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Superman Russell stuns TKR

Sports - Sun, 08/12/2018 - 01:41

Anyone who did not believe in Superman and was at the Queen’s Park Oval on Friday night, would be doubting themselves, as the man nicknamed Andre ‘Superman’ Russell played the best ever T20 innings to take his team the Jamaica Tallawahs to a dramatic come-from-behind four-wicket victory over reigning champions Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) in a thriller on Friday night, the third night of competition in the 2018 CPL Tournament.

Shah Rukh Khan travelled 14,459km to see one of his very own players put tears in his eyes, as T20 star Russell who plays for Khan’s other team the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League plundered an astonishing, unbeaten hundred and also grabbed a hat-trick, to literally steal the show and the game away from the TKR players and fans.

The moon acted up in his favour around the last over the TKR innings, when he captured a rare hattrick, as TKR made what they thought would have been a winning total of 223/6 in their 20 overs. He then entered the red arena with his team tottering to score an amazing unbeaten 121 off 49 balls to leave everyone stunned at the Mecca of local cricket.

Muhammad Ali Khan then ripped out the top order of the Tallawahs and had them reeling on 41/5 – game over. Well, 18,000 T&T fans would have thought so but Russell had other ideas. Dropped off his very first ball by Ali Khan – a difficult running catch, the Jamaican made the locals pay. He murdered the bowling and the only one that was spared was Ali Khan who ended with 3/24.

While the fans were dancing and celebrating prematurely as they sense victory around the corner, Russell and Kennar Lewis had other ideas and the pair began rebuilding the team’s response. Russell was brutal, while Lewis who muscled a few to the boundary was more calculated. The TKR found Russell impossible to bowl too and they were mere spectators as white balls kept flying over their heads.

Russell coming into the game with the fastest ever century at the CPL, 42 balls against the same opposition in 2016, went two balls better – striking his second ton off 40 balls. Russell’s record-breaking feat included the most sixes ever struck in an innings in the CPL, 13, beating the previous record of 11 held by Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis. He was also involved in a world record stand for the sixth wicket with Lewis. Their stand of 161 bettered the previous best for the sixth wicket of 126 held by Calum MacLeod and John Hastings for Durham against Northern in the Natwest Blast of 2014.

Captain Dwayne Bravo came under assault from Russell in the 13th over, giving up 22 runs and seamer Javon Searles saw 18 runs come from his opening over – 16th of the innings – as Russell and Lewis combined to take him apart.

Lewis played a hand not to be underestimated and fell 22 runs before the victory was formalised. He ended with 51 runs off 35 balls with four fours and two sixes.

The game was still in the balance with 53 runs required from the last 24 balls but Russell took 20 from the 17th over bowled by Dwayne Bravo and 17 came from the next from Fawad, even though Lewis perished after striking four fours and two sixes off 35 balls.

By then, Tallwahs needed just 16 from the last two overs and Russell put the game to bed in the final over when he cleared the ropes at long-on with Narine.

Earlier, Colin Munro continued his splendid form with the bat, to lead the TKR to 223/6 off their 20 overs. The left-hander followed up his half-century against the St. Lucia Stars in the opening match with 61 scored off 42 balls with five fours and three sixes. Australian Chris Lynn joined the party with a hard hit 46 off 27 balls with four fours and three sixes. They left another man from Down Under took over as Brendon McCullum smoked 56 off 27 balls with five fours and four sixes. Darren Bravo also looked in good touch with 29 off 16 balls with two fours and two sixes.

Last night the TKR were due to battle the St. Kitts/Nevis Patriots in their third match weather permitting


TKR vs Tallawahs
3rd match
TKR Innings
S Narine c Powell b Wasim 7
C Lynn c Russell b Santokie 46
C Munro c Taylor b Zampa 61
B McCullum c Powell b Russell 56
DM Bravo b Russell 29
J Searles not out 6
D Ramdin c McCarthy b Russell 0
DJ Bravo not out 0
Extras (lb4, w13, nb1) 18
TOTAL (6 wkts, 20 overs) 223
Did not bat: Fawad Ahmed,
Ali Khan, S Gabriel
Fall of wickets: 1-10,
2-108, 3-130, 4-216,
5-216, 6-216.
Santokie 4-0-41-1 (w4),
Wasim 4-0-23-1 (w2),
Roach 4-0-64-0 (w2m nb1),
Russell 3-0-38-3,
Zampa 4-0-35-1 (w1),
Powell 1-0-18-1.
Tallawahs Innings
G Phillips c Ahmed b Ali Khan 6
J Charles lbw b Ahmed 24
A McCarthy c Lynn b Ali Khan 0
R Taylor lbw b Ali Khan 1
R Powell b Gabriel 1
K Lewis c Searles b Ahmed 52
A Russell not out 121
I Wasim not out 3
Extras (lb2, w6, nb4) 12
TOTAL (6 wkts, 19.3 overs) 225
Did not bat: K Roach, K Santokie, A Zampa
Fall of wickets: 1-7, 2-7, 3-15, 4-16, 5-41, 6-202.
Ali Khan 4-0-24-3 (w3, nb1),
Gabriel 3-0-28-1 (nb2),
DJ Bravo 4-0-60-0,
Fawad Ahmed 4-0-46-2 (w1),
Narine 3.3-0-42-0 (nb1),
Searles 1-0-18-0 (w2).
Result: Tallawahs won by six wickets.
Man-of-the-Match: Andre Russell.
Toss: Tallawahs.
Umpires: L Reifer, S George; TV – J Wilson.

Categories: News

Privacy as a human right

Columnists - Sun, 08/12/2018 - 00:10

Mr Justice Mann opined that the press overstepped the mark when it reported a story on the existence of a police investigation which, at that time, was yet to result in a charge. A beleaguered Sir Cliff Richard OBE wept at the Royal Courts of Justice on July 18, 2018, when the judgment was delivered. Unbeknownst to Sir Cliff, he was the subject of an investigation in 2014 while he was still assiduously pursuing his artistic career.

The rummage of his home on August 14, 2014, by police was given wide currency, first on the BBC, and then swiftly on tabloids worldwide, and on tablets and smart phones across the World Wide Web. The devastation was instantaneous and ubiquitous. Sir Cliff claimed that both the BBC and the police violated his rights both in privacy and under the Data Protection Act, 1998. His claims were substantial because his life folded and his finances crumbled.

Two years deeper inside the agony, a remorseful police force recanted. In June 2016, they announced that no charges could be brought against Sir Cliff.

In May 2017, the police accepted liability, apologised, and made a statement in open court and paid Sir Cliff £400,000 in damages and agreed to pay his costs and paid £300,000 on account of that costs liability. But the BBC resisted.

Justice Mann adjured that a citizen has a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to an investigation that is yet to result in a charge and, as such, the right to privacy trumped public interest.

The judgment speared the British media tradition of factually reporting details of pre-charge investigations. The boundaries of British media law have been redrawn. Mr Justice Mann ruled against the BBC. Sir Cliff Richard was awarded £210,000 in damages; £190,000 in damages with a further £20,000 in aggravated damages for the BBC’s decision to nominate the story for the Royal Television Society’s ‘scoop of the year award’.

The threads of every email from 2014 to 2018, tweet, text, and WhatsApp message riddled with black humour unravelled like a hand knotted Bukhara rug during the proceedings. Justice Mann noted that, while a reporter may not be a dishonest person, they seem capable of letting their enthusiasm get the better of them in pursuit of a story and twist matters to create a mosaic that could only be described as dishonest and permeated with tropes that arouse and excite the public.

Human rights simultaneously claim to protect both freedom of expression and the right to privacy. The privacy issues surrounding Sir Cliff’s case are not unlike those under consideration by a UK parliamentary committee inquiring into the democratic crisis created by big data and the targeting of pernicious views.

The committee has been examining the impact of online disinformation on political campaigning—and on ways to build resilience against misinformation into the UK’s democratic systems. The committee considered evidence on Russian state-sponsored attempts to influence elections in the US and the UK, of the efforts of private companies to do the same, and of breaches by Leave Campaign groups in the UK’s EU Referendum and their use of social media.

This inquiry is happening in the midst of exposures about the extent of disinformation and social media data misuse and allegations of election fiddling and law bending which have oozed like dense dark mud in the Devil’s Woodyard, around the 2016 US presidential election.

Exposés about the cottage industry of fake news purveyors that have spun up to feed US voters, in addition to Kremlin troll farm activity and the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data misuse saga with its widespread privacy violations are all drooling.

Sir Cliff was exposed to trolling posts. He was trapped in his own home. He felt despair and hopelessness leading at times to physical collapse. He could not face his friends and family—or even his future. His life’s work was ripped apart and the adverse publicity on the internet and newspapers removed his status as a respected citizen.

This is why the parliamentary committee is seeking to harmonize the hymn book for all online advertisements and messages with those in use for published leaflets, circulars, and advertisements as it relates to political campaigning and privacy protection in the UK. Proximity does not matter any more.

Sir Cliff was on holiday in Portugal when the story broke. The lengths of distances are not obstacles any longer. Contiguity of cause and effect has decayed. Stories travel without itineraries, barriers or border control. Balancing the right to privacy with the competing right to freedom of expression remains contextual and cultural.

Dr Fazal Ali

Categories: News

The midnight reshuffle

Columnists - Sun, 08/12/2018 - 00:09

For the ninth time in 35 months, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has made changes to his government (January 27, 2016, February 1, 2016, March 17, 2016, October 31, 2016, June 29, 2017, July 2, 2017, April 9, 2018, April 10, 2018, and August 6, 2018). This time he made a major reshuffle by reassigning Edmund Dillon as Minister of National Security to become Minister of Housing and Urban Development and replaced him with Stuart Young who retained his portfolios of Minister of Communications and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, while vacating his other junior ministerial posting of Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs.

These changes came on the heels of the Prime Minister moving the motion to approve the presidential notification in the House of Representatives on July 30 for Gary Griffith to become Commissioner of Police. It would appear now that the Prime Minister has put his core national security team in place.

It is quite possible that the Prime Minister asked that the party line whip be lifted for the vote in the House on July 30 because he detected that there was division in the ranks of his MPs over the Griffith notification. Every PNM MP who was present, and voted, supported Griffith.

Whether moving Dillon from Knox Street to South Quay will be the answer to the Government’s problems on crime together with the departure of Stephen Williams from Sackville Street and his replacement there by Gary Griffith, we have to wait and see. There is still uncertainty (at the time of writing) about when Griffith will actually assume duties as the substantive Commissioner of Police. Stuart Young has already started his tour of duty as Minister of National Security based on official photographs released in the media.

So why did Prime Minister Rowley move against one of his most trusted Cabinet ministers in favour of another trusted Cabinet minister in a midnight reshuffle? That will remain a mystery for the general public however, Dillon has had to put a brave face on his reassignment based on the tone of the media interviews that he has given.

At the final PNM campaign rally in September 2015, Rowley promised the population that his government would hit the ground running from day one on the issue of crime. He had two brigadiers and a former assistant commissioner of police among his slate of candidates so there was every reason to believe that the PNM had the wherewithal to launch a credible attack against the crime epidemic in the country.

No one really expected, during the heat of the election, that 35 months later that one brigadier would be a backbencher, the other would be tending to the affairs of the nation’s housing stock, and the former assistant commissioner of police would be a Parliamentary Secretary in National Security.

On January 27, 2016, Rowley appointed the Foreign Affairs Minister, Dennis Moses, as a junior minister in National Security in addition to his duties as Foreign Minister. On February 1, 2016, Rowley added Glenda Jennings-Smith as Parliamentary Secretary in National Security. It was obvious he wanted to address the crime problem seriously however, the strategy has failed to date. On July 18 instant, the National Crime Plan was launched by Dillon and now he is no longer there to oversee it.

With two years to go before a general election, it is clear that Rowley is making a final roll of the dice to see if he can get it right in the fight against crime. Perhaps, the best clue to whether these changes are being welcomed internally in the PNM will come this week when people who are interested in standing for office in the internal elections of the party can declare their candidacies.

The PNM internal elections have been shifted from September 16 to September 30, so there is now a longer campaign period. Will there be challengers across the board or will there be unchallenged positions in a majority of cases?

The removal of Dillon from National Security and the replacement with Stuart Young has completed a shift of power in the Government and party towards a Young/Al-Rawi/Imbert axis of dominance.

Doing the reshuffle just after midnight on Sunday and immediately going on vacation on Monday meant that Rowley did not really want to talk about it. Why?

Categories: News

‘Make yuh play, or clear de way’

Columnists - Sun, 08/12/2018 - 00:07

“…it will be a delusion to think that all will be well quickly once a permanent Commissioner of Police and Deputies are appointed…Now that many of the manpower cracks and gaps have been uncovered, there is need for a deeper probe into effective manpower utilization, management, performance, and accountability in the TTPS.”—Deosaran’s Manpower Report

To add to the permanent appointments in the TTPS is the change to Stuart Young taking over from Major General Edmund Dillon (Retired) as Minister of National Security. A couple weeks ago, this column suggested that Minister Dillon’s National Crime Prevention Programme had to show results otherwise Prime Minister Keith Rowley, to save his government from rigor mortis, had to do something drastic.

Sufficient time has not passed for the PM to have made a firm judgment on the likely success or failure of the programme. I interpret his action therefore to mean that he considers the need for results to be far more immediate than I could have projected and that he has been persuaded that Stuart Young and Gary Griffith in national security and the office of the Commissioner of Police would be a more dynamic fit and likely to get results in a shorter time frame.

Not too incidentally, when the PM did not show up at Dillon’s launch of his NCPP, I wondered if that was a signal that Dr Rowley was reluctant to identify too closely with Dillon and his programme if he had other plans. All the prognostications aside, the decisions have been made and the survival of the Government hangs on the efficacy of those decisions.

Griffith’s severally stated claims to have the antidote to criminality will now be put to the test. If he holds political ambitions and allegiances, he must know that a job well done can boost his political stakes subsequent to his tenure as CoP.

He should be sufficiently savvy to appreciate that.

Presumably, Young will seek to fully operationalise (with his own adaptations) the NCPP left behind by Dillon and the former minister has publicly committed to being of assistance if needed.

Minister Young cannot be expected to effectively manage the three portfolios he has been given; working in close relationship and with the PM to call on his support to implement measures could be useful. However, the communications portfolio is a full-time assignment and that of a specialist. Several governments have ended their term saying “we did not communicate all that we were doing to the public.”

Maybe the PM will experience another wave of consciousness and reach out to professional communication agencies for assistance: an effective communications programme is not about press releases and haranguing speeches by ministers and prime ministers.

A major challenge for Griffith, Young, the AG, and the other ministries and agencies is to adopt social rehabilitation, tough, unrelenting and intelligence-driven policing to smash the criminal culture. Achieving statistical increases in the interception, charging, and prosecution of criminals and their acts will not be sufficient; the gangs have to be systematically dismantled and criminals who refuse to be persuaded to change their lifestyle must be effectively dealt with by the law.

This and many other societies have not been able (or willing) to investigate and prosecute those who plot and fund the drugs and weapons trade of organised crime; the criminal on the block is dispensable: one gone, more come. Young and Griffith will have to demonstrate they are not afraid of taking on organised crime.

One vital challenge for Griffith is the one posed above by the Deosaran manpower planning report. Along with his Deputy Commissioner Administration, CoP Griffith will have to have professional assistance to begin to confront the problems listed in the report. For any CoP to be effective (and all that Griffith has stated and the aura he gives off places him on the streets tackling criminality) he cannot give his full attention to infiltrating criminal dens and effectively administering the TTPS.

The new CoP will have to win the support and respect of his executive and eventually the rank and file. He is no star boy sheriff riding in to clean up the town; without the support and respect of his officers he will fail.

Whichever political side you and I belong to, or indeed none of the above, criminality has to be conquered or failed state status faces us.

Categories: News

When people turn sheep

Columnists - Sun, 08/12/2018 - 00:05

Last week Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley told the Opposition UNC deputy leader David Lee ‘to go to church’ in response to his (Lees’) concerns about corruption at the National Lotteries Control Board. Mr Lee took umbrage and (rightly) complained of the matter being trivialized.

Lee sent out a press release insisting that he indeed ‘attend mass at 7 am on Sunday’ before joining his Opposition colleagues to demand accountability and transparency from the Government.

Now that’s where I part ways with both politicians. Going to church doesn’t stand up anywhere. Your actions do.

A daughter of a Hindu father, Muslim mother, educated in convents, I get religion. I don’t resist lighting a candle at a church, ringing a bell at a temple or bowing respectfully at a mosque.

All world religions can’t, however, simultaneously be right of course, since they each preclude the followers of the others from attaining heaven or nirvana or being raised from the dead. Which means most people think everyone else is going to hell.

I am startled how often in this country at the start of the most innocuous of ‘functions’ there is the national anthem, and there is the inter-service prayer from pundit, imam, and priest during which time attendees bow their heads in pious prayer to the God or gods of their choosing.

I’m not doubting the efficacy of religion, or its power to create a community, civic sense, service, bring comfort to the grieving and lost, create a moral compass, provide a code of conduct to adults or bring meaning to those stumbling about aimlessly in existential angst.

I do get as a young country that in the absence of a history or culture of questioning, in the absence of critical questioning, and in the absence of theological and philosophical studies we are inordinately dependent on props such as chants, rituals, and rosaries. Two hail Marys and we call it that.

The thing I can’t bear about it is the way ritual is used as a free pass for sloppy thinking. We know it’s that because in every religion—Evangelical, Catholic, Muslim, and Hindu, we’ve seen abuse of power towards boys in the Catholic church, towards women in the mosques, rogue Sadhus.

But we are a people who like a quick code. We don’t like digging too much in case we get mud on our faces. That’s why our education system encourages children to study by rote. Our make-work programmes require no thinking. In that way we are all slaves, perpetuating the systems put in by our various bloody colonisers.

Religious expression that is done by rote, that lacks authenticity, that feels like a sword of Damocles over our sinning heads lends itself to corruption at the top, so that the mosque, church, and temple become a microcosm of our government. The flock listen mindlessly, the people at the top preach, the powerful do what they want (usually involving the subjugation and often the abuse of the vulnerable—women and children).

We are comfortable taking orders believing that the word of the priest, imam or pundit is the word of God. We are unable to tap into our own ideas of God because we don’t have any. This is why it’s no surprise that T&T had the highest recruitment rates of ISIS fighters in the Western Hemisphere. That’s what happens when people turn sheep.

There are exceptions personified by people like Father Harvey (now bishop of Grenada), for instance, whose voice is powerful because it’s intertwined with the very hearts of the people he serves. There is also in his sermons, education of how to live, known in academia as ethics.

Dr Rowley’s flip comment deserves examination. It forces us, makes us ask ourselves—what does it mean to pray, to be a religious person.

What are the temple, mosque, church goers doing to ensure that religious rituals go beyond posturing, are above mockery? How do we develop a faith that combines critical thinking and rouses our conscience to serve others? Who are we when we are alone, bowed in prayer and no one is looking?

Categories: News

Man stabbed to death in Blanchisseuse

News - Sat, 08/11/2018 - 23:41

An argument over a game of pool has left one man dead after he was stabbed several times about his body.

Garfield Pickering was pronounced dead by the district medical officer after being rushed to the Arima Health Facility.

Police reported that Pickering was liming at a Pool House in Blanchisseuse when an alteration broke out between him and a group of men. The men used knives to stab Pickering about the body.

Blanchisseuse police responded as well as Supt Ramkahelawan and officers of Arima CID along with Homicide Officers Region 11, Arouca.

Investigations led to the arrest of three men of Blanchisseuse who were being interrogated by police at the Arouca station yesterday.


Categories: News

‘Too many murders in T&T’

News - Sat, 08/11/2018 - 23:39

Hours after a shooting rocked the south city leaving one man dead and four others injured, deputy mayor of San Fernando Vidya Mungal-Bissessar expressed hope that the police would find the perpetrators.

She was speaking to reporters after visiting the Pope family at their Cipero Street, San Fernando home yesterday.

Mungal-Bissessar, who was a personal friend and neighbour of Stephen Pope, said she was very saddened when she heard of his death.

As the councillor for Les Efforts East, Mungal-Bissessar said she knew Pope for over 25 years.

“He was a very nice gentleman. If you knew Stephen Pope if he heard any sort of commotion he would definitely want to come out and see if there was something he could help with, if he could defuse a situation.

He was that type of person,” she said.

She said despite the increase in murders across T&T, many people still felt safer in San Fernando rather than in other parts of the country.

“I have full confidence that the police would come to the root of this. Any death is a death too much,” she said.

She called on San Fernandians to come forward and help the police with information.

“As a citizen, crime touches everyone and the veil of secrecy and not wanting to get involved, whether it be murder, whether it be guns, domestic violence, whatever it is, we have to get involved,” she said.

She said citizens must protect themselves and be their brother’s keeper.

Categories: News

Last chance to give Cindy a miracle

News - Sat, 08/11/2018 - 23:37

All James Montague wants is to see his daughter in church clapping, singing and, praising again, while her mother, Kathy-Ann, is longing to have grandchildren from her eldest daughter.

In a last plea, after several calls to the public to help cancer-stricken Cindy Montague get financial aid to have a bone marrow transplant done abroad, her family is begging the public one last time to help save her life.

Montague’s ‘fighter’ attitude has caused her to live past the three-month prognosis since diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma (cancer originating from white blood cells called lymphocytes) six and a half years ago. (See more info in side bar with Dr Kenneth Charles).

Now even at stage four she keeps fighting for her life. She is in need of a bone marrow transplant costing $300,000 (TT) to be done in Cuba or $1.2 million (TT) to have it done in the US, where doctors advised she should seek the medical service. But she is nowhere close to these figures even after years of trying to raise funds.

Montague’s story was highlighted four times by the GML newsroom between 2014 to now, with the most recent being published in the Sunday Guardian’s now concluded series on cancer awareness last month.

We were prompted to feature her story one last time after Montague suffered a massive stroke on July 25, 2018, just six days shy of her 29th birthday. The stroke left her with temporary memory loss, unable to speak and use her lower extremities. She is also unable to sleep well and suffers with daily migraines.

It was one day after completing her fifth cycle of chemotherapy treatment that she experienced the stroke. Her sister Jenelle, who was home at the time it happened, explained prior to the stroke Montague was informed by her doctor she would need an additional six cycles of chemo which caused her to become very depressed as each treatment leaves her feeling unbearably ill.

Montague was placed on an intense chemotherapy treatment as her body rejects radiation therapy, which was required to be done simultaneously.

At her home in Arima on Thursday, Montague was confined to a wheelchair and for the first time revealed a completely bald head—the loss of hair being a side effect of the chemotherapy treatment. She could only communicate with her hands and make murmuring sounds with her mouth. But every now and again she managed a smile.

A mother’s pain

Her mother, on the other hand, could not hold back the tears as she pleaded with the public one last time for financial assistance and shared with us the tiring and painful journey since her daughter was diagnosed.

“As a mother going through this with my daughter, it is really a lot of build up inside,” she says as tears well up in her eyes.

“I have been going through a lot of pain and it has been hurting ever since I found out my daughter has cancer… it has been eating me up on the inside. I am supportive as her mother, I cannot go out and do a job because I want to be there for my daughter and she and I are very close. I am just asking persons out there if there is any assistance they can give to us I will highly appreciate it.”

In 2014, during an interview Montague told the T&T Guardian “I don’t know if they think I am going to die anyway so they see no point in giving the money. Or they think I don’t look sick enough. I really don’t know what to think.”

Four years later, her mother reiterates this saying they have actually encountered people during fund-raising drives who would look at Montague and query her cancer status saying she looks well and they don’t believe she is ill.

“Most times I would go out there with a couple of tickets to sell, asking for help and the response I would get sometimes, I don’t know. As a mother knowing that you’re going out there being genuine, going to these people asking for help. Some people are like ‘you again,’ ‘she’s keeping another barbecue again.’ It’s really frustrating and if my daughter were not in this position, I would not have been going out there to ask people for help,” Kathy-Ann says.

Added to Montague’s existing medical woes, she now requires therapy following the stroke. However, therapy is carded to begin in October at the Mt Hope Hospital, a time period her mother said was too far away and the family has started weighing options.

While Montague’s father, a martial arts instructor, believes that his daughter should not question God and just believe Him for a miracle, her sister says, “I just want my sister to be cancer free, to be able to live a happy and normal life so she could have kids because she loves children.”

Categories: News

Arima vendor takes legal action against mayor, CEO

News - Sat, 08/11/2018 - 23:27

Arima Open Market Vendors have taken legal action against the mayor of Arima and the chief executive officer of the Arima Borough Council after they failed to respond within the seven-day period to a pre-action letter from the vendors’ attorneys.

Dr Wayne Kublalsingh, adviser to the Arima Open Market Vendors’ Association, told media representatives present at the Arima market on Friday that the vendors would be taking the mayor and CEO to the High Court.

Kublalsingh initially faced some difficulties with the Arima Municipal Police who advised him that they could not have any meeting on the compound of the market without permission and to remove all posters.

This was later settled and the meeting began.

He said on July 26, 2018, the vendors’ association delivered a pre-action protocol letter to the mayor and CEO asking them to deal with measures affecting the vendors otherwise they will take them to court. The attorneys representing the vendors are Lennox Sankersingh and Mata Sharon Maharaj.

The letter addressed the following: destruction of private property without lawful process, financial loss and hardship, frustration of the legitimate expectation of vendors, and arbitrary use of power by a public authority.

They claimed that on May 7, 2018, the mayor and CEO instructed the police to enter the market and destroy most of the vendors’ stalls. Most of the vendors in the Arima market are middle aged women. The authorities did not leave the stalls on the outside of the market, but took it to the landfill site at Guanapo and bulldozed it, despite the women’s pleas. They claimed they have suffered enormous hardship, stress, and financial losses and are filing for compensation.

“Their constitutional rights have also been affected and the authorities ought to understand that you cannot destroy the private property of an individual without legally due processes, so this action has been taken regrettably to protect the constitutional rights of the vendors and to protect them from further arbitrary and haphazard actions,” Kublalsingh said.

Kublalsingh said the seven-day deadline given to the authorities to address the problems has expired. “Neither our attorneys or the association received a reply to their letter.”

Lydia Victor Mark, a vendor, said the 300 vendors have legitimate rights and if we look around T&T, vendors are people who are not appreciated. She said the vendors were pleading with the mayor and CEO to listen to their problems, but all went on deaf ears.

Mark said it was time vendors come together to have the relevant authorities listen to them.

“We had a situation in Arima on May 7 where vendors were victimized because we were standing up for our rights. Why are we being discriminated for standing up for our rights?

No one wants to hear or listen to vendors’ problems. This market has been here for more than 31 years and look at the condition, we still don’t have a proper facility, we support the local farmers. All we were asking for was that the mayor, CEO, and authorities listen to us and hear our plea.”

Lisa Morris-Julian, the mayor of Arima, could not be contacted for comment as she was in a meeting and was unable to answer her phone.


Categories: News

Styrofoam businesses in the dark

News - Sat, 08/11/2018 - 23:24

Local manufacturers/suppliers of styrofoam (Expanded Polystyrene or EPS) products are questioning their fate after Government announced an immediate ban on the importation of all products into T&T last month and a plan to phase out the manufacturing of the product locally by next year.

Making the announcement in July, Planning Minister Camille Robinson-Regis assured business owners they would be given time to make their products environmentally friendly. Although they have until the last quarter of 2019 to get things in order, businessmen are calling for clarity from the Government on the way forward.

Business operators said they have been left in the dark while a committee was set up consisting of importers of alternative packaging while no local manufacturers were ever consulted or asked to join that committee even after making several attempts to contact the ministry.

Styrofoam, which is non-biodegradable and has been cited as a danger to marine and wildlife, is said to be one of the top contributors to flooding as it is disposed of improperly.

Chief Executive Officer of R&C Enterprises Limited Niall Legerton and general manager Kevin Mohamed last week appealed for guidance as they remained unclear about several issues.

They expressed concern that this move could negatively impact the 250 staff members and also set them back financially as millions of dollars have already been invested into the 20-year-old business.

R&C Enterprises Limited is one of four local manufacturers involved in the importation, manufacture, and supply of plastic, paper, and styrofoam products.

The operators said while styrofoam was not biodegradable, it was recyclable and it was a process already underway at their firm.

A report obtained by the Sunday Guardian estimated that the local styrofoam industry employed just over 400 people and that firms in the industry had invested upwards of $65 million during the period 2011 to 2016. With a total asset base of close to $30 million, the industry had generated approximately $5.6 million (TT) in revenue in 2016.

The report which outlined the socio-economic impacts the ban on styrofoam would have on the food and beverage industry stated that “Banning styrofoam packaging for food and beverage containers outright would mean that local manufacturers of these products would have to switch their production methods and source new inputs to produce more environmentally friendly packaging which could impact their earnings, employment levels, and added costs of developing new products and production methods.

“This adjustment will take some time and will affect the pricing of such products which are retailed and used as food containers in the food service industry. Indirectly, a ban on styrofoam containers will also affect those in the distribution sector which transports and distributes these products to the end users and retailers.

“The effect will not only be felt by distributors that import these products to sell locally but also to the end users in the restaurant/food service industry’s cost and pricing structure as they would now switch new environmentally friendly containers.”

A document published by the Organisation of American States on sustainable alternative packaging to replace EPS foam containers in T&T, showed that 57.79 per cent of styrofoam containers sold were produced in T&T, with the remainder being imported from the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and the US.

Businessman Barry Fakoory, a plastics manufacturer for the packaging industry (who does not sell styrofoam) said asking manufacturers to convert their facilities was not cheap and could cost upwards of $50 million.

When New York banned styrofoam there was an exemption clause for smaller businesses with annual revenues of less than US$500,000 or $3.5 million (TT) if they can prove they would be unduly harmed financially.

Fakoory asked whether the Ministry of Planning was proposing to remove duties on alternative packaging products and what impact it would have on the country’s already depleted foreign exchange.


Categories: News

Take 5 with the Mighty Shadow

News - Sat, 08/11/2018 - 23:22

In 1974 The Mighty Shadow born Winston Bailey gave the calypso world Bass Man. He followed up just a little over a decade in 1992 with the runaway Caribbean all star hit, telling us music had no friends nor enemies so everyone can Dingolay.

Somewhere in between, he called for us to help him ease ‘d’ Tension in 1988.

And who could forget his warning to us to ‘Pay De Devil’ if you owed him when he sang of the then changing face of Carnival.

This calypso poet and philosopher was set apart by his style code in attire, likened onto that of the Midnight Robber, his distinct ‘skip rope’ jump or hop and his ‘jumbie’ beats. In 2003 he was awarded the T&T Humming Bird Medal (silver) for his contribution to the calypso fraternity.

Now at 77, the Belmont native who grew up in Les Coteaux Village, Scarborough, Tobago, is set to receive an honorary degree (conferred with an Honorary Doctor of Letters) from UWI St Augustine Campus at its 2018 graduation ceremony in October.

Bailey would be joined by several other honorees including R&B Barbadian-born singer/songwriter Robyn Rhianna Fenty and former West Indian international cricketer Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

Bailey is featured in this Sunday Guardian’s Take 5 as he shares with us his response to his selection and what The Mighty Shadow has been up to lately.

You are receiving an honorary degree from UWI in October. You now join fellow calypsonians and musicians like the Black Stalin and Roy Cape. Tell us your initial feeling receiving this honour. Is it long overdue?

That’s the big question! My music was made for the people and T&T agreed I should accept it, because it is a long time now people saying I should get something, which I never got. It’s a good thing. It’s a long time I been doing what I’m doing and people say it’s a long time it’s been overdue, you know.

What has been Shadow up to lately? Is there some new music coming our way soon?

That is what I do. That’s what I know…to make music.

Calypso, what’s happening to it? Do we even still authentically have the genre?

Well yes, but everything is in its own way. We had one type of thing going overtime, and then it changed to something else and something else again and just keeps on changing. People love what they love through the seasons as we call them. My thing is a special thing that people love and I think it has always been that way.

How’s your health these days?

Big question, yes. The last time I thought I was healthy, and then I was in the hospital. That’s how the health does move. I can’t tell you how it will be tomorrow.

As a calypso patriarch in your own right, if you had to do your career all over again, what would you do differently?

I would do the best I could do. I will do the same as I’ve been doing, making great music because that lives within me.

Categories: News

Pensioner killed, 4 wounded in South shooting

News - Sat, 08/11/2018 - 23:08

When gunfire erupted outside his son’s business place early yesterday, pensioner Stephen Pope, 65, left his bed and crouched down on his front porch hoping to get a glimpse of the action.

But his curiosity cost him his life when a stray bullet struck him on the head, killing him instantly.

Four others—John Charles, 23, John Mark Ashford, 27, Anthony Mitchell, 32, and Elon Chatterpaul, 25, were also injured during the shooting which took place around 4.50 am outside Hashtag Lounge at Cipero Street, San Fernando.

Thirty-five spent shells were recovered from the scene of the crime. Charles and Ashford of Bayshore, Marabella, remained in critical condition yesterday at the San Fernando General Hospital having been shot in the chest and back. Mitchell, who was shot in the leg, remains warded in a stable condition while Chatterpaul, who got a bullet graze, was treated and discharged.

During an interview yesterday, a close relative of Pope, who requested anonymity, said they were asleep upstairs when they heard the sound of gunfire.

“Then everything died down. We went to the porch to see what was going on. People were in a panic, running, cussing...” the relative recalled. He said they began hearing louder voices followed by the sound of breaking glass.

“I tell him to let us move from here. It getting rowdy downstairs. People started to pelt bottles. Others started to run. I told him to move but he was a man who liked to do his own thing. He told me “ ‘I seeing it!’

“Then suddenly, there was more gunfire and he slumped to the ground.”

The relative said he crawled to Pope and saw him bleeding from a wound to the head. The bullet exited through the back of his head.

“I took a towel and started to apply pressure to stop the bleeding. It was chaos,” the relative said. The bar owner David Pope called the ambulance however, the relative said the paramedics were more interested in knowing who did the shooting.

“It was ridiculous. Eventually, we picked him up and put him in the car and took him to the hospital,” the relative said. He died a short while later.

Saying the crime situation in T&T was out of control, the relative said Trinidadians were too interested in partying.

“Party is all they want to do and they calling it our culture. It is not the Government that is responsible for the crime, it is our people, the way we think and behave.”

Police increase patrols at bar

Head of Operations Insp Don Gajadhar said that officers had increased patrols at bars. He said a team checked in at Hashtag around 4 am, an hour before the shooting occurred. Gajadhar said it was impossible to have a continuous police presence at every bar.

“People are hiding their firearms in bushes and when an argument happens, they go and get their guns and return to cause madness,” Gajadhar said.

He said it was time for proper legislation to be put in place so that bars could not stay open after 2 am.

He also said that there was inadequate security at some bars, adding that law-abiding citizens must exercise wisdom when choosing liming spots.

Since the shooting, police have been sourcing video footage from surrounding cameras and interviewing several witnesses. Police were unable to determine the motive for the shooting. Anyone with information can contact Crime Stoppers at 800-TIPS.

Investigations are continuing.

Categories: News

A neighbour in distress

News - Sat, 08/11/2018 - 23:00

Under a galvanise shed to avoid a blistering afternoon sun, two fishermen lash a new net to a slim rope while a third, and most elderly of the crew, looks on from his seat starboard of a white wooden pirogue that has seen the worst of south coast waves but now rests on pink sand.

Nearby, under a shed where a four o’ clock catch is due to be sorted and sold, Selwyn Joseph smiles accommodatingly when we approach. Where the busy three offered painful monosyllabic responses, the Fullarton fisherman speaks freely.

In the horizon where Venezuela’s mangrove coastline renders a perpetual silhouette there are small craft bobbing on the surf. One slowly approaches our shore–fishermen with what looks like a modest catch.

One of the men on the nets onshore bemoans low prices.

A laden police jeep appears and drives slowly along the narrow, sand-coated trace near the beach and disappears in an adjacent property. Then, a regular car arrives. Two couples emerge. They are here “to see the Venezuelans.”

The Venezuelan journalist who has accompanied her Trini counterpart comes into view along the beach just then. “Is that one?” There is no straight-forward answer. Then: “Is he one too?” Laughter. Not from this reporter.

For here we are on Icacos Beach. Some folks in Cedros near the Security Complex insist this is where the real action takes place. “Not any more,” the locals, however, declare. Yet, Joseph notes an unofficial night-time curfew on the treacherous surf off this most south-westerly tip of the island. “Too much things does happen out there,” he says.

Smugglers, pirates roam the ocean

Smugglers and pirates roam the ocean, we are told. Venezuelans and occasionally “the Guyanese” are adjudged culprits.

But, so current village wisdom goes, human and other illicit cargo is now more efficiently deposited further east at Erin, Los Iros, and Moruga because of an increased police and Coast Guard presence in Icacos, and generally secure conditions in Cedros. Last July, three men were, however, shot in separate incidents in Icacos and there is talk of organised gangs that trade in illicit cargoes of drugs, weapons, wild animals, and people.

Local government councillor for Cedros, Shankar Teelucksingh, has also been leading an effort to have authorities install better facilities to address the threat of diseases contracted through human contact with unlawfully imported fruits, vegetables and animals. Earlier this year, a substantial shipment of dasheen was confiscated by the police and there have been several animal-related alerts.

In one instance, crab catchers and vendors were hit hard by unsubstantiated consumer fears about the possibility of crab meat contamination from the Orinoco River whose outflow colours the water along the coast.

And Teelucksingh has consistently railed against the fact that with between 20 and 30 illegal points of entry along the coastline, more equipment and manpower was needed to monitor not only the trafficking in people, but also the entry of possibly diseased animals.

Meanwhile, on this trip, there is a “wild meat for sale” sign en route to Cedros from Granville, but nobody is around. The hunting season is closed till September 30. Last October, an 820-kilogram cargo of deer, agouti, and other slaughtered wild animals was seized by authorities on board a pirogue suspected to have sailed from Venezuela.

There is speculation and anecdotal support for the view that Venezuela’s continuing humanitarian crisis has dramatically increased the movement of people through the porous borders of both countries.

Following the repatriation of 82 Venezuelan nationals in May, which earned the public disdain of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the country’s ambassador to T&T Coromoto Godoy Calderón described reports of a crisis leading to the current exodus as “part of a political agenda” reliant on “fake” accounts of what is happening in her country.

Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) leader, David Abdulah, has said the difficulties being faced by Venezuelans in their country are the result of “economic sabotage” by political foes of the Maduro regime.

Distressed immigrants left to administrative whim

Accurate figures are hard to come by, but there are probably close to 3,000 asylum-seekers currently in the system and thousands more who have either exceeded their permitted stay or have simply not entered through authorised channels and remained.

Some seeking legal entry meanwhile brave the immigration and customs officials at the Security Complex where long-time Cedros resident Rosalind Lutchmansingh says, “they are treated like animals.”

At issue is the slow pace with addressing law reform to bring T&T in line with its international commitments under the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol which expanded its reach. T&T acceded to the Convention on November 10, 2000. There are guidelines no one really knows much about, according to immigration officer-turned-attorney Devon Williams. At a UWI-organised World Refugee panel discussion on June 18, he waved his personal copy in indignation.

The consequence of this, according to activists following these developments, is that in the absence of a legal framework to streamline asylum-seeking status, distressed immigrants interested in pursuing such a path are left to administrative whim, while those awaiting a lengthy processing period, together with their families including children, are denied basic social services.

The tightening of entry requirements and shortening of time allowed in the country have provided an impetus to seek refugee status and helped grow the numbers. Venezuelan journalist, Roxana Peralta, when faced with possible deportation in July, rejected such an option. “I am not a refugee!” she insisted.

28,000 Venezuelans arrived in T&T in 2017

Meanwhile, through all legal borders, including the Cedros Port and Piarco International Airport, around 28,000 Venezuelan nationals arrived in the country last year, according to immigration department figures.

T&T Guardian was unable to reach Chief Immigration Officer Charmaine Gandhi-Andrews on an estimate of the number who have returned. The net figures appear to be the product of a guessing game.

At the Security Complex in Cedros, a coast guard officer emerges to greet impromptu media guests who have made their way through an unguarded entrance by car. “The press needs permission to come here,” we are politely told. “No pictures. Turn around and please leave the compound.”

It is a modest, bare, concrete structure equipped for only the most basic operations as a port of entry. The long, narrow, unsheltered jetty belies what can sometimes be heavy human traffic.

One of the locals who does crossings to the mainland has his small craft anchored about 50 metres from the shore.

Three days before, the complex had been abuzz with activity. One of several charters from “the main” (Venezuela) had arrived. Friends, family, and others waited near and under a big tree along the bridge, dubbed by retired teacher Edward Marcelle and others as “the office” where there are plans to add chairs.

Today, Marcelle holds court with two journalists and talks about the years of friendly connections with the troubled republic next door. He along with others who had for years straddled the two territories, had planned festivities to mark the long years of friendship. But they are plans that are yet to materialise.

Around the bend, Angel de Orinoco is one of a handful of boat companies that ferry passengers back and forth between Cedros and the mainland. Two doors down, you can find Manuel, through whom cargo is booked. There is another boat company across the bridge. It is not easy to find. There is no sign up front and the people next door don’t know the name of the business except that “they does go Venezuela.”

It’s all legit, though—a bustling trade amid growing tragedy. When passengers are turned down by immigration officials, the boating companies take the financial bounce and a nearby guest house serves, according to one villager, as an “unofficial Immigration Detention Centre.”

The “real” IDC in Aripo has close to 120 inmates–many of them Venezuelan. Only four years ago, official statistics put Jamaicans as the largest cohort alongside undocumented Guyanese and Africans. The profile has since changed dramatically.

Sometimes, a 40-something year old female teacher with a Master’s degree who entered through Cedros two months ago, would venture down to the complex to meet an arriving friend or acquaintance and return in tears.

A friend of a friend had offered her a job taking care of his house in another village, but first he wanted her to show him her naked body as part of the deal. She has found other work and swears she will return home soon to what she describes as the hell of hunger and deprivation. She hates it here. “Planeo volver. Planeo volver.” She plans to return. When? Sooner rather than later.

Marcelle, also a poet and writer, laments the state of desperation of the arriving Venezuelans and acknowledges the mistreatment. He, however, has high hopes for his village. “Cedros is evolving slowly but surely,” he says. “It is owing to people pulling themselves up at the boot-straps.”

Years ago, at a creative writers’ session at the home of the late Anson Gonzalez, he likened Chekov’s Three Sisters with the three rocks that stand out at sea at Columbus Bay–known also as The Three Sisters—saying only they could “testify whether it was day or night traffic” they were more used to witnessing.

“They (villagers) work hard here,” he says, “whether it is legal work or illegal.”

Venezuelan labour helps turn tide on coconut estates

Back in Fullarton, through which you pass to get to Icacos Beach, Magda Estava moves easily between Spanish and Trini. She has been in Trinidad for 45 years now and has witnessed the changes. She is not going to deny that some scamps have leaked through the immigration cracks but insists that a clear majority of Venezuelans fleeing the Nicolás Maduro regime simply want to be productive residents in a more welcoming adopted home. But this has not generally been the case.

Prime minister Dr Keith Rowley’s commitment not to have anyone “convert us into a refugee camp” is quoted more than once when referencing some of the hostility experienced.

But work in some near-abandoned Icacos coconut estates has begun to pick up, notwithstanding the ongoing red palm mite infestation. The second most important challenge facing the industry had been the unavailability of affordable labour on the estates. Unauthorised Venezuelan labour is now apparently helping to turn the tide.

Estava also knows of the horror stories. Abductions and rapes and other acts of violence. Venezuelan women, in particular, are being targeted while the men are stereotyped as potential gun runners and drug traffickers.

The itinerant groups that arrive to procure scarce goods for sale back on the mainland do a decent trade and some of the larger southern establishments have benefited from the growing demand. The smaller shops are “surviving”, to quote one shop owner.

As Marcelle puts it, the small shops are “the first stop for refreshments and the last stop, if they still have money to spend.”

Local pharmacies and in some instances abuse of the chronic disease assistance plan (CDAP) are picking up critical slack from medicinal shortages in the South American republic.

There are also real fears that diseases such as measles and diphtheria, once under control, can make a dramatic return to Venezuela because of a lack of vaccines. Unlike the near 100 per cent coverage in T&T, there are many children who now go without such protection on the mainland.

Things have for some time now looked increasingly desperate.

By the time we get back North from the three-hour drive, there is news that an attempt had been made on the life of the Venezuelan president. The story does not end there.


Categories: News

PNM polls postponed

News - Sat, 08/11/2018 - 22:58

After word that former frontline PNMites are preparing to contest the PNM’s internal elections, comes news that the elections will be postponed to September 30 instead of being held on September 16—and this week’s planned nomination exercise has also been postponed to early September.

The PNM last month said the internal elections—where the leadership and 15 executive posts are contested—would be held on September 16. Nominations were expected from tomorrow to Friday.

A statement on this was issued on August 3.

But PNMites who went to collect nomination forms last Friday were told the date is being changed to September 30—when PNM’s convention will be held—instead of September 16.

Elections team head Murchison Browne, to whom PNM assistant general secretary Daniel Dookie referred queries, said yesterday he had not received official word on the elections but also heard they were being postponed to September 30.

PNM PRO Stuart Young did not reply, but PNM hierarchy officials claimed the decision to postpone the poll was due to the CPL cricket tournament.

They said PNM’s General Council would officially pronounce on polls and postponement at next week’s meeting. The nomination period had also been postponed to September 3-7, they added.

Nomination forms were also being changed.

While incumbents are defending posts or seeking others, challenges are looming in several of the 15 executive posts: chairman, vice chairman, general secretary, assistant general secretary, elections, field and youth officers.

Challenges to these posts are expected from previous officials including ministers of the Manning PNM.

But so far, challenges are not looming for PNM’s leadership held by Keith Rowley. Sources said talks several months ago by a group on contesting certain top posts fell apart. They felt the time was not right to challenge the leadership.

‘T&T isn’t progressing’...Mariano, others contesting Manning’s former minister of finance Mariano Browne did not confirm if he was contesting the vice chairmanship held by Finance Minister Colm Imbert, but said “I’m actively considering contesting a senior post, yes.

T&T isn’t progressing. Basic institutions are collapsing—what does that say about the party? It’s not functioning at the level it’s supposed to. Big ticket items—hospitals, roads—don’t move a country forward, it’s organisational discipline and keeping institutions growing.”

Dismissing “economic turnaround” talk, Browne said Government could not spend enough money on police to solve crime, social services were deteriorating, and breakdown was occurring in schools.

“Nor is a party about reward distribution. It’s about understanding and getting people to understand what they need to do to make a country great—start there,” Browne said, adding much needed to be done.

Former elections officer (2003- 2011) Linus Rogers, who is contesting the post again, said he had been observing PNM’s situation.

Now a retired engineer, he said he had more time to help strengthen the PNM.

“Leaders treat with direction, but we must keep the ‘ground’ in touch. PNM is structured as a ‘ground-up’ party. We need more involved members. Once we adhere to PNM’s foundation and Constitution, we’ll be much stronger for it,” Rogers said.

One of PNM’s first Social Media team members Dane Wilson, contesting the Social Media Officer’s post (against incumbent Ronald Huggins), said: “PNM s needs to get back on track and get its message across. That’s not being done effectively. Members feel disconnected from decision-making processes, alienated—as if what they’re saying isn’t being heard.

“Members want the PNM to operate as promised while in Opposition— particularly with opportunities.

Whether they’re right or not, people feel like PNM has been hijacked. If people contest posts, it’s because we all want to return PNM to togetherness in the movement.

“PNM is a grassroots party, not elitist. People want to help the leader. We recognise he needs that support. Recent by-elections tell us the party needs to embrace the Mariano Brownes, the Nafeesa Mohammeds, the Nileung Hypolites in this critical stage facing national elections ahead. PNM has its own identity and needs rejuvenation.”

On speculation that former Manning’s public administration minister Mustaha Abdul Hamid was contesting (chairman), sources said: “Nomination day will provide all answers.”

East PNMites hinted that another former minister, Roger Boynes might contest for general/ assistant general secretary.

San Fernando East executive member Abigail Cox was contesting assistant general secretary, it was confirmed.

Couva businessman Nal Ramsingh who has contested posts previously and is contesting field officer now, said: “I have a contribution to make to keep people together and organise constituencies for polls ahead. Everyone knows me, I’m friend to all. It’s up to people if they want to be friends with me.”

Also contesting the post of field officer is Point Fortin mayor Abdon Mason. He said: “PNM is preparing for 2019 and 2020 elections. I bring commitment to ensure troops are well mobilised.

Our leader needs the right kind of support around him—people of excellence and history of committed service. I have 33 years in PNM. It’s functioning well. Excellence is always something to continue aspiring to.”

Young did not reply to queries on if he was defending his post.

His PRO’s performance was criticised by a committee chairman at the PNM’s convention last November.

Young ‘s party post is his fourth job, apart from those of Minister of Communications, National Security, and in the PM’s office.

Rowley will address the PNM’s “Family Day” at Chaguanas at 4 pm today.

Categories: News

Naipaul dies at 85

News - Sat, 08/11/2018 - 22:53

“I will say I am the sum of my books.”

So said T&T-born novelist Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad “VS” Naipaul as he delivered a lecture during his receipt of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001.

Naipaul, who had published more than 30 books over five decades, died at his London home yesterday, one week away from celebrating his 86th birthday.

Lady Naipaul confirmed that her husband had died peacefully.

“He was a giant in all that he achieved and he died surrounded by those he loved, having lived a life which was full of wonderful creativity and endeavour,” she said.

Born in Chaguanas, Naipaul moved to Port-of-Spain with his family when he was six years old.

Port-of-Spain was the setting for his 1959 novel Miguel Street.

Naipaul’s 1961 novel, A House for Mr Biswas, was based on the life of his father Seepersad, a reporter for this newspaper, T&T Guardian.

And on February 2014, Naipaul’s childhood home at Nepaul Street, St James, was unveiled as a cultural heritage site.

In 1989 Naipaul was awarded this country’s highest national award the Trinity Cross. He was also knighted in 1989.

However, Naipaul has sometimes been seen as a controversial character in T&T.

Writing in the Times Literary Supplement in August 1958 Naipaul said “Trinidad may seem complex, but to anyone who knows it, it is a simple colonial philistine society.”

‘Govt must properly honour Naipaul’

Dr Jerome Teelucksingh yesterday described Naipaul as a “genius”.

“Naipaul had certain talents and certain gifts and sometimes he came across harsh, crude, he had idiosyncratic behaviour, some people saw him as eccentric or odd, but we have to remember that sometimes being a genius comes with certain flaws, we have to recognise the genius and also recognise the flaws within the genius.

“Some people have rejected him because of his caustic and bitter comments, some people believe he has rejected Trinidad and he has adopted England as his homeland and this is all part of the immigrant experience. Many immigrants today in the 21st century also tend to reject their homeland and the upbringing that they had, but he spent a great time of his life here in Trinidad at QRC, so we have to remember that.”

After Queen’s Royal College, Naipaul won a scholarship and studied at Oxford University.

Teelucksingh said Naipaul made a valuable contribution to literature and brought pride to the Caribbean.

“Here is a man who delved into fiction and non fiction, he produced a literary tapestry that would remain unmatched, a very prolific writer, someone who was fearless, he was a writer who used his pen like a sword to attack certain ideologies and certain behaviours and certain beliefs that he felt was backward or primitive,” Teelucksingh said.

“Naipaul used his pen and his tongue as swords to attack sometimes people and institutions that he felt would have been not progressive, and over the years he has had a love-hate relationship with Trinidad and Tobago, but we need to remember that he has played a very important role to shape the Indo-Trinidadian identity and I think we need to remember him for this.”

Teelucksingh called on the Government to properly honour Naipaul.

“We need to find a way to honour him, maybe by a scholarship at the university. I don’t think building a statue will profit anyone. We might even want to consider bringing down one of our Trinidadian writers every year and have a Naipaul Memorial Lecture to keep his memory alive.”

‘One of the giants of Caribbean and world literature’

Dr Merle Hodge described Naipaul as “one of our greatest gifts to the world.”

“It is widely recognised that he is one of the giants of not only Caribbean literature but world literature,” Hodge said.

Hodge said the first part of Naipaul’s works provided us with “very uncompromising portraits of ourselves.”

These works included the Mystic Masseur, The Suffrage of Elvira, and The Middle Passage.

“He was a controversial figure in our literary tradition partly because of his critical attitude to our society, a really incisive critique of Trinidad and Tobago, but this attitude often comes over as contempt. But criticism is one of the functions of literature, so we have to accept that from our writers of fiction who really would observe us closely and paint us in all our glory and all our faults,” Hodge said.

“There was a point in his career where he made a declaration where he seemed to suggest he didn’t consider himself a product of Trinidad and Tobago, he tried to reject us as it were but his fictional works suggest otherwise, the sheer precision of the portraits that he paints of us, that made him Trinidad and Tobago true and true, the fact that he was able to observe us so closely and render some of our features,” she said.

Hodge said when Naipaul made the controversial statement then, she labelled him then as a “neemakaram”. But in spite of that, she has great admiration for his work.

“He made the statement which seemed to place him outside of our influence as it were, so although at that time I’m afraid I called him a neemakaram but in spite of that, I have great admiration for his work. His skilful use of language, and this is both Standard English and Trinidadian Creole, his early novels represented our creole with a great deal of accuracy, skill, and art,” she said.

“There is also his sharp sense of humour and keen powers of observation, I do believe VS Naipaul is one of our greatest gifts to the world.” (See Page A25)

Categories: News

$10,000 at stake in bmobile Business Technology Award

Business Guardian - Sat, 08/11/2018 - 22:47

bmobile joins the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce in inviting applications for the new Business Technology Award category in the Chamber’s 2018 Champions of Business Awards.

The new technology award was added to this year’s lineup of prestigious awards to acknowledge and reward companies which leverage Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to provide excellence in services and solutions. The winner will receive a customized bmobile Business Solutions Package valued at $10,000.

Nominations are open until August 17 at midnight and the award will be presented to the winner at the Champions of Business Awards Ceremony and Gala to be held on November 1 at the National Academy for Performing Arts in Port-of-Spain.

The buzz and excitement that was generated by the introduction of a new award focusing on ICT underscores the significance of technology in all types of businesses, large or small with simple or complex operations. Research on the link between ICT adoption and business productivity and even on a country’s GDP, shows that it is a critical enabler of sustainable business growth in the private and public sectors, as well as the development of the national economy as a whole. The growth becomes even more pronounced with the consistent effort and collaboration of both the public and private sectors.

“As the technology leader in the local telecom landscape, bmobile is proud to continue to do its part to support our business and national development through our sponsorship of this new and important

Business Technology Award,” said Rakesh Goswami, TSTT’s executive vice president, strategic alliance, enterprise and Tobago operations.

Companies being nominated for the award do not have to be ICT companies, but are companies which have successfully demonstrated how technology helps their business to deliver excellence in their services and solutions.

“In this digital era, ICT is the underlying force that is driving much of the innovative solutions that have resulted in an increase in the productivity of goods and services in all sectors” said Goswami.

“Whether small, medium or large, more companies worldwide are using technology to handle customer services in a more efficient and cost-effective way. The businesses which are responsive to these changes will be the ones to achieve market success.”

The Champions of Business Awards is one of the T&T Chamber’s signature events which highlights the contributions of some of T&T’s finest business minds, recognizing their performance and excellence within the local business community. Established leaders, emerging entrepreneurs and high performing companies are nominated by peers and members of the public from which winners are subsequently selected.

The bmobile Business Solutions Package will consist of customised communications services specifically designed to support the further advancement of the company receiving the Business Technology Award.

Nominees must satisfy several criteria including, being a citizen of T&T or a registered business operating locally or internationally and must have demonstrated how the technology-based solution or service had a significant impact upon its target market.

More info

Further information about the award and the nomination form can be obtained from the T&T Chamber website at

Categories: News

Nestlé joins CEO talk session at UWI-ALJGSB

Business Guardian - Sat, 08/11/2018 - 22:44

Nestlé T&T Ltd joined in the panel discussion at the UWI-Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business (UWI-ALJGSB) for their CEO Talk session for the closing of the international business study abroad programme for the delegates of the FHR Lim A Po Institute for Social Studies (partner institute to UWI- ALJGSB).

CEOs joining the discussions were: Patricio Torres, head of market Nestlé Anglo-Dutch Caribbean, David Dulal-Whiteway, CEO, UWI-Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business and Dave Ramkissoon, group CEO, EIL Group.

The CEOs spoke on company strategies, their purpose, passion and business ethics.

“At Nestlé, no matter where we are in the world, we have one simple purpose—to enhance the quality of life and contribute to a healthier future. As a multi-national company we anticipate and adapt to local needs, and this is seen through the development of our products to our local initiatives which promote healthier and happier lives, working within our communities and safeguarding our environment,” said Torres, Nestlé head of market.

Nestlé had a particular interest in the CEO Talk session as it is perfectly aligned to one of the company’s key initiatives—its Nestlé Needs YOUth programme. This Global Youth Initiative aims to strengthen and develop the employability of young people all over the Caribbean region and important strides have already been made in T&T, Jamaica, Barbados and Guyana.

By 2020 the company plans to hire at least 81 young people, engage 90 young people through trainee programmes, internships and apprenticeships and develop 7,650 students through ‘readiness to work’ activities. Additionally, Nestlé will expand its Alliance for YOUth, working with suppliers, industry partners, government ministries and NGOs to create another 304 jobs.

Torres sees sessions such as these CEO talks, as another avenue where the company can add to the knowledge base of the youth.

With an engaged audience, the students posed questions to each CEO on their personal goals, their definition of success for their companies, what they take pride in and the journey to their pinnacle of success.

The CEOs recognised the importance of culture for their businesses, taking risks, being competitive and having the agility to learn.

The session, part of the study mission for second-year bachelor of business administration students of the FHR Lim A Po Institute for Social Studies, gave a vast understanding of business activities and ways of working across the Caribbean territories to which both students and lecturers alike were receptive.

Categories: News

Parenting in the age of Alexa

Business Guardian - Sat, 08/11/2018 - 22:21

Hey parents: What if there was a machine that could respond to your children’s every command, never tiring, even if they ask it to tell jokes for two hours or answer all their homework questions?

It’s a blessing and a curse for moms and dads that machines kind of like that do exist in the form of Google’s Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. These in-house digital assistants don’t always understand questions or serve up useful answers (which some parents say is a good thing).

But they do create challenges and opportunities for parents—especially those raising younger kids.

Even as Amazon and Google are adding options that control access and require kids to speak politely to their voice-controlled speakers, devices like the Echo Dot and Google Home can make a big and unexpected impact.

It took Mary Beth Foster a few days to notice, but it was undeniable: Her son’s first words weren’t “goo goo.”

Her one-year-old was saying, “Ok, Google,” after hearing his parents say it over and over.

When she realised that, Foster says, “my husband thought I was nuts. Babies say ‘goo’ all the time, right? Until he heard him mimic us talking at the Google Home in context.”

Meanwhile Foster, who lives in Mint Hill, North Carolina, says the device has created some confusion for her 4-year-old daughter over who, exactly, is in charge.

Because the family accesses Netflix, Amazon Prime content and YouTube TV through their Google Home, their daughter has begun asking questions like: “Mom, can you ask Google if we can watch Beauty and the Beast?”

Speed bumps like this have led some parents to avoid these devices.

Suzanne Brown, mother of two boys ages 7 and 4, is keeping Alexa’s seemingly easy answers out of her Austin, Texas, home while her boys are young.

She’d prefer to visit the library or search the internet together with her kids to build their “curiosity and problem-solving muscles.”

When they have a question, she says, “we try to work through it or go figure out how to find the answer.

And we actually go searching for the answer, and sometimes that leads us to other questions.”

But for parents who have invited a digital assistant into their home, here are some of the challenges: Answers can come quickly, but might be wrong or incomplete Are the children calling out questions and accepting a single response as the entire story, without questioning where that answer comes from?

Alexa’s info most often comes from Wikipedia, which kids may not know isn’t always accurate.

On the bright side, if a child is calling out a question— rather than silently typing it into a device—a parent can hear it and engage.

Also, it’s a welcome change in some households if the child isn’t looking at a screen (though some devices, including the Echo Show, include a screen that shows question prompts and video).

Without screens, children have to process information aurally, which “could make you think a little bit more because you don’t have the visual,” says Erin Boyd-Soisson, professor of human development and family science at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.

Children can get frustrated because digital assistants don’t always hear high-pitched voices correctly, or might be confused by a child’s diction or phrasing.

Parents can use this to encourage clearer use of language and better diction.

But be aware that digital assistants “may privilege some dialects over others,” says Shannon Audley, assistant professor of education and child study at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Short answers won’t encourage critical thinking

If a child is asking Alexa to answer a math problem, that instant answer “takes away their own strategies for problem solving,” says Audley. One option is to use parenting controls so kids can’t access the device during their homework session.

Teach young kids that they need to be able to arrive at answers and synthesise information through their own methods and thinking, says Boyd-Soisson.

As children get older, this naturally gets easier.

Amber Norwood, who is raising two children in the United Kingdom, says she loves that her 8-year-old son engages with both Google and Alexa.

“He watches a lot of videos about rockets and space, requests cool music, and connects with buddies from school,” says Norwood. He’s also building some research skills, she says.

“I think he’s going to be ready for the kind of world he’ll grow up in. I’m a writer, a teacher of writing, and a lover of books, but I also feel like this is what the future of learning and engagement looks like,” she says.

“I want to teach him to do it well, and critically.”

You can hear it all, and sometimes that’s too much It’s delightful to see a child discover just how much incredible music and information is floating in the virtual cloud. But all that access can induce overload.

“This spring we stayed with my parents for six weeks while we did house renovations,” says Jillian Kirby, who lives in Burlington, Vermont.

Her son is not quite three years old and was delighted that his grandparents had Alexa at their house.

“If we had ever entertained any ideas of getting one,” Kirby says, “they would have been extinguished by that experience.”

Soon after meeting Alexa, Kirby’s “music-loving son became power-hungry and impatient, and wanted to change the song the moment it came on, yelling ‘Alexa! Nex’ song!’”

It took several weeks back home and away from digital assistance to start getting through whole albums again.

“We have had a similar issue when people have handed him tablets or phones to play with. We aren’t a no-screentime family, but we stick to co-watching of movies and children shows,” Kirby says.

“With both access to Alexa and with the tablets, he has gotten really irritable, and behaviour takes a nosedive.”

The key to parenting in the age of Alexa and Google, according to parents and child-development experts, is making sure the machine doesn’t replace good, inquisitive interaction between parents and kids.

“It’s not that the technology is good or bad,” says Audley.

“It’s essentially how we use it.”

Categories: News

Leadership matters

Business Guardian - Sat, 08/11/2018 - 22:17

Through my research in social entrepreneurship, I have been fortunate to review the cases of successful global and local social entrepreneurs.

For commercial entrepreneurs who launch a startup to generate profit, being successful depends on money, whiles for social entrepreneurs, success depends on social change.

However, to achieve large-scale social transformation, my research has revealed that leadership matters.

For social entrepreneurs building and growing their companies, the understanding and practice of leadership are critical for their organisation’s long-term success.

Forbes cites the top 10 leadership qualities as honesty, the ability to delegate, communication, sense of humour, confidence, commitment, positive attitude, creativity, intuition and ability to inspire.

These are easy to understand and represent the main capabilities a leader should have (Prive, 2012).

There is also the “4E’s of leadership”— envision, energise, enable and empower (Yates, 2004).

According to the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship publication, Leadership in Social Enterprise How to Manage Yourself and the Team (2014), leaders of social enterprises face manifold challenges.

Many leaders do not have a formal business education and are driven by the passion to solve a social cause.

Their intrinsic motivation comes first and economic reasons rank low but business procedures need to be implemented, teams built and money earned to run a social enterprise successfully.

What makes the difference is that leadership matters.

This week’s article will focus on three leadership matters drawing on the great work of local social entrepreneur Nichola Harvey, founder, We Say YES Organisation (Youth Entrepreneurship for Self Empowerment).

Embrace the Forgotten

There are those who sympathise or empathise with those who are considered base of the pyramid. And that’s all they do— offer their thoughts.

A true social entrepreneur goes beyond by taking action.

They take advantage of embracing the forgotten others usually miss. They have the ability to challenge the way things are done.

We say YES! (WSY) programme founded by Nichola Harvey started as a response to the increase in gun violence and gang warfare in East Port-of-Spain communities and a need to create more success stories out of these areas.

Beat the odds

Social entrepreneurs have a desire to challenge the status quo and arrive at a solution that will tackle social or environmental issues. They find solutions to constraints.

WSY programme targets children from at risk areas in East Port-of-Spain and environs, including Ovid Alley, Lower Laventille, Mango Rose, Gonzales, Beverly Hills, John John, Success Laventille, Morvant and Stephensville.

WSY beat the odds or changes the status quo through the delivery of a structured six-year programme that focuses on youth entrepreneurship and self-empowerment, tapping into their God given talents and potential.

Rally social troopers When we are passionate about a cause, we often immerse ourselves with the view only “I” have the solution. The “I” mentality indicates we are afraid to lose power and control.

Harvey, through WSY, has been able to rally social troopers building a powerhouse of advisory leadership committee, executive advisory leadership committee, chaperones, volunteers and facilitators as well as corporate and individual social partners.

In conclusion, extraordinary people, like the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus, come up with brilliant ideas from the forgotten and against all the odds succeed at creating new products and services that dramatically improve people’s lives, just like Nichola Harvey.

For social entrepreneurial success, leadership matters.

Nirmala Maharaj is a doctoral candidate at the UWI-Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business. Her research is in social entrepreneurship.

Mobile: 689-6539 / E-mail: [email protected]

Categories: News

Progress report on tripartite council

Business Guardian - Sat, 08/11/2018 - 22:12

T&T face challenges in productivity, diversifying its economy and the industrial relations climate. However, there can be no way forward without consensus among the country’s major stakeholders—government, labour and the private sector. This is the aim of the National Tripartite Advisory Council (NTAC).

At a recent session to give a progress report on the work of the council, private sector representative Dr Ramesh Ramdeen, CEO of the T&T Manufacturer’s Association (TTMA), said there are some things business and labour have in common. For example, the business community is supports salary increases for workers but wants them tied to increased productivity.|

“From a business perspective, productivity, output increases and wages must go hand in hand. I cannot see anyone in the business community who will say if they can get increases . . . they would not want to share that with labour but it must be tied to productivity,” he said.

Ramdeen warned of negative consequences if increases in wages occur without increases in productivity.

“Inevitably there is going to be inflation. If we do not do anything to tie wages to productivity, we are also going down in a spiral in terms of our competitiveness.”

He said surveys to measure the performance of management and workers are important since all inputs into the process of productivity must be measured “to get that output that we are looking for.”

Modern labour laws

Ramdeen highlighted the urgent need to update labour legislation and said the business community is in agreement with the process currently being undertaken by NTAC.

He said: “All the three pieces of legislation that have been identified do in fact need remodeling. If you look at the date of the various pieces of legislation, specifically the Industrial Relations Act (IRA) that came into effect in the early 1970s, we recognise that when these things came abut it served a particular purpose at a particular time.

“We are living in a new dispensation, a new time, so we need to revisit these pieces of legislation.”

Responding to claims by Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU) president Michael Cabrera that the private sector cares only about profits and not workers’ interest, Ramdeen said: “We want to see a piece of legislation that will enhance the livelihood of workers in T&T.”

He said there had been consultations on the way forward with new legislation but some “small areas” of disagreement remain

“We do not expect in an environment like NTAC, where there are three diverse groupings coming together, consensus will happen overnight,” he said.

Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus, giving details of the labour laws being reviewed, said over an 11 month period NTAC had been deliberating on three policy position papers referred to them by Cabinet.

They have to do with amendments to the IRA, the Workmen’s Compensation Act and the Retrenchment and Severance Benefits Act (RSBA).

NTAC is in the final stages of deliberations on the IRA and consensus should be reached by next month. Comments from sector representatives on the Workmen’s Compensation Act are being collated, while in the case of the RSBA, consensus is being sought on harmonisation of measures for the protection of retrenched workers.

She explained: “The draft position paper on amendments to the RSBA is the outcome of a national stakeholder consultation which was held by the Ministry of Labour on May 18, 2016, as well as comments solicited from stakeholders who comprised the leadership of employer organisations, trade unions, government, academia, the legal fraternity ad other agencies with technical expertise.

“The paper was developed to lay the groundwork for the introduction of a Bill in the Parliament of T&T to give effect to amendments to the RSBA with a view to bringing legislative provisions in line with contemporary social and economic conditions.”

Baptiste-Primus said one of the critical items being considered is a provision to guarantee the payment of severance benefits in circumstances where workers are terminated due to redundancy, insolvency or receivership. These were not catered for in the original RSBA which took effect in November 1985.

Prior to that, severance payments were generally made only where specified by collective agreements, or at the sole discretion of employers.

“While there is unanimous consensus among the tripartite partners that payment of severance benefits should be legislated for among the amendments currently being proposed, two very critical issues have stymied NTAC’s progress in arriving at consensus on this provision. One of these is that of determining the most appropriate mechanism by which these retrenchment payments should be made.

“The other is that of making a determination as to where, in order of prioritization, should payment of benefits be placed when stacked side by side with legal, regulatory and fiduciary obligations especially of cash trapped institutions. There is no simple solution to these intricacies,” she said.

About NTAC

NTAC’s mission is to give effect to commitments in Government’s Official Policy Framework for tripartite engagement, dialogue and consultation and to promote consensus building and democratic involvement among key stakeholders on national development issues. It was launched March 15, 2016.

The council is mandated to advise government on:

• Effective implementation of government policy.

• Identification and review of sustainable national development goals.

• Development of a culture of innovation, invention and use of initiative.

• Enhancing the level of productivity in all sectors of national endeavour.

• Development of a national campaign on productivity and proper work ethics.

• Creation of additional job opportunities.

• Maximisation of the use of science and technology.

• Focusing attention on the needs of the poor, the socially displaced and the most vulnerable in our society

• Maintenance of industrial peace and harmony nationwide.

Members of NTAC


Chairperson: Planning Minister Camille Robinson-Regis
Minister of Finance Colm Imbert
Minister of Labour and Small Enterprise Development Jennifer Baptiste Primus
Minister of Education Anthony Garcia
Minister of Social Development and Family Services Cherrie-Ann Crichlow-Cockburn
Secretary of Settlements and Labour, Tobago House of Assembly, Marslyn Melville-Jack

The private sector:

Chairperson, Employers’ Consultative Association, Keston Nancoo
CEO, T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Gabriel Faria
President, Tobago Division of the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Claude Benoit
CEO, T&T Manufacturers’ Association, Mahindra Ramesh Ramdeen
CEO, American Chamber of T&T, Nirad Tewarie
President and CEO, The Energy Chamber, Thackwray Driver

Labour movement:

Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM)
Steel Workers Union of T&T (SWUTT)
President, Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU)
The National Trade Union Centre (NATUC) President, James Lambert
General Secretary, Federation of Independent Trade Unions (FITUN), Michael Annisette
Secretary-General, Communications Workers’ Union (CWU), Joseph Remy
First Vice President, Oilfield Workers Trade Union, Carlton Gibson

Categories: News


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