Right Steps & Poui Trees


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Sunday Morning with a Two-Year-Old

So much happens when you babysit a two-year-old on a Sunday morning. She climbs up on your lap and sees the lone piece of a building set sitting on your desk beside your laptop and she asks a question, “What is that, Grandma?”img_20190113_233534_resized_20190113_113557604 building set

And I know her question isn’t a purely factual one. She doesn’t want me to say, “It’s part of your building set, sweetie.” It is an invitation to enter that world of pretending that she so loves. I suggest it is a cell phone, but that doesn’t catch her imagination this morning. “It could be a crayon,” I say and, yes, that is what she pretends it is. And we use it to colour a pretend sun, a pretend moon and a pretend orange, all on the surface of my desk. “Eat the orange, Grandma,” she says and then the building set piece transforms into a knife, which she uses to cut the pretend orange, so that I can eat it.

Later, as she sits on the veranda ledge, holding onto the grills and swinging her legs outside, we discuss the ways in which we are the same as our dogs outside and different from them. She likes same and different. We have ears, we have eyes, we have mouths. We have hands and feet, but they have paws. “I have toes and Bala has toes.” But no hands. No fingers. And suddenly we are into a long discussion about what we can do with our hands and fingers that the dogs can’t do. Colour with crayons. Put on our shoes. Pick up a piece of tomato to eat.

Tomatoes are red. “Red is my favourite colour,” she says, as she picks up a piece of tomato from the bowl and puts in into her mouth. “Watermelon is red too,” I say, only to be told, “Looks like pink to me.” And now we talk about the colours of all the foods we like to eat. Brown naseberries and lentil stew. Orange carrots and pawpaw and pumpkin soup. Green callaloo and broccoli. And what colour exactly is rice and peas?

Time and perspective shift in the company of my granddaughter. Such a gift.

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Happy New Year 2019!

It’s a week since the New Year began. I had planned to do this post last week to welcome the new year. I had intended to write a much longer, more reflective post, but I didn’t. So here are the two photos I was going to use to illustrate that more interesting post that I didn’t write.

Sunset, December 31, 2018last sunset 2018

Sunrise, January 1, 2019p1360170 sunrise jan 1 2019

Happy New Year!

 


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Sunrise Surprise!

Any morning that I head to the roof  to watch the sun rise, I am never quite sure what I will see.  Even as I climb the spiral staircase, navigating the narrow space left by the recently installed guttering, I am uncertain what will greet me. Like the morning I took this series of photos…a chilly, overcast morning. Grey was the main colour, as I sat and drank my tea. Little did I know the drama that was about to unfold!sunrise series 5

A heavy bank of clouds hung low in the eastern sky, over a bowl where two hills overlapped. As the sunlight began to shine up from behind the hills, a pink pattern started to appear on the clouds.sunrise series

I  realised that nature was deciding to dance this morning and I was a lucky witness! Brighter pink and over a larger area of cloud…sunrise series 1

And this was the finale! The sky on fire…transformed…sunrise series 6

Tea forgotten; no journaling done. I watched, transfixed. Bathed in this sunrise surprise….IMG_20181118_061515_1_resized_20181216_060007607 sunrise

 


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Long-Awaited Joint Select Committee Report on Review of Sexual Offences & Other Acts

The long-awaited report from the Joint Select Committee reviewing the Sexual Offences Act, the Offences Against the Person Act, the Domestic Violence Act and the Child Care and Protection Act was tabled in the Parliament yesterday, December 11, 2018.

The review of the four Acts had its origin in a Private Members Motion tabled by then Opposition Senator Kamina Johnson Smith in 2013. A previous Committee began the review in 2014, but didn’t complete the review before the general elections in 2016. The new Committee began its deliberations in January 2017 and held nineteen meetings. More than thirty submissions were made by entities or individuals.

I have not yet read the report in detail, but am posting it on my blog to provide a copy for those who wish to read and consider it.

JSC report cover

                                                      (Click on link below)

Joint Select Committee Report – Review of Sexual Offences & Other Acts December 2018


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The Auditor General’s Petrojam Report & International Anti-Corruption Day

Today is International Anti-Corruption Day and in recognition of that I thought I would post the Auditor General’s Petrojam report which was tabled in Parliament last Tuesday, December 4, 2018. In the days following its release, the report has been the focus of a great deal of discussion in traditional and social media, and has gained a lot of public interest. Prime Minister Andrew Holness is to have a media briefing tomorrow (Monday) morning and it is expected that he will address this issue during the briefing.

Auditor General's Petrojam Report Dec 2018 - cover

A Review of Aspects of PCJ and a Comprehensive Audit of Petrojam Limited – Auditor General December 2018

Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis’ Forward to the report reads as follows:

The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) is a statutory organization created by the Petroleum Act, with the exclusive right to explore and develop the petroleum resources of Jamaica. It is also the Government agency charged with the responsibility for facilitating the development of the country’s energy resources in a manner that supports the overall strategy for national development in support of the National Energy Policy and Vision 2030 National Development Plan (NDP). PCJ’s subsidiary Petrojam’s primary function is to import and convert crude oil into various types of petroleum products for supply and use in the domestic market. Both PCJ and Petrojam’s governance practices and financial operations are subjected to the Public Bodies Management & Accountability (PBMA) Act, GOJ Corporate Governance and Accountability Frameworks and applicable guidelines issued by the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service (MoFPS).

Stemming from public concerns regarding mismanagement at Petrojam, I commissioned a comprehensive audit using the performance, compliance and special audit methodologies, as well as financial statements assessment of Petrojam. I also reviewed specified areas of PCJ to assess whether its practices were consistent with the principles of good financial management and whether the practices accorded with GOJ Guidelines and good practices, to attain value for money. I also sought to assess whether PCJ provided robust oversight to Petrojam, based on its parent subsidiary relationship. This report is a compendium of the findings of the reviews of both entities.

The audit revealed a number of deficiencies, which have since been brought to the attention of the management of PCJ and Petrojam. I have proffered a number of recommendations for implementation aimed at strengthening the governance arrangements at both entities. However, I believe that these recommendations are of relevance to all public bodies and should be considered by the Office of the Cabinet and Ministry of Finance and the Public Service (MoFPS) for sector-wide implementation.

Thanks to the management and staff of Petrojam and PCJ for their co-operation and assistance during the audit.

On page 6, there is a useful visual summary, but the report is worth reading in its entirety.

Auditor General's Petrojam report p 6 visual summary

Auditor General’s Petrojam report, p 6

The Auditor General’s Reports

In 2016, the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition and Caribbean Vulnerable Communities published a review of the Auditor General’s reports for the period 2010 – 2015, which is a useful document to refer to in the current context.

Auditor Genera's assessment report - cover

Auditor General’s Reports and MDA Accountability Assessment 2010 – 2015

The Executive Summary gives an indication of the purpose of the review:

“This report focuses primarily on the Auditor General’s Department, its work, the support it receives from the wider accountability environment and the level of responsiveness from other public officials (especially the Public Accounts Committee). The report looks at the crucial question of sanctions – who has the authority to sanction, what sanctions are available and are they being used.The research was undertaken against the background of decades long, public cries of concern for the lack of accountability, repeated reports of waste and public perception of corruption.

As coalitions of civil society groups, both the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition and the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition desired a fuller understanding of Jamaica’s accountability environment and if and how the public can strengthen the work of the Auditor General. Shedding further light on the auditor general’s findings and the state of governance as well as building understanding of the accountability framework in order to better use it are main goals of the research.” p. 8

Jeanette Calder, researcher and writer for this review and one of the people most familiar with reports of Auditor General’s Department, tweeted this the day after the Petrojam report was tabled in Parliament:

JC tweet re Petrojam report Dec 5 2018

Former Contractor General Greg Christie has also tweeted about the Petrojam report, including the following:Christie tweet re Petrojam report 5-12-18

International Anti-Corruption Day

December 9 is celebrated as International Anti-Corruption Day.

“Corruption begets more corruption, and fosters a corrosive culture of impunity. The United Nations Convention against Corruption is among our primary tools for advancing the fight. Sustainable Development Goal 16 and its targets also offer a template for action.”
— UN Secretary-General, António Guterres
Christie tweet re corruption 7-12-18
We wait to see how the government responds to this latest report and allegations of waste, mismanagement and corruption and whether we, the public, will resist the 9-day-wonder syndrome.


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Office of Public Defender’s Submission: The Report & the Presentations in Parliament

On November 21 & November 27, 2018, Public Defender Arlene Harrison-Henry presented a report on impacts of the States of Public Emergency to the Internal and External Affairs Committee of Parliament. The report focuses primarily on data concerning detainees and the conditions in which they have been held. There has been much public discussion regarding the report and I simply wanted to make it available for those who would like to read it.

Public Defender's report Nov 2018Office of the Public Defender – The Submission to Internal and External Affairs Committee of Parliament

Office of the Public Defender – Appendices to Submissions

 

 

 

 

Public Defender - IEAC November 27, 2018

The next meeting of the Internal and External Affairs Committee is currently scheduled for Tuesday, January 8, 2019 at 10:00am. The Commissioner of Police is to be invited to attend, as well as the Public Defender.


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Remembrance Day 2018: Jamaica

Things come to your notice in a variety of ways, some of them unexpected. I was reminded of the Remembrance Day ceremony at National Heroes Park by a Ministry of National Security tweet on Friday.MNS tweet re JDF Remembrance Day rehersal - 9-11-18

Today being the hundredth anniversary of Armistice Day and never having been before, I decided to go to the memorial ceremony. There was adequate parking at National Heroes Park, and as I walked inside the entrance, I was encouraged to make a donation to the Annual Poppy Appeal, which I did.IMG_20181111_194635_resized_20181111_074759473 - Remembrance Day 2018 poppies

While I was waiting for the ceremony to begin, I saw a gentleman walking around with poppies and heard him telling someone at the end of the row I was sitting in that he was 85 and that people called him the Poppy Man. I intended to speak with him at the end of the ceremony to ask his name, but unfortunately I didn’t see him later.Remembrance Day 2018 ceremony

The National Memorial Service was scheduled to start at 10:55am, with the official arrivals beginning earlier.

 

(This is a link to a copy of the full programme for the Remembrance Day 2018 service.)

Arrivals

 

Time, like an ever rolling stream,

Bears all its sons away

– O God, our help in ages past – Opening Hymn

Period of Silence & The Last Post

 

(The period of silence commences and ends with a one-gun Salute. The Last Post is sounded by the JDF buglers.)

The Exhortation was read by Mr Gerald Manhertz, who I was told after the ceremony is 90-years-old and is one of the few living Jamaicans to have served in World War II.Remembrance Day 2018 f

Remembrance Day 2018 - The Exhortation

The National Anthem was sung before the Wreath Laying Ceremony.Remembrance Day 2018 - Jamaican flag

Justice, Truth be ours forever,

Jamaica, Land we love.

– National Anthem

Wreath Laying Ceremony

His Excellency The Governor General Greets the War Veterans on Parade

Once the ceremony ended, there were the official departures…

Remembrance Day 2018 o

…after which people milled around, talking and taking photographs….Remembrance Day 2018 p

I am glad that I attended the Memorial Service today. Acts of remembering are important to a society. P1340943 Remembrance Day 2018