Time Person of 2018? Here’s my Top 6

Time Person of the 2018 were as follows

  1. Journalists – Jamal Khashoggi, Maria Ressa, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and the Capital Gazette
  2. Donald Trump
  3. Robert Mueller

Others who were considered included Vladimir Putin, Ryan Coogler, Christine Blassey Ford, Moon Jae-in, Meghan Markle, Ben Shapirio March of our Lives activists and Separated Families.

http://time.com/person-of-the-year-2018-the-guardians/

My persons of 2018 in order would be

  1. The Innocence Project (Human Rights-USA) – This non-for-profit legal body continues to successfully prove the innocence of convicted people in US prisons. Proving that the US criminal justice system remains seriously flawed and at times corrupt. Many other nations could do with an organisation like the Innocence Project. Kevin Bailey: My first Christmas in nearly 30 years.
  2. Benyamin Netanyahu (Politics-Israel) –  The PM got the US to officially declare Jerusalem, Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv. He coerced Trump to rip up the Iran nuclear deal. He snatched the defence portfolio following the resignation of Avigdor Lieberman. He has (so far) survived numerous police investigations into alleged corruption. Has limited the influence of the Palestinian leadership. Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia and Oman are lining up to develop better relations with Israel. Even Chad’s President, Idriss Déby, shocked observers by visiting Netanyahu recently. Putin has had his back in 2018. Like him or loathe him, Netanyahu ends 2018 in a very strong position.
  3. Amelia Gentleman (Media-UK) Gentleman’s reports – in the Guardian newspaper – on the Windrush scandal were moving and humiliated the UK government. She detailed the harsh treatment metered out to elderly Caribbean-born UK residents by the Home Office. Her articles also brought respectability to a group of people much maligned by UK society for generations. Deserved her British Journalist of the Year award.
  4. Mia Mottley (Politics-Barbados) – Mottley led her party to win all 30 seats in the general elections thus becoming the island’s first female prime minister.
  5. Kim Jong Un/Moon Jae-in/Donald Trump (Diplomacy)– For their efforts to deescalate tensions on the Korean peninsula.
  6. Rachael Blackmore (Sports-Ireland) –  Since May, Blackmore has been in the top 2 of this season’s grueling Irish jockeys national hunt racing championship. In a mostly male dominated sport (2 professional female jockeys) she is just 2 wins behind the leader. Blackmore, 28, is widely known in the Irish racing industry as the hardest working jockey in the sport.

 

  1. Image result for innocence project 2018
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Petrojam Scandal – Corruption Spillage Everywhere

Image result for petrojam edward seaga

The recent Auditor General’s report into the failing operations at the state-run oil refinery, PetroJam Limited, has understandably angered Jamaicans. The report highlighted entrenched levels of abuse of public money and power, poor governance, corruption, bullying, nepotism, misappropriation of funds, senior management incompetence and failure to operate the company to its full capacity.

The findings in the report sent shockwaves across Jamaica and the diaspora. The public is angry, baying for accountability, justice and even convictions.

Andrew Wheatley was the Minister of Science, Energy and Technology at the time when a number of these scandals occurred, but not all. Wheatley eventually resigned in July 2018 having been in the post since March 2016. There were many other significant figures at Petrojam who had to relinquish their position including Chairman, Perceval Bahado-Singh and HR Manager, Yolande Ramharrack.

Given the scale of the findings in the Auditor General’s report does Andrew Wheatley need a sabbatical from being a Member of Parliament?

Parliament should demand that Wheatley at least issues a public statement in light of the Auditor General’s report. Given the scale of the corruption laid out in the report the current Minister of Energy must make a statement on the next steps for Petrojam.

But wait, there is no such minister in place as Prime Minister Andrew Holness has still to appoint Wheatley’s successor. As the portfolio is currently under the control of Office of the Prime Minster.

Does it imply a lack of urgency on the PM’s part? Despite the Chris Zacca-led ongoing review into Petrojam.

Long before last week’s Auditor General’s report was published, the public were well aware of some of the chaos and corruption at Petrojam through media reports and from select committee hearings in parliament. So this delay in finding Wheatley replacement has been disappointing.

The next Minister of Energy should also have responsibility for the environment and mining as the synergy of all 3 sectors is vital to Jamaica’s development.

Image result for andrew wheatley wakanda

Andrew Wheatley – Boombastic

I have to question the judgement of some in the media when the Petrojam scandal first came to the public’s attention; especially decisions by news producers and senior sales executives.

Long before Wheatley eventually resigned, the local news had regular reports on the scandals – within minister Wheatley portfolio – such as those at Petrojam and also at the (soon to be closed) National Energy Solutions Limited (NESOL); where millions of Jamaica dollars were unaccounted for and some senior managers are now before the courts.

e.g. TVJ’s evening news would regularly report on those scandals – within Wheatley’s portfolio- for weeks. Yet during the commercial breaks after their news reports,  on the happenings at Petrojam or NESOL, TVJ would play a government-paid advert where a group of people sang the praises of the same Andrew Wheatley.  I thought playing such an advert was totally unprofessional.

Holness had allowed Andrew Wheatley’s ego to flourish way before the Petrojam scandal blew up in the government’s face.

In November 2017, Holness should not have allowed a centre at the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) to be named “in honour” of Wheatley. The “Dr. Andrew Wheatley Centre for Digital Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing” smacks of political pandering. CMU should also have known better than to go along with this obsequious gesture to a serving government minister.

The Jamaican political class has an insatiable urge to have their name plastered on local landmarks.

Image result for andrew wheatley centre maritime

 

The opposition People’s National Party (PNP) cannot be completely absolved of all the drama that happened at PetroJam. The Auditor General’s report did highlight that some of the poor levels of operations and governance at Petrojam did occur under the previous PNP government. So the PNP needs to look in mirror before gloating too much – given the minister at the time was Phillip Paulwell and he is the current opposition spokesman for energy.

Holness had no option but to rightly instigate a forensic audit of Petrojam. But in the meantime Prime Minister, please appoint the new energy minister before that audit kicks into gear.

Further reading:

Loop Jamaica – Wheatley’s surprise birthday cake US$1000 cake – Petrojam

Loop Jamaica – NESOL paid out millions without written contract

Jamaica Observer – Auditor General finds explicit acts nepotism at Petrojam

Jamaica Gleaner – HR Practices and Lack of Transparency

Jamaica Gleaner – Paulwell accepts that there should have been greater oversight of Petrojam (when he was Minister)

Access to the Auditor General’s full report

 

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No! US Criminal Justice Reform Proposals Unites Far Right Congressman & Civil Rights Icon

The US Congress, along with the likes of White House official Jared Kushner and Democratic strategist Van Jones have taken strides to bring much needed reform to the criminal justice system.

Known as First Step Act, the legislation looks to revise some of the anti-crime legislation that was championed by previous administrations. E.g. Changes will be made to Bill Clinton’s infamous three-strikes and you out ‘penalties which has deeply affected the African American community.

“Here are the major provisions of the First Step Act, as it stands now:

  • The bill would make retroactive the reforms enacted by the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which reduced the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences at the federal level. This could affect nearly 2,600 federal inmates, according to the Marshall Project.
  • The bill would take several steps to ease mandatory minimum sentences under federal law. It would expand the “safety valve” that judges can use to avoid handing down mandatory minimum sentences. It would ease a “three strikes” rule so people with three or more convictions, including for drug offenses, automatically get 25 years instead of life, among other changes. It would restrict the current practice of stacking gun charges against drug offenders to add possibly decades to prison sentences. All of these changes would lead to shorter prison sentences in the future.
  • The bill would increase “good time credits” that inmates can earn. Inmates who avoid a disciplinary record can currently get credits of up to 47 days per year incarcerated. The bill increases the cap to 54, allowing well-behaved inmates to cut their prison sentence by an additional week for each year they’re incarcerated. The change applies retroactively, which could allow some prisoners — as many as 4,000 — to qualify for release the day that the bill goes into effect.
  • The bill would allow inmates to get “earned time credits” by participating in more vocational and rehabilitative programs. Those credits would allow them to be released early to halfway houses or home confinement. Not only could this mitigate prison overcrowding, but the hope is that the education programs will reduce the likelihood that an inmate will commit another crime once released and, as a result, reduce both crime and incarceration in the long term.”Vox

So in Congress recently the First Step Act was passed 360-59 in a rare bi-partisan moment under the Trump administration.

But what was interesting from the vote in Congress was some of those Representatives who voted against the First Step Act. They included the far-right Republican Steve King along with African American Democrats such as Maxine Walters, John Lewis, Sharon Jackson-Lee and Elijah Cummings. So Lewis and King on the same side but not the King you would expect.

Donald Trump came out and publicly endorsed the First Step Act but some supporters of the reforms are concerned that Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell could stall at having a vote in the Senate.

Some Republican Senators such as Bob Corker and Tom Cotton have voiced their opposition to the proposals.  Makes you wonder why and wonder if money is never far from their thinking.

It is fair to say that one of the losers – should the First Step Act become law – will be the private prison firms such as Geo Group and CoreCivic. Both are known to have contributed to the coffers of political campaigns for both Republican and Democrat candidates. Geo Group did donate to the Trump 2016 campaign. Less prisoners is bad business for private prison companies.

  • Will the private prison firms lobby hard to delay any Senate vote? Yep
  • Will McConnell prevent a vote in the Senate? Not anymore as McConnell seems to have changed his tune and will allow vote this week.

First Step Act has brought unity between Democrat figures (such as  Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Beto O’Rourke and Jim Clyburn) and Republicans (including Marsha Blackburn, Mia Love, Trey Gowdy).

As Dr Bernice King (daughter of Martin Luther King) wrote recently “The FIRST STEP Act can launch a better way to America’s criminal justice reform. While many have asserted that this bill is not comprehensive enough, to which I also agree, we must also understand that the road to progress is paved with incremental steps.”

Who would have thought that in 2018 that Steve King and the much respected John Lewis would be (for differing reasons) on the same side in opposing proposals for criminal justice reform? Strange politics.

Image result for john lewis steve king

l-r John Lewis and (in Lewis’s own words) “racist & bigoted” Steve King

Further reading

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Forbes World’s 100 Most Powerful Women

Forbes Magazine came out recently with its list of the world’s 100 most powerful women.

Rank/Name Country Category
1.    Angela Merkel Germany Politics
2.    Theresa May UK Politics
3.    Christine Largarde (IMF) France Economy
4.    Marry Barra (GM) US Automotive
5.    Abigail Johnson US Finance and Investments
6.    Melinda Gates US Philanthropy/NGO
7.    Susan Wojcicki US Technology
8.    Ana Patricia Potin Spain Finance and Investments
9.    Marilyn Hewson US Manufacturing
10. Ginni Rometty US Enterprise Technology
11. Sheryl Sandberg US Technology
12. Gail Bordeaux US Healthcare
13. Angela Ahrendts US Technology
14. Safra Catz US Technology
15. Isabelle  Kocher France Energy
16. Adena Friedman US Finance and Investments
17. Hoh Ching Singapore Diversified
18. Emma Walmsley UK Healthcare
19. US Supreme Court Justices US Politics
20. Oprah Winfrey US Media and Entertainment
21. Ruth Porat US Technology
22. Laurene Powell Jobs US Education
23. Queen Elizabeth UK Politics
24. Ivanka Trump US Politics
25. Phebe Novakovic US Diversified

 

Full list

Other notable women on the list include at 40. President Tsai Ing-Wen (Taiwan), 45. Nicola Sturgeon (Scotland/UK), 50. Beyonce Knowles (US), 66. Katherine Viner, Guardian Editor (UK),  67. Frederica Mogherini (EU/Italy), 68. Taylor Swift (US), 74. Shonda Rhimes (US), 77. Arianna Huffington (US), 79. Serena Williams (US), 88. Shobhana Bhartia of the Hindustan Times (India) and at 97. Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde

US had 47 women on the list, UK 10, China/Hong Kong  9, India 4, France 3 and Saudi Arabia 2. In terms of category 20 are from politics, 15 each from media and technology plus 14 from finance and investments.

All very subjective of course but perfect for discussion over some black Blue Mountain coffee

  1. Having Angela Merkel at number 1 is questionable given the German Chancellor has had one of her worst years in office. With setback after setback locally, the continued rise of the far right and criticism from even her own colleagues, Merkel’s credibility has fallen so sharply that she announced her intentions to leave office in 2021. Today she stepped down as  leader of her Christian Democrats Union party.
  2. Given the tumultuous 2018 she has had, how can Forbes have UK Prime Minister Theresa May at number 2? Or even on the list? May’s influence in British politics has long evaporated and has managed to stay PM thanks especially to Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Island, whose 10 seats in parliament has kept May’s minority government afloat.
  3. The women in UK politics today who are far more powerful than May are many and include Foster, Yvette Cooper and Meg Hillier. As chairs of powerful parliament select committees both Hillier and Cooper have led the charge in holding the May government to account. It was Cooper’s public probing of Amber Rudd (over Windrush) that eventually led to the latter’s resignation as Home Secretary.
  4. I cannot see how Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made the list.
  5. I would have included in the 100, Ayalet Shaked (Jewish Home Party) and currently the Justice Minister in Israel. Has the power to bring down the Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu coalition government. And nearly came close to doing so recently.
  6. IMF’s Christina Legarde at number 3 is also questionable given it is the US Treasury that dictates how the lending body really operates.
  7. How Nikki Haley is not on the list is a surprise, given her forceful impact at the United Nations and how she completely wrong footed Donald Trump over her upcoming resignation from the US Cabinet.
  8. Also surprised that Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde made the list given the presidency is mostly a ceremonial position.
  9. Given Forbes had the US Supreme Court justices in at 19, there should also have been room on the list for the judges based at the International Criminal Court. E.g. Joyce Aluoch Olga Venecia Herrera Carbuccia and Sanji Mmasenono Monageng
  10. Democrat Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is worth consideration. Since coming to prominence in June 2018, she has blown through US politics like a human tornado.  She has in the short space become a champion for young progressives and not afraid to call out her own more established colleagues. She has become the popular target of attacks from Conservative media and politicians and that’s because they know she’s got something – Power. Just 29.
  11. The idea of Ivanka in the top 30 is a bit rich. I would imagine Melania Trump (not on the list) is more powerful than her step daughter. The recent ousting of a top senior adviser to John Bolton was proof of Melania’s power in the West Wing.
  12. I would say the most powerful woman in 2018 was not even on the Forbes list – Margrethe Vestager (Denmark), the EU Commissioner for Competition. She has successfully taken on the likes of Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, Qualcomm over some of their more devious business practices. In 2018, Vestager fined Qualcomm €997m over abusing its market dominance and in July 2018, she fined Alphabet (Google) €4.3 billion for entrenching its dominance with illegal activity.
Image result for margrethe Vestager

Where Am I?

 

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Amber Rudd: Windrush Scandal’s Real Winner

It has been a terrible week for some victims of the Windrush scandal and those of us who support their ongoing fight for respect, justice and compensation.

First, we had written confirmation from current Home Secretary Sajid Javid that at least 11 people -wrongfully deported from the UK – had passed away.

[Page 9 of Javid’s report  to the Home Affairs Select Committee did also confirm that the Windrush related deportations started in 2002. When the Labour Party was in power.]

We also learnt how some Windrush scandal victims were having difficulty completing the compensation consultation scheme 63-page booklet. A booklet definitely designed to put off folks from completing correctly. An old government trick when it comes to them having to pay out.

Euten Lindsay told the Guardian of the booklet “It wasn’t easy. It took me quite a while just to fill it in and I think I did the best I could. The wording that was used, they didn’t make it simple or easy for people,”

Winston Jones described completing the booklet as a “psychedelic experience”

To cap off a bad week for Windrush scandal victims, Amber Rudd – who resigned months earlier as Home Secretary over the scandal – had returned to Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet as Work and Pensions Secretary.

I was disappointed at how quickly many of us  -who said they were championing the Windrush cause – fell silent and did not keep up the squeeze on the government. Just when the Afro-Caribbean community had the government on the ropes, once again, we let them off the hook. Thus the pressure for the government to act quickly AND respectfully to address the Windrush victims’ concerns eased.

That was why I felt we were moving too fast to dish out praise and gongs to Caribbean and UK political figures for their efforts in supporting the Windrush victims’ cause.

October was black history month in the UK and all of a sudden there were a raft of events to “celebrate” the Windrush arrivals and its impact on UK society. Windrush became the theme of the month. There were tv and radio documentaries, exhibitions, concerts, speeches, plays, publications, talks etc.

Even Theresa May made some PC-friendly statement on the subject of black history month where the Windrush generation got an apologetic mention.

So Rudd resigned in April this year and walked away to leave her replacement – Sajid Javid – to clear up her mess. Yes, a subsequent report predictably cleared Rudd of any wrong doing. But such reports never criticise former favoured Ministers of a sitting PM. The report was just a whitewash orchestrated to clear Rudd’s return to May’s cabinet.

With BREXIT proving such a nightmare for Theresa May, she was desperate for Rudd to return the cabinet. As Rudd has long been May’s get-out-of-jail card whenever there is toxic discontent – over BREXIT – amongst senior Conservative ranks.

May and Rudd – Succession Planning?

So in essence the biggest “winner” of this Windrush scandal is indeed Amber Rudd.

Certainly not Sarah O’Connor, whose harassment by the Home Office happened under Rudd’s watch. Sarah O’Connor lost her job and had her dignity ripped apart. Sarah O’Connor (below) died in September.

To see Rudd so swiftly compensated with a cabinet appointment is just insulting. I hope the opposition MPs make their feelings clear to Rudd and May over the next few days when they return to the front benches in parliament. The optics from a Afro-Caribbean community stand point is truly awful.

Just further proof of the heartless and inimical attitude that the Prime Minister has towards the UK’s Afro-Caribbean community.

Unbelievable.

Image result for sarah o'connor windrush

How many more Windrush deaths do we have to cross?

Further Notes

Home Secretary update to the Select Committee

Windrush Compensation Consultation Scheme

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US Mid-Term Elections 2018 – Some of the Winners & Losers

US Mid-term Elections 2018

Winners

Donald Trump – Despite his unpopularity, Trump played a blinder on the campaign trail and ensured the Republicans held their Senate Majority. Just.

Mitch McConnell – The Republican Senate Leader has more wriggle room to push through more of the Trump agenda. Expect more Conservative judges to the courts

Nancy Pelosi – Despite some of her own Democratic Party colleagues promising not to vote for her to be the new House Speaker, Pelosi looks safe to get her hands back on the gavel.

Dennis Hof – The 72 year old former brothel owner was running for a seat in Nevada’s Assembly 36th District as a Republican. Hof died in his sleep in October but still posthumously defeated his Democratic opponent with 68% of the votes.

Brett Kavanaugh – The fight for his appointment to the Supreme Court was one of those rare moments that united all factions of the Republican Party. A key reason why the Republicans kept the Senate.

Mitt Romney – The former US Presidential candidate is back in front line politics.

House Investigations – In 2019, stand by for a raft of subpoenas by House Democrat-led Committees to anyone affiliated to Trump to appear before them in 2019.

Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema – Sinema’s Senate victory, in the normally safe Republican state of Arizona, was a reflection of the smart centrist campaign she ran against her Republican opponent. Despite the relentless mud slinging from a couple of Fox News fortunetellers. Sinema’s campaign model should be studied by Democrats planning to run against Trump in 2020.

Senators Elizabeth Warren/Cory Booker/Kamala Harris – These three Democratic Senators – with 2020 presidential ambitions – can now focus more of their time raising funds and step up their nationwide campaign.

Media – With the Democrats winning control of House Committees expect them to leak a treasure trove of sensitive anti-Trump information to their friends at CNN, NBC, New York Times, Washington Post etc.

US Politics –  Voter turnout was 47%, the highest turnout for a midterm since 1966 (49%).

The never ending soap opera drama (occasional sitcom) that is Trump’s Political Mystery Tour continues. This reality show remains box office across the globe. Never seen so much media/public interest over a simple mid-term election.

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Pelosi – Hands back on the gavel

Losers

Jeff Sessions – Fired as Attorney General before I considered this blog. Sessions could still spell danger for Trump when the House Democrats start their own Russia/Trump investigations. Sessions is bound to be subpoenaed. Jeff’s Revenge?

But those campaigning for bipartisan criminal justice reform and relaxation of federal ganja laws with be delighted Sessions is no longer AG. As he was the biggest hindrance to any reforms of these two key issues.

Scott Walker – The Wisconsin Governor’s time ran out and the Foxconn deal sunk his popularity even further in the State. Could still get a post in the Trump Administration.

Celebrity endorsements – Clearly has it limitations in influencing the electorate. Excellent speech by Oprah in Georgia though.

House Freedom Caucus – These Tea Party-lite House representatives have been the bane of establishment Republican members in the House with their stonewalling of many proposed GOP or bipartisan legislation. Their influence has been clipped and could lead indeed to better working relations between establishment Republicans and centrist Democrats.

Chuck Schumer  (Senate Minority Leader) – With the GOP Senate holding a increasing majority his efforts to thwart the Trump agenda has eased. Expect frequent crying Chuck tweets from Trump

Barack Obama – His campaigning magic was less effective and shows a real need for new leadership and direction for the Democratic Party.

Hillary Clinton – The Democrats have certainly moved on from Hillary. Or have they? 

Donald Trump – Some of his personal attacks during the campaign on Democrat candidates was just despicable. e.g. Calling Andrew Gillum “a thief”. Surely Gillum is not in (Trump’s buddy) Paul Manafort’s class.

[However, credit to Trump for this conciliatory tweet – “Congratulations to Andrew Gillum on having run a really tough and competitive race for Governor of the Great State of Florida. He will be a strong Democrat warrior long into the future – a force to reckon with!”]

Just no grace about the Trumpster. Why go after your own GOP colleagues within hours of them losing their seats? E.g. Mia Love. All bullies have their day.

Florida and Georgia – Chaos and confusion over their results lingers on. Lawsuits galore. American interference and chaos in US elections? Never.

 

Image result for jeff sessions

Sessions Expired?

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National Heroes Day – A Salute to Marie Holt

Today in Jamaica is National Heroes Day where the nation recognizes those individuals who contributed to the development of the island.

Over the years, I would get asked, who was the number 1 inspiring person that I knew personally, beyond family. Who was my local heroic figure growing up in Old Harbour, Jamaica?

My number one answer was always Marie Holt.

I knew Marie from my childhood days in Old Harbour as she lived with her Aunt Clar and Mr Pryce. The Pryce family home was like a youth centre to many of us back in the late 1970s early 1980s.

I used to look at Marie in amazement at her strong work ethic, her energy and at how she got things done professionally. Her independence and leadership was clear for us to see. Never one to suffer fools, Marie’s attitude exuded confidence and brought admiration from across the Old Harbour community.

Despite her tiny stature, Marie was just someone you could never forget. She simply held your attention. Her talents extraordinary.

A truly remarkable Jamaican, Marie left us last month, aged 67.

Thankfully, Marie’s story was shared to the wider Jamaica through media reports over the years. Such as the following articles:

  1. “She is a marvel” – 1992
  2. “I used to put the scissors between my toes and cut the material to make like a shirt or skirt, or anything I wanted,” – 2015
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