26 October 2009

red leaves

down south you forget the ripening leaves

and chilly mornings of bright october

no matter for redly a dying time grieves


sunlight on water fair smiling deceives

at dawn the frost shone hard on grass and clover

down south you forget the ripening leaves


yet clock there remains the swiftest of thieves

treating the same way both stayer and rover

no matter for redly a dying time grieves


telling each young one that what he believes

is false never true and patience is over

down south you forget the ripening leaves


slowly to slaughter we marched off the beeves

a suitable task for the youthful drrover

no matter how redly a dying time grieves


the adult must measure how much he achieves

in calm acquiescence knowingly sober

down south you forget the ripening leaves

no matter how redly a dying time grieves

25 October 2009


forbear to throw more weight upon the ass

since longer journey we must soon begin

the copper coin that the lone guide shall spin

no better guide through the hardest impasse

since at the end there may be but rough grass

and all our commons could turn out most thin

still none of that our better hope's to win

leaving our enemies in the morass

the hardest victory is still the first

when no experience is on our side

but suffering so all we know is pain

so we must say this has to be the worst

in largest part just to protect our pride

but also to account for your huge gain

franking privilege

a single miss enough to count as grave

no one to note but you and you are sly

might grant yourself a pardon and know why

it is an easy thing to grant or save

no man or woman dares to be too brave

and nothing is less honest than the eye

or ear while happy mouth has just to lie

no one need argue they need but behave

the politic approach is what we take

in angry time when nothing matches might

and everyone needs bow before the claw

while honest people lie for hours awake

not knowing what disasters wait in night

but certain that silenced has been the law

In Defence of Life

John Maxwell

Freedom and Liberty are properties of a free society.
A free society is one which is able to govern itself because all its members have equal right to take part in making the rules by which it is governed
All of us are equal and no one is more 'Equal' than any other. Mr Anthony Hylton has no more right to decide the fate of Falmouth than does the most miserable homeless person on the streets of Yallahs or Heartease.
All sorts of far-reaching decisions affecting work, health, security and welfare are being taken by people who believe that their temporary authority gives them the right to change the rules under which we operate – usually to their advantage.
Obviously, governments must be able to change the ordinary rules to fit them better to public satisfaction, but there are some rules that are so important that they should always require a special mandate from the society – a certification that the people have discussed the question and agree how it should be resolved.
In modern democracies, particularly those who take their cues from the US, there has arisen a tendency to employ hysteria and expensive public relations campaigns to change laws to accommodate some private interest with the excuse that such change will benefit the public. The snow job of the 20th century was the eventually successful campaign to neuter the Glass-Steagall Act, of which you have probably never heard. What you may have observed, however, is the catastrophic human suffering and financial carnage which were consequences of the dismantling of the Act.
The Glass-Steagall Act was the last constraint preventing US banks from turning themselves into casinoes, bucket shops and high class financial brothels, evading tax, breaking laws left, right and centre while pauperising millions of working and middleclass people all over the world.
This week, a personage as august and unlikely as the Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, launched his campaign for the breaking up of the big banks, plus tough new regulations to force them to behave more like banks and less like the Mafia.
In his drive to break up the banks Mr King joins a distinguished assemblage on this side of the Atlantic. They include, mirabile dictu, Alan Greenspan, the single major factor in the recent lunacy; Mr Paul Volcker, Greenspan's predecessor; the former eminence grise of the IMF, Stanley Fischer; Nobel prizewinning economists including Joe Stiglitz and Ed Prescott, MIT professor and former Chief Economist at the World Bank Don Johnson, the president of the Independent Community Bankers of America (5,000 members); the head of the FDIC (Bank regulator) Sheila Bair; the leading monetary economist and co-author with Milton Friedman of the leading treatise on the Great Depression, Anna Schwartz; Profs. Nouriel Roubini and Prem Sikka and a whole galaxy of economists of greater or lesser magnitude. Eliot Spitzer, former Attorney General and Governor of New York says that the only people who don't seem to understand what's necessary are President Obama and his advisers, Geithner, Summers and Bernanke – and, of course, Goldman Sachs.
Whatever happens, whether the banks are rationally re-sectioned or simply collapse from the weight of their criminal incompetence and corruption, it should be obvious to all of us that the cost of snow jobs may be catastrophic and may engulf entire societies.


Hanging for Abortion ?

More than half a century ago there was published one of the first, if not the first scientific survey of a Jamaican population. It was authored by J. Mayone Stycos and Don Mills, both of whom are now world famous. The survey was as far as I can remember called something like the Jamaican Fertility Survey and it investigated the practice and prospects of family planning among Jamaican women. I am reminded by references on the Internet that this was a groundbreaking study for several reasons, among them its developing country primacy, but also because it contained devices which could test the veracity of the respondents.
This was necessary because of the intimacy of the questions and the suspicions of a largely illiterate sample in an exercise that was totally new to them.
For me, the most surprising result of the survey was that Roman Catholics, largely middle class, were the most enthusiastic receivers of family planning information and were the most likely to practice birth control. The better educated, the more likely to accept family planning, regardless of faith.
In its latest fantasia the Don Anderson polls report that Just under 80 per cent of adult Jamaicans surveyed believe that abortion is murder, and "are strongly convinced that abortion should be regarded as murder …"

This of course brings up some serious questions, especially with the Opposition baying for capital punishment in a savage reversion to primal mores; with the leader of the Opposition asking the rest of the world to be charitable towards Jamaica's new taste for barbarism and with the government apparently willing to ' do a ting' for any interest group that can seriously allege that it has 500 votes.
Will Mr Golding consider hanging (working class) women who abort, the doctors and others who assist them? Are we preparing for American style shoot-outs at doctor's offices?
Are we really ready for the logical consequences of our lunacy?
Before we do ourselves serious mental, physical, material, economic and political injury I would ask my readers to have a look at some thoughts of a learned Roman Catholic nun, who is also a theologian and one who has worked among poor people for most of her life.
Sister Ivonne Gebara was silenced by her Archbishop, Cardinal Cardozo Sobrinho of Recife, and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of Brazil. In refusing to shut up, Sister Gebara replied:

In Defence of LIfe

"The question of legalized abortion has for too many years undergone a notable process of mutation, not only in society in general, but also in the church.  In the same way as the mirrors and the coloured stones of the social and religious kaleidoscope change, so too do the discussions concerning this difficult question; and this has generated a tremendous diversity of philosophical, religious, psychological, political, and legal discussions, not always with the direct participation of women. 
"Today I am in favour of decriminalizing and legalizing abortion as one means of lessening the violence against life.  I am also aware of the inherent irritations of this position, and of the difficulties, legal and otherwise, due in particular to the inefficiency of our public institutions. 
"Living in a neighbourhood on the periphery of the city and having contact with the suffering of hundreds of women (especially poor women who live under tremendous stress due to their personal problems as well as problems of survival), gives me the necessary backing for some of the affirmations that in conscience I must make.  I address the question more from the perspective of poor women because they are the main victims of this tragic situation. 
"According to statistics published by various health organizations, it is estimated that in Brazil there are millions of illegal abortions annually, with maternal mortality at 10 percent.  Such frightening figures are indicators of a serious social problem that needs to be brought under control.  Thus, it is primarily the duty of the state to guarantee order and to legislate in a way that assures that the life of all citizens is respected.  Legalizing abortion does not mean the affirmation of the 'goodness,' 'innocence,' or even 'unconditional defence' of the act of abortion: rather, it offers the possibility of humanizing and making safe what is already being practiced. 


"Legalizing abortion is merely one of the important aspects of a broader struggle within a society that condones the social abortion of its sons and daughters.  A society that does not provide the conditions of adequate employment, health, housing, and schools is an abortive society.  A society that obliges women to choose between keeping their jobs and terminating a pregnancy is an abortive society.  A society that continues to permit pregnancy testing as a requirement for hiring women is abortive.  A society that remains silent about the responsibility of the men and blames only women, disrespects their bodies and their history, that is exclusive and sexist, is an abortive society. 

"Decriminalizing abortion could be considered, according to this way of thinking, a means to perpetuate institutionalized violence; a kind of violent response to a violent situation.  But such a thesis would apply only if the thousands of abortions and women's deaths did not in fact already exist.  As these are indisputable facts, to legislate them in the most respectful manner possible becomes a way of diminishing the violence against women and society in general. 

"In this line of thought, to focus on the 'defense of the innocent' from its most embryonic stage, as some people propose, is a way of concealing the indiscriminate killing of whole populations – who are equally innocent albeit in a different way – as a result of wars, or of economic, political, military, and cultural processes that take place in our societies today. 

"For me as a Christian, to defend decriminalizing and regulating abortion does not mean disavowing the traditional teachings of the Gospel of Jesus and the church; rather it is a way of entering into them more deeply given the paradox of our human history, a way of actually decreasing violence against life. 
"Christian principles, as well as others, do not always withstand the imperatives of concrete life, imperatives that make us more compliant, more merciful, more understanding, and more convinced that the law is for people and not people for the law; that the law should help us in our weakness, above all when our liberty is crushed by unjust structures that do not permit the realization of free and totally human acts. 

"My position with regard to the decriminalization and legalization of abortion, as a citizen, a Christian, and a member of a religious community is one of denouncing the evil, the institutionalized violence, the abuses, and the hypocrisy that envelop us.  It is a testimony to life; it is in defense of life." 

Sister Gebara now teaches at the Union Theological Seminary in New York. The clipping was sent to me by one of my readers, Fred Nunes.

I think all who intend to take part in this discussion owe themselves the duty and privilege of re-reading Sister Gebara's testimony.

Copyright©2009 John Maxwell jankunnu@gmail.com

18 October 2009

The Truth & the Public Interest

John Maxwell

On Monday, in this newspaper I made an astonishing and disconcerting discovery. The Don Anderson poll, on the basis of 535 interviews announced that 90% of Jamaicans agreed that a foetus is a human being.
I knew that many Jamaicans were ignorant, but I had no idea that so many of us were so clueless.
I then became extremely offended by this so called poll because I am almost certain that 90% of Jamaicans cannot give any sensible definition of the word 'foetus'. In addition the number of respondents is too small, we have no idea how they were selected (were they all churchgoers?) and the questions were unscientific and unbalanced.

My apprehension was confirmed on Wednesday, when the Observer, to my absolute incredulity published one of the most misleading news stories I have ever read.
According to the Anderson poll, reported by the Observer

"Abortions being done without knowledge that foetus is real child, poll finds."

If the Observer can provide proof that a "foetus is a real child", that foetuses are 'real' children I will donate whatever the newspaper pays me over the next year to the Mustard Seed Community or to any charity of their choice.
I would like to ask the sponsor of the poll – the Mustard Seed Community, the polltaker, Don Anderson and the Observer to publicly explain the process by which they have arrived at the determination that a foetus is a child.

This is extremely important, because if a foetus is a 'real child' – the rules of science will need urgent revision and the teaching of biology and sociology will be revolutionised.
I believe that public discourse, particularly public discourse designed to influence public opinion and to change the laws by which we are governed, must be conducted ethically.
That is to say all the participants must recognise the right of the public to be told the truth, so that when they make up their minds they do so rationally and not because they have been misinformed by lies or misled by hysteria.
I define a fact as a statement susceptible to independent verification. Facts will turn out to be facts whoever is looking at them and wherever. They don't change whether the scientist is a Muslim, a Christian or an atheist.
Different belief systems have their own attitude to certain facts but the attitude does not alter the fact. Scientists may be moral persons according to their lights, but neither their DNA nor the instruments they use have any moral status.
To argue, as the so-called pro-life faction argues, that human life begins at conception is nonsense. Human life began a long time ago and conception is simply another link in a continuum which began long before human consciousness.
There is an old joke about a young woman coming aboard a tram, looking a little exhausted. Seeing all seats filled she goes to a nice young man and asks for his seat, on the ground that she is pregnant. He yields his seat and, out of shameless curiosity asks–
"And how long have you been pregnant?"
"About fifteen minutes", she says.

Laws for Nomads

The Israelites needed as much manpower as their small tribe could muster, so when they codified the rules of their society they made an example of Onan, who spilled his seed rather than impregnating his widowed sister in law. For this he was put to death, an example enlarged and magnified to terrify young boys with the perils of masturbation.
Science has now discovered that those who masturbate or otherwise spill their seed in non-procreative events are less likely to be killed by prostate cancer than those who dont.
There are all kinds of people telling us that we must pay literal tribute to the holy books of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
They all forget who wrote the books and when. Divine inspiration is one thing, but even God has been reported to have changed his mind.
And, as we wear our invisible phylacteries it may be useful to remember that
"The Sabbath was made for man; not man for the Sabbath."

Is a jelly coconut a tree?

To describe a foetus as a human being does violence to language, science and commonsense.
The girl on the bus may have been impregnated and one of her ova may have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of some fortunate spermatozoon, but she certainly was not pregnant and could not be described as "with child".
Nature itself disposes of dozens of potential Einsteins, long before even their sex is determined. A woman's heavy period may well be nature's way of rejecting a defective gamete, despatching some hapless haploid without inquiring about personhood. Spontaneous abortions, miscalled miscarriages, are nature's way of deleting unwanted processes, and foetuses are processes long before they become people.
A jelly coconut has encoded in it all the information it requires to become a tree – just as a foetus has all the information it needs to become a living human being. But a jelly coconut can no more be described as a tree than a foetus may be described as a person.
One well established and notorious fact ignored by those who would criminalise abortion is that criminalisation does not inhibit – even slightly – the practice of abortion. What it does do is to promote illegal, backstreet abortions which every year kill four times as many women as all the men, women and children killed in any of the first four years of the Iraq war.
I do not understand how anyone knowing this fact can, with a clear conscience, contemplate the criminalisation of abortion, because they know or ought to know that the only measurable effect of criminalisation is in killing women who do not want, for whatever reason, to have a child.
To force women to bear children they do not want has a measurable effect in domestic violence, in brutalised children and eventually in minor and major criminality. I do not understand why it is OK if the body rejects the foetus, but not if the mind does. And I cannot understand the intellectual sadism and emotional brutishness that tries to prohibit abortion even in cases of rape, including child rape.
Those who call themselves 'pro-life' should put their money where their mourths are. Every one of them should, as an earnest of their sincerity, adopt an unwanted child. Otherwise they are responsible for every bully, domestic brutaliser, pedophile, rapist and murderer that they let loose upon the rest of us.
Those who preach responsibility should practice it.



Making Jamaica work

The same old soothsayers are at the same old corners peddling the same old garbage.
Jamaica is in a recession and has been for a long time. But it's going to get worse. So the same old bull is trotted out.
• Cut wages
• Cut labour forces
• Cut off our noses to spite the unions.
Nobody asks these geniuses to explain the effects their 'solutions' will have and how soon. They are our paid 'Theorisers and their theories are the equivalent of prayers to a God yet to be revealed.
Life is funny. According to a story this week, "Bauxite sours milk," Jamaica is in a bind because Mr Deripaska, the Russian oligarch is having financial problems which may hurt Jamaica because one of his companies, Windalco, produces one in every four gallons of milk consumed in Jamaica.
Some of us remember when a few years ago, as a consequence of globalisation and the advice of our IMF parakeets, millions of gallons of milk were dumped into drains and gullies. Dozens of Jamaican dairies failed. One of the major beneficiaries of that policy, Nestlé, has taken its most of its business to the Dominican Republic and is now importing ice cream from Colombia.
We followed the idiot Theorists and their lies have crippled us.
FOR INSTANCE: Now that the world is looking for a small, tough drought resistant high yielding milch cow just like the Jamaica Hope, we cannot even begin to think of responding to the demand. Those who preached against import substitution and self-reliance are still doing it, and when their time runs out here will get good jobs in the World Bank and the IMF advising some other potential economic suicide.
We need to deny airspace and house room to these idiots. I remember saying so in 1994 on the Breakfast Club when our resident jackasses were advising us against subsidising interest rates for farmers.
Time, they say, longer than rope!
What we really need are some simple proven practical solutions. We have two major problems:
•     WE need more – not fewer – people working, and more money in circulation at the bottom of the society.
•     We need to prepare for global warming, climate change and all kinds of disasters.
An intelligent development policy will combine these two needs and solve both problems:
To protect our land we need to plant more trees, fruit trees on hillsides. We need to employ teenagers in this job and combine their work with literacy and skill training
We need to convert cane-land into food growing land, with diversified small farmers feeding themselves and trading their surpluses. WE need to abolish the plantation-agribusiness-slavery mentality which has destroyed farming in Jamaica.
If a man cannot make a more than adequate living off 500 acres he has no business owning land. Limiting land ownership will limit waste and improve food production.
Planting the hillsides will not only occupy many young people, it will decrease soil erosion, increase productivity especially of food; revitalise the fisheries, especially Kingston Harbour. Planting the hillsides will also increase water supply, increase water quality and help restore the beaches.
Increasing economic activity by public works must include building more schools, particularly in the most deprived areas. More schools mean more teachers so we give incentives to teachers and tax the MBAs to pay for them. WE need to build more playing fields and arts and crafts schools and to bring farming into all schools, including university.
We need to reinvent Jamaica Welfare and pump money and manpower into the building of social capital by the Jamaica Agricultural Society and the Ministry of Agriculture's Experimental stations and hugely expanded Extension Department.
Above all, we need to put ideas like these before the people and see what they make of them and then we need to fund them to put their ideas into practice.
The murder rate, I guarantee, will go right down.

Copyright©2009 John Maxwell jankunnu@gmail.com

11 October 2009


have caught the missing moment of each day

taken it prisoner and won't release

a single second of our hope's increase

out of plain fear that golden light could stray

from warming hands that yet know how to play

the human game without harm or caprice

into cold air that would soon end all peace

sending the waiting watchers on their way

have known hard losses and much harder wins

on courses and on surfaces that yield

their gifts to those who have little to tell

though coldest nights save the long count of sins

serving as sustenance across the field

while each survivor wishes they could yell

Fantasies, Follies, and Frauds

John Maxwell

If all my email could be taken seriously I should by now be able to pay off a significant portion of Jamaica's public debt. Every day I get two or three emails such as this:
"You have just been awarded, £750.000.00 GBP in the Toyota Online Promo, send us your Names,Address etc, etc., " and, if I were foolish enough to comply I WOULD have entered on a long walk to real penury and not be just habitually broke.
If I ever won a really big lottery prize one thing is certain; I would immediately set up a small centre for the aggressive protection of the public interest.    
Some scams are only slightly more subtle than the bogus letters I get. The one I am about to relate might have succeeded because it was premised on
1/ the idea that the Jamaican government has no scientific advice available to it and
2/ the belief that all Jamaicans have swallowed the Concrete=Development Kool-Aid.
A little while ago, some con-man who must consider himself a genius, managed to get the Prime Minister to unwittingly embarrass himself in public.

According to the Gleaner: A new aluminium refinery plant is to be established on Jamaica's north coast to facilitate clean coal technology, Prime Minister Bruce Golding has revealed.

"There is a proposal before us for the establishment of a new alumina refinery that is under consideration. Inherent in that proposal is the idea of establishing a clean coal plant, which will have a capacity of 100 megawatts (MW), only 40 MW of which would be required for its processing facilities and the other 60MW would be available for sale to the national grid," he said.
Mr Golding went on to speak about 'combined cycle gas turbine power generation' as if this was a brand new JPS invention, instead of a process employed in this country for forty years.
I wish to suggest that Mr Golding immediately arm himself with a scientific adviser to prevent his being taken advantage of by unscrupulous Public Relations experts with more nerve than conscience.

There is no such thing as "clean coal" despite the Gleaner's glib attempt to pass off the expression thus: "Clean coal is an umbrella term used to describe methods that have been developed to reduce the environmental impact of coal-based electricity."

Goodbye, 'Goggle-eye'

That is in itself an idiotic explanation; coal-based electricity has no more environmental impact than any other electricity. The environmental impact comes from the power-plants that generate electricity and the impact depends on the fuels they use. Coal is by far the most environmentally dangerous fuel and the major contributor to global warming and climate change.
GREENPEACE expresses the case succinctly:
"Coal is a highly polluting energy source. It emits much more carbon per unit of energy than oil and natural gas. CO2 represents the major portion of greenhouse gases. It is, therefore, one of the leading contributors to climate change.…The huge environmental and social costs associated with coal usage make it an expensive option for developing countries. From acid drainage from coal mines, polluting rivers and streams, to the release of mercury and other toxins when it is burned, as well as climate-destroying gases and fine particulates that wreak havoc on human health, COAL is unquestionably, a DIRTY BUSINESS.
"It is a major contributor to climate change – the biggest environmental threat we face. It is the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel, emitting 29% more carbon dioxide (CO2) than oil, 80% more … per unit of energy than gas."
There are ways to make coal burning marginally less polluting but they are all expensive and some are dangerous.
The most basic efforts at burning coal more 'cleanly' involve enormous amounts of fresh water. Where in Jamaica would we get that from, and what would happen to the used water?
That water, if pumped into the ground would complete the poisoning of our groundwater now underway by the bauxite companies. If pumped into the sea it would acidify and poison the water and kill marine life. Goodbye goggle-eye.
And the hotels would be on water-rationing.
But the main challenge in 'clean coal' technology is not just sanitising the coal, it is to dispose safely of the carbon dioxide. So-called carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) involves extracting the CO2 from the smokestacks, and pressuring it until it freezes when, theoretically it will be pumped into secure salt domes and empty oil reservoirs deep underground.
There are two small objections to this scenario: one is that here are no known vacant subterranean spaces in this geologic neighbourhood; and second: the elevated seismic profile of this area is, a priori, a veto on such a practice.
While carbon dioxide may behave itself under pressure in sandstone, in limestone CO2 becomes chemically active and soon starts dissolving ways out of its subterranean confinement.
This is probably what is meant by the expression: "All Hell breaks loose!"
In this part of the world burning coal for any reason is an act of lunacy.
There are a few more small problems with building a bauxite plant in the Cockpit Country.
Above all is the naked threat to civilised values, the destruction of culture, the devastation of important, unique and irreplaceable biological resources, the irredeemable pollution of underground aquifers, the ethnic cleansing of history and tradition, the subversion of small farming and the eradication of our capacity to feed ourselves. From my point of view it looks a little like cultural genocide.

The Falmouth Fatuity

    A few months ago I told you about the enormous self-contained resort ships that are about to go into competition with the local tourist industry. These new Titanics, owned by the Royal Caribbean Lines, attempt to recreate a complete land based environment at sea. I wondered at the time at the wisdom of the Port Authority financing facilities designed to compete directly with our local hospitality industry. As I wrote six months ago:

"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, watersports, 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" (The Racehorse's Egg
April 30,2009)

The putative benefits of the Titanic visitations are supposedly that five thousand people a week will arrive to embark on frenzied tours of Jamaica, consuming local views, buying local goods, interacting with local people and distributing scarce benefits as they go.
The reality is different

Paul Motter, editor of the enthusiast Web site Cruisemates, said. "I think it's going to be the first ship where people truly book just for the ship and hardly care where it goes."
Tor Olsen, one of the ship's captains, quoted by the
Washington Post said:
Our hope, of course, is that people don't get off, because this ship itself is the destination," Olsen said. "This is better than a lot of the islands."

And even if the passengers disembark in Falmouth they will be carefully shepherded into those shops and attractions which have paid the cruise line – under the table – for 'approved' status.
The curio sellers can go peddle their papers somewhere else.

Human Roadblock

The Port Authority's scheme may have run into a small but significant roadblock. The PAJ, under some unknown authority, has decided to exercise its 'right' to clear the fishing village at Falmouth.
The Beach Control Authority, now part of the NRCA/NEPA complex, has a prescribed duty to defend the prescriptive rights of fishermen and the public to the beach. I would advise the fishermen of Falmouth to get a lawyer to serve a writ of mandamus on the     NRCA to compel them to do their duty and to take the PAJ to court to establish and entrench the human rights and public interest in this matter.
Which brings me to ask: what kind of Environmental Impact Assessment could have ignored those rights? And how could the NEPA approve such a fundamentally flawed development?
Unlike some people I believe the law should be a shackle – at least to prevent the unscrupulous extinction of the public rights and the public interest.
The media have not asked any serious questions about one of the largest single investments ever to be undertaken in this country – the transformation of our beautiful heirloom Falmouth into a gated them park for a specially invited clientele.
Jamaica is borrowing more than it can afford to repay, to build an exclusive pleasure dome to please the billionaire owners of Royal Caribbean Lines.
These people can get away with this only in Jamaica.
In Port Everglades where the taxpayers are building an even bigger version of the Falmouth Fantasy, the authorities there have shown what responsible development is.
In the first place, the Port Everglades facility will cost just half as much our Great Blue Elephant – US $75 million to US$140 million. In the second place Royal Caribbean is paying about half the cost of the Port Everglades facility:
"As part of the agreement, Royal Caribbean will reimburse up to $37.4 million in capital expenditures for expansion and related infrastructure needs of Terminal 18, which is already one of the largest cruise passenger terminals worldwide. Along with sister brands Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises, Royal Caribbean International will generate approximately 17 million in passenger volume (embarking and disembarking) at Port Everglades during the first 10-year term of the contract."
And, an economic impact study (What's that?) conducted by Martin and Associates as part of the Port Everglades Master/Vision Plan, projects that homeporting the Genesis ships at Port Everglades will create more than 3,844 jobs, generate $172 million in personal income and $15.9 million state and local taxes. In addition, the analysis anticipates that more than 858 new construction jobs will be created during Terminal 18 expansion."
What's really interesting about all this is that Port Everglades while spending one third of the money we are, is getting benefits worth more than twice as much – and they have a contract that says so and is enforceable.
All this begs the question: Just what are the Jamaican people getting for their US$140 million investment?
Do we have a contract? Do we have any guaranteed return on this enormous investment?
Is the development in the public interest? If it is not,
Shouldn't the investment be terminated?
I believe the Contractor General and the Public Defender need to investigate this matter.
Copyright©2009 John Maxwell

09 October 2009


this is the moment when the banner falls

into the dust we call the battle lost

let our swords rust and rue the total cost

repenting anger and regretting brawls

each of us back to our home cavern crawls

lacking all trust not seeing that the crossed

sigils of lust all marked now by hard frost

no longer point toward ancestral halls

no struggle that we win nor war we lose

has meaning now the season's not so ripe

as it was then in the full grip of youth

nor have we got the honest force to choose

but must it seems remain to carp and gripe

regarding what it means to speak the truth

04 October 2009

Sauce for the Goose


John Maxwell

A hitherto unknown group of prosecutors in California have made the international news big-time: they decided to enforce a three decade old warrant against Roman Polanski, the film director. As a result, Mr Polanski is under arrest in Switzerland – an escaped felon wanted by the United States.
There are many fascinating angles to this story which I won't go into. Mr Polanski was charged in 1977 with unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl. He pleaded guilty, submitted himself to the local authorities and served a short time in prison – for psychological observation. When time came for sentencing, Polanski was told that the judge would not honour the plea bargain they had accepted and instead intended to sell him down the river. Polanski hopped a plane to London and has spent the last 30 years avoiding arrest and extradition.
There are some mitigating factors on Polanski's side.
At the time there was speculation that the child's mother had groomed the child to entrap Polanski for blackmail. There has never been any published evidence to support that allegation but the circumstances under which the mother handed her child over to a man she barely knew suggest that she may not have been as protective as might be expected
The mother is now dead. Polanski has paid apparently substantial damages to the child, now 45 years old. The victim has said she does not want Polanski prosecuted and will refuse to testify if required. She blames her mother, the prosecutors and the press for repeatedly dragging her backward through an experience she wants to forget.
The prosecutors may not be content with their 15 minutes of fame but they may yet end up looking more foolish than they already do. If they think they can get Polanski jailed because of his 1978 guilty plea Polanski has an answer – withdraw the plea as the bargain was broken long ago
If he does, the prosecutors will have to proceed without a complainant.
Furthermore there is substantial evidence of judicial misbehaviour in the original proceedings, misbehaviour on record from one of the original prosecutors. The governments of France and Poland have already intervened with the Swiss government and the US secretary of State for the freedom of the 76 year old Polanski who has paid, if not conventionally, for his idiotic and criminal behaviour so long ago.

Goosey, goosey, gander …

In the balmy surroundings of a millionaire's palazzo in Florida lives another aging felon. But he appears to be secure from the attentions of prosecutors although he has been charged with more than 70 murders.
The United States government is aware of his presence in the country - some of its agents having assisted his arrival and domicile.
This felon, one Luis Posada Carriles, has no apologies for his assaults on the people of his native land, Cuba, nor for his many other victims of various nationalities. He was an agent of the CIA and of various anti-Cuban terrorist groups and he has blown up or tried to blow up, targets ranging from Soviet ships, Cuban hotels and diplomatic missions, to a number of Latin American presidents including his bĂȘte noir, Fidel Castro.
For that last plot he was imprisoned in Panama. He was sprung by some fancy footwork involving the outgoing president of Panama and some official and unofficial American agents.
The Americans have refused to extradite Posada either to Cuba, or Venezuela to face charges of blowing up a planeful of young Cubans and Guyanese and of attempting to murder Fidel Castro and President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, among others. Under international law, any country can try any terrorist anytime for crimes against humanity
Posada has very powerful friends. Polanski should be so lucky!

Disaster Fatigue

It was in the nineties that we began hearing about "famine fatigue" affecting the North Atlantic populations who were incessantly being asked to contribute to one or another worthy cause – usually exemplified in photographs of starving children with enormous eyes. Then, it was all about Africa.
The droughts in the Sahel and in Ethiopia and Somalia, we are told, are a direct consequence of the industrial revolution in Europe changing the climate of northern Africa.
THe Industrial Revolution is now worldwide and its effects are global rather than continental.
There is drought in Guatemala, Australia, Kenya and the Iberian peninsula, flooding in parts of the Sahel and West Africa. The Philippines having been battered by typhoon 'Ketsana' which took more than 500 lives and left half a million homeless is as I write preparing for the onslaught of an even more dangerous typhoon. Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia received unwelcome attention from Ketsana and will probably get more of the same next week.
The north and south polar regions are in rapid decline with continents of ice, thousands and perhaps millions of years old, melting into the sea.
Parts of South Australia and the neighborhood are rapidly reverting to desert as the huge Murray-Darling river complex dries up and the water turns too salty to drink.
The so-called 'climate refugees' will be coming from everywhere. El Nino may continue to drive storms more northward than usual, and while we may not be battered by more frequent hurricanes for a year or two, those that come this way are likely to be much more violent and murderous.
As Australia dries up the price of wheat worldwide will go up, followed by prices generally. It is going to be much more difficult and more expensive for us to import food and fuel and everything else.
WE need to embark on an emergency programme radically different from that being proposed by the government.
We need to recognise that we are all in the same boat and that the rich must be made to pay their fair share. We cannot survive by taxing cellphones and books. We need to employ as many people as possible, building infrastructure, conserving water and energy. We need to terrace our hillsides and substantially reduce the numbers living and defecating on them. We need to take over the sugar estates to grow food – small farmer agriculture with small stock, chickens, goats and pigs. It is amazing how much food can be grown on two acres of land
We need to recognise that even if all the grand schemes – like the Fantastic Folly at Falmouth – are ever built they are doomed to become expensive monuments to greed and stupidity.
It is time to think small, as they have perforce learned in `Cuba. We will soon be unable to afford the vehicles, not to speak of the fuel. Ethanol can't feed hungry-belly.
Although few of us appear to be aware, we are in really deep trouble. As the first law of holes tells us: When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
Where will we find space put the people of Savanna la Mar, Black River, Falmouth, Caymanas and above all, Portmore, who are displaced by global warming and rising sea levels? (The gas station in Independence City, is, at 18 feet above sea level, Portmore's Kanchenjungma)
We need to clean up our environment in order to grow more food and avoid expensive sicknesses. We need to teach our children that this society really does belong to them and not to some greedy multinational in Lombard Street.
We need to abolish poverty; and we have the resources to do it.
And above all, we need to recognise that we have very little time to work for justice, social peace and human development.
Copyright©2009 John Maxwell