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Archives 2003

Same old story'Twas a year we'd rather forget Dec. 28, 2003
REFLECT'NG on the year that's about to fade into history, most nationals of this country will no doubt remember it as one in which the criminal elements gained ground on the forces of law and order. We saw more murders and kidnappings than ever before, and violent crimes took a quantum leap.
Controlling the 'Fourth Front' Dec. 21, 2003
THE major development since I wrote on America's arrogance last week has been the capture of Saddam Hussein. Predictably, he was "sold out" by the lure of US$25 million offered by the US occupiers for his capture, "dead or alive".
America's arrogance knows no bounds Dec. 14, 2003
DEPUTY US Ambassador to this country, Albert Nahas, and his boss Roy Austin, must really believe that we Trinis are a bunch of "chupidees" that we are an uneducated, uninformed people.
LABIDCO: Rising from the rubble of controversy Dec. 10, 2003
EVEN as the opposition UNC continues its strident calls for an enquiry into government's initial expenditure on Labidco, the industrial estate at La Brea, part of the 400-acre site is a beehive of activity.
Curbing crime: attack from the top December 07, 2003
FOR an editor or journalist or columnist, it's a case of damned if you do and damned if you don't. Writing about the seemingly uncontrollable crime epidemic that has gripped this country, I mean.
Reaping the fruits of inequity November 30, 2003
THERE is a perception that the perpetrators of the most heinous crimes in the country are all young Afro-Trinis who live in the slums around the city of Port of Spain.
'Badjohns' who spawned today's criminals November 23, 2003
BEFORE continuing from where I left off last week, I need to clear up the misconception that in my column I condoned the spate of violence that seems to have overtaken so many of our schools.
'A generation to change education' November 17, 2003
NEITHER the policy makers in government nor the educators in society seem to know the direction in which we should be heading to solve the crisis in our schools system and in broader education. There is also a dearth of management capability at the Ministry of Education, where resistance to change is commonplace.
School violence nothing new November 16, 2003
THERE are times, I swear, when I find we older people, more so those who wield influence in the society, are so hypocritical in our condemnation of today's youth, I feel like puking in disgust. Following the seemingly endless and pointless debates about ill discipline and violence in schools is one such example.
Poverty, not race, the real issue November 09, 2003
REALLY, all the "race talk" that appears intent on widening the divide between the two main ethnic groups in the country has begun to bore me. I am fed-up with the rantings of the Selwyn Cudjoes, the Basdeo Pandays, the Sat Maharajs and sundry other zealots in this otherwise tranquil country.
Oil + Gas - Food = Rank Stupidity November 02, 2003
THE Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines food security as "a state of affairs where all people at all times have access to safe and nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life."
Reversing the decline in food production October 26, 2003
IF, today, oil and other hydrocarbons are the resources that fuel conflicts, even wars, as nations jostle for control of the commodity that drives modern economies, yesterday food was the weapon of choice.
Government promoting food insecurity October 18, 2003
IT is difficult to get any government in an oil-and-gas-rich country like Trinidad and Tobago to pay serious attention to food production. Like most Middle East states that are swimming in oil, where everything, from drinking water to sliced bread, caviar to champagne are imported, governments here have paid little more than lip service to food production.
Police action backfires on PM October 12, 2003
THERE can be no argument that the people who engaged in protest demonstrations in Chaguanas and elsewhere last Monday broke the law. Or, I should say, they breached an ass of a law that has no place in our statute books.
Pay the devil October 05, 2003
THERE can be no doubt that crime is of immediate and very grave concern to many citizens of this country. In spite of numerous initiatives by Minister of National Security Howard Chin Lee and his security chiefs in the police and army, the forces of law and order seem to be several steps behind the criminals.
Shut up, Mr Prime Minister September 28, 2003
PRIME MINISTERS are not inclined to take advice from journalists or members of the public, which is why I find the length to which Patrick Manning is taking this UTC-FCB merger issue, based on the fact that the advice supposedly came from "someone at FCB", alarming.
They could have had Cudjoe for free September 21, 2003
I was not at the Hilton hotel last Wednesday when the latest "motivational speaker" on this ever-expanding and over-expensive circuit, Iyanla (pronounced Ee-Yan-La, ye morons!) Vanzant, made the rounds.
Death rides a rejected horse September 14, 2003
BY the time he got around to forming the UNC in the run-up to the 1995 general election, Basdeo Panday had attained the goals he had set himself since 1974. That is to have a party that fully controlled the "Indian vote", and one that he absolutely controlled. One of his close senior associates (not Indian) said then: "Panday now controls all the Indianshe will never be removed from power."
Scarred by colonialism September 07, 2003
CONTINUING from where I left off two weeks ago on the demise of Basdeo Panday and UNC, I argued that there were two main reasons for this. From as far back as when he re-entered the political arena in 1974, he had adopted the Machiavellian approach to leadership in both the union and party.
Scarred by colonialism August 31, 2003
"FORTY-ONE years, how you feeling, Trinidad and Tobago?" our soca bards might croon through booming speaker-boxes. Yes, it takes a bit coming to terms with the fact that the nation is celebrating its 41st anniversary of independence, especially for people like me.
Digging his own political grave August 24, 2003
MANY years ago, I acquired some non-conventional wisdom from a very unconventional source, one Lennox Pierre. The veteran Marxist attorney, unlike many who went on to disavow their leftist allegiances when frequent-flyer trips to Moscow were the communist carrots, died with his "red" boots on.
Truth a victim of US 'war on terrorism' August 17, 2003
'In 1989, the literacy rate was more than 90 per cent; parents were fined for failing to send their children to school. The phenomenon of street children was unheard of. Iraq had reached the stage where basic indicators we use to measure the overall well being of human beings, including children, were some of the best in the world. Now it is among the bottom 20 per cent.'
Rewriting the rules of globalisation August 10, 2003
LAST Friday, Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez paid a fleeting visit to this country to hold talks with Prime Minister Patrick Manning. According to spokespersons for the Trinidad and Tobago Government, the two leaders were expected to discuss matters of mutual interest, namely oil and gas on the economic front, and crime, especially the illicit drugs and guns "trade" between criminal elements in both countries.
Last rites-without the 'high priest' August 03, 2003
ON Friday last, Caroni (1975) Ltd ceased operating as this country's sole sugar company. Its 9,000 employees, all of whom seemed to have accepted Government's VSEP offer, received their last pay cheques and, according to the company's line minister, John Rahael, they will have been paid their terminal benefits over the weekend.
No easy way out of crime wave V July 27, 2003
AT the risk of sounding a discordant note amidst the crescendo of voices being raised calling for action on crime, let me repeat what I've said and written before: there are no quick fix solutions to slaying this hydra-like monster we have all helped create.
Voter apathy crosses party lines July 20, 2003
FOR those of us who kept our feet on the ground and monitored the mood of the people as much as was practical, neither the results nor the voter turnout in last week's local government elections surprised us.
Stage set for low voter tournout July 13, 2003
THERE are only two real issues at stake in tomorrow's local government elections. Firstly, the UNC faithful will decide whether or not Basdeo Panday is politically dead and ready for cremation.
Barbarians battering the gates July 06, 2003
THE decision by the United States Government to withhold military aid to a number of countries that have so far refused to bow to the US demand for exemption of members of its armed forces and its citizens from prosecution at the Internal Criminal Court (ICC) was not surprising.
Parents at the root of the evils in society June 29, 2003
IT was a small ticket item, not really newsworthy when big crime hogs the headlines and the biggest criminals star in the media. But when things are tough in the editorial departments of newspapers, a policeman "bussing a few slaps" on some ten-year-old child from Beetham Estate becomes big news, front page picture et al.
IDB must not dictate housing policy June 22, 2003
IT is not accidental that in determining the needs of man in the modern world, shelter, meaning housing, is ranked second only to food. The latter, for obvious reasons, is the number one requirement for the sustenance of life outside of the elements that are given freely by nature, namely the air we breathe and water.
Bees in our bonnets over crime rate June 15, 2003
CRIME, in large measure, is confined to certain parts of Trinidad, be they the criminal acts or the nests from which the perpetrators operate. But because this is a relatively small country, a murder in Laventille or Maloney could trigger feelings of fear, oppression and insecurity among the wider population.
Really, no need to batten down June 08, 2003
THERE are evil forces in the country who have all but prescribed our daily dosage of deaths-by-murder, and the police as well as members of the National Security Council know who these dark agents of death are. Why the authorities have not moved aggressively to deal with them remains a mystery.
Don't threaten us, Mr Ambassador May 25, 2003
HAD planned to write this week on another perspective on the crime situation in the country, one that the alarmists in our midst will hardly see since they are so taken up with looking at the forest that they hardly see the sturdy trees that tower above it. Then US Ambassador Roy Austin once more chose to plant both his feet in his mouth, prompting me to respond to him.
Digging own graves ...with some help May 18, 2003
IF anyone had doubts about the status of Club Pigeon Point, the Ansa McAl subsidiary made it clear in an advertisement last Friday that its estate is private property.
US must accept some responsibility May 11, 2003
THE US Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, St Vincent-born Roy Austin, comes across as the perfect host of cocktail parties and other social gatherings. He is also a lively guest at local entertainment, whether it's in a panyard or at a fete or calypso show. But when it comes to defending the indefensible, in this case George Bush's unprovoked annihilation of Iraq, Austin is hopeless.
Measuring Malcolm Jones May 04, 2003
I WONDER what people who appear to be outraged over Malcolm Jones's compensation package as executive chairman of Petrotrin would say if I told them that most senior executives in the banking and finance sectors receive compensations of $500,000 a month or more? Or that CEOs at some of the relatively smaller energy sector plants are paid higher salaries than Jones's?
First, we must reform our minds April 27, 2003
THERE is consensus among most people, even those who do not have the remotest idea what it entails, that there is need for constitutional reform in Trinidad and Tobago. But few among the most vociferous on the issue will agree on exactly what reforms are required in the existing Constitution.
Blowing hot and cold on crime April 20, 2003
THE crime spree that has dogged the society over the past decade or more, but increasingly so in the past two years, is clearly cause for grave concern among the citizenry.
Legacy Of Anarchy, Terrorism April 13, 2003
THE sounds and sights of "freedom" reverberated throughout the world last week as American forces stormed into Baghdad "liberating" masses of Iraqis who had suffered for more than two decades under the "brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein".
Politics In The 'Badlands' Of Trinbago April 06, 2003
THERE was hardly a time in the politics of this country during which frontline politicians, whether they were in opposition or government, did not knowingly associate with "underworld" characters. It has been part of our political culture, this blend of politics and muscle.
War without end Pt II March 30, 2003
SO, the combined forces of two of the world's military superpowers have discovered, to their dismay and at the cost of many lives, that the road to Baghdad is no cake walk, that it's not, after all, lined with masses of jubilant, soon-to-be-liberated Iraqis.
Bush unleashes war without end March 23, 2003
SOMETIME way back in history, a fool-of-a-politician, upon embarking on war, justified his decision by declaring it as "the war to end all wars". Of course the fool will not have lived to see the results of his folly.
Put Parliament in the 'Breakfast Shed' March 16, 2003
AN amazing commonality among politicians in developing countries is their propensity for pursuing prestige projects at inordinately high costs even as, in instances, up to 90 per cent of their citizens are forced to survive in squalor.
Kudos for cops, soldiers March 09, 2003
THERE is no doubt that the security forces executed a well-planned operation to stem the high tide of crime that loomed large over this year's Carnival celebrations. From early over the weekend, one could see and feel the presence of police and army personnel in larger than normal numbers.
'The Tank' walks the streets no more March 02, 2003
IF any carnival character of yesteryear has made a big comeback in recent years, it's the 'Grim Reaper'. Ironically, the Angel of Death seems to have been making a statement about declining standards in this country's Carnival by snatching from us the most talented standard bearers of excellence, those who had the ability to blend the best of tradition with new trends.
Our festival now a Carnival of tata February 23, 2003
THERE was a time not many years ago when I used to heap scorn on "Trinis-in-the-flesh" who chose to go abroad or to the beaches over the Carnival weekend. Now, I find myself getting perilously close to being uninterested in the nation's biggest festival.
Otto, The Fourth Reich February 16, 2003
I HAVE never met the United States Ambassador to this country, Mr Roy Austin. But-and I'm not writing this because he happens to have Caribbean 'roots'-the envoy comes across as a decent man, someone devoid of the arrogance that is usually associated with those who represent the world's only superpower, especially when they are posted to small, developing nations.
Hear the bloody drums of war February 09, 2003
WITH so many local side-shows grabbing media headlines, most nationals of this country remain ignorant of or indifferent to the great tragedy thats about to unfold in the Middle East.
Make-believe terrorists February 02, 2003
THERE is every reason for civic-minded citizens of this country to be upset over wild allegations abroad that Trinidad and Tobago is among countries in which Muslim terrorists pose a risk to visitors.
Unintelligent intelligence January 26, 2003
BRITISH government intelligence agencies are little better off today than they were 30 years ago. Then, between MI5 and MI6, they were supposed to know if the then leader of the Soviet Union, Leonid Brezhnev, was picking his nose, the kind of toilet paper he used, and even what he and his wife did, and when.
Carnival To Caroni, More Madness January 19, 2003
THERE'S hardly a dull moment in this not-so-blessed country of ours. If the nation's young doctors locking horns with a bull-headed Minister of Health, there are Caroni employees who seem to have a death-wish, and who intend to take everything and everyone with them down the road to destruction.
Top European Women Look For Marathon Record January 18, 2003
IF the men's division of next Sunday's Clico T&T Marathon holds out hope for a new course record, the women's division of the race promises to be the most exciting ever.
Taking Talk To New Depths January 12, 2003
AS a radio talk-show host I am painfully aware of the depths to which such programmes could descend, taken to the latrine level mainly by callers with diehard political allegiances and people with sick minds.
The Editor's Right January 05, 2003
IT was a year that yielded nothing of tremendous significance. In politics, Patrick Manning and the PNM predictably beat the UNC to regain power, so I guess PNMites have much to crow about, having languished in limbo for some 15 years.