"The People's National Movement National Women's League mourns the passing of former Government Minister Donna Carter-Hunt. Mrs.Carter-Hunt passed away peacefully at her home in La Guacima, Costa Rica. Mrs. Carter-Hunt was a long standing member of the PNM for many years holding various positions and contested the St. Joseph seat for the PNM. She held the portfolio of Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with the responsibility for Ecclesiastical Affairs in the Patrick Manning administration. She was also a PNM Government Senator, and her profession was as a teacher. She last served Trinidad and Tobago as High Commissioner to the Republic of South Africa. She was also an active member of the Women's League. The Funeral Mass takes place at Jardines del Recuerdo, Heredia Costa Rica at 12.30 pm on , Wednesday 3rd January 2018. She will be cremated and her ashes will be brought to Trinidad for burial. 1945 - 2018 rest in peace."
Madame Justice Paula-Mae Weekes is the country’s first female President.
Weekes was named as the Government’s presidential nominee at a press conference by Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young, following a brief meeting with Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, to discuss the nominations for the election of a new President. Approval was given today by Mrs. Bissessar.
A recent biodiversity meeting in St Kitts and Nevis © Nancy Arroyo/IUCN
The Caribbean is a biodiversity hotspot. It has over 11,000 plant species, about 72 of which are found only in this region. Its diverse animal species include many exotic fish and birds.
The world benefits from this biodiversity, so when these species are exploited for commercial use – for example in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals – source countries need to be compensated.
The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization came into effect in 2014 under the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Protocol creates greater legal certainty and transparency for both providers and users of genetic resources. Read more about it here
Source: KRIS SOOKDEO Trinidad and Tobago Newsday
If you have been very observant over the last couple of weeks you may have noticed an interesting and noteworthy natural occurrence. All over the country, during the occasional breaks in the otherwise persistent rains, you may have seen what at first appears to be large black butterflies flying about. If you took the time to look a bit closer and you might have even realised that it is quite an attractive “butterfly” and perhaps you wondered why you never noticed them before. But these are not butterflies and their presence all over is not an everyday occurrence.
It would surprise many readers to know that these stunning creatures are actually moths. It is the day-flying moth Urania leilus, known locally as the white-tailed page or white-tailed urania. “But moths are ugly little brown things that come out at night” –you might be thinking. While there are many drab brown moths, there are also many stunningly beautiful ones. And some, like our subject today, are only active during the day.
The white-tailed page is predominantly dark black, but it is marked by extraordinary green metallic bands that glitter in the sunlight. Each wing also bears a single white tail that is quite obvious as it flies by. Movement itself is relatively slow and the moths just seem to drift about wherever the wind might be taking them. Occasionally they will alight to feed on the nectar of small flowers.
The white-tailed page inhabits forested areas, and appears to be particularly common in south and central Trinidad. Incidentally, the word “page” (pronounced “pah-shge”) was historically used locally to refer to any large lepidopteran. Like many lepidopterans, its distribution is intimately linked to its food plant. All “bush” is not the same in the eyes of these insects and the caterpillars of butterflies and moths often feed exclusively on plants belonging to a certain family. In the case of the white-tailed page, their caterpillars are only known to feed upon plants of the genus Omphalea of which there are four species in TT. Perhaps the most well-known species is the Hunterman’s Nut, Omphalea diandra (so named because if a hunter consumes the seed he/she will allegedly gain the stamina to run down any agouti. Conversely, if the agouti eats the seed, then the hunter might as well go home).
So why does it seem that these forest-dwelling moths are suddenly all over the country? This is because Urania leilus populations are prone to periodic mass movements. Over the years, several observers including the late Victor Quesnel, have documented similar movements, and from this a pattern emerges that suggests these events take place every three to four years. These movements have all been documented within TT but it is possible that our moths also cross the Gulf of Paria to Venezuela
Why then does this happen? Unfortunately, there is no conclusive answer for this riddle.
Overcrowding is one possible cause and there are several documented cases of eruptions and subsequent mass movement of different species of lepidoptera from across the globe. In many of these cases, there would have been an environmental event which triggered above-average growth of certain plant species or reduced predator pressure. As a result, a large number of eggs are laid and/or caterpillars survive to adulthood. As the requirements of the adults now exceed the capacity of the immediate area, they are inclined to move to new areas.
At least one study in another part of the moth’s range has provided another possible explanation. Surprisingly, it suggests that the mass movements may be driven a chemical response in the Omphalea plants on which the caterpillars feed.
As you might imagine, the Omphalea vines are under constant siege by marauding Urania caterpillars. But the Omphalea have a countermeasure at their disposal –they are able to react to grazing by producing toxins that can discourage or even kill caterpillars. The plants, however, only initiate this response after three or four consecutive years of being attacked. Thus, it would seem that the Urania moth population of a given area is forced to emigrate every three or four years in order to locate “fresh” Omphalea on which to lay their eggs, resulting on the mass movements that we observe. Whether this is the main reason or just a contributing factor for the emigrations is yet to be determined.
Obviously further observation and study is needed to determine the reason for these Urania movements in TT.
Regardless of the cause, the periodic mass movements of the white-tailed page are a joy to behold and provide a good opportunity for both naturalists and non-naturalists alike to observe this species outside of their typical forest homes. They are good reminders of just how complex our natural ecosystems can be, with the existence of one species depending on another. This is precisely why it is so important to preserve our natural environment – losing even a little can have unexpected and unwanted consequences.
For more info on our natural environment contact the Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists’ Club at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.ttfnc.org and Facebook or YouTube pages.
Come Sunday night, Trinidad and Tobago will be put on the world stage yet again, this time in BBC’s documentary series Blue Planet II.
The Blue Planet series explores the world’s oceans and the life that exists within them.
In a Facebook post, the BBC released a clip from this coming Sunday night’s episode showing renowned broadcaster Sir David Attenborough along the beach in Grand Riviere, one of the ”densest leatherback turtle nesting beaches in the world.”
Attenborough profiles the challenges faced by the leatherback turtle, particularly due to hunting. He introduces Len Peters, a local who, despite growing up in a community where eating turtle meat was considered normal, began working in the area to educate the younger generation around the importance of conservation of the endangered creature.
You also see snippets of Peters’ educational and conservation work as the Chairman of the Grande Riviere Nature Tour Guide Association.
The episode description says, “In the Caribbean, a community is reversing the fortune of giant leatherback turtles. Their numbers have dropped dramatically, by up to 90 percent in some parts of the world, but here, volunteers are risking their lives to get turtle poachers to put down their weapons and instead protect the beach where these magnificent creatures nest. Through these valiant efforts, theirs is now one of the densest leatherback nesting beaches in the world.”
This episode, titled “Our Blue Planet” is the seventh in the series.
Source: The Loop, December 9, 2017.
Trinidadians have once again found themselves in winner's row for the Queen's Young Leaders Award.
Two men, Benedict Bryan and Jean-Claude Cournand, are among the regional winners in what will be the last Queen's Young Leaders Award.
Cournand is the founder of the Two Cents Movement. The team includes 12 young people and 10 poets and has led workshops and performances at more than 70 secondary schools and 30 primary schools.
According to a bio on the Queen's Young Leaders site, in 2017, the team’s focus was on gender-based violence, so Cournand partnered with the University of the West Indies Institute for Gender and Development Studies to train poets on the issues before they took their messages into schools.
The group has also hosted two annual national spoken-word events in which 25 secondary and 17 primary schools participated. Each year more than 40,000 young people in Trinidad and Tobago engage with the programme.
Bryan is the founder of the Humanitarian Association of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (HARTT), which focuses on providing humanitarian assistance to refugees. Its programmes have included an initiative which taught refugees English and extra-curricular activities to help them integrate into their new culture.
He also sits on the committee for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in Trinidad and Tobago. Currently, he is working alongside other young people throughout the Caribbean to launch a Youth Peace and Security Think Tank, the aim of which is to promote peace and security for all, especially for those from minority backgrounds.
Past winners of the Award were Teocah Dove, Siddel Ramkissoon and Matthew Batson.
Source: The Loop, Dec. 6, 2017
Dr. Marissa Gowrie, Deputy Environmental Manager/National Ozone Officer of the Environmental Policy and Planning Division of the Ministry of Planning and Development, is one of 15 recipients out of 197 parties in the world to win a Policy and Implementation Leadership Award.
A statement from the Ministry noted that The Ozone Awards recognises extraordinary contributions from governments, party delegates, groups or individuals who work tirelessly in the development and implementation of the Montreal Protocol. These individuals, groups and organizations also exemplify the power of cooperation on large and small scales to accomplish goals and produce tangible change. Dr. Gowrie, the sole winner from Trinidad and Tobago, has demonstrated over 10 years of dedication contributing to the phasing out of ozone-depleting substances in Trinidad and Tobago.
The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago acceded to the Vienna Convention and its Montreal Protocol in August 1989, the first to do so in the Caribbean region. In this regard, T&T is obligated to implement all phase-out requirements under the Protocol and Dr. Gowrie, through her work in the Ministry, has been recognized as a world leader in this regard.
The Vienna Convention, which was adopted in 1985 establishes a framework for measures to protect human health and the environment against adverse effects resulting from modification to the ozone layer. In 1987, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer established a mechanism and deadlines for the controlled phase-out of the global production and use of ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) such as the refrigerant HCFCs, the fumigant methyl bromide and the fire suppressant halon, among others.
The Montreal Protocol is a very dynamic agreement and most notably in October 2016, there was a landmark amendment to include yet another refrigerant gas onto the Protocol, known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). This amendment known as the Kigali Amendment, to which Trinidad and Tobago is also a signatory, will phase down this potent greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change. Source The Loop News
There is a photo online, in the sea of billions of photos, where a few dozen white men, stand or sit, some with smiles, some serious, with a few darker faces sprinkled in between.
It’s a photo of the leadership team of a New York plumbers’ union, the Staten Island Plumbers’ Local 371 and among the four brown faces is one smiling woman, Judaline Cassidy, a pint-sized T&T national who has been making waves since she left these shores more than 25 years ago.
Cassidy, an immigrant in the United State who lived in Trinidad up the age of 19, has spent her life hearing the word “no” and responding with a resolute “yes.”
The first black woman to be allowed entry into the Plumbers’ Union, and one of the few women, in general, to make it to a leadership position in the body, Cassidy embodies the success story that forms part of the American dream.
But Cassidy’s dreams began at Covigne Road, Diego Martin, in T&T. She grew up with her grandmother, recalling that her mother didn’t want the responsibility of a child and she didn’t know her father.
“I didn’t have a lot of self-esteem, not growing up with my mother and not knowing my father, that little girl who was timid and did not want to be alive,” Cassidy recalled.
As a teenager, she dreamed of being a lawyer, but when her grandmother died, taking away her only source of financial support as a teenager, Cassidy adjusted her plans.
At the time, the government had introduced a plan for free access to education for tradespeople, with classes taking place at the John Donaldson Technical Institute in Port-of-Spain. Cassidy applied and went to the interview with the board.
“They took a look at me. I’m less than five feet now, so I could have been shorter then and I was 110 pounds so they questioned me on whether I could even lift the tools. I told them I wanted to learn a craft because I had no way of paying for university and I really liked fixing stuff.
“I ended up getting into the plumbing course, one of three girls in a school full of men.”
She recalled dressing for school in Diego Martin and leaving home with no money hoping to get a drop to the capital by a kind driver. Sometimes she walked.
“I was motivated to be better than my circumstances.”
At 19, after completing the first year of a two-year course, Cassidy got married and at the insistence of her husband moved to New York, where for the first few months she did jobs as a baby-sitter, house-keeper or nanny, the type of work typically available to immigrants at the time.
She talked about her studies to be a plumber and her dreams with family, friends, and neighbours. It was a neighbour, who was part of a pro-black employment coalition at the time, who got her the first plumbing job in the city.
“The coalition went to a job site and told the owners they had a plumber. They didn’t tell them it was a woman. I showed up at the construction site in my jeep. I looked really tall in the jeep because of how high the seats were. I got out of the jeep and they started snickering. They said there was no way this woman was the plumber,” she recalled.
She said the supervisor told her to leave but she had no intention of walking away. She returned the next day and the day after that.
At first, she would be sent for coffee, although she was just as skilled and in many cases more skilled than her male counterparts.
“All the guys were green, they didn’t know anything about construction or any particular trade. You are considered green when you don’t know anything. But I had training. They would send me for stuff like an elbow, a cast iron and I could bring it back. Some of the men didn’t have a clue.
“I kept showing up and I think the consistency of always showing up, when it was freezing or when it was hot, I went to work still, that consistency changed the way a lot of the men started treating me. I was meticulous about my job. I really loved plumbing and I was really good at it.”
After a year of working on that construction site as a non-union worker, the company decided to hire some of the workers. Cassidy was one of the plumbers hired. After a year, the company sent the workers to be unionised, Cassidy included.
“I was the only woman and when I went to the office they said go do the dishes, get out of here. I didn’t cry there but I cried in my truck. I went home then I sucked it up and went back to work. One of the guys who I was working with took me under his wing and said he would get me into the union.”
For Cassidy, being a unionised plumber meant better salaries, medical and dental insurance and a change in lifestyle for her family. It was something she really wanted.
“It gives you a sense of security. Unions create the middle class. Without the unions there would be no middle class,” she told the Sunday Guardian.
“A black woman in America, we get 65 cents to the dollar for what a man gets but not in construction and not in the union. As a plumber, I get equal play. I was the first black woman to join the union a year later.”
She added: “The same person who laughed in my face and told me to go do dishes became my biggest advocate. He would always tell people that girl was one of the best plumbers we had.” Today, Cassidy is the only woman officer in the union’s leadership team.
“When I started I would be the only woman on the construction site and no one would talk to me. Now it’s the best feeling to be on a job and you aren’t the only one. I’ve been in jobs with other female plumbers like apprentices and helpers. I’ve been able to teach other women the craft as apprentices.”
Cassidy also recently started a non-profit organisation called Tools and Tiara’s (T&T for short) and teaches young women trade work.
“I was trying to do this a long time. God was pushing me to do it. If you give a woman tools and a tiara you give her confidence,” she said.
“I’m a girly girl. A lot of people have an image of construction women as being manly. I wear construction boots on a site and love to dress up when I go out.
“I do monthly workshops where we teach women plumbing, electrical and carpentry. We have a strong team who volunteers their services to teach women and girls the craft.
“I think women should learn a trade. I started feeling empowered. I felt like I could do anything. I know without a shadow of a doubt I am a very good plumber. My life changed when I started owning my own power and walking on the job like I belong.The minute I got tools in my hand I felt empowered.” Source: Trinidad Guardian
Calypsonian Black Sage serenades a tourist at the launch of the T&T Cruise Season
Seventy-one cruise ships are expected to visit Trinidad and Tobago this cruise ship season.
Speaking at the call of the first cruise ship, the Caribbean Princess, on Sunday, Tourism Minister Shamfa Cudjoe said T&T was originally scheduled to receive 47 calls, 23 calls with a passenger count of 60,958 persons in Trinidad, and 24 calls with a passenger count of 75,451 persons in Tobago.
The additional calls for the 2017/2018 cruise season come as a result of the recent hurricanes which left some islands ruined. There will now be 23 additional calls to Tobago (from Seabourne Cruise Lines, Carnival UK, TUI Cruises, Fred Olsen Cruises and Thomson Cruises) and one additional call to Trinidad from the Fred Olsen Cruises.
The cruise industry is still the fastest-growing segment of the worldwide leisure travel market; experiencing an average passenger growth rate of seven percent per annum since 1980.
For the period January to June 2017, Caribbean cruise arrivals stood at 15.3 million, a 4.0 percent increase on the corresponding period of 2016. This represented the largest number of cruise passengers in the region at this time of year.
While the recent natural disasters have put a damper on this year’s cruise season, the Caribbean region, including T&T, are committed to keeping business within the region and promoting the viability of a strong Caribbean Brand.
The Ministry of Tourism treated the cruise passengers to a little taste of T&T with a fun and vibrant cultural welcome and departure. The 3,756 passengers on board, also got a taste of fruit wines, chocolate, traditional cocoa tea and other culinary delights from the Lopinot Tourism Association as well as a taste of doubles and fresh coconut water.
The Ministry of Tourism will be providing cultural entertainment throughout the season from the moment our international guests arrive.
The Craft and Shopping Market within the Port-of-Spain Cruise Complex is also showcasing the artwork of our local small entrepreneurs. Over 20 trained and highly experienced visitor guides will be strategically positioned on the streets of the capital city and on Brian Lara Promenade to offer guidance and assistance to cruise passengers who opt to explore the sites and attractions within the Port of Spain area.
There will also be translator services for passengers as some 38 percent of arrivals for 2017 are French-speaking passengers, as well as free Wi-Fi services at the Cruise Ship Hall. The Ministry of Tourism is also working with the tour operators to upgrade the variety of on-shore activities and tours available for cruise passengers. Source: The Loop
T&T news blog
The intent of this blog is to bring some news from home and other fun items. If you enjoy what you read, please leave us a comment..