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Archives 2007

Benazir courted martyrdom December 30, 2007
I was caught between completing my year-end review for the Business Express and watching television where a miracle of sorts-team West Indies actually flogging South Africa's bowlers, Chanders edging his way to another century-was taking place, when the telephone rang.
'How fortunate for leaders that men do not think' December 23, 2007
The voice of the people, we are often reminded, is the voice of God. My rejoinder to this scriptural interpretation of democracy is: the masses so often prove to be asses, one wonders if God has any influence in secular matters like elections, party affiliations, and worst of all, in leaders people choose to anoint or lionise.
We cannot eat pitch and drink oil December 16, 2007
Sometime back in 1993 I accepted an invitation from Prime Minister Patrick Manning to be part of a Cabinet-appointed committee that would formulate a plan forward for food production. I was the least of the mortals amongst distinguished men like the PM, a phalanx of ministers (Keith Rowley, Wendell Mottley, Lenny Saith), economists, agriculturists and others.
Almighty God, where art thou? December 09, 2007
Imagine, if you will, the execution last week of a 20-year-old Iranian whose family was told to "collect the body", the first they would learn of their son's sharia-decreed death. The young man's crime? At age 13 he is alleged to have buggered three boys, an offence that draws the death penalty in most Islamic states.
Give a child a book for Christmas December 02, 2007
As the Armed Forces Veterans Association (AFVA) prepares for its annual Christmas party for selected children in Laventille (where its operations are based), my ex-soldier friend Selwyn Nurse asked: what toys do you think we should give them this year? "Books!" I responded, without hesitating. Books?
Crime-fighters and criminals - same difference November 25, 2007
The avalanche of criticisms that slammed into National Security Minister Martin Joseph and his protective services chiefs after their media briefing last week was not only predictable, but, necessary. Here's a country in the vice-like grip of a crime clinch that seems to come from a mutant octopus, and there were the minister and his chiefs saying: no worries! Well, not quite.
Panday's political pyre November 18, 2007
If the PNM can take little comfort in its victory in the recent general elections, how must the opposition UNC view the results? Last week I alluded to what I saw as a decline in support for the PNM in many of its core constituencies. True, boundaries were re-drawn by the EBC and five new constituencies created, making it difficult to make clear comparisons with previous election results.
Crime fight calls for swift, deadly justice November 11, 2007
Now that Patrick Manning and the PNM have convincingly won the 2007 general elections, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues need to lace their work boots, adjust their coveralls, and get back to work without even a pause for refreshment or celebration. There is no honeymoon after a third marriage.
We must never grovel to gutter politicians November 04, 2007
I don't know if, as I grow older, I am becoming a prude. That will be the day, those who know me well would say, bursting into gaffaws. I could not help note, however, the depths to which election campaigning sunk over the past few weeks as leading politicians publicly delved into the private lives-and body parts-of their opponents.
Make way for the young and the brave October 28, 2007
I must confess I've been having much fun during this elections campaign. Listening nightly to all three parties as they tear into each other, I can be accused of being unfair to those in the race who, really, are worthy candidates.
Lies, damn lies and politics October 21, 2007
If only politicians on all sides of the divide would stick to the facts, given the "goods" they have on each other, or on individual targets, they could sway people's opinions infinitely more than when they spew lies like a person purged.
Kamla takes the cake...icing et al October 14, 2007
Money, even politicians will tell you, is the root of all evil. After all, ever since this country's coffers were boosted by oil dollars back in the 1950s, many an elected member has been accused of stealing from the public purse.
Showtime 2007: A medal for Garvin Nicholas October 07, 2007
As a veteran columnist who once ran for election (in 1976, before I joined the media) and enjoyed journalistic fun in seven other campaigns, I feel cheated by Prime Minister Patrick Manning. It was always his call-the elections date, that is.
The message, not the messengers September 30, 2007
Being a journalist, writer, voracious reader and student for life, I cringe when I hear people say: I no longer read newspapers. News, they argue, is predictable (four more murders, ten robberies, politicians talking "tatah").
The lion in winter- A pitiful sight September 23, 2007
Last week, looking at a television clip of two jokers from Laventille hugging and dancing with UNC officials, celebrating the "strengthening" of Basdeo Panday's new alliance to fight the PNM, I was almost reduced to tears.
Welcome to the upside-down world September 16, 2007
Last Thursday most Italians decided to deny themselves their supreme daily delight-pasta-because of what they saw as an unreasonable increase in price. A one-kilo pack of the wheat-based staple had increased by 27 per cent, now priced at around TT$12. This was as shocking a protest as one could get in Italy.
Win the battle, lose the war September 09, 2007
PNM leader Patrick Manning must be over-confident about his party's chances in the general elections that should be held no later than early December. Why else would he trigger tremors in the ruling party at this critical point, virtually on the eve of elections?
The good times will not roll on forever August 26, 2007
Prime Minister Patrick Manning and his critics seem to be missing the main issue in the heated debate over the Ryder Scott report on our gas reserves. It's not about how much gas there is, or how much more is waiting to be "discovered".
India at 60-a fascinating story August 19, 2007
Last week, India and Pakistan marked their 60th anniversary of independence from Britain. Here in Trinidad and Tobago, where more than half the population has roots in the sub-continent that is now divided into three countries (Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan, is often forgotten), the occasion went almost unnoticed.
Murti-mutilators and religion August 12, 2007
So much has been said and written about the vandalism that took place at the Sewdass Sadhu temple last weekend, I wondered whether the incident warranted further comment.
The Lord has mercy, I don't July 29, 2007
Prime Minister Patrick Manning has spoken of the deleterious effects gambling has on individuals, families and ultimately the society as a whole. Like him, I have heard some chilling stories about casino gambling.
Those whom the gods wish to destroy... July 22, 2007
I need to get in touch with the person who coined the adage, "Those whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first make mad." I think he or she should add "or clowns" at the end of it. How else does one explain Basdeo Panday's puerile behaviour, his donning of a beret that would otherwise look chic on fashionable women or neat on a soldier's head, but more like a clown cap on his?
Food security solutions July 15, 2007
We have the land space and know-how to grow most, if not all, the vegetables we consume. This is one component of food production where we can consider exporting the surplus.
Revamp food production, resuscitate local fruit July 08, 2007
Everyone expects the Government to do something to mitigate food prices. It's true that governments are elected to office to attend to the basic needs of the people-food, water, shelter, health services and so on. But who says that governments have the answers to all our problems?
Fighting high food prices July 01, 2007
A few weeks ago I wrote a two-part article for the Business Express magazine in which I pronounced "cheap food a thing of the past". The headline and contents must have infuriated both my comrades in FITUN, which has mounted a campaign against high food prices, and consumers generally, who, once they remain uninformed, blame greedy grocers and government for their high food bills.
TSTT takes my patriotism beyond the boundary June 24, 2007
My patriotism has finally been pushed beyond the boundary. I, who withstood BWIA for decades, but who remained faithful in spite of the delays, the no-information available, all the little things that counted with paying passengers, but seemed to elude the airline's well-paid staff, stuck with BeeWee to its inglorious end.
Ride a bus...or stew in traffic June 17, 2007
As I sat in the very comfortable seat reading a newspaper and occasionally enjoying views motorists rarely do, a man walked up to me, identified himself as a PTSC inspector, and asked if I was Mr Shah. "I am," I responded. "I am so happy to see you riding our bus!" he exclaimed, obviously delighted, probably surprised.
Jokey terrorists, jokier politicians June 10, 2007
After overcoming the initial shock of television networks across the world featuring this country in an alleged plot to "blow up the JFK airport" in New York, I could not help but break into peals of laughter. The first giggle came when the US networks featured the sorry picture of the alleged mastermind, Russell De Freitas.
'Road hogs' must be penned permanently June 03, 2007
If there is anything shocking about our outrage over the horrendous road accidents we have experienced within recent times, it is our expression of shock. Ruthlessness on the road is symptomatic of the lawlessness that pervades the society.
Obeah, necromancy rampant in T&T May 27, 2007
As I watch with amusement the pseudo-religious shenanigans of our leaders, I cannot help but thank my semi-literate parents for steering me away from superstition for as long as I can remember. That, in turn, led me to later rely on reason rather than religion for my spiritual sustenance.
IMF 'ranking' blinds us to poverty amidst plenty May 20, 2007
Nobody should be surprised that international agencies like the World Bank and the IMF have rated Trinidad and Tobago among the leading countries with respect to economic development.
A nation of 'nawsty awsses' May 13, 2007
One of my favourite sergeant-majors in the Regiment used to say to private soldiers who committed infractions of any kind: "Boy! You is a nawsty awss!"
Lara put manhood before glory May 06, 2007
I have never met or spoken with Brian Lara. I didn't need to (how easily one lapses into the past tense). Like millions of cricket fans around the world, I enjoyed his batting genius, replays et al, thanks to modern technology.
Gun culture devalues human life April 22, 2007
By the time you read this column (I am writing on Thursday morning), don't be surprised if US intelligence agencies have discovered that student and mass killer Cho Seung-Hui was really an Al Qaeda agent masquerading as a 'Chinee'.
The songs, not the singer April 15, 2007
Mercifully for us all in this not-so-blessed country, religious zealots do not rule the roost. They do exist, though, in just about every faith, religion, sect or commune. Many "leaders" among these fringe elements possess no intellect, are of dubious character, and in some cases downright dangerous.
Beating up on a 'Bobolee' April 08, 2007
One fun-filled tradition of Easter celebrations of yesteryear was "beating the bobolee" on Good Friday. As children, we hardly knew why we helped put together this human-like figure, what he represented, and why, after all the effort to make the damn thing, we'd then just beat it to a frazzle.
No man must ride your back April 01, 2007
Last week the world's conscience drifted back in time, some 400 years, to the barbaric transatlantic slave trade, and to the bicentennial of its formal abolition in 1807. What I read and heard of apologies sans reparations, of manufacturing heroes and liberators while ignoring those who really fought to free themselves, I found nauseating.
No place for monster Mugabe March 25, 2007
There are times in the lives of perennial political activists like me when we have to admit we were wrong in our evaluations of political situations, and more so of personalities in whom we once had implicit faith. When that happens there is a sense of having been betrayed, of being "conned" by leaders, in this instance one who portrayed himself as the consummate revolutionary. I refer to Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
Men of substance exit life's stage March 18, 2007
It happened one day, sometime in the mid-1970s, not long after I had emerged from prison for my role in the 1970 mutiny. Because of the political nature of my crime, I knew there were tens of thousands of mainly PNM diehards who were bitter, even hostile towards me. But I refused to be intimidated by them.
Manning owes Panday a puja March 11, 2007
One cannot help but look on with disbelief at the meanderings in the matter involving the State and Chief Justice Sat Sharma. Last Monday, this messy affair that has staggered like the proverbial drunk, from Sharma's home to the Magistrates' Courts, from midnight hearings in a judge's chambers to the hallowed halls of the Privy Council, finally collapsed in the drain of the magistracy.
Let us be gracious hosts March 04, 2007
With cricket World Cup fever gripping the Caribbean as of this weekend, maybe-just maybe-we'd get a respite from the politicians and the criminals, if only for a month or so. But you never can tell what these dubious breeds would come up with to steal our attention away from the galaxy of cricketing stars in our presence and the excitement of matches to come.
A Carnival we can be proud of February 25, 2007
It was not the "best Carnival ever", as some Government ministers and security officials boasted last week. If they meant that it was the best in recent years, with that I agree. There were more than a handful of good calypsoes.
Crime will not stop the Carnival February 18, 2007
It's the columnist's perennial dilemma: what topic to address on a Carnival Sunday? Who reads newspapers around this time anyway? Pan "peongs" in their thousands will be bleary-eyed and either celebrating the sound of steel or fuming over the judges' decisions from last night's Panorama finals.
Already under a state of siege February 11, 2007
Prime Minister Patrick Manning must learn to choose his words carefully. He is, after all, the CEO of Trinidad and Tobago, which signals that every word he utters is closely monitored by my colleagues in the media and by the public.
Doing the 'danse macabre' February 04, 2007
Last Thursday night, in districts as diverse as Carenage and Laventille, Morne Diablo and Enterprise, the criminal communities (oh, yes: those fellas have "communities"!) fired assorted gunshots saluting Police Commissioner Trevor Paul.
Sledgehammer for a sandfly January 28, 2007
The comical though heavy-handed manner in which the police handled the Inshan Ishmael issue makes one want to laugh till you cry. Here's a man who decided to mount a crusade against the evils that bedevil the society.
Hypocrisy over porn videos January 21, 2007
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?
One Choc'late with courage, please January 14, 2007
First, the positive sides to Choc'late Allen's foray into the public limelight as she sought to highlight the many problems that bedevil the nation. Choc'late herself embodies the biggest positive.
Only the people can free the people January 07, 2007
I don't know that Bernard Kerik or Scotland Yard officers can help us out of the crime mess that we have created and in which we are close to drowning. This cesspool is so typically Trinidadian, we cannot expect foreigners to begin to understand how we plunged into the pit.