December 1, 2008
As the title of this entry implies I have been suffering from a rather unpleasant bout of the flu for the last couple of days and have not found shivering and headache conducive to blogging. I suspect it took a turn for the worse when I was subjected to watching the PM’s address to the nation on the current financial crisis last night. I swear i felt the aches and pains getting worse as his mouth formed words that made little sense to me.
As we watch economies around the world scramble to hunker down for the fallout of a developing financial meltdown we are being assured that we will be ok. Frankly, the explanations and math are not really working for me. Despite oil and gas being down around 15-20% and presumably VAT receipts likely to fall with a loss of consumer confidence the government thinks cutting out $5.6 billion from their $50 billion budget will be enough. I can only guess that they intend to not put anything into the Heritage Fund since that rainy day has already arrived. The PM says that after painful soul searching they have decided to cut back on building hospitals, new schools and affordable housing. Thank heavens he got his own palatial digs finished in time so he can stay in the lap of comfort. We also seem to still be hosting the Summit of the Americas and the Commonwealth Heads of Government at a cost of millions and there was no mention of the multi-billion dollar transit system being shelved.
The thing that annoys me the most when the PM and his people speak is that they speak of how well they have managed the economy. If they actually believe what they are saying then the state of delusion in government is frightening. Bragging that we now have $2 billion US in the Heritage Fund as if it is an achievement when we could have billions more had they taken a more measured approach to spending our money. But I guess it is all just money under the bridge.
In other news in this part of the world we have basically now hit the 500 homicide mark give or take the odd body or two. Nicholas Laughlin has a marvelously sardonic column on the matter in his blog. As I have said before the fact the the Nat. Security Minister is incompetent and ineffectual is not really shocking such things happen – the truly shocking thing is that he has not had the shame to step down after failing so ostensibly and more shockingly the PM keeps him in the position. I suppose it is easy to not worry about being killed when you are surrounded by security at all times and driven to work in a motorcade. Little or anything effective is being done about the crime situation and those that say it is not the government committing the crimes seem to forget that they are spending billions of our money to allegedly protect us. What has this resulted in? Well, in one shining example, my friend Peter S saw prowlers outside his apartment last night and called 999 telling them he was fearing for his life and they were right outside his door. He has yet to see a police vehicle show up at his place and he lives in Port of Spain. That, to me, is not just shameful it is simply scandalous.
June 8, 2008
I work in news and when I have to produce a newscast on a weekend with my usual dream team of Ria, Nadine and the powerhouse that is Giselle it is normal to call before I head to the newsroom to ask if there were any overnight murders. What is not normal is hearing that one of the latest murder victims is a 5 month old infant. Things have reached a really sorry state in this country when a 25 year old father is getting out of a taxi with his baby boy and they are both gunned down. There is no indication the father had any involvement in anything illegal and by all accounts three bullets were pumped into the child as his father tried to shield him. Giselle did her usual excellent job on the story and we devoted 4 minutes to it but I am still shocked and most of all very angry that such an event actually happened in this country that is rolling in money and should be a tropical paradise. Knowing that the sorry excuse for a National Security Minister will sit there defending his performance at some future media event and the PM will tacitly show his own poor judgment by keeping him in office is more than I can reasonably comprehend.
We also had a late arriving story of Dr. Keith Rowley giving his latest take on the scandals involving UDeCOTT and the government’s continuing attempts to explain some decidedly strange accusations from the Opposition concerning alleged nepotism and tendering inconsistencies. As I have said before I have a begrudging respect for Dr. Rowley mainly because of his clear intelligence and spunk. He may not be taken very seriously since he was part of the administration for many years with nary a peep but I like seeing him speaking and I admire his bulldog spirit. Basically, in his hour and a half speech, he said I am not apologizing to anyone and the government is taking us all for fools. At one of the recent get-togethers at my place someone said the PNM has done some good work. I don’t deny it and I honestly can’t say any of the opposition parties would have done any better but I know that even an abject idiot with billions to spend would do some good. Hell…a gang of monkeys punching keys to spend billions of dollars would have accomplished some good.
At this point I only know one thing – this country is in a sorry state and there is no cavalry on the horizon.
May 9, 2008
Another day another blog entry. Make that several days but I have begun to think it is better to build up something to say rather than just saying things for the sake of filling space on servers. There are a few things that have been on my mind lately and they really have no connection to each other. I am still very perturbed that Ms Talma is still being held by her kidnappers. This is the first time this year ( to my recollection) anyone has been held for more than 2 days. While being held for 2 days is horrifying enough I can only imagine what trauma the poor woman must be enduring after almost a week. It stands to reason that the sort of scum that would perpetrate such an act are probably not exactly concerned about her comfort. Her kids and the rest of her family have probably not had a night’s sleep since the ordeal began. The police are doing their usual thing arresting people and releasing them but as far as I can gather have made little progress in her recovery. I am sure we can expect the usual twaddle from the ersatz National Security Minister at some point as he explains that this is just another minor glitch and the country is, in fact, safer now as we implement his “crime plan”. If I am ever held by unspeakable elements and Joseph is in charge I think my best bet would be to pray for a cyanide pill.
I have spoken to a number of people and the consensus ( if 100% counts as a consensus) is that were they a minister with his track record the PM wouldn’t have to fire them as they would step down in shame. Then again, the PM put him there and seems perfectly content with his performance despite an out of control murder rate, kidnappings and the fact it is much easier to get drugs than water in many parts of the country. I imagine the idea of stepping down in shame is fairly meaningless when those in
question seem to have a limited quantity of that particular commodity.
Rather than let me blood pressure reach clinically dangerous levels I have been trying to think about other subjects for the last few days. A few of these, however, have also had a deleterious effect on my BP. The government recently announced it was stopping live broadcasts of the Joint Select Committee meetings. These meetings/hearings were designed to ensure that there is oversight in the operations of certain state corporations. Seeing the heads of these corporations such as Calder Hart of UDECOTT being questioned about how they spend our money was an excellent example of a healthy democracy. Apparently, though, the discomfort of some of these officials in being grilled has been deemed more important than the public’s right to see accountability in action. Sure, the media is ( apparently) still allowed to cover the events but the live broadcasts allowed the public to see the proceedings without having it filtered through the media first. If someone is being paid a handsome salary from the public purse and is spending a lot of tax money in order to do something on our behalf they should certainly expect to be asked questions in full view of the public. This is a great step backwards in transparency and not a good sign for the future. I am not sure what precedent there is for a government allowing proceedings to be public and then changing the rules of the game but I would love to know.
On a different note, I went to the gym today, ostensibly to do a little cardio but really because I was running low on Haagen Dazs Chocolate, Chocolate Chip ice cream and MetroMint Water, and I was marvelling at the ethnic mixtures in this country. Of course there are people of African descent and Indian descent but it was the mixtures that really caught my attention. Men and women with unusual and often beautiful features whose ethnicity would be almost impossible to guess. I certainly tried to see if I could figure some of them out but given the sheer number of groups in T&T the possibilities left me totally frustrated. The best I could manage was “well African and maybe Spanish..but there might also be a hint of Chinese or Carib in there”. It is amazing the things one does to ignore the fact one is running like mad and not actually getting anywhere – allegedly in the name of health. After a couple of post-gym cigarettes I was much better able to handle my inability to make definitive guesses.
And since I mentioned shopping I have been examining my food shopping habits of late. As someone who has grown up..as they say..elsewhere…I tend to go to ridiculous lengths and spend far too much money to get certain things that I consider essential. The other day I found myself spending the equivalent of $9 US to buy two parsnips. To be honest they weren’t even healthy specimens but they are so rare here that I felt it a reasonable price to pay. Never mind the fact I could have bought a bushel of them in Toronto for that price I just knew I had to have them and , frankly, the aroma of them boiling brought back so many memories it was well worth the price. Somewhere I also developed an obsession for Metromint Water ( www.metromint.com) . This is something I cannot explain. The good people who make it describe it as “pure. Simple. Mintwater” as if it is something that occurs in nature and they just harvested it from a mint spring that emerged from some vast underground mint water aquifer. Basically it is purified water with a bit of natural mint ( or spearmint ) flavour added. It is beautifully packaged in a tall cylindrical bottle but it also costs twice as much as the local bottled water or even Gatorade. For some reason I cannot get enough of the stuff which is only sold in a few shops here ( and only one in Port of Spain). I have been known to grab the entire stock on the shelf and gleefully rush to the cash register waving my debit card. It has reached the point where visiting friends express concern about the row upon row of mintwater in my fridge and even my gym trainer is wondering if it has some narcotic properties I am not telling him about. I suppose there are far less healthy taste obsessions to have.