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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

IMF augments existing Haiti loan....

IMF Press Release.

Adding $104 USD to make the total loan amount, $114 USD. The loan will go to help Haiti bolster imports as well as pay for essential work, being done as a result of the earthquake.

Sounds like a mere pittance, if you ask me. This must be the start of a host of other loan programmes.

President Obama's state of the union speech tonight!

Well, President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, is set to make his first state of the union speech tonight at prime time.

Of course, the media is making a big deal about it as they should. But, to me, it is a little anti-climatic. The main reason is that there has been to much ballyhoo about his first year during the course of the year, that it will and has overshadowed everything he is set to say.

From the inauguration, to the economy, to health care, to the underwear bomber and now the Haitian crisis, it seems as if he has been set to the background over fundamental issues that have been apart of the American, Hemispheric and Global agenda for quite some time.

While these are, by part, his problems for the most part. The gravity of the situations have been exacerbated by the hopes that president Obama will deliver results on all of these matters.

Perhaps President Obama is a victim of his own hype?

Worst of it all, is that he has been called a liar, among other things, as well as dragged in the mud because of his former political allies by his political enemies, not all of them on his right.

Maybe, some of the folks who were on the right may be more to his centre than he may want to admit. Perhaps some who parade around as allies still may be his allies...folks in Acorn and the Weather Underground. The only thing left is to align him with the Black Panther movement, and we would have public enemy #1.

In any case, Obama is set to deliver a message on cutting the federal budget- cutting back some of the programmes- as well as a message on specialised funding for education.

Not much is being mentioned about any notes on the economy. Liberal pundits are lauding, that while we are still not yet beyond the crisis, Obama has done well, considering the circumstances, and taken us beyond measure from what former President Bush had left it.

Notice I said that the liberal pundits are lauding it, not necessarily the folks from Obama's economic team.

We will have to see what he lays out tonight.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Views on Haiti's long term viability...

Cool article in the FT about Haiti's re-development, by Paul Collier and Jean-Louis Warnholz.

They lay out three essentials for Haiti's recovery: Money, better governmental management and procurement systems and, first and foremost, an economic strategy that both of the former points and their agents can work with and have something that which it will be mandated to manage.

This is one of the best thoughts on Haiti for the long term I have read during the aftermath of the quake.

The article acknowledges the faults, the issues as it relates to the lack of vision and the series of corrupt regimes that have caused country systems to be in a state of disarray.

One the other hand, the article also quoted another article from the Wall St. Journal- a media outlet I highly respect- which was a little too dark for the moment.

The author, Brett Stephens, asks for the amount of foreign aid going into Haiti to be stopped.

He cites that, in a nutshell, it only goes to the corrupt people and politicians for their own selfish needs.

While that may be so, stopping the aid, will ensure that no assistance reaches the country at all.

Even if it goes out as political favours and engenders patronage- and as he even admits through other local economist's in Africa who say the same thing that he does- puts local farmers at jeopardy, when we talk about direct food assistance going on the black market, depressing national prices and putting pressure on local farmers, the "commerce" is something any country can ill afford to lose- especially a country as disrupted as Haiti or some of the other African countries.

What needs to happen, as the authors from the FT point out, is a better management strategy to go along with the aid that Haiti most desperately need.

Former President's Clinton and Bush should take a strong, commanding- even a domineering imperialist- role in Haiti to ensure that things are done right.

Clinton on the side of better governmental systems management and Bush, with regard to spurring the private sector and having them work in sync- as paradoxical as that sounds- with the government.

What would also work well with both of those efforts, would be a leader who is dedicated to overseeing the civil society and social sector development.

Perhaps we can bring back President Carter? Or, former Vice President Gore to lead that charge?

Perhaps that is too much wishful thinking on star power. But, the social sector and civil society needs leadership, as well.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Careful planning is needed for Haiti's re-development!

The earthquake that hit Haiti earlier this year was a dreadful catastrophe that shook the conscience of every human being with a heart that beats in their body.

The comments made by certain quarters of the American political community and the religious community at large, are unwarranted. It is unwarranted because the facts, as seen in the eyes of the persons who made them, are largely irrelevant to the issues at hand. Gratuitously cruel to some extent.

The major, current issues are in finding ways for aid to reach Haitians in Haiti on the ground as well as what Haiti needs, in the form of development, to ensure that a catastrophe like this is not repeated.

We can surmise that no one can predict an earthquake with any certainty, even though scientists are becoming more accurate with their information. However, Haiti won't miraculously move off of the plateau of the tectonic plates that caused the earthquake. Also, Haiti still would need strong infrastructure and strong human services, to be able to better handle a catastrophe, like an earthquake, if a natural disaster happens again.

In a nutshell, considering the earthquake as well as for the fact that Haiti is prone to hurricanes as well, Haiti needs to not only rebuild, but rebuild stronger, considering the unnecessary loss of life that occurred.

Stronger building codes and a disaster management plan, is an obvious must.

Resetting the government agenda is also vitally important, but also an obvious must.

In addition, another issue that has arisen, more strongly post quake, is debt relief for Haiti. This, in conjunction with the almost bound to happen cry for reparations from France, are issues that have their merit grounded in historical and redistributive fact and need.

However, the question one must ask is; would spending money, via debt relief and reparations to and through the government of Haiti be worth its effort? A government, which had its parliament collapse along with other government agencies, on top of the other issues as they relate to its fragile state before the quake (2008 mini-coup/riot that was quashed)? Would this really work towards a better long term solution to the social, economic and political situation in Haiti?

I have my doubts on the viability of those options at this time. Perhaps it may be something to consider in the future of Haiti.

However, what about the underlying issues that has prevented Haiti to move, in the past, towards building a stronger, more progressive society? A stronger, more progressive society, which would help to strengthen the people and the institutions of Haiti, in order for Haiti to sustain such a disaster- God forbid, but more than likely, would to happen again in light of the obvious realities.

Without going into a historical diatribe about the merits of any particular organisation, whether it was political or religious, the fact of the matter is, is that the distractions as it relates to the disruptions which were caused by political instability- even if we speak to the heart and the socio-economic fibre of Haiti when we mention the name, Duvalier, and the Voodoo belief system, which was seen to have propped up the dictator- is something that needs to sorted out, if Haiti must become progressive.

Conventional wisdom, which in this case I will indulge because many indicators have shown that belief in this particular, even if one considers it axiomatic, position, is relevant; is the issue of the Haitian civil society and their private sector and the fact that they have been virtually non-existent in the past, if not, moribund, to say the most about it.

Civil society organisations have been proven to anchor communities and, by effect, stabilise communities through their organised nature and their ability to negotiate with business and political directorates and lobby for sensitive, effective and meaningful socio-economic solutions to critical issues.

Fostering a sense of common values, commitment and investment interests in the Haitian society, must never be repressed, ignored or uncultivated in the new Haitian society.

Where people have interests and investments’, coalescing around shared values on where the country is headed and what is needed to maintain sustained, positive development- issues as they relate to human and structural development, will be a synergistic, progressive positive.

The private sector must be engaged most vigorously. For the fact that the minimum wage in Haiti, is, roughly, $5 USD- and we can imagine that most employers don't adhere to it- is one that cannot be ignored and issues as they relate to 1. Curbing oligopolistic and monopolistic activity, 2. Providing for sustainable local markets, 3. Ensuring fair value in and access to external markets and 3. Trade and development assistance from all the relevant partners and stakeholders in the global community, is a large task but must be essential for a new Haitian, country wide progressive model.

Creating wealth in Haiti is an obvious task that must be addressed and attacked with full commitment from the Haitian government and their international partners.

The concerns as the relate to officials taking a mechanistic approach to the matter, is something that the Haitian government, non-governmental organisations and technical expertise from the development community- bearing in mind the daunting task of country wide buy in and creating economic synergies that are self sustaining- must take in hand from a prejudiced standpoint of the status quo and assist their weaker partners, in that the civil society organisations.

Certainly, there are enough 'what to do's' to go about. This author is not void of any. However, what Haiti and its partners in assistance needs now is to identify which 'what to do' to target and work at it. The second hardest part is 'how to do' as well as measuring the success of the 'what to do' as it would be and is impacted by the 'how did'? This is obviously after immediate reconstruction and investment for that reconstruction.

Partners from around the globe must converge on Haiti and assist the society at large with whatever decisions are made. This includes not just assistance with debt relief- if that be the case- or development through trade or just supporting NGO's stationed in Haiti.

But, assist Haiti with the technical expertise to build a better nation, from the inside out.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A profile in hypocrisy!!!

Cute article from Richard Cohen at the Washington Post.

The thing is, assuming that Cohen is a liberal, why would he attack fellow democrats?

Apparently, the gist of his tongue in cheek article, is that democratic primary candidates, Harrold Ford and Kristen Gillibrand, are nothing more than flip-flopper's when it suits their purpose. Worst of it being, Ford is a carpet bagger and Gillibrand, is a closet conservative.

I know that is a big assumption-- assuming that the post is a leftist type of news rag. But, I have come to think of most of the media, as being left of centre...to say the very least.

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Chilean President...

Amongst other news, Chile elected a new president over the weekend. Not much is know by him, other than his professional and academic qualifications.

FT article

I wish him all the best. He had beaten former Chilean president Eduardo Frei. Current president, Michelle Bachelet, also congratulated the new president.

What does this mean for bananas? Who knows....

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Haiti still needs help...

Well, the body count still is continuing to rise. As far as it stands now, over 50 thousand dead and another 100 thousand to be presumed dead by next week.

Aid agencies are trying to ramp up resources to help victims. One of the more sadder stories out of the mess, is about an 11 year old girl who was trapped for two days after the quake, with her leg trapped underneath the rubble. She was fed and given water for the initial two days until she was freed, but the day that she was freed, she died from her injuries.

You can still give aid. The people will need it.

Places of note where you can donate funds are:
The Red Cross
USAID
Yele
UNICEF
The Clinton/Bush Haiti Fund
The Salvation Army

While there may be others, these are the ones where folks should focus most of their attention, because they are legitimate agencies.

Yele is a group started by recording artist, Wycleff Jean, and focuses on goods and clothes, primarily. But, they do accept funds.

The Clinton/Bush fund was just recently started and they have a website up already, at the request of president Obama.

Please, send what you can and pray if you want.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

They are trying....

Well, the Biege book is out. See here.

The news is "trying" to sound better. But, you only need to get past the first two sentences in every paragraph, to get the sense that things are still not yet alright.

It's the old psyche trick? Huh? Say something good, and then hit them with the bad, in a soft tone...perhaps not even sugarcoat the bad news. Just say it plainly,!! The folks don't get upset as much and, even if they do read past the first few lines, they will normally remember the good that they saw, first!

NB: When the paragraph is longer, in this instance, the news is more dire. Just that the folks that typed it up, are taking longer to break the bad news to you!

7.0 Earthquake hits Haiti...

My thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Haiti. Yesterday evening, a massive earthquake, 7.0 on the Richter scale, toppled Haiti and now thousands are reported to be dead.

The quake happened in the vicinity of the capitol, Port-Au Prince. Hospitals have collapsed as well as the Presidential Palace. Roads are un-passable and getting aid in may prove difficult.

A Tsunami watch was placed for the Southern and South-Eastern parts of The Bahamas. The folks in our Southern most islands, Inaqua in particular, have reported that they had experienced tremors with the massive quake.

As you all know, The Bahamas is comprised of a chain of islands, that are very low lying and a prone to tidal surges. Weather forecasters and scientists state that a tsunami is unlikely, due to the nature of the earthquake and the tectonic plates that caused it.

The plates are not aligned to create tsunami type waves, because, as they indicate, they are facing each other and are sliding past each other. A plate shift, where the plates are on top of one another-- let's say, plates that are V or "check mark" shaped, do have the capacity to cause tidal surges and, hence, tsunamis.

My prayers go out to all Haitian people in Haiti and the ones that are abroad, in need of contacting their family.

The Bahamas Telecommunications Company, BTC, needs to make all outgoing calls to Haiti, free of charge for the remainder of the week. The Red Cross from The Bahamas needs to be in Inagua by tonight and ready to go to Haiti, with Defence Force personnel, by tomorrow morning.

Prayers go out to all of my Haitian friends. We are truly blessed to be in The Bahamas, even if it takes a tragedy like this for us to appreciate this!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

U.S. Trade grows....

Washington Post.

I could not tell you, for sure, what exactly is driving the trade data.

Good news for president Obama, I guess.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Brown and Darling in disagreement over deficit!

What a load of political posturing. Chancellor of the Ex-Chequer, Alistair Darling and British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, are at odds about the amount of of the deficit and how to control it. As reported by the FT, today.

Aren't they on the same team? It seems as if Darling and Brown are gearing up for elections, next year, mandatory. Darling knows the public hates the deficit. Brown knows that he has to spend to stay in to win the next election, due to the horrible U.K. and global economy. Will the voters believe that is a plausible excuse, or use it to oust both Brown and Darling, is, yet again, another story.

More than likely, as it appears, Darling is going out on the limb by himself and leaving Brown to explain the borrowing and the deficit. Politically expedient, is not even the term to describe this.

I thought Brown would have called an election before the end of 2009. But, he didn't. Good thing he didn't, because his poll numbers were slipping and the general consensus is, that, when the economy is bad and jobs are being lost, the government of the day normally loses.

A former Guyanese President once said "I don't see how any sitting government 'can' lose an election?"....maybe we would have to ask Gordon Brown, by the middle of next year-- how could he?!?!

Of course the Conservatives are capitalizing. Opposition Tory leader, David Cameron, has his campaign posters all over the country, so reports have it; "Cut the deficit, not the NHS"....a sign of reassurance that "if" the Tories were to win, they would cut the amount of borrowing the British government has been undertaking to run the deficit to the way it is, and would not be cutting essential public services like; the National Health Services (NHS) education of the police force. All Labour party public institutions of record!

We will have to see...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Did I tell you guys about this? Give me your thoughts!

Well, the New Year started off without a bang, even though the crotch bomber- Mutallab- nearly caused it to be a big bang on Christmas day. But, it was averted. That's fantastic.

Anywhoo...I forgot to mention that the National Law Centre for Inter-American Free Trade, AKA " NATLAW ", in Tucson Arizona, USA, had put up an article of mine to their website. This was ok. However, they wanted to charge onlookers a fee- $40.00 USD- to view it.

The article was about Bahamian Craw-fishermen and how they can, possibly, learn from OPEC. The article appeared here, first, on Thursday, August 6, 2009 and then on Caribbean Net News (my main publication outlet of choice) on Tuesday, August 11, 2009-- they lifted the article from the Caribbean Net News!

As you would normally be inclined to think, one should be elated. However, they were charging folks to view it, without asking me if whether or not they can or will be charging people to view it.

What a trip!?! How dare they?!?!?

Well, of course I contacted the powers that be at the centre and asked them to hand over all royalties made from the sale of my publication, as well as for any further reference, any additional publications they should contact me with any material or research that they may desire from my intellectual brain box (a bit much, I know!).

You would think that a supposed international law centre, would be more careful as to not charge people and, in a sense, pirate intellectual property from artisans. An international law centre, attached to the University of Arizona at that.

Anyways...they have since removed the price tag and the blockage link to the article, which would ask for persons to pay the fee. However, they have also "copyrighted" the material.

What type of organisation is this?

In any event, let it ride....my work, is my work. I should now check into if whether or not they are charging folks to view it on campus, or at their library.

Should I let it go, or take pride in my achievement and small victory?

Happy New Year!