Friday, July 27, 2007

Anniversary of the Coup

On Friday July 27, 1990, the Jamaat al Muslimeen attempted to overthrow the government of Trinidad and Tobago. A six-day siege ensured, with the Jamaat leadership holed up in the Red House (where they held the Prime Minister and most of Parliament hostage) and in the headquarters of TTT (then the only television station in the country) and Radio Trinidad (one of two radio networks, located next to TTT).

This year the anniversary falls on a Friday. In the seventeen years that have passed, there has been no inquiry into the events. The guilty parties are free and have never been called upon to account for their actions. The two major political parties, the PNM and the UNC appear to wish that the events would just go away, but there are still open wounds in society. Carson Charles, leader of the NAR, which was the governing party during the coup attempt, has called for a probe into the events, but the government is uninterested.

“There must be some kind of investigation, some kind of impartial investigation and report of what took place. Something dispassionate, something removed from the politics with the emphasis on what lessons should be learned from what took place,” Charles said.

The government is uninterested in any inquiry into the events

Questioned yesterday on the matter, senior Cabinet member Energy Minister Dr Lenny Saith indicated there was no change to the Cabinet’s previous decision of holding no enquiry.

Some politicians though, agree that this is important

Congress of the People Chief Whip Ganga Singh, the existing Caroni East MP, who was not a member of Parliament in 1990 agreed with Charles.

Singh said that instead of a Commission of Enquiry, the country needs the local equivalent of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up by the Government of South Africa.

“I think as a society, I think we should really confront this issue and not go into self denial as if it never really happened,” Singh said.

Seventeen years have passed, and nothing has been resolved. The memorial will be “low key” - neither the President nor the Prime Minister is attending. But these things don’t just “go away”. The memory of what happened is still burned into my memory.

At the very least the victims should be remembered.

From the Trinidad Guardian

* The 1990 Coup Attempt — Through the Eyes of a teen Born in the midst of chaos

From the Trinidad Express

* No work on July 27
* Low key ceremony at Red House today
* ‘Fireworks’ in Parliament
* Call for probe
* Death remains unsolved

From the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

* Why no coup inquiry?
* COP remembers 1990 Coup

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Assault on Reason in 90 seconds

This summarises Al Gore's new book pretty well

It's rather chilling, either in long form or in summary.

H/T Madhu at Reconciliation Ecology.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


While I consider myself Christian, I have an awfully difficult time with the idea of "God". Before reading Spong's Jesus for the Non-Religious the idea of God was just one of those very troubling ideas that I couldn't wrap my mind around, so I didn't. It's actually remarkably easy to just put the idea of God aside and realise that definitions aren't all that important. It's easy, but it isn't really satisfying. The question, and the fact that you don't have an answer comes up - both when you are faced with people who actively reject the idea of a God or Gods, and when you are faced with the more religious types and their questions about "do you believe in a personal God?" Actually that isn't the hardest question - it doesn't mean that you have to be able to define God. Still, the lack of a God language was problematic - I wasn't comfortable with the God language (or God ideas) that I had been given my the church, but I had no alternative. Which is one reason why I love Spong's book.

The "theistic" understanding of God as a being, external to the world, which intrudes from time to time (or doesn't, I suppose, for a deist who uses theistic language). The "Spongian" understanding of God - that you reject the supernatural, external characterisation of God - is terribly useful to me. And while it doesn't leave me with an answer to the "what is God" question, it leaves me with a set of skills that may be useful for me to formulate my own definitions. It's also nice that these definitions or understandings are just my own conception...they don't represent any sort of an objective "truth". And I find that idea remarkably comforting.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Clemency, writ large

In a general sense I am all for clemency - if a person has been given an unduly harsh sentence for their crimes, then clemency is a good thing. But if someone failed to be moved as he signed 152 death warrants, it would seem that they are strangers to ideas like compassion and clemency. If someone can send a mentally retarded man to his death, if someone can mock the pleas of a woman who turned their life around while on death would seem that "clemency" is not, to them, a virtue.

So why, after all that, does Bush turn around an commute part of Scooter Libby's sentence? Was he suddenly moved to clemency? Or was he, as Joe Wilson suggested, participating in obstruction of justice? It seems far more parsimonious to suggest that Bush is merely acting to protect his administration than it is to suggest that he suddenly and coincidentally discovered that "compassion" was something more than a campaign slogan. And does this mean that Bush will engage in further acts of clemency? Is he going to spend the rest of his term in office studying the convictions of other criminals, to make sure that the sentences imposed are not "excessive"?