26 December, 2010

Health, wealth, 200 countries, 200 years

A most interesting simplified presentation of history of world health and food, encompassing 200 countries in 200 years, compressed into less than five minutes.

25 December, 2010

Colombian village swallowed by the earth

"Gramalote is a Colombian municipality and town located in the department of North Santander। Currently, the complete destruction of the town is considered imminent due to massive mudslides brought about by unprecedented flooding that most of Colombia has undergone.

Its average temperature is 23 °C and its height of 1040 meters above sea level। Prior to the 2010 Colombian floods it had a population of 7853 inhabitants. It was founded twice, the second time in 1857 to less than one kilometer from the first 1883."

2011 is said to have more severe weather in store for us in T&T। Harsher dry season, followed by flooding. Could we lose – not just the odd house-built-near-a-river-or-precipice – but an entire village? Or two? Devil’s Woodyard in Princes Town, perhaps?

When your neighbour house on fire…

19 December, 2010

Venezuela to host Iran missiles?

Anna Mahjar-Barducci reports that Iran will place medium-range missiles in Venezuela under a November 2010 agreement between the two countries। The report states that the missiles can reach the USA।

If this is true, then we in Trinidad and Tobago need to develop a strategic plan to deal with any possible war scenarios between those three countries। After all, we are only eight miles off the coast of Venezuela! If US warships (or military bases in Colombia) lob missiles intended for Venezuela and said missiles veer off course by 10 miles in an easterly direction…

Venezuelan assets are not all inland either. Some targeted Venezuelan assets can be oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Paria. T&T and Venezuela also has a recently signed energy-sharing agreement

One would hope that the Ministry of National Security has a well-refined plan to deal with this new threat to our nation’s interest, wellbeing and survival.

18 November, 2010

FAO predicts 2011 20% world food price inflation

The UK Guardian yesterday:

“The UN today warned that food prices could rise by 10%-20% next year after poor harvests and an expected rundown of global reserves. More than 70 African and Asian countries will be the worst hit, said the Food and Agricultural Organisation in its monthly report.

In its gloomiest forecast since the 2007/08 food crisis, which saw food riots in more than 25 countries and 100 million extra hungry people, the report's authors urged states to prepare for hardship.”

food riots in more than 25 countries and 100 million extra hungry people…”

That was 2007/8, how severe will 2011 (and beyond) be?
Check what a non-UN world food analyst says about wheat (the 20% wheat flour price increase I noticed locally)
‘"2011 will not be a good harvest. The condition of winter wheat crops is not good. Neither the US nor Russia are expecting good harvests," said Lester Brown, founder of the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute.’

Buy food and stockpile now, even if you have to use credit. Food won’t get any cheaper in the short or medium term. Stockpiling food and growing food (including raising livestock) are two of the best ways to increase food security.

We have been warned.

15 November, 2010

Even more food price increases

Three months ago, I paid $50 per 10kg bag of wheat flour. That same bag cost $60 today. An increase of 20%! Or a basic commodity that all Trinis use, regularly (if not daily).

Chicken prices are up at one of the biggest producers. An increase varying between 3-5%. Prepare for even more food inflation in the short and medium term.

On a positive note, I bought more food grade lidded buckets. So more food storage. The garden continues to produce fresh tasty healthy food, with enough to share in the bounty. Growing new soil is really fun, rewarding and satisfying.

11 November, 2010

Food prices rise yet again

Food prices are on the rise. Again. Remember the bad old days of 2007? They’re here again. In the last 4-6 weeks I’ve noticed a trend developing. Quietly – as is the custom – packages have shrunk in content, but the prices remain the same. Prices have increased, sometimes with attendant re-branding. Sometimes not.

Sugar, flour, tinned beans and peas, fruit juices, even chicken Vienna sausages. The increases have ranged between 10-33.3%.

Our family has started doing what we can to alleviate the strain these price increases will create. We are planting more food, while buying whatever we can in bulk. Planting food and sharing your garden’s bounty has a wonderful effect. There is instant gratification from being charitable, and there is sometimes a delayed gratification from receiving homegrown food from other gardeners. Talk about a win-win situation!

The Ministry of Food Production celebrates this year’s World Food Day, themed “United Against Hunger” with a Food Fest Exhibition at the University of the West Indies St Augustine campus tomorrow, Friday 12th November 2010.

The Ministry promises,
“visitors can check out Exhibitor Booths showcasing local agricultural produce, seafood and livestock, including local game (wild meat), get some shopping done at the Market Place, see live animals on display, sample tasty local delicacies such as wild meat, vegetable burgers, cassava granola and crayfish, and take a cinematic tour of our islands’ agricultural heritage.

There will also be tours of The UWI Zoology museum, diabetes testing, and free seeds and seedlings available.”

Sounds promising.

02 November, 2010

Smart to be prepared

Colonel Rodney Smart, acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) says what is obvious: “…it's better to have a well prepared citizenry that an under prepared one,". This blog has been beating that particular drum for years. In fact, preparedness is part of our raison d’etre.

AirgunsTT commends the ODPM and our national government on decisive action last Friday, with regard to warnings on Tropical Storm Tomas. Just look at the resultant damage to Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines. They received late warnings.

30 October, 2010

Food Gardening

"Humankind, despite its artistic abilities, sophistication and accomplishments, owes its existence to a six-inch layer of farmable soil—and the fact that it rains!"—Anonymous

For the past few months I have not been blogging much. The reason is simple. I have been learning new skills, and improving on old ones. Regular gardening has brought a new element of joy (and nutrients) into my life. I still shoot airguns, but less frequently.

With new activities comes an expanded vocabulary. I now toss around words and phrases such as biochar, open pollinated, organophosphates, community supported agriculture, locavore, food miles, terra preta, humus, beneficial soil organisms.

Growing more and more of the food my family eats has produced remarkable results. My children now love (homegrown) vegetables and would often eat tomatoes and corn right off the plant! But the taste. Incredible. I have been an enthusiastic supporter of the local farmers markets for years. My own homegrown fruit and veg has continuously outperformed the best of the farmers markets in the area of taste. All who’ve tasted have talked about the full flavoured taste of the garden’s produce.

I have started a new garden in tired, overworked, nutrient-depleted soil. This has given me the opportunity to learn how to ‘grow soil’. Utilising inputs such as seaweed, seawater, kitchen scraps, eggshells, spent coffee grounds, expired vitamin and mineral supplements among other things, I have actually created small quantities of the rich ‘black gold’. Twice. And now on my third set.

My family now consumes the bounty of this new garden, daily. I’ll try to post some pix in the coming weeks and months, as I share this journey of joy and learning.

The price of food is on the increase again, and I suspect our garden will play an increasingly more important role in our family’s health and wellness in the coming years.

05 September, 2010

Unique opportunity for T&T

The M1 is described as “rugged, reliable, accurate, and durable.”

The US government has forbidden the sale of 850,000 rifles to the US.

“The South Korean government, in an effort to raise money for its military, wants to sell nearly a million antique M1 rifles that were used by U.S. soldiers in the Korean War to gun collectors in America.”

This is a unique opportunity to increase national and private gun ownership at a very affordable price. These rifles usually retail for about US$400-500 each. At that quantity, the TTDF could conceivably bag them at US$200 each, or even less. That would be just over TT$1B. Less than the cost of 2 summits, with more immediate and tangible return on investment.

Most air rifles in Trinidad sell for 6x more (at the lower end of the market!).

The government can easily recover that money by reselling some to other Caribbean governments, with some set aside for sale to T&T citizens.

Even though they aren’t considered “sexy”, they are functional rifles that have proven their utility during the Korean War, and over time. The M1 is described as “rugged, reliable, accurate, and durable.”

The TT Cadet Force, TT Defence Force Reserves and others are all short of rifles. This is an excellent, inexpensive training rifle and a battle-proven tool.

With the right planning and contract negotiation, we could manufacture our own ammunition, as the M1 has an uncommon caliber (.30). A new industry can be born. New armourers and gunsmiths can be trained. The same Caribbean governments that buy the rifles can be tied in by contract to buy our ammo too.

If the government doesn’t want too much risk, then we can partner with other Caribbean nations through CARICOM and share the risk.

With more armed citizens, we should see a dramatic decrease in murders and other violent crimes. The Minister of Food Production has said he is looking at re-starting the praedial larceny squad. The squad cannot be everywhere, and therefore cannot protect all farmland. Armed farmers can dispatch vermin attacking their crops and livestock, and also protect themselves, their families and employees from violent criminals. Arming farmers can improve food security for the nation.

A word to the anti-gunners: Please, no knee-jerk reactions. No tired platitudes of these rifles “falling in to the wrong hands”. The “wrong hands” are already filled with all the guns and ammo they need. It’s the “right hands” that are empty and defenceless.

This is one time we can ask Israel for technical assistance in creating a new industry and arming citizens, as they have expertise in that area. Be prepared for them to turn us down though, as selling arms and ammunition is one of their biggest industries. We can also ask Venezuela, the US, or Brazil for technical assistance.

Some legislation may have to be enacted, but with a three-fifths majority in Parliament, the government should not have any problems in this area.

This should be seen for what it is: an opportunity for our nation to improve national security, increase employment, create a new industry, re-skill our citizens and increase national food security.

“An armed society is a polite society.” -Robert A. Heinlein.

31 August, 2010

Happy Independence T and T

Today, our country is 48 years old. Happy Independence to all.

13 August, 2010

Venezuela and Colombia achieve détente

On the brink of war a few short weeks ago, Venezuela and Colombia have managed a loosening of tensions. Both countries presidents met and signed agreements in Santa Marta, Colombia recently. A re-establishment of diplomatic relations was pre-eminent.

The newly elected Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and his Venezuelan counterpart President Hugo Chavez agreed to set up five committees to address debt, border, security, joint projects and joint infrastructure.

Just a few weeks ago, the word ‘war’ was used in cross-border fiery rhetorical exchanges between President Chavez and (then) Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

Trinidad and Tobago should follow these events very closely as the relationship between the two South American countries impact us because of geography, economy, military and social issues.

If minor flooding has us pushing out (firing) the ODPM’s CEO and apportioning blame, then an influx of Colombians and Venezuelans (maybe even US, British and Canadians fleeing to safety) will overwhelm us and our resources.

Then there is the issue of TT/Venezuela hydrocarbon agreements.

06 July, 2010

New Police Commissioner

Police Commissioner-designate, Canadian Dwayne Douglas Gibbs.

Trinidad and Tobago has a new Police Commissioner-designate. He is Canadian Dwayne Douglas Gibbs, a retired Superintendent of Police of the Edmonton Police Service in Alberta, Canada. Gibbs’ appointment was approved by Parliament last Friday.

Another Canadian, Jack Ewatski will be appointed Deputy Commissioner of Police. Ewatski is a retired Chief of Police at the Winnipeg Police Service.

Could this be the break that airgunners are seeking? Will this new Police Commissioner bring a fresh set of eyes and -- more importantly – ears to the office? Will we be able to shoot larger bore, and rifled airguns before the end of his contract?

Would FULs be renewable every five years, as in Canada, instead of the annual ritual that it is presently? Would the FUL application refusal rate be reduced from the present 95% to the 0.15% as in Canada?

01 July, 2010

Rifle Racks

You can make your own simple rifle racks. Here’s a link with specs:


For those who can afford it, PriceSmart has a decent 5ft gun safe for about $5,000.

26 June, 2010

Venezuela’s militia

Venezuelan citizens train to defend their nation.

Venezuela is the South American country most likely to survive and repel an invading force. The simple reason for this is the civilian militia.

According to Global Firepower, Venezuela has an active troop strength of 800,000. President Chavez has boasted of a civilian militia numbering about one million. Some estimate the number may be closer to 100,000-200,000.

A modern conventional force from the USA or Brazil can easily overrun Venezuela. However, because of terrain, cultural, political and other factors, the invading force will have an even harder time than in Iraq.

With Venezuelan political leadership sharing ideology with neighbouring Bolivia and Ecuador, the Venezuelans will receive help from these countries with additional support from guerilla movements like FARC, and others.

As Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan has shown us, motivated civilian populations (through militia using guerilla tactics and asymmetrical warfare strategy) can harass, ambush, sabotage, detain and kill invading troops on a regular basis. This is quite effective in the Psy Ops area, serving to demoralize the invaders and forcing them to question their reasons for being in the country.

Because of our (self-inflated?) strategic importance to the USA, Trinidad and Tobago has never envisaged nor planned for an invasion by a foreign force. Our national defence planners assume that the US will defend us because of our oil and gas supplies. What happens when the gas and oil runs out?

With an active troop strength of 3,000 and a reserve of 500, miniscule Trinidad and Tobago would be easily occupied. What’s worse, an unbroken policy (since colonialism) of keeping a population disarmed has created a hoplophobic culture. Illegal guns proliferate among unemployed, ill-disciplined youth. Perhaps MILAT and MIPART can be the seeds from which our militia springs, as the fear of guns may be too deeply ingrained in the psyches of the older citizenry.

Even the world’s sole superpower considers a militia so vital to a nation’s survival that the 2nd amendment of the US constitution specifically grants the rights of gun ownership to all citizens, and mentions the militia in the same amendment.

Shouldn’t we be just as concerned about our nation’s survival?

27 May, 2010

Untapped human resources

Yesterday I went to a friend’s house to pick mangoes. I got into a conversation with my friend’s neighbour and discovered he is a retired police armourer. He spends his days tending a small kitchen garden and reminiscing with any other retired law enforcement or military personnel about “the good old days”.

This man has a wealth of practical know-how and real life experience. He is a classic example of an abundance of skilled retirees who are allowed to waste their golden years without passing on their expensively-acquired skills. Instead we hire the most expensive foreign ‘experts’ and complain about the economy. Yet we ignore the plethora of skill sets available, just for the asking.

A number of senior citizens would happily share their skills, knowledge and wisdom, if we only ask. The Japanese have recognized the value of their senior citizens and are harnessing this power, passing it onto the youth. The interaction helps both generations, as the seniors get to mingle with youth and feel valued. The youth get much needed skills, knowledge, the benefit of avoiding pitfalls, while understanding that “foreign” doesn’t necessarily mean “good”.

I submit that should we ask nicely, and he agrees, this single retired armourer can teach scores -- or maybe hundreds – of young people to maintain and repair small arms and weapons systems for our various agencies that require them. Some can become civilian gunsmiths, including airgunsmiths. Some can be inserted into any civil defence programmes. And boy do we need those skills!

With national security units such as SUATT, SSA, the TT Police Service, TT Regiment, TT Coast Guard, TT Air Guard et al, those skills are currently in short supply and high demand. The Forensic Science Centre also assists the Police Armourer, sometimes because of the enormous workload.

The incoming National Security Minister can tap this most valuable of resources. Just remember to ask nicely.

26 May, 2010

First woman Prime Minister

Congratulations to the People’s Partnership, a coalition of the United National Congress (UNC), the Congress of the People (COP), the Tobago O People (TOP) and the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC). Congratulations also to the 12 Peoples National Movement (PNM) newly elected Members of Parliament.

The final result: Peoples Partnership 29, Peoples National Movement 12. With a near two-thirds majority, the government-in-waiting will have little trouble passing important legislation. Now may be a good time to deal with the archaic firearms laws. So, along with “a chicken in every pot”, perhaps “a gun in every home”? Come on MPs, don’t squander this golden opportunity.

Trinidad and Tobago is about to get our first woman Prime Minister. Congrats Kamla! She was also the first female Attorney General, the first female Minister of Legal Affairs, the first female political leader of a major political party and the first female Leader of the Opposition. A number of ‘firsts’.

She has signaled a willingness to listen to the needs of the populace, by suggesting referenda for major thorny national issues and decisions. Let’s hope she is also the first Prime Minister to keep her word, on all promises and pledges. Mrs Persad-Bissessar will be sworn in this afternoon. One wonders about the curious situation of the foreign bodyguards, though.

Trinidad and Tobago is now in a state of euphoria, in direct contrast to the situation in Jamaica. The limited state of emergency declared by the Jamaican government in two parishes has brought daily life in the capital city of Kingston to a virtual halt. This situation needs immediate resolution. It shows what can happen when senior politicians make deals with criminal leaders.

16 April, 2010

General elections 24 May

It’s official: Prime Minister Patrick Manning has named the date of the next general elections, May 24th, 2010. It would be fantastic to see the three political leaders (Dookeran, Persad-Bissessar and Manning) debate the issues live, like British politicians did this week.

If wishes were horses…

17 March, 2010

Somali pirates attack Dutch warship

HNLMS Tromp (F803)

Every so often, someone does something amazingly silly that make you just laugh. This was the case when Somali pirates mistakenly tried to hijack a Dutch frigate today. The HNLMS Tromp is loaded with all kinds of missiles, torpedoes, really large guns and other armaments.

This warship is almost twice the size of another Dutch warship--the HNLMS Van Amstel--that visited Trinidad last year.

We could use a couple of fighting frigates in our Coast Guard.

10 March, 2010

Excellent Trini youth

Top: Model Trini 13-yr-old, Nick Sinanan.
Bottom: Chilean looters.

Just when some are ready to give up on our nation’s restless youth, we hear an inspiring story like this:

Just in case anyone thought Chileans showed any more restraint than Haitians in the aftermath of earthquakes, there is a first person account of Chilean youth rampaging through the capital city’s streets robbing anyone they found. This was mere minutes after the earthquake, at 4 am!

At least the Haitians waited a few days before looting. And their looting was mainly for food, whereas many Chileans seemed to have a preference for TVs and other electronic goods.

No wonder vigilante groups emerged.

Take note, T&T.

01 March, 2010

Preparing for our own earthquake

Since Haiti’s 7.0 magnitude earthquake and now Chile’s 8.8, some Trinidadians and Tobagonians have been paying attention and wondering about our readiness for our own ‘overdue’ quake.

Waiting for a government directive through the Office of Disaster Planning and Management (ODPM) may work. But it certainly won’t pay. Far better to prepare ourselves, family and community by stockpiling water/food, a redundant security system—preferably in conjunction with our immediate community—and medical supplies, plus whatever other preparations we’d need to rebuild and return to some degree of normalcy. In short, we need beans, bullets and band-aids. 

And training.

Organise family emergency drills. Then at the street level. Then at the neighbourhood level. Then the entire community, if possible. Video everything, then look for weaknesses and strengths. Eliminate or reduce the weak parts of the plan, and build on the strengths.

Document and pass on to other communities. Rinse. Repeat.

While on the subject, shouldn’t the Tobago-based Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) pilot program finally reach Trinidad? Maybe AFTER the disaster…


The Chilean government does not want outside help, and has said so itself:

Civilized people don’t go where they’re not wanted. Are we savages?

27 February, 2010

Police officer shot

Special Branch officers provide close protection to local and foreign dignitaries while on T&T soil.

A police officer was shot during an attempted robbery, last night in Trincity.  The young officer, who is attached to the Special Branch, was in the company of a few friends outside a house in Trincity, when a man approached them. The man drew a handgun and demanded the laptop computer of one member of the group.

The officer challenged the bandit, who then fired first, wounding the officer. Displaying excellent marksmanship, the officer fired five times, with all five shots on target. The bandit died on the spot. Surely he must have known that “the wages of sin is death”.

Unfortunately, even after doing his duty, this courageous officer had a long painful delay at the Mt Hope Hospital. Doctors kept him waiting several hours before attending to him. Even after calls from senior law enforcement and national security officials to the hospital.

The highly-trained operator was described by witnesses as “a bodybuilder type”. Muscular mass can often make the difference between life or death. As it is, our friendly, neigbourhood law enforcement hero narrowly escaped with what has been described by witnesses as “a flesh wound”. He is resting comfortably in stable condition.

We thank the young officer for his quick thinking, decision-making and courageous action, and wish him a speedy recovery. We hope the service provides him, and his family with the necessary support at this challenging period in his life.

The residents of Trincity should visit (taking tokens of appreciation) this  model officer, who displayed such heroic behaviour. He is truly an example of Trinidad and Tobago’s finest.

22 February, 2010

PetroTrin Guns and ammo Stolen

There are changes taking place in this country. If you stay calm and block out the ‘noise’, you can perceive some of these changes. Many clues around us. In the political arena, law enforcement, military, business and even in the underworld. A sea change is coming.


A small quantity of the Hatsan AT44PA (PA for Pump Action) will arrive in the country in about 6-8 weeks. Get ready for pump action fun. It’s another 10-shot Pre-Charged Pneumatic. 

06 February, 2010

Air rifle: The Quigley V5

The Quigley V5
Imagine an air rifle that is totally self-contained, requiring no external power source. It never needs ‘breaking’, filling from a Scuba tank nor replacing bottles of CO2. Now imagine this rifle is also more powerful than most factory manufactured. Imagine it comes in pump action, and performance improves with use. Imagine your petite 120 lb sister can both pump and shoot it with ease.

The inventor of the Quigley Version 5 makes all these claims. Unfortunately for T&T airgunners, the Q5 only comes in caliber .22. However, work has already started on a .177 version called the “Joshua”.

Now if only we can convince the inventor to produce one with a smoothbore barrel.

02 February, 2010

Water rationing; thieves; school pigeons; police ambushed

Photo: Newsday
WASA begins water rationing throughout the nation from midnight tonight. So stock up, however you can. It may be a good idea to leave the power blasting until normal service has resumed.

Thieves stole “more than $8,000, 15 cellular phones, gold jewelry, watches, cameras, clothes and identification cards…” from cars parked at the popular Maracas Beach.

Pigeons have infested Marabella North Secondary School, prompting teachers to leave the premises. Perhaps some South-based airgunners can help reduce the pigeon population there. Good practice and you’d be helping your community.

Stolen Vehicles Squad police officers were ambushed by alleged drug-dealers in Sea Lots. The officers were forced to make a hasty exit from their vehicle while returning fire. 

31 January, 2010

Seventy police officers raid club; no arrests

It took 70 police officers to produce the above items in a raid on a Couva nightclub. With 150 patrons searched, there were no arrests.

Police were more successful in ending the ‘careers’ of two robbers-cum killers in Aripero, after a robbery. Two unarmed men chased after the bandits, resulting in one chaser—unsurprisingly—being shot and killed.

Had the owner of the grill shop been armed, he could have saved his employee’s life.

29 January, 2010

A catastrophe of major proportions

When Haiti's ambassador to the U.S., Raymond Alcide Joseph called it “a catastrophe of major proportions" he was correct. So major that it affects a number of countries in the region and has even prompted Senegal to offer land (a whole fertile region if Haitians accept the offer and arrive en masse).

It is so sad to see the photos and videos showing daily life in a country with an overnight homeless population of two million. This is one time when the strong survives and the weak fall by the wayside. Literally. Gangs of marauders, armed with machetes, sticks, guns and make-shift weapons pounce on the weak, defenceless and unprepared. Daily. Nightly.

Escaped prisoners are wreaking havoc. So out come the dogs of war. Foreign soldiers patrol and secure. Can you imagine in the aftermath of a major environmental disaster, foreign soldiers patrolling our ravaged country, giving orders to civilians at the end of a rifle, in languages we don’t understand?

But there is hope. There’s a story about a neigbourhood watch on steroids—a mini local government-of-sorts—protecting their inhabitants and territory with organization, planning, co-operation and force of arms. They even have checkpoints, patrols, a food/water distribution system and medical care. Their leader, Dickens Princivil, is a polite cello-playing, pistol-toting man who never even knew his neighbours before the disaster. What’s more he has options. With a US visa and the means to leave the country he continues to stay. To help.

Generosity is outpouring to Haiti now. Even small businesses have been collecting donations—cash and food—to send. The challenge is getting the money to where it’s meant to go, rather than ending up in private bank accounts in foreign countries.

Surely now is the time to take stock of our own situation here in T&T and boost up our own preparedness levels with more and appropriate supplies, training and planning.

12 January, 2010

Powerful earthquake rocks Haiti

A major earthquake of 7.3 magnitude hit Haiti today around 5 pm.Haiti's ambassador to the U.S., Raymond Alcide Joseph calls it “A catastrophe of major proportions."

Just a few weeks ago, I mentioned the active volcanoes in the Caribbean. And now this.

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