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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday Express: Vision 2020 coming closer to the people

A statement from the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Planning and Development on the much-maligned Vision 2020, published in the Sunday Express of November 18th, 2007, with emphasis mine.
Please permit me the opportunity to respond to some issues raised in the Sunday Express editorial of November 11 with regard to Vision 2020.

The first point I wish to underscore is that Vision 2020 represents the change in the quality of life of all citizens which is expected to be attained by the year 2020, as a result of the policies, strategies, programmes and projects being pursued. Such initiatives as well as the indicators and targets to track and measure progress are all identified in the Vision 2020 National Strategic Plan and related Operational Plans which were all tabled in Parliament.

Some of the key indicators are:

Per capita income; employment/unemployment levels; price stability; productivity levels; literacy rates; access to quality education at all levels; availability of quality housing; access to quality health care services; state of the environment; incidence of serious crime; poverty levels; commuting time; availability of basic amenities.

Fundamental to the social and economic transformation that is envisioned is a critical change in values and attitudes at both the individual and national levels and in the social relationships which will have to characterise our everyday lives. All citizens must want a better society and must be prepared to make the commitment and sacrifices consistent with the attainment of this goal.

Formulation of the National Strategic Plan drew heavily on the expert contributions of a wide range of nationals drawn from both the public and private sectors including representatives of civil society, and as the work progressed, it was further informed by nationwide consultation both in Trinidad and in Tobago. Moreover, plan implementation is being driven on a continuous basis by the Programme Management Office of the Planning Ministry.

The Vision 2020 National Strategic Plan became a public document since 2004. The Strategic Plan as well as the Operational Plans are all available online at the Vision 2020 website: www.vision2020.info.tt and were also distributed in hard and electronic copies to all the media houses including the Express.

As part of its communication strategy to bring Vision 2020 closer to the population, the Planning Ministry will continue its outreach programme in communities and schools throughout the country. The media will also be important for updating the population on the status of plan implementation.

The ministry wishes to thank the Express for the focus it has brought to the Vision 2020 project through its editorial. We certainly appreciate the opportunity presented for updating and enlightening the national community on this project of national importance.

Anthony Bartholomew
Permanent Secretary
Ministry of Planning and Development
If we want it, we have to work for it too. All of us do... Not some of us on behalf of the rest of us... Not some of us only if we see someone else making an effort...

If not, then the bureaucrats are wasting their time fighting to achieve a standard that the populace at large seems to refuse to believe that it deserves.

We are far better than the pit in which we choose to wallow, covering ourselves over with pity at our collective perceived condition. But we must want better, be willing to work for better. We must stop throwing up our hands in frustration that things are not better faster. We must be patient with those who don't or can't see it, and not chastise them but encourage.

It's not going to start over night. Indeed, it's already started. But it needs to continue with you.

You don't need to wait on Central and Local Government and the public service to take charge of things within your personal sphere of control.

Friday, November 16, 2007

TSTT Broadband Modem Settings Advisory

As most would realise by now, TSTT is the enterprise behind the new Blink Broadband. They have re-branded their high speed Internet access service "Blink Broadband" as they upgrade their infrastructure and simultaneously reduce the monthly subscriber access charge.

As part of the upgrade process, current subscribers have been asked to make a setting change in their DSL modems to allow them to work on the upgraded infrastructure.

Unfortunately, TSTT has sent the advisory detailing the changes required to each subscriber's TSTT email address, an email service that hardly anyone seems to use. As a result, a lot of subscribers seem to have (1) missed the advisory, and (2) don't know that there was an advisory until their DSL fails to connect and they start to call their tech-savvy friends and relatives for help.

Fielding three calls for help so far and having felt the "Dammit! TSTT again!" frustration myself when the service switched on my own connection, the text of TSTT's advisory is re-published here as a public service. It's without permission, but I'm sure they'd be glad for the help getting the word out.

Note that the following is copied verbatim from TSTT's advisory, and I bear no responsibility for any negative impact.

If in doubt, as they indicate, do call TSTT Internet Services/Blink Broadband at 62-BLINK.
Dear Valued Customer,

Further to our earlier, "Modem Settings Advisory", which referred to our website http://www.blinkbroadband.tt/ModemSettings.html for screen-shot based instructions, we wanted to also include simple step-by-step text instructions, in the event that any issues were encountered in opening and downloading the attachments.

In that regard, please refer below to the instructions for each modem type - Speedstream, Netopia, and Paradyne:

Speedstream 4200 and Speedstream 5200
  1. Open your web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc)
  2. In the address bar type and press Enter
  3. Click on Login
  4. Enter admin in both the username and password fields, and click Login
  5. Click on Setup
  6. Then click on Wan Interface
  7. Locate the VC column and click on the 0/35 below
  8. Choose VCMUX where it shows Select the Encapsulation Type (if VCMUX is already selected, proceed to next step)
  9. Click Next
  10. PPPoA should already be selected, if not click on PPPoA
  11. Click Next
  12. Click Next again
  13. Select Auto-connect on Disconnect (if already selected proceed to next step)
  14. Click on Finish
  15. When prompted to reboot, click on Reboot
  16. Another reboot prompt would appear, click Reboot
  17. Once the countdown is complete, you should be connected to the internet
Netopia 2241/3342
  1. Open your web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc)
  2. In the address bar type and press Enter
  3. When prompted for username and password, enter admin in both fields and click Ok
  4. Click on Expert Mode, and then click Ok
  5. Click on Configure, then Click Wan
  6. Click on ATM
  7. Ensure that Encapsulation shows PPP over ATM
  8. Change Multiplexing to VC muxed
  9. Click on Submit
  10. Then click on the yellow triangle in the top right-hand side of the window
  11. Click on Save and Restart
  12. When the router has completed rebooting, you will be prompted for username and password
  13. Enter admin for both the username and password, and click Ok
  14. You should be connected to the internet again
  1. Open your web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc)
  2. In the address bar type and press Enter
  3. When prompted for username and password, enter admin in both fields and click Ok
  4. Click on Advanced Setup, then click Wan
  5. Click on Edit (located on the right-hand side of the screen)
  6. Click Next
  7. Change the Encapsulation Mode to VC-MUX (is already selected continue to next step)
  8. Click Next
  9. Ensure that the Keep alive option is enabled
  10. Click Next
  11. Click Next again
  12. Click Save
  13. Click Finish
  14. It takes about 1 to 2 minutes to complete the reboot, but once the Paradyne has rebooted, you should be connected to the internet.
If any difficulties are encountered, please contact 62-BLINK.

TSTT Internet Services.
PS: Of course I'll never turn away my own friends' calls for help...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Site Updates...

People reading the last post would have noted a few of the more obvious site updates made this weekend...

New Graphic Banner
The site now features a new graphic banner, replacing the text-based one. Personally, I think it's snazzy without being too fancy and adds a nice touch to the site.

Subscription Options
Readers have had the option to subscribe to the blog, and get notified via RSS or email when new posts are generated. The subscription box in the sidebar hasn't had any functionality changes, but it too has been cleaned up a bit. It also takes top position in the sidebar, replacing the "About Me" section.

Search Options
Google powers the search box at Keith in Trinidad. Previously, clicking the button searched all of Google by default, and you had to explicitly select "this site" to search for content here alone. The default has been switched to "this site" and that box too has been neatened a tad.

2008 Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Calendar
Scroll down a bit and in the sidebar, by popular demand, you'll find my interactive Carnival Calendar (powered by Google). At present, it contains basic information on some of the major fetes for the season. However, as we wind down through Christmas and into Carnival, it will be updated with more events and more detailed information as comes to hand. Play with it and comment on it. Send me corrections if necessary and your event information for inclusion.

T&T Bloggers
If you're here, it's likely that you read more than most. There's a list of notable fellow bloggers of varying opinions and styles, but with one thing in common - all are Trinbagonian proud. Read me. Read them. And that list is still not all of us. There are quite a few more listed here, and I still don't think that's an exhaustive...

Feedback, as always, is welcome.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Things that Trinbagonians should know...

Almost everything that you want or need to know about what the Government Service does, what it has been doing and what it intends to do is available online via http://www.gov.tt, the Trinidad and Tobago Government Online Portal, also known as "TTConnect".

TTConnect is a searchable and apolitical space chock full of information, including how citizens can access various services available to them like:
The portal also features links to Government ministries and bodies, state enterprises and agencies, such as:
I won't even pretend that the lists above are exhaustive. Take a half-day (there is indeed that much content!) and go through TTConnect. There's a lot that you probably don't know that's there that is and a lot that you don't know that your Government does for you.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Silly Season Statements from the Segments of the Society

Overheard on Charlotte Street:
"Doh arkse mih who ah votin' for. Ah doh tell nobody who ah votin' for... But yuh better vote PNM if yuh now wha' good fo' yuh!"
Posted on Facebook:
"... it's only in this country that it could come down to who to vote against and not who to vote for."
In conversation in a Port of Spain Mall:
"I personally like what the Government is doing, yuh know... The only thing that really concerns me is the constitutional majority thing... I mean, yes, we need to reform the constitution... but I don't want the PNM to just re-form the constitution just so... yuh know what I mean? Like... they should have an Opposition that should make then do the right thing, yeah? But... *steups*... I don't know nuh..."
Parroted loudly in an office building:
"We movin' with See Oh Pee! Allyuh make sure allyuh move wid See Oh Pee!"
On the Chaguanas Main Road:
"But Mr. Warner is a businessman! He ain't do nothing wrong! Wha' wrong wid making money? I sure allyuh woulda do de same t'ing too! Me ent see nothing wrong wid him! And he care about we Indian people too!"
A senior citizen on a PTSC Round-De-Town bus:
"I am riding the bus for free every day in air conditioned comfort, you see me here. 82 years old last month and I don't need the free drugs that they are giving to people, but I glad for them if ever I need them. I get up and cook good food every morning before first light, and I don't get sick. People don't eat properly. That's why they're always sick. You will never catch me lining up to buy Kentucky Fry or cooking tinned corned beef for my husband. Good fresh food all the time for me and mine. Look here. See! It's the market that I just come from to get a little provision and some salt meat for tomorrow. I get my little pension and I say thank you for it, and I know how to make it stretch. I don't know what those other people are going to give me... Or what they are going to take away from me either... So long as my grandson comes to pick me up, I will be going to stain my finger for the PNM. They have such a nice young man running for the seat this year too..."
On the Southern Main Road in a bar:
"It's victimisation! Dey only victimisin' we Indian people! Yuh cyah trust none o' dem neemakeram and dem! I go put God out my t'oughts an' vote for Duck-and-Run?! Nevah!!!"
Judy Raymond, in Trinidad Express story The Hunter and the Hunted:
"While a few people waited in vain for Mr John of the UNC to arrive, a COP constituency chairman tried to enlighten me as to what the party sees in its leader. He agreed Mr Dookeran was a poor speaker, but he was a brilliant and honest man: 'It's just that his brain and his tongue aren't connected.'

Somehow that wasn't as reassuring as he intended..."
On the radio:
"Winners Vote PNM!"
On the radio, two weeks later:
"Winners Vote COP!"
In front the Bank on pension day:
"Whole day in Parliament, they crying down all the things that they PNM doing. Now you listen to them on the platform and read the manifestos and all that they want to do is what they were crying down all the time... You telling me that I should have time with them?"
A cell phone user on the road:
"Gyul! Dey was givin' way jersey up by me Sunday wid a two bills wrap up in it! Ah send de husban' and chirren in de road... Yes oui! We get ah gran' and a half easy! And we ent have to buy chamois cloth to wash de car wid for a year!"
Me in email, one morning last week to a pardner who sent a missive to a group of us containing, in caps, the words "CRIME" , "FOOD PRICES" and "SHADOW CONSTITUTION" encouraging us to vote in a particular direction for party and leader of his choice, and purporting that Trinidad and Tobago is going literally to Hell in a hand basket otherwise:
I agree with your encouraging citizens to go out and vote. I am not though about to make a pronouncement and tell people who they should cast their ballot in favour of. I will say that they should attempt to wade past the hype and electioneering and carefully assess their options. None of the parties is perfect, and it has been a campaign filled with much innuendo and mud-slinging. The winners this season are the advertising companies.

Crime is a problem. But it is not true to say that the ruling Government has done nothing nor have they sat around idly. Pop over to the Ministry of National Security ask about the Citizen Security Programme that runs in all of high risk areas all across the map. No, they don't get much press. Their website is still a work in progress but you can take a look at what's there at http://csp.gov.tt/ Ask too about the other programmes run by the Ministries of National Security, Social Development, Gender and Culture to deal with some of crime's root causes.

Looking back at [name removed] grandfather's incident [a case of road rage], crime isn't always about the kidnappers and the rapists. It's also about indisciplined Trinidadians and Tobagonians who feel that they can do what they want and get away with it. I myself am waiting for the iron fist to fall in the citizenry when the authorities get fed up appealing to you and me and the rest of the ordinary man in the street to behave. It will not bode well not if but when it does.

There is much debate about inflation. Much of our inflationary pressure is imported. With rising oil prices, global transportation costs have increased, meaning that the import price of many of the imported goods that Trinis insist on buying at the grocery are going to be more expensive. In the face of a weakening US dollar, goods imported from Canada, South America and Europe are also going to rise. While some Government policies may have impacted inflation negatively, that it's down from almost 10 to 7 percent in a year is an accomplishment that one must admit should be lauded.

The health sector, yes, is of concern. We have had thrust on us a recalcitrant sub-group of medicos and a less than efficient regional health authority system. However, one of the Government's major accomplishments is C-DAP. Drugs that the poor, the elderly and persons falling within particular illness categories now receive their medication for free or dirt cheap from private pharmacies, no longer at the behest of the hospitals' dispensaries. I can tell you that this has made a major difference in the lives of many Trinbagonians, and has allowed persons to hold onto more disposable income for other essentials like food. Again, this programme has not only impacted the poor. It covers any citizen who falls within particular categories of illness. Up to the end of the current term, the Ministry had been considering expanding the programme further.

The Government's subsidised housing programme has permitted [a domestic worker that I know] and her family, as a pointed example, to move out of her father in law's home. She has made no down payment and her mortgage is $585 per month. She, and many others, who lived at the behest of private landlords or lived in uncomfortable conditions with family can now turn their own keys. The money that the Government has spent here has made a difference for many, and has and will put pressure on the private real estate market. Not enough yet though, I do admit, but the pressure is there. It's been a sellers' market for a long time. We've seen the real estate bust in the United States, and it will come here eventually.

You have to admit that the Government's continued commitment to education is also laudable. Free primary and secondary education has now been augmented by free pre-primary (a boon to many working mothers and grandmothers), tertiary, and subsidised graduate education. Tertiary education options are expanded with the UTT, an institution born out of UWI's lack of responsiveness to the nation's true education and training needs.

The Government has also spent [expletive] loads of money on training programmes like MuST, HYPE and OJT, programmes that have broken the shackles that KFC, Royal Castle, Hi-Lo, Tru Valu and the like have placed on the untrained and untrainable in the society. Indeed, many a private citizen has benefited from utilising the OJT to staff their companies, given the fact that the Government pays half of the enrolees' salaries. Ask the head of [very profitable company] who I understand is the owner of the Ferrari that we say pics of earlier this year.

Foreign-based Trinis have lauded the modernisation of Port of Spain, and look forward to the completion of the Waterfront Project, for one, and the plans for rehabilitating the East Port of Spain slum condition that is now creeping into Henry Street from Charlotte.

Much money has been spent, yes, but it's not being burned in piles on the Beetham like some would have us feel.

On the constitution question, persons have begged for years for constitutional reform. Your own party has determined that the direction to be taken is to devolve to the local Government level. So has the current administration, and I hope that whoever comes into the majority does just that but also puts measures in place to ensure that the local Government authorities are staffed by persons with IQ's over 90, which is one of the current problems.

I've never been able to understand where the dictatorship question comes in. Hazel, Joan Yuille, Martin Joseph, Danny Montano, Abdul, Colm, John Rahael, Rowley and Christine Kangaloo to name a few have all too clearly run their own shops over the last five years. The PM has also said that he will take an even more hands-off approach by not taking his own ministry and focus on coordinating activities instead. The Minister of Legal Affairs has taken charge of the responses on the constitution question, which is where the response should come from incidentally. It's her area. For Patrick to be responding on EVERYTHING would in my mind cement the Strong Man argument.

We all have our views. But as an educated community, this microcosm of society that we call the Link, let's all look past the fluff and the smoke, and do as [my pardner's name] says. Vote on issues and realities. The three major parties' manifestos are available for download at the following websites:
All have about the same type of content and are well organised, so you can compare apples with apples where policy directions are concerned. We have the weekend to drink much coffee and read.

Do vote. But vote on issues, accomplishments, documented policy direction, and on conscience. Don't let people tell you who to vote for. We're all thinkers here. Vote for yourself. At the end of the day, it's you and you alone in the booth.

One love.
Another pardner, in response to the above email:
42 megabytes?! Dem ent want nobody read dey manifesto or wha?
Yet another pardner, in another conversation:
"I have a feeling that 5/11 is going down in history, and hopefully not for the wrong reasons!"
Me, to all my readers:
Forget the fluff. Forget the comess. Forget the unsubstantiated rumours and cross talk. Stop letting people wave things in your faces and have them tell you to take their word for it that it is what they say it is. Stop letting other people think for you. Forget the talk about whose vote will be wasted if they vote where.

Look at the three-plus names on your ballot and choose the one that you think will best represent you.

You the voter have no real control over who will be prime minister. You the voter have no real control over which party gets a majority. But You the voter do have control over who sits in your constituency's seat in the Parliament.We need to break the "Crapaud with a Symbol" system that politics has become in this country. Forget party. Forget who the leader is, because each of them could quite realistically lose their seats in this three-horse race.

We the voters must install smart and independent thinkers who show a clear interest in responsibly representing the interests of their constituency, and not persons who will always put party or their leader first. And there are people fitting that description in all three parties.

We experienced a brief twinkle of light in the Parliament a few months ago when two persons broke party ties and voted on sense and conscience. We the voters have the power to make that twinkle shine brightly and permanently.

Can you imagine what the Parliament would look like if Hulsie beat Bas, Assam beat Patos and Vasant Bharath beat Dooks in this election? The country's business would still have to go on, and without the maximum leadership.

And on that note, I have a hard choice to make between two bright newcomers myself...

God bless our nation.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Raffique Shah: Make Way for the Young and the Brave

Sick of the politics and politicking, I am. Real issues have been obfuscated with a thick and choking cloud of rhetoric, old talk and fearmongering. But one of my favourite writers, one of the wise men that we listen to least, expresses some hope for the future. There are bright spots on all sides of the political landscape, no matter what your affiliation or lack thereof.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Where Keith gone?

Keith's been away for a bit, chronicling his Alma Mater's struggles in the Secondary Schools Football league at http://QRCLink.blogspot.com. If you like football and want to read a little commentary on the happenings at the schoolboy level of the game, pop over there and give the posts a read.

I'll be back here soon to do a couple posts in the run-up to November 5th. Frankly, there's been nothing but fluff to write about...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Carnival 2K8... We like it so...!

It's been ah while since ah had a gues' post...

Trinbagonians coming home for Carnival typically come through Customs with three A's: Accent, Attitude and their full legal entitlement of duty free Alcohol. My buddy Anthony, clearly having had too much time on his hands today, expounds humorously on all that the foreign-based Trini also needs to know as they come home for "the shortest Carnival season --- ever."
Step right up!

Step right up!

Bands have been launched -- since July.

Tunes have been released.

And the race is off!

Don't close your eyes or you might just miss to the shortest Carnival season --- ever.

The schedule for Fete, fete and more fete with a sprinkling of Pan and Mas is attached.

Panorama Sunday is Jan. 20th.

February 4th and 5th is when we take to the streets.

And if yuh not by de Savannah -- half-naked -- my camera have no time with you.

So be there or be square.... or is it?... Be there or be at work in North America -- Your choice.

Brian MacFarlane's band is playing (portraying) Earth.

The other band leaders have agreed to rotate their costumes from last year and they are all playing --

'Coloured Bikinis with a dash of Feather.'

Feathers are optional and included with the price of the costume.

The hit song will be something about 'crossing de stage in a band and being angry as a zombie' as Machel and Kernell Roberts are going for their Road March hat-trick -- if they let them out of jail in time.

Anyway, if yuh coming -- bring money. 'Trinidad on a shoe-string budget' are days of the past. Most All Inclusive fetes are in excess of $500. Yes, TT.

Doubles is $3.00. (Up from $1.50 2 years ago)

Coconut is $5. (Chatting with the coconut vendor will cost you extra, so keep yuh accent in yuh back pocket.)

Don't worry -- we don't kidnap foreigners when they here because we doh really like all yuh in we country.

Now here are some crime and survival tips you will need to follow:

1. The criminals have been practicing all year in anticipation of your arrival so bring as much jewellery as you can.

2. All jewellery is to be worn at all times (until ripped off your neck.)

3. Flash lots of money (preferably in a wad) when paying $21 for doubles.

4. Complain out loud about the "pretty coloured" money in this country.

5. Wear slippers to go downtown Fredrick Street - that really makes you inconspicuous.

6. If you want to walk like a Trini -- slow down. No, slower. Ah said slower....

7. Wear lots of American Football or Basketball related jerseys and paraphernalia.

8. If you're the guy with the T-Shirt that says -- 'Don't Ask Me for S*#T!' don't bother to come here; we like to beg.... period.

9. Drive like you can't drive in North America - go ahead get it out yuh system.

10. Act like a boisterous idiot because this is your first time drinking a beer in the middle of Fred'rick Street while wearing an alpagat with socks, extra long Bermuda short pants and an ugly jersey with the number 00 on it.

11. Let everybody know you had lunch in the Food Fair upstairs of Excellent Stores and how de gyul serve you plenty because she like yuh accent and yuh remember how to 'make sweet-eye'.

12. Complain about the NCC not selling tickets for the shows.

13. Complain about the Panorama Finals being in San Fernando (like we care what you think)

14. Pretend you understand all the lyrics to the latest Chalkdust calypso.

15. Stay vex with Bunji Garlin because you can't understand his lyrics -- because he really cares what you think.

16. Tell every Trini you know that Patrick Arnold should not be running Pan Trinbago and you could do a better job. (BUT you don't live here, do you?)

Things you need to know BEFORE you get here:

1. The airport is still the same size. It's still a mess and yes, we have security here too.

2. We know yuh happy to be home but the rest of the people in the line doh need to know yuh business -- keep yuh voice down.

3. As a matter of fact -- keep yuh schupid stories to yuhself -- we doh care how long yuh away and when las' yuh was home or how much you t'ink de country change.

4. Please have all paperwork ready for immediate viewing that describes you as the Cultural Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago.

5. You could have saved all the people in line a lot of money had you told them who was 'going to win Panorama' BEFORE they bought their airline tickets.

6. De rake dat yuh hear about Phase II, All Stars, Desperadoes and Renegades is not true. They not joining forces to form one BIG band for Panorama.

7. Yes, we know MacFarlane 'funny.' But how come you so intimate with de details?

8. Park your extra-sensory knowledge about 'All Things Trinidad' at the plane door and pick it up on your way out -- back to North America.

9. As a matter of fact, park these four phrases with your attitude at de plane door:
- Whazup?
- Seen!
- Cool! and
- Irie!

10. Yuh living in North America now. That doesn't mean you know more about living in Trinidad than de people who living in Trinidad -- get used to it.

11. Panorama will be held in San Fernando -- get used to it.

12. De Savannah no longer has a stage -- get used to it.

13. Chalkdust still writes and sings a minimum of seven verses. Dat eh change -- get used to it!

14. Byron Lee no longer comes to Trinidad for carnival.

15. Brass Festival is getting its Brass kicked by Machel’s Alternative Concept concert.

16. I don’t know the difference between the NCC, the NCBA, the NLCB, the NBA, and the NLBA -- so don’t ask me.

17. J’ouvert starts at 4AM. No, yuh cannot sleep in until 6 and if yuh ask me again – doh bodder to come…

18. If you bought your costume via a website and it doesn't look like 'the nice picture of the model' when you pick it up -- there is still no-one to complain to. (Who vex, vex! Doh play nah!)

19. Nothing has changed -- the streets are still the same place they were when you were last here. Some of the streets have signs and some don't -- even in Spanish now.

20. There are still no maps at the gas stations. Don't bother to stop and ask.

21. The garbage men will not be picking up every scarp of garbage from every street corner just because you are here. Trust me, they don't do it when you not in de country.

22. If you have a sensitive nose there are six key areas you should stay away from... As a matter of fact, just go straight to Barbados - there's "Never a Dull Moment, Never a Dull Moment" there. (So ridiculous, you have to say it twice.)

23. The Prime Minister -- Patrick Manning, in case you forgot -- now lives in a mansion with a Diplomatic Centre. It cost $55 million to build. (Nobody mentions the monthly operating costs.) Vex nah!

24. There are several new high-rise buildings in the downtown area of Port of Spain that dwarf the Central Bank towers. You will be surprised. It's a Manning thing -- you'll get used to it.

25. Dinner and conversation with the Prime Minister is $100,000. Bring cash and I could get you in. I know a guy who knows a guy....

26. Don't ask schupid questions -- Vision 20/20 is not a PNM thing. It's a United Nations thing.

27. Once conversing with the PM, please don't waste your time complaining about minor things like -- traffic, road congestion, lack of water, crime, or food prices. Remember the PM is one of us now after experiencing a 'blackout' during the opening of the Palace... sorry... Diplomatic Centre.

28. There are no more Digicel phones selling for $20.

29. Phone ahead to all your friends and relatives before leaving North America. That way you can ask all yuh schupid questions about why dis is so and why dis is not so BEFORE you leave your sanctuary. (This is key in avoiding embarrassment in public.)

And last but not least, please read as frequently as possible the following:

We really don't care what you would
do if you ran de country!!!

Welcome to T&T. Have a nice stay.


PS: The half-naked part was for the ladies only...
Anthony is a professional musician who has spent much of his adult life in North America. He has recently returned home to Trinidad, the land of his birth. He is a foremost authority on all things "Fresh Water".

Sunday, September 02, 2007

(Trinbagonian) people must get up and get...

One A. McLean had a letter to the editor published today. It echoes sentiments of several friends and acquaintances who have lived and grown up in the East Port of Spain, Beetham and Laventille areas.

Even as A. McLean, a young person at only 22, speaks directly to their neighbours, their message is for everyone who has ever said while throwing up their hands, "de govament ent doin' nuttin' fo' me!"

Personal responsibility is still and will always be key to the success and development of the individual and the nation.
After reading the Big Question in the Express of August 30 - "Do you think the People's National Movement has done anything for the people of Laventille since it has been in government?" - I felt hurt and that it was time to say something.

I am disgusted by those people who are always looking for a handout and everyone else who wouldn't get up and do something for themselves. I am 22 years of age and I have lived in Laventille my whole life and yes, the PNM has done a lot for us.

The Government has put a lot of things in place for us to get up and get. Education is free, not just for Laventille but for the whole country. Every area has bad roads, no water, crime, but that has nothing to do with what the Government has done for you. What Laventille people and the rest of the country need to do, is stop going on television and writing to the newspapers saying that you have 10 children to mind and "I'm unemployed". There is a saying, "God helps those who help themselves". Take that into consideration before you go saying the Government is not doing anything for you.

The Government does not make a community; we the people make the community. In terms of crime, parents blame yourselves for not taking the time to make sure your children don't turn out a menace to the society. When I was in secondary school, 7 o'clock could not meet me outside. In terms of education, there are parents out there who can't read or write and because of this they keep their children out of school. Many of these children are not immunised and then the parents want to blame the Government for that. PNM, UNC, COP or any other political party does not live in our houses. We live in them.

In terms of bad roads and no water, blame WASA, because they are digging up the roads and laying down their faulty pipes and not fixing them and then right after that the Ministry of Works paves the roads and WASA digs them up again. Communication is key. WASA, let the pavers know your schedule.

To all the people who are crying unemployment ask yourself this question: "Did I really try to get a job or am I looking for someone to hook me up?" Also, a job is not always shirt and tie in an office people. You have to work hard for what you want, because the people who reached there worked very hard.

To all proprietors and everyone else who thinks that nothing good comes out of Laventille, think again and to my fellow Laventillians, stop living in the stigma. Come out!

I am proud to be living in Laventille.

A McLean
via email

Friday, August 31, 2007

Happy Independence...

One time, many years ago while I served in semi-public office at the University of the West Indies, we invited one of my favourite writers to speak at a Guild event. B.C. Pires began an insightful and at several moments amusing speech by saying, "It never ceases to amaze me that people think that because one writes that they can also speak," or something to that effect. Hard on himself, his sharing with us was not at all far removed from what I have grown accustomed to in his weekly columns.

B.C. has produced, in typical style, another classic worth clipping, titled "Middle Aged Adolescent," as Trinidad and Tobago celebrates 45 years of Independence.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Product Advisory: Nokia BL-5C battery


Nokia is replacing 43 million cell phone batteries suspected of being susceptible to overheating. Check your Nokia phone to see whether you have the BL-5C type battery and then follow the instructions at the link above to see whether yours needs to be replaced.

According to Nokia's product advisory, the affected batteries were "manufactured by Matsushita Battery Industrial Co. Ltd. of Japan between December 2005 and November 2006. This product advisory does not apply to any other Nokia battery."

Further,"Nokia has identified that in very rare cases the affected batteries could potentially experience overheating initiated by a short circuit while charging, causing the battery to dislodge..."

Your chances are really better that you'd win the local Lotto, but this advisory means that there is the very small risk that if you have an affected battery, your handset could potentially overheat, short circuit, catch fire, or in extreme cases, explode.

Nokia phones sold by local cellular provides and third-party vendors may or may not be affected, but it is better to check your Nokia battery and be safe rather than scorched. Many of the "Me-too" models sold and given away in launch and counter-launch promotions are on Nokia's list of phones that should be checked.

While Nokia has indicated that they will replace all affected batteries, whether they will do this through the local providers where necessary is to be seen. As at time of writing, neither major cellular provider had information on the recall prominently displayed on their web pages.

Visit Nokia's product advisory page at https://www.nokia.com/batteryreplacement/en/ for more information, and to follow their instructions for checking your cell phone's battery.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Self-Regulation of the Medical Profession

Oh grand charge boy...!
"If you want to give the Minister the whip to discipline doctors like grandfathers and grandchildren, you are contributing to a mass exodus," (Dr. Neil) Singh said during his contribution to the Medical Board (Amendment) Bill at yesterday's Senate sitting at the Red House, Port of Spain.

Singh, who is also secretary of the council of the Medical Board, argued that the Amendment to the Medical Board Act serves only to give the Minister more power and "it is an insult to tell me and my colleagues that we are not capable of self regulation"

"You are already discouraging young potential doctors from entering the scene because you have a Minister controlling their career," he said, adding that this country, after the mass migration of doctors, will end up with only Cuban doctors and under-qualified health care practitioners.

Dr. Neil Singh, Temporary UNC Senator
from Trinidad Express article, "UNC Senator warns of mass doctor exodus"
But you know what? Given all that we've seen and heard over the last few years, the medical profession, or at least the sitting Board, appears to not be capable of self-regulation. I have heard too many horror stories over the years about doctors who continue to practice although their service quality may be considered less than sub-standard. Just recently, I'd heard spoken of a senior doctor who claimed that he had been performing a procedure that ran contrary to established and documented practice for years and that he would continue to do so because, "ah ent kill nobody yet."

Now, if the Medical Board is not publicly censuring persons such as these, preferring instead to coddle those who would hold the public to ransom for increased salaries, then indeed, a responsible Government must step in.

I say let the legislation pass and let the few recalcitrants leave if they wish. They will quickly return when in the U.S they get their first medical malpractice quote, or in Canada and the U.K., they realise that they are really expected to work and show results in the public health infrastructure.

Further, let the Cubans come. Cuba has always been one of the first nations to send medical help in crisis situation anywhere in the world, and their service is always considered top notch. And if the quality of care meted to four Americans in Michael Moore's new documentary "SiCKO!" is any indication of what our Northern neighbours bring to bear, I can fully understand why the Prime Minister chooses to head there for treatment. They and their expertise will indeed be welcome.

Perhaps a Cuban medical administrator with their humanist and socialist context, someone who knows what it is to deliver quality care regardless of station and despite a dearth of resources, is what is required here to revamp a medical system in which these handful of seniors, by many accounts, have no genuine interest. Perhaps it is what fresh eyes will see that they are afraid of...

Trinidad and Tobago though has a long history of international medical professionals, including an African who produced a revolutionary treatment for gramoxone poisoning. Adding a few more foreigners to the mix should not prove problematic. Indeed, with quite a few Caribbean nationals now training in Cuba, Cuban medical practice is near destined to return to our shores in any case.

But while Singh clamours and makes grand statements about mass exodus, he like so many who get up on soapboxes nowadays have no authority to speak for the groups to which they lay claim. Like the "Diego Martin and Environs Committee" who speak for neither Diego Martin nor its environs, nor even their near neighbours around the Diego Martin Savannah.

There are many hard working medicos in the system who do what they can despite the mismanagement and seeming dearth of resources. They also do so without speaking out against their peers for fear of censure.

The back of the medical boys' club must be broken as part of a wider programme of health sector reform, including a re-evaluation of the regional health authorities. We also need to perform a critical examination on private health facilities, something that the Government is also behind. After all, if some of the latter dump their most difficult cases as well as those that run out of money onto the public health system, perhaps we do need to take a closer look at their capabilities and operations.

As with BWIA and Caroni Limited, in the public interest the Government must take the medical sector into grip. After all, our people's well-being and our very lives are at stake.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A final word on Danah...

A'ight! Allyuh ketch mih! Yuh happy?

Despite encouragement to write on the topic by several friends and readers, I had resisted doing an article on Danah Alleyne and her performance on the Zen stage. I've been drawn out though by the award for "being a source of inspiration and motivation to the nation" from Choc'late Allen's "100% Crime Free T&T Committee" (Link 1, Link 2). I feel like I'm in an episode of Sesame Street with Larry, Mary and Barry Rhymie...

There is much for the public to be unhappy about in this situation, not the least of which is the logical stretch that Danah's lapse in judgment becomes acceptable as long as she says that she is sorry for what she has done.

What troubles me right now is that Trinbagonian public is once again in denial about the reality of our young people's sexual maturity.

Photographic evidence shows that Danah appears to have known exactly what she was doing when she tackled Akon. There is one very clear and telling image where Danah is leaning forward slightly with Akon behind her. She has the front of his belt in white-knuckled grip, pulling him into her.

The look on Akon's face suggested that he was more than a little enthralled by the overt display. He may at that point have been considering offstage interaction with the winner of his wining competition, someone who he would not have known was a child.

The action on Danah's part too shows a practised hand, and leaves a body to wonder about her claims of innocence.

The fact remains that Danah, while by no means an exemplar, is an example of our youth. She presents something quite starkly that we have denied from generation to generation: that from very early, our children can be and indeed are sexual creatures.

It's time now to leave off denigrating Danah and chastising 13-year old Choc'late for what I still think is a misguided effort in presenting Danah with an award. Rather the adults of the society need to take a look at the youths in their charge and make sure that, even as they are growing up quite fast, that they do make responsible choices.

We talk often about the skewed values that the metropole teaches via lowest common denominator TV and other media. But how often do we make sure to help our young people understand the difference between what is on TV and what is their reality, and more importantly that their choices can have grave consequences?

We already know that we need teach our children about fiscal responsibility, about being conscientious on the roads when they drive, and from very early, about playing fairly. It only makes sense then that we also teach our children about the realities of sex and sexuality and making appropriate choices for themselves. That is in response to the fact that with or without your oversight or permission, your children are going to be thinking about and engaging in sexual activity. If they don't learn the right thing from you, then they will take their lessons from anyone who is willing to teach.

Mind you, Danah's is not the first provocative performance that could have led to (further?) sexual assault. Note though that it is possible to very well be inviting further advances when a woman behaves that way, but it is just as likely that she is not. And women, young and old, need to understand that what they are doing and that they should not provoke when it is not the intention to do so.

Boys too, and many men still, need to know that such behaviour on a girl's or woman's part does not automatically equate an invitation to screw.

All in all, both sexes and all genders need to understand the unspoken messages that they send with their bodies. And frankly, it's better that children hear from their parents what that unspoken vocabulary is.

Thus, rather than play the prude and beat up on Danah and Choc'late, and then hope that your own children don't end up on a night club stage somewhere, use the two girls as an object lesson.

Talk on a level with (not "to") the children. Inform them and instruct them. Ensure that when they make the decisions that you're not around to vet that they're more than likely to make the right ones.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sheila Rampersad on "Machel's Meltdown"

From the Sunday Express, July 15th, 2007:
It happens so often to entertainers, it now reads like a basic plot: fame, fortune and the fast life; careers ascending; entertainers riding the crest of popularity; then the descending action.

The incidents that precipitate the descent vary...

...as happened with so many before him, Machel seems to be liking himself quite a bit, perhaps too much. If there is an identifiable point at which the tide started to rise against him, it would have to be following the incident at the Zen nightclub. It was interesting to me that so many people had unpleasant encounters with him to recount. Following the incident the radio stations were busy engaging callers who wanted to tell their stories of an unfriendly, arrogant, unaccommodating, humourless Machel...

Indications are, unfortunately, that Machel is starting his descending action. I do not say this to forecast or wish his musical demise-indeed it would be tragic should a time come when Carnival is without Machel's magic-but to point to the possibility that the not-so-young man is in need of some grounding, some counsel, some time out to consider the personality he wishes to be in the next stage of his life and career....

...There is yet opportunity for a twist in this plot. Trinidad's child-star does not have to follow the clichéd script. I daresay he's bright enough, creative enough, self-aware enough to script for himself an alternative 2007.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

T'ings dat make yuh go... wha' de... Part 2

Well, de foolishness like it cyah done...

Danah to accept Choc'late award
Danah Alleyne has accepted the award and $1,000 prize offered by Choc'late Allen's "100% Crime Free" Committee. In Kim Castillo's follow-up to yesterday's all too funny (and not "Ha Ha!") story, Choc'late advised that Danah's father's Flaming Word Ministry send word that Danah will accept the award.

So let's see... That's $900 after tithes, which will give Danah a new kerchief top, a pair of shoes, and have money left over to get into Zen and pay for a round of drinks...

Allen continues to insist that Danah is an exemplar to the nation.

Political Highs
In the political space, I was headed to work in a taxi the other morning and catching intense kicks - me, the driver, everybody else in the car, and the deejays on the radio.

In what I swore was one of the best morning talk radio jokes in a long time, the deejays were interviewing two gentlemen who indicated interest in running for political office and bringing politics back to the people. It wasn't their interest in running for office that was hilarious, but the central pillar of their politics. Weed.

From smoking herb to burning the chalice, the deejays used every common slang term in the book to make sure that they were getting these fellows' story straight. They even got them to admit on live radio that they are weed-smokers and would continue to smoke if elected.

Well I nearly fell off my chair when I clicked to a story with no byline (de writer was probably too shame...) covering the launch of what I'm sure is the party of which the fellows spoke - the Liberation Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago, LOTT. Under the possibly tongue-in-cheek caption "'Grassroots' political party launched at City Hall", despite being able to count the number of people attending the launch on two hands, the undeterred leader announced that LOTT will contest all 41 seats in the General Election.

Deja Vu
From a Juhel Browne story titled "Who is your leader?":
United National Congress (UNC) Political Leader Basdeo Panday is not interested in being the leader of the new UNC/Alliance coalition.
Now where have we heard that before...? Despite that, with YesTT's Stephen Cadiz and NAR leader Carson Charles both signalling their availability to lead the new organisation and Kamla coming out of the recent war over the Opposition Leader's chair, like I said yesterday, the battle for the UNC/Alliance throne will be interesting...

"You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig..." - Unknown
No matter how you wash it, primp it, preen it, powder it, dress it up and call it a duck, a pig is a pig. And so it's ludicrous to go around claiming that you bring something new to the table when your group is composed of the dross of the political landscape, with a sprinkling of anyone else with an axe to grind.

It remains saddening that the only reason that the COP exists is that Winston Dookeran willingly joined and then was thrown out of the same UNC that is now the target of his quiet contempt. He had been setting to lead a group that has faced more credible allegations of corruption than any other administration before them. (John O'Halloran is surely glad for the company...) Indeed, what would have been the position if that group had accepted his ascent to political leader?

Fortune favours the COP leader in that he is in Trinidad and Tobago, where the average citizen cannot remember what happened nine days ago, far less the failings of 17 years past, when fortitude and good judgement were required and none could be found then either.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

T'ings dat make yuh go... what de (insert exclamation)!!!

If ah didn' say that mih country sweet, ah would be lying too bad!

I'd toyed with the idea of titling this post "July 11th - Lost Credibility Day", but could find no more than these two quite amusing stories that have me shaking my head and sighing to myself with deference to Tobago, "only in Trinidad, oui!"

"UNC/Alliance" (Express 1, Express 2)
First off was the news tonight that the "UNC/Alliance" has been formed, symbol to be determined but "which is not a complete departure from the UNC rising sun".

In a clear case of too many heads, the new accommodation's "leadership council" is to be composed of UNC Political Leader Basdeo Panday, YesTT's Stephen Cadiz, DPTT leader Steve Alvarez, NDC's Mike Simms, NAR leader Carson Charles, Leader of the Opposition in the House Kamla Persad-Bissessar with UNC Deputy Political Leader Jack Warner as convener and Stephen Cadiz as the deputy convener. According to the Guardian, a political leader is yet to be determined. When Panday does eventually step down/loses his seat/is jailed on re-trial/passes quietly from the political scene, the battle for the throne in the new 41-seat house will be more than interesting. Notably absent from the line-up though is the NDA leader Garvin Nicholas.

In response, political analyst John La Guerre indicated that the benefit to the UNC was less than marginal, and their sum chance of group's attaining any major success at the polls was still slim. According to him, the new parties have simply not gained any traction with the public. It would appear too that this may be a last attempt by the NAR to hold to both life and relevance.

Cadiz though, a man who has probably led the largest public march in Trinidad and Tobago's history, has the most to lose. After indicating long ago that his motives were not political, he has clearly shifted gears. Even if he had not made such a statement, entering an arrangement like this can do little to bolster his already flagging credibility.

In commenting on the accommodation though, Cadiz indicated that the door remains open to the COP for them to join and form a unified opposition to the PNM.

In quick response, COP leader Winston Dookeran said of the alliance, "it is carrying the joke to an extreme now."

Certainly, this will be the subject of much jesting in the House.

Danah Alleyne to get youth award (Express)
Poor Danah Alleyne seems to not be able to slip quietly off the public scene. In a Kimberly Castillo story in the Trinidad Express, Choc'late Allen's "100% Crime Free Youth Committee" had included the 15-year old in their list recipients for their "Youth Motivator Award".

Alleyne is included among five other young persons who will receive awards and monies for "being a source of inspiration and motivation to the nation". In response to the reporter's question as to why Alleyne, Allen responded that "she was the most courageous person for the first half of 2007".

Yes. She has to be quite courageous. After all, she left her parent's home under false pretence and attended a night club without their knowledge, but still went up on stage where she won a wining competition and then achieved international celebrity as a participant in Akon's adults-only stage show. Then, after apologising to her family and the public for her behaviour, new clips posted on the 'net purportedly show the young lady bumping and grinding suggestively in other night spots on later dates. It appears that she does indeed have a pair of brass ones.

According to a friend of mine, one has to wonder whether these children - Allen and her little committee - have any adults vetting and sanctioning their releases.

Alleyne's relatives are justifiably livid about the renewed attention. There has been further criticism that Allen's 10-member, all under-16 committee may be promoting double standards of behaviour for young people. (Behave bad. Get ketch. Get licks. Say sorry. Get a prize fo' bravely takin' de licks yuh get fo' wilfully doin' chupidness in de firs' place...)

At the end of the day, this decision casts horrid light in the face of Allen's earlier efforts to raise public awareness on social issues. It further devalues the awards that they also intend to present to deserving notables including sterling academic Veera Bhajan and youth cricketer Adrian Bharath.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Score One for T&T: Fireball tops Euro Dance Charts

In times like these, one needs to celebrate the successes of the children of the soil. We must note especially the accomplishments of those who hail from areas not remembered for having produced some of the country's greats.

The Trinidad Express reports that Fireball, SynergyTV Soca Star champion and Laventille son, is heating up the European dance scene with a remix of his Carnival 2007 hit, "What I Want". It is written that the song is the top track on European dance charts after one week of official release.

With new production work by renowned French deejay Bob Sinclair (1, 2), the track is being marketed under Sinclair's Yellow Productions label, and is included on the deejay's May 2007 album, "Soundz of Freedom". While the bassline and the speed of the track have changed some to suit the european dance scene, Fireball's falsetto vocals remain unmistakable.

The Express has all the details, but the video is right here, courtesy of Bob Sinclair and Youtube.

Congrats to we boy, Rohan Richards aka Fireball.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Traffic Woes: I really can drive... but I don't!

I can drive. I've had my permit for a long time. In past years, I've had my friend Donnie's cars at ready disposal. But for the last few years, I've opted not to own or operate a vehicle. That I've done for a two main reasons.

The first is that I don't have to. I live within half an hour's brisk walk of where I work. It's not necessary for me to move around very much for work either.

Given my regular range of movement, it's simply not necessary for me to spend the money on a car - loan payments, insurance, fuel costs and maintenance. It is way more cost effective - financially and otherwise - to take hired transport. It makes no sense at all for me to pull out of my driveway on a morning and immediately into traffic.

When I do have to get around outside of Port of Spain though, there's either public transportation or my friend Derek's fantastic taxi service. (His drivers are the only ones I know of that can get me from Port of Spain to Piarco in 40-minutes with rain-slowed after-work traffic on the highway, all without speeding or driving illegally...)

The other reason that I've decided not to drive is that, quite frankly, Trinidadian's on the road today scare me.

Every other day you hear about some driver losing control of their vehicle, jumping the median and landing on top of someone else's car. You hear eyewitnesses lined off along the middle of the highway when the media arrive talking about a car that fled the scene having given someone else a "bad drive" that led to a four-car six-fatality smash up.

I've seen young people - and older ones too - peel up the wrong side of the road to overtake traffic, six, eight and ten cars at a time. I've seen people frankomen turn down my one-way up-street in broad daylight. I sat and looked on with disbelief as drivers seek to force their way in front of 45-seater PTSC buses at the intersection of Broadway and South Quay.

A recent Newsday story - Car Falls from Flyover - near took the cake. While, thank Providence, the car did the car drop on someone else's vehicle, the driver somehow found a way to top the Evil Knievel aerobatics of others.

I do have great sympathy for the victims of recent accidents and for the surviving families and friends. But I'm left to wonder how fast one has to be travelling to look down at your stereo one second and then not have enough time to keep your car from folding around a road divider. How fast does a vehicle have to be moving to jump a median and a lane of traffic to land atop someone's bonnet two lanes away? What was the driver doing to be able to push a concrete barrier out of the way and fall onto the highway below?

Thankfully, the Parliament has started us on the path toward safer roadways with the passage of the breathalyser legislation, and putting into law formal means by which some indisciplined drivers may lose their permits.

But that's just the beginning, because we have several more problems on the roads with which to contend.

There are persons who seem to believe that they can drive while talking animatedly on their cell phones, even though they're hard pressed to walk a straight line and hold a conversation at the same time.

The number of cars on the roads today, itself a problem, causes multiple problems that most might not consider. Gridlock is one. Poisonous atmospheric clouds hovering low over our city centres is another. Severe motorist frustration, leading to critical errors in judgement, is a third.

A driver sitting in stand-still or dead-slow traffic for a lengthy period is more likely to speed at the first sign of open road. And that can lead to other problems.

Older and experienced drivers will tell you that power steering is both a blessing and a curse. It's a boon in that it makes a car easier to drive. But it can quickly become a curse when a driver pulls hard on the steering to get out of a situation. At speed, the vehicle can overcompensate and it then stand to become the fatal flying death machine that is now so commonplace.

Cars today are also lighter too and less able to handle their own speed. They don't sit as solidly on the road like the Avenger, Cortina and Hunter of yesteryear. Simple side drafts cause today's Sentra, Almera and 323 to drift on the highways. Many drivers will admit to feeling their cars float on their tires from time to time, leading to a momentary loss of full control.

One commenter felt too that on top of being too fast for their weight, some pre-owned vehicles coming into the country might be defective.

Even with all those factors in play, persons today are taught to drive at speeds well below the legal limit. Required driver's education also does not include defensive driving tactics. They are then let loose on the nation's roadways unsupervised. It is highly likely therefore that many drivers aren't able to handle a car that is travelling even a little too fast and running quickly up into a situation.

Gone are the days though that a driver could hit their brakes hard and then come out having only to buy a bumper and wear a neck brace for a few weeks.

The day of the straightener/painter also appears to be over. Instead, we have wrecks so bad that you can't tell what kind of car was involved.

What's to be done then? The Breathalyser legislation is a start, but there's much more that needs doing. I'll share my ideas on that in a subsequent article.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

TTGapers.com: Man alleges attack by Machel and Slaughter

A few months more than a year ago, Caribbean news aggregator TTGapers.com re-broadcast on March 2nd, 2006 the following Trindad Express story written by Gyasi Gonzales.
Police are investigating a report from a San Fernando man that he was attacked and beaten by a group of men, but Dawg E Slaughter who said he was on the scene when the incident occured, yesterday described the allegation as one of "all kinda madness".

By Gyasi Gonzales

The alleged altercation supposedly occurred around 9 p.m. on Carnival Monday at Grey Street, St Clair.

Joel White, of Union Hall, said he had left some friends and relatives near the Canadian High Commission to retrieve his car parked at Grey Street.

He said before walking off to collect the vehicle he heard, "someone," shout out: "Machel, yuh mudder..."

"I didn't pay any attention," said White, "so I kept on going to the car."

He said that while heading to Grey Street, "a BMW pull alongside and cut in front of him with the left side of the car facing me to block me".

White claimed that Machel Montano came out of the vehicle and asked him what he had said about his mother and that Mr Slaughter (Derrick Parriera) who was also in the BMW came out as well.

White said that Machel repeated the question and some other men who were in his car surrounded him and jumped on him.

"I was more or less curled up trying to defend myself. The whole ordeal lasted about a minute and a half."

White said that that after being pummelled the group left but, getting up, he realised that there was a hole in his right hand and he was bleeding on his right arm between his elbow and shoulder.

He said that he did not know who may have stabbed him on his hand.

White said that after the men left a policeman on patrol took him to the St Clair Police Station.

There he made a brief report following which he was taken to the Port of Spain General Hospital where he was treated for his injuries.

The Express contacted Montano via cell phone yesterday afternoon.

He received the call following which the signal began breaking up.

The Express also contacted Parriera about the incident.

He said that, "whole day we hearing all kinda madness about that. It is not true. It was just wrong what really took place. Someone was telling us that the fella wanted money (from Xtatik). This individual was across the street. Things were verbal and tempers start to flare. With reference to man getting stab that is a lie. That never happen."
The original story could not be retrieved from the Online Express archives.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Reasons for wanting a Senior Magistrate suspended...

There are several reasons for wanting to have a senior magistrate suspended from office.
  • When he's the magistrate sitting on a very high profile case for which you're defence counsel and the evidence against your clients is mounting fast...

  • When he was the magistrate that sat on another high profile matter for which your client got the maximum custodial sentence allowable...

  • When the same magistrate refused to take bait from his boss to let that client go...

  • When you're one of the senior legal advisors to the magistrate's boss and the magistrate has accused his boss of impropriety for laying that bait for him in the first place...
Isn't it interesting the kinds of things that get left out of your arguments when you encourage an industry association that you lead to pass resolutions of censure, resolutions that ultimately stand to benefit you?

Of course, it could also be argued that the reasons for guiding your organisation in that direction have nothing to do with your own trials and matters. You could simply be interested in the administration of justice, not so?

But then someone else can argue that as a career defence attorney, your raison d'être is to get your client acquitted by any available means, even if that is to cause more comess in an already embattled justice system...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

J.J. and Mac... A Conversation...

An imaginary conversation between two made-up senior persons in public office. Any similarity to persons in real life is purely coincidental.

Ring-ring… Ring-ring…

“Hello …”

“Hey, J.J.… what’s up?”

“Hi, Mac! How are you? Long time no see… but I can appreciate that you’ve been busy…”

“J.J., I have a hypothetical situation to toss your way… as a professional student of the law… not in any official capacity...”

“Hmmm… Your tone suggests more than hypothetical, but I’m listening. Shoot.”

“A senior magistrate has a case before him. Very high profile matter. Very high profile defendant. Matter of public interest. Guilt is almost certain given the evidence presented. The only thing to kill the case is grave prosecutor error.”

“Uh huh…”

“In the middle of the case, a very senior judicial figure calls the very senior magistrate to their office and makes very suggestive statements, that in the interest of saving face of the public figure and in ensuring that a… uhm… a segment of the society does not feel victimized by association if the figure is found guilty, that the senior magistrate find a way to drop the case…”

“I see…”

“Hang on. There is more. The senior magistrate at first cannot believe what they are hearing, especially since this judicial figure has been accused of interfering in matters before. But the magistrate has made up their mind at that point not to take the discussion to heart. He goes to the tea room a few days later, and overhears that the public figure - the defendant in the matter - visited the senior judicial figure around the time of his own troubling conversation. They hear at a later stage, through the grapevine as it were, that the prosecutor in the matter had had a similarly troubling conversation where the senior judicial figure went out of their way to greet and converse with that lawyer on the case.”

“I’m getting a picture here…”

“I want you to remember please that this is a hypothetical situation.”

“Alright. I’ll wait for you to finish before I comment.”

“Thanks… Now I do understand that a case can be built for interference in the course of public justice. But that would be a tricky case to prove as it would be based on hearsay, and further, the judicial figure never issued an outright instruction to drop the case.”

“But he did speak to both prosecutor and presiding magistrate suggesting that they drop the case?”

“As far as the magistrate knows, yes.”

“A hypothetical situation, you say?”

“Given the judicial officer's alleged track record, I myself was thinking impeachment. I don’t think that what they are doing warrants prison, but it does appear to be improper use of their goodly office.”

“I suppose you’re right, Mac… Can I assume to know who the parties in your hypothetical case are?”

“I’ll call no names, but if you call ones that match the hypothetical characters, I may think about whistling.”

(Laughs) “I’m sorry. I know that this isn’t funny…”

“It’s alright. That was meant to tickle a bit… So… What should the magistrate do?”

“Well, we know the constitutional process for disciplining a judicial officer could be invo…”

“Not to cut across you, but sadly, a cursory reading of the Constitution is not perfectly clear on the matters such as this with respect to this particular office…”

“I’d have to get someone here to look into it… but I think you’re right… if it’s the office that I’m thinking about of course...”

“Now, our hypothetical judicial officer has faced a situation such as this before, and invoked a constitutional review, effectively blocking any action…”

“So he is likely to do the same again, you're thinking?”

“I believe that he might, assuming a ‘he’. What is of some concern too is that this would be the second matter reported. Once is an error in judgement. Twice is suggestive of habit.”

“Yes. Assuming a ‘he’… Mac, are you going to report this?”

“A hypothetical situation, J.J.”

“Come now, Mac.”

“J.J., please remember that I called you for advice as a student of the law.”

“Yes, Mac. Okay.”

“What would be the likely outcome, you think, if the judicial officer blocked the constitutional process again?”

“I would have strongly considered lodging a formal complaint with the Police so that the matter could be investigated. There would be the eventual laying of criminal charges if grounds were found for same...”

“But once it's turned over to the Police, the progress of the matter is completely out of anyone else's hands, yes? It's up to them and the DPP to decide whether there is a case to answer? J.J., I don’t think that this situation deserves criminal treatment, and that's where I see it heading… but I can see where you’re coming from. If the officer blocks and refuses to face a judicial tribunal, then I suppose criminal proceedings are a credible alternative. But I will tell you now that the hypothetical senior magistrate will be very hesitant to testify in criminal proceedings…”

“Given what is possible, would the hypothetical senior magistrate report the matter?”

“Given the confirmation that criminal charges may indeed be proffered and are considered an option, the senior magistrate would have to give the matter some serious thought.”

"Are you going to pose this question to Geoff? I'm just a student of the law. He's actively practising."

"Sadly, my options for seeking advice on the matter are fairly limited. I may not be able to ask Geoff, because he could already be too close to the situation." (Sighs)

“You alright, Mac?”

“Do I have a choice but to be alright, J.J.? Anyway, I’m due in Court… All the best to the family... and thanks.”

“You're welcome, Mac. All the best to you and yours as well.”

Sunday, July 01, 2007

SUNDAY EXPRESS: Fighting High Food Prices

In what appears to be part 1 of a series, Raffique Shah touches a sore topic for most every Trinbagonian, indeed everyone in the world today, that of rising food prices. More than looking at external causes, he examines what we do to hurt our pockets ourselves.

Always an interesting and thought provoking read, his Sunday Express article for July 1st can be found at http://www.trinidadexpress.com/index.pl/article_opinion?id=161169978

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Soca Warrior: Bunji Garlin

Photo courtesy VP Records

A friend in Washington pointed me this week to an article in the online version of D.C.’s “Express”, a paper produced by the Washington Post targeted to commuters. Fresh off a hectic D.C. Carnival season, the piece features an interview with Trinidad and Tobago son, Bunji Garlin.

The writer introduces us to Bunji, talking about his new album on the VP Records label, home of artists Sean Paul, Elephant Man, Tony Matterhorn, Beenie Man and Beres Hammond. Of the man Ian Alvarez, the author writes:
...it's only in conversation that you really get a sense of Garlin's conviction, strength and intelligence. He's a fiercely independent man who has carved his way through the small but potentially treacherous Trinidad and Tobago music scene with his artistry and dignity intact.
In the interview, Bunji talks about Carnival, the music scene in Trinidad and Tobago, and the plight of the local artist trying to earn a living from his craft - perform or starve.

Asked pointedly about Chinese Laundry, outspoken as ever, he takes a turn in the tail of the "Soca Mafia", saluting colleagues who have managed to remain independent, and expressing real confidence in the new generation's ability to rebel against what he calls "mafioso behaviour". Says Bunji:
[They] are coming into this business now with a certain strength behind them, because they're coming from the streets and the ghettos, and they already have it in their minds that they're going to find a way to make it in this business. Nobody is going to stop them.
Grounded as ever, Bunji makes sure to recognise those who paved the way for all his peers, including the Mighty Sparrow and his father-in-law, Superblue.

The article at http://www.readexpress.com/read_freeride/2007/06/soca_warrior_bunji_garlin.php is a must-read.

Bunji's album "Global" is on sale now at the VP Record's site and in Apple's iTunes Music Store.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

TRINIDAD EXPRESS: Trini goes after US$1M game-show prize

Nigel Telesford reported in today's Express that Point Fortin native, Arthur Joseph, is the latest contestant on ABC television's "Deal or No Deal".

From Telesford's article:
Point Fortin native Arthur Joseph will have his chance at taking home US$ 1,000,000 tonight as he continues his largely successful run on the popular NBC game show, Deal or No Deal...

Deal or No Deal involves a contestant, a host/presenter, a banker, and a number of briefcases (or boxes), with each having a different (and initially unknown) value. Each game starts with the contestant selecting one of the cases, but the value of this first case is not revealed until the game ends. During the rest of the game, the contestant opens the rest of the cases, one at a time, revealing its value. Each time after a specified number of cases are opened, the banker offers the contestant a certain amount of money to end the game. If the contestant takes an offer, the game ends. Otherwise the contestant ends up with the money from the first case.

Joseph said the producers of the show were captivated by his Trinidadian accent and his affable personality, which resulted in his rapid advancement through the screening process, which usually takes at least nine months. Joseph said he's a true "Trini to the bone" and has been saddened by the recent scandals which have taken place here in Trinidad...

When the show ended last Wednesday, Joseph still had cases valued at thousands of dollars, including the much coveted US$1,000,000 case. The second half of the show will air tonight at 8 pm on NBC, Channel 49.
I read the article online tonight, looked up at the clock and seeing "8:07" thought to myself, "what the heck! Lemme go and see this Trini represent. Anything could be better than local news..."

As I changed the channel, the presenter, Howie Mandel, was just getting off the phone with the banker, Joseph having just picked cases and to put them out of play. He jokingly chided Mandel about the amount of time that he had spent on the phone with the banker getting the details of the offer, telling them that the banker was now "bazodee". ABC flashed the definition of the Trini colloquialism on screen for the viewing audience. On the board were the million dollar top prize and a number of much smaller amounts. Little did Joseph know that he would himself be bazodee when the offer was made.

With the million dollar top prize still available, Joseph took a deal package valued at US$70,700. Why "valued"? Because it comprised both cash and prizes. His prize package, offered to him by Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat personally, includes:
  • An autographed Dwyane Wade Miami heat jersey
  • A 2006 NBA Championship ring with the Trini's name on it
  • Two courtside season tickets for Heat's homes games for the 2007/2008 NBA season
  • A Miami Heat team poster with Joseph in the line-up
  • The opportunity to be on set at the filming of the next Miami Heat team video
  • The chance to hang out with Miami superstars Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade and Heat coach Pat Riley before a Heat home game
  • US$10,000, and...
  • The Miami Heat will lay a parquet floor complete with logo and colours in refurbishing a basketball court in Trinidad and Tobago next year in Joseph's honour
Joseph was in tears and shaking with excitement, apparently at having been addressed personally by his favourite sports superstar. Over the roar of the crowd, he shouted to Mandel that he had to consult with his mother before he made a decision about the offer, indicating that he was on the show to try to win the money necessary to get her a house. His mother told him that they could always get a house for her, but at that moment, he had the opportunity to do something good for home.

In taking the deal, Joseph said that he was accepting the offer, "... for my country."

As is customary on the show when a contestant accepts a deal, Mandel asks them to point out the cases that they would have chosen next. In his next selections, Joseph would have put the million dollar amount out, taking the next offer made by the banker down to US$22,000. Joseph thus made, according to the game, a good deal.

The still-stunned Joseph's participation on the show ended to the sounds of a live pan side, with his mother and supporters joining him on the stage to chip to the music.

With all that's in the news recently about the country and the region, I'm glad that I can still say that it's good to be a Trini...

And I hope that the press follows this up.

UPDATE (15/06 12:35 AM): The Express' Nigel Telesford covers Wednesday night's events here, Kimberly Castillo of the South Bureau speaks to Joseph's friends and family here, and veteran journalist Keith Smith gives the story editorial treatment here.

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