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Showing posts from February, 2012

The Clash of Myths

The late Samuel Phillips Huntington was an American political scientist who is best known for proposing the contemporary Clash of Civilizations theory.  Huntington is of course commonly referenced in discourse about clashes between the so called ‘West’ and the ‘Islamic World’.  While I was still a student at St Mary’s College, I remember my Form 3 History teacher, Ms Fabian, explaining that ‘ideology’ was at the core of most if not all historical conflicts.  What made Huntington’s position interesting to me was that he believed that the age of ideology had ended and that the world had reverted to a normal state of affairs characterized by religious / cultural conflict.

I say that we forget the clash between civilizations and look at the clash happening within civilizations.  Of course, the ‘West’ is by no means a homogeneous entity as within the ‘West’, there continues to be healthy debate on the core ethos or mythologies that frame it.  As a film fan, I have found documentary film…

The Impact of IRS Rules on the Caribbean

Some in the Caribbean wait patiently for stronger unity, through an institution like CARICOM or maybe even ALBA; that connects the various territories in this archipelago that stretches from the Bahamas down to Suriname.  Then there are sceptics like me who think we already have a working Caribbean union with the US dollar as the true common currency, headquarters for the region’s elite in South Florida, and entities like Nestle, Unilevel, Digicel, Neal and Massy, Guardian Holdings, RBC, First Caribbean, Scotia Bank, Republic Bank, Rituals Coffee, Prestige Holdings, SM Jaleel, Holiday Foods and even Blue Waters treating the wider region like a single marketplace.  No need to wait for a Caribbean union – it is already here.
As a region, the Caribbean is inextricably linked to the United States.   There is no need for me to comment on the extent to which the region is socially connected to the US.  Economically, the biggest industry by any measure is tourism and the biggest source mark…

Understanding Our Carnival Heroes

After four consecutive Trini carnivals, the carnival tabanca is bad this year as we deal with the cold and snow once again.  I do however enjoy following the various carnival events through Facebook and Twitter.  In addition, the discussion on the present state as well as the future direction of the various carnival artforms is encouraging and is coming at a time when it is very much needed.

The discourse on the present state of the carnival space does leave me with one concern – it could benefit from more rigor and structure.  Allow me to explain my position.  On March 29th, the feature speaker at the 10th Anniversary Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business (GSB) Distinguished Leadership and Innovation Conference (DLIC) will be internationally renowned bestselling author, journalist and speaker Malcolm Gladwell.  Last month, I read (to be really honest I listened to) his recent book called Outliers.  In his book, an "Outlier" is a scientific term to describe things or …

Promoting Income Equality

A political group organised the screening of a documentary called ‘The Flaw’ at the London School of Economics recently.  The film sought to provide context on the financial crisis and in so doing explain the underlying causes of the crisis in greater depth than any previous documentary.  The name of the documentary was taken from Alan Greenspan’s October 2008 admission to the US Congress that he had found a ‘flaw’ in his model of how the world works.    
What I liked about this film is the way that it did not seek to simply demonize the few but rather to explain how responsibility for the U.S. financial crisis and by extension the global economic turmoil should be placed at the feet of many.  British film maker David Sington (who was present after the screening to lead a lively debate) touches on how changes in government economic policy throughout the 20th century created the policy environment that framed this disaster.  He also touches on the role of financial institutions as wel…

Supporting our Teachers

Somehow over the past couple months, schools in Trinidad have been on the front page for so many wrong reasons.  The one headline that I just could not ignore was about the Principal of a Private Primary School who seemed to have honestly believed that putting a student’s head in the toilet and then flushing it, is a valid option when it comes to disciplining students.
One would think that because it is a private school, there would be a strong Parent - Teacher Association.  Part of the Principal’s unapologetic letter to parents was printed in the press but it is uncertain what the PTA’s response was – if anything at all.  It has been suggested that the PTA may tread carefully because the demand for private primary school places exceeds the supply.  Here I am particularly speaking about institutions known for feeding large numbers of students into so-called prestige schools.  After being on a waiting list for years (in some cases) and leveraging “contacts” to get in, many parents wou…