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TGIF columns are in order by date from the most recent.

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SEA of Woe

IN SYMPATHY with the 11-year-old children of Trinidad & Tobago who, two weeks ago, might have had the rest of their lives ruined – by the Secondary Entrance Assessment examination, not by having to marry a man old enough to be their grandfather – I attempted last year’s actual SEA maths paper two Fridays ago. This morning, I’ll do what was called “the English paper” when I sat the 11-Plus 47 years ago, but what the Ministry of Education now insists is better described as, “language arts”; let’s see if I have enough art at language to get me into a Trini “prestige” secondary school – i.e., one in which teachers actually turn up occasionally, if only to have their car washed by one of this year’s graduating class; I note, too, that “grammar” has itself now been downgraded to “grammar skills”, so you don’t have to know grammar, just show some skills relating to it.

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Standing Up for Preteen Hotties

Picture from Daily Beast - There is no excuse for child bridesTHE WORLD looked on in awe for months as Donald Trump slouched towards Washington to be president, borne on the backs of Muslims and Mexicans, but only Trinidad responded in kind last week and offered up a man who could trump Trump: Inter-Religious Organisation president, Brother Harrypersad Maharaj, like the Donald, had the cojones to buck the firetrucking establishment and stand up for child marriage, the only thing that will make Trinidad great again.

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SEA My Troubles

IN THE LAST month, Trinidad divided itself into two camps, each clamouring for either of two gymnasts contesting one Olympics spot, each of whose careers might be devastated if the other went to Rio, and nobody could stop talking about it – but, every year, around this time, thousands of small children have their lives shattered in a single morning, that of the Secondary Assessment Exam – and no one says, “Boo!” Last Thursday, a few thousand kids won places at a “prestige” school and a chance of a real career, but everyone else got sent – or sentenced – to a five-year holding cell until they graduate to either McDonalds small fry guy or prison big bad John; for the bulk of our secondary schools, the uniform might as well be orange overalls.

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​The Agony of the Foetus

IF THE ABORTION debate were as simple as deciding which opposing viewpoint, “pro-choice” or “pro-life”, was right, it would have been over a long time ago. The reason the debate goes on, and will continue to go on, until honesty infiltrates it on both sides, is because abortion is not as straightforward as either side presents it, but distressingly complex all round; indeed, it is near impossible to think of a clearer, and more devastating, human dilemma.

For all their strident protests that the other side’s position is totally untenable, neither perspective is cut-and-dried. Women incontestably have the right to make personal decisions affecting their own health, and no health decision is more personal than whether or not a woman should become a mother; but, at a stage those of us who declare ourselves pro-choice would prefer not to recognise, it seems equally undeniable that the thing growing inside the free woman ceases being an unwanted pregnancy and becomes an unwanted child; and, with a sweet ironical twist, medical science, that Great White pro-choice Hope, moves the point at which the foetus becomes independently viable ever closer to the very start of the second trimester, where all the trouble lies.

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