Archive for February, 2008

February 18, 2008

Last pictures of Bartica events for 18/02/08

Arrival of plane carrying bodies and departure from Timheri.bartica-massacre-011.jpg ogle-shots-002.jpg

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February 18, 2008

Latest pictures

Bodies arriving.bodies-being-moved.jpgFamilies grieve. ogle-shots-005.jpg  PICTURES HAVE BEEN UPDATED. CLICK RECENT ENTRIES LIST ON THE RIGHT FOR LATEST. 

February 18, 2008

Bartica Massacre update 6pm

The following is an excerpt from the ieNews report written by Melissa Williams who will be in Guyana as our chief reporter on the ground.__________;”According to Kaieteur Newspaper from around 9:40 twenty heavily armed gunmen entered the Transport Harbour, at Bartica located in the Essequibo region, and unleashed a wave of terror ordering five boatmen to lie on the ground then brutally shooting them in their heads. The gun toting gang then made its way over to the Bartica Police Station, where they forced the eight officers who were in the station at the time to hide in cupboards and other areas as they opened fire on the station.Reports say the gunmen then casually moved through the station in search of the frightened officers, opening cupboards doors and executing them. In the end three police officers were shot dead with two others seriously injured. The gunmen also cleared the station of all weapons and ammunition as well as raw gold which was lodged there and escaped in three police vehicles. As they drove through the mining town in the stolen police vehicles, unsuspecting residents believing them to be police officers on patrol looked when suddenly the gunmen began to indiscriminately fire at them . Even the officer in charge of the Bartica Police Station, who was unaware of the massacre of his colleagues, was almost fooled as he approached the vehicles, but was pulled back by alert residents.Six more people were killed as the gang rode through the township, with reports surfacing that they placed a man in a freezer and shooting him in the head. After their reign of terror in the quiet town, the brutal gang then calmly left in boats.”__________________PICTURES COMING IN NEXT POST CLICK ON RECENT ENTRIES ON RIGHT TO ACCESS THEM.copyright ieNews 2008

February 18, 2008

First photo update

Grieving family members following massacre.bartica-massacre-035-copy.jpgUPDATES HAVE BEEN ADDED SINCE THIS POST. PLEASE CHECK THE RECENT ENTRIES LIST ON THE RIGHT OF THIS POST.

February 18, 2008

Guyana Update 2:56 pm

ieNews is sending a crew to Guyana to report on the massacre they should be departing shortly.Our latest news coming from the area indicates that the attack was especially brutal. During their attack on the police station in Bartica policemen hiding in cupboards to escape their attackers were shot in the head. Once the gunmen stole the police vehicle and drove through town they fired randomly at civilians. One man was placed in a freezer and then shot in the head. Police are still trying to get the names of the civilian victims. The attackers wore uniforms and face coverings so no eyewitnesses have been able to provide a description to police. Police believe ,based on the pattern of the killings and the number of men involved, that this latest attack is also the work of Rondel Rawlins. Rawlins has claimed responsibility for the Lusignan Massacre in which 11 people died. He is still on the run. After the Lusignan Guyanese security forces locked down several communities in the East of the country so Bartica, which is outside the high security area, may have been an easier target. Police believe millions in gold may have also been stolen by the gunmen. Bartica is a gateway to the gold producing areas of Guyana.Further to follow.

UPDATES HAVE BEEN ADDED SINCE THIS POST. PLEASE CLICK ON THE RECENT ENTRIES LIST ON THE RIGHT OF THIS POST.

February 18, 2008

Guyana update 1:23 pm

Our sources in Guyana are now at the airport waiting for the bodies to arrive for transportation to Georgetown. Bartica is located up the Essequibo river and the bodies must be transported by boat and then small plane to get to Timheri Airport, the closest point to Georgetown.More to follow.

UPDATES HAVE BEEN ADDED SINCE THIS POST. PLEASE CLICK ON THE RECENT ENTRIES LIST ON THE RIGHT OF THIS POST.

February 18, 2008

Another massacre in Guyana

IeNews is now following up on the killing of 12 people in Bartica, Guyana including 3 police officers. This follows on the heels of the killing of 11 people a few weeks ago. AP is reporting the following:

12 Die in Guyana Shooting

By BERT WILKINSON – 45 minutes agoGEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) — Gunmen killed 12 people, including three police officers, in a Sunday night assault on a small town in Guyana, authorities said. It was the second major attack blamed on gangs in recent weeks.Police said men dressed in military fatigues and armed with assault rifles invaded a police station and made off with ammunition and weapons in the southwestern township of Bartica.The nine civilians included five people who were sleeping in hammocks along the Essequibo River outside the police station, Health Minister Leslie Ramsammy.“This is the work of brutish beasts. This is more than horrific, “Ramsammy said.At least seven civilians were wounded, including one man in critical condition, said Lester Valentine, a doctor at the Bartica hospital.Police Cmdr. Gavin Primo said the gunmen broke into a strong box and took away guns and ammunition. Valentine said the man entered the town by boat and fired indiscriminately for about an hour while people hid in their homes.Bartica is a bustling town of about 15,000 people where miners buy supplies before heading into the South American country’s interior to look for gold and diamonds.People in the town said some the gunmen also fired on businesses, including the main hotel.“This is just terrible, just awful,” said hotelier Stephen Bell, who lives a block away from the Bartica police station. “Not a man is on the street. The area is deserted.”

 

We are following up with our sources and I will have more as the day progresses.

UPDATES HAVE BEEN ADDED SINCE THIS POST. PLEASE CLICK ON THE RECENT ENTRIES LIST ON THE RIGHT OF THIS POST.

 

 

February 17, 2008

Lavabo inter innocentes manus meas.


Given that the whole point of this blog is for me to just put down my random thoughts it is rather strange that someone as hyperactive as myself can actually sit here without having any focussed thoughts. The key word being “focussed” as I have many thoughts going through my mind now.

We spent much time at work today engaged in an animated discussion about Democratic race in the US. Inevitably, the subject also turned to race.  I am not a US citizen, thankfully, so I can sit happily with my Irish and Canadian passports and feel no responsibility for the numerous stupid things they have done. I do, however, have my preferences in terms of what I would like to see happen in the upcoming US elections. I would prefer Hillary  Clinton to be the democratic candidate for president and I would also like the Republicans to be kicked into the political cellar. Any party that chooses a leader who can say the words “I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully” deserves whatever it gets.

I do not share the enthusiasm of my colleagues for Barack Obama who they see as the ideal choice. Perhaps I am missing something but I don’t recall Obama saying one thing of substance so far in his campaign. Sure he is slick and articulate but I really don’t think talk is what the US needs now. Hillary has proven herself to be a tough contender and I vividly recall her brave but failed attempt to implement drastic changes in the US health care system when Bill was in office. The fact she stood her ground and remained stoic in public through the ridiculous Lewinsky episode says volumes. Also, and this is a bit on the petty side, Obama strikes me as a bit glib and his eyes are just a wee bit too shifty for my liking. What puzzles me is the insistence of my colleagues that my views are based on the fact that Obama is black. When I ventured to observe, that like me, most of my family, and Tiger Woods, he is decidedly mixed I was quickly informed that the fact he looks black makes him black. Who knew?  My dislike for Obama is more than skin deep I can assure them. There is that strange divide in even Trinidad society that even i feel uncomfortable crossing – the racial divide. I don’t think twice about race but apparently it means a lot in terms of group identification to a lot of people. Given my penchant for speaking my mind I often have to  flee certain discussions knowing I would probably be beaten to death for my none-too-subtle views.

Turning my thoughts to other things now I want to talk about a comment my Cousin Peggy ( author of Jahajin) left on my blog entry yesterday which provides food for thought.  Because I maintain two versions of this blog I will include the comment here:

“ The dislike of gays is one of those irrational things that prove that people are still beasts at heart.  The same people who howl about the world becoming overpopulated can have a serious problem with the existence of ingenious souls who have found a way to live happily every after at the top of the food chain without adding to world problems (and without feeling deprived either). It seems to me that gayness is one of the kindest options Mother Nature and Evolution have supplied us with.And not all that different from those of us boring straights who have only one child (or none at all).  There comes a point, when we are done with the mindless struggle for existence, when we should turn our minds to being a little bit imaginative.And that would include wondering about one’s orientation.  How many people live straight lives because they have never really thought about what they wanted in a relationship?The word ‘tolerance’ is bad in a slogan, but it is at the root of the struggle for Human Rights.  That is, you don’t have to LIKE the other guy, but you must refrain from killing him, or beating him up, or denying him a job.  Face it, most of us are not likeable…”

Peggy is not someone who thinks on a standard level and I always value her take on things. I don’t have a fundamental problem with anything in her comment and, maybe it is in the genes, I generally find I agree with her. Typical me that I will concentrate on the last bit of her last sentence.

It is true that most of us, those rats who refuse to follow the piper are definitely not likeable. I have long ago come to terms that my personality is such that people either appreciate me ( an estimated 10%) or want to avoid me like a politician would a polygraph ( 80%). The remainder tend to regard me the way we regard crocodiles in a zoo…with a mixture of fascination and revulsion. I am generally happy with this situation as I figure it weeds out undesirables. Of course, I am also painfully aware  that it may also weed out some desirables but such is life. We are all both the beneficiaries and victims of our own personalities.

I cannot count the times that someone has come up to me and said “but I always thought you were such a jerk” or “when i was first introduced to you I thought you were so standoffish and distant”. It is the eternal story of first encounters and how we protect ourselves. I tend to hide shyness around new people with an armour of  silence and disinterest. It is hardly a surprise that some take this for elitism or arrogance. There is some consolation to be had from knowing that I cannot possibly be the only person thus afflicted.Sometimes I wonder if my tendencies in that area have alienated people who might have been important parts of my life or even THE important part. There must be a whole slew of us who wonder if we have sailed past possibly  important people simply because our inherent character traits pushed them away in our wake.

On the good side, those same people could also have been the iceberg to our Titanic. 100_4449.jpg

February 17, 2008

Night Off

Just got back in after being with friends for an evening after work. It is now 1:55am and I have work in the morning so I shall dismiss any attempt to post an actual entry and summarize my day today in point form.

  •  Planned to go to the gym this morning but woke up late because of the sleeping pills.
  • Called the office to check on things, had several coffees and then drove to work.
  • Scrounged for stories and added a story about the Boissiere House to the lineup.
  • Managed to get a hold of Nicholas Laughlin via Facebook and assigned the story.
  • Thought of the house being torn down and got quite irate.
  • Returned a DVD to the store, got two more and drive back to work ( total elapsed time: 15 minutes).
  • Newscast was completed by 5:00pm
  • Giselle and Wong went home and I killed time before reading the news by reading news on the internet and trying to figure out what my editor in New York meant by “planner”.
  • Put on jacket and makeup and went into studio to read the news at 6:20pm.
  • Heard my cue, watched the monitor for the news opening and saw only black.
  • Muttered ” i am not seeing anything” through the talkback.
  • heard Director say “oh shit!” and sat there looking at my script.
  • Much scrambling in my earpiece and then was told we have a computer problem.
  • Told the Director to call the tech person and then sat there hearing lots of noises in my earpiece.
  • Finally heard the Director ask me if we should start the news at 7pm should we get things fixed and could I please call the CEO and the IT guys ( which I assumed correctly  meant I could get out of the chair).
  • Tried to reach the CEO..no luck…got the IT guy though
  • Went downstairs to see the Director under the console looking desparate at which point the IT guy seized control of the system by remote access and fixed whatever it was.
  • Told the Director that I refused to answer another viewer calling on the phone to ask when our news was going to start and we were going to start as soon as I threw myself back in the chair.
  • Threw myself back in the chair and started the newscast at 6:53pm.
  • Finished the news and drove home to relax..arrived home at 7:58pm.
  • Sit down. Grab a dinner of leftovers. Phone rings. It is Robin saying our friend Alvin II who is visiting from the US would be in town in 1/2 hour. 
  • Asked what that had to do with me.
  • Was told we ( Peter, Naz, Robin, Alvin II and myself) were going to dinner at The Verandah for 9pm before the kitchen closes..
  • Cursed on the phone and told Robin I hate this kind of mad rush and I would let him know.
  • Despite myself I was in the Mondeo and heading to pick up Robin by 8:40pm.
  • Picked up Robin and continued to The Verandah.
  • Sat waiting a few minutes for everyone else to arrive.
  • Drank 2 diet cokes.
  • They arrive and we are seated. I already ate so I just order another diet coke and a bowl of soup.
  • Grab a ciggy outside with Alvin II ( nice to see him again btw).
  • Dinner is almost over and Peter starts to feel ill and heads to the bar to lie down.
  • We continue to eat until we remember he is ill. Naz checks on him then me.
  • I encourage him to go and lie down in his car outside. Dinner is hastily ended and Naz and Peter head home to convalesce.
  • I ask A II if he would like to go out befor eI drop him back to P&N’s where he is overnighting before returning to his family in Fyzabad. He says yes. Amazingly, Robin says he will come along ( like he has a choice since I drove).
  • Call Binky to find out that he and Alvin I are at Alvin I’s club..so we head there.
  • The five of us stand there chatting for a couple of hours while I drink diet cokes. I discover that spraying Listerine pocket fresh in my mouth before sipping is almost like having a rum and coke.
  • Alvin II, Robin and I look at each other and determine that at 1am it is time to leave.
  • We get in the Mondeo and I drop Alvin II up to Ft. George followed by Robin back to Maraval. 
  • Leaving Robin’s place I run into a 4-way police checkpoint.
  • The officer is  very polite and as I show them my Insurance and DP he reminds me that my insurance is expiring next week. I tell him that I know and just had my car undergo the useless inspection so i can renew it.
  • He says “enjoy your night sir” and off I go.
  • Continue on to Cascade where I park the car and come upstairs still wired from diet coke.
  • Open the laptop to write an entry despite my better judgment.
  • Omar is online so we chat for a bit and I tell him that his company was missed this evening though I understand he is drained.
  • Get bored of typing to him. Call on the phone. Tell him I may skip the blog entry tonight. He says “well, the world won’t end”.
  • I agree and ring off.
  • I proceed to type the last 902 words. 
  • It is now 2.19 am and I have work in the morning. 
I just realized I like this sort of machine gun entry but I recognize it must be annoying to read. Suits the way my mind works though.
 
Nite nite. 
February 16, 2008

Free at last, Free at last

Finally, at exactly 2:22pm today I finished the Curacao chapter of Fodor’s 2009 and uploaded the file for my editor. I also sent off the invoice immediately even though there is some smaller stuff left to do such as the planners and maps. Finally, an end to feeling guilty every evening and ending up hunkered down till all hours trying to make a dent. Not to say I will suddenly have a wild and crazy social life it is a few years too late for that but at least I could if I wanted to. 

I had to drive around a bit today to get my taillight bulb changed and to have my car inspected so it can get reinsured next week when the insurance expires. I did this not out of any concern for safety on the roads or my own personal safety but purely because the insurance company asked me to do it. The requirement for an inspection certificate, like so many things in this country, is a system that is only half finished and stuck in limbo. The necessary legislation to add any consequences has never been passed properly and thus if you are pulled over with a car that has an inspection sticker for..ooohhh..let’s say 2004… there is no penalty. The police officer can glance at your jalopy but there isn’t a single thing he can do. Why do these things end up half done? It may have to do with the national tendency to want to start things and then run off to do something else. A culture of distraction. More likely, it could be just a case of incompetent legislators who are unable to handle the strain of multitasking. So my car, which is in tip-top shape now has a sticker saying it is okay till 2010. In the interim my brakes could go wonky, my exhaust might develop a hacking cough and my wipers may stop working…but it is fine I have my useless and toothless sticker. 

This is just one of probably hundreds of bits of well-intentioned legislation that have been introduced in T&T which have failed to reach the stage of full implementation. The most egregious offenses in this area are probably the never ending ( and I mean years) struggle to introduce both the breathalyser and traffic radar. In a country where road fatalities are well over 200 annually these would seem to be no-brainers but, in fact, that description seems better applied to those responsible for passing the necessary legislation and actually obtaining the required equipment. Every so often we get a little glimmer of hope such as late last year when Works and Transport Minister Colm Imbert assured all and sundry that the breathalyser would be in place in time for Carnival 2008. Of course, Carnival came and went with many a driver weaving on the road steering with one hand and  hoisting a glass of Johnny Black with the other. Good luck with the radar if they ever get around to it as the traffic officer is sure to be mowed down by one of the dozens of motorists racing on the shoulder. As I look at downtown Port of Spain and the rush to erect tall buildings as some sort of simpleminded attempt to create a developed country on the surface when the reality is otherwise, I wonder about the misplacement of priorities.

 Since I am on facebook I suffer the usual deluge of invitations to join this or that group not to mention the slew of inane quiz invitations. While it is easy to dismiss the Blank wants you to take the test ”what kind of furry marsupial are you?” there are a few that genuinely grab my interest. Today, for example, I noticed Peter Sheppard had  joined the “save the Boissiere House” group. The Boissiere House is a miraculous little gingerbread gem of a home located around the Queen’s Park Savannah at the top of Cipriani Boulevard. It never fails to capture my eye as I drive by it every day on the way to work mainly because, as they say, they just don’t make them like that anymore. Unfortunately the prevailing culture of this country is that old things are bad and tall and shiny things are good. It is, to be sure, a childish mentality that somehow dismisses the national heritage as a colonial travesty that is best erased. I have written about this before and observed that Barbados and Jamaica have a more mature mentality about older buildings recognizing them as part of the built heritage and, therefore, important. I am glad to see that people such as Nicholas Laughlin and Georgia Popplewell are working to change the status quo.

I also noticed that three of my friends joined a group called “Same sex tolerance in T&T”. I am not so sure about that one. I know T&T has laws that date to the Victorian era and proscribe any sort of male-male same sex activity a fact that is beyond comprehension to anyone living in the developed world. It is a situation that is beyond silly and positively reprehensible to anyone with a brain but it is a reality. The Government ( whichever one it happens to be) will continue to bend to the perceived or real pressure placed on it by the religious hypocrites and nothing will change in the foreseeable future.  I am a realist but I truly hope that this will not be the case. Besides that, though, I really don’t see how much impact a Facebook group will have in effecting change. Perhaps it is more of a support group. 

 

 

 I have a concern with the use of the word “tolerance”. In any aspect of my life I would prefer to be hated outright than tolerated. We tolerate the fact our neighbour is an out of control drug user or  we tolerate the screaming brat in the coffee shop. On the other hand we accept other races and we accept the fact the all have different opinions. The fact is there are a lot of gay people in Trinidad, and presumably Tobago, and, by and large, the community is tolerated. Thankfully we didn’t see the Black Community in the US marching to Washington in the 1960s loudly chanting they wanted to be tolerated. They marched so the larger society would come to terms with and accept them as part of normal American life and deserving of rights.  In the case of that Facebook group it reeks of that antiquated bit of religious twaddle one hears from time to time , “love the sinner, hate the sin” .Funny how some things get me riled.

 Off to bed with my little riled self now.

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