Trinidad e Tobago
Secretary of Health, Wellness and Family Development Tracy Davidson-Celestine last week led a walk-through of the Moriah Health Centre, which is 90 per cent complete. Assemblyman Sheldon Cunningham and representatives from the Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development, Tobago Regional Health Authority and Urban Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago (Udecott) were also in attendance. Davidson-Celestine said, "We visited the facility today to get a feel as to where we are with the construction and to get a better understanding of any challenges that may affect the delivery date to the division.” The secretary said the construction of the facility should be finished by July 31 and estimated the installation of fixtures and fittings would be completed by mid-September. Davidson-Celestine said the covid19 pandemic delayed construction but she was pleased with the progress so far. She said the division is working assiduously to complete the facility for usage this year. “This is one of the flagship projects of the division and Tobago House of Assembly as we continue to deliver on behalf of the people in our communities.”
The Ministry of Health announced on Sunday that three more people from the Enchantment of the Seas cruise ship have tested positive for covid19, bringing the number of positive cases to 133. On Sunday, the ministry said eight patients are at the Caura Hospital. The number of samples sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency and the University of the West Indies for testing have increased to 5552. The number of discharged patients remain at 115 and number of deaths, eight.
Police Commissioner Gary Griffith is knocking the Law Association’s call to suspend the 12 police officers who were present on Saturday in Morvant when Noel Diamond, Israel Clinton and Joel Jacobs were shot dead during an alleged confrontation. In a media release, Griffith said the suggestion was “illogical” and accused the association of expressing no concern when police officers are shot dead or when death threats are sent to them. “So if one lawyer in a law firm commits a serious breach in a case, then all in that case should be disciplined? “There were 12 odd officers on a scene, three for the most may have fired their weapons – so the recommendation is to suspend all. Suppose it was a major convoy heading to an operation with officers? Their logic then is for all 50 to be suspended which in turn can cripple the security of that area.” Saying the organisation was more of a “lawyers’ association” than a law association, Griffith also described as irresponsible and unfortunate the suggestion that Beetham Gardens resident Ornella Greaves was killed by a police bullet during a protest on Tuesday. “Did they see a police officer shoot the lady? Do they know that others, who were not police officers, were firing shots in that area? Did they see the video showing her on the ground and no officer was on site when it happened? I am not saying that it may not have been from a police officer, but in the same manner the lawyers’ association should not make irresponsible statements to say that it is.” He said a police officer has been shot at every four days for the past five years, but no one is concerned about that. “This lack of concern is obvious when most held for shooting at our police officers are then represented by some of these same lawyers. Most who speak in that lawyers' association are defence lawyers for those who we, the police, arrest for breaking the law. “They want a reduction in police shootings? Then tell their clients to stop being in possession of illegal firearms.”
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SIXTY-ONE people arrested in a Belmont bar by IATF officers on Friday night have been charged for breach of public health ordinance regulations. Sources told Newsday some were granted station bail, while others will have to appear before a Port of Spain magistrate on Monday. Police on an exercise between 5 pm and 8 pm on Friday got information that more than 25 people were seen at a bar on the corner of Belle Eau Road and Regent Street. When police got there, they saw the 61 people liming at the bar, and arrested them.
Investigators of the Professional Standards Bureau (PSB) intend to go to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in San Fernando on Monday for advice regarding allegations of two criminal offences against a senior policeman. On Wednesday morning, PSB officers arrested the 58-year-old acting ACP at his home in Tableland on allegations of common assault and kidnapping. After interviewing him for a few hours, police allowed him to leave without charge. He has over 35 years’ service. Between June and July 2017, the policeman is alleged to have pointed a gun at a man. It is further alleged that between February and March 2018, the policeman kidnapped another man and kept him in a locked car for about ten minutes. Newsday learnt that the alleged victims recently reported the incidents.
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KIRK WAITHE, chairman of Fixin’ TnT and former representative of Arrive Alive, launched the general election campaign for his party, National Organisation of We the People, in Beetham Gardens on Sunday. Waithe told reporters the party will contest one seat – Laventille West – for elections. “Laventille west is a community with immense talent and creative spirit where innovation lives. “We intend to nurture the brilliance of Laventille West, not just through agriculture but through sport, the arts, entrepreneurship, and science. I am certain the next major app developer can come from Laventille West. The next owner of a conglomerate is living in Laventille West. We need to find him or her and facilitate the opportunity for him or her to grow.” In an address to Beetham residents, Waithe encouraged people to “vote for change” and said for years the constituency has been neglected, but now they have a party that will represent them after election day on August 10. [caption id="attachment_834017" align="alignnone" width="1024"] NOW political leader Kirk Waithe greets residents of Beetham Gardens during the launch of his election campaign on Sunday. - Ayanna Kinsale[/caption] He said the people of Laventille West are rich in dollars but poor in vision and judgement, having supported parties which have not supported them for decades. He promised to change the perception of the constituency by enhancing and investing in the ingenuity, innovation and ideas which come from the people. “I see Laventille west becoming a food basket that produces high-quality produce in hydroponic systems. I will lobby hard for tax breaks for businesses that come into this constituency. But more than that, we will work together to nurture the brilliance in Laventille West to create real opportunities in our community.” After his address, he showed the community a hydroponic system which would allow them to grow produce even without a steady water supply. Waithe said while covid19 had stunted the party’s plans to contest all 41 seats, the party intends to earn the trust of the people of Laventille West through hard work. He added that the party will be willing to accept up to a $500,000 donation from any entity but would not be beholden to anyone but the people. “If you go to our website even now, you would see any individual or entity donating more than 50,000 your name or the name of your entity goes on a website with the amount that you are contributing. At the end of the day, NOW must be equally beholden to every citizen that we represent and serve. No individual or entity must be able to even remotely suggest that he, she, or it is owed a favour by NOW.” During a walkabout in the area, Waithe was met with an equal share of optimism and scepticism. “This is a positive change,” said one resident. “I know Kirk since I was a little child. I am sure he will lead us in the right way. “Not everyone is the same, but sometimes you will ask a question and get an answer and next two days they forget about you,” another resident said. “But the man upstairs knows and sees everything. As long as you are with him you will get the truth.” [caption id="attachment_834016" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Kirk Waithe, political leader of NOW, demonstrates to children at Beetham Gardens on Sunday how to use a hydroponic system to grow lettuce. PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE -[/caption]
OUTGOING Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds said a growing "army" of idle young men in East Port of Spain poses a danger to TT. "And I urge them to root out of their spirits the spirit of evil and the spirit of idleness and the spirit of jealousy, and imbibe instead a spirit of hard work and a spirit of prayer and a spirit love for yourself, for your family, for your community, for your country." He was speaking with Newsday at the Red House on Friday. Asked what he thought when he saw the protests over police killings in East Port of Spain last week, Hinds replied: "I have always been very aware that we've had a growing army of young men in those communities who spend their day looking at the ground, looking in the sky, or watching other people and the world go about it's business and doing precious little on their own and for themselves. "I have always surmised that that condition poses a danger to them, to their families, to their communities and to this country. So it is quite clear that they need to be made busy and to get involved. There are a million and one opportunities for them to get involved." He said he spoke to some young men on Friday from Picton in Laventille and they told him "plenty of the fellas we see around here they don't want nothing good. They want money but they don't work. They want to go to heaven but they don't want to die. They don't want to sweat. "And then you have people who understand this and are quite prepared for a few dollars or to further their own political agendas and their fanciful ideas about coming into Parliament on the backs of fellas who can't think clearly. Who will use them. The (Naparima MP) Rodney Charles-es of this world will come down the (parliament) corridor and say 'PNM eh do nothing for them' and get currency from it sometimes. And the (UNC deputy political leader) Jearlean Johns of this world, and the (former Chaguanas West MP) Jack Warners of a time past, and now the (activist and politician) Kirk Waithes and the (New National Vision political leader) Fuad Abu Bakrs come to talk stupidness to the people. But the people themselves know the truth. They know in their hearts that the fault is not in their stars, not in the Government, not in the PNM, but the fault is in we ourselves by failing to take up the opportunity." He described talk about people being unable to get jobs because of their address as "bunkum." "But there are those who are prepared to use the ignorance and the frailty of those people and trying to persuade them that the PNM is their enemy and the police is their enemy." He pointed out the Venezuelan contingent in TT have found work. He recalled visiting a car wash recently and all 16 workers were Venezuelans. He also said jobs are being advertised daily in the newspapers. Hinds said there are a million and one opportunities in TT including with programmes and institutions like YTEPP, Civilian Conservation Corps, MIC, UTT, the Laventille Technology and Continuing Education Centre and the TT Hospitality and Tourism Institute. "There is absolutely no shortage of opportunity for young people here." Hinds said there are issues in the community including weak parenting, poor examples and gangsters "running the roost" and influencing young boys. "And my job is to show them a better way." Asked what he has done to address this issue,Hinds replied "a million things" including assistance to start businesses. Asked about claims that politicians were feeding a dependency syndrome, inds said he does not believe any government or politician would set out to do that and that is something he has spoken out against.
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TT’s Olympic-bound cyclists Nicholas Paul and Kwesi Browne return to the National Cycling Centre, on Monday, to resume their Tokyo 2021 preparations. The pair will continue their training stint under the long-distance guidance of Switzerland-based coach Craig MacLean. MacLean is currently at the World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Aigle and will send training programmes for the duo until the border reopens for international travel. It is the intention of the TT Cycling Federation (TTCF) to swiftly return Paul and Browne to the WCC to ensure they receive hands-on and elite pre-Olympic training at the state-of-the-art facility. Once the borders are reopened, the pair will acquire their respective Dutch Schengen visas and fly en route to the Swiss nation to officially restart their Olympic prep. MacLean was selected by the TTCF, in February, to take charge of our Olympic journey after the unexpected exit of then national coach Erin Hartwell. After over three months away from the track due to the global pandemic, the talented pair is eager to return to training and proceed with their Tokyo preparations. “I’ve been training all along but it would be nice to return to doing the real track work. I’m happy to be able to get going again after such a lengthy time off it,” said Paul. Since the implementation of stay-at-home restrictions by the TT Government in mid-March, the sprint cyclist was forced to limit his training to indoors. Paul maintained his physical form by using a home gym and personal trainer (indoor stationary bike). As TT gradually eased its restrictions on public movement, the sprint cyclist then took to the roads for some outdoor training. While Paul is happy for the additional time to prepare, his efforts, according to him, must be increased to stay abreast with the competitive progress of other top-ranked international contenders. “We will have to work double as hard because they’re (international cyclists) already at a high standard. So with their resources, they are also getting more time to get ready and prep, we have to work double as hard to get up to that standard. I’m anxiously awaiting to return to Switzerland as well. “More time is always good because there are always things we have to improve on. It’s just to go back to the drawing board, return to the track and work on my weaknesses to get stronger, fitter and faster. We need to, to be able to compete against the best in the world,” Paul added. Meanwhile the International Cycling Union (UCI) has not yet released its revised track calendar due to the uncertainty of the global pandemic. As it stands there are no major confirmed forthcoming track meets for cyclists to gauge their progress thus far. The Olympic debutant Paul believes training remains his primary focus as he, and Browne, gears up for a hectic 12 months of training ahead of peak season at the 2021 Summer Games in Tokyo. “The best I can do right now is to go back to training to keep strong, fit and focus. Once I prep in the best possible way, I go to competitions hoping that I execute what I did in training. Once I execute as well as I should I’m happy with that,” he concluded. Similarly, Browne makes his return to training after conquering covid19. After returning to TT in early March from a hectic Olympic qualifier stint in Europe and Asia, the cyclist tested positive for coronavirus. He was quarantined, admitted to the Caura Hospital and then released just over a month later after returning two consecutive negative tests. Browne and Paul will record their Olympic debuts in Tokyo in the Men Keirin and Sprint events respectively. MacLean is an accomplished Track coach at the UCI World Cycling Centre. His achievements include 15 World Championships (Including one BMX), two Olympics, two Paralympics and four Commonwealth Games. He attained Olympic silver in 2000. His broad experience and understanding of performance development required for success at the highest level as both a rider and a coach has enabled him to coach cyclists to become the best in the world.
Without a doubt, 22-year-old Makeisha Simon is convinced that she is dutifully fulfilling her life-long dreams of becoming a doctor. Not even the covid19 pandemic stopped this Princes Town resident from continuing her studies. In March, when the government closed all places of learning, she did not have physical classes for about a week. Then, online classes followed, she said. "School for me never stopped. There is a lot to learn, but once a person sticks to it the concepts are simple. There is no doubt about it, this is where I belong." Her grade point average remains over three since she started classes at the University of the West Indies (UWI) in St Augustine last September. Simon began selling nuts and channa with her mother Nekisha on the streets in Princes Town and San Fernando to raise money to start classes after UWI accepted her last year. They made a public plea for financial help and members of the public responded resoundingly. She is a member of the medical sciences student council games committee which assists students in the Faculty of Medical Sciences. She was also accepted to be a resident assistant. "It entails integrating the new students. I will be doing training in August. Being a resident assistant, it means I will get to stay on hall free (of charge) for another year. "When school started, it begged for my attention. So, I took a backseat from selling to focus on my studies. I was still helping on the weekends when I was off. Since the pandemic, I have not been on the streets." Thanks to the generosity of UWI staff, she is housed at the Joyce Gibson-Inniss Hall free-of-charge for a year. SFCCU Credit Union Co-operative Society donated all her textbooks while officials at Gopaul Lands Hardware gave her a computer with a printer. The hardware also gives a monthly grant. "In return, in the future, I will be giving, if not the same, more to someone like me. I reached where I am because of the help I got from everyone including (former Housing Development Corporation chairman) Newman George and Island Finance. I thank everyone who helped me. I know I have a long road ahead." She also thanked Newsday who first highlighted her plight. In terms of family, Simon said: "I love my mom. She continues to fight for us (family) and what she believes is right. She never one day told me ‘no’ and always gave me the choice to choose what I do with my life." She reminisced that last November her ailing grandmother, Judith Simon-Rodney, died. "I wished she was alive to see me graduate. As a child, she called me her little doctor. She was there for all my graduations. I have to make her proud too."
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POLLSTERS North American Caribbean Teachers Association (Nacta) said the choice of candidates by the United National Congress (UNC) for their "safe" constituencies could influence the outcome of the August 10 general election. Nacta, in a release, said this information was from an ongoing tracking poll the group has been doing. "Whereas, previously, marginal seats determined the outcome of an election, in this election, nominees in seats bordering marginals could influence the latter’s outcome." Nacta said the UNC has selected candidates in seven marginals, one safe seat, and challengers for all People's National Movement (PNM) safe seats, while the PNM has completed selection of candidates in the 41 seats. The UNC was scheduled to nominate candidates in remaining 16 safe seats on Sunday. "Voters say that the contest appears to be a battle of youth and inexperience against seasoned, skillful, and well-known (or accomplished) politicians. Voters note that the PNM is going into the election with mostly veterans – some 70 per cent who are being returned or have national profile. The UNC is going into the election with over 70 per cent fresh faces." Nacta said the findings of ongoing polls revealed that voters were not very pleased with either party’s candidates in all of the marginals that would determine the outcome of the elections. "Voters tell the poll interviewers that quite a few candidates in marginals are a complete turn off and many say they would not vote. Some nominees have national profiles while most are barely known outside of friends and families. Some are well liked while others have low approval numbers." Nacta reported that overall voters say PNM has more recognised or high-profile candidates than the Opposition. "But readers are cautioned that (being a) candidate (with a national profile) doesn’t necessarily mean they would win seats. For example, three high-profile candidates have low approvals. Only one of seven nominees for marginals in the Opposition has a national profile and has received widespread approval among voters not only in the constituency being contested but nationally as well. On the ruling side, all but one of seven nominees have national profiles although three have been given low approval numbers and are considered very unpopular by their constituents and would experience close contests." Nacta said the PNM candidate in Tunapuna, Esmond Forde, (also the incumbent) has the highest likeable rating among those vying to win the seven marginals. His challenger from the UNC, former national footballer David Nakhid, also has high likeable ratings and resonance with voters. Jearlean John, who is vying for La Horquetta/Talparo, has the highest likeable ratings among the opposition candidates in the seven marginals. "The race could very well be determined by the selection of candidates in the UNC’s strongholds (safe seats) bordering the marginals. Since the UNC candidates are not well known, voters feel eminent nominees in bordering seats could give a boost in the marginals." Nacta pointed out that the PNM has high-profile candidates in almost all safe seats, with some having celebrity status. "The selection of Penny Beckles (Arima), Brian Manning (San Fernando East), Keith Scotland (Port of Spain South), Jason Williams (San Juan / Barataria), among others, receive near unanimous approval from the party’s base. Voters say their selection would boost the PNM’s prospect in the marginals. Similar selection of nominees in UNC safe seats could put the PNM against the wall." Nacta said voters endorse the idea of fresh faces in the electoral lineup and give "a thumbs up" to UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar for taking this direction. "But they say they would like to see in the line up a mixture of veterans (incumbents) and fresh faces of high-profile nominees of integrity and who have a proven track record of accomplishments. It is noted that the country is at a dangerous time in its development. The party that wins the election will not have an easy time in government and any opposition would need strong voices in its front bench. Thus, voters are unambiguous that fresh faces alone without competence won't cut (it). "It is, therefore, important that (all) parties put forward candidates that the population believe have the competence to govern. Voters want candidates who are likeable, honest, and trustworthy and who have professional and national profile. Short of those requirements, turnout would be very low."
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Internationally-recognised theatre icon James Lee Wah has died at 89. The San Fernando-based pioneer in the arts died on Saturday. He was a former student, teacher and vice-principal (from 1966–1989) of Naparima College (fondly called Naps). In 1980, he founded the National Drama Association (NDATT) – a non-profit organisation. In 1976 he co-founded the San Fernando Theatre Workshop and served as its director for most of its existence. The San Fernando Arts Council, founded in 1969, was also the brainchild of Lee Wah. The council is the producer of the annual NGC Sanfest competition. The father of three also published Gayap, a cultural magazine. In 2010, the University of TT (UTT) awarded him an honorary doctorate for performing arts. Two years ago, in June 2018, his Jamaica-born wife Mavis (nee Arscott) died. She too contributed significantly to the development of the arts. She was a former principal at Naparima Girls’ High School, an actor and a theatre director. Since Lee Wah's death, tributes have been pouring in on social media. Part of a post from Naparima College’s Facebook page said: "He was a long-standing supporter of the arts and led the San Fernando Drama Guild from the later 1950s until 1976 and also started the San Fernando Theatre Workshop. RIP Sir." A post from Naparima Bowl’s Facebook page said: "Naparima Bowl joins the arts and culture community in remembrance of James Lee Wah." One Facebook user said: "Mr James Lee Wah made me love drama and literature at Naps. He was a very soft-spoken gentleman and kind-hearted." Another said Lee Wah was a great asset to the development of the West Indian consciousness. He said, "His work at Naparima College was continued at the University College of the West Indies, Jamaica where he worked with and alongside many of the great West Indian luminaries including Derek Walcott." A third said, "We have lost a great man, a great teacher and a great mentor. RIP Sir. Your time spent here grooming young minds has made you immortal. Thank you."
A Speyside man is expected to appear before the Scarborough magistrate court on Monday to answer the charge of larceny in a dwelling house. According to police, Dexter "Tim Tim" Cordner was seen outside a woman's businessplace acting suspiciously. The woman, who lives upstairs the establishment, went downstairs to make sure everything was all right and found several perfumes missing. Among the missing items were one Chic Glam perfume, one Vince Camuto Eterno perfume, one Mambo perfume, one Deep Sense perfume and one tube of Colgate toothpaste. The items amounted to $2,812. A report was made to Charlotteville Police Station on Friday and PC Mc Kenna launched enquires. Officers searched the Lucy Vale, Speyside home of the suspect and found all the missing items. Cordner was arrested and charged by PC Mc Kenna.
PNM candidate for D'ABADIE/O'Meara Ancil Antoine was immediately booted as the candidate for his constituency just about an hour after he apologised for describing the US as a "s---hole country." The Prime Minister on his Facebook page said the PNM leadership has withdrawn Antoine from the list of candidates to be presented to the central executive for final approval scheduled for Monday. "This candidate's removal is a direct consequence of insensitive and objectionable statements made by him at a campaign launch recently (and) such statements are not representative of our party or country's position." Antoine's removal has brought the PNM's full slate back down to 40. He had made the comment on Saturday night at the campaign launch for the constituency held at The Red House, Banyan Boulevard, Malabar. In video clips of his speech, Antoine said the country had been hit by low energy prices and the covid19 "hit" which saw everything closing down. "But we are recovering from it due to the excellent leadership of Dr Keith Rowley and his Government. Yesterday I commended him after Parliament – when we had a soiree in his office – on his excellent work. And he said part of why it turned out so is because he is a volcanologist. Because he virtually is a scientist he has respect for scientists. So when the doctors and so forth said 'follow that' he did. "It is a great contrast to (US) President (Donald) Trump who has gone against his scientists and his experts and now America is a s---hole country. Sorry to say that. And we will have to make sure that we don’t allow Americans to come in to Trinidad. You know all them Trinidadians who run into America and they have to send back their barrel and so forth. Make sure that you tell them stay out of Trinidad for the rest of the year. All of your family and them.” Antoine in a telephone interview with Newsday said he was comparing the response of TT and the US to covid19, the results of TT's lockdown and the lockdown in the US, as well as the discipline of Trinidadians regarding covid19 as compared to the US. "And I went on to compare the leadership of Dr Keith Christopher Rowley and President Trump in this whole covid pandemic. And out of this I said that Trump mentioned 's---hole countries', and I apologise for using the term, to show that TT is positive in its response to covid19. I was just using a Donald Trump terminology. Call it a 'Trumpism'." In January 2018 Trump reportedly used the term "s---hole countries" at an Oval Office meeting with lawmakers in reference to people from Haiti and African countries. Antoine explained that Trump had called third world countries "s---hole countries" but America was in that position now because of the country's response to covid19. He said while Rowley listened to the scientists and instituted a lockdown, Trump said "no" and called for the US economy to be opened up. He also said that for the rest of the year this country has to be careful about Americans coming in to TT. "The country is on lockdown. If we allow people to come in at this time they will bring covid into TT."
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The Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) announced its campaign slogan, Create a Balance, as well as a catchy upbeat song, Balancing the Scale, by 1994 Road March winner Preacher, as the party gears up for the general election next month. At a press conference at MSJ’s head office in San Fernando on Sunday, leader David Abdulah shared some of the party’s plans including the reopening of the defunct Point-a-Pierre refinery which the Government closed in 2018. Saying there should not be any more delays, he called on the Government to immediately sign the legal documents to allow the transfer ownership from Petrotrin to Patriotic Energies and Technologies Company. "It is clear the only way forward is for Patriotic to get control and ownership. It will take hundreds of millions of US dollars to get the refinery into a state of readiness," Abdulah said. He recalled thousands of workers lost their jobs owing to the closure, and businesses throughout the south were negatively affected. He said from "day one", MSJ has been against the closure. Abdulah believes that once the refinery is up and running, jobs will be created, and the economy will be revived. The Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) won the bidding to acquire the refinery. OWTU is the principal shareholder of Patriotic. Abdulah is contesting the Pointe-a-Pierre seat. The party has three other potential candidates, Radhaka Gualbance for Fyzabad, Renee St Rose for Diego Martin Central and Ernesto Kesar for Point Fortin. The party is considering contesting other seats but is yet to make a final decision, Abdulah said. "From 20 June to now, we have walked the constituencies almost every day. People are fed-up with two main parties." To the non-voters, he urged them to come out and vote for the MSJ which he referred to as a watchdog of their interests. Once elected, MSJ promises to ensure local government and constitutional reforms, party financial legislation and several others. Chairman Gregory Fernandez said, "If we win, we can create a balance in the Parliament, so legislations are in favour of most citizens. We are entering with the hope to make the difference."
PNM candidate for D'ABADIE/O'Meara Ancil Antoine has apologised for calling the US "a s---hole country." He made the comment on Saturday night at the campaign launch for the constituency held at The Red House, Banyan Boulevard, Malabar. In video clips of his speech, Antoine said the country had been hit by low energy prices and the covid19 "hit" which saw everything closing down. "But we are recovering from it due to the excellent leadership of Dr Keith Rowley and his Government. Yesterday I commended him after Parliament – when we had a soiree in his office – on his excellent work. And he said part of why it turned out so is because he is a volcanologist. Because he virtually is a scientist he has respect for scientists. So when the doctors and so forth said 'follow that' he did. "It is a great contrast to (US) President (Donald) Trump who has gone against his scientists and his experts and now America is a s---hole country. Sorry to say that. And we will have to make sure that we don’t allow Americans to come in to Trinidad. You know all them Trinidadians who run into America and they have to send back their barrel and so forth. Make sure that you tell them stay out of Trinidad for the rest of the year. All of your family and them.” Antoine in a telephone interview with Newsday said he was comparing the response of TT and the US to covid19, the results of TT's lockdown and the lockdown in the US, as well as the discipline of Trinidadians regarding covid19 as compared to the US. "And I went on to compare the leadership of Dr Keith Christopher Rowley and President Trump in this whole covid pandemic. And out of this I said that Trump mentioned 's---hole countries', and I apologise for using the term, to show that TT is positive in its response to covid19. I was just using a Donald Trump terminology. Call it a 'Trumpism'." In January 2018 Trump reportedly used the term "s---hole countries" at an Oval Office meeting with lawmakers in reference to people from Haiti and African countries. Antoine explained that Trump had called third world countries "s---hole countries" but America was in that position now because of the country's response to covid19. He said while Rowley listened to the scientists and instituted a lockdown, Trump said "no" and called for the US economy to be opened up. He also said that for the rest of the year this country has to be careful about Americans coming in to TT. "The country is on lockdown. If we allow people to come in at this time they will bring covid into TT." The US is currently the global leader in covid19 cases and has recorded more than 2.78 million cases (0.85 per cent of the population) of covid19, including more than 57,000 new cases, and more than 129,000 deaths. TT has reported 131 positive samples (0.009 per cent of the population) and eight deaths. TT has also been rated number one by Oxford Covid19 Government Response Tracker and its lockdown rollback checklist. Antoine said his speech was aired on Facebook but there were only about 27 people online viewing it. He expressed his belief that someone altered the clip, took it out of context and posted it as part of election "silly season." He said, the entire speech was an hour and a half and he spoke about a number of issues affecting his constituents. Asked if he received any feedback or complaints on his comment, Antoine said Newsday was the first to contact him about it. Last month Antoine reportedly retaliated against people he felt did not support his return as MP during a campaign meeting. Antoine, however, denied making those statements.
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Police Commissioner Gary Griffith should take immediate steps to suspend the dozen police officers who were involved in the shooting death of three men a week ago in Second Caledonia, Morvant, says the Law Association. The advice came in a media statement on Sunday as a measure to protect the integrity of the police investigation and the independent probe being done by the Police Complaints Authority. Members of the Council headed by Douglas Mendes, SC, after deliberating on the fatal police shooting and the death of a bystander during protest action which followed, said it was concerned about the sharp rise in the number of fatal police shootings and called for a speedy determination of the investigations into the case. "These latest deaths at the hands of police officers come against the backdrop of a significant increase in police shootings over comparable periods in the past and is cause for deep concern," the statement said. The PCA has reported an 86 per cent rise in the number of people killed by police for the first six months of the year, which stands at 44. The association’s suggestion to suspend the officers supports the position of the PCA which has publicly stated that the officers should not remain on active duty in their respective units during the probe. "The PCA is of the view that the police officers who are accused of serious criminal conduct should not remain in the same units to which they were assigned prior to the allegations. There should be absolute impartiality and the appearance of it in the investigation of all allegations relating to police officers. If officers remain in the units in which they may have committed criminal offences, they will be perfectly poised to access confidential information relating to their own investigations. Additionally, the persons commissioned to investigate may be colleagues present in the said units whose loyalties may be tied to the relations they have with their colleagues. Lastly, allowing officers to remain in the units runs the risk of concealment and destruction of evidence," the PCA said, in response to a query from Newsday. In its release, the Law Association suggested "the Commissioner is urged to take immediate steps to identify those officers who were involved in the shootings and, without making any determination as to guilt, send them on administrative leave so that the investigations may proceed without hindrance." In response to similar calls, from the relatives of the three men who were killed, Griffith said last week there is not enough evidence to immediately suspend all 12 police officers involved in the shooting in which Joel Jacobs, Israel Clinton and Noel Diamond were killed. At a press briefing at the Police Administration Building in Port of Spain on Wednesday, Griffith said he would not take sides but would deal with any police who might have breached the law during the incident. Although Griffith repeated his stance on dealing with rogue police officers – that they should be fired – he said people could not take matters into their own hands or force him to take immediate action against the men involved. Showing a short snippet of the six-minute video of what happened between police and the men, Griffith pointed out that not all officers were seen shooting. “We are looking at a situation with a dozen police officers and people are telling me we should fire all immediately. Suppose there were 30, 50 or 100. Am I to totally send everyone home and suspend them? The Law Association also called on the Commissioner "to review the policies which are currently in place governing police interactions with members of public and, in particular, those they may suspect of having been engaged in criminal activities." "Emphasis should be placed on techniques which would de-escalate encounters and reduce tension in order to eliminate the occasions on which police officers feel compelled to resort to the use of firearms. As we have said on a previous occasion, the police are entitled in law to defend themselves when fired upon but recent events appear to put the need for containment training into sharp relief," it added. The organisation also said the any investigation into the matters to determine whether a criminal charges should be laid should be done "in such a way that the public has confidence that it is independent and thorough." It noted that the PCA should be given the necessary resources by those in authority to do its job as soon as possible. . The PCA has stated that its powers are too limited to collect vital evidence, including forensic and firearm analysis from the police and often has to wait on the police to comply with its requests. The Prime Minister, in response to the shooting and protests, has set up a committee to look into the complaints from residents in communities of Sea Lots, Beetham and Laventille who have repeatedly claimed they are unfairly treated by police because of their economic circumstances.
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THE CONTROVERSIAL Christopher Columbus statue should be removed from the capital city, said former Port of Spain mayor Louis Lee Sing. He was speaking with Newsday in an interview at his Cascade home last week. There have been recent calls by a number of sectors, including political party Movement for Social Justice, indigenous peoples the Warao nation, and a petition with thousands of signatures organised by activist group Cross Rhodes Freedom Project to have the statue of the famous Italian navigator removed from Tamarind Square, Port of Spain. The petition was also laid in Parliament Wednesday. Lee Sing said that Port of Spain Mayor Joel Martinez, who was not "steeped and grounded in the history of the country", was asked to preside over the matter and he rightfully recused himself. "But you can't recuse yourself when you lead on a fundamental matter. The facts are there. Would the statue be better served in the Moruga Museum (as had been suggested)? And I think it would. But I don't think in the now, particularly when the whole world is saying 'no, no, no Columbus, bye bye Columbus', we should be encouraging and having a long, drawn-out debate on whether Columbus should remain in Port of Spain. I think Columbus should leave Port of Spain and go somewhere and I think the time has come for us to say so with one voice." Lee Sing recalled when he was mayor he was speaking with a "well-known emancipator" in the city and telling her that when the slaves were freed many of them settled in East Port of Spain. "And I said 'why is every street sign in East Port of Spain named for some European or other and not for Africans that would have contributed?'" He asked her to do research and bring a package to begin the process to rename the street names but it never happened. "Were it left to me I would rename Piccadilly Street – Makandal Daaga Street (after late political activist and former revolutionary). I would rename Besson Street – Khafra Kambon street (after the former Emancipation Support Committee chairman). And the list goes on." Lee Sing said the time has come for TT to do what is right and to allow the unborn and those coming up to ask legitimate questions of themselves. "It can't be that every thing is right except the responses to the questions posed in support of the Afro-Trinidadians."
On Wednesday, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) will give its decision on the appeal which has challenged Guyana’s Court of Appeal decision relating to that country’s March 2 polls. At the end of a full day of hearing, which was done remotely using video conferencing technology, President of the CCJ, Justice Adrian Saunders said they will deliver their decision at 3 pm on July 8. “We understand the need for expedition on our part but we want to read and assimilate all the submissions and authorities as best we can and juxtapose this with the need for expedition,” Saunders said. The CCJ was asked to pronounce determine if the Guyana Court of Appeal had the jurisdiction to hear the challenge of the validity of the polls before a president was declared by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). Guyana’s main opposition, People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) filed the appeal challenging the Court of Appeal's decision and also asking for an interpretation of the words “more votes are cast.” The Court of Appeal in its decision ordered that the words are to be interpreted as meaning “more valid votes are cast”. The court also ruled that GECOM had a responsibility to determine the final credible count based on quantitative and qualitative assessments of the observation report, in keeping with provisions of the original order and in the final paragraph of the amended order. The PPP/C’s political leader Bharrat Jagdeo and its presidential candidate Irfaan Ali have argued that the Court of Appeal did not have the jurisdiction to hear the matter. Jagdeo and Ali are represented by Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes who said his clients were not seeking to invalidate the election but only to have those questions answered. Mendes said it was only after the president was declared could the appellate court’s jurisdiction be invoked by way of an election petition. He said the Court of Appeal violated provision 140 of Guyana’s Representation of the People Act. He said the Court of Appeal ought not to have accepted it had the jurisdiction to hear the complaint. Guyana’s Attorney General Basil Williams argued that the appellate court’s ruling on the matter was final and the CCJ does not have the jurisdiction to hear the PPP/C’s complaint. Williams’ attorney Justin Simon, QC, urged the court to be cautious, saying, “We live in a democratic society.” He said to challenge the validity of the polls during the process, rather than after, was better since there was the risk of disenfranchising “whole section of the electorate in a democratic process.” Senior Counsel John Jeremie, who represents a support of the ruling APNU+AFC, Estlyn David, who filed the motion in Guyana's high court, also maintained the CCJ does not have the jurisdiction to hear the appeal since Guyana's Constitution and the CCJ Act prohibits it. APNU's Joseph Harmon, represented by Senior Counsel Reginald Armour, also dealt with the question of jurisdiction and held that the CCJ was not a court of unlimited jurisdiction. "“It is a regional apex court presiding over signatory sovereign member states and derives its jurisdictions and powers solely on the terms of its formative treaty, that is to say the agreement establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice. "“Accordingly, any consideration as to whether this court has jurisdiction on this intended appeal must start ...We submit and ends with the true interpretation of the terms of the agreement and, in particular, article 25(5), and read alongside the Caribbean Court of Justice Act 2004 and the Constitution of Guyana,” Armour said. Until the CCJ gives its decision, an order it issued after the PPP/C filed its notice of appeal which required GECOM to take no steps to prejudice the fair hearing before it, remains in place. After the Court of Appeal ruling, Guyana’s chief election officer Keith Lowenfield submitted what he said was a report of the “valid and credible votes” at the March 2 polls to GECOM, showing a victory for the incumbent APNU+AFC, after invalidating almost 25 per cent of the votes cast. The PPP/C has said it won the elections based on the national recount of votes while the ruling APNU said the polls were filled with irregularities. Five judges sat on Wednesday’s panel. They were the president of the court and Justices Jacob Wit, Maureen Rajnauth-Lee, Denys Barrow, and Peter Jamadar.
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ONE more person from the Enchantment of the Seas cruise ship has tested positive for covid19, bringing the number of positive cases to 131. In its 10 am update on Sunday, the Health Ministry said eight patients are at the Caura Hospital. The number of samples sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency and the University of the West Indies for testing increased by seven overnight. The total is now 5,540. And from that total, 4,171 were unique patient tests and 1,369 were repeated tests. The number of discharged patients remain at 115 and number of deaths, eight.