Patrice Roberts plans to take her concert, Strength of a Woman, on the road. But first,the soca diva will stage her first solo concert inTrinidad and TobagoUnder the Trees at The Normandie Hotel, St. Ann’s, Trinidad on Thursday, February 28, Carnival Thursday. She plans to make it a Carnival staple. {"preview_thumbnail":"/sites/default/files/styles/video_embed_wysiwyg_preview/public/video_thumbnails/sYfZZ-EBTtQ.jpg?itok=VV9uZgKh","video_url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYfZZ-EBTtQ","settings":{"responsive":1,"width":"854","height":"480","autoplay":0},"settings_summary":["Embedded Video (Responsive)."]} After carefully planning with her team, Patrice now feels fully prepared to create a space where she can share her entire catalog of music, past, and present. The concert will also include performances from a number of talented entertainers. To date, Patrice has released her largest catalogue of music directed to Trinidad and Tobago’s 2019 Carnival. Her singles, ‘I like it hot’, ‘This is de place’, ‘Not one thing’, ‘ 10X over’ and ‘Work 4 it’ are some of her contributions that are widely received. She stopped by The Lounge to talk about her upcoming album and her show.

Hilton's Director of Sales and Marketing, Darlene McDonald, left, and Hilton’s General Manager, Olivier Maumaire, right, address the media at a media launch for Hilton Trinidad & Conference Centre's all-inclusive event Lavish

After an 11-year hiatus, Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre is reintroducing an all-inclusive event to its roster. Already the home of other well-known and highly sought after fetes, as well as the distribution base for Bliss Carnival, Hilton is a familiar haunt of many a masquerader and fete-aficionado for Carnival. Now, patrons will have one über luxurious reason to make the pilgrimage to the Hilton when the hotel hosts its own all-inclusive offering, the promisingly titled Lavish on Sunday 24 February. Speaking at a press conference to launch the event, Hilton’s General Manager, Olivier Maumaire promised a unique experience for Lavish patrons. The fete will feature international gourmet cuisine crafted by the hotel’s executive chef, Jose Gutierrez and premium liquor options. Maumaire described it as a ‘culinary journey around the world’ with live cooking stations serving up fresh food throughout the night. Liquor sponsors include Ciroc, Moët& Chandon, Angostura and Hennessy among others, and the event boasts a cognac bar, prosecco bar and cigar lounge in general and the inclusion of a champagne lounge in the VIP section. Lavish will also have performances by some of the hottest artistes in the industry, including Nailah Blackman, Superblue, Nadia Batson and more surprise acts. The flow of the feteitself will give attendees a range of experiences across the venue, with different music, food and vibes based on where you happen to find yourself in the fete. Hilton’s last all-inclusive event, The Extreme, took place in 2008, and Maumaire said the management believed it was time to bring the community together again at the Hilton for Carnival. Maumaire said Carnival is the culture of Trinidad and Tobago so ‘It is only right that we as a company embrace that”. Lavish will begin at 5 pm and end at 12 midnight. General admission will cost $900, while VIP tickets will be sold for $1200. Tickets will be available at a special desk at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre, or by calling 624-3211. Fete patrons will have access to off-site parking facilities and shuttles to and from the event. For those patrons who prefer to remain at the hotel after the event, Maumaire said that special room rates will also be made available to those guests.


A 31-year-old woman is nursing a gunshot injury following a confrontation with a man in Valencia. The incident took place at about 7 pm on Thursday along Tattoo Trace, Valencia. According to reports, the victim was in a car along with another womanand three children - one 8-year-old and two 2-year-olds. The victim was reportedly there to visit the home of her ex-boyfriend to collect her belongings. According to reports, while driving out of the trace, the women saw a man known to them, who pulled out a firearm and began shooting at the vehicle. The victim then felt a burning sensation to her left wrist. She drove to the Valencia police post and was conveyed to the Sangre Grande Hospital. No one else was injured in this incident. Sgt Garcia is continuing inquiries.

Tobago recorded its first murder on Wednesday. This was confirmed after an autopsy conducted on Friday revealed that the victim found in a burned car in Mason Hall, Tobago on Wednesday morning died as a result of gunshot wounds to the head. While DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) samples have been collected to confirm the identity of the deceased, police believe the body belongs to 19-year-old Dwarika Moses of Les Coteaux. Moses’ relatives told police they recognised the vehicle that the body was found in and said that Moses and his car had not been seen since the discovery. An autopsy was performed on Friday at the Scarborough Mortuary by pathologist Dr Easlyn Mc-Donald-Burris. Police believe the vehicle was set on fire to destroy any evidence that his killers may have left behind to link them to the crime. Moses, police said, was a mason, and had no known enemies. The body was found in the rear of a vehicle which was on fire along Belmont Road, Mason Hall, Tobago, around 2 am on Wednesday. Fire officers responded to the scene and human remains were found near the back of the vehicle. As a result of the autopsy, this incident has been recorded as a homicide.


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.

Public schools are not equipped to cater to the needs of children on the autism spectrum. Parents of children on the autism spectrum have been sharing their views on what they say is a lack of inclusiveness in the facilities offered at the nation’s schools following an incident in which a child of school age on the autism spectrum was injured in a four-storey fall at her family’s Maloney apartment. The 11-year-old girl was not enrolled in a school, prompting the Education Minister to question the reason behind her non-enrolment at a school. He expressed confusion as to why she was not attending school as he said there are facilities equipped to accommodate her. Following views shared by the Autism Parents’ Association of Trinidad and Tobago (APATT) that children on the autism spectrum are being denied a right to an education, parents from the group Autism Spirit have shared their take on the accommodations offered at public schools in T&T. Sharing her thoughts with A Very Special Disabilities Forum, parent Michelle Foreman says there are no public schools that accommodate these children and private schools are few and expensive, citing costs of $5000 to $20,000 plus per term. She lamented that in the case of her son, the limited options available would prevent him from being able to write the Secondary Entrance Assessment exam. “I spent countless days, phone calls and visits to the Ministry and was categorically told that there are no options available. When I started researching as to what accommodations Joaquin could access in order to do SEA, I realised that dysgraphia is not recognised and he may or may not be allowed a scribe, but ONLY on the day of the exam. How then can he learn anything in the school environment that the Ministry provides if he is unable to physically write on a daily basis to keep up with the extent of school work?” the frustrated parent questioned. She said she has had to pass up job opportunities because of her commitment to her child, who she has no choice but to homeschool. “We homeschool, not because we want to. But because we don't have a choice… when you're not in the trenches, it's easy to turn a blind eye and then pass judgement and think that life is buttercups and rainbows and there are schools and funding for therapy and all those perks. “Miss me please with the BS!” Another parent, Tracy Hutchinson Wallace, took Education Minister Anthony Garcia to task for his comments, saying that providing accommodation for children on the autism spectrum was more than simply putting a desk and chair in a class. Stressing the need for the appropriate support, services,and accommodations necessary to facilitate successful teaching and learning, Hutchinson Wallace said students are expected to learn and grow to their fullest potential and it requires more than basic infrastructure. “For neurotypicals, this means chairs, tables, writing implements, subject teachers and infrastructure, at a very basic level. For the Autistic community, you absolutely need to add more than this - aides, special classrooms and support rooms for sensory processing overload, specialised pedagogical methodologies, AAC, speech/social pragmatics/occupational etc.” “The Minister seems to think that providing a desk and a chair in a class of 30 kids is enough. It is not, by any stretch of the imagination,” she said. The Ministry recently compiled a draft education policy paper 2017-2022 following rounds of consultation with stakeholders, which has been sent to Cabinet. The new policy pays emphasis on special education. The draft policy focuses on the six key areas of the education system: management and administration, Early Childhood Care and Education, Primary Education, Secondary Education, Technical and Vocational Education and Training, and Higher Education. When contacted, the Ministry said it is in the process of preparing a statement addressing the concerns that public schools cannot accommodate these students and cater to their various needs. Minister Garcia is onrecord as having said more emphasis will be placed on ensuring thatchildren with special needs have access to the kind of education they need.

When it comes to labeling soca on streaming platforms, artists find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. While listing the music under reggae helps them to make more money and chart on Billboard, they run the risk of the music losing its identity in the international market. On Thursday, MusicTT , whose mandate is tostimulate and facilitate the business development and export activity of the music industry in Trinidad and Tobago, issued an advisory to soca artists, authors, publishers, and writers to list their songs as soca and not reggae on international streaming platforms. MusicTT’s argument is that the soca/calypso subcategory under World Music should be supported so that the numbers would encourage streaming sites to see that the genre deserves a standalone category which, in turn, would help to garner a category for the Grammys. [related node_id='07c79b13-afe3-4e66-a152-75959bf9a701'] The issue with the soca/calypso sub-category, argues some, is that it makes it harder for the music to get recognition. “When we go under World we chart with everything else, you get Celtic, Afro, Indian music so the chances of charting are almost impossible. About 40 percent of platforms don’t carry a World category like Beatport, and Juno. Also, Billboard respects Reggae and they respect it as everything from the Caribbean. It is a hard place,” explained one producer, who wanted to remain anonymous. Kasey Phillips, founder, and producer of Precision Productions, agrees. “I can’t justify cutting 40 percent of my bottom line to move it from reggae and then hamper my chances of charting on Billboard and get recognised,” he said. Anson Soverall, producer and manager of Nailah Blackman agrees that it is more lucrative for soca to be listed as reggae at the moment even though he categorises all his music as soca. “Once you put it under World Music you are competing with the whole world, but if you put it under reggae it easier to chart. I had songs that charted number one on the reggae charts. Reggae people have been able to sell to the outside world that soca is from reggae. The outside world assumes it is from reggae. Because soca is the next big genre to buss the world who don’t have a clue about it will think it is reggae and that is a side effect,” he said. Soverall believes, however, that the best way for Soca to have its own categorisation is for the music to win major awards and that means producing quality music in a format that can be consumed by an international audience. “That is the best route, a soca song has to break through,” he said. Using Nailah as an example, he said she has different sounds and has been able to attract a large international market that listens to her. He said all of her YouTube streams to date has crossed over 100 million views. He said on Spotify, she has over two million streams. Last July, Nailah became the first Caribbean artist to stream a premiere exclusively on Tidal. Bunji Garlin, who is signed to VP Records, and has had his albums chart on the Reggae Billboard chart along with his wife Fay Ann Lyons, said in his case, his label loads the music and sets the category. However, he said, perception plays a big role when it comes to how people view World Music. “When people hear World Music everyone thinks about some indigenous music no one ever hears. But the reality is there is a lot of music out there that is way bigger and outselling American music so it comes down to perception. On this side of the world, we know Hip Hop, R&B, Reggae, Dancehall, EDM and on the lower end Reggaeton and Soca.The reason why a lot of soca people place their music under Reggae is because these are the domains people know. We put it in a category that appeals to people. This is where education has to step in,” he said. Garlin believes that the entire Caribbean and the diaspora together make up enough numbers to make a difference for soca but with islands developing their own sounds such as Bashment in Barbados and Bouyon in Dominica, each wants to hold on to and protect their own instead of operating under one umbrella. “That is how the Latin market open so wide with Reggaeton, they all banded together and got a main sound out. In our territory, we don’t want to give the other person the accolade of the main sound cause there are underlying stories too. It is a case of education and this is where Governments are supposed to step in. The problem is in these areas the people we put in charge of arts and culture don’t understand it. They take it for granted that these people could sing and we could put some money on them but it is so much more,” he said


A judge rejected allegations that the shocking video of Laquan McDonald's death proved that Chicago police officers tried to stage a cover-up in the fatal shooting of the black teen. Now another judge must decide how long the officer who pulled the trigger spends behind bars. Jason Van Dyke wasconvictedin October of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery. He will likely go to prison for at least several years, if not decades, when he's sentenced Friday. But critics of the police department and protesters who cheered Van Dyke's conviction are clearly worried after a judge on Thursday acquitted three officers accused of trying to conceal what happened to protect Van Dyke, who was the first Chicago officer found guilty in an on-duty shooting in a half century and probably the first ever in the shooting of an African-American. "We will be down here tomorrow by the hundreds, and we will cry out for justice for Laquan," activist Eric Russell said after the hearing in which Cook County Judge Domenica Stephenson acquitted former officer Joseph Walsh, former detective David March and officer Thomas Gaffney on charges of obstruction of justice, official misconduct and conspiracy. Friday's hearing will be emotional. Van Dyke's wife and young daughters, who pleaded for leniency in letters submitted to the judge, will make statements. Court officials do not know if McDonald's mother, who has remained silent ever since her son's Oct. 20, 2014, death, will speak. The courtroom will be packed with activists worried that Judge Vincent Gaughan will impose a light sentence. Thursday's verdict "means that if you are a police officer you can lie, cheat and steal," said a shaken Rev. Marvin Hunter, McDonald's great uncle. Stephenson accepted the argument that jurors in the Van Dyke case rejected: that the video that sparked protests and a federal investigation of the police force was just one perspective of the events that unfolded on the South Side. The judge said thevideoshowed only one viewpoint of the confrontation between Van Dyke and the teen armed with a small knife. She found no indication the officers tried to hide evidence or made little effort to talk to witnesses. "The evidence shows just the opposite," she said. She singled out how they preserved the graphic video at the heart of the case. Prosecutor Ron Safer tried to put a positive spin on the verdict. "This case was a case where the code of silence was on trial," he said, referring to the long tradition that officers do not report wrongdoing by their colleagues. "The next officer is going to think twice about filing a false police report. Do they want to go through this?" Special prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes said she hoped the verdict would not make officers reluctant to come forward when they see misconduct. Her key witness, Officer Dora Fontaine, described how she had become a pariah in the department and was called a "rat" by fellow officers. In herruling, the judge rejected prosecution arguments that the video demonstrated officers were lying when they described McDonald as moving even after he was shot. "An officer could have reasonably believed an attack was imminent," she said. "It was borne out in the video that McDonald continued to move after he fell to the ground" and refused to relinquish a knife. The video appeared to show the teen collapsing in a heap after the first few shots and moving in large part because bullets kept striking his body for 10 more seconds. The judge said it's not unusual for two witnesses to describe events in starkly different ways. "It does not necessarily mean that one is lying," she said. The judge also noted several times that the "vantage point" of various officers who witnessed the shooting were "completely different." That could explain why their accounts did not sync with what millions of people saw in the video. Both Van Dyke's trial and that of the three other officers hinged on the video, which showed Van Dyke opening fire within seconds of getting out of his police SUV and continuing to shoot the 17-year-old while he was lying on the street. Police were responding to a report of a male who was breaking into trucks and stealing radios on the city's South Side. Prosecutors alleged that Gaffney, March and Walsh, who was Van Dyke's partner, submitted false reports to try to prevent or shape any criminal investigation of the shooting. Among other things, they said the officers falsely claimed that Van Dyke shot McDonald after McDonald aggressively swung the knife at police and that he kept shooting the teen because McDonald was trying to get up still armed with the knife. McDonald had used the knife to puncture a tire on Gaffney's police vehicle, but the video shows that he did not swing it at the officers before Van Dyke shot him and that he appeared to be incapacitated after falling to the ground. Attorneys for the three men used the same strategy that the defense used at Van Dyke's trial by placing all the blame on McDonald. It was McDonald's refusal to drop the knife and other threatening actions that "caused these officers to see what they saw," March's attorney, James McKay, told the court. "This is a case about law and order (and) about Laquan McDonald not following any laws that night." The lawyers ridiculed the decision to charge the three officers, saying they merely wrote what they observed or, in March's case, what the other officers told him they saw. And they said there was no evidence that the officers conspired to get their stories straight. "The state wants you to criminalize police reports," McKay bellowed at one point. City Hall released the video to the public in November 2015 — 13 months after the shooting — and acted only because a judge ordered it to do so. The charges against Van Dyke were not announced until the day of the video's release. The case cost the police superintendent his job and was widely seen as the reason the county's top prosecutor was voted out of office a few months later. It was also thought to be a major factor in Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's decision not to seek a third term. The accusations triggered a federal investigation, resulting in a blistering report that found Chicago officers routinely used excessive force and violated the rights of residents, particularly minorities. The city implemented a new policy that requires video of fatal police shootings to be released within 60 days, accelerated a program to equip all officers with body cameras and adopted other reforms to change the way police shootings are investigated.

FILE - In this Oct. 5, 2016 file photo, Indian spiritual guru who calls himself Dr. Saint Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim Insan, center, greets followers as he arrives for a press conference ahead of the release of his new movie "MSG: The Warrior Lion Heart," in New Delhi, India. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal, File)

An Indian court sentenced a popular and flamboyant spiritual guru and three followers to life in prison on Thursday in the murder 16 years ago of a journalist who published a letter about the guru's alleged sexual exploitation of women. The guru, who calls himself Dr. Saint Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim Insan, received the sentence through a video link from a prison where he is serving a 20-year sentence in a separate case involving the raping of two female followers. Judge Jagdeep Singh convicted the guru and his three followers on murder charges last Friday. The followers were present in the court in the northern Indian town of Panchkula. "This is the triumph of truth, I feel relieved today. The prosecution had demanded capital punishment but we're satisfied with the punishment," the Indian Express newspaper quoted Anshul Chhatrapati, the son of the slain journalist, as saying. The guru is imprisoned in the northern India town of Rohtak after being sentenced last August in the rape case. His conviction sparked violent protests by his followers that left at least 38 people dead and hundreds injured in Panchkula. Before his imprisonment he played himself in biopics and courted powerful politicians. He lived with tens of thousands of his followers on a sprawling 400-hectare (1,000-acre) ashram in Haryana state.