Vaccination issues in Jamaica needing to be addressed-September 30, 2021

A good editorial in today’s Gleaner looks at how the vaccination message in Jamaica needs to be revisited:

Part of the context is that the developed world is fast moving to a state where the unvaccinated are on the edge if not completed excluded:

So, to ‘sit inside the tent’, Jamaicans need to get vaccinated or sit or stand outside and enjoy the activities from afar.

It’s also worth reading a column on what the ‘common good’ may be with COVID-19:

A Gleaner cartoon, yesterday, lampoons the problem Jamaica is having getting greated acceptance of the AstraZeneca vaccine, now others are available:

More vaccines are needed for the region, but that’s currently not the problem Jamaica has, even though it’s waiting for new supplies of (the preferred) Pfizer vaccine):

Tapioca, sir? Not ok, Tapia? A US visa saga unfolds-September 29, 2021

The story about Daryl Vaz, MP, and his off and on-again US visa has just begun, thanks to some ‘tell-all’ interviews by former US ambassador Donald Tapia. The not-so-simple matter is that the MP now has a US visitors visa, again:

But, it’s been given with a rare annotation, suggesting past involvement in illicit trafficking of substances:

Eyes and ears pricked up. Some business leaders had concerns about national image:

The Opposition seized on it and called for explanations:

To my partly trained eyes and ears, the former businessman-turned-diplomat is treading on some slippery slopes in terms of his involvement in a country’s domestic political affairs:

However, for those with decent memories, that’s not so out of character as his feet steeping on Jamaicans and their private and public sector business links with China will attest.

Then, my view had been he’d been given too much slack by our Minister of Foreign Affairs.

His latest dance brings in directly and maybe disturbingly our Ministry of National Security.

We’re going to see more days of scrambled reactions, in Jamaica, I’m sure. Already, MOCA (Major Organised Crime & Anti-Corruption Agency) denies allegations it was given instructions by any Minister to investigate Mr. Vaz:

The former Minister of National Security who was alleged to have called for an investigation says “no way”:

Mr. Tapia seems to have invested a lot of political capital in this matter, including trying to get US senators involved:

I’m leaning towards seeing this as a bit of misinformation peddling on the part of the USA, though the reasons aren’t yet clear. But, let’s say that it’s involving a group of people not known for seeing the truth and formenting untruths. So, I’m more inclined to see leopards with unchanged spots. Former PM, Bruce Golding, also smells some rotten fish:

As things stand, now, Mr. Vaz can go ahead with his official duties as he’s now gotten a full diplomatic visa for 5 years from the USA, prompted by its government selecting him for an official event in the USA-well that circle needed to be squared:

How Jamaican media cartoonists see things-September 28, 2021

Satire is something that doesn’t really exist much in Jamaica’s political space, except in the form of daily cartoons in our main newspapers:

That said, I try to look at each day’s offerings to see what’s tickling the nerves of our media giants. Without much comment, I share a few from the past week or so:

Floyd Green’s awkward moments:

‘The Church’ and its search for importance and relevance:

Rumours of track team splits for Elaine Thompson-Herrah:

Private sector sites brought into Jamaican vaccination programme-September 27, 2021

The Government has added 11 sites owned by private sector entities to its list of places where COVID vaccines will be administered:

Private sector entities reported that their current initiative has now vaccinated 20,000 employees:

Ryder Cup weekend-September 26, 2021

Golf is a humbling sport. Played in its individual format, it can be cruelly humbling. Played in stroke format, it can be devastating as mistakes pile up and strokes get added; seemingly solid leads can vanish or be clawed back as that occurs, and a round can be destroyed by one or two bad holes. In match play (winning hole by hole), the cost of mistakes can be minimized, but it can be hard to make up a large deficit of holes lost and holes left to play. That format can make the sport more redemptive, as one can just leave mistakes on a hole behind and move on to the next.

Team golf, like the Ryder Cup, is humbling in different ways. As matches unfold, the reliance on others is most important even if you do all you can and win your matches. In that sense, the ego is tempered in different ways.

With that said, the USA team managed its egos and kept the possibilities of being humbled far away. They started the first session well, winning 3-1; the took the second session, similarly, winning for a rare occasion, 3-1. The second day went almost as well, so heading into the last day had solid lead of 11-5. Both days were played in pairs format, with two-ball/alternate shots and four (better) ball format. They closed out the final day of singles matches, strongly, to amass a modern era winning total and margin, 19-9:

Home advantage can matter, maybe less these days for the USA as so many European players play on the PGA Tour there. But, sheer numbers of fans matters, and with COVID restrictions, the USA had that in bundles. Fuelled by more than a few local brews, they were rolling the rock, happily.

The USA had a younger much better squad, in terms of rankings, and those features went deeply:

Europe had older players and lesser talent, in terms of rankings, even though they had the current world number 1 player. Going forward, that needs to change, but are they going to be ready in two years time, in Rome?

Mistakes were made in the European pairings:

By contrast, the USA seemed to have learned from past mistakes, and their pod system and close involvement of vice-captains (including and rehabilitating Tiger Woods) made considerable differences. Kudos, to their captain Steve Stricker, who must have felt in Heaven going to victory in his home state, Wisconsin.

How’s the economy doing?-September 25, 2021

Yesterday, the Economic Policy Oversight Committee held its periodic quarterly briefing; it can be watched in the link below:

The economy is showing signs of improving but is still vulnerable:

The fiscal performance has continued to be better than forecast:

GOJ has been the first in the Caribbean to issue a catastrophe bond:

Jamaica’s foreign exchange reserves continue to grow and are at robust levels:

Two elements of that story are worth noting-the continued strength of remittances (+40%) and better flows of foreign exchange (in part reflecting better export performance, an rebound in tourism income), which have seen the exchange rate strength this month, for about US$155:JS$1 to around 148. That two-way movement isn’t always as strong but it’s there.

Inflation has edged above the top of its target range (4-6%), at 6.1% for August:

This is a trend that needs to be watched, carefully, as COVID-related supply issues , internationally and domestically, may start to put more upward pressure on prices.

Labour market data lag, slightly, but through April unemployment was only around 9%.

Growth data released in August showed that the economy is recovering through the 2nd calendar quarter:

Much of that growth is coming from a strong rebound in the tourism sector, which faces a host of COVI-related issues:

Breaking news: Trump lost Mariacopa County!! Again…-September 24, 2021

Well, a ‘widely discredited GOP-led review of the 2020 election in Arizona’s largest county‘, Mariacopa, now shows what most of us had known and accepted for nearly a year now. Donald Trump lost in Arizona. Even better, their hand count found he’d lost by more than the official results 🙂

For most people, you’d hope this would be the end of the dog-chasing-tail saga for some deniers, but it may just be the start of another twist that says Mariacopa County was part of’the consipracy’. Inhale…exhale.

Tie that in with reports that court documents show the Trump administration knew its ‘big lie’ about voting machine tampering was a whopper, yet still pursue it like a dog chasing a ferret down a hole, and you’d expecgt these people would be hanging their collective heads in shame:

Then, again, if life were so straight forward, we’d not have these sorry episodes to report.

Some political takeaways from recent RJR-Don Anderson polls-September 23, 2021

Television Jamaica has been slowly dripping out results of a recent Don Anderson polled, sponsored by its parent company, RJR Gleaner Group. Much attention has been placed, in recent days, on what pointers are regarding political leaders, political parties and voter intentions.

The major group of people say they will not vote in an election-31%. That sentiment should be obvious, given that the last election had 63% of electors not voting in the general election, against 52% not voting in the preceding election. The pandemic can explain some of the most recent reluctance, but non-voting has been a chronic pattern in Jamaica for decades.

Another clear message coming from the poll is that the gloss is going off the JLP government’s performance:

Again, managing the pandemic has been a challenge in all countries, and a series of ineffective strategic measures and poor implementation are likely to have cemented notions of poor management by government:

But, even with falling support for the JLP government, it’s still thought to be better at managing the country:

Having called an early election in September 2020, the government needs no new mandate, and is more likely to suffer with voters than succeed, if recent elections in the region are any indicator.

The Oppostion is getting hammered in people’s sentiments. What seems clear is that it’s offered little by way of cogent alternative policies-that notion is bolstered by the heavy weight that tradition plays in supporting votes for PNP:

Worse for PNP is that its leader’s standing in the public mind is nearer rock bottom, and not too surprising, given that he’s not really a firebrand-type leader, people are more attracted to those who readily run towards that style of politics:

The Opposition party’s internal struggles loom large in the negative sentiments, too:

Bahamas General Election-September 22, 2021

The Bahamian (Free National Movement) government announced in mid-August snap elections for September 16. The decision seemed odd, but PM Minnis saw it as a prelude to making “key COVID-19 decisions”. The new vote would come about 8 months earlier than due (May 2022), constitutionally:

To an outsider, the rush to the polls seemed to be tinged with more than a little jaundice (no pun intended, as the Opposition Progressive Liberal Party’s colour is yellow), as the administration might just have been tired of carrying the ‘poisoned chalice’ of managing the pandemic and could prefer to suck up defeat early and look to regain power at the next election. It’s not as risky a proposition as it may seem, as coming years may offer a rising economic wave on which to float.

The results were a resounding defeat for the administration, almost flipping the 2017 election results, in terms of voting shares and seats:

Defeat was conceded, quickly:

Predictions had been for a tight race:

But, the tendency for sharp electoral swings that mark much of the Bahamian political history prevailed, as was more likely given a deep economic recession and a pandemic that tested the patience of many citizens, not just in the archipleago, but internationally:

The new PM, Philip ‘Brave’ Davis, was sworn in on September 18: