Daily Brief - Friday 17th February, 2017


Man in Court for MovieTowne Murder

Matthew King appeared yesterday before Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar charged with the murder of Jamilia de Revenaux at MovieTowne on February 5. King, 30, of Chinapoo Village, Morvant and Mora Drive, Cleaver Heights, Arima was charged late Wednesday after Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard SC, gave instructions to police. King was remanded into custody as murder is a non-bailable offence, but his attorney Kiev Chesney, who held for attorney Christian Chandler, requested of the chief magistrate that the accused be separated from the general prison population as threats were made to his life. After being asked to clarify what he was asking of the court, Chesney said perhaps prison authorities can place King in a ‘supervised’ area in the prison or “anything the court can do to ensure the allegation does not come to fruition.” Chesney also asked that a state prosecutor be appointed in the shortest possible time so the preliminary inquiry can begin. King will return to court on March 16. Read more here

WASA: Drinking water safe

The water supply from the Caroni and other water treatment plants meet World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for drinking water quality and is therefore safe to drink, the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) said yesterday. WASA issued a statement to this effect last night following sharp concern about the quality of water following a Joint Select Committee (JSC) meeting on Wednesday, where there were revelations of lead from the Guanapo landfill possibly contaminating water courses leading to the Caroni Water Treatment Plant. Solid Waste Management Company Ltd (SWMCOL) officials said the situation was known since 2014. The disclosure caused alarm and concern from JSC members. Exposure to high levels of lead may cause anaemia, weakness, kidney and brain damage. Read more here

Fears over Central landfill

For families living downwind of the Forres Park landfill in Claxton Bay, some dry seasons have been unbearable. The elderly and young ones are removed from the commu­nities as thick, black smoke blankets the area for days, sometimes weeks. However, despite their frustrations, residents of Springvale and Diamond Village have grown accustomed to the lifestyle. Many residents believe the situation would never change as the problem has existed for more than two decades. Now, the residents are faced with a new concern that lead from the landfill may be seeping into the water courses, posing “a potential ecological disaster”. Read more here



Deyalsingh: No flu deaths in TT

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh yesterday declared that this country has recorded no flu related deaths between last year and this year. Addressing the post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s, Deyalsingh reminded reporters that early in his ministerial tenure he was reporting regularly to the country about deaths related to the H1 N1 virus. However he said that, “because of the very rigorous vaccination campaign that we have launched, I can tell you that the figure for this year is zero.” Noting the flu season runs from October to May, Deyalsingh opined, “So we are becoming the victims of our own success because the public is no longer rushing to get vaccinated.” However stressing that the period between Christmas and Carnival is the best time to get vaccinated, Deyalsingh said, “We have brought in 100,000 doses of vaccine and we are now vaccinating anyone.” Read more here

Cabinet gets draft plan on gender violence

Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister for Gender and Child Affairs, Ayanna Webster-Roy, says a draft national action plan on gender-based violence has been submitted to Cabinet. It contains proposals to strengthen the legislative framework to protect women, she told the T&T Guardian yesterday. The issue of violence against women continues to be hotly debated. Earlier this week, international news network Al Jazeera hosted a discussion on its award-winning programme The Stream, which featured Gillian Wall of the Powerful Ladies of T&T (PLOTT), university lecturer Gabrielle Hosein, clinical psychologist Peter Weller and Rhondall Feeles of the Single Fathers Association. The programme followed statements by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on the issue, when he advised women to choose their partners wisely in the wake of the increase of domestic violence-related cases. Read more here

‘Opposition can’t offer legal view’ 

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi has responded to criticisms of comments he made at the Association of Real Estate Agents breakfast meeting on Tuesday. At the event, Al-Rawi had expressed frustration with the way laws requiring a special majority to be passed was being treated by the Opposition. He stated as a result of tactical decision making, a number of pieces of legislation he would be bringing to Parliament shortly have been designed so as not to require Opposition support. The statements have been described as “dictatorial” by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and other Opposition members. Read more here



Scotia wins another award

Scotiabank has been recognized for the “Best Commercial Banking Capabilities in the Caribbean” by Euromoney, a leading global financial publication, in its recently released annual Global Private Banking survey. This recognition is one of three categories won by Scotiabank, which also included “Best Commercial Banking Capabilities in the Bahamas” and “Best Asset Management Company in the Cayman Islands.” “We are honored to be recognized by Euromoney as a best-inclass commercial bank across the Caribbean”, said David Thomas, Scotiabank’s Vice President, Corporate Finance, Caribbean Region. “This recognition is a reflection of our commitment to businesses across the region. Read more here

Gov’t policies not promoting exports

Chairman of the Economic Development Advisory Board (EDAB), Dr Terrence Farrell, yesterday lamented the inadequacy of incentives and other kinds of support for investment in export-generating activities. Read more here

First Citizens: No intention to increase customer fees

State bank First Citizens says it has no intention of increasing the fees it charges customers. The assurance comes even as RBC Royal Bank last week announced that from March 27 it will be increasing some fees and introducing new fees to customers. “We are not looking at this point in time to increase our fees,” First Citizens' chief executive officer Karen Darbasie told the Express yesterday, following the bank's special shareholders meeting held at the Hilton Trinidad in Port of Spain. Read more here



Expedite full implementation of CSME, says CARICOM chairman

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) must expedite the full implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). This was the charge president of Guyana, David Granger, issued to heads of government and delegates at the opening of the twenty-eighth intersessional meeting of the conference of heads of government of CARICOM in Georgetown Guyana on Thursday morning. “Economic cooperation is a fundamental pillar of our Community. The Caribbean, if it is to escape the hazard of economic emasculation in today’s global environment, must expedite the full implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). We face threats that include dampened demand for our goods and services and distortions in our financial sectors caused by de-risking by international banks,” he said. Read more here

Stop It! - Chief Contractor In Controversial Multimillion-Dollar De-Bushing Project Wants OCG Probe Halted

Lawyers representing the principal in the construction firm that got the largest payout from the Government's $600-million de-bushing programme went to court yesterday seeking an injunction to block part of an investigation by the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) into the controversial project. The application by Vincent Taylor, the principal in Construction Solutions Limited (CSL), was, however, adjourned by Supreme Court judge Justice Kissock Laing until May 1. CSL was awarded a $183.6 million contract for de-bushing work in St Catherine, St Mary, and St Ann. Documents submitted to a parliamentary committee last month showed that up to December 21 last year, the company was paid a total of $158.3 million. Read more here



Hundreds of migrants storm fence to reach Spanish enclave of Ceuta

Several hundred migrants have stormed a six-metre (20 ft) security fence that separates Morocco from Ceuta, a Spanish territory in North Africa. Police said security cameras showed around 600 migrants, some with shears and clubs, breaking through one of the gates. More than 300 reportedly made it across the razor wire barrier. Ceuta and Melilla, another Spanish territory in North Africa, have the EU's only land borders with Africa. As a result, they are popular crossing points for migrants hoping to reach a new life in Europe. The Red Cross is treating about 400 migrants at its centre in Ceuta and dispatched five ambulances to help, the local emergency service said on Twitter. Spain's Civil Guard said three police officers had been taken to hospital. Read more here

Trump -- under fire -- returns to the campaign

President Donald Trump is taking his fate into his own hands. Reeling from a week that included the firing of his national security adviser, the withdrawal of a Cabinet nominee and persistent questions over contacts between his campaign and Russia, Trump is aiming to regain control of his nascent administration by putting himself back in the spotlight. The centerpiece of the effort: a return to the scorched-earth politics that served him so well on the campaign trail. That was on display Thursday when Trump cranked up the political theater during an extraordinary news conference that transferred the seething air of grievance from his campaign rallies to the ornate splendor of the East Room of the White House. Read more here

17th February 2017


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