Tuesday, 30 June 2020

SOCIETY, SOCIETY: Juicy Derrick Smith memoir on the way … Mr. Chuck regrets … Vasciannie returns to Mona Campus …

>> Some people were just born to teach and that, unequivocally, includes Dr. Stephen Vasciannie, who has, according to the press, returned to the Mona Campus to serve as Professor of International Law. As we all know, Vasciannie was President of the University of Technology (UTech) for the past few years, but his trek back to the other side of Mona symbolizes a return to his roots. 

>> We are calling this one The People vs. The Justice Minister! Delroy Chuck has done the sensible thing by issuing an eloquent apology to victims of sexual harassment. After coming under fire for comments he made (about #MeToo and the time period within which non-criminal sexual harassment complaints can be made) during a sitting of the Joint Select Committee on the Sexual Harassment Bill last week, Chuck is asking for forgiveness. “I unreservedly apologize to anyone who found my remarks inappropriate, as I never intended to disrespect the #MeToo movement or to diminish the seriousness of the emotional trauma caused by sexual harassment,” he offers. “On reflection I understand the concerns raised by members of the public.” The Caribbean Women Theologians for Transformation were among those who took Chuck to task, arguing that his comments made light of the challenges that attend victims of sexual abuse and harassment. 

>> Derrick Smith is whetting appetites for his forthcoming autobiography, Turning Points, in which he’s spilling the beans about his vast and myriad experiences in politics and public service, including his stint as National Security Minister under then Prime Minister Bruce Golding. According to an Observer sneak peek, one very vivid chapter of the tell-all book (which is now about 98% complete) is titled “Humiliation,” and chronicles “the embarrassment that engulfed Smith’s family” when they discovered, through a newspaper report (!) that he’d been fired from the Golding Cabinet as Security minister less than a year after the JLP took office in September ’07.. Sound like Mr. Smith could have a hot bestseller on his hands. 

>> Milestones: Congratulations are in order for Pearnel Charles Sr. and Gloria Charles, who are celebrating 50 years of marriage. Here’s to another half-a-century and more… Big Ship maestro Freddie McGregor just turned 64, marking his earthstrong recently with a musical feast and virtual concert, alongside family, friends and well-wishers. 

>> Question of the Week: It’s been reported that Chris Gayle will not be suiting up for the St. Lucia Zouks after all, opting to sit out the 2020 Hero CPL tournament to spend more quality time with the family. Will he be back next year – or is this retirement?

Saturday, 27 June 2020

NEWS & NOTES: PEP results released / Carlo Redwood leaving Flow / Noted decrease in number of missing-children reports

>> 80% of successful PEP candidates get placed at school of choice 
The results of the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) examinations have been released, and the Education ministry is reporting that 80% of the 39,689 Grade Six students who sat the exams were placed at one of their preferred high schools. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, which forced schools to close their doors and give lessons online, not all components of the PEP exams were administered. The sixth-graders were assessed using the Grade Four Numeracy and Literacy tests done in 2018, the Grade Five Performance Tasks exams in 2019 and this past February’s Ability Test. In the end, students were placed based on a grading system that weighs 30% for Grade Four, 20% for Grade Five and 50% for Grade Six.

>> Carlo Redwood set to depart Flow on June 30 
What’s next for Carlo Redwood? The industry veteran is stepping down from his post as Flow’s marketing director at the end of the month. The telecomms company made the announcement via a press release on Wednesday. Prior to his eight-year stint at Flow, Redwood (who is credited with refreshing their brand strategy and significantly expanding their mobile subscriber base) served in several other marketing capacities in the corporate world, including at Pepsi-Cola Jamaica. Working at Flow, Redwood says, was super-productive for him because of the overall team effort. “It was packed with career-defining milestones and filled with great memories,” he says. “I would like to acknowledge the local and regional leadership of the business, the many external partners and stakeholder groups and, most importantly, the Jamaica marketing team for their tireless support.”

>> Authorities see downward trend in number of kids reported missing 
There has been a noteworthy decrease in the number of Jamaican children being reported missing. According to the National Children’s Registry, the latest figures released represent the lowest they have been since the May 2009 launch of the Ananda Alert system. As the new statistics (supplied by the National Intelligence Bureau) reveal, between January and June of this year, 516 children were reported missing. Of that number, 387 have returned home, leaving 129 kids still to be found. For the same period in 2019, some 836 kids were reported missing. Of that amount, 740 were reunited with loved ones. “We have seen for the past two years a real reduction in the number of reports for missing children,” NCR Deputy Registrar Warren Thompson noted during a recent online child-protection forum. “We are coming down from figures of around 2,000 per year. For 2018/19, we were in the 1,500 region.”

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

NEW MUSIC REVIEW: Hot new tracks from D-Major, Squash, Popcaan, Alkaline and Dre Island

Dre Island feat. Jesse Royal
“Be Okay”
Off one of the most buzzworthy reggae albums of the year (Now I Rise, out now), Dre Island’s captivating collaboration with fellow messenger Jesse Royal brings a timely social message backed by impressive vocal work and haunting melodies. [Take a listen] A-

He’s been keeping a low profile lately, but Squash proves he’s still a leader in dancehall’s new school. He scores a touchdown with this slick, swagger-drenched track, which references everything from success to fast girls to side-stepping the playa-haters. [Take a listen] B

D-Major feat. Busy Signal
“Something New”
Singer-songwriter D-Major (né Damian Codlin) has been crafting some of the smoothest, sexiest songs in modern/contemporary reggae for years. He gets a solid assist from Busy Signal on his latest, a repeat-worthy late-night jam sure to put her in the mood. [Take a listen] B+

Teeming with his signature fusion of attitude, clever wordplay and energy to spare, the prolific dancehall hitmaker continues his winning streak with this slim but memorable tune. [Take a listen] B

The Vendetta boss has a lot on his mind. He puts his rivals on notice with this fierce, take-no-prisoners number, laced with the kind of grit and bare-bones honesty that has come to define his best work. [Take a listen] B+

NEWS & NOTES: Japan makes $262M donation to boost Jamaica's fight against COVID-19...

>> The government of Japan, through its Economic and Social Development programme, has granted Jamaica funding of approximately $262 million to purchase equipment and supplies in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Says Foreign Affairs minister Kamina Johnson-Smith, “The supplies will, undoubtedly, make a sustainable positive impact on our public health infrastructure.” For his part, Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Hiromasa Yamazaki, says his country remains committed to working with countries around the world in the fight against the disease. “The goal of the Government of Japan,” he says, “is to enable all the people in the world to enjoy greater opportunities afforded by a safe and secure environment.” 

>> Countless university-bound students will be relieved to hear that the Students’ Loan Bureau (SLB) is waiving all application and loan processing fees for the 2021 academic year. Making the announcement in the House, Finance minister Dr. Nigel Clarke said tertiary education must remain “affordable and accessible” to all Jamaicans. “It has never been more affordable to [receive] loans through the SLB,” he noted. “We want our students to be able to access and continue their education.” 

>> To allow residents the ease of purchasing locally sourced ground produce and at a “much more reasonable price” than at the markets, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries will be establishing food marts at strategic locations across the country. On Friday, June 26, residents in and around Lacovia in St. Elizabeth will have the opportunity to make their purchases at the mart being set up at the Lacovia Community Centre.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

THE E-BUZZ: Another theatre space gone / Festival Song top 10 selected / Tuning up for Buju’s Upside Down

>> New Kingston’s popular Centrestage Theatre is closing down
Say it ain’t so! Centrestage Theatre is closing down its New Kingston playhouse, located at Cinema 2 on Dominica Drive. TALLAWAH got the scoop on Saturday afternoon as workmen carried out major removal work at the premises. When TALLAWAH arrived at the scene, seats, props and stage woodwork were being removed. According to an inside source, Jambiz International, operators of the Centrestage Theatre, have been given notice by the owners to vacate the property. Said source also revealed that the multi-award-winning team (including Admin Director Lenford Salmon, co-directors Trevor Nairne and Patrick Brown and veteran leading man Glen Campbell) will be on the hunt for a new home in the Corporate Area to mount their annual productions.

>> Stephen Marley, Pharell and John Legend score collabos on Buju’s new album
Scoring a guest spot on one of the most hotly anticipated reggae albums in modern history – Buju Banton’s comeback record, Upside Down – is certainly a hot ticket. As expected, the Gargamel meticulously selected his creative collaborators for the project, opting to work with fellow Grammy winners Stephen Marley, Pharell Williams and John Legend and hot British newcomer Stefflon Don. Due out on June 26, it’s Banton’s first album in a decade and the follow-up to Before the Dawn, which copped the Grammy for Best Reggae Album. Dave Kelly, Donovan Germaine and Banton himself are among the producers featured on the disc, which will also mark his first major project since being signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label.

>> Big names bring major star power to J’ca Festival Song finals
“When that [winning] song is selected, we want to hear that song on the lips of every Jamaican,” says culture minister, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, making refrence to the finalists vying for top honours in the 2020 Jamaica Festival Song Competition. The competition got a mjpr dose of (super)star power this year. Among the top 10 contenders are Buju Banton (“I Am a Jamaican”), Toots & the Maytals (“Rise Up Jamaica”), Freddie McGregor (“Turn up the Sound”), LUST (“Wave the Flag”) and Sakina Deer (“We Are Jamaica”). Rounding out the list are Shuga (“One People”), Papa Michigan (“Jamaica Dance”), Radix OD (“Place to Be”), Xtra Bigg (“Jamaica Ah Paradise”) and Oneil ‘Nazzle Man’ Scott (“Jamaica Nice”). The grand finale is slated to take place in mid-July. The overall prize package amounts to a $3 million purse.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

THE BEAUTY PAGE: Expert tips to treat pool hair, freshen your strands – and serve great face

THE FIXER: After a dip in the pool, getting the chlorine out of your hair can be a hassle. What are the best products to turn to? For starters, Woman’s World highly recommends that you reach for a shampoo made with sodium thiosulphate. “It helps eliminate all traces of chlorine, copper and oxidized metals,” the magazine advises, “while restoring your hair’s vibrant colour.” 

IN TREATMENT: For countless ladies, a sweaty scalp and the regular use of styling products that cause buildup leaves hair looking dull and dirty. What’s the solve? “A scalp scrub is a great way to detoxify strands,” one editor recommends. “It removes residual product and lifts away dead cells so your strands look and smell fresh again.”

>> Try this pro tip! 
When blow-drying your hair, tip your head upside down and gently lift the roots to add instant airiness to your hair. 

>> This week’s hot pick: Olay’s Tone Perfection Serum
“It’s brightening, protective Vitamin C is a proven skin-care hero. I use it every morning. This serum also has anti-inflammatory niacinamide,” raves Brian Underwood, O Magazine beauty director

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

COMMUNITY BEAT: News and notes from Negril to Morant Point

Clarendon: A blue carbon restoration project in southern Clarendon, aimed at restoring more than 1000 hectares of degraded mangrove forest and boosting ecosystem-based livelihood opportunities, is to be implemented by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) under its Blue Carbon Fund and via its Natural Lab and Sustainable Islands programmes. The project, which will be the largest mangrove restoration project undertaken in Jamaica, is expected to result in a mangrove system that is "viable, healthy and optimally functioning." Completion of the project has been scheduled for 2026.

St. Andrew: The recent addition of 107 new retrofitted vehicles to the mobile fleet of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) was "timely and necessary in meeting the growing demand" for police services across the island (especially during the current pandemic), says Police Commissioner Major-General Antony Anderson. "We have been able to be more responsive to the needs of the public," the Commissioner says, "and this has supported us in taking on new tasks and roles associated with COVID-19."

St. Catherine: Entering an unprecedented deal with the education ministry, ReadyNet, the sister company of ReadyTV, will be providing WiFi services (by the end of June) to 100 rural schools and communities presently without internet connectivity. " We are very pleased that our first customers in Jamaica under our recently granted license will be schoolchildren, especially those in rural and remote areas who have generally been left behind," says Chris Dehring, co-CEO of Ready Communications. "This can be the beginning of a new and exciting time for Jamaica as we strive towards a fully digital society."

THEATRE REVIEW: Tulloch’s Prayer Partner remount packed with lessons, laughs and family drama

PLAYING HOUSE: Castmates in one of the funnier scenes from the production.

Prayer Partner (Probemaster Productions)
Director: David Tulloch
Cast: Donald ‘Iceman’ Anderson, Ricky Rowe, Sashana Lamont, Dacoda Mitchell and David Tulloch 
Venue: Phoenix Theatre, New Kingston

GIRLS growing up with single fathers often fall into one of two categories: pampered daddy’ princess or victim of an overprotective military officer. The life of Danielle Jackson (newcomer Sashana Lamont is fascinating combination of the two. 

The central character in David Tulloch’s revival of his amusing and thought-provoking play Prayer Partner, Danielle adores and respects her pop (Donald Anderson bravely tackling the role of a patriarch, but on the other hand she’s often frustrated by his stern rules, especially those concerning who she can and cannot date.

That said, Mr. Jackson is not a fan of Giovanni (Ricky Rowe), the playboy with the sweet talk and slick moves that Danielle has been seeing lately. Mr. Jackson would rather see his daughter spending time and later walking down the aisle with her friend Peter (Tulloch), a shy nerd who’s just returned from overseas.

Peter has always had the hots for Danielle, but tongue-tied doesn’t even begin to describe his attempts at ‘making the move.’ But he knows what he wants. When an opportunity presents itself for Peter to cross-dress and land a job as Danielle’s prayer partner/housekeeper he jumps at it.

Things get complicated super-fast when the prayer partner network sends along the all-fired-up Sister Grace (Dacoda Mitchell, strong), who doesn’t hesitate to square off against this curious individual with the high-pitched voice named Peter-Gaye.

Will Peter’s plan to win Danielle’s heart bear fruit? Or will Giovanni’s loverboy routine still prevail? In any case, to say that Danielle’s world gets turned upside down is a massive understatement.

You always want to judge the remount of a play on its own merit, but one can’t help but draw comparisons to its previous incarnations. In this case, Prayer Partner stands shoulder-to-shoulder with its predecessors, minor shortcomings aside.

The performances are on-point, especially Mitchell and Tulloch, whose Peter-Gaye scenes never fail to raise the play’s humour quotient.

The show’s set and lighting design are rather low-key, but this in turn allows the comedy and the cast chemistry to seize the spotlight.

Among the most memorable and engaging works in the David Tulloch canon, Prayer Partner offers audiences a great blend of laughs, lessons and family drama. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

Friday, 12 June 2020

GOOD MEDICINE: Clearing mental clutter / Keeping your lunch apple fresh / The health benefits of olives and sweet potatoes

Many kids and adults alike like having an apple in their lunch bags. Even better when it's sliced up from home. Trouble is, the fleshy apple starts to get brown before you can enjoy it. This is caused by fruit-browning oxidation. To keep the fruit from losing its appeal: cut up the apple then secure the pieces together as a whole with a rubber band before putting it in the lunch bag, thereby keeping it fresh and limiting its exposure to air, which causes the fruit-browning oxidation.

When your to-do list grows too long or you're simply feeling overwhelmed, closing your eyes for 60 seconds can quickly calm your frazzled brain, improving your recall and focus for an hour by at least 25%. According to a team of Canadian researchers, giving yourself even a brief break from visual distractions calms the basal ganglia, an area of the brain that controls your anxiety level and your ability to truly focus on one task at a time.

- Natural Remedies - 

* Improve your heart health with olives: Oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat found in olives, prevents "bad" LDL cholesterol from building up in the arteries.

* Reverse aging with sweet potatoes: These produce are rich in beta-carotene, which aids in the repair of cells to minimize fine lines on the face.

NEWS + NOTES: Millie Small’s legacy / Vernon James elected new IAJ head / JTA takes key lessons from COVID-19

>> NCB’s Vernon James now head of local insurance body 
Vernon St. G. James is the new President of the Insurance Association of Jamaica (IAJ). He was elected to the post at the body’s recent Annual General Meeting. James succeeds Peter Levy (BCIC’s Managing Director), who served as president for the past two years. He brings more than 20 years of financial-sector experience to the job. James is currently CEO and Managing Director of NCB Insurance Company Limited.

>> JTA’s Owen Speid: Time to embrace the ‘new normal’
President of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), Owen Speid, says the 24,000-member body will emerge from this historic coronavirus period even more resolute to execute the vision and mission. “COVID-19 has taught us some resounding lessons, and it is now upon us to showcase to the world that we have taken notes and are at a state of mental and physical readiness to undertake the requisite adjustments with respect to digital revolution in the interest of nation-building,” he said, delivering his 2020 Education Week message. Teachers should aim, he further stated, to get better and better at their jobs. “[The pandemic] has opened up the floodgates for new and creative thinking,” he argues. “We should never allow our minds to return to a state of the old normal, but strive to embrace the new normal.” 

>> Chris Blackwell recalls Millie Small’s talents, sense of humour
“She’s the person who took ska music international,” says Chris Blackwell. He is referring to Jamaican-born entertainment legend Millie Small, who died in England last month. She was 73. Small’s world-famous hit song “My Boy Lollipop” became the first Jamaican song to make it on to the British and American charts, reaching number one in Britain and number two in the United States in 1964. A country girl at heart, Small was born in Vere, Clarendon, on October 6, 1946 and grew up on a sugar plantation, later moving on to pursue her education before the music bug bit at the dawn of the rocksteady era. “She was such a sweet person; very funny with a great sense of humour,” recalls Blackwell, founder of the venerable Island Records. In 2011, Small was conferred with one of Jamaica’s highest honours, the Order of Distinction (in the rank of Commander) for her contribution to the development of our music.

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

CHAT 'BOUT: Ardenne's Nadine Molloy tackles the CXC controversy / Emanuel DaRosa says goodbye / PM Andrew Holness gives the back-to-work order

"It makes no sense to attack CXC. It makes more sense to look inward and take a decision. It is imperative that we make the radical changes we need to going forward." - Nadine Molloy, Ardenne High principal, weighing in on the controversy over students' readiness for the 2020 CXC/CAPE exams

"We will now go about the business of making the logistical arrangements so that no one who is taking these exams, beyond the challenges that they have already had, will in any way be compromised." - Karl Samuda, Minister with responsibility for Education, on preparations for the July 13 start of this year's CXC/CAPE exams

"We intend to allow persons other than our vulnerable population, who are working persons, to return to work effective June 1... The various new protocols for factories, workplaces, banking halls etc. are being developed in conjunction with the PSOJ." - PM Andrew Holness at a virtual press conference at the OPM on May 18

"I am proud of what we as a team have accomplished in my time with JPS, and I'm predicting that in the next five years you will see JPS rise to the top of electricity providers not only in the Caribbean but well beyond." - Emanuel DaRosa, outgoing CEO of the Jamaica Public Service

"It was never my intention to damage the T20 tournament, as playing in the CPL has guaranteed an opportunity for the past [seven] years to play in front of the great fans of the Caribbean. This is a privilege which I genuinely appreciate and have never taken for granted." - Chris Gayle, issuing a statement in the wake of backlash stemming from the release of his much-publicized YouTube video