Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Saturday, February 09, 2008

What makes the news?

When you have lived in places as different as Barbados (middle income status; physically and economically very small and relatively unimportant in most senses), the USA (high income status; economically and physically huge; politically and economically very important in an international sense), Guinea (dirt poor; physically small for Africa but big compared to many countries; small national economy; politically and economically insignificant), you feel you have some perspective on things in the world. But that is all a matter of viewpoint, literally and figuratively. I found it interesting to approach the weekend with a thought on how what goes on in these places makes the news.

An adage says that all politics is local so I don't want to dismiss any place because when seen in a larger, world context they can be like dust specks. But is many places one could say the same about news. While the big news of the week to me and many others has been about subjects like the developments in the race for presidential candidates in the USA that does not mean that issues important to local life get left behind. So while major national and international newspapers such as The Times will have focused on that electoral fist fight, it has not found space for what goes on in Barbados or Guinea. My eyes have been on all three places.

So, the dominant US news. The real drama of "Super Tuesday" had to wait until Thursday. Mitt Romney, was not far behind the front runner, John McCain, but decided that to help his party he would pull out of the race to become the presidential nominee for the Republican Party. He had spent a reported US$ 35 million of his own money to finance his now failed campaign (see report in The Times). He had great credientials (see Romney's website). He worked as a vice president for Bain and Co. in the late 1970s/early 1980s. In 1984, he founded Bain Capital, which became one of the nation's most accomplished venture capital and investment companies. In 1999 he left Bain Capital to take over as President and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee and subsequently helped save 2002 Winter Olympics in that city. He was elected in 2002 as the 70th Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and left that office January 2007. His record of successful financial and business management and taking hard decisions in both private and public sectors was not enough in itself to get his nominated. Such is life in politics.

In Barbados, we can get down to earth, so to speak and focus on the story that had me wondering about what people find important. In a week when a bunch of burglars were caught who preyed on empty houses and targeted laptops and cell phones, other thiefs were getting some meatier goods. Mr. Lionel Hill, a supermarket owner, was glad that police found and recovered some 165 (of 195) buckets of pigtails that had been stolen from his business, valued at B$ 20,000 [US$10,000] (see report in Nation). If you are from the Caribbean you will know the many dishes that need pig tails (salted or fresh). I discovered a new dish recently of barbequed pigtails and would have loved to get my jaws around some of those buckets.

As regards, Guinea, all eyes in that country--mired in poverty and political loop-di-loop--had been focused on how the national team was faring in the African Nations Cup, being played in Accra, Ghana. The tournament had some coverage in the local papers. I watched some games online. After playing well enough to get through to the quarter finals, Guinea then had to face the losing finalists from two years ago, Cote d'Ivoire, with their stellar line up including Kalou, Drogba and others. They had to enter that game without their star player, Feindouno, who scored two goals in the previous game against Morocco, then had lost his sense of perspective and got himself expelled for stamping on an opponent.(You can see from the picture that he can use his feet well.) Inevitably, Cote d'Ivoire won 5-0. So, Guinea will miss out on the ultimate glory of being finalists. The team members can get back to playing for their clubs, many abroad. The country can refocus on whether it will go on indefinite strike to get more political change.

The final game of the tournament in Ghana will be between Cameroon (the "Lions"; who devoured the hosts) and Egypt (the "Pharoahs", who beat Cote d'Ivoire's lions convincingly). How fitting that the contest will come down to that apt challenge. Certainly, the Lions have plenty of bite and the tactical build up with triangles that is a part of the Egyptian game will be well tested. All I hope now is that I can find a television channel that will show the game tomorrow.

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