Daily Brief - Tuesday 17th January, 2017


Rachael Strangled

Schoolgirl Rachael Ramkissoon was strangled. This was the finding of an autopsy done by Dr Hughvon des Vignes yesterday at the Forensic Science Centre in St James. The autopsy showed that someone placed their hands around the 17-year-old girl’s throat and squeezed until she died from a lack of oxygen. The victim had abrasions over her left eye and on her left and right hip. Further checks revealed that she was not sexually assaulted in any way prompting police investigators to believe that Ramkissoon may have known her killer and may have put up a fight with the person or persons who killed her. Yesterday, Homicide Investigations Bureau detectives told Newsday they are working on the theory that Ramkissoon was picked up last Friday by someone she had a close interaction with. Read more here

Artefacts found in Valsayn

Local historian Angelo Bissessarsingh is calling on the National Trust to take charge of a midden in Valsayn where three Amerindian artefacts dating to 2000 BC, were discovered by a land owner on Sunday. The animal-shaped figurines were posted on Facebook by Melissa Jagroop-Topha. Bissessarsingh said it appeared the artifacts were from the Parico tribe, from which Piarco got its name. “To find it that far under a swamp is unusual. I was informed that the three pieces of pottery were found three feet in a piece of lagoon in St Augustine south of UWI. It is marshlands and it would be unusual for them to settle there. They might have lived there for a short time,” Bissessarsingh said. Read more here

22 homicides for 2017; no one charged

Zero. That's the detection rate in connection with the 22 homicides in Trinidad and Tobago for 2017 up to last night. The killings have been committed across the country with the majority in the Northern Police Division. National Security Minister Edmund Dillon was asked about the crime statistics on Sunday during a function in La Brea. He said: “I do not concentrate on statistics. There is qualitative versus quantitative. I prefer to look at the qualitative aspect which is the mind, getting rid of the fear of crime. “This means doing certain things to alleviate fear in people's minds and that is where my emphasis is, in terms of creating more deterrence, more intelligence gathered, more detection. Read more here



Duke not fit to run for THA elections, Rowley declares

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said at a People’s National Movement (PNM) rally on Sunday that no Tobagonian on a rape charge should put him or herself up as a candidate for any election on the island. Rowley, addressing supporters at the Cyd Gray Stadium, Roxborough, Tobago, referred to political leader of the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP), Watson Duke, who is accused of rape. The PDP is one of three political parties challenging the ruling PNM for control of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) in next Monday’s election. Rowley issued a stern warning to Tobagonians who are supporting the PDP in the election. “Any or all of you in Tobago who will vote for one of us, a Tobagonian, who is on a rape charge, you is somebody to watch,” he stressed, adding that those people will have to justify their actions. Read more here

School transport under review

Minister of Public Administration and Communications, Maxie Cuffie is set to meet with Education Minister Anthony Garcia to discuss the national school transport system following the murder of student Rachael Ramkissoon. While the meeting date is yet to be decided, both Cuffie and Garcia yesterday vowed to improve the transportation system to ensure the safety of students while they journey to and from school and home. Ramkissoon, 16, of Talparo Trace, Brazil, was a Form Four student of the Northeastern College, Sangre Grande. Her body was found by a hunter soon after she was reported missing. An autopsy yesterday stated she was strangled. Read more here

Mark shies away from views of three senators 

As the Senate meets today to conclude debate on legislation designed to raise the marriage age to 18 years, several civil society groups are expected to gather outside the Parliament as well as inside in the public gallery to make their case known. Government and the Independent Senators have indicated their full support for the bill titled “An Act to amend the Marriage Act, the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act, the Hindu Marriage Act, the Orisa Marriage Act and the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Act”. It is now known how the United National Congress senators will vote. Senators Rodger Samuel and temporary senators Basdeo Seetahal-Maharaj and Dr Maulana Waffie Mohammed opposed the measure, with Mohammed describing it as oppressive to Muslims, while Samuel and Seetahal-Maharaj called for the measure to go to a Joint Select Committee. Read more here



CWU not pleased with TATT extension to CWC

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is “very disappointed and disturbed” by the decision of the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) to grant Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) a further extension; up to March 31, 2017, to complete its divestment of its 49 percent stake in Telecommu- nications Services of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (TSTT). CWU Secretary General, Joseph Remy, says “this decision definitely flies in the face of logic and conveys to the CWU that (TATT) is lacking of testicular fortitude to take action against CWC, as contemplated by the conditionality’s outlined in the approval notice dated March 25, 2015.” Remy then quoted from section D of the approval notice, which stated that CWC “shall ensure the complete divestment of the 49 percent shareholding in TSTT within the time frame stipulated by the Authority, namely one year of the date of communication of this reconsidered decision, or such extended date as may be approved by the Authority in writing, such extension to not exceed a maximum of six months.” Remy added that TATT “went on to stipulate at D. (iii) that (it) shall take all steps as are available to it under the law in the event of any breach of these conditions by the Applicants or CWC, their agents or representatives.” In 2014 CWC began the acquisition process of Columbus Communications, parent body of Flow, a direct competitor to TSTT in the telecommunications market. Read more here

Wage hikes for 1,000 Carib workers

Ian MacDonald, CEO of Caribbean Development Company Limited and Carib Brewery Limited, said he considers the settlement of wage negotiations to be an important investment for the company, even in a time of economic downturn. “It is no secret that the economy is difficult in T&T so it is important for us to forge partnerships with the trade union and work together to ensure the viability of our organisation and our employees are among those going forward,” he said at the signing new collective agreements between the company and the National Union of Government and Federated Workers (NUGFW) at Carib’s head office in Champs Fleurs yesterday. Roughly 1,000 workers will benefit from the agreement which covers several bargaining periods from 2011 to 2019. Read more here

Uber activated: $20 base fare

Just in time for the Carnival season, Trinidad and Tobago has become the first English-speaking Caribbean country to launch the global ride-share mobile app sensation, Uber. The service was activated at 11a.m today, in Port-of-Spain and San Fernando areas. Uber is an on-demand car service that allows you to request private drivers through applications for iPhone and Android devices. The service utilises dispatch software to send the nearest driver to your location. Read more here



High Drivers - Ganja Smoking Increases Among Motorists

One in six males admitted to driving under the influence of some sort of dangerous substance, while one in 17 females did the same, according to a new survey, which stakeholders believe is putting people's lives in extreme danger. Many admitted to using ganja, in light of the recent decriminalisation of two ounces. Pointing to data in the recently released 2016 National Drug Prevalence Survey, Michael Tucker, executive director at the National Council on Drug Abuse, is expressing serious concerns with the findings.  "This is very troubling, as potentially these persons are not only a harm to themselves, but to other users of the road. Many times they might be carrying passengers, including children," he told The Gleaner. The survey was conducted to determine the prevalence and patterns of substance use among the population ages 12-65 years, as well as to measure other issues like access and availability of drugs, perception of risk of using various drugs, attitudes towards ganja decriminalisation, need for drug treatment because of problematic substance, among other issues. Read more here

Use economic citizenship funds wisely, says ECCB governor

Guidelines and recommendations pertaining to the use of revenue from economic citizenship programmes in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) have been put forward by Governor Timothy Antoine of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB). Noting the importance of the CIPs to St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada and St Lucia, Antoine offered some advice on the use of the citizenship by investment (CBI) programmes. His comments were made in Dominica this past week. “First of all we say, be transparent by publishing all the flows, the ins and outs of the fund. We believe that is extremely important for people to know how much is collected and how it is spent. So we welcome the efforts of the government to establish in the last budget, specifically how much is coming from the CBI and what it is being spent on and we think that that is important and we’ve also suggested a template that can be used to publish information on a regular basis so that anybody home or abroad can see this information and understand what is happening with the programme. Read more here



Brexit speech: Theresa May rejects 'partial' EU membership

The UK will not retain "partial" membership of the EU once it leaves, Theresa May is due to say in her much-anticipated Brexit speech. The PM will tell other European countries the UK wants to trade with them "as freely as possible" but will not be "half-in, half-out" of the EU. Her speech, currently taking place, is expected to include further hints the UK could leave the EU single market. No 10 said the prime minister would set out 12 negotiating objectives. In her speech, Mrs May announced the final Brexit deal agreed between the EU and the UK would be voted on by both Houses of Parliament before it comes into force. She also said the government would work to maintain the "common travel area" between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland. The government has so far revealed few details about what it wants to secure from the Brexit talks, which it is promising to trigger by the end of March. Labour has urged Mrs May to push for a "deal that works for trade". Read more here

CNN/ORC Poll: Confidence drops in Trump transition

Donald Trump will become president Friday with an approval rating of just 40%, according to a new CNN/ORC Poll, the lowest of any recent president and 44 points below that of President Barack Obama, the 44th president. Following a tumultuous transition period, approval ratings for Trump's handling of the transition are more than 20 points below those for any of his three most recent predecessors. Obama took the oath in 2009 with an 84% approval rating, 67% approved of Clinton's transition as of late December 1992 and 61% approved of George W. Bush's transition just before he took office in January 2001. Read more here

17th January 2017


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