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My day in Parliament

Many times we see politicians on the job and wonder what it is like to be there to experience the moments. Recently I was invited to share in the festivities at our parliament in Jamaica. The experience was spectacular.

parliamentAs I entered the doors I was greeted to security systems beeping clearly signalling what kind of possessions I had on me. There was security all around clearly you could tell security is a major issue when so much power comes together. No alarms rang; I walked up to the gallery. In the gallery clearly there were sections outlined. One section had high profile persons; managers, CEOS, investors all ready to hear what the minister had to say. Dr Christopher Tufton would be presenting on recent developments in the Ministry of Agriculture.

All my life the proceedings, all the pictures I have seen of parliament were aerial shots focusing on the speakers on any particular day. Clearly sitting in the gallery I had a bird’s eye view of the proceedings seeing all the politicians who appear to be at the helm of the country.

As I sat I was in awe the entire time, couldn’t believe I was granted this experience to see parliament in action. I looked around seeing the power of the people in the gallery, the media section etc. The media area shocked me. There were not a lot of media personnel covering the event. I found it amazing but daunting. I believe the more journalists covering events like these and even working in the industry the more objectivity and coverage regular citizens will have of what is really happening at the highest level of government.

From watching parliamentary proceedings on television as well, one cannot ignore how noisy the politicians are. Most of them on television would be gyrating and chatting away as the speakers made their points.  Found it embarrassing. Well, the same greeted me. The politicians showed no regard for those who were speaking. Most were reading documents, shouting across the isle, signing documents, sending messages continuously, the constant walking in and out etc. I was amazed but not impressed. I feel that when a presentation is being made your duty is to listen with the intention to make suggestions or ask questions at the end. This was not so in parliament. However, I do not feel that persons must sit throughout presentations for over two hours without even commenting on an issue with the person near you, but the constant chatting and disrupting behaviours must not be condoned.

p3_2 When I entered the gallery and looked down at the seats I noticed that some seats were empty but documents were thrown all over the area in front of the chair signalling that someone was sitting in the seat. Later, former Miss World winner now turned politician Lisa Hanna walked in with another member of the Opposition. I have not fell that feeling in a long time. Her beauty mesmerized me, I was shocked, amazed, even flabbergasted.  Even years after winning the title Lisa Hanna is able to look refreshing, great and constantly keeping up with fashion and style. She truly added to the excitement of the afternoon.

As the speech went on, more members walked in clearly they took breaks, some even conducting business on the floor while the speech went on.

Later the leader of the Opposition Portia Simpson Miller, Phillip Paulwell etc walked in to take their seats. What was interesting was that most members of the governing party were present while most of the Opposition were evidently missing in action.

Joke of the day

roger-clarke-pointingRoger Clarke former Minister of Agriculture when his party ruled was present for the proceedings. There has been characterisation of him in the media as a negative famer who opposes everything the ruling government does. Recently he was portrayed as a fat rice eating famer who eats everything on a farm. In the minister’s speech, he referred to the successful rice testing done by the government and brought into parliament packaged rice products for his demonstration. This was seen as a positive movement for the government because previous governments have not been able to achieve this level of success where they are able to produce value added products for the international and local market.

There was a huge uproar by politicians on the floor who sought to ensure that the minister gave Roger Clarke all the rice he brought to parliament. This was a light moment but everyone had a moment to laugh and take it all in.

The speech was very long but the time was allotted to Dr Christopher Tufton to complete his speech.

peter-bunting-gen-secAfter his speech ended Opposition member Bunting gave a speech on his constituency and even commenting on changes that should be made to Jamaica Constabulary Force. What was amazing the ruling party teased him before he began his speech calling him ‘Facebook’.

Recently, after the Opposition lost two bi-elections Bunting made remarks on his Facebook page about a leader not searching for consensus but a molder of one. This was seen as controversial and was reprimanded by some for his comments. The teasing I found very alarming because I think he was ashamed in the moment.

This teasing was obvious right through the proceedings with members from both sides shouting defaming slangs at each other. I found it disgusting at times but I guess people can have fun.

So my day ended with me experiencing parliament. Not many citizens will ever get to go through the doors at our parliament but this day will always be treasured by me. I enjoyed my day, while some parts were horrible to digest I was able to take it all in and see what parliamentary proceedings were all about.

Corve DaCosta

UnitedAirlines_B777-222_N775UA_22_5503Businesses more than ever are ensuring that their front line employees are delivering the best customer service possible. However, things do not happen the way they ought to. Recently, on an United Airline flight a customer’s luggage, a guitar was severely damaged. After the matter was reported to the respective company personnel, the conclusion was that the guitar would not be replaced or repaired.

bustedWhat did the customer do? The customer, a recording artiste became the company’s worst nightmare. He recorded a song and uploaded it to the popular video website www.youtube.com. Clearly, after this, the message was delivered to United Airlines and the company rushed to remedy the situation which will be causing the company a great deal in bad public relations.

There is a saying that any publicity is good publicity. However, I would have to disagree with this statement.

Global companies such as Ritz Carlton are leaders in customer service delivery. Employees are trained to deliver the best quality service possible. In business school students are taught of the Ritz Carlton Creed which all employees at that hotel have to walk around with and they must at all times be able to recite the entire creed. This company fully understands how important its customers are and are willing to invest in training and ensuring that employees are able to handle situations as they arise.

United Airline’s management should take a look at the model at Ritz Carlton and ensure that this bad situation which is encountered by thousands of other customers never happens again.

Bad word of mouth accounts can ruin the service quality for any company. Imagine this video is seen by millions of potential customers around the world and these millions forward this video which is entirely possible to other millions of potential customers. This is a nightmare and a horrible situation for any company to be in. Thus, the importance of training employees to handle situations such as this is imperative and should be enforced.

The owner of the guitar reported this issue to flight attendants who showed no interest in the matter. Clearly they have heard many reports such as this before. Flight attendants in this situation should be able to comfort travellers in this situation even if it is the fact that employees regularly damage client’s property.

In concluding, companies should learn from this mistake. The world is open more than ever and the moment a customer is upset with the service delivery millions of potential customers are privy to this information. This could potentially lead customers away from the company if this matter resonates with more customers. Companies should seek to train and ensure that front line employees deliver the best service possible. The customer is always king.

michael_jackson_died(2)The world said farewell to the world’s greatest entertainer today. As I watched the ceremony I was glued to the television set as the events unfolded from the private ceremony to the ceremony designed for the public.

The world saw the birth of a legend and bid the final goodbyes to the man dubbed the king of pop Michael Jackson.

APTOPIX Michael Jackson

The ceremony was filled with emotive speeches and wonderful singing. The song rendered by Mariah Carey clearly was emotional as it was reported she cried backstage before going on stage. Clearly, this was not her best performance but she did justice to the song. Other celebrities gave tributes with the song ‘Heal the world’ closing the ceremony.

Personally, I found the ceremony enriching as I was born in the era where Jackson’s music was popular. I grew up hearing his music but only in his death recognized that this was the man who was touching our souls with this music all along. I loved his music as the attention to detail and what made his music Michael Jackson made me love it more. I love chorale music and most of the songs I love from Michael has a chorale touch to it which makes it all the better.

Below is a video clip of the song Jennifer Hudson did at the ceremony. I loved this song so much and my girl Jennifer Hudson did justice to it. She looks beautiful in her pregnancy glowing in white.

Michael Jackson had lots of controversies in his lifetime and even in death he will leave this earth with questions surrounding his burial.

May his soul rest in peace.

Will we see another performer like him? Who can tell, maybe not in this lifetime but others will rise to the challenge giving great performances and wonderful music to listen to.

With the recent death of Michael Jackson I am learning more about the individual he was. Born into a talent rich family the Jacksons he was destined for greatness. But with this status came many controversies that made MJ very stressful later on in life, some saying it may even have led to his death.

michael_jackson_died(2)

He was a major star, with many hits from his various albums produced.

I have sat down to watch some interviews he did and found myself amazed at how misunderstood this man was for the vast majority. His controversial court cases rocked his career for the worst making him an enemy and a paedophile. Even after his name was cleared by the court the accusations still follow him like a legacy.

His soft demeanour could be heard in his music. MJ was deeply concerned with his image. Close friends relate that he was a perfectionist taking years to produce an album and investing more than enough in music videos. The quality of his music speaks profoundly about the great artiste he was investing time and money in what he produced.

Although he is no longer with us, I can appreciate the media coverage journalists are providing giving an insight into his dark life. His music will forever live on. Michael Jackson remains the king of pop, a true icon.

Even those who hate MJ will agree with him on this point, he loved helping people. If this world would only love a little bit more the world would be a better place. Michael Jackson is a celebrity whom we have come to know from a distance. In an interview he claimed the song ‘Childhood’ was the autobiographical song of his career. If you really want to know this man listen this song, it may change your mind.

The outpouring of love from around the world shows the impact this man had on the people that enjoyed his music. Even now those who did not like his actions will come to realize this man is a real legend, a real icon, the king of Pop. Michael Jackson took the internet with him in his death. That’s the power he had.

Corve DaCosta

Education in Jamaica

Recently Education Minister Andrew Holness has made the news on many occasions whether it be grading primary school principals or expressing what he really thinks about the GSAT examination. Andrew Holness has not been forceful in his capacity and also has not led in the right areas as the Minister of Education.

When in opposition Holness served as Opposition Minister of Education which would have given him adequate knowledge of the inefficiencies within the ministry and would have provided him with a working framework to change policies. What have we seen of this Minister? Holness appears in the news blaming everyone else but himself for not leading to eradicating the inequity and changing policies at his ministry. We owe it to the younger generation to develop an education system that is fair and one that will provide them with the best education to make them productive for this rapidly changing world.

Clearly, there are problems with the curriculum of the GSAT examination which must be fixed. Annually, we complain of how stressful the curriculum is, and the many faults the exam has where students at grade six are judged on topics that will be covered at higher levels. Next year around this time we will still be discussing the faults within the examination. Are we seeing a cycle here?

Blaming teachers’ colleges for accepting teachers that are not up to par cannot be accepted. Holness has the power to influence teachers’ colleges to improve on their standards to benefit the education product.

I am frustrated with Holness pushing the blame around highlighting the facts we already know. Holness should stand firm and effect the changes that ought to be made to make our education system improve giving our children the best opportunities. Next year at this time we should be stating that requirements at the teachers’ colleges were improved upon; changes to the curriculum were implemented making the exam relevant for grade six students; the ratio between teacher and students were reduced among other things.

When are we going to get serious and hold Andrew Holness accountable for the shortfalls in the education ministry? After all, he is responsible.

newspapers

New York Times

Washington Post

Jamaica Gleaner

Jamaica Observer

New York Times

Sunday Herald

They all are newspapers but they now have websites publishing their work online. Traditionally, one would wake up and if you work a nine to five job, you may have access to the office newspaper. For others, you might buy the newspaper on the streets to read. In a world where access to news is becoming more popular, are newspapers becoming outdated or can they still be relevant?

With the growing use of news networks both on radio and television, bloggers, and social networks, the news offered by newspapers are outdated. Most times they have to wait hours to print the next publication. By this time, the news has developed into something more than the initial issue. The burden is left up to journalists who should write news stories to still make the issue topical and news breaking.

We live in societies where the young are not interested in reading. But you might say how important are these sectors to the industry? They are important, ask any marketing manager of any firm and they will attest that the young in any market are driving innovativeness.  Where the younger generations are not interested in sitting and turning from page to page to view late news, newspapers must seek to become innovative to make the news accessible to people in ways that are more innovative. It is interesting that users of the internet will prefer to read online articles than skip pages of a newspaper.

Journalists are given the responsibility to inform the general public of what’s happening in the society. There duties are even more important in societies where there is a free market in the media industry. Journalists try to inspire, persuade and change opinions in their work. Through this, newspapers have added features to their package to make it more appealing. Newspaper features include: editorials, opinion pages, and different aspects which are targeted to entertainment and social activities. This adds some relevance to the product.

Newspapers have their relevance in societies to inform and to provide serious journalism. For those who opt not to use the internet surely the newspaper is a definite alternative to source breaking and topical news. However, if newspapers are to remain open for business in the near future they must become more aware of the changes in technology.

They will become outdated if they do not change how they operate business. Newspapers internationally are becoming more than ever like a television network providing current breaking news stories. Newspaper companies should be seeking to have subscribers to their service where breaking news can be emailed and send to blackberries and cell-phones. This will make their service competitive and add relevance to their work. Newspaper companies should now become innovative to remain relevant or become outdated while technologies increase.

Corve DaCosta

Carrie Prejean

Carrie Prejean

“I’ve done my best under the difficult circumstances to handle the vicious attacks with integrity and show respect to others, even those who don’t agree with me.” – Carrie Prejean

Carrie Prejean was crowned Miss California and was declared 1st runner-up in the Miss USA pageant. After being in the news for her comments on gay marriage, yet again she is back. Carrie Prejean was fired from her position to represent the state of California for breaching her contractual arrangements by Keith Lewis pageant head. However, she is crying foul over the treatment who up to this post had not contacted Prejean of her firing.

Keith Lewis who heads the Miss California pageant agrees with gay marriage and has been fighting with Carrie Prejean since her open stance on the matter. It was agreed after the press conference with Donald Trump that all parties will return to the normal operations of the pageant. This was not meant to be as Shanna Moakler Miss California Co-executive who served on the team at Miss California handed in her resignation from the position she held; which left Keith Lewis to battle it out with Carrie Prejean.

So could all these events be a set-up? Well that is what Prejean is now claiming after Lewis gave her offers from Playboy and a reality series. Prejean also claims that she has been solely responsible for soliciting appearances as the holder of the crown. Who does that?

This is shame on Keith Lewis, for under a month of the last press conference with Donald Trump to not step up and show great management of Carrie Prejean. Shame on him as well for offering her offers such as Playboy and an appearance offer at an event which promotes gay marriage; Doesn’t he consider her safety in all of this?

Apparently not. All the events that have led up to this were to oust Prejean as the queen to have Tami Farrell step in. Isn’t it surprising that Shanna Moakler is considering working for the organization again after the firing?

Prejean remains graceful not bashing anyone in this ordeal; appreciating the decision by Donald Trump who was caught between a rock and a hard place. Carrie Prejean will continue to blaze the trail for other who look up to her for the inspiration to fight for what you believe in. Whatever side you may agree on the matter of gay marriage, we should be able to accept someone’s opinion. That is the way we are going to grow and it is a pity what has transpired here.

To Keith Lewis grow up; Carrie Prejean will now open a new chapter of her life and watch her blaze. This is just the beginning of a new chapter, one filled with new opportunities that are certainly bigger than California.

Letterman and Palin

PALIN CABINETSarah Palin became popular in the 2008 Election in the US. Although not winning the election she has become a voice for the Republican Party. In the general election late night spoofs of her were flattering even damaging the image she tried to create. Recently David Letterman made offensive remarks about her and her 14-year old daughter. The show has come under fire from certain quarters who found the remarks out of line and reprehensible.

Letterman’s remark were below the line calling her image ‘slutty’ and made a joke alluding that a famous baseball star would have sex with Palin’s 14-year old daughter.

Isn’t it amazing that the media is not outraged against this man? Isn’t it amazing that the media isn’t reporting this issue? Isn’t it alarming that feminist groups are being quiet on this incident? Where are the apologies from CBS and David Letterman?

I am outraged; dissatisfied that even a joke like this was made. It is a sad day because those that are expected to speak out and be heard are kept numb to the point where it is deafening.

There is no way a man of this stature can make remarks alluding to violence against a 14-year old. When did we have to lower our standards that low to have laughter? But this was coming a long time ago. The media currently has no respect for Sarah Palin and this is evident as no one is supporting her. I think it is fair game to have a laugh about Sarah Palin. She has made her life a public one and this is a huge decision that an individual make when they put themselves in the media spotlight like this.

I sincerely believe that if Letterman had joked about the Obama’s underage girls like this, there would have been outrage; maybe even cancelling his show would be eminent. But, ‘little’ Sarah Palin from Alaska who seems to only make the news when the laugh is on her deserves no respect.

I must point out that ‘little’ Sarah Palin has led Alaska’s economy well. They are not bailing out any industry within their economy. They are investing more than ever in education, and developing their natural resources to sustain Alaskans. She is sending excess funds to Federal Government to bail out other states. The state even refused to accept bailout funds because they didn’t need it.

Why is this woman constantly attacked for her beliefs? I have no respect now for David Letterman, not that I did have any. What do you think about all this? Is it fair game to make rape jokes about a 14-year old?

Earlier this week, I wrote an article responding to an article that bashed a recent condom campaign in Jamaica. Today, my response was published in The Gleaner, a local Jamaican paper.

Have a read.

Jamaica Gleaner News – Embracing sex education – Letters – Wednesday | June 10, 2009

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If you happen to be reading this blog you might already know about Twitter, Twittering and Tweets.

There is a new buzz around, it is called Twitter. Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send and read each other’s updates, known as tweets. This service was made popular by normal everyday users but was plummeted to popularity by celebrities, even politicians. The service allows users to have followers who receive these updates instantaneously. These followers can also update their friends with these tweets, thus making twittering all the fun.

But why would politicians get in on twitter?

In an age where voters are not interested in politics, any way to help in the process cannot be that bad. Politicians in the United States of America on all sides are using Twitter to connect with their constituents. There is no way constituents can keep track of what representatives do while their in office. However, twitter opens the door for politicians to inform, entertain and connect with voters immediately. Clearly, users must be very careful of the information they share on twitter. There is no way it will be cool for politicians to tweet private information that the public isn’t privy to see.  Politicians can also use this tool to break news. If you are a news junkie like me, I am not always tuned into CNN, MSNBC, NBC, FOX etc. If you happen to be in Jamaica, you might be listening Nationwide, RJR or Power 106.

Here are some tips for politicians who decide to use Twitter:

1. Keep it Simple

To help in this aspect tweets are limited to 140 characters so be brief and to the point but with content.

2. Dedicate some tweets for Entertainment

Constituents do not expect you in anyway to be locked in on Parliament/Senate/ or Ministerial duties 24/7. So inform your followers when you are relaxing or even at a social event. Politicians who can show both a hardworking image and an image that you can chill and have fun are always pluses for voters. Keep in mind, not too many tweets about fun though!

3. Never share private information.

4. Be engaging

Reply to questions that are asked. Refer correspondents to sources for more information. This will show that you care.

5. Grow your follower base

This is what assistants are for. Use personal assistants to grow and expand your popularity. In an era where connecting to the youth vote is a must, this is a great tool for any politician who is seeking re-election.