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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

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