More men ought to recognize pink in October

By. R.D. Miller

Mens health, Poverty, medical care, cancer awareness, Pink

Our health is more than once a year during October walk, run and wearing pink. It is supporting families who may have lost a loved one, still battling, or survived and to raise more funds for research to find a cure.

When countless gathered from across the globe from all races, cultures and economic status to educate the public through multiple awareness platforms, it is not about women power-grabbing to combat sexual deviance as one friend expressed, but to eliminate a silent killer called, “Breast Cancer, and men get it too.”

Cancer is a personal issue and not a water cooler conversation and consequently, I believe more men must begin to form a bond to educate themselves about their medical problems. And this issue does not need to wait until a famous person comes forward to take note of our bodies.

When the “Me-Too” movement against sexual harassment and assaults gained traction, numerous men lost their powerful positions, some went silent and few were convicted for bad behavior. Although some denied and minimized their actions; what this topic has done, is to create awareness.

But irrespective of the arguments made; “awareness” is key in any society to develop new road maps for a better standard of living.

Some patients even travelled abroad for treatment, but sadly, sometimes the disease has already reached its final stage. Putting the stigma to rest, just because men do not wear a bra or have breasts like women, that does not eliminate men from getting breast cancer.

It is a malignant tumor that starts from cells of the breast according to medical experts. “A malignant tumor is a group of cancer cells that may grow into (invade) surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to distant areas of the body.” Sadly, by simply replacing “Women” and pink with the word “Men”, especially black men along these shores, other social issues often dominate such as gender equality, unemployment rate, masculinity, tolerance, sexuality or criminal justice topics appears.

I am not a medical doctor, nor do I play one on television, or a celebrity who was diagnosed with this disease to influence a doctor’s visit in the next 24 hours. The medical profession classifies breast cancer symptoms as, “swelling of nipples, discharge, rashes around the nipple and millions of cells and hormones found in boys’ and girls’ during puberty, swelling of the chest area, or lymph nodes under the arms.”

According to the International Journal of Caring Science and other leading oncologic care studies, “males are at lower risk than women for breast cancer, but it remains high, especially for men with a history of testicular disease, and ones with a genetic predisposition, radiation, excessive alcohol use, liver disease, and obesity.”

The complexity of male health in the Caribbean region, and other poor and developing countries can be lost in the warm smile, cool and lay-back vibes that greets visitors and family, but quietly, tackling men breast cancer, and other medical issues remain a taboo woven in social stratification, illiteracy and disparities.

Even a constitutional amendment to mandate a medical check-up would not change some ideology since the colonization period on these islands. Additionally, the socialization process in these male-dominant cultures, showing weakness is far-fetched.

And that belief is a dangerous weapon against one’s health issues, as beneath that tough-guy image, he needs your support. Not many men beyond these shores would openly admit that they relied on Viagra for sexual dysfunction because of self-confidence as important as his influence

This attitude sometimes forces some from visiting even women doctors or to participate in pink or a walk to bring more awareness. Check-Up:   Scholars noted that cancer was seen and considered largely as a “women’s disease which affected their women parts, the breast, and womb”.

Although male breast cancer is very rare, reports have shown that around 350 men diagnosed each year and it is also affecting younger men and not only men between ages 60 and 70. Early detection remains the key and basic examinations can potentially save lives.

American Cancer Society list a few basic questions your doctors should be asking:

  • Do you have breast pain?
  • Do you have a lump?
  • Nipple retraction, or skin changes?

These additional questions need to be asked:

  • How equipped is your doctor?
  • How knowledgeable is your doctor?
  • Where he or she received their training?
  • The success rate of treating this disease or any other?
  • Collaboration with other practitioners?
  • Do you have an external evaluation of your labs?

The International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) has developed standards that many countries have adopted and some of these rural facilities could use closer oversights along these shores in the delivery of competence services.

Revictimization: The failure to recognize professional limitations from having the correct medical equipment to well-trained staff is important. And the idea of upfront payments before one can be admitted must be addressed.

The lack of accountability can discourage others to seek medical attention to build confidence for those who are still in the shadow.

Equally important, an attestation that the correct treatment is being administered should be more important than profit as personal ethics should not conflict with care.

How many patients’ life savings have been depleted by years of medical office visits without the correct answer?

Was its cancer, heart attack, malpractice, diabetes, high blood pressure, or the prescribed medicine that have created an addiction that may have led to the cause of death and not what is recorded on many death certificates.

Misdiagnosis or delayed treatment only creates more questions when one dies. Few people I have spoken with about medical screening argued that distrust and accountability are like the high rate of unsolved crimes from the lack of resources to getting accurate referrals.

“And if some medical emergencies can defy logic due to the long waiting period to be seen or admitted for treatment why bother to show up. ”

These patients often try alternative medicine, not only for breast cancer but other diseases. To stop these medical erosions, it starts with an accurate, and truthful analysis to make sure they have the correct answers.

Sadly, medical treatment and access to proper healthcare remain a wall between the haves vs. the have nots. The lack of social obligation by several elected leaders whose economic agenda in all political parties have failed to confer inadequacies, under-funding of critical facilities only added more burden

The Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) report that blacks have a higher rate of being affected by this disease including other cancers.

It is time that more men pause and take note of their health, form a brotherhood, schedule an appointment with a doctor knowledgeable, and embrace even if today’s check will be done by a woman doctor.

Awareness:  Men’s health, in general, will continue to have challenges navigating socio-economic divide, taboo, disparities distrust and access, and breast cancer is not the only potential medical check should be on your list this year:

Today there several men’s organizations that are supporting men’s fight against breast cancer and other diseases that can provide a platform to engage and not isolate from fear. Despite the barriers they are still few excellent physicians tucked away in these small communities that may be limited due to resources, but they still play an important role.

Let the doctor acknowledge your concerns even if it only creates a psychological intervention until the next exam. Maybe the next Father’s Day gift should be to take a loved one to the doctor.

This October and beyond, I urge people to take a stand for good health: Colon cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, mental disorder, and other illnesses.

Regardless of location, social status, the gender of the physician, we are all linked and cancer does not discriminate. 

Commentary: Jamaica’s self-inflicted wound-By D.R. Miller

By DR Miller

Another Dark Cloud: On Sunday, May 1, 2016, in St Mary Parish, Jamaica the bodies of Harold Nichols, 53, and 48-year-old Randy Hentzel, two US missionaries, were found during what appeared to be a routine missionary mission to one of the nation’s poor rural communities.

Randy and Nichols loved their duties, and were well respected in the community. They were not strangers and have been doing missionary work in Jamaica for over a decade.

Today the nation is wondering what next and how did this happen?

According to the report, these men came from a “Pennsylvania-based Christian charity that seeks to give medical care and spiritual comfort to the people of the Caribbean island nation.”

Sadly, their premature deaths are not breaking news. Jamaica and several other islands have been plagued with ongoing crime and violence including other economic turmoil for decades.

These barbaric ideological killings threaten to erode the perception of other beautiful coastlines. Businesses and leaders are now quickly gauging the image impact, and the economic and emotional impact is causing many to reconsider their travel plans.

Just like a drug addict, several pockets of Jamaica have a severe criminal mentality issues that she must work to overcome immediately. A few parts of that region could use a detox, but with limited resources, and an unwillingness to accept makes this path to rehabilitation more difficult.

This it is not a random act; many have said quietly about an increasingly uncomfortable feeling being viewed like a weak animal in a jungle where a few in disguise wait for an opportunity to attack their prey for their own survival.

How many locally self-made businesspersons have been targeted and killed this year alone not because of any criminal involvement, but a mindset by few who see success as part of the problem.

Looking for Hope: Political strife has annihilated many of the youths, and the leadership from the police commissioner, community leaders, to national security minister, has to begin to take more steps on what has already been begun to eradicate this disease, and an impression that no one has the tools to tackle it adequately. As a result, these barbaric acts are hatched based on crime of opportunity.

veral young people in the region are suffering from economic neglect. It is not an excuse, but being ignored; waiting on handouts has created more culpability not only to the locals daily, but also especially visitors who travel outside protected zones. Even if it is a humanitarian mission, those criminals do not differentiate.

Although hopelessness, lack of opportunity can breed crimes, these troubled people would be better served by seeking guidance on how to become successful, and not practically using violence to satisfy an emotional and economic disconnect.

The headlines that have emerged on CNN and other media outlets seemed as a shock to viewers; however, for those looking in with close ties, or after the local news sporadically; it is not a farfetched headline.

Many locals have faced similar premature deaths and few answers after the cameras are off. These criminals are still roaming the streets, and if someone can find some perpetrators, fear for one’s own safety often results in silence.

tivation.

That image thing: Although Jamaica is not alone seeing a high murder rate per capita, based on a recent United Nations report; however, it would be a mistake to draw a comparison to other nations. Comparison alone cannot cut crime; it should be a mo

Although few media outlets have spun the news in trying to change the negative reputation that it is not a reflection of the island in general. This statement is correct, but sadly, it might be too late to regain its boisterous image until fundamental changes can be implemented.

It is time for a massive march against crime to take back the island.

These crimes cannot be in street retaliation, carefully placed blames, or gun for a gun settlement or even a court sentence. A systematic problem can only be solved when leaders begin develop opportunities for a dying group of youths who stay stagnant.

They must form community involvement built on commitment and an acknowledgement that this increasing criminal mentality has to be addressed proactively or even capital punishment.

This recent killing is an image problem and confirms what many have feared and this beautiful mango fruit with a bright and beaming skin is rotting from its core. Poverty and the ever-widening gaps between the haves and the have-nots is one aspect of disparities and a moral compass that has no direction.

Reversing a barbaric mentality starts in the homes, and schools.

Today, despite graduation there are few opportunities. Furthermore, in a new global economy that requires excellent talent, many are not equipped. Therefore, graduation seems to be only based on age reached, and not an accomplishment to be competitive.

These two individuals dedicated their lives to helping others for decades. Today families are left to wonder why? The poor people also lost, as a decade of medical mission is cut short.

No one wins from a criminal act. Today the targeting of visitors is forcing several potential returning residents to look elsewhere for retirement. Furthermore, others who have returned are preparing to exit. Few will admit to this trend.

Leadership cannot continue to do photo-ops, believing that as long as there is an image of one love, things will solve itself.

Bob Marley’s image, Usain Bolt, and Shelly-Ann Fraser, or Shaggy and others in sports and entertainment superstars alone cannot save Jamaica if criminals continue to dominate the headlines. In fact, most these successful people’s permanent homes are outside of their native land.

No nation can survive if crime becomes an influence where criminals enrich themselves at the nation’s cost. Furthermore, willingness by a few elected officials to squash laws because they were introduced by the other party fails to compromise to fight these issues.

Who will gain: Given the recent report of a decline in the tourist industry, high debts, low manufacturing output, coupled with crime, one of its close neighbours, Cuba, is rising since new diplomatic relations with the US.

Having this headline does not help the cool and relaxing vibes this island sells.

As these missionaries’ deaths dominate global headlines, Cuba is showing an American cruise ship docked at its ports, looking to discover what has been missing for over 50 years.

A successful service-oriented economy is vital to support a good standard of living for people who work in that industry.

Despite the economic gap, they are connected and the impression of safety based on gated communities does not make it those problems over there. Crime anywhere is a safety problem everywhere

Looking Back: Today, many are longing for those days when one could rent a vehicle with a visitor licence plate, travel anywhere with frequent stops throughout entire country.

In addition, the only safety concerns parents and friends provided for on vacation were to be alert of the roads or a goat rushing from its banks or a few blind corners and an unheeding truck driver who believed since he has a bigger vehicle he had the right of way, but still gave you a smile.

Moving Forward: These criminals are now emboldened, deploying a new strategy of kidnapping, and demanding ransom, but the nation cannot yield and they must be eliminated.

Although many are saddening by this act, the majority looking on still hope that future breaking news will not give people second thoughts about a visit to the island. This can only be possible if everyone takes on the role of community policing, advocates, and mentors and gives back in some capacity.

Commentary: This Women’s History Month, let’s honour Portia Simpson-Miller, former PM of Jamaica

by D.R. Miller

Women in Politics: Though I am not qualified to speak on women issues, I am fortunate that I grew up in an era that admired, and still strives to develop respect for women and their accomplishments where their gender tends always to be in negotiation. (Former-P.M. Jamaica- Portia Simpson-Miller)

Portia Simpson-Miller’s historic achievement cannot be summarized from an election loss, although many believe she squandered her last run as the head of her party in the 2016 re-election bid to continue her rule as the first woman prime minister of Jamaica.

The bloggers were swift on Facebook, Twitter, radio and other social media.

“She is fool, a liar, uneducated, lucky, ridiculous, and old, a cook for asking for a re-count,” were some of the dispiriting post-election comments.

Sure, disagreements are good for any democracy to thrive but, when political discourse becomes vitriolic, abusive and hateful, it sets the nation back and only reconfirms the challenges from an historical and cultural environmental impediment surrounding women and their vision and the hidden reality of harassment and discrimination.

Naturally, some people were frustrated by their own economic conditions and others were committed to one candidate or the other. However, it does not change her tenacity in a long tradition where many believe men are superior to women, and only through representation can their voice be heard, as studies have shown.

Women in general are under-represented in the region, and leaders should debunk these negative comments beyond party affiliation because one cannot wait until she lies in repose, and the county can look back, and wonder how she did it.

Recognizing the former prime minister’s triumph is not a simple call to rachet down the inflammatory political tone, or diminish her inability to bridge the new form of networking from the old street politics, failed economic policies, challenging issues that were inadequately addressed, or the lost emotional connection to the community when she was first elected that seemed lost.

The quest for equality, social and political accomplishments is not luck as some in the media believe. It is preparation that met opportunity through hard work and dedication. Portia Simpson-Miller and women in general who have made this planet a better place cannot only be judged on few economic quantitative analyses.

This election was bigger than she was. It is the centrality of women, and where women in the region go from here, the disadvantages of being a woman, inclusion, shared priorities, leadership, rights, and security.

A Brief History: March is Women’s History Month, which is celebrated in a few countries. It should remind society of how far they have come and the work that still lies ahead. Despite the missing parades on the islands and other places, women are inspiring generations to strive at becoming better regardless of one’s race, sex, orientation, or social-economic background.

Portia Simpson-Miller is not the only first woman who has risen to power. For example, history tells us that Nefertiti ruled Egypt in 2570 BC. In 1920 – with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution – American women were granted the right to vote. In 1966, the National organization for Women (NOW) was formed.

As society evolved, other women in politics made significant contribution. For example, Benazir Bhutto 1988–90 and then 1993–96 in Pakistan was the first woman to lead the government of any Muslin nation. Margaret Thatcher, 1979 to 1990, British prime minister; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, since 2006 the first elected head of state in Africa, Angela Merkel, first female chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany since 2005, Eugenia Charles, 1980 – 1995 Dominica, and Kamla Persad-Bissessar, 2010 – 2015 Trinidad and Tobago.

Women’s Salient Score Card: Portia is no stranger to ridicule and intense media. In 2004, the major papers, according to Christopher Charles, highlighted when she was a Member of Parliament and asked if she acted inappropriately by abstaining on a resolution that criticized the shortage of funds to the local fire service.

When women rule, pundits seems to have more questions than collaboration:

• Do they manage politics differently than men?

• Do they represent women’s interest?

• Why are so few in leadership today?

• What is her role in politics?

• What was the country’s GDP, public indebtedness, wages that have been in decline since she began, and other expenditure on health, education during her time in office, and what is it now?

This distinction has to be taken up by the region’s historians in what I believed has been a protracted economy, and the consequence of failure to develop a strategy to cut the long problematic syndrome surrounding crime and poverty, and declining middle class.

The Cultural Stigma: Today it still discourages women from entering politics in Jamaica, and other parts of the region. I do not have to do a comparative analysis or draw on any feminist literature as a male to see that the structure of decision-making by women will diminish if the region’s stereotyping becomes an ongoing norm.

This region still has a social ideology that roars like the ocean taking anything its path (women). Her defeat again echoed an undertone that women, whether a candidate winning an election, or served or serving in a chauvinistic environment and championing equality, such as gay rights, marriage equality, poverty, women power, still have significant resistance.

Women make up about 20 percent of the world’s parliaments and even less in cabinet positions as most studies have shown.

To her credit, as scholars have noted, when women enter politics it changes how men view them.

Her accomplishments were not luck.

Sadly, political discourse has created an impression as if a crime was committed. The political pride that developed out of colonialism has led some to believe that a leader has to graduate from a top university, hold a law degree, or a PhD in government studies to lead, and underscore that one can be less privileged and become a leader from humble beginnings.

Sure, one has to understand geo-political, social, and economic issues, and be able to link it to the corner shop even without electricity or running water. Furthermore, take responsibility as a leader in the context of employment, government spending, investment in education, management, expectation vs reality, corruption, crime, and other mishandled social policies.

Portia’s failure does not lessen her. This mentality only creates barriers for upward mobility, apprehensions, and even exploitation of future qualified women. The participation of women in the legislative process benefits the country in general, and they are often better of solving issues.

When few use selective amnesia and belittle women in politics, it can have a lasting effect on the next young women who believe that women in politics can be a platform for strengthening democracy, but now seeing barriers to social mobility.

Today women are still under-represented in this region, and although a few beams of hope, subjugation in the region and its complex problems woven in structural exclusion are quick to label chaos as a pretrial of a feminist failure.

Many women today have limited but important roles in their society: Portia was saying yes she could before US President Obama stated his favourite line, “Yes we can.”

She committed herself to the public for decades, and has shown that women with power and full participation in decision-making create a better society.

Looking in for a Women Coalition: I do not have a vote, party affiliation, or preference about who should have been victorious in the 2016 election. The only hope from one’s heritage connection is “good governance” in order to move the people forward for upward mobility.

Given today’s society that is polarized on economic status, race, class, and gender, Portia Simpson has beaten the odds, and has contributed to women in Jamaica and beyond.

Anyone can find statistical analysis that supports failures while minimizing the roadblocks on proposed policies. Disagreeing on policies is legitimate; however, quick negative sound bites should not define her. In fact, more push should be directed to recruit more women in politics and not counting “likes” on Facebook.

Thank you: Despite your challenges, constraints, political calculations and even disagreements, as we celebrate women in government, and Women’s Month, your dedication is more than one seat lost.

You are a trailblazer, trendsetter, and even lessons learned was a paradigm shift from the region’s historical and cultural challenges. If I may, I would like to foster some type of feminine socialist bias that you look darn good at age 70.

Commentary: What is the colour of good governance after an election, Jamaica?

By D.R. Miller

Every election has consequences, and regardless of what colour one identifies with, after the paint job has been completed, the nation has to deal with it until the rust emerges again. The people will always be the body shop to select the right paint and hope the dents are fixed from years of neglects, and bumps. Sometimes these new or recycled paints blend and other times it fades and does not shine as expected.

Photo credit: Jamaica Gleaner

On February 25, 2016, the island votes in its parliamentary election amid an ongoing troubled economy. However, despite plenty of blame to go around, Jamaica has made significant strides in its election process. Several international and local observers have responded to its positive signs.

Over the past few decades, political violence seems to be on the decline. During the 1980s, over 800 people were killed in election related crime. People are still being killed, but the numbers have reduced, and more work needs to be done given the recent news on a few new election related deaths.

One cannot run or benefit from a 21st century election with barbaric ideology.

Elections in the Caribbean, despite its beautiful colour, can be extremely dangerous when it is simply an interest for good governance and democracy that should be colourless as people try to find the best canvas to represent them.

With speculation, increased pressure, poll numbers and questions of leadership, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Simpson-Miller called early elections. The population of about three million people will put to rest for a few hours the ongoing issues of organized crime, drugs, trade, low growth and high debt or even a positive sporting event, from the coastal areas to the interior to select the right colour with even a simple hope that the average life expectancy remains at 73 as reported in Jamaica.

Although the margin of victory, whether for the Peoples National Party (PNP) or the Jamaican Labour Party (JLP), will be close, the psychology from political identity will still have discourse. Election settles debates, but that does not stop a few from seeing their party as the only good, and seeing the other side negatively.

What is uplifting is that the constitutional parliamentary democracy will remain intact this time around. Sure, you still have pockets of bad colours that have resulted in roadblocks, and other criminal elements and that can be related to political tribalism, as many scholars have noted.

Photo Credit: towson.edu

However, since its independence from British rule in 1962, politics, crime, management, economic stagnation, poverty and power has always been a struggle from the ballot box to Main Street in Jamaica and other Caribbean Islands. Despite smooth transitions of power, Jamaica still struggles under the multitude of colours to find the right mixture.

This election and its bountiful colours are beyond party identity and boisterous claims of accomplishments, or the lack thereof. Quietly, it is more of a personality contest where, on one hand, current Prime Minister Simpson-Miller perhaps seems more aware of the latest dancehall moves, and opposition leader, Andrew Holness, who rose to the top after former Prime Minister Bruce Golding stepped down.

Andrew Holness, who won the delegates from Shaw, a longtime member of parliament and finance minister, has to constantly convince the public that he has put in his time, and has the right in-depth knowledge of what it takes and that he should benefit from his leadership victory.

Photo of Jamaica’s General Election 2016

Some are still unable to unlink him from Golding and still believe that his sudden departure was due to an internal fight, but others saw it to save himself and the party in the process from embarrassment.

Political power is seldom based on accomplishments, but time served in the Cabinet. However, one hopes the Jamaican people will look for sustainability on many fronts as it searches for the right colour to offer the highest quality of living where both the people and the currency have lost value in governance.

As this election cycle grows in Jamaica, supporters will usually show up to political rallies ether in red, green or orange, as if it is carnival season, having a good time listening to speeches, dancing for their particular party.

Sadly, these parties operate like primary colours: you cannot mix them after an election cycle, or even bring others to the canvas; thus making it difficult to govern and paint a picture for a brighter future. These election colours should be by definition where other colours derive from.

Hopefully, after this cycle, there will room for mixing to move the nation forward.

This is not an opinion on election monitoring and difficulties faced stemming from influence on of the electoral process. It is a hybrid of finding a revolution that will uplift not only the poor, but also the middle class to continue to paint a better colour after the last ballot has been counted, the street are clear, and the markets are open again with fruits still looking for buyers.

As pundits hit the airwaves to argue about the failing economy and use ignorance as growth, there is plenty of blame to go around for people not to vote.

The question you should be asking, what will be different this time around?
Can many continue to live only on remittances from Jamaicans living abroad, which seem to be a rise?
What next will be cut from public programs, and what other fees will increase?

I hope this election will be one where people vote their own self-interest, even on a single issue. One should not be fooled by selective amnesia, and change of language to cover diminished credibility and, in the end, the ultra-rich, plutocrats get richer, and everybody else get poorer.

The question you should be asking, what will be different this time around?

This election should not be only a high visibility of colours that will fade shortly afterwards but, like others, it should be won on the right mixture for the future. Jamaica will not escape from the dark colour of current governance, and even if the paintbrush has been changed, often it too carries the stains from the past. Therefore, it becomes difficult to paint a much needed new canvas and here many still hope for the best outcome.

This election is both internal and external aftershock as poverty lingers. As these aggressive campaigns continue to seal their platforms, it will not change most recent reports that have seen a deterioration in Jamaica’s trade deficit combined with growing imports, and spending.

Fundamentally, this election will come down to what party can project itself as the best choice. As the paint dries, the quest for good governance should bring out the best in elected officials to get things done, and stop promising ideas that they knew in advance cannot be fulfilled due to other economic reasons.

Several promises have been made, from who is best to handle crime, to free education and medical care, and yet some medical centres could use an election to replace some their own leaders. This is not an indictment on one party, but put forth a solid plan that has a sharp difference from the other.

Being angry at each other does not solve anything.

Jamaica must find a way to make sure these movements and organizations involve a prosperity platform build tolerance, justice and equality for as the island continues to look for the best sunshine.

The MVP from Obama’s Jamaica trip:

By D.R. Miller

The Starting Team: April 8, 2015, President Barack Obama’s trip to Jamaica, the anticipation seemed like a World Cup football game where Jamaica made the play-off. The 24-hours ticket created a nostalgic vibe across all strata of fans. Some even took credit for his visit.

President Obama-Jamaica. Photo Credit-Gleaner

Some of what was highlighted suggested that the Jamaican government bought a new set of brooms and swept up several unappealing spots that had been overlooked for decades.The facelift gave an impression of a well-kept yard when it was simply a temporary cosmetic:

Many asked, when the mascara fades, now the last whistle has been blown, what next. Despite the joy, social media quietly erupted, where pundits, politicians, and bleachers seized the opportunity and aired what is called their dirty laundry. Few debated the new asphalt concrete pavements, and what happen after it fades.

One suggested only criminals benefit, as people are scared to venture out on these new roads after dark. Additionally, temporary relocation of mentally ill and homeless people in disguising images of poverty. Given the president’s compassion for the poor and youth in general, leaving these images intact could have resulted in more aid.

Under his administration, the US budget for the homeless to help affordable housing programs increased and the homeless rate has been reduced, according Housing and Urban Development.

The irony is that some have been part of the team for decades and refused to quit, retire, or accept the penalties for their foul play. Many players who arrived at the airport and the town hall meeting wore hidden bandages, hurting in disguise.

The region’s stagnated socio-economic problems have been a cancer for decades and this one-day match has not solved corruption, poverty, high unemployment, crime, and social stratification.

Paradigm Shift: Even women in power, when women negotiate, it looks like they continue to suffer a social cost: the unintentional bias still lingers: Before the MVP is selected: First, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller must be commended for a successful visit

Despite the struggles and obstacles, Obama called Marley’s house “one of the most fun meetings I’ve had since I’ve been president”. The reggae legend Bob Marley lived there until his death in 1981.

Even Jamaica’s relaxed and warm attitude brushed off on him (no comment about what might have been the cause). He even signed the Jamaica House visitors’ log one day in advance: April 10, 2015, and not April 9, 2015. What was this trip or game about? Despite the chatter, the Caribbean needs a new broom.

Few local outlets believed that Jamaica’s new economic power in the region plays a role. Local pondering and political ploy is always an option. According to Reuters, Obama wants to reassert US leadership in the Caribbean that has been overlooked. Many analysts say a key reason Washington is suddenly paying attention to the Caribbean Basin is that it wants to wean the islands off Venezuelan oil and influence.

Recently, the United States declared Venezuela a national security threat. When a country is so declared, it is the first step in starting sanctions. However, CNN’s Joe Johns in a recent interview with Jamaica’s Police Commissioner Carl Williams discussed the potential of sleeper cells in the region.

This issue appears moot, but he noted that Jamaica has formed a new intelligence unit to collect data in collaboration. Stay with me here, the game is still playing.

I will get to the MVP. Concerning potential sleeper cells as reported, the region has not seen Al Qaeda, as in the Arabian Peninsula, capitalizing on the region’s poverty or a homemade bomb to date, or locals travelling to join ISIS.

However, these concerns should not be taken lightly. Even smart people can be confused to believe that only Islamic countries and religion can create terrorists.

One cannot discount the ideologies that it can strike anywhere. However, with the lack resources to solve a wave of recent local crimes, one wonders? Several victims have lost trust in the government and are still searching for answers and justice.

The Pick: Many outsiders do not claim to be experts on the Caribbean region’s politics, crime, economic, or social justice. In fact, legally, several of us cannot play or even cast a vote, but the migration roots continue to connect these ocean shores.

So, technically one never leaves the ballot box and checking-in is mandatory even to simply make sure a future visit or mom’s return can be fun without an overwhelming security apparatus.

Although it seems society is picking MVPs before a season ends, Commissioner Carl William is the MVP. You might not agree because your crime and safety concerns, even corruption, remain active.

Dealing with crime variables is certainly a challenge: all economic correlations, including changing criminogenic needs, the security team has to stay the tallest person in the room.

Jamaica’-Commissioner Of Police, Carl Williams

Commissioner Williams will always have difficult task ahead, especially to decide potential sleeper cells, track and measure criminal history and people engaged in crime, and prediction requires synergy. Sadly, today it appears social media can get more evidence than a local investigator.

Jamaica, Trinidad, Guatemala, Haiti and others cannot be successful with pockets of outlaws who continue to cause mayhem, and residents remain silent(no snitch). These communities must become vigilant and be protected. Mr Williams and others holding top cop positions cannot solve crime alone.

If Obama’s trip was built on security concerns, the nation needs to realize, despite their frustrations with local criminal elements, solving crime requires critical data and analysis with methodological commitment from the team.

 Since high-profile games are played in nation’s capital, often rural communities are overlooked when they need a new social and justice stadium.

Crime Victims

Recently, a lifeless body stood still for hours from a machete chop. (What happened to a trained forensic expert?) Speaking on condition of anonymity, an officer noted you cannot solve a crime arriving several hours later, at times intoxicated, the entire community has possession of the deceased. The crime scene compromised and the officer fears for his/her own safety in investigating the incident to decide the direction.

There are many parents still searching for justice. Fourteen-year-old Kayalicia Simpson’s family now wonders how the system missed the warning signs, while other mothers are living in fear of their young child being kidnapped and raped to and from schools. The idea that some local communities now have turf wars like the Sunnis, Shiites, and ISIS is problematic. These conflicts cannot be allowed to be manifested into more issues.

Eliminating potential threats and cutting recidivism requires community trust and resources. The politics that often surrounds community policing has to be balanced with accountability. It is less likely for a young man or woman to join a gang when he or she has opportunities, equal protection, and respect for the rule of law enforcement.

Dangerous ideologies are often formed from exclusion. What if the society had continued to isolate the Rastafarian movement, the question posed to President Obama on the legalization of marijuana would not have been possible. Inclusion only makes a society stronger even when we disagree

The crime rates have declined as reported. However, several are not resolved while victims search for follow-up and support. The sense of hopelessness cannot be measured.

Strengthening local police departments with modern equipment and training is more critical, even sensitivity to a rape victim. “To serve and protect” is not simply the power of one badge received after an academy.

The recent reported killing of a police officer shot dead by another officer after allegedly trying commit a robbery on a bar only further deteriorate trust in the system. The ending of police violence is equally important, and an independent review is paramount

Our Hope: As Obama said, “Wah gwan, Jamaica?” Being critical of public safety only makes the system better. It is not a good feeling having to spend one’s vacation in another part of town simple because of a fear being killed, and frustration in seeing others suffering from barbaric atrocities.

President Barack Obama poses with Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller prior to their bilateral meeting at the Jamaica House, Thursday, April 9, 2015 in Kingston, Jamaica. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

For Prime Minister Simpson-Miller, despite difficulties, she has tried and needs more collaboration. This is not an endorsement. Winning this bid to host Obama comes with enormous responsibility.

Obama leaves Jamaica, what next? The region has to get back its moral compass. Leadership can no longer ignore rural areas until an election season, while continuing to depend on its fruits and vegetables.As an outsider, how do you choose this MVP? One simple watches the young people basking in hope and change through education.

After the last whistle has blown, and parade is over, the confetti is off the street, and planting of new trees to meet the next leader, the commissioner will be the fence around their safety to grow. If this MVP has already begun to stretch this physical and mental fence, great. If not, we cannot see how he can build confidence. I still believe the community is where his best players are.

Finally, the critical value attributed to the cosmetics cost generated for Obama’s visit only confirms that if the region focuses its resources on solving systematic problems, the temporary beautification can have a lasting effect, and residents will have less ammunition during high profile visits to vent their frustrations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Commentary: Obama’s One Love stop to Jamaica, who will be dancing after he leaves?

By. D.R. Miller

Touch Down: US President Obama will make a quick mic-check stop in Jamaica on his way to the 2015 Summit of the Americas in Panama. This visit will be welcomed on the island and in the region in general. Since Ronald Reagan in 1982, he will be the second sitting US president to visit Jamaica.

Photo: President Obama leaving the island Jamaica 2015

In Reagan’s case, some argued that his visit was about gaining strategic cooperation from former Prime Minister Michael Manley, who enjoyed a close relationship to then Cuban president, Fidel Castro. Today, several changes have occurred. The Soviet Union has been dismantled, and relations with Cuba are being normalized.

Although Obama’s trip is believed not to be about the past, but the irony is that several of the region’s issues are still in the shadow of the past. Economically, for Jamaica and some of its neighbours, the ship is still searching for an economic anchor.

Although many of these islands have gained independence from colonial rule, many islands quietly remain dependent, with no economic upward mobility for the youth, poor leadership, poverty, crime, stagnation and a missing middle class. Today, only few enjoy comfort zones that they strategically keep up, as the region remains divided between the haves and the have-nots.

The reality: Many hope Obama’s visit will spark new hope and change where along these shores change remains an elusive word and only poverty is as constant as the ocean that surrounds these islands. From the Caribbean to the Atlantic Ocean, these islands are looking more like an America colony than the once British, French, Dutch, and Spanish ruled outposts.

A retired school teacher once said, the only thing missing, especially in Jamaica, where several local stores are stacked with imported American products, is simply to make the US currency legal tender. Maybe Obama can become the next face on a $50,000 bill, given the rate of inflation that shows no sign of easing, as currency across the region has devalued and soon one will need shopping bag to exchange it for one US dollar.

Such as Obama, the first US black president, Portia Simpson-Miler was the first woman prime minister of Jamaica. Many thought her choice would have brought hope, and more economic successes, especially for young women, who also felt liberated when she elected. However, many women’s concerns in this region remain invisible. Her rise to power has been an uphill battle, like others in the region who have been the first.

Today, there are not many positive economic numbers to show since the 2008 economic collapse.

In contrast, it was not only an historic event for Obama; it was believed to be a new paradigm shift in race relations that have been a cancer in the US. His election had the prescription for equality, social and economic justice, and even racial harmony. However, the country is still divided along race, religion belief, and ideology, haves vs. have-nots, although the US economy has rebounded.

This visit perhaps will be a boost to Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, when many polls, according to the Voice magazine, say the opposition leader would win the next election. Obama’s visit will not have the same global impact and political tone as when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu visited the US Congress in early March 2015. Some thought that his US visit was a platform for his re-election.

On the other hand, Obama in Jamaica might tempt the other party to exploit the economic stagnation and the unpopularity to its advantage in the next election. While the threat of external violence, terrorism or billions in aid is a hot topic in the Israel-US relationship, Jamaica could use a few millions in aid.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller: Photo: Bryan Cummings/Jamaica

The topic of terrorism might not be high on the agenda, but perhaps he would like to know how the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) bilateral trade agreements with Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Venezuela are working for all in the region and if there is any more room for dumping.

The Connection: On this day, Obama’s roots, birth certificate, religion will not be in question. The Jamaican motto “Out of Many One People” will ring loud. Although there is deep social stratification and a male dominated chauvinist attitude, he will be welcome as a son of the soil that has deep roots from the 17th century slave ships that docked along these shores.

Often throughout life, some continue to be defined by colour and not the accomplishments or intellect. As much as Obama would have liked to bail out the local sluggish economy as he did with General Motors, a financial package would be stalled in today’s divided US Congress.

Although the term minority is seldom used in the region, the irony is it gives a false sense of equilibrium in the melting pot. For many, the region is like a field planted with 100 corn plants and, out of those 100 plants, you have yellow, white, brown, and multi-colour kernels.

They all dependent on the same water, soil and nutrients to survive. Looking on it seems they are all corn along these hills, valleys and coastlines. However, George Orwell, in his1945 Animal Farm book, said, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” and that plot rings loud in the region as many other places.

Okay, this is not an opinion paper on race: Let us get back to Obama’s historic trip.

The Whispers: Jamaica will add one more boisterous smile from this trip. However, one cannot ignore that the region has become a dangerous place. According to a recent World Health Organisation (WHO) report, Honduras, which records 103.9 murders per 100,000 people, is ranked number one on the list as the highest murder rate in the world. Jamaica is number three, with 45.1 murders per 100,000. Venezuela is second on the list, with 57.6 murders per 100,000 people. Other places such as The Bahamas, where crime is often low, should be concerned with its 11th place on the list.

Public safety remains a major concern away from the white sand beaches and even retired natives who have called the US and other industrialised countries home for four or five decades are having second thoughts about returning due to safety concerns, and proper collaboration to head off violence given the abundance of weapons in the region.

While these islands continue to compete as if they are at the Olympics, with distrust and dislike, they are all connected. While some will have a toast with Obama, quietly, economically they have been on pain killers and have not lived up to their full potential in moving people forward

This trip will not create any significant comprehensive financial package to head off stagnation, or subsidise health care, create new financial regulations, prison reform, increase the 63-member House of Representatives, cut the bureaucratic red tape that is often reported and recognized as a major hindrance to conducting business.

However, I hope he asks the local government make sure enforcement to prevent corruption through the Corruption Prevention Act.
Here is what he should propose and highlight:

The need for legislations to promote equality in the gay and lesbian community that has seen detrimental treatment for many years, more attention to victims, and their families of sexual violence such as Ingrid Brown wrote about in the Jamaica Observer in 2012. She reported a major issue that is not unique to Jamaica alone where children were being raped and infected with STDs, as Dr Knight from the Bustamante Children’s Hospital noted. Sadly, many victims will remain silent.

Furthermore, the president should ask for a new consumer protection agency like the one he created in US to cut the exploitation of many who became victims of quick loans.

What if the president lands on your island, what would be your socio-economic, criminal, and social justice data show? Many in these areas would have reached the US shores if it were not for the ocean.

Sorry to Say: After Air Force One takes off over the blue waters, the unemployment rate will not change, education costs are still rising, crime remains high. Many still have significant problems gaining employment for being labeled a former prisoner, poverty and a criminal justice that seems to help only who can afford it for the right price and where distrust in government roars like the ocean brushing along shores are just a few issues that will still be on the table.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson has tried and, despite her history in the Jamaican government, she too struggles for equality. Even her minimal achievements will continue to be rushed up against the shores.

What next?
One hopes the US or other presidents to these shores bring economic prosperity, making it a frequent vacation spot. Perhaps the next one could be simply to see a grandparent: We’ll see you again, thank you for stopping by.

Commentary: Goodbye, going once, twice, sold

By D.R. Miller

The New Coast: Recently a solemn promise was broken. A few of us halted all travel plans until we were convinced that the government had
the chikungunya virus under control. However, breast cancer took a dear family officer after 30-plus years in public service. 

Despite the earlier concerns, many of us went. Traveling the coastline, with the ocean dangerously few feet from the vehicle, while staring at beautiful homes tucked in hillsides, the temptation to pullover for a quick
swim, or capture the sunset, and walk barefoot from the cold left behind emerged.

However, a once simple pastime and custom for natives from a hot sunny day or a weekend with families to prime free beach areas to relax, is apparently becoming very difficult and just an idea.

The high criminal elements that are sometimes a deterrent has now been taken over by: segregation, isolation and the fight equality now seems more dangerous.

Even vacant lots that should have been designated as historic land and preserved are either leased or bought by foreign private investors.

Home prices are extremely high and few older structures that could use an upgrade, owned by the less fortunate people passed on from their ancestors, and dating back to British rule, many found themselves restricted to move freely.

As the mega-building rises, green land and trees are diminishing, thus contributing to the record high temperatures, while ignoring the environmental impact.

Where will be the new location?

The gentrification in disguise is a global trend, creating social stratification sold as transformation. Sure, a few job are created by new stores, and hotels.  However, some working conditions often look like a previous century, working in hazardous conditions for extremely low wages, unable to buy a small home in the communities they are serving.

What is the trade-off, and where are the unions to balance labor and human rights? The region is now dominated with massive imports. Locally grown products have dwindled to small corners like news racks covered with international news clips while local customs and identity get lost.

Locals at cleaning fish on the sea coast
Jamaica yellow yam
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown – Jamaica

Analyzing the region’s plight from the outside is difficult. Who are the investment banks in disguise, as famous faces who claim they are in love with the region while commercialization threatens native culture.

Credit: Mento Quintet by Richard Blackford: Maintaining tradition is important.

Obviously an incredible lack of knowledge or accountability about who are the human piñata lining their pockets. What is troubling, it seems an iPhone, Facebook, and YouTube seem to be more important to some, while the sand is being swept from under their feet.

When Miss Jamaica Kaci Fennell was not selected as the 2015 Miss Universe, many mobilized in the street, online and voiced their displeasure. The same emphasis on these issues as to the plight of their nation — access to where one can live or swim free — is needed.

As many questioned Kaci’s skin colour to represent Jamaica, it only underscored the argument that a few are still stuck in an identity crisis to see even more dire issues.

Crowd gathered to with her beauty contact in Kingston, Jamaica

The quiet marriages while other basked in social media, but how long will these marries last.

Few months ago, I wrote about China’s penetration into the Caribbean markets for anyone who has access to a red carpet. The modernization of technology and infrastructures brought to this region and others should not be an economic long-term sentence for some.

Source: Pool/Getty Images AsiaPac)
Robert Gabriel Mugabe Zimbabwe and Chinese leaders
The Chinese delegation at a meeting with the president of Dominica

Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago , and Chinese President

This new colonization with local hidden alliances has not lifted the poor from poverty. Many still depend on handouts for survival while the middle class struggles. The lack of transparency, accountability and ignorance continue to slow growth.

Protia Simpson-Miller: Jamaica P.M and Chinese leader

One report noted that China uses its financial influence and CARICOM as its umpire to expand. Several projects, from medical centers to stadiums in St Lucia, Grenada, Dominica, and Jamaica, and others with cheap loans has some positive effects, but who are the real long-term beneficiaries?

McKinley & Company, a global consultant firm that operated in more than 40 countries, once noted that several companies have failed, especially in the energy industry, due to cheap imports from China over the past ten years. To the Chinese credit, education is mandatory.

They have tremendous control over the value of their currency in spite of questionable human rights issues. While the priceless seaports and other infrastructures are being sold, leaders should at least learn some of their business strategies, and even negotiate an energy efficiency deal to cut the dependence on fossil fuel, especially in Jamaica where an average customer pays about 42 cents per kilowatt-hour. Many factories should be mandated to clean up the air, but that will hit the élite who run the country.

Selling Our Souls: While many Africans sold slaves, they did not invent slavery. Today, the selling of native land is a rebirth of such dark period. The Europeans and others turn the plight of others into major businesses. Having few natives at the table today does not make it more acceptable.

In November 1927, Marcus Garvey was deported from the US. He fought for self-governance and despite pushback even from black leaders such as W.E.B. DuBois, who once described Garvey as “a little, fat black man; ugly, but with intelligent eyes and a big head.” The region could use him today as an ambassador. Patriotism cannot only be in the music that comes out of the region.

This paradigm shift along these blue waters is troubling.

Sunday, November 17, 2014, opened the world to an issue kept off air when CNN aired Anthony Bourdain’s Part Unknown. To some, it was uncomfortable, but viewers saw that Jamaica is not all about reported violence, marijuana, and a relaxed attitude.

Furthermore, few are willing to sell their souls and local government leaders seem muted. When personal financial gains ruin an entire community, conflict is inevitable. With high unemployment and poverty, and division, the criminal enterprise thrives and hopeless youths become radicalized, not necessarily from religious ideology, but stemming from polarization, isolation and the lack of opportunity.

New Charity Economy: Today, it seems the region has more charity organizations than small businesses to help the youths. However, not all charities are bad. In the US, one in six receives some type of food support and many school students go hungry each day. Philanthropist Jeff Levitetz recently funded several schools in Jamaica’s rural outpost “In Honor of his 96 year old Grandpa Charlie”, working with Coconut Creek’s nonprofit Food for the Poor. The charity aims to build or upgrade 50 schools on the island. Jeff’s grandfather has a personal love and affection for the Jamaican culture.

Jeff Levitetz, president of The Levitetz Family Foundation, proudly stands… (Food for the Poor / Sun-Sentinel )

In addition, US$166 million is pledged to Jamaica to addresses climate change. The irony is that the coastlines are being ripped apart by development, causing severe climate issue. Furthermore, despite millions donated, some charities do not serve the desired purpose, and the lack proper oversight leads to actions where donations are used to further personal needs.

When politics becomes more important than higher education that only a few can afford, it only creates a new generation of ignorance. Throughout local districts, several primary and high schools still lack a good library and other educational resources to properly educate the next generation. Yes! You can continue to blame slavery, and the lack of reparations. The arguments remain valid, and add several economic down slopes since independence to the debate.

Even 200 years ago, education was a necessity. Between 1835-1842, the region had a slave fund shortly after emancipation. While many in the US were denied access to education in that same period, the British government voted 30,000 pounds per annum towards the education of former slaves.

Early education attempt after slavery

The fund ended around 1845, as studies have shown for many of the British West Indies colonies. It played a pivotal part in training teachers, and building schoolhouses. It was called the Negro Educational Fund. As 200 years ago, very little funds came from the West Indian governments.

The once colonial power seemed to have more interest in educating former slaves than many leaders today. The disappearance of good governance to educate its people could learn something from 200 years ago. It seems handouts have become the normal way for survival for some, while the communities need a sustainable long-term foundation. New charities and awards checks are not capitalism.

New Approach: Few economies have rebounded since the 2008 financial economic collapse. The Caribbean still has an economic virus. The unemployment rate, inflation currency devaluation, and crime remain a problem. Despite these issues, the people remain welcoming, but they must not be fooled in a misguided perception that the few millionaires who own these shores are totally in love with the island’s relaxed vibes, food, and people.

Love does not hurt others.

When Ian Fleming (and James Bond) fell in love with Jamaica in the late 1950s, conflicts were not about access to one’s own land. The few who have the media are skilled at making noticeable linguistic shifts, while masking an urgent need to resolve the dangerous ideological faults even within their party. While it looks like capitalism on the coasts and inland; however, if it is one-sided, it defeats capitalism as a driving force to end poverty and inequality.

Today, we are left wondering how young police officers will be able to afford a home in area they will patrol to protect mega properties and address the untold stories, where hard drugs and young girls who struggle to find employment become nightclub dancers for a few dollars, controlled by pimps who force them into prostitution, sexually abused and exploited. They are not beach beauties that stroll the sand, they are victims that are often overlooked throughout the region.

Modernization is important; however, it should not take a nation back centuries, where only the rich and famous get to rewrite.

As Burning Spear, Jamaicam reggae Super Star once said in a song, “My island don’t sell out.”

Commentary: High on Ebola, low on chikungunya

by D.R. Miller

Since the recent outbreak of chikungunya in the Caribbean, four people with close connections who arrived back to into the US from the Caribbean region were hospitalized immediately and diagnosed with the virus. In addition, a few medical center employees communicated that they have seen an increase of patients from the region admitted to their medical facilities.

I am not a medical doctor, nor I do I play one on the television; however, based on the recent reports chikungunya has seen a significant up-tick. On the other hand, an impression is being portrayed that it is under control on these shores. What  long term-effect it has on people  is not  known at this time.

The leaders must address this issue openly and develop a solid plan before this potential storm, where soon US and other well-traveled countries by the Caribbean people will begin to put the medical drone in the region.

The drone concept is geared to destroy anything in its path when launched. However, could you blame the US if they cut travel, and begin to set a high alert and other screening of passengers from the region?

The recent death of Thomas Duncan from Ebola at age 42, who arrived in the US, has created an intensive focus on foreign travelers from many poor and developing countries.

Although many believed Thomas Duncan’s death while in US care would inevitably send a statement to others to not come, many people are now wondering what the color of medicine is after two dedicated Caucasian doctors who worked in Liberia contracted the virus and recovered.

One of the silent tones in the Caribbean addressing chikungunya, I believe, is not the politics of the virus, which is often seen elsewhere, for the region it is all economics.

Here is why: Most of the region’s economic engine is tourism, and if any indication like what has been taken place in Liberia, it could be worse than the economic collapse in 2008 that left many still sneezing

I begin to wonder if this is a reason reports of this increasing tide seem a bit hushed up to protect the tourism industry while many locals are suffering silently. Any business model during a turbulent time is not only to ready, but willing to tell about structural problems. This approach not only builds credibility, but also shows a level of leadership that is lacking today on several fronts.

This is not a call for a reduction of travel to and from the region, or high-level screening at airports — that would be premature at this point. On the other hand, when the local government is slow to educate people, this could be a tornado building. Therefore, questions must be asked. Along these blue waters there lies an undercurrent overflowing its banks at any time, and the long-term impact could cripple many lives, both medically and economically.

Managing these issues takes compassion and resources. Recently I saw a Facebook picture post of what appeared to be a sick person from the region who became more victimized as he was scorned from an appearance of what is believed to be the symptoms of the Ebola virus. Furthermore, when it is reported that few local doctors are contemplating refusing to report to work in the event of an outbreak due to the lack of medical supplies and other resources that is troubling.

In today’s society, where billions are being spent on wars and politicians re-election, it is hard to fathom that lack of resource and awareness, combined with scorn, can leave many more suffering. I hope elective officials, medical staff, and CARICOM step up its mandate to educate people and seek help through awareness, because the potential problems such as what is occurring in Liberia and other West African countries, where perception is more dangerous that an actual virus.

These islands are unique and sometimes that can be their own downfall because the uniqueness creates a form of isolation. It further limits collaboration, as all seem to be competing for piece of the visitors pie. Therefore, competition mutes concerns, while marketing becomes“them and not us mentality.”

This virus is not just an island thing, or in Third World countries as one of my less informed friends stated, he is going to stop eat chicken, and stop going to places where lots of chicken are found.

Education is key: No, you cannot get it from eating chicken, or visiting places where chicken are in abundance. The name chikungunya derives from a word in Makonde language roughly meaning that which bends up reflecting the physique of a person disabled by the disease. Many reports have noted that it was first identified in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) in 1952

According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the first known autochthonous chikungunya cases in the Western Hemisphere occurred in October 2013 on the island of Saint Martin. By March 2014, travelers to other Caribbean islands carried it to: Dominica; the British territories Anguilla and British Virgin Islands; overseas departments of France — Guadeloupe, Martinique; and the constituent countries of the Netherlands Antilles, as well as other areas such as St Kitts and Nevis; the Dominican Republic; and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

An estimated 3.6 billion persons in 124 countries are at risk worldwide, such as the many who are exposed to dengue fever. Large outbreaks have also been seen Indian Ocean islands, India and South-East Asia, according to the Infection, Genetic, and Evolution Journal. It has also reached Asia and Europe, and North America has seen a few cases recently in Florida.

The National Institute of Health, World Health Organization, Public Health Department, and Infectious Disease, noted that chikungunya is a viral disease that is rarely fatal. It is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes.

The symptoms include high fever and headache with debilitating joint pains, swelling and stiffness of joints, muscular pain, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and rash that can last for several weeks. Normally within four to seven days as reported after been bitten, the symptoms appear.

The mosquitoes become infected when they feed on an infected person during the viraemic period. Today, there are no specific antiviral treatments or vaccines available. However, it also has been reported that commonly used medications include ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, paracetamol, and aspirin.

Although there have been reported deaths, the number of related deaths are extremely low compared to Ebola; however, one should not discount it as a storm that will pass soon.

These regions have to debunk that only certain medicine can cure this outbreak, while many studies have reported there are no known cures at this time for the symptoms. It is extremely important that people take serious preventive measures such as bite-proof long sleeves and trousers. 

Purchasing  untested drugs in desperation from local street vendors might not be the best approach, especially for people with limited or no access to healthcare.  More information can be found published by many health organizations.

It can be extremely difficult to track down all mosquitoes and apply chemical spray on an entire region to cut concerns and especially in poor  and, rural areas with pool of slow-flowing water that is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and the lack of access to good health care only add to the problem.

Today many travelers are still waiting on a concrete government plan on how they are handling the issue in a coördinated effort. If there is one, please post.

Although some awareness has been posted, and the governments seem now to be taking steps to mitigate the potential problem, more needs to be done. Nevertheless, can we all be stratified?

This is not to reduce  any attempts, as the lack of resources can make this a difficult task. Moreover, the chance of being robbed, shot or killed in some of these areas, is more than likely than contracting the virus.

As the region continues to attract visitors, it is also important that these visitors receive a disclaimer of this undercurrent taking place.

The leaders must make sure that all proactive measures are taken, and seek help and resources as needed, and stop putting on a good face on this issues with a relaxed attitude.

I am still optimistic that all can come together and weather the storm. Moms and I have a ticket ready to land soon to take a break from the upcoming winter.

Commentary: World Cup Soccer, more than a game (Brazil)

By D. R. Miller

Global Colours: Every four years, millions of fans gather in person at watch parties in public parks and bars to see the best of the best players face off for bragging rights until another four years.

This remarkable event never seems to be far from controversy wherever it is being played. These controversies range from soccer or football, corruptions and the socio-economic responsibility it should take on in our society.

Despite the logistics, since the 2014 games begun, the Amazon colors have taken over our television, iPhones, smartphones, and iPads like a rainbow.

However, beneath it all, local residents are crying for a new economic canvas to modernize and move poor people to better standard of living.

They are the ones being left out of the prints. After the final whistle has blown, they too will be still asking economic referees for a penalty that was not given on a foul play.

The poor socio-economic issues surrounding these games often erupt in protests. The games go on, but the turmoil lingers, blocks from where the games are being played.

In the end, these issues never left, as they will re-emerge like the sea rushing back to the shores to recreate the sand paths that were eroded by rich footprints left the day before.

Photo Credit: Reuters

Football is a global game that originated in England, but later called soccer in the US. The game unites people. Relatively, it is not expensive to start a game. However, the gap between the rich and the poor is further than the locations where these games are being played, while the poverty is closer than the two goal posts.

“The Brazilian local economy problems have been overlooked,” several protesters argued. It appears this colour is seldom beamed to the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, Brazilians are now under the microscope. The carefully orchestrated images that emerge from the sideline will have a lasting effect.

Photo Credit -Forbes

The World Cup is bigger than its location, despite heartaches, especially from the early departure by England, Italy and Australia. However, the stage is still where players and supporters use the event to highlight their countries, send statements, and reconnect with compatriots who are still club rivals. This is like a family reunion before they head back to business.

Most importantly, lifelong friendships are formed, even between countries without diplomatic ties and where cultural divides are rooted in political turmoil.

Yes! This is the real “World Champion Series,” and the true world champions are crowned after eight weeks.

The Economics: These games are being led under the International Association Federation of Football (FIFA). It is a billion-dollar industry, and throughout this region, the games are ubiquitous.

Forbes magazine has reported that (FIFA) will generate about $4 billion in revenue. However, more needs to be done to promote social programs to cut poverty and not the appearance of forcing local economies to stretch their budgets to accommodate its demands.

In preparation of the 2014 World Cup, an estimated cost of up to US$11 billion was spent — while the Brazilian economy remains stagnant. However, the government has predicted that it will be a net positive for the overall economy, stemming from event-related services among several industries.

Wherever FIFA places its goal posts, it is always under the microscope. Recently published in a British magazine, the organization is being investigated on corruption and bribes related to the Qatar 2022 bid.

Nevertheless, FIFA always manages to execute successful events. The game between the US and Portugal had one of the highest ratings, upward of 21 million. Imagine if these fans force FIFA to make sure some economic balance where it places the next goal posts.

FIFA’s operation is not much different from the American National Football League (NFL). Inside these games, recruitment is alive.

This is where wealthy club managers scope every play, searching for the next star and the face of new marketing global campaigns.

Brazil is not alone in this new paradigm shift, as the media outlets would have liked us to believe. In the US, billions have also been spent on NFL stadiums and baseball parks, funded with taxpayers’ money.

In some cases, poor neighbours are also uprooted; residents are priced out of the real estate market, and relocated for the perfect camera shots.

Often these public investments are unsuccessful. The fans are gone and games are empty.

Economic gentrification has taken place for over a decade in other areas like China, Caribbean and Europe.Sure, these new areas will attract visitors in the long-run, but one cannot ignore the fact that, a few blocks down the street, across from these new complexes lie drug-infested housing projects, prostitution, sexual violence, and even exploitation of children, as many wait for a foul ball to exit the stadiums to be noticed.

YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)

2014 World cup stadium-Brazil

The socio-economic argument that surrounds the World Cup is nothing new. In 2010, South Africa went through the same issues on how much its own government spent that could have been used to move people out of poverty.

Soccer, or football, has generated several global stars, and has moved families out of poverty. Some of their stories are similar to some players of the NFL, National Basketball Association (NBA), baseball and many other professional sports. In some areas, the millions generated from players who left slums (ghettos) seldom trickle down to communities where it all started.

Game Lessons: With success should come responsibility, and despite the Beautiful Game that has broken down barriers, some players still face discrimination.

Some are called niggers, monkey and banana being used as symbol a games by some fans.

Such as gentrification, our society has been increasingly shifting as it is becoming more diverse and that sometimes causes tension

The other Brazil

FIFA should know how to combat these issues. It has been around since 1904 and now has over 300,000 clubs and over 240 million players around the world.

The game represents a much wider reach far beyond 90 minutes on the field. It is an extension of the communities, economics, discipline teamwork, acceptance, talent optimization and diplomacy, even between nations with political tensions.

As a young man, a soccer/football field and now “pitch” as it is called by some was critical to stay off the streets after school. Although not all young players became stars, the friendships gained, and lessons learned lasted a lifetime.

Often I join a few new fans at the local sport bars who seem intrigued with long pauses when they realize a few team’s starting 11 such as the French, Germans, the Italians have black players, and some are Muslims. It is more than a game and awareness is key.

Thirty years later since I had to navigate drug and crime infested areas to reach a local field, I wondered if our own socio-economic polarization on this side of town has reduced some of our imagination. Perhaps our own major league should do more.

Many now are aware that the Iranians plays soccer and not everything is about nuclear weapons and tension with the Israelis. Even the Israelis have a solid team

On the Latin side of town, some players are of African descent, with similarities as an NFL player and they too are extremely rich and more famous.

Responsibility: FIFA is excellent at managing the global operation. However, as our society becomes more diverse, isolated by ideology and personal interests, it will need more than building stadiums. Equality, discrimination, and a platform for players to speak when issues threaten to reduce the next generation of players.

This 2014 World Cup has been a homecoming for many South American teams, and celebrations have been tremendous. However, there is a dark side that is lurking in some countries just north of these games off the Atlantic Ocean, thousands of children who have fled their countries where a few dominating stars call home.

(AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Most of these children without their parents are under age 10 and now in detention camps at the US border. Up to 90,000 came from Honduras, Colombia and Guatemala as reported.

These young people fled to escape sexual violence and other inhumane treatment stemming from crime. No one will know the long-term physiological impact but it can be devastating, as studies have shown. 

Some of the children I believe have left posters of favourite players in the game today. However, it seems their stories have gone unnoticed until the final whistle has been blown. These players have to step up, as most of the atrocities are a few blocks from their own stadium

The football organizations and its players cannot be the world police but with success and global appeal comes responsibility to speak in humanitarian crisis. Billions are being spent to create perfect pictures while others seek the next Latin star to fill their stadiums from ticket sales.

Sadly, some are outside the gated walls looking to take the dangerous trip north, while other pitches are filled with toxins and the goal posts are two empty containers with lead. Maybe revenue generated can be used to at least give awareness to this problem.

Recently, Italian star Mario Balotelli spoke up after he faced racial slurs from a few fans and more players have to do the same.

Extra Minutes: These extra minutes added to games can generate more revenue for FIFA. However, in a few weeks, the cameras will be gone; and well-dressed immigrant men and women from the television networks with few selected feel-good stories, while surrounded with security as if they are in a war zone, will leave town.

When the final whistle is blown, some of the players will have to pass through their poor towns and cities plagued with violence. Before FIFA canvasses the next venue, it should not only seek ways on how to increase its own balance sheet. It must make sure the community economic impact benefits all, regardless of colour, class, race, and socio-economic status, because the next 100 years can only be beautiful if it remains more than a game.

Commentary: Celebrity and criminal justice: A test of the Jamaican criminal justice system

By D.R. Miller

The anticipated verdict was more about the Jamaican justice system, and how they would handle the last disposition, including the far-reaching effect over the Caribbean in general on celebrity justice, victims, and what statement it would send to the next generation, where trust is often ranked low as it relates to the criminal justice system.

The trial was bigger than the prosecutors, defense counsel, witnesses, law enforcement and how they gathered and preserved evidence or the lack of communication, and proper rules.

It bought back memories of the O.J. Simpson case where he was found not guilty on a double murder charge. The trial put criminal justice in focus. It was a combination of how law enforcement conducted themselves, money, celebrity, and class.

Although (Vybz Kartel case did not receive the same worldwide notoriety such as the O.J. Simpson case in 1995. Several in the Caribbean watched this case closely about how justice would be served.

Quietly, to many, this public case brought back memories of earlier ones in which earlier politicians, the rich and powerful people in the region often walk away free, even when the evidence points more than likely that a crime has occurred.

This is not to say that all rich, famous, and powerful defendants were guilty in all earlier cases. However, as many Jamaicans waited in anticipation of the verdict, the alert for civil disobedience and vigilante justice was high.

However, the Jamaica judiciary system rose to the challenge and maintained order after the verdict. What was even impressive, many became educated with the jury system, and how the overall the court process works for the first and the media played an important role.

Often in regions where poor economic conditions still have a strong hold, justice is often seen through the eyes of one’s economic status, and notoriety. In fact, as much as we would like to see a balanced system, often these trial outcomes mirror several other countries based on one’s race, sex, creed, and colour.

The mandated strategies to combat crime, and public safety should not create a generation of hopelessness. It should make sure that when penal codes are violated, the rule of law as written in the “said constitution” remain intact.

Rule of law, public service, and safety are extremely important, whether in a democratic or totalitarian system of government. Promoting central control is responsive government. This concept ensures that the right people are being selected, and the departments are staffed properly to keep up integrity, and correspondingly balance the public safety mission.

Today, a majority of us still look at the criminal justice system as “justice for the right price.” This is true especially when many people are being incarcerated not because of overwhelming evidence, or simple probable cause is found beyond a reasonable doubt.

It is simply because they could not afford the defence needed to poke holes in government cases, and the ones who are sworn to uphold the law are being bought off from behind the bench.

The idea of celebrity justice is almost like policing and its evolution what I consider moving from the boardroom into the public space. Criminal justice throughout the Caribbean region has evolved such as the police force that was first developed within the context of maintaining a class system that protected private property in the early 18th century in Great Britain and now has become a decentralized system globally.

There is no doubt this verdict will be debated for months to come, and somewhat opens a new frontier about how this process really works. Debating the rule of law is nothing new. When other nations adopted the British common law, they also went through a period of amendment after it had been tested in the court of law.

When colonial British powers stretched throughout the Caribbean region, it not only brought slaves, but a criminal justice system that set the foundation how government protects its people and implements justice.

Often, as history has shown us, only a few have benefited between haves vs. have-nots. However, this verdict, regardless of one’s position, should offer some hope.

Many in the island perhaps never understood how the judicial system works, and the responsibility that comes with being selected even as a juror. Now that the verdict is in, the region must begin to educate itself, from the primary schools to colleges on how the process works and expectation of a fair and balanced justice system and regardless of the defence one can afford.

The verdict has tested the Jamaican judicial system, law enforcement rules and what role entertainers play in the system, and if justice can be bought. This verdict is more than just one man, and the impact will have a lasting effect.

On the other hand, if the government does not use this opportunity to send a message, very soon key departments will no longer be capable of functioning to their fullest capacity as required to keep up public safety and a fair and balanced system.

What is sad from this verdict, despite a modernized process, it appears when a crime has been solved in the region, several departments stay on trial afterwards, such as the Vybz Kartel’s conviction.

The last analysis is that Vybz Kartel’s new jail number will not make a difference on the Jamaican stock exchange, or how many more prisons will be needed or an improvement to the economic condition. On the other hand, if this criminal trend continues, soon Jamaica and other areas will have to build more prisons as one of the untold stories in the justice system and especially where more prisons are being built and privately owned.

They often need clients/customers to keep their operations going. As a result, the lives of the less fortunate among us seem to have diminished to debits and credits on a balance sheet or a ticker symbol trading in the stock markets.

The concept that entertainers were immune from the criminal justice system in Jamaica has now been proven incorrect. However, it seems the blame game continues about what went wrong, and what could have been done differently?

Training is now critical and, if the body of government that plays a vital role in upholding the law refuses to investigate gaps from preserving of evidence, and ensuring that officers can conduct comprehensive investigations from the emergency system to tracking criminals, to redefining agility and structural deficiencies, then public trust will still continue to decline.

Crime, Caribben, Criminal justice, Poverty, justice

We have to be careful not to blame everyone immediately if the outcome was not favourable to expectation. Dedicated employees might have made some mistakes in the process, but what has taken place after the verdict is that law enforcement seems to have become the focus of the debates. Going forward, the government needs to set up a commission to look at these issues to see if under staffing and proper training in those vital areas need to be addressed immediately.

How do we get there? The system should meet an independent commission, which will be far from coerced-subjectivity and politics, to check any lapse in compliance that has led to overall deficits across the agency that necessitates action.

It is important that they work together and communicate about the overall agency process and make sure continued security is adhered to and that accessibility to sensitive information is restricted to authorized users only.

Checks and balances are always needed, and although it can slow the process from hiring to implementation of human resources functions; however, urgent action is needed to discuss the dedicated staff concerns and going forward give some level of oversight both internal and external.

I had never heard of him before this trial. However, I realize that he has a huge following, and some might not agree with the outcome, and that is fine and democratic in any society. We cannot force anyone about who to love.

On the other side, imagine the impact he could have had mobilizing the next generation on to better things. I am still optimistic that this time justice was in the open, and not taken up in the hands of a few through retaliation.