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 Hello... national disgrace calling http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Hello----national-disgrace-calling_17819794 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> It is bad enough that in the midst of a debt crisis, when the Government has insisted that they have no money to help the poor and dispossessed to survive, the prime minister of Jamaica stubbornly maintains a Cabinet of over 20 ministers to administer the affairs of a mere 2.7 million people.<br /> <br /> When the economic crisis first threatened to totally devastate the nation, concerned people called on the Government to take a symbolic salary cut to demonstrate to the hurting nation that they, too, were prepared to make sacrifices, but even this symbolism was resisted by the prime minster. And, despite the cutbacks in education, health, security, and other areas critical to the welfare of the nation, the Government has done nothing to curb the voracious appetite of the petty politicians who deem themselves the gods of our universe as they strut around in high-end vehicles supplied by taxpayers and flaunt all the expensive perks of power.<br /> <br /> We should therefore not be overly surprised that members of a government like this have also been abusing the public purse in how they use the taxpayer-provided cellphones, as they, no doubt, individually set out to impress god knows whom. So, here we have Arnaldo Brown, a junior minister to boot, racking up a cellphone bill of $1.09 million for one year, according to the excellent investigative reporting done by RJR. And his is just the most obscene of the revelations so far, as only half of the Cabinet has supplied the information requested and that half alone has racked up a total bill in excess of $5 million for chatting for one year. What is enlightening, too, is the appearance that those who have been the most expensive in this exercise have been the least productive. For what has Arnaldo Brown been doing that is a real asset to the country? On the other hand, we see where Justice Minister Mark Golding, who has been doing a reasonable job, has not cost the taxpayer one red cent for unnecessary chatting. That tells quite a story, doesn't it?<br /> <br /> Of course my advice to all who are expecting the prime minister to do anything about this latest national disgrace is, please do not hold your breath.<br /> <br /> Hello... national disgrace calling<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11192431/Arnaldo-Brown_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11192430/Mark-Golding_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, October 29, 2014 2:00 AM Dr Sandra Knight is right! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Dr-Sandra-Knight-is-right-_17819844 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I am not the head of the National Family Planning Board, particularly because I have never had the requisite qualifications for that or its related fields. I am clueless about formulating legislation and have no aspirations where serving in Parliament is concerned. At best, I am a concerned citizen who only knows that, while I want the citizenry to participate and contribute, I want a political directorate that leads.<br /> <br /> The role of the church in Jamaican society is undeniably marked by a rich history of service in education, health, social justice, and the good old message of choosing good over evil. Today, much of the social outreach done by the church is simply not known. If the help and general ministry given by churches were removed for one month, I shudder to think of the tremendous social unrest that would prevail.<br /> <br /> That said, I would want to note that in a society where the church has traditionally been active, welcomed, and respected, we must be careful of giving in to any temptation to believe that the agents of the church have all the answers to the challenging questions of life.<br /> <br /> Dr Sandra Knight is right! There ought to be a frank discussion about abortion minus religion and politics. We employ personnel in various disciplines based on their particular acumen. It is true that there is much value in employing sensitivity to various ethical, theological, and societal concerns in a context like ours. However, we all cannot be pastors, politicians, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and nurses.<br /> <br /> Are we going to watch the sexual and reproductive rights of women wash down the drain simply because of our personal biases? Are we going to accept the gruesome crime of rape against any Jamaican citizen (regardless of gender) to get treated with disregard as a result of an inadequate definition of rape in our laws? Did the electorate vote for the church to determine the law of the land in 2014?<br /> <br /> Our elected officials and all other employees of the State must be allowed to do their work. Capacity-building includes increasing awareness and affirmative response to the human rights of all Jamaicans. Human rights are indivisible!<br /> <br /> We must come to that place where we know and practise the supreme place of human rights where there is a conflict of views inclusive of religion, politics, and citizenry. Think about it. Whether you are humanist, religious, political, stupid, bigoted, whatever, if the place of human rights is protected and its guidance adhered to, everyone, bar none, will be covered.<br /> <br /> Those who guide the pace of decision-making in our Senate and any creature of the Jamaican Parliament have listened to debates and dialogue. The next step is action! Faith-based organisations provide voters and views. Legislators must still provide evidence-based guidance and leadership. Will you have the courage to act now?<br /> <br /> Rev Fr Sean Major-Campbell<br /> <br /> seanmajorcampbell@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Dr Sandra Knight is right!<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11192441/TUESDAY-OCTOBER-28TH--2014_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, October 29, 2014 2:00 AM   Take back the award   http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Take-back-the-award-_17773109 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Let me first congratulate the Jamaica Observer on a fine piece of journalism in bringing to public attention the disgraceful behaviour of an international athlete and public official (JAAA 3rd V-P).<br /> <br /> Not many people the world over are unaware of the humility and fine personality of the accomplished Courtney Andrew Walsh, in whose honour a national sports award have been appropriately named. Now, for the nominee of this year's prestigious award to elect not to attend the awards ceremony and to send a member of his management team to represent him, who offered a now obviously less than genuine excuse, making out that representative to be either a fool or a liar, is indeed shameful.<br /> <br /> Not many people the world over are unaware of the humility and fine personality of the accomplished Courtney Andrew Walsh, in whose honour a national sports award have been appropriately named. Now, for the nominee of this year's prestigious award to elect not to attend the awards ceremony and to send a member of his management team to represent him, who offered a now obviously less than genuine excuse, making out that representative to be either a fool or a liar, is indeed shameful.<br /> <br /> Mind you, this is not just about Courtney Walsh, but there is a way in which our society is being taken over by various degrees of obnoxious behaviour by some of our public officials, without sanction, only to get worse. This latest incident, which has the eyes and ears of young impressionable athletes, should not go unpunished. The organising committee did well in selecting Frater for this award, but on the basis of the athlete's own behaviour, the award should be rescinded and the JAAA's president should ask the young man to resign as he has now lost the moral authority to continue as a leader and an example for his young prodigies.<br /> <br /> Unless our society comes to grips with issues like these, and act accordingly, we are doomed for failure, even while stars like Michael Frater continue to shine.<br /> <br />  <br /> <br /> Take back the award<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, October 29, 2014 2:00 AM Stop Coaster bullies on Molynes Road http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Stop-Coaster-bullies-on-Molynes-Road_17819826 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> At 7:40 this morning (October 28), as I was travelling along Molynes Road, a bus conductor threw himself under my vehicle. Yes, he pretended to trip and fall under my vehicle. All this was done to prevent me from driving so that a Coaster bus could turn around in the middle of the road.<br /> <br /> The bus driver laughed at his antics and, after he finished making this illegal U-turn, the conductor dusted himself off and told me with a smile on his face, "You have a water leak."<br /> <br /> I immediately placed a call to 119 to inform them of the incident and request a permanent police presence on Molynes Road in the mornings. The woman who answered the phone responded: "Oh, that's what they do, you know." Her response was totally unprofessional, in my opinion, and further frustrated me. Here I am, a law-abiding citizen, making my way to work and my liberty could have ended because of this man's careless antics.<br /> <br /> I will admit, the police do occupy Molynes Road from time to time, but occasional uniformed officers are not the solution because the bus and taxi drivers have their cronies who call and inform them when the police are on the road and they assume a false decorum when they are around only to act like hooligans and try to bully other road users when they are not present.<br /> <br /> Something has to be done about this problem.<br /> <br /> Sophia Beecher<br /> <br /> beatrice67@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> Stop Coaster bullies on Molynes Road<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10581138/Yellow-coaster_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, October 29, 2014 2:00 AM What is Customs doing about the black coil? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/What-is-Customs-doing-about-the-black-coil-_17754455 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> On March 28, 2013, the Jamaica Customs department was given the status of executive agency to fully perform as such effective April 2, 2013.<br /> <br /> One of its mandates is to protect Jamaica's borders against illicit imports. However, following the recent resurfacing of black mosquito coils, I can't help but question the ability of agency to carry out such a role.<br /> <br /> As far back as 2012, the Pesticide Control Authority issued a stern warning against importing, selling and using black mosquito coils. Yet, with the current outbreak of chikungunya, some Jamaicans have, once again, been able to turn to the highly toxic product. But how is it that the product is readily available? Why is there abundance on the streets of downtown Kingston, for instance?<br /> <br /> All the weaknesses in the country's administrative infrastructure, particularly in health and security, are slowly being exposed. As we've heard during local news broadcasts, people are regularly burning this coil in their homes. Many of them are undoubtedly present while this happens. That is a disturbing trend. From what I've read, the black mosquito coil is one of 11 coils that have been found to contain dimefluthrin and allethrin. Smoke containing these two chemicals is a health hazard, especially to those who inhale concentrated amounts. It is particularly harmful to children and pregnant women. Consumers would not even be aware of these contents because the manufacturer's label on the various brands tends not be in English.<br /> <br /> It is even more disturbing that this illegal product enters our ports and eludes Customs officers. The agency seems more efficient at collecting revenue, which is another of its three mandates. Well, collecting fees and duties isn't the only important responsibility in facilitating trade. Proactive steps must be taken to curb usage and remove the coil from the market.<br /> <br /> Yohan Lee<br /> <br /> St Andrew<br /> <br /> yohan.s.r.lee@live.com<br /> <br /> What is Customs doing about the black coil?<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11189060/COIL_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, October 28, 2014 2:00 AM Don't just 'run a money', build Ja's infrastructure http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Don-t-just--run-a-money---build-Ja-s-infrastructure_17814592 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> It's no secret among Jamaicans that some construction contractors who own heavy duty equipment (trucks, tractors, rollers etc) and supply manual labour are known to be in a position of economic stability.<br /> <br /> Succesive Jamaican Governments continue to depend on 'roadworks' and 'infrastructure programmes' to inject some sort of capital into communities where people depend on labour-intensive work. Plus the bonus to "run a money" for political mileage, especially around elections.<br /> <br /> As much as we continue to borrow from our international partners and spend billions on such 'roadwork', we aren't actually building anything much and our roads have the lifespan of a mosquito, having the same effect of causing sicknesses on our vehicles which drain our pockets for mechanical remedies.<br /> <br /> It would begin to make sense if the Government decided to use some of the infrastructure money to build critical modern public infrastructure such as hospitals, police stations, government agencies, and even a parliament building. We can make them technologically modern and energy efficient to match any First World standard.<br /> <br /> It's time Jamaica rethinks what is considered an "infrastructure programme" and build our way to prosperity and better public facilities.<br /> <br /> Mario Boothe<br /> <br /> m.raphael.b@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Don't just 'run a money', build Ja's infrastructure<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11189633/Tractor_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, October 28, 2014 2:00 AM Ja's success more than BPOs http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Ja-s-success-more-than-BPOs_17799252 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The Internet can definitely be seen as one of mankind's great inventions. According to an extensive study compiled by the Mckinsey Global Institute, the Internet accounted for 10 per cent of GDP growth during 1995 to 2009.<br /> <br /> Both governments and businesses have benefited from a reduction in transaction costs and other innovations associated with its creation. Therefore, it is only expected that the Government of Jamaica will seek to exploit the opportunities that technology has provided by building the relevant infrastructure and creating a world-class labour force.<br /> <br /> However, based on the findings of a recent publication by the HEART Trust, over 60 per cent of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) firms interviewed reported vacancies; with 64 per cent stating that they had challenges finding appropriate employees. The study also noted the paucity of talent at the national training agency, with enrolment in ICT-related programmes experiencing a 10 per cent decline over the past five years.<br /> <br /> The Vision 2030 documents classify ICT as a priority sector, but these findings suggest that successive administrations have approached the development of an indigenous ICT sector in a sporadic manner. We have not placed sufficient emphasis on creating an institutional framework to foster technology based sectors, the emphasis has been on creating a number of short-term training initiatives in an ad hoc fashion.<br /> <br /> The reinvention of our post-secondary institutions is a must if we are serious about exploiting the ICT sector. Although, in recent times, the HEART Trust has become more sophisticated, the agency must seek to attract Jamaica's best and brightest pupils. For example, polytechnics in Asia now offer higher level courses in biotechnology, manufacturing engineering, and other emerging fields. Furthermore, we need to think bigger than the BPO sector and tap into the high value markets, like nanotechnology.<br /> <br /> Countries that are now tech hubs did not achieve greatness by settling for mediocrity or allowing their people to think that they are not smart enough to become innovators.<br /> <br /> Lipton Matthews<br /> <br /> lo_matthews@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Ja's success more than BPOs<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, October 28, 2014 2:00 AM Is religion the #1 cause of war and violence? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Is-religion-the--1-cause-of-war-and-violence-_17799754 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> In light of the recent attacks conducted by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)<br /> <br /> and the brief reminder of the coup in Trinidad and Tobago led by Yasin Abu Bakr in 1990, many have cited these as proof that religion is the root of most of the major conflicts throughout human history. They argue that religion is the #1 cause of war, and hence we would be better off without religion and faith. Facts state otherwise.<br /> <br /> While it's true that 9/11, the Trinidad coup (and, in the case of Christianity, the Crusades and the Thirty Years' War) -- had religious motivations, it is wrong to assert that religion is the #1 cause of war.<br /> <br /> According to the Encyclopaedia of Wars (Phillips and Axelrod), of the 1,763 major conflicts in recorded history, only 123 of them were religious in nature. That's just below seven per cent. Moreover, it also explains that the number of people killed in these conflicts amounts to only two per cent! Non-religious motivations and naturalistic philosophies bear the blame for majority of the wars; over 93 per cent.<br /> <br /> The major wars in the last century (World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War) were not fought for religious reasons. In fact, World War II was responsible for over 65 million deaths. It was and still is the most deadly conflict in human history.<br /> <br /> Here are the numbers of deaths under non-religious dictators. What's more is that<br /> <br /> they all happened in the 20th century. Joseph Stalin, 42,672,000; Mao Zedong, 7,828,000; Adolf Hitler, 20,946,000; Chiang Kai-shek, 10,214,000; Vladimir Lenin, 4,017,000; Hideki Tojo, 3,990,000; Pol Pot, 2,397,000.<br /> <br /> In summary, the evidence shows that religion is not the #1 cause of war and violence.<br /> <br /> Hal Lewis<br /> <br /> mobiusraptor7@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Is religion the #1 cause of war and violence?<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11128309/isis_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, October 28, 2014 2:00 AM Fix Mandela Highway bus lane system http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Fix-Mandela-Highway-bus-lane-system_17814721 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I use this medium to appeal to the relevant authorities to reconsider the decision they took to permit the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) buses to have an independent lane on Mandela Highway in the mornings.<br /> <br /> This decision has resulted in nothing but chaos every mornings for raod users who are trying to go about their lawful business. There is not much organisation of the process, as I witness mostly public passenger buses driving on the 'soft shoulder' using it as if this is another legal lane created by the said authorities. I also witness them traversing in the lane now dedicated to the JUTC buses, which is a recipe for disaster as there will soon be head-on collision that may have some fatalities if this matter is not addressed.<br /> <br /> There are not enough police police manning that section of the roadway -- sometimes none -- and as such, motorists disobey whatever 'system' is presently in place.<br /> <br /> Apart from the chaos it is now causing in the mornings, it is resulting in the loss of precious production hours. Since this system has been in place, it has added 15 - 25 minutess to my usual 45-min drive to work each morning.<br /> <br /> In my opinion, this is a short-cut method by the Government to facilitate the JUTC. What should have happened long time ago is that the Mandela Highway should have been widened to facilitate the flow of commuters now using that thoroughfare. They have been several new housing and business developments in St Catherine and it environs and the necessary infrastructure should be put in place to move the traffic to and from the Corporate Area. This should not come at the expense of other people who were going about their business.<br /> <br /> I ask that the relevant authorities revert to the correct use of the highway and look into widening and fixing the uneven sections of the Mandela Highway to better facilitate all modes of transportation, and not just the JUTC.<br /> <br /> Shawn Wallace<br /> <br /> bountysw@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Fix Mandela Highway bus lane system<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11189629/Mandela-Highway_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, October 28, 2014 2:00 AM They were fair decisions http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/They-were-fair-decisions_17799764 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I would like to comment on the Jamaican immigration's decision to deny Radical Muslim leader, Yasin Abu Bakr entry to the country, and also the Government's decision to spend $4 million to send him home.<br /> <br /> Let us not try to play politics and gain points on this matter. Looking at the chain of events, things could have gone otherwise, and just maybe we would be looking at a bill of $40 million today.<br /> <br /> Let's be realistic, this is Jamaica, and to be honest I don't think that we are properly trained to deal with certain situations. Even in the great America continues to have problems with restraining individuals as it could lead to the loss of life.<br /> <br /> Some people are making comparisons and commenting on what happens when our nationals are denied and returned from the said Trinidad and Tobago via commercial flights. Well, let us put things in the right prospective here, even though he doesn't carry a good profile, Yasin Abu Bakr is a very high level individual, and if we had to send him back in a coffin it would have been a big stink at our doorsteps. If Trinidad and Tobago send any of our locals home in a coffin maybe we wouldn't even hear a gun bark about that. Just remember Shanique Myrie -- even though her incident happened in Barbados -- if she didn't take a stand for herself, then nothing would have been done.<br /> <br /> Let's not fool ourselves, the decision was a fair enough one amidst all that is happening around us.<br /> <br /> Rupert Brown<br /> <br /> aat2study@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> They were fair decisions<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11183601/Abu-bakr-1_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, October 27, 2014 2:00 AM Good parenting can reduce 'baby criminals' http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Good-parenting-can-reduce--baby-criminals-_17809541 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> A few evenings ago, during a police clampdown on illegal taxis and buses, my young friend was caught up all alone in the dark when her ride dropped her off near the hockey field on Mona Road. She was left at the mercy of God.<br /> <br /> Her heart started to flutter in her chest when she saw two suspicious characters coming towards her. They circled her then pulled out two long, shiny knives. She described the smaller one as about 10 years old, and the bigger one, perhaps, 18. Interestingly, though, the more vocal and threatening of the two was the 10-year-old.<br /> <br /> At the time they pounced, she was by then near to her gate. In a sharp move, she pushed her hand into her bag, stunning them both a little. She meant to retrieve her key, but maybe they thought she had something else or, more likely, they didn't want her alerting the other occupants of the home. The baby criminal gave her a solid tongue lashing and promised to get her next time.<br /> <br /> Related or not, a few minutes later, word came that two fellows who were hanging out by their gate on Garden Boulevard were held up by two gunmen. My first question to my young friend was: "Did you call the police?" She hadn't. Sadly, many crimes go unreported. So, as bad as we think things are in Jamaica, I think, in reality, it is much worse. Had the police been called, maybe they would have had a vehicle in the area -- if they had a roadworthy car at all. Maybe there was a motorbike duo that could have been dispatched or re-routed. Maybe they would have been taken off the streets even for a while. Maybe one or both of those lives could have been intercepted and changed for the better, or maybe they could have been taken down for good.<br /> <br /> I am not na&iuml;ve; I know that social conditions can breed a life of crime and violence. Unemployment, hunger and crime go hand in hand, but this is no ordinary crime; this is violent crime by a child. I am a staunch supporter of the police, but I abhor police brutality, excessive force and abuse of power. That said, had one of the two been shot by the police, I can imagine how vociferous the mother and her band of 'brothers' would have been about 'Babylon'. I would love to see mothers being equally vociferous in imposing discipline and supervision over their budding criminals at home. Please, don't leave them to roam the streets like wild goats and be the worst they can be.<br /> <br /> Sandra M Taylor Wiggan<br /> <br /> sandra_wiggan@yahoo.co.uk<br /> <br /> Good parenting can reduce 'baby criminals'<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11185988/CRIME_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, October 27, 2014 2:00 AM West Indies should consider taking a year-long break from cricket http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/West-Indies-should-consider-taking-a-year-long-break-from-cricket_17799633 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I agree wholeheartedly with the Jamaica Observer editorial on Saturday, October 18, 2014 'Torturous days ahead for West Indies cricket'.<br /> <br /> The series of events that unfolded last week is certainly the most embarrassing thing to happen to our game in recent times. As a supporter of the West Indies as a region, and the development of the area as a whole, West Indies cricket and the University of the West Indies were the last holdouts of keeping us together with pride and hope for a united people.<br /> <br /> The debacle of the West Indies withdrawing from their contractual obligations is abhorrent. While not knowing all the details of this situation, it is clear that there is enough blame to go all around. The question must be asked of the West Indies Cricket Board, the West Indies Players' Association, and the players, themselves: Couldn't there have been back room for negotiations to resolve this issue rather than embarrass a region with this act? This just shows the world that we are not ready for the big times.<br /> <br /> I am so embarrassed by this turn of events. I would not be surprised if we are banned from future international cricket engagements. Maybe we should be proactive and withdraw from international cricket for a year and revisit our contractual policies and write clear procedures for our players and board that can lead us forward. We can not be negotiating players compensation in the middle of a tour. And we cannot be washing our laundry on the world stage.<br /> <br /> This is a mark on us that we have to get right or we will be exiled for a long, long time.<br /> <br /> For those of us that love the game, we hope that all the "bigger heads" will act with alacrity. May this never happen again.<br /> <br /> Francois St Juste<br /> <br /> Francois.StJuste@rjrgroup.com<br /> <br /> West Indies should consider taking a year-long break from cricket<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11134759/WI-train_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, October 27, 2014 2:00 AM Health sector woefully underfunded http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Health-sector-woefully-underfunded_17799330 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Given the serious challenges faced by our health services, not just now, but in general, it remains hard to comprehend why the Government would underspend its budget by $7.7 billion for the April - July 2014 period, especially when tax collection for that same period was only $0.6m below target. Trevor Munroe and his National Integrity Commission has publicly sought an explanation, but I have seen no response.<br /> <br /> Given that the recurrent budget for health for 2014-15 is only $35.9b, an extra $7b would go a long way to improving the dire situation in both our hospitals and clinics. Even more so given that the 2014 budget files reveal that nothing was allocated for capital spending on health (local money - Capital A) and just $0.9b from foreign sources (Capital B). In fact, that $35.9-b recurrent would have to be $39.2b to equal in real terms the spending two years ago (using an eight per cent inflation adjustment).<br /> <br /> Compare these figures to the $132.6b set aside for debt interest for 2014-15 and $100.7b for amortisation -- a total of $232.3b. I hope the IMF Economic Growth conference in Montego Bay will not only examine the many impediments to growth -- including bureaucracy and depressed local demand -- but also the need for a healthy population that doesn't regularly have to spend a whole day (or longer) waiting at health facilities. Has anyone added up the economic cost of this lost time?<br /> <br /> Compared to other Caribbean countries, Jamaica spends less per person on health, so no wonder we are struggling with the inadequate budget allocation. The following figures (per person) are from the World Bank, in current US$, for 2012: Barbados 938, Cuba 558, St Lucia 556, Grenada 478, and Jamaica 318. These figures include both public and private provision, so the US$130 per person in the public sector I heard quoted by Dr Shane Alexis last week is about right.<br /> <br /> As a percentage of GDP, these same figures translate into Barbados 6.7 per cent, Cuba 10.2 per cent, St Lucia 7.7 per cent, Grenada 5.8 per cent, and Jamaica 5.2 per cent. Another comparison is given for 2010 in Wikipedia, this time based on a more meaningful purchasing-power-parity international US$ measure, as follows: Barbados 1,520, St Lucia 703, Grenada 632, Cuba 414, and Jamaica 397.<br /> <br /> Our hospitals and health centres are desperately understaffed, and is that any surprise given the inadequate budget? Dr Alexis also mentioned that there is no incentive for health professionals to remain in the public system given the poor facilities and lack of support which often result in them not being able to fulfil their professional (and personal) commitment to care.<br /> <br /> Did our esteemed visitor from the IMF comment on any of this in July when she was so busy making our Government feel good. An entirely different message is now emanating from the electorate, including many PNP supporters. How can we have a stable and productive society without an adequate health service? A stable economic platform cannot be a precursor to adequate health facilities. As with education and physical/social infrastructure, all need to move forward together if we are ever to grow out of debt.<br /> <br /> Paul Ward<br /> <br /> Kingston 7<br /> <br /> pgward72@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Health sector woefully underfunded <br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11177023/Victoria-jubilee-2_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, October 27, 2014 2:00 AM They were fair decisions http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/They-were-fair-decisions_17799764-double Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I would like to comment on the Jamaican immigration's decision to deny Radical Muslim leader, Yasin Abu Bakr entry to the country, and also the Government's decision to spend $4 million to send him home.<br /> <br /> Let us not try to play politics and gain points on this matter. Looking at the chain of events, things could have gone otherwise, and just maybe we would be looking at a bill of $40 million today.<br /> <br /> Let's be realistic, this is Jamaica, and to be honest I don't think that we are properly trained to deal with certain situations. Even in the great America continues to have problems with restraining individuals as it could lead to the loss of life.<br /> <br /> Some people are making comparisons and commenting on what happens when our nationals are denied and returned from the said Trinidad and Tobago via commercial flights. Well, let us put things in the right prospective here, even though he doesn't carry a good profile, Yasin Abu Bakr is a very high level individual, and if we had to send him back in a coffin it would have been a big stink at our doorsteps. If Trinidad and Tobago send any of our locals home in a coffin maybe we wouldn't even hear a gun bark about that. Just remember Shanique Myrie -- even though her incident happened in Barbados -- if she didn't take a stand for herself, then nothing would have been done.<br /> <br /> Let's not fool ourselves, the decision was a fair enough one amidst all that is happening around us.<br /> <br /> They were fair decisions<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Monday, October 27, 2014 2:00 AM Ramp up national awards...wheelchair ramp http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Ramp-up-national-awards---wheelchair-ramp_17797482 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I watched with pride the televised National Heroes' Day awards ceremony, where several people who serve or have served our country received awards in their area(s) of specialty.<br /> <br /> It was equally refreshing to see our military and constabulary men and women perform with sharp salutes and turns, whether receiving awards and taking part in the production.<br /> <br /> However, the pride I felt quickly dissipated and turned to dismay and irritation when the governor general was made to step down from the dais to meet the wheelchair-bound awardees.<br /> <br /> Why, in this day, with a Disabilities Act recently passed, were allowances not made to have a ramp installed to accommodate the wheelchairs? This was a shameful display that removed some of the pomp and pageantry of the ceremony. This disregard, especially at a government function, is glaring and should not be allowed to continue. The addition of a ramp is as necessary as the blue steps at the front and side of the stage. The production needs to be reviewed and corrections made for 2015.<br /> <br /> Hugh T Gordon<br /> <br /> h_gdon@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Ramp up national awards...wheelchair ramp <br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11175733/DSC_4432_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, October 24, 2014 2:00 AM Call it the $4-m waste that it was http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Call-it-the--4-m-waste-that-it-was_17797627 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> When Jamaicans are denied entry to a foreign country, be it Barbados, Trinidad, England, etc, they are simply sent home using their return ticket. No matter how Minister Peter Bunting tries to defend the waste of $4 million of taxpayers' funds to send Abu Bakr home on a private jet it does not wash. For, he is not the first deportee to "gwaan bad" when denied entry into a country. And the more the Bunting spins the talk the more suspicious and ridiculous he sounds.<br /> <br /> Some people have even started wondering if the real story isn't that the Government owed the jet operator for previous trips that minsters take as they traipse all over the place and they had hoped to quietly slip in the payment using this ridiculous cover of the Abu Bakr story. To tell you the truth, even this made-up story sounds more plausible.<br /> <br /> Then when you weigh this waste of $4 million of taxpayers money against the simultaneous salivating at the feet of Sagicor which had to underwrite the $4 million cost of purchasing fever scan machines to detect Ebola, you realise how pathetic what passes for governance in this country really is.<br /> <br /> Joan E Williams<br /> <br /> Kingston 10<br /> <br /> gratestj@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Call it the $4-m waste that it was<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11175750/filename24_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, October 24, 2014 2:00 AM Save the natural enemies of the mosquito! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Save-the-natural-enemies-of-the-mosquito_17797506 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> When did you last check on those healthy spider webs that grace the eaves of your house or garage, or establish themselves between tree branches or flower beds? These natural wonders of nature might just hold the key to protecting you from dengue, malaria or CHIKV.<br /> <br /> The small, jumping day lizards and the heftier night-performing croaking lizards stand by just waiting to catch the mosquitos that missed the webs, or the active mouths of the night-flying bats, owls, or day-flying dragon flies that can consume thousands more. Meanwhile, outdoor natural habitats, including ponds, drains and canals, collect not only water, but a variety of insect-eating frogs, tiki-tiki fish, water birds (such as egrets), praying mantis (stick creatures), and a variety of nature's helpers whose favourite snacks include live mosquitos and their larvae.<br /> <br /> Regretably, householders lose all the valuable services these amazing creatures have to offer free of charge by over-spraying expensive poisonous pesticides, filling their homes with toxic smoke by burning coils, clearing away cobwebs and killing off the spiders, and generally decimating the natural enemies of the mosquito.<br /> <br /> Maybe a valuable lesson can be learned from the pain and suffering of the CHIKV: Love thy neighbours, particularly those who dine on mosquitos and their larvae..<br /> <br /> Marguerite Gauron<br /> <br /> President Emeritus<br /> <br /> Portland Environment Protection Association<br /> <br /> hmgauron@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Save the natural enemies of the mosquito!<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11052846/mosquito_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, October 24, 2014 2:00 AM We waste so much more than $4 million http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/We-waste-so-much-more-than--4-million_17797554 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I still cannot believe that the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), sections of the media, and others are making such a big deal out of the $4 million (US$36,000) that the Government get to send Abu Bakr out of Jamaica. Considering all of the circumstances involving his removal, I still think the Government did the right thing.<br /> <br /> Everybody seems to be in agreement that he should have been kicked out. Those who have a problem with the cost should consider what could have happened had he been simply placed on a regular commercial flight.<br /> <br /> People seemed to have forgotten that a part of that bill includes the cost of the medical personnel who were paid to accompany Abu Bakr home. Maybe we should have made him swim back to Trinidad?<br /> <br /> Anyway, $4 million seems to be far less than any "monkey money" one can imagine and the State surely wastes more than that each day. It certainly is far less than the amount we would have spent had Abu Bakr done anything near to what he is known for. For those who are making such a big fuss about this money, may I suggest that they direct their energies to the following:<br /> <br /> We see roads being patched everyday repeatedly. It is clear that the constant re-patching of some of our roads must involve someone collecting a fat cheque regularly. Why don't these people, including the JLP, use some of the energy that they are wasting on this Bakr money issue to investigate why taxpayers are being asked to give these "road contractors" a regular pay cheque to fix the same roads over and over?<br /> <br /> Those wasting their energies calling for the head of security minister, Peter Bunting, should use those efforts to investigate why is it that, in spite of the price of oil falling by over 20 per cent in recent months, our light bills show no similar reduction.<br /> <br /> Every day we waste millions of dollars and I rarely see the kind of ruckus that I see with the Abu Bakr issue. As far as I can see, that $4 million is $4 million less that was wasted.<br /> <br /> Michael A Dingwall<br /> <br /> michael_a_dingwall@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> We waste so much more than $4 million<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11171891/Abu-bakr-1_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, October 24, 2014 1:00 AM Substitute teachers needed http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Substitute-teachers-needed_17797597 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I am imploring the Ministry of Education to streamline a portal to deploy substitute teachers in our schools.<br /> <br /> Over the years, I have realised that full-time teachers often have to balance a hectic timetable with incumbent substitution schedules. Consequently, their 'free time' becomes consumed with additional work on occasions when a few of their colleagues are unavoidably absent.<br /> <br /> This practice has caused a tremendous strain on many of our teachers, who are already struggling with the workload outside their regular instructional sessions.<br /> <br /> Very often, we castigate our educators for their perceivably perfunctory delivery and the substandard performance of students. On the other hand, very little is usually done to ensure that teachers are not overextended and overwhelmed. A tired and overworked teacher will not be able to offer his or her best to students and so we must explore options to safeguard our educators from undue stress.<br /> <br /> Once teachers are liberated of substitution duties, they would have more time to evaluate their previous lessons, create informed action plans in going forward, mark their students' work, plan for their other classes, or simply recover from a gruelling session.<br /> <br /> If substitute teachers are brought into the system, many teachers who are qualified, but are unemployed, would be able to work seasonally and gain relevant teaching experience. They could also receive a reasonable remuneration package to subsidise their travelling expenses and daily sustenance.<br /> <br /> Moreover, our students would not be shortchanged in the event that their teachers are sick -- especially in light of the chikungunya onslaught -- and have to be absent for an extended period.<br /> <br /> These substitute teachers could be interviewed and selected by the Ministry of Education. Their qualifications, skills and contact details could then be uploaded to a portal system that can be easily accessed by local school administrators. Once teachers are absent or scheduled to be absent, the principal may contact appropriate substitutes to fill in.<br /> <br /> Training may be provided as necessary to ensure that all substitutes are au fait with the curriculum and the regulations of the schools.<br /> <br /> Full-time teachers who know that they will be absent could aid the substitution process by preparing materials, worksheets and instructional content for their students and have these administered by the substitute teachers.<br /> <br /> Please note that I am not encouraging teacher absenteeism. I am simply proposing an approach that could promote greater efficiency and productivity in our education system. Other protocols may be implemented to discourage any abuse of the foregoing system.<br /> <br /> Shawna Kay Williams<br /> <br /> Old Harbour, St Catherine<br /> <br /> Shawna201@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Substitute teachers needed<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11155846/Ronnie-Thwaites-2_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, October 24, 2014 2:00 AM Before you 'bun dung Rome', Chronixx http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Before-you--bun-dung-Rome---Chronixx_17773263 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> This is an open letter to the artiste known as Chronixx.<br /> <br /> Chronixx, have you ever visited Rome? On Saturday, October 18, the Catholic Youth Movement of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kingston hosted Jamaica Day, where everything Jamaican was celebrated by the youths of the six deaneries.<br /> <br /> Deanery 4, of which I am member, won the competition and so I was in a great mood driving home. That mood was quickly changed when I heard the lyrics of a very catchy and well-produced reggae song, by you, Sir. It started with: "Ah love I an' I preaching, so every land of hate will burn," but then started to chant that "Today Rome will burn!" In what I assume to be an attempt not to implicate any specific place, the lyricist stated "When I say Rome it nuh geographic..." But then immediately goes on to say "Dem a ask how a little African, ah go burn down di whole ah inna Vatican?" Then the chorus repeated "Listen to the voice of di people, today Rome will burn!"<br /> <br /> Now I appreciate that Jamaica is a land of contradictions, where free speech is celebrated but accountability is subjective. So, it does not surprise me that two Muslim leaders are refused entry into Jamaica, while our radio stations play songs which could incite attacks on one religious group.<br /> <br /> Some may say I am an alarmist, and that I am taking the song too literally, but look at Boko Haram and ISIS and you can see that my concern is valid.<br /> <br /> So Chronixx, before you burn down Rome, please pay the country a visit so that you will be fully cognisant of what you are igniting. In the event that you are not able to make such a visit, maybe a visit to Jamaican Roman-related organisations such as Brothers of the Poor, Mustard Seed Communities, Alpha Boys' Home, and all the Roman Catholic schools might make you change your mind about destroying Rome -- unless, of course, you and your religion are ready and willing to take over and continue or better the work that Rome has germinated.<br /> <br /> "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," Jesus Christ said in the Gospel of St Luke, chapter 6, verse 31.<br /> <br /> Andrea Wray<br /> <br /> St Catherine<br /> <br /> Before you 'bun dung Rome', Chronixx<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11171884/Chronixx_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, October 23, 2014 2:00 AM Peter Bunting...our hero http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Peter-Bunting---our-hero_17789922 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> We are presently contending with an outbreak of chikungunya, the threat of Ebola and, to top it all, a Trinidadian "terror" that could have made the extradition of Christopher 'Dudus' Coke look like a Sunday picnic.<br /> <br /> We have Minister Peter Bunting to thank for saving us from a possible coup d'etat.<br /> <br /> We elect leaders to make decisions on our behalf. If they make incorrect decisions, it will cost us. We cannot purchase infrared thermometers to scan possible Ebola cases, we have to depend on the prime minister's husband to help us. We cannot purchase personal protective equipment for health-care workers, but we can spend $4 million to deport Yasin Abu Bakr, not Osama bin Laden. We don't have the resources to destroy mosquito-breeding sites, and we cannot find the money to fund the National Solid Waste Management Authority.<br /> <br /> Now which is the greater threat? Yasin Abu Bakr, Ebola or chikungunya? Since we are powerless to defeat chikungunya, and we are unprepared for Ebola, let us deal with the possible threat that is of easiest resistance. In any case, Trinidadian officials have been insulting us, bruising our pride, deporting our nationals with any whim or fancy, now we catch one of them let us make him pay -- after we pay first. Therefore, we have to justify this expenditure by any means necessary. If we didn't act immediately our country would have faced imminent danger.<br /> <br /> Instead of berating Minister Bunting, we all should be thanking him, the cost of another terrorist act would have set us back for decades. It would have derailed the International Monetary Fund agreement. The projected growth would have vaporised, the economic gains would have been set back. Bunting should be given the title of national hero the next time we celebrate National Heroes Day. What he did was nothing short of a heroic act.<br /> <br /> Mark Clarke<br /> <br /> Siloah, St Elizabeth<br /> <br /> mark_clarke9@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Peter Bunting...our hero<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11171885/Peter-Bunting2_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, October 23, 2014 2:00 AM Before we waste another $28m http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Before-we-waste-another--28m_17789440 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The Jamaica Observer of October 22, 2014 carried a story in Envionment Watch on the updating of Jamaica National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) at a cost of some US$250,000.00 or roughly J$28 million. There were the usual platitudes, assurances and commitments from various government officials, but there was no reported assessment of the success of the first 10 years of the NBSAP.<br /> <br /> The most cursory glance at this document will reveal significant failures. For example, of the five priority parks which were to have been declared, only one (Mason River) was in fact declared. A raft of policy documents remain in draft, some approaching 20 years old. Promised increases in fines and penalties have not materialised. Wetlands continue to be cleared, both legally and illegally. The commitment to declare a wildlife sanctuary on Great Goat Island for some of our endangered species is under direct threat.<br /> <br /> Jamaica Environment Trust calls on the Ministry of Land, Water, Environment, and Climate Change and the National Environment and Planning Agency to release an honest evaluation of the achievements, or lack thereof, of the NBSAP's first 10 years. Without this honest evaluation, along with some in-depth problem analysis, there is absolutely no point in spending $28 million to update the NBSAP, as it is sure to replicate the failures of the initial plan.<br /> <br /> Diana McCaulay<br /> <br /> Chief Executive Officer<br /> <br /> Jamaica Environment Trust<br /> <br /> Kingston 10<br /> <br /> jamentrust@cwjamaica.com <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11168910/NEPA-biodiversity-workshop_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, October 23, 2014 2:00 AM Ebola infection procedures http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Ebola-infection-procedures_17773269 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The government could take a page out of Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) procedures book. (As reported by the BBC.) They have been operating in the hot zone continuously from the start of the Ebola epidemic and very few of their doctors and nurses have contracted the disease, even after thousands of contact hours. They use three sets of gloves, multiple suits, aprons, face masks, boots, and a lot of tape to tape off the joints of the gloves, boots, etc and then they have a second similarly suited-up persons to work with and monitor the putting on and removal of the protective gear.<br /> <br /> I hear that they also use showers of bleach in the decontamination process. They work in pairs, after all, if one had a splash of blood on his back, or made a mistake, his partner would be able to see it. The poor nurse in Texas would probably not be infected if she followed the MSF procedures. What the ministry is putting out as information is virtually useless in a situation where one mistake is practically a death sentence. Would Jamaica survive one case of Ebola? I don't think so. Most likely it would spread as fast as CHIKV through the population.<br /> <br /> Howard Chin, PE<br /> <br /> Member<br /> <br /> Jamaica Institution of Engineers<br /> <br /> Ebola infection procedures<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11168932/nurse_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, October 23, 2014 2:00 AM Watch what we say http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Watch-what-we-say_17789903 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> While attending a funeral recently in my neck of the woods I heard an elected official giving greetings and he spoke about the deadly Ebola virus. He made mention of a rumour that was being circulated that Ebola was in Jamaica and that it was in Mandeville. In his statement he told the congregation Jamaica was not ready for this virus.<br /> <br /> It is my view that the official's statement was quite careless because, instead of bringing hope and comfort to those who were grieving, he instead brought a message of worry and despair.<br /> <br /> In recent times, many people who are supposed be leaders have behaved in a similar fashion. Sometimes based on the statements they make one can't help but wonder if these people want the virus here.<br /> <br /> While I must agree that our people must be informed of the day-to-day developments concerning the measures Government is putting in place to prevent the virus from coming here or the plans they have should it ever get here, we should not construct our statements in a way that causes panic in case the worst happens.<br /> <br /> At a time like this, given the seriousness of the issue, we all should be in discussions and consultations to come up with a strategy to protect the people of Jamaica from this deadly virus.<br /> <br /> Let us not seek to gain political mileage, but instead seek to educate the people to significantly reduce panic when it does bappen.<br /> <br /> In the final analysis, let us be mindful of our responsibility to protect our families, communities and country. Let us seek to educate ourselves instead of casting aspersions and strengthening rumours that will destroy instead of unite our society.<br /> <br /> Gary Rowe<br /> <br /> magnett0072004@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Watch what we say<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11170102/Ebola-Doctor_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, October 23, 2014 2:00 AM Farrakhan shouldn't let rhetoric influence him http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Farrakhan-shouldn-t-let-rhetoric-influence-him_17782851 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I have always been mesmerised by Minister Louis Farrakhan, who I consider one of the greatest orators/debaters of our time, although I could never endorse his religion -- which treats women as second class citizens, but that is another matter.<br /> <br /> Last weekend, at the anniversary of the million man march, Minister Farrakhan did not disappoint, despite having reached the grand old age of 81. For man of his depth, however, I was disappointed how he allowed himself to be influenced by cheap local rhetoric regrading our maintaining the status quo with regards the queen of England.<br /> <br /> While I support the removal of the British queen and her expensive representative in Jamaica, we need to go much further to make governance more relevant to our needs, now that we are supposedly independent. For, to get rid of the queen while holding on for dear life to the remnants of colonialism, such as the Army, the British devised local government system, Caricom (the Federation of the former British colonies by the back door); and the allowing of members of parliament from the Commonwealth, while banning those who are American citizens and can help this country, is in no way progressive or independent.<br /> <br /> Take the local government system, as bequeathed by our former colonial masters when it took days to travel from one parish to the next and land phones and other means of communication were in the dark ages, why we maintain it is ridiculous. And who does it benefit? In my book, only the JLP and PNP, who get the benefit of having their grass root campaigners financed by taxpayers to the tune of some $4 billion per year.<br /> <br /> Jamaica, with its small population, certainly does not need 15 governments and 15 time wasting bureaucracies (14 local government and one central government), thus using all our resources to pay politicians, consultants and bureaucrats, leaving no or very little resources to build communities. We should have moved long ago to the concept of three county councils as proposed decades ago after intensive study, plus local government agencies for the two cities.<br /> <br /> How much more practical would six governments be for a population of 2.7 million as opposed to the 15 we now have? Then take the army. The British needed a full-fledged army to protect their empire in the Caribbean, but where is our empire? They successfully 'samfied' some colonial-minded politicians into accepting the concept of federation to keep the colonies together, and we are still holding on to it for dear life via the body called Caricom.<br /> <br /> We need to restructure the army to serve the interests of the Jamaican people, not to preserve an empire. So what we need is a good coast guard to protect our shores, an efficient engineering corp and an air wing and redirect the billions we are wasting on the infantry which will not even use a couple paint brushes and hammers to fix up the historical site at Newcastle that they occupy. Instead, the members of the infantry should be invited to join the police force so they can be trained to serve and protect the people of this nation, not treat us as enemies to be to be cut down, which is what soldiers taught to do.<br /> <br /> Then there is his nonsense where members of the Commonwealth, including Pakistani Muslims, can serve in our parliament and even become prime ministers after residing here for a year, while Jamaican who migrate to the US and have gained experience and valuable education are deterred -- absolute madness.<br /> <br /> Yes, Minister Farrakhan, by all means, let's get rid to the Queen of England, her heirs and successors, and all she represents, but we need far more than mere superficial tinkering if we are interested in becoming really independent and determined to build this great country into a place where we can live as a proud people.<br /> <br /> Joan E Williams<br /> <br /> Kingston 10<br /> <br /> gratestj@gmail.com <br /> <br /> Farrakhan shouldn't let rhetoric influence him<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11168904/FARRAKHAN_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, October 22, 2014 2:00 AM