Notes From The Margin

March 13, 2008

1984 – UFOs Place Barbados Defence Force on Full Alert – THIS REALLY HAPPENED!

We were going to do a story on the Caribbean Early Warning radar system but our google of “Barbados Radar” brought up a declassified US State Department Report on UFO reports and Barbados was one of the countries mentioned!

What follows is a story that reads like a thriller, with the Defence force placed on Red Alert in full battle dress with loaded weapons (including the Cadet Corps). Coast Guard units were deployed to protect the harbour and Police officers were placed on guard at beaches that might be subject to a sea landing.  The Trident was deployed to check for sea traffic but did not find any.

The then Prime Minister Tom Adams called the US Charge D’affaires to find out if the radar contacts were US aircraft which they weren’t. There was a Soviet naval exercise taking place but that was over on the other side of the Caribbean Sea near the Yucatan. The BDF’s Cessna aircraft was deployed to see if it could visually identify the objects but reported finding nothing. Two further aircraft with civilian pilots were on standby if needed.  Around 4.00am the objects were moving away from Barbados in the general direction of Martinique. The Defence Force stood down around 7.00am.

Up to now, there is no generally accepted explanation for what it was on the radar that caused the fuss.  Funny what you can find on the net when you look isn’t it?

Marginal

The full text appears below…
1.   (C) ENTIRE TEXT).

2.   SUMMARY:   THE LATE NIGHT APPEARANCE OF UNIDENTIFIED OBJECTS ON BARBADOS RADAR SCREENS PROVOKED A SERIOUS DEFENSE AND SECURITY ALERT. OBJECTS REMAINED VISABLE ON RADAR FOR MORE THAN AN HOUR AND A HALF, FINALLY DISAPPEARING OUT OF RANGE TO THE NORTH. PRIME MINISTER CALLED CHARGE D’AFFAIRES TO CONFIRM THAT THERE WERE NO U.S. MILITARY OPERATIONS GOING ON IN THE AREA. THIS WAS CONFIRMED TO EMBASSY BY NATIONAL MILITARY COMMAND CENTER.  SO FAR, THERE IS NO CONSENSUS OR AN EXPLANATION FOR THE PHENOMENON. LEADING HYPOTHESES ARE ATMOSPHERICS AND TECHNICAL MALFUNCTION. BUT CONSIDERABLE SUSPICION REMAINS THAT SOMETHING VERY WORRISOME OCCURRED. BARBADIAN RECOLLECTIONS OF REPUTED “MERCENARY” INVASIONS IN 1976 AND 1980 HAVE BEEN PIQUED.  PRESENCE OF SOVIET FLEET IN THE
CONFIDENTIAL

CONFIDENTIAL

(more…)

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March 3, 2008

Why We DON’T Want Obama To Win (Or Clinton For That Matter)

This is one of the more difficult posts to write, difficult because we don’t want to be misunderstood, and difficult because it’s a difficult choice to make. As we write this the Primary season of the US presidential election is rolling forward. The Republican front runner John McCain appears to have his hand on the nomination (barring something quite unexpected happening) In the Democrats camp there is a heated battle for the nomination going on between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

In the Caribbean the popular sentiment is understandably for Obama, he’s personable, has an agenda for change in Washington and of course, he’s black. For the first time ever it would seem that an African American has a real chance of ending up in the White House. For a region that is mostly African in descent it’s heady stuff.

However….

As cool as it is that the United States has reached the stage of maturity that they could seriously consider a black man for the post of Commander in Chief, we on the Margin have come to the conclusion that Mr. Obama’s race is (or should be) for us in the Caribbean irrelevant.

Why have we reached this conclusion?

We have to recall the Clinton presidency (That’s Bill if you are confused) Bill Clinton was one of the most “human” US Presidents in living memory. Former President Clinton was enormously popular in the Caribbean, mostly on his personal charisma. However when you look at the effects the Clinton presidency had on the Caribbean, Bill Clinton did more damage to us than any hurricane that has struck the island chain. Why do we say this?

1. Dole/Chiquita Bananas and the WTO.  This action destroyed the livelihoods of hundreds of Caribbean farmers basically to repay a campaign contributor.

2. The Ship Rider Controversy. Remember the pressure that was brought to bear on Barbados when it resisted?

3. The OECD “Harmful Taxation” initiative.  Despite the BLP’s efforts to say that it fell apart because of Owen Arthur, we really know that it fell apart because when Bush came to power the US was no longer interested in backing the initiative.

This isn’t meant to be a US bashing post, but the fact is the Caribbean has ALWAYS done better under a Republican in the White House than a Democrat. We can see the echoes of similar policies in Mr. Obama’s current political career. With rhetoric against NAFTA (Ironically which was enacted by Clinton) and action in sponsoring the “Tax Haven Abuse Act”.

If we lived in the US we would probably vote for Mr. Obama, but the fact is that we don’t live in the US. Rather than get caught up in the euphoria that surrounds his campaign we are forced to apply the same logic that we do to our local politicians “Judge them not by what they say, but by what they do” and when judged on that scale (from a Caribbean perspective anyway) Mr. Obama is found to be less than an ideal candidate.

Marginal

July 6, 2007

Passport blues….

Filed under: Barbados,Capitalism,Caribbean,Globalisation,politicians,terrorism,tourism,USA,WTO — notesfromthemargin @ 9:06 pm

The Caribbean continues to try in vain to get the US to repeal it’s new passport regulations. The Caribbean is not on the strongest ground here because the US views this as a form of protecting themselves in the war on terror. The thing that is almost embarrassing about it is that no one in the Caribbean seems to want to publicly recognise that. We go on and on hoping for the US to do something which we all know it considers to be fundamentally against its own interest, and then act surprised or worse yet wounded when they don’t do it.

The Caribbean’s otherwise weak arguments are further undermined by the fact that Barbados has required Americans to have passports for some time now and does not seem to have suffered unduly. I’m not saying that Barbados is somehow at fault here or that it should change it’s position, I’m just saying the Caribbean might do well to stop acting like chicken little going on about the sky falling, and look at Barbados as perhaps a case study.

My take on this is that

1. The US will eventually require passports for everyone to come in or out of the USA. Any delays in that day coming are for the US’ convenience not for anyone else.

2. The perceived advantage of the US territories is not necessarily as great as some people argue.

3. The chicken little act is a waste of time and energy, let’s work pro-actively to promote our destinations in a passport carrying world.

Finally let’s recognise that in this world the “Please take pity on the small poor developing island”, isn’t going to amount to a pile of seashells in front of a rising tide. Let’s craft a better offer to entice visitors to our shores. Let’s develop innovative marketing to attract peoples interest. Let’s have islands that are a joy for tourists to visit, and a pleasure for locals to live in.

Yes it’s not as easy as begging the US to do something that makes no sense, but at least the chances of success are higher.

Marginal.

June 5, 2007

The JFK Terror Plot….

Filed under: Barbados,Globalisation,terrorism,USA — notesfromthemargin @ 2:44 am

Wow what a story! A plot to blow up an aviation fuel pipeline and tank farm at one of the world’s largest airports allegedly masterminded by West Indian muslim extremists. I’m using allegedly because I refuse to participate in a lynching by media. But lets be clear here, IF they are guilty and found so having received due process from the courts they should face the full weight of the law. I have no sympathy or tolerance for people who think innocent civilians are somehow “legitimate targets”.

But lets look beyond the immediate media fireworks (sorry, maybe that was a bad choice of words) what does this mean for the Caribbean?

Well given the awareness of the Caribbean in the US, we are likely in the short term to all tarred with the same brush as potential terrorists “Isn’t the Caribbean all part of Jamaica?” we’ve all heard the refrain. I’m sure the region’s tourism authorities are chewing antacids by the fistfull right now. Hopefully that aspect of it will blow over to some degree. The region does have very good tourism marketing boards and they will go to work on smoothing this over. For all of our sakes I wish them luck.

The other thing that will probably come out of this is that “all of a sudden” the Caribbean will reappear on the US’ foreign policy radar. If we’re brutally honest we have been all but forgotten as Bush has been occupied with places further afield. This may be a good thing, or it may not. We will probably find that suddenly aid is available for security related issues which will be a refreshing change after being “punished” for refusing to exempt the US from the international war crimes tribunal.

Maybe there’s an opportunity here… perhaps it might be possible to convince the US that their best defense in the Caribbean is strong healthy economies with strong governments with the resources to do things like enforce the law, and provide jobs for people.

Let’s just say that I’m not encouraged by what I see in the historical record here.

Marginal

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