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Jamaica’s World Relay Performance: Transitioning from the Bolt Era

Russell Barrett

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Dear Editor,

The Jamaican Contingent to the recently concluded IAAF World Relays 2019 in Yokohama, Japan recorded arguably the most embarrassing performance in recent times by a senior team at a global competition. Despite the presence of several noted senior athletes comprising the male and female teams, Jamaica’s usual tenacity and dominance never even cleared the immigration gate in Japan. The imperative question on everyone’s mind following this ordeal is ‘what’s next after Mr. Bolt? Who is next after Mr. Bolt? And how do we get there?

Usain Bolt striking his signature pose after a much expected win.

Over the past two (2) decades, Jamaica has enjoyed extraordinary success on the Track with Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce, Veronica Campbell Brown and in Field events Trecia-Kaye Smith and Fredrick Dacre, among the few renowned millennials who have flown Jamaica’s Flag high at World Championship and Olympic Games. The sheer excellence demonstrated by our athletes can be attributed to an insatiable appetite to succeed, driven by the usual hard work and dedication. However, what has been a seemingly unnoticed formula in our success factor is the uniqueness of leadership from among the athletes. Take for example; the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Veronica Campbell Brown won two (2) gold medals and a bronze medal which was arguably the precursor to the build out of several great athletes. Her passion when she cried for that gold medal on the medal podium; she inspired many with her performances. This led to the birth of other leaders in the field, namely Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce in the Beijing, Olympics Games 2008.

The fact of the matter is, Jamaican performances have been greater at each stage because they were constantly inspired by individually excellent performances. Similarly, the Asafa Powell reign, influenced the Usain Bolt reign. However, the question remains why hasn’t this tradition of excellence continued? Are we at our saturation point? I put it to you that we aren’t saturated. However, we are yet to see the athletes of this generation step up to the mantle and let me hasten to say it isn’t for a lack of talent as is the case with Elaine Thompson and Yohan Blake but how well have they placed themselves to become world beaters and inspire those who wish to step up after them?
The answer lies within their mindset and their own self determination to be the best at their game. They need to understand that those athletes who have gone on before them and have set their mark did so because they didn’t limit themselves in mind or overly pressured themselves to perform at their best, but rather they understood what talent they possessed and saw themselves at the top, earning them leaders in their respective disciplines.

Fundamentally speaking, not every athlete will step up to this call to lead or destiny to inspire, however in order for there to be the transition into the next phase of track and field greatness for Jamaica, we need that torch bearer to come soon or else we may just move from fumbling exchanges to dropping the baton of greatness completely.

Russell is a successful honours graduate of the regionally acclaimed University of the West Indies, Mona Campus where he received a Bachelors of Science degree in International Relations and Public Policy and Management. An avid sports enthusiast and a young philanthropic leader, Russell has been recognised at UWI’s student’s award ceremony for outstanding service and leadership (2015-2016) and was also awarded a place on UWI’s Social Sciences Faculty Dean’s List in 2016 for academic achievement. He has been intricately involved with youth development and policy development having completed internships at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Jamaica Tertiary Education Commission. He is passionate about contributing to Jamaica’s development and continues to seek opportunities to engage and help uplift his fellow peers towards their maximum potential. As president of the UWI’s Governance Society, he successfully partnered with the British Council of Jamaica on their Rights Awareness Programme in several high schools. Finally, he maintains that ‘to whom much is given much is expected’. [email protected]

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Opinion

Surviving the Summer Heat

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Summer

There have been many reports over the past week highlighting the heat that Jamaica will be experiencing for the summer. Many persons are already feeling the near scorching effects. It is a maddening reality for many persons as the energy levels are taking a serious hit due to this severe heat. It appears to be a mystery why every summer seems much hotter than the past one. It is not truly a mystery, however, as scientists have been warning us about how our actions are damaging the ozone layer.

Nonetheless, this heat can put a damper on summer enjoyment as it can negatively affect our health. It can be so severe that we start experiencing nausea, headaches and dizziness. This should not prevent us from enjoying ourselves this summer. Summer is a time where sunshine, blue skies, blooming flowers and vibrant sunsets can have us feeling a sense of gratitude. However, we must take special care in staying well and healthy for the summer, here are some tips:

Tips

  • Remember to drink water. Hydration is key. It is very important to stay hydrated due to our body’s inner mechanism, which can cause excessive sweating if our temperature goes above the normal range.

Water

  • Wear loose clothing so that your body can feel at ease.
  • Aim to stay in cooler areas, so seek out air conditioned buildings, open those windows and blast those fans.
  • Try to reduce your exposure to the sun as much as possible. Utilize hats, sunglasses and sunscreen.

Hat and sunglasses

  • Drink cold drinks such as slushies and smoothies, as well as eat cold meals. Popsicles should be your friend for this summer.

 

  • Try to schedule your activities in cooler times, when the sun is not blazing hot. Make sure to schedule those meetings in early mornings and late afternoons.

Schedule

  • Water is vital, but so are electrolytes in order to prevent dehydration. Get your dose of electrolytes from sports drinks such as Gatorade.

Keep safe this summer and play smart!

 

 

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Business

Bankers Urged to Remain Alert to Electronic Fraud

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Bankers, you must remain aware of the different tools that mitigate attempts at electronic fraud. That is essentially the message from Jerome Smalling, Vice President of the Jamaica Bankers Association (JBA). He was speaking at the JBA’s seminar on anti-fraud held recently at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston. His warning comes against the background of the increased attempts by criminal elements at defrauding financial services institutions.

100 Seminar Participants Hear About e-Fraud Technologies

Over 100 persons participated in the anti-fraud seminar that was also held in association with the Jamaica Institute of Financial Services (JIFS). International and local experts covered topics including fraud trends, artificial intelligence, data protection, and the use of closed-circuit television images in preventing fraud. Participants got first-hand data and information on the capabilities of existing technology in perpetrating fraud.

Dirk Harrison, the Director of Prosecutions at the Integrity Commission, presented statistics reported by Transparency International that demonstrate the harmful effects of corruption on the progress of governance mechanisms.

Stay Ahead of Fraudsters – Dirk Harrison

Integrity Commission Jamaica

Harrison argued for a solution-oriented rather than a problem-oriented strategy to deal with fraud. “We must stay ahead of the fraudsters, who may ultimately be responsible for programming the same technology and machines on which we are to depend,” he said. Further, the Integrity Commission Director of Prosecutions emphasised how important it is to engage with the youth. He encouraged the seminar participants to reach out to the schools, youth clubs, and the cadet force to reinforce the message of “right and wrong,” and the consequences of choices.

Interestingly, Damian Small, the Director of Corporate Security at Scotiabank, argued that institutions must use a combination of strategies to effectively manage e-fraud. Such an approach, he explained, must be transparent and trustworthy for clients. Strategies must also create awareness on the different social engineering tactics that criminals use to collect data. Furthermore, fraud detection and prevention should also be objectives from an organisational perspective.

Law Enforcement Challenges and Weaknesses

But a report appearing in the media in 2018 highlighted major weaknesses in law-enforcement and the justice system in fighting fraud. Reportedly, in 2017, as electronic fraud spread, banks, and other financial institutions lost $750 million.

Also, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) data showed that between 2013 and 2018 the police Fraud Squad received reports on almost 3,400 alleged cases of fraud.

Unfortunately, the rate at which fraudsters are convicted in the island’s courts lags the arrest rate. Reportedly, the courts found only 115 persons guilty out of the 1,029 persons held for different rackets.  Even then, more than 50 percent of the convicted persons over the five years received their conviction only in 2017. Also, according to police data, between 2015 and 2016, the police Fraud Squad secured only three convictions for fraud.

Three!

Fraud Officers Sometimes Redeployed

Even arrests fall behind reports. During the five years to 2018, the police Fraud Squad received almost 2,000 fraud reports, but only arrested a little over 900 persons. Distressingly, the situation concerning arrests and convictions for electronic fraud is much worse.

The bottom line is that the Duke Street-based police Fraud Squad is woefully understaffed and under-resourced. Up to 2018, the police Fraud Squad had fewer than a dozen investigators assigned to tackle fraud islandwide. Even with this shortfall, the police high command sometimes redeploys these officers to other duties including Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs) and the State of Emergency (SOE) in Western Jamaica.

Official Ambivalence Regarding e-Fraud

Interestingly, Lloyd Parchment, an anti-fraud expert at the Jamaica Bankers’ Association, suggested that official ambivalence regarding the crime of fraud contributed to the low conviction rate experienced in Jamaica. For one thing, many see fraud, particularly that against institutions like banks, as a victim-less, white-collar crime.

Parchment suggested that:

 “The justice system does not recognise fraud as a very important area of criminal activity; they do not treat it seriously.”

He further explained that the banking sector has urged the justice system to acknowledge fraud as a serious criminal offence. He also noted that the money gained from it is also fuelling more serious illegal activity. According to the JBA anti-fraud expert, banking sector leaders received only a lukewarm response from the justice ministry when they attempted dialogue on the matter of fraud.

Banks Choose Not to Report Fraud

Consequently, financial industry leaders are not so confident that investigations into the reported e-fraud cases will yield serious results. Furthermore, banks, in some cases, chose not to report fraud incidents to the police Fraud Squad as they do not see the point of doing so. Also, the substantial backlog of reported fraud cases investigated by the Fraud Squad is another disincentive for institutional victims of electronic fraud to report or follow up on fraud matters.

Parchment offered an example of what happened in a recent fraud incident:

“We had a guy recently who reaped millions of dollars in fraudulent funds from the banking industry through debit card frauds, and when we managed to engineer his arrest, and he was brought to court, he immediately pleaded guilty. He was slapped with a $200,000 fine. He then went and stole the money from a customer’s account to pay the fine. It didn’t even come out of his pocket, and he is back working the next day and continues to work right now. I have the evidence of that because we have the camera system.”

Optimistic Outlook

Participants in the recently held JBA/JIFS anti-fraud seminar got an earful on the scale of electronic fraud and the kinds of technology criminals use. Not only did presenters offer their experiences on the various ways financial institutions suffer at the hands of unscrupulous fraudsters, but they also got useful tips on how to address this growing problem.

The existing law enforcement weaknesses and challenges in the justice system, however, threaten any success in addressing the e-fraud monster.

But as an adage goes, “where there is life, there is hope”.

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Business

This Business of The Cancer Industry

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The undeniable truth is, cancer is big business. Every year the pharmaceutical and medical sectors in the cancer industry make billions from patients’ spending on cancer treatment. Not only is cancer a deadly disease that many people fear, but it is also very costly to treat. Whether patients choose to treat cancer in a conventional way – by chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, or use alternative paths, they and their families must spend big money.

It is said that to pay for cancer treatment you would need to be rich or to be insured. The “have nots”, unfortunately, perish if there is no one or institution to help them.

Undoubtedly, cancer is traumatic on every level. Health fails, resources deplete, and relationships suffer.

But, have you ever wondered why after all this time and spending on research there is no cure for this devastating disease?

Conspiracy Theory – Big Pharma Does Not Want a Cancer Cure

Let’s be brutally frank. It is possible that big pharma is not chasing a cure for the disease. After all, why shoot oneself in the foot? A cancer cure would mean the drastic reduction in the massive profits from years of cancer treatment among millions of sufferers.

Why change that?

At the start of the last century, only one in twenty persons is diagnosed with cancer. During the 1940s the proportion rose to one in sixteen persons with a cancer diagnosis. By the 1970s the number of cancer victims increased to one in ten. Shockingly, today, the prevalence of cancer in the population is one in three!

One in three!

While this is the picture painted for the United States, it is not much different in other parts of the world.

In Jamaica, younger and younger persons are diagnosed with the dreaded disease. In the case of breast cancer, which is the leading cause of cancer deaths among Jamaican women, the median age at which women are being diagnosed is 52. This is eight years younger than the worldwide average age of 60 years.

So, instead of a reduction or slow-down in the number and prevalence of cancer in the population, there is an increase. From a business perspective, this is a lucrative market, poised for growth and more growth. No wonder it appears that there is no hurry to find a cure.

Cancer Industry is Huge

In the United States, the cancer industry is huge. It is estimated in 2014 that the medical cost for cancer care is US$125 billion. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates that the cost would grow by 39 percent to US$173 billion by 2020. Regardless of the type of cancer that is diagnosed annually, the outcome will be the same. More money will be spent on treatment. The purveyors of cancer medical treatments and therapies will continue to make a killing.

And the scenario remains favourable for the cancer business. Again, in the United States, it is estimated that almost 1.7 million new cancer cases are diagnosed annually. Sadly, almost 600,000 persons die from the disease every year.

In Jamaica, cancer was the cause of death for 19.3% of persons who died in 2016. The estimates for 2018 was that more than 7,300 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Jamaica. That estimate was according to the World Health Organisation International Agency for Cancer Research (WHO IACR).

Naturally, the cost burden on individuals and families is also significant. The cost of cancer medications in Jamaica can easily run into more than J$50,000 per month depending on the type of medications required to treat cancer. Two million Jamaican dollars can be quickly depleted. Fortunately, the National Health Fund (NHF) allows cardholders to access subsidised costs for cancer treatment.

Notwithstanding other factors, the stark reality is that the cancer industry expects the cancer market to grow, not to shrink.

Cancer Research, Is it a Farce?

No doubt, billions of dollars have gone into research on cancer. Institutions like the American Medical Association (AMA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the USA’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) are among the foremost institutions dedicated to cancer research. While there is a significant pool of scientists and researchers with years of research expertise behind them, skeptics remain convinced that the research being done is no closer to a cure for the disease.

A cynical view, for example, is that:

“The research dollars have all been devoured by a cancer monopoly – a cartel – consisting of pharmaceutical companies…a research system that supports pharmaceutical manufacturers, a system of charities that raise money for cancer research, and various federal agencies such as the US FDA. These groups…are fully committed to earning profits for the cancer monopoly that is headed by the pharmaceutical companies.” John P. Thomas, Health Impact News

A medical practitioner noted that “From 1920 to the present time, we have made little progress in the treatment of adult cancers. So, a person who gets prostate cancer or breast cancer today will live as long as a person who got it in 1920.” (Charles B. Simone, M.MS., M.D., Founder, Simone Protective Cancer Center)

These and other observation are not encouraging indications that progress is being made in cancer research over the years. Apparently, cancer research has not presented curative solutions to this deadly disease. Evidently, a confounding factor in cancer research and a search for a cure is the variations and complexities of the disease itself.

Fear – a Typical Reaction to Cancer Diagnosis

Chemotherapy is one of the treatment protocols for cancer. This treatment itself is, however, cancer causing.

It is, therefore, not surprising that the typical reaction to a cancer diagnosis is fear. A fear inspired by the knowledge that conventional cancer treatment does not work for everyone.

And the fear is not unjustified when you consider that the cancer treatment itself causes cancer. An admission from the US government is that:

“Current approaches to combat cancer rely primarily on the use of chemical and radiation, which are themselves carcinogenic and may promote recurrences and the development of metastatic disease.” (Patent No. 5,605,930. “Compositions and methods for treating and preventing pathologies including cancer.” Approved 1997 USA Department of HHS page 56)

Standard Treatment Options and Survival

So, the standard treatment options for cancer are not cures. When faced with a diagnosis, the typical options Oncologists present to patients are chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. That has been the case for the past 100 years. Oncologists on a whole do not recommend anything else.

When talking about survival chances, there is a limit. The definition of cancer survival is the percent of persons who live beyond a specified time frame. So, typically a 5-year survival rate is used to indicate the proportion of every 100 persons who survive beyond five years after diagnosis. Unfortunately, for most cancers, this survival rate is well below 50 percent.

With low survival rates among patients, the cancer industry relies on a steady supply of new cancer cases to keep it viable. Pursuing a cure is not a priority since well over 60 percent of the cancer patient pool will die before five years after being diagnosed.

There are numerous stories of persons who, having been diagnosed with cancer, exhaust their life’s savings and that of their loved ones, only to succumb despite being treated with chemotherapy drugs and radiation.

Alternative Therapies, Are they More Effective?

Understandably, patients seek other treatment options said to offer a cure in a bid to prolong life. But even then, there are risks. Given that many of the “alternative” options are unproven and untested, the medical fraternity is reluctant to endorse or recommend such approaches. These untested options include radical changes in diet, herbal medicines, meditation, and prayer.

Yet, there are many cancer survivors who testify of their successes with these alternative approaches. Dramatic turnarounds among some cancer survivors who use alternative therapies are downright miraculous. Medical science cannot explain them.

But as the saying goes, a drowning man clutches at straws.

The Dark Side of the Alternative Cancer Market

The dark side of the cancer industry relates to alternative cancer “cures” that are actually scams that exploit vulnerable cancer patients and their families. As opposed to success stories, just as many horror stories show the devastating effects of trusting unscrupulous charlatans who pose as healers, naturopathic doctors, and herbalist with the “cure”. That exposure translates to millions of hard-earned money down the drain.

Inevitably, cancer patients who turn to unscrupulous scams return to the Oncologist for treatment. Unfortunately, by then, it is too late. Cancer has spread beyond repair.

Is there hope?

But there is hope, especially for those who do regular screenings and discover their cancer early. Early detection is important for the successful treatment of cancer, even with the conventional methods of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. For others who, unfortunately, discover their cancers after it has begun to spread, organisations like the Jamaica Cancer Society (JCS) provide support through counselling and outreach.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Health and Wellness in 2018 opened the National Cancer Registry. It also opened, in 2018, a world-class Cancer Treatment Centre at the St. Joseph’s Hospital, Kingston. The Kingston facility is the second such treatment centre funded by the National Health Fund, the first, which was opened in 2017 is in the Cornwall Regional Hospital, St. James. The treatment facilities offer improved radiation treatment using state of the art equipment.

Enough is Enough! Release the Cure

While much is happening for cancer treatment, which hopefully will extend survival rates, patients and their families await a cure. Conspiracy theorists suggest that a cure for cancer was developed long ago but influential forces have kept them secret. Be that as it may, it is time for the long-awaited cure for cancer to be released. Millions of lives depend on it.

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