english news

EU’s top court urged to rule Brexit can be reversed


LUXEMBOURG – Britain can unilaterally reverse its decision to leave the European Union, an urgent hearing of Europe’s top court was told today in a case supporters of EU membership hope could pave the way to a second referendum and ultimately stop Brexit.

Lawyers for a group of Scottish politicians want the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to interpret whether Britain can revoke its notice to withdraw from the EU under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty without agreement of the other 27 states.Britain is due to exit the EU on March 29, two years after London served notice in line with a June, 2016 vote to leave.But the fate of Brexit remains up in the air, with Prime Minister Theresa May’s draft divorce deal, agreed with the EU on Sunday, facing a difficult vote in parliament on Dec. 11. May has said that if her deal is voted down, Britain could leave without a deal or there could be no Brexit at all.

Some opponents of Brexit want a second referendum giving British voters the option to remain in the EU. May’s government says a second referendum will not happen, and any ruling that would allow the reversal of Britain’s withdrawal notice would be irrelevant since it is against government policy.(Reuters)…[+]

Trinidad: Over 500 police vehicles wrecked in 3 years

500 police

MORE than 500 police patrol vehicles worth tens of millions of dollars have ended up as scrap over the past three years. And Police Commissioner Gary Griffith has a plan to keep the new fleet roadworthy by targeting road hogs—in police uniform.

Griffith acted last Friday after CCTV footage captured two newly-purchased Toyota RAV-4 patrol vehicles crashing into a truck in Charlieville that day. It turned out that the police officers driving those vehicles were not responding to any distress call.

The officers, assigned to the newly-launched Emergency Response Patrol, had just installed a GPS tracking system in the patrol vehicles. And it was that very tracking system that allowed their seniors to know that before the crash, the officers were driving at 140 kilometres per hour on the Uriah Butler Highway, where the speed limit is 100kph, and at 89 kph on the secondary road (the speed limit is 40kph) when they wrecked the State vehicles.

The officers have been suspended from driving police vehicles until the case is investigated by an internal disciplinary committee. The two patrol vehicles, worth more than $500,000, were extensively damaged and have joined the hundreds of other cars, SUVs, pick-up trucks and police buses being kept at compounds in north and south Trinidad.(Trinidad Express)…[+]

Local community enterprises are a pathway to a blue economy


Port of Spain- Local community enterprises are a powerful pathway to a blue economy that is inclusive and fair, environmentally sustainable and resilient.

This was the message from a side event at the international Sustainable Blue Economy Conference held this week in Nairobi, Kenya by the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI). The event entitled Local blue enterprises: SIDS inclusive economic development through community-led conservation and social enterprises” attracted participants from the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, the Pacific, the United States and Europe.

The international conference is being attended by over 4,000 participants from all over the world, including a strong Caribbean contingent from government, regional agencies and civil society. The conference is exploring how ocean resources can be sustainably used to support inclusive economic development. CANARI’s participation was supported by the Commonwealth Foundation.

CANARI’s Executive Director, Nicole Leotaud, explained that blue economy is based on the same principles as green economy but focuses on ocean resources. She emphasised that “it’s not important what colour we call it, but that we focus on the four key principles of economic development, environmental sustainability, inclusiveness, and resilience to climate change and natural hazards.”

She presented a tool developed by the Institute to support local community small and micro-enterprises to enhance their delivery of economic, environmental and social co-benefits. The self-assessment tool is called the Local Green-Blue Enterprises Radar and uses specific indicators of economic, environmental and social benefits to help community entrepreneurs identify where their business is strong and where they can improve…[+]


India, home of the world’s tallest statue, announces plan to build a taller one


The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh says it will build the world’s tallest statue, weeks after the current record holder – an 182-metre likeness of founding father Sardar Patel – was completed in another part of the country.

If constructed, the 221m-high effigy of the Hindu god Ram in the town of Ayodhya could make India home to the world’s three tallest statues, with a 212-metre likeness of the medieval ruler Shivaji also currently under construction off the coast of Mumbai. Plans for the bronze Ram statue were unveiled over the weekend, with five construction firms giving presentations to the the state’s chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, a firebrand Hindu monk accused of instigating violence against’s the state’s Muslim minority.

Ayodhya has been considered a crucible for the Hindu nationalist movement since 1992, when thousands of adherents stormed a Mughal-era mosque in the town and demolished it, believing it was built at the site where Ram was born, and where an ancient Hindu temple had been torn down by earlier Muslim rulers.(theguardian)…[+]

Macron: Paris protest ‘battle scenes’ could hurt France’s image


Emmanuel Macron has said the “battle scenes” in central Paris between police and protesters over the weekend risked unnerving foreigners.

The French president told ministers at a cabinet meeting on Monday that the government must respond after images were relayed around the world of police firing teargas and water cannon at protesters who set up barricades, lit fires and smashed restaurants and shopfronts on the Champs-Élysées. France was still clearing up on Monday after the clashes, which were sparked by anger over fuel tax rises. The clean-up operation continued along what France calls the “most beautiful avenue in the world”, as city authorities mobilised 200 extra workers to repair the damage to streets and buildings.

Shopkeepers whose windows were smashed and tagged with graffiti during what was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration by the gilets jaunes (yellow vests), had been hoping for a busy weekend after the Champs-Élysées’s celebrated Christmas lights were turned on last week.(theguardian)…[+]

Trinidad mom imprisoned in Syria writes to family members


Relatives of a woman locked up in a Syrian prison for just under a year wants the state to assist in having her repatriated. Adill Ramirez, who last communicated with his mother, Summer Ramirez in January last year spoke with Sunday Newsday after receiving a letter from her on Thursday. Ramirez said that the letter is penned in his mother’s handwriting. He said his mother was held trying to cross into to Syria trying to make her way back home.

Both Ramirez and her husband Chris Lewis left TT in 2014 supposedly to fulfill their religious obligation and take part in the holy pilgrimage of Hajj in Saudi Arabia. Ramirez said after performing Hajj and their sins forgiven, the couple wanted to remain in an Islamic country, Ramirez told Sunday Newsday. He said as a Muslim his mother had to obey her husband, who he said had militant views and wanted to fight for his beliefs.(Trinidad Newsday)…[+]

Slow Arctic freeze raises risk of polar bear extinction, say scientists


A record slow freeze of many regions of the Arctic this winter is making it harder for pregnant polar bears to find birthing dens. The delayed formation of sea ice during autumn has worried biologists, who fear a first “extirpation event” – the local extinction of a species – may be approaching faster than forecast for the most affected populations.

The waters around Svalbard, an archipelago between Norway and the North Pole, have a little over half the average area of ice for this time of year. According to the Norwegian Ice Service, the 172,291 sq km (66,522 sq m) of ice on 14 November was the lowest for this time of year since records began in 1967. October also saw a huge departure from previous trends, particularly in the Barents Sea, which had freakishly warm weather in February and August. Scientists say these shifts, which are caused by the manmade heating of the globe, are disrupting the behaviour of species that depend on thick winter ice, such as narwhals, seals, belugas and polar bears.(theguardian)…[+]

France’s ‘gilets jaunes’ leave Macron feeling decidedly off-colour


Anti-government protesters who barricaded roads and fuel depots across France this week are to stage fresh demonstrations in Paris on Saturday, as Emmanuel Macron struggles to quell a national mood of defiance.

The gilets jaunes (yellow vests) citizens’ movement – named after the protesters’ fluorescent, high-visibility vests – has caught the French president off-guard. The movement has no leader and its ad-hoc barricades at tollbooths, roundabouts and fuel depots have been organised on social media. The movement, which began as a protest against rising fuel taxes, has grown into a wider outpouring over inequality, a political class seen as cut off from reality and the pro-business Macron’s persistently negative image as a “president of the rich”.

A poll for Le Figaro on Friday showed 77% of French people felt the planned protests across Paris were legitimate, suggesting even those who were not guarding roadblocks day and night in provincial towns, villages and suburban areas identified with the feeling of disconnect from the governing class. Marie, 31, a childminder in the Var region of southern France, has been protesting all week at a tollbooth “People are exasperated, there is so much anger – taxes are going up, our salaries aren’t. When you work hard, it feels unfair,” she said.(theguardian)…[+]

Baby survives to see first birthday after shot in the head


In May this year when six-month-old Javier Wilson was shot in the head by callous gunmen, his parents were distraught by the experience. However, they remained optimistic that he would survive. Today, they are most ecstatic as Javier is celebrating his first birthday.

“Sometimes in life we wait to see water get turn into wine, and not look at the simple miracle that happen in our lives on a day-to-day basis,” the boy’s father, Javar Wilson, reasoned on Sunday when the Jamaica Observer visited their home in Kingston.

“He is a blessing. Each time I look at him I look at what God is able to do; so whenever I buck up on any situation that seems big, that seems strong, that seems like it is going to overpower me, I can just look at Javier to say that God is still a good God, that He did it already, and He will do it again,” Wilson said.(Jamaica Observer)…[+]

Russian rapper Husky faces jail over gig on car roof


A popular Russian rapper is facing two weeks in jail having been accused of organising an unlawful gathering for performing on top of a car after prosecutors banned his gig.

Husky, whose songs mock authorities and police brutality, has a wide following among young Russians. The 25-year-old’s videos score up to 6m views on YouTube. The rapper was due to perform in the southern city of Krasnodar when local prosecutors warned the venue that his act had elements of what they called extremism. In recent years Russian authorities have used a vaguely worded law on extremism to pursue Kremlin critics and dissenters.

Wednesday’s gig in Krasnodar was moved to another club, where the power was shut off, and Husky’s fans poured outside. Videos posted online showed the rapper, whose real name is Dmitry Kuznetsov, reading his verses on top of a car as fans chanted in unison. He was then detained.

Husky’s lawyer, Alexander Avanesyan, said his client faces up to 15 days in prison for organising an unauthorised gathering and disobeying police orders. The court hearing on his possible detention started on Thursday afternoon.

Husky’s black-and-white videos mock a political regime that expects tacit compliance from citizens. A new wave of Russian rap musicians is widely credited for channelling young Russians’ frustration with the political system and lack of economic prospects. Authorities in other Russian regions have also moved to banned Husky’s gigs.(theguardian)…[+]