Daily Archives: March 30, 2007

Attention Barbados Offshore Investors and Transparency International – Corruption Stories Being Hidden By Barbados Media & Government

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Barbados Journalist David Ellis Threatened By Government For Reading Email Questioning Minister’s Assets (photo above)

Barbados Media Concealing Corruption Stories From International Audience

Barbados Has No Laws Against Government Corruption & Conflicts Of Interest

Barbados Media & Journalists Live In Fear Of Government Wrath & Reprisals

A brave Barbadian journalist named David Ellis is being threatened and punished because he dared to read a citizen’s email on the air asking a Government Minister to account for personal wealth that seems out of proportion with the Minister’s annual earnings in Barbados government service.

In the next few days Barbados Free Press will try to find time to comment in detail upon the story of how Brass Tacks radio show journalist David Ellis is being pummeled by government and abandoned by his own Voice of Barbados organisation and the rest of the frightened lapdog Barbados media.

For now, the international investment community and watchdog agencies like Transparency International, Reporters Without Borders and anti-money-laundering agencies in the United States and the U.K. should be aware of the following…

1 – Barbados Minister of Tourism Noel Lynch walked out of the Brass Tacks radio talk show last Sunday (March 25th) when host/journalist asked about his personal wealth. In the days prior to the call-in show, the Minister dictated to the media who would and would not be allowed to speak to him. As a result of an article published here at BFP, the embarrassed Minister and the radio station allowed a tourism pundit to speak on the show. The Minister was caught on air lying about a $15 million dollar government liability and stormed off the show when the issue of his wealth came up. (See our story Barbados Tourism Minister Flees Radio Talk Show Over Question Of Personal Assets And Integrity Legislation)

2 – The Voice of Barbados radio broadcast was immediately pulled off the internet so international audiences could not receive it.

3 – The Barbados media generally does not report stories of political corruption or potential corruption to the Barbados audience and never to the international audience on the internet. One newspaper, The Barbados Advocate, even purges all online stories every few weeks, apparently so the historical record of what government officials said or did will not exist.

4 – Barbados journalists live in fear of government wrath – so much so that it can be said that the Government of Barbados controls the professional media in our country. Since the incident with Minister Lynch, some Barbadian journalists have published opinion pieces essentially admitting that they are fearful of government and the nation’s outrageously one-sided libel laws.

5 – Deputy Prime Minister Mia Mottley called for restrictions and censorship of radio & TV call-in shows and blogs. (See our article Barbados Deputy Prime Minister Says Internet Blogs “Marginalize…Parliament” – Calls For Regulation of Blogs, Call-In Shows On Radio, Television)

6 – Prime Minister Owen Arthur admitted openly in parliament to what amounts to money laundering of “political donations” through his personal bank account – and the Barbados media never said one word about it until after this blog published the details a week later. Even then, Barbados journalists remain too frightened to ask the Prime Minister about the $750,000 dollar cheque he admitted that he deposited into his personal bank account. (See our story Nation News Falls Into Our Trap Over Prime Minister’s Money Laundering)

7 – Barbados Minister Of Public Works Gline Clarke lives on land expropriated by government… and the Barbados media has never said one word about the fact that powerful Government Ministers like Mr. Clarke do not have to declare their assets or explain how it is that, as a Member of the Cabinet that approves the expropriation of privately-owned lands, a Minister of Government comes to live upon a choice building lot that was forceably taken from an owner – using the full power of the Government. Barbados Free Press even published photos of the Minister’s home and Mercedes Benz on expropriated land and not one journalist dared to ask about it.

Investors Beware! Barbados Lapdog Media Puts The Government Ahead Of Public Duty

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The Nation News Ignores The Real Question – Where Did Minister Lynch Get His Millions?

In a full 2-page spread today that can only be described as a total capitulation to government pressure, the Nation News ignores the important issue of Where Did Minister Lynch Get His Millions?

The article is called The Big Question. Should Press Be Allowed To Dig Into Public Figures’ Private Affairs?

Since when is it private when a member of government exhibits far more wealth than is reasonable considering his salary? Minister Lynch dispenses millions upon millions of dollars with no tenders or accountability and the public is not allowed to ask where he got his millions?

That is an interesting position by The Nation News.

Barbados Media Lives In Fear

In the article (copied below), journalist Roy Morris gives some indication of the constraints and fear under which Bajan journalists operate, but former Nation News editor and head lapdog Harold Hoyte rolls over and does “good doggy” tricks in support of Minister Lynch – calling Brass Tacks journalist David Ellis “reckless” for daring to ask the Minister to account for his wealth. Hoyte even calls Minister Lynch “accountable” when he knows that there are no Conflict of Interest, Transparency, Freedom of Information or Accountability laws in Barbados.

Robert Best talks about how journalists become “pariah” if they ask embarrassing questions (editor’s note: Questions like… How is it that you had nothing before being elected and now you are a millionaire? ! ) while former DLP MP Branford Taitt rightly says “… a question about a minister’s financial circumstances is legitimate.”

Retired MP Sir Henry Forde poo-pooed the whole thing – once again ignoring questions of public accountability.

We will now show the setup of The Nation News 2 page spread so you can judge for yourself whether or not the Barbados media is intimidated by the government. Touch the photos to view the full size scans, or read the text from the Nation News website below…

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As Published In The Nation News online…

The big question

by ROY R. MORRIS

YOU MAY NOT AGREE with what he says from time to time, but no fair-minded or reasonable person can claim that Minister of Tourism Noel Lynch is ever afraid to defend any stance he or his party takes.

In fact, more than a few practising journalists can confirm that you don’t have to initiate a conversation with Lynch when he feels strongly about a matter.

He is known to be very proactive in letting you know how he feels.

This is in stark contrast to a number of his colleagues. Note here that identifying this approach as one of Lynch’s personality highlights is intended neither as a criticism nor support of his approach. It is merely aimed at setting the stage for discussion of last weekend’s episode on Starcom Network’s Sunday Brass Tacks programme when Lynch objected to a question sent to the studio by email and read on air by host David Ellis.

The email, which questioned Lynch’s accumulation of assets, was deemed by the minister to be “as disrespectful as you can get”.

The minister ended the programme by walking out of the studio.

Lawyers have since concluded that innuendo contained in the email was sufficient that the minister could possibly successfully sue the station for defamation. The law is clear on the issue of redress where a defamation occurs, and there is therefore no need to consider that here.

However, the critical question is one which dominated discussion all around the country long before defamation entered the picture. It is: Was questioning the minister on the subject out of place in that forum?

Put in a broader context: Is there ever a time when questioning a public figure, on any matter that a journalist may deem to be in the public’s interest, is out of place – even rude?

This is also asked in the context of a growing tendency among public figures to call Press conferences, attend official functions, and state up front that they will only entertain questions of a particular nature; or conversely, will not take questions on a specific subject. This can be viewed as a proactive way of avoiding questions on a controversial matter.

And to widen the discussion further, would it be inappropriate, for example, question the Minister of Finance about a fiscal policy announcement if a journalist made contact with him after a funeral of a constituent?

What if it were a matter about his personal conduct and the opportunity presented itself while he was addressing a major financial subject?

Some years ago when United States President Bill Clinton was in Barbados having major talks with regional leaders, a member of the American Press corps fired a question at him about the then on-going scandal about his affair with Monica Lewinsky. While it raised eyebrows here it was taken as par for the course in the United States for a very simple reason:

The US has long, as a result of numerous rulings by that country’s Supreme Court, created clear definitions of who are public figures and who are private people. The court has made it absolutely clear that people like Clinton and Lynch, in their jurisdiction, would be classified as all-purpose public figures – “persons who occupy persuasive power and influence in the nation or in a community, persons who are usually exposed to constant media attention”.

Such a person is fair game wherever he or she is — laws on defamation notwithstanding.

The Commonwealth approach, however, tends to be much more conservative.

I come down on the American side: Once a question is respectfully framed, and you are cognisant of the circumstances surrounding the reason for a public figure [not just politicians] being there – if the matter is of public interest, the question should be asked. It is up to the public figure to decide if or how he will answer it. And for that he or she too should be respected. My only fault with the Lynch/Ellis affair is that the question was not properly, or perhaps fairly, framed.

****

When queries cross the line

HAROLD HOYTE: As a journalist I am relieved that my colleague David Ellis, a man of ability, experience and savvy, had the decency to publicly apologise to his radio guest Minister Noel Lynch.

Some other journalists are wrongly of the view that all politicians are fair game and we have the right to ask anything of any of them at any time, and if they don’t answer, that they should be ridiculed for appearing to avoid the truth.

We have to abide by our own set of high standards of conduct.

The facts are that Mr Lynch went on the programme as Minister of Tourism to explain special outcomes related to Cricket World Cup and his ministry. This is a matter of public interest and he is to be applauded for his accessibility, since not all of his colleagues are inclined to have the same sense of public accountability.

As a guest of Ellis, Lynch had the right to expect reasonable professional courtesies from his host. And this would have included not startling him with a rude question that bore no relation to the issue being discussed, framed in a highly insulting manner.

In my view, the language and the nature of the question crossed the line.

It was out of place to surprise Lynch with a speculative personal question (and one certainly not connected with the World Cup) which raised a matter that may have questioned his integrity, was not relevant to any matter under discussion or to be discussed, and which was not supported by even the flimsiest piece of hard data or information.

Journalists play an important role which shapes public opinion. When we carry out such an important mandate, we must do it with every aspect of responsibility. Since we can impact the good name of people in public life, we cannot be reckless with our words or be barren of accurate information in pursuing our line of questioning or comments.

In real estate, the big phrase is “location, location, location”. In journalism it is “substantiate, substantiate, substantiate”.

By coming out of nowhere to embarrass Lynch with an irrelevant, suggestive and personal question meant that Ellis fell far short of his own heretofore high sense of vocational dignity.

Respect, Mr Ellis, is a two-way street.

If journalists want respect they must be prepared to warrant it through professional conduct.

*****

Branford Taitt: There is a boundary

Former Democratic Labour Party MP Branford Taitt, who has attracted much controversy during his years in the House of Assembly, believes that “a legitimate question can be unfair when asked in certain circumstances”.

“There is a boundary within which a public figure has a personal soul which must not be trammelled by the Press,” Taitt said, giving as an example a reporter encroaching on a personal event such as a funeral.

“Had I been Ellis, I would have asked the question, but I would have phrased it differently. And had I been Lynch I would also have responded differently, particularly because when you go on a radio call-in programme you have to be prepared for anything, any type of question . . . but on the face of it a question about a minister’s financial circumstances is legitimate.”

*****

Sir Henry Forde: Do not take pot shots

Another retired veteran MP, and respected attorney-at-law, Sir Henry Forde, believes he would have handled the question differently, but noted that Lynch’s response might have been a reflection of his experience.

Sir Henry recalled an incident soon after he was first elected to the House when he was questioned about rumours that he was born in the almshouse.

“My answer . . . was, as my mother said, if you were born in the almshouse and you have got to this stage, you know how many mothers would be proud of you? I went on to say, ‘Well anyhow, for the record, I was born at a home in Water Street . . . and I did not even have the privilege of going to the almshouse here there was public care.”

Sir Henry added on the Lynch episode: “If I was there I probably would not have walked out . . . but my way of dealing with that would have been to say, Mr Ellis, the question is a very interesting one but it comes from a person with a warped mind . . . .

“Because you are a public figure you are always there for questions, but it depends on the nature of the questions and how the questions are framed . . . . Although there has been a swing toward allowing people to go after public figures . . . the courts have made it absolutely clear that freedom of speech does not mean that you can just take pot shots at people . . . .

“[Some] people thought the question was offensive . . . . A lot of people have not interpreted it as a complimentary question . . . . Noel got angry and walked out . . . . Different people would have dealt with it differently.”

*****

Is it a need-to-know basis?

ROBERT BEST: Journalists in our part of the world have to choose our ground carefully when putting questions to people in public life. For a start, the wider public itself, even when talking about the right to know, does not always agree about what it should know.

Because of this tendency, we will find that what in some democratic countries will come over as merely routine questions, will strike many Barbadians as being in bad taste, even if not grounds for a lawsuit.

It is hard to imagine, for example, that a journalist in Barbados daring to question a public figure about his sex life would find favour with his countrymen even when such questions might be making the rounds on the cocktail circuit. It is just not done here, but is accepted in other jurisdictions to the extent that certain revelations can cause resignations by those in high office.

At the same time, the politicians, aware of how the public thinks on certain matters, do not rush to provide certain information on matters which would be regarded as “of public interest” in other countries.

It can reach the point where because of political association or party preference, a journalist can find he or she is treated like a pariah because of a tendency “to be always asking embarrassing questions”.

We do not stop to think why the question might appear to be embarrassing. In order to survive as journalists, many in the profession soon get the message and become conduits for public relations exercises and stop right there.

… read the article online at The Nation News (link here)

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89 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, News Media, Offshore Investments, Politics & Corruption

Rihanna – New Single Now, New Album In June

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That’s Our Girl!

NEW YORK – Some singers take two-year breaks between albums. Rihanna is working on her third disc, just two years after releasing her first.

“It’s a nonstop pace, very speedily, and Def Jam does not play, that’s all I can tell you,” she joked of her record label in an interview with The Associated Press. “We just keep going and going — it’s fun, we make sure that we have fun while we do it.”

… continue reading this article at Yahoo.com (link here)

Thanks to reader J for the tip!

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Filed under Barbados

Barbados Muslims Won’t Kill Anyone “Unjustly” – Bajan Muslim Commenter On Barbados Free Press

Women have to be protected because otherwise they will fornicate with whomever they please… Barbados Muslim Salafi Manhaj commenting on Barbados Free Press – paraphrased, see below for full quote.

In our February 9, 2007 article Should Barbados Allow Saudi Arabia To Fund Local Mosques and Islamic Schools? – we pointed out that the Saudi textbooks and other materials used by local mosques and Islamic education centers to teach Bajan children describe Christians as “pigs” and Jews as “apes”.

A reader informed us that these materials and the curriculum had not been inspected by Barbados educational authorities. As we said in our article…

Many of the most widely distributed Saudi texts and teaching materials extol lessons and information that are completely at odds with the values and attitudes of modern societies. These educational materials teach children the Saudi Wahabbi message that Christians are “pigs” and Jews are “apes” and that non-Muslim religions are “worthless”.

(snip)

Folks, its time to start asking questions about how we all want to live together in Barbados – and to remind our elected and appointed officials that they have a duty to ensure the quality and content of the education being given to all our children.

Lively Discussion

A lively discussion took place in our comments section, with some Bajan Muslims participating – and this discussion has continued right up to the present.

One of the commenters from Barbados – named Salafi Manhaj – says he is a Muslim and has been posting various comments about Islam. We know that this commenter is in Barbados because of his/her IP address. Our own Robert responded and asked Salafi Manhaj…

“Please, Salafi Manhaj, in very clear and unequivocal language – tell us that the Koran and Islam do NOT authorise violence to spread the religion or to keep Muslims from converting to other religions.

Please, Salafi Manhaj, in very clear and unequivocal language – tell us that Muslims who convert to other religions should NOT be killed.”

Salafi Manhaj Replies About Suicide Bombers and Killing…

Folks, you can read the entire text of Salafi Manhaj’s comments for yourself, and you should – because they certainly are revealing for what they say, what they don’t say – and for the exquisite use of “weasel words” when Salafi Manhaj would rather not answer a question directly.

Questions like those asked by Robert and others.

Once again, you really should read everything on the post because it sure is an eye-opener, but here are a few excerpts from Salafi Manhaj…

“SUICIDE IS NOT FROM ISLAAM RATHER IT IS A BID”AH (INNOVATION)” *

(snip)

“In Barbados you do not have to worry about muslims killing themselves or killing people unjustly.”

(snip)

“As for you O Westerners, claimants of civilization, you have constitutions and statutes that destroy upright moral character and permit all kinds of forbidden acts, the likes of fornication and homosexuality, as well as usury which destroys the economies of entire nations, and the eating of improperly slaughtered animals (dead meats) and pork, something that causes the loss of concern for women’s values, and thus a man does not feel protective of his wife, sister, or daughter, and thus she fornicates with or intimately befriends whomever she pleases. These are some of the means which lead to ruin, and they have been prohibited in all of the prophetic messages.”

… Barbados Muslim Salafi Manhaj commenting on Muslim Suicide bombing and Killing Of People Who Wish To Leave The Muslim Faith. (link here)

So according to our Bajan Muslim friend, suicide bombing is an “innovation”, Barbados Muslims won’t kill anyone “unjustly” (that’s “unjustly” according to Muslim rules, of course) and it is our Constitution that is at fault because it allows us to eat pork and also causes us to loose concern for “OUR” women that causes “OUR” wifes, sisters and daughters to “fornicate” with whomever they please.

I see.

Well.

All I can say to our Muslim friend is…

If your wife, sister or daughter would fornicate with whomever they please if you weren’t watching them… Hey… that’s too bad!

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Filed under Barbados, Religion

Barbados Tourism Minister “Mistaken” About Carnival Destiny As Cricket World Cup “Floating Hotel”

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We haven’t heard from Barbados Minister of Tourism Noel Lynch since his comedy routine on the Brass Tacks radio call-in show last Sunday. (And yes, we are going to comment on what happened to Brass Tacks journalist David Ellis in a big way – with international attention – but that is another article to be published soon.)

Today’s article on the Carnival Destiny charter is courtesy of Adrian Loveridge – who certainly needs no help from us to make his point.

End of introduction. Take it away, Adrian…

Questions About The Costs Of Chartering Carnival Destiny – Is Barbados Paying Alone?

I played back my recording on the Down to Brass Tacks programme on Sunday 25th March and Minister Lynch ‘categorically’ stated that the Carnival Destiny will act as a floating hotel for four weeks.

He and Senator Lynton also denied that there was any Government loan from a commercial bank to charter Carnival Destiny.

It has of course been proven that such a loan was proposed to Parliament by Prime Minister Owen Arthur.

Now what benefits can the taxpayer expect from this US$15 million subsidy?

Below, is the schedule for the Carnival Destiny in April 2007 as stated on the Bridgetown Port Inc., own website.

10 April arrive
13 April depart 2200hrs
15 April return 0600hrs
17 April depart 2200hrs
19 April return 0600-2200hrs (depart)
21 April return 0600hrs
23 April depart 2200hrs
27 April return 0600hrs
30 April depart on locally advertised cheap cruise.

So if you add the total numbers of days the Destiny is in Bridgetown Port for the cricket matches it adds up to a total of 14 days.

All the other days it will be providing floating hotel accommodation on other islands.

So if each of the 1,321 cabins are being occupied, that is a subsidy of US$811.07 per cabin per night.

As the ship is only spending 14 out of the 20 days charter (not 28 days as the Minister stated) in Barbadian waters, what contribution is being made by the other Caribbean territories?

Adrian Loveridge
29 March 2007

28 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Cricket, Politics & Corruption, Traveling and Tourism