Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the responses of National Security Minister Stuart Young and Police Commissioner Gary Griffith, both ofwhom did not answer phone calls prior to the initial publication of this article. An island off Trinidad and Tobago has been named as the secret location for a prostitution and drug-filledparty hosted by a company called Sex Island. This was revealed by an article published in the New York Post on Monday. The event is said to be a four-day, three-night "sex-travaganza" set to begin on December 14 and end on December 17. The partycosts US$6,000 per person. However, a Black Friday promotion saw the figure reduced to US$4,500. According to the company website, guests will be treated to unlimited food and alcohol, celebrity performances, unlimited sex (100 women to 50 men and switching girls with other guests is permitted), airport pickup and drop-off, yacht parties, bedrooms with showers, large closets, air conditioning,Wi-Fi, water sports, golfing, and the attendees' drug of choice. The women are said to be from Colombia, Brazil, Puerto Rio and South American countries as well as women from the United States and Canada. According to the report, a representative of Sex Island says the company has gotten permission to host the event from "authorities" in Trinidad and Tobago. However, prostitution and drugs are both illegal in T&T. According to the Sexual Offences Act, a person who procures another for prostitution, whether or not the person procured is already a prostitute, either in Trinidad and Tobago or elsewhere is liable on conviction, to imprisonment for 15 years. As it relates to the Dangerous Drugs Act,a person who commits the offence of trafficking in a dangerous drug or of being in possession of a dangerous drug for the purpose of trafficking is liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine of $100,000 or, where there is evidence of the street value of the dangerous drug, three times the street value of the dangerous drug, whichever is greater, and to imprisonment for a term of 25 years to life. The party is said to be the brainchild of five men, including two New Yorkers and a brothel owner from Colombia, who are in their 30's and 40's. They reportedly host and regularly attend sex parties around the world. Loop TT reached out to Police Commissioner Gary Griffith who assured that no permission was given for this party. He added that the police service will be swift to prevent any event that will breach the laws of Trinidad and Tobago. "If there is any perceived element of any act that can breach the laws of Trinidad and Tobago, the Policewill be prepared to prevent it immediately. As it is at this time, we have absolutely no knowledge of any approval [from the Ministry of National Security] being given for any such activity and I can give you the assurance that no such activity would take place where laws will be infringed on in Trinidad and Tobago." National Security Minister Stuart Young, who responded immediately after seeing this article, says he has ordered an investigation into these claims. He stated that under his watch, no such event will materialise. "I have given instructions to local law enforcement authorities, including the TTPS, and will also give instructions to Immigration that this is NOT to be permitted in Trinidad and Tobago. This is the first I am hearing of this and it will not be tolerated in Trinidad and Tobago by me as Minister of National Security." Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell was contacted and said he nor his Ministry was aware of this event.

Photo courtesy the UWI Seismic Research Centre.

The University of the West Indies (UWI) Seismic Research Centre recorded a 3.8 earthquake on Sunday night, just 104 kilometres east of Martinique and 117 kilometres northeast of St Lucia. According to the UWI Seismic Research Centre, the 'quake was recorded around 6:25 pm Trinidad and Tobago time. Details are as follows: UWI, SRC - Automatic Earthquake Location DATE AND TIME: 2018-12-09 6:25 pm (Local Time) 2018-12-09 22:25 (UTC) MAGNITUDE: 3.8 LOCATION: Latitude: 14.67N Longitude: 60.14W Depth: 10 km NEARBY CITIES: 104 km E of Fort-de-France, Martinique 117 km NE of Castries, Saint Lucia 155 km SE of Roseau, Dominica If you felt this earthquake, please tell us (http://uwiseismic.com/EarthquakeFeedback.aspx) DISCLAIMER: this event has NOT been reviewed by an analyst. It was automatically located by a seismological computational system, therefore, it is a PRELIMINARY result and this may vary when new additional data are processed.

FILE - In this July 17, 2015, file photo, store manager Stephanie Hunt poses for photos with a pack of Marlboro cigarettes, an Altria brand, at a Smoker Friendly shop in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

One of the world's biggest tobacco companies is diving into the cannabis market with a $2.4 billion buy-in. Marlboro maker Altria Group Inc. is taking a 45 percent stake in Cronos Group, the Canadian medical and recreational marijuana provider said Friday. Altria will pay another $1.4 billion for warrants that if exercised, would give the Altria a 55 percent ownership stake in the Toronto company. That would mean Altria's investment would be in the same league as the $4 billion spent earlier this year by Constellation Brands to acquire shares of Canopy Growth Corp., another Canadian pot producer. The August investment by Constellation, which makes Corona and other beverages, was the largest to date by a major U.S. corporation in the cannabis market. Whatever hesitation larger corporations in the U.S. had about entering the cannabis market appears to be fading if there is a financial justification. Altria's huge investment lit up shares of cannabis companies that have begun to set up shop in Canada, where recreational use was legalized this year. Shares of Cronos Group Inc. jumped 31 percent and neared an all-time high at the opening bell Friday. Rapid growth in the cannabis market is expected to continue as legalization expands in the U.S. and social norms change. On Tuesday, ultra-conservative Utah became the latest state to legalize marijuana use for medical purposes. Consumers are expected to spend $57 billion per year worldwide on legal cannabis by 2027, according to Arcview Market Research, a cannabis-focused investment firm. In North America, that spending is expected to grow from $9.2 billion in 2017 to $47.3 billion in 2027.

Participants attend a Tech Beach Retreat welcome reception at Iberostar Hotel in Montego Bay, St James on Thursday night. (PHOTOS: Ramon Lindsay)

Technology interests from acrossthe Caribbean are discussing regional prospects for advancement in the industry at Tech Beach Retreat, at the Iberostar Hotel in Montego Bay, St James. The conference kicked off Friday morning, with industry experts giving insights into some of the technology developments across the world. Organisers hosted a welcome reception on the beach at the hotel on Thursday night, with participants getting their first opportunity to mingleand network while enjoying some entertainment. Under the theme, ‘Disruptive Innovation – Exploring The Technological Transformation of Industries’, the organisers are hoping that the various stakeholders will be able to connect, discuss, exchange ideas and start to collaborate and build partnerships to help build the Caribbean region. Hamilton...These kind of dialogues don’t happen regularly in the Caribbean. Among the speakers at Friday night’s welcome reception were Musheer Kamau, Regional Operations Advisor, Strategy And Innovation Leaderof the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB); Ian Durant, Deputy Director Economics Department of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and Jeff Pulver, co-founder of Vonage. Kirk-Anthony Hamilton, co-founder and director of Tech Beach said, "Tech Beach is the only semblance of a global tech eco system in the Caribbean, where we managed to bring together a pretty awesome group of stakeholders from startups to successful entrepreneurs, investors, government, corporate executive etc, into a space. "These kind of dialogues don’t happen regularly in the Caribbean and these organisations have really come and set a firm foundation to bring this to the table and allow the Caribbean to blossom in a whole new way," Hamilton said. His partner, Kyle Maloney, said the two-day event will focus on learning and development. He said that a number of regional entities has partnered with Tech Beach to help develop startups and some of the enterprises around the region. Tech Beach participants pose for our camera at the welcome reception. Maloney said, "theseenterprisesare understanding how they go from zero to really scaling their products and going global." According to Kamau, Tech Beach will help the region gain knowledge and serve as a catalyst for innovation. He said, because knowledge is hard to get, the interactions at Tech Beach creates the perfect environment for regional stakeholders. Meanwhile, Durant said the CDB isenergised by the way that digitalisation is transforming the business landscape and redefining the roles and functions of actors, production, distributions and consumptions. According to Durant, this has the potential to spur positive developmental outcomes such as increasing productivity, enhancing competitiveness and fostering sustainable lending rates. See more photos from Ramon Lindsay in the gallery below. [image_gallery] However, he said, because the region islaggingbehind other areas of the world, the CDB has been assisting in helping to speed up the process of getting theCaribbeanon par. Pulver advised the gathering to listen to themselves as others will provide negative energy for their ideas. He outlined the long process it took for him to gain success, which started from his high school years, when he startedto get involved in startups, which has grown to over 400. For the latest news, download our app athttp://bit.ly/GetALoopJMfor Android; and athttp://bit.ly/GetiLoopJMfor IoS.

The premiere of indie docu-film “Men’s Voice”, screened on International Men’s Day on November 19 exceeded its attendance target. There was standing room only at Regal Cinemas for the15-minute docu-film, produced by local filmmaker Freddie Diaz. Commissioned by the Family Resource Centre to highlight men’s issues on the day of the United Nations observance, the short film was exclusively shot with people from the community. In keeping with this year’s IMD theme “Positive Male Role Models,” Men’s Voice featured a series of one-on-one interviews. The contributors were several recognisable male influencers in the Cayman Islands, and students from a local school-based mentoring programme. Interspersed with global statistics about male societal challenges, the film offered an arresting insight into the types of issues faced by males in Cayman. The contributors also gave relatable evaluations about how some stereotypes work against males. Others spoke about the need to confront the isolation that occurs when persons do not share problems, which sometimes lead to crises such as gang membership, depression, suicidal thoughts and alcoholism. Some talked about the need to be positive role models for their children as a way of trying to break the cycle. “I was very encouraged to see such a large and diverse crowd of men, women and boys in the audience,” said Minister for Health, Dwayne Seymour following the screening. In addressing the audience prior to the screening, the Minister shared some personal experiences which had influenced his belief in the need to encourage more male role models. “As a male and one of the film’s interviewees, it was interesting to hear the views of other men on topics such as living with emotionally distant fathers and the destabilising effects of growing up fatherless. We can all do more to help boys and men surmount the obstacles placed on us by machismo culture and by unrealistic expectations about how men should and should not behave.” The film’s co-producer said that making Men’s Voice had been rewarding. “As a documentary film maker my job isn’t to impose my beliefs on the subjects but rather to draw them out to reflect their individual realities,” said Diaz. “The documentary format allowed males to tackle subjects they might have felt uncomfortable talking about to friends. I think they felt that the lens and just as importantly the producer behind it was non-judgmental and wasn’t looking to score points or to critique them,” he added. According to Department of Counselling Services Director, Judith Seymour, Men’s Voice generated plenty of positive feedback among audience members. “We were delighted with the stellar turnout. The response is something that can definitely be built on,” she said. “This isn’t a men’s film, it’s a people’s one. It’s a call to action, the first step down the long road to ensuring that men and boys feel just as empowered and supported in dealing with issues as women and girls in our community.”

Cayman Islands Crisis Centre (CICC) on Thursdaylaunched a Kids Helpline pilot programme at the CICC’s Walk-in Centre, Estella’s Place. The move comes just a day after it was reported that a man attempted to bury a child alive in Bodden Town. The Kids Helpline will provide children and young adults up to 18 years old with a resource outside of their immediate circle of family and/or friends to contact for support on issues concerning their wellbeing. The helpline is one of the first of its kind in the Caribbean British Overseas Territories and its development was supported by the UK’s National Crime Agency Child Exploitation and Online Protection command (NCA CEOP) as part of a wider programme of support coordinated by the UK Foreign Commonwealth Ofce (FCO) through the Governor’s Office. GovernorMartyn Roper,who was in attendance at the launch, noted that the helpline is an importanttool forthe island's youth population. “I amhonoured to be part of the launch of this service for Cayman’s youth. The UK’s National Crime Agency Child Exploitation and Online Protection command (NCA CEOP) has been working directly with the Crisis Centre for some time to lay the foundations and get the pilot programme up and running,”Roper said. “I am pleased to see all the hard work from all parties coming together to provide this service which will help to safeguard those who may be in a dangerous situation or just need someone to talk to. The Cayman Islands continue to set the standard for others in the region. Congratulations to the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre for this latest initiative," he added. Ania Milanowska, Executive Director of the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, said the new initiative is much needed in Cayman. “The Kids Helpline will be available across all three islands as we will be ofering a free-to-call phone line initially, with plans to expand online” she said. “We are very grateful for the invaluable support we have received from the NCA CEOP to develop this much needed service for our children and youth.” NCA CEOP and Child Helpline International joined hands to develop a Needs Assessment Study (NAS) for the creation and implementation of a child helpline in the Cayman Islands. Sarah Murphy, Senior Ofcer at NCA CEOP has been working with the CICC for the past year under a wider FCO programme of child safeguarding support to the Cayman Islands to train, plan and launch this new service. “We are delighted to have been able to work collaboratively with CICC and our partners to deliver this service for children in Cayman,” Murphy said, explaining that the development of the Kids Helpline is a result of several months’ work in the Cayman Islands as part of a much wider programme of support across partner and public services. “Multi-agency collaboration approaches to protecting children are so important whether at international or local level,” added Murphy “We have worked with our colleagues in Cayman including CICC, Department of Education, RCIPS, 911, DCFS and other not-for-profit organisations.” The Kids Helpline pilot programme will be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 3:00-6:00pm and will be free to call at 649-KIDS (5437). CICC plans to continue to expand the hours of the phone line into 2019.