Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Thirty Four to Date

Pilot shot dead in fight with bandits

A CARIBBEAN Airlines pilot was shot dead after confronting bandits at his Glencoe home yesterday afternoon.
Riaz Baksh was 54 and lived at 19 Atlantic Avenue, Glencoe, a quiet, shaded, relatively upscale neighbourhood.
Police said at around 4.10 p.m., Baksh had pulled into the driveway of his home after opening his remote controlled gate. As he drove in he was confronted by ’an unknown number’ of bandits.
Police believe he struggled with these men when they attacked him. One of the bandits fired a shot, hitting Baksh to his chest. The bandits then fled.
A bleeding Baksh, police said, ran into the roadway where he collapsed. Neighbours telephoned both the police and some of Baksh’s relatives, who themselves arrived and took him to the St Clair Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Police from both the Four Roads and the St James Police Stations arrived on the scene and conducted initial investigations. No arrests had been made up to last night.
The murder toll stood at 34 up to last night.


 We knew this man. RIP

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Haiti I'm Sorry - Poetry Wednesday


Written and sung by David Rudder (1988)

Toussaint was a mighty man
And to make matters worse he was black
Black and back in the days when black men knew
Their place was in the back
But this rebel, he walked through Napoleon
Who thought it wasn't very nice
And so today my brothers in Haiti
They still pay the price...yeah, yeah...

Haiti, I'm sorry
We misunderstood you
One day we'll turn our heads
And look inside you
Haiti, I'm sorry. Haiti, I'm sorry
One day we'll turn our heads
Restore your glory.

Many hands reach out to St. George's
And are still reaching out
To those frightened,
Foolish men of Pretoria
We still scream and shout
We came together in song
To steady the Horn of Africa
But the papaloa come and the babyloa go
And still, we don't seem to care...No, no...

Haiti, I'm sorry
We misunderstood you
But one day we'll turn our heads
And look inside you
Haiti, I'm sorry. Haiti, I'm sorry
One day we'll turn our heads
Restore your glory.

When there is anguish in Port au Prince
It's still Africa crying
We are outing fires in far away places
When our neighbours are just burning.
They say the Middle Passage is gone
So how come overcrowded boats still haunt our lives
I refuse to believe that we good people
Will forever turn our hearts
And our eyes...away...

Haiti, I'm sorry
We misunderstood you
One day we'll turn our heads
And look inside you
Haiti, I'm sorry. Haiti, I'm sorry
One day we'll turn our heads
Restore your glory.
Haiti, I'm sorry, sorry...

Since posting this yesterday, a 6.0 after shock has hit 36 kilometres south west of Haiti.  Given the magnitude, I would say that is another earthquake. This together with the earthquake affecting the Cayman Islands yesterday and the one last Wednesday in our area (Venezuela/Trinidad) I would say that the Caribbean could be in for a rough time.

Friday, January 15, 2010


One of the less gruesome photographs coming out of Haiti.


I have just seen the latest headlines coming out of Haiti

Haiti earthquake survivors blockade roads with piles of corpses in protest at lack of aid

* Machete-wielding gangs roam streets fighting for food
* Reports of widespread looting across Port-au-Prince
* Military tell aid agencies they need guards to deal with volatile situation
* 7,000 corpses are dumped in Haiti's first mass grave
* Aid workers pour on to island as emergency fund launched
* Fears for British woman Ann Barnes who worked in collapsed UN building
* Hundreds of criminals on the streets after prison collapses

A Nightmare.

There are numerous planes on the ground but no one to unload the emergency supplies. And they cannot take off again as there is no fuel. There were planes circling but unable to land because of the congestion on the ground.

I was so upset at the graphic pictures that came on the news last night and the constant coverage by CNN, I eventually had to turn off. To see hardened reporters and foreign correspondents in tears and lost for words was just too much. The upside of the reporting is that they are able to interview people who have relatives elsewhere so that word can get out that they survived. CNN's medical correspondent Gupta is on the scene and I watched him taking care of a tiny baby. There are no hospitals. Haiti is in urgent need of medical supplies - people who survived the quake will die if they don't get antibiotics. Limbs cannot be reset. Simple things are not available. By Saturday there will be 9,000 people in there to keep the peace. Looting is more prevalent this morning than it was earlier. People can only take so much. Heavy equipment is needed but the emergency services cannot get it in.

Bodies are just being literally shovelled up and dumped in vast containers where they will be burned. It sounds callous but it's the only way as disease will set in very quickly if they are left. One has to remember the scorching temperatures which speeds decomposure.

Two million children have been orphaned to date and are in need of care.

Haitian Boy

Tears and blood fill the streets. Haitian-born rap star Wyclef Jean, who spent Thursday helping pick up the dead, called it "the apocalypse".

Haiti is part of CARICOM (The Caribbean Community and Common Market) and whilst countries from all over the world are sending aid, Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister issued a statement stating that there would be a meeting of CARICOM Heads to determine what they should do about this "as there is a tendency after such a disaster, for aid to fall into the wrongs hands." What absolute arrogance. CARICOM is fiddling whilst Haiti burns and the nasty piece of work of a Prime Minister who governs my adopted country has the audacity to make such statements. We should be putting heavy equipment on our fast ferries and getting it there to help.

Trinidad needs to wake up. It has been fortunate that an earthquake of such magnitude has not happened here. We do get mild earthquakes and tremours on a regular basis and the University seismologists have been predicting a major one right here for months. But in typical Trini fashion, few believe that we will be hit. The last earthquake in Haiti was 200 years ago - the same will happen here. I know that there are disasters of enormous proportions on a daily basis all over the world but when it hits so close to home, one has to wake up and smell the coffee.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Have We Gone Over the Top?

political correctness police

When is too far, really too far?

I recently made a comment on someone’s blog and afterwards I wondered if perhaps I’d gone too far. The topic was essentially ‘female stuff’ which included a light hearted look at weight. I made my serious comment and then added:

‘Did you hear the one about “your mother’ so heavy that when she stands on the scales it reads “to be continued’. The original joke is actually ‘your mother ‘s so fat’…………etc etc… but being aware that some readers may not see the funny side,I changed the wording in an effort not to offend them or the Politically Correct Brigade.

Then I started thinking which is something I do occasionally as ex 360 readers know! In an effort not to offend, have we gone too far? Are we taking some of the fun out of life? A friend of mine sends out e mails with a little note as a heading which reads‘at some point I will offend you’. I am on the whole, tolerant, somewhat irreverent and there’s very little that offends me when it comes to jokes which touch on race, age, colour , religion sex et al. At the same time, I know through experience there are some emails that cannot be forwarded to certain people so I refrain.

When Obama became President, there was one particular email circulating that I thought was hilarious so naturally, I wanted to share this classic which had come from a black friend. The picture was of a truck in Africa laden with boxes and suitcases. There were many people dressed in African garb hanging onto the vehicle, occupying every single space inside and out including atop  the luggage on the roof. The caption was something along the lines of “Obama’s relatives leave to join him in the White House’. Having lived in Africa I saw the scene vividly.People do hang onto the sides of all kinds of vehicles when there isn’t any room inside. They want to get from A to B and how they do it, matters not. For them , hanging on, jostling for a space or sitting on the roof is considered normal. We’ve all seen the pictures and this has nothing to do with race but everything to do with culture. I made the mistake of forwarding said email to another black friend. Not an online friend, not an online buddy but a have-met- and- known- for- years friend. A friend who knows my wicked sense of humour, my views on race, colour, creed and who also knows I would never intentionally hurt, offend or do anything to upset someone unless they piss me off. Even then I wouldn’t do any of the aforementioned. I would tell them ‘as it is’ as I have a reputation for being straight forward, speaking my mind and then, moving on. My late mother spent her whole life trying to tell me that I should keep my mouth shut and smile for the sake of peace. She failed! She also tried very hard to get me to stop bucking the system. Looking back I obviously tried to buck the system because I saw myself as a rebel of sorts and didn’t want to be seen as coming from a certain type of background which of course, was an exercise in futility! I digress. My friend was deeply offended and angry.  I  responded to her scorching return email as fast as I could with many apologies which she graciously accepted. I felt dreadfulthat I had upset her so badly but later when I had recovered from the shock of her reaction, I had to wonder that if the PC Brigade wasn’t so vociferous, would she have reacted in the same way? Also, apropos my response, had I unwittingly been conditioned by the PC Brigade?

These days in England, telephone lines to radio and television stations are jammed by offended callers when a comedian tells a joke about the Englishman, the Irishman and the Scotsman. I know and have told more jokes about those three than I have had hot dinners. Comedians are complaining because their material is now limited.They are no longer allowed to tell jokes about the three men which always makes the Irishman look the dumbest. They are no longer allowed to tell jokes containing anything remotely concerned with colour, race or religion. Quite amazing to me is the fact that blondes and Walmart shoppers haven’t joined the ranks of the PC Brigade given the amount of emails circulating throughout cyberspace which deride them unmercifully. And what about the man who wanted to buy a shotgun to shoot cans? Texans and Mexicans? There was a third ‘can’ but I can’t remember it.

I wonder if my family still lived in England whether or not the busy message my daughter used to have on her mobile would have had her arrested for being politically incorrect. “You have reached the Taliban. There is no one available to take your call at the moment as the Americans are bombing the shit out of us. Press 1 for Al Queda, 2 for Bin Laden…’ etc…………….

Having lived in quite a few countries in my time, I interacted from a very young age with people of all colours and creeds, from all walks of life with not a hint of going too far joke- wise whenever it came to any teasing in relation to our different backgrounds. And tease we did! So,twenty five years ago I was totally thrown by a guest in my home which at the time, was in the Ivory Coast. My husband and I were entertaining guests to lunch. Although there were some pretty impressive people there it was very casual and relaxed. A guest of African American descent whose husband had something to do with the United Nations asked if she could bring her aunt who was arriving that day from the United States and naturally the answer was ‘yes’. The aunt whom I‘d never met and thankfully never saw again, turned out to be one difficult guest.She had come directly from the airport and I was welcoming her into our home when my ‘wicked’ milk chocolate-drop husband with a gleam in his eye, joined us and asked her if she had ‘met my honky wife’. All hell broke loose! First of all he was berated in no uncertain terms by this loud-mouthed woman for showing such disrespect and then I too got it for allowing him to refer to me in such a degrading manner!! This woman had been in my home for less than ten minutes and had managed to create havoc. My husband had not offended me (it has been said over the years that our home should be the subject of a sit com!) so what was her problem? She was furious that I had laughed at his remark.I was dumbfounded or gob-smacked as they say in northern England by what I considered to be her rudeness. What made it worse for me was that she was the producer of Sesame Street and I wondered how she interacted with the children on the show and what unnecessary venom she spewed when she was around them. I never did find out but her niece apologized for the behavior and those multi-faceted guests who had witnessed the extraordinary scene, moved with glasses in hands, out to the pool in obvious disbelief. Talk about “How to Empty a Large Room in One Easy Lesson’!! It was the first time that I had ever come across anyone who was I later learned, a member of what was to become the PC Brigade. I did not like what I saw then and I do not like it now.

It’s got worse since then and I believe that nowadays people take themselves far too seriously and a great many of us have developed a distinct inability to laugh at ourselves. Stupid rules making it a chargeable offence to poke gentle fun at our fellow human beings without being offensive have been made by stupid people. I have visions of scattered groups of obsessive ‘citizens with a cause’ pouring over newspapers, listening to the radio , watching television and lurking in supermarkets in the hope of finding something that offends them so that they can make a complaint to the Race Relations Board, the Human Rights Organization and the like. Look what they did to the Robertson’s Jam Golly? When I was a little girl. I had the famous pin-on-badge. Have you any idea how many jars of jam and marmalade my mother had to buy so that I could collect the labels that entitled me to that prized possession? Look what they did to Enid Blyton’s Noddy books? Took them off the shelves with little warning because someone decided that the Golly was offensive and that Big Ears was gay! Well to those people I say, “What about my rights? What about my right to tell a joke? Want about my rights that may be seen by some as non-u? What about my right to tell members of the PC Brigade to naff off ? What about my rights in wanting some humour back in our lives without having to think about whether or not we may end up in front of a judge?

Sadly, gone are the days when one could tell a joke about the Englishman, the Irishman and the Scotsman without worrying who might report you to Big Brother. Gone are the days when you could tell a joke about a black man (unless you happen to be black), a white man and a Chinese man. Gone are the days when you could tell a joke about a priest and a rabbi. Gone are the days when you could tell a joke about a fat man and a thin man, about a Jamaican dubbed Chalky by his white comedian friend Jim Davies and about the Irishmen building a wooden space ship so that they could fly to the sun – at night!!

The do-gooders and the PC Brigade have definitely gone too far in many countries. They haven’t reached here yet. I hope they never do because apart from the politicians and people with ‘big jobs’ your average Trinidadian doesn’t mind laughing at himself – so long as he’s telling the joke!

Three Trinidadians working on the 26th floor of a building site: one of East Indian descent, one of European descent (French Creole) and one of African descent. Lunch time. The following conversation overheard by the foreman.

East Indian Trini: if ah get curry, roti an’ dhal one more time ah goin’ to trow myself off dis buildin’."
French Creole Trini: if ah get ham an’ cheese sandwiches one more time, ah goin’ to trow myself off dis building.
African Trini: if ah get stew beef, macaroni pie and green fig one more time, ah goin’ to trow myself offa dis building like allayuh too.

The following day the East Indian Trini opens his lunch box, throws it to one side and jumps off the roof.
His companions of the day before do likewise after opening their lunch boxes.

An hour later police, ambulance crew, television crew, radio crew, reporters  and three distraught wives on the scene. The foreman relates to the policemen and the wives the conversation that he had heard the day before, between the three construction workers.

East Indian Trini wife: 'if only he had said sometin’ ah’d give him sometin’ else.’
French Creole Trini wife: ‘he only had ta say sometin’ ah would’ve given him different tings ta eat.’
African Trini wife: ‘doh allayuh look at me – he makes his own lunch!’

So shoot me!

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Lion in Winter

They don't look very happy do they?  Yes they are on Safari but in Sterling, Scotland. Snow hasn't hit Africa yet!  As temperatures dropped to -20 two nights ago, this was the satellite picture.

Everyone is complaining about how unprepared the councils are for this type of weather. They are running out of grit and salt. But these are the winters I remember as a child.  We just got out the shovels, dug ourselves out, put the chains on the tyres and got on with it.  We built snowmen, had snowball fights, went sledging and fell down on the black ice.

It seems people have turned into what my headmistress used to call 'milk sops'. This freeze has closed down more than 10,000 schools throughout the UK, people are staying at home, rail networks have come to a standstill and businesses have lost millions.

The worst thing that I saw was the following picture in the London Daily Mail.

What was this woman thinking????  That's a lake she's pushing her baby across.

The prettiest to date is this taken in a part of Britain that I know well: Cumbria.:

This winter is harsh in many countries but the UK is never, ever prepared for it. The weather in certain parts of Finland and Sweden make the weather in the UK look like spring.  But what do I know? I'm merely a British expat living on a tropical island where at the moment, it's pissing down!

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