Is social media doing the job for us?

Social media has a lot of hype… it is new, knows  no  boundaries  and therefore cuts across racial, gender and geographical  lines with energy and confidence. What is the effect of this  creature that is moving like wild-fire in our lives.

Should we know? Do we want to know or are we too breathless trying to keep pace with its vertical  jumps as it forces the market to open new devices and platforms for its spread?

Are we too busy to care  as we  try  to  suck in all the information; view all the pictures and unravel all the data, it sends our way during its dizzy horizontal race across time lines and through man-made gates?

We, at Feminists Aliens are interrogating the role of social media in activism, especially as it relates to feminism and development. Our findings will be included in a paper to be presented at the University of the West Indies,  Institute for Gender and Development Studies 20th Anniversary Conference on “Continuities, Challenges and Transformations in Caribbean Gender Relations” to be held at the St. Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago, 6-8 November, 2013.

We invite you to join this quest, not as passive bystanders but as active participants for whom the research will be beneficial.  Share your opinions. Please completing the below questionnaire. It will take you one click to reach and seven minutes to complete.




Marva Cossy


Stimulate us with frankness

English: Central Bank of Barbados Building, Br...

English: Central Bank of Barbados Building, Bridgetown, St. Michael, Barbados. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Barbados is the one of the few countries in the world where the population will barely murmur when a political party implements a policy that it condemned a few weeks earlier. Perhaps this speaks to our docile nature but I believe it is either an indication of the very low premium we put on trust and accountability from our politicians or it relates to our hunger for material benefits dispensed by politicians. We’re afraid to offend.
I’ve reached that conclusion following the Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) introduction of a Bds. $355 million stimulus package in its March 18 Estimates of Government Expenditure and Revenue for 2013-14 fiscal year. Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler said government anticipates that this new stimulus package and the Bds. $300 million from traditional estimates will provide an injection of Bds.$600 million in capital works spending that will improve the local economy and create at least 1,000 new jobs.
I like that, jobs and economic improvement but that does not close my mind to the wider issue or calm my worrying concerns!!! FOUR short weeks ago earlier, during the general elections campaign the DLP cautioned us, voters, against supporting the opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) pointing out that their proposed $45 million stimulus spelt destruction to our small import-dependent economy.
In fact on February 7th Minister of Agriculture Dr. David Estwick speaking at the height of the General Elections campaign said if BLP’s stimulus policies were “ever adopted, it could lead to a devaluation of the Barbados dollar.”
“If you allow Owen Arthur (the then opposition leader) to practice the policies of stimulus we will have a balance of payments crisis. The IMF’s first prescription is devaluation, and its second is sending home people,” Dr. Estwick warned.
In addition, I’d read where Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Dr DeLisle Worrell said ‘unequivocally’ that government stimulus could not create sustainable growth in the economy. That was in January when the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) were promoting the need for a stimulus to increase consumer demand.
Dr. Worrell said there was no quick fix to Barbados’ sluggish economic performance adding that growth must be private sector led with the focus on improving competitiveness. He is not a politician but rather an objective voice and an experienced economist. I  trust his views on this plus Professor Michael Howard, who is well-known for his work in public finance called it ‘economic madness’. Therefore their views strengthen the weight of what the DLP was saying for many people not schooled in economics.
It is therefore reasonable and nationalistic to demand an explanation for the DLP’s ‘switch-mout” action and to get a comment from the Governor about the $600 million or at least the $355 million portion. Professor Howard has already spoken on the matter and has not wavered on his opinion but the Governor has so far steered clear of the issue.
The parliamentary opposition should be happy over a stimulus at least from the perspective that it gives them boasting rights for tabling the prescription.  They are unlikely to say much of the  DLP’s change-of-tune since jobs were mentioned and the sitting BLPites  will be wary of any comments that their opponents can twist to suggest they are against job creation.
But as citizens, Barbadians have to ask the DLP for a reasoned clarification about their policy switch; an explanation not tightly woven in a web of jargon. At least the administration should reconciled their reasons for vehemently decrying the opposition Barbados Labour Party’s small stimulus package yet introducing a package, at least eight times bigger. Is this bigger one less likely to trigger devaluation?
The dividing issues, I believe are the difference in the size, the BLP’s proposed Bds. $45 against the DLP’s $355 million; and the direction of this spending with the DLP targeting capital works against the BLP’s aim at diversification of the country’s health and education systems.  Perhaps, another question which could be asked is whether DLP post-election stance was influenced by some development in the world or country’s economy and financial position, though I doubt any significant shifts took place in that short time frame.
The situation, however, demands answers and when governments fail in this respect, people generally look to the fourth estate (the media) to present vigorous and focused interrogation of the topic. Our state-owned television station had a little morning chit-chat on the subject and I waited for some facts that would speak to a reconciliation of government’s before and after general elections’ position.
No direction came from that source except to say that we need to involved thinkers to come up with creative ideas. Cheese-on-bread!!! We have been engaging thinkers for decades. The country has files of suggestions and plans that if converted to digital would burst cyber-space. Moreover, government has already earmarked capital works and the DLP-proclaimed get-it-done minister, Michael Lashley is gearing up to start his Bds. $80 million road building programme in July. CBC promises to go a little deeper in another segment, so I have hope.
The Nation newspaper in its editorial  pointed at the divide by noting that “given the slow growth of the economy; a stimulus package seems desirable, though there will be contrary opinions as to the efficacy of the kind of stimulus proposed by the Government as opposed to the stimulus aimed more directly at putting money into the pockets of consumers, which more accords with the Opposition’s proposals.”
My DLP friends, who debate the subject using a hit and run mode, speak in similar vein by noting that BLP’s programme would encourage consumer spending and as we all know given the openness of our economy, this means imports and a drain on our foreign reserves. My follow-up question to them is whether Bds. $45 million will put a greater strain on the country’s scare foreign reserves than Bds. $600 directed at capital works. That is a question, not an opinion.
“More jobs, strong multiplier effect and increase capacity,” they answer and run.
But I am unease about the situation. At his swearing-in ceremony, (yes, that early) Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said: “We have to take some initiatives here which do not imperil our foreign exchange position but, at the same time, give a little life to what is going on locally at the business level and put consumers in a position where, by their spending, they can stimulate business activity and so on.”
“So these are priorities and of course fortuitously and fortunately we have the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure to be debated in two or three weeks time and during that debate the Minister of Finance and myself will be talking through some of those issues so that the country will be clear where it is we intend to go over the next few months.”
To me that was a broad hint of a stimulus package and suggests the DLP perhaps held the idea during the general elections campaign, so why wasn’t it revealed to the public? Why ridicule the opposition’s smaller packer when you could’ve hyped yours as of superior quality and quantity? In the reverse, if it is an afterthought, then are we to assume that the government’s package was or wasn’t rigourously analysed?  How many more similar change of plans can we expect?
Generally though, people are saying they are not concern neither are they surprised by things politicians do because everyone knows that general elections are about getting elected or re-elected depending on where you are sitting. They say campaigning has little or nothing to do with honestly-held beliefs and more to do with saying what the people what to hear in a believable way.
Therefore many like Pontius Pilate say they’ve washed their hands of this ‘switch-mout’ behaviour in a bid to keep their jobs or place in the winner’s crowd even if they have lingering concerns that this route could kill Barbados’ economy. For me, I have listened to recent Senate debates and if I’ve learnt only one thing from the government benches it is that the DLP administration is practicing the politics of explanation, so I am holding my breath waiting for a reasoned clarification on this stimulus package.
Let me emphasis, my point is not whether the stimulus is beneficial or not but I am looking at the wider issue. Were you upfront with Barbadians regarding this matter of stimulus? Has the devaluation threat disappeared?
Barbadians have seen and felt the effect of devaluation through the experiences of their friends and relatives in Jamaica and Guyana and as they do business in those countries which are large compared to Barbados and superior given their natural resources. These countries were into socio-economic despair as they fought to drag themselves out of what seems to be the sinking sands of currency devaluations under the International Monetary Fund’s thumb. Barbados, a tiny dot that slipperily depends mainly on tourism, cannot bear currency devaluation; it is so heavily dependent on imports, therefore the DLP general elections’ warning about devaluation was scary then and it remains scary.
If we are taking that risk in a ditch to make things better, tell us. What policies are you imposing to ensure that the country achieves the delicate balance or manageable imbalance between foreign exchange earnings and spending? That perhaps, is the true price tag of this stimulus package which may help us ‘buy jobs and economic growth’.

Bonnke Bonnke – Raising the temperature over miracles

Dark, me again! Barbados is in the election mode so I have a lot to say.

You never bothered yourself with politicians except to tell them, “talk to Jack, he ain’t got nothing else to do but ‘tend to de cow but I have to cook, wash, starch and iron,” so I’m going to his grave and pick a serious lime.

Dad, politics and religion, two of your favourite subjects have me perplexed. Some people say I should shut my mouth on this one. It is, however, in my heart and thoughts, and years ago when Darkey sent me to be a candidate so I could confirm those vows which my godparents made for me as a baby, the priest was adamant that we internalise that we sin in thought, word and deed.

I’ve not forgotten it, perhaps because I hate lashes and the priest was swift at using his thick brown leather belt. That is beside my main point though, I only brought that up to emphasise that if what I am saying is a sin or blasphemy, God knows my thoughts before I voice them, so he has already ticked off this one against me. So I am speaking my mind.

I pray as usual for discernment – in other words, knowledge from God’s revelation through the Holy Spirit rather from merely through the human mind – and wisdom because when I hear that Democratic Labour Party Government Senator Pastor Dr. David Durant is bringing international evangelist Reinhard Bonnke , who can ‘raise the dead,’ to my Barbados, I doubt that. Not that he is coming for an Interdenominational Service of Spiritual Upliftment call “Encountering the Power of God”, but the raise the dead bit.

Why a man who could raise the dead?

Barbados overpopulated already but I’m sure everybody got someone near to their heart, they want to see now. Dad I got you, Darkie, Brownskin, Momma, Monica, Motz even before I start to mention friends and those who have unfinished business here, so you see what I mean. But let me give you the politics-mix.

Barbados' Prime Minister Freundel Stuart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Late David John Howard Thompson, Prime Minister of Barbados

Honestly, with elections in Barbados around the corner and people saying that Freundel Stuart isn’t the right man for ‘prime ministership ‘ I wonder about the timing of this preacher’s visit. I know Barbadians still mourning the late David Thompson, who died in office, and many wish he was here so he could make the economy blossom given his ‘unfulfilled potential’.

So I am wondering if Durant, Thompson’s friend is bringing in the preacher hoping Thompson can be raised from the dead. That is not farfetched, Dad so don’t rebuke me for speaking up. I know that you were a hell and brimstone preacher, Elder Cossey to be exact, at Sister Gay hall so tell me if I am blaspheming and don’t let no curse fall on me.

I am speaking against the background of a priest who during Thompson’s illness uttered words that reminded me of when the devil took Jesus to the highest point of the temple and told him to jump, Matthew 4:5-7, hope I got that Scripture right.

Listen to what the Nation newspaper say Senator Pastor Dr. Durant said:

“We have lost two prime ministers in office, Errol Barrow in 1987 and Tom Adams in 1985. The same will not happen under our watch. The Prime Minister will be okay. He will be well. God is in charge. He is our healer.”

I read more than confidence or deep faith in those words, I read arrogance.

Now, I add that Durant’s school of thought with his summing up of the reason for Bonnke’s visit which by the way has a political ring and I concluded that Durant is perhaps thinking that WE MAY SEE Thompson soon.  Hear what the pastor said about Bonnke’s visit:

All in all, we want to see revival in our island … with our economy, our tourism, our manufacturing, our businesses. Our citizens can enjoy better family life and Barbados can be a preferred place to live, to work to raise our families, to do business, to educate our children and to be a place where we connect since God has established us and placed us in a particular geographical location.”

I am serious about my analysis, this is no laughing matter.

If Thompson comes we will be assured a DLP victory. Even I who plan not to vote this time around will go the polls and put my ‘x’ next to the DLP , correction Michael Lashley’s name. Dad, he is Bush-un and Elrita (Mason) boy and he running, he is Minister of Housing and a lawyer, by profession.

Dad, I believe in miracles too. I’ve been unemployed or underemployed for eight years now and never hungry one day that is a miracle in this uncaring materialistic world. I even have to share, so Dad, you know I have had miracles, so I am no Thomas. But this promotional ‘raise the dead’ message attached to Bonnke smells awkward. Perhaps God’s power is too great for my analytical human mind; perhaps the emphasis was misplaced and I should rely on the message and not the messenger.

I wondered why Bonnke’s exploits never reach the international media. I have read about the Brazilian boy that woke up from dead , the Paraguayan baby died and re-died , the Brazilian man who attended his own funeral and the Russia woman who died at her own funeral , so I know these things reach the Press.

I found this on the internet at Christian Broadcast Network (CBN) site  Let me read it for you and then we’ll discuss it with those stories that I earlier told you in mind.

ROBERTSON: I want you to tell us about him. He was in one of your meetings. He was hit by a car. I understand he was stiff and rigor mortis had set in. I don’t know if they had embalmed him or not.

BONNKE: They did.

ROBERTSON: He had been embalmed?

ROBERTSON: So what happened?

BONNKE: His wife was one with a promise from God that woman have received back the dead by resurrection. She said, ‘My husband will come back, and I have heard Reinhard Bonnke is in Onitsha this Sunday I will bring him there. She brought him there. I was preaching and I knew nothing about it. Suddenly, the man started to breathe. His story is awesome and what he was shown while he was in eternity.

So Dad, tell me what to do now. Should I change my mind about this Bonnke thing; should I go to the convention; change denomination; give my never-married mite to CBN? Say something, Dad! Whoever else can hear me, Say something!!

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Forget about the tourists; make the Caribbean a paradise for us first

I cheered with them at the Summer Olympics; I cried with them over the last weekend and my heart continues to burn with them today over the unfathomable killing of eight year old Imani Green.

The high command of Jamaica’s police force said Imani was “mercilessly slaughtered in front of family members in a hail of bullets as gangsters sought to exact revenge on their rivals”.

Imani Green

Who de hell would spray gun shots in a shop where an eight year old is sitting on a stool? Who the hell can live with their conscience after gunning down an innocent child? And who de hell would think about tourism before this child is buried?

Mind you I am saying this approach is restricted to any one Caribbean nationality. A dead body will be warm and Caribbean people will be shivering over the effect of that murder on tourism. I am not denying the importance of the industry to our economies nor that having a safe country where visitors know they can roam freely and safely isn’t excellent for marketing our countries, but it smacks of insensitivity when money comes before man.

Today, a young chef was gunned down outside an upscale restaurant in Barbados’ main tourism belt and check out Facebook chatters: “Not good for tourism. Tourists will go home and talk; tourists will read it one the internet.”

Let’s stop thinking about tourists, for a minute and think about ourselves. Let’s talk about making our country secure for ourselves. In our region, we have a high level of domestic violence, is it important because the crime statistics has an effect on tourism? Shouldn’t be!

Brothers, uncles, fathers, friends and strangers raped children, boys and girls; they become mothers at an early age; contract sexually transmitted diseases; are psychologically scarred for life and some transformed into anti-social human beings. We speak little of this; we don’t call emergency meetings and bombard the relevant government minister with questions about what he or he is doing. Nah, it isn’t about tourism.
It seems only the statistics matter. We get riled up about the total figure not the growing column under the domestic violence or sexual abuse columns. Why? Maybe because tourist importing countries are likely to use the aggregate as reason to issue travel advisories against us.
Get real people; we need not only to talk about sexual abuse and domestic violence, every community need to be engaged in a project that will affect change. Making our communities better for us will make us better citizens and better hosts.
We need to start talking about improving the quality of crime prevention and detective work, through the region. Let’s use Trinidad and Tobago, where the detection rate for murder has doubled to reach 12 per cent. This seems praiseworthy by the triniad Express newspaper says: “… this still means that only about one in nine murderers is ever arrested, with fewer than that being convicted. Nor can the police even claim that this improvement is due to better detective work, since it may well be that the “detection” is explained solely by an increase in domestic murders, which had gone up during the three months of the 2011 State of Emergency.”

We also need to start talking about gun use. The United States has been forced into serious action about access to guns after another mass murder. Most Caribbean countries have strict gun control laws that stipulates that licences are required by the public to buy weapons so our problem relates to illegal guns on the street. Therefore let’s talk about how guns are getting into the hands of every “Tom, Dick and Martha’ and why they are so attractive to people.

We like mimicking the United States. Choose a worthwhile mimic this time, for example, President Obama’s approach to research on gun violence. Note the following:

Obama hopes to be able to gather more information on gun violence and misuse of firearms, and use that data to inform the work of law enforcement. He also wants to restart research, which has been long blocked by the National Rifle Association, on how video games, the media, and violence affect violent gun crimes.

And may I add for us in the region, how these things affect sexual abuse and domestic violence. The Caribbean Community countries cooperate among themselves of crime prevention efforts. Let join each other in carrying out meaningful research projects and ensuring effective and prompt implementation of recommendations at the community level.
I want to cheer with Jamaicans, Antiguans, Trinidadians, Barbadians and all Caribbean Community nationals in applauding ourselves for making our countries better for us. Tourists are welcomed to enjoy it afterwards. Let’s put ourselves first.

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Criminals Getting Away with Murder (Trinidad Express)

Needy and Anxious

Help! Information is needed. Action may be needed!

I shuddered as I read that Haiti is issuing permits for companies to mine gold and copper in their lands. I agree that Haitians need jobs, unemployment is 52 percent; their economy needs stimuli,  but my stomach fell to my toes as the relevant news item darted up at me from my computer screen.

Blame my desire to see Haiti achieve the best or blame the news media, research tools and my inquiring mind which have led me to conclude that in too many mines worldwide, even those of developed countries, security features and general working conditions have been the source of much concern.

Haiti is Third World, plagued with political instability. I use the categorisation, Third World, which I detest on purpose, because it carries all the negative connotations which added to this mining business flicked on my alarm switch.

Poor education and health standards along with the resulting high level of ignorance about critical matters in the mining business among a very hungry poor population offer no comfort to me as I watch from the outside.

My lessons from Walter Rodney’s book, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, springs painfully to mind as I try to analyse the unfolding events. I know nothing about the investors nor the decision makers at the mining companies and I am not saying that they are bad human beings but I fear. I need to know.

Manise Joseph, 16, looks for gold. People in the village of Lakwev in north-east Haiti have been digging for gold since the 1960s. Photograph: Ben Depp

Manise Joseph, 16, looks for gold. People in the village of Lakwev in north-east Haiti have been digging for gold since the 1960s. Photograph: Ben Depp

Who will be watching out for Haitians employed in the mines?  Who will monitor safety, health and pay conditions; are these people competent and enabled?  Wages are already low with 75 per cent of Haitians earning less than US$2 per day, will the pay fit the tasks?

Who will prevent the exploitation of the country’s resources, including its people? Who will walk away with the lion share of the profits? These are important questions!

The answers are critical considering the enormous issues about the marginal level of the Rule of Law in Haiti which was raised in a United Nation 2010 report .  This Rule of Law, as the report noted not only relates to “the police, corrections and the judiciary.”  (Read carefully and grasp the  direness.)

It (the Rule of law)  is also about land registry, civil registry, building codes and commercial laws; it is about the State’s capacity to collect taxes and to guarantee a certain level of judicial security that can promote investments and job creation, to, ultimately, encourage economic development.

According to the Guardian online newspaper, the companies applying for mining permits were working with little government oversight. We all know that companies are about profits not regulations.  This is a sorry situation ripe for exploitation of man, country, animal and anyone or anything else standing in the way of high profits.

Commenting on this worrisome poor state of monitoring, geologist Dieuseul Anglade, the former director of Haiti’s mining agency, was quoted as saying: “The government doesn’t give us the means to supervise the companies. Most of our budget goes to salaries. We don’t really have an operating budget.”

I added this to Eurasian Minerals president David Cole‘s boast that his company “controls over 1,100 square miles of real estate” and investor Mickey Fulp‘s note that “It is obvious there is substantial geopolitical risk in Haiti, but the geology is just so damn good”; and the result was that my alarm bells reached deafening decibels.  Protection of the environment; ensuring appropriate labour, safety and health standards; and preventing the exploitation of man, animal, and country must be ensured.

Join me in this quest for answers and let us find methods to agitate for the best conditions for Haitians.

Thanks for participating in the poll.