the good old message of choosing good over evil. Today, much of the social outreach done by the church is simply not known. If the help and general ministry given by churches were removed for one month, I shudder to think of the tremendous social unrest that would prevail.<br /> <br /> That said, I would want to note that in a society where the church has traditionally been active, welcomed, and respected, we must be careful of giving in to any temptation to believe that the agents of the church have all the answers to the challenging questions of life.<br /> <br /> Dr Sandra Knight is right! There ought to be a frank discussion about abortion minus religion and politics. We employ personnel in various disciplines based on their particular acumen. It is true that there is much value in employing sensitivity to various ethical, theological, and societal concerns in a context like ours. However, we all cannot be pastors, politicians, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and nurses.<br /> <br /> Are we going to watch the sexual and reproductive rights of women wash down the drain simply because of our personal biases? Are we going to accept the gruesome crime of rape against any Jamaican citizen (regardless of gender) to get treated with disregard as a result of an inadequate definition of rape in our laws? Did the electorate vote for the church to determine the law of the land in 2014?<br /> <br /> Our elected officials and all other employees of the State must be allowed to do their work. Capacity-building includes increasing awareness and affirmative response to the human rights of all Jamaicans. Human rights are indivisible!<br /> <br /> We must come to that place where we know and practise the supreme place of human rights where there is a conflict of views inclusive of religion, politics, and citizenry. Think about it. Whether you are humanist, religious, political, stupid, bigoted, whatever, if the place of human rights is protected and its guidance adhered to, everyone, bar none, will be covered.<br /> <br /> Those who guide the pace of decision-making in our Senate and any creature of the Jamaican Parliament have listened to debates and dialogue. The next step is action! Faith-based organisations provide voters and views. Legislators must still provide evidence-based guidance and leadership. Will you have the courage to act now?<br /> <br /> Rev Fr Sean Major-Campbell<br /> <br /> seanmajorcampbell@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Dr Sandra Knight is right!<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11192441/TUESDAY-OCTOBER-28TH--2014_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, October 29, 2014 2:00 AM   Take back the award   http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Take-back-the-award-_17773109 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Let me first congratulate the Jamaica Observer on a fine piece of journalism in bringing to public attention the disgraceful behaviour of an international athlete and public official (JAAA 3rd V-P).<br /> <br /> Not many people the world over are unaware of the humility and fine personality of the accomplished Courtney Andrew Walsh, in whose honour a national sports award have been appropriately named. Now, for the nominee of this year's prestigious award to elect not to attend the awards ceremony and to send a member of his management team to represent him, who offered a now obviously less than genuine excuse, making out that representative to be either a fool or a liar, is indeed shameful.<br /> <br /> Not many people the world over are unaware of the humility and fine personality of the accomplished Courtney Andrew Walsh, in whose honour a national sports award have been appropriately named. Now, for the nominee of this year's prestigious award to elect not to attend the awards ceremony and to send a member of his management team to represent him, who offered a now obviously less than genuine excuse, making out that representative to be either a fool or a liar, is indeed shameful.<br /> <br /> Mind you, this is not just about Courtney Walsh, but there is a way in which our society is being taken over by various degrees of obnoxious behaviour by some of our public officials, without sanction, only to get worse. This latest incident, which has the eyes and ears of young impressionable athletes, should not go unpunished. The organising committee did well in selecting Frater for this award, but on the basis of the athlete's own behaviour, the award should be rescinded and the JAAA's president should ask the young man to resign as he has now lost the moral authority to continue as a leader and an example for his young prodigies.<br /> <br /> Unless our society comes to grips with issues like these, and act accordingly, we are doomed for failure, even while stars like Michael Frater continue to shine.<br /> <br />  <br /> <br /> Take back the award<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, October 29, 2014 2:00 AM Stop Coaster bullies on Molynes Road http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Stop-Coaster-bullies-on-Molynes-Road_17819826 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> At 7:40 this morning (October 28), as I was travelling along Molynes Road, a bus conductor threw himself under my vehicle. Yes, he pretended to trip and fall under my vehicle. All this was done to prevent me from driving so that a Coaster bus could turn around in the middle of the road.<br /> <br /> The bus driver laughed at his antics and, after he finished making this illegal U-turn, the conductor dusted himself off and told me with a smile on his face, "You have a water leak."<br /> <br /> I immediately placed a call to 119 to inform them of the incident and request a permanent police presence on Molynes Road in the mornings. The woman who answered the phone responded: "Oh, that's what they do, you know." Her response was totally unprofessional, in my opinion, and further frustrated me. Here I am, a law-abiding citizen, making my way to work and my liberty could have ended because of this man's careless antics.<br /> <br /> I will admit, the police do occupy Molynes Road from time to time, but occasional uniformed officers are not the solution because the bus and taxi drivers have their cronies who call and inform them when the police are on the road and they assume a false decorum when they are around only to act like hooligans and try to bully other road users when they are not present.<br /> <br /> Something has to be done about this problem.<br /> <br /> Sophia Beecher<br /> <br /> beatrice67@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> Stop Coaster bullies on Molynes Road<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10581138/Yellow-coaster_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, October 29, 2014 2:00 AM What is Customs doing about the black coil? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/What-is-Customs-doing-about-the-black-coil-_17754455 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> On March 28, 2013, the Jamaica Customs department was given the status of executive agency to fully perform as such effective April 2, 2013.<br /> <br /> One of its mandates is to protect Jamaica's borders against illicit imports. However, following the recent resurfacing of black mosquito coils, I can't help but question the ability of agency to carry out such a role.<br /> <br /> As far back as 2012, the Pesticide Control Authority issued a stern warning against importing, selling and using black mosquito coils. Yet, with the current outbreak of chikungunya, some Jamaicans have, once again, been able to turn to the highly toxic product. But how is it that the product is readily available? Why is there abundance on the streets of downtown Kingston, for instance?<br /> <br /> All the weaknesses in the country's administrative infrastructure, particularly in health and security, are slowly being exposed. As we've heard during local news broadcasts, people are regularly burning this coil in their homes. Many of them are undoubtedly present while this happens. That is a disturbing trend. From what I've read, the black mosquito coil is one of 11 coils that have been found to contain dimefluthrin and allethrin. Smoke containing these two chemicals is a health hazard, especially to those who inhale concentrated amounts. It is particularly harmful to children and pregnant women. Consumers would not even be aware of these contents because the manufacturer's label on the various brands tends not be in English.<br /> <br /> It is even more disturbing that this illegal product enters our ports and eludes Customs officers. The agency seems more efficient at collecting revenue, which is another of its three mandates. Well, collecting fees and duties isn't the only important responsibility in facilitating trade. Proactive steps must be taken to curb usage and remove the coil from the market.<br /> <br /> Yohan Lee<br /> <br /> St Andrew<br /> <br /> yohan.s.r.lee@live.com<br /> <br /> What is Customs doing about the black coil?<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11189060/COIL_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, October 28, 2014 2:00 AM Don't just 'run a money', build Ja's infrastructure http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Don-t-just--run-a-money---build-Ja-s-infrastructure_17814592 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> It's no secret among Jamaicans that some construction contractors who own heavy duty equipment (trucks, tractors, rollers etc) and supply manual labour are known to be in a position of economic stability.<br /> <br /> Succesive Jamaican Governments continue to depend on 'roadworks' and 'infrastructure programmes' to inject some sort of capital into communities where people depend on labour-intensive work. Plus the bonus to "run a money" for political mileage, especially around elections.<br /> <br /> As much as we continue to borrow from our international partners and spend billions on such 'roadwork', we aren't actually building anything much and our roads have the lifespan of a mosquito, having the same effect of causing sicknesses on our vehicles which drain our pockets for mechanical remedies.<br /> <br /> It would begin to make sense if the Government decided to use some of the infrastructure money to build critical modern public infrastructure such as hospitals, police stations, government agencies, and even a parliament building. We can make them technologically modern and energy efficient to match any First World standard.<br /> <br /> It's time Jamaica rethinks what is considered an "infrastructure programme" and build our way to prosperity and better public facilities.<br /> <br /> Mario Boothe<br /> <br /> m.raphael.b@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Don't just 'run a money', build Ja's infrastructure<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11189633/Tractor_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, October 28, 2014 2:00 AM Ja's success more than BPOs http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Ja-s-success-more-than-BPOs_17799252 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The Internet can definitely be seen as one of mankind's great inventions. According to an extensive study compiled by the Mckinsey Global Institute, the Internet accounted for 10 per cent of GDP growth during 1995 to 2009.<br /> <br /> Both governments and businesses have benefited from a reduction in transaction costs and other innovations associated with its creation. Therefore, it is only expected that the Government of Jamaica will seek to exploit the opportunities that technology has provided by building the relevant infrastructure and creating a world-class labour force.<br /> <br /> However, based on the findings of a recent publication by the HEART Trust, over 60 per cent of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) firms interviewed reported vacancies; with 64 per cent stating that they had challenges finding appropriate employees. The study also noted the paucity of talent at the national training agency, with enrolment in ICT-related programmes experiencing a 10 per cent decline over the past five years.<br /> <br /> The Vision 2030 documents classify ICT as a priority sector, but these findings suggest that successive administrations have approached the development of an indigenous ICT sector in a sporadic manner. We have not placed sufficient emphasis on creating an institutional framework to foster technology based sectors, the emphasis has been on creating a number of short-term training initiatives in an ad hoc fashion.<br /> <br /> The reinvention of our post-secondary institutions is a must if we are serious about exploiting the ICT sector. Although, in recent times, the HEART Trust has become more sophisticated, the agency must seek to attract Jamaica's best and brightest pupils. For example, polytechnics in Asia now offer higher level courses in biotechnology, manufacturing engineering, and other emerging fields. Furthermore, we need to think bigger than the BPO sector and tap into the high value markets, like nanotechnology.<br /> <br /> Countries that are now tech hubs did not achieve greatness by settling for mediocrity or allowing their people to think that they are not smart enough to become innovators.<br /> <br /> Lipton Matthews<br /> <br /> lo_matthews@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Ja's success more than BPOs<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, October 28, 2014 2:00 AM Is religion the #1 cause of war and violence? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Is-religion-the--1-cause-of-war-and-violence-_17799754 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> In light of the recent attacks conducted by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)<br /> <br /> and the brief reminder of the coup in Trinidad and Tobago led by Yasin Abu Bakr in 1990, many have cited these as proof that religion is the root of most of the major conflicts throughout human history. They argue that religion is the #1 cause of war, and hence we would be better off without religion and faith. Facts state otherwise.<br /> <br /> While it's true that 9/11, the Trinidad coup (and, in the case of Christianity, the Crusades and the Thirty Years' War) -- had religious motivations, it is wrong to assert that religion is the #1 cause of war.<br /> <br /> According to the Encyclopaedia of Wars (Phillips and Axelrod), of the 1,763 major conflicts in recorded history, only 123 of them were religious in nature. That's just below seven per cent. Moreover, it also explains that the number of people killed in these conflicts amounts to only two per cent! Non-religious motivations and naturalistic philosophies bear the blame for majority of the wars; over 93 per cent.<br /> <br /> The major wars in the last century (World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War) were not fought for religious reasons. In fact, World War II was responsible for over 65 million deaths. It was and still is the most deadly conflict in human history.<br /> <br /> Here are the numbers of deaths under non-religious dictators. What's more is that<br /> <br /> they all happened in the 20th century. Joseph Stalin, 42,672,000; Mao Zedong, 7,828,000; Adolf Hitler, 20,946,000; Chiang Kai-shek, 10,214,000; Vladimir Lenin, 4,017,000; Hideki Tojo, 3,990,000; Pol Pot, 2,397,000.<br /> <br /> In summary, the evidence shows that religion is not the #1 cause of war and violence.<br /> <br /> Hal Lewis<br /> <br /> mobiusraptor7@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Is religion the #1 cause of war and violence?<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11128309/isis_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, October 28, 2014 2:00 AM Fix Mandela Highway bus lane system http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Fix-Mandela-Highway-bus-lane-system_17814721 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I use this medium to appeal to the relevant authorities to reconsider the decision they took to permit the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) buses to have an independent lane on Mandela Highway in the mornings.<br /> <br /> This decision has resulted in nothing but chaos every mornings for raod users who are trying to go about their lawful business. There is not much organisation of the process, as I witness mostly public passenger buses driving on the 'soft shoulder' using it as if this is another legal lane created by the said authorities. I also witness them traversing in the lane now dedicated to the JUTC buses, which is a recipe for disaster as there will soon be head-on collision that may have some fatalities if this matter is not addressed.<br /> <br /> There are not enough police police manning that section of the roadway -- sometimes none -- and as such, motorists disobey whatever 'system' is presently in place.<br /> <br /> Apart from the chaos it is now causing in the mornings, it is resulting in the loss of precious production hours. Since this system has been in place, it has added 15 - 25 minutess to my usual 45-min drive to work each morning.<br /> <br /> In my opinion, this is a short-cut method by the Government to facilitate the JUTC. What should have happened long time ago is that the Mandela Highway should have been widened to facilitate the flow of commuters now using that thoroughfare. They have been several new housing and business developments in St Catherine and it environs and the necessary infrastructure should be put in place to move the traffic to and from the Corporate Area. This should not come at the expense of other people who were going about their business.<br /> <br /> I ask that the relevant authorities revert to the correct use of the highway and look into widening and fixing the uneven sections of the Mandela Highway to better facilitate all modes of transportation, and not just the JUTC.<br /> <br /> Shawn Wallace<br /> <br /> bountysw@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Fix Mandela Highway bus lane system<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11189629/Mandela-Highway_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, October 28, 2014 2:00 AM They were fair decisions http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/They-were-fair-decisions_17799764 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I would like to comment on the Jamaican immigration's decision to deny Radical Muslim leader, Yasin Abu Bakr entry to the country, and also the Government's decision to spend $4 million to send him home.<br /> <br /> Let us not try to play politics and gain points on this matter. Looking at the chain of events, things could have gone otherwise, and just maybe we would be looking at a bill of $40 million today.<br /> <br /> Let's be realistic, this is Jamaica, and to be honest I don't think that we are properly trained to deal with certain situations. Even in the great America continues to have problems with restraining individuals as it could lead to the loss of life.<br /> <br /> Some people are making comparisons and commenting on what happens when our nationals are denied and returned from the said Trinidad and Tobago via commercial flights. Well, let us put things in the right prospective here, even though he doesn't carry a good profile, Yasin Abu Bakr is a very high level individual, and if we had to send him back in a coffin it would have been a big stink at our doorsteps. If Trinidad and Tobago send any of our locals home in a coffin maybe we wouldn't even hear a gun bark about that. Just remember Shanique Myrie -- even though her incident happened in Barbados -- if she didn't take a stand for herself, then nothing would have been done.<br /> <br /> Let's not fool ourselves, the decision was a fair enough one amidst all that is happening around us.<br /> <br /> Rupert Brown<br /> <br /> aat2study@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> They were fair decisions<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11183601/Abu-bakr-1_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, October 27, 2014 2:00 AM Good parenting can reduce 'baby criminals' http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Good-parenting-can-reduce--baby-criminals-_17809541 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> A few evenings ago, during a police clampdown on illegal taxis and buses, my young friend was caught up all alone in the dark when her ride dropped her off near the hockey field on Mona Road. She was left at the mercy of God.<br /> <br /> Her heart started to flutter in her chest when she saw two suspicious characters coming towards her. They circled her then pulled out two long, shiny knives. She described the smaller one as about 10 years old, and the bigger one, perhaps, 18. Interestingly, though, the more vocal and threatening of the two was the 10-year-old.<br /> <br /> At the time they pounced, she was by then near to her gate. In a sharp move, she pushed her hand into her bag, stunning them both a little. She meant to retrieve her key, but maybe they thought she had something else or, more likely, they didn't want her alerting the other occupants of the home. The baby criminal gave her a solid tongue lashing and promised to get her next time.<br /> <br /> Related or not, a few minutes later, word came that two fellows who were hanging out by their gate on Garden Boulevard were held up by two gunmen. My first question to my young friend was: "Did you call the police?" She hadn't. Sadly, many crimes go unreported. So, as bad as we think things are in Jamaica, I think, in reality, it is much worse. Had the police been called, maybe they would have had a vehicle in the area -- if they had a roadworthy car at all. Maybe there was a motorbike duo that could have been dispatched or re-routed. Maybe they would have been taken off the streets even for a while. Maybe one or both of those lives could have been intercepted and changed for the better, or maybe they could have been taken down for good.<br /> <br /> I am not na&iuml;ve; I know that social conditions can breed a life of crime and violence. Unemployment, hunger and crime go hand in hand, but this is no ordinary crime; this is violent crime by a child. I am a staunch supporter of the police, but I abhor police brutality, excessive force and abuse of power. That said, had one of the two been shot by the police, I can imagine how vociferous the mother and her band of 'brothers' would have been about 'Babylon'. I would love to see mothers being equally vociferous in imposing discipline and supervision over their budding criminals at home. Please, don't leave them to roam the streets like wild goats and be the worst they can be.<br /> <br /> Sandra M Taylor Wiggan<br /> <br /> sandra_wiggan@yahoo.co.uk<br /> <br /> Good parenting can reduce 'baby criminals'<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11185988/CRIME_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, October 27, 2014 2:00 AM West Indies should consider taking a year-long break from cricket http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/West-Indies-should-consider-taking-a-year-long-break-from-cricket_17799633 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I agree wholeheartedly with the Jamaica Observer editorial on Saturday, October 18, 2014 'Torturous days ahead for West Indies cricket'.<br /> <br /> The series of events that unfolded last week is certainly the most embarrassing thing to happen to our game in recent times. As a supporter of the West Indies as a region, and the development of the area as a whole, West Indies cricket and the University of the West Indies were the last holdouts of keeping us together with pride and hope for a united people.<br /> <br /> The debacle of the West Indies withdrawing from their contractual obligations is abhorrent. While not knowing all the details of this situation, it is clear that there is enough blame to go all around. The question must be asked of the West Indies Cricket Board, the West Indies Players' Association, and the players, themselves: Couldn't there have been back room for negotiations to resolve this issue rather than embarrass a region with this act? This just shows the world that we are not ready for the big times.<br /> <br /> I am so embarrassed by this turn of events. I would not be surprised if we are banned from future international cricket engagements. Maybe we should be proactive and withdraw from international cricket for a year and revisit our contractual policies and write clear procedures for our players and board that can lead us forward. We can not be negotiating players compensation in the middle of a tour. And we cannot be washing our laundry on the world stage.<br /> <br /> This is a mark on us that we have to get right or we will be exiled for a long, long time.<br /> <br /> For those of us that love the game, we hope that all the "bigger heads" will act with alacrity. May this never happen again.<br /> <br /> Francois St Juste<br /> <br /> Francois.StJuste@rjrgroup.com<br /> <br /> West Indies should consider taking a year-long break from cricket<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11134759/WI-train_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, October 27, 2014 2:00 AM Health sector woefully underfunded http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Health-sector-woefully-underfunded_17799330 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Given the serious challenges faced by our health services, not just now, but in general, it remains hard to comprehend why the Government would underspend its budget by $7.7 billion for the April - July 2014 period, especially when tax collection for that same period was only $0.6m below target. Trevor Munroe and his National Integrity Commission has publicly sought an explanation, but I have seen no response.<br /> <br /> Given that the recurrent budget for health for 2014-15 is only $35.9b, an extra $7b would go a long way to improving the dire situation in both our hospitals and clinics. Even more so given that the 2014 budget files reveal that nothing was allocated for capital spending on health (local money - Capital A) and just $0.9b from foreign sources (Capital B). In fact, that $35.9-b recurrent would have to be $39.2b to equal in real terms the spending two years ago (using an eight per cent inflation adjustment).<br /> <br /> Compare these figures to the $132.6b set aside for debt interest for 2014-15 and $100.7b for amortisation -- a total of $232.3b. I hope the IMF Economic Growth conference in Montego Bay will not only examine the many impediments to growth -- including bureaucracy and depressed local demand -- but also the need for a healthy population that doesn't regularly have to spend a whole day (or longer) waiting at health facilities. Has anyone added up the economic cost of this lost time?<br /> <br /> Compared to other Caribbean countries, Jamaica spends less per person on health, so no wonder we are struggling with the inadequate budget allocation. The following figures (per person) are from the World Bank, in current US$, for 2012: Barbados 938, Cuba 558, St Lucia 556, Grenada 478, and Jamaica 318. These figures include both public and private provision, so the US$130 per person in the public sector I heard quoted by Dr Shane Alexis last week is about right.<br /> <br /> As a percentage of GDP, these same figures translate into Barbados 6.7 per cent, Cuba 10.2 per cent, St Lucia 7.7 per cent, Grenada 5.8 per cent, and Jamaica 5.2 per cent. Another comparison is given for 2010 in Wikipedia, this time based on a more meaningful purchasing-power-parity international US$ measure, as follows: Barbados 1,520, St Lucia 703, Grenada 632, Cuba 414, and Jamaica 397.<br /> <br /> Our hospitals and health centres are desperately understaffed, and is that any surprise given the inadequate budget? Dr Alexis also mentioned that there is no incentive for health professionals to remain in the public system given the poor facilities and lack of support which often result in them not being able to fulfil their professional (and personal) commitment to care.<br /> <br /> Did our esteemed visitor from the IMF comment on any of this in July when she was so busy making our Government feel good. An entirely different message is now emanating from the electorate, including many PNP supporters. How can we have a stable and productive society without an adequate health service? A stable economic platform cannot be a precursor to adequate health facilities. As with education and physical/social infrastructure, all need to move forward together if we are ever to grow out of debt.<br /> <br /> Paul Ward<br /> <br /> Kingston 7<br /> <br /> pgward72@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Health sector woefully underfunded <br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11177023/Victoria-jubilee-2_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, October 27, 2014 2:00 AM They were fair decisions http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/They-were-fair-decisions_17799764-double Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I would like to comment on the Jamaican immigration's decision to deny Radical Muslim leader, Yasin Abu Bakr entry to the country, and also the Government's decision to spend $4 million to send him home.<br /> <br /> Let us not try to play politics and gain points on this matter. Looking at the chain of events, things could have gone otherwise, and just maybe we would be looking at a bill of $40 million today.<br /> <br /> Let's be realistic, this is Jamaica, and to be honest I don't think that we are properly trained to deal with certain situations. Even in the great America continues to have problems with restraining individuals as it could lead to the loss of life.<br /> <br /> Some people are making comparisons and commenting on what happens when our nationals are denied and returned from the said Trinidad and Tobago via commercial flights. Well, let us put things in the right prospective here, even though he doesn't carry a good profile, Yasin Abu Bakr is a very high level individual, and if we had to send him back in a coffin it would have been a big stink at our doorsteps. If Trinidad and Tobago send any of our locals home in a coffin maybe we wouldn't even hear a gun bark about that. Just remember Shanique Myrie -- even though her incident happened in Barbados -- if she didn't take a stand for herself, then nothing would have been done.<br /> <br /> Let's not fool ourselves, the decision was a fair enough one amidst all that is happening around us.<br /> <br /> They were fair decisions<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Monday, October 27, 2014 2:00 AM Ramp up national awards...wheelchair ramp http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Ramp-up-national-awards---wheelchair-ramp_17797482 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I watched with pride the televised National Heroes' Day awards ceremony, where several people who serve or have served our country received awards in their area(s) of specialty.<br /> <br /> It was equally refreshing to see our military and constabulary men and women perform with sharp salutes and turns, whether receiving awards and taking part in the production.<br /> <br /> However, the pride I felt quickly dissipated and turned to dismay and irritation when the governor general was made to step down from the dais to meet the wheelchair-bound awardees.<br /> <br /> Why, in this day, with a Disabilities Act recently passed, were allowances not made to have a ramp installed to accommodate the wheelchairs? This was a shameful display that removed some of the pomp and pageantry of the ceremony. This disregard, especially at a government function, is glaring and should not be allowed to continue. The addition of a ramp is as necessary as the blue steps at the front and side of the stage. The production needs to be reviewed and corrections made for 2015.<br /> <br /> Hugh T Gordon<br /> <br /> h_gdon@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Ramp up national awards...wheelchair ramp <br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11175733/DSC_4432_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, October 24, 2014 2:00 AM Call it the $4-m waste that it was http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Call-it-the--4-m-waste-that-it-was_17797627 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> When Jamaicans are denied entry to a foreign country, be it Barbados, Trinidad, England, etc, they are simply sent home using their return ticket. No matter how Minister Peter Bunting tries to defend the waste of $4 million of taxpayers' funds to send Abu Bakr home on a private jet it does not wash. For, he is not the first deportee to "gwaan bad" when denied entry into a country. And the more the Bunting spins the talk the more suspicious and ridiculous he sounds.<br /> <br /> Some people have even started wondering if the real story isn't that the Government owed the jet operator for previous trips that minsters take as they traipse all over the place and they had hoped to quietly slip in the payment using this ridiculous cover of the Abu Bakr story. To tell you the truth, even this made-up story sounds more plausible.<br /> <br /> Then when you weigh this waste of $4 million of taxpayers money against the simultaneous salivating at the feet of Sagicor which had to underwrite the $4 million cost of purchasing fever scan machines to detect Ebola, you realise how pathetic what passes for governance in this country really is.<br /> <br /> Joan E Williams<br /> <br /> Kingston 10<br /> <br /> gratestj@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Call it the $4-m waste that it was<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11175750/filename24_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, October 24, 2014 2:00 AM