Sunday, September 28, 2014
By David Roberts
Latin America's democratic credentials go on display once again in October, with presidential and other elections taking place in three countries – Brazil on the 5th, Bolivia on the 12th and Uruguay on the 26th.
While no one would seriously question the strength of democracy in Brazil and Uruguay – despite all the institutional and governance issues, particularly in the former – the same cannot be said about Bolivia. The country has enjoyed relative political stability since Evo Morales became president in 2006, and in recent years strong economic growth too, but democratic practices have lagged behind and his socialist party's stranglehold on the state apparatus is expected to give him a clear advantage in the polls. What is more, some question whether Morales should be allowed to stand for a third term at all, as that is forbidden by the constitution. Morales is managing to get round that minor inconvenience by maintaining that his first term didn't count as it was before the current constitution was introduced.
Even so, few would doubt the popularity of the incumbent and the voting process itself is expected to be clean.
Left-leaning candidates will also probably triumph in Brazil and Uruguay, although run-off elections are likely. In the former, the contest between leading candidates President Dilma Rousseff of the workers' party and Marina Silva of the "soft left" socialists is neck and neck, while in Uruguay former president Tabaré Vàsquez, who has the backing of current left-wing head of state José Mujica, is ahead in the polls.
So does this mean the shift to the left in Latin America continues unabated? Maybe, but increasingly less so in the manner of a few years back when the Bolivarian Alba left-wing bloc of countries led by Venezuela's Hugo Chávez on the one hand and liberal pro-market nations on the other were seriously polarizing the continent. In fact, Venezuela's influence in the region has waned, and was doing so even before Chávez's death in March last year. With its own economy in disarray, and oil exports falling (at least according to independent accounts), Venezuela has become an increasingly less attractive model to follow.
At the same time, those governments on the left of the political spectrum that have emerged in recent years, from El Salvador to Uruguay, are a mixed bag where socialist ideology has taken a distinctly back seat role. What path Brazil chooses if Silva does win – she's expected to adopt a more liberal, outward-looking approach on issues such as trade – will perhaps be the key to how things develop in the continent in the years ahead.
In any case, this tendency to move away from polarization is to be welcomed, as is the current strength of democracy in the region, as evidenced by the upcoming elections.
September 23, 2014
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
“Be very careful if you’re going to Venezuela, especially Caracas. It’s the most violent city in the world. There’s no food over there- they don’t even have toilet paper. Those two communist governments ruined the whole country. Before, the bolivar (Venezuelan currency) used to be valuable than ours,” a taxi driver warned me in Barranquilla, Colombia.
Duly warned, I asked my friendly host driver, “How much does gasoline cost there, and how much does it cost here?” He replied, “Well OK, in Venezuela it’s practically given away. The gallon costs no more than 150 bolivars, (about two dollars), [translator’s note: this is the price at which Colombians may purchase Venezuelan gasoline. The actual price is close to 30 cents of a bolivar, or $0.03], here in Colombia the gallon costs nine thousand pesos, (about five dollars). But over there, there’s no food.”
This is the stereotypical view of a country with no toilet paper, an absence of food and an abundance of violence, to which the Colombian public subscribes regarding their neighbor country, Venezuela.
In the Caribbean half of Colombia, insecurity and uncertainty manifest itself in cities whose stores close at 6 PM, whose streets empty by 7 PM, with an abundance of commercial and edible goods, at high prices.
Between Santa Marta and Maicao, a border city on the Colombian side, one will not find the “avalanche of Venezuelans” seeking refuge from hunger, violence, and the lack of toilet paper. This is what a visitor, so frequently warned, expects to see when crossing from Colombia to Venezuela, but nothing of the sort exists.
What you can see is a multitude of Colombian citizens crossing over to reach the commercial city of Maracaibo, Venezuela. They look almost like backpackers, hardly bringing anything with them into the hungry, violent land. During the crossing, the taxi drivers and passengers alike will grumble and complain of the corrupt Maduro government which ordered more control and anti-smuggling patrols to guard the borders.
On the way from Maicao, Colombia to Maracaibo, Venezuela, our taxi driver made two strategic stops to fill his automobile with gasoline from black market salesmen along the way. In response to my innocent question whether this, too was an act of corruption, the anti-Maduro passengers replied in unison; “This will never end. This is people’s livelihood here.”
Unexplainable Contrasts in Bolivarian Venezuela
“Here we fill up our tanks with gasoline with just four of these coins,” my taxi driver said, holding out a small metallic coin as he takes me from the bus terminal to my hotel, in the city of Caracas. And I ask him, if gas is so cheap, “Why are you charging me 250 bolivar for this trip then?” Unable to take back the contradiction he responded, “Here gas is cheap, but pants cost most than 2,000 bolivar. And there aren’t many.”
I did not see famine in Caracas. The markets and restaurants are full of low-priced food and other products. He who has dollars or Colombian pesos can enjoy goods and services of the best quality. The majority of commercial goods here cost a tenth of what they’re sold for abroad. And this phenomenon occurs thanks to the state which controls, through certain measures, the production, distribution and commercialization of goods and services within the country.
Gasoline is cheaper than bottled water because the state controls the energy sector. Domestic flights cost almost the same as land transport, because the state owns certain airlines [just one- Conviasa]. The urban and intercity metro system, aside from being clean and efficient, charges practically a symbolic amount per ticket (1.50 bolivars). With one dollar exchanged on the black market, one could ride the Venezuelan metro rail 50 times. There are at least four exchange rates for the dollar; three official and one underground.
New buildings spring up in different parts of the city, constructed by the government for families who can’t afford homes. 600,000 Families have already been placed in theirs… and the state says one million apartments or houses are currently under construction. The goal is to reach three million for needy families. State supermarkets also exist, which sell national and imported products at much lower prices than privately owned markets. There are state stores where the latest generation laptops are sold for 9,000 bolivar (a little over $100 on the black market). Books, in state bookstores, are sold also for symbolic prices. The almost two million university students don’t only receive “free” higher education, their meals are equally subsidized by the petroleum income.
In Bolivarian Venezuela there is no destitution, although material and moral poverty do exist. Violence does exist, although it has decreased, but one can walk the streets of Caracas until 10 or 11 PM (until the metro stops working). It’s a country where the neo-liberal capitalist system runs alongside a socialist system in process. The former waging war without mercy on the latter.
There is enough food, though perhaps not enough to waste. There is an abundance of toilet paper, though not the scented, pink kind. The country has as much petroleum under its soil as the generalized public corruption one hears of and senses in public administration. The abundant petroleum does not only continuously corrupt sociopolitical structures within the country, it’s also led nearly the entire population to forget that food comes from the earth, and not from oil.
After observing the flow of every day life in the beating political heart and Bolivarian economy, I realize a selfish system and a system of solidarity cannot coexist for very long. Much less without declaring war on one another; and this is what is happening in Venezuela.
Why are books on contemporary Latin American political changes not offered in Colombian bookstores? Why do viewers there have little access the the news channel TeleSUR? Why do neighboring Colombians frequent the hungry and violent Venezuela, with empty backpacks? Why does the Venezuelan commercial oligarchy hide products they import with dollars subsidized by the Bolivarian state?
Why do corporate media vultures poison international audiences with stories of missing perfumed toilet paper, with no mention of the undeniable achievements of the Bolivarian process? Why is it that for news channels like CNN, it’s considered a deed worthy of world news when the president of Honduras stages a public event to deliver a soccer ball or a dozen computers on a stage, and they say nothing [about] the social, cultural, technological and economic accomplishments of the Bolivarian Venezuela?
Translated by Z.C. Dutka for venezuelanalysis.com.
Saturday, September 20, 2014
A new look at violence against women
By DERRICK MILLER
There are several definitions of domestic violence. Here is the simplest one: “If it feels wrong, it is.”
One legal definition of domestic violence is: It consists of acts committed in the context of an adult intimate relationship. It is a continuance of aggressive and controlling behaviors, including physical, sexual, emotional and psychological attacks, that one intimate partner does to another.
Historically, many studies have shown, a wife was the property of a husband, and he had the right to carry out whatever behavior to keep her in line. Experts have also noted that laws fail to adequately protect the victims of domestic violence. In recent years, many policies have been amended and have given women constitutional rights to safety and protection, but the struggle continues.
One of the problems is that domestic violence is often seen and described as a taboo, where guilt and shame make it difficult for victims to come forward.
What is the color of domestic violence?
Often the media only cover domestic violence when a rich and famous individual is abused, arrested or killed. What has happened to poor individuals’ cases? Domestic violence seems to be green.
Today, though, thanks to technology, the faces of all victims and perpetrators of domestic violence can be seen.
September 8, 2014, reminded us that domestic violence is still a cancer. A video of Ray Rice, a National Football League (NFL) player, showed him knocking his fiancée unconscious in an elevator, then dragging her out like a piece of luggage.
Within hours, the O.J. Simpson 1995 double murder case in which he was acquitted emerged on almost every news lead-in. This was not coincidental; O.J.'s name generates ratings and a platform that often divides. Most importantly, his case has encouraged more calls to domestic violence centers in general.
Despite the media's recent highlight on almost every black NFL player, there are other Ray Rices still in many games, in schools, mosques, synagogues and churches. They are co-workers in disguise. I am not minimizing his behavior. He should be punished both in the court of law and in his career.
Violence should not be broadcast to further polarize a society. Should we now keep scorecards of offenders in order to balance the portrayal of certain groups? Should we go to the archives and pull up Scott Peterson – who killed his seven-and-a-half-month pregnant wife along with their unborn only child – whenever O.J.’s name is mentioned?
Four years prior, Pittsburgh Stealers quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, was accused of three rape charges. The district attorney later dropped the charges. It was reported that alcohol played a role. Ray Rice also stated that he was intoxicated. Furthermore, can society add South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius, the disabled track star who killed his girlfriend? For victims, an assault is simply that. It is not them vs. us. This divide does not provide hope and needs to be debunked.
Violence against women is not a new paradigm. I am afraid many experts and pundits will move on soon, and so does domestic violence as it returns behind closed doors until another funeral.
We all know a victim and/or have witnessed abuse and asked ourselves why. "He was a nice person and she seemed fine". This is simply another subconscious minimization process. In these relationships the power and control wheel has been active: (1) male privilege; (2) economic abuse; (3) emotional turmoil; (4) isolation; and (5) minimization.
Today, tackling domestic violence is troubling, as stratification has created a polarized and intolerant society where socio-economic inequality, haves vs. have-nots, forced domestic violence into political debates.
In addition, giving only certain individuals airtime does not tell the full story. Many studies have shown that the homicide and victimization rates for black men and women are much higher than the national average. These pundits only provide a temporarily feel-good segment because one mug-shot is not plastered on the screen.
Directly or indirectly, violence is a community problem. Some believe Boko Haram's ideology is only a Nigerian problem. But this ideology is in the Caribbean, the USA and other countries in disguise.
Domestic violence must taken with a sense of urgency worldwide – a priority such as dismantling ISIS, containing Ebola or destroying any terrorist organization. Although one cannot order a drone strike on an abusive husband, law enforcement, policies and support have to be able to track these abusers and provide help as needed.
In the 1980s, in the United States, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) organization played a pivotal role in a grassroots movement that rewrote laws and battled cultural resignation about alcohol-related traffic deaths. The same has also taken place with gun-advocates. Domestic violence groups need to be formed world wide
What are the faces of violence?
Domestic violence affects young, old, blacks, whites, rich, poor, gay, straight, Christians and non-believers. Furthermore, not having a black eye should not discount one as a victim. Many women stay in abusive relationships for economic survival and their children’s safety. Men also get abused but statistics shows more men abuse women.
According to the Washington Coalition Against Violence and other studies, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. These abusers are often members of her own family. One in six women and one in 33 men experience an attempted rape.
The number of children witnessing violence is over 80 million and nearly one in five teenage girls have been in a relationship where a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a break-up attempt. It is one of the leading causes of injury to women – more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined
In the U.S. alone, husbands or boyfriends murder more than three women each day, and every nine seconds a woman is assaulted or beaten. This is not only a psychological nightmare for families and friends; the economic toll is extremely high. An estimated $4.1 to $5.8 billion is registered in terms of lost work days alone, which is about 32,000 full-time jobs.
In 70 to 80 percent of cases, men psychologically abuse the woman before a murder. Domestic violence cases comprise of more than half of police response calls – more than robbery, motor vehicle theft and burglary.
Need for universal policies
If all crimes become a community health problem, and the ability to drop cases is removed, treating domestic violence as what it is – a criminal act – more can be done immediately.
Why: It was late one Sunday night; I'd just gotten back from a long flight. The telephone rang and a sad voice emerged. The first thought was to say, “How did you gain access to my telephone number?” I later learned a friend of a friend provided my telephone number.
According to the victim, a criminal complaint had already been filed against her abusive husband. There was minimal sign that physical abuse had taken place, and this was about her third call for help. This time a doctor’s report was needed to make an arrest and she had to head back home to wait. The local doctor had to be paid in advance by the victim before such medical exam could be completed, to allow for a recommendation for an arrest to take place.
A few years later, I still wonder, what if the police department was led by a woman with resources at hand and a responsive system? How different would that victim’s life be today? How many died waiting? Imagine being abused and an arrest is hung on a medical assessment where the fees are the most important aspect.
The law does not have to stipulate mandatory prosecution in all cases, but rather immediate intervention. Furthermore, simply relying on only physical evidence makes it less likely another will be killed or continue to be victimized. A swift adjudication process is key, as are treatment of all incidents as a criminal act and changes to ensure victims are empowered.
Domestic violence response is not just a few of weeks of treatment sessions where the offender dodges and refuses to take responsibility, only showing up because he has been caught. Especially in the poor regions, offenders must be held accountable. Outdated laws need to be amended to send a clear message from the high school to the work place that this kind of behavior will be met with stiff penalties.
Change the male chauvinist ideology where women are defined by how high their heels are and not by their work. Both sides should work together and call out violence before it becomes another “rest in peace” obituary. Developing and promoting more women to key leadership roles will not eliminate violence against women overnight, but decisions that affect women will have a seat at the table.
Laws are the first line of defense, and priority must be given to victims. The outdated ideology, “She deserved it”, has to stop, especially in poor communities where the rich and powerful often muzzle the outcome of prosecutions. If this cycle continues, it only creates a new generation that will marry someone who is either abusive or becomes an abuser themselves.
Leaders must invest in young women, who are consistently overlooked and treated as second-class citizens. Even when one is qualified, the glass ceiling still remains in place. As a society, all must move from this.
• Derrick Miller is a trained U.S. Federal law enforcement officer that has been in the criminal justice field for more than 14 years.
September 20, 2014
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Borikén, a thorn in the side for the U.S.
• On April 11, 1899, the United States exchanged ratification documents with Spain to seal the Treaty of Paris signed the year before • Among the countries ceded under the Treaty was Puerto Rico, which remains a colony of the U.S. empire today
Borikén, the indigenous name of the archipelago including the main island of Puerto Rico, lives enslaved in the 21st century by a Treaty signed in 1898 by Spain and the United States, a status rejected in important international forums, thanks to the resistance of Puerto Rican nationalist movements which have been fighting for decades to achieve national sovereignty.
island by military force at the end of the 19th century, taking advantage of
the decline of the Spanish Empire.
Since the day President William McKinley signed the Paris Treaty, Puerto Rico has been a thorn in the side of the United States, even when the majority of the population has voted in opposition to independence in a number of referendums, reflecting the country’s economic dependence and saturation of U.S. culture over generations.
Monday, September 15, 2014
'Confusion' Between Vat Law, Guidance Must Be Eliminated
By NEIL HARTNELL
Nassau, The Bahamas
A Tax Coalition co-chair has called for apparent differences between the Value-Added Tax (VAT) legislation and ‘guidance notes’ to be “resolved”, agreeing that there was “confusion between the two”.
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Onward together to a better future for China-Bahamas relations
By YUAN GUISEN
“Bosom friends make distance disappear,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping to the president of Trinidad and Tobago during his visit to Latin America and the Caribbean last year. In July, President Xi concluded a successful visit to Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba with fruitful results for further ties, a gesture of China’s sincerity and the high value China places on its relations with Latin America and the Caribbean.
During his visit, President Xi attended a China-Latin America and the Caribbean Summit and delivered a keynote speech titled Striving to build a hand-in-hand community of common destiny. His address announced China's proposals and measures for promoting China-Latin America cooperation. It proposed to build a Five-in-One new pattern of China-Latin America and the Caribbean relations: sincerely trust each other in politics; cooperate with each other for a win-win outcome in terms of economy and trade; learn from each other in people-to-people and cultural exchanges; closely cooperate with each other in international affairs; and promote each other in overall cooperation and bilateral relations, so as to forge a hand-in-hand community of common destiny.
China firmly believes that the world tide flows in its mighty power. The cooperation between China and Latin American countries and the Caribbean states serves the practical and long-term interests of both sides. China proposes to jointly build a new "1 + 3 + 6" cooperation framework:
• "1" means "one plan", referring to the establishment of the China-Latin American Countries and Caribbean States Cooperation Plan (2015-2019) with the aim of achieving inclusive growth and sustainable development.
• "3" means "three engines", referring to promoting the comprehensive development of China-Latin America practical cooperation with trade, investment and financial cooperation as the impetus, striving to promote China-Latin America trade to scale up to US$500 billion and the investment stock in Latin America up to $250 billion within 10 years and promote the expansion of local currency settlement and currency swap in bilateral trade.
• "6" means "six fields", referring to boosting China-Latin America industry connections with energy and resources, infrastructure construction, agriculture, manufacturing, scientific and technological innovation, and information technologies as cooperation priorities.
State-to-state relations thrive when there is friendship between the peoples. And such friendship grows out of close interactions between the peoples.
Over the next five years, China will provide Latin American and Caribbean countries with 6,000 government scholarships, 6,000 training opportunities in China and 400 positions of in-house studying for master’s degrees.
China will also invite 1,000 political party leaders from Latin American and Caribbean countries to visit China and launch the Future Bridge training program for 1,000 Chinese and Latin American youth leaders in 2015. China proposes to set the year 2016 as China-Latin America Cultural Exchange Year.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1997,
China-Bahamas bilateral relations have remained on a track of steady development, with deepening cooperation in all fields. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Perry Christie reached an important consensus on furthering our ties during the meeting in Trinidad and Tobago last year. A mutual visa exemption agreement in effect since this February has vastly facilitated exchange between our two peoples. In early May, a Chinese medical team visited The Bahamas and performed free cataract surgeries on 101 Bahamian patients, whose sight was improved or recovered.
This year, three-dozen Bahamian officials have been invited to China for short-term training programs sponsored by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. Nine excellent Bahamian students were granted Chinese government scholarships to study in China in the coming years.
There is an old saying in China, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. What our bilateral relations have achieved up to today is the sum of numerous single steps made by our two governments and peoples.
Through the new measures and initiatives for developing relations between China and Latin America and the Caribbean proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, our bilateral relations will be injected with new momentum that will usher in a new era.
Six decades ago, leaders of China, India and Myanmar initiated the Five Principles, including mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence.
Sixty years on, China firmly observed and will observe the five principles of peaceful coexistence. China will firmly pursue peaceful development and a win-win strategy of opening-up, which will create new opportunities and space for the development around the world.
In spite of the differences in geographical location, territorial area, per capital GDP and culture between our two nations, we have enormous potential for cooperation. The Bahamas has become an important partner of China in Caribbean region.
Since my assumption of office over a half year ago, I have experienced the friendship between our two peoples and the enthusiasm of Bahamians to develop relations with China.
The Chinese government would like to make every effort to enhance our ties in various spheres based on the Five Principles. We will seek to expand our common interests and ensure our two peoples benefit from the strengthening of our bilateral relations. We firmly believe that it’s a good time now for us to work together onward to a better future of our relations.
• Yuan Guisen, Chinese Ambassador to The Bahamas
September 13, 2014
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Governments for Sale? (Campaign Finance Reform)
Last week the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) and scores of other citizens and residents of this country watched with dismay, as the government pressed forward with its plans to legitimize the long illegal web shop industry in the Bahamas. This action comes following the resounding public no vote in the January 2013 “referendum” and further upholds years of gaming discrimination against Bahamians. In addition to inviting the potential for new levels of government corruption, the recently tabled gaming legislation seems to be an effort by this Christie led administration to reward web shop bosses who have for years operated in contravention of the law; giving the owners of these illegal establishments what equates to a mere slap on the wrist for years of illegal operation with only minimal fines, fees and penalties imposed.
Clearly, the government’s gaming legislation was designed, not with the interests of the wider Bahamian population in mind, but was instead formulated to meet the needs and desires of web shop owners. The question though, is why? Why would a government which claims to be acting in the best interest of ALL BAHAMIANS table legislation which clearly caters to the whims of a select group? Could it perhaps be payback for the millions of dollars reportedly pumped into the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) 2012 election campaign?
The tabling of the new gaming legislation once again thrusts the important issue of Campaign Finance Reform back into the spotlight. The DNA Calls on the government to implement clear guidelines which will govern future election campaign donations. Such guidelines should require ALL POLITICAL ORGNAIZATIONS to make full disclosure of its financial statements. Under the new regulations, all political parties would be bound by law to publicly disclose the amounts of all campaign finance donations and make known how those funds were raised. In addition, campaign finance reform would also place limits on how much one individual or organization is allowed to donate to a political party.
Doing so will limit the potential influence of special interest groups on government policy and create governments which will execute the will of the people with improved levels of transparency and accountability.
No one individual, group of individuals or organization should be able to – in essence – buy a government; the level of influence which has been exerted on this government by special interests groups during this term in office is a clear indication that our system of governance has been compromised.
The influence of money on our past elections has made and will continue to make the causes which are most crucial for our people and the development of our nation, second, to the will of special interest groups. Since taking office, this administration has paid only lip service to the idea of increased transparency in governance while failing at every turn to enact legislation which would eliminate the opacity which currently exists.
The DNA calls for the enactment of Campaign Finance Legislation but true to form, this PLP government will not introduce such legislation because they are guilty of what the legislation will stand for. This legislation will only be introduced under a DNA government.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Should homosexuals influence Caribbean society on the right to sex more than the Caribbean church Part-1
Should homosexuals influence Caribbean society more than the church community? Part 1
By Dr Lazarus Castang:
Some commentaries on Caribbean News Now have consistently engaged in a common logical leap from universal human rights to men having sex with men. Homosex is often more implicitly than explicitly subsumed under the canopy of universal human rights. The need for sex or sexual satisfaction is universal, human, and a natural right. So, if this is the case, then no government, society, religion, culture, law, or morality should stigmatise or discriminate against adult males having private, consensual sex if it does not harm anyone. So the argument goes, but is the case really as simple and straightforward as this?
Some active homosexuals want to be welcomed and affirmed in and by the church, and be celebrated when they come out in society. Some want to be married and hold position in church. Furthermore, they oppose any moral or legal discrimination against their homosexual behaviour by society or the church. In some countries they have or seek laws that criminalise public and Christian moral opposition to homosex, while they decriminalise homosex. They want homosexual behaviour to be upheld in school curriculum as a normal variant of human sexuality and insist on legislation to protect their right to homosex that is assumed to be universal and right.
Homosexuals have private homosex, but seek public recognition and acceptance of their relationships through several avenues like public parades and protests. Privacy is not what they seek, since they have it already. Publicity of their “privacy” that can psychosocially normalize homosex and break down public resistance is the goal. Homosexuals are trying to influence societal norms just like the church. So, to talk of the church as a homophobic or bigoted obstacle to sexual freedom is to try to exclude and mute the influence of the church as an important public moral voice in Caribbean society.
Furthermore, the concept of universal human rights, as some have related it to homosex, does not address how to resolve public conflict of rights in society and in what way homosex is universal and right. In any public conflict of rights, say right to conscience versus sexual orientation right, one right will be made fundamental and the other less than fundamental. Merely using accusatory terms like “disadvantaged groups,” “abuse of minority,” “exclusionary approach” and “tyranny” in context of homosexual cause and the Caribbean church and society only fly on broken wings of emotionalism and appeals to sympathy without good reason.
In certain parts of the US and Canada, opponents of homosex have been fined or imprisoned for publicly opposing homosex, but homosexuals are not fined or imprisoned for publicly berating the church. They call the church bigoted for disapproving and not accommodating homosex, while they reverse bigotry by disapproving and not accommodating opposition to homosex.
In the Caribbean, homosexuals have been physically threatened, or attacked, or killed because of their orientation and behavioural expression or public display or promotion of it. The church community, however, disapproves of both homosex and violence against homosexuals. But it is argued by some gay rights activists that opposition to homosex is a source of social homophobia. The case for such argument has not been made and even if it were true, then, attackers can also use any other reason to attack homosexuals, such as the way they walk, talk, dress, the places they go, or the company they keep, or coming out. With such questionable or farfetched reasoning not only opposition to homosex needs changing. The way some homosexuals walk, talk, dress, the places they go, or the company they keep, or coming out, all these would be sources of homophobia to be changed.
So, should homosexuals influence Caribbean society on the right to sex more than the Caribbean church? After all, homosexuals’ bodies, butts, behaviours, brains, buggery, and bugs are theirs, not the church’s, even though some of them may belong to a church. The church should not talk for or over homosexuals, and homosexuals cannot control the church. Therefore, should homosexuals influence Caribbean society on the right to sex more than the Caribbean church?
If homosex is exclusively a private matter, should it be publicly promoted in any form or fashion, or legally protected, or religiously accepted? Does the church have a right to tell homosexuals not to have homosex? Are laws or sermons against homosex codes for or reinforcements of violent attacks against homosexuals in the Caribbean? As analogies, do laws against incest, pedophilia, bestiality, polygamy, and drug trafficking mean attack the violators?
There is no link between believing homosex is wrong and acting to wrong homosexuals physically. Physical attackers of homosexuals can use any reason in an effort to justify their nefarious acts, while accusers of the church bypass them to wrongly assign blame to the church. There are unbalanced and uncompassionate people in the church community as well as the homosexual community. So, should homosexuals influence Caribbean society on the right to sex, if there is a right to sex, more than the Caribbean church?
If there is a right to sexual satisfaction, how far do we extend this right to sex and on what basis? A non-discriminatory claim for the recognition of a variety of sexual orientations would have to include orientations toward multiple sex partners (polysexuality), children (pedophilia), blood relatives (incest), animals (bestiality), sadomasochism, voyeurism, necrophilia and so on. Sexual libertinism would be the order of the day in the name of freedom, social inclusion, tolerance, equality and acceptance.
The separation of church and state does not eliminate the influence of the church on the society or the society on the church. The Caribbean church exists under the jurisdiction of the Caribbean state and in society. Religious and secular people, gay or straight, influence state decisions as members of political parties, government agencies, business enterprises and media corporations and as individual citizens. Efforts to remove church or homosexual influence from the Caribbean state/society are virtually impractical at the corporate level and the individual level. Therefore, one cannot legitimately talk of freedom and at the same time seek to totally erode dialogue, rivalry of influence, and jostling for legal advantage between the church and the homosexual community on the question of the right to sexual satisfaction in the Caribbean.
In a society with a multiplicity of sexual orientations, sexual laws cannot forbid any behavioural expression of sexual orientation and be non-discriminatory at the same time. However, Caribbean diverse society must draw the line somewhere, even when the line may only be drawn in the sand of social shifts and turns. Again, should homosexuals influence Caribbean society on the right to sex more than the Caribbean church?
September 09, 2014
- Should homosexuals influence Caribbean society on the right to sex more than the Caribbean church Part-2
Sunday, September 7, 2014
At a time when the world is experiencing an energy crisis, the process of rising heat from the earth as a stimulant to economic growth becomes very beneficial to many Caribbean nations. However, while many contemplate that geothermal energy is an ambitious opportunity to utilize wealth and recognition among member states and international markets, the financial challenges associated with it are many and varied, and now beckons the need for international ‘tenders’ to promote the sound development of the project.
Scientific evidence further illustrate that geothermal energy is a major factor in combating the adverse effects of climate change in the Caribbean. Geothermal energy doesn’t produce any type of greenhouse effect, and does not consume any energy since it’s renewable energy and there is no consumption of any type of fossil fuels.
In all truism, geothermal energy in the Caribbean have the prospective to address economic development, climate change mitigation, and stipulation of affordable energy and should be listed on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) as an alternative to poverty reduction and to energy security.
Yet, unethical clouds smudge the dust for action and solutions.
So what if anything should Caribbean government’s make of the financial challenges facing geothermal energy? For one, Caribbean islands are now locked in long term contracts that have no incentive for power producers to develop more economic methods in order to maximize benefits.
Market research reports that “electrical supply across much of the Caribbean is generated by expensive and polluting oil- or diesel-fired generators and millions of dollars are spent on fossil fuel imports.”
Economic analysts further state that “it is the high cost of energy that presently paints the un-competitive business portrait for the Caribbean on the international market. Dependency on imports of foreign fossil fuel affect the balance of payment and contribute toward micro and macroeconomic challenges, such as inflation, increased cost (and loss of competitiveness) of local industry, depreciation pressures, and further external indebtedness.”
In essence, “the future of geothermal energy in the Caribbean “is very bright,” but Caribbean governments cannot undertake the project solely admits Sturla Birkisson, senior vice president at Iceland Drilling Company. In this light, government money and international funds are needed to mitigate the financial risk and cover the initial costs in the form of soft loans in case exploratory projects prove unsuccessful.”
Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) of the World Bank published report further states that “the main challenges associated with the development of geothermal energy generation in the Caribbean includes the financial resources needed to confirm the resource potential of specific sites, financing of exploration, production and injection wells, and power plant development. The legal and regulatory framework, the lack of a comprehensive inventory of geothermal resources with high quality data, environmental and social impacts, and power sector planning are also other adversary factors.”
As a result, if financial measures are to be met in the cultivation of geothermal energy, then Caribbean governments will “need to develop resources themselves, or negotiate a fair price with a responsible developer that puts some value to the community and supports the growth of it and stimulates its development.”
Given these circumstances, the most dramatic illustration of the financial challenges of geothermal energy now shines light on the Caribbean island of Dominica. With the highest percentage of renewable energy in its energy mix among Caribbean nations, it would take an exceptional scale of energy tone deafness not to mention the Skerrit administration energy policies.
Even for a government that now boast that it has spent more than $US12 million in developing the geothermal industry on the island, and has sought the advice of the Clinton Climate Initiative, and presented the project as one of its theme at the sixty-seventh session of the United Nations General Assembly; it still fails to show the political will and leadership to enlarge and diversify the ‘portfolio of options’ that geothermal energy entails.
Subsequently, the project lies crippled in cronyism and unprofessional conduct.
Perhaps proponents may want to evidence leaked diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks that allege the United States embassy in Barbados is unfavorable to the government of Dominica’s plan on moving forward in developing the island’s geothermal potential, but if as the Dominica prime minister asserts that “one of the weaknesses of Renewable Energy (RE) initiatives and Efficient Energy initiatives (EE) in the Caribbean is the lack of projects to demonstrate the benefits,” then, the harnessing of geothermal energy cannot continue to be cloaked in secrecy and locked in a partisan political play.
In order to maximize the benefits of geothermal energy in the Caribbean, it is clear, that bi-partisan efforts and inputs from environmentalists and consultants are needed to help government negotiate a fair price with international developers.
Progressively, the long-term needs of energy security in the region is now of high importance and at this point, Caribbean governments should seek to develop an “integrated project management solution” and a systematic review and re-examination of geothermal resources for energy production. It would not only help in meeting the ongoing energy crisis in the world at large and boost the national security of many Caribbean nations, but it will also become a valuable alternative energy source for future generations.
Thus, it is now evident that the answer to wealth and recognition for many Caribbean nations lie beneath.
September 04, 2014
Caribbean News Now
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
|Ciénaga de Zapata is home to crocodiles and numerous species of Cuban flora and fauna.|
September 01, 2014
Monday, September 1, 2014
SINCE Jamaica became an independent nation and a signatory of the International Convention of the United Nations (UN) against the planting, possession and illicit use of marijuana, Jamaica has saved over a trillion dollars in health care, especially in the maintenance of the sanity of its citizens, by continuing with the criminalisation of the planting, possession and illicit use of marijuana as a narcotic substance.
The marijuana plant is of Asian origin. It was first observed to be grown on the banks of the River Ganges in India. This is how the name 'ganja' originated, but the plant is officially named in India as the 'Indian Hemp'.
The plant has distinct male and female species, whereby the male plant does not flower and therefore does not bear seeds and is not referred to as marijuana, as the leaves are not as potent with the concentrated chemical substances as the leaves of the female plant.
The female plant, with the intoxicating psychoactive properties of high euphoric effect, flowers and bears seeds, and its leaves, flowers and seeds are what really caused the plant to be referred to as the marijuana plant. Therefore, the female plant with the psychoactive properties is scientifically referred to as a Pistil-ate plant with Cannabis Sativa.
Pistil is the female reproductive organ of a flower and cannabis is the dried flowering spikes and/or fruit-in-tops of the female plant.
In India, apart from the complex chemical composition and psychoactive properties of the leaves, fruit-in-top and/or flower of high euphoric effect of the female plant -- that is dangerous and/or poisonous to the human brain and entire nervous system of the body -- the plant, both male and female, is generally noted for the tough fibre of its bark and with the required licence, it is used for the production of canvas and rope (the hemp rope) etc.
The psychoactive property with the high euphoric effect of the female plant is above the control of the metabolism of the immune system of the human body and causes the imagination of the person that drinks and/or smokes it to rise above the height of elucidation, which makes it damaging to the brain and the entire nervous system of the body.
This high euphoric effect of the psychoactive property of the leaves and flowers of the female plant is what is commonly misinterpreted and is misleading of the plant as a medicinal herb that is suitable for the human body.
Such high euphoric effect is by far higher and lasting than the euphoric effect of the psychoactive properties of the female plant and is synonymous to the pharmacodynamics of an aphrodisiac that is injected into a stallion to intensify its sex drive. It is therefore above the control of the immune system of the human body.
Based on its chemical composition, the female plant typifies the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
The male plant, carries not flower or fruit-in-tops, hence, the leaves, flower and/or fruit-in-tops of the female plant are dangerous and especially of those grown in Jamaica, which appear to be more potent that those grown in other countries.
When toxicologically observed in research in the biochemical laboratory, the chemical composition of the marijuana plant is a most complex one of many different chemical compounds. These chemical compounds are subdivided into three classes, according to the chemical scale of Acid (Ph 1-6), Neutral (Ph 7) and Alkaline (Ph 8-14). The active ingredient of these chemical compounds is a chemical compound known as Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is most addictive and above the standard of control of the human brain and nervous system.
Therefore, with the euphoric effect of such psychoactive property, the internal use of marijuana is dangerous to all age groups and especially to children. The continuous use (smoking and drinking) of the narcotic substance is worse psychologically, though the person, having become addicted and to some extent, may appear and believe that he or she is fine, but with distinct appearance of symptoms and especially the uncut hair and coloured eyes that are different from the normal person. Therefore, the continuous use of marijuana is destructive to the human brain, the nervous system and the entire body.
Apart from the THC, the complex chemical composition of the marijuana plant has chemical proprieties that if successfully separated and diluted, could be of benefit to the human body orally and possibly intravenously.
However, from thorough research and based on consensus of the international convention of the UN, what is dangerous about the plant is the complexity of its chemical composition. Each compound of the composition is of minute quantity and the complexity of the composition makes it impossible to chemically separate one from the other (the poisonous from the non-poisonous) without creating a chemical or nuclear change that is worse damaging to the body.
Therefore, with the THC, it is internationally observed and remained a narcotic substance; as the use of it can only be done as a whole, which is dangerous to the human body.
Without evidential proof of the formula and authenticity of the extract(s) and identity of the specific chemical compound(s) extracted from the complex chemical composition of the plant, and evidence of the pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics as a medicinal product without serious harm to the human body, any signatory of the UN Convention that legalised the use of marijuana in whatever quantity is a retrograde step towards psychotic development of its citizens.
With the findings of over 70 years of established research by the UN Convention on marijuana, whosoever is proactive to the legalisation of marijuana for medicinal purposes has very little and or no knowledge and understanding of its psychoactive danger to the human brain, nervous system and entire body.
Metaphorically, such person or group of persons is intoxicated with the inordinate love for monetary gain, fame and fortune of the world, that comprised the root and or route of all evil.
It is a fact that Canosol was developed from marijuana.
I believe that if a survey is done among the ophthalmologists in Jamaica, 95 per cent of them would say that Canosol has no effect against glaucoma and 4.5 per cent would say it has very little effect.
The media are currently burdened with so many experts on marijuana who are proactive of the licensing of it, but when those who know better listen and read what they say about the plant, it is evident that they have no true knowledge of the plant and its chemical composition, except that they are under the influence of the inordinate desire for economic gain and employment, against the current global recession.
For example, President Barack Obama is able to be proactive in such retrograde step, because, apart from the fact that he is ignorant of the complex chemical composition of the plant and its danger to the human body, he is in his second and final term as President of the USA and quite likely to him, he has nothing to lose with the world in mind and no emphasis on his soul. Also, as president of the USA, he is also proactive of unisex marriage, against the will of God. What grave mistake for a young man with such great potential and who is greatly loved! Can a man opposed and remain standing in battle against God?
To gain, and for the maintenance of power, there are times when people do silly things.
In Jamaica, to boost revenue, the authorities started to license handcarts and because a trying, poor peasant could not pay the licence for operating his handcart, they took sledge hammers and smashed his handcart in one incident. Consequently, he and his children and children's mother are placed in the position to suffer from hunger. With such a draconian and kangaroo law, what great temptation it is to cause the poor man and his children to become criminals to maintain themselves? Where is the love in action? Is it not because of class prejudice in Jamaica, that is worse than apartheid, that was practised in South Africa why they smashed the trying peasant's cart?
With the appropriate licence, the bark of the marijuana plant is used by some signatories of the UN Convention in the production of canvas and rope and other products with such material, except for medicinal purposes etc, for assimilation in the human body. Therefore, in all the signatories of the UN, including Jamaica, the cultivation, possession, trading and use; including exportation of marijuana and any byproduct (hashish) thereof are illegal, in that they are narcotic substances.
Consequently, to have criminalised tobacco smoking and legalised the smoking, etc of marijuana, and irrespective of the quantum, it is likened unto the leaders of a commune who are faced with economic problems that they cannot solve and thereupon colluded and prepared a toxic treat and premeditatedly fed it to each member of the commune as the way forward; to deceptively become insane and commit mass suicides.
Dr Basil R Simms, a biochemist and business consultant, is founder and chairman of Retsam Research and Development Ltd. He may be reached at 416-5546 or email@example.com
August 31, 2014