Monthly Archives: June 2006

The week: Cabinet Ministers battle for title of “Worst Performing Minister”

It’s always been difficult to make an accurate judgment of our educational system. It turns out tens of thousands of B.A.’s and M.A.’s, nurses and teachers, doctors and lawyers. Most of them then proceed to lucrative careers and comfortable lives in the U.S. and U.K. This suggests that our education system is in good shape.

On the other hand our education system also turns out of hundreds of thousands of people who go to school for 12 years, yet can only be described as “semi-literate” or “semi-educated”. This suggests that the system is a disaster, and fails the majority of Jamaicans not born into the middle class….

This week’s Ministry of Education debacle is the failure to release/publish this year’s Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) results. Results were expected two weeks ago, but as of Friday evening the results are not out and the Ministry and the Minister are silent……

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Rumours abound as usual (cheating, computer problems, huge numbers of children with top scores, misallocation of thousands of children to a few schools).

Unfortunately, it looks as if Education Minister Maxine Henry -Wilson is imitating her Cabinet colleagues, Ministers Paulwell and Pickersgill, and has decided to make more than 50,000 children and their parents wait in ignorance until she is good and ready to tell them what is going on (or not going on)……… For the past few Fridays, residents of Portmore have waited in vain to hear from Minister Pickersgill what will be the toll they will have to pay for using the (new) Causeway to get to their jobs and schools in Kingston……. Just as builders, contractors, hardware stores, developers and householders waited week after week for Minister Paulwell to decide to allow the importation of cement……….

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Ministers Pickersgill and Paulwell
However, Minister Henry-Wilson should recall that Jamaican women (in this case, the Prime Minister) tend to judge other women more harshly than they judge men, especially nice-talking, rock-solid “Team Portia” gentlemen like Messrs. Paulwell and Pickersgill.

So although Maxine is making a strong bid for the title of “Worst Performing Minister of 2006” she should not expect to be rewarded with any powerful positions (Deputy PM-to-be Pickersgill) or any increased responsibilities (Super Minister Paulwell)….

In fact, she should be very, very careful about how she resolves this little matter affecting the future of 51,000 Jamaican school children lest she find herself in a nice comfortable seat on one of the back benches…..perhaps one where she can admire the neckback of solid-as-a-rock, round-as-a-football Minister Peter Phillips, another gentleman who is not going anywhere……

Geof Brown and Don Anderson discover why Portia was elected !

Geof Brown’s column today cites a speech given by Don Anderson, the market researcher who used to do polls for the Gleaner before they found someone with some experience and expertise (Bill Johnson).

Don (and Geof concurs completely) has found out that people vote for politicians that they like ! As opposed to voting for politicians that they don’t like ! Apparently, Geof and Don thought that people voted for politicians based on some sort of rational analysis !!

And, what’s more it is not only Jamaican voters who vote for politicians that they like ! This practice is common in the United States as well !!! Check out President Bush today at Elvis Presley’s home with President Koizumi of Japan, reminding everyone of the only reason he (Bush) was elected : how can you not like a President who takes another President, on a state visit, to visit the home of his favourite singer, who just happens to be Elvis ?

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(AP)

Oh well, next thing, I suppose Geof and Don will be telling us that this is the reason Seaga lost four General Elections in a row ! The voters never like him……

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Ms Popular with Mr Seaga
Geof and Don have already realized how this analysis (people vote for politicians they like) could affect next elections. They are predicting a landslide for Portia (unless of course Bruce starts to walk with icy mints, patties, cold beer etc – I don’t think he should try the hug and kiss thing ’cause in Jamaica that is strictly woman business)….

The Bible, the church, the researchers…..

All of us who know our Bible know it is the universal book, because between the Old and the New Testament, almost anyone can find evidence to support almost any position.

Because of this the established churches (Catholics, Methodists, Seventh Day Adventists, Baptists, you name it..) reserve to themselves the right to interpret the Bible for their members.

When we join a particular church, we are accepting that particular church’s interpretation of the Bible.

However, science continually presents all Christians (and Muslims, Hindus etc) with dilemmas, and it’s always interesting (and sometimes terrifying) to observe how the various churches deal with these.

This week Catholic scientists who do embryonic stem cell research were excommunicated. As you probably know, any Catholic who has, participates in or supports abortion is automatically excommunicated, (that is unless you are a very important Catholic such as John Kerry, candidate in the 2004 Presidential elections, in which case saying that you are “Pro-Choice” does not constitute supporting abortion, and you are therefore NOT excommunicated).

In trying to defend itself (and us, of course) from scientific research, the Catholic Church is probably trying to forestall another semi-inevitable scientific discovery – that homosexuals are born, not made. This week, another study was published which suggests that gay men are that way from birth.

Luckily for those who will have to make big changes in their treatment of homosexuals if it turns out that they are born that way, this study only explains why some men are gay – hostile conditions in their mother’s womb.

However, it is likely just a matter of time until scientists come up with comprehensive explanation for homosexuality. Animal researchers have already shown that homosexuality occurs in wild and domesticated animals (orangutans, penguins, sheep, fruit bats etc) contrary to what I was always told in church – that animals don’t do it, it’s strictly a human behavior etc…

If, and when, that time comes, won’t there be a weeping and a wailing and a gnashing of teeth from all those Christians who are just getting used to the idea that homosexuals are human, much less are among God’s children?!!!

Remember to check out this week’s Washington Post piece on being a black gay man to find out how the black American community is almost as scared of gay men as we are in Jamaica (remember I said “almost” – they don’t go in for the burning and killing)

And now for something completely different….

One of my favourite singers (sorry, Elvis) Della Manley, has a new album out.

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I’m rushing out to get my copy and urge you to do the same. Remember you’ll have at least two hours to kill between the Portugual-England match and the main event, Brazil- France.


“Futebol: Sound of Brazilian Football” (Various Artists)


“Football & Samba Groove Association” (Jorge Ben Jor)


“We Are the Champions: Great Football Hit” (Various Artists)


“Jamaica: Football Reggae” (Various Artists)


“It’s Only a Game: Hits & Misses From the Crazy World of British Football” (Various Artists)

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The week: Full steam ahead

Home match : Tourists 1, Turtles 0

Justice Sykes decides that the Pinero Group’s hotel at Pear Tree Bottom can go ahead. He blames the government environmental agencies (NEPA and NRCA) for not following their own procedures, but excuses the privately owned Environmental Solutions (who did the Environmental Impact Assessment) because they claim to have done EIA on “short notice”.

Justice Sykes reckons that the Pinero Group were ambushed by JET and the NJCA (the 2 conservation groups that asked him to halt construction) as they weren’t told that a suit was being filed.

Diana Macaulay of JET made a gracious concession speech yesterday, saying that she thought the judgment was “fair to all parties”.

Now, what could she possibly mean by that ?

My guess:-
(1)The Government of Jamaica has received a slap on the wrist for their determined ignoring of procedure in order to fast track projects for PJ cronies. Their willful defiance of principle and good governance is, of course, a matter for God, and the Jamaican electorate…..

(2) The procedure for approving massive construction projects has been exposed to the public eye. The way it works, we discover, is that the project owner/principal pays for an EIA to be done and this is submitted to the so-called regulatory authorities.

Hmmm…I wonder how much work Environmental Solutions would get if they produced EIA’s demonstrating that any project would have a detrimental impact on the environment…..Just wondering…..

(3) There’s no way that Justice Sykes could ignore the fact that the hotel is 85% complete and that whatever damage the hotel is going to do to reefs and turtles has already been done.

Now, who wants to lay bets on when the Bahia Principe Hotel will first close “for repairs” ( ala the Ritz-Carlton) due to rivers of mud, flooding, sea turtles in the lobby or other “Acts of God” ? 2007 ? 2008 ? 2009 ?


“The Naked Truth about Hedonism II: A Totally Unauthorized, Naughty But Nice Guide to Jamaica’s Very Adult Resort, 2nd Edition” (Chris Santilli)


“Best Designed Wellness Hotels II: North and South America, Caribbean, Mexico” (Martin Nicholas Kunz)

Home match: Blowhards 0 Powers-that-be 1

Norman DaCosta of the National Workers Union spent much of last week issuing threats against the bauxite company WINDALCO who said they were making more than 100 workers redundant.

WINDALCO, in a cute move which is sure to be emulated by others having problems with Mr. DaCosta, issued a press release divulging an embarrassing detail regarding NWU’s 445 members at WINDALCO. Apparently, Mr. DaCosta’s members, whose rights he has been so vociferously defending, have flatly refused to pay the 100% increase in union dues which the NWU expects management to deduct from worker’s salaries.

What’s more, WINDALCO went ahead and made more than 120 workers redundant yesterday.

The referee (otherwise known as the Ministry of Labour) has not yet decided whether Mr. DaCosta scored an own goal……


“Shifting Fortunes : The Rise and Decline of American Labor, from the 1820s to the Present (American Ways Series)” (Daniel Nelson)

Home match: JLP vs. Government of Jamaica (match abandoned because GoJ didn’t show up)

Senior members of the JLP (notably Karl Samuda) must be nursing sore throats after spending the week repeatedly issuing warnings and ultimatums to the Government of Jamaica, namely :

(1) Stop hugging up Hugo Chavez

(2) Fire Phillip Paulwell (Minister of Commerce, Industry, most other things…)

(3) Make Alston Stewart (PJ crony and project manager for the construction of Sandals Whitehouse) pay back the US$40 million he made disappear during construction (and which the Jamaican taxpayers are now going to have to pay for – remember the moment when Omar Davis admitted he had looted the PetroCaribe fund for the “cost overruns” money )…..

Hey, Mr. Samuda, Leader Golding, Senator Shirley Williams. Just a few tips :-

We, the Jamaican people, are noticing your sterling efforts to expose the corruption and incompetence of the PJ Patterson (plus cronies) administration…Screaming and stamping your feet doesn’t really get you that much extra attention, and it does make you look…well…childish…..

Know when to stop flogging a dead horse (aka Paulwell). My phone bill is less than it was last year, and consumers in the USA can’t say the same.

Issuing ultimatums when you have no power to follow them through is a waste of breath, paper, air time….. Sue them already ! (Remember that your erstwhile leader Seaga buried the Caribbean Court of Justice by doggedly taking the matter all the way to the Privy Council.)

If you want to win the next General Election you need to make the charges of corruption stick to PM Portia. Right now, we’re all pretty much in agreement that PJ was/is corrupt. What will win you the next election is showing that Portia can-do-no-wrong-in-the-eyes-of-my-people Simpson Miller is/was just as corrupt……


“We Want Justice: Jamaica and the Caribbean Court of Justice” (Ian Randle Publishers)

Away match: U.S. immigrants 0 Anti-immigrants 1

Bad news for immigrants from the U.S Supreme Court. They’re sending an illegal immigrant back to Mexico despite his 20 years in the U.S.A.

This guy was clearly a scofflaw – he kept being deported and he kept re-entering the U.S. illegally. Now if the Supreme Court had let him stay, they would have been telling the U.S. Border Patrol to turn in their badges and go look for work picking lettuces, and obviously they couldn’t do that. But it is still bad news for Jamaicans. Although most of us are “overstayers” rather than out-and-out illegal immigrants, this case shows which way the wind is blowing….

Thought for optimists : some Jamaicans who have already made their money might come home and help us get things running right……

Away match: Jamaican men 0 Black American men 1

Jamaican men took a bashing this week (nothing new, some will say) as the Jamaican Senate, Amnesty International and Betty-Ann Blaine took issue with them on the matter of some of them abusing, raping and killing Jamaican women and children.

In addition to hearing that they are not protectors of, but abusers of, their women and children, Jamaican men were also told that they can’t drive. Most collisions (81%) and deaths (326 last year) on the road here are caused by male drivers. This, according to the study conducted by PAHO and WHO, is not all that surprising since 71% of Jamaican drivers (mostly men) bought their license.…..

The Washington Post, in their continuing series on black men in America, has a wonderful piece about 2 high schoolers who attended one of D.C.’s worst high schools, and succeeded (however temporarily) in improving the school for other black males. They have now graduated and gone on to the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts (quite a few distinguished Jamaicans have gone there).

Anything we Jamaicans can learn from these kids ? Well, one thing seems to be that men and boys do best when they take responsibility, rather than when other people, especially women, try to give them responsibility…..


“The Jamaican Crime Scene: A Perspective” (Bernard Headley)


“Bad Men Driving” (John Sheppard)


“Sex, Men, and Babies: Stories of Awareness and Responsibility” (William Marsiglio, Sally Hutchinson)

Away match : Windies 1 Soca Warriors 0

The West Indies cricket team having managed two very creditable draws in their first two Test matches against India, are bidding for our attention as they play the Third Test this weekend in St. Kitts. They are 581 runs all out in their first innings !!

The Soca Warriors are back home. In drawing one match (with Sweden), the Soca Warriors did well, but are home nevertheless and, as usual, we will have to look to Brazil and Ronaldo to boost the pride of all us non-Europeans…..


“Liberation Cricket: West Indies Cricket Culture (Sport, Society, and Politics)” (Hilary Beckles)


“A Spirit of Dominance: Cricket and Nationalism in the West Indies; Essays in Honour of ‘Viv’” (University Press of the West Indies)

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Not on your TV : corruption, baby fathers, bishops, taxes

While you were watching the World Cup:-

(1) “Scandals Whitehouse” is back on the front pages as the JLP discovers that the contractor, Alston Stewart (PJ crony and formerly Chairman of the National Solid Waste Management Agency ), is a bigger thief than they had previously thought possible

(2) water supply has been locked off across the island as 1,700 National Water Commission employees have gone on strike. (For you, this may only mean no shower and drinking your Red Stripe from the bottle instead of a glass, but pity the schoolchildren taking end-of-term exams….)

(3) Gleaner columnist, Kevin O’Brien Chang discovered that Jamaican women don’t care if their baby fathers’ names are on their children’s birth certificates or not…..er…Kevin ?…I think it’s the fathers that are supposed to care…..and do something about it….

(4) The Anglican (Episcopal) Church in America chose a female as its leader. The ensuing fuss proves that not enough people are concentrating on The Greatest Show on Earth…..Don’t they even care if the U.S. makes it to the next round ?!!!

(5) Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, whisks a 3% increase in Value Added Tax
(like our GCT) through the Upper House of Parliament – apparently the biggest tax increase in German history – but, hey, nobody noticed… (and nobody will notice until July 10th…..)


“The World Cup : The Ultimate Guide to the Greatest Sports Spectacle in the World” (Fernando Fiore)


“The World Cup’s Strangest Moments : Oddball Characters and Memorable Matches from over 75 Years of Football’s Greatest Tournament (The Strangest Series)” (Peter Seddon)


“German Football: History, Culture, Society and the World Cup 2006” (Routledge)

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The week: Protecting species

This week’s “Believe It or Not…..”

President Bush surprised everyone yesterday by creating a huge national monument/wildlife preserve (140,000 sq.miles) out of a string of uninhabited Pacific islands which are legally part of the U.S. state of Hawaii.

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Not only does the marine reserve come into existence right away (because he’s made it a National Monument) but it will be a true natural refuge i.e. no humans, and therefore no hotels, boats, scuba divers, fishing boats, etc….

So what does Greenpeace (the world’s best known environmental lobby group) have to say about this ?

President Bush has been a disaster for the environment ever since his inauguration. While this is a great first step, he has a long way to go before he will be known as a friend of the environment.”

So there.

What I really like about this story is that President Bush apparently decided to create the new marine reserve/monument after a watching a movie about it made by Jean-Michel Cousteau (son of Jacques). Now if that’s not the real all-American way to do things, I don’t know what is.

Clearly the next step is to get the President to watch movies on other urgent matters…..(e.g. Iraq, immigration, hurricane preparedness)


“Jean Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Adventures” (Jean Michel Cousteaus Ocean Adventures)


“Jacques Cousteau – Pacific Explorations” (Joe Thompson (III), Philippe Cousteau, Jack Kaufman)

Karl Blythe decides to stop going, and go

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Having obviously received the divine guidance he has been publicly seeking since losing the Presidential election last February, former Water and Housing Minister Karl Blythe has said he will leave representational politics.

United States visas

This week everyone had an opinion on the withdrawal of U.S. and Canadian visas from SSP not-convicted-for-Crawle-killings Reneto Adams and his not-convicted-for-Crawle-killings colleagues.

The only person with anything mildly intelligent to say was Dr. Carolyn Gomes :

the American government reserves the right to grant or deny visas that facilitate entry into its country. “They turn down decent human beings all the time … it is not a (human) rights issue,”

Dr. Gomes apart, it became rather tedious listening to the self-righteous rants of some who have “discovered” that the U.S. is now the sole superpower in the world.

Whenever I hear this argument, I wonder which other of the likely candidates would be preferable to the U.S. as “sole superpower”. China ? Russia ? The European Union ?

It’s possible that the EU might not be all that bad, except if you consider their stunning indifference to the genocidal and expansionist tendencies of Milosevic in their own backyard in the 90’s. And if you consider whether, if it was up to the EU, Milosevic’s massacres wouldn’t still be going on… (Bill Clinton’s problems with Monica led to the bombing of Belgrade and the eventual collapse of the Milosevic regime)…….


“Citizenship (Do It Yourself Immigration Series)” (American Immigration Center)

A Good Man is Hard to Find

Some of the parents of boys at St. George’s College are upset at the prospect that the next Principal of this Jesuit founded, Catholic run, once all-boys school will be female.
They think that a woman cannot be a good role model for boys…… perhaps because in 1994, Pope John Paul II, definitively closed the door on the ordination of women . However, despite keeping women out, the Catholic Church has had no success in keeping men in.

Parents with boys attending St. George’s should appreciate the Church’s dilemma. They should forget all about that other Catholic boys school up the road that has always been run by women (you know, the one with Sister Ignatius and the famous band….. )

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They should continue to demand a male Principal, and they should rest assured that the Church of the late Pope John Paul II and the current Pope Benedict XVI would never, ever, ever consider appointing a woman as Principal of a Catholic boy’s school unless there was really NO alternative…….


“Spiritual Revolution : Why Religion Is Giving Way to Spirituality (Religion in the Modern World)” (Paul Heelas, Linda Woodhead, Benjamin Seel, Bronislaw Szerszynski, Karin Tusting)


“Adam Where Are You?: Why Most Black Men Don’t Go to Church” (Jawanza Kunjufu)


“A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories” (Flannery O’Connor)

Living-in-foreign

The Jamaican Diaspora Conference is underway here in Kingston. Many nice things are being said by, and about, the hard-working Jamaicans whose remittances (exceeding tourism revenues at last count) are keeping the country afloat.

One of the things that is not being said (but will certainly be a problem) is that black and brown Jamaicans living in white-majority countries are nationalistic in a way that few Jamaicans “on island” are.

It no longer stirs the souls of those “on island” and under-40, to hear rants about racism, discrimination, imperialism, colonialism in the U.S., Britain, Canada etc. Especially when most Jamaicans here want to be able to become part of the diaspora as soon as possible……

Both Jamaicans in the diaspora, and Jamaicans who “choose” to live here, want a thriving local economy, and crime and corruption dealt with now (or preferably yesterday).

But, unlike their exiled brethren, Jamaica-based-Jamaicans tend to think that if controlling crime takes white British policemen in our local police force, and boosting the economy takes white Americans and Europeans swarming on our beaches and Trinis, Chinese and Indians investing in our businesses, well, that’s what it takes……..


“One Love – The Bob Marley All-Star Tribute” (Palm Pictures / Umvd)

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Time longer than rope : Adams and Orane

Despite the efforts of the Commissioner of the Police to satisfy both Adams fans and human rights groups, the poor Commissioner was still forced to dodge bricks and bile as Senior Superintendent Reneto Adams went back to work on Monday.

Adams will have a desk job gathering intelligence and will report directly to Commissioner Lucius Thomas. He has NOT been sidelined. He IS under manners. Short of sending him to Iraq, I think the Commissioner’s decision is the right one, and the Commissioner has shown once again that he is far smarter and far more open to advice than anyone is giving him credit for.

Adams will not have the chance to shoot people down on the street or in their homes. He will have a chance to use his experience and skills (whatever those may be).

Meanwhile the U.S. and Canadian governments have shown exactly what they think of the Jamaican justice system by withdrawing, forthwith, the U.S. visas of all those policemen NOT convicted in the murders of 4 people at Crawle/Kraal in Clarendon. And Mrs. Reneto Adams has been advised that she is NOT welcome in Canada and her visa has been revoked……. Wonder what would happen if any of these not-convicted-at-Crawle policemen try to visit the United Kingdom, home of DCP Mark Shields and his colleagues from Scotland Yard…….

Cat among the pigeons section

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Following in the footsteps of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (which stunned the chattering classes by giving unqualified support to Justice Sykes decision to halt construction on the Bahia Principe hotel at Pear Tree Bottom), Douglas Orane of Grace Kennedy has blamed the falloff in earnings at Grace’s Hardware and Lumber subsidiary on the police locking up all the drug dealers !!!

According to Orane, construction is one of the main methods of money laundering in Jamaica. Apparently, newly rich drug barons fling up palaces, shopping centres and townhouse developments as a means of washing their ill-gotten gains. And while doing so they also contribute to the profit margins of hardware dealers, block makers, cement distributors etc.

This may be news to you, if you are one of the two or three Jamaicans that have been puzzled by the presence of huge mansions in such local metropolises as Back-a-bush, Clarendon or in Behind-Cow, Trelawny….Yes, gentle reader, these big houses were built with dirty, dirty money and often with hardware from Grace Kennedy !!

While Douglas Orane’s candor can only be described as admirable, listen for the “shocked-I’m-shocked-I’m-very-very-shocked” response from :
(1) other hardware dealers
(2) people who have just constructed palaces, shopping centres or townhouses
(3) the lawyers representing the above….


“Crime School: Money Laundering: True Crime Meets The World Of Business And Finance” (Firefly Books Ltd)


“Money Laundering Control in the Caribbean (Studies in Comparative Corporate and Financial Law, V. 16)” (Shazeeda A. Ali)

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Jamaica’s record on gays much better than Iran’s

Today on his Time magazine blog, Andrew Sullivan is reminding us that July 19, 2006 will be one year since the Iranian regime hung 2 teenagers for the crime of being gay….(so much for Jamaica being the most homophobic place on the planet….)

Go and read his blog, and then let’s reflect and recall that despite the hysteria of some regarding “the homosexual lifestyle”, it is clearly and unequivocally “the Jamaican heterosexual lifestyle” that is implicated in our violent culture.

It is heterosexual, not homosexual, men who rape and murder women and female children. It is heterosexual, not homosexual, women who are having children they can neither feed nor love…..

And when the Prime Minister is calling the church to arms as she did again last week, she’s talking about the need for the moral rejuvenation, not of gays, but of those who have sex with the opposite sex…..


“Why Men Hate Going to Church” (David Murrow)


“Awakening with the Enemy : The Origin and End of Male/Female Conflict” (Mark Dillof)


“Crowns : Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats” (Michael Cunningham, Craig Marberry)


“Ten Lies the Church Tells Women: How the Bible Has Been Misused to Keep Women in Spiritual Bondage” (J. Lee Grady)

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Jamaica’s record on gays much better than Iran’s

Today on his Time magazine blog, Andrew Sullivan is reminding us that July 19, 2006 will be one year since the Iranian regime hung 2 teenagers for the crime of being gay….(so much for Jamaica being the most homophobic place on the planet….)

Go and read his blog, and then let’s reflect and recall that despite the hysteria of some regarding “the homosexual lifestyle”, it is clearly and unequivocally “the Jamaican heterosexual lifestyle” that is implicated in our violent culture.

It is heterosexual, not homosexual, men who rape and murder women and female children. It is heterosexual, not homosexual, women who are having children they can neither feed nor love…..

And when the Prime Minister is calling the church to arms as she did again last week, she’s talking about the need for the moral rejuvenation, not of gays, but of those who have sex with the opposite sex…..


“Why Men Hate Going to Church” (David Murrow)


“Awakening with the Enemy : The Origin and End of Male/Female Conflict” (Mark Dillof)


“Crowns : Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats” (Michael Cunningham, Craig Marberry)


“Ten Lies the Church Tells Women: How the Bible Has Been Misused to Keep Women in Spiritual Bondage” (J. Lee Grady)

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