Monthly Archives: September 2009

First Swine Flu – H1N1 Death in Barbados – Patients report no masks, no hand gel at Warrens Polyclinic!

Barbados Swine Flu Death

Barbados Swine Flu Death “an adult and had underlying medical conditions”

Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Joy St. John informed the media Wednesday night that Barbados has had 96 cases of H1N1 and unfortunately, its first H1N1 flu death.

Dr. St. John said she “deeply regretted the passing of the person” and offered her condolences to friends and family. She urged the public to take the necessary precautionary measures and follow the guidelines put out by the Ministry of Health, so as to minimise the risk of contracting the H1N1 virus.

Joy St John Barbados

“We must continue to practise good hygiene if we are going to overcome this H1N1 outbreak. This death also shows that those predisposed groups must be extremely careful,”

…Barbados Chief Medical Officer: Dr. Joy St. John in Press Release – First H1N1 Death in Barbados

Dr. St. John was quick to point out that the 96 recorded cases “does not accurately reflect the current incidence of the disease here, since we have not been swabbing everybody who has exhibited flu-like symptoms in wake of the fact that there is in-country transmission.”

Trouble Reported at Warrens Polyclinic – No hand gel, limited mask use

Two hours before the press release by Dr. St. John, Barbados Free Press received the following from a reader, which we have edited to preserve their anonymity…

This is what happened when I went to be tested for suspected H1N1 virus.

When you go in at the Warrens Polyclinic it has a sign that says “ask for a mask here” so I knocked and knocked and no one came.  There’s a big poster from the MOH asking you to identify yourself as a “flu patient”, to be segregated I suppose, although there was absolutely no urgency for those showing up with flu symptoms, no trying to segregate them immediately.   I wasn’t given a mask (and no one else was either) until at least one hour after I arrived and then about 6 masks were given out to us, and I was told to sit next to children arriving for immunizations, etc.  I had enough common sense to try to keep away from the young ones.

Finally, after 1 hour I went into the holding pen for the H1N1 swabbies like me and everyone had their masks around their necks.  People walked in & out of the room without masks or a care in the world.  Hello, there’s no pandemic here is there? The only serious one there was the lone doctor in his mask and paper suit that stuck his neck out once to look at us all and pop back in.  There was a large poster depicting hand washing, but absolutely no hand sanitizer equipment or facilities of any kind were there.  I didn’t see anyone super ill, but how hard is it for a young girl with her 2 kids there, waiting for “hours!” as she said to me.  I can’t believe how inefficient it all was.

So I waited for 2 hours at the Warrens Polyclinic waiting to get tested for H1N1 as that is where FMH said to go, as they are not allowed to test anymore for it.   After two hours of waiting I just upped and left, as it was like being in Nairobi and I couldn’t take it anymore as I hadn’t been seen to by anyone but a receptionist who had made me wait over an hour to ask me what my business was, taking anyone who came in after me before me.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Whilst waiting to go in to speak to the nurse before the swab, I had to witness men going into the “Mens Toil” (the latter letters having disappeared) and not shutting the door behind them as they pissed.  And with nowhere to wash their hands, I was ready to hurl.  The hygiene, or lack therefore, that I noticed was incredible.  I got a friend of mine to pick me up, she nearly died when she saw me wearing the full mask on my face when I came out of the clinic.  I’m not one to slam this country, but God, is some of these government services a mess.

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Filed under Barbados, Health

Barbados Family & Friends Club – Good idea, good start making it happen!

Barbados-Family-Friends sht-header

A friend directed our attention to the website of the Barbados Family & Friends Club – an initiative by the Barbados Tourism Authority to encourage Bajans abroad and people overseas (Bajan or not) who love Barbados to encourage their friends and family to vacation in Barbados. There is a membership card with points for each referral and discounts once folks are on the island.

The points are a “nice to have” feature to reward those in the diaspora who help Barbados through referrals. I think that people will collect points and this will maintain interest in the programme by giving the cards and membership some value, no matter how modest. The folks who put this together should be thanked and congratulated. I only hope that the people administering the programme receive the long term resources to make it successfully grow into a major source of visitors and revenues for Barbados. It seems to me that this type of programme needs a few evangelists to make it work because merely sticking up a website won’t be enough.

Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy greets visitors to the website in a video where he comes across as your best friend inviting you back home for a visit. No slick politician fine words: just a sincere message that we care about our friends and family living over and away, that we’d love to see them again, and we could use your help to invite other friends to Barbados.

I think that Minister Sealy’s talk is exactly what is needed to set the tone and purpose for this programme. Have a look for yourself and tell me if you agree that he did an excellent job…

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

CLICO sold to CGI – Skeletons will be pulled out of the closet and buried deep

Consumers Guarantee Insurance Limited of Barbados is approved to purchase the assets of CLICO.

The secretive committee formed by Barbados Prime Minister David Thompson to keep CLICO skeletons in the closet worked swiftly to sell the remaining assets before the public realises that the fiasco was caused by three factors: mismanagement, fraud and a lack of proper regulation, oversight and accountability.

Earlier media reports spoke of criminal activities and a billion dollar asset that turned out to be a worthless piece of paper, but don’t expect to hear anything more about the issue. Prime Minister Thompson has done all he can to ensure that no public inquiry will be conducted – starting with his refusal to put CLICO Holdings under judicial management.

Oh… did we mention that CLICO’s top dawg, Leroy Parris, is the Prime Minister’s best friend and godfather to one of his daughters?

No conflict of interest there folks.

Don’t expect the Mottley Crew to say too much either, because much of the shenanigans happened when the Arthur/Mottley BLP Government was in power.

Although there will be much said, there’s not really much else to say folks – because everything is being kept secret, especially the amount that this debacle cost the taxpayers of Barbados.

Nation News: CGI Wins CLICO Bid

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Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Corruption, Offshore Investments, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption

Texas Billionaire Crook Sir Allen Stanford hospitalised after jailhouse attack. Can we get a deal on his yacht?

Sir Allen Stanford - Drug Money, Fraud

Sir Allen Stanford - Drug Money, Fraud

As of Sunday night, SIR Allen Stanford is still in hospital after taking a thumping last Thursday in a jail about 40 miles north of Houston Texas. His injuries are reported minor and there is no word why he’s still in hospital.

Would an ordinary crook still be in hospital for “minor” injuries after a fight with another inmate?

Probably. We found some stories that mention SIR Allen has an ongoing health problem and carries a metal stint in his heart.

Meanwhile, how about we all chip in on a new boat? SIR Allen’s newly renovated 112 foot yacht is up for sale. Yup… I could see myself with a tonic and gin in one hand and my woman in the other… sitting back as we head for nowhere in particular. Maybe a little sport fishing in the morning. Yup, I could get into that just fine!

I got me a thousand dollars, maybe double that if I stiff George for the money I borrowed to fix the car when the engine blew up.

Let’s see. Yes, subtract two thousand and that will leave a balance of, ah, about six and a half million US dollars…

Sea Eagle - 112' Hakvoort seized by Stanford's trustee.

Sea Eagle - 112' Hakvoort seized by Stanford's trustee.

Further Reading

June 19, 2009: FBI Arrests Sir Allen Stanford, Antigua Government Official & Others For US$7 Billion Fraud, Money Laundering. Striking Similarities With Barbados CLICO Fraud

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Barbados Government & media focus on trees, coral and beaches. Wetlands are a forbidden topic.

graeme_hall_nature_barbados.jpg

“Wetlands” a banned topic in Barbados Media & Politics

Our newspapers, television and radio media are never lacking in articles and reminders about the importance of our natural environment. If there’s not a story in the Nation about cleaning up the gullies, there will be a piece in the Barbados Advocate about the bleaching of coral due to the rise in ocean temperatures. If the CBC isn’t running something about a planting day for some school, then Brass Tacks will be talking about keeping the beaches clean and accessible.

Check out the coverage of the third annual Arbor Expo this past weekend. It was by all accounts a smashing success at demonstrating the importance of trees and vegetation to Bajans. Trees control soil erosion, cool the environment, purify water, reduce CO2 in the atmosphere, replenish oxygen and sustain myriads of different species as shelter, food and protection. Not to forget their beauty and contribution to our social lives and the economy.

Bajans again were given the clear message – Take away the trees and vegetation and see how long the soil and the tourists last! But not a word about wetlands.

Politicians talk about every environmental concern: except one

Minister of the Environment Denis Lowe is a frequent commentator in the media. I saw him on CBC not too long ago talking about the importance of vegetation and trees in reducing flooding and maintaining healthy soils. (As further evidence of Dr. Lowe’s concern for the environment, we can also mention that he is frequently seen checking out the beach wildlife at the Hilton right after the luncheon buffet.)

Prime Minister Thompson recently spoke in New York City on the potential for Global Warming to devastate coastal areas, and how small island states like Barbados lack the higher elevation land areas and financial resources to effectively deal with the threat.

My friends, there is no doubt that our Barbados government and news media are paying more attention to environmental concerns and the protection of our natural environment than we have previously seen in the 25 years since I personally started paying attention to these issues.

There’s just one thing lacking though…

DLP changed law to permit development of Graeme Hall greenspace

DLP changed law to permit development of Graeme Hall greenspace

The Government and News Media never talk about the importance of Coastal Wetlands, Swamps or Mangrove Forests

Now that I’ve mentioned it, think about it. When was the last time you saw an news article on Wetlands, Swamps or Mangrove Forests? With the exception of some “Letters to the Editor”, when was the last time you saw some detailed investigative journalism about the DLP government’s changing the law to allow development on previously-protected greenspace at Graeme Hall? When was the last time you heard a politician of any party talking about the importance of coastal wetlands or their preservation?

Go ahead – try Google. Try the archives at The Nation. Look through the Barbados Advocate old issues.

Except for a single self-serving statement last January (forced by the closing of the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary) Minister of the Environment Denis Lowe is coming up on two years since he last uttered the words “Graeme Hall” or “wetlands” or “mangroves” or “nature sanctuary” in public.

Denis Lowe, David Thompson Serving Land Developers & Friends: Not the people of Barbados

As an Opposition Senator back in February of 2006, Denis Lowe called for the strict limitation of development anywhere near the Graeme Hall wetlands. Lowe dropped that line when it became obvious his DLP was going to win the election. He then voted to change the law and allow commercial development on previously-protected Graeme Hall greenspace.

I guess that Prime Minister Thompson had a word with Dr. Lowe about CLICO’s land holdings at Graeme Hall and how the PM’s good friend Leroy Parris wanted to make some money from the greenspace.

And that is how we come to this, old friends. In the Barbados government and news media, “wetlands” and “Graeme Hall” are banned words. Discussing how the DLP changed the law to permit commercial development of previously-protected greenspace is a banned topic.

Here’s the visual proof: a map of the changes (click map to enlarge). Ask yourself why you haven’t seen a story on it in the Barbados news media…

barbados-map-graeme-hall

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Corruption, Disaster, Environment, Offshore Investments, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption

Using World Tourism Day to build bridges between cultures and religions

Rome’s Holy See puts out an excellent short video marking World Tourism Day

“Through tourism you have the chance to meet and to know people of different minds and opinions and religions and idiosyncrasies, etc. And this can be an enrichment because it could be an occasion of respect, of acceptance.”

Archbishop Agostino Marchetto
Secretary, Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants

Today’s Barbados Advocate also has an excellent World Tourism Day section once you get past the use of the occasion to transfer government tax revenues to the paper through advertisements from smiling politicians.

I haven’t seen The Nation today and I wonder if that paper will have received an equal amount of government revenue.

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Where did Denis Lowe get the money to pay for this Barbados Advocate advertisement?

Denis Lowe Barbados 2

The Public has no right in law to monitor any government expenditures – Once elected, MPs do as they wish

The simplest questions are often the most awkward – but only if you have to answer them. Dr. Lowe and our other elected representatives don’t have to answer questions about money, so why should they worry? With zero transparency and accountability required of government officials, Barbados Members of Parliament don’t have to be concerned about keeping financial records showing where the money comes from and how it is spent.

Barbados has no Freedom of Information laws, so unlike in many responsible democracies Bajans have neither the right in law nor the tools necessary to monitor how government officials spend our tax dollars. We were promised an FOI law within 100 days of the DLP’s election, but you know what happened to that and other promises of Integrity, Transparency and Accountability.

But back to our simple little question…

…where did Denis Lowe get the money to pay for the advertisement in today’s Barbados Advocate?

Did Minister Lowe pay for the advertisement out of his own salary? (As if!)

Did the money come from the DLP’s bank account. (I don’t think so!)

I’d have to guess that the money came from the taxpayers. That’s your money and mine that Minister Lowe used to congratulate the Sanitation Service Authority for 40 years of hard work.

How much money does Mr. Lowe spend on newspaper advertising? How much on meals and entertainment? How much on trips? Has he ever purchased any personal items using government funds? Any computers or clothes? Any books or supplies for his “home” office?

How much money does Mr. Lowe spend in a year placing advertisements in the Barbados Advocate? How much in the Nation? How much does the DLP spend in advertising with the Advocate compared with the Nation?

These are all valid questions. Citizens have a moral right to know how our tax dollars are spent, but thanks to the joint efforts of David Thompson, Owen Arthur, Mia Mottley and a host of present and past politicians, there is no transparency or accountability concerning the discretionary spending of the government and individual elected members.

And that is exactly the way that Denis Lowe, Mia Mottley and David Thompson prefer it.

Your local MP?

Your local MP?

And speaking about Members of Parliament and money, we hear rumours that one or two MPs turn around and walk the other way when they see certain landlords and creditors heading in their direction.

With no accountability for official spending and everyone willing to extend credit to members of a newly elected government, it wouldn’t surprise us to hear that some elected members have dug themselves into a little hole with their personal finances. This, of course, opens the door to temptation as a Member of Parliament who is under personal financial pressure might be susceptible to “loans” from land developers or people who obtain government contracts.

As strange as it seems, elected Members of Parliament are free to take “loans” or “gifts” from people who do business with the government – because Barbados has no law against this activity. Prime Minister Thompson and the DLP government reneged on their promise to implement a code of conduct immediately upon taking office, but we don’t hear Mia Mottley and the BLP Opposition saying anything about it. Something about pots and kettles.

Rumours of a Fax from Dr. Lowe

You might want to read our piece from December 19, 2008 to remember a controversy that came and died and was forgotten…

BFP, Dec 19, 2008: Barbados Government Minister Denis Lowe Seduced By The Dark Side

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Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Ethics, Freedom Of Information, Freedom Of The Press, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption