Trinidad e Tobago

Rowley: Central, give PNM a chance

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 1 min fa

THE People’s National Movement (PNM) made a bid to solidify its position in the Opposition stronghold of central Trinidad, yesterday, when it formally opened Balisier House, Chaguanas, and called on voters to give the party a chance.

PNM political leader and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley also sent a message to the Opposition which has been able to hold on to power in this region, “every single seat in TT is targeted by the PNM.”

He said not only Chaguanas East – where the party has named Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat as its general election candidate – is being pursued, “but we are equally eager in Couva South, Couva North, Caroni Central, Caroni East and all constituencies in central TT. There will be a formidable PNM standard-bearer.”

Calling on eligible voters to give his party a chance, Rowley made an appeal.

“You have tried the rest, now try the best – the PNM.”

The incumbent MP is Fazal Karim of the United National Congress (UNC).

Rowley said Central has some of the “staunchest PNM supporters” but because of their location, it is difficult to openly show this support. He said the opening of the office was not by accident but by design, “based on our fundamental principal that we are a national party for all the people of TT, cutting across race, colour, creed, class or location.”

“We of the PNM have come here to Central, not in a strange place as some might think, not in a place unknown to us because we have always maintained a presence in this part of the country. Some of the staunchest PNM supporters are in areas where it is difficult to be PNM and Central has those members.

“It is easier to be PNM in Diego Martin and Laventille, because there is a view those are PNM strongholds, but when you are PNM in Chaguanas East, when you are PNM in Chaguanas West and your are PNM in Couva South and areas where the PNM has not been your representative in the Parliament for a number of years, there are those who believe you don’t belong.

“People who support our party in this area where it is difficult for the PNM to win, we are saying to you, you are not alone, and you are not forgotten. PNM chairman Colm Imbert said the building will serve as the central regional office as well as the campaign office for Rambharat.

“It is the first time the PNM has established a regional office of this stature in this part of TT. It proves that the PNM is a movement for all, cutting across all races, religion, classes. It also underscores the value it places on the people of the area.”

Rambharat said people who have been opposed to the PNM in the past have already signalled their intention to join him in what he sees as a “battle” in Central.

He said the PNM is the only national party contesting every single seat, in every single election, since 1956, be it in the local, general, county council or Tobago House of Assembly.He said there was no comparison to other parties which fielded candidates dubbing them “parties of convenience.”

In some cases, he said, their opponents have fought either local or general elections, in one seat or a few seats, “but the PNM has fought for the people of TT when it is convenient and when it is not convenient.”

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

PSC must review CoP

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 3 min fa

Criminologist Prof Ramesh Deosaran yesterday said Police Commissioner Gary Griffith's appraisal of his first year in office must be supported by the Police Service Commission, the constitutional body established to review the operations of the Police Service.

However, he observed the commission, headed by Dr Maria Therese Gomes, has been silent on Griffith's performance since he was appointed on August 3, 2018.

"His self-appraisal would need to be backed up by a more independent evaluation by the constitutional body, the Police Service Commission for which we are yet to hear anything about their monitoring, evaluation and reporting on the commissioner's performance," Deosaran told Sunday Newsday.

Griffith held a news conference at the Police Administration Building, Port of Spain, on Friday, at which he assessed his performance as top cop.

He said as a perfectionist, he is not satisfied with what has been achieved over the past 12 months but promised to intensify his efforts in the coming year.

Griffith said while the gang-related activities and gun possession continue to be a major challenge for the Police Service, it has succeeded in reducing serious crimes over the past 12 months, when compared to the same period last year.

Deosaran, who was once a PSC chairman, said people must be wary of crime statistics.

"The police, the government and the public should be very wary about crime statistics because the causes of crime and the up and down peaks could quickly invalidate the statistics of today by what will unexpectedly happen tomorrow," he said.

He also noted nothing was said at the news conference about improving significantly the criminal detection rate.

Deosaran said: "Crime will always be with us. It will have its ups and downs. But the most essential thing in policing and national security is the detection rate, and then convictions. The country needs to hear something more precisely about that element in the criminal justice system."

Griffith has vowed in the coming year to move more aggressively to dismantle gangs through greater collaboration with the Strategic Services Agency and other top-notch units in the Police Service as well as increase the annual intake of recruits from 200 to 220.

The commissioner also said he would be more prudent with his financial resources.

The results of an online satisfaction survey at which 1,225 citizens were polled revealed 59.3 per cent rated the police as good and above while 22.2 per cent said they were poorly satisfied with the police. Only 7.9 per cent of those polled rated them as excellent.

Overall, 76 per cent of the respondents had confidence in Griffith compared to 49 per cent in his predecessor Stephen Williams.

Deosaran stayed clear of assessing Griffith's performance, but described him as being in "a very fortunate place."

"He is somewhat immunised because he was a minister (national security) in the last government. So they (Opposition) can't really criticise him, at least not yet. And, on the other hand, the present government appointed him in very peculiar circumstances and within a system they had clearly described as flawed. So, they, too, cannot criticise him, at least not yet."

Deosaran said as a result, Griffith remains in a "very lucky, fortunate realm so far."

He said the public is still deeply concerned about several issues, including the formation of gangs and crimes committed by them, drug trafficking and the effectiveness of the new bail legislation.

"So, there are several outstanding matters that has kept the jury, as it were, still deliberating."

Deosaran noted while Griffith created his own benchmark very early in his appointment by saying he would reduce crime and the murder rate within one year, along the way he has discovered and published several reasons why this expectation has not been met. "So, it is for the public to judge now whether his reasoning is valid and how long would this reasoning remain as the situation, especially with murders, gets worse."

He added the most intriguing element of Griffith's stewardship within the last year is that he has tactfully shifted the responsibility for crime unto the national security minister and government by emphasising the need for resources.

Nevertheless, Deosaran said the public remains fascinated by Griffith's high visibility and "clever public relations management.

"But all in all, I wish him luck because it is a matter of public safety for everybody," he said.

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

Cox: Marlene doing well

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 18 min fa

Port of Spain South MP Marlene McDonald is “doing well”, Communications Minster Donna Cox told Sunday Newsday yesterday but could not say if McDonald was still hospitalized.

McDonald was wheeled into the Port of Spain Magistrates' Court on Thursday to sign her bail bond and then returned to St Clair Medical Centre where she was warded since last Monday after complaining of feeling ill. She is charged, along with her husband Michael Carew and Victor McEachrane, with attempting to defraud the government by procuring funds for Carew's Calabar Foundation, which was identified as a charity group.

McDonald was placed on $2 million bail which she accessed and promised that she will be vindicated when she was transported to the courthouse. Carew, who was granted $500,000 bail is still in prison along with McEachrane who is on $400,000 bail.

Apart from McDonald Edgar Zephyrine, former National Commission for Self Help Ltd chairman, who is on $1 million bail and Wayne Anthony, who is on $100,000 have been freed.

McDonald was removed as public administration minister and PNM deputy political leader by the Prime Minister after she was charged by police. She faces seven charges: two for conspiracy to defraud, four for alleged misbehaviour in public office and one for money laundering. She told the media Thursday that she will be vindicated.

Senator Allyson West has been appointed as the new Public Administration Minister.

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

Murdered couple’s son vows to care for brother, sister

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 18 min fa

WHO killed my parents and uncle and why? This is the question that is haunting Vishad Mohammed, 23, who found the decomposing bodies of his mother Shelly-Ann Ragoonanan-Mohammed, 43, his father Wazir "Punkhan" Mohammed, 57, and uncle Nazim Mohammed, 52 inside the family’s house at Clarke Road, Penal on Thursday evening. Vishad yesterday said he cannot sleep at nights as he sees the images of his parents and uncle's bodies when he closes his eyes. Wazir, his wife and brother's throats were slit. An autopsy revealed Wazir had also been shot twice. The couple's young children – an eight-month-old boy and four-year-old girl – were with the bodies for days before their Vishad made the discovery. Investigators said the girl may have fed and changed the diapers of her brother as there were dirty ones on the ground and an open tin of milk. But the children were still in a dehydrated and malnourished state. They are now undergoing treatment at San Fernando General Hospital. Medical sources said the children are “recuperating well” but will be kept for a few days for observation. Senior police said counsellors of the Victim and Support Unit have been assigned to the children and visit them daily. In an interview at his Penal home yesterday, Vishad said he made a promise to himself to be there for his younger siblings. “They are too young to know what is happening,” he said. He said his sister still believes their parents are asleep and will wake up. “It is really horrific what happened. I still cannot believe it. I feel it is a dream. I just want to know why and for what reason my parents and uncle were killed. For me, it is a nightmare,” said the tearful young man. After calls had gone unanswered since Sunday night, a driver for the family, Vijay Ramlal, 71, picked up Vishad and they went to check on them. Vishad was staying with relatives at Penal Rock Road. On arrival, he honked the horn, but no one answered, and the huge front gate was locked. Instead, the little girl came out, looking unkempt. Ramlal said: "When I reached, the place was in a terrible condition. I reversed and parked the car, then I saw (girl’s name) came out and I asked her for her mummy. She said, ‘Mummy sleeping and she cannot get up.’" Vishad climbed over the gates and found the bodies. The back door had been broken down and there bloodstains were everywhere. The bodies were on the floor of the living room. Up to late yesterday, funeral preparations were still being made. Homicide Bureau Region III and Penal police are investigating.

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

Rowley dreams of Caribbean unity

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 18 min fa

The Caribbean Festival of Arts (Carifesta) opened to a stunning display of Caribbean dance, theatre, music, photography, pyrotechnics and arts on Friday at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain. This is the fourteenth edition of the arts festival where regional countries send their best visual, performing and literary artists to network, appreciate each other’s cultures and learn more about the neighbouring states. In his opening address, TT Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley welcomed citizens from the different countries, and hoped that through Carifesta the ties between countries would be strengthened and one day the dreams of having a unified Caribbean would be achieved. “We are still separate subject states where it could have been better… But all is not lost. We are working fastidiously towards integration of a Caribbean single market… one day, hopefully in the not too distance future, politically...economically we will be identified as a people from the Caribbean who are coming from this region from all parts of the world, but enjoying and prospering in the best location in the globe.” The show titled The Spirit of Wild Oceans, epitomised Caribbean performing arts at its best by not just staying true to the cultural heritage of each island, but invoking a deeply spiritual view that culture and the arts are not just entertainment, but necessary to keep a consciousness and preserve memory. [caption id="attachment_781630" align="alignnone" width="1024"] A drummer from Antigua and Barbuda in high spirits during the Carifesta parade of delegates in Port of Spain on Friday.[/caption] The production utilised a number of themes from Greek, Indian, Chinese and African mythology. The show began with an invocation by Muses, goddesses of artistic inspiration, to bless the festival. Act one, The Genesis, narrated by Nickolai Salcedo was a story of the beginning of humanity, when Mother Gaia breathed life into Earth. Coming out of the primordial void, cosmic turtles, a turtle with the earth on its back, crawled onto the stage. Shortly followed by the Tree of Life which carried dancers in its trunk called the first children. Chinese dragons, ships with great white sails, moko jumbies and men dressed as Hermes, the god of trade, merchants and commerce followed on stage, symbolic of the Caribbean’s history of migration, business and the different journeys that filled the Caribbean space with multi-ethnic people. Following the Genesis story was the Caribbean Odyssey, a beautiful dance act which highlighted the best of each participating island with a key nod to an intrinsic element of its culture and playing the music of each island. [caption id="attachment_781629" align="alignnone" width="1024"] St Kits and Nevis delegates perform during the Carifesta parade in Port of Spain on Friday.[/caption] Jamaica kicked things off with a man and woman sailing in on a raft to Bob Marley’s Is This Love. Dominica, known for its lush green environment and preservation of indigenous culture, had women dressed in green outfits, mimicking movement of people who lived off its land. The dancers depicting Grenada were costumed as stones and held the formation of Vicissitudes from the country’s Underwater Sculpture Park in Molinere. Vicissitudes is the most iconic statue formation from the water park built by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor that shows 26 children holding hands in a circle. Following the last Caribbean island dancing, TT’s culture took centre stage in the third act, Our Land, as two artists dressed as deceased calypsonians Lord Kitchener and the Mighty Shadow did a lip-synced, sing-off of the iconic musicians’ best songs. That was followed by a montage of some of TT’s most distinguished artists talking about the true purpose of art and the contribution TT has given to the culture of the world. Ending with a clip of renowned mas man Peter Minshall saying: “This place, it sweet too bad.” [caption id="attachment_781626" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Calypsonians David Rudder, right, and Carl Jacobs perform during Carifesta opening ceremony at Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain on Friday. PHOTOS BY AYANNA KINSALE[/caption] Top singers in TT’s music industry, chutney star, Neval Chatelal, opera coloratura soprano, Natalia Dopwell and soca singers, Nailah Blackman and Olatunji Yearwood came on stage to sing Machel Montano and Super Blue’s Soca Kingdom. While the symbolism of the different musical artforms singing together in unity was noted and appreciated, one questions whether their voices blended harmoniously with each other. The unlikely quartet was joined by stunning moko jumbies whose costumes flowed gracefully on stage. One was a Midnight Robber dressed in black and red. The other was a golden king. Lost Tribe masqueraders wearing past Carnival costumes appeared in the background, joined by the Hermes dancers from act one. This reviewer suspects, the Hermes dancers are symbolic of the wealth and business Carnival brings to TT, and the possibilities of all artforms in Carifesta to be as lucrative. [caption id="attachment_781628" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Suriname delegates perform during the Carifesta parade in Port of Spain on Friday.[/caption] At the end of the tribute to TT’s Carnival empire, Blackman took centre stage to sing her hit song Iron Love. Though Pan Trinbago complained about pan artists being snubbed at the Island Beats concert, 11-time Panorama winning, large band Desperadoes was on stage to accompany the song. Desperadoes played Iron Love for the 2019 Panorama finals. Following the pan tribute was the Dragon Boy’s Tassa Band and the Khalnayak Academy of Dance. Patriotic anthems for TT followed the tributes to the instruments of the land. The Signal Hill Alumni Choir sang about going to Tobago for holiday. Denyse Plummer sang Nah Leaving and David Rudder sang Trini to The Bone. Chutney soca singer Raymond Ramnarine and Destra Garcia, soca queen of bacchanal, closed the act. The opening ceremony ended with a parade of the Caricom countries. The participating Caricom artistes are from Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Surinam and TT. The Caricom associate members are Anguilla, Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Independent contingents such as Curacao, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Colombia and the Caribbean diaspora from Canada are also participating in Carifesta. If the opening ceremony of Carifesta is indicative of the performances to come, the art lovers of the region are in for a spectacular treat as the show was phenomenal from start to finish. Choreographers Ian Baptiste, Terry Spring, Deon Baptiste and Nobel Douglas did an exceptional job as the movements were captivating, powerful and flawless.  

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

Dilemmas in education

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 20 min fa

Dilemma. This is described as “a situation in which a choice has to be made between two equally undesirable (or desirable) alternatives.”

Being open-ended and promising very noble objectives, the education system faces several dilemmas.

A major one is the pressure, often political, to create more school places in a hurry. In fact, this is a large part of our post-colonial history in education. It was physical expansion, hurriedly as required, but with the requirements for quality education left behind, and further behind as time passes.

The lingering consequences were quite deleterious, as revealed, for example, in the 1975 Moses Report on the shift system in junior secondary schools, then in the 1994 Report on Placement in Secondary Schools and more recently in the 2016 book Inequality, Crime and Education. The political battle for the 1960 Concordat and the eventual successes of the government-assisted denominational schools provided some controversial relief.

Building more government schools, 100 or 16, carries political value. But the well-known deficiencies in many existing ones are not yet really solved (for example management, performance, accountability, etc). Like new wine in old bottles. Inequity will likely be compounded.

How will government solve this dilemma?

A critical fact today is that, after all, whatever the educational inequity within the present generation, the next generation will face aggravated inequity.

The Prime Minister must now urgently prioritise education alongside crime reduction, for example, by listing government’s remedies for the problems of African males, as he duly described them. This society has been facing serious problems of educational inequity for a long time. What are the remedial, evidence-driven proposals from political parties as we head into 2020 elections?

When an ineffective educational system perpetuates inequity, the authorities should bravely avoid hiding behind denial or distractions. There is political risk in a government admitting mistakes. But the risk is worth it if remedies are simultaneously proposed. The education system is too important for self-improvement and national development.

Some further issues:

1. Fed initially by bright students, the relative success of the government-assisted secondary schools remains their strong defence, while many government schools, as columnist Helen Drayton stated, remain “without emancipation”: without measurable, coherent and comprehensive reform policies.

2. Even so, it remains a pity that school success is so much determined by purely grammar-type examinations and, worse yet, in a country already flooded with doctors and lawyers, with almost 50 per cent of its university graduates migrating. It is like colonialism in disguise. Technical/vocational qualifications face challenges for comparable prestige.

3. The inevitable role of “social contact” in socio-economic mobility and status in the society adds disproportionally to the disadvantages of working-class students – even those who achieve academic success.

4. The socialised tolerance for educational inequity in our twisted capitalist system has sunk deeply into public consciousness. To help legitimise educational meritocracy, however, there must be reasonable proportionality in achievement among various socio-economic and ethnic groups. It takes courage, brain-power and vision to have an education system override family and environmental disadvantages. It has been and can be done, especially at primary school.

5. Yes, some improve, but too many get disproportionally left behind, then become parents of poor families. What can a government do?

6. The education system is so large and diffuse that the injuries from inequity remain unnoticed for long periods. The evidence on disproportionality, when it arises, brings great discomfort to the authorities. Pressured by the five-year term, the political option is usually denial or procrastination.

In the book Inequality, Crime and Education in Trinidad and Tobago, one of the 14 recommendations is:

“To help specify what could be improved in the under-performing government secondary schools, a pilot project of ten new schools can be selected and staffed with a select group of appropriately trained teachers. Enrol as a start only 'low-scoring' SEA students who did not get into their preferred schools, and see with appropriate management, teaching techniques, etc, the extent to which these students eventually improve and match up with the success rate (eg CAPE, CSEC) of the students who got into their chosen (prestige) schools.”

It is hoped these dilemma-driven issues help promote a healthy discussion on our vital education system.

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

Suruj: UNC must rebrand itself

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 20 min fa

FORTY years is half a life in politics and Dr Surujrattan Rambachan, 70, calls it a day, telling Sunday Newsday in an interview that when a man comes to terms with his longevity, his plans are made easier for winter years. As he hearkened back to the 1980s, ‘Suruj’s’ dream is for the sun to shine on younger politicians. You cut your political teeth in your 30s with the ONR, the country’s first party that crossed the political divide that was far-reaching in TT. Do you look back to those days? I was attracted to the slogan of ‘one love’ in ONR; that we must do better. I felt the disenchantment. I was young and vibrant and harboured feelings that Trinidad and Tobago had to carve out its’ global space. I felt back then that it never could happen without national unity. The ONR provided that attraction. As I think about those times, I must pay tribute to the late Karl Hudson-Phillips. Up to this day, I’m reminded of those years. [caption id="attachment_781620" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Dr Surujrattan Rambachan addresses the media at Rienzi Complex, Couva after the 2015 general election which the People's Partnership lost. Rambachan, who won the Tabaquite seat on the UNC ticket, is bowing out of electoral politics but remains a member of the party. FILE PHOTO[/caption] Were they the best political days of your life? Yes, they certainly were. I wanted national unity and Hudson-Phillips’ ideas became mines. I realised early that in life, I had to make tremendous sacrifices to achieve that goal. As it turned out, you achieved that goal in a predominantly East Indian-based party – UNC. Do you think you have accomplished that goal from what you started off in? I first fought elections in 1981 for the ONR against Trevor Sudama in Oropouche. With 5,600 votes, it demonstrated a change in the mood of people. We then emerged as an alliance which incorporated the ULF, then the UNC which began to represent other disenchanted groups, such as the labour movement. So yes, one gets that feeling of belonging to what started off as the ONR. What have you identified as the crowning moments of your political life as UNC deputy political leader and government minister? I would say that my major achievement is the building of the town hall in Chaguanas. The volley ball court; football field. As a chairman of St Patrick regional corporation; it was the Shore of Peace construction as a model for cremation sites. In the UNC, it was how we managed diversity; varying opinions in the party. I think I encouraged the making of compromise in the party. Like in the ONR, we couldn’t have gone forward. Then why bow out when the UNC which you helped win government, stands at the crossroads of unseating the PNM in a year’s time? As I leave electoral politics, I’m seeing young people coming forward; very brave people. The fight is going to be a tough road though. Who are these young people emerging? They are young men and women who have to be given that opportunity, just as I was, in the 80s. Actually, I was active in politics when I was just 17 years old. My uncle had fought the Siparia seat for the Democratic Labour Party. As I said, I am not abandoning the UNC; the young minds will have mentors and the elder statesmen. Young people will need that aspect of guidance that they have to make sacrifices, especially when you are coming up against the PNM. (During the interview, Rambachan held back a comment, about how he was unceremoniously dismissed from a posting at UWI when he joined electoral politics.) Do you have concerns that the UNC will again label the upcoming general elections battle Kamla 2020, as we saw with Kamla 2015 and Kamla 2010? Kamla has a good chance. I did something on Tuesday night. I’m not offering myself for the 2020 elections. I want to give Mrs Persad-Bissessar that space to make the changes she wants. She needs new faces. People are disenchanted with how this country is being governed and new groups and people must emerge.” If you retire from politics, how can you help the UNC back into government? I’m not retiring from politics. I will focus my attention on the development of party. At this time, what is the UNC lacking? I think the UNC has to rebrand itself. That process has started. Young people are beginning to see the party again as the viable alternative. Whist the PNM seemed to have fallen by the wayside as leading a corrupt government, the UNC holds on to its track-record of performance. People are not forgetting that the UNC lived up to its’ slogan ‘performance beat ole talk’. We built 37 pavilions. We completed 100 road projects. In Tobago, our track record is there in tourism, not forgetting sporting facilities for cycling and swimming. Will the labour movement, interest-groups, and political parties give the UNC the kind of support to amalgamate into a coalition force again? I think people are not short-sighted. As I’ve learnt in the ONR, if we do not sit down and work on our ideas for the future; this is a diverse country. For me, in the ONR it was sacrifice, in the UNC, I made tremendous sacrifices. I recall giving up my post as foreign affairs minister to Winston Dookeran. I took the advice of Mrs Persad-Bissessar to allow an elder statesman to represent the country at the highest level while I moved to local government. What would Rambachan like to see for TT? I will like to see more young people join the politics. I wish to see them blossom and create a future for TT. As I leave active politics, my thoughts are with families who are poor, especially children.... their housing condition especially. Again, I pay tribute to Hudson-Phillips, Gerard Hadeed and Basdeo Panday.  

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

Facial recognition cameras the way to go

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 20 min fa

THE EDITOR: The number one job of the government is the safety and security of its citizenry. This country needs to be transformed into a surveillance society. I am not sure what the laws are concerning the use of facial recognition cameras in public spaces, but I think that the government needs to seriously consider implementing policies that will allow for the increased use of these high-tech cameras, especially when one considers the large number of murders, car thefts and violent crimes in TT.

The government also needs to educate the public on its effectiveness and many benefits. The fear factor does not exist for criminals in this country any more. They are becoming braver in their acts partly due to the fact that many cameras are not that effective in identifying faces.

Facial recognition surveillance utilises high-definition cameras to capture the faces of people in public areas. It then is able to take these images and compare them against images in law enforcement databases. The new images are uploaded into the database, whether or not the person matched any existing image.

The use of facial recognition will definitely have its critics as the problem with opinions is that everybody has one and in many instances, opinions lack the proper information. Some will argue that it is an unethical tool used to spy on the public. The reason for such criticism is however largely due to lack of information and regulation around the technology. If used proportionately and responsibly, facial recognition can and should be a force for good in TT. It has the power to do a lot more to increase security in the future.

SIMON WRIGHT

Chaguanas

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

Rowley forging new society

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 22 min fa

THE EDITOR: The People’s National Movement, as a political institution since its establishment in 1956, has always championed its cause on the platform of its philosophical principle of integrity and morality in public affairs. However, under the watch of its previous political leaders, its moral compass had been mislaid. Subsumed in corruption, the party subsequently fell into disrepute and became the target of public mistrust and ridicule.

As a consequence, it lost the general elections held in 1986, 1995 and 2010. However, at the height of its unpopularity in 2010, in order to curtail any further loss of public confidence with eventual defeat pending at the polls, the member of Parliament for Diego Martin West, Dr Keith Christopher Rowley, to his credit, single-handedly denounced the lip service his government was paying to its party’s philosophical principle of integrity and morality in public affairs, and at the risk of his own political demise, one can recall he attempted to rescue the party from the jaws of corruption.

Instead, for his gallantry, he himself was denounced and ostracised. However, the true nationalist leader that he is, placing country before party, he continued relentlessly and fearlessly, as only a Keith Rowley can do, to stand up on the side of all the people of TT. Incidentally, this is why the party is called the People’s National Movement.

Moreover, in championing the cause, he passionately explained to its membership that his intention was not to destroy the party, but merely to break the mould, as it were, then proceed to perform the arduous task of reshaping it once again into an attractive political force to be reckoned with on the national landscape, before presenting it afresh to a disillusioned electorate. Against all odds, and with the help of others this noble objective was accomplished.

Furthermore, during his tenure as opposition leader during the period 2010-2015, the electorate’s frustration with corruption was further exacerbated, as under the new regime of the Kamla Persad-Bissessar led People’s Partnership administration, the standards of decency and accountability in public affairs suffered a further decline.

Its continued erosion from the Patrick Manning administration to the Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration, caused Dr Rowley to reiterate and reaffirm his commitment and pledge for a return to integrity and morality in public affairs; that it was high time that perpetrators of white collar crimes in TT be brought to justice, and redress be obtained; incidentally this is what we are witnessing in our country today towards the making of a new society as so eloquently enunciated by Dr Rowley himself and who is well known for sobriety in the exercise of his public duties as Prime Minister.

Therefore, as it stands now, the Rowley administration should be saluted and supported in its continued declaration of war against the scourge and evil of white collar crime; for the restoration of integrity and morality in public affairs in our beloved country.

RISHI LAKHAN

via email

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

The brightest shade of green

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 22 min fa

Almost invariably, the first prescription that I receive from Trinbagonians on how to improve our cities is to add more green spaces.

After all, cities are inherently bad and nature is inherently good, right?

Given the lack of architectural design regulations and certain types of greenery, and therefore the quality of much of what we have built locally, I can understand the sentiment.

The benefits of exposure to nature for urban dwellers are well documented, but also quite nuanced. It appears that not all forms and configurations of greenery improve our lives, nor the functionality of our communities, to the same extent; there are different shades of green.

In his book Happy City, Charles Montgomery recounts a survey of people living in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas on what type of scenes they liked to look at. The results revealed a pattern with many similarities. These included: “open fields with a few trees and shrubs in the near distance, perhaps some wildlife, and, beyond that, bodies of still, clear water.”

In other words, most people said they liked looking at the savanna-type views found in places like Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, London’s Hyde Park or even the Hollows at the Queen’s Park Savannah.

Montgomery notes, however, what he calls the happiness paradox: that is, the difference between what we say we like and what appears to be good for us.

Richard Fuller, a biologist, goes on to explain to him that a study in Sheffield, England showed that the perfectly planned and manicured parks weren’t the ones that people actually reported as being more beneficial to their physical and mental health. It was actually those that appeared messier and with a more diverse landscape that people reported as being more rejuvenating.

It would appear that the suburban aesthetic, with its collection of grassy lawns meant to mimic the savanna vista, isn’t really the most beneficial to us as a species. In fact, as Montgomery points out in North America – and the same can be said for TT – the further ones goes into suburbia, the more sterile and generic the landscape becomes.

The one-size-fits-all urban planning solution of isolated life in the suburbs may in fact not even provide the true benefits of a life amongst nature – one of the core justifications for its very existence.

What, then, is the alternative to the sometimes-harsh concrete, glass, and steel of densely populated places?

Relatively simple interventions can provide the restoring benefits of nature. Some of these include: potted flowering plants on the balconies of buildings, hanging from street lamps on the sidewalk, or at the entrance to shops and restaurants; vines growing on the facades of buildings; empty lots used for community gardens and as sites for urban agriculture; earth-tone paint and naturally-textured building materials; and street trees along the sidewalks.

Of course, there’s also the blessing of having a naturally-beautiful location with mountain or waterfront views, which many of our urban areas possess.

Let’s focus more on protecting the integrity of these hillsides, and reconnecting cities with their waterfronts, than on private front and back yards.

Instead of fleeing to virgin nature en masse, and replacing it with grass and maybe some fruit trees, bits and pieces of nature can be brought into the existing cities. The cumulative daily impact of varied and small doses of foliage and views can go a long way towards improved physical and mental health outcomes for city dwellers.

The extensive, grassy open spaces of large urban parks surely can be beneficial, but what about the downsides? The Queen’s Park Savannah, for instance, is one of the highlights of PoS. We proudly boast about it being the world’s largest traffic roundabout. It’s certainly utilised by many for recreational use, and adds to the city’s character.

In the case of the Savannah, what we see and tend to appreciate, while perambulating or driving around it, I think, is not the large field in its entirety, but rather the tree-lined perimeter.

In considering it as a whole, what a trained eye will perceive is that a large unbroken green space in the middle of a city creates an inefficient transportation circulation pattern for all city users, and a safety hazard at many times of the day, as most won’t dare wander through a deserted open field for fear of criminal elements.

Would this massive park have been more beneficial as a series of smaller spaces distributed throughout the city?

Perhaps ubiquitous and small interventions, with a diverse and complex outcome, are in fact the most beneficial approach to fusing the natural with the urban. Perhaps this represents the brightest shade of green.

Ryan Darmanie is an urban planning and design consultant with a master’s degree in city and regional planning from Rutgers University, New Jersey, and a keen interest in urban revitalisation. You can connect with him at darmanieplanningdesign.com or email him at ryan@darmanieplanningdesign.com

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

The East: TT’s new economic frontier

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 22 min fa

ROGER BOYNES

The Sangre Grande region, which stretches from Valencia in the west to Matelot in the north and comprises approximately 900 square kilometres of land (larger in size than Singapore, Barbados and Tobago) with a population of approximately 100,000 persons, is the least developed part of TT. In development terms, the region has lagged the rest of the country. In terms of the prevalence of poverty, Sangre Grande has the poorest people per 100 in the national population: 39.1 per cent of the Sangre Grande population was deemed to be living under the poverty line.

The region has one of the highest unemployment rates among 18-29 years old in the country, with over 28 per cent unemployed. This has negatively impacted on the medium and long-term viability of the community. (Source: Kari Consultants on the state of the poor in TT).

Since 1984, Sangre Grande has been recognised as a key component of the growth centre strategy of the approved National Physical Development Plan in which the eastern town was selected as a centre for the development of a growth pole. This potential, though long recognised, has gone largely untapped.

According to the Prime Minister at the sod turning ceremony for the Valencia to Toco Highway, “It was most depressing to read that this part of the country, with so much promise, residents were in fact at the bottom of the economic barrel of Trinidad and Tobago.”

The reason for that, Dr Rowley continued, is because of the paucity of the infrastructure. "That is why the income in the area is the lowest. If there is infrastructure, that automatically makes possibilities available.”

Government’s plans to develop the rural part of the country in a sustainable manner by building a highway from Valencia to Toco; a port at Toco thereby creating an additional and vital link to Tobago; and the extension of the Churchill Roosevelt Highway into Manzanilla is not a ‘vaps’ decision, as some would have the population believe. These plans are in keeping with the approved cabinet decision in 2009 for the implementation of an integrated development plan for the sustainable development of the Sangre Grande region, which provided for, among other things:

(1) The acceleration of the public sector development projects identified by ministries, like the highways and the port;

(2) An invitation to the private sector to submit recommendations for private/public partnerships on development projects to facilitate the economic, social and physical transformation of said region.

This cabinet decision was based on local government consultation with the people of the region between 2003 and 2009. Consultations, including the presentation of the draft development plans, were carried out in the 41 communities that comprise the region. Presentations were also made to the 12 high schools from Valencia to Matelot. Consultations were also held with other stakeholders, including community-based organisations, non-governmental organisations, ministries, state corporations, statutory authorities, the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation, the Sangre Grande Chamber of Commerce and civil society as a whole in 2007 and again in 2009 at the Sangre Grande Civic Centre. These consultations determined and finalised the elements of the integrated development plan for the region.

The Government again hosted a public consultation regarding the Toco Port on April 12 at the Toco Regional Complex, and on May 8, hosted a public consultation on the highway extension into Manzanilla at the Duranta Gardens Community Centre. As recent as July 24 and 25, public consultations were held regarding the Valencia to Toco Highway at the Duranta Gardens Community Centre and the Toco Regional Complex, respectively.

To the detractors and to those well-meaning people who are not cognisant of the history and potential of the region and who describe the highway infrastructure in the east as the “highway to nowhere,” we who reside in the east view this differently. We recognise that the Prime Minister is not on a frolic of his own but has acted in accordance with his vision and the cabinet-approved development plan for the region.

The Government’s highway development programme in the east has encouraged at least five local developers from Sangre Grande (Bravo Hill, Foster Road, Cunapo Southern Main Road, Coalmine and Oropouche Road) to invest in major housing development projects. Consequently, contractors, hardwares and people both skilled and unskilled in the construction industry presently benefit from these ongoing projects in the area.

Homeowners from throughout TT are now purchasing homes in Sangre Grande, as the estimated travel time from Port of Spain to Sangre Grande will now take less than an hour. Also, as a result of the highways, three major investment initiatives from the private sector are in different stages of development following the approved private/public partnership model for the town centre development, which includes the establishment of a mall, a cineplex, a major pharmacy chain, restaurants, administrative complex and additional housing projects in Sangre Grande.

Each of these projects will benefit Sangre Grande and environs through increased employment (1,500 during construction and 1,000 upon completion); improved living quality and the reduction in the poverty levels; creation of new entrepreneurs and contractors; capital and direct cash-flow to the regional economy; increased spending and support for local businesses; and establishing Sangre Grande as a major shopping centre.

The highways in the east and north east will open lands along the route for further investments in agriculture, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, cold storage facilities, warehouses, housing, and so on. The Toco port will provide a faster alternative sea route between Tobago and east Trinidad and will itself open up the entire north east region to new industrial, residential and commercial developments supported by Government’s future development in the health, fire services and the energy sector. The people from the area and other investors would benefit from these commercial opportunities. The east will certainly be part of the economic conversation of TT.

The public will have an easy drive to Toco, where they can stop and shop in Sangre Grande or Toco, and thereafter have a short journey to Tobago. The tourists visiting Tobago can easily visit Toco and environs to experience our rivers, beaches, waterfalls, fauna and flora, and experience eco-tourism at its very best.

In the final analysis, the holistic approach to rural and sustainable development adopted by the Government in the east, which includes major infrastructural works and projects undertaken by the private sector and facilitated by the government, together with the reform of local government, is highly commendable.

We who live in the east appreciate these major infrastructural developments and rebut the notion that it’s a “highway to nowhere” but rather, a highway that would establish the east as the new economic frontier of TT.

* Roger Boynes is the former MP for Toco/Manzanilla

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

My memories of Marlene

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 22 min fa

Kamla – I almost fell off my chair – has counselled the nation against schadenfreude in kicking her sister Marlene while she’s down. Instead, in some gendered legerdemain, she’s used McDonald’s corruption indictment to question Keith Rowley’s leadership-fitness.

With help of a search of my Facebook feed, I joined the nation this week in looking back on memorable moments in Marlene’s 12-year career since the 2007 campaign in which she replaced Eric Williams as PNM representative in the Port of Spain South parliamentary seat.

The drama of her three appointments to and removals from the Rowley Cabinet, the fumble to replace her this week, and their impact on the PNM’s future in office, may well prove historic.

But I think no matter what happens in her court case or for the rest of her tenure in the public eye, what specifically Marlene will remain most indelibly remembered for is the wave-in that enabled Burkie’s July 2017 visit to President’s House and visible presence at her swearing-in for two short days in office.

The visuality of it all is why Cedric’s self-insinuation, classic couture and coiffure have become such a timeless meme.

My most personal memory of Marlene is her role in founding CAISO. It was the June 25, 2009 words of the minister of community development, culture and gender affairs at a post-cabinet press conference, quoting the gender-policy-for-some green paper’s commitment to “not provide measures dealing with or relating to the issues of termination of pregnancy, same-sex unions, homosexuality or sexual orientation,” from which the Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation drew its inspiration and name two days later.

In less than a year, Patrick Manning had called the snap election. Marlene’s classic moment was on the PNM’s women’s May 19 platform in Bournes Road, St James, at which fashionably red-clad candidates rallied to support the criminalisation of women’s reproductive choices, and Marlene crowed that a PNM gender policy provided no measures related to homosexuality, calling the People’s Partnership “a sorry bunch of mamapoules.”

“The opposition may flirt with these ideas if they wish, but this PNM government will not. We have stated our case quite categorically. This nation has always been and will continue to be guided by the highest principles and standards of ethical and moral behaviour.”

But what seized public attention in her sweating half-hour address was her high dudgeon as she waved a photoshopped “poster…of my face…pasted on a huge body,” she recalled just this March, clad in a bikini, to decry the opposition’s gender politics.

The sheer irony of her grievance was its timing, in a campaign where her party leader mounted the platform at rally after rally to call the woman offering her sisterly solidarity this week a skunk, a drunk, too country for Port of Spain office, or simply weak.

Intriguingly, when her association with a Sea Lots community leader led to her second Rowley firing, some PNM commentators questioned whether she was a victim of black respectability politics.

I don’t recall much of Marlene during her tenure as opposition whip following the PNM’s defeat. It was Christmas season 2016, while a government backbencher following her first removal from the Rowley Cabinet, that Marlene’s headlines next grabbed my attention and the nation’s amusement. Chairing a sitting of the Foreign Affairs Joint Select Committee discussing the Caricom Trade & Economic Development Council’s work on food and drug regulation, the matter of childhood obesity came into focus.

If she did not reach a particular eating establishment in her constituency at a particular time, all the food was done, Clint Chan Tack reported the JSC chair as lamenting: “Nobody cooks any more.”

TriniTuner posted Chan Tack’s Newsday story with the caption: “I looked up, I looked up irony in the dictionary and found this.”

It was a year after the Prime Minister’s lament that women no longer knew how to knead flour and peel cassava.

I mused: Dear Marlene, I am being way too economically productive to waste time cooking. Were we all poor and idle, we’d be in kitchen peeling cassava. I thought you’d be pleased with the state of the PNM-managed economy.

My last amusement with Marlene was her response to Fuad Khan’s fat-shaming Facebook rant this March following Candice Santana’s self-affirmation about playing mas.

Recalling the 2010 campaign images of her, Marlene asked, “Where was Womantra and all of them then? It was very hurtful but I campaigned, I won. Here I am. We as a people must delight in our diversity, not denigrate it. My size has never stopped me being who I want to be.”

It’s an enormous tribute to my friends in Womantra that people see them as so timeless and as responsible for so much, I noted.

But someone ought to whisper to Marlene that Womantra wasn’t formed till 2011.

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

On getting on in age

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 22 min fa

TT may have its zillion frustrations, and the fact that we seem hell-bent on destroying and squandering all our advantages is so deeply troubling that it makes you want to pack your bag and leave, but there is one enormous pleasure in living here that is hard to replicate elsewhere. The fact that we do not live in an ageist society is worth leaving the bags unpacked for.

An extreme example of the lack of discrimination against the aged is how older victims of murder and violence get no special treatment. An 80-year-old is just as likely to get it in the neck as a middle-aged person or a toddler. Ghost-takers simply do not make concessions on grounds of vulnerability, not because of age, at least. We know we must protect the weak and so it upsets us to learn about acts of violence that reveal an apparent lack of compassion.

But as someone approaching the other side of modern middle age I am rather pleased not to be reminded of that increasing vulnerability and be singled out for special treatment. Maybe I will feel differently once I am very old.

I remember the deep embarrassment I felt as a child on the odd occasion when my rather dominant grandmother, back in the days when there were fewer than one car to every three people and the roads were much safer as a result, would take me firmly by the hand, raise her dainty ladies' parasol as high as she could and just stride onto the roadway without looking right or left. The cars would summarily come to a halt until we were over to the other side.

I used to think she got away with it because she was old and I clocked then that there might be some unexpected advantages in old age. I did not realise that it was merely another aspect of her bold character, which she took into her mid-90s. And I am rather surprised that drivers in this millennium still stop to wave pedestrians onto the roadway if they feel like it, even when it is not safe to do so.

Of course, my grandmother was old only to me. She would probably have been in her sixties and not feeling old at all, if her daughter, my mother, is anything to go by. I have had long discussions with my mother, soon to be 98, about this subject and I see how easy it is for business to exploit our fears of age.

My grandmother spent no money at all on cosmetics to hide crow’s feet around the eyes, or gels to make them appear bigger, nor did she wear lipstick or pluck her eyebrows, dye her hair, or wear make-up except for face powder. A bottle of Ponds cold cream is all I seem to remember, along with a detailed knowledge of the benefits of coconut and olive oils, Epsom salts, lemons and limes, avocado, fruits and plants in the garden that looked like weeds but which could be used to enhance ones natural looks. She never felt lesser because of her age and retained her authority and confidence at home and in public.

My grandmother and great-aunt cared about the fine clothes they wore, both settling comfortably into the different body shapes they assumed with age. They accepted their altered lives and circumstances in a way that my mother finds difficult to do.

My mother’s increasing physical frailty makes her unhappy, although she is actually healthier than I am; she riles at losing power and independence and constantly offers to help me with my work, full aware that her professional skills, once so prized, have little value in today’s technological world that I inhabit. Her advice, good judgement, fearlessness, resilience and courage are what I rely upon. It is almost a case of “if the old could,” to quote the second part of the well-known French piece of wisdom. The start of the sentence is, “if the young knew.”

International media messages push us into regarding age as the loss of looks, strength, lifestyle, dignity, money. The market exploits the French writer Simone De Beauvoir’s opinion that old age is life’s parody, that we should not compare life with death but, rather, with old age because death simply transforms life into destiny. We therefore try to cheat old age and death, which is fair enough, but we ignore just how hostage we are to the consumer market place.

In the end, ageing is a question of attitude. I take my mother’s lead in regarding age as a number, of maintaining a sense of wonder and enthusiasm and bringing my increasingly long life experience to bear on daily life. It is our only defence against the quiet makers of ghosts.

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

Give building codes priority

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 23 min fa

In the wake of a storm in south Trinidad that blew the roofs off 20 homes in Point Fortin, Penal/Debe, Barrackpore, Fyzabad, Siparia and Dow Village, it’s clear more needs to be done to publicly circulate building codes and to inspect at-risk buildings. Building codes cannot protect fully against natural disaster, but photographs of many affected homes made clear the need for more information about building standards in the public domain and ultimately, a system for mandated adherence to basic standards for construction.

Many of the affected homes that suffered damage last week did not meet even the most basic requirements of storm proofing. Roofs were blown off in their entirety, putting not just the affected residences at risk but those in the path of the inevitable debris also faced danger. One roof landed in its entirety on another home.

Beyond the risk to human life, always the prime consideration in such safety measures, are the thousands of dollars in losses incurred in damage to property that result. The conversations about building codes arises most frequently in the wake of earthquakes, prompting warnings from architects and engineers, government promises to pursue the matter and general confusion and continued non-compliance among the general public.

Home construction and refurbishment should be done either by a professional with experience or with the oversight of someone with the required training. There are rules that govern the installation of electricity and water into buildings. Connections to these public utilities require adherence to clear professional standards before they are done.

Far too many buildings are built in TT without professional oversight and without proper inspections of either plans or completed structural review, up to and including clearly inadequate roofing. In August 2018, Stuart Young in his capacity as communications minister, promised that the Government would revisit building code regulations after a 6.9 scale earthquake shook the country. He acknowledged then that TT does not have a legally enforceable building code and that the Town and Country Planning Division does not assess buildings for structural integrity.

The closest this country has to any kind of guidelines for construction are those of the TT Bureau of Standards (TTBS), which publishes them as suggestions worth following. The TTBS, as with the planning division, follow accepted international standards for construction in their guidance and that’s sensible.

What makes no sense at all is turning a blind eye to structures that are inadequate for their intended purpose, taking no action on buildings that are visibly dangerous and then promising to do something about it. Someday.

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

Legal guns a two-edged sword

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 23 min fa

THE EDITOR: In TT we are suffering a migraine type headache because of homicides using guns. With thousands of citizens awaiting permission for legal possession, are we looking at ramping up homicides from a legal perspective? Prisons officers also want guns. What is the estimated final figure for legal gun possession? Fifteen? Sixteen? Seventeen thousand?

I humbly believe that legal gun possession is a two-edged sword. If attacked, it may not only be your money or your life but your money, your life and your nice new legal firearm.

Consider where the right to bear arms has landed the American people. Any Tom, Dick or Harry can embark on a killing spree. It is not easy to anticipate a mental health breakdown in TT as we lack in certain aspects of mental health care. Can murders by way of domestic violence be exacerbated by legal gun possession? A TT problem which cannot be ignored is the overuse of alcohol beverages. No gun licence should be issued without a mental health clearance certificate.

Is it wise to give permission for legal gun ownership before we reduce homicide statistics to at least 200 per year?

If accosted and you are afraid to retaliate, you cannot just drop your gun and run. Run where?

LYNETTE JOSEPH

Diego Martin

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

Mind bending

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 54 min fa

The power to change one’s mind is liberating, and one that we take too lightly. It is one of those things that I love about research, this gathering of information, knowing that I can never really tell the full story but knowing too that I can at least tell a version of it, because in the absence of information we can sometimes make inaccurate deductions or incomplete ones. Someone else fills it in. It is a relay, this passing of the baton, a few players taking the narrative in various directions. This allows the individual to approach the world with humility and therefore with wonder.

I am set in certain ways, don’t get me wrong. There are some quirks I suppose that remain for a lifetime. These habits are habits of the mind, like the routine of making the bed in the morning. Try as I might, this is not a habit I can shake. It is about my mental space, de-cluttering so that other things can be accommodated. The process of making music, of writing, is already messy. Composing happens in a fragmented way, one line here, one line there, sometimes many lines in one sitting, sometimes none.

One needs, within this scattering of moments, some order in which to navigate, and a well-made bed provides this. It is a habit of being, a way of looking. It is contained within my physical body too, for I feel the physical discomfort that untidiness creates.

My intellect is a democracy – governing for my better existence. Information is necessary for it to function efficiently, for the processing power to grow, because this is what democracy means doesn’t it – access to information so that we can make efficient decisions or as efficient as possible a decision?

I cannot resist the thought of our most recent political comess – appointments and firings and appointments and revoking of. Almost as though the leader had no information with which to work, but then someone says, "Aye! Yuh can’t appoint da man, na. You in for trouble if you do dat." Hurriedly he changes his mind.

This is the kind of mind-changing that is mind-numbing. Mind-numbing for us spells danger, for we entrust the governance and our well-being to careless folks.

But I have not come here to discuss the matter. There are more informed people creating noise about it.

My job rather is to ask why this exists in the first place and why we are not too concerned about it, except momentarily. Our humour about it is really nervous laughter because we do not have the vocabulary, it seems, to address matters that should be important. Every act of indiscipline and irresponsibility begins small, things we overlook, until this becomes our habitual manner of being.

A few weeks ago, driving through Trantrill Road, heading east, I saw an opportunity.

A tractor parked in front of a row of coconut trees had caught the light of the setting sun. It was the perfect amount of light over that area of the field, transforming the scene into a photo-op moment. It was the tropical, agricultural moment.

I slowed down to soak it in when it hit me. I was seeing something that I had been conditioned to see through media.

A struggle ensued, a struggle between conditioning versus wanting to see this from a different perspective.

I didn’t take the photograph. As captivating as it looked, it would be an intellectual obscenity to capture a moment that I knew had been a result of conditioning.

There was a deep desire to rip apart that photograph and compose a new one, but try as I might, I couldn’t.

It was a terrifying moment. It seems melodramatic to describe it as such, but it is the only word that can articulate the feeling. I wondered in a panic, what else was I not seeing? What else was I seeing through a warped mirror? How was I to undo this lens?

In that moment, more profound than ever, I could understand why our people do not take a stand. I could understand why we vote the way we do.

It does not cease to be extremely vexing, but I suppose in that terrifying moment, one can see that looking from a different perspective is a difficult task, muddied by apathy most of all. And one wonders whether this is who we really are, or is there something else beneath that makes us numb and unwilling to work towards more responsible governance?

My wish for us is that we begin to ask the wayward questions, because we are a wayward people, people with a doh-care-a-damn attitude that hasn’t seeped into the places where it matters the most.

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

Llanos wins Carifta gold for TT

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 6 ore 55 min fa

TROY Llanos won gold for TT at the 2019 Carifta Triathlon and Aquathlon Championships at Runaway Bay, Jamaica, today. [caption id="attachment_781592" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Team TT's Troy Llanos crosses the finish line, winning the boys 16-19 aquathlon at the 2019 Carifta Triathlon and Aquathlon Championships in Runaway Bay, Jamaica, today. PHOTO BY MELANIE WAITHE[/caption] TT ended the day in third position after earning a number of top five finishes. Guadeloupe currently lie in first position, followed by Barbados. [caption id="attachment_781593" align="alignnone" width="683"] Team TT's Graeme Waithe Toussaint crosses the finish line in fifth position in the boys 13-15 triathlon at the 2019 Carifta Triathlon and Aquathlon Championships in Runaway Bay, Jamaica, today. PHOTO BY MELANIE WAITHE[/caption] Llanos earned eight points for TT when he topped the boys 16-19 aquathlon category in a time of 36 minutes and one second (36:01). In the aquathlon athletes are required to swim and then run. Finishing in fifth place in the boys 16-19 aquathlon was Kareem Mason, of TT, in 36:52, picking up one point for his country. Jean Marc Granderson was eighth in 38:17, Chad Hosein tenth in 38:58 and Selik Leacock 13th in 39:38 were among the 23 participants that completed the race. [caption id="attachment_781591" align="alignnone" width="960"] TT athletes, right, get ready to face the starter at the 2019 Carifta Triathlon and Aquathlon Championships in Jamaica, today. PHOTO COURTESY CARIFTA TRIATHLON AND AQUATHLON FACEBOOK PAGE[/caption] In the other aquathlon category, Kirsten St Omer of TT was fifth in 45:17 and her team-mate Kristin Scott ended sixth in 45:54 in the girls 16-19 which featured 11 athletes. The best category for TT was the boys 13-15 triathlon (swim, ride, run). Matthew Wortman was second in 36:42 to earn four points, James Castagne Hay was third in 36:45 to collect three points and Graeme Waithe Toussaint ended fifth in 37:24 to cop two points. TT were also represented by Justin Boynes and Rowan King in the category finishing ninth in 39:02 and 19th in 44:26 respectively in the field of 23. [caption id="attachment_781594" align="alignnone" width="683"] Team TT's Jenae Price crosses the finish line in fourth position in the girls 11-12 triathlon at the 2019 Carifta Triathlon and Aquathlon Championships in Runaway Bay, Jamaica, today. Photo by Melanie Waithe[/caption] Jenea Allum Price also got two valuable points for TT when she finished fourth in the girls 11-12 triathlon in 23:04. Steffi Scott missed out on a top five finish among the 15 athletes finishing seventh in 24:41. In the girls 13-15 (22 athletes) category, Kaya Rankine Beadle finished sixth in 42:41, Makaira Wallace came eighth in 43:55 and Rebecca Lezama ended in 11th position in 44:35. Three participants also flew the flag for TT in the boys 11-12 with Tristan Scott coming ninth in 21:41, Harland Samuel was 11th in 22:14 and Ross Wortman ended 14th in 22:42. The competition continues tomorrow.  

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago