Commentary: This Women’s History Month, let’s honour Portia Simpson-Miller, former PM of Jamaica

PM-Simpson Miller

Former-P.M. Jamaica- Portia Simpson-Miller

By D. Miller

Women in Politics: Though I am not qualified to speak on women issues, I am fortunate that I grew up in an era that admired, and still strives to develop respect for women and their accomplishments where their gender tends always to be in negotiation.

Portia Simpson-Miller’s historic achievement cannot be summarized from an election loss, although many believe she squandered her last run as the head of her party in the 2016 re-election bid to continue her rule as the first woman prime minister of Jamaica.

The bloggers were swift on Facebook, Twitter, radio and other social media.

She is fool, a liar, uneducated, lucky, ridiculous, and old, a cook for asking for a re-count,” were some of the dispiriting post-election comments.

Sure, disagreements are good for any democracy to thrive but, when political discourse becomes vitriolic, abusive and hateful, it sets the nation back and only reconfirms the challenges from an historical and cultural environmental impediment surrounding women and their vision and the hidden reality of harassment and discrimination.

Naturally, some people were frustrated by their own economic conditions and others were committed to one candidate or the other. However, it does not change her tenacity in a long tradition where many believe men are superior to women, and only through representation can their voice be heard, as studies have shown.

Women in general are under-represented in the region, and leaders should debunk these negative comments beyond party affiliation because one cannot wait until she lies in repose, and the county can look back, and wonder how she did it.

Recognizing the former prime minister’s triumph is not a simple call to rachet down the inflammatory political tone, or diminish her inability to bridge the new form of networking from the old street politics, failed economic policies, challenging issues that were inadequately addressed, or the lost emotional connection to the community when she was first elected that seemed lost.

The quest for equality, social and political accomplishments is not luck as some in the media believe. It is preparation that met opportunity through hard work and dedication. Portia Simpson-Miller and women in general who have made this planet a better place cannot only be judged on few economic quantitative analyses.

This election was bigger than she was. It is the centrality of women, and where women in the region go from here, the disadvantages of being a woman, inclusion, shared priorities, leadership, rights, and security.

A Brief History: March is Women’s History Month, which is celebrated in a few countries. It should remind society of how far they have come and the work that still lies ahead. Despite the missing parades on the islands and other places, women are inspiring generations to strive at becoming better regardless of one’s race, sex, orientation, or social-economic background.

NefertitiPortia Simpson-Miller is not the only first woman who has risen to power. For example, history tells us that Nefertiti ruled Egypt in 2570 BC. In 1920 – with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution – American women were granted the right to vote. In 1966, the National organization for Women (NOW) was formed.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf-Libera-Africa,

Benazir Bhutto -Pakistan

Benazir Bhutto -Pakistan

Angela Merkel, Federal

Angela Merkel, Federal Republic of Germany

Kamla Persad-Bissessar-

Kamla Persad-Bissessar-Trinidad and Tobago

Eugenia Charles,

Eugenia Charles, Dominica

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher-British prime minister

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As society evolved, other women in politics made significant contribution. For example, Benazir Bhutto 1988–90 and then 1993–96 in Pakistan was the first woman to lead the government of any Muslin nation. Margaret Thatcher, 1979 to 1990, British prime minister; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, since 2006 the first elected head of state in Africa, Angela Merkel, first female chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany since 2005, Eugenia Charles, 1980 – 1995 Dominica, and Kamla Persad-Bissessar, 2010 – 2015 Trinidad and Tobago.

Women’s Salient Score Card: Portia is no stranger to ridicule and intense media. In 2004, the major papers, according to Christopher Charles, highlighted when she was a Member of Parliament and asked if she acted inappropriately by abstaining on a resolution that criticized the shortage of funds to the local fire service.

When women rule, pundits seems to have more questions than collaboration:

Do they manage politics differently than men?

Do they represent women’s interest?

Why are so few in leadership today?

What is her role in politics?

What was the country’s GDP, public indebtedness, wages that have been in decline since she began, and other expenditure on health, education during her time in office, and what is it now?

This distinction has to be taken up by the region’s historians in what I believed has been a protracted economy, and the consequence of failure to develop a strategy to cut the long problematic syndrome surrounding crime and poverty, and declining middle class.

The Cultural Stigma: Today it still discourages women from entering politics in Jamaica, and other parts of the region. I do not have to do a comparative analysis or draw on any feminist literature as a male to see that the structure of decision-making by women will diminish if the region’s stereotyping becomes an ongoing norm.

Women Balance

Photo Credit: Glass352

This region still has a social ideology that roars like the ocean taking anything its path (women). Her defeat again echoed an undertone that women, whether a candidate winning an election, or served or serving in a chauvinistic environment and championing equality, such as gay rights, marriage equality, poverty, women power, still have significant resistance.

Women make up about 20 percent of the world’s parliaments and even less in cabinet positions as most studies have shown.

To her credit, as scholars have noted, when women enter politics it changes how men view them.

Her accomplishments were not luck.

Sadly, political discourse has created an impression as if a crime was committed. The political pride that developed out of colonialism has led some to believe that a leader has to graduate from a top university, hold a law degree, or a PhD in government studies to lead, and underscore that one can be less privileged and become a leader from humble beginnings.

Sure, one has to understand geo-political, social, and economic issues, and be able to link it to the corner shop even without electricity or running water. Furthermore, take responsibility as a leader in the context of employment, government spending, investment in education, management, expectation vs reality, corruption, crime, and other mishandled social policies.

Portia’s failure does not lessen her. This mentality only creates barriers for upward mobility, apprehensions, and even exploitation of future qualified women. The participation of women in the legislative process benefits the country in general, and they are often better of solving issues.

When few use selective amnesia and belittle women in politics, it can have a lasting effect on the next young women who believe that women in politics can be a platform for strengthening democracy, but now seeing barriers to social mobility.

Today women are still under-represented in this region, and although a few beams of hope, subjugation in the region and its complex problems woven in structural exclusion are quick to label chaos as a pretrial of a feminist failure.

Many women today have limited but important roles in their society: Portia was saying yes she could before US President Obama stated his favourite line, “Yes we can.”

She committed herself to the public for decades, and has shown that women with power and full participation in decision-making create a better society.

WomenLooking in for a Women Coalition: I do not have a vote, party affiliation, or preference about who should have been victorious in the 2016 election. The only hope from one’s heritage connection is “good governance” in order to move the people forward for upward mobility.

Given today’s society that is polarized on economic status, race, class, and gender, Portia Simpson has beaten the odds, and has contributed to women in Jamaica and beyond.

Anyone can find statistical analysis that supports failures while minimizing the roadblocks on proposed policies. Disagreeing on policies is legitimate; however, quick negative sound bites should not define her. In fact, more push should be directed to recruit more women in politics and not counting “likes” on Facebook.

Thank you: Despite your challenges, constraints, political calculations and even disagreements, as we celebrate women in government, and Women’s Month, your dedication is more than one seat lost.

You are a trailblazer, trendsetter, and even lessons learned was a paradigm shift from the region’s historical and cultural challenges. If I may, I would like to foster some type of feminine socialist bias that you look darn good at age 70.

 

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Commentary: Another look at Mother’s Day

Mother's day

 

  • Millions of post cards and flowers will be delivered.
  • Many will be celebrating on this day, and some will not.
  • More will be lost to violence before this day ends.
  • Some are still looking to reconnect, while others simply want to disconnect.
  • Many still wish she was here.

Anna Jarvis 1908Many records have shown that in 1908 Ann Jarvis created a committee to establish “Mother Love” and later US President Woodrow Wilson recognized it in 1914. Other records show it dated back to the 1600 in England, and it was celebrated during Lent. Today, other countries celebrate it at different times. Regardless, she has become the centre for that day. In many industrialized and developed regions, Mother’s Day has grown to a multibillion business from gifts, jewelry, and flowers. The commercialization and profitability often ignore the intangibles, and at times the missing links. However, society has evolved, so now a child can have two moms, and the gratitude it brings remains intact.

On this day, if I had asked you to send a list of why this person is so special, I believe I could write a book, and start an entire blog. Regardless if you are linked by an umbilical cord or (adoption), agreement or tragic a circumstance, her essential role has shaped many of us today in becoming creative productive social being.

The love she will receive this day should remind us about empathy, understanding, and responsibility followed by a plan or an action. It more than making a new year’s pledge to lose weight, finishing a book, cleaning a closet, and finding a new job or what is next on your to do list. Although many resolutions are broken and life goes on, her resolution has to remain active.

Women & violence

AP-Photo

WmV

Credit U.N.

Despite an evolution from what I call “from the kitchen to the work place”, gender disparities remain a problem. She is also paid less than her male counterparts for the same work performed. In several poor and developing countries they still struggle to find a balance with health care, business leaders, police officers, faith-based groups and even support to raise awareness.

However, to appreciate the legacies she passes on, one has to look back for when you missed it.

 

IMG_20141218_171307Last month was Victim Awareness Month.

Memorable days like today, sometimes the conversation has to be uncomfortable even when the timing is not right. Often it is much easier to tell someone when he or she lost a loved one than talking about one’s own idiosyncrasies to her. To protect her family, she suppressed her own feeling. Whatever language she speaks or location, Mother’s Day is universal.

Our society has to draw more attention to the atrocities against women, and the devastating consequences. Today it is great that bullying, sexual, and domestic violence have much needed awareness, thanks to few rich and famous people who had to deal with it in front of the camera.

Even wh4-orighen she hurts, especially in underserved populations, as many reports show that they are less likely to report an abuse and these victims of crime are underserved. These are just a few headlines several mothers would have liked to discuss on Mother’s Day for the ones still on the street searching for a home.

Mom-care2

 

From peace to wars times, economic downturns, to a bullish economy, navigating barbaric ideologies, to the picket line, mothers have played a role in the society many enjoy today. The hot meal few enjoy when it could have been a cold one, but you never knew until you realized how she survived almost on one wing now that preparation is your responsibility.

With today’s technology, their stories can be found instantaneously. Over the past several weeks, mothers have died escaping violence while looking for a better life. It is more troubling that many will not even grow up to become a mother from the abuse and other violence they face.
MissingDespite the danger many moms face, they still believes that an educated child will control his or her destiny. Ignoring the fear of having a child being killed, raped or kidnapped, she risks their lives for a better education although she is uneducated. The number of primary school aged girls not in school has increased in several developing countries. It is about 18 million worldwide, according to the World Bank.

Taking away their intellectual curiosity can only add to the criminal justice system that has been on a rise for over 30 years, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). What will be the state of our mothers? These women with substance abuse, mental illness, and histories of sexual and physical abuse.

The centrality of education, especially for women, is essential to a better global economy,” many scholars argue. Sadly, their partners murder over 38 percent of women each year and tremendous a cost in billions to women and children, according to the United Nation.

On this day, as she welcomes your rose and the meal you have decided to buy or prepare, let us thank her for protecting us. Far too often, while we celebrate her accomplishments, tragedy ranges on as another family searches for an answer caused by tragedy.

Women1V

Collateral Damage Syria: Women and Girls Fleeing Violence: Credit -Women.org)

What if this Mother’s Day one becomes an advocate to find ways to work with an elected official to address the plight of women globally? Soon these roses will fade and, since this is not a eulogy; it is a celebration, please let her dance like the one she never had done before.

My gift on her special day is simply to unwrap the other side.

 

Commentary: My rabbi is gay, now what?

DYBYANSHU SARKAR Photo By Getty Image

DYBYANSHU SARKAR Photo By Getty Image

The Location Gay: Recently, GilSteinlauf, a senior rabbi of Adas Israel in Washington, DC, one of the largest conservative movement-affiliated synagogues came out as gay. Soon after, Apple CEO, Tim Cook, announced he is gay. One blogger wrote, “You don’t just leave your wife to “go be gay any more than you would leave her to go be straight.” Another wrote, “Apple has lost its pioneering skills and seeking more businesses.” Does one need a prerequisite to come out as gay? I asked.The gay community stories are bigger than these two men despite the media attention. However, this story is not about the rabbi, or Tim Cook. It is the plight for acceptance for other gay people who are trapped by location under an old colonial ideology that still roars like the ocean, damaging any objects in its path without an anchor. These unchecked anti-waves have eroded several poor and developing regions.
rabbi, Gil Steinlauf,Fortunately, Rabbi Gil Steinlauf and Tim Cook both have financial anchors, bridges, closets and retractable vessels that can weather the storms and bypass rough tides. Tim CookUnlike Michael Sam, an openly gay player who was cut by two National Football League (NFL) teams. This I believe is a culture of homophobia. Fortunately, for many rich and famous people, publicly announcing their sexuality often increases wealth and power.

 

youth_human_rights_watch

human_rights_watch: Photo

On the other hand, many less fortunate gays, lesbians,and bisexual announcement have the opposite effect. They do not have speedboats to escape tides and community pirates and are sometimes thrown overboard by their own captains. Many parents also face discrimination for having gay children and are more worried today about society stigma and hostility than their own future.These are some of the issues they face daily in the region: abuse, homelessness, lack of access to medical care, expulsion from the community. The only visual representation of a voice mail or iTune is the sound from the broken sewer pipes dripping and hovering over their heads from living under decayed bridges. Being gay is not a sin or learned behaviour, but bigotry, racism, and atrocities against them are.

Transgender -teen

By age 16, the teenager was dead – beaten, stabbed, shot and run over by a car when he showed up at a street party dressed as a woman. (AP Photo/Jay, J-FLAG)

(One) — I called him Rupert. Shortly after he came out, his church memberships and choir receded. He seldom goes to the beach anymore. Few friends’ lives cut-short as barbaric treatment against them appeared now acceptable. Often denied entry to community activities, employment, and forced to move for their own safety. Few burned alive, stoned, and scorned.Garden

(Two) — Sonia dressed like a man, short hair, cargo pants and boots, although she has found comfort in maintaining the small town floral garden. While some visitors marveled at her floral garden designs, other abused her appearance and threw rocks at her. Being gay did not limit her imagination. I wonder if a few had taken the time to know her, one would learn that friends of own dad repeatedly raped her as a child at a local bar he owned. With nowhere to turn for support, her trust in men eroded and she became isolated. Even in her death after she lost her battle with breast cancer, her remains were treated as if her gayness had Ebola. Her ashes are now resting in the garden she created.

(Three) — Berma, very beautiful and has a good job. She blends in well with her peers, lives in a nice home, and well educated. However, she is also scared of coming out. Despite rumours after she was seen holding hands with her partner on the other side of town, she constantly shrugged off the argument of having a child. Today, many of your cab drivers could have been famous cricketers, track stars, teachers, and police officers, but they were not welcome for being gay. Many have left their districts, and now found comfort behind the wheel of a cab or coaching in a women’s sports league and serving your meal at the local restaurant. Even Human Rights Watch has seen increase in violence simple for being perceived gay. They do not have the support system and their future in being gay remains grim.

UmbrellaThe Umbrella: The gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community has finally reached many shores, but others are still searching for that elusive lighthouse for guidance off these shores. Despite some being gay themselves, they would rather promote stratification along racial, colour, and economic status or location lines. One’s gayness is not white, black, rich or poor, tall short, fat, or slim issue. They are simply gay, who happens to be one of the above. A gay cruise from Puerto Rico along the eastern and southern Caribbean with over 1,500 men does not address the plight of the ones stuck under the bridge or left at sea.

The Jamaica Gleaner reported on an anti-gay march in St Thomas in response to a proposed bill that would recognize marriage as a legal union between two people and not the traditional man and woman. Huffington Post reported in March 2012 that two California men were arrested in Roseau, Dominica, where sex between two men is illegal.

In 2010, the Cayman Islands rejected the arrival of an Atlantis gay cruise. Moving forward is slow in the region.  Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar says the “decriminalization of homosexuality” in Trinidad and Tobago is not something her administration will seek to do because “it would not be prudent for the government to go ahead in that direction at this time”, according to the Trinidad Express.

MDR Photo: Taken on Location in St.Lucia

The gay and lesbian community spends an estimated $830 billion according to Curve Magazine each year. Leveraging its influence especially along blue water and white sand through education, and other grassroots support is vital. The region cannot afford to avoid this business revenue. One should not have to strategically plan gay vacation routes based only on gay friendly destinations in the Caribbean, Africa or any other regions as if it is an election strategy in red and blue in the US.

Society has evolved, but it seems the colonial ship mentality continues to sail while umbrellas shield leaders’ hesitation to move forward from a cemented things as they are. “Things cannot stay the way as they are.” Despite the statistical signs for more tolerance, this issue remains a monumental task. The region cannot do this alone.

An intolerance system passed down from several decades is hard to change course instantly. Subconsciously, the Anglicization of families as the British did wherever they settled centuries ago remain active. However, some islands have taken steps, such as Bermuda, and in Jamaica, the momentum is gaining, but an advocate needs to keep the pressure on.4457931_orig

A Blinded History: According to a study conducted by Trevor Bernard, based on data taken from St Andrews Jamaica, marriage patterns between 1666 and 1750 taken from the parish register were analyzed.

The results indicated that the average length of marriage was very short and declined over time. It resulted in a reduction of children produced by marriage, and was insufficient to sustain slavery and population growth. During that period, influxes of women slaves from Britain and Africa arrived in the region.

An argument can be made that they were placed there for procreation and not simply as slaves working for white rulers, as reported. It seems valid if people stayed married four centuries ago, and produced more children; it would have supported the demands for labour. Centuries later, independence has created more social and economic struggles, as 2901278residual footprints in customs, laws, beliefs still have the ghosts of the past.

My conspiracy theory is that many of the men then were gay and, in shaping these societies, they undermined individuals’ rights for the sake of economic and political power. Recently I began to wonder if the Buggery Act has similarities as earlier, anti-voting laws passed to isolate certain groups. Some 150 years later several Jamaicans opposed amending the Buggery Act that was created during colonial rule around 1861.

Today, many leaders in the region remain silent on amendments or new human rights laws. The anti-gay protesters believe that homosexuals and their agenda are bad for strong and healthy families, righteousness, and justice. This not just a sea change happening in Jamaica, the US and other regions. Many who felt left out finally seeking anticipation and began to wear their bright colours. However, history has shown that the quest for equality does not sit well with few on ideological grounds.

Black2The transition from slavery to free legal status from 1823 to 1838, especially in the Caribbean region, seems only to be on paper. There is still a major divide between the haves and have-nots, as social, economics, ideology, greed, power, and intolerance maintain stratification. Modernization today is in conflict, especially with leaders who are stuck in the past on old colonial rule mindset. Many pulpits have created more homophobia as they labeled it as a sin.

This is not much different from when many blacks  being viewed as second-class citizens. That mentality has created hostility, hate, isolation and violence. Reaching out and developing tolerance across the region is key, such as what occurred recently in Washington, DC, where several Muslim groups were invited to worship at Catholic Cathedral.   A recent one report on  You Tube by an Arizona pastor claiming that, “we can have an AIDS-free world by Christmas if gays were executed.”  If the god they all worship is love for all, who determines which one is not loved by him?

Reversing the monster: What if US never passed the 1964 Voting Rights Act and the Title VII Act against discrimination, would there be a Barack Obama. I believe reprogramming the few who might have never have left the colonized period mentally is key. Reparation is not the key answer in removing ghosts of the past. A simple law such as the US Prison Rape Elimination [PREA] that holds prison guards who rape inmates accountable would address some of the issues gays face in prison there.

The British government should increase funds towards educational awareness, and pressure leaders to move forward from its old laws. The price of educating the community will be far less than the ignorance in the end. Although the crops such as sugar cane, coffee, spices that have built their economy decades ago have dried up, however, footprints are still cast in the red clays with far-reaching effects.

For example, the Suspicion Laws popularly called the ‘Sus Laws’, which emanated from the legislation of the Vagrancy Act of 1824 as reported by Shaka Yesufu. This law represented an institutionalized  racial profiling that often used in many cities today globally.

What if, in 1776, the US did not declare independence from Great Britain and insist on the pursuit, of life, liberty justice even on paper for all. There is an opportunity for these once colonial masters to hasten the new paradigm shift in reshaping the less fortunate regions they have left. It is time to consider another conquest of these regions, but this time bringing an update new version of an operating system to modernize much needed social and economic ideologies.

What if we continue to allow many more Boko Harams to commit atrocities on society, many young girls will be sold off into marriages at an early age, female circumcision (female genital mutilation) and Incest and more women would continue to be raped and not allowed to file for divorce, or even drive in regions ruled by black leaders.

The Struggles Ahead: Despite US Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement: “I am pleased to announce that the federal government will recognize same-sex marriages”, combined with new laws passed in over 20 states, polarization, intolerance and political ideology threatens this paradigm shift. Those communities must choose candidates who share their values. President Obama has benefited from this focus.

However, it cannot only be leaders from industrialized countries while the poor suffer. Efforts have to be made to make sure, if one gay life lost because of who they are, it should be a sad day, as a soldier killed in a war despite one’s belief for or against that war. The gay community in these poor regions remains at the mercy of the rich in an oligarchic system with an uphill battle.

Changes take time and often resisted. When the US elected Barack Obama the first black president, many were delighted for the change, but six years later, with positive economic growth, the nation is still divided. Like fighting racial issues, the gay community has to continue to fight for equality because while they dance to fun rhythms on the beach in these regions, many lyrics are strategically placed to demonise the community, such as racial epithets, and codes used to polarize, create intolerance and hate.

Love DocOnly when societies become more educated and tolerant, then we can begin to dance together and reverse a monster that was created. Pushing the legalization of marijuana despite its potential long-term addictive effect, gay rights should take on the same effort. Finally, the next time you power up your iPhone to spread hate, just remember the new design you waited 24 hours in 10-degree weather  to buy  was approved by a gay man. And no! I am not gay, but should that matter to support their cause?  Rest in Peace • Leslie Feinberg-for fighting for equality for all.leslie-feinberg-story-

 

 

 

Commentary: High on Ebola, low on chikungunya

EbolaSince the recent outbreak of chikungunya in the Caribbean, four people with close connections who arrived back to into the US from the Caribbean region were hospitalized immediately and diagnosed with the virus. In addition, a few medical center employees communicated that they have seen an increase of patients from the region admitted to their medical facilities. I am not a medical doctor, nor I do I play one on the television; however, based on the recent reports chikungunya has seen a significant up-tick. On the other hand, an impression is being portrayed that it is under control on these shores. What  long term-effect it has on people  is not  known at this time.

The leaders must address this issue openly and develop a solid plan before this potential storm, where soon US and other well-traveled countries by the Caribbean people will begin to put the medical drone in the region. The drone concept is geared to destroy anything in its path when launched. However, could you blame the US if they cut travel, and begin to set a high alert and other screening of passengers from the region?

The recent death of Thomas Duncan from Ebola at age 42, who arrived in the US, has created an intensive focus on foreign travelers from many poor and developing countries. Although many believed Thomas Duncan’s death while in US care would inevitably send a statement to others to not come, many people are now wondering what the color of medicine is after two dedicated Caucasian doctors who worked in Liberia contracted the virus and recovered. One of the silent tones in the Caribbean addressing chikungunya, I believe, is not the politics of the virus, which is often seen elsewhere, for the region it is all economics.

1797349_origHere is why: Most of the region’s economic engine is tourism, and if any indication like what has been taken place in Liberia, it could be worse than the economic collapse in 2008 that left many still sneezing. I begin to wonder if this is a reason reports of this increasing tide seem a bit hushed up to protect the tourism industry while many locals are suffering silently. Any business model during a turbulent time is not only to ready, but willing to tell about structural problems. This approach not only builds credibility, but also shows a level of leadership that is lacking today on several fronts.

This is not a call for a reduction of travel to and from the region, or high-level screening at airports — that would be premature at this point. On the other hand, when the local government is slow to educate people, this could be a tornado building. Therefore, questions must be asked. Along these blue waters there lies an undercurrent overflowing its banks at any time, and the long-term impact could cripple many lives, both medically and economically.

Managing these issues takes compassion and resources. Recently I saw a Facebook picture post of what appeared to be a sick person from the region who became more victimized as he was scorned from an appearance of what is believed to be the symptoms of the Ebola virus. Furthermore, when it is reported that few local doctors are contemplating refusing to report to work in the event of an outbreak due to the lack of medical supplies and other resources that is troubling.

In today’s society, where billions are being spent on wars and politicians re-election, it is hard to fathom that lack of resource and awareness, combined with scorn, can leave many more suffering. I hope elective officials, medical staff, and CARICOM step up its mandate to educate people and seek help through awareness, because the potential problems such as what is occurring in Liberia and other West African countries, where perception is more dangerous that an actual virus.

These islands are unique and sometimes that can be their own downfall because the uniqueness creates a form of isolation. It further limits collaboration, as all seem to be competing for piece of the visitors pie. Therefore, competition mutes concerns, while marketing becomes“them and not us mentality.”

This virus is not just an island thing, or in Third World countries as one of my less informed friends stated, he is going to stop eat chicken, and stop going to places where lots of chicken are found.

-Ebola3-thumb response

Education is key: No, you cannot get it from eating chicken, or visiting places where chicken are in abundance. The name chikungunya derives from a word in Makonde language roughly meaning that which bends up reflecting the physique of a person disabled by the disease. Many reports have noted that it was first identified in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) in 1952

According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the first known autochthonous chikungunya cases in the Western Hemisphere occurred in October 2013 on the island of Saint Martin. By March 2014, travelers to other Caribbean islands carried it to: Dominica; the British territories Anguilla and British Virgin Islands; overseas departments of France — Guadeloupe, Martinique; and the constituent countries of the Netherlands Antilles, as well as other areas such as St Kitts and Nevis; the Dominican Republic; and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

An estimated 3.6 billion persons in 124 countries are at risk worldwide, such as the many who are exposed to dengue fever. Large outbreaks have also been seen Indian Ocean islands, India and South-East Asia, according to the Infection, Genetic, and Evolution Journal. It has also reached Asia and Europe, and North America has seen a few cases recently in Florida.

The National Institute of Health, World Health Organization, Public Health Department, and Infectious Disease, noted that chikungunya is a viral disease that is rarely fatal. It is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. The symptoms include high fever and headache with debilitating joint pains, swelling and stiffness of joints, muscular pain, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and rash that can last for several weeks. Normally within four to seven days as reported after been bitten, the symptoms appear. The mosquitoes become infected when they feed on an infected person during the viraemic period. Today, there are no specific antiviral treatments or vaccines available. However, it also has been reported that commonly used medications include ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, paracetamol, and aspirin. Although there have been reported deaths, the number of related deaths are extremely low compared to Ebola; however, one should not discount it as a storm that will pass soon.

These regions have to debunk that only certain medicine can cure this outbreak, while many studies have reported there are no known cures at this time for the symptoms. It is extremely important that people take serious preventive measures such as bite-proof long sleeves and trousers.  Purchasing  untested drugs in desperation from local street vendors might not be the best approach, especially for people with limited or no access to healthcare.  More information can be found published by many health organizations.

It can be extremely difficult to track down all mosquitoes and apply chemical spray on an entire region to cut concerns and especially in poor  and, rural areas with pool of slow-flowing water that is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and the lack of access to good health care only add to the problem.

Today many travelers are still waiting on a concrete government plan on how they are handling the issue in a coördinated effort. If there is one, please post.

Although some awareness has been posted, and the governments seem now to be taking steps to mitigate the potential problem, more needs to be done. Nevertheless, can we all be stratified? This is not to reduce  any attempts, as the lack of resources can make this a difficult task. Moreover, the chance of being robbed, shot or killed in some of these areas, is more than likely than contracting the virus.

Island PicAs the region continues to attract visitors, it is also important that these visitors receive a disclaimer of this undercurrent taking place. The leaders must make sure that all proactive measures are taken, and seek help and resources as needed, and stop putting on a good face on this issues with a relaxed attitude. I am still optimistic that all can come together and weather the storm. Moms and I have a ticket ready to land soon to take a break from the upcoming winter.

Commentary: Have you been polled lately?

Block Party PhillyOpinion polls mean nothing to most of us until an election season. They have been around for over 150 years in the US. For example, in 1936, during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s election, the polls targeted citizens from telephone books and car registrations. It was believed that this demographic were well-off Republicans, and the results favoured the other candidates. In fact, President Roosevelt won. Today, several polls have mistakenly predicted elections outcomes.The problem with most of our opinion polls today is that they seem to be skewed towards a certain demographic. They are subjective and in disguise, driving more divide and isolation by race and social economic status. However, not all polls are bad when designed properly.

Many have created major paradigm shifts and blueprints for leaders.It has enabled some organizations to change poor practices to where a new bus route ends, and how many police officers are placed in some communities, to where new schools are built. Polls have played a role in ending wars to building new bridges. Today, some of our polls seem poorly designed, both local and global, to further create a society of them vs. us, which might satisfy our short term taste, but we will remain hungry for another 100 years to reverse a bad appetite to form a better union. 

Governing with polls is nothing new. Most politicians often use them to differentiate themselves as many have reported. In May 1939, a Gallup poll put the question: “Are you in favor of Mr. Winston Churchill being invited to join the Cabinet?” It was reported that about 56% agreed, and the rest is history as to his leadership.However, when polls are being used as roadblocks to economic growth and stratification dominated by specific segmented opinions, it is problematic.

Pollsters are viewed as highly intelligent people and groups. However, I wonder if they too doubt their own hypotheses, but refuse to reject them as the outcome agenda is more important than the numbers themselves.  Since the 1990s scholars have reported that polling has become very competitive, as more companies that are private are conducting polls today. It is a very lucrative business for any side of the political spectrum.

Despite these companies, “Have you been polled today?” Alternatively, would it have made any difference since we do not even trust each other? Far too often, the sub-sets and significant areas of our society are not reflected in the last numbers. As a result, we are less gullible even when information can be vital.Today anti-sentiments force most of us to wonder if certain zip codes, boroughs, parishes, races, cultures, and economic status are pre-requisites to be polled. In the end, we are left more isolated with more simple questions, rooted in mere divided reflections.

'Sorry, sir, but we don't have a category for that.'Slowly it seem polling has begun to diminish its own legitimacy and, if technology can track what medication families are prescribed to what they eat and buy,  and there is no excuse for what is believed to be only the gated community to have their opinions heard and often they do not share the same views.

Several telephone numbers and home addresses have been the same, and the bills are still being paid. These families have not moved, only less seen from the trees that are now overgrown once planted by their parents, and most of their friends and children are teachers, police officers, business, and civic leaders now paying new mortgages from an upgrade from the homes passed down from immigrants’ parents woven in the melting pot.

The only issue I believe could have barred several poor communities from being polled was the monopoly a local telephone company had on the community. After it was broken up, many left for a better price. My family realized that for over five years we rented a telephone that was priced at about $15. Imagine the huge savings over time and our frustration was heard loudly.

These overlooked communities are modernized and tucked away behind beautiful well-kept trees planted 40-50 years ago, as second and third generation still called home where many were not allowed to park in certain areas while paying rent by the head count each night, are now homeowners. Sure, some of the roads have not been paved in a few years, and faces are more tanned and not from the sun. However, they too have sons, uncles, fathers who have fought for the freedom most of us enjoy today.

Polled yet PicPolls often draw attention, but is it a true reflection of our young and urban people, especially politically driven polls that should have included popular culture, and demographics engagement? Today, it seems the questions being asked are precursors embedded to create isolation, while others gain from our exodus from the process. This is not because we are uniformed; simply frustrated with pundits’ quests to expand conflicts by creating toxicity in their communities and not eliminating the poisons.

New technology has created new graphs but, beneath the coded colours, it is not much different from a few Third World countries’ polls where local politicians themselves conduct the polls. The only samples are cash, liquor, and road projects awarded to supporters. In the end, elections are measured by the amount of people who came out for cash that ensures the minister locked up his constituency by any means necessary. It seems our modernized data are not much different, only this time technology is the distribution chain.

obama_downcast_AP

Tony Lee Photo: Black loosing support For Obama 2013

Polled or Polarized: Politically motivated polls seem no longer to serve as a talking point and for rigorous debate. They are being used as a weapon that has minimized progress. It now represents segment-coded words, racial epithets, and other languages that target sub-groups.

Even when the polls are generally upbeat, many in my community remain skeptical. Polls are like the “Boy Who Cried Wolf.” After several missed calls, finally, when the wolves arrived, it was often too late. We left because we have been fooled too many times, and are now rebuilding simply because we are still somewhat leery of the same stories.

Often the interpretations we brought to these numbers are different. Maybe because our own sampling can be too predictable because of our behaviour and struggle. Therefore, the initiative tends to be grouped into sublet isolated by codes. However, as these pollsters and interests groups relegate, they must recognize most of us have also sacrificed families in wars, stayed committed during slow economic times, and have made other significant contributions to the wealth of the nation.

Today, few of us attend local community meetings of concern, from where to build an offender re-entry center or mall, or about immigration issues, because polarization has already dictated decisions. Nevertheless, we had to cope and move on.

As I travel across several regions, communities are being built with themes that represent other nations left decades ago. Many residents seem to be struggling with the melting pot concept. The only times we see them on Main Street from isolation are a cultural event, and during a popular world game such as the World Cup every four years, when their ancestors’ flags drape their homes and cars: More than a game

These sub-groups now have their own schools, where over 90% still practice their parents’ customs. No, they are not terrorists, they are educated, and in high demand and part of the new world organization, but they are more divided and isolated, watching pundits exploit certain groups, which justifies their own isolation in a reversal of the melting pot. We only cross paths at the local department of motor vehicles while our leaders fight over poll numbers.

Any numbers that solve one side of the equation normally has to isolate the other. These polls might have short-term political success. However, consistently forcing a division in our society could overlook a great leader who went underground from poor governance driven by subjective and isolation polls.

Unemployment chartOne recent poll stated that President Obama is the worst since World War II. Many were quick to argue that it has little to do with race. If you live outside theB82mI3lCUAAbKth political spectrum, and just happen to tune in, one might believe President Barack Obama, compared to others before him, has an outside marital affair, the unemployment rate is now 10.9%, five years after he took office, he sold arms to Iran, started two wars, gotten a personal check for freeing the terrorist from GITMO, selected by the Supreme Court to a second term, and zero jobs were created under his leadership. Sure, he has not been perfect, but name one president without some issues. I have met many who disagrees with this administration policies, but never been polled on that block.

What demographic was polled and question were asked? Many in the main community have seen far more economic turmoil, both local and global, including scandals, they have better numbers, and this is why we tend simply to call it a null hypothesis.

Although one cannot close that all polls conducted are racially motivated, especially surrounding the first African American president, where some of our discourse already had him down 20 points just by his mere colour, while others would like to erase his history.

When variations exist with Obama’s policies, we respectfully disagree, nor do many of us have a poster of him like a teenager in love with a rock star. However, preservation of our history has to be solid. It ensures that the next generations have a sense of where we were. What good is history if it continues to repeat itself? Therefore, we must reject polarization and skewed agendas and begin to create the polls we deserve.

Metropolitan areas: New  front line of the demographic change:

Metropolitan areas: New front line of the demographic change:

What would be the last poll numbers for a family or person in war torn areas fighting over land, religious belief, or missing and exploited children and the homeless who are now under a bridge that connects working class people to the nation’s capital.

Our doubts are always good in a democratic system. It allows us to continue looking for the correct answers. If you were to ask who killed John F. Kennedy, Dr. King many perhaps still believe someone other than the person charged,  and especially,  Lee Harvey Oswald 50 years later on Kennedy’s death

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