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…)

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

September 15, 2007

The Demise of Net Neutrality Part 2 – How it will affect Barbados’ And The Caribbean’s Development…

An article in the Advocate today about Acting PM Reginald Farley making a speech at the opening of Cable & Wireless’ new Network Operations Centre.

“…Saying that technology is a potent force for the development of small countries, Farley recalled that in the old development model, countries had to be large with enormous economic bases, natural resources, and cash in order to make an insertion into the world economy.

Farley stated that with technology all of that has changed. According to him, with the Internet, a small business in a small country like Barbados can not only contemplate, but can operationalise its intentions to make its products and services available across the world and at very low costs.

Farley, who is also the Minister of Housing and Lands, said that the Government of Barbados has been leveraging technology to enhance and accelerate the country’s economic development.”

The promise of the internet, and the ability of a small company to offer products across the world will be compromised if in the US big companies are given an advantage over the little guy. Once again, the world will shift back to the “old development” model, where large resources are required to get on to the “fast internet”.

The bill currently in the US congress presents a strategic threat to the future development of Barbados and indeed the wider developing world, and should be considered as such.

Marginal

(For further information on net neutrality see part 1 of the series HERE)

September 11, 2007

How The Concept Of Net Neutrality Affects Us

We on the margin are deeply concerned about a debate that is currently taking place in the US on the concept of “net neutrality” or to be more precise whether or not to allow the lack of it.  To break the concept down to a simple level, what is basically being debated in the US corridors of power is whether US telecoms should be able to charge to guarantee delivery of particular streams of packets or information. MIT’s Technology Review puts it this way:

At issue, potentially, is the ability of Internet users to visit the sites they want, with no speed difference in the delivery of data between a site that pays for preferential treatment (say, Google) and one that doesn’t (say, your favorite blog).

There is major money on the table for the winners of this debate, and the two sides are equally powerful:

On one side of the issue stand powerful Internet and software companies such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Amazon. They — and others — are arguing that all bits should be equal — that a “best effort” should be made to deliver Internet information, regardless of where it comes from.

On the other side are the powerful infrastructure companies, who own the conduits through which the traffic flows, such as Comcast, Bell South, and SBC. They argue that because they own the pipes, they ought to have the right to charge companies such as Google or Apple something extra to “guarantee delivery” of their data.

This of course will affect the fundamental nature of the internet, with far reaching consequences. The potential impacts of this bill if it gets written into law are potentially quite scary.  The site savetheinternet.com lists a number of possible impacts:

How does this threat to Internet freedom affect you?

 

For those of us on the outside of the US we could find ourselves as permanant second class citizens of the web. With things we take for granted such as blogs and the ability to access the US market with the net being automatically assigned to the slow lane. Further what impact will this have on call centres and data intensive offshore businesses that currently use Voice Over IP technology (VOIP)? The demise of Net Neutrality will negate the “death of distance” that has opened many developmental opportunities in the developing world. This is one case where what happens in the US DOES directly affect us on the margins of the globalised world.

 

Over the course of a series of articles we will be looking at Net Neutrality and how it affects us in the Caribbean and in the wider developing world.

 

Marginal

August 7, 2007

Barbados’ Sandy Lane Hotel Sued – Does Pennsylvania Law Apply?

Filed under: Barbados,Capitalism,Caribbean,law,Sandy Lane,tourism,USA — notesfromthemargin @ 2:12 am

Sandy Lane Hotel is currently being sued by a customer who fell from the table while receiving a massage in the hotel spa. The guest a Mr. Patrick O’Connor sued the hotel when he got back home, and he did so in the courts at home. Sandy Lane successfully argued that the US state court had no jurisdiction over an event that happened in Barbados. Mr. O’Connor appealed and the appeals court ruled that because the transaction was arranged by the O’Connors at home and the hotel mailed them a brochure that sufficient activity had taken place in the Pennsylvania jurisdiction for the court to have standing.

Now of course courts in Barbados like most courts in the British Commonwealth do not award damages for emotional pain and suffering. Of course Pennsylvania courts do (as do all US Courts) Also a US jury is more likely to be swayed by the hometown plaintiff against the foreign defendant. Both sides are likely to fight this one to the finish

The implications of this case are wide reaching, any company selling services to American citizens from anywhere on the planet may find themselves subject to a United States court. In effect will the US court system set itself up as being a global arbiter?

Would the US be willing to let American citizens be subject to foreign courts if the circumstances were similar? I think not.

You can bet this will be appealed again (and again)(and again) it will be an interesting one to watch.

For further reading check out:

Barbados Advocate: Based on Recent Ruling Sandy Lane May Have To Fight Its Case in Pennsylvania

Wall Street Journal: Law Blog: Civil Procedure Final Exam Question: Personal Jurisdiction

Law.com: Firm Founder’s Shower Fall Leads to Significant Jurisdiction Ruling at 3rd Circuit

MoreLaw.com:Patrick J. O’Connor and Marie M. O’Connor v. Sandy Lane Hotel Co., Ltd.

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.

July 5, 2007

Barbados responds to Rihanna!

Filed under: Barbados,Rihanna,USA — notesfromthemargin @ 2:15 pm

Rihanna caused quite a stir in Barbados with her comments about bajan haters as covered in our earlier article:

Rihanna blasts the Bajan haters…..

in the time since then there has been much public comment in the media and on the call in programmes. Much of the call in radio has been mixed, although most Bajan call in programmes have their “regular callers” who would probably have been the source of much of the criticism in the first place. There has however been a significant number of calls praising the Bajan diva, also however there is a body of opinion that the article did not speak well of Barbados generally that we would be critical of our musical success story. Others have been critical of Ms. Fenty for being critical of Bajans (it would seem free speech only runs one way)

The reaction in the mainstream press has been more measured.

The island’s leading daily paper posited that maybe the star should accept that she can’t get everyone to like her in their editorial “That’s Life Rihanna

“What however, Rihanna has to accept and learn, is that celebrity status attracts more than ordinary attention from ordinary people and this might not always be welcomed by those on whom it is focused, for it will not always be adulation.

 

What celebrities wear, where they go and with whom, even the food they eat, can come under scrutiny by their fans and others. Rihanna might well consider an observation she made earlier in another interview where she noted that: “In this business you have to work with the things that get thrown your way – the good, the bad and the ugly.””

Respected journalist Dawn Morgan came out swinging!

 

 

 

“And therein lies the powerful-foolish attitude of some people to the beautiful, talented, sensuous, godess-legged and ever so loyal to Barbados Rihanna, our very own princess who made it on her own steam. Just diss the haters. So they don’t like your brand of music, dancing and dressing. Can’t they live and let live? I guess some of them lead such an empty and boring existence they can only feel alive when they are venting their spleen with envy, jealousy or intolerance.”

 

One letter to the press called on the media to shield the star from criticism:

 

“I wish to challenge the media powers of Barbados. You are the voices of the nation. Don’t allow yourselves to be used disparagingly where Rihanna is concerned.

 

I’m calling on you to protect Rihanna and the innocent majority of Barbadians from the relatively few bad apples around us.”

and yet another professed his admiration for the star and urged other Bajans to do the same.

“Rihanna, I love you and I am proud of you. Keep up the good work, and make the megadollars. MC Hammer use to say in his song “can’t touch this”. Forget the haters, they are just waiting to see you fall, to say “I told you so”.”

My take on this would be to say that you never will get everyone to like you, no matter how much you do. But Rihanna should remember that every silent majority comes with a noisy minority. Think of it as the yin and yang of public opinion.

You just can’t get one without the other.

Marginal

June 29, 2007

Murder Most Foul…. The Grenada 13

Filed under: Caribbean,Caricom,Death Penalty,Grenada,socialism,Urgent Fury,USA — notesfromthemargin @ 1:37 am

I was reading the news story today about the re-sentancing of the so called Grenada 13. I’ve followed this with interest as I’m familiar with Grenada and have spoken to a number of people who saw the massacre at Fort Rupert personally. Most people in the wider world forget that it was not only Maurice Bishop and his cabinet that was executed on that day, but that the soldiers turned the guns on a crowd of civilians containing women and school children.

The excerpt below matches what I have heard from Grenadians who saw firsthand the events at the fort.

 

“…the Coard troops moved in. Some of the crowd panicked and, in their effort to escape, jumped over the walls of the courtyard, falling onto the rocks below. There were two hundred casualties that day. Bishop and his chief allies were detained and lined up against a wall on which “Toward Higher Discipline in the PRA [People’s Revolutionary Army]’ had been scrawled beneath a basketball hoop.

The court yard where it all happened

“Is execution time,’ Goat Redhead,a Coard thug, gloated at them. Bishop and his government were told to face the wall and take off their shirts. Two machine guns were mounted on stands while the executioners put their M3s on “rock “n’ roll’ (full automatic). Bishop’s mistress, Jackie Creft, pleaded pregnancy. She received only obscenities and, from one of the gunners. Vincent Joseph, the comment, “Is bullet for you.’ The gunmen opened fire on the order of one Iman Abdullah, who had been Bishop’s guard while he was under house arrest. “Some fell slow and some fell fast,’ he said later. Bishop fell first and was finished off on the ground. Jackie Creft was bludgeoned with gun butts. When it was over, the Fire Brigade hosed down the bloody court, Abdullah shouted, “Long live the revolution!’ and Vincent Joseph repaired to the canteen for a Coke. Maurice Bishop had been marginalized.”

Now we have had a resentancing and three are let go, and the others will (from what I understand) most likely be free in a few years.

I find it repugnant that these men should walk free even after all of these years. Particularly given the viewpoint put forward by their lawyers:

 

“British Queen Counsel Edward Fitzgerald, who led the 16-member defence team, said that the convicts have insisted that their actions did not constitute murder.

“They continue to maintain their innocence. They have a political and moral philosophy for what happened that day. They are sorry for what happened. Nothing I say could take away the pain, suffering and tragic loss of lives,” he said.

“For a period of one hour or more on Oct. 19, 1983, this occurred in the context of an escalating crisis which got out of control. Both sides resorted to a violent confrontation and then blood flowed.””

 

He fails to mention that when the “both sides resorted to a violent confrontation” it was a crowd containing women and children against armed troops with an armoured car!

 

I personally think that if there was ever a justified case for the death penalty to be applied it is this case. “A political and moral philosophy” does not justify what happened that day in Grenada.

Marginal

June 27, 2007

Rihanna blasts the Bajan haters…..

Filed under: Barbados,Rihanna,USA — notesfromthemargin @ 2:15 am

Rihanna let rip earlier this week

 

 

What’s it like when you go back to visit Barbados these days? Do you still have a lot of friends there? Are people mostly happy for you or do you get hated on a lot? A lot of them hate me, but a lot of them love me. I don’t really let the ones that hate me stop me from doing what I wanna do. They always have something to say about what I’m wearing, what I’m not wearing, like in the ”Umbrella” video. If I wear a swimsuit to the beach, it’s a problem, they put it on the front of the newspaper and call into programs. It really annoys me when people that I try to represent and I try to put them on the map as much as I can — you know, I didn’t have to put Tridents in my videos.

Put what in your videos? Trident, which is the symbol of the flag. I didn’t have to talk about them. I didn’t have to even mention that I’m from Barbados. But I do and people kind of take it for granted. They hate me. They talk s— about me all the time. But I’m like, ”Whatever. I’m still doing this cause I love to do it and you’re not going to stop me.”

You know, most Bajans are really proud of Rihanna, unfortunately it’s the ones who will always find something to gripe about who make the most noise. Bad news makes good press, and makes the call in programmes. I think she’s stretching the point when she says “A lot of them hate me..” I don’t think it goes for the majority of Bajans but then I’m not at the receiveing end of those comments.

It’s unfortunate that Rihanna now feels that she should only come home to visit friends and family and it would be a shame if she continued to feel this way . The fact of the matter is she is the most successful entertainer to come out of Barbados, and she didn’t have to push Barbados as much as she did.

We can only hope that she continues to promote us in the future.

Marginal.

June 26, 2007

Antigua Wants to Sanction the USA

Filed under: Antigua,Capitalism,Caricom,Globalisation,USA,WTO — notesfromthemargin @ 1:52 am

It has been one of the more interesting battles to watch unfold over the last couple of years. As Antigua has successfully taken the USA to the WTO with regard to its actions against internet gambling. Now here’s the thing: Antigua has won at every step of the WTO process, the US has (it would seem) all but ignored Antigua.

Now Antigua has asked for permission to ignore US copyrights and patents. I don’t think they’ll get it, but let’s just say for a moment that they did. Antigua could theoretically become the only place on the planet that you could get away with piracy, manufacturing AIDS drugs (hell any drug for that matter) Microsoft would potentially have a real problem. What would you do about an internet server on Antigua offering copies of Windows Vista?

In any fight, you generally bet on the big guy, but if Antigua can force the US to the table on this, it does offer some hope for the Caribbean’s future in a globalised world. I’ll believe it when I see it, but a guy can hope that the system will actually work in the way intended and not just for the big guys?

I hope so.

Marginal

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