Rural Development and Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein has ordered an investigation into suspected building approval corruption at the Chaguanas Borough Corporation. This was confirmed via astatement by the Ministry on Wednesday. According to the release, this follows the recent shooting incident at the home of Councillor Vandana Mohit, which she has called a reprisal for her questioning delays in the building approval process for certain burgesses in her electoral district. Mohit submitted documents to the Minister, alluding to improper practices at the building department at the corporation. Minister Hosein met with Councillor Mohit on Wednesday andsubmitted the documents to the Permanent Secretary for a thorough investigation into the matter in the presence of the Assistant Commissioner of Municipal Police. The Minister said, “every allegation of corruption is taken seriously by the Ministry and we are going to ensure that we resolve this. Councillor Mohit has come forward to bring attention to this matter and has not backed down despite her traumatic experience, which is currently being investigated by the TTPS. The Ministry can address this matter at an administrative level and we will do the necessary to uncover the truth of these allegations, for the benefit of the people of the Borough and all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.” Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on Google Play Store: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on the App Store:

Police are investigating a shooting incident which occurred at MovieTowne, Port of Spain on Wednesday evening. Accordingto initial reports, a man was shot in the leg nearPriceSmart's carpark. He sought refuge by running to the back of the complex, stopping near the Royal Princess Members Club. Individuals at the casino offered him assistance and he was subsequently taken for medical attention. The identity of the victim remains unknown at this time. Look out for updates once more information becomes available. Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on Google Play Store: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on the App Store:

In this April 10, 2008, file photo puppeteer Caroll Spinney is interviewed during a break from taping an episode of "Sesame Street" in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

The puppeteer who has played Big Bird on "Sesame Street" is retiring after nearly 50 years on the show. Caroll Spinneyannounced in a statementWednesday that he's handing over Big Bird and his other character, Oscar the Grouch, to younger performers. The 84-year-old joined "Sesame Street" at its inception in 1969. Spinney says he didn't feel like his work was important until Big Bird helped him find his purpose. Spinney says the physical requirements of performing the characters had become difficult and he developed problems with his balance. He stopped doing the puppeteering for Big Bird in 2015 and now only provides the voices for him and Oscar. His apprentice, Matt Vogel, will succeed him in the Big Bird role. Vogel also plays Kermit the Frog.

Etienne Charles receiving his Sunshine Award from John Arnold. Photos by Adrien H Tillman

Jazz trumpeter Etienne Charles has been honoured for his dedication and commitment to the Performing Arts. Charles received the honour at the Sunshine Awards in New York onSunday, October 13 The black-tie Gala was held at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark, New Jersey and featured performances by the Mighty Sparrow, Crazy, Keet Styla(formerly Designer), Signal Hill Alumni Choir, Lenox Picou, Dr. Whitty and the Mighty Chalkdust all accompanied by Charles Dougherty and the Circle of Friends Band. The event was hosted by the dynamic duo of Nikki Crosby and Errol Fabien. "Thanks to the Sunshine Awards for their generosity and supportive recognition of my work. I'm humbled to receive this award for the Performing Arts at the 30th edition of this ceremony. Kudos to Gil Figaro, Dr Hollis Liverpool and the organising team for the vision to keep this tradition going and growing,” Charles said. Charles has been known for incorporating the cultural traditions of his native Trinidad and Tobago into his work. This is evident in his critically acclaimed concert - Carnival - the Sound of a People which debuted in T&T in 2017. Charles will soon embark on a concert tour, featuring all original compositions inspired by and employing the varied sounds of Trinidad & Tobago’s carnival traditions in support of the release of Carnival: The Sound of a People Vol. 1 album, scheduled for a November release in Canada and February release in the USA. The North American Premiere will take place Friday 16th November at Toronto Centre for the Arts. The in-depth research for this compositional suite included Charles travelling home to Trinidad and Tobago to record and interview numerous Carnival practitioners while on a Guggenheim Fellowship. Charles has been enjoying a busy and stellar year. This October, Charles begins travelling the world as part of the SFJAZZ Collective, an all-star ensemble comprising eight of the finest performer/composers at work in jazz today. The octet comprises Miguel Zenon (alto saxophone), David Sanchez (tenor saxophone, percussion), Robin Eubanks (trombone), Warren Wolf (vibraphone), Ed Simon (piano), Matt Brewer (bass), Obed Calvaire (drums) and Charles (trumpet, percussion). The SFJAZZ Collective’s mission each year is to perform fresh arrangements of works by a modern master and newly commissioned pieces by each Collective member. Over their 13-year existence, the Collective has honoured artists including John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Michael Jackson, and others. For the 2018-2019 season, the SFJAZZ Collective premieres innovative new arrangements of the work of pioneering Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim and freshly minted compositions by the band, in performances marking the debut of two new Collective members, Charles and bassist Matt Brewer. In June, Charles was awarded a French American Jazz Exchange Grant from the FACE (French American Cultural Exchange) Foundation and Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. The grant will enable Charles to develop a new collaborative project with world-renowned French Cellist Vincent Ségal, Venezuelan cuatro virtuoso Jorge Glem and Israeli bass phenom Or Bareket. The project will premiere in February 2019. In April, Charles premiered Gullah Roots, an hour-long composition celebrating the fascinating cultural connections of the Gullah of South Carolina and Georgia. The piece was commissioned by the Savannah Music Festival. In July and August 2018, Charles performed a concert residency at Jazz at Lincoln Centre Shanghai with his group Creole Soul featuring special guest vocalist Melanie Charles and in July Charles was selected as a member of the inaugural faculty for Carnegie Hall NYO (National Youth Orchestra) Jazz, an all-star ensemble made up of USA’s brightest young jazz musicians. Come Carnival 2019, Charles will return to the road playing vintage soca with D’Longtime Band presented by Etienne & Friends Brass Mas. Music for D’longtime band will be provided by Etienne & Friends featuring David Rudder, Leston Paul, Lima Calbio, Roger George, Keet Styla, Dean Williams, Tony Paul as well as Pelham Goddard and Roots, Dil-e-Nadan and Phase II.

MichelleHart is an eight-year breast cancer survivor who has afirst-hand understanding that implementing wellness practices into one's daily routine is just as vital as early detection. She aims to share this knowledge by hosting her first health and wellness event. LoveU2Live:An Interactive Day of Health and Wellnesswill be held this Saturday from 12PM to 5PM at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad. The event will be centredand themed around six pillars: rest, nurture, nourish, grow, know, and move. The event will be co-hosted by Tobias Ottley of 'D Body Architect, who will offerfitness training for individual and group sessions via a mobile unit. Feature speakers include Dr. Safeeya Mohammed,Lymphedema Specialist and US Board Certified Massage TherapistKarie-Ann de Gannes;ActionCOACH and Speaker Indira Couch;DPP (Diabetes Prevention) Lifestyle CoachAnica Sanoir, among others. [image_gallery] The day will include topics and activities including “Human Sexuality after Diagnosis and Treatment of Illness”; Mindfulness including Yoga, Meditation, Acupuncture, and other integrative health modalities to address aspects of healing that conventional medicine may overlook; nutrition and meal planning, exercise in spite oflimitations due to surgery or ailments and the importance of massages to overall health and wellness. Although it's being held duringBreast Cancer Awareness Month, Hart says thatitisn't limited toonly cancer survivors. The programme targets men and women who want to live a healthier lifestyle and will includeawareness of other non-communicable lifestyle diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure, lupus, etc. She also explained that the event is meant to be highly interactive, allowing guests to engage with feature speakers, something Hart says sets her event apart and should make more of an impact. "You can get information from online, but its great to have someone who has first-hand experience," she said. Information booths will be also be specifically tailored to guests’ needs. "We want to beyond just simply giving out pamphlets and call cards and askpeople to call us back later," she added. "What we want to do with LoveU2Live is push the mindset of you have to love and take care of yourself before you can give to others. "I want guests to know that they’re coming to meet with a circle and tribe that can take them to another level, people who can help them set and meet their goalsfor a healthier lifestyle," said Hart. "Most people usually set their fitness goals between December and Januaryfor the new year to lose weight or eat healthier and they don’t realize that it’s an everyday struggle, whether you have diabetes, lupus, high blood pressure, what have you. So this is meant to be a stop-gap in October to say 'hey, where do I go from here, how do I get started?'There is a lot of help out there, this event just brings everything and everyone together in one place at one time." Tickets are on sale for $350 onIsland eTickets, at Wrap Works on Ariapita Avenue, Port of Spain, or you can call 689-0182. FollowLoveU2Liveon Facebook for updates. Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on Google Play Store: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on the App Store:

The introduction and departure of Uber has helped to usher in a wave of local rideshare apps, allowing the travelling public to enjoy several options and convenience as they traverse across Trinidad and Tobago. Travee is the latest rideshare app on the market and is upping the ante in how we travel, both on the road and even in the sky. The app, which went live on Sunday, was created by a small team of university graduates, Daryll Grant (Chief Technology Officer), Emeka Farrier (Deputy Chief Technology Officer) and Makesi Peters, CEO and former UWI Guild President. Peters spoke with Loop following the app's launch, saying that the advent of Uber allowed for more flexibility and ground to be explored when it came to ridesharing in Trinidad and Tobago. “When Uber left, we came together to create an app that we feltshould be at an international standard because we felt like ridesharing wasn’t fully explored in Trinidad and Tobago,” said Peters said. Stating that the app has similar features to Uber and TT RideShare, Travee users can book rides, check the availability of drivers, track their drivers in real time as well as share their trip with friends and loved ones where they can monitor their journey. Users can also customise their preferences such as selecting whether they want a male or female driver, and createlists with their favourite or preferred drivers. The app even allows customers to select whichtype of vehicle they want to ride in with a range from sedan, luxury (BMW, Benz, etc.), SUV, 7-seater, and even maxi options. Users can also “top up” their loved one's accounts if they are on a trip and don’t have sufficient funds. It'salso available for businesses; corporate clients can create an account with Travee and utilise its services for its staff. “With the features that we have, even Lyft has reached out to us and said that they were impressed and interested with us as we move up the Caribbean islands,” Peters said. “We plan to launch in St. Lucia next month, then Barbados and then straight up the islands; the app is positioned to become the ridesharing app of the Caribbean.” And he doesn’t only mean for on the road. Pretty soon, users will be able to take advantage of Travee Sky, touted as the ‘rideshare experience of the sky’. With Travee Sky, users can request a private flight to Tobago, Grenada and St. Lucia. “If the air bridge is not available, if there are no flights available with Caribbean Airlines, users can request--in real time--a private flight to Tobago, Grenada or St. Lucia." This service, he said, is expected to roll out within the next month. “We have a team managed by Travee Sky who coordinates everything and ensures that everything is in accordance with our operating agreement with Piarco International Airport. Because we’re dealing with aviation, it will take a longer time to roll out. It’s already integrated, we already have multiple planes, we have our pilots, we just want to ensure everything is running smoothly before we introduce to the general public," he stated. The team has plans to expand the service to islands such as Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Suriname, and St. Skitts. "Ridesharing is something that can revolutionize the Caribbean and it’s the reason why we’re not limiting this to just Trinidad. We really want to take this up the islands. As former Guild President,I was able to use my network and bring people together to create something that is really unique." Download Travee for Android and iOS and follow them on Facebook for updates. Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on Google Play Store: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on the App Store:

AMCHAM T&T President Patricia Ghany speaks at the chamber's Annual Post Budget Forum on October 3, 2018. Photo via Facebook, The American Chamber of Commerce Trinidad and Tobago.

“Government is not sticking to the paradigm of prudence and discipline, but instead reverting to previous patterns of unnecessary spending.” That’s the assessment of the American Chamber of Commerce Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) following the presentation of the 2019 National Budget on Monday. Speaking at the chamber’s Post Budget Forum on Wednesday, President Patricia Ghany said while the Minister of Finance sought to reduce spending with sharp cuts in public expenditure, Government seems to be slipping back into a pattern of spending. Ghany warned against this return to spending, adding that this could undo the progress made by Government in reducing public expenditure. “This government came into office following a sharp decline in revenue and had limited options. Indeed, the Minister of finance made some sharp cuts in public expenditure as he sought to rein in spending.” “This year though, there seems to be a policy shift back toward increasing spending as revenue increases, despite the fact that this will lead to a projected additional 4B in deficit in a scenario where the overall national debt has been climbing.” Despite AMCHAM T&T’s concerns on the country’s debt management, Government received an A+ owing to detailed reporting on targets set by individual ministries. The Government’s efforts in reducing the fuel subsidy, the announcement of diversification products, moves toward efficient tax administration and its modernised crime-fighting policies were also praised. In welcoming these measures, Ghany expressed hopefulness that these can be implemented in a timely and efficient manner. Government also came in for high praise for taking action on dealing with the issues at Petrotrin, namely in its decision to shut down the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery. Ghany said while the chamber was heartened that moves are afoot to deal with the challenges at the state-owned oil Company head on, there is a need to focus on how the company got to this position. The AMCHAM T&T President said people need to be held accountable for the current state of Petrotrin and the plan going forward must be clearly articulated and transparently rolled out. Pledging the business chamber’s willingness to work alongside Government, Ghany said T&T collectively must look at creating and sticking to the plans and policies and that will create sustainable prosperity for all. Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on Google Play Store: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on the App Store:

The 2018/2019 national budget was presented by Finance Minister Colm Imbert who stated that a total of $51.776 billion will be allocatedfor the year ahead. Major highlights from the presentation included an increaseof super gasoline from $3.97 per litre to $4.97 per litre; anew housing bond scheme for the construction of houses and the age eligibility on disabilitygrants is being removed to accommodate children below 18, among other items. Loopwent to downtown Port of Spain, where we asked citizens to share their thoughts on the budget. Their reactions were mixed, with some unsatisfied with the increase in fuel, citing that the increase would directly impact on the poor, while others were generally pleased. We noted with interest, however, that the majority of people we approached were not aware of anything that came out of the budget. A few told us that they had no interest, while one woman who had an apathetic approach, admittedthat she avoided taking note of what came out of the presentation because she was generally fed up. How do you think the 2019budget will affect you? Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on Google Play Store: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on the App Store: