Followers of US politics should be well aware that a massive fight is going on in the Republican Party in Congress. Simply put, its congressional caucus chair, 3rd in the hierarchy, Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyoming) has stood staunchly on the side that is fighting against the ‘big lie’ perpetrated by former president Trump, while significant parts of the leadership, namely, House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy (California), have shifted their positions from criticising Trump to vagueness and now to clear support for his ‘position’. The likely outcome of that is that Cheney will find herself voted out of her position this week. But, she’s not going down without a fight and without being on the right side of history. Her speech on the House floor last night made that absolutely clear-“We must speak the truth.”
Reverend Ronald Thwaites is a former education minister and his take on where the parlous state of Jamaican education is strikes many of the right chords in a badly tuned song. Education has failed Jamaica for most of its independence and that failure is shown throughout all aspects of a society that is highly under-education, highly unproductive, poorly paid but largely paid near its real ‘worth’.
The year and more of sporadic education for most children isn’t going to be recovered quickly and looks likely to be a permanent loss.
Jamaica’s education system has many things wrong with it, from its vision, through its methods, through the nature of inputs (children from too many homes where parents cannot help prepare and support them in education, including ensuring they are well-fed and well-rested; teachers too focused on matters other than best teaching practices).
I have no magic wand, and I am not a good example of how children can succeed in a highly dysfunctional system. But, all the talk about the importance of our human capital is hot air when one sees what passes for school life for many Jamaican children. The output is often not ‘fit for purpose’ at more than some basic levels–only 40% graduate high school with any qualification. You can’t make a progressive society and economy with such bad material.
The results are clear: the fight against COVID-19 has been won in 2020-21…against flu strains.
PM Andrew Holness announced new restrictions for the period throuhg June 2, covering the Memorial Day holiday in late May:
While most restrictions are unchanged, schools will go back to in-person for certain examinees from May 10.
Also, the travel ban from the UK has been lifted, while a ban has been placed on travel from Trinidad & Tobago.
Many are against renewed visitors from the UK not least because of the UK variant, and despite the UK making good progress with vaccinations, but are mindful that a previous surge had possible origins in the resumption of travel from the UK.
It’s more than ironic that as more vaccines have been rolled out, and major developed countries grabbed the bulk of those, we find they are now the major problem to overcoming COVID. They’ve done well to get 1st vaccines to the bulk of their populations in some cases, and must now get the job done of giving 2nd doses. Here’s where they are hitting a wall of ‘vaccination hesitancy’. The USA has now about 30% of it population fully vaccinated against COVID. Daily vaccinations are declining from about 3 million to 2.5 million. The ‘hesitancy’ map for that is interesting for its apparent clustering:
CDC also has an interactive map:
Wyoming has been flagged as having the worst cast of hesitancy, about 32%:
So, the risk facing the USA now is that, even with its fast roll-out, the sought for ‘herd immunity’ is now less likely. The needed rate was about 70%, but with variants spreading, a number nearer 80% seems needed.
We heard that CVS and Walgreen’s have wasted more vaccines that most states combined.
Meanwhile, those of us in the rest of the world are just desperate to get a substantial stock of vaccines, and are imploring the USA to let us have some of the 60 million AstraZeneca doses they’ve so far said they’ll offer other countries, once it receives federal approval.
This excellent summary of the still-high concerns about the possibility of a 3rd COVID ‘wave’/‘surge’ in Jamaica, by fellow blogger, Emma Lewis, is worth a careful read. Its points about reopening Jamaica’s borders, especially to the UK (in light of evidence that the UK variant was behind our current 2nd wave) point to the ongoing tussle over lives versus livelihoods.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness held one of their regular press briefings on April 29. It was not hard to detect a change of tone – and it was …COVID-19 in Jamaica: Wary of a Third Wave
Health and wellness minister, Dr. Chris Tufton gave a broad update on COVID trends, yesterday evening, including stressing the need for people to get their second vaccination, which are noted in the thread, below:
The chief medical officer, Dr. Jaqueline Bisasor-McKenzie, added an extensive assessment of how trends has been affected by various restrictive measures. She gave stark warnings that a third wave could occur if people ease off the protocols and it would likely be worse than the previous two.
It would likely push health services way beyond their capacity.
She cited a long list of countries that were in a third wave, though the worst situation is in India, having its 2nd wave, whose crisis now needed help from other countries.
With that background, Dr. Tufton pointed to confirmation that the ‘UK variant’ had been found in Jamaica and was perhaps behind the 2nd wave:
When asked about statements that flights from the UK would resume on May 1, he gave a circuitous reply, suggesting the decision had not yet been taken but was for consideration by Cabinet subcommittee over the coming weekend.
This clearly begs the question whether tourism minister Bartlett’s categorical statement on reopening borders to the UK was premature.
The optics of President Biden’s 99 days joint address to Congress were odd yet typical of #COVID19Life. The audience on the floor of the Congress was only 200 people—not the usual full complement of elected members and only a handful of Cabinet members, including no need for a ‘designated survivor’ not present in the chamber; no invited guests or Supreme Court justices; few members of the press and diplomatic corps. People had to pass metal detectors and show proof of full COVID vaccination. People didn’t shake hands or hug, but bumped fists.
The first black sergeant-in-arms introduced the president:
The image of the Speaker of the House and the vice president being women was quickly pointed out by the president as a first.
The full broadcast can be seen, here:
The substance of the speech was wide-ranging, spelling out a huge package of spending that would restructure the USA physically and socially, spending some US$6 trillion. Funding would come from tax hikes on the richest 1% of society in income and capital gains levies.
President Biden did not step away from matters he’s touched on in a clearly personal and presidential manner, such as racial injustice and voting rights, as well as cancer research.
He’s on a wave of public approval:
Admittedly, it’s skewed heavily on partisan lines.
We got a look inside the preparations:
He harked back to the January 6 insurrection:
He showed some love for his political opponents, such as Rep. Liz Cheney, even if there was less love amongst some of the opponents for each other (with Cheney still at loggerheads with Rep. Kevin McCarthy).
BBC fact-checked the speech:
So, too, did the New York Times:
Ted Cruz fell asleep during a section on immigration and that’s been widely watched online:
Labour minister, Karl Samuda, said something is wrong with Jamaica’s farm labour programme, and the low take up of opportunities suggests he’s right. But, putting selection into the hands of MPs smells of a wrong approach.