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Updated: 2 hours 16 min ago

Surprise raid nets guns, drugs

8 hours 32 min ago

Western Division police yesterday launched a manhunt for several people wanted in connection with a cache of arms, ammunition and illegal drugs found at Cameron Hill in Petit Valley, yesterday.

Two Glock pistols, five magazines, 205 assorted rounds of ammunition, two kilogrammes of cocaine and 18 kilogrammes of marijuana, two ski masks and thousands of marijuana seeds and small trees were discovered.

Senior Superintendent for the division, Zamsheed Mohammed, who spearheaded the exercise, praised his junior colleagues for their great work.

“I want to commend the police on their efforts and it was an element of surprise,” he said.

He said some of the men were known to the police and officers believed they would be held soon.

A report said around 11 am on Sunday and 3 am yesterday, officers from the Western Division Task Force and CID went to a camp located in the forest but were fired upon as they got closer.

The officers returned fire and five people who were in the camp fled into the hilly terrain.

Investigators said they believed one of the escapees was a Spanish-speaking woman.

Creativity high in Central children mas

8 hours 34 min ago

Several bands and individuals paraded before the panel of judges at the annual Chaguanas Children’s Carnival on Sunday before hundreds of spectators.

Vashtee Persad, adviser to the Committee, said in an interview that, “this year’s Children’s Carnival has surpassed previous ones, and this is an indication that Carnival and Carnival activities would blossom during this season and this trend will spill over into future celebrations.”

“I am amazed at the creativity and artistry and originality of the bands and individuals. This year’s show is now a turning point. The crowd was encouraging,” Persad said.

Co-ordinator of the Carnival celebrations in Central Trinidad—Couva, Chaguanas, Tabaquite and Longdenville, Councillor Ronald Heera, who also sits in as Chairman of the Chaguanas celebrations, “there were differences this year because we visited over 25 primary schools in the area, and sought their participation and what we are seeing today is because of the direct contact with them.”

“Chaguanas Children’s Carnival is one of the history books. It has captured the imagination of the hundreds of patrons who accompanied their little ones, either playing mas or just looking on. The time we invested in planning and producing the programme was worth it.”

Former Mayor of Chaguanas, who is a member of the Committee, Orlando Nagessar noted that there was, “a progressive higher level in the presentations today, and we can look forward to brighter and bigger Carnival for 2016.”

Among the bands paraded were: “No Bars, Bouncy Castle. Jab Jab Whip Masters, Carol and family, Fairy Tales, Pride In Our Local Industries, Birds of A Feather Flock, Baby Dolls and Not So Traditional.”

One of the highlights of the Carnival was the presentation of the Police Youth Committee which produced three bands from Tabaquite, Cunupia and Gran Couva, and which were supervised by head of the Central Division Senior Supt Jayson Forde.

All of the bands and individuals displayed enthusiasm and creativity.

Police have confirmed that the show was incident free.

Smooth sailing in Central zone

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 23:58

A total of 20 people were arrested at J’Ouvert celebrations in Chaguanas. 

Head of the Central Division Senior Superintendent Jayson Forde told the media the alleged offenders were arrested for various offences including illegal drugs, weapons, obscene language and fighting. 

Forde said anyone carrying anything remotely resembling a weapon for Carnival would be arrested. 

He promised a heavy police presence for the celebrations in a bid to keep negative elements out of the celebrations.

The senior officer said despite the arrests J’Ouvert celebrations went ahead without any major incidents in the Central borough.

Chaguanas Carnival Committee deputy chairman, Orlando Nagessar, said the police did an excellent job in keeping troublemakers away from the main parade venue, Ramsaran Street, where celebrations took place. 

Nagessar said despite lower funding, Carnival 2016 was one of the biggest celebrations in the history of Chaguanas Carnival. 

Nagessar said bands were allowed to exit the stage and leave the venue via Saith Park instead of proceeding west to Ramsaran Street where a large crowd had gathered in the presence of several bars. 

Bands had in the past complained of stormers and pickpockets entering their bands.

The first band to cross the stage shortly after 6 am was Blu Hawaii, a presentation of bandleader Philip Jordan and Junabo. 

This big band out of Lange Park has a tradition of sticking to a political theme for J’Ouvert.

But this year, Jordan said, it was all about having fun for Carnival. The committee had to plead with some bands to avoid throwing mud and paint on stage. 

However, these calls fell on deaf ears and resulted in a few people slipping and falling when they crossed the stage. 

Mayor Gopaul Boodhan and Carnival Committee chairman Ronald Heera played in the band Recession Ah Cyar Come. 

Boodhan said he was pleased to see bands getting in and out of celebrations without hiccups as in previous years. 

“This is the most exciting J’Ouvert we had in years; there are 20-plus bands expecting to cross the stage.” 

Boodhan said Recession Ah Cyar Come was a community band whose players were allowed to play free.

Tributes pour in for Joey Lewis

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 23:37

Musical legend Joey “Pal” Lewis, 78, died yesterday.

Lewis was admitted to the Community Hospital in Cocorite and diagnosed as having a growth in his colon in 2011. 

In August 2012 he began chemotherapy which affected his mobility and he had to be assisted with walking. His condition deteriorated slowly until his passing yesterday.

Lewis had been playing music for more than six decades. He formed his first band—Joey Lewis & The Teenagers—at age 16. In 1964 the band toured the United States where Joey met Harry Belafonte and Dizzy Gillespie. 

The following year he did a command performance in Guyana for President Forbes Burnham. In 1976, the Solid Gold company took the band to New York for performances where it won wide acclaim.The band has toured regularly, performing in every Caribbean island with the exception of Dominica. 

According to his wife Julia, “Joey got the nickname ‘Pal’ from seeing Pal Joey, a 1957 American movie which starred Frank Sinatra, Rita Haywood and Kim Novak. He has been referred to by that monicker since, and his band has carried the name as well.” 

Veteran musician Roy Cape said yesterday: “I awoke to the news and it really shocked me. But then again, life is about living and death.

“In 1961, I did an audition with Joey in Belmont. When I first met him the awesomeness of the man overwhelmed and inspired me. I feel that Joey’s band is the longest existing band in the history of world music. That alone says a lot. But his son will perpetuate the dream.

“The first song I learned to play was Kisses by Frank Purcell. Joey taught me that song. For more than half a century I have shared stages with Joey throughout Trinidad. I will give him credit for being a good manager of human resources.To hold a band for over 60-something years and still have some of the original musicians speaks to your leadership skills.”

Pelham Goddard, leader of Roots and arranger of Republic Bank Exodus Steel Orchestra, said: “Joey is one of my mentors; an all-round musician. He was a true musician who could play anything. He was so much that it’s difficult to say exactly who he was in one go. 

“Joey influenced several musicians, especially myself, and excelled so much that when we had Roots and began playing our own music we used Joey and his music as the model for us to follow by having our own repertoire. Joey’s music, to this day, is still alive ensuring that while he may be missed he will not be forgotten.”

Veteran radio personality Phill Simmons added: “We have lost one of the legends of Trinidad and Tobago music. He was one of the most important musicians in the stability of our music, since he began playing as a teenager. 

Joey bridged eras and generations and was one of the few musicians to own his own studio so he had a position of independence. Joey led from in front to the time of his death. 

This was a stalwart of a man; a poui tree when it came to strength and stability.”

Funeral arrangements will be announced later. 

Full show for spectators in Woodbrook

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 23:34

Soca star Machel Montano was the frontrunner in the Road March race at Adam Smith Square, up to press time.

During yesterday's Parade of Bands at the Woodbrook, Port-of-Spain, judging point, Montano's Waiting On The Stage was clearly the most popular song.

There were more people on the pavement than in the stands along the venue. 

When one of the music trucks of Carnival band Dream Team's presentation Magic Carpet Ride was near the stage, Montano's song was played so loudly, however, that an announcer asked the music truck to lower the music because the judges and the people needed to hear the information on the band. 

For Adam Smith Square on a Monday, action began early at 10.30 am with Legacy's Life is... which was followed by Ronnie and Caro's Tears Of... then a lull around 11.45 am and a steady flow of large, medium and small bands into the afternoon period.

Under a hot sun the revellers danced with abandon as if maximising their time onstage in one of the shortest Carnival seasons in years as if to extract every ounce of enjoyment.

There were Island People Mas now rebranded as IP Mas with its 2016 presentation Pantheon: Summon the Guardians; Yuma's Indulge In The Sweet Life; D Krewe's Loving The Mas; Roam The Mas band's Kings, Queens and Vagabonds; Showtime Trinidad's Dance Warrior Dance; Veni Friends' Devils and Angels: To Hell and Back; Frenz N Dem's We Like It So; Shhhh Entertainment & Indulgence's Satisfy Your Every Indulgence; Just Wee & Friends Celebrating Wee Own; The Belmont Jewels' Conquest De La Chiquita; Starlift Steel Orchestra's Through The Years; and The Original Jab Jabs. 

Last year, Montano captured the Road March title with Like A Boss; and if he wins this year it will be his eighth title.

Creativity brain drain in South J’Ouvert party

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 23:32

While mas lovers favoured the modern and earth mas over the traditional aspect in San Fernando J’Ouvert celebrations, many observers felt this year’s presentations lacked creativity.

The thousands that came out in the wee hours of yesterday congregated at the judging points on top High Street, Cipero Street and the Southern Academy for Performing Arts (SAPA), Reinzi Kirton Highway, to witness the masses that opted to play the modern mas that was described by deputy mayor Junia Regrello as a roving street party.

But as judges and stakeholders in Carnival observed, most of the presentations were variations of printed T-shirts accompanied by powder or paint. The celebrations got off to a late start yesterday as Regrello officially launched J’Ouvert at 5.30 am at Harris Promenade in the absence of mayor Kazim Hosein.

Regrello, who is the convenor of Carnival, said while he saw nothing wrong with spectators choosing modern mas over the ole mas, efforts must be made to keep audiences interested in the traditional aspects of J’Ouvert. He lamented that the comical and interesting ole mas presentations were dying, saying that mas men needed to put more thought into their depictions.

“This year, we saw a lot of mature people sitting on bleachers, waiting for the traditional J’Ouvert mas and steelbands. My observation was that the people who play the traditional mas, that satirical or comical presentation which San Fernando has been famous for over the years, seems to be getting scarce.”

“Even the humour is going down. There were critical issues that the country faced that were depicted over the years and that created an interest and entertainment for the people. What I am seeing now is lukewarm and it seems that not enough thought is going into it. The presentation didn't really evoke anything. 

“The San Fernando Carnival Committee is offering prizes for them and they need to put thought into their presentations. A lot of it was mediocre and not the abundance of talent as we have seen in years gone by,” Regrello said.

He said the changing trend in which people, especially youths, are preferring modern and earth mas to traditional mas needs to be accepted. However, he said the prevalence of simple T-shirt mas over designed outfits may be a result of business people taking over as opposed to true mas men. 

With a few onlookers gathered outside the San Fernando City Hall for the traditional mas, Skiffle Steel Orchestra was the first act to pass 15 minutes later, playing a well-polished rendition of How She Like It by Hypasounds. Meanwhile, A&K Fashion Lab was the first modern band to reach the SAPA judging point. 

With their theme titled An Egyptian Mystery, the band’s three sections depicted various aspects of ancient Egypt.

The all-female section, Nefertiti, wearing kalasiris over their bikinis and shorts complemented with gold head pieces, depicted the style of the ancient Egyptian queen. This was followed by the black and gold-clad revellers of the Mastaba Chamber section which represented the tomb of Egypt’s royalty. The third section, Naqada, which translated means gold, represented a town on the west bank of the river Nile in the Egyptian governorate of Qena.

Jama Production’s In D Brew had a band filled with well-designed witches. Before the judges, their chief witch mixed her powerful brew to get rid of the evil spirits upon the earth. 

Although B-Man and Lord Street Fusion and Associates’ La Cooray presented T-shirt mas, their colourful outfits, especially the design depicting the “plant-like substance” found at former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s home and the Red and Ready section representing the PNM’s general election win showed some effort. 

Though clichéd, Limerz Krew’s presentation of Jail Break was also one of the few creative designs with their black and white-striped outfits.

House of Jacqui’s presentation of Where Fashion Meets J’Ouvert was packed with energetic masqueraders revelling under the artificial rain created by a water truck and hose. However, their presentation was simply variations of purple and black T-shirts.

Divas International’s Halos and Horns chipped across the judging point to Voice’s Soca Monarch-winning single, Cheers to Life. But with the “ting so sweet,” they chipped straight past the judges and had to be called back by the announcer. Penal band, DJ Laltoo’s Wet and Wild, had another year showing a variety of coloured T-shirts and vests with the only attraction being a water truck.

The celebration became a bit frustrating for spectators at SAPA who had to wait for almost an hour for bands to pass as most of them were late and having a time along the crowded Cipero Street. When mas resumed, it brought congestion at the Rienzi Kirton Highway with bands hustling to cross the judging point before the 11 am cut-off time. However, the deadline reached with many bands yet to pass.

Low turnout for ole mas

The crowd of ole mas supporters has dwindled from years gone by and though there were humourous portrayals, some of the signage used by masqueraders was sometimes crass and lewd.

With almost 30 ole mas depictions, both Government and Opposition members were the subject of caricatures. 

Finance Minister Colm Imbert was most popular, with Prime Minister Keith Rowley, Communication Minister Maxie Cuffie, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Princes Town MP Barry Padarath being the other favourites.

Princes Town hair dresser Tyrone Nanan provided some humour as he presented himself as a pregnant “Colm In Birth” who gave birth to baby Al Rawee, Fitz B-Hinds, Minister of Newness and Minister of Com-U-Nee-Cation.

Mas veterans, The Blue Boys J’Ouvert Band, brought most of the political ole mas, some of which were well received by the audience while others were not. Steelbands Pan Elders, San City, and Southern All Stars also provided sweet music on the road as well as the rhythmic Gasparillo Tamboo Bamboo Specialists.

Revellers hurt in J’Ouvert fracas

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 23:28

A heavy presence of police officers on foot and in vehicles throughout Port-of-Spain did not prevent violence in the city, as a group of non-paying masqueraders threw bottles at J’Ouvert revellers in a band, injuring several people.

The incident took place at around 6.20 am when Cocoa Devils’ J’Ouvert band made their way along Pole Carew Street, Woodbrook.

A group of five men who were not registered to play with the band attempted to storm the band.

The band’s security staff was alerted and confronted the men, pushing them out of the roped area, eyewitnesses said.

In retaliation, the men started throwing bottles wildly toward the startled crowd, who quickly dispersed in an attempt to get away from the violence. 

While some people were hit with the bottles, others were injured from broken glass and were taken to the St James hospital for treatment.

The incident comes two years after former Port-of-Spain Mayor Louis Lee Sing pleaded with the Government to ban glass bottles from the capital city during Carnival celebrations.

In 2015 a man was killed after being stabbed with a broken glass bottle during an argument with two other men over his girlfriend.

The incident happened despite thorough police searches at City Gate and in downtown Port-of-Spain.

Police set up search exercises at the Uriah Butler Highway and Lady Young Road, Morvant, leaving hundreds of motorists and would be J’Ouvert masqueraders and spectators in traffic gridlocks.

The police presence was also heavy on the city streets, with officers highly visible, both on foot and in vehicles.

While violence spoiled the festivities for some masqueraders uptown, Downtown Carnival, which also had a large contingent of police officers, was event free.

Port-of-Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee with Minister of Arts, Culture and Community Development Nyan Gadsby-Dolly at his side read the declaration to officially begin the national festival.

Competing masqueraders at the downtown judging point covered politics, elections, recession and former Central Bank Governor Jwala Rambarran in their J’Ouvert portrayals.

Herbert Pierre, who won last year, retained his crown as King of J’Ouvert, 2016, in Port-of-Spain with his portrayal “Captain Gary Griffith didn’t make it with the third force.”

Helen Fullard was crowned the J’Ouvert Queen with her portrayal “Queen Kamla get a real cut arse in Tobago.”

Smooth flow of bands in downtown venue

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 23:25

Carnival Monday 2016 kicked off yesterday with some of the bigger bands crossing the judging point at South Quay with no major hiccups.

Downtown Port-of-Spain was a sea of colour and excitement as revellers defied the blazing heat in their costumes.

Machel Montano’s Waiting on Stage featuring Badjohn Republic was one of the most played songs by the bands yesterday.

Just before noon, Harts crossed the stage with their presentation of Vogue.

Harts Carnival’s band launch last year was a fashionable extravaganza for the collection aptly titled Vogue.

The collection features lots of luxurious colours and, of course, lots of feathers.

Following Harts was the band Bliss and their presentation of the Secret Garden.

This was reflected in their costumes with names such as the Tangled Web and Honey.

Tribe then followed and they presented one of their concepts this year, Lost Tribe—A Revolution of Mas.

According to Tribe, the story is told by the Spirit of the Savannah, the oldest witness to T&T’s Carnival as people know it, the centre of activities and the heartbeat of T&T’s culture.

It all refers to T&T’s “lost artistry” of Carnival which is now just a street party and not real art.

Their costume concepts included Mist, Poui Blossom, Blaze and Ava.

Other bands that followed included Island People, Ronnie and Caro and Petlemas which all passed the judges well into mid-afternoon.

The stands in South Quay, Port-of-Spain, were half empty yesterday as activities have traditionally been slower on Mondays than on Carnival Tuesday when masqueraders are out in full glitz and glamour.

Canadian visitor killed in hit-and-run accident

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 23:24

Relatives of Canadian visitor Leon Williams who was struck and killed by a car yesterday morning were left feeling even more distraught after they learnt that the driver never stopped.

Leon Williams, 70, was returning to his relatives’ home after participating in J’Ouvert celebrations in San Fernando when he was killed while crossing the Naparima Mayaro Road in Mon Repos, San Fernando.

The accident took place around 10.20 am in front of the Mon Repos Housing Development Corporation apartment buildings and within sight of the police station.

Trying to hold back the tears, his brother Curtis Williams who operates Biggie’s Mini Mart said Williams stopped by his shop to chat with him and he gave Williams two packs of nuts.

Curtis said his brother left and was crossing the road when the car came speeding towards him.

“The car was coming up with speed. Like he (Williams) went forward then backwards (when he see the car coming). I hear a bang and I look and I did not see my brother.” Curtis said when he came out of the shop he saw his brother lying on the road with blood flowing from his head. He was already dead.

On impact both of Williams’ sneakers flew off his feet and he landed facedown. His body was removed by undertakers to the mortuary at the San Fernando General Hospital where an autopsy is expected to be performed. 

Eyewitnesses said the vehicle was a brownish coloured Nissan Laurel, but up to late yesterday police had not found the car or the driver.

Other relatives who arrived shortly after could not believe what had happened. 

“It is impossible.

“This is impossible,” a relative cried. His niece, Rachel Codrington-Indar, said her uncle had been living abroad for more than 20 years and would usually come home every year to spend Christmas and Carnival with them. She said he planned to go to Port-of-Spain today to watch mas.

“He has been here since before Christmas and he would usually go back around May. Carnival is his season. Them people evil boy. They hit him and drive off,” she cried.

Williams has a son and two grandchildren. 

Corporal Langley is investigating.

11-time finalist takes the crown

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 23:22

After 11 attempts at trying to capture the Calypso Monarch crown, Devon Seale yesterday snatched the coveted title and $1 million first prize from his 11 rivals.

Seale, who sang Spirit of Carnival and Respect God’s Voice, dethroned defending champion Roderick “Chuck” Gordon at the Dimanche Gras show, Queen’s Park Savannah, before a half-filled Grand Stand.

Placing second and taking home $500,000 in the 2016 Calypso Monarch finals was 22-year-old University of T&T student and newcomer to the stage Helon Francis who delivered Paradise and Real Bandits, which were well-received by spectators. Francis also copped the Young King title in the National Action Cultural Committee’s competition last month.

Gordon, who was aiming for his hat-trick, had to settle for third position and $250,000 after rendering Fixing Time and It Eh Go Wuk.

A total of $2,420,000 in prize money will be distributed to the 12 finalists.

The theme for this year’s show was entitled Unforgettable—The Soundtrack of your Life.

As Seale was bodily lifted into the air by jubilant and screaming supporters, friends and family members, he paid tribute to the late Lord Kitchener (Aldwyn Roberts), Carlyle “Jazzy” Pantin and Lord Pretender (Aldric Farrell) for his victory.

He said these three men gave him an opportunity to audition and sing.

“They always gave me advice and pushed me to the limit. I will forever be indebted to them,” Seale said after being crowned.

In 1999, Seale made his debut in the Kalypso Revue tent managed by Lord Kitchener.

“I feel wonderful. I feel great. I have been toiling for years. Last year I put in a lot of work on stage but I disappointed my fans with my second song. I had to come back and take what I gave away. It just shows that hard work and persistence pay off. When it’s your time, it’s your time,” a smiling Seale said.

Seale admitted that many of his competitors had compelling songs.

“I think the judges got it right with the top five places.”

In congratulating his rivals, 39-year-old Seale singled out Francis who is his first cousin.

“For us it’s a double celebration tonight. Helon had two dynamic songs. The sky is the limit for him. He has a lot of potential and will certainly go far with his voice and talent,” Seale said.

He said with artistes like Francis, calypso was in safe hands.

What was the secret to Seale’s success?

“I think my songs were well-executed and balanced. They were of the right mix.”

Having sung calypso for the past 20 years, Seale said, he was fortunate to be a Calypso Monarch finalist 11 times, but victory always eluded him.

The closest he came to winning the crown was second.

“I have been knocking on the door of the monarchy for 11 years. Last year I placed second. Now it has finally opened. Victory at last!”

Seale said this year he went back to the drawing board and came with a different concept and plan, which worked in his favour.

Instead of singing strictly political commentaries, Seale changed the choice of his songs a bit.

He opted to deliver Respect God’s Voice—a political commentary written by Marlon Rondon—and an uptempo calypso entitled The Spirit of Carnival penned by Christophe Grant.

Respect God’s Voice tells of the People’s Partnership’s decision to file election petitions to declare the September 7 general election null and void.

Seale urged former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to respect the voice of the people who voted overwhelmingly for the People’s National Movement in the marginal constituencies of Tunapuna, La Horquetta/Talparo, San Fernando West and St Joseph.

Seale described Persad-Bissessar as a sore loser and accused the People’s Partnership of plundering the Treasury during their term in office.

“Thank God today in the Savannah the voice of the people was the voice of God. The people decided that I had to take this 2016 monarch.”

In the second round of the competition, Seale, dressed as a blue devil armed with a fork in his right hand, offered patrons an upbeat calypso, which he said had been lacking in the competition.

He said in years gone by calypsonians such as Explainer, Sparrow and Scrunter entertained patrons at the Big Yard with a party song, which he reintroduced on stage to entertain the crowd.

The former TSTT employee who owns an Information Technology/security consultancy business plans to invest some of his winnings into his business.

He also plans to host a show celebrating his 20 years in the calypso fraternity.

Health officials: Don’t get bite for Carnival

Sun, 02/07/2016 - 23:36

A “serious threat to Trinidad and Tobago.” That’s how secretary of the Division of Health and Social Services Claudia Groome-Duke described the Zika virus, which has impacted most of South and Central America and several Caribbean islands.

At Wednesday’s post-Executive Council media briefing at the Administrative Complex, Calder Hall, the secretary said her division will provide anti-mosquito support to the public during Carnival 2016. Groome-Duke said the division has procured treated mosquito nets to be distributed to pregnant women who can’t afford them. She also provided advice on precautions the public can take to reduce their chances of being bitten while enjoying Carnival.

“Wear long sleeve shirts and pants [and] avoid dark colours because the dark colours attract mosquitoes,” Groome-Duke advised. There will be residual spraying in communities. And insect repellent and hand sanitizer stations will be positioned at Carnival events to reduce the impact of the mosquito and encourage cleanliness. 

The secretary pointed out that Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh has declared a national health emergency due to the threat of the Zika virus. She called on all Tobagonians to assist in ensuring the disease does not come to Tobago by helping to eradicate its carrier, the Aedes Aegypti mosquito.

“Our message to the people of Tobago is ‘don’t get bite’, keep your surroundings clean,” Groome-Duke said. “We have learned that no vaccine exists to prevent Zika.” County Medical Officer of Health Vishwanath Partapsingh told members of the media the Tobago Public Health Emergency Response team “is a multi-sectoral team. Given the nature of the disease or the nature of the threat, or the nature of the emergency, we will recruit different sectors.” Partapsingh said key stakeholders in the tourism sector will help deal with the Zika threat.

He added that information on the Zika virus, including signs and symptoms, has been disseminated to the public. Partapsingh said training has been scheduled for perifocal workers (those who deal primarily with infections) who conduct home visits, along with 211 workers, “so that information is available to the public if required.”

Partapsingh said the Division will continue to conduct vector surveillance.

NSITT chairman Prince gets letter of appointment

Sun, 02/07/2016 - 23:10

Chairman of the Cabinet-appointed task force for the establishment of the National Statistical Institute of T&T (NSITT) Dr John Prince said Chief Justice Ivor Archie was among three leaders who requested that work be done speedily to establish the proposed National Statistical Institute of T&T to replace the Central Statistical Office.

Prince said that during Friday’s launch of the task force at the Eric Williams Financial Complex, Port-of-Spain. He said the other requests were from Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and chief secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly Orville London.

Prince said he received a telephone call from Chief Justice Ivor Archie from Nigeria, urging him to do all he can to set up the body to replace the Central Statistical Office quickly.

He said the first to make the demand on him was Prime Minister Rowley, who via a text message to him said: “Make it quick” which was followed “two days later (when) I got a call from the Chief Justice (who) said ‘John I am calling you from Nigeria, please make that task force do its work very, very quickly because we need reliable data.”

Prince said Archie told him “We make judgments without reliable data and I was involved in one.” Prince said Archie told him during the telephone conversation that he (Archie) was an engineer before becoming a judge and “and  as an engineer we depend on reliable data. He say ‘please make it quick.’”

Prince said on Thursday he met with London in Tobago and he was also asked by him to “make it quick.” Prince said the first to ask him to “make it right but make it quick” was the Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis.

He said to her yesterday: “This task force is ready, ready to do it. We are going to get it right and we are going to get it quick.”

Robinson-Regis said the NSITT was expected to come on stream in January. She said the major issue was for the required legislation to be brought to parliament for approval.

Members of the task force were presented with their letters of appointment by Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis.

Anthropology grad rescues abused dogs

Sun, 02/07/2016 - 22:57

Young anthropology graduate Renae John has been going to the Lapeyrouse Cemetery, Port-of-Spain, every single day, including holidays, for the past eight months. But there is no sinister motive behind the 29-year old’s visits to the cemetery. 

John’s deep compassion for abandoned and abused dogs,particularly the more common breeds, leads her to Lapeyrouse daily. Seven puppies took up residence among the tombs and John goes there to feed them. She has rescued four already and is searching for foster homes for them. “There are three remaining. I want to move them. People pelt them.”

John once paid $900 for nine dogs earmarked for death at the San Fernando Pound. She thinks it nothing, too, to climb down into the St Ann’s River to rescue puppies abandoned there. She is founder of the Mustapha Project, a dog rescue organisation based at her Diego Martin home named after her beloved deceased grandfather, Mustapha John, from whom she inherited her love for animals.

“I was the first born grandchild and he took me everywhere with him. Our home was like a farm with dogs, chickens, ducks, parrots. 

“Whenever my grandfather was feeding and seeing about them, I would be there with him. We shared a bond with animals.”

Mustapha died in 2000 and John founded the Mustapha Project last year, naming it in his honour. “The initial purpose was to raise funds for animal charities and increase awareness of abused dogs but the project took on a life of its own.”

With the help of her parents, Saied and Princess, sister Gabriella and volunteers, the project expanded into a dog rescue operation.

“People drop dogs for us at home they picked them up somewhere. I started to do my own rescues too.

“I keep some of the dogs at home and pay to board some at a veterinary clinic until we find homes for them.”

John studied anthropology at St John’s University in New York and did a short stint as an On the Job Trainee administrative assistant at the Office of the Prime Minister. For now, she is helping Saied run the family grocery and devoting every minute of her free time to the Mustapha Project.

“My dad and I work shifts. When I’m free, I run errands for the grocery and visit the dogs at Lapeyrouse or do other rescues. Then I come home and spend time with the dogs we have.”

One time, John even petitioned the San Fernando Pound with over 5,000 signatures asking for more humane treatment of dogs it picks up. The Pound is run by the San Fernando City Corporation and dogs picked up are put down in a matter of days. John said someone took a photograph of a dog at the Pound staring pitifully into the camera and it haunted her until she could not sleep.

She scrambled together $900 to pay for all nine dogs at the Pound at that time. But getting dogs scheduled to be put down there is no easy task. “The Pound advertises its opening hours as between 6 am and 7 am. But if you want a dog you are required to get an application from the corporation which opens at 8 am.

“A friend spoke to the Pound keeper while I secured the application and went back for the dogs the next day.

“I took them to the vet and got them spayed and neutered. They were malnourished and had skin conditions and tick fever.”

John has photos of dogs she rehabilitated on the Mustapha Project’s Facebook page and the transformation is amazing. She picks up puppies dumped on the banks of the St Ann’s River.

“People put them in boxes and bags and someone would see them and call me. Some people told me they had to dive into the river to rescue puppies.”

Since she started the Mustapha Project in February 2014, John has rescued over 200 dogs.

“We have 11 at home right now, eight of them rescues we fell in love with and could not part with.”

Rescuing abused dogs is a fixed part of her life. “I don’t know life without this,” she said.

18 bands in jubilance

Sun, 02/07/2016 - 22:47

With more colours, characters and clean fun than modern mas, hundreds of children flooded parts of San Fernando as it was their turn to revel on the Carnival stage.

Despite the hot sun yesterday, jubilance and energy were displayed as 18 bands from around south Trinidad enjoyed the Junior Parade of the Bands competition held by the San Fernando City Corporation, which culminated with their best performances at Skinner Park.

Children as young as 18 months old revelled with their parents, teachers and bandleaders, among them Energy Minister Nicole Olivierre who accompanied her son Shomarie, three and daughter Shayera, nine, who played mas with House of Jacqui’s presentation, House of Jacqui’s 50th Anniversary. 

Admitting that her busy schedule as a minister and MP keeps her away from her children, she said she dedicates Carnival to sharing an experience with them. She said the last two weeks have taken them to mas around the country.

“This is the third year my kids have been playing mas in San Fernando and it is great. I like the spirit, I like the energy and it’s really good that we have been able to really spread out the Carnival throughout all the villages. We will be going to St Joseph, then we will be going to Chaguanas and Couva.

“Yesterday after downtown, we went to Gasparillo. Last week we went to Barrackpore, earlier in the week we were in Penal. It is really excellent that every area has it own little children’s Carnival and that really augers well for the future of the mas. 

“The least I can go is give them (her children) Carnival. I don’t have much time for them during the year, but Carnival I give to them,” Olivierre said.

Taking the streets first was Reflexionx with their presentation of We Dancing and the children definitely portrayed their theme with style, dancing and frolicking along the road. Carivog Kids’ Mama Look Mas Coming brought back that 1980s splendour of mas with costumes that clearly depict characters such as the scarecrow and sailors.

Eckles Village AC Primary School dedicated their presentation to the late San Fernando mas and fashion designer Dexter Jennings who died of diabetes at age 47 last year.

 Jennings was the leader of Jennings Mas and Associates band, the owner of The Concepts Studio, a pioneer of the Miss Mature beauty pageant and produced Easter bonnet parades, Kiddies Carnival events and supported a host of charities.

The school’s tribute presentation, titled Dexter Laboratery featured aspects of Jenning designs from years gone by, including Knight in Shining Armour, Pan, Day or Night and Cheeky Chong. Soca star Machel Montano also had to his glory as Siparia Boys’ RC presented Journey with Machel Montano Through the Years.

The colourful portrayals represented aspects of his past music, including aliens from the song Out of Space featuring Jamaican dancehall artiste Beenie Man. The King of the band was a well made effigy of Montano.

Kiddies in Nostalgia

Sun, 02/07/2016 - 22:43

Traditional mas came to life as a host of Carnival characters took part in the Nostalgia Parade, which started  at the Piccadilly Greens, Port-of-Spain and made its way uptown to the Adam Smith Square in Woodbrook yesterday.

Around 10 am the bands, comprising figures from Carnival’s early history, chipped and danced their way up Ariapita Avenue toward the Square, much to the delight of many tourists and locals alike.

Even children lined the streets, as they looked on in amazement as the figures crossed in front of the judges' stand at Adam Smith Square, playing such classic Carnival characters such  as Jab Jabs, Dame Lorraines, Baby Dolls, Midnight Robbers, Blue Devils and many others. 

During the performances there was also a mixture of old Kaiso music and modern day Soca, including many favorite tunes from popular artistes.

Not even the overcast skies could have stopped the bands from transforming the city's streets into a mesmerising  sea of bright, flowing colours  as Fancy Indians and Dame Lorraines paraded to the delight of hundreds of onlookers.

Others, in true Carnival spirit, personified their  roles, adding a sense of realism to their performances. 

Jab Jabs aptly displayed their skill as they cracked and twirled their whips. One  group even staged a thrilling show of 'whip fighting' that wowed the crowd. And also keeping with tradition, many of the Blue Devil sections opted to perform without the assistance of a DJ, but rather made music by beating  tins pans as they 'stalked' in front of the judges, skillfully blowing fire into the air from their lit pitch forks and flambeau torches. 

Just before 1 pm the last of bands had crossed the stage. One judge said the Nostalgia Parade has grown over the years, as some six years ago years ago there were a handful of groups taking part in the parade. 

Now there are close to 30  groups competing  in a tradition which began, “Behind the Bridge,” a place where Carnival was said to have begun.

Yesterday’s parade took the original route of Mas, starting off at the Piccadilly Greens, then proceeded behind the bridge onto Duke Street, turned right at Edward Street, then left onto Park Street, proceeded west and finally onto Ariapita Avenue to Adam Smith Square in Woodbrook. 

Cops keep close eye on junior masqueraders

Sun, 02/07/2016 - 22:40

Hundreds of children had their second day of fun in the sun with another day of Kiddies Carnival in Downtown Port-of-Spain yesterday. From toddlers to babies in strollers to teens they all came out, dressed in splendor to participate in what has been known as the greatest show on earth.

Yesterday’s display was a continuation of the spectacle which took place on Saturday at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain. Members of law enforcement were also present, keeping a close eye on the activities as junior masqueraders pranced and jumped to Machel Montano’s Stage, which was the most popular song of the day.

Police also ensured there was a smooth flow of traffic at the alternate routes in and around the city. Snow-cone and popcorn vendors were present at almost every corner as scores of spectators gathered at the Brian Lara Promenade to witness the magnificence.

Education Minister Anthony Garcia who attended Saturday’s Republic Bank Junior Parade of Bands said the event was proof that mas could be enjoyed without the common trend of people being “scantily clad."

“Mas could be enjoyed without being scantily clad and if we are to follow what our children have taught us today, perhaps, in the not too distant future, we can see masqueraders being fully clothed and not being exposed to the extent to where it is sometimes degrading,” Garcia had said. The minister had also praised the children with disabilities from the Princess Elizabeth Home who also came out and enjoyed themselves.

Opposition MP calls for sex registry

Sun, 02/07/2016 - 22:35

In light of the death of alleged child molester Chea Callender, Princes Town MP Barry Padarath joins the chorus of activists to lobby Government for the establishment of a sex offender’s registry.

In a release, Padarath said a registry would be able to address sexual offences, not only against children but also adults and would be a preventative measure as opposed to reactionary.

He said once the list is compiled and continues to be updated, citizens must have dialogue on publishing the names of sex offenders, since the identities of criminals should not be protected,” Padarath said.

Police said Callender, 31, a security guard of Gajadhar Lands, Princes Town was found hanging from a mango tree at Cemetery Street around 1.30 pm Friday. His death came four days after his girlfriend was shown photographs of him sexually assaulting her five-year-old daughter.

Padarath said the former People’s Partnership government was engaged in putting together the framework for the registry and called on Attorney General Faris Al Rawi to expedite its establishment.

Zika alert: Dr Tim tells pregnant women with flu-like symptoms, Get tested now

Sun, 02/07/2016 - 22:33

Pregnant women in T&T who are experiencing flu-like symptoms and numbness in the legs are being advised to consult their respective gynaecologists urgently to have Zika and Guillain-Barrê syndrome testing done immediately. Guillain-Barrê syndrome causes paralysis and can be fatal. This syndrome is said to be currently a growing health concern amidst Zika. 

The warning yesterday came from gynaecologist Dr Tim Gopeesingh, who officially returned to his practice last month. Gopeesingh throughout the years have been heavily involved in politics and at one time held the post of Minister of Education in T&T under the People’s Partnership government.

In an interview  yesterday, Gopeesingh said he has been bombarded with calls from women, who are pregnant, expressing their concerns over Zika. 

“No pregnant woman wants to be the first Zika case so that is why I suggest that anyone experiencing mild symptoms, maybe just a slight fever or any flu-like symptoms please go to your doctors and have a laboratory testing done,” Gopeesingh said.

“First and second trimester are very critical, especially the second, seek to have ultra-sounds done so that the foetal head size can be measured and monitored,” he added.

Zika Virus is a mosquito-borne infection spread by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. It is of the belief that pregnant women who contract the virus during pregnancy, at any trimester, may have an increased risk of giving birth to a baby with microcephaly, which is a birth defect, where the head is abnormally small and the brain can be under-developed. 

T&T Guardian was told that over the past few weeks, although there are no reported cases of the Zika virus in T&T, several pregnant women throughout the country are raising concerns and are putting forward questions to their respective nurses and doctors as to what they can do.

On the Guillain-Barrê syndrome, Gopeesingh said that the muscular disease correlates to Zika, “So, pregnant women need to look out for any unusual symptoms and go get them-
selves checked.”

A medical doctor, who wished not to be identified, from the North West Regional Health Authority said that he has also been approached by women in the Antenatal Clinic. “From what I gather these women are worried and are concerned but what must be on top of our minds is that T&T have no Zika,” the doctor said.

Neonatologist Dr Petronella Manning-Alleyne yesterday gave the assurance to pregnant women and women, who think they might be pregnant to not worry and to just “keep the faith.”

“We have no identified case of the Zika virus here and I don’t know why the widespread discontent. Watch, wait and do not be worried,” Manning-Alleyne said.

She, however, believes that the panic and growing concerns may be as a result of the announcement made by the Health Minister, Terrence Deyalsingh on February 5 that there is now a national public health emergency. Following Deyalsingh’s declaration, on February 8, the World Health Organization declared a global public health emergency.

“All we have to do is clear all breeding sites, keep our surroundings clean and ensure that we all follow the health advisories and keep the faith,” Manning-Alleyne said.

According to an issued statement by the T&T IVF Fertility Centre last week, being pregnant does not make the Zika infection worse or more risky. 

With respect to treatment, the statement read: “there is no specific treatment for the symptoms of the Zika virus. Drinking plenty of water and taking paracetamol may help relieve symptoms. The use of aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen is not recommended, as there is a potential risk they could trigger excessive bleeding.”

The organisation added that although it is unrelated to Zika, the H1N1 flu virus is of concern for pregnant women.  

“If you have not yet had the H1N1 flu vaccine then you should talk to your doctor or health centre about this vaccine. H1N1 flu virus is present in Trinidad and Tobago and all pregnant women or women thinking of getting pregnant are advised to have the vaccine. All pregnant women are also advised to take folic acid supplements during pregnancy,” the statement said.

Reducing risk of infection with Zika
- Avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. The most effective bite prevention methods, which should be used both day and night are; using insect repellent that contains DEET on exposed skin—the repellent is safe to use during pregnancy and should be applied to skin after sunscreen is applied.  
Check the instructions to see how often to reapply. Most insect repellents will last for 2-4 hours.

- Wearing loose, dark clothing that covers your arms and legs and socks to cover your ankles. You can also wear clothing with mosquito repellent (Permethrin) impregnated into the material.
- Staying indoors and using screens over doors and windows to prevent mosquitos entering property
- Sleeping or resting under a mosquito net
- Consider postponing travel to any region where a known outbreak of the Zika virus is occurring
- Ensure that your home and work environments have no possible breeding sites for mosquitos and encourage everyone you know to do the same

Symptoms include
- a mild fever (38.5 degrees C)
- conjunctivitis (red, sore eyes)—not sticky or purulent
- headache, muscle pain, weakness and tiredness
- mild arthritis or joint pain with possible swelling in the small joints of the hands and feet
- an itchy rash which is made up of red patches with small raised bumps (maculo-papular) usually starting on the face and then spreading to the body
- less frequent are gastrointestinal symptoms, vertigo and retro-orbital pain (pain behind the eyes)

Troubled Laventille basks in glory of Despers, Sound Specialists

Sun, 02/07/2016 - 22:21

The victory of Desperadoes Steel Orchestra in this year's National Panorama finals comes as a shining light for the people of Laventille, especially given the recent upsurge in crime where two school children were gunned down while on their way home.

It was the 11th win for the large band steel orchestra after a long 16-year drought season. Another Laventille-based band, Courts Sound Specialists of Laventille also managed to cop third place in the medium band category.

Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, who was on stage when the results were announced, sent out a heartfelt congratulations to the Panorama 2016 champions.

Gadsby-Dolly said  she believes  the victory will showcase Laventille in a different light, instead of the stereotype of the people of Laventille involved in guns and gangs. “The Laventille bands, its members showed everyone that they could achieve the best and reach to that pinnacle of success,” Gadsby-Dolly said.

She added that her ministry, on the heels of Despers victory, will now be working on strategies to channel in the young people positively.

“We want to do things to keep capturing the positivity and in some way, I would like to work with the youths and really see how many young people we could get to channel them in that right and positive path. I was on stage and I heard certain comments from people and it brought that sense of relief and contentment that yes, positive things can come out of Laventille,” Gadsby-Dolly added.

Residents on the hill yesterday celebrated Despers pan side's victory despite the fact that the band was forced to move out because of crime. On December 12, the side made a temporary move to Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain at the Greyfriars' church compound.

T&T Guardian, was however, told yesterday that refurbishment works were currently underway at Despers original site in Laventille and the band was expected to return, hopefully very soon in the near future. Part of the refurbishment works is to include a theatre.

In an interview yesterday, Councillor for the Beetham/Picton area, which Despers falls under, Akil Audain described the placement of both bands, especially Despers’ victory as a positive sign.

“The victory could not have come at a better time than this. Recently we were plunged into mourning and still shaken up over the murders of the boys but at least this victory and Sounds Specialist coming in third in their category are enough for us to celebrate and feel happy and positive about ourselves,” Audain said.

Audain said he believes that the victory is just the beginning of the positive transformation of the people of Laventille.

“I believe that this victory will impact positively on the people of Laventille and hopefully when the band returns to the hills it will draw the young people to it in a positive manner. This is like a shining light. This is what the people of Laventille need to begin its healing from crime,” he said.
Retired lay minister at the Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church, Wendell Noel also sent out congratulations to Desperadoes and said that he feel a sense of pride.

“This is a tremendous victory for the people of Laventille and I am more than happy for them,” Noel said. He added that he strongly believes that the band's victory will motivate and encourage the young people to join the band in an attempt to turn away from the life of crime.

“It will show them that they can be part of something good, successful and something in which the entire country could be proud of,” Noel said.

‘Different Me’ snatches $1million prize

Sun, 02/07/2016 - 22:17

Desperadoes Steel Orchestra ended a 15-year drought of Panorama wins on Saturday night when it captured the 2016 National Steelband Panorama title and $1million prize at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain.

Playing a Carlton “Zanda” Alexander arrangement of Different Me, composed by Jovan James and sung by 5 Star Akil, the band from the hills of Laventille registered its eleventh victory at the 53rd edition of the annual steelband contest presented by Pan Trinbago by amassing a score of 285 points.

The last time Desperadoes won a Panorama title was in 2000 playing a Clive Bradley’s arrangement of Oba Sinnette’s Picture On My Wall. 

Appearing in the penultimate position among the ten finalists in the large band category, Despers created wild excitement among its fans with a rekindling of the distinctive musical sound of the 1970s and 80s that distinguished it from other steel orchestras, clearly indicating to them that it was a “different me” they were listening to from the one heard during the past ten years.

Placing second by a narrow one-point margin (284) was First Citizens Supernovas Steel Orchestra doing an Amrit Samaroo arrangement of Breakthrough, composed by Mark Loquan and Amrit Samaroo. 

The successful “breakthrough” by the former small conventional band into the rank of the large conventional bands category this year earned the Lopinot-based musical aggregation $700,000 in prize money.

Phase II Pan Groove (in partnership with Hadco) and bpTT Renegades tied for third place with 283 points each. The Phase offered Len “Boogsie” Sharpe’s arrangement of his composition Madd Music, while Renegades played Johann Chuckaree’s composition Music Inside Meh Head, arranged by Duvone Stewart. Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) Invaders, scoring 281 points, placed fifth with Take Dat, composed and arranged by Arddin Herbert.

Defending champion Massy Trinidad All Stars had to settle for sixth place with a score of 280 points for its interpretation of Clive Telemaque’s Leave We Alone arranged by Leon “Smooth” Edwards. 

In seventh place was PCS Nitrogen Silver Stars (277 points) playing Panoramic, composed and arranged by Liam Teague. Tobago’s RBC Redemption Sound Setters doing Chris “Tambu” Herbert’s No, No We Eh Going Home, arranged by Michael Toby and Darren Sheppard, placed eighth (276 points).

Ninth place went to NLCB Fonclaire (272 points) for Ken Philmore’s arrangement of Bass on Fire composed by Mark Loquan, Seion Gomez, and Gregory Ballantyne. Skiffle placed tenth (266 points) for Damien Etienne’s How She Like It, arranged by Kendall Williams, Odie Franklin, and Marc Brooks.

In the Medium Conventional Bands category, Pan Elders Steel Orchestra of San Fernando completed a hat-trick of victories when it won the 2016 title and $600,000 prize doing “Me Eh Fighting For No Man,” composed by Leston Paul, sung by Bally (Errol Ballantyne), and arranged by Duvone Stewart.

Tobago steel orchestras NLCB Buccooneers and Petroin Katzenjammers placed second and third respectively. Other placings were as follows: Courts Sound Specialists of Laventille, NGC Couva Joylanders, NGC Steel Xplosion, Curepe Scherzando, Melodians, Carib Dixieland, and West Side Symphony.

On the occasion, Pan Trinbago presented awards to tuners Bertrand Kellman and Wallace Austin; steelband contributor Damien Holder; and steelband leader Curtis Pierre for their services to the development of the steelpan. 

Pan results:
Large Conventional Bands:

1. Desperadoes
2. First Citizens Supernovas
3. bpTT Renegades
3. Phase II Pan Groove (in partnership with HADCO)
5. CAL Invaders
6. Massy Trinidad All Stars
7. PCS Nitrogen Silver Stars
8. RBC Redemption Sound Setters
9. NLCB Fonclaire
10. Skiffle

Medium Conventional Bands:
1. Pan Elders
2. NLCB Buccooneers
3. Courts Sound Specialists of Laventille (Tie)
3. Petrotrin Katzenjammers (Tie)
5. NGC Couva Joylanders
6. Curepe Scherzando (Tie)
6. NGC Steel Xplosion (Tie)
8. Melodians
9. Carib Dixieland
10. West Side Sy