Daily Brief - Tuesday 21st February, 2017


Come See Me

One day after speaking with him on the telephone, United States President Donald Trump yesterday invited Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to meet with him in Washington DC. According to an article on the Associated Press (AP) website, “President Donald Trump discussed what the White House calls ‘shared priorities’ in phone calls to the leaders of Panama and the twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago.” An AP story posted at 11.30 am on Sunday, indicated that Trump planned to hold separate telephone conversations with Rowley and Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela. Yesterday’s AP article concluded, “Trump invited both leaders to visit Washington DC, in the coming months.” Rowley is scheduled to pay state visits to China and Chile this year. Commenting on what “shared priorities” Rowley and Trump should discuss, whenever they meet, former national security minister Gary Griffith identified security as a major issue. Read more here

Tracking T&T terrorist fighters

Beyond individuals leaving to participate in terrorist activities overseas, no clear trend or organised movement of people —including from any particular mosque—has been noted, say local authorities. The position was made clear by Government after National Security Minister Edmund Dillon said 130 people are involved in such activities overseas. He indicated that 72 adults and 58 family members had gone overseas on terrorist missions. Considering the challenges, including T&T’s heavy Muslim population with a small radical minority—and exploitation of the religion largely by fringe criminal elements—surveillance has increased and legislative curbs are upcoming. Read more here

Renegades youths make it 4 in a row

BPTT Renegades Youth Steel Orchestra completed a history-making beaver-trick to claim their ninth overall title at the 2017 Junior Panorama finals on Sunday evening at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain. The Charlotte Street-based pan side's rendition of Calypso Rose and Machel Montano's hit-making collaboration “Leave Me Alone” was seven points better, at 274 points, than their closest competitor, Desperadoes Youth Steel Orchestra, in the Elite Bands Category. Read more here



Future of CSME to be decided upon in July

CARICOM expects that a firm decision on the future of the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) will be taken in July at a meeting of regional heads in Grenada, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said on Saturday. Speaking at a news conference in the Diplomatic Lounge of the Piarco International Airport shortly after his return from the 28th Intersessional Meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government in Guyana, Rowley said much attention was paid to devising strategies to bolster the CSME in the context of expanding the economic activities of regional territories. He said Trinidad and Tobago has been spearheading moves in this regard. “What had come back on the table at the request of Trinidad and Tobago, at the last meeting in July, was the whole question of the single market and economy,” he said. Read more here

Expert sees ISIS link in Trump’s call

Exactly why US President Donald Trump chose to call Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on Sunday is still not clear but one international relations expert believes that this country is of particular interest to the US because of its connection to the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS). “Trinidad is of particular interest because of the number of locals who have gone to Syria to fight on behalf of ISIS. The Trump administration will want assurances from the T&T Government that return foreign fighters will not pose a security threat to the US. This means that the Trinidad and Tobago Government could use some help with respect to security intelligence,” former director of the Institute of International Relations at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Prof Andy Knight, said yesterday. Read more here



Look to foreign markets

Despite the economic recession, T&T companies can survive by looking to foreign markets, says Andrew Ramroop, owner of the elite British tailoring firm, Maurice Sedwell. “It is important that business people persevere in whatever they are working on. Although the country is in a recession, it does not mean that your business will be in a recession. This is a huge opportunity for people to expand their businesses even though the country is in a so-called recession. How they can do that is by looking at market places abroad out of T&T,” he said. Ramroop spoke yesterday at Scotiabank’s Insight Series at the Teaching and Learning Complex, University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine. Maurice Sedwell is a prominent tailoring shop on London’s famous Savile Row which produces luxury suits for famous people ranging from the former British Prime Minister to wealthy businesspeople to Hollywood stars. Read more here

17 groups get $5m

The European Union (EU) has awarded $5 million (672,000 euros) to 17 organisations for projects that focus on governance, gender- based violence and LGBTI (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex) issues. This was announced earlier this month by Ambassador Aad Biesebroek, Head of Delegation of the EU to T&T, who said the EU's decision to support civil society organisations (CSOs) stemmed from recognition of their work. He added that empowered civil society is a crucial component of any democracy. Read more here



Cuban deportations create dilemma for Trump and Rubio

More than 680 Cubans have been deported back to Cuba since the United States ended in January its so-called “wet foot, dry foot” policy, creating a political dilemma for US President Donald Trump and Florida Republican senator, Marco Rubio in relation to Cuban-American voters. The "wet-foot, dry foot" policy, which dated back to the Clinton era in 1995, gave Cubans near-automatic entry to the US if they managed to set foot on American soil, regardless of their immigration status. Cubans attempting to enter the country by sea were turned back. Cuba's Communist government had opposed the "wet-foot, dry foot" policy on grounds that the special treatment encouraged illegal migration and human trafficking and it was rescinded on January 12 by then-president Barack Obama as part of the broader normalization of US-Cuban relations. Read more here

Another Triple For Bolt

It was another triple feat for sprint legend Usain Bolt. Yesterday, the fastest man in the world continued his impressive run, albeit off the track, when he was declared The Gleaner’s Man of the Year for 2016, at the media house’s 37th Annual Honour Awards function at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston. Bolt was earning the prestigious honour for the third time, having been named Gleaner Man of the Year in 2008 and 2009. In 2012, he was awarded the Global Jamaican Award by the multimedia company. This year’s award added to an already impressive start for the 30-year-old Jamaican, who was named Male World Athlete of the Year at the IAAF for 2016. Bolt was winning the award for a record sixth time. In January, he was named RJR Sports Foundation National Sportsman of the Year for 2016, while Elaine Thompson was named Sportswoman of the Year. That was Bolt’s seventh time taking the award. Read more here



Israeli soldier gets 18 months for killing wounded Palestinian attacker

An Israeli soldier who killed a wounded Palestinian attacker in a high-profile case that split opinion across the country has been jailed for 18 months. Sgt Elor Azaria was found guilty of manslaughter for shooting dead 21-year-old Abdul Fatah al-Sharif in Hebron, in the occupied West Bank, last March. Azaria had told a colleague that Sharif, who had stabbed another soldier, "deserved to die". Military chiefs condemned his actions, but others praised them. The case fuelled debate in Israel over when and how soldiers are entitled to use lethal force against attackers. The shooting occurred amid a wave of attacks by Palestinians that had killed 29 Israelis over the preceding five months. Read more here

Heterosexual couple lose legal battle over British civil partnership law

A heterosexual couple in Britain have lost their court battle for the right to enter into a civil partnership -- an alternative to marriage that is reserved for same-sex couples in the UK. The Court of Appeal in London rejected a claim by Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, who argued they were discriminated against because civil partnerships are not available to people of the opposite sex. Steinfeld and Keidan oppose traditional marriage because they regard it as a "patriarchal" institution. Speaking outside court, Steinfeld said they were "deeply disappointed" by the ruling. The 2004 Civil Partnership Act allowed same-sex couples in Britain to enter a legal partnership for the first time. It conferred almost the same legal rights as traditional marriage, except for the right to marry in a religious setting. Same-sex civil partners did not have the right to declare themselves "married" for legal purposes. Read more here

21st February 2017


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