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 StGC and Jesuits of Jamaica mourn Raymond Chang's passing http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/StGC-and-Jesuits-of-Jamaica-mourn-Raymond-Chang-s-passing_17267248 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> St George's College and the Jesuits of Jamaica are deeply saddened and mourn the passing of the Honourable Raymond Chang, OJ, an authentic friend.<br /> <br /> He was a humble and cheerful man with a big heart. He was extremely generous to many, not only with his treasure, but also with his time and expertise.<br /> <br /> He never forgot his alma mater, St Georges College, contributing generously from his belongings, as well as from his passion for betterment and his love for Jamaica. He gave of himself, serving on the St George's College Old Boys Association executive, and provided his expertise as a member of the board of directors for the college's Endowment Fund.<br /> <br /> Though we deeply feel the loss, St George's College and the Jesuits are grateful for the time he had with us. Both Canada and Jamaica have suffered the loss of a brilliant and distinguished man, a true son of our nation.<br /> <br /> On behalf of St George's College and the Jesuits of Jamaica, we extend sincere condolence to his beloved wife, Donette, and his two children. May he see God face to face.<br /> <br /> Fr Chris Llanos SJ<br /> <br /> Chair<br /> <br /> St George's College Endowment Fund<br /> <br /> StGC and Jesuits of Jamaica mourn Raymond Chang's passing<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10900778/Raymond-Chang_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, July 31, 2014 1:00 AM Give Fenton Ferguson his due http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Give-Fenton-Ferguson-his-due_17251255 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I was surprised to see the scathing criticism levelled at Dr Fenton Ferguson in the media this past week.<br /> <br /> I have always been a cynic where the health sector is concerned, but since he became minister of health I have had a ray of hope. I have been around a long time &mdash; I am over 50 years old &mdash; and I cannot remember ever seeing so much development taking place in the health sector in such a short space of time, and especially given the financial situation of the country.<br /> <br /> Don't get me wrong, many of the problems in the health sector remain, as these are not things that will disappear overnight. But, if I am to be fair, and I consider myself to be so, I would say give the minister credit for what he has done.<br /> <br /> I have seen a big difference in service at the health centre I visit routinely. I have never seen a primary health care facility compared to the likes of the centre of excellence, and I like that the minister is focusing attention on preventing diseases. This is something I wish we were doing years ago.<br /> <br /> Furthermore, he has been fearless in dealing with some of the stakeholders within and outside of the health sector that some previous ,inisters seemed to have been afraid to face. Give the minister his due.<br /> <br /> Delano Dowdie<br /> <br /> superdaddy8@yahoo.com <br /> <br /> Give Fenton Ferguson his due<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10877403/Ferguson_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, July 31, 2014 1:00 AM Jamaicans need to use initiative http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Jamaicans-need-to-use-initiative_17273230 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Like most patriotic people, Jamaicans do not appreciate the criticisms of foreigners. Although the sad reality is that most of us do not possess the foresight to get anything done, it would be in our best interest to learn from enlightened foreigners like J J Geewax.<br /> <br /> Unlike private entrepreneurs who have a keen eye for identifying problems, J J Geewax is constantly searching for new opportunities. To Geewax, our relatively low cost of living, in comparison to America, is a blessing in disguise; because unlike in New York, US$10,000 can go a far way in Jamaica, thus allowing him to nurture more entrepreneurs.<br /> <br /> The young Geewax is not sitting down and expecting the Government to form business networks to facilitate entrepreneurs, he is doing that for himself. He is using his initiative.<br /> <br /> Luckily for him he is a foreigner, so his recent comments about Jamaica's business culture will not go unnoticed.<br /> <br /> "We need to stop caring about what people look like and focus more on results. It's really not important how many times someone ends up in the newspaper. It's way more important to know how many clients they stole from the people too busy partying," he said.<br /> <br /> Some of us may not know it, but a culture which prioritises innovation, modesty and smart work will drive growth not idleness and fun parties. We must develop our intellectual assets and refrain from expecting politicians and foreigners to guide us. And, yes, maybe it's time for us to stop asking God to 'give us vision lest we perish', since we already have brains.<br /> <br /> Lipton Matthews<br /> <br /> lo_matthews@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> J'cans need to use initiative<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10373476/IMG_4180_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, July 31, 2014 1:15 AM Don't break the 'Emancipendence' holiday vibe http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Don-t-break-the--Emancipendence--holiday-vibe_17210790 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> It really should be the first Friday in August and following Monday that we celebrate as holidays.<br /> <br /> It would a great four-day weekend that would draw lots of visitors to feel the 'Emancipendence' vibes.<br /> <br /> We could then market Reggae Sumfest followed by Dream Weekend in Negril as a 10 -ay super party for both tourists and Jamaicans abroad<br /> <br /> It certainly would make a lot more sense than the clumsy broken week set-up we have now.<br /> <br /> Kevin O'brien Chang<br /> <br /> kob.chang@fontanapharmacy.com<br /> <br /> Don't break the 'Emancipendence' holiday vibe<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10877543/Sumfest-Crowd_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, July 31, 2014 1:15 AM Polticians must know when their time has come http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Polticians-must-know-when-their-time-has-come_17273334 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> There has been considerable comment recently on reshuffling Cabinet members and removing parliamentarians, both here and in Britain &mdash; where the cry is "too male, pale and stale".<br /> <br /> Here the cry should be "too old, old, old" as 40 per cent of our parliamentarians are over 65 and are responsible for much of the inertia of the House and Senate.<br /> <br /> The truth is that we reach our mental peak by age 50, cruise on to 60, and then decline steadily and spend more and more of that time hiding our decline from the juniors on whom we depend.<br /> <br /> After 70 we have no new knowledge or ideas and little energy to contribute. Look at who sit in our present parliament who act creatively. Whether you agree or disagree with them, it is Julian Robinson, Lisa Hanna, Philip Paulwell, Andrew Holness, and Valerie Neita-Headley.<br /> <br /> My hope is that all members 70 years old or older will retire before the next national election. I would like to see parliament make it mandatory. But that will never happen.<br /> <br /> My suggestion is not made from spite, but in recognition of the inevitable deterioration in our mental and physical capacities as we age, and most critically our ability to learn new skills and develop new ideas -- rare after 60, and extinct after 70.<br /> <br /> By all means, we should respect age and long experience, but in advisory roles, not leadership ones. Get them to let go of the steering wheel and move to the rear seats. But, please, not into the Senate. This would also create the ideal setting for a serious reduction in the size of the Cabinet.<br /> <br /> Would this give us a less corrupt Parliament? I very much doubt it, as I believe we are all honest, until temptation smiles at us -- and our politicians have to face temptation every day.<br /> <br /> Our best protection is in transparency, through the media, an open and inquisitive Internet, proper use of the Access to Information Act, and less idolatry of the "honourables".<br /> <br /> John Fletcher<br /> <br /> johnofletcher@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Polticians must know when their time has come<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, July 31, 2014 1:00 AM We don't know what to steal next http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/We-don-t-know-what-to-steal-next_17268004 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Whilst watching the evening news, a report was made that batteries from a water truck was stolen.<br /> <br /> How can anybody in their mind look to steal any part from a water truck to serve people in the communities with the precious commodity?<br /> <br /> What should we do to people like that when you catch them? God only knows.<br /> <br /> We are so 'thief' and dishonest that we don't know what to steal.<br /> <br /> It could not be that the person is in such hard times.<br /> <br /> Claudette Harris<br /> <br /> claudetteharris43@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> We don't know what to steal next<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, July 31, 2014 1:15 AM Fly Jamaica messed up my family vacay http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Fly-Jamaica-messed-up-my-family-vacay_17266159 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> With all this talk about Fly Jamaica, I wish to share some of my experience with the airline.<br /> <br /> Every year, around Easter, my family members &mdash; most of whom reside in the US &mdash; meet in Jamaica for a reunion. The time we spend together is even more special as my grandmother, aunts, and uncles return to the small district of Brainerd, St Mary, where they, and as many of us offspring who can make it, put on a treat for the community on Good Friday. My cousins and I return to the quiet farming district that hosted so many of our summers to share in the giving and eating, of course.<br /> <br /> This year, however, we were short two cousins, thanks to Fly Jamaica. Tickets bought months in advance, countdown going on via Facebook, my cousins should have been the last to arrive on Holy Thursday. But as they turned up at JFK for the flight, which was scheduled to leave at 12 noon, they saw a gentleman turning away people from the terminal. That was the first indication that something was wrong.<br /> <br /> At the airline's check-in desk, my cousins were told that the flight was delayed because it was being repaired/maintained, and would not depart until 12 midnight. They checked in their luggage, notwithstanding, and returned home to get some rest before the late-night trip.<br /> <br /> Upon returning to JFK the requisite two hours before the midnight flight, that was when they were told that the flight was cancelled and would not take off until (Good) Friday at noon.<br /> <br /> Now, although delays should be anticipated during travel, one can all imagine the frustation felt upon hearing this news &mdash; and, by extension, they would not make it to the family gathering.<br /> <br /> Fly Jamaica did not contact them with an update on the repair of the aircraft. Neither, upon realisation that it would not be ready on time, did the airline give them the opportunity to book an alternative flight to the island.<br /> <br /> In fact, what the airline did was disregard the travel plans of the hundreds of passengers on that flight, encroaching on time set for vacation and/or business trips.<br /> <br /> What's worse, even up to two days after the flight was scheduled to leave &mdash; the Saturday &mdash; passengers were still not on the way to Jamaica. At the end of the week of family togetherness, my aunt was scheduled to leave Jamaica on Fly Jamaica at 5:00 am, but it was not until she arrived at the airport that she was told the flight would be delayed by 12 hours.<br /> <br /> We would all love to patronise Fly Jamaica because of our national pride, but with these standards of customer service and reliability, it really makes it hard to take this airline seriously. Delays are expected, but this is just too frequent.<br /> <br /> Samantha Edwards<br /> <br /> uashleigh@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Fly Jamaica messed up my family vacay<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10863788/Fly-Jamaica_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, July 30, 2014 2:00 AM Extend helpful hands to Andre http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Extend-helpful-hands-to-Andre-_17257844 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I write to encourage urgent public financial support for the brave, admirable Jamaican lad who "walks on his hands" &mdash; 11-year-old Andre Coleman &mdash; as published in this week's edition of the Sunday Observer.<br /> <br /> Such human interest coverage is a fundamental aspect of the social functions of our journalism profession. And the Observer and other leading media enterprises in Jamaica continue to provide encouraging examples of this and other challenging social issues.<br /> <br /> As the Observer and the Combined Disabilities Association would be aware, not just in this country, but across our Caribbean Community there are many children afflicted with mental and varying physical challenges.<br /> <br /> All of them deserve help, though realistically this may not always be forthcoming, due to varying reasons, including the quality of care required and, more decisively, the cost factor.<br /> <br /> Nevertheless, after reading the Sunday Observer's moving account of the plight of dear Andre, and knowing a little of the very generous spirit of the Jamaican people and their commitment to sharing family problems, I decided to make this personal appeal via the Observer.<br /> <br /> The intention is to help stimulate interest among our own media colleagues, for a start, to extend a helping hand to his mother, Hermine Coleman, who has gone public with the challenges she faces which includes, at least, to help sustain Andre's current level of schooling with the availability of transportation fares, if not a contribution of 'lunch money' as well.<br /> <br /> The details could easily be worked out with the help of Andre's mom. For my part, I would like to be forwarded Ms Hermine Coleman's mailing address and telephone contact.<br /> <br /> I assume the Combined Disabilities Association and the Ministry of Education -- or whatever agency deals with social care -- will demonstrate active interest in this inspiring case of an 11-year-old lad's determination to triumph over his very challenging physical disability and, in so doing, inspire others here and elsewhere.<br /> <br /> Rickey Singh<br /> <br /> Barbados<br /> <br /> Extend helpful hands to Andre <br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10890360/Andre-Coleman-1_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, July 30, 2014 2:00 AM Let&rsquo;s multiply Ja&rsquo;s progress http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Let-s-multiply-Ja-s-progress Dear Editor, I write in response to a letter published in the Jamaica Observer on July 21, 2014, titled &lsquo;Fix school boards: Our education system deserves better&rsquo;. <br /> <br /> The National Council on Education (NCE) acknowledges the writer's concerns and commends him for his interest in the Jamaican education system. While we recognise that there have been some challenges in the appointment of school board members, much has been done to transform the process. A comprehensive set of revised procedures was introduced in 2009 to increase community participation in the governance of public educational institutions. This was supported by a call for volunteers, published in the national newspapers, soliciting persons to offer themselves to serve. Accordingly, a comprehensive pool of volunteers was established in keeping with specific criteria which increased the probability of selecting the best talent available to govern our schools in Jamaica. <br /> <br /> An effective school board is highly dependent on the knowledge and expertise of its members. Consequently, significant investment has been made to train school board members. Since 2012, the NCE has trained approximately 2,789 school board members representing 847 or 83 per cent of the total public educational institutions in Jamaica. Training sessions for newly appointed board members in Regions three (Trelawny and St Ann) and six (St Catherine and Clarendon) are scheduled for September to October 2014. Additionally, a comprehensive handbook was published in April 2013, as a useful guide for school board members. <br /> <br /> The NCE invites Mr Campbell to visit our website at www.nce.org.jm where he can access a copy of this handbook. Should he have any other query, we encourage him to contact our offices for further information. <br /> <br /> Merris Murray <br /> <br /> Executive Director <br /> <br /> National Council on Education <br /> <br /> merris.murray@nce.org.jm http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10370077/Maroon-3_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, July 30, 2014 9:44 AM All Russia wants is peace http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/All-Russia-wants-is-peace_17258511 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> In the article by Kimone Thompson, published in your newspaper on July 25, 2014, it was mentioned, in particular, that "Russia and Ukraine...have been at war in recent months".<br /> <br /> In order to improve understanding of the situation we would like to remind that the internal conflict in Ukraine, which acquired the character of a fratricidal war, is rooted in the interference in the affairs of this country and its people from outside, in the endeavour to pursue geopolitical calculations at any cost, including death of innocent people. Exactly these external forces, which had encouraged the overthrow of the constitutional authorities in Kiev, launched the dangerous political process, which has led to the deep domestic crisis in Ukraine. At the same time, they do not stop frankly, shameless lies, seeking in all things to accuse Russia without any proof. All this indicates unwillingness to find peaceful solution of the conflict.<br /> <br /> From the very beginning of the conflict our country has urged its both sides to a mutual ceasefire, to a launch of a full-fledged national dialogue between Kiev and representatives of all Ukrainian regions, including the Russian-speaking population, with the purpose of working out naturally acceptable parameters for a constitutional reform. In our conviction, that is the path to peace. Instead of it, the violence and the suffering continue, the flow of refugees from Ukraine to Russia is growing, and the Ukrainian tragedy is compounded by the hour.<br /> <br /> Unfortunately, the tragic events in the sky above Donetsk, that were perceived in Russia with pain and compassion, added to this. It is necessary to thoroughly, impartially and objectively find out what had happened in the course of international investigation. It must be absolutely impartial, independent, open and conducted under ICAO [International Civil Aviation Organisation] aegis.<br /> <br /> Russia, for its part, as it was repeatedly stated by the leadership of our country, will do everything within its power to move the conflict in eastern Ukraine from the military phase we see today to the negotiating phase, with the parties using peaceful and diplomatic means alone. The efforts of the authorities in Kiev and those who support them from outside should also be aimed to this end.<br /> <br /> Audrey Dryakin<br /> <br /> Press Attach&eacute;<br /> <br /> Embassy of the Russian Federation in Jamaica<br /> <br /> All Russia wants is peace<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10894374/Putin-29_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, July 29, 2014 1:00 AM Do a roll call, Peter Phillips http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Do-a-roll-call--Peter-Phillips_17260311 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I wonder if when Minister Peter Phillips was negotiating these new tax measures that he has unleashed on us he told the International Monetary Fund that Jamaicans already pay a host of taxes, including asset tax, company tax, income tax, GCT, NIS, education tax, and property tax.<br /> <br /> On another tax matter the minister said that there were 80,000 companies registered that should be paying taxes but only 18,000 were actually paying. The reason they are not paying, minister, is because most of them do not exist, or if they did, it was only for a few days.<br /> <br /> In Jamaica when you start a business you are expected to register as a company so that you can open a bank account or obtain electricity and other important services. Many do not even make it out the blocks.<br /> <br /> May I suggest to you, minister, that you get someone in your office to count the number of businesses listed in the Jamaica Yellow Pages, and after subtracting the 18,000 you claim are paying, you will find that the 62,000 figure you were given is hopelessly wrong.<br /> <br /> Ken Spencer<br /> <br /> Kingston 8 <br /> <br /> Do a roll call, Peter Phillips<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10890324/TaxGrfxsh-pp_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, July 29, 2014 1:00 AM Israel has a right to defend its people http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Israel-has-a-right-to-defend-its-people_17260263 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The recent statement attributed to the Jamaican Government on the current Israeli-Hamas conflict was very disappointing. To describe Israel's action in Gaza as "disproportionate and indiscriminate" shows that our Government did not engage in the required analysis before commenting. It is evident that Hamas provoked this conflict by firing hundreds of rockets into Israel. Does the Jamaican Government think that Israel has no right to defend itself against the terrorist action of Hamas? Should Israel sit by and allow its citizens to be killed by rockets being sent from Gaza?<br /> <br /> Israel's warning system of impending air raids is admired, even by its critics. Israel routinely drops leaflets, makes phone calls and releases "noise bombs" in an effort to get civilians to leave particular locations. Is the Jamaican Government aware that Hamas has its bases in schools, mosques, international agencies, and routinely uses women and children as human shields? Rockets have been found in schools operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza. Hamas deliberately put its civilians in danger in the hope of turning world opinion against Israel. Former president of the USA, Bill Clinton is aware of this strategy and he recently stated: "They (Hamas) have a strategy designed to force Israel to kill their own civilians so that the rest of the world will condemn them." This ploy has seemingly worked in some countries, as embarrassingly, the Jamaican Government has fallen for it.<br /> <br /> We expect a greater effort at analysing international affairs before comments are made in the name of the Jamaican people. It cannot be right for the Administration to be seemingly condemning Israel for defending its people while unwittingly providing support for the terrorist organisation, Hamas. Israel has been a great friend of Jamaica.<br /> <br /> Marsha Thomas<br /> <br /> marshburns@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> Israel has a right to defend its people<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10874857/Funeral_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, July 29, 2014 1:00 AM On the success train, Minister Ferguson http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/On-the-success-train--Minister-Ferguson_17260185 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I have to give kudos to the Minister of Health for trying to fix a rusty system and succeeding for the most part.<br /> <br /> If you have ever had to use a pharmacy at any public hospital you would understand how frustrating a process it is. That is until recently.<br /> <br /> I was pleasantly surprised when I visited the Bustamante Hospital about a week ago and did not have to wait a gruelling 2-3 hours as I did in the past to get the medication prescribed for my child.<br /> <br /> As a young parent, I am sure there are others who can understand what it is like to take a sick child to a hospital and wait all day and then hear that the medication is not available, especially coming from a rural parish and travelling for hours. My experience this time around was quite different.<br /> <br /> I spent only about 20 minutes at the pharmacy and got every item on my prescription.<br /> <br /> I have to say to the Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson that it was a stroke of brilliance to have the National Health Fund (NHF) take over the pharmacies at these hospitals. I am not sure what the NHF has done, but the people seem more motivated, for some reason, to do their jobs quickly.<br /> <br /> I would like the Minister to now work on teaching some of these health workers how to deal with people. Customer service seems missing from their education, especially when dealing with distraught parents.<br /> <br /> Dian Drumond<br /> <br /> dianadrum872@gmail.com <br /> <br /> On the success train, Minister Ferguson<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10877403/Ferguson_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, July 29, 2014 1:00 AM Are we truly emancipated? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Are-we-truly-emancipated_17260359 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> For many people, the emancipation of Jamaica came on August 1, 1838. However, for me, it is yet to arrive for many Jamaicans.<br /> <br /> For, while many seem to be free, they do not understand the very essence of freedom. To be free &mdash; truly free &mdash; one must have knowledge of how life works and how society works.<br /> <br /> To truly understand society, one must seek to be educated. When I speak of education, I do not only speak of the formal education system, but also the informal. How many of us listen to the news to fully grasp what is happening in Jamaica? How many of us have passed on the very culture of Jamaica to our children, grandchildren, younger siblings, nieces, nephews or friends? How often do we seek to understand government policies and how it will affect us in the long run? How can we be truly free when we have allowed ourselves to be improperly governed?<br /> <br /> It was the late Marcus Garvey who said: "Our success educationally, industrially and politically is based upon the protection of a nation founded by ourselves. And the nation can be nowhere else but in Africa."<br /> <br /> But, while Garvey believed that we ought to have had an exodus, the truth is we are Jamaican. Bearing that in mind, we ought to protect Jamaica; protect her from cultural dilution and bad governance. "I pledge my heart forever, to serve with humble pride..." Have we been serving?<br /> <br /> To be truly emancipated we must protect the homeland and help her to achieve greatness. We must serve by participating in the political process, by becoming active in our communities, by raising our children in the proper way, by making savvy decisions that will help to alleviate poverty, by standing for liberty, equality and fraternity.<br /> <br /> "Up, you mighty race, accomplish what you will", only then will we have truly achieved emancipation.<br /> <br /> Okeino Robinson<br /> <br /> Greater Portmore<br /> <br /> St Catherine<br /> <br /> kingenglish97@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Are we truly emancipated? <br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/9959667/Marcus-garvey-photo_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, July 29, 2014 1:00 AM Athletes should use Commonwealth Games as stepping stone http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Athletes-should-use-Commonwealth-Games-as-stepping-stone_17251235 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> With 2014 being a year where there is no major event on the track & field calendar, such as the Olympic Games or the World Outdoor Championships, many Jamaican track & field fans and enthusiasts are not fully interested in the current performances of the country's athletes. This is also the year when the football World Cup, already completed, took the centre stage of sporting competitions. Many of us, including myself, must admit we have taken a break from the track & field diet.<br /> <br /> The Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow, Scotland, are open only to Commonwealth countries and so does not feature all of the world's best athletes in the various disciplines. Countries such as the United States, Russia, as well as other top European countries and Cuba are absent from this competition. This makes it less attractive to sporting fans worldwide.<br /> <br /> This means that those athletes who may not be among the world's best or those either going through development, or just launching out on the international scene can use the games as an opportunity to shine. I say this with the point of focus on our country's sportsmen and women especially in track & field.<br /> <br /> I commend those athletes who participated at the National Championships and were selected. I now implore them to try and perform at their best, as this is a tremendous chance to win medals at a global event. They will also get the moral boost to excel at the bigger world events.<br /> <br /> These games, as I can remember, gave athletes such as Kim Collins of St Kitts & Nevis and Cathy Freeman of Australia a breakthrough in their careers. Collins won his first major gold in the 100m at the 2002 Games and did the same at the World Outdoor Championships a year later. Freeman won the 400m in 1994 and went on to win individual gold at both the World Outdoor Championships and Olympics. Asafa Powell won his first individual gold at a major event in the 100m at the edition held in Melbourne, Australia, eight years ago.<br /> <br /> I must express my pleasure at the interest of our top athletes such as Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Veronica Campbell Brown, and Yohan Blake to compete. With the exception of Bolt, who runs in the sprint relay only &mdash; much to my regret &mdash; the others have a chance to add another individual title to their careers.<br /> <br /> These games are important as any other event and provide the opportunity to add to individual achievements and a stepping stone to worldwide success.<br /> <br /> Loystan L Clarke<br /> <br /> clarke_mis@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Athletes should use Commonwealth Games as stepping stone<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10892137/Commonwealth1_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, July 28, 2014 2:00 AM The price of democracy is responsibility http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/The-price-of-democracy-is-responsibility_17251242 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> In a democracy, the citizens are responsible for the actions of their government.<br /> <br /> Some years ago, then Senator Barry Goldwater said, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." Just how vigilant have we been, not only of our leaders, but also of ourselves? Are we at this sorry pass in our affairs because of bad leadership, blind followership, or both? Ignorance, stupidity, bad luck, or bad judgement? Even, perhaps, God's will, punishment for sin?<br /> <br /> Liberty is not licence. We fancy ourselves free, but recall the IMF strictures. We vote (or not) for the party whose colour corresponds to our blood, our beer, or our politically conscious fowls, then we vociferously assault our anointed ones for their incompetence, corruption and neglect. And next election, we vote for the same rapscallions. So who is at fault?<br /> <br /> If we repeatedly invite the mongoose into the fowl coop, are we not insane to expect a different result each time? Bear in mind that we have been told that 30 per cent of us are in need of psychiatric intervention, so perhaps that answers the question.<br /> <br /> One ancient well-known form of governance is the Bread-and-Circus Routine. Free bread, free circuses to divert and distract the masses so Caesar rules untroubled by rebellion. With our famous creativity we have adapted this to circuses to distract us from the rising price of bread. We revel in circuses so much so that we no longer have nine-day wonders; we have instead three-day circuses.<br /> <br /> But outside the noisy tents, a tragedy grinds on. The lives of young people are blighted, hopes and dreams crushed, ambitions and sacrifices wasted on the hard ground of 21st century reality. Simply put, little education, small future for the majority. Why is this so? Does it have to continue?<br /> <br /> I have too often asked myself: Is it possible that there exists an implicit, unspoken agreement between our political practitioners to ensure the continuation of this travesty, to ensure themselves immunity from aware, informed, critically thinking citizens?<br /> <br /> More disturbing is: Are we complicit in this so as to avoid responsibility, conveniently putting the blame on the shrugging shoulders of our stalwart leaders?<br /> <br /> And most frightening, could this be what we the people really want deep in our inmost selves?<br /> <br /> Do we want the rule of law and its enforcement? Do we really want an incorruptible police force? Do we want equitable and efficient tax collection? Do we want truth from our leaders, rather than platitudes and promises, so much easier to utter and to hear? Who is responsible for us being in the predicament we now face? Whence is the mendicancy and mediocrity? Let us please not blame the IMF, the CIA, the JLP, the PNP, God or the Devil. We have been there, done that. We must now look in the mirror. I believe that is where the answers are. We, the people, are the last, best and only hope.<br /> <br /> David Buckley<br /> <br /> David Buckley297@gmail.com<br /> <br /> The price of democracy is responsibility<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10799682/IMF-Building_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, July 28, 2014 2:00 AM We serve contributor needs &mdash; NHT http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/We-serve-contributor-needs---NHT_17251667 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> We write in response to a letter by educatorforlife@outlook.com, published in your newspaper on July 18 in which the writer proposed that the NHT introduce a waiver to assist persons who are unable to service their mortgages due to unemployment.<br /> <br /> We advise that NHT has several measures in place to assist mortgagors whose circumstances compromise their ability to make payments both in the short and long term. These include but are not limited to a moratorium on payments of up to 24 months, an extension of the loan term and a reduction in the interest rate. The last two of these measures assist the mortgagor by reducing his/her monthly payments. Further, in verifiable cases of chronic illness or destitution, accounts may be made dormant (charged off) subject to review or they may be written off. Each of the above interventions is made on a case by case basis after the applicant has established that he/she is facing genuine hardship.<br /> <br /> We remind our mortgagors that the NHT's primary interest is to enable Jamaicans to enjoy the benefits of homeownership. As such, separation from one's home is an act of last resort. We therefore urge the writer and other mortgagors in dire circumstances to get in touch with the NHT to determine which, if any of the measures may be applicable to their situation.<br /> <br /> K Morgan<br /> <br /> National Housing Trust<br /> <br /> Kingston 5<br /> <br /> KMorgan@nht.gov.jm<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10565128/NHT-1_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, July 28, 2014 2:00 AM Just hubbub http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Just-hubbub_17251771 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> This Government seems to have come to power with absolutely no clue about what they will do to fix our many problems. As a matter of fact, it seems as if Dr Peter Phillips is the only minister of government with an action plan, despite the worsening hardship for all and sundry. But at least we have a rough idea of what Dr Phillips is doing.<br /> <br /> As for the other ministers, it is confusion and failure everywhere. Fenton Ferguson is turning out to be the biggest disappointment. His ridiculous vision for Jamaica to become the health hub of the region is laughable as he is yet to get the memo that the entire public health system, as we know it, is officially in a state of crisis.<br /> <br /> Has the Medical Association of Jamaica no voice? The silence of its president, Dr Shane Alexis, about the disastrous state of the system is deafening. The obvious inability of the minister to manage, even ensuring that major hospitals have water, and his boasting of going to multiple international conferences is an embarrassment that must be called out.<br /> <br /> As for Industry, Commerce and Investment Minister Anthony Hylton, it is time for somebody to gently tell him to call it quits. For all his hub talk for Jamaica, nothing is happening. Not one concrete block is on the ground despite two years of talk. Logistics hub, ICT hub, sports hub, scrap metal hub, health hub, agriculture hub; they are all pipe dreams going nowhere.<br /> <br /> Jamaicans need to wake up. We are going nowhere fast.<br /> <br /> Dara Johnson<br /> <br /> darajohnson12@outlook.com <br /> <br /> Just hubbub <br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10879294/peter-phillips_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, July 28, 2014 2:00 AM Bah&aacute;'&iacute;s say thanks to the late Sir Howard http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Bah---s-say-thanks-to-the-late-Sir-Howard_17229686 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bah&aacute;'&iacute;s of Jamaica and the entire Bah&aacute;'i community of this island and the Cayman Islands joins in expressing condolence on the passing of this humble, astute, wise, kind, loving gentleman who was a friend to all.<br /> <br /> Our late Governor General Sir Howard Cooke was a man who sought to live a God-fearing life. In so doing, he embraced the adherents of the different religions that share these islands. Shortly after his 1991 installation as Governor General, he started hosting weekly meetings at King's House with representatives of the Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, and Bah&aacute;'&iacute; communities to discuss how religion could influence the economic, political and social development of our country.<br /> <br /> He was concerned about the decline in parenting, the lack of love and unity in our relations with each other and in the adoption of uplifting values among our people.<br /> <br /> It was because of his influence that these religious communities joined together to develop a centre of excellence in the Nannyville Gardens community, where children are fostered in a cr&egrave;che and in a homework centre, where meetings are held with parents to discuss how they can improve relations with their children, all well as meetings are held with the representatives of both political parties to discuss the development of the community. The centre is appropriately named the Sir Howard Cooke Centre for Character Development.<br /> <br /> Despite his ageing years Sir Howard attended a number of community meetings at this centre and was a source of inspiration for the organising committee and for the members of the community. The Bah&aacute;'&iacute; community is happy that its members were integral to the development of this centre. The community is grateful that because of his openness and his love, Sir Howard embraced discussions with Bah&aacute;'&iacute;s, visited our centre on a number of occasions, and in 2003 proclaimed July 25 as National Bah&aacute;'&iacute; Day. This was done in a proclamation published in the press in recognition of the 60th anniversary celebration of the establishment of the Faith in Jamaica. We continue to observe this day annually.<br /> <br /> Sir Howard was a special person. The manner in which he served this country was exemplary. May his beautiful soul rest in peace.<br /> <br /> J McCallum<br /> <br /> Secretary<br /> <br /> National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Jamaica<br /> <br /> Bah&aacute;'&iacute;s say thanks to the late Sir Howard<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10883614/howard-cooke_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, July 25, 2014 2:00 AM Can't watch police statistics http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Can-t-watch-police-statistics_17239013 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> While the police statistics say robberies are on the decrease, on the ground experience indicates that they have reached crisis level. The police seem not to be recording them, hence they can claim decrease?<br /> <br /> I say this without fear of contradiction as, over two months ago, my neighbour was ambushed at his gate, tied up, and the house ransacked. Up to now the Half Way Tree police has not turned up to take a statement or do any form of investigation, so which statistics would this robbery appear in?<br /> <br /> Then, on Saturday at noon a visitor to my home was held up in my yard by two young men using the same similar modus operandi as with my neighbour. And since then, speaking to friends, I have now heard that at least six people I know have had a similar experience in broad daylight at the hands of gunmen using the same technique, rushing the victims as they go through their gate -- even an electronic gate in one instance -- and forcing them to open their homes so they can take what they want.<br /> <br /> Further, too regularly for comfort, I am hearing from teenagers how men in the area, ride up on bicycles and rob them at knife-point of their smartphones as they walk on the streets. Robberies going down? The only thing that is going down is the credibility of the police. Why is there seemingly not the same interest given to all robberies as that extended to the minister of national security. Despite the statistics, we are in the midst of this new crime wave?<br /> <br /> Joan E Williams<br /> <br /> Kingston 10<br /> <br /> gratestj@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Can't watch police statistics<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10763622/police-cars_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, July 25, 2014 2:00 AM Name the substance used by Gay http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Name-the-substance-used-by-Gay_17238679 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I share Bolt's disappointment about the "slap on the wrist" one-year ban awarded to Tyson Gay. But I have a further concern. Why is there secrecy in releasing the name of the anabolic steroid for which he tested positive? It took several weeks before it was announced that he had failed the drug test, and we are yet to hear the name of that steroid.<br /> <br /> When Ben Johnson tested positive at the 1998 Seoul Olympics, there was no secrecy in naming stanozolol. The stimulant oxilofrine consumed by Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson is also public knowledge, though less emphasis has been placed on the fact that WADA permits use of the stimulant out of competition.<br /> <br /> I also cannot understand JADCO's continued draconian treatment of our athletes. JADCO continues to impose severe sanctions on our athletes and later many of whom are either cleared or given reduced bans by the Court of Arbitration for Sports, namely Veronica Campbell Brown, Domonique Blake, Powell, and Simpson. If JADCO continues on the same path, it will join the notorious record that the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has versus its players' union, where the WICB has lost a significant majority of cases sent to arbitration. While a clean sport must be promoted and discipline must be administered, caution should be taken to be reasonable and fair, examining context and not being unfair to our own.<br /> <br /> Sherrene Bogle<br /> <br /> Kingston 6<br /> <br /> sbogle@utech.edu.jm<br /> <br /> Name the substance used by Gay<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10883617/Tyson-Gay_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, July 25, 2014 2:00 AM Wanted: Male Nurse of the Year http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Wanted--Male-Nurse-of-the-Year_17238692 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Nursing, like all other professions of a nurturing nature, continues to be female-dominated. According to the US Census Bureau, less than 10 per cent of American registered nurses (RNs) are men.<br /> <br /> Since its inception, 15 years ago, the Nurse of the Year Award has served to highlight the sterling contribution of nurses to the general well-being of the Jamaican society. Lasco, the sponsors of the Nurse of the Year award, should be commended for their vision as they continue to lead in being good corporate citizens.<br /> <br /> Interestingly, though it appears as if our male nurses have stayed away from this competition; since no male has ever been awarded this most coveted honour. I am sure we have male nurses in the public health-care system. I am also sure our male nurses are as hard-working as their female colleagues. It seems a bit strange that in 15 years of competition not even one male nurse has proven himself worthy to qualify for such an award. Maybe in years to come we will see a male as nurse of the year.<br /> <br /> Nursing is a very challenging profession. There is no praise too great for the unflinching and dedicated service our nurses provide to the society and to humanity. A good nurse is one who is able to soothe the concerns of patients and cushion their pain, even without medication. Let us continue to acknowledge the great work and worth of our nurses.<br /> <br /> Wayne Campbell<br /> <br /> waykam@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> www.wayaine.blogspot.com<br /> <br /> Wanted: Male Nurse of the Year<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10872434/Lasco-top-nurse_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, July 25, 2014 2:00 AM If we are to see success... http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/If-we-are-to-see-success---_17238719 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Every generation has a picture of success and that picture causes us to behave in particular ways and do particular things. The generation born in the late 60s and early 70s has not done something properly in providing for our children this picture of success. Therefore, we see our young people doing things which the nation finds so unacceptable.<br /> <br /> One of the guests on TVJ's All Angles aired on Wednesday, July 23, said that life was hard and he saw that girls got what they wanted. He was told he looked like a girl so he began wearing a dress and he became his picture of success. Is it possible that those involved in scamming are victims of the same thinking? Is it possible that those who are involved in praedial larceny are victims of the same thinking?<br /> <br /> I certainly do not want to trivialise the situation or make it seem that the solutions are easy. If only it were so, then we have solved the problems already. The time and place we find ourselves in, as a nation, demand that we sit down and be very honest about the causes and then work towards a solution or solutions. Defining the cause will ensure that history is never repeated and it will cause the solution or solutions to be more than a photo opportunity and nice words.<br /> <br /> The truths of this country are hard to face, and we have come to the place where they must be faced. Once upon a time standards and order where the guiding principles; that has changed. At the beginning, it may have appeared to be the right thing and the generation of that period championed the possibilities. The challenge of reordering the foundation of a society is that the change almost never stops at its optimal level.<br /> <br /> Jamaica has well passed the optimal level of change and now it's time to stop. We are heading into decline and we see the backlash. The change requires more that a token demonstration, no matter how large that demonstration is. It requires an action like the creation of Jamaicans For Justice; made up of people who see the need and are prepared to step out of their comfort zone and commit. It's time.<br /> <br /> Christopher Givans<br /> <br /> Christopher.givans@gmail.com<br /> <br /> If we are to see success...<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Friday, July 25, 2014 2:00 AM I stand by my statement, Observer http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/I-stand-by-my-statement--Observer_17221808 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> This letter is response to the editorial that appeared in the July 15, 2014 edition of the Observer newspaper titled 'Stop fulminating and promote Investment', which provided an inaccurate portrayal of my position on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union.<br /> <br /> The editorial misconstrued the basis of my sotto voce response to Opposition MP Dr Kenneth Baugh during his presentation in the recently concluded sectoral debate in Parliament.<br /> <br /> I reminded the Opposition member that the then JLP Administration, in which he was minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, was cautioned not to sign the EPA with the European Union when it did as it was my view that it was premature. The advice given was ignored with the resultant adverse consequences for our agriculture and manufacturing sectors, which Dr Baugh was complaining about.<br /> <br /> The editorial incorrectly and unfairly characterised my remarks as "immature" and went on to state that I should "stop fulminating and promote investment" in the economy.<br /> <br /> The article missed the link between managing trade arrangements and opportunities for promoting investment. More importantly, the editorial missed the fact that Dr Baugh was attempting to revise history and, thereby, escape or at least obfuscate, the then government's responsibility for the consequences of signing an EPA that did not represent a balance of benefits and burdens between the parties. This view is supported by the fact that no other region of Africa or the Pacific has to date signed an EPA with Europe.<br /> <br /> I would like to remind the people of Jamaica that at the time I cautioned against signing the flawed EPA in 2008, I did so as the Opposition spokesman on foreign affairs and foreign trade, having previously participated in the EPA negotiations as minister of foreign trade from 2001-2002, and again as minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade from 2006-2007.<br /> <br /> Since becoming minister of industry, investment and commerce in 2012, I have focused on ensuring that Jamaica benefits as much as possible from the EPA by taking advantage of development resources made available from European Union sources to strengthen our capacity to trade under the National Export Strategy, through upgrading of the capabilities of the Bureau of Standards to create standards in new areas such as the services sector, as well as to improve its capabilities to carry out scientific testing in a number of areas critical to the ability of firms to access markets overseas with their products and processes.<br /> <br /> Clearly, some of the preparatory activities should and could have been done before Dr Baugh and the then Government signed the EPA. This would have better enabled our local firms to take better advantage of the enhanced access that Jamaican firms were granted under the agreement. Neither was the imbalance addressed by the three-year moratorium. Also, it should be said at this point that the current push for Jamaica to become a global logistics hub will be greatly aided by the EPA through the enhanced access granted to the market of 27 developed countries in Europe.<br /> <br /> Having read the Hansard's account of what Dr Baugh said in his sectoral presentation on the need for greater protection of Jamaica's agriculture from subsidised imports, I would be negligent in my responsibilities to the Jamaican people if I did not again remind Dr Baugh and the administration he represented of the flawed judgment in signing the EPA under the terms and conditions that they did, with the resultant consequences that he now seeks to complain about.<br /> <br /> I affirm my belief in the correctness and appropriateness of the position I took in 2008, before the signing of the EPA, and more recently in Parliament to what I perceived as Dr Baugh's attempt to revise recent history.<br /> <br /> G Anthony Hylton<br /> <br /> Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce<br /> <br /> I stand by my statement, Observer<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10880195/Anthony-Hylton2_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, July 24, 2014 2:00 AM Really, PM, you don't know hunger http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Really--PM--you-don-t-know-hunger_17229648 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> While watching the local news broadcast recently I was quite disheartened to hear our dear prime minister's remarks at a political rally about hunger. Surely, I must have heard wrong so I searched online and was able to play back the video clip which confirmed what I had heard.<br /> <br /> She stated: "I feel the pain and suffering of my people, I feel it, I know what it is, because I know what it is. Despite the fact that you may look at me and say 'prime minister can't be hungry,' there are days when I go hungry because when I am at work and have no time to eat I forget everything about eating because there is so much work to be done to get it right, and we have to get it right, and this Administration must get it right in the interest of all of you, in the interest of all Jamaicans."<br /> <br /> I have heard it all! How is it that one can compare the hunger someone experiences from choosing to skip a meal to the pain and suffering being endured by those that are hungry because they are not able to afford a meal? There is definitely a grave difference between the two. We need to be hungry for common sense to prevail amongst our leaders and we must hold our leaders accountable for their frivolous remarks.<br /> <br /> It is time that our Government and its leaders to face the reality that too many people living in Jamaica are seriously suffering from the harsh economic times. We have to put in place all the measures necessary to ensure that poverty is alleviated and all the best efforts are made to make life better for the average Jamaican.<br /> <br /> I will not hesitate to also agree with the remarks of the prime minister that "this Administration must get it right...in the interest of all Jamaicans."<br /> <br /> C P Carby<br /> <br /> cp_carby@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> Really, PM, you don't know hunger<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10880194/Portia_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, July 24, 2014 2:00 AM