Post #5 Environment and Human Rights

For my blog this week, I’ll revisit some of what I discussed in my last blog, Climate Change, as well as to how that relates to human rights. In the prompt for this blog, we were given a link to this video of a Ted Talk. The speaker was Elizabeth Lindsey and she shared about her culture and the changes they have had to encounter.

She starts her talk by reminiscing the beach when she was seven years old and the elders of her island. She says that they rarely travelled, but when they did, they went to faraway places. She then goes on to talk about her adventures in Micronesia with her camera crew. The seven of them have 5,000 pounds of supplies with no transportation and hardly and communication with the outside world. One day, the group decides to move to another part of the island. While she couldn’t keep up with the pace of her group, she found to be by herself. An elder walked up to her and asked why she was moving so fast. Throughout the small conversation, she learned that she is rushing through life in order to feel a sense of being productive.

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She then goes on to recall encounters with several different women in her many travels to different countries. The main point she is taking from these encounters is that in our world, we are trying to pursue other people’s lives to feel “worthy” (in other words, we are lying to ourselves of who we should be). She explains that that lie continues to live is because we keep give in to it.

As she is concluding her talk, she recalls a story about want to celebrating her getting a new job. Her elder dresses up for the occasion and they go out to eat. Afterwards, they go to the beach and look at the stars. The entire evening, the elder doesn’t ask her what she will do at her job. But she did ask one question, “will it make you happy?”. From that question, she emphasizes that we don’t have to go to exotic, faraway places to find out who we are. Instead, she wants us to think that, “We are enough, just as we are”.

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Post #4 – The Jamaican Enviornment

Throughout my first three blog posts, I have gotten to learn a lot about the country of Jamaica. In my fourth installment, I will discuss environmental issues that are affecting the country.

To start off, scientists have stated that our planet is in trouble because of Climate Change, a scientific-based theory that us humans are causing the planet to heat the atmosphere. According to NASA’s website (http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/nasa-knows/what-is-climate-change-k4.html), Climate Change is described as changes in usual weather patterns such as temperature and/or rain. It is caused by many different factors. Such factors include distance from sun, volcano eruptions, or exhaust from cars and factories.

With this in mind, a general question can be asked. Should we take action to stop Climate Change? Frankly, I don’t think any action will be good enough to stop it. Slow it down, possibly. I personally believe that the human effect on the climate isn’t as big of a role in Climate Change as some scientists claim. My grandparents have told me stories about how the air back when he was my age wasn’t nearly as clean as it was now. Also, my history teacher in my sophomore year of high school told me in the early 1900’s that people always wore hats because there was a lot of ash that came from exhaust in the sky from plant towers. Essentially throughout time, the air quality has gotten better. Looking at blue sky is easier now then what it was 100+ years ago.

Not only personal accounts can help prove my point, I can say that scientists can skew statistics to make it line up with your agenda. When a scientist says that the average temperature in a year is increasing, you might ask how did he acquire the data to make such a statement? I feel that a lot of people say that “scientists” say that Climate Change is real and people believe them. For example, in this speech below, President Obama says the Climate Change is real, yet he doesn’t state any facts with their sources to prove his logic. In a way, he used generic terms that I wasn’t convinced enough to believe that Climate Change is a problem. To be fair, it was probably scripted for its comedic value.

As far as major environmental issues that affect Jamaica, they are facing mainly erosion of the land, deforestation, pollution of the water and damage to the coral reef. According to Nations Encyclopedia (http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Americas/Jamaica-ENVIRONMENT.html), Jamaica’s water from the Caribbean Sea is polluted by industrial waste, oil, bauxite (red waste in the form of mud), and sewage. In other words, the country created about 300,000 tons of waste. In a five-year period of time in the early to mid 1990’s, the forested part has decease about seven percent a year.

In order to help educate the public on some of these issues, Jamaica has created the Jamaica Clearing-House Mechanism (http://jamaicachm.org.jm/ioj_wp/). Under the Tools & Services tab, they have a directory of organizations that are working in the country. They have government organizations, non-government organizations, private sector organizations, regional organizations and international organizations. Government organizations that focus on environmental issues are the Environmental Management Division and Fisheries Division. Other notable organizations that are working with Jamaica are the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (based from Denmark) and the Island Resources Foundation (based from the United States).

 

Jamaica is acknowledging that they have environmental problems from sea to land. They are trying to make a difference in the environment around them. They can’t tackle it on their own so they have gone out and enlisted help from other nations to improve and save their island.

Post #3 – Nationalism & Inequality

I am back with my third blog that focused on major issues that involve the world and where Jamaica stands on them. On this blog, I will focus on the issues of nationalism and inequality. To enhance my findings, I will use readings that were assigned in class that can relate to the topics I will discuss.

To begin, I will talk about nationalism. Nationalism defined by Merriam Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nationalism) is, “a feeling that people have of being loyal to and proud of their country often with the belief that it is better and more important than other countries”.

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King’s House, home to the Governor-General of Jamaica

Going to back my first blog, I shared a little history of how Jamaica became a country. In 1962, Jamaica gained independence from Great Britain. Around this time, a lot of people in the newly formed nation enjoyed getting to participate in a government that is more aware of local issues. Still to this day, Jamaicans continue to participate in their government by exercising their right to vote. They also feel a great sense of nationalism in their athletics, especially when it comes to track and field. They are home to the world record holder in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes. Whenever he steps onto the track, most of the country watches and feels excited when he usually wins his races. They get to enjoy hearing their National Anthem being played when he is on the podium.

Nationalism is usually attributed to positive things such as creating a sense of unity amongst a country like Jamaica. Unfortunately, there are some bad things that come out of it. Globalization expert, Fareed Zakaria, thinks that Nationalism is bad by creating and growing “sub-nationalism”. In his book The Post-American World, “sub-nationalism” is like a dividing force that can create factions in a country. To use the United States as an example, I think Zakaria means that nationalism is like us supporting our teams that compete at a world competition like the Olympics. The “sub-nationalism”, I think he means could be our political parties, Republican and Democrat.

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Jamaican Police with Local Government officials

According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamaica), in the 54-years that Jamaica has been a country, there haven’t been any significant conflicts of nation-states and ethnic groups. Most of the conflicts that happen in the country are only between different ethnicities. For example, there have been attacks on supporters of the LGBT. In 1962, the murder rate wasn’t even at 4 people per every 100,000 citizens. Over time, that rate rose to 62 people in 2009. It was considered the highest rate in the world by the United Nations. Recently, the rate has gone down, probably due to more government intervention through more patrols and curfews.

Social issues aren’t only the only things that people struggle with, they also struggle with personal finances. The country faces many forms of inequality. In class, I got to learn about a way to measure financial inequality amongst different countries. That way is by comparing Gini coefficients. Higher coefficients mean that there is a greater wage gap in that country. According to 2013 data from the United Nations Development Programme’s website, Jamaica’s Gini coefficient is 45.5. Compared to the United States (40.8), there is a greater gap in Jamaica then the U.S.

In terms of effects of the wage gap in Jamaica, there haven’t been big repercussions. Other countries have had riots and protests. Jamaica has been pretty calm in those terms despite their Gini coefficient. However, according to a 2013 article from the Jamaican Observer (http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/How-will-inequality-in-Jamaica-be-tackled_14759534), the Jamaican government is promising that they are willing to narrow the wage gap. That tax rates for the poor are around 20 percent while tax rates for the rich are around 33 percent. Not only that, some people that have collateral can’t get loans while some that have no collateral can get loans. Most of the loans in the 21st century are given for entrepreneurial reasons such as starting up a business. The problem for the lawmakers is trying to find a good point that there is plenty of economic growth while also allowing financial equality for the Jamaican citizens.

In the future, I would want to see how these politicians come together and make changes for their country.  I wonder if they talk to other countries to find out what they have done to combating financial inequality, then what policies that they implement.

Post #2 – Language and Trade Organizations

This week, my blog post will cover language and trade. In terms of language, I will cover what languages the Jamaicans speak and some history about it. In terms of trade, I will discuss how Jamaica participates in international trade organizations such as the World Trade Organization.

Like most nations around the world, Jamaica speaks English. According to Wikipedia, Jamaican Standard English (JSE) is official language of the country. Not only do they communicate with that language, they also speak in more of a native language, Jamaican Patois (Patwa). In 2007, a survey was conducted to investigate the percentage of Jamaican people and their abilities to speak any kind of language. 46.4 percent of Jamaican claim to be bilingual in JSE and Patwa while 36.5 percent could only speak Jamaican Patois, and another 17.1 percent spoke only Jamaican Standard English.

For educational purposes, Jamaican Standard English has been used frequently. Recently, there has been a huge push of introducing students to a formal version of Patois. However, hints of Jamaican Standard English is still taught to students.

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http://thirteenstripesandfiftystars.blogspot.com/2012/12/american-sign-language-ii.html

Jamaica has their own version of sign language. Jamaican and American Sign Language is currently taught as the new form of sign language. They are quickly replacing an old native version of Sign Language, Jamaican Country Sign Language (also known as Konchri Sain).

Communication is a key factor in the exchange of ideas, goods, and services. Jamaica trade isn’t the biggest factor in its economy because they rely heavily on tourism. Regardless of how tourism is doing, they still participate in trade with other countries.

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Jamaica is a part of many international organizations. These organizations include the United Nations (UN), International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Trade Organization (WTO). They were also a part of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) when that organization existed. Based on each organizations websites, a year after Jamaica became its own nation (1963), they joined the GATT. When the GATT reestablished itself as the WTO, Jamaica was immediately added as a member of the organization. Jamaica became an active participant of the International Monetary Fund in February of 1963 and agreed to become a part of the United Nations in September 1962.

https://www.un.int/jamaica/content/permanent-mission-jamaica-united-nations-0

Jamaica has a variety of missions they want to accomplish as a part of the United Nations includes fight for human rights, balance economic inequality between Northern hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere countries, support discovery of the marine environment, protect the rest of the natural environment, fight the exchange of illegal drugs, and support gender inequality. The link above is the missions page for Jamaica on the United Nations website.

Generically speaking for Jamaica’s mission on an international stage, the United Nations has stated that Jamaica has been a real supporter for developing countries. Not only that but they have also have been participating the Non-Aligned Movement. This movement is dedicated to “to peace and disarmament, independence, economic equality, cultural equality and universalism and multiculturalism”. Mainly, they focus on creating social and economic equality for all kinds of people.

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Most of the issues they fight for, a lot of people are aware about. I’ll go into detail of some that I don’t think people don’t know little to nothing about. The first cause I’ll discuss is the discovery of the marine environment. In 1982, all 119 countries signed the Law of the Sea. This law “establishes a universal framework for the management of marine resources and their conservation for future generations”. This led to many nations to use submarine and other underwater technology to explore many environments that we can’t see from being above any kind of water level. Since Jamaica was an advocate of this push for exploration, they had the privilege of being on the few locations for the International Seabed Authority in 1994. They were the first country in the region to have this UN authority to come and have a presence of this magnitude.

The other cause I’ll focus on is Jamaican representatives fight to stop the transfer of illegal drugs. As a country that has its own island, you wouldn’t think they would be so passionate about it. However, they have put a lot of proposals to the General Assembly of the United Nations. One notable proposal is he Global Programme of Action against Illicit Narcotic Drugs. This proposal got full support from the General Assembly. In 1990, Jamaica had one of their countrymen become and expert to give advice to the Secretary-General of the UN organization. He focused on to find ways to make it easier to for the United Nations to crack down on abusers of their drug laws that they have in place.

With this being my second blog, I have had enjoyed my time getting to research this country and gaining an appreciation of wanting to know where Jamaica and the rest of the world stand on particular issues that has an impact on a global stage.

Post #1 – Jamaica

This semester, I have the privilege of getting to share what is currently going on in Jamaica. I’ll be sharing many different topics and where Jamaica is in terms or dealing with the issues. In this first post, I’ll be discussing Jamaica as a whole in order for you, the reader, to gain background knowledge of this fascinating country.

To start off with, what do you think of when you hear the name Jamaica? At least for me, I think of Usain Bolt and the great core of sprinters they have. Usain Bolt is the most decorated track athlete in Olympic history, accommodating 9 Olympic Gold Medals, three of which he acquired this summer at the Olympics in Rio (100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, and 4×100 meter relay). I also think of Jamaica as a great place to go on vacation or on a honeymoon. In terms of movies, I think of Cool Runnings, which is a movie about the true story of Jamaica forming a bobsledding team that went and almost qualified to compete in the Winter Olympics.

 

Before you start planning your vacation to Jamaica, you should find out what is currently happening in the country. For starters, you should read a news source from within the country. I recommend that you check out the Jamaica Observer (http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/). It is a source that reports the news of not only the country, but it covers the world news as well. When it comes to the country itself, it reports news in a variety of categories from politics to economic to sports. They even have a section for teenagers that explores current events that have more of an effect on them like university news, celebrity gossip.

To give a short history of the country, the land was owned by the Spanish Empire from the early 1500’s to the 1655. Around 1655, the British came in and took fort after fort in the territory. The region prospered from sugar and slave trade. The British controlled the land for a little over 300 years, then slowly transitioned power to local leaders for self-rule. On August 6th, 1962, full independence was granted by the United Kingdom to become their own country.

Today, They have in place a Constitutional Monarchy system of government. Elizabeth the Second is the Monarch with Patrick Allen and Andrew Holness being the Governor-General and Prime Minister respectively. Their legislative branches consist of the Lower House (House of Representatives) and Upper House (Senate).

Jamaica has a population of 2.95 million people. Of the population, the country is predominantly Black (92.1%). Mixed races make about 6.1%, Asian are another 0.8%, and the other 1.1% are other races or “unspecified”.  They mainly speak English or Jamaican Patois.

In terms of their economy, they are mixed with government intervention with privately owned businesses. They use a Jamaican dollar as their form of currency. Their GDP (nominal) is $14.057 billion which converts to $4,968 per capita. Their Gini Coeffiecent is at 45.5 which is 77th lowest in the world. They mainly focus on service types of jobs because they get over one million tourists a year

Jamaica map

wordtravels.com

The size of their island is 4,244 square miles, which is slightly more than the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. The nation’s capital is located in Kingston. The country is broken down to three counties (from West to East, Cornwall, Middlesex, and Surrey) of about 14 parishes (5 in Cornwall, 5 in Middlesex, and 4 in Surrey).

Education is important for the betterment of society. In Jamaica, they have their own system of schooling starting at the Early Childhood level (2-4 years old). They then move to Primary (Prep) School (4-11 years old). After that, they have Secondary School (11-19 years old). Finally, they have Tertiary School (19+ years old) which are like community colleges. All their schools are a hybrid of being privately and publicly owned institutions.

Like schools in the United States, Jamaicans can compete in athletics as well as gaining an education. The Jamaicans love athletics and I do as well. Being a track athlete in high school, the Jamaicans and I appreciate competitive Track and Field. As I mentioned before, Jamaica is the home to the fastest man ever, Usain Bolt. He holds the world records in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes. He is also part of the world record relay in the 4×100 meter. Even though one of their countrymen is the “fastest man ever”, the most popular sport in the country is Cricket. Like most nations around the world, they also love soccer, basketball, and rugby. Other sports that Jamaicans love to compete in are netball, horse-racing, and baseball. One notable baseball player from Jamaica is Justin Masterson, whose is a starting pitcher in the MLB.

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