18 Mar 2016

Small axe cuts big tree

It's no small job to tackle the Marlene McDonald saga that unfolded in the media over the past several weeks. For those who do not know, things began to unfold when certain documents came to light, documents which showed that Marlene used her position as a government minister to influence the Housing Development Corporation into granting a house to her common-law husband Michael Carew… which he promptly rented out. Aside from that, FIXIN’ T&T has offered evidence that Michael and his brother Lennox were employed in the constituency office of said Minister. As FIXIN’ T&T has said:


Mr Michael Carew received a monthly payment of TT$13,400 while Mr Lennox Carew has and continues to receive a monthly salary of TT$14,000. Over the period 1 March 2011 and 7 September 2015, the combined salaries of both employees accounted for 60 percent of the constituency’s monthly budgetary allocation of TT$45,700.


The particular relevance of these facts is that:


1.              Mr Michael Carew meets the legal definition of spouse to the Member of Parliament for Port of Spain South, Marlene McDonald.


2.              Mr Michael Carew and Mr Lennox Carew are brothers.


3.              Mr Michael Carew and Mr Lennox Carew are both directors of the Calabar Foundation which, over a 15-day period in April to May 2010, applied for and received monies in the sum of TT$575,000 from the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs then headed by Minister Marlene McDonald.  The name Calabar Foundation was applied for on July 14, 2010. It was registered on August 24, 2010.


4.              We have been unable to verify whether Mr. Lennox Carew resided in Trinidad the entire period for which he was paid.


Readers of this blog with longer memories will recall that Marlene was the minister responsible for government scholarships in 2009. At that time there was evidence of a PNM link in the granting of scholarships. And Marlene was as bad as she was big, adamantly refusing to answer any questions on who, how and how much the scholarships were for. I will return to this in a moment.


Continuing with the saga of Marlene and Michael, it arises this morning Friday, 18 March 2016 that Prime Minister Keith Rowley has terminated the services of his Chief Whip and Housing Minister Marlene McDonald. I suspect it was a reluctant decision, from the defence of his minister that the Prime Minister – and Attorney General as well – had previously put forward.


But let’s get back to the topic of scholarships. This current government administration has resorted to the courts to enforce the contracts that government scholarship recipients agree to. That is, after finishing their period of study they must return to the service of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. Considering that it is the government that pays both educational and living expenses during the period of study, a reasonable person will think that this is fair.


The first casualty of this enforcement of contracts was Dr. Ryan Wellington, who has been ordered by the court to pay back roughly $3 million TT dollars. Given that this appears to be the new precedent, I wonder if this government will go after those PNM personnel who were granted “scholarships” under Marlene McDonald’s watch. One would recall that Laurel Lezama, daughter-in-law to the Port of Spain mayor at the time, received $500,000 to study law in England. There is no evidence she completed the law degree, and certainly no evidence that any monies were paid back. Now if there was ever a case to take before the courts it would be this one!


I am certainly keeping an eye on the scholarship issue… Now that the Marlene McDonald saga appears to be over. Keep watching this space.

16 Mar 2016

Lessons that are never learnt

In light of the closure of steel plant in Trinidad and Tobago, ArcelorMittal, I am linking to a previous blog post in which I made a point about the resources of the country. Just a gentle reminder.

A lesson to think about.

I don't believe anyone will learn anything from it, but it does not make the lesson worthless.

9 Mar 2016

What’s it worth?

RottweilerI have written many, many times about dangerous dogs, dotish owners and apathetic law enforcement. So many deaths, and still dog owners raise moronic protests. Still, you know the saying, “Who don’t hear, will feel”.

And ‘feel’ is what a family is experiencing this morning. I am truly horrified that the victim is a mere 6 months old babe, but somehow I know the lesson is not yet learnt. Despite a comprehensive Dog Control Act, I have not yet read anywhere that the regulations are/were implemented. And the State has not yet seen fit to push on this to save lives.

After all, what is a life worth in Trinidad and Tobago? From my observations, just a few tears easily replenished with the next glass of water. Or rum.

So far in Trinidad and Tobago, only ‘dangerous’ dogs need microchips, but from next month in England, ALL dogs MUST be microchipped and non-compliance means a £500 fine. Why do I bring this up? It reiterates a point I’ve been making time and time again… that England is far more progressive in updating its laws than Trinidad and Tobago, and also in enforcing them.

Expect more blood.

14 Feb 2016

Watching the world go round and round

It's been quite some time since the Capt has made a post here - needless to say I have been in some sort of 'existential crisis' about the world over the last year.

It has been very hard to generate words to post. Several draft blogs have been discarded or remain on the back burner. A blogger's life is not as easy as some think it is. There are tons of blogs out there - some good and some bad. To generate a really well reasoned and evidence based blog takes tremendous personal time and effort. There is no pay involved and there are no tangible rewards, for people like me.

The big crushing stories seem to have common themes.
  1. Smoke and mirrors.
  2. Abuse of power.
  3. Outright lies and other deceptions.
  4. Justice corralled and made to deliver injustice.
It has been too much really.

So - I've resorted to a different kind of blogging which starts today as you see in the images here. They will be shorter on words and with more emphasis on imagery.
Best wishes to all.

4 Feb 2016


Just in time for Carnival, Trinidad and Tobago is set to import the Zika virus wholesale. Apparently, the Ministry of Health is willing to spray fete avenues, but not to screen incoming persons at the ports. 

The Zika virus is not a 'now generation' transgressor. Indeed, the symptoms may be milder than dengue, yellow fever or several other mosquito-borne diseases

"The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Now it also appears that the disease may be spread via sexual intercourse, as one case in the USA seems to suggest

Sadly, those who will be affected the most are those of the next generation, as the disease affects foetuses of pregnant women who become infected. The babies are born with smaller heads, a condition known as microcephaly. 

"The severity varies, but it can be deadly if the brain is so underdeveloped that it cannot regulate the functions vital to life.
Children that do survive face intellectual disability and development delays.
The World Health Organization is worried that Zika is spreading far and fast, with devastating consequences.
Declaring Zika as a "public health emergency of international concern" singles the disease out as a serious global threat. It puts it in the same category of importance as Ebola."
Sadly, I think that despite the 'reassurances' of health authorities of Trinidad and Tobago , the country is and will be unprepared for this, like Swine Flu and other diseases before it.