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02/06/10

Permalink 11:34:13 pm, by Skillachi
Categories: Commentary, News

Water Shortage in the Jamaica

So Jamaica has always been known as the land of wood and water... mainly because of the excessive amounts of wood and water that we normally have. I mean really there are like rivers in every parish (well... I think except manchester though I maybe wrong). In essence to say that Jamaica has water problems should sound like some sick joke given by some low budget out of touch comedian... Except now. You see since last year we have been in a drought. So much so that the National Water Commission (NWC) has had to put in place water restrictions across much of Jamaica but more specifically in the parishes of Kingston & St. Andrew... the busiest parishes in Jamaica where almost everything businesswise and important to Jamaica takes place.

The rainfall has been really poor over the last year... how poor? In 2009 even hurricanes avoided us, not one single tropical storm, depression, or even a cold front (thats's not a source of rainfall is it geologists?), passed over Jamaica. It was like Jamaica was surrounded by some protective forcefield that ensured that we would not experience any natural disasters whatsoever. This was a good thing because we didn't have to spend what little money we have on disaster recovery after these particularly disasterous events (see Hurricanes Ivan, Dean, Gustav). However this was bad because the hurricane season and the accompanying rainfall is a major source of water for the island and is where we look to fill our dams (especially the two dams that supply the corporate area with water). This has led to falling water levels in the dams which mean no water for corporate Jamaica.

People have been quarrelling since the last drought a few years back that this is all the NWC's fault and that they should've been doing more to adequately supply the corporate area with water, and in all fairness this is really true. See the Mona Reservoir and the Hermitage Dam (809 and 393 million gallon capacities respectfully), were built in the 1950's when the total population of Kingston & St. Andrew were nothing more than probably 150,000 people. This figure has of course increased since that time and current estimates place the population of the area in the region of 650,000 people. Of course one would assume that since the dams were built 60 years ago and with a 300% rise in population something would of course have to be done, some amount of upgrading or something... Well that is what I like to refer to as logical thought. Here in Jamaica we dont use those kind of archaic systems... logic... psh.

So being the extremely proactive people we are (yes there is heavy sarcasm there), we waited until the problem reached its current levels and there are now water restrictions everywhere in Kingston & St. Andrew. Considering the fact that people still have to go to school and work and do regular day to day activities like cooking, cleaning, bathing etc. Life has become pretty problematic for people in the corporate area. I cant even imagine how people go to school/work under these conditions...

uwi students**Picture taken from the Jamaica Observer

Apparently the problem is not Jamaican alone and as pretty much caribbean as well which now makes me have to make the very wierd plea of... can we get a few hurricanes this year please?... or at least some nice weeklong rainfall wouldn't be bad

02/05/10

Permalink 07:49:21 pm, by Skillachi
Categories: Education, Culture, Commentary, News

The passing of Professor Rex Nettleford

3 days ago on February 2, 2010 Jamaica lost an icon in Professor Ralston Milton "Rex" Nettleford. Rex Nettleford's death sparked much mourning from the Jamaican community. Rex's importance to Jamaica cannot simply be measured by any regular standard simply because he has traversed nearly all aspects of Jamaican life: Cultural, Educational, Financial, Historical... quite frankly if you can add -al to a word he probably has had some say in it, so much so that it is almost certain he will probably be given even more national honours and awards after his death.

Rex Nettleford

To give a small history on Rex as a person, he was born in Trelawny, Jamaica (A child of the west), graduating from one of western Jamaica's premier high schools, Cornwall College he then pursued a degree in History at the University of the West Indies. Continuing his studies after being awarded the Rhodes Scholarship to Oriel College, Oxford, England, where he studied Politics. It was after he had finished his postgraduate degree that he began to have a deep impact on Jamaica however.

Having returned he co-authored a book titled "the Rastafari Movement in Kingston, Jamaica" with M.G. Smith and Roy Augier, a book which was essentially one of the first major studies done on the rastafarian movement and one which has been cited numerous times for its rich content. Rex's next step was in setting up the National Dance and Theatre Company (NDTC) in 1963, a dance troupe that doesn't only focus on ballet style dances but one which tries to encompass as many Jamaican dance forms in its performances. If you have ever watched the NDTC perform you will be sure to see things like Kumina, Dinki Mini, Bruckings, and other traditional dances (including other caribbean and african dances) in their performances, truly a spectacle to see. In an interview three years ago he stated that "The underlying thing was using dance to explain to ourselves and the world who we are, and to celebrate the African presence in the shaping of a Jamaican/Caribbean ethos".

He was also a celebrated professor at the University of the West Indies and rose to the post of Vice Chancellor of the institution and while there he continued to juggle his duty as vice-chancellor, while still leading the NDTC (at times even performing with them), while also acting as artistic director of the University Singers, while also lecturing at the University of the West Indies. This was truly a man who had various things on his plate but somehow managed to fulfill his duties successfully. He even has a hall named after him on the University of the West Indies mona campus.

I could continue to write about what things he has done but to truly gain an understanding of his work one should also look at what others have said about his impacts:

Bruce Golding - "Jamaica and the entire world have lost an intellectual and creative genius, a man whose contribution to shaping and projecting the cultural landscape of the entire Caribbean region is unquestionable... Rex Nettleford was an international icon, a quintessential Caribbean man, the professor, writer, dancer, manager, orator, critic and mentor. He has left a void in our world that will be a challenge to fill."

Edward Seaga - "There was a strong willingness on his part to absorb Jamaican culture, which I believe is his greatest contribution. It's on that basis that the NDTC became such a force"

P. J. Patterson - " Professor Nettleford was a unique soul with a brilliant mind and an unparalleled commitment to Jamaica and the Caribbean."

Jamaica has truly lost a hardworking and influencial son of the soil. May he rest in Peace.

02/04/10

Permalink 10:15:41 pm, by Skillachi
Categories: Commentary, News

Guns being imported to Jamaica

We have no gun factories in Jamaica, no matter where you look you wont find one, all of this is mainly because in Jamaica we lack an important resource in making guns, that resource is metal. We do have Bauxite, which can make alumina, which can then make aluminum which is in fact a very useful metal, however the process of Bauxite to aluminum is so expensive that a country that doesn't have either its own independent and strong enough source of energy will stand to lose much if it attempts to produce it themselves. So since we dont have oil like our caribbean neighbours we simply dont produce aluminum and as I said before we have no metal so we dont make guns.

However a strange thing happens in Jamaica, week after week after week, or I daresay day after day, there is some major ammunitions find somewhere in Jamaica. Its kinda wierd, I mean how exactly does a country that not make guns, afford to have this many guns in its possession. There are a number of answers to this question and it stems far back in our history specifically in the 1970s - 1980's when Jamaica went through what can only be described as a mini civil-war... and that's where I'll start.

Essentially in this 70's-80's period there was what can only be described as political violence and unrest. Jamaica had always been under a 2 party system, and people by this time had aligned themselves strongly to a party, so strongly in fact that people were willing to fight for and die for their parties. The politicians at this time realized that a way to gain votes was to make this fight a part of life and they fueled the fight by getting more weapons and distributing them to whoever wanted them (and whoever were willing to align to a party). Of course all the politicians who were active in this period of time will deny that such a thing ever happened, of course this was embarassing behaviour and also quite damaging to the political clout, however anybody who was alive during the time period will tell you that they saw these things happening on a day by day basis. It is basically a part of an unwritten but immensely truthful Jamaican history, and this proved to be one of the first and main sources of guns in Jamaica. Literally thousands of guns came into the islands and changed hands throughout the ages and as any gun enthusiast will tell you, these things have a really long shelf life (as long as they are being cared for), so dont be surprised if guns are found which seem to be decades old... they probably are.

However the 1970s and 80s were 30 years ago... Jamaica has mostly calmed since then, well in the 90's anyway. Towards the end of the 90s though we had yet another spike in crime rates that has been continuing where up till now we are easily one of the world leaders in our crime rate (it seems we try to be number 1 in whatever we do, though this isn't something to be proud of). Previously alot of the blame has been placed on the guns for drugs trade which has been taking place between Jamaica and Haiti, and various people all over the parishes of Jamaica. Recently however alot of speeches have been made publicly chastising the role of the United States of America due to their liberal firearms agenda. Quite frankly people have been really angry recently at the US and are laying much blame on the USA calling for them to place stronger restrictions on who can gain access to guns and the exportation of their weapons.

These arguments are sound I mean after all the guns cant be coming from Jamaica and the US is our largest, closest and most powerful gun producing neighbour and its highly probable that this could be the major source of weapons. But how exactly can we prove their role in the trade? Also what measures do we put in place (especially under our current economic situation) to try to curb this trade? Therein lies the problem... One thing should not be left unsaid though, whoever is causing our current crime situation with all the guns and ammunition found is working really hard at his job (even today there was a major weapons find), and something needs to be done to stop it.

02/03/10

Permalink 08:55:19 am, by Skillachi
Categories: Entertainment, Commentary

Jazz Festival Recap

So.... I luckily came across 2 tickets to the Jazz festival one for Thursday night and one for saturday night thanks to me having some really epic family and friends (thanks again guys) and because of that I got to take in the 3 main nights of the Jazz festival... or well at least some of the nights. I say some of the nights not only because I only got tickets for 2 of the 3 main show nights, but because I am Jamaican, this means that unless its a flight or some other reason why you MUST be on time... I am not gonna be on time. Dunno why, its just part of our culture. This is almost doubled in the case where it is a party or other social event, set a start time of 7 o clock, nobody will be there till 9, start at 9 expect people strolling in at 12 or 1. In this case I honestly did not know of what time the Jazz Festival started... so I aimed to reach there at 9, and didnt reach there before 10:30 on any night. But this isn't about the fact that Jamaicans love to be "fashionably late" its about the recent Jazz festival.

Thursday Night - (Acts: Babyface, the Whispers, Joss Stone, Monty Alexander, Joe Roy Jackson)

I was really looking forward to seeing Monty Alexander, Joss Stone and Babyface, mainly because these were the acts I could more associate myself with. I never heard of this Joe Roy Jackson fellow before so I wont even pretend like I knew who he was, but I am pretty opened minded with my musical choices so I wouldnt mind seeing him too. Unfortunately my lateness meant that I only got to see two acts however in Babyface and the Whispers. Now I wont deny it... Babyface was pretty good. I thought he could've been much much better but his performance was pretty good nontheless. He went through alot of his old hits, and he also touched on songs that he wrote for other people as well. His performance was high energy (an aspect which I appreciated) and included as many songs as he could find and went on for a whopping 90 minutes and the crowd loved every second, definitely the star of thursday's show.

babyface**picture from the Jamaica Gleaner

He was followed by the Whispers, a group which I am sure most young Jamaicans have never heard of before(excluding me of course), but I am sure most people were surprised to know some of the really popular songs which this group had actually sang. They did hit songs such as The beat goes on, Rock Steady, No Pain No Gain, and So good, and the crowd did show their appreciation by staying out in the pouring rain and dancing while they did their thing.  I am truly sad because I missed Monty Alexander (I love his jazz reggae renditions), but I heard he also performed excellently.

Saturday (Acts: Gladys Knight, Third World, Hall & Oates, John Secada, Marion Hall)

As I wont write about something that I didn't experience, I'm skipping the friday night writeup (Though I wish I was there... really wanted to hear Billy Ocean and the Queen Project and Machel Montano), however you can read the Gleaner's review of Friday night if you wish. However on to Saturday.

I was slightly earlier for saturday than for thursday so I actually got to see all of 3 performances! The night for me started with Hall & Oates, in my opinion they sang alot of excellent songs such as Love TKO, Maneater, and Out of Touch, however the suffered from what I can only call the ennui syndrome... quite frankly they were boring as hell! As a Jamaican I wont deny that we expect alot from our performers and we want our performers to work and Hall & Oates didnt work, they literally sat on stage and simply just sang their songs through and through. You could see the apparent boredom on everybody's faces as people even began to walk around (me included) simply not caring about what was happening on the stage, and I guess their way of livening up their act was bringing on Billy Ocean and Maxi Priest to perform 2 songs with them. Its not that their performance was necessarily bad, its just not up to what Jamaicans like to see from our performers.

Gladys Knight

They left at some apparent time of the night (I wasn't paying attention) and the stage was then graced with the presence of Gladys Knight. To say that Gladys Knights performance was a breath of fresh air is an understatement, the crowd was on their feet for her entire act and she did sing her heart out. Listing all the songs she did would also be more or less a waste of time because she sang all of her hits and hits from other people that inspired her as well including her version of Boys II Men's End of the Road which was met well from the crowd. While she looked like she was getting up in the years she really didn't show it as she was very energetic and got the crowd involved, her backup singers also were a major part of her performance and during a motown medley they had a friendly rivalry as to who could sing the best (Gladys Won), but in its entirety, the fun was shared by everyone and she was well appreciated. So much so in fact that she had to be called back on the stage for an encore and even after the encore the crowd still wanted more.

third world

Finally Third World came on stage, next to Gladys they were the act I was most anticipating and I was not in any way disappointed. While the night air was chilly we were heated up when they started with 1865 (96 Degrees), and then moved into the rest of their chart toppers like Try Jah Love, Reggae Ambassador, Sense of Purpose, Forbidden Love and much more. Their performance also included a section where Cat Coore took out his Cello and did alot of reggae hits on his instrument much to the delight of the crowd. I personally didn't know he could play the Cello, nor did I know he could play it that well but he played the strings off that Cello. The third world drummer (whose name slips me) also had a section for himself where he played on his congo drums and got the crowd chanting with him. The performance ended with their song Now that we found love and to me it was a beautiful end to the Jazz Festival.

The Venue

The move to the trelawny multipurpose stadium was one which was filled with mixed reviews, alot of people would've preferred it to stay in Montego Bay (the tourist mecca of Jamaica), but a few people saw the possibility where it wouldn't pose any problems, I was one of those people. To me the crowd was quite similar to the ones in previous years, though it may not seem that way because the venue was much larger than the golf course that it was held on before. Also It wasn't as frustrating to get in and out of the venue as before as there was ample parking space for both VIPs and regular patrons, also nobody had to carry seats with them because if you wanted to sit you could simply go and sit on the stands. With that in mind I really didnt mind the venue, though I'm hearing from alot of people that they in fact did, my only grouse was getting to the bathrooms... Lets just say I am glad I wasnt in any dire straights and needed to be there in less than a minute.

The Sound

I couldnt end my review of the jazz festival without speaking on this, and to be honest every year I have this problem with the Jazz Festival, the sound is poor! There are times when the band will be louder than the singers, the singers too loud, the backup singers overpowering the lead singer, the entire volume is low, and issues go on. I dont believe it is an equipment problem myself because I have seen where one band will sound great while the one just before them sounded really horrible (kinda like Gladys Knight sounded horrible but Third World's sound was excellent), I think it is just laziness or lack of training by the sound engineers. Alot of the times sound engineers in Jamaica are really just people who know a thing or two about the equipment and music and they get put in charge of doing the tweaking and testing. However I hope that people realize that sound engineering is actually an entire area of study, people get degrees to do this kinda work and I think Jamaica is in need of a few genuine sound engineers to help the quality of our stage shows to really pop.

All in all I really enjoyed the 2010 Jazz festival and hope that the show continues to make large strides and gets better (and cheaper) next year.

 

02/01/10

Permalink 11:56:47 am, by Journal Admin
Categories: Business

RE: Is Air Jamaica really a loss making airline?

by John Hunter

Your analysis is intriguing but it rests on some shaky foundations:

1. Your friend asked you when was the last time YOU were on an empty Air J flight. If you only ever fly from New York to Kingston and Ft. Lauderdale to Kingston you would probably hardly ever see an empty flight. But that shouldn't be used to theorize that ALL Air J routes are similar. When Air J used to fly to Port-au-Prince and then Santo Domingo I had a couple relatives who went there (Santo Domingo) shortly before Air J cut those routes and they said they could count on their 4 hands collectively the amount of people on the journey from Kingston to Port-au-Prince and then to Santo Domingo. When Haiti had that free zone there used to be a fair amount of traffic. Then the free zone died and the traffic for Air J died with it. Air J also used to fly direct to Belize city but that route was NEVER full since it only really accommodated maybe 50-75 university students each year and a couple of other people visiting friends and family. The smart thing to do would have been to fly to Belize with a stopover in Cayman to maximize traffic, but who knows why they didn't do that. In any case it was recently stated that the Air J flights between Kingston and Nassau fly at 40-50% capacity. That is just about okay, but given the relatively strong Jamaican community in the Bahamas and the fact that you don't need visas (plus Air J is I think the only airline to operate direct flights between Kingston and Nassau) a 40-50% load capacity is pretty poor.

2. American Airlines (or some other American operator) always had flights from Miami to Kingston. They didn't just pick up the Miami-Kingston route when Air Jamaica dropped it. They only picked up the additional flight times, but not the route. If you don't believe me check out the Jamaican Civil Aviation Authorities own list of licences to foreign airlines: http://www.jcaa.gov.jm/ER/ECON%20REGS%20PERMITS/Scheduled%20Air%20Service%20operators%20into%20Jamaica%20as%20at%20December%205%20%202008.pdf . American Airlines had a licence for that route from 2007 and Air Jamaica never dropped that route until 2009. Amerijet also plied that route. The same applies to the Atlanta route. Delta had a licence to fly New York-Atlanta-Kingston-New York-Atlanta since 2008 (Air J didn't cut Atlanta until 2009) and both Delta and Continental flew from Atlanta to Mobay. How many flights did Air J make between Atlanta and Kingston in comparison to the Delta and Continental flights between Atlanta and Mobay or Kingston? Have you been on any of those Air J flights to say for certain they were 100% capacity?

3. As you rightly pointed out London, Atlanta and Miami have strong Jamaican communities, but is Air Jamaica expected to be profitable by catering only to these communities and not the wider population in those cities? The Jamaican communities in those cities are minuscule compared to the total population, so if only Jamaican expatriates were flying Air Jamaica while just about everybody else was flying AA, BA, Delta and Continental then how is Air J expected to make a profit year-round? This ties in with point #1. If you only fly at times when Air Jamaica is experience a lot of traffic by expatriate Jamaicans (around Christmas and a couple other times per year) then the impression you will get is of full flights. Even then I know for a fact that not all Jamaican expatriates fly Air J. I have relatives in northern England and they fly BA. It's not that they don't like Air J, but BA is more convenient because it has WAY more flights, plus living in Britain they could get miles for BA, not for Air J. So why would they throw away free miles gained from credit card purchases? Maybe if Air J worked out some deal to get miles being given out specifically for Air J for credit card users in Britain then they might see more business year-round.

4. The government wasn't involved in the day to day managing of the airline between 1994 and 2004 as the government only had a 25% stake. The airline remained so unprofitable that the government had to come back in to sustain the losses.

5. If you listened to or read the basis of the JALPA bid with only economics in mind you would find something fishy about JALPA's bid:

(i) they do not clearly state where they intend to get the money from or how they intend to get it. Currently what has been thrown around is that they have money from a number of private equity firms OR that they will use the money from the redundancy payments OR some combination thereof OR none of those things depending on what you read at any given time. Now would you do business with anyone who hasn’t clearly outlined where the money is coming from (different sources of revenue are given at different times) and whose main carrot is that the government won’t have to deal with Air Jamaica’s problems anymore? I’m sure governments past and present (both in Jamaica and abroad) have heard that particular line before only to find themselves being called upon to "do something" to "save" a "national institution" or a corporation that is "too big to fail".

(ii) on the television news the other night a JALPA representative gave extremely vague answers as to what JALPA would do with the airline (some would say he didn’t want to buss the secret plans, but given that they are talking about an airline and not some super-secret weapon during a war the need for secrecy is more than overblown). The clearest hint of what they JALPA (or at least JALPA’s rep) had in mind was when he said that one doesn’t "shrink into viability" and that they would intend to "expand into viability".

Even if there weren’t any audits for Air Jamaica since the 1970s enough information has been presented in the newspapers to show that this second bit of JALPA bid about "expanding" into viability seems to run counter to the proven loss-cutting measures recently implemented (in 2009 Air Jamaica only lost US$60 million as opposed to US$160 million in 2008) as well as running counter to what some other airlines are doing to stay in business, even right here in the region. For instance Cayman Airways used to have flights to Ft. Lauderdale, Houston and Orlando but simply had to cut those routes despite the fact that gut feelings would indicate that Ft. Lauderdale and Houston should be profitable routes for the Cayman Islands.

Incidentally, Dennis Chung at the Jamaica Gleaner seems to know something your friend doesn’t or he has access to some really privy information. As you can see from his article back in 2005 (see: http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20050708/business/business2.html ) he refers to and analyses "the 2004 audited financial statements" for Air Jamaica.

01/29/10

Permalink 03:04:48 pm, by Skillachi
Categories: Politics, Business, Commentary

Is Air Jamaica really a loss making airline?

So its 2:45 in the morning and I'm driving home from the first night of the Jamaica Jazz and Blues festival and I was having a conversation with a friend of mine and as usual we start to speak about, well, everything.  The topic of Air Jamaica came up and I was asked the question... do you really think Air Jamaica isn't making a profit. At first I was more than willing to say of course they aren't, if they weren't then there wouldn't be all this news spreading over the past 2 decades about how much losses air Jamaica has suffered and how much debt they are in, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. So I said yes they aren't making a profit.

He laughed and then he said to me, you fly Air Jamaica pretty regularly dont you? I said yes. Then he asked a question which I wont forget, "When last have you travelled on Air Jamaica and seen an empty flight?" I thought really long and hard about it and realized, I could probably count the amount of times on one hand that I've been on an Air Jamaica flight and seen the plane more or less empty and that is with all the years of travelling I have done. I really could not pinpoint the last time I saw an empty Air Jamaica flight. Of course the logical conclusion to that is... if the flights are always full, how could they be losing money... a Paradox if there ever was any.

My friend who also knows a pilot who flies for Air Jamaica also notified me of another interesting fact... the last time that there was a publicly available audit done for Air Jamaica was in the 1970's... thats 40 years ago. Nobody (well... the public at least) has known where the money is coming out of or where it is going into Air Jamaica for 40 years. All of a sudden I'm starting to smell the distinct scent of trout, because obviously something fishy is going on here.

bad smell

Route changes

In recent times, a cost cutting measure we have seen being employed time and time again is cutting so called "bad" routes. These are essentially the routes that make little or no money whatsoever and basically turn out unprofitable for the airline. This of course makes alot of sense because if you cut the object thats sucking your profits away, you get more profits to spread around. With this in mind Air Jamaica has cut flights to London, Atlanta, and Miami (3 places with STRONG Jamaican communities) and other caribbean countries. But I've realized something interesting about these "bad" routes. Every single time a route is dropped, it is instantaneously snatched up by another airline.

Dont believe me? Currently we have 2 carriers serving the Jamaica -> England route in Virgin Atlantic and British Airways, and they serve the route on an almost every day basis. When Air Jamaica was running that route, it only had flights 2 or 3 times a week but it essentially had no major competition due to agreements with British Airways and the fact that Virgin Atlantic did not actually have such a route, suddenly that has changed. The same goes for Atlanta, the second Air Jamaica dropped that route Delta Airlines picked up that ball and ran with it and still continue to run with it, American Airlines has also taken up the Miami route that once existed under Air Jamaica's name. Yet again simple logic would tell you that there must be a reason why these major airlines have decided to snatch up what Air Jamaica has left behind, and I guarantee you its not because they were bored and wanted something to do... all of these moves are to make a profit. So how come these routes were "bad" and how come Air Jamaica was making no profit?

Mismanagement

Yes I said it and I'm not afraid to say it, the simple cause for all of this is mismanagement by the government. What else do you think it is? I have already stated that it seems that everything should be A-OK for Air Jamaica, but there has been one thing that has been consistent throughout the entire lifetime of Air Jamaica, and that is the inclusion of the government in its running. Its bad enough that the Jamaican government is so corrupt that people can see it a mile away, but the fact of the matter is anybody who has ever studied any business or economics to any level can tell you, government businesses are highly inefficient, simply because their goals are different. The goal of a private run firm is to make money, no matter what the cost so it requires efficiency, the goal of a government run firm is to keep people employed and give them money so that they can have money to spend and stimulate the economy, knowing that, efficiency isn't exactly what the government is looking for, just people who can do the job. With both these factors combined, it isn't surprising to me that Air Jamaica keeps reporting losses for so many years despite all the measures they have taken... oh and then there is the whole no audit thing.

observer cartoon**Taken from Jamaica Observer website

The Sale

Now there is the whole question of the current sale/divestment thats being done to Air Jamaica. As I spoke about in a previous write-up, the government is trying to sell Air Jamaica to Caribbean Airlines in order to get a loan from the IMF. Why does it seem however that the government is trying not to accept the bid from the JALPA (Jamaica Airline Pilots Association) and the unions, despite all they are doing. Is it out of a fear that the truth will come out and fingers will be pointed? Seems so, or is it that somebody stands to make money from this sale? Also highly plausible. Or is it that they are completely ignoring the fact that over 2000 people will directly lose their jobs is this sale goes through (not including the numbers of people who will lose their jobs indirectly)?

Seems like a bit of all three, but still... something stinks.

01/28/10

Permalink 09:46:48 pm, by Skillachi
Categories: Sports, Commentary

The controversy of the Jamaica Football Federation Academy

A few years ago the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) under the Captain Horace Burrell came to a decision that an intelligent way to advance football in Jamaica would be to start up a football academy. This would advance football by basically finding talent in our nation's youth and then building them up until they mature enough to be able to take part in the national football programme. In essence this makes sense for Jamaican football. We can see where there is definitely talent that exists in Jamaica but it isn't nurtured to the point where it can serve any purpose. Time and time again our national team seems to be able to make it to the big show but then fail at the most inopportune time.

football fall

All of this started after 1998 when Jamaica made it to the World Cup for the first time, and we realized that we could actually make it somewhere with this whole football thing. We were riding high on confidence for the 2002 world cup, when we basically failed in the most epic way available, and this repeated for the 2006 and then the most recent 2010 campaign, where more and more failure ensued. But this isnt what this post is actually about, this post is about the actual academy that they have been trying to start since 2003.

Well the first time the academy (as I stated) was announced in 2003 under the Burrell administration, this was supposed to be in Portmore, a location in the middle of one of the most heavily populated communities in Jamaica. This seemed to make sense, I mean there would be lots of kids around, lots of teenagers, essentially a large pool of talent on which to base Jamaica's footballing future. There was a large groundbreaking ceremony held and it was really heavily publicised and it seemed that Jamaica had a bright future ahead of us...

However this ended when Crenston Boxhill took over the reigns of the JFF and decided that he was going to scrap what the Captain had already started and he decided to move the football academy from Portmore to Malvern St. Elizabeth. This was met with questioning expressions from most Jamaicans as they thought about the obvious question of "why move the already being built academy to a rural area?". There was no clear answer given, however one can assume it would be the proximity to Western Jamaica and the pool of talent that existed there. So as before there was a groundbreaking ceremoney and more throwing around of political clout and what seemed to be a simple showing of who played football with the larger balls...

balls

Well this ended when the Captain took back over the reigns of the JFF and scrapped the second iteration of the football academy and decided that he was going to start the academy back in Kingston but this time at the University of the West Indies Mona campus. Well yet again there was another groundbreaking ceremony and a timeline was passed and I am lead to wonder whats the point of this academy really? Is this really about football, or is it about throwing one's weight around? Its been 7 years since the original announcement, can you imagine the amount of talent that has fallen through the cracks since then?

football team

Get serious guys, cut the crap

jff academy** Taken from the Jamaica Observer

01/27/10

Permalink 09:17:59 pm, by Skillachi
Categories: Entertainment, Culture, Commentary

Carnival time again!

*Pictures in this article may not be suitable for children, be careful when viewing at work as well :)*

*sniff sniff* Do you smell that? Its a faint but pungent scent in the air... kind of a mixture of sweat, hormones, various alcoholic beverages, paint, and makeup. I cant be the only one smelling it, I'm sure you can smell it, it came around last year around this time and lasted until early april. Oh wait I know what it is... its CARNIVAL TIME AGAIN!!!!! Yes folks, the Jamaican carnival season starts officially next week and people are starting to get excited! As is usual I've gotta explain for the non-caribbean readers out there exactly what is Carnival. Essentially carnival is a celebration of.... really I dunno what its celebrating (though people will point to its pagan history), but for us its all about high energy, skimpy clothing, whining (pronounced wine-ing) and Soca music.

carnival girls

Now to be honest carnival culture isn't really one of those cultures that's very popular one in Jamaica. It really is more of an eastern caribbean culture, and most people who have experienced the different carnivals all agree that Jamaican carnival cant compete with that of Trinidad, Barbados, St. Vincent etc., but thats not for lack of trying. Carnival and Soca has been slowly penetrating the Jamaican landscape since Byron Lee started popularizing it in the 80's. I personally am one of those Jamaicans that isn't exactly a fan of the whole carnival thing, Soca music while fun isn't something you can listen to all the time, and there are some hypocritical aspects in the culture (that I really should touch on soon)... However I find myself drawn to some of the celebrations because... well... women, in skimpy clothing, behaving badly, I'll be there wherever I can find it.

Girl enjoying herself

Back on topic, in Jamaica our carnival celebrations are essentially a 2 month event which consists of weekly parties which end with Jouvert (pronounced Joo-veh), and the bacchanal road march. The weekly parties are socasize and bacchanal fridays. Socacize is essentially a night of exercise to the high energy soca music (get it soca + exercise = socacize), it is held mondays and wednesdays at mas camp (which is where all the soca celebrations really take place), and is supposed to be sessions that get you fit so that you can participate in the road march and its festivities, oh and its free. On Fridays is the ever popular bacchanal fridays which is a night of non-stop whining to nothing but soca from about 9-2 (for a small fee) and it truly is a spectacle, this party I will definitely be at for the reasons given before.

After the 10 weeks of action packed behaviour and wonderfully dressed women, we then meet up with Jouvert, this is a party that involves everything I've told you about before... but with paint.

Jouvert revellers

 

Copious amounts of...

jouvert

paint.

But dont for once think that this is a dampener on the party... no no no, this is actually what the party is all about. The paint seems to make the party go even wilder and is something I think everybody should experience just once. Trust me on this one. Oh and dont wear or carry anything you cant afford to lose... you'll get paint in places that paint really isnt supposed to be.

Finally the carnival season ends with the road march. This is a costume competition where different "bands" will march along a given path with non stop music going on throughout the time and will try to be the most energetic band that exists. Being energetic and looking good will then make your band be considered the winning band.... but you wont win a thing.

blue band red band

This is also where you see those exorbitant costumes that you see in almost every picture that is associated with Carnival and is really a day long event (hence the need for soca-cise) and seems like quite the fun event to participate in.

monarch

monarch 2

Well the Soca season begins next week and to all the revellers and ramajays out there planning to take part...

Get ready to whiiiiinee!!

01/26/10

Permalink 11:09:31 pm, by Skillachi
Categories: Politics, Business, Commentary

Unnecessary Government Spending

*sigh*

It seems that time and time again we have a case where our government somehow seems to find money that it can spend on something that could be deemed as unnecessary, instead of finding money when it is really necessary. This is something that I've been realizing time and time again, and though it wouldn't be fair to say that this is something that was unique to the current JLP government, it has been happening quite frequently since the current government has taken reign.

It all stems firstly from this whole recession word that gets thrown around so frequently, essentially everything is blamed on the recession, the new tax regime, the fact that the public sector workers have to suffer, every failure, every bad judgement call made by the government, all these things are blamed on the recession. I can imagine the recession is a very angry person right now, who wouldnt be if they were blamed for everything.

Now while I am a fan of the Jamaica Jazz Festival and all the artists that it carries in, it is still really just a luxury. That is, it's something we can do without, Jamaica wont die without the Jazz festival anymore than it will be better with it. However the government has spent US$450,000(Roughly $40,000,000) to have this event hosted in Jamaica. The argument put forward by most people will of course be that $40 million is chump change and wont have any great effect on the public purse, but that argument is forgetting just how much $40 million can do. I'm sure there are a few people who are on pension plans (who have been told that their pension will be put on hold as well). The other argument is that the tourism dollars brought in by the Jazz festival far exceeds the money that is going to be spent... So an event that is this popular cant find a sponsor that isn't the Jamaican government? I do remember BET hosting a few Jazz festivals in the past, who ever thought about proposing this to them?

We can add more money into the equation when we think about things which were held such as the post olympics gala, the post world championships gala, random flights to conferences around the world with a 40 person entourage, the money spent on an MP's office renovation, or the house that another MP has to live in because "He cannot be allowed to live in squalor"(I guess his residence before becoming an MP can be likened to the residence of the poor people living in Jamaica's numerous ghettos) etc.

I could go on for quite some time listing the places where money suddenly appears out of the blue where it wasn't before, while public sector workers will suffer through a 2 year wage freeze, while worrying that they will probably in the near future go through wage cuts and also job cuts, while the new tax regime forces all prices to be raised so that things will become more or less unaffordable, and are told to simply ban our bellies as its a necessary evil... its really funny the things we Jamaicans go through.

Permalink 03:13:15 pm, by Skillachi
Categories: Business

Keeping Air jamaica... Jamaican

The national carrier has always provided Jamaican people with a great sense of pride, pride not only because it was a successful airline winning numerous awards, or because its one of the safest airlines with no crashes in its history... no it gave Jamaicans a sense of pride because simply put it was a little piece of Jamaica. Once you stepped on an Air Jamaica plane you felt like you were own, due to the service on board and the friendly smiles you expect only from Jamaicans, and also due to the fact that nearly everybody on the plane was a Jamaican and you could tell because of the strong patois you heard, or the strong smell that wafts through the isles of people and their shet pan's filled with their lunch on board, it was truly a Jamaican experience. However this sense of pride slowly came to an end in the late 90's when the government bought the majority share of the in debt company from Butch Stewart. To make matters worse the effects of 9/11 and the following slow down in the airline industry meant that the company continued to lose money, much to the chagrin of Jamaicans, as it was frustrating to continue to fund a dieing airline with the public's money.

air jamaica plane

The frustration continued as the government became desperate and decided to divest the airline to whomever would want to purchase it, however this wasn't working out for the government. Their efforts seemed doubled recently however as it seemed to be some part of the IMF deal that before the fund lends Jamaica any funds, and this time it seemed more people were placing bids for the cash strapped airline, and it seemed sure that it would be sold to the Trinidadians who have already bought up so many of our local companies. This brought about much groans from Jamaicans as well as... well we're pretty tired of being some sort of Trinidadian subsidiary.

Now I dont know if this is the reason why but it seems that the employees of Air Jamaica have put together a bold idea wherein they would purchase the national airline and manage it themselves. To me this is a brilliant idea and while it will put the employees at a great risk (especially as the airline industry is such a fragile one) it should definitely be looked to with greater interest than selling to an outside company/country.

Essentially we have to remember something, Air Jamaica is as Vincent Morrison put it in the Jamaica Observer Article linked above is one of Jamaica's most important assets. The amount of people that stand to lose if Air Jamaica is sold is massive, once the company is sold it can be assumed that the purchasing company will replace almost all the current staff with people whom it wishes (most of which will probably be Trinidadian). Think of the backlash as all the people employed to Air Jamaica now have to worry about their jobs in this current economic climate? Oh and also remmeber the more than $28 Billion that would have to be spent to make the positions of the workers redundant... that's also coming out of the public purse.

Instead of selling out and giving up as we usually do, we should try to keep the company local, it will definitely be a more efficient company (ever see how hard somebody works when they know that they stand to lose money?), the airlines problems will be shifted away from the public purse and we will still maintain that sense of pride which we always have thanks to Air Jamaica...

Come on Bruce... do the right thing for once

 

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Three Ministers

Three ministers - a Presbyterian, a Methodist, and a Southern Baptist and their wives were all on a cruise together. A tidal wave came up and swamped the ship, and they all drowned. The next thing you know, they're standing before St.Peter.

As fate would have it, the first in line was the Presbyterian and his wife. St. Peter shook his head sadly and said, "I can't let you in. You were moral and upright, but you loved money too much. You loved it so much, you even married a woman named Penny."

St.Peter waved sadly, and poof! Down the chute to the 'Other Place' they went. Then came the Methodist. "Sorry, can't let you in either," said Saint Peter "You abstained from liquor and dancing and cards, but you loved food too much.

You loved food so much, you even married a woman named Candy!" Sadly, St. Peter waved again, and whang! Down the chute went the Methodists.

The Southern Baptist turned to his wife and whispered nervously, "It ain't looking good, Fanny."

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