Right Steps & Poui Trees


1 Comment

350 Words Or Less: #Zika & Pregnant Belly Photos

So, another news report about zika and pregnancy illustrated by a photo of a pregnant belly.

zp1It’s almost as though a shorthand has been adopted at some media houses…without the pregnant belly, the readers won’t know that this is a story about  zika’s impact  on pregnant women or the risk to developing fetuses.zp2a                                (Same pregnant belly; different angle.)zp3                             (Same pregnant belly, different country.)

A belly, very pregnant, bare and disembodied. That’s what readers need.

Even when the story is about zika in pregnant monkeys.zp7At one point the belly may be connected to an actual person with a name…zp8…but not for long…as the photo becomes disconnected from the name, just as the belly becomes disconnected from the woman…

Stock photos, attached to stories. Will more people click and read because of this?…

 

Pregnant bellies are beautiful and iconic and women nearing birth, with bare or clothed bellies, are a powerful and profound subject for photography.

Stories about zika and pregnancy are really about whole women, their lives, children, families and communities that are being, may be or will be affected by the virus that is the subject of the article. The whole story can’t be told in one article. It can’t be reduced to one photo. That’s a given. But this almost thoughtless use of a disembodied belly to advertise information, is a bit reminiscent of other uses of women’s body parts to sell other commodities.

 

Advertisements


2 Comments

350 Words or Less: Classifying the Ministry of National Security Budget

Last week (July 7) at a post-sectoral debate press briefing, Minister of National Security Robert Montague said that he intends to have his ministry’sbudget classified, thus making it unavailable publicly.The reason given for this is to prevent information within the budget being used by people with criminal intentions.Montague press conference 7-7-16 (2)

“The era of announcing details of our security programmes is over. And it is over to the extent that I am bringing a submission to Cabinet seeking to remove the National Security budget from the printed information within the national budget. And the reason for it, we have seen on our website a lot of traffic from countries and from organizations that we too have an interest in, trying to find out the size of the budget and what you spending on. And it is an intelligence gathering. We are providing those who wish to cause mayhem with vital information and this ministry is trying to cease and desist.” – Minister of National Security, Robert Montague (Transcribed from recording of Nationwide News Network newscast July 7, 2016)

The Minister says he will be taking this proposal to Cabinet, where I hope it will be reconsidered.

Openness and transparency are important and prized characteristics of governance in a modern democracy. I cannot in that context see any reason to justify the blanket withholding of the entire budget of the Ministry of National Security from public access. The majority of that budget couldn’t possibly pose any risk to national security by being in the public arena. Pages like this, for example:MNS Budget 2016-2017 - sample page

If there were a genuine and substantiated risk posed by public access to any particular items within the budget, the appropriate approach could only be to redact specific, limited items.

Does the level of information given in the budget reach the kind of operational detail that would provide useful information for criminal organizations? Page after page of the document that I looked at could never justifiably be exempt from public access. You can have a look at the budget now posted on the Ministry of Finance’s website – Estimates of Expenditure 2016-2017 – and see what you think.

MNS Budget 2016-2017 - 1st page

 

 


2 Comments

Lighting Candles, Remembering Jason Smith

The music from the sound system  played loudly, tracking through reggae, dancehall, oldies, setting the mood. Children chased each other through the yard, darting round and about the adults’ legs. People were cooking, sharing out food, eating. And every so often, someone stopped in front of the table with pictures, remembering Jason…

IMG_2361[1]

 

Jason Smith was 15-years-old when he was shot and killed by the police in a market stall in Spanish Town on July 9, 2002. An account of the circumstances of Jason’s death and his mother’s fight for justice in the courts is documented in the 2010 Jamaicans for Justice Victims’ Voices video. (And 6 years later, Monica’s civil case continues.)

JFJ Victims' Voices - Monica Williams

Every year Monica Williams and her older son, Leonard, hold a memorial gathering in July. Family, friends and well-wishers join in marking the passing of another year, to say that Jason may be gone, but he is not forgotten. Monica says that not to do something at that time would feel like saying she has stopped remembering Jason. Lenny says it keeps Jason’s memory alive and passes it on to his young son, who never had the chance to know his uncle.

A familiar poster attached to the gate, has been updated again to show that it is now 14 years since Jason’s death.

As darkness falls, Lenny and another young man begin the task of lighting the candles, placing them up and down both sides of the road outside.

A candle under a plastic cup is such a small thing…

IMG_2422… but in the dark it shines so brightly…

IMG_2427

…and even if the rough edges of pain are still present, the beauty of the light cannot be ignored.IMG_2431

The many lights along the sidewalk burn with a fierce insistence that Jason is remembered and loved.IMG_2476Memorial Announcement, Sunday Gleaner, July 10, 2016

Jason Smith notice in Gleaner 10-7-16

 


Jamaica: Increased #Zika Numbers & Some Questions

I wrote about zika on Tuesday (July 5) and here I am writing about it again, primarily because I heard Minister of Health Christopher Tufton talking with journalist Cliff Hughes on his programme on Power106FM yesterday, and there was some updated information that caught my attention.

Minister Tufton MOH photo

Minister Tufton

Cliff Hughes NNN photo

Cliff Hughes

Additionally, some other questions and concerns have been milling around in my head for a while, and I thought I would transfer them from brain to blog.

 

Ministry of Health Zika Update, as of July 1, 2016

At the beginning of the interview, Minister Tufton shared that his son now has zika, with mild symptoms so far, and he reiterated that the World Health Organization (WHO) projection is that approximately 70% of the population will get zika. He also noted that the majority of zika cases have mild symptoms, with approximately 1% being severe.

The updated figures for zika that he gave stood out for me, particularly the number of pregnant women with suspected zika infection, which was significantly higher than the figure he had given at the Ministry of Health (MOH) press briefing two days before. This sent me to the MOH website, but I didn’t seriously think I would find the new data there. O ye of little faith! The website had been updated today, and there was a document entitled Zika Update as at July 01, 2016. (Is a trend in posting regular updates now underway? That would be good.)

The following  changes are reflected between the June 25 & July 1 reports:

  • Number of notifications                      – from 2825 to 3088
  • Number of suspected cases                – from 2135 to 2183
  • Number of confirmed cases               – from 24 to 26
  • Number of suspected cases in pregnant women    – from 88 to 142
  • Number of notifications for GBS      – from 42 to 53

The most striking change was the reported number of suspected cases of zika infection in pregnant women, which had gone from 88 to 142.

MOH zika in pregnant women 1-7-16

Minister Tufton said it is expected that there will be cases of zika-related microcephaly in babies born later this year. With the first confirmed case of zika in Jamaica being in late January, it is thought that such cases may affect some babies born in September and beyond. He reminded that not all babies born to mothers who have had zika are affected by microcephaly, though he gave a possible figure of 10%. He said that the hospital system was being prepared for this eventuality and that counselling was being and would be provided to pregnant women.

MOH GBS 1-7-16

Speaking about the cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), the Minister told Cliff Hughes that not all cases of GBS require treatment in Intensive Care Units (ICU), but that there have been some severe cases requiring ICU care. He said that during a visit he made to Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) this week, there had been 2 or 3 patients with GBS in ICU there.

Some Questions for the Minister

 

 

 

In speaking with Mr Hughes, Minister Tufton indicated that he and others at the MOH were committed to handling the zika outbreak with transparency, having learned lessons from the handling of the chikungunya epidemic in 2014. He said:

Jamaicans need to know what they are confronting, what the risk factors are and what they need to do in preventing and, if they can’t prevent, how they need to follow up…We shouldn’t hide anything from the public; we should go out of our way to explain to the public the issues at hand. – Minister Tufton (transcribed from recording of interview with Cliff Hughes on Power106FM, July 7, 2016)

The MOH has been providing more information about zika than it did for ChikV and the Minister certainly seems to be committed to providing such information. With that in mind, I ask the following questions:

Blog questions 1

blog question zika

blog questions 2

(Click for copy of MOH Zika-update-of-as-at-July-1-2016)

 

 


3 Comments

Jamaica: #Zika Update…On the Ministry of Health Website, No Less!

Christopher-Tufton-WebListening to the news at midday today, I heard a report of an update given by Minister of Health Christopher Tufton about the current situation with the zika virus here in Jamaica. As the news report was read, I madly tried to scribble down the figures being given…number of reported, suspected and confirmed cases, etc. I was particularly interested in the number of pregnant women reported with suspected cases of zika. I thought I heard 88, and began to comb the news sites online and on social media to see if I could track down the figure. No luck. I was about to send Minister Tufton a tweet or to call Power 106 to see if I could speak with someone in their news room.

And then I decided to check the Ministry of Health website, though I had little hope of finding any current figures there, based on past experience.

Eureka! Look what I found! A downloadable, written document entitled “Zika update as at June 25, 2016“, posted on the website today, July 5, 2016! Hallelujah!MOH zika update 25-6-16

 

Seriously though, this is a significant development in keeping the public informed, that on the same day the Minister gives an update to the media, a document containing the figures is posted on the MOH website. I sincerely hope that this is the beginning of a trend.

The full document (3 pages long) is available on the website and I have included it here: MOH Zika-update-of-as-at-June-25

Of particular note are the general update regarding number of cases, with 24 confirmed cases as of June 25, 2016:

MOH zika cases 25-6-16

and the number of pregnant women with suspected cases of zika:

MOH zika and pregnancy 24-6-16

Providing reliable, easily accessible official information to the public on a regular basis is essential during a public health situation such as this.

 

 

 


1 Comment

INDECOM Arrests 5 Police Officers in Relation to Alpha Student Shooting Incident

Tonight the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) issued an update in the case of the Alpha schoolgirl who was shot in a taxi  in downtown Kingston last week Thursday, indicating that 5 police officers attached to Mobile Reserve have been arrested in relation to the incident. The press release is set out below. I wait to see what further news there is regarding this case.

INDECOM press release 4-7-16

UPDATE: INDECOM ARRESTS 5 JCF MEMBERS IN RELATION TO ALPHA STUDENT SHOOTING INCIDENT

July 4, 2016 – The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) wishes to advise the public that as at 7:35 p.m. this evening, five (5) members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) attached to the Mobile Reserve Division have been arrested in relation to the shooting injury of a Convent of Mercy Academy (Alpha) student on Thursday, June 30, 2016.

The police officers will be placed before the Parish Court as soon as an Identification Parade and interviews are conducted.

The Commission thanks the High Command of the JCF for their cooperation in this investigation.

Background

The Commission launched an investigation into the shooting injury of the female student following the incident on Thursday, June 30, 2016. The incident occurred at the intersection of North Street and Mark Lane at approximately 7:15 a.m.

The student underwent emergency surgery at the Kingston Public Hospital and is still recovering in the Intensive Care Unit.

The report received by INDECOM was that a man who was operating a “robot” taxi transporting and students of Convent of Mercy Academy (Alpha) and St. Georges College, was allegedly stopped by the police. It was also alleged that after this taxi stopped, the police opened fire at the vehicle. One of the bullets hit one of the students in the head.

A team of INDECOM investigators and forensic examiners responded to the incident following the report. The incident scene and motor care were processed; and statements collected from eyewitnesses to the incident.

The Commission wishes to reiterate its appeal to anyone who may have witnessed or can provide any information about the incident to call 1.876.968.1932, or call our mobile number at 1.876.878.0167, or visit its office in Kingston. Persons are also encouraged to call our new Toll Free Lines: 1.888.991.5555 or 1.888.935.5550.


4 Comments

Just One Sunset…

Every night the sun goes down. And sometimes, like tonight, I go on the roof to watch. At first it looked as if it would be a pretty routine sunset.

IMG_2200

As time passed, however, some interesting shadows were being thrown up from behind a bank of clouds.

IMG_2236

Which became even more pronounced as time went by.

IMG_2251

And more colourful.

IMG_2282

Eventually things returned to a more conventional view.

IMG_2283[1]

Behind me, the clouds were a softer pink, with the breadfruit and ackee trees silhouetted against the sky.

IMG_2290[1]

Finally, night…

IMG_2348

“Finish each day before you begin the next, and interpose a solid wall of sleep between the two.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson