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The Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is an annual event celebrated on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago is the most significant event on the islands' cultural and tourism calendar, with numerous cultural events leading up to the street parade on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. It is said that if the islanders are not celebrating it, then they are preparing for it, while reminiscing about the past year's festival. The heart of the musical celebration has been calypso. In recently times, soca has replaced calypso as the most celebrated type of music. Costumes, stick fighting and limbo competitions are also important components of the festival.
Spain and England at different times both claimed Trinidad as their colonies. Under British rule, the French settled in Trinidad, bringing with them their slaves, customs, and culture. By 1797, 14,000 French settlers came to live in Trinidad, consisting of about 2,000 whites and 12,000 slaves. Most of the native peoples (often called the Amerindians) who were the first people to live in Trinidad, died from forced labour and illness.
Carnival was introduced to Trinidad around 1785, as the French settlers began to arrive. The tradition caught on quickly, and fancy balls were held where the wealthy planters put on masks, wigs, and beautiful dresses and danced long into the night. The use of masks had special meaning for the slaves, because for many African peoples, masking is widely used in their rituals for the dead. Obviously banned from the masked balls of the French, the slaves would hold their own little carnivals in their backyards -- using their own rituals and folklore, but also imitating their masters' behaviour at the masked balls.
For African people, carnival became a way to express their power as individuals, as well as their rich cultural traditions. After 1838 (when slavery was abolished), the freed Africans began to host their own carnival celebrations in the streets that grew more and more elaborate, and soon became more popular than the balls.
Today, carnival in Trinidad is like a mirror that reflects the faces the many immigrants who have come to this island nation from Europe, Africa, India, and China. African, Asian, and American Indian influences have been particularly strong.
Carnival arts offers a dynamic tool for self-expression and exploration, a tool to seek out our roots, a tool to develop new forms of looking at the world and its cultures, and finally, a tool to unite the world, to discover what we all have in common, and to celebrate what makes us different.
The annual cultural and food festival "AGRIFEST" will be held on the island of St Croix from February 18 to 20. The festival will feature music, culture, food, crafts and fun activities. The Agriculture and Food Fair attracts over 25.000 visitors every year and is the largest festival of its kind in the Caribbean region. The highlight of the ceremony is the 'Farmer of the Year Award'. Other activities include Junior and Senior Calypso Shows, Donkey cart rides, and horse rides.
The Agriculture and Food Fair is a showcase for locally produced agricultural products, livestock, arts and crafts and native cuisine. Fair-goers will be able to sample foods such as kallaloo, maufe, tarts, and candies and local drinks like ginger beer, sorrel, passion fruit and maubi.
Celebrating its 41st year, Agrifest will also feature a performance from artiste Sekhu. Dignitaries from all over the Caribbean will be on hand for Saturday's opening ceremonies. and agricultural participants will be coming in from St. Kitts, Nevis, Antigua, Guyana, Grenada, St. Lucia, and other ports of call.
Agrifest is one of the best family activities that in St. Croix and itt lends itself for the community to come together and mingle with friends they haven't seen in awhile and just enjoy the culture.
Capacity building, best-practice sharing and job creating opportunities are addressed with CARICOM leaders during two-day mission to Haiti
In meeting with the President of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Mr. Desire Delano Bouterse and the Bureau of Heads of Government during CARICOM's two-day mission to Haiti, Haiti's Minister of the Interior, Thierry Mayard-Paul stressed that Haiti is charting a new course for sustainable economic development.
"We are focusing our efforts on investment and job creation, particularly in Haiti's heartland," he said, articulating the Martelly administration's new vision for Haiti. "We understand that the key to driving sustainable development in Haiti is to map it throughout our entire nation and then drive it through local initiatives and decentralized cooperation."
CARICOM leaders are in Haiti to forge stronger ties and closer cooperation between the 14 member states while exploring ways to strengthen Haiti's participation in the organization. Under discussion is the adoption of French as an official and working language for the organization.
After thanking CARICOM members for their ongoing support of Haiti since the 2010 earthquake, Mayard-Paul emphasized that his nation is progressing in its recovery efforts, saying, "President Martelly's new vision for Haiti is to build a socially just, economically free, and politically independent nation that does not end with reconstruction but rather, begins with renovation. This is aligned with the administration's vision for decentralization and job creation through investment."
Stressing the fact that Haiti offers an energetic and willing workforce, Mayard-Paul said, "It is clear that what Haitians want and need is jobs that will restore their dignity. We are therefore looking forward to working in close collaboration with our CARICOM neighbors to promote opportunities that reflect our communities' most pressing priorities - jobs. We also seek to share those best practices that are yielding results for other member nations."
The Minister pointed to collaboration in Civil Protection activities, such as disaster preparedness and relief. "All of our nations are in geographic locations that make us vulnerable to the variances of nature," he said. "Therefore, we welcome best-practice sharing focused on institutional capacity building for preparedness and response, and equipment that will allow us to react more quickly and effectively."
In encouraging investments from CARICOM nations, the Minister highlighted the myriad of investment opportunities waiting in Haiti's heartland, especially in social infrastructure initiatives that enable communities to generate jobs and sustainable development. "With so many great opportunities in agriculture, tourism, infrastructure development and other sectors, we would be looking to CARICOM to help steer investments and contributions in these areas," he said.
"Additionally, as part of CSME [Single Market Economy of the Caribbean], we should be looking at standards that will facilitate the export of Haitian products to our Caribbean neighbors."
The Haitian minister asked for closer collaboration on cultural exchange activities and cited the possibility of establishing a Caribbean Youth Parliament or Organization that seeks to build lasting relationships among the future leaders of the Caribbean. "Caribbean universities could also embark on region-wide research related to the environment, the economy and social integration. The idea is that future leaders have a common understanding and culture that will facilitate a common market," he said.
Overall, the Ministry of the Interior identified 40 key projects pertaining to meeting the needs of Haiti's population outside the capital of Port-au-Prince, telling CARICOM representatives, "We would welcome the opportunity to present and discuss them with you. Our brother nations of CARICOM have been of great support to us since the earthquake and we are grateful".
Jamaican man has been remanded by a judge in Trinidad and Tobago on drug trafficking charges. The accused, who has been identified as Junior Reid, was arrested at the Piarco International Airport on Saturday. He was denied bail after facing an Arima Court on Monday. Mr. Reid was not called upon to plead when he appeared before Magistrate Adrian Darmanie on charges of drug possession for the purpose of trafficking. He was remanded because criminal tracing was not available at the time of his court appearance. Mr. Reid, who was arrested while preparing to board a flight bound for Kingston, is to return to court on December 12.
Chairman and founder of Digicel, Denis O'Brien. Unigestion Holding, a subsidiary of the Digicel Group, has inked a deal with Mariott Hotels & Resorts to construct a 173-room hotel in Port-au-Prince by the summer of 2014. The deal was made possible through the efforts of former U.S. President Bill Clinton who brought the two sides together. Chairman and founder of Digicel, Denis O'Brien, says the deal is a sign of confidence in the outlook for Haiti and is a huge step towards attracting more long-term investment into the country. The Digicel Group is responsible for designing and building the hotel. The new establishment will create much needed lodging and meeting space for business travelers seeking to invest in the country, non-government organizations, humanitarian groups, reconstruction teams, financial institutions and visitors to the capital.
MIAMI, CMC - United States authorities say that millions of dollars, tucked away by senior citizens for their retirement, are now ending up in the pockets of Jamaican crime syndicates. "It is a plague," said US Postal Inspector Bladismir Rojo, adding "when word-of-mouth spreads of free money, there is no way to put it out". Rojo told reporters that lottery frauds, based in Jamaica, have exploded in popularity, with estimates that as much as US$300 million will be bilked from US residents, largely the elderly, this year alone. He said proceeds from the alleged swindles are used to buy guns, drugs and flashy cars in Jamaica, with gang members sometimes fighting and dying over the illicit cash. Rojo said during this month alone, he received separate complaints involving senior citizens in Fort Lauderdale and Aventura, who each lost more than US$50,000 to Jamaican-based lottery scams. Authorities say victims of the frauds have lost homes, maxed out their credit cards and sometimes become targets of physical threats. While there are variations of the scam, the essence is always the same. Victims are informed they have won prizes or money, but to claim their winnings, they need to wire money to cover fees or taxes, Rojo said. He said once victims send money, the telemarketers press them to send more. In extreme cases, authorities say, victims have ended up losing more than US$500,000. Rojo said the telemarketers often disguise their phone numbers to make it look like they are calling from somewhere in the United States. He said sometimes the fraudsters ask for the money to be wired directly to Jamaica, while, at other times, they use middlemen in the United States, or they persuade other victims to act as intermediaries. Complaints regarding Jamaica-based scams have more than doubled in each of the last four years, skyrocketing from 1,867 in 2007 to 21,342 in 2010, according to the US Federal Trade Commission. Law enforcement officials fear the reported complaints may represent only a fraction of the true number of victims. The US immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency said it unveiled a task force in May 2009 with the Jamaican Constabulary Force, the nation's police agency, to combat the scams. Project JOLT (Jamaican Operations Linked to Telemarketing) was modeled after a similar effort established more than a decade ago to curb telemarketing fraud from Canada. Carmen Pino, ICE assistant special agent in charge for South Florida, said, in the last three years, US and Jamaican authorities have launched 389 investigations, arrested 111 people in Jamaica and the United States, and seized US$1.13 million in assets. In addition, she said US$251,000 has been returned to US victims. Pino said, in September, US and Jamaican authorities raided 12 locations and arrested 14 people in Montego Bay, the alleged hotbed for the lottery fraud in Jamaica. She also said four Jamaican men living in Pennsylvania were arrested last month, accused of convincing a Kansas man to give them US$25,000 to secure his winnings in the "Mega Million Lottery." Pino said a Deerfield Beach, South Florida man was arrested on November 19 outside his apartment as he waited for a package containing US$9,000 in cash sent by an 88-year-old Kansas man who had been told he had won a US$1 million sweepstakes. The US Postal Inspection Service said Trevor Charles Dolphy, 23, admitted that he was collecting the money for a friend nicknamed "Evil" from Montego Bay. Law enforcement officials say there is a simple rule to remember when it comes to phone calls or mailings involving lotteries. "If someone tells you that you have won a bunch of money, and they need you to pay any money for any reason, it's a fraud," said C. Steven Baker, director of the US Federal Trade Commission's Midwest Region. Baker said nearly 40 per cent of reported victims of lottery scams last year were over the age of 70.
Hedonism II promises a December to remember this Christmas with something for one and all, over the age of eighteen that is. The 2011 Men of Dream competition promises to be a buffet of unrestrained treats showcasing a combination of awesome talent, magnetic charming personalities and characters as solid as a rock. In short, a variety of men with one aim, to sweep all woman off their feet. The twelve hot hunks will compete in a week-long series of contests that will culminate on Saturday December 10 when a winner will be chosen. Sectional competitions will run throughout the week and scores for events such as the sports challenge, the magic hands massage contest and the provocative pillow talk test will go towards final night totals. The guys are mostly from across the United States and Canada but this year there are two entrants from Australia. One American entrant is a US Air Force veteran and a licensed pilot. Jamaica has three entrants competing as well, Apolo, Kenroy Larman and Andre Brown from Kingston and Romeo Mitchell from Portmore, St. Catherine. The Friday before will see the staging of the international baby got back top model event to follow a week of erotic model shoots for the WET Calendar series and fashion showcase with the twelve sexy got ass girls wearing the new bikini line from Miss Pam Rodriguez of Los Angeles called pure Rodri swimwear. To top off the already 24 hot sexy guys and gals will be an additional 12 of the most gorgeous live body canvases eyes have ever behold for the Hedonism exotic body art exhibition body painting week with the Jamaican Me Crazy Bikini team. This includes nightly presentations of the girls body-painted by some of the world's most famous body painters to the resorts theme of that evening. At Hedonism II no two nights are the same hence there is a different theme night Monday through Sunday such as Naughty School Reunion, Pirates, Fetish, Rock Star, Mask Parade to list a few. Hedonism 11 is an adult all-inclusive playground for pleasure that nourishes the body, the mind, the spirit and the soul.
The number of cholera cases in the Haitian capital has reportedly jumped about threefold in recent weeks.
Pascale Zintzen, the deputy head of mission for Doctors Without Borders, says the group's four treatment centers in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area have handled as many as 850 cases in a single week lately.
That compares with about 250 cases a week more than a month ago.
The rise has largely been attributed to the second rainy season of the year, when showers and floods cause the waterborne disease to spread freely in the crowded and unsanitary capital.
Health care workers for Doctors Without Borders treated as many as4 thousand 600 patients in one week at its treatment centers in the Port-au-Prince area and about half that number in late May, when the year's first rainy season kicked in.
Despite the jump in cases, the weekly number is said to be far below what foreign aid groups saw in the initial peak last November after the disease surfaced a year ago.
NASSAU, The Bahamas, Oct. 4, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Distinguished experts, public officials, and HIV community members will come together at the 2011 Caribbean HIV Conference (November 18-21) to focus on HIV in the Caribbean, where adult HIV prevalence is higher than in any region in the world outside of Sub-Saharan Africa (UNAIDS 2010 Global Report).
Individuals from across the Caribbean are invited to attend this free conference to hear directly from authorities on the medical, social, and socio-political factors influencing the HIV epidemic in this region. Featured speakers and session moderators will include, among others:
The Honorable Hubert A. Ingraham, Prime Minister of The Bahamas
The Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams, Prime Minister of St. Maarten
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, United States
Dr. Jean William Pape, Weill Cornell Medical College, Les Centres GHESKIO, Haiti
Dr. J. Peter Figueroa, The University of the West Indies at Mona, Jamaica
Dr. Ernest Massiah, Caribbean Regional Support Team, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, Trinidad and Tobago
Dr. Farley Cleghorn, Futures Group, United States
Ms. Geeta Sethi, United Nations Population Fund, Jamaica
This event is the third Caribbean HIV conference in the past decade, and it is designed to build on successes of the previous events, which demonstrated that regional cooperation and collaboration are key to confronting HIV in the Caribbean. The multidisciplinary forum is designed to support local interests and education and is open to anyone who would like to attend.
"The conference provides a unique opportunity for attendees with diverse perspectives and backgrounds to share, learn, and network," said Conference Co-Chair Daisy M. Gely, Professor, Medical Sciences Campus, University of Puerto Rico. "It provides a venue in which to examine the many factors influencing HIV in the Caribbean in order to move forward collectively in our effort to prevent the spread of HIV, mitigate its impact in the region, and improve our overall response."
The conference will be conducted in both English and Spanish. To view the full conference program, visit http://www.
2011CaribbeanHIVConference.; to register, visit https://www. org/agenda 2011caribbeanhivconference.. org/Registration
Hurricane Irene is forecast to become a lethal Category 4 storm with winds of 135 mph.
Hurricane Irene has been hammering the Bahamas as it moves towards the United States on a projected track to hug the east coast.
The first hurricane of the Atlantic season is a Category 3 storm with winds of 185 kilmoetres or 115 miles per hour and is expected to strengthen.
Irene, which is set to pass over the Bahamas archipelago during the course of the day Thursday, August 25, has caused damage but so far no casualties have been reported.
Irene is located 130 kilometres or 80 miles east south-east of Nassau and is expected to strengthen to a Category 4 hurricane as it heads towards the US east coast this weekend.
The US National Hurricane Centre has warned of an extremely dangerous storm surge.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister Trinidad and Tobago.
Trinidadian Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has declared a limited State of Emergency in hot spots across the country.
At a 15 minute news briefing at her Phillipine home at 8:00 p.m, she said the documents to effect the state of emergency -- a proclamation and regulations -- were already on their way to President George Maxwell Richards to be signed.
Mrs. Persad Bissessar said the decision was made "after much deliberation with the National Security Council and members of the Cabinet" in response to the "spate of murders over the past few days".
The State of Emergency will cover parts of the the capital Port of Spain, other areas in Trinidad and even Tobago.
Police patrols were increased in the Arima district following the brutal slaying of four men at a parlour in Jonestown, Mausica Lands, Arima, on Thursday night.
Between Saturday and Sunday seven more persons were killed in separate incidents across the country.
On Sunday, Opposition Leader, Dr Keith Rowley, called for talks between Government and Opposition to deal with the problem of gun violence.
Dr. Rowley said the apparent random shooting and mass killing of innocent bystanders in a public place (on Thursday) pointed to an alarming and terrifying escalation in the local violent crime situation.
A transgender woman and a gay man married Saturday on the 85th birthday of Fidel Castro in a wedding described as the first of its kind for Cuba.
Reuters reports on the civil ceremony in Havana for Ignacio Estrada, a 31-year-old gay rights activist and dissident, and Wendy Iriepa, 37. Their union is not classified as a same-sex marriage, which is illegal in Cuba, because Iriepa underwent gender-reassignment surgery in 2007 in the first such operation sanctioned by the state.
"But the wedding, held on Fidel Castro's 85th birthday in what the couple had called a 'gift' to the former leader, was aimed at advancing homosexual rights in Cuba and tinged with politics as some of Cuba's best-known dissidents participated and U.S. diplomats attended in a public show of support," reports Reuters.
LGBT people once faced official discrimination in Cuba and were labeled as "counterrevolutionary," but last year, Castro recognized the injustice of the persecution. His niece, Mariela Castro, heads the National Sex Education Center, or Cenesex, which promotes gender reassignment surgery. Iriepa used to work at the center, but Mariela, the daughter of current Cuban President Raúl Castro, did not attend the ceremony on Saturday.
Several Jamaicans, who were arrested in Barbados last week on drug smuggling charges, have been sentenced.
The eight Jamaicans pleaded guilty to multiple charges when they appeared in court in Barbados on Wednesday, August 10.
They were charged with trafficking, importation, illegal possession of and intent to sell ganja.
According to the Royal Barbados Police, the Jamaicans were among 10 persons charged in relation to the incident.
All the accused pleaded guilty except for 28 year old Barbadian, Romel Smith, who is to return to court on October 31.
The Jamaicans were given sentences ranging from two to three years in prison.
X-rays were used to confirm the suspicion after which the suspects passed the packets of ganja at hospital.
The Barbados police say another person who arrived on the flight and a suspect who arrived on Sunday are still at a medical facility.
The Jamaicans are Lemard Martin, 21, of Lot 9, Ambrook Lane in Kingston, who passed 125 packages weighing 1½ pounds of ganja; Sheldon G. Christie, 26, of Orange Hill Post Office in Brown's Town, St Ann, who passed 52 packages weighing two pounds of ganja.
Also sentenced were Hector Donald White, 46, of 7 Birdsucker Lane in Kingston, who passed 52 packages, weighing one pounds; Nicardo Odane Gordon, 22, of Aboukir Fullerton Park, St Ann.
He passed 82 packages, weight two pounds; Deshawn George Campbell, 25, of #15 Bromley Avenue in Kingston, who expelled 215 packages of ganja weighing two pounds and 36-year old Casavia Walker of Lot 11, August Town Road in Kingston, who passed 82 packages.
Rounding out the list is Christopher Garrett, 33, of Woodlands in Red Hills in St. Andrew who expelled 12 packages of ganja weighing one pound
United States prosecutors have asked the court to throw the book at former Olint boss David Smith when he is sentenced on Thursday.
Lawyers representing Smith, the mastermind behind the Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of more than US$220 million, had written to the court pleading for leniency at the sentencing.
But in a response, the prosecutors asked the court to impose a sentence reflecting the seriousness of the charges and to have the sentences on all 23 run consecutively, so that Smith will remain in prison for a long time.
In March, Smith entered a guilty plea to 23 counts of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and money laundering. Last week, his lawyer, Oliver Smith, filed a motion in court seeking a "reasonable sentence" for the convicted money trader.
With Smith facing maximum jail time of 20 years on each count, the attorney urged the court to sentence him below the advisory guidelines.
But the prosecutors argued that if Smith was sentenced to only 20 years, the court would fail to respect the nature and seriousness of the crime, and would also fail to offer adequate deterrence to criminal conduct.
The prosecutors further argued that a 20-year sentence would show a disparity to persons who were found guilty of similar offences.
The prosecutors also filed a motion for the court to allow the state to seize property and cash totalling US$128 million from Smith.
The prosecutors identified a property in Florida purchased by Smith for US$159,881 and three accounts holding more than US$5 million, which they want to seize immediately while the search continues for any other asset he might own.