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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

"Good day fellow citizens..."

I received a document in email today from a colleague, with caption, "Good day fellow citizens..." Written by a gentleman by the name of Waheed Ali, it is one of the most reasoned and reasonable citizen's cries I have heard in quite some time.

In the midst of all the day's politicizing and proselytizing, Waheed calls for a return to core values, for a denial of self for the sake of the society, and for us to turn again to the Supreme Being who nurtures and sustains us.

Now, some may take issue with his appeal for us to forego the escapism of Carnival, but I am myself in support of the spirit of his full appeal. Whether one believes in the Ten Commandments, Dharma, the Beatitudes, the Golden Rule, or simple moral values, there's something in Waheed's call to prayer and supplication for all of us.

His unedited text follows.

Good day fellow citizens, we are living in dark times, we are being kidnapped, raped and murdered and our leaders are in denial of the facts. Worse however is that we ourselves are living in denial everyday, while our brothers and sisters are being assaulted (physically and mentally) we sit and wait, doing nothing as our beloved country goes deeper into the mire of self destruction.

Our leaders have shown us time and again that they have neither the wisdom nor the courage to solve our problems. It is time to turn to God; we need to pray now more than ever for some divine intervention into the state of affairs of our beloved country. We clearly do not have the answers; this will only come from God.

Imagine a law abiding citizen held for distributing pamphlets. Think back to that ill-fated night at the residence of the Chief Justice, when the honorable Stanley John made telephone calls. We were led to believe that every call he made was traced. Yet there has been no mention of a semblance of any trace of any phone calls from any kidnappers.

One Word – MYSTIFYING ………….. or can it be perceived as INCOMPETENCE?

Then we are told time and time again by others that they are in this struggle with us to the very end. When a call is made to show that we are fed up with crime, they refuse to take part because they were not consulted. While members of society have not yet been returned to their families instead of having a one dollar Ramayan to pray for their safe return we hold a $1 Fete and wine and gyrate on the stage.

One Word – MYSTIFING …..or can it be perceived as WEDOHCAREBOUTALLYUH?

We as a nation are about to depart on a journey that will show the world the greatest acts of living in denial that they have ever seen. In the next few days we are going to go to all these all-inclusive parties, we are going to get intoxicated, we are going to eat like gluttons and we are going to dance and party as only Trinidadians can. Then we are going to culminate into our biggest acts of denial when we take to the streets on Carnival Monday & Carnival Tuesday.

I am hereby asking all citizens of Trinidad & Tobago who care about our beloved twin islands to make these two days, two days of prayer and solitude. Let us stay in our homes or gather together and pray for our nation to be healed. Instead of two days of revelry and total abandonment let us seek God for help.

Let us pray for our leaders that they may get the wisdom to solve our problems and the courage to implement them

Let us pray for the birth of new leaders to lead us in the future.

Let us pray for all those who have been kidnapped, raped & murdered, may time allow them to forget the ordeal and heal the wounds, both physical & mental.

Let us pray for the families of the victims that they may get courage to carry on.

Let us pray for the criminals that they may change their ways.

Let us pray for the people earmarked for kidnapping rape and murder that it never occurs.

Let us prayer for ourselves that we have the strength in the face of adversity & peer pressure to do what we believe is right

Let us pray for all those people who will ignore the call to prayer and go about their lives in continued denial. May the Lord open their eyes to reality.

I am not religious but I believe that there is a God and I think that we must all turn to him now.

Evil reigns when good people sit and do nothing. The time is upon us to act.

Remember Vindra and pray Carnival Monday & Tuesday

Remember Sean Luke and pray Carnival Monday & Tuesday.

Remember all the victims and pray Carnival Monday & Tuesday.

Please forward this to people who care; and are not going to leave our beautiful island for foreign lands;

But are willing to persevere until this God fearing country is in safe hands.

THE LONGEST JOURNEY STARTS WITH THE FIRST STEP.

MAKE THAT STEP NOW!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Hype and Circumstance: The Call to Shut Down Trinidad and Tobago

I don't like hype. I detest fluff. I can no longer take on allegations without even minimally plausible grounds to support them. I don't deal well with B.S. That's why I'd stopped listening to talk radio on a morning and had locked my dial on 104FM. But then Adrian Don Mora got into the commentary game between the music. And the news became more commentary than reporting. So I've given in. So I've resolved to spend more time picking sense out of nonsense and extrapolating the facts in the new reports from the quantum of "...it is alleged..." and various other covers for libel.

That said, I've listened with interest and some mirth at the utterances and public responses to the Inshan Ishmael-sponsored calls to "Shutdown or Shut Up".

The days of the protest creeped up on me unawares , so far under my radar did this new effort float. It was only when someone asked me whether I felt that maxis would be running on Thursday and Friday did I seek to find what was happening. Not many people seemed to know about Ishmael's call. The people who did either viewed it as the same exercise in futility that the Death March was, or felt that it was something that needed to be done to "embarrass the Government into action."

One commentator felt that only people that supported the PNM would ignore the call to shut down the country.

That comment was made interesting given that on the Wednesday night CNC3 News reported that the Downtown Owners' and Merchants' Association (DOMA), the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU), the Communication Workers' Union (CWU) and the Route 2 Maxi Taxi Association had independently stated that they did not support the shut down. The South and Chaguanas Chambers of Commerce and San Juan Business Association heads all indicated that they took no position and that they gave their members no directive; businessmen were to operate according to their conscience.

Most interesting was the Leader of the Oppostion's very vocal indication that no one dictates any action taken by the UNC but the UNC. and as such they did not support Ishmael's call.

Two things have troubled me though.

The first was that there are rumours floating that people are being threatened to keep their businesses closed, something that Ishmael denied being involved with. I've not gone around and done a poll or anything, but I know a gentleman from Central who went to work on the Thursday without his required long sleeved shirt and tie. I'd overheard him saying that he left home dressed down because he didn't want to give anyone the impression that he had left home to go to work. If what is being said is true, then this is as much a troubling situation as the crime problem itself.

The second troubling thing arises out of Wednesday night's arrest and detention of Ishmael by uniformed and uniformed Police officers who, it is reported took Ishmael to Port of Spain CID. The arrest is not the troubling part though.

Subsequent to the arrest, Anand Ramlogan is reported to have been driving though Port of Spain when he got word that Ishmael had just been taken into custody and he went to CID immediately to seek Ishmael's release. That still isn't what's troubling me.

Ramlogan then gets on the horn to the Press and reports that Ishmael was snatched up by Police officers who did not identify themselves and who did not indicate for what he was being charged. He saidis reported to have said that Police officers led Ishmael's family and friends on a car chase down the Beetham Highway or Priority Bus Route (reports differ) so that they shake them off their tail. He also reported that when they went to Port of Spain CID, they were told that nobody by Ishmael's name was being held there. He is also being reported to have said that Ishmael was being held under the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act and that it was the Police's intent to hold him for the full 72 hours that the Act allows.

What is troubling is that the Press picked this story up and have been reporting it as if fact, with various addenda coming in during the day, including that the call to pick Ishmael up came from the political directorate, all seeming with no further substantiation. That the arrest was politically motivated was denied by Ministers facing the press in Thursday's post-Cabinet press conference.

While one daily newspaper on Friday was careful to state early in their article "...an attorney for the activist said...", another took no such care, putting down what was indicated by the attorney as if they were the facts of the case. At time of writing, I've not yet seen the third daily, and I'm dying to see what the T'n'T Mirror will have to say about the situation.

I will not go as far as saying that these allegations are ludicrous on their face, but rather will propose an alternate theory to the attorney's story. This is something that had the press done a little homework could have been discerned from their own archival footage and clippings.

We have a Police Commissioner under pressure. We are already at about a murder a day again. Vindra Naipaul-Coolman has been missing for more than a month and the Police have just spent many days following yet another lead, draining a pond in the process to try to find evidence.

In the same week, a Woman Police Officer and her family are slain in Pelican Extension Road. Although one suspect was shot on the same morning and five others had been reported held, the tragedy is still fresh in people's minds.

The Commissioner now has to deal with an Islamic activist who is vocally and vociferously calling for the shut down of the entire country, and at the same time calling him a political peon. Reports are coming in that persons are being threatened to keep their doors closed on Thursday and Friday.

Note that Ishmael has already built quite a reputation for himself, including attempts at bullying various people and bodies. He has also faced off with the Police before. He had featured prominently in a 2006 protest action in Woodford Square where about 300 Muslims called for the adoption of Islamic sharia law in Trinidad and Tobago. He made public allegations of anti-Islamic sentiment, later found false, on the part of the then Cable Company of Trinidad and Tobago (CCTT) when he sought to establish his Islamic Broadcast Network. As head of the Pre-Owned Automobile Dealers Association, he is both vocal and vitriolic in support of the continued and unfettered importation of foreign-used vehicles. He also featured prominently in a clash with Police in a boisterous (and I believe illegal) roadside protest for a pavement on a stretch of road in Bamboo Settlement.

In light of all this, and the fact that the last fundamentalist Islamic activist that the country had to deal with did shut down the country for six days and had us under curfew for longer, as Commissioner, I would have wanted to have a quiet chat with the gentleman. I doubt that Ishmael would have come in to chat alone, but would likely have walked with entourage and full press coverage.

It was an unfortunate move arresting him though, especially given how quickly several usually anti-Government bodies had been back-pedalling when asked about support for the shut-down. But then, the Commissioner had already come out and said that hard lines will be taken against anyone deemed to be restricting people's right to free movement and trade.

I don't know what the standard arrest procedure is in Trinidad and Tobago, but I know for certain that it is not the reading of rights that we see on American television. But remove the innuendo and inflammatory text from Ishmael's reported speech about his experience and it seems that he was handled in the same manner as any other person taken in by the Police. Despite the statements of his "I was passing through town and I heard that Inshan had been arrested and I rushed to his aid and I am telling you that they plan on holding him for 72 hours" lawyer, Ishmael was charged for an offence on the law books of Trinidad and Tobago, was released on bail and is to face a Tunapuna Magistrate on Monday.

But let's say that Ishmael is to be considered sincere in his efforts and he garners broad support for his public disruption. What happens next? Let's say we respond to the call and show solidarity... We wear black... We drive with our headlights on all day... We march the streets of Port of Spain with Ishmael... We placard... We sing... We beg the Government to do something about the crime situation... At the end of the day, what difference does it really make if on a personal level we sit back and do nothing else? Anybody remember that rant from last year?

We want the Government to take a hard line on crime now so that we can get on with our lives again, yes? But are Trinidadians really ready for that?

A hard line means that every time people burn rubbish and tyres in the road, the Police are to pick up and charge every-damn-body for gathering illegally and for disturbing the peace. There may be charges too for destroying public property dependant on what is destroyed, and possibly even assault of Police officers as they attempt to bring people in. But then the bleeding hearts will say that they Police moved too hard and should be chasing criminals instead.

A hard line means that the Magistrates' Court system will be swamped with illegal parking and various other traffic offences. But then the people will say that the Police are being wicked and that they were only "taking a chance" to run into a store for two minutes (which somehow turned into half an hour) and the Police should be up in Laventille looking for criminals.

A hard line means that people caught wearing camouflage will face fines and conviction, and that even after being stripped of their camo in the street. But the people will say that the Police are being advantageous and that the camo doesn't even look like what the soldiers wearing.

The likes of Anand Ramlogan and other purported human rights champions will lose their minds when Police and soldiers begin killing people known to be criminals but against whom evidence is not forthcoming. And the people will smile silently in their closets at this, even as the security forces gun down the odd innocent in between and commit murder for the sake of the beleaguered populace.

But they can't focus on the last because they have to stretch themselves thin to try to marshal an indisciplined and ungrateful populace.

We can't regulate ourselves on the nation's highways. We need highway patrol.

We can't put our garbage away properly. The municipal corporations must now hire and deploy litter wardens to charge people for illegal dumping.

Every Monday morning is a protest march or action requiring Police to calmly remove debris or keep the protesters corralled so that they do not affect free passage of people who are not involved in the action. And the funny thing is that the Police are doing that whether the action has been legally sanctioned or it has not been approved by the Police Commissioner. As a side note and I can't state chapter and verse, but the Summary Offences Act states that the Police Commissioner must be notified at least 48 hours in advance of a gathering or protest march so that sufficient Police presence can be provided. This is to ensure that the action proceeds in an orderly fashion. I have in recent years seen only one march denied, and that because it would have coincided with some major event in Port of Spain.

Let it not be said though that I am not also frustrated about the crime situation. I do have a friend who was shot in 2005 for nothing other than being a nice guy. His killers are yet to be tried for his murder though several in the St. Barbs neighbourhood apparently know exactly who they are and may have witnessed the shooting.

I tire though of the complaining that the Government is doing nothing. I'm fed up to my craw of the constant griping that their strategies are not effective, especially when no counter measures are suggested or, as is the case with the Opposition, steps are taken to block legislation that is designed to help the situation.

I'm fed up of hearing that we live in a totalitarian and oppressive state, when in truth people can gather (illegally in many cases!) in front of the Prime Minister's office no less and either be invited in to chat, or have Joan Yuille-Williams come out to meet them in the Savannah to actively take notes and act on their grouses.

I am bloody embarrassed to hear people continue to cry in international circles that Indians are oppressed in Trinidad and Tobago when the largest murti outside of the Indian subcontinent is supposed to be the Ganesh statue in Chaguanas, Divali and Indian Arrival Day are embraced celebrated by the entire national community, and when someone blurts "yuh racial or wha'?!" in response of a simple difference of opinion, the antagonist who has been accused of improper motive will back away quietly and let the ignoramus have their way.

We complain and complain and complain... and sadly, we hardly ever acknowledge when things do go right... But that's enough ranting for one night...

In my next article, I will issue a challenge to my readers for reasoned and holistic, if not reasonable, solutions to the nation's ills. If the Government really doesn't have a clue, maybe we can do some research and give them practical solutions rather than bitching about the assertion that they don't know what they are doing.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

RAFFIQUE SHAH: "Hypocrisy over porn videos"

Raffique Shah can almost be guaranteed to provide a well-informed and well-rounded read on topics of interest and controversy in the public space. As a follow-up to my last piece, I suggest a read of Shah's op-ed in today's Sunday Express (http://www.trinidadexpress.com/index.pl/article_opinion?id=161086318). Select snippets follow.
ADULTS who have expressed outrage at "porn videos" currently making the rounds, supposedly starring secondary school students, are either hypocritical, downright stupid, or a not-so-clever combination of both. Why are we shocked that pornographic material is coming out of our classrooms? We have seen bandits aplenty emerge from this failing education system, murderers, addicts, gangsters, fraudsters and even a few low-life politicians! So what if these pampered-from-birth children decide to harness technology, generously paid for by their doting parents and their home-or television-derived talents, to produce studio-quality porn movies?

...I will not bury my head in the Otaheite-mud and cast the children into purgatory. I will, however, damn the parents who, instead of buying simple "CEPEP" call-and-receive phones, equip their darlings with the latest "Bluetooth" technology.

Why does a student need a phone with these advanced features? Now, to augment the dumb tube (jumbo flat-screens, excuse me!) that already carries more than enough porn and computers that are used in the main for accessing erotic websites, we have hi-tech phones for made-in-the-classroom videos.

If only we would learn to use technology wisely. I am not suggesting that we eliminate sex from the learning equation. But we can have sexually-educated and satisfied students who also have deep interests in pursuing knowledge through use of modern technology.

My last article though has generated some good feedback, posted on the blog and to me directly. I'm looking forward now to getting further information from a distant cousin of mine, a teacher in Barbados. He is meant to have a discussion with a group of students there on the whole issue of cell phones in schools.

I'm still to be convinced that things have changed so much that young people need to have an always-on audiovisual connection to the wider world. I've heard it said that it permits parents to know where their children are all the time, but I don't buy that argument. There was a time that only one of my grandparents had a home phone. My primary school didn't even have a phone until I was well into the upper school.

But my seeming clairvoyant parents and grandparents always knew where I was... or did they really...? Perhaps as a child, I simply knew where I was supposed to be and what my boundaries were, otherwise my ass was grass...

Friday, January 19, 2007

SLATE.COM: The Camera Phone...

Trinidadians and Tobagonians are all agog about recent revelations of schoolchild porn captured with camera phones, and apparently being distributed on DVD. In our usual fashion, my people are acting like they are the first to ever witness such a travesty, it making front page news and being to talk of the town after Vindra Naipaul and the waning wonder of Choc'late Allen. As usual though, we reach the dance after everybody else and getting on like the fete ain't start until we arrive.

The fact is that despite our wilful efforts to ignore the fact, children have been screwing children - indeed adults both male and female have been screwing children - from time immemorial. It is just that it is only recently that for a few hundred dollars anybody can become an amateur videographer or a porn star, whether intentionally or not. This is a fact to which a local journalist with a peculiar bent and several of his consorts can attest.

An article read recently at Slate.com written by columnist Michael Agger puts much of the ongoing debate and angst about camera phone technology into context. Titled, "The Camera Phone: The Gadget that Perverts, Vigilantes and Celebrity Stalkers can all agree on", the article posted at http://www.slate.com/id/2157736/nav/tap1/ begins:
Ten years ago, Philippe Kahn was walking around a hospital with a cell phone and a digital camera. His dadly mission: to share pictures of his newborn baby girl. With an assist from Radio Shack, he linked the two devices together and e-mailed photos to family and friends around the world. The day marked a twin birth of sorts: the cell phone camera and daughter Sophie.

Kahn regards his invention with paternal pride: "I built it to document the birth of my daughter. For us, it has always been a positive thing." So he was taken aback recently when, with the Saddam-hanging video circling the globe, an interviewer compared him to the inventor of the Kalashnikov. First there was Prince Harry's Nazi costume, then the shaming of Kate Moss, then the Michael Richards racist explosion, but, for some, Saddam's hanging marks the low point for Kahn's creation. A camera on a phone has only aided the perverted, the nosy, the violent, and the bored.

Mr. Agger presents a very balanced commentary, global in context despite the occasional U.S. reference. When you read the article, you will come to realise that we aren't the first to face the issues that are now appearing, and indeed, we have only just begun to see the ugly side. Perhaps though we can take lessons learned by other societies and try to make positive use of the technology rather than, as is also usual, import what the foreign metropolis has to offer wholesale, issues and all.

Perhaps though the exposure that the camera phone brings will force us to acknowledge some of the ugly things that aren't as out of the ordinary as we'd like to think.

Perhaps having things like under-aged sex caught on camera and thrust in our faces will make us think more about responsible sex education, and doing more than telling our children, "don't bring home no baby for mih to mind!" Perhaps it will make us take better care of our sons and daughters, helping us to help them to make wiser and more informed personal decisions about sex and sexuality...

But then, maybe the issue will fade away as just another nine-day wonder...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Out of the Mouths of Babes...

"Take personal responsibility to be 100% crime free in 2007."
- Choc'late Allen, 13-years old, on i95.5FM this morning.

Remember this? 'Nuff said.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Maxi Taxi Trade Under Threat...?

In an article in the Trinidad Express today titled "Govt betrayed us", Route 2 Maxi Taxi Association President Victor George is noted by the reporter to have said that:
...his association feels betrayed by Government's plan to introduce the water taxis project in July...

George said Government's failure to consult them before approving the water taxis and monorail system project could only be seen as a move to destroy them...

"...the Maxi-Taxi Association is the perfect one when dealing with transport..."

"As we know, the transportation service provided by the maxi-taxis in Trinidad and Tobago is vital to the country and also the economy..."
One man has never been all at once more ludicrous nor more wrong.

Full article to follow...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Why can't I get new soca to buy legitimately...?

On Frederick Street at lunchtime today, I saw two tourist-y looking people shopping at one of the roadside music entrepreneurs (Read: pirates). I say shopping because they - the tourists and the pirate - all looked as comfortable as if the visitors were looking for souvenirs at one of the trinket shops around Frederick and Prince Street corner. And sadly, given the scene and what was blaring from the speakers, they were purchasing several CDs of 2007 calypso and soca to take home with them.

Click to enlarge

It was just before Christmas too that I visited my regular music merchant - The Music Shak - looking for this season's soca music. All that they had at the time local and recent, and I'd already purchased those, were Isaac Blackman's single and a new Digicel-sponsored compilation, Reggae Roadblock II. A quick trip to and conversation with the proprietor of Cleve's revealed that local artists typically release their albums after Carnival, and sometimes long after Carnival. Generally they would press singles for distribution to the radio stations and the major bands during the season, and none more than that limited number.

The problem with that approach is that there is high demand for the music, as is evidenced by the number of phones that now use tunes like Crazy's "Sweat", Destra Garcia's "I Dare You" and Machel Montano's "One More Time" as ringtones. And according to a good friend of mine, the cry when you hear a good song is no longer, "flash up unno lighter!" It has become "turn on yuh Bluetooth! Ah ha' to get dat tune!"

Unfortunately though, the artists and record companies would appear to be unaware of the fact that there is a market for the music, preferring to cry long tears over illegal duplication and sale of tracks. The funny thing is that I am sure that I'm not the only person - local or foreign - that would prefer to purchase music from authorised sources. The music is simply not available at the time of highest demand, unless you have a hookup with a deejay or someone in the industry.

Interesting though is that on that same day before Christmas, I saw an acquaintance, Nigel, selling burnt CDs on Frederick Street. Also known as BDangerous of the local hip-hop group Spotrushaz, Nigel though was selling his group's music on a themed mixed CD titled Mary Warner. For TT$20, you got a 20-track disc with the address of the Spotrushaz' website and advertisement for Mary Warner gear on the label. What was even more interesting was that Nigel didn't have to be in the street doing the meet-and-greet with the public. Spotrushaz has an album in music stores and handful of music videos in circulation. The group could just have easily distributed their music in stores.

The Reggae Roadblock II collection is the second of a series featuring the new crop of local reggae and dancehall artists, most of whom only have one song on the compilation. The CD is professionally done, and my only criticism is that it doesn't feature the tune "Reggae All Stars", performed by the full slate of new local reggae acts, including Million Voice, Isasha, Prophet Benjamin, King David, Jah Melody and Blazer.

What I'm getting at though is that were the local soca artists to make their music available, people would buy it from legitimate sources.

It no longer costs what it once did to press a single or album on vinyl. A blank CD in a case costs TT$3 maximum at retail. In sufficient bulk, they can be purchased for as little as fifty cents each.

Every twelve-year old with access to a CD burner knows how to master a music CD on a standard desktop computer using electronic audio tracks. From there, a CD can be duplicated in as little as five minutes. Most burner software will also automatically generate a CD label from the track names, reducing the work effort even further.

Consequently, for a modest investment, an individual artist can produce a CD for sale and distribute it themselves or through the major music stores. Given artist syndicates - like Bunji Garlin's Asylum Crew and KMC's Red, White and Black - a group of artists can produce simlar compilations of popular tracks to what the pirates assemble and put those out for sale. In both cases, the individual and syndicate can appeal to a generally right-thinking public to buy only from authorised sources. Priced right, these artist-produced no-frills discs will cut into pirate sales. The public doesn't care about fancy packaging, because people are willing to buy poorly printed CDs from characters pushing battery-powered rigs in the street.

Don't think that this is at all a new idea though. Hip-hop and reggae artists have been bypassing the major record labels and producing mixtapes and riddim tapes since before the days of the double cassette deck. In fact, many major artists still generate mixtapes and low-cost promotional CDs for fan consumption in between major album releases.

So what's stopping local artists from stepping up? Or is it simply easier to have CoTT decry the pirates as well as the adoring public for buying from the pirates, this even though the pirates provide the only outlet for consumers to purchase popular local music while its still hot?

The Silver Fox is back...

Basdeo Panday has confirmed his acceptance of the political leadership of the United National Congress, at least temporarily.

Panday was reinstated as the political leader of the UNC at yesterday's meeting of the party's National Executive at Rienzi Complex in Couva...

"...The recent betrayal of Winston Dookeran and the CoP members of Parliament in refusing to support the demand of the UNC that the PNM bring to Parliament the Equal Opportunities legislation as a condition support for the PNM's Bail Bill.

"That act of betrayal convinced me that our supporters are without a leader who are [sic] prepared to stand up for the poor and discriminated among the people who have given to the Opposition their support, blood, sweat and tears for so many years," said Panday.

Panday back as UNC Political Leader by Kimberly Mackhan,
Trinidad Express, Jan. 4, 2007

Hmmmm... Affirmative action versus keeping alleged kidnappers behind bars until their cases are called before the courts?
2005 Amendment Bill making kidnapping a non-bailable offence here and 2006 Amendment Bill extending the term of the 2005 Amendment here
Hmmmm... Off to a fine start, clearing showing again that opposing the PNM Government is of more importance than the good of the people, the same poor and oppressed that he claims to so ardently defend...

Hmmmm... No leader able to stand, eh? That's quite a condemnation of the deputy leadership of the party too. It might even be deemed a direct attack on the deputy political leader that sits in the House of Representatives. Clearly, she couldn't lead the charge to block the PNM from keeping criminals behind bars...

In the mean time, the preliminary enquiry into corruption charges against Panday, his wife Oma, Carlos John and Ishwar Galbaransingh - this is a matter separate from the failure to declare a London Bank account - has been put off for another five months, pending the conclusion or resolution of other matters faced by co-defendent Ishwar Galbaransingh. These matters include the request for Galbaransingh's extradition to the United States, a matter to be heard before the court this month.

The former Prime Minister's appeal on the Integrity in Public Life conviction is also still pending, a matter in which there was alleged interference by a sitting Chief Justice...

And so, according to the UNC's National Executive, there is absolutely no-one else to lead the UNC but a lawyer who seems to have spent more time as a defendant in the Court than as a practising attorney, and one who has not only been convicted of a charge but has even more charges pending...

Hmmmmm... Says quite a bit about the leadership material that the party has to work with, doesn't it...?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

About Bernard Kerik, Crime Consultant...

Things that make you go hmmmmm... Are we this desperate for solutions or is this just people looking for mileage?

TV6 News reported tonight that former New York Commissioner of Police Bernard Kerik has arrived in Trinidad. He has accepted invitation of Austin Jack Warner, Deputy Political Leader of the United National Congress to come to Trinidad & Tobago for anti-crime talks and consultation given the Government's apparent inability to deal with the crime problem.

While Kerik has an extensive resume in law enforcement, including having served as Commissioner of New York City Department of Correction from 1998 to 2000 and as NYPD Commissioner from 2000 to 2001, he also appears to have quite the chequered past, if New York Times and other Internet sources are to be considered.

Kerik is also to be remembered as the gentleman who withdrew his initial acceptance of US President's George W. Bush's nomination for the position of Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, citing his previous employment of an illegal immigrant.

Subsequent press scrutiny revealed that there may have been further issues blocking Kerik's confirmation to the position, including:
  • questions regarding Kerik's sale of stock in Taser International shortly before the release of an Amnesty International report critical of the company's stun-gun product;
  • a sexual harassment lawsuit;
  • allegations of misuse of police personnel and property for personal benefit;
  • connections with a construction company suspected of having ties to organized crime; and
  • failure to comply with ethics rules on gifts.
In 2006, following an 18-month investigation by the Bronx District Attorney, Kerik pled guilty to two ethics violations and was ordered to pay $221,000 in fines. Kerik's name was subsequently struck from the Manhattan Detention Complex by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a jail that had been named in Kerik's honour by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Two contractors with Kerik ties were also subsequently charged with various offences.

More on Kerik is available at the following sites:

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year... New Things...

A toast to the new year and all of the good things that it brings...

In 2007, I've resolved to take my writing to a new level. Stepping up will require therefore my pushing Keith-In-Trinidad to new heights, and this even as other projects are advanced.

One major effort has been the establishment of a central on-line presence for my Alma Mater Queen's Royal College and its alumni. This has taken the form of QRC Link at http://QRCLink.blogspot.com/, a site for news and updates on all matters concerning the College. Work is in train though to reacquire the QRC.edu or the QRC.edu.tt domains to re-establish the official Queen's Royal College presence in Cyberspace.

A greater level of activity promised, the new year begins with a site upgrade which is reflected more in content than cosmetics.

The sidebar on the right of the front page has been reorganised. The most important change is the addition of the Items of Interest section. This, I hope, helps to fulfil the promise of a providing a little something regularly to trigger reflection, either when I'm not able to write, or when someone else has already said what I want to myself. The dynamic listing will change on a daily basis and provide links to articles on-line in the local and international space, nonetheless affecting us all as Trinbagonians.

Despite ongoing concern about the state of the press, the major networks remain the official source of news and view locally. Thus, links to all of the major media houses and any Caribbean news aggregators that I come across will be found in the sidebar still.

Persistent links to a handful of other sites and on-line presences will continue to be maintained under "Site Links". These include Georgia Popplewell's Caribbean Free Radio, the English-speaking Caribbean's first and I believe still only podcast. Photography links may be broken out at a later stage, but for now, readers will continue to find links to Carnival and other pictures here.

The listing of past articles has taken on a new form. The collapsible tree interface will allow readers to locate anything that they might have missed or would want to rehash, and this in a manner that is a lot easier than in the past. With more content coming in the new year, this is one of the more important changes.

Of course, no respectable site will be without some level of advertising, but attempts will be made to keep this as unobtrusive as possible.

At the bottom of each article are links that will permit readers to either make their own comments, and to email articles to others. Clicking on the article's post time or on the article's title will take readers to that posting's permanent page and its full text. These are features that pre-dated the site update, but required mention all the same.

Feedback on the site's changes and improvements will be appreciated, and can be posted as comments on this article.

Welcome to 2007. It's going to be a great year.

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