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Complementary food

Columnists - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 00:13

The late, great Frank Sinatra once said, “It’s the people what make you and it’s the people what break you.”

Sometimes they could real break you hard. Sometimes one wonders why one keeps trying and trying and people keep forgetting and forgetting. Unfortunately, people learn the wrong thing much easier than the correct thing, which explains the failure of communism and of capitalism gone mad.

Take the issue of complementary food for babies. After some years of relative quiet, the baby milk industry has once again begun advising parents that babies need “complementary milk” in the form of “growing up milks”, a false bit of advertisement if there ever was one.

“Growing up” milks have many synonyms, “follow-on”; 1-2-3; progress” etc. Somehow or the other, people have been led to believe that these milks are different to ordinary formulas or ordinary cow’s milk. That is incorrect. “Growing up” milks are just milk. Milk companies try to make out that they are so different from cow’s milk and formulas. They are not. They are essentially the same. There might be minor alterations of the chemical composition but they are all similar. It’s like when we used to have different name brands of gasoline, Shell, Esso, BP etc. In reality, they all came from the same refinery process.

At around six months of age, babies begin to need more calories. By six months most infants are drinking about one litre of milk a day. More than one litre of formula does several things that are harmful.

Too much formula damages the baby’s gut and causes microscopic intestinal blood loss that leads to iron deficiency anaemia. Iron deficiency anaemia is the most common cause of anaemia in Caribbean babies and is probably related to the excess amount of milk that our babies drink. The traditional way of treating iron deficient anaemia is to start commercial cereals (the beloved Nestum rice cereal) at around six months. These commercial cereals are supposed to be full of iron. This does not work well because the iron in cereal is not easily absorbed. The treatment of toddler iron deficiency anaemia is to reduce the amount of milk given to the child and start solids that contain more easily absorbable iron such as egg, green leafy vegetables and animal protein.

Second, all children, who are not blonde and blue-eyed, lose most of their capacity to absorb the sugar in milk, lactose, by one year of age. That’s most of the world’s babies. Drinking excessive milk, more than a litre or 32 oz a day, causes bloating, gas and abdominal discomfort.

Third, keeping the child on liquids prevents the child from learning to chew. This does several things. One, it does not take advantage of the “window” that lasts from about six to 12 months, during which infants are especially receptive to learning about new tastes and consistencies. You end up with a child who refuses to eat solids in the second and third year of life, gets most of its calories from liquid and becomes overweight. That’s called a “milkaholic” and the term was initially used worldwide, here in T&T, by Dr Bruce Symmonds, the first paediatrician in T&T. Since continued ingestion of a liquid diet is usually accompanied by the continued use of the bottle, these children tend to develop “bottle mouth”, i.e. an abnormal shape of their oral cavity (high arched palate and malocclusion of the teeth) as well as bottle feeding caries.

A liquid diet is also poor in fibre and chronic consumption of milk is associated with chronic constipation and in T&T is the single most important cause of constipation in toddlers.

Finally, not being exposed to solids often means that infants do not learn to chew, which is associated with speech delay and malpronuciation problems.

Complementary feeding means introducing solids from the mother’s plate, that complement the liquid diet...not continuing with more liquids disguised as weaning foods.

Categories: News

Tobacco shares climb to $88.49

Business - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 00:06

Overall market activity resulted from trading in 14 securities of which two advanced, eight declined and four traded firm.

Trading activity on the First Tier Market registered a volume of 605,019 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $3,681,293.25. GraceKennedy Limited was the volume leader with 351,000 shares changing hands for a value of $1,053,050, followed by Sagicor Financial Corporation Limited with a volume of 121,664 shares being traded for $969,662.08. FirstCaribbean International Bank Limited contributed 117,954 shares with a value of $1,043,892.90, while The West Indian Tobacco Company Limited added 5,500 shares valued at $486,704.10.

The West Indian Tobacco Company Limited registered the day’s largest gain, increasing $0.09 to end the day at $88.49. Conversely, Calypso Macro Index Fund registered the day’s largest decline, falling $2 to close at $16.

On the Mutual Fund Market 133,833 shares changed hands for a value of $2,702,248.46. Clico Investment Fund was the most active security, with a volume of 133,823 shares valued at $2,702,088.46. It advanced by $0.04 to end at $20.19.

In Monday’s trading session the following reflect the movement of the TTSE Indices:

° The Composite Index declined by 3.48 points (0.28 per cent) to close at 1,238.84.

° The All T&T Index declined by 5.34 points (0.31 per cent) to close at 1,725.28.

° The Cross Listed Index declined by 0.21 points (0.21 per cent) to close at 101.16.

Categories: News

Sagicor delivers best results since 2008

Business - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 00:04

The Sagicor Group experienced improvements in revenue, net income and equity during the 2017 financial year. Group net income was US$115.3 million, compared to US$109.3 million in the prior year—an increase of US$60 million.

President and CEO of Sagicor’s International Operations Ravi Rambarran, in outlining the international environment in which the company operated, said there was increased economic growth of 3.1 per cent compared to 2.4 per cent. However, this masked natural disasters and geopolitical tensions, which were the two sources of shocks in the global economy. In the Caribbean environment, he said, there was a stark contrast.

“All countries experienced lower economic growth with the exception of Trinidad and Tobago which experienced a decline. All countries in the Caribbean have unsustainable fiscal deficits and debt stocks and they are all trying to manage through various combinations of tax increases, cuts in public expenditure and they are engaging in that fiscal austerity at different speeds,” Rambarran said.

He also noted the region’s reduced ability to generate foreign currency cash flows.

Given these factors, Rambarran said, it was Sagicor’s best financial performance since 2008, adding that the company continues to maintain solvency standards significantly above required levels and maintained international rating.

To hedge against foreign losses in T&T, Rambarran said there is a clause where investments can be made in foreign assets. He said while there might be constraints to convert TT dollars to US, Sagicor’s operations in foreign countries compensates, resulting in an overall net positive.

Commenting on how last year’s devastating hurricanes had affected the company’s performance Rambaran said: “There’s a provision for all losses arising from the hurricanes, which is US$8.5 million.”

Asked whether it was possible for dividends to be paid in the US currency in which they are declared rather local currency, Dodridge Miller Group President and CEO explained: “What you’re seeing is a reporting currency as against an operating environment. We report in US dollars but all of our operations, except in the US operate, in local currency.”

Chairman Stephen McNamara said net income attributable to shareholders was US$72.2 million, compared to US$61.7 million in the prior year, an increase of US$10.5 million. Earnings per common share was US23.7 cents and represented an annualised return on common shareholders’ equity of 13.3 per cent compared to 12.6 per cent for the previous year.

Categories: News

Poultry producers want protection

Business - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 00:02

More than 27,000 jobs will be lost if imported chicken continues to flood the local market. This was the warning yesterday from president of the T&T Poultry Association Robert Phillip who said the local industry will be decimated if it is not protected from a ramped up campaign by the USA Poultry and Egg Council to send millions of tons of chicken, turkey and duck, and billions of eggs into the Caricom market.

Based on estimates from the association, T&T produces 800,000 birds a week for domestic consumption and imports an estimated 200,000 birds.

Phillip is appealing to Government to implement the Poultry and Poultry Products Caricom Standard, passed in 2012, to prevent substandard meat from entering the local market. He is also calling for introduction of proper importation standards since there are too many discrepancies in records of exports from the United States and T&T customs.

According to Phillip, 200 metric tonnes of chicken offal comes into T&T based on US export data but T&T’s Customs records show no evidence of it.

“Chicken offal is a waste product. This could be a health risk to our people. We cannot say what it is whether it is gizzard, livers or feathers and entrails. We are not sure what it is and it is being imported. US records show it is exported to Trinidad and Tobago but Customs says nothing like that has entered the market, yet US data shows that it left for Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.

“US chicken and poultry products are already on the local market and we are concerned because currently there is no requirement to disclose when the chicken was processed. The standard that we should be operating here is the Caricom standard which says that the chicken should be no older than 180 days from slaughter. That is an international standard.”

Phillip said 80 per cent of local chicken is sold within three to five days and balance is sold within two months.

“We are competing at a disadvantage because there are reports that chicken two years old is entering the Caricom market for sale. This food fraud is something we raised before and it must be stopped,” he said.

A representative from the T&T Pluckshop Association said the industry employs between 10,000 and 12,000 people.

“If foreign chicken is brought into Trinidad and Tobago, thousands of people will go on the breadline. Apart from being careful with foreign meat, we must ensure that we support our local industry,” an official of the association said.

On Friday, Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat expressed concern that poultry imports are threatening thousands of local jobs.

Categories: News

Ship builders to look at water taxis

News - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 23:43

A team from the Austal Shipping Company is now in Trinidad and Tobago and will inspect the four water taxis and six Coast Guard vessels to report back to the Government on the state of the vessels and make recommendations for the maintenance of the vessels.

The team, which arrived in the country less than a week after Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley returned from his China/Australia trip, will also visit some of the shipyards and dry dock facilities available locally “to ascertain the viability of developing a facility to offer maintenance and other services out of Trinidad,” according to a release from the Office of the Prime Minister.

The Austal team will also make suggestions “towards getting all of the vessels operational and seaworthy, as well as provide a proposed maintenance programme for the vessels.”

However, the release gave no indication of how long the team will be in the country or the cost to taxpayers of the visit and the work to be done.

The Prime Minister’s Office indicated only that it expects that Austal’s report will be provided to the Government in the “coming weeks.” That report will include suggestions towards getting all of the vessels operational and seaworthy, and will also provide a proposed maintenance programme for the vessels.

Meantime, there is confirmation that work on the Galleons Passage which has been docked in Cuba since May 26, is yet to begin.

National Infrastructure Development Company (Nidco) Chairman Herbert George said there were two reasons for the delay.

One was the “details for the structural elements were slow in coming.”

Having received the details of retrofit work to be done, George said they now have to source the material for the work to be done from foreign suppliers in Holland and Australia.

He confirmed that the delay means that the original price tag between US$350,000 -$400,000 announced in March by Finance Minister Colm Imbert in March will increase.

“The state wants to have the vessel here and in service, where contracts are involved there will be room for outfitting charges and things like that. That discussion will come later.”

Three months ago on March 2, Nidco announced eight items of work which had to be done on the Galleons Passage at the Damen Shipyard.

Three were to be paid for by the seller; those were the sealing of the gap between the ramp door and the hull of the vessel, installation of the canopy on the vehicle deck to protect against the sea spray and installation of anchor rings for securing vehicles on the vehicle deck.

The T&T government was to pay for the installation of full canopies over the sundeck, installation and outfitting of additional male and female washroom facilities on the sundeck, installation of café/bar facilities on the starboard and port side of the sundeck, remodelling of the urinals in the men’s washroom including removal of the existing trough urinals and installation of fixing rails for new seating on the passenger deck.

According to Nidco, the existing bench seating is to be replaced with contoured seats.

Last Friday, Nidco in a release noted that there was a setback in beginning the work because of a delay in the completion of the designs and the consequent problem of drawings approved by the seller.

Categories: News

Granny pleads guilty to stealing ice cream, soap, toothpaste

News - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 23:39

A 71-year-old woman who spent two nights at the police station after she was caught stealing ice cream, dahi and other items from a grocery was given a chance yesterday.

Taking into consideration her age and that it was her first arrest, San Fernando magistrate Alicia Chankar reprimanded and discharged the elderly woman.

Deokie Samlalsingh, of La Romaine, went to MS Food City at SS Erin Road, Debe, on Saturday where she stole $261.65 worth of items.

Court prosecutor Denzil Alexander said around 4.55 pm the owner saw Samlalsingh taking items off of the shelves and placing it in her handbag.

Samlalsingh left the grocery without paying for the items. The owner confronted her and searched her handbag where she found a tube of Colgate, dairy milk, protex omega soap and haagen dazs ice cream.

The owner called the police. When PC Adam Andre arrived and spoke to the elderly woman, she said, “I don’t know what come over meh to take them things. I really sorry. I will pay them back, together with the dahi that I take and put in my car.”

The officer went into her car and found five bottles of dahi and a pack of salt in the front passenger door.

Samlalsingh was arrested and taken to the San Fernando Police Station where she was charged.

In the First Magistrate’s Court yesterday, Samlalsingh, who did not have an attorney, still could not offer a proper explanation for her actions.

“I really didn’t go to do it. I went to buy a few items for myself. I don’t know what come to me.”

She apologised and again offer to pay for the items. She said she lived alone and has a son but she did not know where he lives.

Asked by the magistrate if she knew she did something wrong, Samlalsingh said, “Yes, ma’am. I sorry. I will never in life do that again. I promise that.”

Samlalsingh said she went to the grocery for a soft drink and a full cream milk, but she only paid for the soft drink.

Because she had no criminal record, her age and the items were recovered, the magistrate allowed her to leave without a conviction being recorded against her.

“Please be mindful, don’t let it happen again,” said the magistrate as she ordered the items be returned to the owner.

Categories: News

Sexual harassment on agenda

News - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 23:13

Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus is leading a T&T delegation at the 107th International Labour Conference, in Geneva, Switzerland.

The conference, which began yesterday, held annually, convenes to discuss varying labour issues and standards that should be adopted by Member States of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

This year, the agenda items include discussions on technical labour-related issues inclusive of topics such as violence and harassment against women and men in the world of work which is timely as the ministry has recently drafted its National Workplace Policy on sexual harassment.

A statement from the ministry said the representation of T&T at the conference will strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Labour and Small Enterprise Development to pursue the objectives of the National Development Policy of T&T, with particular reference to the promotion of decent work, sustainable development and upholding the commitments of the ILO Decent Work Agenda.

It said this country serves to benefit greatly from the conclusions and guidelines of the conference as these outcomes can strengthen the platform for achieving targets related to improving decent work.

Participation in the conference will also enhance the profile of T&T as an active participant in the international effort to place people at the centre of development.

The International Labour Conference (ILC) is a highly-recognised international forum which brings together approximately 5,000 representatives of government, employers and workers of ILO Member States in the only United Nations tripartite forum to discuss labour issues of international importance and to negotiate conventions and recommendations which establish international labour standards.

The T&T delegation also includes secretary in the Division of Community Development, Enterprise Development and Labour of the Tobago House of Assembly Marslyn Melville-Jack, permanent representative of T&T to the United Nations, Geneva Makeda Antoine-Cambridge, counsellor at the Permanent Mission of T&T to the United Nations Geneva Garvin Pettier, chairman of the Employers’ Consultative Association Keston Nancoo and general secretary of the National Trade Union Center (NATUC) Michael Annisette.

All representatives are in accordance with the Constitution of the ILO where there must be representation from employers’ and workers’ organisations.

Categories: News

Three in court for home invasion

News - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 22:59

Three men appeared in court yesterday charged with a violent home invasion in Sangre Grande.

Keron Seales, of Oasis Gardens, Chaguanas, Keston De Frietas, of Curepe, and Darren Juteram, of Coalmine, a relative of the victims, were jointly charged with three offences of robbery with aggravation.

They were each granted bail in the sum of $75,000 bail by Senior Magistrate Debra Quintyne, presiding in the Sangre Grande First Magistrate Court.

The trio was charged with the offences by PC Delpino of Sangre Grande CID.

Seales, De Frietas and Juteram will make their next court appearance on July 2.

The three men were arrested following a robbery which was taking place at the home of the Juterams on May 31.

The victims—Nevash Juteram, Amrish Juteram and their uncle Deosaran were beaten and robbed of $11,900 in cash and their cellphones at their at El Reposo Road, Sangre Grande home.

Categories: News

Gang leader shot dead in daylight gun attack

News - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 22:56

A reputed gang leader was murdered on Hermitage Road, Gonzales yesterday. According to reports, around 4.30 pm, Kevon “Fish” Joseph was a back-seat passenger, travelling along Belmont Circular Road, when they were ambushed by two gunmen, who began shooting at the car.

The driver turned into Hermitage Road, got out of the Toyota Corolla and left Joseph who was wounded.

Eyewitnesses told police the gunmen walked closer to the vehicle and shot Joseph several times at close range.

He was pronounced dead on the scene by a District Medical Officer (DMO) who ordered that his body be taken to the Forensic Science Centre in St James where an autopsy will be performed today.

Graphic photographs and videos of Joseph’s body began circulating on social media before police arrived on the scene and cordoned off the area.

The driver of the vehicle, who sustained minor injuries from the broken glass, was being interrogated by police up to late yesterday. Homicide detectives said that Joseph was a known offender and was affiliated to the Muslim gang.

Police sources said investigators suspect that Joseph’s murder was gang-related as it was committed in an area of the community controlled by a rival gang.

Joseph’s murder comes two weeks after rival gang members were killed in an incident in the community.

On May 24, 30-year-old Kareem Stanisclaus and another man went to Walcott Lane, Gonzales, where they shot and killed 17-year-old Kobe Brown.

As they were fleeing the scene, they were ambushed by Brown’s friends. Stanisclaus died on the scene, while the other gunman managed to escape.

Investigations are continuing into both sets of murders.

Categories: News

Remorse in Oropune

News - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 22:53

Oropune residents are now said to be showing genuine regret, remorse and sadness for the man they badly beat last week, after they claimed he attempted to lure a five-year-old girl away from a nearby playground.

Victim Ashdale Mc Hutchinson, 49, died at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope, at about 11 am on Sunday.

Mc Hutchinson, who lived at Bon Air Gardens, Arouca, with his mother Jeannette, was visiting his sister Anika and cousin Mario in Oropune Gardens last Wednesday, when he was confronted by a mob of residents. They severely beat him and subsequently hog-tied him before calling the police. Mc Hutchinson was hospitalised since the attack and never regained consciousness.

His sisters Anika, Alisa and Amanda were all overwhelmed with inconsolable grief while at the Forensic Science Centre, St James, for his autopsy yesterday.

“They didn’t have to tie my brother like a hog and kill him just so...for nothing. How could these people live with themselves now?” Anika said.

Mc Hutchinson’s cousin Mario said he invited him over to his house on Wednesday for the Indian Arrival Day holiday so that he could “eat roti and relax.” He said he left to go to a nearby parlour to purchase a cigarette.

“I was told that he went to the parlour and got none so he must have went somewhere else and I feel that was when he got lost,” Mario told the T&T Guardian.

“I was told that he came across the playground and some children were selling chow and he bought out all the chow and gave it away because that is how he was. He was a kind and generous person.”

In a video of the incident that went viral, moments after Mc Hutchinson was smoked out from nearby bushes and badly beaten by the residents, he was heard begging for his life. The residents had accused him of attempting to lure the child by calling her “cousin” but in the video he tried to defend himself, saying he would usually refer to people he would meet as family.

Sister Amanda confirmed his usually good-natured greeting to the T&T Guardian yesterday.

“I know my brother, he meant no harm. He was not a vagrant or piper. He worked very hard for his money at the Macoya Market. He was the sole breadwinner at home too. He took care of his mother,” Amanda said.

Anika also said her brother was robbed, adding she did not believe the alleged paedophile theory being used by the residents to justify the beating.

“They robbed him, his new shoes, new cellphone and money. It was nothing else but that. I want justice...police must lock up everybody from mother to child to everyone who beat him unconscious then revive him by dashing him with water and beating him again.”

It is also alleged that a plainclothes police officer was part of the group who beat Mc Hutchinson.

Yesterday, however, Jeannette said she had already forgiven her son’s attackers. “Only because God say to forgive,” she said.

At Oropune, Mario said a woman came to his house yesterday morning to offer condolences.

“She said she was very sorry for what happened to my cousin. She said she believes that something went terribly wrong, which led to the incident.”

A resident, who wished not to be identified and who was standing outside Building 140 when the T&T Guardian visited the community yesterday, described the incident as “sad.”

“I was sleeping and didn’t hear of it till the next morning. It is very sad and unfortunate.”

Another resident said he remains very shocked.

“This is just terrible to know that this man probably was innocent after all. Nobody not saying nothing but just expressing how sorry they are. People not even saying now whether they were there or not.”

Mc Hutchinson’s relatives explained that because he was such a “good man” they wanted to donate his two kidneys. However, it could not have been done because of a medical complication that was identified.

The autopsy is expected to be conducted today to determine the actual cause of death.

Officers at the Arouca Police Station have turned the case over to Homicide. The T&t Guardian was told officers have so far interviewed five people but no one is taking responsibility for the attack. In fact, those interviewed have been pointing fingers at others, officers said, noting persons involved in the attack could face charges in Mc Hutchinson’s death. Investigations are continuing.

Categories: News

Citizens warned against vigilante justice

News - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 22:48

Citizens are being advised not to be judge, jury and executioner when they make a citizen’s arrest of someone they believe may be a criminal or someone with ill intent.

Experts say while citizens can arrest someone under the law and hold them while they wait for the police, vigilante justice is illegal and citizens have no legal right to beat someone whom they detain via this process.

But experts admitted yesterday that vigilante justice is being borne out of a sense of frustration that the institutions charged with protecting citizens are not doing enough, and they are urging the police to get their act together to inspire confidence from a citizenry besieged by crime.

Their comments came in the wake of the death of Ashdale Mc Hutchinson, who never regained consciousness after he was beaten by residents of Oropune Gardens, Piarco, who thought he was a child predator. Residents alleged that Mc Hutchinson tried to lure a child he did not know away from her friends but there were no reports from the police that he acted inappropriately. Doctors are reported as saying Mc Hutchinson suffered severe brain damage and would have been in a vegetated state had he survived.

Weighing in on the incident yesterday, former National Security Minister and security expert Gary Griffith admitted that vigilante justice “pops up” when communities feel law enforcement agencies are not doing what is required to protect them from the criminal element.

“This has escalated because of the lack of confidence which people have with the law enforcement officials. Persons are making decisions when they are very emotional when they are very angry and when they do that they fail to be aware of the repercussions that will follow,” he told the T&T Guardian.

However, Griffith said while a citizens’ arrest is permissible under the law, citizens “have to be very careful and ensure that what you do is within the law and that you use minimum force.”

The high crime situation and frustration being experienced by citizens, he said, makes it even more important for the “management and leadership of the Police Service to inspire trust and confidence in the public so that they do not feel the need to take the law into their own hands.”

Criminologist Professor Ramesh Deosaran meanwhile said there is a “vigilante justice syndrome” which has emerged because people are living “with a great fear of crime” and they believe there has been an “inadequate treatment of crime across the country.”

As a result, Deosaran said people feel they “have to respond violently to persons they suspect or see committing a crime, sometimes you would not wait to see something happen, as long as there is a probability of something happening people would respond.”

Declaring that the country is on a “slippery slope,” Deosaran said the Police Manpower Audit which was presented to the Government last year sought to address deficiencies there might be in terms of police vehicles to respond or manpower shortages which prevent a proper response to citizens’ complaints.

As chair of that committee, Deosaran said he could not tell Government what to do, but said the poor response of the police to citizens’ reports “is the genesis of vigilante justice, and while you can say it should not be mob justice, you have to understand what created the mob mentality and there are ways to deal with this institutionally.”

The best way to deal with vigilante justice, he said, is “having police respond to citizen’s complaints in a timely manner, with quick arrests and prosecutions.”

In the case of Mc Hutchinson, Deosaran said the man “was a suspect and had not committed a crime. Vigilante Justice was not required here.”

Another criminologist Daurius Figueira admitted that a vigilante act is a “challenge to the role of law, it is a challenge to the criminal justice system, it is a message to the politicians that people on the ground are totally fed up with the insecurity in their lives and the pain and dislocation that is being visited upon them by criminals and they are now intent on responding.”

But he said the problem with vigilantism is that there is no way of knowing whether the person being accused of a criminal act is, in fact, guilty.

“You playing judge, jury and executioner all in one,” Figueira said.

While people may feel they are victims and need to act, he said, there is a danger that “you, in turn, become a predator, the individuals went after the perceived predator and end up killing that person. Violence begets violence. It is a spiral that solves nothing,” Figueira cautioned. He said what is required is for law enforcement agencies and the political directorate to do what is necessary. (See Page 5)

Categories: News

UTT offers full online courses from 2019

News - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 22:41

From September 2019, all programmes offered by the University of T&T (UTT) will be available online.

This was disclosed yesterday by UTT president, Professor Sarim Al-Zubaidy.

In an apparent response to the T&T Guardian article which yesterday reported that the university will be shutting down some of its 13 campuses, Al-Zubaidy allayed any fears that the UTT was “shutting down.”

However, he admitted that the maintenance of some of the 13 campuses across the country was extremely high and some of them were being underutilised. As a result of this and as part of its cost-cutting initiatives, the said UTT has undertaken an ongoing campus rationalisation.

“Resulting from this exercise so far, the university has closed the UTT Campus at SAPA which had no programmes scheduled. The business facility, USTART, at Frederick Settlement was relocated to UTT O’Meara Campus. Both of these have resulted in cost savings for the university,” Al-Zubaidy said.

In moving forward, he said UTT will be better serving its students through blended and online learning.

“In this context, I have directed that all programmes be available online by September 2019. As you can imagine, this will take much effort and by September 2018, some of the programmes will be blended with online learning, for greater access by students,” Al-Zubaidy said.

“Again, let me state that UTT is here to stay and here to serve our students and UTT will continue to be an essential part of the tertiary education landscape of Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean.”

Yesterday, the T&T Guardian reported exclusively that as part of its cost-cutting exercise UTT will be closing some of its 13 existing campuses as part of its massive restructuring exercise which started on May 11 with the retrenchment of over 50 academic staff. In line with this, the university will be giving up all campuses deemed surplus to its operations. It is suspected that the plan is to keep six teaching locations and that UTT will give up the Chaguanas (Agora) campus once the main campus in Tamana is opened. Agora, which is the only building owned by UTT, will either be rented or leased. It is also speculated that one of the Teachers’ Colleges—Valsayn or Corinth—will be closed and UTT O’Meara may be either sub-rented or given up altogether.

Categories: News

AMCHAM wants stiffer fines for cybercrime acts

News - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 22:39

American Chamber (AMCHAM) CEO Nirad Tewarie yesterday told the Joint Select Committee of Parliament on the Cybercrime Bill that fines must be “sufficient to deter cybercrime” and has proposed penalties in the region of between $300,000 and $500,000.

Appearing before the JSC yesterday, Tewarie said the lowest fine under the proposed legislation is now $100,000 but said that is “very low” given the “transnational nature of cybercrime.”

Tewarie said AMCHAM viewed the bill as “absolutely necessary because of its reach and the ubiquity of electronic communication and the utilisation of hardware and software.” He said the chamber was “mindful” of the need to balance privacy rights and “also to ensure that the public interest is never undermined through the passage of legislation such as this.”

Responding to questions from committee chair, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, the former journalist and secretary of the Media Association of T&T said AMCHAM is also not recommending any mandatory standards be imposed on the media. He said media houses which are part of the Media Complaints Council, “which I think needs revitalisation, do have internal standards and procedures for reviewing, upholding those standards where issues may arise.”

He said AMCHAM had not discussed it, but giving his personal opinion and “given my varied experience in public life, I think that any code for the media, given the historical and changing role of the media, must be voluntary and the limits of which are prescribed by the boundaries of the truth in libel and defamation laws.”

Al-Rawi said media houses have been subject to self-regulation and sought Tewarie’s view on the citizen journalist. Tewarie said he inferred from the question that the AG was asking about “restriction and boundaries.”

He said AMCHAM did not believe that “journalism is a profession which should be licensed in any way. But we do believe that journalists or people aspiring to be journalists,” as he made the distinction between a citizen’s report, “who passes on information,” and the journalist, “who seeks to verify it and add context, and so on should be limited by the truth, and the truth is the defence of a journalist.”

Al-Rawi assured that “just for the record, we don’t propose any form of regulatory management of any form of journalism.”

Categories: News

$40.5m swindled from customers

News - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 22:37

The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) says there were close to 1,700 reports of credit card and other card fraud in 2017 to the tune of TT$40.5 million. The revelation yesterday prompting Joint Select Committee chair on the Cybercrime Bill, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, to note that the disclosure in the cyber-crime environment “tells a tale of our country and the risks we are facing.”

Appearing before the JSC yesterday, Acting Deputy Commissioner of Police Harold Phillips reported on successes the TTPS has had under the Computer Misuse Act and the Electronic Transfer of Funds Act.

He said under the Electronic Transfer of Funds Act there were a number of offences “from fraudulent use of credit cards, trafficking in counterfeit cards, possession of card making equipment, obtaining goods by false pretences using false, expired or revoked cards and theft or retaining possession of cards.”

In 2017, he said the number of reports of card fraud was “1,694 reports and the dollar value for those reports would have been totalling $40.5 million.”

Phillips said the police undertook several prosecutions for fraudulent use of cards, trafficking in counterfeit cards as well as possession of card making equipment and “in these prosecutions sometimes one person would be prosecuted for more than one offence.”

The data so far, he said, indicates that there were 78 prosecutions. Phillips also pointed to the reports this year where persons were putting in empty envelopes into fast deposits and “getting sums of money credited to their account and monies were withdrawn by these persons.” He said most of the cases were recently reported and the police had started investigations “and we have been successful in a few prosecutions so far.”

For the year so far, Phillips said there had also been a substantial number of reports that focused on persons either responding to emails, whereby they indicated that they needed to supply identification information with respect to banks, and in fact, their accounts were hacked.

He said the police continue to get reports of the fraudulent use of credit cards and has received 747 such reports to date. Phillips said so far there have been 81 prosecutions under the Computer Misuse Act. On the Cybercrime Act, the TTPS is proposing that cybercrime offences be included in the first schedule of the recently proclaimed Anti-Gang Act.

Asked by committee member Barry Padarath what prompted the request, Acting Assistant Superintendent Kerwin Francis said fraudsters operate like gangs.

“There are persons who may be generating fraudulent bank cards, there are persons employed in a restaurant you may go with your credit card, that person may swipe your card, then that data is handed over to John Doe who may have the software and the blank cards upon which he can now impregnate that data from your credit card,” Francis said.

Francis said the activity of the employee at the restaurant, when married with the conduct of the individual putting the data on the blank cards, brings them within the realm of gang activity.

“Under the Anti-Gant Act, two or more persons coming together whether formally or informally to engage in a gang-related activity.”

He said by putting the cybercrime offences under the first scheduled of the Anti Gang Act, “these two persons can now be charged for being members of gang and the person leading the activity can be charged as a gang leader and then the follow-on with provisions under the legislation that deals with forfeiture of equipment etcetera.”

Asked whether there were high instances of this happening, Francis said he was aware that the Fraud Squad “does receive a number of reports outlining that sort of conduct.”

The TTPS has promised to provide data to the JSC.

Al-Rawi said police data was critical, telling Phillip, “You gave us a submission which was immensely important, $40m of transactions in the cybercrime environment and thousands of matters, that tells a tale of our country and the risks we are facing.”

He urged the committee to lean on the Fraud Squad if necessary to get the data which is critical in “exposing the mischief” of cybercrime and the economic impact.

Al-Rawi also asked the police to provide data on allegations of death or physical harm which may have been caused in a cyberbullying environment and data on allegations of domestic violence which occur in the cyber environment. Phillip admitted the police do get some of that through social media.

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