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Prison officer killed in a drive-by shooting in Siparia

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - Tue, 30/11/2021 - 01:55

The drive-by shooting death of a prison officer happened so fast that he did not get a chance to draw his licensed gun. Nigel Michael Jones, 38, of Ruby Roberts Lane, Fyzabad, died on the spot on the Fyzabad taxi stand in Siparia. His six-year-old daughter, who was standing with him, was uninjured. She ran off screaming, and a passerby comforted her until relatives arrived and took her away. "He did not get a chance to react. It happened so fast. He did not get a chance to draw his weapon," an eyewitness said. "Police came and took the gun." Investigators confirmed that the gun was in police custody. Reports are Jones and his daughter were standing on the stand at the corner of High Street and Siparia Old Road, Siparia, at around 3 pm when a car pulled up next to them. Occupants fired several shots towards him from the car, killing him on the spot. No one got out of the car, and the driver drove off towards the Siparia Old Road after the killing. No one else was injured. The father and daughter had gone shopping and were waiting on a car to return home. Next to Jones' body were two plastic bags with what appeared to be toys and books. Police said Jones had four years of service and was last posted at the Wayne Jackson Building, Maximum Security Prison in Arouca. South Western Division police led by Snr Supt Brandon John, ASP Ramdeo, Insp Marcelle, and other officers visited the scene. Homicide Bureau Region III police led by Supt Dhillpaul, ASP Figaro and Insp Maharaj also visited, gathered evidence, and spoke to several people. Jones' killing came three days after his off-duty colleague, Trevor Serrette, 48, was shot dead while tending his fruit stall in Valencia. Noel also worked at Wayne Jackson Building. On the latest murder, Prisons Commissioner Dennis Pulchan referred to it as an attack on the country and law enforcement officers. "I think there are coward murderers out there that need to be stopped. They cannot be killing hard-working officers who came out here to do a job. These people (slain prison officers) are young men who are married and have children," Pulchan said by phone. "He was a good officer. He was a loved officer." [caption id="attachment_926949" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Family members console each other at the scene of the shooting death of prison officer Nigel Jones on the corner of Siparia Old Road and High Street, Siparia, on Monday. - Lincoln Holder[/caption] Pulchan said he was unhappy with the attacks on prison officers. "I care for all of my officers. They do a fantastic job in taking care of the inmates, some of whom have tried to murder them." He said officers feed, cloth and take care of inmates' physical needs. "Yet they are killing our officers." Asked to comment on speculations that inmates might be the masterminds behind the attacks on prisons officers, he replied: " Law enforcement officers have to conduct investigations and come up with charges." Pulchan had described Serrette's murder as "cowardly and heinous." Considering Serrette's murder, Pulchan had called on prison officers to be alert and exercise caution. Investigations are ongoing.  

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Chaguanas vendor on sexual offences charges on court curfew

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - Tue, 30/11/2021 - 00:46

The image shows a judge's gavel.

A market vendor from Freeport has been put on a court-imposed curfew after he appeared before a Chaguanas magistrate on three sexual offences charges against a 15-year-old girl. The 32-year-old vendor was granted $200,000 bail by senior magistrate Adrian Darmanie to cover the three charges of sexual penetration and sexual touching of a child. He was also given a cash bail alternative but must report to the Freeport police station every Wednesday between the hours of 6 am-6 pm. He also has a curfew and must remain at his apartment at McLeod Trace, where he has been renting for the past year, between the hours of 10 pm and 5 am. The vendor also has to have no contact with his alleged victim, either directly, or indirectly, or any social media contact, and stay 400 metres away from her. “If you see her in the market, leave,” the magistrate advised. It is alleged on November 3, he was caught by the mother of his alleged victim committing the acts on the girl, age 15, at her home in Chaguanas. His attorney, Bhimal Maharajh, said his client had one previous conviction for simple possession of marijuana and had a two-year-old child. He also said he was not a flight risk as he did not have a passport.

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Jack: PNM deserves award for developing Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - Tue, 30/11/2021 - 00:20

Finance Secretary Joel Jack believes the People’s National Movement (PNM) deserves an award for the development of Tobago in the last 20 years.

The PNM candidate for Bagatelle/ Bacolet made the statement as he addressed supporters on Sunday at the Black Rock hard court.

According to Jack: “The data is there, the information is loud and clear. We have to dispel the myth that we have done nothing. With the little money we have over the past develop this little island, and we have done so much. This PNM administration in Tobago deserves an award.”

He said if Tobagonians objectively compare the island's transformation from 2001 to now, the evidence is clear.

“They won’t tell you that. We doubled the size of the economy from $900 million to $1.8 billion – they won’t tell you that."

He claimed when the PNM started human capital development, only seven per cent of the population had tertiary degrees. He said that figure is not at 23 per cent.

"They won’t tell you about the millions of dollars that we have invested, over $75 million to expand the private sector and to give entrepreneurs a chance – they would not tell you that.”

He added: “We have a responsibility to toot our own trumpet and to go throughout the length and breadth of this island and to remind Tobagonians – listen, open your eyes, what they’re telling you are blatant untruths. I can’t say is lies, what they’re trying to do is mamaguy you.”

PNM Tobago political leader and candidate for Signal Hill/ Patience Hill Tracy Davidson-Celestine said this election is about protecting one’s future.

“We have to examine the facts; you as a people have to understand what we are playing with and what is in front of us at this moment. So when they talk to you about change and change and change, you as a people have to ask them, 'Change from what to what?'

"What kind of state do you want to put the people of Tobago in?

"What kind of place do you want Tobago to become if we were to put those people in black or possibly green in office come December 6, 2021?”

She said unlike the Progressive Democratic Patriots, the PNM is offering a plan for all.

“A plan that is based on fact – that is what we’re saying. You cannot change from a situation where a party has a plan of action, a manifesto rolling our plans of action, talking about revolutionising the Tobago House of Assembly and development in Tobago, to a party that has no plan of action.

"What is their plan for the resuscitation of the tourism sector if they were to win? I have not heard anyone of them up to this point articulate what their plan of action is, more than to say Tracy stole their idea for Scarborough beautification.”

She added: “Whether you don’t like the PNM or you don’t like Tracy or you don’t like Learie Paul – this election is more than that. This election is about your future, this election is about ensuring that we can walk side by side with Trinidad.”

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President, PM in Barbados for republican inauguration

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - Mon, 29/11/2021 - 23:07

PRESIDENT Paula-Mae Weekes and the Prime Minister are among the dignitaries in Barbados as it moves from being an independent colony to a republic. The two left for Barbados on Monday. Finance Minister Colm Imbert will act as Prime Minister until Dr Rowley's return. After nearly half a millennium after the English landed on the Caribbean island and claimed it, Barbados has done away with the British monarch as its head of state. The new head of state will be President Sandra Mason, formerly governor general. The inaugural celebration took place at midnight on Monday with the UK’s Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, on the island for the historic transition – which took place on the 55th anniversary of Barbados' independence. The push for republican status was intensified by Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley last year after decades of discussion.

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Ministers testify on colleague’s behalf in defamation claim

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - Mon, 29/11/2021 - 22:43

TWO government ministers on Monday testified on behalf of their colleague Adrian Leonce and his wife in a defamation claim they brought against a media house and its reporter. Foster Cummings, Minister of Youth Development and National Service and MP for La Horquetta/Talparo and Ayanna Webster-Roy, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for gender and child affairs and MP for Tobago East, testified at the trial. It was brought by Leonce, Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Development and MP for Laventille East/Morvant and his wife Karen-Lee Bethelmy-Leonce, a teacher, in their defamation claim against Guardian Media Ltd (GML) and its reporter Renuka Singh. Leonce and his wife complained of the contents of an article published on October 8, 2018, in the Trinidad Guardian newspaper and written by Singh. The article related to injuries Bethelmy-Leonce suffered on August 30, 2018, in an accident at her home when she slipped and fell. Leonce and his wife have alleged the article was one-sided and irresponsible. It is also alleged that despite having spoken to Leonce, who clarified the facts relating to his wife’s accident, the reporter and the newspaper “wilfully, erroneously and maliciously wrote the article in a completely different context to imply” that Leonce was “responsible for his wife’s injuries to her face.” The couple’s defamation claim further alleged the article gave the impression Leonce was guilty of a criminal offence, while Bethelmy-Leonce alleges the article breached her privacy by publishing details of her medical condition and was not in the public’s interest. Presiding over the trial is Justice Frank Seepersad, who will give his decision on December 17. In his testimony, Leonce spoke of his conversations with Singh about the incident and a post he made on his social media pages on his wife’s condition. Leonce said he confirmed his wife was injured and had three extensive operations and even corrected some of the reporter's information. He admitted that the published article contained “a lot of facts” but said it did not give his side of the story. Bethelmy-Leonce, in her testimony, said the story caused her anxiety and painted a false image of her husband, causing her significant stress and infuriating her. She also said it was upsetting to her reputation as a teacher. Bethelmy-Leonce said because of the article and its republication on several social media pages, the family had to go to therapy, as they were left “emotionally and psychologically scarred.” Cummings said on the night of the accident, Leonce called him to ask if he could help his wife as Leonce was not home at the time and Cummings lived nearby. “When he did, he sounded distressed. He told me there was an incident at home and he was not there and would like me to go across and lend some assistance.” Webster-Roy also testified on her relationship with the couple and spoke of an article Singh wrote in another newspaper to support the couple’s allegation that the journalist “had a track record” of “defaming and disparaging” PNM MPs . Also testifying were a close female friend of Bethelmy-Leonce’s who was with her on the night of the accident at her home, and one of the couple’s five children, Adia Leonce. In defence of her article, Singh resisted suggestions that she had engaged in irresponsible journalism. She said she received information from three sources, two at the hospital and a third person to corroborate. She also said neither she nor the newspaper would pursue matters that had no factual basis. Singh spoke of the information she received from her sources, insisting they were neither incorrect nor lying, and after receiving the information, she contacted Leonce. Leonce and his wife are represented by attorneys Colvin Blaize, Farai Hove Masaisai and Jennifer Tull. Singh and GML are represented by attorneys Marc Campbell and Andre Rudder.

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Trinidad and Tobago hits 2,134 covid19 fatalities: 19 more deaths, 462 cases

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - Mon, 29/11/2021 - 22:29

The Ministry of Health has recorded another 19 covid19 deaths, reaching a total of 2,134 on Monday, with 462 new cases also reported. Its 4 pm update said there are 10,558 active cases. The data reported reflects samples taken between November 26 and 28. It said there have been 70,598 cases since the virus arrived in TT in March 2020. To date 57,906 patients have recovered and at present 527 are in hospital. It said 174 are in step-down facilities, 76 in state quarantine, and 9,395 in self-isolation. It said the number of people vaccinated with the first dose of a two-dose regime is 643,911; 599,265 people have been vaccinated with their second dose, with 42,840 given a single-dose regimen, while 642,105 are fully vaccinated. It also said 22,010 people have received an additional primary dose. The update said the percentage of patients in the parallel healthcare system who are not fully vaccinated is 90.9 per cent, which is 5,726 of 6,302.

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Fired police contractors being paid monthly but want lump sum

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - Mon, 29/11/2021 - 22:19

FIRED contract workers who were hired by former police commissioner Gary Griffith have said they are being paid monthly ,as opposed to the lump-sum payment they hoped for. On October 25, the police service terminated and chose not to renew a total of 19 contracts in what it deemed a cost-cutting exercise. The police promised to compensate each contractor the full balance of their contract. The amount expected to be saved in the cost-cutting exercise is yet to be determined. Last month Finance Minister Colm Imbert said under Griffith, the expenditure for contract services rose by over $30 million in three years. Imbert said from 2018 to the present, expenses for contract work increased from $54.1 million in 2018 to $88.8 million in 2021. Newsday was told workers were paid their salaries at the end of October and November with all their allowances. Some of them wrote to the police seeking a lump sum, as they wish to pursue other jobs and in some cases retire and collect their pensions. To date, they said they have not received any feedback on whether they will be paid a lump sum and when. Calls and messages to DCP Mc Donald Jacob went unanswered. One dismissed worker lamented that being paid monthly will prevent them from being employed by the Government, as the accounting system will show them receiving two salaries and that will be flagged. Among those dismissed were Francis Joseph, head of corporate communications; Gordon Barrett, manager of the social work unit; Sheldon Edghill, head of executive management services; Dwight Andrews, strategic adviser to Griffith; Andrews' wife Salisha Gomes-Andrews, head of planning, research and project implementation; media consultant Adrian Don Mora; and manager of the Astroturf Jameel Beharry. Newsday was told the dismissals are part of an ongoing audit of the police service in which hiring from as far back as 2014 is under review. The audit is still ongoing.

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TTUTA: Why aren’t we on education committee?

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - Mon, 29/11/2021 - 22:08

Education Minister Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said she has received a letter from the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers' Association about what it says is its exclusion from the recently re-established National Advisory Committee on Education. She said she will respond to the union. The committee was appointed on Friday. In a release, TTUTA commended the minister on the re-establishment of the body, as provided for in the Education Act, and acknowledged the vast cross-section of eminently qualified appointees. But, it went on, “We cannot help but notice the gross omission of the legally recognised majority union for members of the teaching profession. One can only conclude that this relegation of TTUTA is reflective of a trend of union disengagement that has and continues to characterise the ministry’s actions and by extension that of the government, which over the past six years has been evidenced by disregard of and scant courtesy to the views of the association.” TTUTA said it is advantageously positioned to bring the views of practitioners to the decision-making process, as it represents over 75 per cent of the members of the teaching profession. “Since TTUTA’s inception, it has been a part of the National Advisory Committee on Education each time this committee was constituted. This occurred as recently as 2019. What has changed? TTUTA registers its disappointment with this state of affairs and reminds the powers that be that change that excludes the major players in its formulation rarely occurs.” TTUTA called on the minister to address the “serious and egregious oversight.” The Education Act says the minister can appoint a national advisory committee for the purpose of advising him as to the performance of his responsibilities under this act. The committee shall comprise a number of members determined by the minister, "appointed from among persons representing the teaching profession and expert educational opinion; parents of children attending public schools and parent-teacher associations; religious denominations; organisations concerned with community development; librarianship; and such areas of national affairs as the minister considers appropriate." Committee members: Chair: Dr Gillian Paul, president of the College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts (COSTAATT) Vice-chair: Lennox Sirjuesingh Professor emeritus Clement Imbert Education Ministry assistant director Harrilal Seecharan UTT VP quality assurance and institutional effectiveness Dr Ruby Alleyne Former labour and small enterprise development minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus Vision on Mission CEO Giselle Chance Teaching Service Commission member Allan Noreiga Homeschooling Association adviser Dr Fiona Rajkumar UTT lecturer Christopher Francique Special education consultant Teresa Blaize Retired teacher Harold Greenidge School of Foreign Language, Tobago, CEO Abeni Taylor.

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EBC to use THA elections for pilot project

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - Mon, 29/11/2021 - 21:30

The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) has implemented a pilot project in two electoral districts for the December 6 Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections.

The EBC said the project will be carried out at 13 polling stations in the two districts on election day, and will see the use of data entry clerks electronically identifying the voters present and those who have voted.

However, the EBC made it clear that no electronic voting will take place. In a press release on Monday, it said the voting process and procedures being used in all polling stations in Tobago are the same as in previous elections.

The EBC said the pilot project will take place in two electoral districts – Scarborough/Mt Grace and Mt St George/Goodwood – as it tries to improve its election management processes and timely provision of information to its stakeholders. This pilot project will see an increased use of technology in its data collection and this will be done parallel to the traditional manual process.

But it stressed, "The process for voting in the Republic of TT remains as stipulated in the Representation of the People Act, Chapter 2:01."

The commission said it expects that the data collected in this project will give it the ability to generate its after-election reports expeditiously. It reiterated that the project "will in no way change the voting process and the sanctity and the safety that our electorate has known to exist in our country."

If the pilot is successful, the EBC said there could be greater use of information and communication technology at all polling stations across both Trinidad and Tobago in future elections.

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Veera Bhajan’s lawyers await payment from Equal Opportunity Tribunal

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - Mon, 29/11/2021 - 21:00

Lawyers for Veera Bhajan said they have received a letter from the Equal Opportunity Tribunal (EOT) about the outstanding salary and benefits due to the 33-year-old lay assessor after last Tuesday’s judgement in her favour. They said they are awaiting word as to whether or not she will be able to take up her position with the tribunal. On November 23, High Court judge Avason Quinlan-Williams ruled the tribunal and its chairman, Donna Prowell-Raphael, acted illegally and in breach of their remit in blocking Bhajan from beginning work after President Paula-Mae Weekes appointed her in March. Quinlan-Williams ordered the EOT to pay $100,000 in damages for distress and embarrassment to Bhajan and another $250,000 for vindicatory damages. Quinlan-Williams also granted all the declarations sought, including that the failure by the tribunal and its chairman to give effect to Bhajan's appointment was unlawful, contrary to law, in excess of their jurisdiction, abuse of power, in conflict with the Equal Opportunity Act, in bad faith, null and void and deprived her of her legitimate expectation. The lawyers said the letter from the tribunal suggested the figures that would have been due to Bhajan and were awaiting the payment. “We would assume she would be paid her outstanding arrears. They suggested what it would be, but part of the court’s order was for interest, so I think that’s the sticking point right now in terms of how they compute the interest, and we’re trying to work out the logistics in terms of that.” The lawyers said they had noted the statement from the tribunal suggesting an intention to appeal, “but to date we have not been served with any notice of appeal from the EOT or from the chairman of the EOT. "There is also a pending procedural appeal, as there was an application to set aside the leave and there was an appeal of the decision of the judge to deal with the hearing of that setting-aside application and the substantive hearing together. So that hearing is scheduled for September 6. "So both sides have filed submissions and we are prepared to deal with the appeal on September 6.”

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Slain Venezuelan showered with kisses at funeral

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - Mon, 29/11/2021 - 20:31

Several weeping mourners showered slain Venezuelan Charlys Agosto Polo Mata with hugs and kisses at his funeral on Monday . The 22-year-old father of one, originally from Tucupita, was cremated at the Waterloo cremation site in a simple white coffin after a service at the family’s rented home at Calcutta No2 in Freeport. At the cremation site, mourners, including his mother, identified only Mayito, wept openly. She returned to Trinidad a few days ago to attend the funeral. Like other mourners, the mother kissed him on his cheeks. As if she could not bear to see his body burning, she walked away before the pyre was lit and watched from a distance. The survivor of the knife attack, Omar Ramos, as well as the police, also attended. [caption id="attachment_925560" align="alignnone" width="506"] STABBED: Charlys Mata, 22, a Venezuelan national who was stabbed to death in Freeport on Sunday morning.[/caption] The Rev Clifford Rawlins of the Diego Martin United Church, who officiated at the family’s home, called on mourners to trust in God to overcome their challenges. He said death comes in many ways, and people do not know when and in what way. Rawlins, who spoke in Spanish, also repeatedly called on the bereaved family to have hope. He quoted from the Bible, saying Jesus wept at the grave of his friend Lazarus. "He shares that solidarity with us in our times of grief," Rawlins said. Like many other migrants, Rawlins said, Mata came to a new land for a better life and to help his family back home. "For them to experience this, to me, is more devastating than someone who died in his/her native land. It is like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. [caption id="attachment_926912" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Mourners at the Waterloo Cremation Site look at the burning pyre with the body of Venezuelan Charlys Agosto Polo Mata, 22, who was stabbed to death in Freeport on Sunday. - Marvin Hamilton[/caption] "That is where hope comes in. God sees and knows all things, and somehow something will work out somewhere." Mata was stabbed to death in Freeport on November 21. His cousin Ramos was also stabbed but survived. Relatives believe a long-standing feud that originated in Venezuela led to the deadly attack. Mata, Ramos and two other Venezuelan men had minutes earlier left a bar at Calcutta No 1. The violence erupted as they were returning to their apartment in Calcutta No 2. No one has been arrested, and investigations are ongoing.  

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Bowling coach Estwick urges West Indies to stay disciplined

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - Mon, 29/11/2021 - 20:20

WEST INDIES bowling coach Roddy Estwick is urging the WI bowling attack to remain disciplined and patient, entering the second day of the second and final Test against Sri Lanka at the Galle International Stadium, Galle on Tuesday.

On a rain-hit opening day on Monday, Sri Lanka closed on 113/1 with Pathum Nissanka unbeaten on 61, while his opening partner and captain Dimuth Karunaratne made 42. Off-spinner Roston Chase is the lone wicket-taker for the West Indies.

During a post-day interview on the Cricket West Indies' social media channels, Estwick said, "We've got to contain (the batsmen), we've got to make sure that we get our field placings right. We've got to be disciplined on this pitch, even though it's spinning slowly."

The former Barbados fast bowler continued, "We've got to make sure that our planning is spot-on. We've got to be patient on these kinds of wickets. We've got to keep restricting them, because there are wicket-taking balls around the corner."

The West Indies made two changes from the squad which was beaten by 187 runs in the first Test last week, with Kemar Roach replacing fellow fast bowler Shannon Gabriel and left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul included at the expense of off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall.

This was the 32-year-old Permaul's first Test match since 2015, against Australia, at Sabina Park in Jamaica. With the WI selectors retaining Jomel Warrican in the starting XI, this was also the first time that the Windies had fielded two specialist left-arm spinners in a Test since April 1973, when the Trinidad pair of Raphick Jumadeen and Inshan Ali played against Australia at the Queen's Park Oval, St Clair.

"When you look at the Sri Lanka batting line-up, they're packed with right-handers," said Estwick. "We found that, with Roston already bowling off-spin, it would be wiser to go with two left-arm spinners.

"I thought Jomel Warrican, in the few overs he bowled, looked threatening. Permaul, coming back from being out of Test cricket for a while, I thought he looked good initially, but a change of field meant he went a little bit wide. He needed to be on the stumps a little bit more."

Asked what Permaul offers that is different from Cornwall, Estwick replied, "Spinning (the ball) away from the bat. With the (number) of right-handers in the Sri Lanka batting line-up, we felt it would have been wiser to go with a bowler spinning away from the bat. The decision was based on that.

"We're looking to win this Test match and we're looking at the best combination possible."

About the bowling performance on Monday, Estwick said, "I thought it was good. We could have been better, too many boundary balls, but I thought Kemar and Jason (Holder), bowling 13 overs on the trot, they went past the bat quite a lot."

Karunaratne made scores of 147 and 83 in the first Test. Estwick pointed out, "Their captain is in good form. I think we stuck to our plans well. We wanted to take the stumps out of the equation and make him hit the ball through the off-side. I think we achieved that.

"We could have gotten one or two more wickets but that's how cricket goes. We'll come tomorrow, we'll work hard, we'll keep reviewing our plans and trying to execute them."

On Roach's inclusion at the expense of Gabriel, Estwick said, "With the short turnaround, it's three days between Test matches. There has been lots of rain around Galle. The field is a little bit heavy, so it's very taxing on the fast bowlers' bodies.

"Kemar didn't play in the first Test and that was planned, for Kemar to come in for the second (Test), to keep the bowlers fresh. You've got to manage your bowlers, especially in a short turnaround time."

Asked if the pitch will offer any assistance to the pace bowlers, Estwick responded, "There is not a lot in it, but Jason bowled a tremendous spell. He could have easily gotten about three wickets. You've still got to hit the right areas."

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Windies Women leave Zimbabwe after omicron ends tourney

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - Mon, 29/11/2021 - 20:13

THE West Indies women’s cricket team have left Zimbabwe and are on their way back to the Caribbean. The detection of a new variant of covid19 called omicron in southern Africa last week virus brought an abrupt end to the International Cricket Council (ICC) Women’s World Cup qualifiers, on Saturday.

As a result, West Indies qualified for the 2022 Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand which will be played from March 4 to April 3.

The qualifiers would have decided the final three spots for the world cup.

Bangladesh and Pakistan will join West Indies as the other teams to qualify for the world cup.

A Cricket West Indies (CWI) media release on Saturday said, “The ICC indicated that with the emergence of the latest covid19 variant in South Africa and the introduction of travel restrictions from a number of African countries, including the host country Zimbabwe, it has reluctantly decided to call off the event.”

CWI CEO Johnny Grave told Newsday via WhatsApp at 1.14 pm TT time on Monday that the West Indies players have left Zimbabwe.

“They have just landed on Oman,” Grave said.

Asked when they are expected to arrive in the Caribbean, Grave said, “Not sure yet…first priority was to (get) them safely out of Africa.”

West Indies were scheduled to play Sri Lanka on Saturday, but the latter had a member of their support staff test positive for covid19 and the match was abandoned. Prior to that six Sri Lankan players tested positive for covid19.

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Blind, visually-impaired want better infrastructure

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - Mon, 29/11/2021 - 20:13

As the International Day of Persons with Disabilities approaches – December 3 –the blind and visually-impaired community is pleading with the government to consider its suggestions for a safer and more accessible TT. Jennifer Doulat-Araujo is petitioning the government on behalf of the Concern (sic) Members of the Blind and Vision Impaired Community for equal opportunity in a safe environment. Doulat-Araujo, 64, is totally blind and worked at the TT Blind Welfare Association for 31 years. She has been awarded a Humming Bird silver medal for public service and has written three books on Braille education. At her home on Pasea Main Road, Tunapuna, Doulat-Araujo expressed her concerns about accessibility and infrastructure for the disabled community. She showed the Newsday the difficulty she personally faces every day, contending with raised manhole covers, uneven pavements, and protruding objects making it very difficult for her and other disabled people in the area. Doulat-Araujo emphasised that this is not a problem specific to Pasea but to TT on a whole. Her colleague, Cecille Alves of Lower Bon Air, Arouca, echoed these sentiments. "I think our infrastructure needs to be improved, even by me here in Lopinot/ Bon Air there are raised and missing manhole covers making it difficult for disabled people to get around." Doulat-Araujo said she and her son took it upon themselves to photograph unsafe patches of the pavement. The photos and letters were sent to her MP Khadijah Ameen, Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sininan and the Piarco Regional Corporation in April. They have received no response or acknowledgment. Doulat-Araujo said, "I challenge Minister Rohan Sininan to walk the streets of Pasea blindfolded." She said the needs of women with visual impairment and disabilities are no different from those without visual disabilities. Other issues faced by the disabled are that there are not enough Elderly and Differently Abled Mobile Service (ELDAMO) buses, and the service schedule has decreased drastically since the start of the pandemic, making it extremely difficult for disabled people to do their day-to-day essential activities. Doulat-Araujo also proposed, "All bells on streets should be outfitted to assist not only the sighted but the hearing-impaired and the disabled overall. Bells, signage and knobs should be placed lower to press for all to reach." She said cars should be equipped to make a sound when moving out of a driveway. Trees and branches should be moved from sidewalks and cut as necessary so that people's eyes aren't injured by branches that stick out. Pavements should also be built so as to accommodate wheelchairs and the elderly in terms of width and access points, with special attention tomanhole covers, protrusions and uneven or broken surfaces. She said, "All regional corporations should be outfitted with a sales outlet for special aids and appliances for the disabled. Public officers should be trained to interreact with the disabled." On education, she said, "All children with disabilities who are integrated in the regular school system must be outfitted with adequate aids, assistants, devices etc." Doulat-Araujo said blind and visually-impaired people are seeking education, but job opportunities are mainly given to sighted people, suggesting employers should be given a tax break if they hire those with visual impairments. This year's theme for International Day of Persons with Disabilities is “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-covid19 world.”

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Murdered prison officer had applied for gun licence

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - Mon, 29/11/2021 - 20:07

MURDERED prisons officer Trevor Serrette, who was gunned down at his fruit stall last Friday, was seeking to expedite his firearm user's license (FUL) which he applied for years ago. Speaking with Newsday on Monday, one of Serrette's relatives, who asked not to be named, said after applying for the FUL some years ago, Serrette recently began following up on when the permit would be granted. "A few years ago he applied for a firearm. I dunno what caused the delay, but recently he was supposed to get it. All the fight-down for servicemen to have firearms not making any sense, because the criminals don’t need training or anything to get a firearm." In October, National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds said the firearms unit of the police service was “in quarantine” as investigations continued into the granting of FULs by former police commissioner Gary Griffith. Only the CoP can grant an FUL and with no commissioner appointed, all applications are on hold. The relative said Serrette, who had run the fruit stall for over a decade, never said he was threatened, but occasionally mentioned people he had fallen out with. He added that if he had been threatened he doubted Serrette would have allowed himself to be so vulnerable. “He was an easy target. He had nothing with anyone. Watch where his shed is, if he had anything with anyone, he would not have been out there. "He never seemed to be worried about anything pertaining to work. He don’t go around nobody. He always on the straight and narrow. ” The relative said Serrette’s recent posting at the Maximum Security Prison, Arouca, was the only thing out of the norm to have happened and could not say for sure if the two things were related. Police reported that at about 1.30 pm, Serrette, of La Seiva Road, Sangre Grande, was at his business on the Eastern Main Road in Valencia when he was ambushed and killed. Serrette, a prisons officer II, was with a relative when a gunman got out of an AD stationwagon and started shooting. The gunman got back in the car, which drove off. The relative was unharmed. Serrette was described as a no-nonsense prisons officer who loved his garden and spending time with his family. “He was a really strong person to be around. He always had a smile on his face. That is what everybody know him for. He did not deserve this.”

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Deyalsingh to Gopeesingh: Stop attacking policies that saved you

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - Mon, 29/11/2021 - 19:15

Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh has pleaded with former UNC MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh to stop his attacks on the policies implemented by the government during the pandemic. Deyalsingh was speaking during the ministry’s virtual covid19 briefing on Monday. “I want to alert the national community and plead with our political opponents that one of the hallmarks of countries that do well in their covid19 response is putting partisan politics aside,” said Deyalsingh. “No matter how much (we) push back against this, the Opposition wants the Government to fail in its covid19 response so they can use that failure to get back into office.” He chastised Gopeesingh for scorning Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram for being a public health expert. “If he were not, he would not have been given an honorary degree by the University of the West Indies. “When Dr Gopeesingh had covid19, he owes his life to the policies developed by Dr Parasram, Dr Michelle Trotman, Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards, and Dr Avery Hinds. But once recovered, these same doctors to which he owes his life, he now finds it is politically convenient to attack them at every possible turn. “I ask that the right-thinking citizens of TT condemn Dr Gopeesingh and his political leader for this continual attack.” He said Gopeesingh’s response to covid19, in a meeting with the Prime Minister, was hydroxychloroquine. Hydroxychloroquine is used to prevent and treat malaria and for other ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, and has not been successful in its use against the virus. “I want the country to remember that. (The Opposition’s) response in Senate was 'puncheon and lime.' Remember that. Their response last year was to build a dome over TT.” Deyalsingh urged the population to ignore the UNC's continued attack on government policies.

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Deyalsingh: Ministry working on vaccine booster programme

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - Mon, 29/11/2021 - 19:15

Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh has said his ministry has ordered a surplus of Sinopharm and Johnson & Johnson covid19 vaccines to accommodate recipients who want a booster shot of the vaccine. Deyalsingh made the announcement during the ministry’s virtual covid19 briefing on Monday. He said Trinidad and Tobago now has a stock of 690,625 vaccine doses. In the early days of the pandemic, he recalled, there were issues of severe inequity, when the vaccine was not readily available. “We engaged in scenario planning, including stock of vaccines in excess of what we will normally use,” said Deyalsingh. He said with the advent of the new omicron variant, it was time for the ministry to revisit the vaccination programme. “(We know) after two years this virus is going to be ever-evolving, especially when variants of concern start to rear their heads. If Trinidad and Tobago didn’t learn from past experiences and engage in scenario planning, (vaccine inequity) would not have been a good place to be.” He said 84,000 doses of the Sinopharm from the Covax facility and 150,000 doses of the J&J vaccines from the African Medical Supply platform have been received in TT. “We knew at some point in time that if we didn’t proactively do this…to protect the vaccinated population outside of the current programme, we were going to have to launch a booster programme.” Deyalsingh said the booster programme is being discussed at the ministry and further information will be made available to the public soon.

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SEA practice test update

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - Mon, 29/11/2021 - 18:20

Our apologies to readers who were expecting to obtain a copy of the SEA practice test that normally appears in our Monday paper. Owing to a fire that affected the pressroom, we were unable to publish our print edition today. The SEA practice test will now be published in next Monday's print edition.

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Newsday back in print tomorrow

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - Mon, 29/11/2021 - 15:47

We apologise to our many faithful readers who were unable to obtain their print copy of Newsday today. This was due to pressroom problems arising from a fire.

We expect to print tomorrow’s paper as usual tonight.

In the meantime, all our news, features and opinion pieces are available here on the website or in the digital version of our paper, N-Touch, available via the website.

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PDP deputy: Tracy should step back like Watson

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - Mon, 29/11/2021 - 15:44

Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) deputy leader Farley Augustine has advised PNM Tobago Council leader Tracy Davidson-Celestine to be more like her PDP counterpart Watson Duke. Augustine was speaking on Saturday at a political meeting in Bon Accord/ Crown Point ahead of the December 6 THA election. Addressing supporters, Augustine accused the PNM of being "obsessed" with Duke. "I realised they can't help but call the man name. He talk, they call the man name; he ent talk, they want him to talk; he stay quiet, they have a problem; he make noise, they have a problem....They are so Watson-obsessed, they are not even quarter as obsessed with Tobago's development, and therein lies the problem." The PNM has been heavily critical of the PDP's unconvential arrangement of having Augustine as the face of the party and its choice for chief secretary. It is the second straight THA election that Augustine is leading the PDP's campaign. The PNM has accused the PDP of using Augustine to hide Duke, whose management of the Public Services Association has been called into question and who was charged for rape in 2016. Duke's abrasive personality has also rubbed some people the wrong way. He was criticised by some within his party for calling two women "stink and dutty" just two days before the general election last year. Some people in Tobago East told Newsday his mouth cost him the election against the PNM's Ayanna Webster-Roy. Augustine said Duke's decision to step back and allow him to lead shows he is a true statesman. "Which political leader in which political party in the history of TT has ever stepped back in a magnanimous way and said to someone young, 'You go forth, I think you have what it takes to be Chief Secretary.' "That has never happened in this politics before." Augustine said the PNM should consider a similar arrangement. "If there were other politicians on this island as magnanimous as him then Ms Tracy might have walked away and leave (Chief Secretary) Ancil (Dennis). Why she ent walk away an put Ancil (as PNM leader) instead. She knows the people prefer Ancil to she. She own party prefer Ancil to she."

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