Thursday, January 20, 2022

Our forever half full glass

From last year, many of us Jamaicans waited with bated breath, when news leaked out that there would be a cabinet reshuffle. For we had really become fed up with the all too regular scandals, so we hoped that some persons would be removed as far as possible from power.

What was delivered though, was nothing but a big wet squid, best met with a long yawn.

What I found disconcerting too, was the increase in the size of the already too large and mainly ineffective Cabinet, with the addition of the new Ministry, Ministry of Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

OMG. So, if Delroy Chuck has proven to be an ineffective minister, why wasn’t he just fired and someone more competent appointed to replace him?

Well, it’s only taxpayer’s money, so I suppose it’s there to be wasted!

So, here we are with a brand-new bureaucracy, new minister, new permanent secretary, new staff, new office, new furniture and on and on.

I don’t know if Mrs. Malahoo-Forte was reading my mind when she outlined the main task of her new ministry as being to fix the current “chaos” in the legislative process.

Yes, chaos there definitely is, in terms of keeping our laws up to date. But isn’t that the major role of the Ministry of Justice?

They haven’t been doing that at all I agree, so as a result, many Jamaicans can’t get justice anywhere.

Remember what the late great Peter Tosh said decades ago? Without justice there can be no peace.

Is it any wonder that so many turn to violence in our crime-ridden country?

But do you fix that problem by creating a new bureaucracy or just disbanding the current ineffective one or even, more simply, getting rid of the lazy, incompetent people in charge and get effective staff?

While I only mentioned the chaotic one, every other function this new ministry is supposed to deal with, is already a function of the Ministry of Justice. Problem is, they are dysfunctional!

But I guess Chuck is being kept on for the very same reason as so many others like the following are; Mike Henry, Karl Samuda, Horace Chang….…jobs for the old boys.

As to Bobby Montage, he had fast become the Paulwell of the JLP.

The JLP had gotten a big mandate, partly based on a commitment to deal effectively with corruption, but they are only continuing along the same road and with even greater intensity. One would therefore have hoped that at the very least, Montague would have been moved as far away from any type of governance as possible.

Again, it’s just jobs for the boys and little or none for the girls, so now the Prime Minister’s office is packed with old boys tripping over each other!

Luckily, I was not holding my breath that this government would have been any better than any other!

Good News

It’s not only bad news that has hit for us early in 2022 though, for we can always depend on our athletes to do us proud and give our spirts a lift.

Once again it is our bobsledders.



For the benefit of the young and uninformed, snow-free Jamaica sent its first bobsled team to winter Olympics way back in 1998. They did not win a medal, but it was so historic and heart-warming, that Disney made a movie about our boys. It was called “Cool Runnings” and it was/still is, a worldwide hit.

 If you have never seen it, go now and if you have, go again.

As usual, no-snow Jamaica was a trend setter in 1998, and since then countries like Trinidad and Nigeria have followed suit, which is great.

We are all excited and proud that once again, our bobsledders have qualified to compete in the upcoming winter Olympics to be held in Beijing next month.

Despite the damn virus, once the Chinese hosts allow the public to attend, I am sure the stands will once again be brightened up with Jamaican colors. For not only do many Jamaicans live in China, but also, Jamaicans from all over the world will be going there to cheer on the athletes who can always be depended on to make our spirits rise, while the politicians pick our pockets and otherwise screw up our lives.

I guess you can therefore say that our glass is half full.

https://youtu.be/Pxt7O4qvjhk

 

Monday, January 17, 2022

Christmas 2021

At an air show in Sebring
 I can't keep up with how time is flying, for I had no idea so much time had passed since my interesting and enjoyable Christmas visit to Sebring, covid and all.

Last Christmas, I was invited to spend the holidays with my best friend and her family, who had recently relocated from the crowded city to a rustic section of Sebring in Florida. This is some two hours away from where I live in Broward County.

 Also spending Christmas there, were her family from Costa Rica. I had met them all in Costa Rica, and it was certainly great to see them again.

This wasn't my first trip to Sebring, as I did visit that beautiful area some years ago to attend an air show. On another occasion, I visited nearby Lake Placid, which has an annual Caladium festival. (Joan, my views: Search results for lake placid (joan-myviews.blogspot.com)

However, where we were this time, was off the beaten track, where deer and bears roam but where there is no good wifi reception or cable tv to disturb the peace.

These bears were caught on a neighbor's camera in October

The bears there are black bears and according to the records, there has never been any report of these bears killing people in Florida. So, I was most anxious to see one up close and personal, especially after our host showed us a bear's footprint in his backyard. 

But to my disappointment, it was not to be. 

A bear's paw print

More frustrating was the fact that a neighbor sent us pictures of the bears that her outside camera had picked up in her backyard. ,

Damn.

The entire area is beautiful though, with lots of lakes and open spaces.

Anyway, back to Christmas.

 It sure is cold in that area, so on our first night as we sat on the patio, our host Cardiff, suggested that we test out his outdoor heater, as he had a lot of dried wood which had been cleared from the property before the house was built.

It was fun but we still had to bungle up in blankets as the only thing missing was snow. 😁

I have to admit that it did eventually warm up and we had a lot of fun, especially on Christmas Eve and Christmas day when it was time to open presents. 

The girls pose in their pj's

Then disaster struck for I picked up what I still insist was the flu. It kept me in bed for three days with a fever, stuffy nose and sore throat. Then my friend who had been nursing me, came down with similar symptoms plus body aches and stomach problems.  Anxiously, we tried to find somewhere to do a test for covid, but everywhere was closed for the holidays.

Since I returned home, she has been confirmed as suffering from covid and some two weeks later she has not recovered. To make matters worse, since then too, her daughter and son-in-law have tested positive as have her Costa Rican relatives, since their return home.

So yes, it was a great Christmas in that I spent it in a lovely, peaceful environment with good friends, (though not seeing any bears!)  And naturally there was lots of Christmas food plus exotic Costa Rican dishes, and I even got some Spanish practice too to boot.

What was not so great, is that the disgusting covid became an uninvited guest and is still lingering around.

Memories.



A Park at Old Sebring

Church at Old Sebring

She was happy to find a discarded Halloween pumpkin


At Lake Charlotte

Lake Charlotte in background

Trying to keep warm at Sebring


Lake Jackson










 





Thursday, January 13, 2022

King Richard the 1V th?

We don’t seem too willing or able to get rid of Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, but we may soon get our own local king.

Ta da King Richard the 1V!

Chief Currie

Yup, for that’s probably where the new Accompong Maroon chief wants to go.

It’s no joking matter though, for the Maroons have been the only true revolutionaries in Jamaica. 

When the British chased out the Spaniards who had brought them from Africa as slaves, they refused to be re-enslaved, so fought for their freedom. For eighty years they fought guerilla warfare against the British and eventually, their leader Cudjo signed a peace treaty in 1739.

Among the conditions agreed to under that treaty were; the Maroons would end attacks on English settlements and they would be given their own lands and autonomy. But the part that still leaves the bitter taste in the mouths of most Jamaicans is that they also agreed to, and did return slaves who ran away from the British.

In 1865,  National Hero Paul Bogle suffered the ultimate price for this treachery.

However, since independence, they have been peaceful and productive citizens in Jamaica.

Now clearly, the new leader, Richard Currie has romantic ideas of being Cudjoe reincarnate, with all the revolutionary zeal that comes with that name.

Belatedly, he is claiming that the Maroons are the indigenous people of our island.

What happened when I wasn’t watching? Because it has long been established that it was the Tainos who were! The updated version of our history is based on the premise that some Tainos escaped to the hills, procreated with the Maroons, so their descendants are the indigenous people.

Should we therefore do DNA tests to see who from the diverse Maroons qualify on the grounds that they have Taino blood?

Next, according to Chief Currie, Accompong is a sovereign state!

 Even if the Maroons are the indigenous people, (using the new criterion) are there any other indigenous people anywhere in the world who have a sovereign state?

Last year August, assuming sovereignty I guess, a group of Maroons chased away members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force who were searching for marijuana fields on their communal lands. In a video clip following that incident, Chief Currie appeared with what was said to be a rifle slung across his shoulders. He described this as being a means of protecting his people. His ancestors, he said, had bows and arrows; modern times demanded modern weapons.

Ominous indeed!

Then in early January this year, leading up to the 284th anniversary of the Maroon Treaty, the police warned against the traditional big celebrations in Accompong because of COVID-19 protocols but they ignored the warnings. The event was held, violence broke out among patrons and one person was shot dead and several others were injured.

Is Currie’s new militancy a natural progression from events in September of 2020, when Accompong Maroons designated a new currency called the LUMI, as their official digital currency?

I visited the settlement in May 2021, and while I saw their new, beautiful Central Bank of Accompong, I couldn’t get a LUMI anywhere!

As they now move full speed to become a sovereign state, l guess the plan is to finance it as we do, begging other country for alms!

Or is it the smell of big bucks from the granting of a license to mine bauxite in a section of the Cockpit country, owned partly by the Maroons, which is driving this new thrust?

Things are changing fast among some Maroons I dare say.

I remember once travelling to beautiful Millbank, in Portland and meeting the Moore Town Maroon leader. I instantly fell in love with the entire area that they occupy in the Blue and John Crow mountains, where the lazy Rio Grande River meanders lazily through the cool, lush countryside.

I have also been fortunate enough to have already visited the Charles Town and Scotts Hall Maroon settlements. Fortunate I say, since no one who knows where this new revolutionary thrust will end up. 

Will the day soon come when we need visas to visit Maroon lands because Richard 1V managed to unite all the Maroons and become their king?

The abeng, once used by Maroons to communicate 

Today, that sounds like wild speculation, but these days, one can never write off erratic leaders or speculate exactly how they will change things. For, even the powerful USA, once considered a stable democracy, is now unrecognizable, thanks to an equally erratic leader.

So let's hope this situation does not deteriorate to the point where we hear the blowing of Abengs and the beating of Maroon drums, for we already have enough violence and turmoil in our beautiful tiny island.

You tube link; https://youtu.be/DIMwZo8vTHo


Tuesday, January 4, 2022

KSAC a cesspool of corruption

I believe it was former US speaker, Tip O’Neil, who first publicly made the observation, “All politics is local.” That is certainly true and recently it appears that our PM Andrew Holness got the drift. For I heard in a newscast for 2022, where he said that, no matter how well the government is doing, what affects people most is that pothole at the front gate.

Well, I have literally and metaphorically had that pothole at my gate for decades and it’s is there because of the entrenched corruption at the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC).

While I could write a book about the potholes, I will bypass that today to deal with the rabid corruption which prevents the KSAC from enforcing the appropriate and severe laws concerning the building breaches in our city.

I was only reminded of our own years of frustration, on reading the comments by the judge involved in the case at 10 Roseberry Drive, where the development company, in full view of all, constructed 32 bedrooms on a property approved for just 12.

This exposure followed closely on similar breaches exposed at 17 Birdsucker Drive. These cases only came to public attention as a result of court action taken by private citizens.

In the Birdsucker case, the judge described the local government authority as a ‘sleeping watchdog’ and in the case of Roseberry, the judge intimated that she thought corruption was involved.

I certainly don’t consider the KSAC a sleeping watchdog, for I know that it is a cesspool of corruption, spanning many administrations and decades.

You will note that from the two addresses cited above, some degree of affluence by residents there can be assumed, which has enabled them to take these matters to the courts.

But that was not the case in places like Richmond Park, Eastwood Park and Bedford Park, where this so-called sleeping watchdog, allowed residential areas to be completely destroyed, despite the pleas of the citizens.

I can speak directly about Bedford Park, where one of the operators who illegally operated commercial businesses in the residential area, told members of the citizens association many years ago, “Mi hab money so oono caan move mi.

Time has proven him perfectly correct, for despite the regular reports to the KSAC regarding the breaches, the number of illegal operators in the area simply increased and the roads destroyed, as they were not built to withstand commercial activity.

Every administration (PNP and JLP) at the KSAC received complaints from residents at Bedford Park over the decades, but as the problem only escalated, as the political operatives at this corrupt institution, just got richer before our very eyes.

In the latest case of the watchdog ‘sleeping’ while obvious building and operating breaches continued in full view, two employees have been sent on leave.

That will not solve the problem of corruption at the KSAC as that’s not the level where the problem is and certainly not where the buck stops.

The problem there is one of the inherent corruption and only the arrest and imprisonment of political operatives who are in charge, but who regard this institution as a private money tree, can deal with it.

 I wouldn’t hold my breath though, since politicians from both parties have demonstrated over the year what their only interest is, when they get elected to that lucrative institution.

Yes, it’s a new year, but very little will change in local governance in Kingston and probably around the entire island. As people become more disgusted with local governance, you will see even lower voter turnouts than the 37% in the last election for people have lost faith in the ability of politicians to play by the rules and serve the public interest, not only theirs.

Despite the recent court findings, that situation will never change and only bodes well only for those who support anarchy, badmanism and corruption.  

And no, I am no longer the eternal optimist.

 

 

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Corruption killing Jamaica

Mi nuh come fi count cow, mi come fi drink milk.”

That is a popular proverb in Jamaica and I swear it’s the motto of most of our politicians.

While the majority will not admit that it is their motto though, I once heard a politician who was a deacon in a church, saying it quite unabashedly!

He clearly realized that we Jamaicans do not really take public corruption seriously, as we refuse to connect the dots.

Our poor country has suffered immensely and unnecessarily as a result of our tolerance of political corruption though.

Sadly, the corruption in Jamaica has become so entrenched that this story published in the Gleaner of December 5th, 2021 entitled “US$100-million gap, Financial review uncovers missing funds CAP paid to Jamalco” barely elicited a collective yawn.

 That is not millions, but billions!

This latest revelation has made the other recent scandals at Petrojam, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Airports Authority and on and on, seem almost insignifican. But when they are all added up, we begin to see the extent to which this country is being ravaged by the few politically attached, who are rarely ever brought to justice.

For the benefit of the uninformed, CAP a publicly-owned a bauxite producer and alumina refinery which is flush with money. And when you consider the terrible unmitigated damage that the bauxite mining industry has done to our environment over the years, this revelation is even more devastating.

What is sad is that while the majority seem happy to accept the theft/misappropriation of the country’s resources, (the refrain often is “di other side do it to”) they fail to understand how this endemic corruption is causing the violent crime about which everyone is bawling.

Let me put it simply.  

I am old enough to remember the days when violent crime was the exception not the rule, as every community had organized activities for the youth. This was facilitated in community centres which were properly equipped with cricket fields, football fields and all sorts of other sporting/domestic science activities, to keep young people fully engaged while they learnt competitiveness and even new skills after school.

Due to the perennial ‘lack of funds’ since the 90’s however, these facilities were scrapped so it’s the gangs and the guns that the young people now have available to keep them occupied and socialized in the wrong areas.

Don’t believe me. Just go into the archives and read the myriad of reports that have been done on how to reduce violent crime and you will see the most common recommendation is; social intervention at the community level, not States of Emergency.   

Even if we must use States of Emergency occasionally to deal with special situations, do we have adequately trained and renumerated police for this to be successful?

Absolutely not.

Our police force is notoriously corrupt and ineffective. Could it be because we are only able to recruit mostly from the bottom of the barrel because of the poor renumeration and working conditions?

I certainly think this is the major problem.

Yes, there is a direct connection between our resources constantly being stolen and misappropriated, whether through central government, local government or the myriad of uncontrolled government boards, many of which exist simply as feeding trees for the political elites and their henchmen.

Oh yes, we are sometimes appeased by announcements of steps to be taken to minimize corruption, but don’t hold your collective breaths. For Jamaica does not suffer from a lack of laws and regulations but from the absence of enforcement.

So, while it is required that public bodies all present audited returns annually, some are even decades in arrears. In the meantime, the horses have long bolted with our resources and there are never any consequences, while the people perish.

And we will continue to perish and be held hostage by violent criminals, until we the populace, connect the dots between the massive corruption in government and violent crime and rise up, determined to bring it to an end.

 https://youtu.be/OWfyPuF80cQ

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Return to DC

The world is so huge and beautiful and we have so little time here, that I have often resolved not to visit anywhere more than once. 

There have to be a few exceptions of course.


One is been Washington DC, due to the Smithsonian and Georgetown.

The last time I visited, was probably over 30 years ago, so have long been yearning to return, especially since learning that the Smithsonian Zoo had added pandas. 

You see, China is nowhere on my bucket list so the only place I will see pandas is at a zoo!

Then there is the addition of the African American Museum (designed in the shape of the crown of an African queen) into the extensive complex of Smithsonian musea. And of course, the Martin Luther King memorial.



After several false starts, I finally made it back to DC in November 2021, just before thanksgiving. But alas my timing was bad, for on trying to get into the wonderful, informative Natural History Museum, saw a line stretching around two blocks in under 60 degree temperature.

Section of Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

I had been taken to the Natural History Museum by long-lost cousins, but when we saw that the visit was fruitless due to the long line, I got a tour of old Alexandria, Virginia, where they live.

That trip was extremely enlightening as previously, when I heard of Virginia, I thought of lynchings and other horrible things.

Not up north in Alexandria though. That is really a charming city built on a section of the Potomac River with full view of the Ronald Reagan airport. 

It’s a favorite among people who love to relax by the river, enjoy delicious seafood and the charm of the area, while watching planes take off and land.

I belong to that type of crowd!

That short tour of the quaint, artsy waterfront and old Alexandria in general, certainly whet my appetite and I will certainly like to return during the summer.

I ventured back into DC on Thanksgiving afternoon and was happy to get into the Natural Science Museum for about an hour before closing time. But as it was late, so I just did not get to see all I wanted to.

My luck with the African American Museum was also bad, for I never researched the entry conditions, so never knew that you had to make an appointment to get in. When I tried on-line, the earliest date for entry was December 9th 2021.

Its shaped like the crown of an African queen

Strike 2  but not really out as I did get to visit the Martin Luther King Memorial and it is as wonderful as one could expect it to be. For apart from his statue, the entire complex is filled with quotes from the great man etched, into the walls surrounding the statue.

A most appropiate and deserving memorial.

Of course, I did revisit the white house area and was surprised to observe that the office of the vice president appears to be much larger than those attached to the white house. 

Maybe the presidents just talk and the veeps do all the work. Who knows?

Of course, based on the news, I expected to see several demonstrations around the white house but only saw mostly secret service people and one lone lady, with a placard calling for the removal of troops from Corea, (Korea,) using the original spelling!

Corea!
There was also a man in a camp across the street from the white house, where he appears to live, surrounded by placards on just about every subject.

Then there was good old Georgetown, one of my favorite places in the USA. 

While there are quite a few high rises added, it really has not lost its charm, thank heavens.
Placards galore

Yes, I know, I tell myself that I need not visit any place more than once, but it is clear that I will have to return to DC and its environs from time to time, if I really want to keep up with the tremendous strides in updating the history of the USA.

MEMORIES

Georgetown has retained its charm

Another section of Georgetown


Section of Georgetown



Secret service everywhere




A reminder at the Lincoln memorial

This art complex is called torpedo! Thats a real one behind me😏

This is the largest orangutan I have ever seen









The Veep's office in DC











 

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Machu Picchu Exhibition



One country that was way up on my bucket was Peru.

You see, I am a history buff, especially when it comes to the life of indigenous people.

Peru is replete with this kind of information as it has one of the longest histories of civilization of any country, going back as far as the 10th millennium BCE. 


Their civilizations ranged from the Norte Chico civilization to the Inca Empire, the largest state in the pre-Columbian Americas.

The most famous relic of Inca civilization is Machu Picchu, often referred to as the "Lost City of the Incas". The Incas built it around 1450 and occupied it until around 1532 when they abandoned it after the Spanish conquest, according to the radiocarbon-dating.


Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historic Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and in 2007, it was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide internet poll.


Their capital is Cusco, centered on the Andean Mountain ranges, and having heard so much about that empire, it was my main drawing card to that country for years.

This desire was driven even more, when my best friend, a flight attendant, went there and told me what a wonderful experience it was, despite having to travel on narrow, winding roads atop deep scary ravines, to get there.

Although I hate heights, that description did not scare me one bit as my desire to see it for myself was overwhelming.


Boca Raton mueseum of art

However, I had not been able to realize my dream due to lack of funds. So, when I learnt that a Machu Picchu exhibition would be on display near me at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, wild horses could not prevent me from attending.

So, I went and it was everything I had expected. But guess what, when I saw the actual height of this fabulous archeological wonder in3D, I knew immediately that the trip to get up there was not for me! For, it brought back such vivid memories of the time I climbed a pyramid in Mexico. Going up, no problem. Looking down, major trauma!



So, thanks to Boca Raton Museum for the wonderful exposure to the wonders of that ancient empire but more importantly, curing my desire to make a trek to somewhere that would have scared the hell out of me!😁


But if you are not a scaredy-cat like me, it must be an awesome place to visit.