How The Tribune is helping me get into trouble

What's not made clear, of course,  is that the "revamping" of Urban Renewal that I'm talking about was the cutting short of the programme in 2007, not the instituting of Urban Renewal 2.0 in 2012. I was disappointed to see that the revolutionary core of 1.0 was not replicated in the programme when it was reintroduced, but the real damage was done in 2007, if you ask me.

“Urban Renewal 1.0 was designed to give the law-abiding citizens real opportunities to gain access to social services and community policing worked on the premise that if you can gain the trust of the law-abiding citizens in a troubled area it becomes far easier to solve, deal with and ultimately prevent crime.“And the programme was accompanied by some real efforts by psychological professionals to help to heal people who had suffered long-term abuse, brutalisation and so on.“This core is what I considered revolutionary at the time, and which was removed when Urban Renewal was reformed because it was considered a waste of time and money, and a waste of policemen’s training too, as apparently police are supposed to fight crime, not prevent it.”“By focusing so much on the criminals, we lose sight of the law-abiding citizens in the same communities, and it is a long time since we have really sought to serve them or meet their real needs.”Dr Bethel added that the policing of inner city communities that arose after Urban Renewal 1.0 ended helped inspire distrust in inner city communities for authorities.“Imagine if you were,” she said, “a 12 year old living in inner city Nassau in 2002 and in 2003 all of a sudden police are put into your community and they’re not violent or menacing, they are friendly, father figures who are teaching you music. They are walking around, learning your names and so on and for five years you get to know them.“Then, when you are 17, they are taken away, and the only replacement are police with guns. How are you ever going to trust your country again? That’s what I think part of the root of this particular kind of violence is.”via Urban Renewal revamp 'an error' | The Tribune.

Google May Hand Over Caribbean Journalists' IP Addresses

I have often wondered seriously about the American commitment to freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I have often wondered also about the American belief in the principles on which it is founded; it's one of those things that make me deeply sceptical about any action taken by that giant of a country that seems to find it so very easy to draw a line between the rights that it accords its own citizens and the denial of those rights that appears to be routine in its treatment of non-Americans.Below is a case in point.

Google May Hand Over Caribbean Journalists' IP Addresses (Updated)Google said the following in a letter to the TCI Journal last week, as posted on Wikileaks and sent to us by the Journal:

To comply with the law, unless you provide us with a copy of a motion to quash the subpoena (or other formal objection filed in court) via email at by 5pm Pacific Time on September 16, 2009, Google will assume you do not have an objection to production of the requested information and may provide responsive documents on this date.

Google has not yet responded to our inquiry asking what the company might do once the TCI Journal does send a motion to quash the subpoena, which we presume it will do. Hiring lawyers in California will likely be an onerous task for a volunteer-run website from a tiny Caribbean island. Journal editors tell us that they hope Google will decide to help them fight the case on 1st amendment grounds.Update: A Google spokesperson sent us the following response to our inquiry.

"When Google receives legal process, such as court orders and subpoenas, where possible we promptly provide notice to users to allow them to object to those requests for information. Users may raise any and all objections they feel are relevant, including First Amendment arguments. In addition, we are still evaluating all our legal options regarding this particular request."

Here's my problem. In small nations like ours, fighting for freedom of speech and opinion, fighting against corruption and special interests and the continuation of the rape of our region by those who can gain disproportionate access to leaders is risky at best, virtually impossible at most times. Victimization is the word we use to describe what has happened in The Bahamas; in the USA it was called blacklisting and it was carried out against suspected communists in the 1950s, and it is pretty widely rejected as being anti-democratic (though the communist ideals and the communist party has never recovered in the USA since McCarthy). No matter what the British response was to the exposure of the corruption of the Misick government in TCI (and the suspension of the TCI constitution is questionable at best, but that's another topic), it is nevertheless crucial that such corruption could have been exposed and dealt with in a reasonable amount of time.Because the fact is that in small nations like ours, corruption can be achieved pretty easily, often simply by presenting leaders with tastes of fancy lifestyles. Large corporate interests from outside the country find it embarrassingly easy to get what they want from our governments, as we have poor records of social protest, weak organizations on the ground, and a habit of factional interests that often lead us to suspend our critical judgements in favour of partisan support (simply put, that means that our attachments to one political party or another, which for many of us are complicated by familial, social, historical and sometimes racial ties leads us to support actions we might otherwise criticize if "our" party was in power, or to criticize actions we might otherwise consider a good idea).This makes it very easy for corruption to take hold. (And if you ask me, I'll say, yes, there is probably an element of corruption of some kind or another -- not necessarily economic -- in virtually every foreign investment deal passed in The Bahamas and, by extension, in the Turks and Caicos; it's certainly evident that our governments here in The Bahamas favour activities that benefit our foreign investors (Miss Universe) while rejecting those that favour Bahamians (CARIFESTA)).The twenty-first century answer -- and it's this that I believe to be crucial to the spread of democracy in the world, and not American bootstamping and shock-and-awe tactics, or free markets -- has been that investigative journalists in small countries can expose and criticize corruption thanks to the virtual anonymity of the internet. This is what the TCI Journal achieved. Whether we agree or not with the British reaction to the exposure of corruption in TCI, the fact that the colonial power took such drastic action is testament to the power of the internet press.Google's action threatens the ability -- indeed the possibility -- for true democracy ever to exist in these, our little nations (and by extension those nations that really really need the anonymity of the internet to fight the physical oppression that they face). I have no doubt that it is being pressured by the kinds of external interests that held the Misick government in the palms of their hands, and that the kinds of resources possessed by investors enamoured of their near-absolute possession of a land and its people, virtually limitless in comparison to those of the TCI Journal. But its inability to see its action as being in contravention of its own constitution -- the constitution of the country that it sets itself up as a beacon for democracy -- calls into question, for me, the ultimate value of America's democratic principles.

A Balanced Moral Framework - Front Porch

Over on Bahama Pundit, where I used to post when I was writing Essays on Life (hiatus almost over), the mind behind Front Porch has written on the need for a more nuanced morality when discussing Bahamian issues. Hear, hear. For those who haven't read it yet, here's a sample:

Genuine insight requires context. Its companions include discernment, nuance, balance, prudence, humility -- and scepticism. It counts as its enemies cynicism, sensationalism and prejudice.
In some quarters there is a knee-jerk conceit about the Bahamas similar to the self-loathing and hackneyed images of the Caribbean by writers such as V. S. Naipaul.It goes something like this. The Bahamas is inalterably corrupt, lacks any kind of moral framework, and may be beyond repair. In its nauseating and inaccurate retelling: it’s worse in the Bahamas, often much worse.A major problem with this storyline is that it is more the stuff of fiction than good journalism. It is like a reality show, filled with exaggeration and drama in order to boost ratings, make money and inflate the egos of the scriptwriters and possibly sell tell-all books based on the reality series.This storyline lacks context. Context requires a broad vision, free of the kind of moral blindness which leads some to dismiss moral failure, and others to see only moral failure.There are many social, moral and other entrenched problems at home. But when you compare us -- or place us within a broader global context -- we are in some areas perhaps a little worse or a little better, and in many areas probably just about the same.

Bahama Pundit: A Balanced Moral Framework

The Journal meets the Tridian

I work for government. That means several things. One of them was this: when it happened, I didn't feel at liberty to comment on the acquisition, in July 2007, of the Nassau Guardian by the Tribune Media Ltd.There was plenty of noise about the merger, but most of that was sound and fury, signifying nothing, as most noise in The Bahamas tends to be these days. Probably the best post about the issue can be found here. Illuminati wrote:

On the surface it looks like a rather benign business arrangement created to save the big dailies some money by combining resources and physical operations.But is it even a JOA?A true joint operating agreement (JOA) is usually formed to protect a business from failure, yet prevent monopolization within an industry by allowing each party to retain some form of separate operation. JOAs are used in the newspaper, health care, gas and oil, and other industries.In a small town, like Nassau, where the business community is basically controlled by a closely knit group, it is hard to see how such an arrangement will benefit anyone but the media moguls themselves.

Illuminati concluded:

"Leading corporations own the leading news media and their advertisers subsidize most of the rest. They decide what news and entertainment will be made available to the country; they have direct influence on the country's laws by making the majority of the massive campaign contributions that go to favored politicians; their lobbyists are permanent fixtures in legislatures. This inevitably raises suspicions of overt conspiracy. But there is none. Instead, there is something more insidious: a system of shared values within contemporary Bahamian corporate culture and corporations' power to extend that culture to the Bahamian people, inappropriate as it may be." -- with apologies to Ben Bagdikian from Media Monopoly.

Now, six months later, we appear to live in a country where freedom of the press may be a moot point. The fact is that whether the press is free or not, it appears uninclined (or unable) to carry out the kind of investigative reporting that allows for analysis and sensible discussion of those issues. Maybe that means that worries about a news monopoly (worries that, admittedly, I shared back in July) now seem specious. A gossip monopoly, perhaps, considering the tendency of too many papers these days to print first, confirm facts after. But a news monopoly?The problem is, whether the Tridian is printing news or gossip, what Illuminati quoted back in the summer is still worth considering -- that news monopolies decide what news and entertainment will be made available to the country [and] have direct influence on the country's laws by making the majority of the massive campaign contributions that go to favored politicians.But here's the interesting thing. Six months after the merger, neither the Tribune nor the Guardian is leading public opinion with regard to Junkanoo, the biggest newsmaker of any year. No. The Bahama Journal is the paper that's doing that, at least for now. Is this a sign of things to come?