The cost of the Trinidad and Tobago Express newspaper has increased by one dollar. The Express issued a notice to readers on Wednesday, a day after the Newsday announced its price increase. Both...

The four men who were charged under the Anti-Gang Acthave all plead not guilty to the allegations made against them. The four men, Renaldo Gomez, 31, Kevon Mc Intyre, 26, Kenson Williams, 32, all of Jitman Drive, Five Rivers, Arouca and Avinash Suchit, 19 of Back Street, Cane Farm, Arouca, are jointly charged with the offence of gang membership. The accused are the first group of individuals to be charged under the new Anti-Gang legislation, which was passed in May 2018. Gomez faced additional charges of being a gang leader, encouraging gang membership, retaliatory action, counselling a gang and preventing a gang member from leaving a gang. They all appeared before Senior Magistrate Joanne Connor in the Arima Magistrates’ First Court. They were all represented by defence attorney Seana Baboolal. After submissions were made to the courts, Williams and McIntyre were each granted bail in the sum of $85,000. Gomez and Suchit were both remanded into custody, however, they were both reminded of their rights to appeal to a judge in chambers on this decision. The four are expected to return to court on December 11. Three of the men were arrested two Fridays ago and the fourth last Wednesday. Their arrests follow three weeks of intensive investigations by officers of the Organised Crime and Intelligence Unit (OCIU) and Northern Division (ND), after they received information of gang activity in the Jitman Drive District. Advice was sought from the Director of Public Prosecutions, Roger Gaspard SC, throughout the investigations, which then led to the four being charged on Monday by officers of the OCIU. The investigation was supervised by Snr. Supt. Michael Daniel of ND and Snr. Supt. Lloyd Mc Alpin of OCIU. 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:

Two peopleare currently in police custody after they were held during a police exercise on Tuesday night, with a loaded firearm and a quantity of narcotics. One man, aged 30, was held after he was allegedly found in possession of two packets of marijuana, and seven grammes of cocaine. The other suspect was held after a 9mm firearm, loaded with six rounds of ammunition, was allegedly found in his possession. The exercise was supervised by Snr Sup Sagramsingh, and assisted by Superintendent Phillip, ASP Andrews, Inspector Beard, Sgt Guelo, Cpl Lavia, along with other members of the North Eastern Division Task Force. The two are expected to be questioned before being brought before a Port of Spain Magistrate to answer for the allegations of possession of a dangerous drug for the purposes of trafficking, and possession of a firearm and possession of ammunition. 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 Monday, Jan. 29, 2018 file photo, comic book legend Stan Lee, left, creator of the "Black Panther" superhero, poses with Chadwick Boseman, star of the new "Black Panther" film, at the premiere at The Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

Stan Lee was a seminal part of Miya Crummell's childhood. As a young, black girl and self-professed pop culture geek, she saw Lee was ahead of his time. "At the time, he wrote 'Black Panther' when segregation was still heavy," said the 27-year-old New Yorker who is a graphic designer and independent comic book artist. "It was kind of unheard of to have a black lead character, let alone a title character and not just a secondary sidekick kind of thing." Crummell spent much of the '90s engrossed in Marvel Comics. And she felt so indebted to Lee that she waited in line to meet him at a 2012 convention. "I had a chance to tell him he was my hero," she said. "He influenced my whole career path and I got to thank him for that." Lee, the master and creator behind Marvel's biggest superheroes,diedat age 95 on Monday. As fans celebrate his contributions to the pop culture canon, some have also revisited how Lee felt that with his comic books came great responsibility. The Marvel wizard used his pen to conquer such real-world foes as racism and xenophobia. Since the 1960s, Lee advocated for tolerance through the only platform he had: the comic book pages. It was on those pages that he wrote "Stan's Soapbox" columns preaching against bigotry and that he introduced characters of color. While Marvel's representation of minorities in comics hasn't been without its stereotyping hiccups, there's no denying Lee broadened the image of the quintessential superhero. Under Lee's leadership, Marvel Comics introduced a generation of comic book readers to an African prince who rules a mythical and technologically advanced kingdom, a black ex-con whose brown skin repels bullets and the X-Men, a group of heroes whose superpowers are as different as their cultural backgrounds. The works and ideas of Lee and the artists behind T'Challa, the Black Panther; Luke Cage, Hero for Hire; and Professor Xavier's band of merry mutants — groundbreaking during the 1960s and 1970s — have become a cultural force breaking down barriers to inclusion. Lee had his fingers in all that Marvel produced, but some of the characters and plot lines "came from the artists being inspired by what was happening in the '60s," said freelance writer Alex Simmons. Still, there was some pushback by white comics distributors when it came to black heroes and characters. Some bundles of Marvel Comics were sent back because some distributors weren't prepared for the Black Panther and the phenomenal super African kingdom of Wakanda developed by artist and co-creator Jack Kirby. "Stan had to take those risks," Simmons said. "There was a liberation movement, and I think Marvel became the voice of the people, tied into that rebellious energy and rode with it." In 1968, a tumultuous year in the nation that saw the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Lee wrote one of his most vocal "Soapbox" essays calling bigotry and racism "the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today." "But, unlike a team of costumed super-villains, they can't be halted with a punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun," Lee wrote. "The only way to destroy them is to expose them — to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are." Marvel's characters always were at the forefront of how to deal with racial and other forms of discrimination, according to Mikhail Lyubansky, who teaches psychology of race and ethnicity at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. "The original X-Men were less about race and more about cultural differences," Lyubansky said. "Black Panther and some of the (Marvel) films took the mantle and ran with the racial issue in ways I think Stan didn't intend. But they were a great vehicle for it." Some of the efforts to break out minority characters haven't aged well. Marvel characters like the Fu Manchu-esque villain The Mandarin and the Native American athletic hero Wyatt Wingfoot were considered groundbreaking in the '60s and '70s, but may seem dated and too stereotypical when viewed through a 21st-century lens. "It's interesting. Stan Lee kind of takes the credit and the blame, depending on the character," said William Foster III, who helped establish the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention and is an English professor at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury, Connecticut. Foster, who started reading Marvel Comics in the 1960s, said one reason they appealed to him was because they started including people of color in the background. "Stan Lee had the attitude of 'We're in New York City. How can we possibly not have black people in New York City?'" Foster said. Blacks began taking on the roles of heroes and villains. Foster said some characters may have been seen as "tokenism" but that's sometimes where progress has to start. In 10 years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe films have netted more than $17.6 billion in worldwide grosses. The "Black Panther" movie pulled in more than $200 million in its debut weekend earlier this year. "I had a lot of white friends growing up," said freelance writer Simmons, who is black. "We watched 'Batman' and we also watched 'The Mod Squad.' My personal belief is that if you put the material out in front of folks and they connect with it, they are going to connect with it." For many fans and consumers, it's about the product not the skin color or sexual orientation of the character, he added. Crummell, the comic book artist, said she thinks representation for minorities and women in comic books is improving. "I think now, they're seeing that everybody reads comics. It's not a specific group now," Crummell said. "It's not just African-American people — it's women, it's Asians, Hispanic characters now. I would credit Stan Lee with kind of breaking the barrier for that."

Bajan soca queen Alison Hinds was among the performers at the 2018 Pure Grenada Music Festival.

After a bumper year in 2018, the Pure Grenada Music Festival has been cancelled for 2019. Dieter Burkhalter, Chairman of the Pure Grenada Music Festival, announced the cancellation of the Festival in October. He cited thefinancial burden of staging the festival and urged more private and public support to bring the event back. The event was due to be held in May. "The PGMF team enjoyed and appreciated the amazing responses from organizers, volunteers and patrons alike to PGMF 2016, 2017 and 2018 and were excited about the possibilities for PGMF 2019. However, the Pure Grenada Music Festival has been a great financial responsibility and expense that Mr. Burkhalter has undertaken for the past three years, although he’s been happy to do what he can to ensure the success of this event. "This he states has been his commitment to ensure the success of an event he has always truly believed in, inclusive of the many opportunities that it could bring to the people of Grenada, he would be unable to shoulder the financial risk a fourth time. An event like this one can only be sustainable with a collaboration between the private and public sectors," a statement on the Festival's site said. The statement said Burkhalterand his team have been putting forward a great effort to overcome these obstacles, but with just seven months left before the next scheduled festival, he must make the difficult, but necessary, decision to cancel next year’s event. The three-day PGMF was started three years ago with a mandateto create viable avenues for artistic expression and development of musicians in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.Over100Grenadian musicians, band members includedwere provided with the coveted opportunity to make their mark in the music industry. The event also included workshops designed to enhance the skills of Grenadian artists. In 2018, the committee reported increased ticket sales as well as visitors to the island for the event.

Michelle Obama began her 12-stop book tour Tuesday by sitting with Oprah Winfrey before an audience at the home arena of the Chicago Bulls, speaking on everything from piano lessons and washing socks to crying on a plane the day her family moved out of the White House and President Donald Trump moved in. The crowd of 14,000 roared as the former first lady stepped onto a stage at the sold-out United Center event, which felt part talk show, part political rally and part rock concert, complete with $35 Michele Obama T-shirts emblazoned with her face and the title of her just-released memoir, "Becoming." Family pictures of Barack Obama and their children flashed on a screen over her shoulder as she spoke. During the more than 90-minute conversation under Bulls' NBA championship banners in Obama's home city, she never directly criticised Trump. Crying on the plane leaving Washington on Inauguration Day 2017, she explained, had nothing to do with Trump. "When I got on the plane, I sobbed for 30 minutes," she said. "I think it was just the release of eight years trying to do everything perfectly." Obama turned to her husband, who had just become a former president. "I said to Barack, 'That was so hard, what we just did. That was so hard." She said she didn't mention that episode in her book. She didn't criticise Trump directly at the event despite direct criticism of him in her book. She writes in "Becoming" that Trump's "loud and reckless innuendos" about her husband's birth certificate stirred people up and put "my family's safety at risk." And for this," she adds, "I'd never forgive him." Trump responded last week, saying Michelle Obama "got paid a lot of money" to write that book and they always expect a little controversy." The current president said that he'd never forgive his predecessor for making the country "very unsafe." When Winfrey, who selected "Becoming" for her influentialbook club, introduced Obama she referred to the divisive political climate, also without directly naming Trump. "So many people are feeling uneasy... afraid of the impending darkness," Winfrey told the audience. "But you all being here tonight is a testament to the light." "Becoming" describes Obama's upbringing on Chicago's South Side and her transition to college at Princeton University. As she does in her book, she recounted Tuesday being raised in a family that struggled economically — but with parents who encouraged her to be successful. When she was a child, she said her dad would complain to her mother that she wasn't teaching her children how to wash socks, because he had had so few socks growing up that he had to wash them and dry them on a radiator himself. "My mom said, 'I'm not teaching them how to wash their socks. I'm going to teach them to go to college, so they can buy a washing machine,'" Obama said Tuesday. She also talked about learning how to play the piano on a rickety one and her surprise at seeing her first piano that was in good condition. "You mean there are perfect pianos out there?" she recalled thinking. "I didn't even know about it." The memoir, officially released Tuesday, is already a best-seller. It topped's best-seller list throughout the weekend. The tour that started in Chicago moves on to Los Angles, Washington, Detroit, Paris and London, and other U.S. cities. It ends next month in New York City. Tens of thousands of people purchased tickets to Obama's United Center appearance — paying from just under $30 to hundreds or even thousands of dollars for VIP packages. No tickets are available online for some stops. Although some fans have complained about the high cost, 10 percent of tickets costs are being donated to local charities, schools,and community groups.

Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell (right), Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley (left)

Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell is working to make Trinidad and Tobago a “must-visit” destination for major cruise lines. Minister Mitchell attended the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Conference and Trade Show held in Puerto Rico from November 5 to 9, 2018. There, he engaged indiscussions with executives of all the major cruise lines. Over 100cruise executives were in attendance along with more than 30high-ranking regional government officials. Attendees included Barbados Prime MinisterMia Mottley and St Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet. Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossellóand several regional Tourism Ministers were also present. Minister Mitchell said, “The cruise sector is one in which ship itineraries are often booked long in advance, so attending conferences like these and understanding what the decision-makers value is essential not just for short-term gains but to lay the groundwork for sustainable, consistent growth in arrivals.” He also held discussions with the regional leadersin attendance. The cruise industry is the fastest growing segment of the worldwide leisure travel market, experiencing an average passenger growth rate of seven percent per annum since 1980. The cruise industry, according to the latest study launched at the event, indicates that over the period January to October 2018, Trinidad and Tobago experienced growth in cruise arrivals of 145.3 percent compared to the same period in 2017. A total of 91,889 passengers visited Trinidad and Tobago in 2018, an increase of 54,432passengers over the 2017 period. Minister Mitchell added that he was“pleased to note that this growth included notable increases in arrivals at both islands.” The Port of Port of Spain has received two cruise calls thus far this season and an additional 23are scheduled by April 2019. 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: