True Silk

Dana Seetahal (SC) If the assassination of Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal is a wake up call to you.....then something wrong with you.

If a little boy being raped to death in a swimming pool at a birthday party wasn't a wake up call then, Dana's assassination can't wake you up to nothing. You in denial long time and using your moral panic over this latest killing to soothe your general inertia.

Or, you could be a member of the cocooned and protected upper classes here who only get hysterical when they realize crime doesn't just exist Behind D Bridge or along the distant edges of the East/West corridors in the Malabars and La Horquettas of their imaginations. And then, if you're a member of that just awakened group....it must suck to be you: having all those resources and still can't ward off death.

 

Seetahal's gruesome and shocking death is a marker. The act, along with Hamilton Holder/O'Connor Street, will become a part of a macabre and grisly list of checkpoints that heralded our descent while we sat shell shocked and panicked waiting for someone else....not us....to take back our power in this country. It will join markers like the Scott Drug Report; the 1990 Coup and the subsequent court ruling in favor of the Muslimeen; it will join the rise of the Muslimeen as a group that was consistently awarded Government contracts as part of every sitting government's secret crime initiative, whether PNM, UNC or PP; it will join the Crowne Plaza agreement; the illegal SoE; Section 34; EmailGate; Ish and Steve and a very long list of markers that all point to us descending in narco state fourth world hell.

You hear it on the lips of citizens all the time, "Here getting like Mexico", "Here getting like Colombia". We not getting folks, we reach. That is what Dana's death means. Final destination point. When a State Prosecutor is murdered in cold blood like that, in a country that is already awash in drugs, arms and human trafficking and has a corrupt and compromised police force and government...know that we reach. We not heading to hell anymore. It is here. It takes only one high profile murder like that to happen and go unsolved and you know we have arrived. Trinidad now has two: Selwyn Richardson in the 90s and Dana Seetahal in the early decades of the 21st century.

This is not to minimize or negate the murders, assassinations and senseless killings of so many thousands of citizens in the last decades. But, let's face it. As a member of the legal profession and the wealthier upper classes, a society assumes Ms Seetahal will be safer and more protected, for all manner of reasons. Her  assassination in an upscale residential/commercial neighborhood at midnight is meant to send a message. And I'd vouchsafe from the social media reactions yesterday: message received.

We woke up Sunday morning knowing in a very concrete way, maybe more so than before, that a message was being sent to the legal profession, journalists, columnists, activists, anyone bold enough to question the criminal and corruption status quo. Toe the blasted line...or this will be you.

In assassinating Dana, we are very aware that persons with strong Independent voices are under attack. Dana, to my knowledge, never verbally lashed out at any entity , political or otherwise. But, she was a rare thing, a lawyer, who took elitist, legal jargon and made it accessible to the layperson. I didn't know Dana personally, I knew her through her columns and media commentary. Dana helped me to understand this country's legal system, without me ever having to meet her or pay her a red cent. You can't downplay her contribution to this country just for the value of her column. Few lawyers or intellectuals here have been as lucid, accessible and relevant as she has been. That's what made Dana true silk. She had a fearsome legal mind, and instead of keeping it to herself and her clients for handsome fees, she made it available to all of us for the price of a newspaper...less if you read her articles online.

This Hit will be a success not just because Dana Seetahal has been silenced, but because the wider public will silence itself, retreat further indoors, put more useless security systems in place...not understanding that in growing quiet and retreating indoors, that's how we gave criminals control of this place. They have fed on and continue to feed on our fear and insecurities. Our very predictable response to violence, from enslavement to now has never been overt; it has been passive aggression. So we will lead trapped lives and break more laws in an unconscious lashing out at all that is wrong around us: more child abuse, more road rage, more petty crimes and more silences and looking the other way when corruption happens because suppose we end up like Dana?

I have no faith that the police going to really solve this crime. I aint mama guying myself. The first official response to Ms Seetahal's murder was the AG...at 2 am he had a lucid statement prepared of how friendly he and Dana were, and how in the latest scandal involving him, she was actually in his corner, and, "I sorry Dana dead, but lemme take a selfie..." It was an extreme pappyshow on his part. A clear attempt at image management in the midst of what was clearly a national crisis. Then sometime after 2pm the PM roused herself fully to issue a bland cut and paste response from the government. Nothing to offer the victim's family, or the shell shocked country consolation or hope. And then, by Sunday night, they were back in Media and PR mode. Whole television stations commandeered. Panels convened. Police press conferences, all over a background of National Security ads saying "Serious Crime is Down" despite the fact that we have 29 more murder in 2014 than we had in the corresponding period for 2013.

I expect that three or four bodies of victims of a murder will be discovered soon. Just like with the Selwyn Richardson murder. And whether we know it or not, those bodies would have belonged to Dana's killers. It's part of how here, a narco state, works. And the sooner we start noticing the patterns, the sooner we can either grow accustomed or fight back.

I've made the very conscious choice to keep fighting back. Dana's assassination had me contemplative and sober yesterday, because I recognized immediately the threat to free speech and independent thinking this is for journalists, columnists, activists and bloggers like myself. But I'm not going to stop questioning this place and writing about the things that upset me. Dana's Assassination is real....in fact, too real. We are in dangerous times. But silence and withdrawal has never been nor will ever be the cure for it.

This is it. This is it. This is it. She's been hit....and Trinidad spread out on a wall bawling for the country it didn't realize  it sat by and watched go.

#TrueSilk

#RIP

Sharma's Karma

MP Chandresh Sharma at a recent cycling event. If you are from South Trinidad, Pundit Chandresh Sharma isn't a new name to you. And you'd also be very familiar with the numerous stories that fly around about infidelities, outside children and even less than kosher behavior in public office.None of the rumors particularly recent.

But let's not dwell in the realm of rumors. Let's deal with the tangible story that the Guardian, of all newspapers, spilled all over our laps this week. You may well question my skepticism of the Guardian. With Dr Hamid Ghany, politics lecturer and close colleague of the People's Partnership, at the helm of their editorial decisions, it struck me as interesting that the newspaper would have scooped the Express on this particular story. Not that the Express didn't carry the story early enough....they just didn't have as much juicy details. And considering the flagrantly obvious modus operandi of the Guardian since Walk Out Wednesday 2013 that involves more govt friendly coverage, it intrigued that they had the better story.

But back to the main story. In 2010 it was woman power....remember that? Vaguely? I do. And ironically, or maybe justifiably, since Kamla's tenure has done nothing to improve the lot of women, it seems that women are going to be the downfall of her govt. Last week it was Glen Ramadharsingh, the Hamper Man, breaching civil aviation rules, threatening a CAL flight attendant and grabbing at her breast in the process of issuing his threats. His excuse, fatigue....yes Glen, all tired men, small or grown, does reach out for tot tots.

This week we have an equally lurid scandal downing Sharma. Sacha Singh, his now ex-

Sacha Singh

girlfriend, forced a confrontation between Sharma and a woman with whom he allegedly had a relationship and a child. The child is now 12 years old, and the implications are that he has not met his responsibilities where the child is concerned.

You have to pause for a moment and understand the shame this must be causing the orthodox Hindu community and UNC supporters. For the orthodox Hindu community, it is knowing that a pundit, indeed, a self-proclaimed Brahmin (imagine in the Caribbean Brahmin and caste are still used), fell from such a great height. Theirs is a community known for publicly espousing strong family values and kin ship ties. Note I said publicly.

For UNC supporters it is something far more base. You see, much of their chatter on their walls centers around attributing particular traits to persons of African descent. In fact, to give you a brief glossary of terms for a UNC wall, PNM is a word that has little to do with a political party and everything to do with race and bigotry. So it's not so much PNM policies that are ever discussed, but slurs that are tossed. So on a UNC wall when you see the word PNM it's normally used euphemistically to mean black, criminal, worthless, poor, uneducated etc.

Generally, UNC supporters, people who described themselves as openminded, inclusive and intolerant of racism and corruption in 2010, spend most of their days defining the Afro-descended community of Trinidad and Tobago as ghetto rats, prone to violence, poor, always seeking handouts, deadbeat dads etc. So imagine the irony, when a government minister, who claims to be of the highest possible social caste in Hindu society, turns out to be a hitter of women, a philanderer and possibly (if the child is his) a dead beat dad? It kinda turns the myth sold to us about the wholesomeness of the Hindu community on its head. It makes us realize that dysfunction doesn't belong to a race, it can happen in virtually any ethnic community and at all economic levels....because surely lack of money can't be the reason he isn't doing his duty? Right?

You see, MP Sharma, you hurt women, several women. The first of whom was your wife. I suspect if you have any daughters you have hurt and violated their trust as well. In not providing full disclosure to Ms Singh, you hurt her as well. And then, as a man, and alleged upstanding member of the community, you brought your office into disrepute by assaulting citizens of the country. It matters little if it is a public space or not. Hitting is a no no. And to not expect that one day one of these women would stand up to you, shows just how unintelligent you must be.

So when Sharma, in his resignation speech today talked about Karma, I smiled. Why? Because as a pundit he would know it only too well, and had he read his astrology charts, like Miss Cleo, he should have seen this coming.

Between Glen and Chan Kamla is now limping to elections 2015 like a cripple with a stone in he right shoe. It isn't pretty. And no matter how much she tries to make these firings and resignations put her in the light of a strong leader they don't. The constant abuse of women under her tenure tells me that she doesn't have a gender policy and that the men under her don't respect us. We have seen far too many young, articulate women bullied by this government: Asha Javeed, Denyse Renne, Anicka Gumbs Sandiford, the women of the Highway ReRoute Movement, and now, Ronelle Laidlow and Sacha Singh. In the midst of this, the feminists who loudly and proudly supported Kamla's 2010 bid for office are deafeningly mute. I'm almost tempted to purchase iPhones for them so at least Siri can be their voice. Mind you, if we only so much as criticize Kamla's wardrobe or lipstick choice, they have strong positions on that. But abuse and oppression of women? Not tonight. Let's move on.

How many more women have to be attacked by this government before we get rid of them?

#BeatOut2015 Can't Come Soon Enough!

 

What is a MATT?

One of the status updates that fuelled the public's response to claims of government interference at Guardian Media Limited. Editor in Chief Judy Raymond...giving it another try.

Today is the internal elections for the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago, the same organisation that was commandeered by Sheppard, Raymond, Hawkins, Mathur, Dowrich, Baldeosingh et al (i forgetting somebody in there I'm sure) months ago into telling the one version of GuardianGate.

Since Walkout Wednesday, as Sheila Rampersad has referred to it in news reports, the entire board has resigned. When you listen to the comments from members of the board, no clear picture emerges about what really went down that week. Sheppard, as then President of the organisation, has accepted full responsibility for what went down....but responsibility isn't the same thing as transparency and accountability. And I am afraid as a member of the public, who has to rely on the media to get it right, MATT's previous board is still very much in the wrong.

To the best of my knowledge to date there has been no explanation about who exactly took the decisions and gave the ok for those releases to have been sent out. Word is Ms Sheppard was on vacation leave when this entire thing began...so who called her into office? And when she "wrote" the press releases, or instructed someone to write the releases - see, we still don't know for certain who wrote the relaases..everything is hinted at and alluded to - was she writing it with her Guardian employee cap on or her MATT cap?

If it was the MATT cap (which is what it should have been), who was she getting her info from, and what cause exactly was she lobbying for? You see, at the height of the scandal that week the impression the entire country...in fact region...had was that press freedom was under threat. And the public didn't make the story up...it was brought to them via MATT press releases.

I have had several arguments with Guardian personnel about this issue, because I felt the then MATT board was extremely dishonest and disingenuous with the public and very irresponsible. The Board was quick to give us a particular side of a very salacious story...but not so quick at clearing up and ending the speculation.

Board members took a decision to run with a story, and then a day or two later the entire story they ran with and delivered to the public as factual was shot down as being false and misrepresenting the truth....and in all of it, the key players at the Guardian all happen to be MATT Board members.....from captain to cook!

In a serious country, with a serious media, the outgoing MATT Board would have had to submit a report upon leaving office. Instead, when questioned, Judy Raymond, at the heart of the shit-storm that was walk out Wednesday, directs queries to an editorial she wrote that answers none of the really salient questions about MATT's role in the entire fiasco.

And for me that is my bone of contention. It is obvious to anyone who looked on that MATT, in the hands of Guardian Media Limited personnel, was used as a tool to tell one side of a story. Then when the shit began to swirl too thick and too fast, it was just as quickly discarded and the MATT Board hoped we would forget it was also made up primarily of Guardian reporters and editors.

The question that again begged itself at the end of this fiasco is, What is MATT?

Sometime in 2011, when the issue with Ian Alleyne using live footage of a rape occurred, I had asked Ms Raymond what was MATT. You see, it isn't a union, because it cannot assist with wage negotiations, or even improving conditions at a media house. It isn't quite a watchdog group either, because it picks and chooses the media issues it speaks out on in random ways.

What I have been told is that MATT is an organisation of media workers; it doesn't have a lawyer; it runs workshops for its members; it attempts to protect press freedom.

The new MATT board that is hopefully going to be voted in today has to work on defining itself. Having a clear vision and mission; properly articulated for itself and the public. It needs to establish a code of ethics for its members and a code of conduct as well. While I know individual media houses determine the standard of the stories they publish, MATT should seek to become a body that is similar to the Law Association and Medical Practitioner's Association in terms of safeguarding its profession.

Because from where I stand, one of the prominent threats to a free and independent press at this moment are the employees themselves.

A (Pappy) Show of Force

handcuffs  

You couldnt miss the news on Sunday. The local police force, having learned quickly from this government, have become masters of their own promotion.

So, many of us woke up Sunday, or returned from places of worship, or the market to hear that East Port of Spain was under lock down. After nearly a month of killings - much of it lost in the news coverage because we were so busy following Warner's by-election Campaign , oh, sorry, I mean Chaguanas West's - Trinidad and Tobago began to notice that east of George Street was heating up again: Duncan and Nelson were at war and you could bank on hearing about at least two murders a day coming from that area. The news media, getting their information from the police, never ventured beyond the formulaic description of "gang-related" killing. We didn't know what were the names of the gangs, or if the gangs were even from East Port of Spain...but you see, that doesn't matter. This is Trinidad, where the myth is that all criminals are black and all black people are criminals. So the details don't matter, just the big picture.

Burkey Burke, one of the major captures this weekend...he was released a day later.

And it was the big picture the Police service was interested in on Sunday. Radio and Internet news headlines blared it out 90 Arrested in East Port of Spain Raid! Yuh see, they finally get their act together and doing something! Twelve arrested during the week and now, look, a whole 90 in one Sunday morning!

The 300 (officers) literally descended onto Nelson and Duncan, and according to residents, few saw a search warrant. They simply looked on while doors were kicked down, possessions were strewn about and their loveds ones were carted away. Many on just suspicion...no evidence. Which is why today, just two days after the raid, 59 of the 90 arrested are back out on the streets. And all 12 men held for the murders last week are back home as well.

Kamla announcing SoEThese past 2 days have been like SoE 2011 deja vu for anyone who happens to be black, from an urban community, and possibly from a single parent home...worse yet if you have dread locks. It is the second time in two years we have had a spike in the murder  toll lead to either a full fledged State of Emergency, or similar conditions. In 2011 for 3.5 months we were treated to nightly images of mostly young black men from urban and semi-urban communities being tossed into the back of police vehicles and carted off on suspicion of being criminals. Given the features and traits these folks had in common you got a good sound message of precisely what this Government and the wider society thinks is a criminal. You had the AG and Minister of National Security on television further endorsing the stereotypes too. And at the end of it all, 8000 victims of the SoE were released and sent back to their homes. No violent crime solved, no white collar crime solved. Big and small fish swimming normal normal.

This time around there was no official announcement of emergency conditions, no Kamla on tv nervously announcing from her kitchen that we under a limited state of nonsense, but the features were all there.

This weekend's raid followed several months of the Minister of Housing, Roodal Moonila,l constantly alluding to residents of national housing units as criminals...specifically national housing units in black urban areas. Again...stereotypes from a Government Minister. You'd swear the Equal Opportunities Commission sleeping.

Moonilal has claimed that as Minister of Housing, with oversight for the Home Development Corporation, he is a landlord to thugs and criminals...which is why he needs his luxury Range Rover tricked out like he is the Commissioner of Police.

Then this week he made the comment that he was cracking down on migrants from Port of Spain to Central and South Trinidad. Anyone reading that article would be forgiven for thinking there was zoning in Trinidad and Tobago and that people from Port of Spain aren't allowed to move and live in other areas. Moonilal should give up the Range Rover and get a cork hat, khaki suit and horse.....get his Boer act over and done with.

Aware that several arms of the state - Police and Govt - now looking patently bad, there are rumblings from the police that they may re-arrest some of the released persons. Almost as if Sunday was a dry-run and later this week will be the real deal. Let's hope they have evidence this time and not a "feeling".

The Prime Minister is returning to East Port of Spain on Wednesday. She may dissolve into tears again. Following her loss in popularity, coupled with this spike in crime, she must feel the need to do some serious PR and cajoling.

The irony is that every one is patently aware of why East Port of Spain is this way....a combination of neglect and total disrespect from regime after regime. But many of us don't care. Once the crime not affecting us, is ok.

But briefly pandering to and then largely ignoring these areas has become a game...and if you were keeping score this weekend you'd realise that everyone is tied at a big fat zero.....except the ones that were murdered.

 

Full Dotish Mode in Overdrive!

Dr Sheila Rampersad, Ms Denyse Renne and Ms Anicka Gumbs-Sandiford respond!

Press statement re walkout of three journalists from the T&T Guardian July 15, 2013

When we staged a Wednesday (July 10) walkout from the T&T Guardian newspaper, we were and remain clear on the issue: there was a significant threat to press freedom; that threat wore the garments of political interference and its dimensions included, importantly, the sidelining of the Editor in Chief (EIC), Ms Judy Raymond. We spoke publicly on the day of the walkout and Dr Sheila Rampersad spoke again on I95.5FM the morning after (Thursday July 11). A comment was solicited by and given to the Trinidad Express newspaper on the same day (Thursday July 11). We have made no other public comment. Following Ms Raymond’s statement published in the T&T Guardian on July 15, we have decided to break our dignified silence in the interest of our professional credibility and personal well-being. The confusion that has accumulated around this issue was not our creation and we wish to register our resentment that we have to again unravel the obfuscation and offer clarity to the public served by our vocation. Critical to understanding the events leading up to the Wednesday walkout is a meeting that occurred on Tuesday (July 9) at 2.15 pm. That meeting was called following a day and a half of uncertainty, rumours and instability in the Guardian newsroom. It was called by Managing Director (MD) Gabriel Faria, jointly chaired by the EIC, and included daily editor Irving Ward, Photographic Editor Alva Viarruel, Features Editor Franka Philip, Business Editor Anthony Wilson, News Editor Robert Alonzo, Sports Editor Valentino Singh, head of the sub-editors Cordia Gibbs and Dr Sheila Rampersad. At that meeting, we were told by the MD and EIC that they had both returned from a meeting at the ANSA McAl head office, that there were many concerns with what was perceived by the Guardian Media Ltd’s board of directors to be our biased news reporting, and that things had come to a head. Two examples were mentioned: the Sunday Guardian lead of July 7 which carried the headline “Millions Leaving T&T” and the T&T Guardian’s lead of July 4 under the headline “Rowley Escapes.” In connection with the first, we asked, among other things, whether there had been complaints by the subject/s of the news report. The MD said no. The “Rowley Escapes” headline and stories, however, generated much debate between editors, who defended our representation of the story, and the MD. Flipping between pages one and three of that day’s paper, the MD said, essentially, that our coverage of the story was biased in favour of Dr Keith Rowley and Mr Colm Imbert and against the Privileges Committee. The MD said the board of directors was unanimous in that view. The MD said the EIC had to go “offline.” When asked how we were to proceed in an environment in which the EIC was “offline” for vague, undetermined reasons, and with increasing instability in the newsroom that would only be heightened by the EIC’s physical absence, we were told by the MD to tone the paper down. We were told the EIC going “offline” to work on an editorial policy and the toning down of the paper in the interim comprised the best option available following the MD’s and the EIC’s meeting at head office. Someone asked what the other options were. There was silence, then the EIC said, “It’s either this or we both go.” “We” referred to the MD and the EIC. Someone’s name was mentioned as a potential replacement for the MD. One editor asked whether we could meet with the GML board to dialogue; the MD said no, that was out of the question. Later on Tuesday, editors were told by the EIC that someone was being sought to sit-in on the afternoon editors’ meeting which determined the news content of the next day’s paper. One person was approached by the MD; that individual requested time to consider. A short time later, another person was approached by the MD; that person sat-in on Tuesday afternoon’s editors’ meeting. Uncertainty grew on Tuesday night during which Dr Rampersad and Ms Raymond exchanged a number of text messages relevant to fluid developments. The idea of a walkout, floating around since Monday, took shape on Tuesday night. On walkout Wednesday, some editors arrived at the office with that idea (walkout), one aspect of which was to confer before walking out. The conference occurred. At that conference, two editors said they were unable to walk immediately because of pressing financial commitments. One of those two expressed deep solidarity with us, saying he was walking out in spirit but was sorry he was unable to do so in body. At no time did either of the two cite “tomorrow” as their reason for not walking out. Exceptions to the walkout, therefore, were on the grounds of burdensome financial responsibilities and legal counsel. Dr Rampersad’s mind was made up. At the conference, the EIC suggested waiting until “tomorrow”, adding an hour or so later that her lawyer had advised her not to do anything drastic until she spoke to him. The EIC later left to see a lawyer on Duke Street. Notwithstanding this, Ms Raymond, on walkout Wednesday at 2.58 pm, texted Dr Rampersad saying, “I need to get out of here. Will be following you in matter of hours. Talk later. Thx for everything xx.” After the walkout, at 5.56 pm Wednesday July 10, the EIC texted Dr Rampersad following Dr Rampersad’s immediate post-walkout interview on I95.5FM: “Heard interview. Great”. At 6.25 pm on the same day, the EIC texted Dr Rampersad: “Now drafting resignation letter to show to lawyer”. Following Dr Rampersad’s interview in I95.5FM on the morning of Thursday July 11 (the morning after the walkout), the EIC texted Dr Rampersad at 6.26 pm: “you talk like a boss this morning”. Investigative reporters Ms Anika Gumbs-Sandiford and Ms Denyse Renne affirm that, contrary to the EIC’s statement in today’s Guardian, they were at no time asked, told or advised by the EIC to defer their resignations for 24 hours. Ms Gumbs-Sandiford confirms that the EIC was in possession of her resignation letter since 1.44am on Wednesday July 10. Her resignation letter was e-mailed to the EIC with a note reading: "Just informing you that this will be forwarded to General Manager Mr Douglas Wilson at 9am. Talk to you soon."

There was no response advising Ms Gumbs-Sandiford to defer her resignation. In fact, Ms Ramond responded at 7.30am via e-mail: "Thanks for letting me know, Anika. I am so sorry it has to come to this. Thanks for all your great work. All the best."

At 8.20 am, having already agreed on the walkout the night before, the EIC texted Dr Rampersad: “Cd you call Anika & ask her not to send letter yet? GF on way to talk to Norman now, still hoping to save the day. If not, we’ll go together after that”. Dr Rampersad responded: “It’s over.” Ms Raymond acknowledged that with a sad-face emoticon. It is not an easy decision to share these items of correspondence but we feel certain we have no choice in the defence of our credibility and the truth. These messages and other correspondence quoted here, along with many more, remain in our possession as corroboration. Between 8.20 am and sometime after 3 pm on walkout Wednesday, Ms Raymond had a surfeit of opportunities to dissuade Ms Gumbs-Sandiford and Ms Renne from walking out. Ms Raymond used none of these opportunities. Ms Renne confirms that between 10 am and 11 am on walkout Wednesday, she met with Ms Raymond and told her: I have your back; I will be walking out with you. Ms Raymond’s response was, “Ok then, let me go and pack.”

Around 3pm, Ms Gumbs-Sandiford met with the EIC and informed her that she had submitted her resignation letter. She asked of the EIC whether the EIC had submitted hers. The EIC replied, "I am just waiting to speak to my attorney. I will submit it after."

Ms Gumbs-Sandiford and Ms Renne confirm that they resigned in support of Ms Raymond knowing that if Ms Raymond went "offline," very soon they would have also been sent “offline” given the number of protests that followed the investigative stories they wrote.

Our silence between Thursday morning and today is not to be interpreted as stupidity, cowardice, or belief in the convoluted spin generated by GML. We are clear that the issue at the start of last week was interference in the editorial processes and products and the suspension and/or potential dismissal of Ms Raymond. After our act of courage on Wednesday, the question became voluntary resignation by the EIC. Our walkout enabled that shift. That there was dialogue between the EIC and management from Thursday July 11 was not inevitable; our walkout enabled that change. Contrary to reports from the Media Association of T&T, none of the three journalists who walked out is back on the job. None of us was contacted before or after the MATT news release was issued. We remain unshakeable in our conviction that we took an honourable and principled position; we have no regrets. The public will adjudicate on whether the confusion of the past few days can be accurately termed “misinformation,” “massive miscommunication” or, quite simply, lies.

Respectfully, Dr Sheila Rampersad Ms Anika Gumbs-Sandiford Ms Denyse Renne

The three reporters wrote this in response to Editor in Chief, Judy Raymond's article today.

The MATT Who Cried Wolf

Editor in Chief Judy Raymond...giving it another try. Soooooo...all that fuss at GuardianGate....you know....about Government interference at the newspaper? And about Managing Directors and editors being fired and then reinstated and there being an impasse in the newsroom and reporters walking off the job etc etc.....it was a hoax.

Yes folks, we're being told today by Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago, whose President is Suzanne Sheppard and Vice President is Judy Raymond....that ALLLLLL those press releases they sent out earlier in the week to keep us abreast of the situation in the Guardian newsroom....well they were mistaken.

So MATT, once again, is a tool, being absolutely abused by its executive. Nothing to see here folks...move along.

Take a read:

The Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) seeks to correct previous erroneous information released specifically about the alleged resignation of the Managing Director of Guardian Media Gabriel Faria. Further investigation into the matter has revealed that Managing Director Gabriel Faria and Sector Head David Inglefield have not resigned as previously reported by MATT.  The impasse between the publishers of the Trinidad and Sunday Guardian newspapers and senior journalists has been reportedly resolved following discussions between the two parties. Apart from the resignation of Public Affairs Editor Dr Sheila Rampersad, the newsroom is now functioning as before with Judy Raymond as Editor in Chief. Investigative reporters Anika Gumbs and Denyse Renne, who were initially reported as having resigned, are on the job. Managing Director Gabriel Faria and Sector Head David Inglefield have not resigned as previously reported President of the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) Suzanne Sheppard, who is the Business News Editor at the Trinidad Guardian, described the events of the last 24 hours which led to speculation of political pressure on journalists at the daily newspaper as case of a “massive miscommunication” between the publishers and journalists. Sheppard said she is convinced, following discussions with senior executives, that the events of the past few days when Judy Raymond was asked to go temporarily “off-line” to review editorial standards in the newsroom had “nothing to do with political intervention”. Sheppard said freedom of press issues were raised only due to an unfortunate combination of events that will be revealed in a press conference on Monday.  Saturday 13th July 8.00am

And while you pick your jaw up off the floor...and realise that the MATT who cried wolf really just saw a canary....keep in mind these cryptic words from Judy Raymond, Guardian's EIC last evening.."Don't believe everything you read..."

Full Dotish....Full Dotisher....And More Full Dotish!

Slap in the Face...

One of the status updates that fuelled the public's response to claims of government interference at Guardian Media Limited. Editor in Chief Judy Raymond...giving it another try.

If YOU were the Editor in Chief of a newspaper whose motto was "The Guardian of Democracy" and it was reported by members of your staff and the media association you belong to that there was evidence of government interference at your newspaper.....would that be grounds to resign?

And if that isn't grounds for resigning, what would be?

Today Trinbagonians pretty pissed off with the Guardian newspaper....why? Because they feel they have been taken for a ride by the company's Board and its Editor in Chief. They feel they have been pissed on from a great height and slapped in the face by the antics of the board and the editorial team at the newspaper.

They are also coming to terms with the bald truth that the newspaper isn't about good independent journalism, so much as it is obsessed with its bottom line....and no amount of soft soaping from the Editor in Chief, or even from her Business News Editor, Suzanne Shepherd is going to make the reading public feel good anytime soon.

In fact, both yesterday and today you had a Guardian whose content was very much toned down. No stories about government malfeasance or any other kind of misbehaviour at all in its pages. It would be easy to mistake The Guardian's political stories for the Ministry of Communications' FaceBook page now.

In the meantime, Denyse Renne and Anicka Gumbs-Sandiford who have been doing a fairly reliable job of unearthing and revealing government misbehaviour are resigned...and I can only offer a pray that the Express grabs them up so that their investigative skills aren't wasted and the public can have some level of consolation over this absolute fiasco.

There is a lot I could say about the actions or in-action of Ms Raymond and Ms Shepherd. There is talk that this is being done for the sake of the staff. Some members of staff that I have spoken to scoff loudly at that notion.

But what I will say is this...you have severely disappointed the public. You have been less than forthcoming with them about the true details of this fiasco and you have led them on. You owe the population an explanation. And if you have been guilty of poor information dissemination....an apology and your resignations from MATT's board. Because nobody going to take MATT seriously after this debacle with the two of you serving as President and Vice President. Can you really continue to represent the interests of journalists after this?

Suzanne Shepherd, on Wednesday 10th at 1:42 pm posted this: The most vile attack imaginable on freedom of the press now in progress and I am in the midst of it.

The public didn't imagine this crisis...they didn't fuel it themselves....they didn't ask for it.

As President and Vice President of MATT both of you have a huge responsibility here for the information fed to the Trinbagonian public, the region and the world.

No one is going to forget your behaviour this week, or what it means for our confidence in media and press freedom.

In the meantime, I will get my news from Jamal Mohammed...at least I know his propaganda is solid and undiluted.

Democratic institutions crumbling around us at Full Dotish Speeds!!!

F@$K The Presses!

Gabriel Faria (left) with other members of the Guardian Media Ltd Board. We're down to one functioning daily newspaper in Trinidad and Tobago...a country that used to have 3.

Press and Media have taken a massive hit under this government in multiple ways. If we don't have journalists selling themselves off to the government and handling their PR, then we have Government Ministers and state figures threatening the media.

In just 3 short years we have seen Police officers raid newspaper offices twice!

We've seen Jack Warner, then Minister of National Security, threaten the safety of both Asha Javeed and Denyse Renne on state television using state resources. Yet today, that same Warner is being touted as a saviour by people too greedy to know true tyranny when they rubbing up against it.

Judy Raymond

Yesterday's meltdown at the Guardian, in which several writers walked off, and it is alleged the Editor in Chief has been reassigned,  is simply more evidence, to add to the ever growin pileg, that under Kamla's Small Goal side we have no real democracy and the dictatorship isn't creeping...it is already here. This isn't the first time since getting into office that people have had to leave media houses. Power 102 experienced mass firings in 2011. Whole programmes were cancelled and we even had political personalities replacing radio hosts.

And even with this...people still defend the party. Well aware that we need an independently functioning media to have a functioning democracy, they still support the antics of this government and its collaborators.

What the Guardian Meltdown should teach us though is how deep into government's pockets Big Business is.....clearly the folks at ANSA McAl are so dependent on Kamla's Government for handouts that independence in journalism and even loss of newspaper sales are a small price to pay, in comparison to losing Government patronage.....and we still think Beetham, Laventille and Sealots are the leeches in society?

Clearly the Guardian of Democracy tagline is just a front. Those of us old enough will know that this isn't the first time there have been meltdowns at the Guardian under a UNC Government. In 1997 editor Jones P Madeira led a walkout of several journalists from the Guardian. They eventually went on to form the short-lived Independent.

Guardian Managing Director Gabriel Faria seems to be talking out of several sides of his mouth. In one instance you are hearing he was fired, then last night you saw him speaking in his capacity as Managing Director saying everything was fine, the Guardian was still committed to the highest levels of journalism and that their two top investigative journalists had resigned because they were refusing to do more work and harder work.

Now therein lies the rub. According to Gabriel Fara, Guardian Media Ltd's idea of fair and responsible journalism is to have Sampson Nanton question just the Managing Director about a staff walk out. Not one member of the Guardian's staff was interviewed. Balance in we pweffen!

suruj in orange shirtAccording to Faria, the newspaper wanted its journalists to do more follow up and due diligence with its reporting. Yet today we have a story from Yvonne Webb  that indicates Suruj Rambachan has confirmation from Google that the emails brought to Parliament by Dr Rowley are fake.  Yvonne Webb fails however to do a few things:

1. She fails to ask Rambachan why someone with a HOTMAIL address wrote to GOOGLE?

2. She failed to ask to see the letter.

So, essentially we have yet another piece of writing, masquerading as journalism in the Guardian that only gives you one side of the story.

If lopsided journalism is the hard work people were running from, then I wish Misses Renne and Gumbs-Sandiford godspeed. These two reporters buss more mark on this government than any tsunami Warner has promised and it's sad they have to go through this kind of upheaval.

Im hearing that more people will join the three resignations that have already been handed in.

But for many workers at the Guardian is business as usual.....and not a word in the newspaper today really telling you about what has happened. The cover-up continues.

I really hope right thinking citizens hit ANSA MCAL where it will hurt.....his pocket. But I know how the thought of giving up Stag or missing CNC3 or 95.1 programming might frighten some!

Big Business and Big Government hug up tight tight in bed together...and the rest of we supporting them Full Dotish!

What Khadija Could Mean

khadijah  

I have been saying to my friends more than a week now that Jack Warner isn't going to win Chaguanas West, nor is he likely to even run for the seat as an Independent because politically, for both him and the UNC, it doesnt make sense. If Warner runs in this by-election it will be because of pride....not because it makes good political sense.

Kamla Racist statement At Pepper Junction

The PM, in between delivering comments that remind us of Paula Deen : " The PNM has chosen one of your children to come up against us. I ask you to show him the error of his ways and vote for UNC." just announced Khadija Ameen as the UNC's Chaguanas West candidate for the by-election.

I think lots of folks are hoping Warner will run as an Independent....but I doubt it.

Warner running as an Independent means UNC votes are split even further down the line. No PNM or marginal voter will stain their fingers in all good conscience...rather it will be die-hard UNC supporters willing to ignore all the corruption allegations in exchange for hand-outs and box drains.

Warner running effectively pits him against the party he finances and helped to bring to govt. Warner running against Ameen, puts him out of the UNC.....that would be playing into the hands of his detractors.....so, unless Warner has decided that he going to bring this government down....and that seems counterproductive to me, because it could lead to his undoing....I suspect that he will gran dcharge a little and then bow out of the by-election race.

Him bowing out does several things: it allows the UNC to be rid of the corruption albatross that is Warner, and to put a fresh face in Parliament that has no large corruption allegations attached to it. What folks will say about Ameen is that the is very inept at her job at the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation. We've all seen the video circulating of her asleep at a Regional Corporation meeting.

They might also tell you that her relationship with Warner goes back a long time....since her Guild Politics and LGE councillor days...So if Ameen wins the seat.....it's almost as if Warner won it....almost.

What I'm not sure about though is what will Jack do? Will he go quietly into that good night? And if so, is that a good thing or bad?

What I do know is this...UNC cant afford to lose this seat. The fight going to be messy and nasty....Kamla has fired her first "We Vs Them" Salvo and it is openly prejudiced. It's Calcutta Ship all over again.

If Warner runs....he has cut ties with the party.

If he doesnt....this is all part of a larger strategy to clean up the party's name.

Prepare for a month of Full Dotish!

 

Himself Still Investigating Himself

Kamla announcing SoEDespite the AG's bold and brave response to Opposition Leader Rowley a few weeks ago in Parliament that the emails were fraudulent and he (and his govt) have nothing to hide; all the actions thus far of both him and his Prime Minister are forcing me to draw a different conclusion: like people have cocoa in the sun? In the aftermath of Rowley's allegations, instead of the government listening to the requests of

DCP Mervyn Richardson

the population and calling for an independent investigation and stepping aside, they have instead asked Mervyn Richardson, the man responsible for investigating Assassination Gate, who is on contract, to spearhead another investigation involving Kamla and the AG.

And if it wasn't bad enough that we have a police officer with questionable investigative skills leading the investigation, the AG and the PM are now trying to influence and thwart the investigation at every stage of the game.

Thus far we have had:

The AG.....

1. Richardson seizing Rowley's compute: I can only assume it is to ascertain that Rowley didn't create the typed transcripts himself. Yet he didn't seize the printer to examine it to see if the documents were printed from it...because you do know printers have their own identification marks.....Richardson baffles me, he truly does. Mind you he hasn't seized any computers from the AG, the PM, Suruj Rambachan of Gary Griffith just yet.

2. The AG paying two local IT persons to produce reports to say the typed e-mails are fake.

3. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, through her lawyer Israel Khan hiring a foreign IT Expert, Jon Berryhill, to say that the documents presented in Parliament by Rowley are fake. Mind you in his report he does say: “The authenticity of an e-mail message requires corroborating information from multiple sources. “If the authenticity of an e-mail is in question, a single-source printed copy would never be sufficient to resolve the issue,” it added. “The analysis of printed e-mails in the absence of other data can never prove its authenticity.”

4. The PM refusing to have her data devices examined unless she and her attorney are present. So much for a free and fair investigation by the police.

So, unless Persad-Bissessar and Ramlogan provided a digital archive for Berryhill to sift through how on earth can we know what is or isn't authentic?

The saddening thing is the government will continue to interfere with this investigation and try to influence its course. We have had Anand and Kamla bring in local and foreign experts. What next? A keynote address from a Steve Jobs hologram to say Apple thinks the e-mails are fake based on typed transcripts?

And while they are busy trying to skewer this investigation they are also fighting the Integrity Commission on another front. And making much of the meeting between Rowley and Gordon. If it's that problematic then replace the chairperson, Kamla...but stop tampering with the investigation. And stop investigating yourself so publicly. It isn't solving anything for anyone.

To the members of the media, I truly hope you ask Mr Berryhill the right questions:

1. What were his instructions? To form a view on the authenticity of the document handed to him or the method to authenticate the existence of the emails?

2. If his job was just to examine the printed documents, then what is the point of his report and investigation?

3. If he had access to digital files, why was he given access and not the police who are investigating?

4. Did he access reports from Google, Microsoft and TSTT, and if so, through what channels.

5. Why are the PM and AG investigating Emailgate themselves? Are they attempting to pervert the course of justice and influence the outcome of this case?

See Kamla and Anand, your hope is that the public either too stupid or too tribally  loyal to ask the right questions. But we see this for what it is....whether or not those emails are true....you and your government are acting very guilty.

herbert volneyPity the Law Association, DPP, President and Chief Justice wont step forward and tell the Silkened AG and PM to cease and desist. Because it seems that the silkened twins are attempting to pervert the course of justice and no one is pulling them up. Pity too that Herbert Volney of all people seems to be the most sensible voice in this enter fiasco.

Step Down and Step Aside AG and PM....or else I might start to think you've got something to hide.

Like we heading to Perversion of Justice in Full Dotish Mode!

Distract and Discredit

Ken GordonEver since the last Motion of No Confidence wherein Keith Rowley revealed the possibility of an exchange of emails between 3 senior government officials and their favourite lap dog, Kamla's Fete Match Side has been in Distract and Discredit Mode.....going at Full Dotish pace too.

The discovery that Rowley and chairman of the IC had a twenty-minute meeting at Gordon's private home to discuss whether or not Emailgate was a matter before the IC has played itself nicely into the government's hands as yet another tool to discredit the validity of the alleged e-mails; and now, to discredit the IC and perhaps avoid going the route of an independent investigation. And while they aren't in the wrong to question the occurrence of the meeting, the irony of this government querying private meetings is too rich. And it's so obvious that their tactic will now be to use this meeting to avoid what the public and Opposition has been clamouring for: an independent investigation.

It didn't take the AG more than a hot minute after Roodal Moonilal's announcement of the

The AG.....

meeting in Parliament - complete with side (and snide) comments from the PM egging him on - to imply that Chairman Ken Gordon was compromised. And if you have followed the fate of this Integrity Commission it is always mired in mud and controversy....from inception. The Government knows well that the country has little faith in it; and further that UNC supporters will use any excuse to blame and label anyone and anything as PNM.....and so, a private meeting about a public matter between the Opposition Leader and the chairman of the IC takes on a particularly questionable face.

rowleyYou would think that seasoned men and politicians like Rowley and Gordon would be incapable of what is obviously a very rookie move. You'd also think that Rowley, fully aware of how the last Prime Minister shot himself in the foot would avoid moves that so remind one of Patrick Manning for its abject carelessness. You would think too that Rowley by now would realise that because he is a very black Tobagonian (yes, I said it...there is a lot of colour prejudice involved here where Rowley is concerned) he is always held up to a different and much higher standard by both PNM supporters and the rest of the country.

It is unfortunate, but that is the truth of it.

Kamla announcing SoEYou would also think too that UNC supporters and Government ministers would have less to say about public meetings being kept in private homes when:

1. Cabinet Meetings are held in the Prime Ministers home regularly.

2. The last emergency meeting to determine what happened to a Government Minister and MP was held in the Prime Minister's home.

3. The State of Emergency was announced from the PM's private home.

4. Budgets announcements are made from UNC political rally stages

5. The Prime Minister - a public official - works from her home and keeps sensitive and important public material there.

For the last 3 years protocol and good sense have been tossed to the wind, and because there is no Constitutional law that prevents it, the Prime Minister has gotten away with administrative murder.

Mind you, Gordon and the IC ensured there was an aide memoire that recorded the meeting. I wonder if we ever get minutes of Kamla's private Cabinet meetings?

The AG's hounding of the Integrity Commission's Chairman today will have an impact on Emailgate. Two days ago the AG announced rather loudly that he was recusing himself from Emailgate. He was handing over the investigation to the Central Authority, a body that falls  within his Office of the Attorney General and headed by Netram Kowlessar. The AG has pointed out that the Central Authority is independent. My concern now is how independent is Kowlessar: a man who first shot to public attention as a member of the Anti-Kidnapping Squad in 2002, thereafter became a defence attorney and after a handful of cases was appointed by this regime as the head of the Central Authority. I'm concerned. I hope in his case it was merit and not cronyism that got him the job.

Having now raised questions about the integrity of Ken Gordon and the independence of the Commission itself, I feel quite certain that any call for an independent investigation into Emailgate by an Integrity Commission will be shot down by the AG and his government using this meeting as the reason.

I continue to maintain that the only thing that will lay Emailgate to rest is an independent investigation that allows us to get at DIGITAL files......but in the meantime we do have a by-election in Chaguanas West to entertain and distract us, not so?

 

De Vice Cyah Done!

Himself Investigating Himself

The AG..... I've been watching Emailgate evolve, because I really wanted to see if the PP Govt would actually launch an independent unhindered investigation....and Kamla and her Small Goal squad haven't let me down.

The PM at a press briefing. Photo courtesy Jyoti Communications website.

Today's Express story should get you angry...because we have yet another instant of the Attorney General interfering with an investigation.

The AG says the emails are fake.Now In a serious and sensible country lemme tell you what would have happened.

1. The investigation would have been suruj in orange shirthanded over to an independent body.  If not, it certainly wouldnt be put into the hands of a police officer whose credibility is already compromised in the public's mind and who is on contract with the Police Service and therefore dependent on the good will of others for his job to be renewed.

2. The investigators would be attempting to determine if the PHYSICAL TRANSCRIPTS that Dr Rowley produced actually have DIGITAL versions. Not the bullshit we have been getting over the past weeks of people looking at type written pages to determine whether they are real or not. There is NO WAY you can determine if the e-mails are real from typed pages. Instead, what is needed is an expert in Forensic IT, someone who can tests the computers/cellphones/ipads etc of the various parties involved to find the corresponding digital files. Instead we have Kamla, Anand and Suruj making asses of candidate_keith-rowley-lgthrough Richardson. To date the only computer he has seized is Rowley's. Is Rowley's name on the e-mail thread? Then why was his computer seized? Why haven't the computing devices of the folks named in the email threads seized? Why are typed pages the only thing being examined by Richardson?

Is Richardson trying to make this investigation fail?

3. If I am to believe everything written in that Express story today, then it seems too that the AG is spearheading this investigation. The Office of the AG doesn't have the power to investigate an alleged crime...that is the DPP's job, yet here we have a case of Ramlogan not only providing a statement, but:

1. Drawing a conclusion in his official statement, while a matter is still under investigation.

2. Hiring his own "experts" and paying them to produce a report that says typed pages are not the real emails. Is a court case going on that we don't know about? Why are experts being paid to give evidence? Why are experts being hired to examine typed pages?

How can a public official who is under investigation be leading and influencing the investigation? Is that legal? Is it ethical?

Why is it that the Police investigation refuses to do the first practical thing and seize the computing devices of the persons named on the email thread and have the email archives for these people retrieved and checked?

In short....why is the Investigation being done Ass Backwards?

Is it that the Government wants it to fail?

Is it that Kamla and Co have something to hide?

anthony carmonaWhy wont President Anthony Carmona appoint a new board at Ken Gordonthe Integrity Commission so the public has the chance to call for an independent investigation? The powers we think he have disappear?

Full steam ahead in Full Dotish Mode!

Happy Sunday!.

Firetrucking Nonsense!

kamla and jackI remember the first time I paid attention to "firetruck" in the news papers. The Express/Guardian/Independent/Express/Guardian columnist BC Pires had used it. It was his euphemistic way of saying fuck in the newspaper. Firetruck, firetrucking and firetrucked!

Almost 20 years later BC Pire's firetrucked is so apt I can't even smile.

In our latest Adeventures of Squandermania with Kamla we've got a damaged firetruck that cost $6m to wreck.

Yes, you read that correct. A fire tender....and get used to the word tender because it is going to feature regularly today....fell off the side of the road in Blanchisseuse, Trinidad...an area known for its narrow, poor roads. It went down the side of a cliff by a couple hundred metres on November 17th, 2012 and by November 19th had been removed to the tune of $6.8m.

Now let's add in the rest of the salient details. The Minister of National Security under whose remit the Fire Services fall was then Jack Warner...remember him?

The company that did the lifting and wrecking was Junior Sammy Multilift.

If the name Junior Sammy sounds familiar to you it might be because the company gets contracts to pave roads and highways here all the time...except in Blanchisseuse obviously...or because Junior Sammy was once held for questioning in a murder.

Folks are rightfully upset about the obscene amount of money used to wreck a fire truck....but let me give you the other reasons you should be upset.

This is a contract that cost more than a million dollars. According to our laws any contract over $1m has to be put out to tender. So in short the job to wreck the fire tender had to be tendered for offers. Junior Sammy isn't the only company in Trinidad that does this kind of wrecking...and the Trinidad Guardian, who broke this story, quoted at least 2 businesses that said the job could have been done for between $25,000 - $50,000.

So ask yourself this...if the truck fell off the side of the road on November 17th....did the government have the opportunity to get 3 quotes in time to do the job on November 19th?

And since we heard the original quotation was for $10m exactly when in that 2-day period did Cabinet meet to review the $10m quote from 1 company and then review the $6.8m quote from the same company? Or was a snap decision made to select a company to do a job and the assurance given that you will do the job and we pay you $10m and get everything approved afterwards?

Are you beginning to see that a job that cost us tax paying folk $6.8m never went through the proper procedure?

To thicken the sauce you have Fire Services submitting a report on November 29th giving the recommendation to not salvage the fire truck, but in fact abandon it and purchasing a new fire truck that would have cost us significantly less than $6.8m.

And despite this recommendation from the Fire Services, Cabinet still came after November 29th and gave the approval for $6.8m to wreck a firetruck.

COP JackSo let me ask some more questions.

Who in the Ministry of National Security took the decision to wreck the fire truck without the initial assessment report from Fire Services?

Who gave the go ahead to wreck and salvage by November 19th?

Was a tender for the job put out for wrecking and salvaging or was one company...Junior Sammy Multilifts....selected for the job?

If a company was selected without a tender process who did that selection and on what grounds?

Did the selector not find the $10m wrecking and salvage fee astronomical? If not, why not?

Why was the recommendation of the Fire Services to not salvage the fire truck ignored by Cabinet when they had to approve payment for the wreck and salvage?

Which Cabinet members were a part of the approval? All? Some? One?

Did the Cabinet members not raise red flags about the tender process, the recommendation by the Fire services and the price?

If this is what we paid to wreck 1 fire truck....what else is going on that we don't know about?

How many other processes are being abused and ignored while Kamla and her Small Goal  Side keeps wasting our tax dollars?

Ken GordonThe hard part about all of this firetrucking nonsense is anthony carmonathat ideally the Integrity Commission should be investigating this because all the signs point to a breach in public life...but the new President, whose powers we don't know he has, isn't using his powers that we know he has to appoint a new Integrity Commission....so we could cuss and rant and rave as much as we want about this firetrucking nonsense.....but not one firetruck will be done because the President's inaction has immobilised us. We are no longer in a position to even pretend we give a firetruck about the corruption because there isn't the masquerade of the IC to hide behind.

So now that we have a clear as day story showing that Cabinet members and public servants misbehaved in public life and an entire Cabinet got together to approve the misbehaviour.....what are we going to do?

We Firetrucked and Loving It!firetruck (1)

 

#Keep Calm and Change Yuh Password!

The PM at a press briefing. Photo courtesy Jyoti Communications website. Three days ago Keith Rowley had my jaw on the floor....three days later it's still there, but for entirely different reasons.

By now you've heard about EmailGate, or as I like to call it: Keep Calm and Change Yuh PassWord!

Opposition Leader Keith Rowley lead another No Confidence Motion against Kamla and her Motley Crew, this time levelling allegations that were nothing short of criminal against the Prime Minister, the AG, the Minister of Labour, Works, The Kitchen, The Kitchen Sink Toute Bagai and everyone's favourite lapdog and baggage carrier, Gallery Griffith.

candidate_keith-rowley-lgAccording to 30+ email exchanges read out by Rowley in Parliament on Monday, the PM and AG were well aware of the implications of S34, and were so pissed off at the diligence of reporter Denyse Renne, and DPP Roger Gaspard that they were conspiring to tap the phones of the DPP's office, offer him a position on the judiciary as a bribe, and were considering doing harm to Ms Renne.

At the centre of this latest political shitstorm seemed to be the AG...or rather, his email accounts. One appeared to be anan@gmail.com while the other was a TSTT address.

Much ado was made about whether or not a person can have an email address shorter than 6 symbols in Parliament...had any of the MPs on either side of the house deigned to use their Ipads to conduct a Google search (see what I did there?) they would have gotten the answer in quick time and spared me sighing heavily at the monstrous stupidity of the proceedings. But you see, the last three days showed me in blatant terms how little we know about technologyin this country...and further how little we know about using it to build a case.

The AG.....

Dr Rowley took a massive gamble accusing the government of conspiring against the office of the DPP and conspiring to harm a citizen of the country with just a pile of transcripts. To have pulled it off successfully what was required were digital files or actual screen shots of the e-mails so that the members of the doubting public would have irrefutable proof, create a significant hue and cry and catapult the powers into action. In Rowley being the accuser, he had to realise that the burden of proof fell on him, and like the proverbial victim in a rape case, it was he who was on trial and not the perpetrator of the act of violation....unless of course, he playing coy and allowing the PP to hang themselves with their exuberance. But, again, even that is risky, unless he holding all the trump in his hands.

Without those digital files it all boiled down to playing the blame game....yet again. It is a game the country has been caught up in for the past 3 years and it has gotten old and tired. Despite the numerous scandals and missteps this government has gotten itself embroiled in, this Motion of No Confidence had the potential to land a PM, an AG and a senior government Minister in jail had it been handled right.

suruj in orange shirtNow, three days later, with Keith pointing fingers and Kamla sticking out her tongue and saying prove it, we have the country right back where it started...wondering who lying. And all of this just mere months away from a Local Government Elections and a By-Elections.

Ironically enough, it is Rowley who may be hardest hit from this, because once again the question of the type of leader he will be is raised. In fact, Kamla had a ball with that question in Parliament today..and showed us just how petty and vindictive she can be.

The further irony is that with some team work from his small bench of MPs, the Opposition could have come out looking better. Instead, with the formidable Mr Imbert missing they seemed unprepared to properly discuss and dissect the implications of an electronic paper trail of a conspiracy.

You see, while it is possible for the email accounts of 4 people to be hacked and controlled remotely....it is impossible for the owners of these email accounts to not notice the emails that are being sent to and from their accounts...unless they were never checking them. And if, as the AG admits, the TSTT account is his primary account, then surely he should have noticed all of those e-mails moving back and forth...unless they want us to believe that they don't check email at all and Keith was controlling 4 accounts remotely and e-mailing himself all hours of the day and night through their accounts.

See, here's my take on where these e-mails came from...and I am using myself as an example.

I have a tablet and a smart phone....I have all of my email accounts stored on both devices. If I lost a device I'd have to change the password on all of the accounts through my computer or another smart device, and hope that my files weren't all saved to the device's internal memory storage. If I bought a new device like say a smart phone, I'd have to make sure I wiped the old phone before selling it or giving it away....something tells me that a device from one of the persons got lost, stolen, sold or misplaced....and friends of the Opposition got their hands on it and got the information.

Given that the starring figure in all of these e-mails seems to be the AG....I'm willing to bet it is either his blackberry or tablet.....I'd faster go with phone because so many messages were sent late in the night and were one liners....the larger a device is, the more we type. We tend to keep our phones on or close to us late at nights. Also, on phonse we tend to send quick, one-line  responses.

If Stephen Williams wasn't such a compromised Commissioner of Police, if we had a serious cyber crimes unit here, if the Integrity Commission actually functioned and if the President had the power he thinks he has....there would be an independent investigation and the first thing to be done would be to confiscate the devices of these individuals and to ask their email hosts for transcripts on the dates Rowley gave....

But this was a rape trial. Rowley accused them of fucking us over....it was up to him to prove there was unwanted penetration...and before he managed to accomplish that in Parliament...he pulled out.

Keep Calm and Change Yuh Password!

Acting With Integrity

  kamla and jackThe Integrity in Public Life Act will turn 13 in November of this year. Most of us view the Act and the Integrity Commission as useless. The average citizen thinks the purpose of the IC is to find out the assets of persons functioning in public life and to publish an annual list of those public officials who have transgressed the law. Indeed, the Integrity Commission has done little to dispel that public perception of its duties.

The opening sentences of the Act states that the Commission’s purpose is to provide “for public disclosure, to regulate the conduct of persons exercising public functions; to preserve and promote the integrity of public officials and institutions...” What many of us don’t know is that the Integrity Commission has real teeth. Their duties don’t just stop at publishing a list of miscreants and submitting a report to the Senate every year. Their power reaches far beyond financial disclosure.

The folks over at the Integrity Commission can scrutinise any person in public life or exercising public functions. This includes the Prime Minister, the AG, Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament, members of state boards, and persons working in the Public Service, Judicial and Legal Service, Police Service, Teaching service, Statutory Authorities’ Service Commission, Diplomatic Service and Advisers to the Government.

If you re-read that list slowly and digest its importance you will realise that the Integrity Commission has oversight of the activities of so many sectors of our country that if the Commission was properly staffed and working efficiently it should, theoretically, be able to root out a lot of the corruption and inefficiency prevalent in our society.

Ken GordonFurther examination of the Act reveals that an investigation by the Integrity Commission could lead to more than just your name being published in the newspapers. There is a fine of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars attached to the offence of non-declaration of assets. As a person in public life, you also have to declare the assets and liabilities of your spouse and dependent children; and if you holding money or property in trust for another person you have to declare the trust, though not the specific details. Page 15 of the Integrity in Public Life Act has a long list of interests and must be declared. You have items such as contracts made with the state; companies or partnerships in which the person is an investor; beneficiary interest in any land; particulars relating to sources of income; and anything else that might cause conflict between private interests and public duties.

Are you wondering where I am going with this? Think Jack Warner, his spouse, their children, his assets and many affiliations that might be in conflict with his public life.

Mr Warner has been serving in public life since November 5th, 2007. His activities as a member of the Caribbean Football Union, Concacaf and FIFA are public knowledge. Since becoming a member of government in 2010 there have been allegations and speculations hovering over Warner. We have an Integrity Commission in Trinidad and Tobago that is at least a decade old. Why did it take a report from Concacaf to unearth information that Warner has been less than forthcoming about his business interests and financial transactions dating back from 2006?

Back in November 2012 there was a local newspaper report indicating Warner was the subject of a probe by the IC. Fixin TnT’s Kirk Waithe has been at the forefront of calls for Warner to be investigated based on discrepancies with public monies.  In his complaint to the IC, Waithe pointed out funds being transferred from the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation into private accounts, and the transfers were often in the range of millions of dollars.  Millions of dollars of public monies that we still await accountability on. And mind you, these discrepancies happened under a PNM regime; not UNC or PP. So we can’t even claim that it is Warner’s cronies who might be protecting him or smoothing the way.

When questioned about the nature of the probe, Martin Farrell, the Registrar of the IC, responded saying: “The Integrity Commission is not in a position to comment on your request. As you will appreciate, having regard to the nature of its mandate under the Integrity in Public Life Act, the Commission is required to treat with all matters with the utmost confidentiality.”

Fast forward now to April, 2013, in the aftermath of the report from Concacaf’s Integrity Committee and there is still a deafening silence from the various bodies and authorities here. The last we heard from the DPP on the matter of Warner, the police had been instructed to look into whether Warner had breached Customs and Excise laws. The probe by the AG into Warner seems to have stalled. And the Integrity Commission remains as enigmatic as ever. Saying little, but alluding to an ongoing probe that has thus far yielded little satisfaction to the public.

After reading the Concacaf Report you have to ask yourself what exactly is the problem with us here that we can have so many institutions and systems in place, and have them constantly fail us. Why is investigating Warner and making him answerable to the public so difficult? Why does an Integrity Commission, enacted with so much power on paper, often seem so weak? When exactly are these bodies responsible for public oversight actually going to start earning their keep? Or are we going to have to launch a probe not just into Warner, but into the integrity of our Commissions?

We spinning top in mud in this place....Full Dotish Mode!

Of Tsunamis and Hurricanes

The only thing missing from Warner's "Straight Talk" rally on Thursday night was the world's smallest violin, wheezing away mournfully. That thousands of people showed up to support Warner and cheer at his comments is a testament to the calibre of our voting public. Even worse, representatives of a party, who three years ago, would vote out the PNM for allegations of fraud, corruption and squandermania, now resolutely ignore the allegations against Warner and instead praise him for building box drains in their community. Yes folks, box drains are now the official UNC gauge for progress in the country. Moonan doesn't need to move a mountain, just build a drain. Warner spent hours last night going through some thirty plus pages of notes and at the end of the evening, the impression I came away with from the speech wasn't that he had cleared his name, but rather that he was subliminally telling the crowd, "Yes, I took money. but I share some of it with you." The disconcerting thing is, I think the crowd at the Pierre Road Recreation Ground last night were quite happy with that message and could care less what it implies about Warner as a person, MP and politician. Now what does that tell you about some of the constituents of Chaguanas West?

In a classic Panday move last Thursday night, Warner set out to circle the wagons before he announced his resignation as MP. The stage was set nicely. A fete is thrown for the constituents, to remind everyone of Warner's largesse. He then mounts a stage, twists some of the allegations of the Concacaf Report around adequately to confuse the audience in to thinking the allegations against him may be false. He subtly reminds the more savvy members of the audience that he is a financier and can influence other financiers of the party. Then he declares his love for the party and his loyalty to Persad-Bissessar, while at the same time revealing that there are at least three members of the Cabinet who are against him. Signaling to the electorate that he is a man beleaguered by enemies, he is under threat, the Prime Minister isn't making up her own mind, it's being made up for her.

After last night, Warner has made it explicitly clear the pressure he is going to put on the UNC government in light of what now appears to be a forced resignation. But bear in mind that a week has passed and we still don't know the complete truth about his resignation. Warner insists that he resigned because a newspaper reported that the Prime Minister was stunned after reading the Concacaf Report. According to Warner, when he queried this report, the PM said she never said she was stunned. The PMs response to fraud and corruption allegations, not the allegations themselves, is what leads to him resigning?

Andre Jennings and Lasana Liburd have been saying for years, what the Express is only reporting this week. Liburd's Wired868 online new site often has the most cutting edge stories on Warner, complete with documental evidence. Neither the PM nor her advisers have an excuse for being clueless about Warner's activities. But it is typical behaviour of Persad- Bissessar to affect the attitude of clueless female, always the last to know; yet another act of feigned helplessness so that we will commiserate with her and think, "Poor lady, look how them fellas running rings around her." But the allegations against Warner aren't anything new. We can go as far back as 1989, if not further, and ask into whose pockets did the money for the oversold tickets fall into.

And with the timeline created by the Concacaf Report, you now have to ask yourself questions about how exactly the UNC has been funded all these years. This is the third financier of that party to have such serious allegations over his head. And at every turn it appears that the money being sunk into the UNC has a questionable past. Ish and Steve have money laundering questions to answer in the US, while it appears that Warner has been systematically moving funds from the accounts of other entities into his. Is this the kind of funding that keeps the UNC afloat? Is this the kind of funding that brought them into power? The leadership of the party isn't perturbed by this? The other members of the coalition think this kind of funding is new politics? Because let's be real with ourselves, COP, MSJ and TOP were all quite contented to use Warner's funding in 2010, and turn a blind eye to the allegations then. Indeed, Ramadhar was one of the first to congratulate Warner when he became Minister of National Security less than a year ago. Clearly then the shadows following Warner were not a problem. So why is it a problem now? What is it about that Concacaf report that has everyone so willing and ready to believe Warner should step down, when they were so clearly avoiding making such statements before?

In a matter of days we went from Communications Minister Jamal Mohammed publicly declaring full Cabinet support for Warner, to Ramadhar, less than 24 hours after Mohammed's declaration soundly refuting collective support and writing a stern letter to the PM demanding Warner's resignation. Who knew he had it in him?

And then there is the matter of Warner's replacements. Both Emmanuel George and Khadija Ameen are close allies of Warner. Indeed, it seems once Warner gives up a ministry, former DJ Hurricane George is on hand to take it over. This is the same Emmanuel George whose name has been mentioned alongside Ganga Singh, Hafeez Karamath, Desalcott, Inncogen and the short pants man, not so? And I should trust him with security? As for Miss Ameen, there is little about her performance in office thus far to suggest she has what it takes to be an effective leader.

His resignation as security minister has allowed Kamla to put significant resources into the hands of Suruj Rambachan. Minister of Works AND Local Government? Might a certain political party be fearful of losing Local government elections? If you thought THA was squandermania, just wait.

With Warner's resignation as MP for Chaguanas West in full effect, expect even more entertainment for your money than usual in the next three months. His seat can't remain vacant. So essentially, the country will be gearing up for two election campaigns in the coming months. Watch the rum and roti flow folks. The tsunami ain't coming, it reach.

Yes, Opposition Leader...

candidate_keith-rowley-lgAnother too good not to share posting from Wired868 Scene: Office of the Opposition Leader

PNM Senators Faris Al-Rawi and Fitzgerald Hinds walk in and stiffly shake hands with Opposition Leader Keith Rowley. Al-Rawi sits closest to the door, which is slightly ajar.

Rowley walks behind the two seated Senators and slams the door shut.

Keith Rowley: You two think you’re in a savannah?! You don’t respect this office?!

Faris Al-Rawi: My good sir, it was only my intention to permit the free exchange of oxygen through your esteemed bureau so as to deliver a metaphor as we provide life to a position of the highest prominence.

Fitzgerald Hinds: He still feels a little nervous about being in an enclosed setting with you, boss. I told him that he shouldn’t worry and you’re a great guy once he gets to know you better.

Rowley glares at both men.

Rowley: Well, what is it? I still don’t understand why it is taking two grown men to deliver one point. You think this is a URP job or what?

Hinds laughs loudly and slaps his knee.

Hinds: Good one, boss.

Rowley: I wasn’t joking.

You can read the rest here.

Clock Back and Roll

  Power Outage 2It's been a hectic 3 days....and it has nothing to do with Christ's resurrection...

We are still to receive any answers from the folks at PowerGen, NGC or Phoenix Gas as to how the fuel levels dropped to so sharply Thursday evening to lead to the black out in the late hours of Thursday night into Friday morning.....

As you know, I've questioned the clock on the wall at Powergen Penal and the times on the wall and the times of the PM's visit and what it says about best practice at PowerGen and what it might imply for the PMs visit to PowerGen.

So, I'm going to raise a few more questions again this evening.

You know that everytime a camera takes a picture it does a time stamp of the picture on the file. In older cameras you would actually see the time stamp on the image.

In more advanced cameras the time stamp....or meta data remains hidden to the human eye.

If you upload pictures to FB the date stamp is removed...but not all sites remove the time info from pics.

So let's say you sent pictures to a site like TT Energy Update your time stamp remains.

If you click on those pictures and copy and paste their link into a website like Find Exif.com then you can see the date stamp on a picture....by that, I mean the time the picture was taken.

I got time stamps of 8:13 am.

Take a look at these screen shots and then try it yourself using the links i provided above.

Check out the time stamp on this...

timestamp3

Now the time stamp says 8:13....AM....the clock says 21:13:58.....factor in that these clocks are attached to satellite computers and so daylight savings time pushed the clock forward by an hour...then the PowerGen clock is 12 hrs off plus 1 hr for the daylight.

Even if you don't accept that....I seriously doubt that the internal clock on the camera that took the PMs pictures changed its time to show 8:13 am....

Tell me what you think the timestamp data tells you.

In the meantime, you think PowerGen can send any senior technicians to explain what really happened last Thursday night?

Full Dotish and Full Dangerous!