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 Customers left paying the bill http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Customers-left-paying-the-bill_19028381 Dear Editor;<br /> <br /> This Government's actions continue to baffle me and, to be honest, I am at my wits' end.<br /> <br /> The Broadcasting Commission's decision to extend the directive to remove illegal channels is beyond me. This means that Flow is free to continue charging customers for channels that they are not paying for themselves &mdash; not to mention the fact that they have announced price increases.<br /> <br /> To me, the announcement by the Broadcasting Commission is a sign that they are caving under pressure from the Government, which is only serving to benefit the big corporations while the customers continue to pay the price &mdash; literally!<br /> <br /> I, for one, am sick and tired of this blatant disrespect that is being perpetrated by those who are supposed to be looking out for the best interests of the common man. Instead, all I am seeing is rampant corruption and perversion of justice by the powers that be. When will the interests of regular Jamaicans come first in this country? I thought the voice of the people meant something. I guess not.<br /> <br /> Anthony Barracks<br /> <br /> Kingston 8<br /> <br /> abarracks4@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Customers left paying the bill<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11727218/Dunn-and-Green_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, May 28, 2015 12:00 AM Who will punish State child abuse, neglect? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Who-will-punish-State-child-abuse--neglect-_19028061 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Recently, the Jamaican prime minister, Portia Simpson Miller, addressed the issues of child abuse and neglectful parents. She added that the State was going to do everything in its power to hold negligent parents accountable. No one can argue with her on this point, as all well thinking Jamaicans will concur that we must do more to eradicate child abuse as a scourge affecting the society.<br /> <br /> However, one issue which was not mentioned by the prime minister, and which was probably an oversight, is the State's neglect of its children. There are many places of safety or children's homes which are underfunded. In fact, too many of these institutions lack the required financial resources to impact the lives of their wards in a meaningful way. This is also a form of abuse. The continued shortfall is budgetary support from the State lends itself to child abuse, as in many instances these children are not adequately supervised due to the lack of personnel. As a result their development and full potential are hijacked by the State's unwillingness to adequately allocate the resources necessary. We also need to increase funding to all the agencies of the State with deal with children's rights, such as the Child Development Agency, in order to support the rights and interests of our children.<br /> <br /> A second form of State neglect comes in the form of Jamaica's education system. There are different categories of schools as perceived by the general public. There are schools of first choice and then they are schools of last resort. These schools of last resorts are underfunded and spread across the inner cities of Jamaica. In fact, for the most part, these schools are left on their own. The students who attend such schools fare worse off than their counterparts not because they do not have qualified teachers, but due mainly because of the politics involved in Jamaica's education system. This negative political cultural practice is carried out by both major political parties as they both reward mediocrity and political allegiance to the detriment of national and sustainable development.<br /> <br /> Who will hold the government accountable for its neglect of the nation's children? The magnitude of Jamaica's child abuse cases is recorded in the report from the Office of the Children's Registry. According to the Office of the Children's Registry, between January to September of 2013, there were 8,527 reports of child abuse, which is most alarmingly. Until we become serious about addressing the issues of child abuse and parental neglect we will continue to move from crisis to crisis. The time has come for us to become proactive.<br /> <br /> Wayne Campbell<br /> <br /> waykam@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> @WayneCamo<br /> <br /> Who will punish State child abuse, neglect?<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11828855/Portia-Simpson.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, May 28, 2015 2:00 AM Safety starts with 'S', but begins with you http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Safety-starts-with--S---but-begins-with-you_18901710 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I am constantly reminded that the more things change the more they remain the same. For years, the National Road Safety Council and other stakeholders have been preaching the road safety sermon day after day to road users in general, and motorists in particular, to exercise extreme caution when using the nation's roads. Yet, the death toll arising from motor vehicle accidents moves in the same direction as rising cost of living in Jamaica.<br /> <br /> It appears that this goodwill message has either fallen on deaf ears, or the ostrich has buried its head in the sand. No matter how horrific or graphic an accident may be to curious onlookers, eyewitnesses, and even some of the survivors, they just don't learn. One would expect that lessons would have been learnt would include: Don't overtake carelessly, no speeding, get enough rest, don't drink and drive, etc.<br /> <br /> It appears that this goodwill message has either fallen on deaf ears, or the ostrich has buried its head in the sand. No matter how horrific or graphic an accident may be to curious onlookers, eyewitnesses, and even some of the survivors, they just don't learn. One would expect that lessons would have been learnt would include: Don't overtake carelessly, no speeding, get enough rest, don't drink and drive, etc.<br /> <br /> One can't but notice beach-goers and political party supporters who usually travel long distances revelling and engaging in risky manoeuvres (sitting on window ledges, hanging precariously outside of buses, etc) to their own detriment and the innocent bystanders with whom they collide. No amount of public educational campaign, or speed traps, or press conferences will resolve the problem. I believe what is required is a renewal of our capacity to think rationally. Those who have ears to hear let them hear and those who have eyes to see let them see. We cannot continue on this trajectory down the path of carelessness and recklessness which results in death accompanied by grief and mourning. There is already too much despair and trauma brought about by criminals wreaking havoc in the society. Enough is enough!<br /> <br /> I call on the motorists and pedestrians alike to play a greater role in resolving this perennial problem by shouldering greater responsibility insofar as personal safety is concerned. The authorities must employ more stringent measures to prosecute offenders who continue to flout the law and put the lives of others at risk. So let's all make a concerted effort to avoid the avoidable, after all, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Always remember that in everything that we do, one thing is for true, safety starts with 'S' but begins with you.<br /> <br /> Andre R Smith<br /> <br /> St Mary<br /> <br /> Safety starts with 'S', but begins with you<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11562021/crash0024_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, May 28, 2015 12:00 AM Don't try a fast one in Cockpit Country! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Don-t-try-a-fast-one-in-Cockpit-Country-_18983074 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> As a citizen of the Cockpit Country, I am fuming mad about the way the Government is pussyfooting with a solid response in handling the situation concerning bauxite exploitation in the area.<br /> <br /> With no public information forthcoming, and lots of deception, I am now demanding an explanation from my Government about its intentions, forthwith. After all, did they as public servants not promise transparency to its citizens? Are they trying to mess on the people and tell them it's raining outside? Why the drilling team if their intentions are honourable? Have they forgotten their promise for a clean environment, too? Look, like pregnancy, the belly will eventually start to show, so stop the trickery!<br /> <br /> If the Government is trying to pull a fast one here, and poison our water, a class action suit will hit them. Memba dat!<br /> <br /> We need not go over the importance of the Cockpit Country to Jamaica, as everyone already knows this. Any greedy fool who messes with the Cockpit Country will see how soon it backfires. They won't even have water to wash the ore they are craving. Which is more essential, bauxite or water? Guess nothing was learnt from the drought last year.<br /> <br /> We demand to see whose signature is on the contracts for drilling!<br /> <br /> Errol Gager<br /> <br /> Toronto, Canada<br /> <br /> egager25@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Don't try a fast one in Cockpit Country!<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11827533/Typical-Cockpit_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, May 28, 2015 2:00 AM With hasty Gov&rsquo;t, wishy-washy Opposition, give us referendum http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/With-hasty-Gov-t--wishy-washy-Opposition--give-us-referendum_19028283 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I endorse the Jamaica Observer editorial of Friday, May 22, 2015 entitled, 'A referendum should settle the CCJ controversy'. Well stated!<br /> <br /> I have been leaning towards the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) becoming our final appellate court, notwithstanding widespread concerns about the perceived influence which Caribbean politicians or the impact of Caribbean political culture and practices (some of which run counter to the spirit of the Westminster model of government) are likely to have over the CCJ.<br /> <br /> One must be concerned, though, about the indecent haste with which the Jamaican Government wants to pass laws to remove the Privy Council, thereby denying the people judicial access to their head of state (The Queen) without consulting or educating the people on the subject matter.<br /> <br /> Then there is the parliamentary Opposition's "wishy-washy" position regarding our final appellate court, with their proposed impractical local third tier within an ailing justice system which is already short of human, infrastructural and financial resources. Can we actually take them seriously?<br /> <br /> I am concerned about the fact that the people have not been engaged nor consulted on this serious issue by either the governing side or the opposing side, as these political parties and their leaders seem to have drawn their lines in the sand and it is all about their narrow, party political interests in the game for power.<br /> <br /> The people who want to decide on the destiny of our highest court were elected four years ago with less than 30 per cent of eligible voters on the roll. Why do they think it is practical, just, or reasonable for them to decide for the vast majority of citizens, four years later? What about those people who had no interest in voting for either the PNP or JLP in the last general election, but who now have a strong desire to vote on their ultimate source of justice?<br /> <br /> I think the solution is beyond a doubt. If the government respects the people, or believe in people power, it should let the people speak: Give us our say in a referendum on the CCJ issue.<br /> <br /> Peter Townsend<br /> <br /> President<br /> <br /> National Democratic Movement<br /> <br /> With hasty Gov't, 'wishy-washy' Opposition, give us referendum<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11813424/CARIBBEAN-COURT-OF-JUSTICE_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, May 28, 2015 2:00 AM Who is advising Chanderpaul? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Who-is-advising-Chanderpaul-_19019429 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Shivnarine Chanderpaul was never the most articulate of players, an observation that I made during an exchange with him in Antigua in 1997 when the West indies entertained New Zealand. Nevertheless, he survived two decades of international cricket, talking instead with his willow, and prodiguously troubling the scribes as he wrote himself (despite a dodgy and crab-like stance) into the records, amassing 30 centuries and ending 49 Test innings undefeated at the wicket from a record 164 Test matches.<br /> <br /> Like all mortals, though, Father Time has caught up with the old "tiger", who it seems has not realised that his teeth are missing and that it isn't the light around the ground that is fading, but a dimunition of his sight and reflexes; and that this is the reason for realising the paltry returns that he has been getting in his last 11 innings.<br /> <br /> When you lack the insight to determine that your time has come, Father Time will simply embarrass you, and in Chanderpaul's case, this may have become his wont. Make no mistake, his desire is admirable and stands as a beacon for the younger members of the West Indies set-up to emulate as they strive to recapture past glory. However, it seems that someone needs to take the aged "tiger" aside, fit him with some eyewear, perhaps a hearing aid to boot, and tell him that it is time!<br /> <br /> There is certainly no harm in informing him, since he may just not want to accept that from himslf. Maybe, too, the fear of waking up and not having this to do (he has been playing all his adult life) and may not have the skills to hew out a career in the sport beyond being out there in the middle. That is what West Indies cricket can do for Shivnarine Chanderpaul at this stage of his life: Help him to adjust to life away from the middle and towards contributing to the region's and the global game beyond the role of a player.<br /> <br /> Richard Hugh Blackford<br /> <br /> Coral Springs, Florida<br /> <br /> richardhblackford@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Who is advising Chanderpaul?<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11822299/chanderpaul_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, May 27, 2015 2:00 AM Kudos to Horace Gordon and Jonathan Grant Acting Society http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Kudos-to-Horace-Gordon-and-Jonathan-Grant-Acting-Society_19019301 At this time, when our teachers are clamouring for a more substantive offer in their salaries and emoluments from the Government of Jamaica, there is one young teacher who is making a huge difference in the lives of many students of the Jonathan Grant High School, specifically the Acting Society. His name is Horace Gordon.<br /> <br /> Using his skills as a drama teacher, he has been able to harness the good in these students and garner their respect. He is from humble beginnings and his father died at an early age, but Gordon has been determined to surpass the limits of the community where he grew up. Under the tutelage of veteran dramatist Gregory Waite, he has developed the art of writing and drama.<br /> <br /> Recently, in the Jamaica Cultural Develpment Commission 'festival' competition, under the direction of Gordon, the Jonathan Grant Acting Society was able to achieve best intermediate play, best experimental drama, best amateur director, and best intermediate director, best overall script, best overall technical management, and one of his students was named best intermediate actress. These are not easy to achieve, as it takes lots of work, dedication and commitment to ensure that our young students are focused and are themselves committed to the hard work necessary to bring a solid message through drama.<br /> <br /> Let me hope that corporate Jamaica will see the awesome work that this young man is doing and come on board to encourage him and the students of Jonathan Grant, because in these times our young people can be easily distracted, and we need people like Horace Gordon to help keep them focused to remain on the right path.<br /> <br /> Continue to work hard, Gordon, and congratulations to you and the Acting Society at Jonathan Grant.<br /> <br /> Ralston Chamberlain<br /> <br /> Toronto, Ontario<br /> <br /> Ralston.Chamberlaine@<br /> <br /> tdsb.on.ca<br /> <br /> Kudos to Horace Gordon and Jonathan Grant Acting Society<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11827525/johnathan-grant_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, May 27, 2015 2:00 AM COCKPIT COUNTRY: What we know now http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/COCKPIT-COUNTRY--What-we-know-now_19005050 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The University of the West Indies, Jamaica Environment Trust, Water Resources Authority (under the Ministry of Water and Housing) and others now know the full extent of the importance of the Cockpit Country to the water resources of the country, the environment, and many other things.<br /> <br /> Did we know it 30 years and more ago? I doubt it. Julian Robinson, the minister of state in the ministry of science, technology, energy and mining, on the TVJ evening news on Friday, May 22, 2015, defended the 30-odd-year-old contract to allow mining in an area those in the know now deem to be within the Cockpit Country. He admitted that an area further inside had been removed from the permitted mining area. Was it too obvious, too blatant to be allowed?<br /> <br /> Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners is 51 per cent-owned by the Government [Jamaica Bauxite Mining Ltd]. Robinson is a part of the government, which is desperate for money, borrowing, deferring Peter to pay Paul. They want to export additional bauxite to China -- never mind the "rare earths" in the residue -- but where to get more from? Why, let's nibble away at the edges of the Cockpit Country, of course, and hope the effects on the water resources and environment aren't too devastating in the era of catastrophic climate change. Cheers, Minister Pickersgill!<br /> <br /> Howard Chin<br /> <br /> Member, Jamaica Institution of Engineers<br /> <br /> hma14@cwjamaica.com<br /> <br /> Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, May 27, 2015 2:00 AM Dump on Negril beach http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Dump-on-Negril-beach_19012675 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Allow me to express my candid concern and deep disgust about the public beach located behind the craft market in Negril. The current condition of this public facility can only be described as Riverton in Negril.<br /> <br /> As one of the very few public beach locations which citizens can visit freely with their families, it is disheartening to see the deplorable condition of the beach, riddled from one end to another with garbage: empty drink bottles, disposable plastic and paper items, unfinished meals, even soiled diapers! As far as the eyes can see, the beach was perforated with unimaginable filth.<br /> <br /> What's more it has now become the practice for hustlers to take horses on to the beach in an effort to offer rides to tourists at a small cost. These hustlers have obviously forgotten their responsibility to clean up their mess after the day's sales, as their beach was disgracefully decorated is horse mess.<br /> <br /> With advanced technology at our fingertips, these images can be sent worldwide and cause irreparable damage to our tourist industry as tourists also walk the stretch of beach. This would damage the worldwide perception of Negril's seven-mile stretch as pristine.<br /> <br /> I appeal to the authorities and the citizens of Negril to clean up this mess! We should preserve not pollute this paradise!<br /> <br /> Nicole Gayle<br /> <br /> mintygirl1000<br /> <br /> Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, May 27, 2015 2:00 AM Labour Day has lost its significance http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Labour-Day-has-lost-its-significance_19019300 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The pride and joy residents generally display in Labour Day projects has decreased significantly over the years. Ten years ago, residents would be seen all over the island doing what they could to improve their communities. In the rural district where I grew up the school would be our major project, and whether the member of parliament or the councillor funded a project, residents would use what they had to make a difference. This was seen by residents cleaning a drain close to them; bushing an overgrown area; painting a pedestrian crossing; or just giving their community a good cleaning. This they did just to be a part of a Labour Day project and feel the pride and joy of doing something for their communities and the country at large.<br /> <br /> This experience has slowly disappeared and the youth of today are denied this opportunity of contributing to society in a tangible way to feel the sheer pride and joy of doing something for their country. Labour Day projects generally involve both the employed and the unemployed, the young, the old, persons with disabilities, everyone would just be eager to do something.<br /> <br /> Nowadays, Labour Day is a day when people go to the beach or stay home and sleep. The joy of contributing to our country is only left to corporate Jamaica which will make sure the world knows that they donated some paint or other supplies. I think they call it corporate social responsibility. I really don't have a problem with their contribution; I would just want it to be improved in such a way that everyone can participate.<br /> <br /> As a country there are some things that we should not have to look to Government or corporate Jamaica for. We can brighten the corner where we are, as we show love to our children by taking care of our environment. Thank you, corporate Jamaica, for your contribution. Share your experience so that more of us can have that wonderful experience of giving back to Jamaica, land we love.<br /> <br /> Fabian Thomas<br /> <br /> Royal Flat, Manchester<br /> <br /> fabesthomas1st@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Labour Day has lost its significance<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/9976728/D-Frank-6_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, May 27, 2015 2:00 AM Don't point all fingers at alcohol, many other reasons for crashes http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Don-t-point-all-fingers-at-alcohol--many-other-reasons-for-crashes_18974573 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I read with interest a recent article about curbing drinking and driving. Though the efforts of the National Road Safety Council are commendable, it is important to note that the consumption of alcohol is not the only reason why accidents happen and lives lost on the road.<br /> <br /> In fact, with booming technology, and the many applications available to the public, including Instagram, Twitter, and just basic texting, lives are being lost now because people refuse to put down their phones when driving. Accidents happen in a split second, and it takes more than a second to reply to a text or post a photo on social media.<br /> <br /> Furthermore, one doesn have to be under the influence of alcohol to drive above a speed limit; speeding sometimes is a deliberate and calculated behaviour, where the driver knows the risk but ignores the danger. Most people would probably agree that going 100 mph is foolishly dangerous and will very likely lead to a disastrous car accident. The problem, however, is exceeding the speed limit by only 5mph in the wrong place can be just as dangerous.<br /> <br /> Though red lights and stops signs were implemented to ease traffic flow they are often misused by impatient motorists as they blow through an intersection. Even worse, some drivers run stop signs without even realising it until it is too late. One way or another, car accidents caused by drivers that run a stop sign or red light are usually fatal.<br /> <br /> We must move beyond our singular line of vision to broaden our scope to cover all reasons accidents happen and target those reasons. Fines should be implemented for cellphone use while driving. I recently heard on a news report in the US that a celebrity was charged with a DWI. I was shocked to hear that term because I had never heard it before. I am more familiar with a DUI (Driving Under the Influence). DWI, I later learned, means Driving while on Instagram. The celebrity was fined.<br /> <br /> We have to take a no-nonsense approach to this and keep our roads safe for ourselves and our children.<br /> <br /> Claudine McFerson<br /> <br /> Kingston 8<br /> <br /> cmcferson.876@gmail.com<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> Don't point all fingers at alcohol, many other reasons for crashes<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11824125/TrafficLight_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11824127/textingwhiledriving_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, May 26, 2015 12:00 AM Focus on attitude to child abuse http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Focus-on-attitude-to-child-abuse_18981177 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> We must fast-track child abuse cases through the courts. The real problem, however, is our attitude towards child abuse. We have so much love for a foetus and then we effectively "abort" our children by not providing them the protection they deserve. Our children are routinely exposed to physical, sexual and psychological violence in homes, schools and communities. We have betrayed the trust of our children as incest is a harsh reality in many of our poor, uneducated and unemployed rural communities.<br /> <br /> The true magnitude of sexual violence is hidden because of its sensitive and illegal nature. However, close to 30 children have been reportedly murdered so far this year, including girls who appeared to have been sexually assaulted or otherwise abused. Many children and families do not report cases of abuse and exploitation because of stigma, fear, and lack of trust in the system. Our social tolerance and lack of awareness also contribute to under-reporting. This needs to change if we do not want to "abort" more of our children.<br /> <br /> I thank our prime minister for promising "harsher penalties for persons who murder, rape, or commit other serious violent offences against children". Meanwhile, I propose a public education campaign to change our attitudes towards child abuse. We need to prevent and respond to sexual violence by engaging different government sectors -- social welfare, education and health -- as well as legislators, civil society, community leaders, religious groups, the private sector, media, families and children themselves. We must focus on the real problem and work with communities and the general public to raise awareness about child abuse and address our attitudes, norms and practices.<br /> <br /> Martin Luther King Jr said: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Let us break our silence on child abusers.<br /> <br /> Tashfeen Ahmad<br /> <br /> mrtashfeen@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> Focus on attitude to child abuse<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, May 26, 2015 2:00 AM NE Pryced, SE 'parched' http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/NE-Pryced--SE--parched-_18970539 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I am moved to write this letter after reading a Daily Observer article of May 18, 2015 titled 'State of fire services triggers alarm in St Elizabeth'. I beg to differ. It is perhaps the state of poor representation by our MP for St Elizabeth South Eastern Richard Parchment that triggers alarm.<br /> <br /> The article says the only functioning fire unit in the parish is the one in Santa Cruz. A few months ago the Observer published information about the clinic in Santa Cruz being the best one in the parish. Last week we saw in this same paper Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller breaking ground in St Elizabeth North Eastern for development at what will now be called Roger Clarke High School. It seems that everything for development of the communities is happening in St Elizabeth North Eastern.<br /> <br /> Is it that I should move with my vote to St Elizabeth North Eastern or should I use my vote to remove our non-performing MP? If your paper, and the road repairs, water projects, and school repairs in that area are anything to go by, then we, the people of St Elizabeth South Eastern, are calling on MP Raymond Pryce to teach our MP how to represent a constituency. No wonder his slogan is Pryce is Right. Maybe it should be changed to Pryce is better than Parchment.<br /> <br /> I hope the PM is watching what is happening because we won't be fooled a second time.<br /> <br /> Ava Martin<br /> <br /> Malvern PO, St Elizabeth<br /> <br /> ava.martin1981@gmail.com<br /> <br /> NE Pryced, SE 'parched'<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11822570/Raymond-Pryce-2_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, May 25, 2015 2:00 AM Make crime reduction an IMF target http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Make-crime-reduction-an-IMF-target_18981183 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Let's indulge ourselves for a fleeting moment in a thought outside the box, a pinch of logic, and a dash of common sense.<br /> <br /> We all agree that crime is an inhibitor to Jamaica's economic growth -- there's not a dissenting voice within earshot, not even from political tribalists. The folks who claim expertise in economic matters tell us that the primary surplus target imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is punishing, and also a inhibitor to economic growth, as Jamaica is said to have reached its taxable limit.<br /> <br /> Under the IMF diktat, this Administration has set records in speed and quantity of legislative and other changes that it has effected. Apparently the prospect of foregoing that quarterly IMF allowance purposefully concentrates the mind and stiffens the political will.<br /> <br /> The IMF folks are said to be smart, although frankly the fan club of those who believe the Washington-based body can lift poor nations out of poverty has rapidly diminished over the past 40 years.<br /> <br /> Given all of the above, why can't a supposed smart IMF and a submissive Government agree to cut Jamaica some slack by reducing the primary surplus target while setting a new primary crime limit; say 175 murders a quarter? Try that and just watch the murder rate drop.<br /> <br /> But a warning! Students of economics better not posit this theory to their professors, lest they get a failing grade. It ain't in the textbook.<br /> <br /> Errol W.A. Townshend<br /> <br /> Ontario, Canada<br /> <br /> ewat@rogers.com<br /> <br /> Make crime reduction an IMF target<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11797517/IMF_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, May 21, 2015 12:00 AM Playing the wage negotiations dice http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Playing-the-wage-negotiations-dice_18981235 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> It is a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation for Government in its continued and confrontational wage increase contract negotiations with public sector workers.<br /> <br /> In fairness to the Government, the proverbial buck doesn't start and stop with them. They have bills to pay, loan repayment schedules to honour, and relationships with creditors to maintain or salvage. Further, empathy is also due to them for the fact that the heads of the people which they govern are "tough"; God, Himself, knows how challenging being a leader of such a people can be.<br /> <br /> In fairness to the public servants, though, they too have bills, creditors and, in some cases, loans to repay. As a former public servant, though for just a stint, I suspect what obtains is a disintegration of the "value" of being a public servant. The mechanisms which used to make the life of a public servant easier and more prestigious are being squeezed and done away with by the chase of the dollar, which even the Government has to be diligently engaged in.<br /> <br /> Everybody knows -- including a provoking Opposition, the Government and the protesting public sector workers -- that there is nothing much which can be done. But as we play the game, we need to see the Government burst a sweat and, perhaps, have a few fainting spells, while convincing us.<br /> <br /> Andre O Sheppy<br /> <br /> Norwood, St James<br /> <br /> astrangely@outlook.com<br /> <br /> Playing the wage negotiations dice<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11810452/dice_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, May 21, 2015 12:00 AM Roll back the passport hike! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Roll-back-the-passport-hike-_18981205 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The bad news has been widespread. The nation has been hit with another price increase for identification documents. The costs to obtain a passport, to renew and replace a passport have been handsomely increased.<br /> <br /> Renewing, replacing or first acquisition have all been given different charges -- I won't bother to repeat them. But, whichever way we turn, whatever position we are in, we are hard-hit by passport increases. Even the babes and sucklings have not been speared.<br /> <br /> Because of rising inflation, the price or cost of certain things will rise, but the problem is that some of these hikes are too much; they are always putting on way too much.<br /> <br /> Citizens are getting five per cent increase in salary, while a 40 per cent hike is done to the bills we must meet.<br /> <br /> The truth of the matter is that the current cost of passports could be less. The Government of Jamaica, therefore, should roll back the rate to a reasonable one. So many Jamaicans already don't have a passport because of the cost; an increase in these times makes it an even more elusive ambition.<br /> <br /> Donald J McKoy<br /> <br /> donaldmckoy2010@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> Roll back the passport hike!<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11810455/Passport-rush_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, May 21, 2015 12:00 AM Telecoms struggle http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Telecoms-struggle_18981273 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Recently, Minister Phillip Paulwell engaged the University of the West Indies (UWI) to conduct an islandwide survey on behalf of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining to determine why the country fell in the global telecommunications ranking. Frankly, Jamaica will slide further in the ranking as prices go up, incomes go down, and a monopoly environment takes root again. It is not rocket science.<br /> <br /> As a struggling UWI student living on a tight budget, I'm forced to be conscious of any slight movement in the prices of essential goods and services that I utilise. One essential service is that of the Internet, and for the past two years I have been a Flow customer. As such, upon hearing of the proposed merger with Cable & Wireless, I was somewhat uncertain, but I was willing to give the deal a chance on the basis that any economies of scale may redound to the benefit of the consumer. Such benefit, though, is dependent on honest and patriotic business ethics which would see a monopoly foregoing profit maximisation in the interest of maintaining prices at an acceptable level, particularly given our context as a relatively poor Third World country, where many of our people live below the poverty line.<br /> <br /> We shouldn't have to rely on the personal integrity of business operators to protect the interests of our people. We have a Government that the people have entrusted to secure and protect their interests. It seems more and more, though, that it is only the interest of a few that have been considered. No attempt was made to consult or inform the public beforehand on what this deal would really mean for the consumer; neither were we advised of the safeguards put in place to ensure that the consumer will not be placed at a disadvantage.<br /> <br /> I very recently received notice of planned rate increases by Flow, which have been blamed on the sliding dollar, which has actually been relatively stable of late. One can only hope that this is not simply a slide down a slippery slope with no chance of recovery.<br /> <br /> Somebody, please look out for us.<br /> <br /> Denton James<br /> <br /> Kingston 7<br /> <br /> jamesdd14@outlook.com<br /> <br /> Telecoms struggle<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11792979/Flow_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, May 21, 2015 12:00 AM French debt cancellation no victory for reparations http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/French-debt-cancellation-no-victory-for-reparations_18981217 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> It has now been reported that the Government of France has cancelled the debts owed to it by Haiti. Now, while those who have been pushing for reparations from Europe for the so-called crimes of slavery are celebrating, the French cancellation should in no way be seen as a victory for reparations.<br /> <br /> Third World countries like ours have been receiving debt relief for some time now. For example, Jamaica got $4 billion worth of debt forgiveness from Britain between 1997 and 2004. Haiti, itself, got some from the Paris club some years ago. I can assure you that when these European powers were granting such relief, reparations were the furthest thing from their minds.<br /> <br /> However, I am still not sure how those who are demanding that France pay Haiti billions can still be so convinced that theirs is a just or even logical call.<br /> <br /> Remember, when Haiti was "forced" to pay France compensation for Haiti's war of independence over two centuries ago, it was Haiti that defeated France in that war and not the other way around. I still don't understand how the "victorious" Haitians could have been forced by the "vanquished" French to do anything.<br /> <br /> Look at the choice that the Haitians got after their "victory": They could either pay France for recognition of the new Haitian state and be treated as a second-class nation deserving of little international respect and even less business dealings. Or, they could have been proud in their military victory over the French, ignore the French demand, and suffer with little international dealings. Sadly, the Haitians chose the former.<br /> <br /> How then can the French be obliged to pay the Haitians reparations for an agreement that they went into... all by themselves? The Haitian leaders at that time must have realised that recognition of their new nation would most likely not result in equal treatment. Yet they went ahead and paid the nothing that they had. In many ways, the Haitians are the authors of their own suffering today. It's no wonder the French President, when pressed on the issue of reparations for Haiti, said no.<br /> <br /> Thus, in addition to the stupidity of Haiti's first leaders, slavery was an accepted institution at the time -- morally, legally and socially. As such, those who continue to waste their energies in demanding that France pay Haiti something that she doesn't owe the country are perfect time wasters.<br /> <br /> Michael A Dingwall<br /> <br /> michael_a_dingwall@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> French debt cancellation no victory for reparations<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/4775024/sarko_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, May 21, 2015 12:00 AM Careful how we pray for rain http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Careful-how-we-pray-for-rain_18974987 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The fires in the Blue Mountains burned for two weeks. This is unfortunate for a number of reasons. Coffee takes years to reach full production. The impact on that industry will be felt for several years. We are told that there is to be an evaluation to determine the way forward.<br /> <br /> May I suggest, respectfully, that -- important as it is -- we do not spend too much time on evaluation. Perhaps some corrective action could start in the meantime. I say that because the ground is now in a very vulnerable state. It is denuded, devoid of any ground cover and some sections are loose and shelly. I anticipate rainfall in that area very soon. Erosion will be significant. While this rainfall could solve the fire problem, it could do catastrophic damage to the burnt-out environment. There is, too, the almost certain increase in ash and mud in the water supply.<br /> <br /> Erosion is just one significant problem. There is the matter of recovery. There is almost certain to be a reduction in the amount of nitrogen in the soil due to seepage after the rain which will follow the fire. Nitrogen is the primary ingredient responsible for plant growth. Replanting without bearing this in mind will result in slow, weak, spindly stems and leaves. Seedlings may fail to increase in size as they age and root systems will be too weak to hold plants. Nitrogen is the key element in boosting yield potential in both traditional and modern-day coffee varieties.<br /> <br /> I think I can say without fear of contradiction that our local farmers have not yet wrapped their minds around the relatively new concept of biological nitrogen fixation. Scientists claim that the efficiency of utilisation of applied nitrogen to coffee belts is markedly influenced by timing and type of applied nitrogen. Food for thought when rebuilding the industry. Then there is acid rain from those invisible gases released after burning. Some plants grow more slowly and others die. This could further delay recovery in the coffee industry.<br /> <br /> I hope I will not be considered 'alarmist' if I recommend bringing in specialist teams, wherever they can be found, to look at the damage to the landscape. As a group, coffee farmers are the most educated and influential farmers. There is absolutely no need to sit and wait on Government and grant for solutions. Get a hold of Coffee Guide 2000 and start thinking for yourselves.<br /> <br /> We have never maximised the exploitation of coffee, but we cannot afford to lose this industry at this time.<br /> <br /> Glenn Tucker<br /> <br /> Stony Hill<br /> <br /> glenntucker2011@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Careful how we pray for rain<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, May 20, 2015 2:00 AM These US$ price tags http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/These-US--price-tags_18974904 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The last I heard the only legal tender in Jamaica is the Jamaican dollar. If that remains true, how is it that some businesses are allowed to advertise goods and services while quoting prices and collecting payment in US dollars without any form of repercussion.<br /> <br /> Over the weekend I was approached by a promotional sales representative offering package deals to one of our local attractions. Upon examining the document, I was surprised to see that all entry prices were quoted in US dollars.<br /> <br /> I flatly refused the offer without hesitating to calculate the J$ equivalent as I felt insulted by the fact that this Jamaican attraction, having opened its doors to the public over 10 years ago, should now be quoting US$ prices to locals residents when all their operating expenses were in Jamaican dollars. This should not be allowed to happen at all.<br /> <br /> I understand about the demand for the United States currency and the need to peg their operational cost to the US$ in order to counter inflation, but quoting entry ticket prices in US$ is downright disrespectful to all Jamaicans to say the least.<br /> <br /> The tourism sector is the main culprit in this regard. The little they offer by way of employment and the use of some local produce is by no means a good trade-off compared to the billions of tax dollars that is pumped into the industry yearly by successive governments to promote the island as a tourist destination only to be scuffed at and treated like a bastard child when visiting some if these locations. All because we are not spending US$.<br /> <br /> If the Jamaican currency is the only legal tender in Jamaica, why should these businesses be allowed to flaunt the law without consequences, while we prosecute others for far less offences. This kind of double standard by those elected to lead sets the stage for the kind of lawlessness that exist in our society today.<br /> <br /> Personally, I have nothing against investors coming here to set up businesses. The question is, should they be allowed to quote prices in a currency other than that which is legal tender in the country?<br /> <br /> Little by little we are being robbed of our identity.<br /> <br /> Hotshots<br /> <br /> myviews50@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> These US$ price tags<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, May 20, 2015 2:00 AM Backwardness holding Jamaica back http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Backwardness-holding-Jamaica-back_18974603 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> On my last visit to Jamaica, I failed to receive some monies which I thought would have been set aside for me. Therefore, on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 I visited my local financial institution to make an unplanned withdrawal.<br /> <br /> I joined the line and waited patiently until I reached the teller. On reaching the teller, I presented two pieces of pictured identification -- one of which was a valid driver's licence, the other was a valid passport. The street address on my driver's licence did not correspond with the address "on file" and so I was sent to the little back room to plead my case to "Ms Big".<br /> <br /> She advised me that the only thing which could get me out of her vice was a utility bill with my name and current street address on it. That, I did not have. And so she proceeded to ask me a slew of questions -- more invasive that those of a US immigration officer.<br /> <br /> One of her requests was that I provide her with references in the form of two attorneys. Reluctantly, I did so, as I bore in mind the fact that several attorneys have been in the news of late for the wrong reasons. But so far, so good!<br /> <br /> Forty-five minutes into my interrogation, she then asked me to provide another reference, the name of a chartered public accountant (CPA). "Sey wah?" I asked in dismay. Ms Big was even more startled than I was. "So, Mr Ford, you mean to say you don't have a CPA? Then, who does your taxes?" Irate, and at the end of my tether, I shot back, "jus gimme... money, and mek mi get di hell out of 'ere".<br /> <br /> Startled further, she initialled my withdrawal slip and escorted me out of her back office. But, for my 'freshness', and to add salt to my wound, she led me to the back of the long teller line, to again extend my wait, and my agony.<br /> <br /> "Sorry, there's nothing I can do," she says, and 'wheeled her tail off'. "Your boss shall hear about this," I said. And needless to say, he or she will.<br /> <br /> A couple weeks after this horrendous experience, I read in the Jamaican news where upwards of some 30 per cent of Jamaicans do not have bank accounts. And now I can see why. Who wants to be on the receiving end of this outmoded, backward, and colonial-minded customer service? And, furthermore, how many of us, have chartered public accountants to use as references?<br /> <br /> Jamaica has yet to realise that what's holding the country back is nothing but backwardness.<br /> <br /> Raymond Ford<br /> <br /> Michigan, USA<br /> <br /> fordraye1@aol.com<br /> <br /> Backwardness holding Jamaica back<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, May 20, 2015 2:00 AM Jamaican Gov't should speak up for Buju http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Jamaican-Gov-t-should-speak-up-for-Buju_18974901 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The news that the US Federal prosecutors dropped the gun charge against international reggae star Buju Banton was bittersweet. The prosecutors only agreed to drop the charge if and only if Buju dropped his appeal.<br /> <br /> This is tragic for Buju because he had an excellent chance of winning his appeal due to juror misconduct in his trial. One of the jurors that decided Buju's fate is now being prosecuted for illegally conducting independent research and lying about it in court. Her case is set for trial in Tampa, Florida, in August.<br /> <br /> Buju, who has probably lost all faith in the American justice system, appears to be tired of the battle with Uncle Sam. After two trials, two appeals, and three lawyers, Buju no longer believes he can get justice in the US and does not want to have to do an additional five years if he gambles and loses his appeal.<br /> <br /> I am not surprised, and I understand his position. What I don't understand is the Jamaican Government's silence in the face of such a miscarriage of justice. Uncle Sam can steal away one of Jamaica's favourite sons on trumped-up drug charges and we don't put up a fight?<br /> <br /> Granted, the appeal for justice on Buju's behalf may fall on deaf ears, given the Obama Administration's seemingly close relationship with gay rights groups and the grudge misguided gay groups have had against Buju for over 20 years for a song he penned as a teenager. However, despite the obstacles, the Jamaican Government should speak up for Buju and not blindly accept the US Government's version of the facts surrounding his case. Especially since, the US criminal justice system has one of the worst reputations in the world and Buju's case was fraught with holes.<br /> <br /> Buju's music has inspired many in Jamaica and the world. His album Til Shiloh is regarded as one of the best reggae albums of all time. Even Lisa Hanna, Jamaica's minister of youth and culture, recently posted the lyrics to Buju's song Not an easy road on Instagram during her recent tribulations. In the footsteps of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, Buju championed the cause of the oppressed and was indeed the voice of the voiceless. Now that he is unable to speak, we must speak for him and fight for his freedom. In the fight for justice for Buju, the Jamaican Government should be on the front lines.<br /> <br /> Tasha C Rodney, Esq<br /> <br /> Miami, Florida<br /> <br /> trodney@therodneylawfirm.com<br /> <br /> Jamaican Gov't should speak up for Buju<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11807020/SATURDAY-MAY-16_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, May 20, 2015 2:00 AM T'eif and more t'eif! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/T-eif-and-more-t-eif-_18974594 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Please allow me to vent my disgust about the way thieves who are known in a community continue to be allowed to get away with the wrongs they commit, and no one will come forward to tell what they know.<br /> <br /> In an inner-city community nothing happens and nobody ever sees it. Some even say they are afraid of the police.<br /> <br /> And the view that "police don't investigate police" stands unwavering. I am so sorry for the new commissioner; beautiful speeches, but the truth is, that is all he can possibly do.<br /> <br /> I am convinced this country is a mafia country.<br /> <br /> Has anyone done a survey on the amount of churches that have been broken into? And, more so, how many of the stolen items have the police recovered? I guess it's just all about the pay cheque, plus 'hussling'.<br /> <br /> D Moore<br /> <br /> Kingston 13<br /> <br /> powerandlightmin@yahoo.com <br /> <br /> T'eif and more t'eif! <br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, May 20, 2015 2:00 AM Tufton and Williams could make history http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Tufton-and-Williams-could-make-history_18939800 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> If I were Arthur Williams or Dr Christopher Tufton I would vote with the Government to make the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) the final court of appeal.<br /> <br /> One good reason is that the Caribbean justice system is one of good repute that we all created in co-operation with the regional law faculties and the two law schools.<br /> <br /> Another is that it would be a demonstration of confidence in ourselves and our institutions.<br /> <br /> A third is that the CCJ would provide the detachment from local passions that the Privy Council is praised for without the lack of knowledge of local conditions that makes the English institution less desirable.<br /> <br /> My party's opposition to the CCJ might be born of naked opportunism, the hope to find a banana peel to make the Government skid, or else it is the residuum of the colonial mentality that feels some things are better done by the British. This attitude was expressed by some when we started training lawyers locally.<br /> <br /> If I were Tufton and Williams, I would vote with the Government on this issue. It would be poetic justice.<br /> <br /> Orville Brown<br /> <br /> Bronx, New York<br /> <br /> storyline6000@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Tufton and Williams could make history<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11803420/Tufton---wiliams-2_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, May 19, 2015 12:00 AM Be careful, Betty Ann Blaine http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Be-careful--Betty-Ann-Blaine_18971167 To say I was shocked and appalled to hear founder of Hear the Children's Cry Betty Ann Blaine imply that only children from poor homes go missing is a gross understatement.<br /> <br /> Speaking at the launch of National Missing Children's Awareness Week, Blaine further stated that these children run away from home due to bad or poor treatment as well as abuse. Unlike Blaine, I don't wear blinkers that force me to see only one direction.<br /> <br /> Advocacy does not entitle people to misrepresent facts and state half-truths in support of those for whom they advocate. Furthermore, an advocate needs to appear credible in order to be taken seriously.<br /> <br /> I met a girl who ran away from an affluent St Andrew community because she could sit with friends in the dry river bed in the hills behind Cherry Gardens and smoke weed. While I know that is the exception rather than the rule, the fact remains that most of these "missing children" are girls. The facts, also, are that most of these girls return home unharmed and tight-lipped about where they've been. Others return pregnant, some with sexually transmitted infections, and still other with just signs of being sexually active. Then there are the storied cases of those who admit they were with their boyfriends.<br /> <br /> The debate then should be centred on the moral decay within the fabric of society, which sees children glorifying sex and grown men soliciting and accepting sexual favours from minors. Spread the debate to include parents who "pimp out" children or who are complicit with the immoral lifestyle of their children, and persons who know of these occurrences and do nothing about it. Doing something is as simple as calling 119. The information will get to the relevant agency.<br /> <br /> That needs to be Blaine's focus; not to vilify the parents of children who are away from home. Trust me, those parents live through hell not knowing the whereabouts of their children. Not to mention the siblings at home pining over the absence of that loved one.<br /> <br /> Advocates need to be careful with pronouncements. Don't paint a picture of gloom in the households of runaways. Your advocacy will fail if you alienate the very people you need to work with to make a difference.<br /> <br /> Lee E Ashley<br /> <br /> lee.ashley73@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Be careful, Betty Ann Blaine<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, May 19, 2015 12:00 AM