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Archives 2010

Mewey Cwismas, Trinis Dec 26, 2010
I was reluctant writing this column on the eve of Christmas, knowing it will appear in print on Boxing Day, that it would probably upset some people. Then it occurred to me that a significant number of adults would crawl out of their beds or wherever they may have slept last night, feeling like faecal matter of one kind or other
A nation of unrealised potential Dec 19, 2010
Some people who have the power to effect change and the courage to pursue noble goals with great enthusiasm, often find themselves stumped by the savagery they encounter when they tackle seemingly intractable problems. Trinidadians (more so than Tobagonians) are a strange people.
Warner a one-man wrecking machine Dec 12, 2010
The closest I ever got to a football World Cup finals was in London in 1966. No, I was not in Wembley Stadium where England beat West Germany 4-2 in a match that was mired in controversy.
Big Sister is watching you Dec 05, 2010
The scandal—allegations that US agents spied in (and on) sovereign states, allies like Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Iceland—broke around the same time the SIA mess hit the fan here in Trinidad and Tobago. American agents conducted surveillance activities against "suspected terrorists" on foreign soil.
Saving Patrick from Manningitis Nov 28, 2010
Politicians! As practitioners of one of the two oldest "professions" known to man, they often derail the plans of members of the third oldest, journalism. All three callings find common ground in lust—be it for money, power or influence.
I spy, with my electronic eye... Nov 21, 2010
As I write this column, Government is before Parliament presenting the Interception of Communications bill, which it expects to pass in a marathon sitting. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said she hoped to get support from the opposition PNM, which I feel certain she will.
Fourth Estate Outlasts Governments Nov 14, 2010
Most Cabinet Ministers in successive governments suffer with political foot-in-mouth disease, an affliction that seems endemic to the corridors of power. Others succumb to the "left-hand, right-hand" syndrome.
Not what you say, but how you do it Nov 07, 2010
Once more Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has triggered Caribbean hostility towards Trinidad and Tobago by another ill-timed, inappropriate statement. Coming a few months after her "Trinidad is not Caricom's ATM" gaffe, one wonders who is advising the PM on the nuances of good diplomacy.
Riding into the valley of death Oct 31, 2010
There are few reasons why the People's Partnership Government should portray itself as a victim of circumstances the way the NAR did in 1986. Back then, Ray Robinson and his "party of parties" inherited an almost empty treasury.
Corridors of power living hell Oct 24, 2010
I have never been close to the corridors of power, except on occasions when those on high invited me to some meeting or social function. Regarding the latter, I should add that I have grown so asocial over the years, some people think I've become anti-social.
Partnership leaders must smoke 'peace pipe' now Oct 17, 2010
A brief story in the Express last week caught my attention. The report spoke of serious differences between two organisations purporting to represent nationals of this country who have indigenous blood flowing in their arteries.
Truly a national insurance 'scheme' Oct 10, 2010
NOT surprisingly, many Clico and CIB depositors were not excited over my column of last week. I thought I was being generous to those whose savings now seem to be "jumping up in steelband". I referred to them as thrifty people.
Financial advice from 'Layman Brother' Oct 03, 2010
I have never seen a million dollars in my life. The only time I gaped at big money—was it US$20 million?—was when the then high-flying "Sir" Allen Stanford stormed the hallowed Lord's cricket ground in London, bearing 20-20 prize money in what appeared to be a huge casket.
Here today, gone tomorrow Sept 26, 2010
"So, I expect you to tear into (Herbert) Volney's anatomy in your next column!" many of my readers chorused all of last week. People were itching for me—why me?—to go after the judge-turned-politician, the greatest intervention since, let's say, mouth-organist Cutty Joseph.
Refreshing voice of reason Sept 19, 2010
In the midst of the never-ending cacophony that has come to characterise our politics, it was refreshing to hear at least one voice of reason coming from someone who holds high office.
Minimum wage, maximum farce Sept 12, 2010
Let us be realistic about this burning issue of the minimum wage: no employer who is worthy of being called an entrepreneur pays anyone in his establishment $9 an hour.
Nightmare at Woodford Square Sept 05, 2010
We have a new Government, a new dispensation – call it what you will – in place. But change, if it's going to happen, seems, at this point like being in the middle pack of a snails' marathon covering all the 100 feet. You ask yourself, especially when you come from the Baby Boomers generation, will change come before I die? Will I live to see my country, my people change for the better?
Time to Rewrite the Social Contract Aug 29, 2010
We have a new Government, a new dispensation – call it what you will – in place. But change, if it's going to happen, seems, at this point like being in the middle pack of a snails' marathon covering all the 100 feet. You ask yourself, especially when you come from the Baby Boomers generation, will change come before I die? Will I live to see my country, my people change for the better?
Police, Coast Guard, fail fishermen in distress Aug 22, 2010
Two murderous incidents that occurred last weekend exposed different sides of arms of the Protective Services, much of which is not flattering. In the first, sea-bandits attacked fishermen in a virtual orgy of violence that saw some six vessels seized by armed, masked men.
No more wastage of public funds Aug 15, 2010
It is easy for people to say that the new Government should stop looking back, stop blaming the ousted People's National Movement (PNM) government for much of the mess we find ourselves in today, and just move on.
Steaming over the big flood Aug 08, 2010
Heavy rainfall, like that which we experienced last Monday, is an act of nature. Heavy flooding, which we have repeatedly been subjected to over the past two decades, is caused by a number of factors. Many of these are beyond man's control.
Big win, bigger expectations Aug 01, 2010
The People's Partnership has stamped its authority to govern the country over the next five years by convincingly winning two elections in as many months.
1990 enquiry: exercise in futility July 25, 2010
I do not know how Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her Cabinet arrived at a decision to appoint a Commission of Enquiry into the attempted coup of 1990.
Poverty Facts and Fiction July 18, 2010
Every time I hear someone parrot poverty numbers in my Trinidad and Tobago, I wince. Politicians, and many ordinary citizens, often accept as the "gospel truth" the amount of people in this country said to be living "below the absolute poverty line", defined as US$1 a day.
Injustice Sows Seeds of Terrorism July 11, 2010
Those among us who keep abreast of international developments will have noted huge protest demonstrations in Israel most of last week. This kind of action is unusual.
Ministers Must Show Decorum July 04, 2010
Break, as a boxing referee would say. Last week I sought to re-open some old wounds that have returned to haunt us-to wit, the tragedy and gross injustice of the Bhopal disaster of 1984.
Myth of all men created equal June 27, 2010
Two weeks ago in India, seven local managers who worked with Union Carbide at its Bhopal plant in 1984 were sentenced to two years imprisonment and each fined US$2,100.
'Desi' Allum: patriarch and patriot June 20, 2010
My mother takes a seat in the limited space available in court. It is early June, 1970, and the preliminary inquiry into the charge of treason gets underway. She looks at her 24-year-old son sitting in the dock alongside 60-odd soldiers.
Let the chips fall where they may June 13, 2010
Revelations about the controversial cathedral-of-a-church being constructed at Guanapo suggest that ex-prime minister Patrick Manning may have been more involved in the project than he suggested when the issue was first made public
Good start, some missteps June 06, 2010
The People's Partnership will hardly enjoy a honeymoon period in government. Because its predecessors were so delinquent in addressing real problems affecting citizens, the people are crying out for relief from the ills that affect them.
People's Punishment May 30, 2010
I don't know of anyone, from political analysts to columnists like myself, who accurately read the swing that saw the People's Partnership barrel its way through PNM strongholds to win a resounding victory in last Monday's general elections.
Political cocktail: the sacred and the profane May 23, 2010
I am told by people who have witnessed election campaigns in other Caribbean countries that ours are not unique in their curious blend of the sacred and the profane. I regret not having experiences like theirs so I can make comparisons.
Imperatives: social equity, diversified economy May 16, 2010
With one week to go before 'decision day', the two parties contesting the general election are locked in a tight race. Whatever the pollsters may say-I expect some of their findings will be published today-I do not see either the PNM or the People's Partnership (PP) gaining a significant majority that will enable the winner to govern the country comfortably.
Crime fighting out of focus May 09, 2010
Contrary to what over-exuberant party fanatics trumpet during and after mass meetings, crowd-attendance at most of these seasonal gatherings has been disappointing. At Couva last Thursday, for example, I arrived at the People's Partnership (PP) in time to hear Rudy Moonilal (I believe) and Jack Warner refer to the '8,000 people gathered here tonight'.
Tragedy of election errors May 02, 2010
Harold Wilson, Prime Minister of Britain (1964-76), is credited with the adage, 'A week is a long time in politics.' In Trinidad and Tobago, it seems that a day in elections campaigning can trigger changes that would eternally haunt one contestant or other.
History lessons for Manning April 25, 2010
'Did you hear the Prime Minister lashing out at you on the PNM platform last night?' It was the kind of telephone calls and greetings I received repeatedly over the past week. I informed my 'informants' that I did hear Mr Manning mention my name, among others, as he attempted to give PNM supporters 'History lessons'.
Unity essential - but no guarantees April 18, 2010
I don't know if the two main opposition parties in Trinidad, Tobago's TOP, and the trade unions and NGOs, will forge an alliance that is attractive to the electorate. As I write this column, top officials from the United National Congress (UNC) and the Congress of the People (COP) have held several meetings.
Manning's election gambit April 11, 2010
First, let's cut the bull over Prime Minister Patrick Manning's reasons for calling a mid-term general election. The United National Congress (UNC) motion of no-confidence in the PM, which he cited as one reason, was doomed to fail-unless he feared his own members voting against him. There was no cause for concern or unpleasant surprises.
Can they count? April 04, 2010
The past two weekends were rather unusual ones. Easter weekend started off last Thursday with Holy Thursday, which was also April Fools' Day. On Good Friday, while practising Christians solemnly commemorated Christ's crucifixion, many citizens were beating up on 'bobolees'. This latter practice is probably unique to Trinidad.
Mad Man-ning on the rampage March 28, 2010
Lest I am accused of consorting with the 'drugs mafia', or worse, being a drug lord posturing as a journalist, I need to be very careful how I couch my words in this column. With Prime Minister Manning on the warpath against enemies more imagined than real, the last I want is police swooping down on me, looking for 'crack' cocaine.
Geezers' promoting rage and war March 21, 2010
A seething rage has gripped this country in a manner we have never before seen. It's frightening. Ever since I was a boy, I learned that the vast majority of our people have what I can only describe as a delightful sense of humour.
Hart-aches by the numbers March 14, 2010
If I were Prime Minister Patrick Manning, I would fire my 'spiritual adviser' forthwith. I would instead hire a futuristic, 2020 model 'secular consultant', someone like, say, Raffique Shah. Before the howling starts, with every Tom, Dick and Harrilal shouting, 'Shah looking for PNM wuk!' or 'We always knew Shah was PNM!', let me explain why I offer the PM this advice.
Governance by less March 07, 2010
If Prime Minister Patrick Manning's brimstone-and-fire like sermon in Parliament two Fridays ago was reflective of the normal behaviour of Born-Again-Whatever, then I thank the Lord (if She exists) for saving me from the darkness that envelops such tortured souls, for allowing me to see the light of rational thinking at a very early age in my life.
Ghosts in Panday's political afterlife February 28, 2010
I wanted to share my thoughts on the few remaining bright sparks in the festival-the effervescent young pannists, calypsonians Kurt Allen, Brian London and Kizzie Ruiz, and dedicated cultural activists who refuse to allow our Carnival to descend into the abyss of nothingness. But developments in the political arena have pre-empted that.
Carnival: one foot in the grave February 21, 2010
Carnival Friday night and I am driving to Port of Spain, my mind working like a Pentium computer chip. Which route do I choose to reach St James, my regular liming spot?
Ass in the Lion's Skin February 14, 2010
I planned to stay away from Jouvert for the fourth consecutive year. But I am tempted to return, if only to portray an 'old mas' character, what with so many themes tickling those of us who have a sense of humour. Really, when you think of the prospects our politicians offer, it's hard to resist not making an appearance on stage downtown.
Karma, Bas, not Kamla February 07, 2010
Most readers would interpret my headline as suggesting that UNC "founding father", Basdeo Panday, is enjoying sweet chutney/soca music in keeping with the spirit of the Carnival season. For them, "Karma" is a music band whose lead singer, Ravi B, won the recent Chutney-Soca Monarch title.
A few good men...and women January 31, 2010
Before the Herculean task of reconstructing Haiti can begin, the current relief programme must reach every Haitian. It must first ensure that all those who suffered physical and mental trauma during and after the earthquake are properly treated.
Another American annexation? January 24, 2010
What surprised me about my column last week was the number of people, mostly local, who knew little or nothing about Haiti's history. But what should I have expected in a country and an education system in which history has been deemed irrelevant?
Reparations, not handouts, for Haiti January 17, 2010
So we cry for Haiti again. Yet another natural disaster, this time an earthquake of horrendous magnitude, has all but flattened what was left of that 'cussed' country. In the Caribbean, so full of heart are we, even those who survive barely above the poverty line give, be it cash or clothes or food.
Beyonci a Boundary January 10, 2010
Should readers feel I am making light of a serious subject, I plead guilty. With the coming of artiste Beyonci taking on proportions of the second coming of Christ, I cannot help but enjoy a sense of detached amusement.
Firestorm is a-coming January 03, 2010
Should political turmoil erupt in 2010, it wouldn't be because of the Property Tax or government's now toned-down spending spree. The opposition, united or divided, cannot trigger mass action, the kind we experienced in 1970.