ISSA DOES NOT GOVERN ATHLETICS

OHARAThe 2015 ISSA Champs has come but certainly not gone. The organizers were handed a lightning bolt, no pun intended , by the championship most stellar athlete, Michael O’Hara, the athlete of the meet, the future of track and field and the uncrowned prince of the post Bolt era. What was the bolt you might ask? One that hurts the championship in the pockets.  Michael, for all intent and purposes, was the latest victim of AN athlete abused by a cooperate giant that when left unchecked , creates the ideal environment for a perfect storm.

This is the scenario. O’Hara is now a ‘Brand Ambassador’ for the oligarch Digicel. On winning his second race of the championship, O’Hara removed his team’s track outfit to reveal the message “Be Extraordinary“, which happens to be the tag line for Digicel. The problem is Digicel is not an official sponsor of the meet, LIME, the other oligarch is. Before hundreds of thousands and an international market , Digicel brand message was broadcasted. They paid nothing for it, well technically speaking , almost nothing.

To add insult to injury the TVj announcer, on praising O’Hara for his spectacular run, acknowledged the tag line by saying  O’Hara was indeed ‘extraordinary”.  So there we are, one fool making many fools. It was not until after the meet that the effect of this bolt was felt. But then it was too late. The damage was done. Digicel was successful in its whore mongering. LIME lost. The battle has begun.

  “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”                                       Verbal Kint/Kaiser Soze, The Usual Suspects

The question is did ISSA know of the Digicel sponsorship of its athlete? Did O’Hara’s school, Calabar, know of this? What about his coaches, didn’t they know their ‘student athlete’ was a brand ambassador? And if all parties concerned knew about this branding, was it presumed that the Devil did not exist? Was it assumed that a conflict would not arise and all’s well in the treacherous world of gaining market share by these 2 giants?

Another question that shouts from the mountain top is can ISSA define who is a ‘Student Athlete”? In light of the fact that Digicel is showering money on a supposed ‘amateur’ athlete, does this still make him amateur ? It should be noted  O’Hara is not the only ‘sponsored’ athlete. Jaheel Hyde from Wolmers is ‘sponsored ‘ by LIME. Things that make you go hm.

The answer can be found  in the response from the ISSA Vice President Keith Wellington who was quoted in the Daily Gleaner:

“There is no regulation regarding amateur status,” explained Wellington, who is also principal of St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS). “… ISSA has no regulation that speaks to professionalism in high-school sports.” Daily Gleaner March 31, 2015

There lies the problem. ISSA was blindsided by money. For years the status quo was to beg and borrow to produce this annual gala and as the proverbial saying goes, ‘Beggars have no Choice” , ISSA declined their responsibilities  and if not declined , certainly had no idea of the perfect storm they were brewing.

It is evident ISSA has never seen their gala as Big Business. LIME and DIGICEL did. That’s why they sponsor the event. ISSA has never seen the need to establish definitions of the word ‘Student Athletes’ or who is an ‘amateur’ as they never considered that these ‘student athletes’ would ever be attractive to leading brands. LIME and DIGICEL did and in the absence of any code from the governing bodies, they jumped and took advantage of the loophole. Greed won. Beggars lost.

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” — Albert Einstein

Jamaicans have a peculiar talent of always acting after the fact. It is often called ‘reactive”‘ instead of being proactive. The development of commercialism within athletics is new only in Jamaica despite the occurrence of events happening right under their nose. Our professional athletes, headed by Usain Bolt, the most high profiled athlete in Jamaica , are all packed and branded by millions of dollars of commercial deals. Companies like LIME and DIGICEL don’t sponsor events  out of sheer warmheartedness. Its an investment with expected  returns.

A brand like CHAMPS offers every sponsor the rare opportunity of increasing market share from an influential group, Schoolers, resulting in increased ratings and revenue. How could ISSA not see this and organize itself over the years to ensure the money from their sponsors are used as defined in their Articles of Association? Moreover ISSA is known to be a staunch defender of the ‘student athlete”  and  they want their students to achieve the highest  academics first and foremost above all sports. But how can they not exercise due diligence to protect its athletes, ensuring their future is protected from commercialism , especially since so many of their athletes go for higher learning in the USA and get integrated in the hallowed halls and strict standards  of the NCAA? Reality is merely an illusion it seems.

It is time to wake up. For decades ISSA has created the illusion that their sole purpose was to defend the concept of amateurism within higher education and the public accepted this  trick and  sanctioned by the JAAA. ISSA was widely recognized  as “the guardian of the great Jamaican tradition of school boy sports but somehow ISSA has lost its way.

LIME and DIGICEL in their business of sponsoring ‘student athletes’ have eroded the line of who is an amateur and who is a professional. O’Hara’s action is tantamount to that. His statement that it was all his actions is to be viewed with suspicion. At the very time he unveiled his jersey , Digicel tweeted their relationship with him. A coincidence you ask? It makes you go hm.

The argument is stale  and the public is recognizing the absurdity of the arguments of Digicel , O’Hara, LIME  and ISSA. and they range from ‘Its not my fault” to ISSA’s concern of the ‘abuse of their athletes’ to Lime’s concern over the ‘guerrilla marketing” by Digicel.

Its all hog wash. ISSA actively sought sponsorships and in so doing  embrace commercialism of their product CHAMPS, except on a single issue – Athlete Protection. Admission is reality: Words from the President of ISSA:

“I have to confess that this is something that we will have to get expert advice on,” Small said. “ISSA, as an organization, will have to sit and look at this to make sure that corporate Jamaica does not infringe on the rights of the students and schools, and really what we saw in this case was something entirely new for us”.

Those words are from an embarrassed President that must look its biggest financier in the eyes saying those 3 famous words..”I AM SORRY.” Seriously?  The damage is already done. Sorry cannot fix it. Wake up ISSA and smell the coffee. There needs to be less commercialization and more due process in College sports. Stop begging like a beggar and act like a professional holder of a brand that needs protection from the virus of corporate financing.

ISSA has a brand that if well organized can rake in millions of revenue  for the organization. It is the biggest brand in Jamaica that can provide valuable and much need resources for the stake holders involved – the Schools. The present status quo that is used to govern their modus operandi is only creating a world of comforting illusion.

ISSA seems to be a group of noble and distinguished beggars and beggars are not choosers. Stop taking your position of authority as society’s claim to fame and start putting in the sweat and brain power as leaders of professional amateurism in Jamaica. Corporate money is good, it is needed,  it is to be encouraged but left unchecked it creates a stink odor, an odor that not only stretches from Red Hills to Mona , but also the shores of the US and beyond,

“Where we are, there is a dire need to re-evaluate how we do things and to make the changes,” Wellington said. “I don’t think we can continue as we are … I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis situation, but it’s important.”

You have it wrong Mr Wellington. You have a crisis. Greed has won. LIME and DIGICEL runs athletics, not your organization. The claim that CHAMPS is an amateur sport is an illusion and to balance the juggling act of commercialism and the so called student athlete is untenable. ISSA is not protecting anyone expect filling the pockets of their coffers. It is wrong, it is abuse, it is bordering on commercial slavery. Wake up. Get your act together.  Think on this quote from Voltaire:

“One day everything will be well, that is our hope. Everything’s fine today, that is our illusion.” — Voltaire

WHILE ROME BURNS – BY SARAH MANLEY

michaelmanley sarahmanleyI thought I  would share this article by Sarah Manley. Who is Sarah Manley  some of you may ask? She is the daughter of probably Jamaica’s most famous Prime Minister, Michael Manley.

Love him or hate him, he was an orator. He was a motivator, he was Mr Charisma. His daughter Sarah has a spark of the old man and she is not afraid to speak. She speaks not as a politician, but as a concerned member of the Jamaican society , and she is also not affected by the disease that is rampant in our society called “party-itis! ”

Sarah has written this piece chiding the Jamaican glitterati that dared to showcase their wealth and arrogance in the midst of what is probably Jamaica’s ongoing environmental suicide, the Riverton City Dump. I have written my take on this, (see post here)  and to date the dump is still burning or to use Sarah’s words, Rome is Burning. As she rightly says, the venue chosen by these decadent souls is Emancipation Park which is not only a public park,  but one that should not be closed for  any ‘private’ event to excluding any member of the society. it is a public park with all intents and purposes.

Isn’t it ironic that the Park, Emancipation Park, built to celebrate the breaking of the chains from this very idea of elitism and power, should be the place for the re-enactment of this glorious past, especially as the poor  are suffering from fumes and smoke,  the color of their preferred dress of white? While many are choking, the elitist few are sipping champagne!

Are we like late Rome, infatuated with past glories, ruled by a complacent, greedy elite, and hopelessly powerless to respond to changing conditions? ( Camille Paglia) 

Sarah might not actually say it , but this scenario  is the bain of our society- classim. In jamaica there are only two classes- first class and no class and there are members of the first class that Sarah alludes to, that seek to control information and set the standards of what can be considered style. Why not? When you control information, you control the people. But it seems to go deeper than controlling the people.

An elite class that is free to operate without limits , whether imposed by law or even the fear from responses by the very people they mock, is a dangerous class. They are arrogantly detached from Jamaica’s reality and their Diner En Blanc is nothing but a slap in the face of those choking.

Marie Antoinette had declared in her glorious ignorance, ” well if they have no bread, let them eat cake”   and it proved to be nothing but a gross error of seismic misjudgement in the history of elitism. Jamaica’s elite seem to be vying for a close second as they may not necessarily want to share their cake, but certainly because of their  ‘affluenza’ disease,  they may be saying “well if they can’t breathe, let them use a purifyer!

Read on and leave your comments!

Paul. 3/2015

WHILE ROME BURNS by Sarah Manley
They say the victors record history. It is they who tell the story from their perspective, as they are often the only survivors to tell the tale. But, a narrative told only one way misses details that in hindsight are important. Small or large tidbits left out present an incomplete picture. Perspective matters.

When I posted the picture juxtaposition of the Diner En Blanc affaire beside the huge plumes of smoke from the Riverton City Dump fire blanketing the city of Kingston I did so with a clear conscience and a profound sense of irony. The elegant aerial of Jamaica’s elite decked out in fine style streaming in to our National Emancipation Park, a picture I might add widely circulated in social media, and in traditional media, presented an irresistible visual representation of the haves doing what haves do. Their choice of white clothing formed an almost cloud like film eerily similar to the white smoke billowing over the capital. While Rome Burns, a long venerated metaphor for those with excess living to excess in the midst of poverty and desperation begged to be the caption. Immediately came the backlash from attendees, many of whom I count among my friends, acquaintances, former school mates and family. I am myself a part of the elite of Jamaica. In fact I hold the dubious distinction by accident of birth, and by far more deliberate upbringing of being counted among the perhaps the most reviled of the elites, the political elite.

riverton cityA curious response emerged to my post from the attendees of the dinner. They seemed unaware that there was any irony attached at all and were genuinely surprised that I would put the two images together. They said they were unrelated. That the fire did not literally happen while they dined. They said in short that I was comparing apples and oranges. I was actually shocked. I expected some response, perhaps a sheepish, “well mi dear we may as well for Rome is burning anyway”. But to not see the irony at all was something that frankly astounded me. I can go on ad nauseum with examples of how Rome is figuratively burning daily, hourly, minutely in our beloved homeland. Where do I begin? I’ll begin with the dump itself which within a few short days and a few short miles away from the charming stylish dinner, began to suspiciously smoke, and as the head of the fire department said, was engulfed in flames over an unprecedented area, an area so large he has to attribute the fire to arson. This is not a new phenomena as these dump fires happen annually, and in fact it has been suggested are an accepted part of an economic structure so deformed that starting the fire is a common strategy of business development for the truck owners who are paid to haul the huge mounds of dirt needed to put it out. It is in fact business as usual. I go further. Noted environmentalists have said that strategies to improve garbage disposal in Jamaica have been repeatedly ignored by successive governments because they are either unaffordable or stand in the way of garbage for energy plans that appear to be permanently on the shelf. This is Rome burning literally and figuratively.

I can go on. The Ministry of Health, itself so cash strapped that it is frequently in the news for being short of even the most basic supplies, not to mention broken equipment it cannot repair, hospital beds it cannot supply etc, stated that it was awaiting results of air quality tests sent overseas to labs that we don’t have to determine the level of contamination in the smoke. Curiously, they later said that there will be no lasting effects from exposure. Fascinating. Are these Canadian lab results in? And what did they say? Enquiring minds want to know. These are but two of several examples of Rome in flames that are directly related to this particular fiasco.

jamaican eliteBut the merry revelers need not concern themselves with Rome as it appears they are exempt from it’s rules, it’s outcomes and it’s consequences. By example we look at the choice of the location secured for their bashment. The Emancipation Park. This park was opened in 2002 to serve as a monument to the end of the ignoble history on which our nation was built. In deference to it’s name and the freedom for which it stands its rules include that it is a public park. One of only a few carefully maintained public spaces in our city designed for all to enjoy. It costs 80 million sweat drenched dollars annually to keep it in it’s pristine state, money financed controversially from another venerable Jamaican institution the National Housing Trust. We forgive this misuse of NHT funds because this Park is for all of us. Or is it? The Diner En Blanc crowd, by virtue of its extensive political and economic connections in society appear to have circumnavigated the express rules of the park and managed to not only have a section, their special section, closed for their soiree, but to bring champagne no less, in a towering pyramid of sumptuous white, to the park which expressly prohibits the use of alcohol. Champagne, the glorious symbol of excess… the wine drunk by kings. Yet there is no irony. Yea right.

So we must ask ourselves this question. Why are these self important, over privileged, over exposed, immaculately dressed folk unable to see themselves as the fiddlers and to see Rome itself in flames around them? Why do they think they are entitled to have their story recounted by them only, from their perspective alone? Have they bought in to their own press? Over the past 20 or so years, a culture has emerged in Jamaica. In it, a society of “important” people have been created by virtue of attending social events and having those events publicized, first in the traditional press, which continues, and now in social media. It has become a thriving business where products are marketed and those in attendance are photographed and presented to the public as icons of style,fashion, and overall class and good taste.

In fact, these page two moments are peddled by calculating culture vultures who hold the other side of the coin, the often vicious gossip column entries as the sword over the heads of any party thrower who dares to exclude them from participating. It’s a pretty nasty trick that has exploited the over inflated egos of the wanna bes for financial gain. It has been allowed to flourish unchallenged for over 2 decades as no one wants to be on the receiving end of the pepper potty mouth. Is it this ridiculous press that has convinced the few that their aspirations, their desires to see themselves in newsprint are actually a form of relevance? Notably absent from the Blanc proceedings were many brokers of power in our charming little village. Well known politicians were not present, well known bankers, well known businessmen were not photographed frolicking among the champagne glasses and white table settings shamelessly touted in the weeks leading up by businesses owned by other members of the elite. Do they see the irony of flaming Rome surrounding the emancipated blancs? A good question.

I have long espoused a theory I find to be one of a few core root issues we suffer from in Jamaica. I call it form over function. We Jamaicans are spectacularly good at appearances. We are good at creating the appearance of success. We seem however to have confused looking the part with being the part. It is so ingrained in our culture that to many of us we genuinely think that if we show up, in the right attire, at the right address, it doesn’t matter if we actually produce nothing, do nothing, alter nothing, because to us, the mere fact of our presence is enough. Blanc is a fine example of this. Surely our haute couture elegance taking over Emancipation Park is evidence of our general success as movers and shakers in society.

Surely the fact that we could demonstrate such a sumptuous show of style is evidence of our virtue. To suggest otherwise is, well it’s just being a hater. But, form is not function. The appearance of success is not success.That you could turn up in your finery with your picnic baskets of (What was in those picnic baskets? Good cheese? Pate? Or tin mackerel?) of whatever, is evidence of nothing. Rome is a flame, despite your presence on the Boards of Associations, despite your Jimmy Choos. The desperate in ghettos ten deep to a room are plotting ever plotting to scale your wall, to pick your pocket, to carve themselves out a slice of your pie cooling just beyond their reach on your watchtower.

kingston skylineWe have its not my fault itis. Witness our Prime Minister’s statement to the people of Jamaica regarding the Head of the
NSWMA. She races to her defense with a most peculiar logic. She says, that since the head of the agency did not start the fire, she cannot be held accountable. Really? So what is her job then if not to take on the responsibility, and with that the concurrent accountability for happenings on the dump she collects a monthly paycheck to oversee? It’s nobody’s fault. Blame is not a thing we take easily here on the remnants of the plantation. Perhaps the sting of the cat o nine is so rooted in our ancestral memory avoiding blame is something we must do at all costs, for the whipping is hot, and the scars never fade.

Diner en Blanc is an international phenomenon. Originally it had about it an air of wanton subversion. In the past it was staged in public spaces without the permission of the authorities and the secrecy of the location was not only to surprise and delight the participants, but also to avoid authoritarian reaction. It has evolved into something else. An exclusive gathering of the crème de la crème showing the rest of us what style really looks like. When you hold such an event in a poor third world country, what you end up presenting is perhaps not what you intended, but it’s a spectacle that in our case ironically, preceded Rome literally igniting. It is the final layer of irony in an event ablaze with it that some picnickers are unable to see this perspective and it reeks of a denial so deep it is frightening.

JAMAICAS OLDEST LIVING PERSON, LIVING AND STILL KICKING

  

Meet Mama Brown. Mama Brown is 115  years old. That’s right, 115 

Her age makes her the sixth oldest person in the world, just two years behind the world’s current oldest person,  Osaka, Japan’s Misao Okawa whose birth date is listed at March 5, 1898.

She is also one of few people in the world who can claim to have lived in a part of three centuries.

Born on March 10th, 1900, which is the last year of the 19th century, she lived through all of the 20th century and we are now in the 21st century.

Incredibly, Brown’s firstborn Harold Fairweather will turn 95 in April and is believed to be the world’s oldest living child with a parent that still lives.

Brown has been described as a “kind shopkeeper” in the community, and still walks with assistance and reads without the use of glasses. 

Mama Brown represents a member of a generation whose voice has been silenced and left in history books that we don’t read. I hope she is recorded for her words and thoughts on how life was when she was a young girl and now, when she is in her 3rd generation. 

LONG LIVE MAMA BROWN. GOD SAVE MAMA BROWN. 

WE ARE ALL STANDING IN RIVERTON CITY

The video above was commissioned by the Jamaica Gleaner , capturing an ariel view of the environmental disaster, the Riverton City fire that occurred last week  and to date of writing this blog, still continues. For my overseas readers this drama is  unveiling in the capital city Kingston & St. Andrew and its environs, an urban metropolis of approx.1 million people.

Let me also give my readers another shocking news. Like the annual reggae festival SumFest in anther section of Jamaica, the Riverton City fire  s an annual event, where the exclusive performers are the Government, through some of its  ministries and agencies, the local City government and their agencies responsible  and the citizens of 3 parishes, Kingston, St. Andrew and St. Catherine and  especially the children.

I can describe this performance in one word, calamity. When you read the emotions of the various word sounds of the responsible ‘managers, you cannot help but wonder  through  their calm and insensitive demeanor, what will it  take to ever get some display of genuine emotion and care when dealing with this national crisis?

How long you might ask has scene been occurring? A fellow blogger has gone back to as far as 2003, documenting every year the annual Riverton City spectacle, to the point  where the blog has asked their readers to meet again, same  time, same place for another sequel to the evolving soap opera.  The question is why is this disaster not solved? A friend has put this question even more succinctly:

….’why are the two major landfills in the country ablaze or smoking?
Is there a hidden benefit to anyone in all this?
What of the children who suffer with respiratory illnesses?…”

She hits the nail on the head. Is there a benefit to someone for the continued occurrence of this disaster? You  have to ask as for every negative there is a positive. Is someone, a company, a political party or an agency stand to gain from the burning of this toxic waste that has created a medical havoc on the already limited resources on the Health services?

The answer lies not in a lack of studies and data. From as early as 2003 there have been published studies done by local and foreign entities and think tanks.

1. Management of Hazardous & Solid Waste in Jamaica

2. National Program of Action (NPA) 2003

3. University of Michigan report on Solid Waste Management in Jamaica –

The IADB ( Inter American Development Bank) extended a loan to the central government at the time ( The PNP led by PJ Patterson) to do the following, which is edited below:

…”The Government of Jamaica, with funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has developed a new SWM policy for the island….. into one centralized agency (NSWMA),…and strengthening of anti-litter and dumping laws. Technical changes include the development of 4-5 regional landfill sites and accompanying transfer stations, environmental closure of inactive dumpsites…. Central government has received an $11.5 million loan from the IDB for phase 1 implementation of the plan, which focuses mainly on landfill improvements in the Kingston Metropolitan Area…” (Taken from University of Michigan Study)

All these reports all point to one thing- Jamaica has a Waste Management Problem and here are the answers to solve them. This included the management of the Riverton City ‘landfill’ which was predicted by the researchers to reach its capacity by the year 2014. Yet nothing, if anything was done to remedy the problem. Riverton City is still being used to compound garbage after garbage, and with its vicinity so close to urbanized areas  it is only a disaster waiting to happen. The NSWMA agency is still underfunded neither does it  have the physical resources to adequately collect all the waste in the cooperate area,  In other words they are given basket to carry water.

…”The inadequacy of the fleet size is significant….. It is estimated that the Riverton Disposal site receives about 60.0 per cent of the solid waste generated which is about 2406.4 tonnes per day. Therefore, it requires approximately 150 trucks to adequately collect and dispose of solid waste within this waste shed. The MPM would need approximately 105 trucks to move domestic garbage within the KMA but currently the fleet size is 73..” (Management of Hazardous & Solid Waste in Jamaica)

From the recent developments one can easily assume that Governments after Governments have turned their heads looking away from the problem , hoping that it would go away. It didn’t. People are also predictable. The agencies will cover the wounds, apply a bandaid and leave it until  the next l disaster.  The problem continues.  Can I also ask this question: Where do they dispose of the  hazardous wastes from the hospitals? Is Riverton City the dump where these waste go?

An expert who worked with the government at the time of the many discussions on Riverton City dump when consulted, had this to say:

...”The government agencies have known for several decades that the dump must be closed.  While I was in the government, there was an effort (once, can’t remember year) to develop a comprehensive solid waste management strategy for the country.  Factors considered include: protection of critical environmental resources, such as aquifers; location away from population centers; location and types of sorting centers, to support recycling and reuse for things such as composting; treatment of hazardous wastes, such as hospital waste; transportation system, including the use of rail; regional management networks; etc.).  I don’t think the process was completed, but I am fairly sure that the process identified the locations of suitable sites for new landfills.  So, even if the rest of a “comprehensive system” was not designed, the government should still have been able to establish some of the new landfills….”

The government , neither the previous one, clearly hasn’t. Our world, our environment in Jamaica is a mirror of our attitudes and expectations.

Possible Solutions

The talk of divesting the dump, as it is no landfill, is the Opposition’s remedy to the problem. as in their estimation  government does not have the financial resources to manage SMW. That may be so, especially as all evidence supports that, but what government has are powers to allow any foreign or local  investor to  operate in an economic environment that allows the cost factor to  be at a minimum to make the investment profitable. That may be subsidies granted  including  the importation of waste from nearby islands.

Another option for the government is to compact the waste and export to countries that buys it as raw material. Again the economics of this has to be analyzed.  And yet another option is to borrow the finance  and implement its own recycling project, producing energy as well as recycled materials for use in our every day lifestyle. Recycling provides jobs, it stimulates the economy, it reduces the emissions and prevents global warming, It is creating a new industry of sorts, one that will undoubtedly be one of the spring boards to Jamaica in its 2030 plans.

RIVERTONCITY I am no expert in solving this problem. What i am is a concerned citizen that only uses practical solutions for problems.  The present attitude that exist at the NSWMA agency , of throwing their hands in the air and blaming everybody but God , is not solving the problem. It begins with educating  our citizens on the benefits of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, We are a wasteful nation, and a dirty nation , creating our own toxic waste. Riverton City debacle should not be so surprising.

The question is still unanswered. Is there a benefit for someone or something to gain? The relationship between the environment, resources and conflict is like the connection we see today between political parties,human rights and peace. Never the two shall meet. It is not in our political parties best interest if the people become united and start judging them and making them accountable. What we have now are gratuitous pardons of disasters all in the name of party politics. Our people are so politically divided that solving this problem will become a political issue and not a environmental or human one  And yet the people cannot breathe!

The answer is sadly yes. It is  keeping the body politic, the impervious status quo. The status quo is what governs our country from 1962, heightened in the 70s by scandal and violence and continued to this day with sculduggery, nepotism and unaccountability. The status quo is  treating this matter with impunity and scant disregard for public health and no environmental concerns. The status quo is accepting the mediocrity of standards, and blaming this on lack of resources. The status quo is what allows the managers to leave established standards, data and analysis and continue to dump garbage upon garbage, hoping that the coming eruption will only require them to send fire engines to out the fire. It is the status quo that tells our children and our people not to worry, just put wet cloth over your nose and everything  will be ok.  The government, as like the previous government, accept the status quo as the operating principle and is frankly on a death march.

 We are all standing in the Riverton City dump, but only a few of us are looking up towards the stars.

UNTIL EVERY DETAIL IS PERFECT- SAVANT STEPHEN WILTSHIRE- THE ART IS IN THE DETAILS

I thought i would share with you this incredible docu on Stephen Wiltshire, an autistic young man who is also a savant. Read and watch this incredible story of human feat and extraordinary skills. Autistic people have special abilities because they have less to focus on, unlike normal born like us, we focus on so many things like our problems, plans, solution etc, while autistic people live in a peaceful world with a peace of mind. They don’t divide their brain into many tasked because it is genetically deactivated, as a result, they became super talented to a specific area.

SETI.

Stephen Wiltshire is a 33-year-old autistic man with an extraordinary talent. He is one of less than 100 people in the world who is recognized as an autistic savant. Whereas some savants excel in mathematics or music, Stephen is an accomplished artist, and is capable of producing highly accurate drawings of buildings and cities after seeing them just once. Although Stephen is today a quiet and confident young man, he endured a difficult childhood as family and teachers struggled to cope with his autism – a condition that was, at the time, very poorly understood and rarely diagnosed.

Cityscapes and buildings quickly became Stephan’s artistic focus, possibly because they represent the kind of stability, solidity and repetition that autistic people often crave. In a short space of time, Stephen became internationally renowned for his strikingly detailed and technically accurate drawings, and since his teenage years he has traveled the world sketching famous buildings and cities.

Now Stephen is about to face one of his greatest challenges yet. He has five days to draw a four-meter-long panorama of London based on a 15-minute helicopter ride above the capital. Can he accurately reproduce the skyline of his home city solely from memory?

MORE FROM STEPHEN..

SPECIAL REPORT: Harry Belafonte: ” MY MISSION IS NEAR THE END…”

I reposted this interview featuring one of the icons of entertainment and  civil rights- Harry Belanfonte. Lisa Binns had the privilege to write this story of the ‘Day O’ man, the man who sang to millions and helped lifted many from poverty. Great read. Enjoy.

by    @binnsee

This year marks the 50th anniversary of many civil rights accomplishments in the United States. But even then, leaders of the movement knew the struggle would continue. The recent high-profile deaths of black men at the hands of police have galvanized a new generation of civil rights leaders. In the second of our two special reports, we bring two activists together, one from the old guard and one from the new.

When Harry Belafonte looks at Phillip Agnew, he sees his own political DNA will live on long after he’s gone.r/songwriters in history. Now 87, Belafonte is an advocate for a number of humanitarian causes and has taken on juvenile justice issues as a celebrity ambassador for the American Civil Liberties Union. Last year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored his efforts, awarding him an Oscar statuette.

Belafonte recognizes that his mission is nearing its end, but says the legacy he helped create is in good hands as young civil rights champions such as Agnew step up. In the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death in 2012, Agnew co-founded Dream Defenders, a youth-led social justice organization, and has become one of the most prominent leaders in the #BlackLivesMatter campaign.

The two men sat down together last month to discuss their activist roots, the roles poverty and oppression have played in their lives and the future of social change. Their conversation has been condensed for length and clarity.

Bridging the generation gap

Belafonte: For a long time, many people have been asking, “What has happened to our youth?” and “Where is the next generation going?” For a lot of people that has been answered by suggesting young people are indifferent, that they are directionless. Nothing seems to motivate them. With the murder of young Trayvon Martin and your response to that experience, and the development of Dream Defenders, I think you instantly filled a space.

One of the things that I enjoy in this process is the fact that the community of young people in the resistance movement has begun to look very carefully at their history – at what preceded them. For those of us who are still alive and still have some of that history in our DNA, we’ve been called upon. So for us to be able to be of service where young people are going now is a kind of a wonderful circle for me. Have you found that my generation has been responsive to you to, to get what you need?

Agnew: Yes and no. I think you’re an example of someone from a previous generation reaching out and reaching back to young people. But I think actually the ball was dropped in between, so the generation immediately preceding ours didn’t really [get as much help]. So during the civil rights movement, the dominant aim and desire eventually moved toward integration. And with integration came assimilation, so the generation that followed you all, I believe, began to reap the rewards of the fights of the civil rights movement. I think the lessons that we’ve learned have almost been unsaid; it’s that the goals of the civil rights movement have yet to be fully met.

Belafonte, right, was one of King's closest advisers. They're seen together here in April 1965.

Belafonte, right, was one of King’s closest advisers. They’re seen together here in April 1965.AP/Horace Cort

Belafonte: I’m struck by your observation that integration was the target for the movement that we experienced in the 1950s, ’60s. But integration, I think that’s a little misunderstood. We [were] looking to integrate into America, whether it was racial integration, economic integration or some type of social integration. It was that we knew that if we were not part of the fabric of what this nation professed to be about, that if we didn’t have the right to vote, that if we didn’t have the right to attend institutions of our choice for learning, that if we didn’t have a chance to become a bigger part of the American dream that was, for us, also a dream that we would never really truly touch the heartbeat of what America was about. This was about a bigger integration. But it’s always been narrowed down to just the issue of race specifically.

When black people got the right to vote totally in this country, it was not just the right to vote as a mechanical act. How do you select the individuals that are going to represent us? The only ones who were visible enough for them to say, “We can trust this individual, or that individual” are all the personalities that emerged from the civil rights movement…That left a void and in that void was where everybody began to say, “What’s happened to our young?” Well, they were no longer being instructed when the leadership went off on another mission.

Poverty

Dream Defenders Executive Director Phillip Agnew listens as Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks in July 2013.
Dream Defenders Executive Director Phillip Agnew, left, listens as Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks in July 2013.

Agnew: After the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act and Dr. King’s final crusade over the last years of his life was to shift economic policies. And to be able to sit at a lunch counter next to a white man, what’s the use of it if you can’t afford to buy anything once you’re there? I believe that was the most dangerous part of Dr. King’s legacy and what he was trying to leave to the next generation. Do you think it’s time that all of us begin to have a front-facing, very outward indictment of capitalism and to embrace that a whole lot more in the way that we talk about what we want to see?

Belafonte: I think the indictment of capitalism is not a new theme for our current history. We’ve always been talking about economic parity. It’s always about owning resources and exploiting resources that nourishes the human existence on a level playing field. What black people have always wanted was not that we were rushing to become racially integrated. That was not really what the mission was about. But the specific target was to shape the economic paradigm.

Agnew: My first experience ever with activism was in college, and it was the murder of a young man namedMartin Lee Anderson. He was 14 years old. He was killed in a boot camp in Dade County, Florida.

It was in that experience that I really began to see what a path could look like for all the anger that I had about growing up poor, and all the anger I had about looking around and seeing everybody around me struggling. Everybody around me having to work double to make ends meet, and then also going to a magnet school where everybody seemed to be getting anything they wanted, and having everything in abundance. It was the first time that I was able to see that possibly my family wasn’t just unlucky or weren’t lazy or weren’t destined for poverty; that there was something else going on there.

Belafonte: People ask me, “What motivated you [to] become an activist?” And I said, “It wasn’t Karl Marx. It really wasn’t Abe Lincoln. It was just poverty.”

In the early years of my old career, I was branded as being arrogant and I never saw myself as arrogant. After I examined carefully why this critique was being put in place to define who I was, it was [that] white folks just weren’t used to hearing black people speak with a sense of equality. I want to speak just like you speak to the issues and say what’s on my mind and in my heart; your sense [is] that I’m not being servile enough, that I’m not being more appreciative of how benevolent you are. So here you come and now they’re not seeing you as arrogant. They’re seeing you as something far more interesting.

Agnew: Yeah, I don’t know how they see me. I don’t know if I’m as interested in how they see me as I am. We’ve been talking a lot within Dream Defenders. We’re beginning to frame our fight. Our target is not the Koch Brothers. Our target is – and in reading Dr. King, I think he would agree – not President Obama. Our target is actually public opinion. And it’s the masses of people that we’ve got to move and shift from their place of comfort or their place of ignorance possibly, or even just their place of complicity in the system to seeing the world in the way that we see it. Then, we can all collectively build a vision for the world, as we would all like to see it.

The power of voting

Belafonte: For us, just to get the right to vote was the target, assuming that once we got that right we would now be on our way to the utopia that you referred to. But when we got that right to vote, we abused that reward, because where is the full participation in that process? Of all the things I think we could do as a people in this country, the most important tool at our disposal is the vote.

Agnew, right, and the Dream Defenders were joined by Belafonte, second from the right, as they went into their 11th day of a sit-in of Florida Gov. Rick Scott's office in July 2013. The sit-in was their response to the ‘not guilty’ verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman, the Florida neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot Trayvon Martin.
Agnew, right, and the Dream Defenders were joined by Belafonte, second from the left, to sit in on the ‘not guilty’ verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman, the Florida neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot Trayvon Martin.AP/Phil Sears

The reason that we seem to be fighting the same fight all the time is because we are fighting the same fight all the time. This generation has to now go back and pay attention to the things that we had won, [which] are now being lost because of this power play. I think this thing that we feel redundant, that we are fighting the same thing, is because the enemy has always kept us in the same place.

Agnew: For me, this has always, always, always been about my personal experience with poverty – what I saw it do to my family, what I’ve seen it do to my family in the community that I came from, and what it did to me, mentally, physically, the effects it had on my relationships and the way that I saw myself.

Anxiety of a movement

Belafonte: One of the things that consistently nourished my commitment to Dr. King was his honesty. The fact that he remained eternally vulnerable, because he always was in question about his right to lead, his right to make decisions and do things that could have such an impact on human life. One of the things that he did in order to help him stay buoyant in the midst of the storm and decisions was the fact that he gathered around him people he thought would bring him instruction or points of view that would keep him on course. When he [had] severe anxiety, it was not for a long period of time, but it was evident enough for us to be of concern because he developed a tick. I remember I once took on “The Tonight Show” and hosted it for a week and Dr. King was one of my guests that week.

I noticed in that time, 1968, that he had less of that tick and that he had somehow maybe gotten over it. I said to him, “What happened to the tick?” I think he said – I don’t remember the exact thing – “What has gotten me over it is that I have made my peace with death.” And I said, “Made your peace with death?” He said, “Yes, I put that behind me. I’m no longer preoccupied with how I live or how long I live. If I die being in the service of uplifting fellow beings, then that’s my reward for the commitment.” And in that adjustment, he got rid of the tick.

Agnew: I think we all know at some point what our purpose is, and I was misaligned with it. I was horribly just in another place. The murder of Trayvon, for me, this was after Occupy [Wall Street] and after Troy Davis, and I looked around the country, and it seemed like there were a lot of other people who were just as angry as I was about the lot that we had been cast in life. It seemed like people around the country wanted to do something about it. Really, I just followed that. I was able to get back into activism during that time and since then been on a journey really to figure out and rediscover who I am and maybe what or who I’m supposed to be. And [I’m] also on a journey to tell other people about that journey; to tell young people that, look, please do not conform. Because I think once they take that away from our children, that desire to be different, to be unique, to question everything, to think critically about what’s around them, to question everything, then that’s when they win.

Belafonte: I am really quite touched by the extent to which Phillip Agnew and so many other young people have accepted the responsibility to move for social change – by their presence and by their courage and by the astuteness that they bring to the process. My mission is near its end. That’s just a fact of life. Not maudlin. Everybody dies. But in this space I found that in Phillip Agnew, [he has] my political DNA and that he wants to do it the way he’s doing it. [That] tells me that the future doesn’t look so bleak.