Way back in the age of Dinosaurs, when I was a young reporter at the Gleaner, I sometimes found myself sidetracked in my research in the newspaper's 'morgue' where dusty volumes of old newspapers told the Gleaner's version of Jamaica's history. I worked alongside of some of the reporters who had reported that history, names well-known then, forgotten now: Martin (M.A.G.S) Smith, Vincent Truman who went to jail and nearly took me with him, Ulric Simmonds, C.T. Walters, Calvin Bowen and the imperturbable Percy Trottman. Over a drink some almost incredible stories came out, which is how I happened on the story of the racehorse's egg.
A shaggy horse story
Somewhere in the mid-1930s a very plausible con-man found on a beach somewhere, a beautiful sea-stone, weighing several pounds and perfectly egg-shaped. There had to be some higher purpose to this stone than decorating a beach, and with a little careful thought he divined exactly what that purpose was. And that insight led almost inexorably to his facing a charge of obtaining money by false pretences and a spell as the guest of HM George VI in the St Catherine District prison.
Our con-man had found – somewhere in Vere, Clarendon – an Indian gentleman, who was well off and ready to bet on anything. The con-man approached him in confidence with the story that Jamaica's leading racehorse had recently laid an egg and the con-man had at great danger and expense, managed to posses himself of said egg. Would the Indian gentleman care to buy a share in the egg? To ensure confidentiality the con-man insisted that the egg needed to be incubated by a human being so that when the young racehorse hatched, no one else would know whence it came and it could go on to win races and money for the proud owners.
I promise you I'm not making this up.
After the Indian gentleman and his wife had spent some months taking turns carefully incubating the egg as instructed, they confidently expected to be the proud foster parents of a young thoroughbred. When said thoroughbred did not emerge and the con-man could no longer be found, they set about the egg hoping to free the young racehorse. After tentative tapping produced no result they went at the egg hammer and tongs, discovering eventually, that the egg was solid rock.
The cops were summoned and in due course the case was before the courts.
I am reminded of the Racehorse Egg by the saga of the Falmouth Cruise Ship port which we are told, will bring floods of day-trippers to Falmouth, rendering that beautiful old town totally unfit for human habitation.
Jamaica, it seems, needs a designated super-borrower, an entity whose duty is to ensure that Jamaica is as financially over-extended as possible, no doubt to prevent hostile take-over bids from Cayman or Bermuda. In the 70s and 80s this function was admirably discharged by the UDC who issued IOUs and other promissory notes to banks all over. Now, the UDC having run out of steam, its labours have been assumed by the Port Authority of Jamaica, which, like the UDC, seems to have been called by God to perform plastic surgery on the geography of Jamaica.
It was the UDC we need to remember, that by sanitising the Negril Morass, is mainly responsible for the current vulnerability of the Morass to destructive fires and for the erosion of most of Negril's famous seven mile beach.
The NRCA advised by the scientists of the NRCD, told the UDC 30 years ago what was likely to happen, but the UDC, like the PAJ today, knows better than any number of ecological scientists and 'over-educated Rasta' environmentalist activist journalists.
As Mr Moses Matalon pointed out to me: "Mr Maxwell you are not an engineer" and he was deeply hurt when I retorted by pointing out that neither was he.
I am sure Mr Tony Hylton will tell me the same thing. He is about to build a $200 US Million dollar port at Falmouth which is fated to be a disaster even more spectacular than the Doomsday Highway.
Mr Hylton probably knows more about investment finance than Mr Warren Buffet, who is either the world's richest man or its second richest. Mr Buffet thinks the world financial system is going to be in turmoil for some time to come. Mr Hylton does not think so.
Mr Hylton has tied the Port Authority's fortunes to those of the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines which is aiming to be one of Jamaica's leading competitors as a destination.
Royal Caribbean is largely owned by the Pritzker family, who have got inordinately rich by the simple expedient of paying little or no tax on their considerable earnings.
Royal Caribbean continues the Pritzker's voracious appetite for money by transforming itself from a cruise line to a floating destination. You read that right.
What RCCL is doing is to transform their ships into the seagoing equivalents of Montego Bay, Negril, Las Vegas or Miami Beach.
On their newest ship, the oxymoronic Oasis of the Seas five thousand or so passengers will be housed in a floating resort town, with casinos, discos, nightclubs, dozens of restaurants, fitness centres, adventure playgrounds, bijou jungles, forests and beaches, parks, promenades, boardwalks, mini-golf courses, swimming pools, rock climbing walls, tennis courts, water sports, basketball courts, ice-skating rinks, jogging tracks, and of course, no importunate natives.
THe ship will be its own destination and its visits to places like Jamaica will be simply to dispose of waste, take on cheap water and give the staff some R&R and allow passengers to go molest some caged wildlife.
RCCL had a dreadful year last year and this year found its bonds reduced to junk rating and it was unable to find money to finance its half-built new destination/liner. The line has been rescued by the Finnish shipyard and the Finnish government who were already in the hole for hundreds of millions and figured that they might as well throw good money after bad because it would cost even more to scrap a half built cruise ship. If they completed the ship someone might buy it for a hotel.
Mr Hylton's vision of paradise for Falmouth is that the classic Georgian town will be reduced to an American style theme park, a la "Colonial Williamsburg" for the exclusive use of the cruise ship passengers and people with foreign credit cards. For this he is putting Jamaica in debt for between 100 and 200 million US with no guarantee that this investment will ever be repaid. One wonders what this money would return if it were invested in small farms, small business and in education. Instead, those whose education and skill-building could have been paid for by this money, will slave until their children's children's generation to pay for Mr Hylton's vision.
Falmouth will become a cultural and financial free-zone, owing no allegiance to Jamaica and paying a modicum of tax, since offshore banks will find happy havens here, to provide temporary landing pads for foreign currency on its way to its natural habitat - offshore.
But I have news for Mr Hylton. Falmouth is the estuary of the Martha Brae and the Martha Brae brings down millions of tons of silt every year. The Oasis of the Seas is going to run aground regularly in Falmouth unless the harbour is regularly dredged at great expense . And dredging, of course, is one of the Port Authority's areas of expertise with its Belgian partners who triumphantly relocated millions of tons of Kingston Harbour's toxic waste for the greater good of Portmore.
As I pointed out in a column in February 2002, (People at Risk):
"… persistent organic pollutants (POPs) or Persistent Bio-accumulative Toxics (PBT's) remain in the environment for decades, even centuries in some cases and travel far beyond their initial points of release. And as long as they exist, they accumulate in the bodies of animals and people.
"The Port Authority admits that the toxics in Kingston Harbour include (among others) : Arsenic, Benzene, Cadmium, Chlordane, Chloroform, Chromium, Cresols, 2,4-D9 (aka Agent Orange) dichlorobenzene, dichlorethane, dinitrotoluene, Endrin, Heptachlor, Hexachlorobutadiene, lead, lindane, mercury, nitrobenzene, pentachlorophenol, pyridine, selenium, tetrachloroethylene, toxaphene , 4,5 Trichlorophenol and vinyl chloride.
"Many PBTs are associated with a range of adverse human health effects, including damage to nervous systems and deformities of the sex organs and reproductive systems generally and associated developmental problems, cancer, plus genetic impacts. They not only deform people now living, but may deform people not yet conceived. Particular risks may be posed to the developing fetus or young child where critical organs, such as the central nervous system and the reproductive system, are under development. "
Since the Port Authority did not bother to address my concerns then I have no doubt that they will ignore them now. And when I look back at what I warned the UDC about at Negril, and my prediction of the financial and ecological disaster that is the Millennium Highway, I cannot help but wonder why I don't find some racehorse eggs to sell our Jamaican ginnigogs. And I remember that classic line in the 1954 World Bank Report on Jamaica: In practice, absolute ownership in Jamaica means the absolute right of the owner to ruin the land in his own way.
Haiti Elections and Persistent Journalistic Falsehoods
The Vichy-water government of Haiti purported to hold elections for the Senate a few days ago.
The results were disappointing and the free press of the western world reported it this way:
No winners in 1st round of Haiti Senate election,
said AP and their approach was typical
No obvious winner in Haiti's Senate poll
No clear winners in Haiti Senate elections
No winners emerge from Senate elections in Haiti; June runoff set
Reading these headlines would never lead you to suspect that there was in fact a very clear winner in the elections.
The Fanmi Lavalas, loyal to President Aristide, advised Haitians to stay away from the polls, because it refused to accept the corrupt machinations of the electoral authority. The authority had tried to sabotage the candidacy of the Fanmi Lavalas.
SO Lavalas told the Haitians to boycott the elections. Only about one in ten turned up to vote according to the authorities.
Lavalas says the real turnout was less than one percent.
That would seem to indicate a landslide win for Lavalas. If there was no clear winner there was certainly a clear loser: the Elite-American-Canadian-French-UN occupation authorities
The Haitian people clearly passed a massive vote of no confidence in the whole fraudulent Vichy-water mess. The free press, of course, has other ideas and its own Democratic agenda.
Copyright©2009 John Maxwell
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