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Archives 2008

Madoff-Man of the Year December 28, 2008
Predictably, Time magazine named US President-elect Barack Obama as its "Individual of the Year, 2008"?. Obama would undoubtedly emerge as "the Man" for publications and institutions that usually bestow such annual honours. In fact, for most people across the world, Obama is the Man of the Century, matters not that we are a mere eight tumultuous years into an era that is as unpredictable as Obama's stature is predictable.
Descent into animalism December 21, 2008
It has been that kind of year. It was unpredictable at the beginning, became tumultuous as it regressed (well, I can't quite say "progressed"), and as it comes to an end it leaves one wondering: would I live to see anything like this again?
No, we can't December 14, 2008
Ever since Barack Obama shot into the limelight and coined the campaign slogan "Yes, We Can!" politicians of all hues and persuasions across the world have adopted it to suit their own agendas.
Double up on doubles' price December 07, 2008
I can't claim to have known anything about Consumer Affairs Minister Peter Taylor until two weeks when he singled out "doubles" as a target for price reduction. That statement signalled to me that the minister was doubly ignorant about his portfolio, maybe even wholly unsuited for the job.
Religious zealots take us to the brink November 30, 2008
Even as India's elite military units were flushing out the remnants of the terrorists who launched a bloody, well-coordinated attack on several symbolic targets in Mumbai, the blame-game was underway.
Cutbacks must start at the top November 23, 2008
So we have come full circle-responding only when the White "massa", or "missus" in this case, wields the whip. Government has belatedly decided to review its expenditure in light of the global financial and economic crises.
Of fools and spirits November 16, 2008
Call me The Trini-Spirit. In this incarnation I wield power and influence over all in this land. Like a true Trini-Genie, I pop out of a bottle and control the minds of men and women, from ministers and criminals to aberrations like Juliet Davy.
Obama must attack Israel's apartheid November 09, 2008
Palestine. Afghanistan. Iraq. Cuba. These countries form the pillars on which President-elect Barack Obama, if he is to achieve his stated aim of a peaceful world, must rebuild America's image abroad.
Obama surfing a political tsunami November 02, 2008
Two days from today, Americans will elect a new president in that country's most exciting presidential election for many years. Without doubt, the extra hype surrounding the race to the White House has come about because of Barack Obama's candidacy.
Higher you climb, harder you fall October 26, 2008
Last week, when I suggested that the masses of poor and middle-income people across the world may yet have the last laugh in the midst of the global financial crisis, many readers laughed at me.
Only the poor will survive October 19, 2008
Our economists, bankers, stockbrokers, manufacturers, multi-millionaires and politicians will argue and wrestle over the next few months over where Trinidad and Tobago's economy is heading.
In Trinidad, the piper calls the tune October 12, 2008
I grew to dislike Budget presentations and the debates that followed them during my five short years as a parliamentarian. For most of that period, the then Prime Minister, Dr Eric Williams, was also Minister of Finance.
Vision and visionaries to steer us through crisis October 05, 2008
With Ronald Reagan now dead and Margaret Thatcher barely alive, I shall resist the urge to blame this global financial crisis solely on them. In many ways, they cannot be blamed for today's debacle.
Collapse of 'Reaganomics' and 'Thatcherism' September 28, 2008
Over the six decades I've been on this here Earth, more so during the latter four, I have learned to be wary of the very wealthy. Not all, mark you, but most. Some decent people earned their millions through sheer hard work and wise choices. Others educated themselves and used their professions to become rich.
Mobile Menace September 21, 2008
It was a desperate cry from an exasperated woman, and it tugged at my heart when we finally spoke on the phone. She made me feel ashamed of myself, since, like so many others, I, too, am a victim of the jarring, amplified noise that passes for music in too many private motor vehicles.
Manufacturing Motion Mania September 14, 2008
I am often guilty of making a fool of myself, although those who know me well would agree that I readily admit to my stupidity. There I was last Sunday, pontificating on American politics and politicians, their weaknesses and hypocrisy, when in my own country our politicians are making fools of us all.
Obama, McCain avoid America's core problems September 07, 2008
The world is virtually under siege with problems, caused in the main by man's misuse and abuse of Earth's resources. Three hurricanes in the Caribbean at one time; flooding in parts India, the worst in 60 years; drought in Africa and Australia, the worst in living memory; and, of course, the two polar ice-caps melting faster than the proverbial sno-cone-in-the-sun.
Lawless at 46 August 31, 2008
If Prime Minister Patrick Manning and his government had a real grasp of the shaky legs on which this country wobbles in its 46th year of independence, they would have cancelled all the pomp and ceremony and celebrations, and instead declare today a Day of Mourning.
Caribbean athletes make us proud August 24, 2008
The Beijing Olympics are coming to a close as I write on Friday morning. Having just savoured the world-record-breaking run of Team Jamaica (4 x 100M in 37.10 seconds) and seen the Trinidad and Tobago quartet win silver, I ask myself: what more can any ardent sports fan ask for?
Who is or was the greatest Olympian ever? August 17, 2008
By the time this column is published on Sunday, American swimmer Michael Phelps would more than likely have achieved his goal of winning a record eight gold medals. Mark Spitz, the sole swimmer among an elite club of Olympians who won multiple medals in his career, would also have been in Beijing to see this swimming phenomenon set a new benchmark in the pool.
Magic of the Olympics August 10, 2008
How I look forward to the next three weeks as the magic of the Olympic Games impacts on most people across the world. There's something about the Games that holds human beings spellbound. It gives us some respite from wars, a lull in crime, relief from politicians, makes us forget our daily woes.
Emancipation an unrealised dream August 03, 2008
As many of my African brethren gathered over the past week to mark Emancipation Day, I reflected on just how emancipated we are. And I don't mean just Afro-Trinis, I mean all of us who form the melting pot that is Trinidad and Tobago.
When greed leads to grief July 27, 2008
The dovetailing of two incidents last week laid bare reasons why, in spite of its immense potential, this country seems to be destined for self-destruction. First, there was the execution of a reputed gang leader, Mervyn "Kojo" Allamby, in Aranjuez.
Cry wolf, get a dictator July 20, 2008
Cry wolf, the adage goes, and you may just get your wish when you least expect it. I am reminded of the story of the little shepherd boy every time I read or hear someone say that Prime Minister Patrick Manning has morphed into a Mugabe. Are these people for real?
Abolish Local Govt July 13, 2008
As if this country is not burdened by more than its fair share of woes, I don't know if I should laugh or cry over expressions of outrage by those who see the sky caving in on Trinidad and Tobago because government postponed Local Government elections for the third time. What, pray, is the big fuss over staging local elections?
A mess of its own making July 06, 2008
Last Friday, the House of Representatives debated a motion to confirm or strike down the Police Service Commission's (PSC) nominee for the position of Commissioner of Police, Senior Superintendent Stephen Williams. Speculation was rife beforehand that the Government would reject Williams on the premise that he was too young for the top job, that the selection process was flawed.
Champagne taste, mauby pockets June 29, 2008
With NFM announcing last week that the price of wheat flour is set to rise another 29 per cent, there was the usual groaning and moaning from consumers, blaming 'de govament' for rising food prices.
Army can clean up the country June 22, 2008
The telephone call came earlier than reveille-for-an-old-soldier, but it was not unexpected. At the other end of the line, "College", having apologised for blowing the telecom bugle a trifle too soon, said to me: "Raf, you must write something about these little punks who feel they can shoot soldiers just so! That would never have happened in our day.
Boost for civil liberties June 15, 2008
Preoccupied as we are with wanton and random bloodletting, rampant crime, spiralling food prices and football politics, major national issues in this crowded barracoon, interesting developments in the wider world could steal past us hardly eliciting a glance.
Relieve rapists of their tongues June 08, 2008
With 27 years of writing columns under my belt-I once wrote two columns a week, but never scaled Keith Smith's one-a-day heights-how well I recall sitting before a typewriter and pondering for hours: what topic shall I choose today?
Failed leadership, not a failed state June 01, 2008
For many decades Scandinavian countries-Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland-have ranked highest in the world in economic and social indices.
A 'failed state'? Not my native land May 25, 2008
Recently, many politicians, columnists, academics and ordinary citizens have boldly applied the new global catchwords, "failed state", to Trinidad and Tobago. They cite unbridled crime, the seemingly powerless protective services, and the consequential insecurity of the population, as signs of a collapsed State.
Nothing to hide, nothing to fear May 18, 2008
I have spoken with Calder Hart only once, when he belatedly responded to a call I had made to UDeCOTT seeking to talk with him on a story I was working on. It turned out that he had been out of the country when I had tried to reach him.
Damn right to deny MPs 'gallery' time May 11, 2008
There should be no tears shed over Government's decision to hold parliamentary Joint Select Committee meetings in camera, and not on camera.
Frying in their own fat May 04, 2008
September 2001: "Focus on agriculture declined from as far back as the first oil boom of 1973-79, when, with oil prices increasing at a dizzying pace, food production was no longer an attractive option.
Manning Shoots a Rowdy Messenger April 27, 2008
If former Trade Minister Dr Keith Rowley is a hooligan who displays 'wajang' behaviour, when did these abominable character traits first manifest themselves?
Nostalgia for the 1970s April 20, 2008
THIRTY-EIGHT years ago tomorrow, a group of us comprising young officers in the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment (TTR), along with a few hundred soldiers, etched our names in history by revolting and seizing control of the army's HQ at Teteron Barracks.
A torch for Tibet...and Tobago April 13, 2008
BACK in the mid-1970s there was a very vocal minority of "Tobago secessionists" who ranted about the sister-isle being treated like a "bastard", and who demanded its independence. Dr Winston Murray, one of its two elected MPs, designed a Tobago flag which he proudly displayed on his desk in the Parliament chamber.
Backward ever, forward never April 06, 2008
On March 26, Tata Motors, a division of India's oldest and most diversified conglomerate, paid the mighty Ford of America US$2.3 billion to acquire two jewels in Britain's motoring crown, Land Rover and Jaguar. The next day Tata Chemicals acquired General Chemicals of the USA for US$1 billion.
Norway: good governance, better discipline March 30, 2008
One can easily learn to love Norway only for its majestic fjords that are almost unique to that country. But its beauty extends far beyond the landscape and seascape. Here's a country that discovered oil off its coast at the same time Britain, Holland and others did in the North Sea. That was some 70 years after the first productive oil well was drilled in Trinidad.
No 'Dutch Disease' for Norway March 23, 2008
There's never a dull moment in Trinidad and Tobago. The Government ensures that every week new, controversial issues erupt to spark debate, cussing, outrage. If not allegations of corruption, there's always the arrogance of ministers who believe they are anointed by God, not elected by people.
Caribbean Airlines 'gouging' taxpayers March 16, 2008
As I listened to billionaire-businessman Arthur Lok Jack reel out the numbers surrounding Caribbean Airlines (CAL) decision to purchase a Bombardier Global Express SRX, I was puzzled. If anyone knows anything about basic "counting", it should be a billionaire. If anyone knows about price-gouging, it's invariably the very wealthy.
Against public opinion March 09, 2008
When the furore over government owning an executive jet first erupted last year, I was among the very few persons who saw nothing wrong with it, and I wrote as much. I argued then that the Prime Minister could be likened to the CEO of an oil rich country, except that his responsibilities were far greater, and that right here in Trinidad and Tobago there were several conglomerates that owned such aircraft.
One Caribbean, one love March 02, 2008
One week spent in Jamaica is far too little time to assess the state of the country or to enjoy its many scenic and special attractions. Most of the latter are way up the mountains or beyond, on its tourist-oriented north coast. Kingston itself is a city of stark contrasts.
A Goon attacks a Vine February 24, 2008
About two weeks ago, a downright dangerous incident occurred offshore Claxton Bay, not far from where I live. Peter Vine, a UWI lecturer and environmental activist, was among a group of fishermen and nearby residents, protesting preliminary works being conducted by agents of the NEC in preparation for the reclamation of some 255 hectares of coastal land for the establishment of an industrial port.
Scrap URP, establish Labour Bureau February 17, 2008
Last week, in another curious twist to Government's off-and-on position on the $2 billion annual fuels subsidy, Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Mariano Browne, confirmed that it's up for review. He gave no time-line for the exercise nor did he hint at the percentage being considered.
Reduce gas subsidy, boost food production February 10, 2008
Recently, Trade and Industry Minister Dr Keith Rowley hinted that the Government may soon need to reconsider its $2 billion a year fuel subsidy. Reaction among the population ranged from grumbling to expressions of outrage, so much so that another minister denied any such move was being considered. I beg to differ.
Pan music as a tool in fighting crime February 03, 2008
The newly appointed Minister of Culture, Marlene McDonald, assured the nation last Thursday that "all systems are in place" for this year's Carnival. Her optimism came amidst a cacophony of protests, some from calypsonians, others from the pan fraternity, over the standard of judging at various competitions.
Wasting our money behind 'bumsees' January 27, 2008
Listening to today's masquerade band leaders clamour for the Government to "run more money" my thoughts fall back on yesterday's greats-George Bailey, Harold Saldenah, Cito Velasquez, Irwin McWilliams, the Harts and the Lee Heungs, to name a handful.
Torture, then hang 'em high January 20, 2008
Now that Prime Minister Patrick Manning has declared his latest plan to curb crime-hang 'em high-I must advise him of a sinister measure he can add for special effect.
Emergency to protect Govt only, not the people January 13, 2008
If anybody can convince me that a state of emergency would yield benefits in the fight against crime, I'd be willing to listen and act. So said Prime Minister Patrick Manning last week as he and others, the opposition UNC included, insisted that emergency powers were not required to deal with this unholy mess.
A people problem of epidemic proportions January 06, 2008
I am not surprised that the Express has taken the initiative to intervene in the fight against the crime tsunami that threatens to destroy our beloved country. It's not the first time that a call has been made for a government to declare a limited state of emergency to help deal with the problem.