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patrick-manning.jpegFormer Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Patrick Manning passed away Saturday morning after battling with Leukemia.

Manning reportedly passed away at the San Fernando General Hospital in the twin island republic at around 8:15 am. He was 70 years old.

"Former Prime Minister Patrick Augustus Mervyn Manning passed away peacefully at the San Fernando General Hospital after battling Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Former Prime Minister Manning was surrounded by his family and loved ones," said a release on Manning's social media page. "The Manning family would like to thank everyone for their prayers, love and support during this trying time. Funeral arrangements will be announced in due course."

Acute Myeloid Leukemia is a type of blood cancer which starts in the bone marrow.

Patrick Augustus Mervyn Manning, was born in San Fernando on August 17, 1946.

He attended Presentation College and later completed a BSc in Geology from the University of the West Indies, Mona.

He was the fourth and sixth Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago from 17 December 1991 to 9 November 1995 and again from 24 December 2001 to 26 May 2010.

He was also leader of the People's National Movement (PNM) from 1987 to 2010.

A geologist by training, Manning has served as Member of Parliament for the San Fernando East constituency since 1971 and is currently the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives.

He was the Leader of the Opposition from 1986 to 1990 and again from 1995 to 2001.





Reggae Sumfest 2017

port-au-spain-mayor-tim-kee.jpgRaymond Tim Kee, Mayor of Port of Spain, Trinidad, has resigned a week after making controversial comments following the murder of a Japanese pannist who visited the twin-island republic for Carnival.

Kieron Valentine, the man who served as his deputy, will be the new mayor and is to be sworn in soon.

In a statement issued after he tendered his resignation on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Tim Kee said he accepted full responsibility for his comments.

The mayor had been under severe pressure to quit since last Wednesday, when he called on women to maintain their dignity during the festivities and ensure they are not abused.





The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) has placed several states under immediate drought watch or warning for 2016.

CDEMA has expressed immediate drought concerns for these countries, due to below-normal rain during the previous dry and wet seasons. This resulted in a number of countries experiencing water shortages in 2015.

Drought alerts have been issued by the Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology for several countries, up to March 2016.

Drought warnings have been issued for Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, northern Guyana, St. Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago as well as northern Suriname.

A drought watch has been issued for Grenada while there is a drought concern in east and south Haiti.





Haiti's president Martelly leaves office

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haiti-president-departs-martelly.jpgPresident Michel Martelly made his farewell speech to Haiti as he departed office Sunday with no successor yet chosen because a runoff election was delayed for a second time last month amid violent protests and deep suspicions about vote rigging.

In a nearly 20-minute speech before a joint session of Parliament, Martelly said his "biggest regret is that the presidential election was postponed." Addressing the Haitian people, he said he worked as hard as he could to improve the country and was "ready to answer before the court of history."

Martelly, who took office in May 2011, is departing on what was scheduled as the first day of Port-au-Prince's annual three-day Carnival celebration. However, authorities called off Sunday's festivities because of a tense atmosphere amid the political uncertainty.

Lawmakers are beginning a process to patch together a short-term interim government to smooth political divisions and fill the void left by Martelly's departure. Prime Minister Evans Paul remains in office for now, awaiting a provisional president to be chosen by Parliament in the coming days.

Haiti last created a transitional government in 2004. That interim administration, which lasted for two years, took power in the chaotic days after President Jean Bertrand-Aristide was ousted by a rebellion and a U.N. peacekeeping force came to stabilize the country.

This time, with quarrelling political factions throwing Haiti into an electoral and constitutional crisis, a last-minute deal was forged by Martelly and lawmakers less than 24 hours before his scheduled departure from office. A special mission from the 35-nation Organization of American States was in Haiti to observe last week's negotiations and help foster dialogue.

The deal announced Saturday says an interim government will rule until an elected leader can take office May 14. The twice postponed presidential and legislative runoff is rescheduled for April 24.

Martelly expressed satisfaction with the agreement, saying lawmakers "gave me a guarantee that the country is going to be stable."

He handed over his presidential sash after his address and embraced many of the 23 senators and 86 deputies in the National Assembly. The senators wore black suits and hats while the deputies wore white. Seven legislators were absent.

Senate President Jocelerme Privert said Parliament will accept nominations for a provisional president over the next five days. Legislators are expected to vote for a leader of the caretaker government a couple of days after the nomination period ends.

Some opposition lawmakers disagree with the accord reached by Martelly and legislators, but Privert said they will have to accept the majority's decision. "This is the democratic way," he said.

In a Sunday statement, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Haitian authorities to implement the accord "in order to ensure the democratic transfer of power to elected officials."

About 100 government supporters gathered outside Parliament wearing pink T-shirts emblazoned with the words: "I am Martelly." Pink is the color of his Tet Kale political faction. Martelly greeted his supporters and waved from a car before his convoy sped off.

It was not immediately clear what his immediate plans were. The pop star-turned-president repeatedly said he wanted to depart office singing on a Carnival float under his pop singer stage name, "Sweet Micky." But another anti-government protest by rock-throwing young men disrupted life in downtown Port-au-Prince on Sunday and some Carnival stands were destroyed.





GUYANA: One case of Zika virus reported

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zika-virus.jpgDr. George Norton, Minister of Public Health, on Thursday told the National Assembly that the virus was detected by the Caribbean Public Health Agency in a blood sample taken from a 27-year-old woman.

Haiti also confirmed the presence of the virus in that country on Thursday.

Local transmission of the Zika virus has now been found in 15 Western Hemisphere countries and territories. The Aedes aegypti mosquito that transports the virus is found throughout the region, except in Chile and Canada. PAHO said it is likely that outbreaks will occur in other countries that have not yet reported cases.

The symptoms include mild fever, rash and headaches occurring about three to twelve days after the mosquito bite. Its clinical manifestation is often similar to dengue fever.





St Vincent: Ralph Gonsalves holds onto power

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ralph-gonsalves.jpgPreliminary results stemming from Wednesday's general election in St. Vincent and the Grenadines state that the ruling Unity Labour Party , ULP, has held onto power.

The ULP, led by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves won eight of the 15 seats, while the main opposition New Democratic Party, NDP, led by former prime minister Arnhim Eustace, won the remaining seven seats.





St. Vincent PM announces December 9 election date

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st-vincent-elections.jpg

Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and Arnhim Eustace

Vincentians will head to the polls in a general election on December 9.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves who made the announcement on Saturday night, said Nomination Day is November 20.

The ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP ) will face a challenge from the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) headed by Arnhim Eustace, a former prime minister, twho lost the 2010 general election.

The ULP was swept into office in March 2001 in an early election following political unrest one year earlier. In that poll, voters overwhelming rejected the NDP, which had been in office for 17 years.

The ULP won 56.5 per cent of the votes in the 2001 poll and 12 of the 15 seats in Parliament, compared to 40.9 per cent to the NDP, which took the remaining three seats.

In 2005, the ULP was returned to office by the same number of seats as 2001, and in the 2010 polls, the party captured 53 per cent of the popular votes, 2.4 percentage points than in 2005.





richard-and-grace-wheeler-couple-killed-in-tobago.jpgThree persons have been detained in connection with the double murder of US-born attorney Richard Wheeler and his Trinidad-born wife, Grace.

One suspect is a national of St Vincent and two are Trinidad and Tobago citizens.

This was revealed at a press briefing by the Tobago Division of the T&T Police Service, held at Scarborough Police Station, Young Street, Scarborough, at 4 p.m on Thursday.

The press conference was led by ACP (Homicide) Vincel Edwards and included ACP (Tobago) Garfield Moore and Senior Superintendent Joanne Archie.

The suspects were arrested on Thursday.

Wheeler, 73, was found hacked to death, while his 67-year-old wife was found with her throat slashed.

The couple lived at Riseland Gardens, Carnbee, where they spent the last 16 years.





Hurricane Joaquin barrels down on Bermuda

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Hurricane Joaquin is barreling down on Bermuda as the weekend comes to an end, posing hazards to residents and vacationers.

Despite undergoing some weakening and no longer near Category 5 hurricane status, Joaquin is a Category 2 hurricane as it tracks northeastward through the western Atlantic Ocean.

Such a track will spare the United States of a direct hit, though historic flooding has still unfolded in South Carolina. Joaquin, on the other hand, will come within 120 km (75 miles) of Bermuda Sunday evening.

Rain and wind will pound the island nation into Sunday night with the heaviest rain and strongest winds expected through the first part of the night. Rain totals will average 50 to 100 mm (2 to 4 inches), which may lead to some flash flooding.

"Wind gusts of 95 to 130 kph (60 to 80 mph) may cause sporadic power outages on the island," AccuWeather Meteorologist Edward Vallee said.

Minor damage to structures may also ensue. Additional damage or bodily harm can result from any trees or limbs that get knocked down by the winds.

"In addition, a storm surge of 30 to 90 cm (1 to 3 feet) to locally as much as 2 meters (6 feet) may cause some flooding issues in coastal sections of the island," added Vallee. That is especially true on the eastern coast.

The weather will improve across Bermuda on Monday as Joaquin departs away to the northeast, heading into the open waters of the northern Atlantic and posing hazards to only shipping interests.

Joaquin will transition to a non-tropical system by midweek and will be monitored by AccuWeather meteorologists for any potential impacts on the British Isles late in the week.





joaquin-bermuda.jpgIncoming flights have been cancelled as well as church services at the Anglican Church as powerful Hurricane Joaquin bore down on Bermuda packing 115 miles per hour winds after earlier causing death and destruction in The Bahamas.

In its 8 a.m. EDT bulletin, the Miami-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said Joaquin remained a Category Three storm, down from a strong Category Four storm on Saturday when it had sustained winds of 155 mph.The NHC added that further weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours.Conditions were already deteriorating in Bermuda with three to five inches of rain expected through Sunday.

The hurricane was located 160 nautical miles southwest of Bermuda moving to the northeast at around 21 mph.

The Bermuda Weather Service said Joaquin's closest point of approach to the island is forecast to be 62 nautical miles to the west-northwest at 9 p.m. local time.

The Ministry of Transport late Saturday said all flights to the island on Sunday - with the exception of Delta Air Lines which had yet to confirm its position -- had been cancelled although American Airlines' early-morning flights to Miami and New York were expected to go ahead.

Sunday's ferry services were scrapped and bus service was due to be suspended at 10 a.m. local time.

Two cruise ships -- the Carnival Sunshine and Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas -- earlier announced the cancellation of scheduled visits to the island.

Hardware stores on Saturday reported brisk business as homeowners made last-minute preparations for Joaquin -- 12 months after two hurricanes, Fay and Gonzalo, struck the island within five days of each other, causing widespread power outages.

Michele Trott, a clerk at one store, said: "We've been really, really busy. People were lined up outside the gate before we opened this morning."

She added: "People are mostly buying lumber, batteries, flashlights, ropes and tarpaulins to get ready for the weather that's coming."





BARBADOS: JMMB to strengthen ties with Jamaicans

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sharon-gibson-jmmb-money.jpgSharon Gibson, general manager, Reggae Money Express (RME), the remittance arm of the Jamaica Money Market Brokers (JMMB) Group, during a recent courtesy call on Patrick Hanlan, Jamaican consul general in The Bahamas, expressed a desire to strengthen ties between Jamaican residents in that country and at home, through community outreach programmes.

Currently, a portion of the fees charged to send remittances from The Bahamas to Jamaica, using Omni Money Transfers, is donated to community outreach efforts, namely capacity building and equipment donations to health facilities in Jamaica, Gibson noted.

She added that RME is now in discussion with Omni and other key Jamaican/Bahamian stakeholders to establish outreach projects in The Bahamas that will also benefit Jamaicans in that country. Plans are also being made to establish a scholarship fund with Omni, RME, and other key stakeholders Gibson revealed.

In speaking to the impact of outreach efforts, Harvey Morris, managing director of Omni Money Transfers, said, "Outreach programmes provide a helping hand to our clients and their families, are essential to strengthening the fabric of our Bahamian/Jamaican communities."

Reggae Money Express services the Jamaican remittance corridor in The Bahamas, through its partnership with Omni, acts as a bridge in uplifting and enriching the lives of many persons in Jamaica and the Bahamas, who rely on injections of funds to sustain their livelihood.





TRINIDAD: Extradition waarant for Jack Warner signed

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jack-warner-photo-1.jpgTrinidad's Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi has signed the documents to allow the extradition of embattled former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner.

Warner was told of the development in court today.

However, Warner's attorneys are challenging the decision, stating that Al-Rawi missed the September 16 date for signing off on the documents.

They say Warner should be discharged.

However, the state countered that the documents were now signed, making way for the extradition matter to proceed and there should be no discharge.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Mark Wellington asked for time to go through the documents and adjourned until Friday.

Warner is one of 14 people indicted on a series of criminal charges in the United States, including racketeering, fraud, and money laundering, related to their time at FIFA.





former-trini-pm-bissessar.jpgFormer Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is challenging the result of Monday's general election and asking that it be declared null and void.

She has also chastised the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) for what she claimed was a sudden change in the regulations, resulting in the entire process being sabotaged. In a letter issued yesterday, Mrs. Persad-Bissessar described the People's National Movement's 23-18 victory as unfair.

She blamed the extended hour granted to voters as playing a key role in what she maintained was a biased result. The former Prime Minister said the challenge is based on the sudden decision of the EBC to extend the time for voting without any official notification to the People's Partnership.

She said the rules which govern a general election were quite clear, adding that strict adherence was absolutely necessary to minimise and avoid irregularities.





digicel-photo-1.jpgDigicel is completing work on the largest data centre in Trinidad & Tobago.

The facility, which will be one of the largest in the Caribbean, will focus on business processes and the security of customers' data.

Through the use of ISMS, a systematic approach to managing sensitive company information so that it remains secure, Digicel will help small, medium, and large businesses in any sector keep information assets secure.

The data centre will offer a full range of cloud & managed services, including off-site data storage, which can be backed-up on island or in one of Digicel's other data centres across the Caribbean, or a combination of both.





TRINIDAD: Jamaica's PM congratulates Dr Keith Rowley

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trinidad-pm-keith-rowley-microphones.jpgJamaica's Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, has congratulated Dr. Keith Rowley, Prime Minister-elect of Trinidad & Tobago, on his Party's win in Monday's general election.

In a statement on Tuesday, Mrs Simpson Miller said the people of Trinidad & Tobago had displayed their confidence in Dr. Rowley and his team to provide the leadership required at this time in the nation's history and development.

She said her Administration looks forward to working with the new government.

Dr Rowley will be sworn in as Prime Minister of the twin island republic on today.





outoing-trini-pm-kamla-persad-bissessar-keith-rowley.jpgAs if ushering a new era in the political life of Trinidad and Tobago, the rain poured heavily in the streets of the twin island republic as the people cast their votes against the ruling coalition, People's Partnership, led by outgoing Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

The opposition People's National Movement (PNM) party led by 65-year old geologist, Keith Rowley, won Monday's general elections with 22 of the 41 parliamentary seats and leaving only 19 for the ruling party.

According to reports from The Gleaner, after the polls, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar took a long time to deliver her concession speech.

She finally delivered her speech after midnight at her constituency office in the town of Penal, where she uttered that she is "proud to be citizen Kamla" .

But just as nature seemed to have predicted the the Opposition's win when the rains poured during the day, it seemed to have mirrored Kamla's defeat as the Prime Minster's car could not start when she was ready to leave after delivering her speech.

According to Trinidad Express Online, "The Prime Minister's official car, PM 1, could not start, and had to be towed from the scene shortly after midnight. Persad-Bissessar accepted a ride home with a supporter driving a sub-compact."

The Trinidad Express also said, "Persad-Bissessar, who decided not to go to the party's headquarters at Rienzi Complex, Couva, spoke with members of the media surrounded by a small group of supporters. None were members of her government."





trinidad-election-rowley-new-government.jpgThe People's National Movement (PNM) has won the general election in Trinidad & Tobago, defeating the coalition People's Partnership (PP) of Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar.

Preliminary figures show the PNM won 23 of the 41 seats with the remaining 18 going to the People's Partnership that had won 29 seats in the 2010 general election.

Dr Keith Rowley, the 66 year-old PNM Leader, addressed supporters after the Party was declared the winner.

He attributed his Party's success to the fact that it "allowed itself to be modernized," and accepted "new ways of doing things... new people... and new responsibilities."

The value of the PNM, he said, was "to be available to the people of Trinidad & Tobago" whenever it was called on.





tropical-storm-erika.jpgThe Government of Dominica has ordered the evacuation of the entire village of Petite Savanne where five more bodies were discovered on Sunday, following the passage of Tropical Storm Erika on Thursday.

It said 14 others are feared dead in the village that bore the brunt of Erika's fury as it passed across the island.

Twenty-five persons are now confirmed dead, but the authorities say they expect the death toll to rise as more areas which are cut off by the storm become accessible.

The first of what is expected to be a number of sailing missions from Barbados landed on Monday morning in Dominica.

The Barbados Coast Guard vessel, the HMBS Trident, brought medical supplies, electrical equipment and personnel who will helping in to restore the country's electrical and telecommunications capacity.





DOMINICA: Hurricane Erika leaves four dead

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erika-damage-in-dominica.jpgSreets across Dominica turned into fast-flowing rivers that swept up cars as Tropical Storm Erika pummeled the eastern Caribbean island, unleashing landslides and killing at least four people.

The storm, which forecasters said could reach Florida as a hurricane on Monday, knocked out power and water supplies on Dominica as it dumped 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain on the small island and headed west into the Caribbean Sea.

An elderly blind man and two children were killed when a mudslide crashed into their home in the southeast of the island, said Police Superintendent Daniel Carbon. Another man was found dead near his home in the capital of Roseau after a mudslide, but the cause of death was could not be immediately determined, Carbon told The Associated Press.

Police said another 20 people have been reported missing.

Erika was centered about 175 miles (280 kilometers) west of Guadeloupe, and was moving west at 15 mph (24 kph) with maximum sustained winds that had slipped slightly to 45 mph (75 kph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Erika was expected to move near Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands on Thursday and be near or just north of the Dominican Republic on Friday as it heads toward Florida early next week, possibly as a hurricane.

Chris Landsea, a meteorologist at the hurricane center, said the storm could dissipate if it passed over Hispaniola or Puerto Rico or it could gather and pose a potential threat to Florida next week. "The uncertainties are very high," he said.

As the storm entered the Caribbean, it did the heaviest damage to Dominica, an island of about 72,000 people of lush forests and steep terrain. Authorities were still conducting a full damage assessment after rivers surged over their banks and walls of mud surged into homes.

About 80 per cent of the island was without electricity, and water supply was cut off, authorities said. Trees and light poles were strewn across streets as water rushed over parked cars and ripped the scaffolding off some buildings. The main airport was closed due to flooding, with water rushing over at least one small plane.

The main river that cuts through the capital overflowed its banks and surging water crashed into the principal bridge that leads into Roseau.

"The capital city is a wreck," policewoman Teesha Alfred said. "It is a sight to behold. It's a disaster."

Erika was likely to hit the island of Hispaniola, which is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, said chief forecaster James Franklin at the National Hurricane Center.

"That would certainly not be good news for Hispaniola," he said. "They're very vulnerable to flooding. And even if Erika is a weak system that could be very bad there."

Officials shuttered schools, government offices and businesses across the region and warned of flash flooding because of dry conditions caused by the worst drought to hit the Caribbean in recent years. Authorities warned power and water service might be temporarily cut off.

Erika is expected to dump between 4 to 8 inches of rain across the region, with up to 12 inches in some areas.

Dozens of flights were canceled in the region, and the U.S. Coast Guard closed all ports in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.





arrested -photo-1.jpgTHE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade says its is aware of the arrests of the three women who were found working as security officers without the relevant work permits in the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago recently.

The ministry, in a release yesterday, said the Jamaican High Commission in that country last week ascertained the whereabouts of the Jamaicans and will visit the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) where the women were being housed.

Such visits in which diplomatic representatives routinely check on the welfare of Jamaican nationals in detention, are part of the consular duties performed by the Jamaican Missions, the ministry said.

However, it said: "The ministry wishes to remind the public that there are currently 10 categories that can move freely under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramus which set the rules of establishment and procedures for the Caribbean Community (Caricom). These, however, do not at the moment include the security profession for which work permits have to be sought."

The categories allowed free movement across the region are:

* University graduates

* Media Workers

* Sportspersons

* Artistes

* Musicians

* Registered nurses

* Trained teachers

* Artisans with a Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ)

* Holders of associate degrees or equivalent qualifications such as two CAPE/"A" Levels and National Technician Certificates

* Household domestics with a Caribbean Vocational Qualifications (CVQ) or equivalent qualification.

Said the ministry: "It is important to note, however, that a skills certificate, officially known as the Certificate of Recognition of Caricom Skills Qualification, which can be obtained from the Ministry of Labour in Jamaica or the designated ministry in your host country is a prerequisite for employment."

It added: The ministry wishes to remind Jamaicans that the freedom of movement provision under the Treaty does not by itself automatically confer permission to work. In order to take up employment of any nature, persons falling outside of the ten agreed categories will require work permits or work permit exemptions. It should also be noted that those who are not in any of the categories of skilled persons, are not temporary service providers or who are not exercising the right of establishment, will require work permit approvals in the respective Caricom territories, in advance of travel."

The ministry said, too, that Jamaicans travelling to Caricom countries for business, study, tourism, or personal affairs, must be in possession of the following:

* A valid passport with at least six (6) months validity;

* A return airline ticket as appropriate to the purpose of the visit;

* An adequate amount of money to meet living expenses during the visit;

* Information (name, complete address and contact details) for their accommodation, whether hotel or private residence;

* The name and full details of their host or sponsor;

* Where possible, documentation confirming the purpose of the visit; and

* The name and telephone number, preferably the mobile number, of anyone meeting them at the airport.

"The ministry wishes to also inform the public that the immigration authorities in that country routinely conduct spot checks and persons found to be working without a permit, or illegally are placed in the immigration detention centre pending removal or deportation."





Tropical Storm Erika forms overnight

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tropical-storm-erika.jpgTropical Storm Erika is approaching the Leeward Islands from the Atlantic, and forecasters say it may gain strength.

The storm's maximum sustained winds Tuesday are 45 mph (75 kph).

Tropical storm watches have been issued for portions of the Leeward Islands including Montserrat, Antigua, Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla, Saba, St Eustatius, St Maarten, Guadeloupe, St Martin, and St Barthelemy.

A tropical storm watch means tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours.

Erika is centered about 730 miles (1,170 kilometers) east of the Leeward Islands and is moving west near 20 mph (31 kph).

Meanwhile in the Pacific, a tropical depression is forecast to become a tropical storm later in the day.The depression has maximum sustained winds near 35 mph (55 kph).

It's centered about 1,565 miles (2,520 kilometers) east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii, and is moving west.





Musicians in Guyana are seeking modern copyright laws and a 50 percent quota for local music on the state-owned radio station.

The Guyana Music Network (GMN) made its intentions clear at a meeting on Tuesday evening where GMN founder, Burchmore Simon, said he would seek a meeting with President David Granger and ask for an increase in the number of hours that Guyanese music is played on the radio stations run by the National Communications Network (NCN).

Eddy Grant, who was born in Guyana, was also in attendance and called on musicians to picket NCN to pressure the company into giving airplay to locally produced music and to persuade the Minister of Culture to support the playing of Guyanese music.

He urged the musicians to see themselves as a powerful and influential constituency who can decide the outcome of a general election.





BERMUDA: Jamaican prisoner wins landmark case

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A Jamaican prisoner, who claimed his constitutional rights were infringed because he was not allowed to apply for parole after serving a third of his sentence, has won a landmark victory in the Bermuda Supreme Court .

Leighton Griffiths was convicted in 2007 of importing 480 grammes of cocaine that was hidden inside an air compressor.

He was initially sentenced to 14 years in prison, but this was later reduced to 12 years by the Court of Appeal.

Earlier this year, Griffiths, who is married to a Bermudian, launched legal action because, as a foreign national, he was denied the opportunity to be released on licence. This after serving a third of his sentence, even though he was otherwise qualified for such early release.

Griffiths claimed that the provisions of the Prison Act 1979, which set down the rules surrounding prisoners' access to parole, breached Section 12, which prevents discrimination on the ground of place of origin, of the Bermuda Constitution.

In a written judgment, released at the end of last week, Chief Justice Ian Kawaley ruled in favour of Griffiths, saying his constitutional rights had been infringed.

"The provisions of the Prisons Act 1979 relating to parole as applied to the applicant as a Jamaican national, who presently has no opportunity to apply for any form of early release, discriminate against him on the grounds of his place of origin, in contravention of his rights under section 12 of the Bermuda Constitution," Chief Justice Kawaley said.

Bermudians, and people with an unrestricted right to reside and work in Bermuda, are able to apply for release on licence in Bermuda after serving a third of their sentence. Nationals originating in some countries, including the United Kingdom, are also able to obtain an early release on licence because their governments have agreed to supervise them on their return to their countries of origin. However, Jamaica has not agreed to accept prisoners released on licence.

As a result Griffiths was required to remain in prison for twice as long as those prisoners who were able to obtain parole.





ANTIGUA: Ban on importation of plastic bags

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plastic-bags.jpgThe Antigua and Barbuda government has announced a ban on the importation of plastic bags into the country.

Health Minster Molwyn Joseph said the ban would come into effect on January 1 next year and would involve all plastic bags, except for those used for garbage collection and disposal.

"January 1, 2016 was established as a ban to allow for further consultation across the board and to give the business establishments the opportunity to prepare for the transition," Joseph said.

He said the Ministry of Health would further prohibit the use of plastic bags by mid 2016 and during the period, the authorities will be working with partners in the private sector to find alternatives. Joseph said that the government would be willing to waive duties and other taxes to assist the private sector as they seek alternatives to the use of plastic bags.





TRINIDAD & TOBAGO: Greater fire power for cops

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greater-fire-power-for-trini-cops.jpgThe Trinidad & Tobago Police Service (TTPS) is beefing up the fire power of its personnel.

The Police Service recently signed a multi-million dollar deal with a firm to equip all police officers with some of the latest hi-tech guns to match the fire power of some of the criminals they are now confronting.

The Trinidad Guardian has reported that two of the main guns to be purchased include the SIG (Zig )PRO and the SIG (ZIG) Sauer P226 Pistol.

The latter-will be assigned to every "ordinary" police officer in the Trinidad & Tobago Police Service, while the SIG PRO will be assigned to officers in the Special Branch Unit.

According to the newspaper, Special Branch has already been issued with new firearms. That particular weapon is used by counter-terrorism specialist firearms officers

Social and Welfare Association President Anand Ramesar said the acquisition of new guns for officers was long overdue.

Mr. Ramesar told the Trinidad Guardian that the Association has been clamouring for this change for a long time, and gave his total endorsement and support to the Commissioner of Police on the initiative.

He said some of the guns being used by the TTPS date as far back as the early 1970s.





TRINIDAD: More trouble for Jack Warner

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jack-warner-photo-1.jpgEmbattled former FIFA vice president Austin Jack Warner continues to find himself in more 'hot water' after he was ordered by a high court judge to pay 900 thousand dollars for defamation.

The court ruled that Warn er a politician in Trinidad and Tobago should pay compensation to former cabinet colleague Anand Ramlogan for defaming him.

The judge ordered Warner to pay the money for alleging on a political platform in October 2013 that the former attorney general had corruptly obtained 51 properties.

In a 57-page judgment, Justice Mohammed ruled that Warner had failed to provide proof of his allegation.

However attorneys for Warner who is facing corruption charges for his role in the latest FIFA scandal say they will appeal the decision.





Three members of the Georgetown City Constabulary in Guyana have been dismissed for becoming pregnant.

The dismissals took place, in apparent violation of the Constitution and the Prevention of Discrimination Act in Guyana expressly prohibiting discrimination on the ground of pregnancy.

The dismissal letters state that the pregnancies were a violation of a department policy that prohibits female constabulary officers from becoming pregnant during the first two years.

Several female constabulary officers told Stabroek News that the prohibition against pregnancy in the first two years of service has always been the policy of the constabulary.





trinidad-jailbreak-jul-24.jpgA police officer was killed in a shootout with escaped prisoners in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago on Friday.

Police constable Maynard was fatally shot in the shootout outside the Port of Spain General Hospital. Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan says the hospital is still on lock down.

The hospital shooting occurred after three inmates escaped from the Port of Spain Royal Gaol prison. At about 12:30 pm, there was a rapid exchange of gunfire between police officers and the escaped prisoners outside the casualty area.

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Police spokesman ASP Michael Pierre explained that the prisoners - Allan "Scanni" Martin, Hassan Atwell and Christopher Selby aka Monster - were assisted in their escape by a van which crashed in front of the jail.

Police sources confirmed that Scanni was shot and killed and police are searching around Port-of-Spain and environs for the other two.

The streets surrounding the hospital have since been cordoned off.

Pierre appealed for calm from the public, stating that police has the situation under control.





abu-bakr.jpgYasin Abu Bakr, the leader of the Jamaat Al Mulimeen group that staged an unsuccessful coup in 1990, has been detained in connection with the murder of prominent attorney Dana Seetahal, according to media reports here on Monday.

The reports said that Bakr, 73, had been taken from his home on Monday morning, by police as they continue their probe into the assassination of Seeathal on May 4, last year.

One radio station reported that Bakr had questioned the police who staged the pre-dawn raid on his home in search of guns and ammunition and was told that his detention is in relation to the murder of the former president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago.

Seeathal was killed as she drove to her apartment in the capital. Two vehicles are reported to have pulled alongside her causing her to come to a stop and the occupants fired several bullets at her, hitting her in the head and chest.

The police have so far issued no statement regarding the arrest of Bakr, who in 1990 led more than 100 men in an attack on the Trinidad and Tobago parliament in a bid to unseat the then ANR Robinson administration. Bakr also refused to appear before a Commission of Inquiry that probed the circumstances surrounding the failed coup.

In February this year, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) distanced itself from media reports that at least six people would have been charged in connection with her murder. In a statement, the TTPS said that the reports in the media 'are inconsistent with the progress of the investigation thus far and manifest obvious distortions with material facts of the case".

The TTPS said it "considers it extremely irresponsible the naming of any officer/individual from any agency or organisation who may or may not be assisting with the investigation".





Sections of the Eastern Caribbean and Guyana were rocked by earthquakes shortly before noon on Thursday.

The Seismic Research Center at the University of the West Indies confirmed that tremors occurred in St Lucia, Barbados and Martinique.

The first that measured 5.7 while the second, felt in the same region four hours later at 11:16 am, measured 6.4 occurred at 7:01am.

In St Lucia, the earthquakes were particularly heavy in the north, but there have been no reports of damage.

In Guyana, the tremor was rocked sections of the Essequibo Coast and the villages of Bartica, Buck Hall and Mabaruma.





TRINIDAD: 4 members of one family murdered

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Four members of a family were shot and killed in Chatam in south Trinidad on Wednesday night, police said.

While they have not given details about the incident, the father of one of those killed, has been on radio providing details.

Patrick Joba has identified them as his daughter Grace Toussaint Baptiste 55, her mother, Lena Toussaint, 75, his grandson, Jeremie Toussaint Baptiste 24, and his son in law Peter Baptiste 59.

"I found the bodies this morning. I had been calling them to attend a prayer meeting for somebody that was killed and I got no answer. I went to their house and I saw the door open and my grandson lying on the ground," he told radio listeners.

He said a threat had earlier been made on the lives of the family. He gave no further details.





TRINIDAD: No guns allowed in court

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gun-crime.jpgThe Trinidadian Judiciary says it is baffled that police officers on Monday refused to enter the Arima Magistrates' Court because they were not allowed to take their service weapons inside.

In a media release yesterday, representatives of the judiciary said the practice was not new and was implemented in accordance with international best practice years ago.

However, police officers, who had matters at the court on Monday, queried the procedure and eventually refused to enter the court after they were told they would have to be subjected to scans and could not go in with their weapons.

This reportedly led to confrontations between the officers and court security personnel.





causion.jpgAtiguan singer Causion says his next album is the most heartfelt he has done since he began recording over 20 years ago.

To be released late this year, The Mission in Progress will be the artiste's fifth album. The set contains the song Faith, which Fort Lauderdale-based Causion wrote and recorded two years ago when he was going through 'traumatic times'.

"My mother died in New York from cancer and it was a very tough time. Faith is saying, 'no matter what the grief we have to move on'," he said.

Causion lost his father one year earlier, also to cancer. Faith, like most of The Mission in Progress, is co-produced by Causion and Maurice Gregory, keyboardist with Third World.

That band's guitarist Stephen 'Cat' Coore and bass player Richie Daley, also contributed to The Mission in Progress. Causion opened for Third World on their recent tour of the United States West Coast.

Known as 'Antigua's Reggae Ambassador', Causion is from the English Harbour area of Antigua. His previous album, Stella's Kid, was released in 2010.





The alleged beating of a visually impaired man in Barbuda, has prompted the president of the Antigua and Barbuda Association of Persons with Disabilities to call for the suspension of the police officers who were involved in the incident.

In June, Malcom Cephas, 21, alleged that he was beaten all over the body by the police with what he believed to be the butt of a gun.

Cephas said he was accosted by an officer during a night out and because he couldn't see who was manhandling him, he defended himself. The next morning the officers came to his home and took him to the police station where the beating occurred.

According to Bernard Warner, president of the Antigua & Barbuda Association of Persons with Disabilities (APAPD), the alleged incident should be seen as a human rights violation.

"How could you beat a blind person so severely that his face was so badly bruised?"

Warner told the Antigua Observer that he is also calling on the public and the relevant authorities, including the Caribbean Council of the Blind, the commissioner of police, and Attorney General Steadroy "Cutie" Benjamin to take action against this type of police brutality.

"We need to now enact the policy of the UN on the rights of persons with disabilities. It protects and ensures that this does not happen. I'm calling on the Government to suspend the officers who have been alleged in this matter."

Police have said that the incident is under investigation.





trinidad-p-m-kamla-persad-bissessar-photo-1.jpgPrime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has served notice she has no intention of responding to the constant attacks levelled against her by corruption-accused Jack Warner.

At a meeting in Debe on Tuesday, Persad-Bissessar said Warner and People's National Movement (PNM) leader Dr Keith Rowley are a "tag team", and she will not go along with their plan to distract from the real issues of the general election campaign.

"No doubt you have detected I am fed up of the gruesome twosome of Rowley and Warner, and tonight I want to serve notice that I have no intention of engaging in their script, in their play, in their comedy, in their soap opera. I have none, no intention," said Persad-Bissessar, as the audience applauded.

"I serve notice further I will not respond to the lies and the fabrication coming from Mr Warner, and every one of those I will place in the hands of my lawyers, who will deal with him in the court of law. That is the one place he 'fraid, the court of law, but he cannot escape it. He will have to come in to that court of the land," she added.

"I repeat my point. I serve notice to you and to all the media and to all the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago: I will not be distracted, I will not be engaged in the script, in the game and in the play of Warner and his tag team Rowley.

"Instead, I will focus on the priorities, on the policies and the programmes to bring up Trinidad and Tobago into the new Trinidad and Tobago," she said.





kamla.jpgPrime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar of Trinidad & Tobago has accused her former national security minister, Austin Jack Warner, of having sought to blackmail her into reinstating him as a government minister.

Mrs Persad Bissessar was responding to the latest release of tapes and documents on Tuesday by Warner, claiming corruption and criminal conduct within the coalition People's Partnership government that faces a general election on September 7.

During a news conference, Warner played the tapes, again claiming he had to warn the country about the Prime Minister, since, according to him, she was "unfit for office."

Warner was fired from the Cabinet in 2011, amidst an earlier corruption scandal, relating to his role then as a vice-president of football's world governing body, FIFA.

Warner is currently on indictment by the US Justice Department, relating to football corruption charges, and is awaiting court hearings to determine whether he should be extradited to face those charges in the United States.

Seven current FIFA officials, including Caymanian Jeffrey Webb, were arrested in Zurich, Switzerland last month on similar corruption charges, and are awaiting extradition to the United States as well.





trinidad-p-m-kamla-persad-bissessar.jpgWith the Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams denying the existence of any report on the discovery of marijuana at the Prime Minister's home in 2013, Jack Warner held a news conference this afternoon, to "reveal all the details".

The news conference, attended by local and foreign media, was held at Mandela Hall, Centre of Excellence, Macoya.

Warner played three tape recorded conversations between him and a man sounding like former National Security Minister Gary Griffith, and an email exchange in which Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar and the alleged marijuana find at her home, was the subject.

In an interview with Express Chief Reporter Joel Julien on Tuesday afternoon, Griffith confirmed he was the person whose voice was heard in the taped conversations. Griffith said he is leaving it to the population to decide the kind of man Warner is for secretly taping him.

He however dismissed Warner's "bombshell", saying everything remains as is and that Warner was the only person who ever mentioned a situation of marijuana being found at Persad-Bissessar's home.

Speaking with reporters in Tobago on Monday, Williams was asked about the Sunday Express report, in which Warner, in a statement submitted to a Justice of the Peace last week, claimed that on Friday April 12, 2013, former deputy Commissioner of Police Mervyn Richardson came to the Parliament and informed him (Warner) that a packet containing four ounces of marijuana was found outside a window of Persad-Bissessar's private Phillipine residence.

Warner, then the National Security Minister , claimed that he called Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal who advised him to contact the Prime Minister who was in New York at the time.

Warner claimed when he contacted the Prime Minister, she was surprised and enquired whether she should return home immediately and resign.

He claimed that he advised Persad-Bissessar to not resign as he and others- Richardson, Moonilal as well as former national security adviser Gary Griffith - would cover up the ganja find.

In the Sunday Express article, reporter Denyse Renne said she was shown a copy of a police diary extract which stated that 113 grammes of marijuana were found at Persad-Bissessar's house during a routine patrol at around 7am on April 12.

Richardson, Moonilal, and Griffith have all since denied the claims by Warner, who is fighting extradition to the United States on multiple charges of corruption, money laundering and racketeering brought by the US Department of Justice, linked to alleged wrong-doing while he was a FIFA Vice President. A check by the Express also found that Persad-Bissessar was in the country on April 12, and left for New York two days later.

Acting Commissioner Williams said he sought to verify the claims made by Warner "and there is no report recorded in the police service concerning a matter like that. I was head of the police service at that point in time and that matter was not brought to my attention".

Williams said he had also spoken with the operational head of the special branch named in the report. 'He has publicly already said he nothing about that report and he has confirmed that position to me"

Regarding the existence of a police diary extract concerning the marijuana find, Williams said "there is no recorded report based on the check and verification"





Regional banks listed in US FIFA probe

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fifa-scandal.jpgSix regional banks including the JMMB Group owned Intercommercial Bank in Trinidad and Tobago, have been listed in the U.S. indictment against 14 people including present and past FIFA officials for racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering.

The U.S. indictment said Intercommercial Bank, First Citizens and Republic Bank - all based in Trinidad and Tobago - were used to complete wire transfers of large sums of money for FIFA officials.

Trinidad's Express Newspaper reported that two of the transactions in the US indictment including an alleged US$10 million bribe paid to former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner to host the 2010 World Cup passed through banks based in Trinidad and Tobago.

It also said the banks processed another US$1.2 million alleged bribe from Qatari billionaire Mohamed bin Hammam, for Warner's facilitation of the May 2011 CONCACAF meeting where the cash-for-votes scandal occurred.

The other three banks that were cited were First Caribbean International Bank operations in the Bahamas and Barclays and Fidelity banks in the Cayman Islands.

None of the banks has been charged with any crime or regulatory violation.





jack-warner-photo-1.jpgThe media frenzy surrounding former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner continued on Sunday as a reporter from UK news station Channel 4 was asked to leave his office.

Jonathan Rugman and his camera crew went to Warner's constituency office on Sunday to question him over an alleged US$10 million bribe.

Rugman was curious as to why they couldn't question him and stood in his office to film the video, while Warner sat in silence behind him.

"We've been given permission to film Jack Warner in his constituency office this morning but we've been told we cant ask him any questions, we can't ask, for example, whether he was part of a scheme to receive $10 million in bribes to rig the location of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, that is the allegation," he said.

In response Warner asked that they respect his privacy, eventually becoming exasperated and stood up at his desk, while his security asked the Channel 4 team to leave.





CAYMAN: Acting head of fire services suspended

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cayman-john-bodden-acting-chief-fire-officer.jpgJohn Bodden, acting Chief Fire Officer of the the Cayman Islands, has been suspended, with pay, pending the outcome of a police investigation against him.

Cayman Islands Police have confirmed that Mr. Bodden remains on bail on suspicion of dangerous driving and leaving the scene of an accident in January, but he has not been charged with a crime, so far.

Mr. Bodden was arrested last Thursday and his vehicle seized as part of the police investigation.





cayman-islands-premier-alden-mclaughlin.jpgCayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin has defended his nation's reputation in the wake of the FIFA bribery scandal, saying his government takes a "zero tolerance approach to anyone carrying out illicit activities."

The internayional spotlight has been thrown onto Cayman, following the arrest of Caymanian Jeffrey Webb, a vice-president of Fifa and President of the regional governing body for football, Concacaf.

According to Premier McLaughlin, local law enforcement agencies are cooperating with the international investigation into allegations of corruption at world football's governing body.

He also asserted his confidence that the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority was taking "appropriate action" following allegations that some bribery payments were routed through Fidelity Bank Ltd. in Grand Cayman.

He said, "The Cayman Islands has a reputation for engagement and achievement of very robust global standards in relation to the regulation of domestic and cross-border financial transactions."

Against that background, he said his government did not intend "to compromise the hard work we have done over the past couple of decades and the good rating and reputation we have earned."
In that regard, he reiterated that Cayman has had a long history "of cooperating with global, and in particular, U.S. authorities and there is no doubt that we have and will continue to fully assist in the investigation and ultimate conclusion of these matters."

Mr. McLaughlin said government had been monitoring developments since the arrest of Webb along with other FIFA officials, including former Cayman Islands resident Costas Takkas, in Switzerland last week. Webb is one of 14 businessmen and sports marketing executives accused of negotiating bribes in return for television and media rights for international football tournaments.





T&T: Extradition request for Jack Warner

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jack-warner.jpgTrinidad & Tobago Attorney General Garvin Nicholas has confirmed that the US State Department has requested the extradition of former Fifa Vice President and CONCAF President, Jack Warner. Nicholas says the matter will go through the court system in the twin-island republic.

This development followed an announcement by US Attorney General Loretta Lynch at a press conference on Wednesday that the investigation into wide spread corruption at FIFA will continue, and hinted at additional arrests.

The indictment also alleges that officials took millions of dollars in bribes, over 20 years. Fourteen persons are under indictment while seven were arrested in Switzerland last night. Six of those indicted have current ties to FIFA, while another, Jack Warner, is a former vice president and ex-president of CONCACAF.

The indictment alleges Warner took US$10 million in bribes from the South African Government for the 2010 World Cup. Lynch declared the next step in the the FIFA investigation would involve extraditions.

Officials would not comment on the investigation into FIFA president Sepp Blatter, the man widely regarded as the most powerful person in sports. One federal law enforcement official said Mr. Blatter's fate would depend on where the investigation goes from here.

Meanwhile, Warner who is seeking re-election to Trinidad & Tobago's parliament has responded to corruption charges levelled against him by US authorities. In statement issued on Wednesday, Warner said he was aware that he was being sought in connection with the criminal probes underway. However, he said he was innocent of all charges and had fought fearlessly against all forms of injustice and corruption. He added that he has not been afforded any due process and has not been questioned in the matter.

Warner stated that the actions of Fifa no longer concern him, having stepped aside more than four years ago. He noted that the cross-border coordinated actions come at a time when Fifa is assembled for elections to select a President who is said is universally disliked by the international community

He said it was his experience that it was times such as this, that large world powers typically take action to affect world football. Warner's two sons are among four men who have already pleaded guilty in in the U.S. football corruption investigation involving bribes totaling more than US$100 million. However Jack Warner said he was not aware of his sons' guilty pleas.

The guilty pleas were unsealed at the Justice Department Indictment. According to the Associated Press, those who pleaded guilty are Daryan and Daryll Warner, Chuck Blazer, former Concacaf general-secretary, who for nearly two decades was the most senior American official at FIFA, and Jose Hawilla, an executive of the Brazil-based sports marketing firm, Traffic Sports.

Blazer has been accused of pocketing millions of dollars in marketing commissions and failure to pay taxes. He has been a cooperating witness for the FBI since leaving football in 2013 and has forfeited almost $2 million. US officials say Hawilla has agreed to forfeit more than US$151 million.The men face maximum jail terms of 20 years. Some of the charges include racketeering, wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy, money laundering and obstruction of justice charges.

Concacaf head and Fifa Vice President, Caymanian Jeffrey Webb, was among several senior officials at Fifa who were arrested in Zurich, Switzerland this morning. Webb is also president of the Cayman Islands Football Association.

Cayman Television said a statement is expected from Webb's CONCACAF office in George Town.





T&T: Video shows cops beating unarmed man

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video-shows-cops-beating.jpgPORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (Trinidad Express) - A video purportedly showing armed police officers kicking and dragging an unarmed man has gone viral on social media site Facebook.

The 52-second video begins with a marked police driving on what appears to be a football field while some sort of event is taking place.

As the vehicle comes to a stop, a bareback man is seen running. He is followed on foot by two uniformed officers. The officers are walking.

The man picks up a plastic chair and launches it in the direction of the officers and tries to run away. Another uniformed officer exits the ¬vehicle.

As the man tries to escape, he trips near the parked police vehicle.

At this point, the three officers surround the man and appear to be kicking and cuffing him while he is on the ground. He is then dragged by his feet by one of the officers, while another continues to kick him.

Onlookers who were heard laughing at the beginning of the video try to appeal to the officers to exercise restraint. Some people are seen rushing to where the officers are holding the man.

The man is then placed in the back of the police vehicle.

A DJ plays the refrain "look trouble now" from soca artiste Machel Montano's 2015 Soca Monarch and Road March song, "Like Ah Boss".

The caption of the video states "No man watch that alyuh cah be kicking an dragging people like dog so".

The Express yesterday contacted the general secretary of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Social Welfare Association Inspector Michael Seales for a comment on the ¬situation. He, however, said he had not seen the video in question.

This is not the first incident in recent times where police officers have come under public scrutiny for their action caught on camera and posted on social media.





GUYANA: President David Granger takes office

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guyana-president-takes-the-oath.jpgBrigadier-General David Granger was sworn-in as the new president of Guyana on Saturday, witnessed by a large, enthusiastic crowd.

Granger led a grouping of parties, headed by A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC), to victory over the incumbent PPP/Civic, which had been in office for 22 years, in Monday's elections.

Figures released by the Guyana Elections Commission gave APNU/AFC 206,817 votes, compared to 201,457 for PPP/Civic.Incumbent president, Donald Ramotar, had appeared unwilling to accept the preliminary results and called for a complete recount.

As the post election tensions mounted, the European Union, and the governments of the United States, Britain, and Canada, all releases statements calling for the results to be respected and praising the Gunana Elections Commission for the work it had done in conducting the elections.

The EU and the three influential government all made it clear that they expected any grievance over the result to be addressed through legal channels. Moses V Nagamootoo, leader of the Alliance For Change, is the Prime Minister-designate.





The Bahamas: Jamaican club owner charged

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Jomo Campbell, the attorney in the Bahamas representing nightclub owner Omar Gordon, accused of facilitating 14 women dancers, 12 of whom are Jamaicans and an additional two who are Bahamians, is denying the allegations brought against his client.

"My client has been granted bail from the Supreme Court. He has denied all the charges," said Campbell.

The 40-year-old Gordon, who is Jamaican, faces charges for having a business opened beyond licensed hours, playing loud music, refusing to allow peace officers on his premises, and 14 counts of abetting the women. These charges stem from a raid on his Madeira Street club, Club Pure, on April 25. The police, acting on information, went to the nightclub and, upon their arrival, found women allegedly hiding in a secret room, according to the Bahamian Tribune.

They have been charged with committing gross indecency.

The women, along with Gordon, were taken into custody concerning infringements of immigration and business licence laws.

All individuals are to return to court on July 15.

When Campbell was asked if there were any incidents of human trafficking involving Jamaicans, he said there were none.

"I actually spoke with the ambassador; there is no indication of human trafficking. I can tell you that those young ladies were involved in no prostitution at all. There is nothing to indicate that there were any acts of prostitution," Campbell said.





Barbados is struggling to deal with large amounts of foul-smelling, brown seaweed piling up on beaches, officials on the tourism-dependent Caribbean island said Monday.

Sargassum seaweed washes up every year along many coastlines in the region. But some officials in Barbados say this is the largest amount they have ever seen.The island organized a national cleanup effort over the weekend to help clear the seaweed that is affecting some two dozen beaches.

"This year, the volume has increased to such an extent that it is challenging for all of the agencies combined to deal with it. We all need more resources," said Ryan Als, technical officer responsible for beaches and park management.

Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association CEO Sue Springer described this year's seaweed pileup as "exceptionally bad." She said bookings have not dropped so far, but some beach-loving tourists are unhappy.

However, Janet Harper, a retiree from the English city of Sheffield, said she wasn't letting her two-week vacation be ruined by the mats of seaweed and the buzzing flies they attract.

"They've done a good job trying to get rid of it, but it's just one of those things," Harper said.

Fishermen in Barbados say the thickness of the floating sargassum clumps has led to diminished catches and a recent drop in earnings, despite the fact that it serves as floating habitats for various marine creatures.

"This is impacting on the livelihood of the fisherfolk," said Vernel Nicholls, head of a national union of fishermen.

Although many perceive it as a nuisance, scientists say washed-up seaweed is an important part of the coastal ecosystem and helps stabilize beaches. The drifting seaweed comes from the Sargasso Sea, a sprawling body of warm water in the Atlantic known for its thick mats of brownish algae.





A Jamaican drama teacher residing in The Cayman Islands who admitted to indecently assaulting three boys was sentenced to three years' imprisonment,

Charged with one count of gross indecency, three counts of indecent assault of a male and one count of possession of an indecent photograph of a child is 33-year-old Delroy James. He pleaded guilty to the offences.

According to Cayman 27 - a Cayman Islands based news service - James also showed pornography to two of the 15-year-old boys and instructed one to expose himself and demonstrate how to put on a condom.

It is reported that James asked two of the students to let him measure their private parts.

The court ordered James to be deported back to his homeland upon completion of his sentence.





st-vincent-pm-ralph-gonsalves.jpgBarbadian authorities have launched an investigation into an incident involving St Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves at the Grantley Adams International Airport.

Gonsalves was reportedly headed back home from Guyana and was due to connect on a LIAT flight when he was not recognised. He was ordered by a female G4S officer to return for further screening after his bag went off during his initial security check, Barbados Today reported.

But Gonsalves, one of the most recgonised leaders of the region, refused to follow the guard's orders. It was after she called for back-up that another security guard recognised him.

It is customary for protocol officers to accompany prime ministers and other dignitaries, but no one was reportedly present for Gonsalve's arrival.

Senior officers at the airport subsequently issued an apology to Gonsalves for the guard's error as well as the lapse in official protocol arrangements.





st-lucia-gay-teen-facebook.jpgAuthorities in St Lucia have launched a search for a Jamaican man who they say is a person of interest in the murder of an 18-year-old male on Tuesday.

The teen, Anthony Augustin of Grand Riviere, Gros-Islet was reportedly an open homosexual; local media reported the teen went missing after leaving to meet a young male he met earlier on Facebook.

Augustin's body was fished from the Trouya Beach at around 1:30pm on Tuesday. He was found with a laceration to his throat and 56 stab wounds. A post mortem, conducted on the body yesterday, concluded that he died from hemorrhagic shock secondary to a stab wound.

No arrests have been made in connection with the murder but Police are trying to locate a St Lucia-based Jamaican man who has been identified as a person of interest in the investigation.





LIME Anguilla ambassadors for New York concert

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british-dependency.jpgNew York, NY (April 14, 2015): Recently named LIME Anguilla Brand Ambassadors, British Dependency will travel to New York to perform at the launch of Caribbean Dreamers Live concert series on May 12, 2015 at Le Poison Rouge.

British Dependency fuses various genres with their three-piece ensemble, drum, guitar and bass. There's, a unique and eclectic sound appeals not only to those with a discerning musical palate but also those who are avid reggae fans. Adding to their vintage sound is a fresh take on the overall feel and look of the band which consists of Anguilla's first female bass player, Joyah along with drummer, Jaiden and lead vocalist and guitar player, Ishmael.

Pat McKay, Program Director at Sirius XM Radio, who will also serve as host of Caribbean Dreamers Live once remarked, "It's exciting to get to know the group who, at this point in their growth, already have much of the tangible - they make original music - and intangible factors - multiple-creative-skills, looks, intellect - separating them from the pack. I feel very hopeful this group represents where the music is heading so get on board!"

No strangers to the Tri-state area, fans can expect the Band to perform singles such as, "Do You This," "One," "Wisdom," "Selah," "Casket Closed," and "Small Minded People" from their debut album Finding Wisdom which was released on November 20, 2013, as well as single "Close Your Eyes" from their sophomore album The Conversation, slated for release later this year.

Caribbean Dreamers Live is a concert series that showcases the unique sound and talent of artists in a live setting. With New York, 'the city that never sleeps,' as the backdrop, concertgoers are transported to the Caribbean with live unfiltered music of the tropics in the form of Reggae, Soca, Calypso and Compa, among others. To catapult the experience globally, the concert is streamed live via www.CaribbeanOneTV.com.

The concert will also see performances by Leon and the Peoples, Trinidadian/French artist, NAILA, Dutch artist, Tasha's World, Soca artist, Jadine and reggae artist, Mr. Kool with an appearance by Ky-mani Marley.





Cuba to be removed from terror list

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US President Barack Obama has decided to lift the U.S. designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism.

In a message to Congress on Tuesday, the White House said that the long-awaited decision effectively removes the principal impediment to establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, as pledged by Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro last December.

Congress has 45 days to consider Cuba's removal from the list before it becomes effective, but cannot interfere with Obama's decision without voting separate legislation, a measure that the White House has deemed unlikely.

At a news conference Saturday, Obama said that the majority of the American people, as well as a majority of Congress, approves of his opening to Cuba.

Cuba was first designated a state sponsor of terrorism in 1982, at the height of the Cold War. Cuba's removal would leave only three countries on the list--Iran, Sudan and Syria.





PARAMARIBO, Suriname (CMC) - Suriname law enforcement authorities have confirmed that two police officers involved in a fracas at the Guyana embassy earlier this month have been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation.

Over the weekend, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Lackin apologised to his Guyanese counterpart Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett after Georgetown said it wanted an expeditious explanation from its Dutch-speaking Caribbean Community neighbour after the police attempted to arrest the chauffer of its diplomat on the compound of the Guyana Embassy.

Guyana said that the incident occurred on April 1, when an unidentified Surinamese national parked his vehicle in front of the gate of the Guyana Embassy in Paramaribo, in clear sight of a "no parking sign".

It said during the fracas the shirt of its Ambassador Keith Gorge was torn.

The Corps Police Suriname (KPS) said the police officers involved in the scuffle at the Guyana embassy had been suspended and that a thorough investigation of the incident will follow.

"Management of KPS regrets the actions of the policemen on the premises of the Guyanese embassy and will take disciplinary action, based on the outcome of the investigation," the KPS said in a statement.

The police said that while it regretted the incident, non-diplomatic personnel of the embassy were also at fault when they assaulted the motorist and damaged his car.

It said that that is why the officers tried to enter the embassy to arrest embassy personnel, which indeed was in violation of the Vienna Convention.

"(Just) a few weeks before this incident, a memo was sent out with special instructions regarding the rules that apply to diplomats and buildings of diplomatic representations that fall under the Vienna Convention," police said.





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History was made in Panama on Saturday, when President Barack Obama of the United States and President Raul Castro of Cuba met for discussions on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas.

This was the first meeting between the leaders of the two countries for more than half a century. There had previously been no such contact since the Cuban Revolution which brought Fidel Castro, Raul's older brother, to power in 1959. The failed Bay of Pigs invasion, supported by the American CIA, and the decision to establish a communist regime in Cuba at the height of the Cold War, accentuated by the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the imposition of a decades long American economic embargo, have characterised the bad relationship that has existed between the two neighbours ever since.

Mr. Obama described the recent improvements in relations between the two countries, with several measures announced in December, as a "turning point." While there has already been a significant easing of some economic restrictions, the embargo officially remains in place, and on Saturday Mr. Castro has called for the lifting of the US economic blockade.

President Obama reiterated his Administration's position that it was time to "try something new" and that it was important for the US to engage more directly with the Cuban government and the Cuban people. He added that over time it would be possible to "turn the page" on old divisions but he acknowledged that there were still significant differences.

Mr Obama said that immediate tasks include normalising diplomatic relationships between the two countries and opening a US embassy in Havana and a Cuban embassy in Washington DC.





Five April Fools' Day Facts

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April Fools' Day 2015 is here. That is no joke.

April 1 is famously the day when jokers and pranksters get their kicks by conning the unsuspecting and gullible among us with sometimes cruel but always fun tricks. If you get satisfaction from fooling others, this day is for you. If you're one of those people that gets easily fooled, you might just want to call in sick that day and not leave your house or interact with the outside world at all, for that matter.

But who would create such a potentially dastardly day, and why would we continue to celebrate it? Unfortunately, like many holidays and customs we observe every year, no one really knows the exact origins of April Fools' Day. However, there are plenty of theories as to how this day came about, although who's to say which are legitimate and which may be jokes that keep on getting told? Well, that's the fun - and frustration - of April Fools' Day, I suppose.

In any case, these five facts about the history and origins of April Fools' Day are sure to help you celebrate the holiday right.

1. It May Have Religious Origins

Though April Fools' Day is not a religious holiday, its origins may be related to religion, which is surprising, considering this day encourages activities you probably wouldn't learn in Sunday School. Many trace the origins of April Fools' Day back to 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII adopted the Gregorian Calendar (yup, it's named after him), effectively moving New Year's Day from the end of March to Jan. 1. Though the change was widely publicized, some people didn't get the memo, while others simply didn't want to transition to the new calendar, so they continued to ring in the New Year at the end of March. Those who didn't make the change were mocked for their folly and called "April Fools."

2. Everyone's Got A Theory

As with most traditions that are ingrained in our culture today, some don't think this calendar change was the start of April Fools' Day and have offered up other theories. Some believe that the origins of April Fools' Day go back to the Ancient Roman festival of Hilaria, which celebrated the resurrection of the god Attis and involved dressing up in disguises. There were several other renewal festivals like this in Europe that April Fools' Day may have grown out of because revelers played pranks and there was a sort of "anything goes" attitude adopted. However, the fact that some April Fools' Day origin stories are pranks in and of themselves doesn't help.

3. It Really Took Off In 18th Century England

April Fools' Day as we know it today became popular around 1700 in England. Without Netflix, what else were they going to do for fun?

4. Celebrations Aren't The Same In Every Country

Americans know that on April Fools' Day, it's either prank or be pranked. However, countries around the world bring their own unique flavor to the revelry. The holiday is known as Poisson d'Avril in France, which means "April Fish" in English. Accordingly, children tape a picture of a fish on the backs of their classmate and wait until they discover it. Scotland's version of April Fools' Day is a two-day affair with Hunt the Gowk Day on April 1, where people are sent out to deliver fake messages, and Taily Day, which is all about pranks involving people's behinds and may have inspired the "Kick Me" sign. The 13th day of the Persian New Year known as Sizdah Bedar usually falls on April 1 or April 2 in Iran, and people have reportedly played pranks during this holiday since 536 B.C. On this holiday, which is usually celebrated outside, it's also customary to throw away green vegetables called sabzeh, which represents getting rid of any bad luck for the coming year.

5. People Have Gone Crazy All In The Name Of Pranks

People get really into April Fools' Day, you guys, and these famous pranks throughout history are mind-blowingly good. In 1957, the BBC fooled viewers into thinking that the Swiss were not only growing spaghetti on trees, but that they also had a shortage of the crop. Since 1986, a press release for a phoney April Fools' Day parade in New York has circulated. Taco Bell took out a full-page ad in six of the country's major newspapers in 1996 saying that the fast food chain had purchased the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell, which many Americans did not find amusing. I can't wait to see who offends, I mean, makes us laugh this year.





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BASSETERRE, St Kitts (CMC) - The St Kitts and Nevis Government has expressed regret at the death of Canadian athlete Daundre Barnaby who died while swimming with his teammates here on Friday.

Sports Minister Shawn Richards says all efforts to assist Barnaby were unsuccessful when he encountered difficulty after he went into the ocean. After a three hour search, Barnaby, a native of Jamaica who became a citizen of Canada, was recovered from the water.

"All efforts to assist Mr Barnaby were unsuccessful. An extensive search and rescue effort was immediately launched by the Royal St Christopher and Nevis Police Force, the St Kitts-Nevis Coast Guard and local diver, Mr Kenneth Samuel," Richards said.

"After more than a three hour search Mr Barnaby was recovered from the water. Tragically, the attempts to resuscitate him failed."

Barnaby had travelled to St Kitts with 20 other athletes and eight officials for the team's annual training camp, Canada athletics reported. He was swimming recreationally with teammates when he disappeared and reports suggest he apparently lost his footing and was dragged away by an undertow.

"He chose to give of his skills and competence in sharing with his peers and with the youth of our Federation. This speaks volumes of a young star gone far too soon," the sports minister said.

"It was Tuesday of last week that I met with the staff and team members of Athletics Canada and realised firsthand the family-like spirit of interactions; I am truly touched by their loss; by our loss."

Barnaby, 24, a 400-metre specialist, was from St Ann, Jamaica and became a Canadian citizen in time to compete at the 2012 London Olympics.

The runner, from Brampton, Ontario, last represented Canada at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland.





Trini Carnival ranks 3rd in world

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trinidad-carnival.jpgFat Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday. Mardi Gras. No matter what you call it, the last day before Lent's 40 days of repentance (between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday) brings out a wild side in populations around the world.

As the party season of carnival nears its end, events heat up and online travel adviser Cheapflights offers its top ten list of places to enjoy a last fling with hedonism before it's over for 2012.

Reuters has not endorsed this list:

1. Mardi Gras - New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Thousands of tourists flood The Big Easy annually for Mardi Gras in New Orleans, deemed "the biggest free party on earth".

The entire city loosens its (already loose) reins, and douses itself with endless strings of beads, colourful floats and costumes to celebrate the naughtiest time of year. Floats of all sizes roll through the streets in spectacular parades for two weeks prior to Mardi Gras. Endymion (Saturday), Bacchus (Sunday), Orpheus (Monday), Zulu (Tuesday morning) and Rex (Tuesday night) are the most famous of the parades, drawing rowdy attendees to partake in song and dance free of inhibition.

2. Carnival of Binche - Binche, Belgium

It's an honour for a man from Binche to be picked to join the Gilles on Shrove Tuesday.

Gilles are clown-like performers, dressed in fanciful costumes, wax masks and plumed hats, who dance throughout the city starting in the wee hours and lasting through the night.

The 1,000-plus men are the centrepiece of Binche's carnival, named a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

3. Trinidad and Tobago Carnival - Trinidad and Tobago

Its vibrant history and French roots set the tone for Trinidad and Tobago's most significant celebration each year: Carnival. The Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday draw the Caribbean destination's population to the streets to show off elaborate costumes that groups take months to create. Bands compete against one another for the title of Band of the Year and claypsonians vie for the prestigious Calypso Monarch title.

4. Carnival of Brazil - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

There's really no comparison when it comes to Carnival celebrations when Rio is thrown in the mix. Brazilians take their weeks before Lent very seriously, putting on large-scale parades and festivities that in 2011 drew nearly five million people. The most famous holiday in Brazil features samba schools, or large groups of dancers and performers, who build spectacular floats and compete in one of seven divisions based on music, costumes and theme. Individual neighbourhoods more and more are seeing smaller-scale parades, blocos, which feature drum parades, samba and other high-octane sights and sounds.

5. Mardi Gras - Sydney, Australia

Sydney takes the opportunity during pre-Lent celebrations to support its LGBT community through more than 60 must-attend events at Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. The most popular spectacle, of course, is the evening parade down Oxford and Flinders streets. Other musts on the lineup include drag races on Bondi Beach, Fair Day at Victoria Park, a sunset cruise, and a harbour-side dance party on Sydney Harbour.

6. Notting Hill Carnival - London, United Kingdom

It's not until August, but London is the place to be in 2012. Though the Olympics will be most folks' focus, the Notting Hill Carnival will come a close second for more than a million visitors. Trinidadian and Tobagonian Brits lead the charge, directing musicians and participants clad in colourful costumes through Notting Hill's narrow streets.

Claustrophobic travellers should consider staying at home - Caribbean-flavoured festival lassos large crowds over the course of two - typically hot - summer days.

7. Quebec Winter Carnival - Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Quebec City comes to life every February for the Quebec Winter Festival. Outdoor sports like snowboarding and dog sledding, snow sculpture contests and masquerade balls are all on the schedule each year as Canadians celebrate a winterised version of Carnival. Visitors bundle up during the coldest time of year for a reason: zip lines, concerts and ice skating make for tons of fun for kids and adults alike. Like with most pre-Lent celebrations, the parades - both during the day and at night - are the highlight of Quebec's ode to Carnival.

8. Carnival of Venice - Venice, Italy

Beginning 40 days before Easter, thousands of Venetians and visitors to the City of Water alike disguise themselves in ornamental masks, a site to be seen for anyone planning a trip to Italy. What used to blur the lines among social classes has evolved into a festival that could rival any other Carnival in the world. Fashion designers from around the globe sit on a panel to vote for "la maschera piu bella" or "the best mask" as events like the silent water parade and the Flight of the Angel take place across the city.

9. Mardi Gras - Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida, USA

Though Orlando may not be the first town that comes to mind when you think of Mardi Gras,

Universal Studios puts on a celebration of beads and live music that the whole family can enjoy. For nearly two months on Saturdays and certain nights, the park entertains with headliners like Kelly Clarkson, and dishes up Cajun treats like jambalaya and shrimp gumbo - a wonderful homage to New Orleans' French Quarter.

10. Carnival - Montevideo, Uruguay

Uruguayans have the longest Carnival celebration in the world, letting loose for more than 40 days every year, most vibrantly in the country's capital, Montevideo. Theatres throughout the city are assembled and locals take to the stage to present the social and political climate of the country through operas known as tablados. Taking the real spotlight, though, are two colourful parades where musicians show their skills - and African roots - through the drum-based rhythm known as candombe.

- Reuters





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"I am so happy to reach T&T for this pilgrimage."

Those were the last words of Tobago Baptist leader King Shepherd Carlton Callender yesterday as he collapsed seconds after walking out of the VIP lounge of the Piarco International Airport after arriving for a function. Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration Rodger Samuel told the T&T Guardian that he had only minutes before embraced Carlton upon his arrival from New York, along with a 120-member contingent, including Consul General Nan Ramgoolam.

The group arrived for the start of a pilgrimage on the occasion of Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation Day. Callender was scheduled to give greetings last evening at the Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar's dinner function celebrating Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation Day at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann's. Samuel said Callender took three months to plan the pilgrimage.

"It was his dream to get people of the faith from New York to come here to T&T to experience our celebrations here and King Shepherd was looking forward and very excited. It is shocking to me knowing that I just hugged him and we spoke and laughed together," Samuel said.

After collapsing, Callender was taken to the Arima Health Facility where he was pronounced dead. Up to late last night ministry officials and some members of the American contingent were at the facility. Samuel, on behalf of his ministry, extended condolences to Callender's family and fellow members of the faith. Archbishop Barbara Gray Burke, in her greetings at the function, reminisced on the time she met with Callender in Brooklyn. She said she believed he had fulfilled his assignment here on earth and was prepared for the journey in the afterlife.





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Reports out of the Turks and Caicos Islands says US authorities have issued an extradition request for former Olint boss, David Smith.

According to the Turks and Caicos Weekly News, the request arrived on Monday.

An extradition hearing has been set for April 8.

David Smith was the mastermind of the Olint Ponzi scheme, which fleeced thousands of depositors of over 2-hundred-million US dollars.

He was sentenced in 2011 to 30 years in a US federal jail, after pleading guilty to 18-counts of money laundering, 4-counts of wire fraud and 1-count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

After the sentence, he returned to the Turks and Caicos Islands to finish a previously imposed jail term.

He was expected to spend six years in a Turks and Caicos prison but was released early this year, reportedly on good behavior.





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A man says he is hurt after a Seventh Day Adventist Church in Antigua refused to baptise him because of his dreadlocks.

The man, 43-year-old Austin Kirby said he's offended and feels more "hurt" and "disappointed" than he has ever been all his life, Antigua's Daily Observer reported.

Kirby, a father of four, was inspired to answer the call for all those who wished to "surrender (their) lives to God", during a crusade in the town of Jennings in the Eastern Caribbean island.

His decision was much to the delight of his Christian wife. He excitedly informed his two oldest children that he was changing his life and would baptised on the weekend.

Kirby, a farmer and a mason, eagerly prepared for his baptism and was so excited that he could not sleep the night before.

However, on the day the rite was to take place Kirby was informed that he could not be baptised because he had dreadlocks.

"He said I am from a cult and another religion and my hair is a problem," Kirby told the paper.

Kirby argued that he believes in the same God and could be a good example to others out there who may be involved with the "cult" to which the pastor referred, but the pastor stood by the decision not to baptise him.

"The Bible says 'Come as you are.' It didn't say to go buy a suit, dress up, cut your hair or put on weave. It says come as you are. 'Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires the water of life without price.' I got a calling that I should be baptised, and I went," Kirby said.





Reggae Sumfest 2017

The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) has placed several states under immediate drought watch or warning for 2016.

CDEMA has expressed immediate drought concerns for these countries, due to below-normal rain during the previous dry and wet seasons. This resulted in a number of countries experiencing water shortages in 2015.

Drought alerts have been issued by the Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology for several countries, up to March 2016.

Drought warnings have been issued for Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, northern Guyana, St. Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago as well as northern Suriname.

A drought watch has been issued for Grenada while there is a drought concern in east and south Haiti.





Haiti's president Martelly leaves office

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haiti-president-departs-martelly.jpgPresident Michel Martelly made his farewell speech to Haiti as he departed office Sunday with no successor yet chosen because a runoff election was delayed for a second time last month amid violent protests and deep suspicions about vote rigging.

In a nearly 20-minute speech before a joint session of Parliament, Martelly said his "biggest regret is that the presidential election was postponed." Addressing the Haitian people, he said he worked as hard as he could to improve the country and was "ready to answer before the court of history."

Martelly, who took office in May 2011, is departing on what was scheduled as the first day of Port-au-Prince's annual three-day Carnival celebration. However, authorities called off Sunday's festivities because of a tense atmosphere amid the political uncertainty.

Lawmakers are beginning a process to patch together a short-term interim government to smooth political divisions and fill the void left by Martelly's departure. Prime Minister Evans Paul remains in office for now, awaiting a provisional president to be chosen by Parliament in the coming days.

Haiti last created a transitional government in 2004. That interim administration, which lasted for two years, took power in the chaotic days after President Jean Bertrand-Aristide was ousted by a rebellion and a U.N. peacekeeping force came to stabilize the country.

This time, with quarrelling political factions throwing Haiti into an electoral and constitutional crisis, a last-minute deal was forged by Martelly and lawmakers less than 24 hours before his scheduled departure from office. A special mission from the 35-nation Organization of American States was in Haiti to observe last week's negotiations and help foster dialogue.

The deal announced Saturday says an interim government will rule until an elected leader can take office May 14. The twice postponed presidential and legislative runoff is rescheduled for April 24.

Martelly expressed satisfaction with the agreement, saying lawmakers "gave me a guarantee that the country is going to be stable."

He handed over his presidential sash after his address and embraced many of the 23 senators and 86 deputies in the National Assembly. The senators wore black suits and hats while the deputies wore white. Seven legislators were absent.

Senate President Jocelerme Privert said Parliament will accept nominations for a provisional president over the next five days. Legislators are expected to vote for a leader of the caretaker government a couple of days after the nomination period ends.

Some opposition lawmakers disagree with the accord reached by Martelly and legislators, but Privert said they will have to accept the majority's decision. "This is the democratic way," he said.

In a Sunday statement, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Haitian authorities to implement the accord "in order to ensure the democratic transfer of power to elected officials."

About 100 government supporters gathered outside Parliament wearing pink T-shirts emblazoned with the words: "I am Martelly." Pink is the color of his Tet Kale political faction. Martelly greeted his supporters and waved from a car before his convoy sped off.

It was not immediately clear what his immediate plans were. The pop star-turned-president repeatedly said he wanted to depart office singing on a Carnival float under his pop singer stage name, "Sweet Micky." But another anti-government protest by rock-throwing young men disrupted life in downtown Port-au-Prince on Sunday and some Carnival stands were destroyed.





GUYANA: One case of Zika virus reported

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zika-virus.jpgDr. George Norton, Minister of Public Health, on Thursday told the National Assembly that the virus was detected by the Caribbean Public Health Agency in a blood sample taken from a 27-year-old woman.

Haiti also confirmed the presence of the virus in that country on Thursday.

Local transmission of the Zika virus has now been found in 15 Western Hemisphere countries and territories. The Aedes aegypti mosquito that transports the virus is found throughout the region, except in Chile and Canada. PAHO said it is likely that outbreaks will occur in other countries that have not yet reported cases.

The symptoms include mild fever, rash and headaches occurring about three to twelve days after the mosquito bite. Its clinical manifestation is often similar to dengue fever.





St Vincent: Ralph Gonsalves holds onto power

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ralph-gonsalves.jpgPreliminary results stemming from Wednesday's general election in St. Vincent and the Grenadines state that the ruling Unity Labour Party , ULP, has held onto power.

The ULP, led by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves won eight of the 15 seats, while the main opposition New Democratic Party, NDP, led by former prime minister Arnhim Eustace, won the remaining seven seats.





St. Vincent PM announces December 9 election date

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Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and Arnhim Eustace

Vincentians will head to the polls in a general election on December 9.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves who made the announcement on Saturday night, said Nomination Day is November 20.

The ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP ) will face a challenge from the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) headed by Arnhim Eustace, a former prime minister, twho lost the 2010 general election.

The ULP was swept into office in March 2001 in an early election following political unrest one year earlier. In that poll, voters overwhelming rejected the NDP, which had been in office for 17 years.

The ULP won 56.5 per cent of the votes in the 2001 poll and 12 of the 15 seats in Parliament, compared to 40.9 per cent to the NDP, which took the remaining three seats.

In 2005, the ULP was returned to office by the same number of seats as 2001, and in the 2010 polls, the party captured 53 per cent of the popular votes, 2.4 percentage points than in 2005.





richard-and-grace-wheeler-couple-killed-in-tobago.jpgThree persons have been detained in connection with the double murder of US-born attorney Richard Wheeler and his Trinidad-born wife, Grace.

One suspect is a national of St Vincent and two are Trinidad and Tobago citizens.

This was revealed at a press briefing by the Tobago Division of the T&T Police Service, held at Scarborough Police Station, Young Street, Scarborough, at 4 p.m on Thursday.

The press conference was led by ACP (Homicide) Vincel Edwards and included ACP (Tobago) Garfield Moore and Senior Superintendent Joanne Archie.

The suspects were arrested on Thursday.

Wheeler, 73, was found hacked to death, while his 67-year-old wife was found with her throat slashed.

The couple lived at Riseland Gardens, Carnbee, where they spent the last 16 years.





Hurricane Joaquin barrels down on Bermuda

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Hurricane Joaquin is barreling down on Bermuda as the weekend comes to an end, posing hazards to residents and vacationers.

Despite undergoing some weakening and no longer near Category 5 hurricane status, Joaquin is a Category 2 hurricane as it tracks northeastward through the western Atlantic Ocean.

Such a track will spare the United States of a direct hit, though historic flooding has still unfolded in South Carolina. Joaquin, on the other hand, will come within 120 km (75 miles) of Bermuda Sunday evening.

Rain and wind will pound the island nation into Sunday night with the heaviest rain and strongest winds expected through the first part of the night. Rain totals will average 50 to 100 mm (2 to 4 inches), which may lead to some flash flooding.

"Wind gusts of 95 to 130 kph (60 to 80 mph) may cause sporadic power outages on the island," AccuWeather Meteorologist Edward Vallee said.

Minor damage to structures may also ensue. Additional damage or bodily harm can result from any trees or limbs that get knocked down by the winds.

"In addition, a storm surge of 30 to 90 cm (1 to 3 feet) to locally as much as 2 meters (6 feet) may cause some flooding issues in coastal sections of the island," added Vallee. That is especially true on the eastern coast.

The weather will improve across Bermuda on Monday as Joaquin departs away to the northeast, heading into the open waters of the northern Atlantic and posing hazards to only shipping interests.

Joaquin will transition to a non-tropical system by midweek and will be monitored by AccuWeather meteorologists for any potential impacts on the British Isles late in the week.





joaquin-bermuda.jpgIncoming flights have been cancelled as well as church services at the Anglican Church as powerful Hurricane Joaquin bore down on Bermuda packing 115 miles per hour winds after earlier causing death and destruction in The Bahamas.

In its 8 a.m. EDT bulletin, the Miami-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said Joaquin remained a Category Three storm, down from a strong Category Four storm on Saturday when it had sustained winds of 155 mph.The NHC added that further weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours.Conditions were already deteriorating in Bermuda with three to five inches of rain expected through Sunday.

The hurricane was located 160 nautical miles southwest of Bermuda moving to the northeast at around 21 mph.

The Bermuda Weather Service said Joaquin's closest point of approach to the island is forecast to be 62 nautical miles to the west-northwest at 9 p.m. local time.

The Ministry of Transport late Saturday said all flights to the island on Sunday - with the exception of Delta Air Lines which had yet to confirm its position -- had been cancelled although American Airlines' early-morning flights to Miami and New York were expected to go ahead.

Sunday's ferry services were scrapped and bus service was due to be suspended at 10 a.m. local time.

Two cruise ships -- the Carnival Sunshine and Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas -- earlier announced the cancellation of scheduled visits to the island.

Hardware stores on Saturday reported brisk business as homeowners made last-minute preparations for Joaquin -- 12 months after two hurricanes, Fay and Gonzalo, struck the island within five days of each other, causing widespread power outages.

Michele Trott, a clerk at one store, said: "We've been really, really busy. People were lined up outside the gate before we opened this morning."

She added: "People are mostly buying lumber, batteries, flashlights, ropes and tarpaulins to get ready for the weather that's coming."





BARBADOS: JMMB to strengthen ties with Jamaicans

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sharon-gibson-jmmb-money.jpgSharon Gibson, general manager, Reggae Money Express (RME), the remittance arm of the Jamaica Money Market Brokers (JMMB) Group, during a recent courtesy call on Patrick Hanlan, Jamaican consul general in The Bahamas, expressed a desire to strengthen ties between Jamaican residents in that country and at home, through community outreach programmes.

Currently, a portion of the fees charged to send remittances from The Bahamas to Jamaica, using Omni Money Transfers, is donated to community outreach efforts, namely capacity building and equipment donations to health facilities in Jamaica, Gibson noted.

She added that RME is now in discussion with Omni and other key Jamaican/Bahamian stakeholders to establish outreach projects in The Bahamas that will also benefit Jamaicans in that country. Plans are also being made to establish a scholarship fund with Omni, RME, and other key stakeholders Gibson revealed.

In speaking to the impact of outreach efforts, Harvey Morris, managing director of Omni Money Transfers, said, "Outreach programmes provide a helping hand to our clients and their families, are essential to strengthening the fabric of our Bahamian/Jamaican communities."

Reggae Money Express services the Jamaican remittance corridor in The Bahamas, through its partnership with Omni, acts as a bridge in uplifting and enriching the lives of many persons in Jamaica and the Bahamas, who rely on injections of funds to sustain their livelihood.





TRINIDAD: Extradition waarant for Jack Warner signed

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jack-warner-photo-1.jpgTrinidad's Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi has signed the documents to allow the extradition of embattled former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner.

Warner was told of the development in court today.

However, Warner's attorneys are challenging the decision, stating that Al-Rawi missed the September 16 date for signing off on the documents.

They say Warner should be discharged.

However, the state countered that the documents were now signed, making way for the extradition matter to proceed and there should be no discharge.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Mark Wellington asked for time to go through the documents and adjourned until Friday.

Warner is one of 14 people indicted on a series of criminal charges in the United States, including racketeering, fraud, and money laundering, related to their time at FIFA.





former-trini-pm-bissessar.jpgFormer Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is challenging the result of Monday's general election and asking that it be declared null and void.

She has also chastised the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) for what she claimed was a sudden change in the regulations, resulting in the entire process being sabotaged. In a letter issued yesterday, Mrs. Persad-Bissessar described the People's National Movement's 23-18 victory as unfair.

She blamed the extended hour granted to voters as playing a key role in what she maintained was a biased result. The former Prime Minister said the challenge is based on the sudden decision of the EBC to extend the time for voting without any official notification to the People's Partnership.

She said the rules which govern a general election were quite clear, adding that strict adherence was absolutely necessary to minimise and avoid irregularities.





digicel-photo-1.jpgDigicel is completing work on the largest data centre in Trinidad & Tobago.

The facility, which will be one of the largest in the Caribbean, will focus on business processes and the security of customers' data.

Through the use of ISMS, a systematic approach to managing sensitive company information so that it remains secure, Digicel will help small, medium, and large businesses in any sector keep information assets secure.

The data centre will offer a full range of cloud & managed services, including off-site data storage, which can be backed-up on island or in one of Digicel's other data centres across the Caribbean, or a combination of both.





TRINIDAD: Jamaica's PM congratulates Dr Keith Rowley

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trinidad-pm-keith-rowley-microphones.jpgJamaica's Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, has congratulated Dr. Keith Rowley, Prime Minister-elect of Trinidad & Tobago, on his Party's win in Monday's general election.

In a statement on Tuesday, Mrs Simpson Miller said the people of Trinidad & Tobago had displayed their confidence in Dr. Rowley and his team to provide the leadership required at this time in the nation's history and development.

She said her Administration looks forward to working with the new government.

Dr Rowley will be sworn in as Prime Minister of the twin island republic on today.





outoing-trini-pm-kamla-persad-bissessar-keith-rowley.jpgAs if ushering a new era in the political life of Trinidad and Tobago, the rain poured heavily in the streets of the twin island republic as the people cast their votes against the ruling coalition, People's Partnership, led by outgoing Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

The opposition People's National Movement (PNM) party led by 65-year old geologist, Keith Rowley, won Monday's general elections with 22 of the 41 parliamentary seats and leaving only 19 for the ruling party.

According to reports from The Gleaner, after the polls, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar took a long time to deliver her concession speech.

She finally delivered her speech after midnight at her constituency office in the town of Penal, where she uttered that she is "proud to be citizen Kamla" .

But just as nature seemed to have predicted the the Opposition's win when the rains poured during the day, it seemed to have mirrored Kamla's defeat as the Prime Minster's car could not start when she was ready to leave after delivering her speech.

According to Trinidad Express Online, "The Prime Minister's official car, PM 1, could not start, and had to be towed from the scene shortly after midnight. Persad-Bissessar accepted a ride home with a supporter driving a sub-compact."

The Trinidad Express also said, "Persad-Bissessar, who decided not to go to the party's headquarters at Rienzi Complex, Couva, spoke with members of the media surrounded by a small group of supporters. None were members of her government."





trinidad-election-rowley-new-government.jpgThe People's National Movement (PNM) has won the general election in Trinidad & Tobago, defeating the coalition People's Partnership (PP) of Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar.

Preliminary figures show the PNM won 23 of the 41 seats with the remaining 18 going to the People's Partnership that had won 29 seats in the 2010 general election.

Dr Keith Rowley, the 66 year-old PNM Leader, addressed supporters after the Party was declared the winner.

He attributed his Party's success to the fact that it "allowed itself to be modernized," and accepted "new ways of doing things... new people... and new responsibilities."

The value of the PNM, he said, was "to be available to the people of Trinidad & Tobago" whenever it was called on.





tropical-storm-erika.jpgThe Government of Dominica has ordered the evacuation of the entire village of Petite Savanne where five more bodies were discovered on Sunday, following the passage of Tropical Storm Erika on Thursday.

It said 14 others are feared dead in the village that bore the brunt of Erika's fury as it passed across the island.

Twenty-five persons are now confirmed dead, but the authorities say they expect the death toll to rise as more areas which are cut off by the storm become accessible.

The first of what is expected to be a number of sailing missions from Barbados landed on Monday morning in Dominica.

The Barbados Coast Guard vessel, the HMBS Trident, brought medical supplies, electrical equipment and personnel who will helping in to restore the country's electrical and telecommunications capacity.





DOMINICA: Hurricane Erika leaves four dead

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erika-damage-in-dominica.jpgSreets across Dominica turned into fast-flowing rivers that swept up cars as Tropical Storm Erika pummeled the eastern Caribbean island, unleashing landslides and killing at least four people.

The storm, which forecasters said could reach Florida as a hurricane on Monday, knocked out power and water supplies on Dominica as it dumped 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain on the small island and headed west into the Caribbean Sea.

An elderly blind man and two children were killed when a mudslide crashed into their home in the southeast of the island, said Police Superintendent Daniel Carbon. Another man was found dead near his home in the capital of Roseau after a mudslide, but the cause of death was could not be immediately determined, Carbon told The Associated Press.

Police said another 20 people have been reported missing.

Erika was centered about 175 miles (280 kilometers) west of Guadeloupe, and was moving west at 15 mph (24 kph) with maximum sustained winds that had slipped slightly to 45 mph (75 kph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Erika was expected to move near Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands on Thursday and be near or just north of the Dominican Republic on Friday as it heads toward Florida early next week, possibly as a hurricane.

Chris Landsea, a meteorologist at the hurricane center, said the storm could dissipate if it passed over Hispaniola or Puerto Rico or it could gather and pose a potential threat to Florida next week. "The uncertainties are very high," he said.

As the storm entered the Caribbean, it did the heaviest damage to Dominica, an island of about 72,000 people of lush forests and steep terrain. Authorities were still conducting a full damage assessment after rivers surged over their banks and walls of mud surged into homes.

About 80 per cent of the island was without electricity, and water supply was cut off, authorities said. Trees and light poles were strewn across streets as water rushed over parked cars and ripped the scaffolding off some buildings. The main airport was closed due to flooding, with water rushing over at least one small plane.

The main river that cuts through the capital overflowed its banks and surging water crashed into the principal bridge that leads into Roseau.

"The capital city is a wreck," policewoman Teesha Alfred said. "It is a sight to behold. It's a disaster."

Erika was likely to hit the island of Hispaniola, which is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, said chief forecaster James Franklin at the National Hurricane Center.

"That would certainly not be good news for Hispaniola," he said. "They're very vulnerable to flooding. And even if Erika is a weak system that could be very bad there."

Officials shuttered schools, government offices and businesses across the region and warned of flash flooding because of dry conditions caused by the worst drought to hit the Caribbean in recent years. Authorities warned power and water service might be temporarily cut off.

Erika is expected to dump between 4 to 8 inches of rain across the region, with up to 12 inches in some areas.

Dozens of flights were canceled in the region, and the U.S. Coast Guard closed all ports in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.





arrested -photo-1.jpgTHE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade says its is aware of the arrests of the three women who were found working as security officers without the relevant work permits in the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago recently.

The ministry, in a release yesterday, said the Jamaican High Commission in that country last week ascertained the whereabouts of the Jamaicans and will visit the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) where the women were being housed.

Such visits in which diplomatic representatives routinely check on the welfare of Jamaican nationals in detention, are part of the consular duties performed by the Jamaican Missions, the ministry said.

However, it said: "The ministry wishes to remind the public that there are currently 10 categories that can move freely under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramus which set the rules of establishment and procedures for the Caribbean Community (Caricom). These, however, do not at the moment include the security profession for which work permits have to be sought."

The categories allowed free movement across the region are:

* University graduates

* Media Workers

* Sportspersons

* Artistes

* Musicians

* Registered nurses

* Trained teachers

* Artisans with a Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ)

* Holders of associate degrees or equivalent qualifications such as two CAPE/"A" Levels and National Technician Certificates

* Household domestics with a Caribbean Vocational Qualifications (CVQ) or equivalent qualification.

Said the ministry: "It is important to note, however, that a skills certificate, officially known as the Certificate of Recognition of Caricom Skills Qualification, which can be obtained from the Ministry of Labour in Jamaica or the designated ministry in your host country is a prerequisite for employment."

It added: The ministry wishes to remind Jamaicans that the freedom of movement provision under the Treaty does not by itself automatically confer permission to work. In order to take up employment of any nature, persons falling outside of the ten agreed categories will require work permits or work permit exemptions. It should also be noted that those who are not in any of the categories of skilled persons, are not temporary service providers or who are not exercising the right of establishment, will require work permit approvals in the respective Caricom territories, in advance of travel."

The ministry said, too, that Jamaicans travelling to Caricom countries for business, study, tourism, or personal affairs, must be in possession of the following:

* A valid passport with at least six (6) months validity;

* A return airline ticket as appropriate to the purpose of the visit;

* An adequate amount of money to meet living expenses during the visit;

* Information (name, complete address and contact details) for their accommodation, whether hotel or private residence;

* The name and full details of their host or sponsor;

* Where possible, documentation confirming the purpose of the visit; and

* The name and telephone number, preferably the mobile number, of anyone meeting them at the airport.

"The ministry wishes to also inform the public that the immigration authorities in that country routinely conduct spot checks and persons found to be working without a permit, or illegally are placed in the immigration detention centre pending removal or deportation."





Tropical Storm Erika forms overnight

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tropical-storm-erika.jpgTropical Storm Erika is approaching the Leeward Islands from the Atlantic, and forecasters say it may gain strength.

The storm's maximum sustained winds Tuesday are 45 mph (75 kph).

Tropical storm watches have been issued for portions of the Leeward Islands including Montserrat, Antigua, Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla, Saba, St Eustatius, St Maarten, Guadeloupe, St Martin, and St Barthelemy.

A tropical storm watch means tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours.

Erika is centered about 730 miles (1,170 kilometers) east of the Leeward Islands and is moving west near 20 mph (31 kph).

Meanwhile in the Pacific, a tropical depression is forecast to become a tropical storm later in the day.The depression has maximum sustained winds near 35 mph (55 kph).

It's centered about 1,565 miles (2,520 kilometers) east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii, and is moving west.





Musicians in Guyana are seeking modern copyright laws and a 50 percent quota for local music on the state-owned radio station.

The Guyana Music Network (GMN) made its intentions clear at a meeting on Tuesday evening where GMN founder, Burchmore Simon, said he would seek a meeting with President David Granger and ask for an increase in the number of hours that Guyanese music is played on the radio stations run by the National Communications Network (NCN).

Eddy Grant, who was born in Guyana, was also in attendance and called on musicians to picket NCN to pressure the company into giving airplay to locally produced music and to persuade the Minister of Culture to support the playing of Guyanese music.

He urged the musicians to see themselves as a powerful and influential constituency who can decide the outcome of a general election.





BERMUDA: Jamaican prisoner wins landmark case

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A Jamaican prisoner, who claimed his constitutional rights were infringed because he was not allowed to apply for parole after serving a third of his sentence, has won a landmark victory in the Bermuda Supreme Court .

Leighton Griffiths was convicted in 2007 of importing 480 grammes of cocaine that was hidden inside an air compressor.

He was initially sentenced to 14 years in prison, but this was later reduced to 12 years by the Court of Appeal.

Earlier this year, Griffiths, who is married to a Bermudian, launched legal action because, as a foreign national, he was denied the opportunity to be released on licence. This after serving a third of his sentence, even though he was otherwise qualified for such early release.

Griffiths claimed that the provisions of the Prison Act 1979, which set down the rules surrounding prisoners' access to parole, breached Section 12, which prevents discrimination on the ground of place of origin, of the Bermuda Constitution.

In a written judgment, released at the end of last week, Chief Justice Ian Kawaley ruled in favour of Griffiths, saying his constitutional rights had been infringed.

"The provisions of the Prisons Act 1979 relating to parole as applied to the applicant as a Jamaican national, who presently has no opportunity to apply for any form of early release, discriminate against him on the grounds of his place of origin, in contravention of his rights under section 12 of the Bermuda Constitution," Chief Justice Kawaley said.

Bermudians, and people with an unrestricted right to reside and work in Bermuda, are able to apply for release on licence in Bermuda after serving a third of their sentence. Nationals originating in some countries, including the United Kingdom, are also able to obtain an early release on licence because their governments have agreed to supervise them on their return to their countries of origin. However, Jamaica has not agreed to accept prisoners released on licence.

As a result Griffiths was required to remain in prison for twice as long as those prisoners who were able to obtain parole.





ANTIGUA: Ban on importation of plastic bags

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plastic-bags.jpgThe Antigua and Barbuda government has announced a ban on the importation of plastic bags into the country.

Health Minster Molwyn Joseph said the ban would come into effect on January 1 next year and would involve all plastic bags, except for those used for garbage collection and disposal.

"January 1, 2016 was established as a ban to allow for further consultation across the board and to give the business establishments the opportunity to prepare for the transition," Joseph said.

He said the Ministry of Health would further prohibit the use of plastic bags by mid 2016 and during the period, the authorities will be working with partners in the private sector to find alternatives. Joseph said that the government would be willing to waive duties and other taxes to assist the private sector as they seek alternatives to the use of plastic bags.





TRINIDAD & TOBAGO: Greater fire power for cops

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greater-fire-power-for-trini-cops.jpgThe Trinidad & Tobago Police Service (TTPS) is beefing up the fire power of its personnel.

The Police Service recently signed a multi-million dollar deal with a firm to equip all police officers with some of the latest hi-tech guns to match the fire power of some of the criminals they are now confronting.

The Trinidad Guardian has reported that two of the main guns to be purchased include the SIG (Zig )PRO and the SIG (ZIG) Sauer P226 Pistol.

The latter-will be assigned to every "ordinary" police officer in the Trinidad & Tobago Police Service, while the SIG PRO will be assigned to officers in the Special Branch Unit.

According to the newspaper, Special Branch has already been issued with new firearms. That particular weapon is used by counter-terrorism specialist firearms officers

Social and Welfare Association President Anand Ramesar said the acquisition of new guns for officers was long overdue.

Mr. Ramesar told the Trinidad Guardian that the Association has been clamouring for this change for a long time, and gave his total endorsement and support to the Commissioner of Police on the initiative.

He said some of the guns being used by the TTPS date as far back as the early 1970s.





TRINIDAD: More trouble for Jack Warner

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jack-warner-photo-1.jpgEmbattled former FIFA vice president Austin Jack Warner continues to find himself in more 'hot water' after he was ordered by a high court judge to pay 900 thousand dollars for defamation.

The court ruled that Warn er a politician in Trinidad and Tobago should pay compensation to former cabinet colleague Anand Ramlogan for defaming him.

The judge ordered Warner to pay the money for alleging on a political platform in October 2013 that the former attorney general had corruptly obtained 51 properties.

In a 57-page judgment, Justice Mohammed ruled that Warner had failed to provide proof of his allegation.

However attorneys for Warner who is facing corruption charges for his role in the latest FIFA scandal say they will appeal the decision.





Three members of the Georgetown City Constabulary in Guyana have been dismissed for becoming pregnant.

The dismissals took place, in apparent violation of the Constitution and the Prevention of Discrimination Act in Guyana expressly prohibiting discrimination on the ground of pregnancy.

The dismissal letters state that the pregnancies were a violation of a department policy that prohibits female constabulary officers from becoming pregnant during the first two years.

Several female constabulary officers told Stabroek News that the prohibition against pregnancy in the first two years of service has always been the policy of the constabulary.





trinidad-jailbreak-jul-24.jpgA police officer was killed in a shootout with escaped prisoners in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago on Friday.

Police constable Maynard was fatally shot in the shootout outside the Port of Spain General Hospital. Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan says the hospital is still on lock down.

The hospital shooting occurred after three inmates escaped from the Port of Spain Royal Gaol prison. At about 12:30 pm, there was a rapid exchange of gunfire between police officers and the escaped prisoners outside the casualty area.

police-station.jpg

Police spokesman ASP Michael Pierre explained that the prisoners - Allan "Scanni" Martin, Hassan Atwell and Christopher Selby aka Monster - were assisted in their escape by a van which crashed in front of the jail.

Police sources confirmed that Scanni was shot and killed and police are searching around Port-of-Spain and environs for the other two.

The streets surrounding the hospital have since been cordoned off.

Pierre appealed for calm from the public, stating that police has the situation under control.





abu-bakr.jpgYasin Abu Bakr, the leader of the Jamaat Al Mulimeen group that staged an unsuccessful coup in 1990, has been detained in connection with the murder of prominent attorney Dana Seetahal, according to media reports here on Monday.

The reports said that Bakr, 73, had been taken from his home on Monday morning, by police as they continue their probe into the assassination of Seeathal on May 4, last year.

One radio station reported that Bakr had questioned the police who staged the pre-dawn raid on his home in search of guns and ammunition and was told that his detention is in relation to the murder of the former president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago.

Seeathal was killed as she drove to her apartment in the capital. Two vehicles are reported to have pulled alongside her causing her to come to a stop and the occupants fired several bullets at her, hitting her in the head and chest.

The police have so far issued no statement regarding the arrest of Bakr, who in 1990 led more than 100 men in an attack on the Trinidad and Tobago parliament in a bid to unseat the then ANR Robinson administration. Bakr also refused to appear before a Commission of Inquiry that probed the circumstances surrounding the failed coup.

In February this year, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) distanced itself from media reports that at least six people would have been charged in connection with her murder. In a statement, the TTPS said that the reports in the media 'are inconsistent with the progress of the investigation thus far and manifest obvious distortions with material facts of the case".

The TTPS said it "considers it extremely irresponsible the naming of any officer/individual from any agency or organisation who may or may not be assisting with the investigation".





Sections of the Eastern Caribbean and Guyana were rocked by earthquakes shortly before noon on Thursday.

The Seismic Research Center at the University of the West Indies confirmed that tremors occurred in St Lucia, Barbados and Martinique.

The first that measured 5.7 while the second, felt in the same region four hours later at 11:16 am, measured 6.4 occurred at 7:01am.

In St Lucia, the earthquakes were particularly heavy in the north, but there have been no reports of damage.

In Guyana, the tremor was rocked sections of the Essequibo Coast and the villages of Bartica, Buck Hall and Mabaruma.





TRINIDAD: 4 members of one family murdered

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Four members of a family were shot and killed in Chatam in south Trinidad on Wednesday night, police said.

While they have not given details about the incident, the father of one of those killed, has been on radio providing details.

Patrick Joba has identified them as his daughter Grace Toussaint Baptiste 55, her mother, Lena Toussaint, 75, his grandson, Jeremie Toussaint Baptiste 24, and his son in law Peter Baptiste 59.

"I found the bodies this morning. I had been calling them to attend a prayer meeting for somebody that was killed and I got no answer. I went to their house and I saw the door open and my grandson lying on the ground," he told radio listeners.

He said a threat had earlier been made on the lives of the family. He gave no further details.





TRINIDAD: No guns allowed in court

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gun-crime.jpgThe Trinidadian Judiciary says it is baffled that police officers on Monday refused to enter the Arima Magistrates' Court because they were not allowed to take their service weapons inside.

In a media release yesterday, representatives of the judiciary said the practice was not new and was implemented in accordance with international best practice years ago.

However, police officers, who had matters at the court on Monday, queried the procedure and eventually refused to enter the court after they were told they would have to be subjected to scans and could not go in with their weapons.

This reportedly led to confrontations between the officers and court security personnel.





causion.jpgAtiguan singer Causion says his next album is the most heartfelt he has done since he began recording over 20 years ago.

To be released late this year, The Mission in Progress will be the artiste's fifth album. The set contains the song Faith, which Fort Lauderdale-based Causion wrote and recorded two years ago when he was going through 'traumatic times'.

"My mother died in New York from cancer and it was a very tough time. Faith is saying, 'no matter what the grief we have to move on'," he said.

Causion lost his father one year earlier, also to cancer. Faith, like most of The Mission in Progress, is co-produced by Causion and Maurice Gregory, keyboardist with Third World.

That band's guitarist Stephen 'Cat' Coore and bass player Richie Daley, also contributed to The Mission in Progress. Causion opened for Third World on their recent tour of the United States West Coast.

Known as 'Antigua's Reggae Ambassador', Causion is from the English Harbour area of Antigua. His previous album, Stella's Kid, was released in 2010.





The alleged beating of a visually impaired man in Barbuda, has prompted the president of the Antigua and Barbuda Association of Persons with Disabilities to call for the suspension of the police officers who were involved in the incident.

In June, Malcom Cephas, 21, alleged that he was beaten all over the body by the police with what he believed to be the butt of a gun.

Cephas said he was accosted by an officer during a night out and because he couldn't see who was manhandling him, he defended himself. The next morning the officers came to his home and took him to the police station where the beating occurred.

According to Bernard Warner, president of the Antigua & Barbuda Association of Persons with Disabilities (APAPD), the alleged incident should be seen as a human rights violation.

"How could you beat a blind person so severely that his face was so badly bruised?"

Warner told the Antigua Observer that he is also calling on the public and the relevant authorities, including the Caribbean Council of the Blind, the commissioner of police, and Attorney General Steadroy "Cutie" Benjamin to take action against this type of police brutality.

"We need to now enact the policy of the UN on the rights of persons with disabilities. It protects and ensures that this does not happen. I'm calling on the Government to suspend the officers who have been alleged in this matter."

Police have said that the incident is under investigation.





trinidad-p-m-kamla-persad-bissessar-photo-1.jpgPrime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has served notice she has no intention of responding to the constant attacks levelled against her by corruption-accused Jack Warner.

At a meeting in Debe on Tuesday, Persad-Bissessar said Warner and People's National Movement (PNM) leader Dr Keith Rowley are a "tag team", and she will not go along with their plan to distract from the real issues of the general election campaign.

"No doubt you have detected I am fed up of the gruesome twosome of Rowley and Warner, and tonight I want to serve notice that I have no intention of engaging in their script, in their play, in their comedy, in their soap opera. I have none, no intention," said Persad-Bissessar, as the audience applauded.

"I serve notice further I will not respond to the lies and the fabrication coming from Mr Warner, and every one of those I will place in the hands of my lawyers, who will deal with him in the court of law. That is the one place he 'fraid, the court of law, but he cannot escape it. He will have to come in to that court of the land," she added.

"I repeat my point. I serve notice to you and to all the media and to all the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago: I will not be distracted, I will not be engaged in the script, in the game and in the play of Warner and his tag team Rowley.

"Instead, I will focus on the priorities, on the policies and the programmes to bring up Trinidad and Tobago into the new Trinidad and Tobago," she said.





kamla.jpgPrime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar of Trinidad & Tobago has accused her former national security minister, Austin Jack Warner, of having sought to blackmail her into reinstating him as a government minister.

Mrs Persad Bissessar was responding to the latest release of tapes and documents on Tuesday by Warner, claiming corruption and criminal conduct within the coalition People's Partnership government that faces a general election on September 7.

During a news conference, Warner played the tapes, again claiming he had to warn the country about the Prime Minister, since, according to him, she was "unfit for office."

Warner was fired from the Cabinet in 2011, amidst an earlier corruption scandal, relating to his role then as a vice-president of football's world governing body, FIFA.

Warner is currently on indictment by the US Justice Department, relating to football corruption charges, and is awaiting court hearings to determine whether he should be extradited to face those charges in the United States.

Seven current FIFA officials, including Caymanian Jeffrey Webb, were arrested in Zurich, Switzerland last month on similar corruption charges, and are awaiting extradition to the United States as well.





trinidad-p-m-kamla-persad-bissessar.jpgWith the Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams denying the existence of any report on the discovery of marijuana at the Prime Minister's home in 2013, Jack Warner held a news conference this afternoon, to "reveal all the details".

The news conference, attended by local and foreign media, was held at Mandela Hall, Centre of Excellence, Macoya.

Warner played three tape recorded conversations between him and a man sounding like former National Security Minister Gary Griffith, and an email exchange in which Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar and the alleged marijuana find at her home, was the subject.

In an interview with Express Chief Reporter Joel Julien on Tuesday afternoon, Griffith confirmed he was the person whose voice was heard in the taped conversations. Griffith said he is leaving it to the population to decide the kind of man Warner is for secretly taping him.

He however dismissed Warner's "bombshell", saying everything remains as is and that Warner was the only person who ever mentioned a situation of marijuana being found at Persad-Bissessar's home.

Speaking with reporters in Tobago on Monday, Williams was asked about the Sunday Express report, in which Warner, in a statement submitted to a Justice of the Peace last week, claimed that on Friday April 12, 2013, former deputy Commissioner of Police Mervyn Richardson came to the Parliament and informed him (Warner) that a packet containing four ounces of marijuana was found outside a window of Persad-Bissessar's private Phillipine residence.

Warner, then the National Security Minister , claimed that he called Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal who advised him to contact the Prime Minister who was in New York at the time.

Warner claimed when he contacted the Prime Minister, she was surprised and enquired whether she should return home immediately and resign.

He claimed that he advised Persad-Bissessar to not resign as he and others- Richardson, Moonilal as well as former national security adviser Gary Griffith - would cover up the ganja find.

In the Sunday Express article, reporter Denyse Renne said she was shown a copy of a police diary extract which stated that 113 grammes of marijuana were found at Persad-Bissessar's house during a routine patrol at around 7am on April 12.

Richardson, Moonilal, and Griffith have all since denied the claims by Warner, who is fighting extradition to the United States on multiple charges of corruption, money laundering and racketeering brought by the US Department of Justice, linked to alleged wrong-doing while he was a FIFA Vice President. A check by the Express also found that Persad-Bissessar was in the country on April 12, and left for New York two days later.

Acting Commissioner Williams said he sought to verify the claims made by Warner "and there is no report recorded in the police service concerning a matter like that. I was head of the police service at that point in time and that matter was not brought to my attention".

Williams said he had also spoken with the operational head of the special branch named in the report. 'He has publicly already said he nothing about that report and he has confirmed that position to me"

Regarding the existence of a police diary extract concerning the marijuana find, Williams said "there is no recorded report based on the check and verification"





Regional banks listed in US FIFA probe

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fifa-scandal.jpgSix regional banks including the JMMB Group owned Intercommercial Bank in Trinidad and Tobago, have been listed in the U.S. indictment against 14 people including present and past FIFA officials for racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering.

The U.S. indictment said Intercommercial Bank, First Citizens and Republic Bank - all based in Trinidad and Tobago - were used to complete wire transfers of large sums of money for FIFA officials.

Trinidad's Express Newspaper reported that two of the transactions in the US indictment including an alleged US$10 million bribe paid to former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner to host the 2010 World Cup passed through banks based in Trinidad and Tobago.

It also said the banks processed another US$1.2 million alleged bribe from Qatari billionaire Mohamed bin Hammam, for Warner's facilitation of the May 2011 CONCACAF meeting where the cash-for-votes scandal occurred.

The other three banks that were cited were First Caribbean International Bank operations in the Bahamas and Barclays and Fidelity banks in the Cayman Islands.

None of the banks has been charged with any crime or regulatory violation.





jack-warner-photo-1.jpgThe media frenzy surrounding former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner continued on Sunday as a reporter from UK news station Channel 4 was asked to leave his office.

Jonathan Rugman and his camera crew went to Warner's constituency office on Sunday to question him over an alleged US$10 million bribe.

Rugman was curious as to why they couldn't question him and stood in his office to film the video, while Warner sat in silence behind him.

"We've been given permission to film Jack Warner in his constituency office this morning but we've been told we cant ask him any questions, we can't ask, for example, whether he was part of a scheme to receive $10 million in bribes to rig the location of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, that is the allegation," he said.

In response Warner asked that they respect his privacy, eventually becoming exasperated and stood up at his desk, while his security asked the Channel 4 team to leave.





CAYMAN: Acting head of fire services suspended

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cayman-john-bodden-acting-chief-fire-officer.jpgJohn Bodden, acting Chief Fire Officer of the the Cayman Islands, has been suspended, with pay, pending the outcome of a police investigation against him.

Cayman Islands Police have confirmed that Mr. Bodden remains on bail on suspicion of dangerous driving and leaving the scene of an accident in January, but he has not been charged with a crime, so far.

Mr. Bodden was arrested last Thursday and his vehicle seized as part of the police investigation.





cayman-islands-premier-alden-mclaughlin.jpgCayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin has defended his nation's reputation in the wake of the FIFA bribery scandal, saying his government takes a "zero tolerance approach to anyone carrying out illicit activities."

The internayional spotlight has been thrown onto Cayman, following the arrest of Caymanian Jeffrey Webb, a vice-president of Fifa and President of the regional governing body for football, Concacaf.

According to Premier McLaughlin, local law enforcement agencies are cooperating with the international investigation into allegations of corruption at world football's governing body.

He also asserted his confidence that the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority was taking "appropriate action" following allegations that some bribery payments were routed through Fidelity Bank Ltd. in Grand Cayman.

He said, "The Cayman Islands has a reputation for engagement and achievement of very robust global standards in relation to the regulation of domestic and cross-border financial transactions."

Against that background, he said his government did not intend "to compromise the hard work we have done over the past couple of decades and the good rating and reputation we have earned."
In that regard, he reiterated that Cayman has had a long history "of cooperating with global, and in particular, U.S. authorities and there is no doubt that we have and will continue to fully assist in the investigation and ultimate conclusion of these matters."

Mr. McLaughlin said government had been monitoring developments since the arrest of Webb along with other FIFA officials, including former Cayman Islands resident Costas Takkas, in Switzerland last week. Webb is one of 14 businessmen and sports marketing executives accused of negotiating bribes in return for television and media rights for international football tournaments.





T&T: Extradition request for Jack Warner

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jack-warner.jpgTrinidad & Tobago Attorney General Garvin Nicholas has confirmed that the US State Department has requested the extradition of former Fifa Vice President and CONCAF President, Jack Warner. Nicholas says the matter will go through the court system in the twin-island republic.

This development followed an announcement by US Attorney General Loretta Lynch at a press conference on Wednesday that the investigation into wide spread corruption at FIFA will continue, and hinted at additional arrests.

The indictment also alleges that officials took millions of dollars in bribes, over 20 years. Fourteen persons are under indictment while seven were arrested in Switzerland last night. Six of those indicted have current ties to FIFA, while another, Jack Warner, is a former vice president and ex-president of CONCACAF.

The indictment alleges Warner took US$10 million in bribes from the South African Government for the 2010 World Cup. Lynch declared the next step in the the FIFA investigation would involve extraditions.

Officials would not comment on the investigation into FIFA president Sepp Blatter, the man widely regarded as the most powerful person in sports. One federal law enforcement official said Mr. Blatter's fate would depend on where the investigation goes from here.

Meanwhile, Warner who is seeking re-election to Trinidad & Tobago's parliament has responded to corruption charges levelled against him by US authorities. In statement issued on Wednesday, Warner said he was aware that he was being sought in connection with the criminal probes underway. However, he said he was innocent of all charges and had fought fearlessly against all forms of injustice and corruption. He added that he has not been afforded any due process and has not been questioned in the matter.

Warner stated that the actions of Fifa no longer concern him, having stepped aside more than four years ago. He noted that the cross-border coordinated actions come at a time when Fifa is assembled for elections to select a President who is said is universally disliked by the international community

He said it was his experience that it was times such as this, that large world powers typically take action to affect world football. Warner's two sons are among four men who have already pleaded guilty in in the U.S. football corruption investigation involving bribes totaling more than US$100 million. However Jack Warner said he was not aware of his sons' guilty pleas.

The guilty pleas were unsealed at the Justice Department Indictment. According to the Associated Press, those who pleaded guilty are Daryan and Daryll Warner, Chuck Blazer, former Concacaf general-secretary, who for nearly two decades was the most senior American official at FIFA, and Jose Hawilla, an executive of the Brazil-based sports marketing firm, Traffic Sports.

Blazer has been accused of pocketing millions of dollars in marketing commissions and failure to pay taxes. He has been a cooperating witness for the FBI since leaving football in 2013 and has forfeited almost $2 million. US officials say Hawilla has agreed to forfeit more than US$151 million.The men face maximum jail terms of 20 years. Some of the charges include racketeering, wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy, money laundering and obstruction of justice charges.

Concacaf head and Fifa Vice President, Caymanian Jeffrey Webb, was among several senior officials at Fifa who were arrested in Zurich, Switzerland this morning. Webb is also president of the Cayman Islands Football Association.

Cayman Television said a statement is expected from Webb's CONCACAF office in George Town.





T&T: Video shows cops beating unarmed man

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video-shows-cops-beating.jpgPORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (Trinidad Express) - A video purportedly showing armed police officers kicking and dragging an unarmed man has gone viral on social media site Facebook.

The 52-second video begins with a marked police driving on what appears to be a football field while some sort of event is taking place.

As the vehicle comes to a stop, a bareback man is seen running. He is followed on foot by two uniformed officers. The officers are walking.

The man picks up a plastic chair and launches it in the direction of the officers and tries to run away. Another uniformed officer exits the ¬vehicle.

As the man tries to escape, he trips near the parked police vehicle.

At this point, the three officers surround the man and appear to be kicking and cuffing him while he is on the ground. He is then dragged by his feet by one of the officers, while another continues to kick him.

Onlookers who were heard laughing at the beginning of the video try to appeal to the officers to exercise restraint. Some people are seen rushing to where the officers are holding the man.

The man is then placed in the back of the police vehicle.

A DJ plays the refrain "look trouble now" from soca artiste Machel Montano's 2015 Soca Monarch and Road March song, "Like Ah Boss".

The caption of the video states "No man watch that alyuh cah be kicking an dragging people like dog so".

The Express yesterday contacted the general secretary of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Social Welfare Association Inspector Michael Seales for a comment on the ¬situation. He, however, said he had not seen the video in question.

This is not the first incident in recent times where police officers have come under public scrutiny for their action caught on camera and posted on social media.





GUYANA: President David Granger takes office

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guyana-president-takes-the-oath.jpgBrigadier-General David Granger was sworn-in as the new president of Guyana on Saturday, witnessed by a large, enthusiastic crowd.

Granger led a grouping of parties, headed by A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC), to victory over the incumbent PPP/Civic, which had been in office for 22 years, in Monday's elections.

Figures released by the Guyana Elections Commission gave APNU/AFC 206,817 votes, compared to 201,457 for PPP/Civic.Incumbent president, Donald Ramotar, had appeared unwilling to accept the preliminary results and called for a complete recount.

As the post election tensions mounted, the European Union, and the governments of the United States, Britain, and Canada, all releases statements calling for the results to be respected and praising the Gunana Elections Commission for the work it had done in conducting the elections.

The EU and the three influential government all made it clear that they expected any grievance over the result to be addressed through legal channels. Moses V Nagamootoo, leader of the Alliance For Change, is the Prime Minister-designate.





The Bahamas: Jamaican club owner charged

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Jomo Campbell, the attorney in the Bahamas representing nightclub owner Omar Gordon, accused of facilitating 14 women dancers, 12 of whom are Jamaicans and an additional two who are Bahamians, is denying the allegations brought against his client.

"My client has been granted bail from the Supreme Court. He has denied all the charges," said Campbell.

The 40-year-old Gordon, who is Jamaican, faces charges for having a business opened beyond licensed hours, playing loud music, refusing to allow peace officers on his premises, and 14 counts of abetting the women. These charges stem from a raid on his Madeira Street club, Club Pure, on April 25. The police, acting on information, went to the nightclub and, upon their arrival, found women allegedly hiding in a secret room, according to the Bahamian Tribune.

They have been charged with committing gross indecency.

The women, along with Gordon, were taken into custody concerning infringements of immigration and business licence laws.

All individuals are to return to court on July 15.

When Campbell was asked if there were any incidents of human trafficking involving Jamaicans, he said there were none.

"I actually spoke with the ambassador; there is no indication of human trafficking. I can tell you that those young ladies were involved in no prostitution at all. There is nothing to indicate that there were any acts of prostitution," Campbell said.





Barbados is struggling to deal with large amounts of foul-smelling, brown seaweed piling up on beaches, officials on the tourism-dependent Caribbean island said Monday.

Sargassum seaweed washes up every year along many coastlines in the region. But some officials in Barbados say this is the largest amount they have ever seen.The island organized a national cleanup effort over the weekend to help clear the seaweed that is affecting some two dozen beaches.

"This year, the volume has increased to such an extent that it is challenging for all of the agencies combined to deal with it. We all need more resources," said Ryan Als, technical officer responsible for beaches and park management.

Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association CEO Sue Springer described this year's seaweed pileup as "exceptionally bad." She said bookings have not dropped so far, but some beach-loving tourists are unhappy.

However, Janet Harper, a retiree from the English city of Sheffield, said she wasn't letting her two-week vacation be ruined by the mats of seaweed and the buzzing flies they attract.

"They've done a good job trying to get rid of it, but it's just one of those things," Harper said.

Fishermen in Barbados say the thickness of the floating sargassum clumps has led to diminished catches and a recent drop in earnings, despite the fact that it serves as floating habitats for various marine creatures.

"This is impacting on the livelihood of the fisherfolk," said Vernel Nicholls, head of a national union of fishermen.

Although many perceive it as a nuisance, scientists say washed-up seaweed is an important part of the coastal ecosystem and helps stabilize beaches. The drifting seaweed comes from the Sargasso Sea, a sprawling body of warm water in the Atlantic known for its thick mats of brownish algae.





A Jamaican drama teacher residing in The Cayman Islands who admitted to indecently assaulting three boys was sentenced to three years' imprisonment,

Charged with one count of gross indecency, three counts of indecent assault of a male and one count of possession of an indecent photograph of a child is 33-year-old Delroy James. He pleaded guilty to the offences.

According to Cayman 27 - a Cayman Islands based news service - James also showed pornography to two of the 15-year-old boys and instructed one to expose himself and demonstrate how to put on a condom.

It is reported that James asked two of the students to let him measure their private parts.

The court ordered James to be deported back to his homeland upon completion of his sentence.





st-vincent-pm-ralph-gonsalves.jpgBarbadian authorities have launched an investigation into an incident involving St Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves at the Grantley Adams International Airport.

Gonsalves was reportedly headed back home from Guyana and was due to connect on a LIAT flight when he was not recognised. He was ordered by a female G4S officer to return for further screening after his bag went off during his initial security check, Barbados Today reported.

But Gonsalves, one of the most recgonised leaders of the region, refused to follow the guard's orders. It was after she called for back-up that another security guard recognised him.

It is customary for protocol officers to accompany prime ministers and other dignitaries, but no one was reportedly present for Gonsalve's arrival.

Senior officers at the airport subsequently issued an apology to Gonsalves for the guard's error as well as the lapse in official protocol arrangements.





st-lucia-gay-teen-facebook.jpgAuthorities in St Lucia have launched a search for a Jamaican man who they say is a person of interest in the murder of an 18-year-old male on Tuesday.

The teen, Anthony Augustin of Grand Riviere, Gros-Islet was reportedly an open homosexual; local media reported the teen went missing after leaving to meet a young male he met earlier on Facebook.

Augustin's body was fished from the Trouya Beach at around 1:30pm on Tuesday. He was found with a laceration to his throat and 56 stab wounds. A post mortem, conducted on the body yesterday, concluded that he died from hemorrhagic shock secondary to a stab wound.

No arrests have been made in connection with the murder but Police are trying to locate a St Lucia-based Jamaican man who has been identified as a person of interest in the investigation.





LIME Anguilla ambassadors for New York concert

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british-dependency.jpgNew York, NY (April 14, 2015): Recently named LIME Anguilla Brand Ambassadors, British Dependency will travel to New York to perform at the launch of Caribbean Dreamers Live concert series on May 12, 2015 at Le Poison Rouge.

British Dependency fuses various genres with their three-piece ensemble, drum, guitar and bass. There's, a unique and eclectic sound appeals not only to those with a discerning musical palate but also those who are avid reggae fans. Adding to their vintage sound is a fresh take on the overall feel and look of the band which consists of Anguilla's first female bass player, Joyah along with drummer, Jaiden and lead vocalist and guitar player, Ishmael.

Pat McKay, Program Director at Sirius XM Radio, who will also serve as host of Caribbean Dreamers Live once remarked, "It's exciting to get to know the group who, at this point in their growth, already have much of the tangible - they make original music - and intangible factors - multiple-creative-skills, looks, intellect - separating them from the pack. I feel very hopeful this group represents where the music is heading so get on board!"

No strangers to the Tri-state area, fans can expect the Band to perform singles such as, "Do You This," "One," "Wisdom," "Selah," "Casket Closed," and "Small Minded People" from their debut album Finding Wisdom which was released on November 20, 2013, as well as single "Close Your Eyes" from their sophomore album The Conversation, slated for release later this year.

Caribbean Dreamers Live is a concert series that showcases the unique sound and talent of artists in a live setting. With New York, 'the city that never sleeps,' as the backdrop, concertgoers are transported to the Caribbean with live unfiltered music of the tropics in the form of Reggae, Soca, Calypso and Compa, among others. To catapult the experience globally, the concert is streamed live via www.CaribbeanOneTV.com.

The concert will also see performances by Leon and the Peoples, Trinidadian/French artist, NAILA, Dutch artist, Tasha's World, Soca artist, Jadine and reggae artist, Mr. Kool with an appearance by Ky-mani Marley.





Cuba to be removed from terror list

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US President Barack Obama has decided to lift the U.S. designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism.

In a message to Congress on Tuesday, the White House said that the long-awaited decision effectively removes the principal impediment to establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, as pledged by Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro last December.

Congress has 45 days to consider Cuba's removal from the list before it becomes effective, but cannot interfere with Obama's decision without voting separate legislation, a measure that the White House has deemed unlikely.

At a news conference Saturday, Obama said that the majority of the American people, as well as a majority of Congress, approves of his opening to Cuba.

Cuba was first designated a state sponsor of terrorism in 1982, at the height of the Cold War. Cuba's removal would leave only three countries on the list--Iran, Sudan and Syria.





PARAMARIBO, Suriname (CMC) - Suriname law enforcement authorities have confirmed that two police officers involved in a fracas at the Guyana embassy earlier this month have been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation.

Over the weekend, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Lackin apologised to his Guyanese counterpart Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett after Georgetown said it wanted an expeditious explanation from its Dutch-speaking Caribbean Community neighbour after the police attempted to arrest the chauffer of its diplomat on the compound of the Guyana Embassy.

Guyana said that the incident occurred on April 1, when an unidentified Surinamese national parked his vehicle in front of the gate of the Guyana Embassy in Paramaribo, in clear sight of a "no parking sign".

It said during the fracas the shirt of its Ambassador Keith Gorge was torn.

The Corps Police Suriname (KPS) said the police officers involved in the scuffle at the Guyana embassy had been suspended and that a thorough investigation of the incident will follow.

"Management of KPS regrets the actions of the policemen on the premises of the Guyanese embassy and will take disciplinary action, based on the outcome of the investigation," the KPS said in a statement.

The police said that while it regretted the incident, non-diplomatic personnel of the embassy were also at fault when they assaulted the motorist and damaged his car.

It said that that is why the officers tried to enter the embassy to arrest embassy personnel, which indeed was in violation of the Vienna Convention.

"(Just) a few weeks before this incident, a memo was sent out with special instructions regarding the rules that apply to diplomats and buildings of diplomatic representations that fall under the Vienna Convention," police said.





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History was made in Panama on Saturday, when President Barack Obama of the United States and President Raul Castro of Cuba met for discussions on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas.

This was the first meeting between the leaders of the two countries for more than half a century. There had previously been no such contact since the Cuban Revolution which brought Fidel Castro, Raul's older brother, to power in 1959. The failed Bay of Pigs invasion, supported by the American CIA, and the decision to establish a communist regime in Cuba at the height of the Cold War, accentuated by the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the imposition of a decades long American economic embargo, have characterised the bad relationship that has existed between the two neighbours ever since.

Mr. Obama described the recent improvements in relations between the two countries, with several measures announced in December, as a "turning point." While there has already been a significant easing of some economic restrictions, the embargo officially remains in place, and on Saturday Mr. Castro has called for the lifting of the US economic blockade.

President Obama reiterated his Administration's position that it was time to "try something new" and that it was important for the US to engage more directly with the Cuban government and the Cuban people. He added that over time it would be possible to "turn the page" on old divisions but he acknowledged that there were still significant differences.

Mr Obama said that immediate tasks include normalising diplomatic relationships between the two countries and opening a US embassy in Havana and a Cuban embassy in Washington DC.





Five April Fools' Day Facts

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April Fools' Day 2015 is here. That is no joke.

April 1 is famously the day when jokers and pranksters get their kicks by conning the unsuspecting and gullible among us with sometimes cruel but always fun tricks. If you get satisfaction from fooling others, this day is for you. If you're one of those people that gets easily fooled, you might just want to call in sick that day and not leave your house or interact with the outside world at all, for that matter.

But who would create such a potentially dastardly day, and why would we continue to celebrate it? Unfortunately, like many holidays and customs we observe every year, no one really knows the exact origins of April Fools' Day. However, there are plenty of theories as to how this day came about, although who's to say which are legitimate and which may be jokes that keep on getting told? Well, that's the fun - and frustration - of April Fools' Day, I suppose.

In any case, these five facts about the history and origins of April Fools' Day are sure to help you celebrate the holiday right.

1. It May Have Religious Origins

Though April Fools' Day is not a religious holiday, its origins may be related to religion, which is surprising, considering this day encourages activities you probably wouldn't learn in Sunday School. Many trace the origins of April Fools' Day back to 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII adopted the Gregorian Calendar (yup, it's named after him), effectively moving New Year's Day from the end of March to Jan. 1. Though the change was widely publicized, some people didn't get the memo, while others simply didn't want to transition to the new calendar, so they continued to ring in the New Year at the end of March. Those who didn't make the change were mocked for their folly and called "April Fools."

2. Everyone's Got A Theory

As with most traditions that are ingrained in our culture today, some don't think this calendar change was the start of April Fools' Day and have offered up other theories. Some believe that the origins of April Fools' Day go back to the Ancient Roman festival of Hilaria, which celebrated the resurrection of the god Attis and involved dressing up in disguises. There were several other renewal festivals like this in Europe that April Fools' Day may have grown out of because revelers played pranks and there was a sort of "anything goes" attitude adopted. However, the fact that some April Fools' Day origin stories are pranks in and of themselves doesn't help.

3. It Really Took Off In 18th Century England

April Fools' Day as we know it today became popular around 1700 in England. Without Netflix, what else were they going to do for fun?

4. Celebrations Aren't The Same In Every Country

Americans know that on April Fools' Day, it's either prank or be pranked. However, countries around the world bring their own unique flavor to the revelry. The holiday is known as Poisson d'Avril in France, which means "April Fish" in English. Accordingly, children tape a picture of a fish on the backs of their classmate and wait until they discover it. Scotland's version of April Fools' Day is a two-day affair with Hunt the Gowk Day on April 1, where people are sent out to deliver fake messages, and Taily Day, which is all about pranks involving people's behinds and may have inspired the "Kick Me" sign. The 13th day of the Persian New Year known as Sizdah Bedar usually falls on April 1 or April 2 in Iran, and people have reportedly played pranks during this holiday since 536 B.C. On this holiday, which is usually celebrated outside, it's also customary to throw away green vegetables called sabzeh, which represents getting rid of any bad luck for the coming year.

5. People Have Gone Crazy All In The Name Of Pranks

People get really into April Fools' Day, you guys, and these famous pranks throughout history are mind-blowingly good. In 1957, the BBC fooled viewers into thinking that the Swiss were not only growing spaghetti on trees, but that they also had a shortage of the crop. Since 1986, a press release for a phoney April Fools' Day parade in New York has circulated. Taco Bell took out a full-page ad in six of the country's major newspapers in 1996 saying that the fast food chain had purchased the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell, which many Americans did not find amusing. I can't wait to see who offends, I mean, makes us laugh this year.





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BASSETERRE, St Kitts (CMC) - The St Kitts and Nevis Government has expressed regret at the death of Canadian athlete Daundre Barnaby who died while swimming with his teammates here on Friday.

Sports Minister Shawn Richards says all efforts to assist Barnaby were unsuccessful when he encountered difficulty after he went into the ocean. After a three hour search, Barnaby, a native of Jamaica who became a citizen of Canada, was recovered from the water.

"All efforts to assist Mr Barnaby were unsuccessful. An extensive search and rescue effort was immediately launched by the Royal St Christopher and Nevis Police Force, the St Kitts-Nevis Coast Guard and local diver, Mr Kenneth Samuel," Richards said.

"After more than a three hour search Mr Barnaby was recovered from the water. Tragically, the attempts to resuscitate him failed."

Barnaby had travelled to St Kitts with 20 other athletes and eight officials for the team's annual training camp, Canada athletics reported. He was swimming recreationally with teammates when he disappeared and reports suggest he apparently lost his footing and was dragged away by an undertow.

"He chose to give of his skills and competence in sharing with his peers and with the youth of our Federation. This speaks volumes of a young star gone far too soon," the sports minister said.

"It was Tuesday of last week that I met with the staff and team members of Athletics Canada and realised firsthand the family-like spirit of interactions; I am truly touched by their loss; by our loss."

Barnaby, 24, a 400-metre specialist, was from St Ann, Jamaica and became a Canadian citizen in time to compete at the 2012 London Olympics.

The runner, from Brampton, Ontario, last represented Canada at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland.





Trini Carnival ranks 3rd in world

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trinidad-carnival.jpgFat Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday. Mardi Gras. No matter what you call it, the last day before Lent's 40 days of repentance (between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday) brings out a wild side in populations around the world.

As the party season of carnival nears its end, events heat up and online travel adviser Cheapflights offers its top ten list of places to enjoy a last fling with hedonism before it's over for 2012.

Reuters has not endorsed this list:

1. Mardi Gras - New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Thousands of tourists flood The Big Easy annually for Mardi Gras in New Orleans, deemed "the biggest free party on earth".

The entire city loosens its (already loose) reins, and douses itself with endless strings of beads, colourful floats and costumes to celebrate the naughtiest time of year. Floats of all sizes roll through the streets in spectacular parades for two weeks prior to Mardi Gras. Endymion (Saturday), Bacchus (Sunday), Orpheus (Monday), Zulu (Tuesday morning) and Rex (Tuesday night) are the most famous of the parades, drawing rowdy attendees to partake in song and dance free of inhibition.

2. Carnival of Binche - Binche, Belgium

It's an honour for a man from Binche to be picked to join the Gilles on Shrove Tuesday.

Gilles are clown-like performers, dressed in fanciful costumes, wax masks and plumed hats, who dance throughout the city starting in the wee hours and lasting through the night.

The 1,000-plus men are the centrepiece of Binche's carnival, named a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

3. Trinidad and Tobago Carnival - Trinidad and Tobago

Its vibrant history and French roots set the tone for Trinidad and Tobago's most significant celebration each year: Carnival. The Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday draw the Caribbean destination's population to the streets to show off elaborate costumes that groups take months to create. Bands compete against one another for the title of Band of the Year and claypsonians vie for the prestigious Calypso Monarch title.

4. Carnival of Brazil - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

There's really no comparison when it comes to Carnival celebrations when Rio is thrown in the mix. Brazilians take their weeks before Lent very seriously, putting on large-scale parades and festivities that in 2011 drew nearly five million people. The most famous holiday in Brazil features samba schools, or large groups of dancers and performers, who build spectacular floats and compete in one of seven divisions based on music, costumes and theme. Individual neighbourhoods more and more are seeing smaller-scale parades, blocos, which feature drum parades, samba and other high-octane sights and sounds.

5. Mardi Gras - Sydney, Australia

Sydney takes the opportunity during pre-Lent celebrations to support its LGBT community through more than 60 must-attend events at Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. The most popular spectacle, of course, is the evening parade down Oxford and Flinders streets. Other musts on the lineup include drag races on Bondi Beach, Fair Day at Victoria Park, a sunset cruise, and a harbour-side dance party on Sydney Harbour.

6. Notting Hill Carnival - London, United Kingdom

It's not until August, but London is the place to be in 2012. Though the Olympics will be most folks' focus, the Notting Hill Carnival will come a close second for more than a million visitors. Trinidadian and Tobagonian Brits lead the charge, directing musicians and participants clad in colourful costumes through Notting Hill's narrow streets.

Claustrophobic travellers should consider staying at home - Caribbean-flavoured festival lassos large crowds over the course of two - typically hot - summer days.

7. Quebec Winter Carnival - Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Quebec City comes to life every February for the Quebec Winter Festival. Outdoor sports like snowboarding and dog sledding, snow sculpture contests and masquerade balls are all on the schedule each year as Canadians celebrate a winterised version of Carnival. Visitors bundle up during the coldest time of year for a reason: zip lines, concerts and ice skating make for tons of fun for kids and adults alike. Like with most pre-Lent celebrations, the parades - both during the day and at night - are the highlight of Quebec's ode to Carnival.

8. Carnival of Venice - Venice, Italy

Beginning 40 days before Easter, thousands of Venetians and visitors to the City of Water alike disguise themselves in ornamental masks, a site to be seen for anyone planning a trip to Italy. What used to blur the lines among social classes has evolved into a festival that could rival any other Carnival in the world. Fashion designers from around the globe sit on a panel to vote for "la maschera piu bella" or "the best mask" as events like the silent water parade and the Flight of the Angel take place across the city.

9. Mardi Gras - Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida, USA

Though Orlando may not be the first town that comes to mind when you think of Mardi Gras,

Universal Studios puts on a celebration of beads and live music that the whole family can enjoy. For nearly two months on Saturdays and certain nights, the park entertains with headliners like Kelly Clarkson, and dishes up Cajun treats like jambalaya and shrimp gumbo - a wonderful homage to New Orleans' French Quarter.

10. Carnival - Montevideo, Uruguay

Uruguayans have the longest Carnival celebration in the world, letting loose for more than 40 days every year, most vibrantly in the country's capital, Montevideo. Theatres throughout the city are assembled and locals take to the stage to present the social and political climate of the country through operas known as tablados. Taking the real spotlight, though, are two colourful parades where musicians show their skills - and African roots - through the drum-based rhythm known as candombe.

- Reuters





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"I am so happy to reach T&T for this pilgrimage."

Those were the last words of Tobago Baptist leader King Shepherd Carlton Callender yesterday as he collapsed seconds after walking out of the VIP lounge of the Piarco International Airport after arriving for a function. Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration Rodger Samuel told the T&T Guardian that he had only minutes before embraced Carlton upon his arrival from New York, along with a 120-member contingent, including Consul General Nan Ramgoolam.

The group arrived for the start of a pilgrimage on the occasion of Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation Day. Callender was scheduled to give greetings last evening at the Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar's dinner function celebrating Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation Day at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann's. Samuel said Callender took three months to plan the pilgrimage.

"It was his dream to get people of the faith from New York to come here to T&T to experience our celebrations here and King Shepherd was looking forward and very excited. It is shocking to me knowing that I just hugged him and we spoke and laughed together," Samuel said.

After collapsing, Callender was taken to the Arima Health Facility where he was pronounced dead. Up to late last night ministry officials and some members of the American contingent were at the facility. Samuel, on behalf of his ministry, extended condolences to Callender's family and fellow members of the faith. Archbishop Barbara Gray Burke, in her greetings at the function, reminisced on the time she met with Callender in Brooklyn. She said she believed he had fulfilled his assignment here on earth and was prepared for the journey in the afterlife.





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Reports out of the Turks and Caicos Islands says US authorities have issued an extradition request for former Olint boss, David Smith.

According to the Turks and Caicos Weekly News, the request arrived on Monday.

An extradition hearing has been set for April 8.

David Smith was the mastermind of the Olint Ponzi scheme, which fleeced thousands of depositors of over 2-hundred-million US dollars.

He was sentenced in 2011 to 30 years in a US federal jail, after pleading guilty to 18-counts of money laundering, 4-counts of wire fraud and 1-count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

After the sentence, he returned to the Turks and Caicos Islands to finish a previously imposed jail term.

He was expected to spend six years in a Turks and Caicos prison but was released early this year, reportedly on good behavior.





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A man says he is hurt after a Seventh Day Adventist Church in Antigua refused to baptise him because of his dreadlocks.

The man, 43-year-old Austin Kirby said he's offended and feels more "hurt" and "disappointed" than he has ever been all his life, Antigua's Daily Observer reported.

Kirby, a father of four, was inspired to answer the call for all those who wished to "surrender (their) lives to God", during a crusade in the town of Jennings in the Eastern Caribbean island.

His decision was much to the delight of his Christian wife. He excitedly informed his two oldest children that he was changing his life and would baptised on the weekend.

Kirby, a farmer and a mason, eagerly prepared for his baptism and was so excited that he could not sleep the night before.

However, on the day the rite was to take place Kirby was informed that he could not be baptised because he had dreadlocks.

"He said I am from a cult and another religion and my hair is a problem," Kirby told the paper.

Kirby argued that he believes in the same God and could be a good example to others out there who may be involved with the "cult" to which the pastor referred, but the pastor stood by the decision not to baptise him.

"The Bible says 'Come as you are.' It didn't say to go buy a suit, dress up, cut your hair or put on weave. It says come as you are. 'Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires the water of life without price.' I got a calling that I should be baptised, and I went," Kirby said.





Reggae Sumfest 2017

Haiti's president Martelly leaves office

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haiti-president-departs-martelly.jpgPresident Michel Martelly made his farewell speech to Haiti as he departed office Sunday with no successor yet chosen because a runoff election was delayed for a second time last month amid violent protests and deep suspicions about vote rigging.

In a nearly 20-minute speech before a joint session of Parliament, Martelly said his "biggest regret is that the presidential election was postponed." Addressing the Haitian people, he said he worked as hard as he could to improve the country and was "ready to answer before the court of history."

Martelly, who took office in May 2011, is departing on what was scheduled as the first day of Port-au-Prince's annual three-day Carnival celebration. However, authorities called off Sunday's festivities because of a tense atmosphere amid the political uncertainty.

Lawmakers are beginning a process to patch together a short-term interim government to smooth political divisions and fill the void left by Martelly's departure. Prime Minister Evans Paul remains in office for now, awaiting a provisional president to be chosen by Parliament in the coming days.

Haiti last created a transitional government in 2004. That interim administration, which lasted for two years, took power in the chaotic days after President Jean Bertrand-Aristide was ousted by a rebellion and a U.N. peacekeeping force came to stabilize the country.

This time, with quarrelling political factions throwing Haiti into an electoral and constitutional crisis, a last-minute deal was forged by Martelly and lawmakers less than 24 hours before his scheduled departure from office. A special mission from the 35-nation Organization of American States was in Haiti to observe last week's negotiations and help foster dialogue.

The deal announced Saturday says an interim government will rule until an elected leader can take office May 14. The twice postponed presidential and legislative runoff is rescheduled for April 24.

Martelly expressed satisfaction with the agreement, saying lawmakers "gave me a guarantee that the country is going to be stable."

He handed over his presidential sash after his address and embraced many of the 23 senators and 86 deputies in the National Assembly. The senators wore black suits and hats while the deputies wore white. Seven legislators were absent.

Senate President Jocelerme Privert said Parliament will accept nominations for a provisional president over the next five days. Legislators are expected to vote for a leader of the caretaker government a couple of days after the nomination period ends.

Some opposition lawmakers disagree with the accord reached by Martelly and legislators, but Privert said they will have to accept the majority's decision. "This is the democratic way," he said.

In a Sunday statement, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Haitian authorities to implement the accord "in order to ensure the democratic transfer of power to elected officials."

About 100 government supporters gathered outside Parliament wearing pink T-shirts emblazoned with the words: "I am Martelly." Pink is the color of his Tet Kale political faction. Martelly greeted his supporters and waved from a car before his convoy sped off.

It was not immediately clear what his immediate plans were. The pop star-turned-president repeatedly said he wanted to depart office singing on a Carnival float under his pop singer stage name, "Sweet Micky." But another anti-government protest by rock-throwing young men disrupted life in downtown Port-au-Prince on Sunday and some Carnival stands were destroyed.





GUYANA: One case of Zika virus reported

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zika-virus.jpgDr. George Norton, Minister of Public Health, on Thursday told the National Assembly that the virus was detected by the Caribbean Public Health Agency in a blood sample taken from a 27-year-old woman.

Haiti also confirmed the presence of the virus in that country on Thursday.

Local transmission of the Zika virus has now been found in 15 Western Hemisphere countries and territories. The Aedes aegypti mosquito that transports the virus is found throughout the region, except in Chile and Canada. PAHO said it is likely that outbreaks will occur in other countries that have not yet reported cases.

The symptoms include mild fever, rash and headaches occurring about three to twelve days after the mosquito bite. Its clinical manifestation is often similar to dengue fever.





St Vincent: Ralph Gonsalves holds onto power

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ralph-gonsalves.jpgPreliminary results stemming from Wednesday's general election in St. Vincent and the Grenadines state that the ruling Unity Labour Party , ULP, has held onto power.

The ULP, led by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves won eight of the 15 seats, while the main opposition New Democratic Party, NDP, led by former prime minister Arnhim Eustace, won the remaining seven seats.





St. Vincent PM announces December 9 election date

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st-vincent-elections.jpg

Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and Arnhim Eustace

Vincentians will head to the polls in a general election on December 9.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves who made the announcement on Saturday night, said Nomination Day is November 20.

The ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP ) will face a challenge from the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) headed by Arnhim Eustace, a former prime minister, twho lost the 2010 general election.

The ULP was swept into office in March 2001 in an early election following political unrest one year earlier. In that poll, voters overwhelming rejected the NDP, which had been in office for 17 years.

The ULP won 56.5 per cent of the votes in the 2001 poll and 12 of the 15 seats in Parliament, compared to 40.9 per cent to the NDP, which took the remaining three seats.

In 2005, the ULP was returned to office by the same number of seats as 2001, and in the 2010 polls, the party captured 53 per cent of the popular votes, 2.4 percentage points than in 2005.





richard-and-grace-wheeler-couple-killed-in-tobago.jpgThree persons have been detained in connection with the double murder of US-born attorney Richard Wheeler and his Trinidad-born wife, Grace.

One suspect is a national of St Vincent and two are Trinidad and Tobago citizens.

This was revealed at a press briefing by the Tobago Division of the T&T Police Service, held at Scarborough Police Station, Young Street, Scarborough, at 4 p.m on Thursday.

The press conference was led by ACP (Homicide) Vincel Edwards and included ACP (Tobago) Garfield Moore and Senior Superintendent Joanne Archie.

The suspects were arrested on Thursday.

Wheeler, 73, was found hacked to death, while his 67-year-old wife was found with her throat slashed.

The couple lived at Riseland Gardens, Carnbee, where they spent the last 16 years.





Hurricane Joaquin barrels down on Bermuda

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Hurricane Joaquin is barreling down on Bermuda as the weekend comes to an end, posing hazards to residents and vacationers.

Despite undergoing some weakening and no longer near Category 5 hurricane status, Joaquin is a Category 2 hurricane as it tracks northeastward through the western Atlantic Ocean.

Such a track will spare the United States of a direct hit, though historic flooding has still unfolded in South Carolina. Joaquin, on the other hand, will come within 120 km (75 miles) of Bermuda Sunday evening.

Rain and wind will pound the island nation into Sunday night with the heaviest rain and strongest winds expected through the first part of the night. Rain totals will average 50 to 100 mm (2 to 4 inches), which may lead to some flash flooding.

"Wind gusts of 95 to 130 kph (60 to 80 mph) may cause sporadic power outages on the island," AccuWeather Meteorologist Edward Vallee said.

Minor damage to structures may also ensue. Additional damage or bodily harm can result from any trees or limbs that get knocked down by the winds.

"In addition, a storm surge of 30 to 90 cm (1 to 3 feet) to locally as much as 2 meters (6 feet) may cause some flooding issues in coastal sections of the island," added Vallee. That is especially true on the eastern coast.

The weather will improve across Bermuda on Monday as Joaquin departs away to the northeast, heading into the open waters of the northern Atlantic and posing hazards to only shipping interests.

Joaquin will transition to a non-tropical system by midweek and will be monitored by AccuWeather meteorologists for any potential impacts on the British Isles late in the week.





joaquin-bermuda.jpgIncoming flights have been cancelled as well as church services at the Anglican Church as powerful Hurricane Joaquin bore down on Bermuda packing 115 miles per hour winds after earlier causing death and destruction in The Bahamas.

In its 8 a.m. EDT bulletin, the Miami-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said Joaquin remained a Category Three storm, down from a strong Category Four storm on Saturday when it had sustained winds of 155 mph.The NHC added that further weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours.Conditions were already deteriorating in Bermuda with three to five inches of rain expected through Sunday.

The hurricane was located 160 nautical miles southwest of Bermuda moving to the northeast at around 21 mph.

The Bermuda Weather Service said Joaquin's closest point of approach to the island is forecast to be 62 nautical miles to the west-northwest at 9 p.m. local time.

The Ministry of Transport late Saturday said all flights to the island on Sunday - with the exception of Delta Air Lines which had yet to confirm its position -- had been cancelled although American Airlines' early-morning flights to Miami and New York were expected to go ahead.

Sunday's ferry services were scrapped and bus service was due to be suspended at 10 a.m. local time.

Two cruise ships -- the Carnival Sunshine and Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas -- earlier announced the cancellation of scheduled visits to the island.

Hardware stores on Saturday reported brisk business as homeowners made last-minute preparations for Joaquin -- 12 months after two hurricanes, Fay and Gonzalo, struck the island within five days of each other, causing widespread power outages.

Michele Trott, a clerk at one store, said: "We've been really, really busy. People were lined up outside the gate before we opened this morning."

She added: "People are mostly buying lumber, batteries, flashlights, ropes and tarpaulins to get ready for the weather that's coming."





BARBADOS: JMMB to strengthen ties with Jamaicans

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sharon-gibson-jmmb-money.jpgSharon Gibson, general manager, Reggae Money Express (RME), the remittance arm of the Jamaica Money Market Brokers (JMMB) Group, during a recent courtesy call on Patrick Hanlan, Jamaican consul general in The Bahamas, expressed a desire to strengthen ties between Jamaican residents in that country and at home, through community outreach programmes.

Currently, a portion of the fees charged to send remittances from The Bahamas to Jamaica, using Omni Money Transfers, is donated to community outreach efforts, namely capacity building and equipment donations to health facilities in Jamaica, Gibson noted.

She added that RME is now in discussion with Omni and other key Jamaican/Bahamian stakeholders to establish outreach projects in The Bahamas that will also benefit Jamaicans in that country. Plans are also being made to establish a scholarship fund with Omni, RME, and other key stakeholders Gibson revealed.

In speaking to the impact of outreach efforts, Harvey Morris, managing director of Omni Money Transfers, said, "Outreach programmes provide a helping hand to our clients and their families, are essential to strengthening the fabric of our Bahamian/Jamaican communities."

Reggae Money Express services the Jamaican remittance corridor in The Bahamas, through its partnership with Omni, acts as a bridge in uplifting and enriching the lives of many persons in Jamaica and the Bahamas, who rely on injections of funds to sustain their livelihood.





TRINIDAD: Extradition waarant for Jack Warner signed

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jack-warner-photo-1.jpgTrinidad's Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi has signed the documents to allow the extradition of embattled former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner.

Warner was told of the development in court today.

However, Warner's attorneys are challenging the decision, stating that Al-Rawi missed the September 16 date for signing off on the documents.

They say Warner should be discharged.

However, the state countered that the documents were now signed, making way for the extradition matter to proceed and there should be no discharge.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Mark Wellington asked for time to go through the documents and adjourned until Friday.

Warner is one of 14 people indicted on a series of criminal charges in the United States, including racketeering, fraud, and money laundering, related to their time at FIFA.





former-trini-pm-bissessar.jpgFormer Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is challenging the result of Monday's general election and asking that it be declared null and void.

She has also chastised the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) for what she claimed was a sudden change in the regulations, resulting in the entire process being sabotaged. In a letter issued yesterday, Mrs. Persad-Bissessar described the People's National Movement's 23-18 victory as unfair.

She blamed the extended hour granted to voters as playing a key role in what she maintained was a biased result. The former Prime Minister said the challenge is based on the sudden decision of the EBC to extend the time for voting without any official notification to the People's Partnership.

She said the rules which govern a general election were quite clear, adding that strict adherence was absolutely necessary to minimise and avoid irregularities.





digicel-photo-1.jpgDigicel is completing work on the largest data centre in Trinidad & Tobago.

The facility, which will be one of the largest in the Caribbean, will focus on business processes and the security of customers' data.

Through the use of ISMS, a systematic approach to managing sensitive company information so that it remains secure, Digicel will help small, medium, and large businesses in any sector keep information assets secure.

The data centre will offer a full range of cloud & managed services, including off-site data storage, which can be backed-up on island or in one of Digicel's other data centres across the Caribbean, or a combination of both.





TRINIDAD: Jamaica's PM congratulates Dr Keith Rowley

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trinidad-pm-keith-rowley-microphones.jpgJamaica's Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, has congratulated Dr. Keith Rowley, Prime Minister-elect of Trinidad & Tobago, on his Party's win in Monday's general election.

In a statement on Tuesday, Mrs Simpson Miller said the people of Trinidad & Tobago had displayed their confidence in Dr. Rowley and his team to provide the leadership required at this time in the nation's history and development.

She said her Administration looks forward to working with the new government.

Dr Rowley will be sworn in as Prime Minister of the twin island republic on today.





outoing-trini-pm-kamla-persad-bissessar-keith-rowley.jpgAs if ushering a new era in the political life of Trinidad and Tobago, the rain poured heavily in the streets of the twin island republic as the people cast their votes against the ruling coalition, People's Partnership, led by outgoing Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

The opposition People's National Movement (PNM) party led by 65-year old geologist, Keith Rowley, won Monday's general elections with 22 of the 41 parliamentary seats and leaving only 19 for the ruling party.

According to reports from The Gleaner, after the polls, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar took a long time to deliver her concession speech.

She finally delivered her speech after midnight at her constituency office in the town of Penal, where she uttered that she is "proud to be citizen Kamla" .

But just as nature seemed to have predicted the the Opposition's win when the rains poured during the day, it seemed to have mirrored Kamla's defeat as the Prime Minster's car could not start when she was ready to leave after delivering her speech.

According to Trinidad Express Online, "The Prime Minister's official car, PM 1, could not start, and had to be towed from the scene shortly after midnight. Persad-Bissessar accepted a ride home with a supporter driving a sub-compact."

The Trinidad Express also said, "Persad-Bissessar, who decided not to go to the party's headquarters at Rienzi Complex, Couva, spoke with members of the media surrounded by a small group of supporters. None were members of her government."





trinidad-election-rowley-new-government.jpgThe People's National Movement (PNM) has won the general election in Trinidad & Tobago, defeating the coalition People's Partnership (PP) of Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar.

Preliminary figures show the PNM won 23 of the 41 seats with the remaining 18 going to the People's Partnership that had won 29 seats in the 2010 general election.

Dr Keith Rowley, the 66 year-old PNM Leader, addressed supporters after the Party was declared the winner.

He attributed his Party's success to the fact that it "allowed itself to be modernized," and accepted "new ways of doing things... new people... and new responsibilities."

The value of the PNM, he said, was "to be available to the people of Trinidad & Tobago" whenever it was called on.





tropical-storm-erika.jpgThe Government of Dominica has ordered the evacuation of the entire village of Petite Savanne where five more bodies were discovered on Sunday, following the passage of Tropical Storm Erika on Thursday.

It said 14 others are feared dead in the village that bore the brunt of Erika's fury as it passed across the island.

Twenty-five persons are now confirmed dead, but the authorities say they expect the death toll to rise as more areas which are cut off by the storm become accessible.

The first of what is expected to be a number of sailing missions from Barbados landed on Monday morning in Dominica.

The Barbados Coast Guard vessel, the HMBS Trident, brought medical supplies, electrical equipment and personnel who will helping in to restore the country's electrical and telecommunications capacity.





DOMINICA: Hurricane Erika leaves four dead

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erika-damage-in-dominica.jpgSreets across Dominica turned into fast-flowing rivers that swept up cars as Tropical Storm Erika pummeled the eastern Caribbean island, unleashing landslides and killing at least four people.

The storm, which forecasters said could reach Florida as a hurricane on Monday, knocked out power and water supplies on Dominica as it dumped 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain on the small island and headed west into the Caribbean Sea.

An elderly blind man and two children were killed when a mudslide crashed into their home in the southeast of the island, said Police Superintendent Daniel Carbon. Another man was found dead near his home in the capital of Roseau after a mudslide, but the cause of death was could not be immediately determined, Carbon told The Associated Press.

Police said another 20 people have been reported missing.

Erika was centered about 175 miles (280 kilometers) west of Guadeloupe, and was moving west at 15 mph (24 kph) with maximum sustained winds that had slipped slightly to 45 mph (75 kph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Erika was expected to move near Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands on Thursday and be near or just north of the Dominican Republic on Friday as it heads toward Florida early next week, possibly as a hurricane.

Chris Landsea, a meteorologist at the hurricane center, said the storm could dissipate if it passed over Hispaniola or Puerto Rico or it could gather and pose a potential threat to Florida next week. "The uncertainties are very high," he said.

As the storm entered the Caribbean, it did the heaviest damage to Dominica, an island of about 72,000 people of lush forests and steep terrain. Authorities were still conducting a full damage assessment after rivers surged over their banks and walls of mud surged into homes.

About 80 per cent of the island was without electricity, and water supply was cut off, authorities said. Trees and light poles were strewn across streets as water rushed over parked cars and ripped the scaffolding off some buildings. The main airport was closed due to flooding, with water rushing over at least one small plane.

The main river that cuts through the capital overflowed its banks and surging water crashed into the principal bridge that leads into Roseau.

"The capital city is a wreck," policewoman Teesha Alfred said. "It is a sight to behold. It's a disaster."

Erika was likely to hit the island of Hispaniola, which is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, said chief forecaster James Franklin at the National Hurricane Center.

"That would certainly not be good news for Hispaniola," he said. "They're very vulnerable to flooding. And even if Erika is a weak system that could be very bad there."

Officials shuttered schools, government offices and businesses across the region and warned of flash flooding because of dry conditions caused by the worst drought to hit the Caribbean in recent years. Authorities warned power and water service might be temporarily cut off.

Erika is expected to dump between 4 to 8 inches of rain across the region, with up to 12 inches in some areas.

Dozens of flights were canceled in the region, and the U.S. Coast Guard closed all ports in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.





arrested -photo-1.jpgTHE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade says its is aware of the arrests of the three women who were found working as security officers without the relevant work permits in the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago recently.

The ministry, in a release yesterday, said the Jamaican High Commission in that country last week ascertained the whereabouts of the Jamaicans and will visit the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) where the women were being housed.

Such visits in which diplomatic representatives routinely check on the welfare of Jamaican nationals in detention, are part of the consular duties performed by the Jamaican Missions, the ministry said.

However, it said: "The ministry wishes to remind the public that there are currently 10 categories that can move freely under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramus which set the rules of establishment and procedures for the Caribbean Community (Caricom). These, however, do not at the moment include the security profession for which work permits have to be sought."

The categories allowed free movement across the region are:

* University graduates

* Media Workers

* Sportspersons

* Artistes

* Musicians

* Registered nurses

* Trained teachers

* Artisans with a Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ)

* Holders of associate degrees or equivalent qualifications such as two CAPE/"A" Levels and National Technician Certificates

* Household domestics with a Caribbean Vocational Qualifications (CVQ) or equivalent qualification.

Said the ministry: "It is important to note, however, that a skills certificate, officially known as the Certificate of Recognition of Caricom Skills Qualification, which can be obtained from the Ministry of Labour in Jamaica or the designated ministry in your host country is a prerequisite for employment."

It added: The ministry wishes to remind Jamaicans that the freedom of movement provision under the Treaty does not by itself automatically confer permission to work. In order to take up employment of any nature, persons falling outside of the ten agreed categories will require work permits or work permit exemptions. It should also be noted that those who are not in any of the categories of skilled persons, are not temporary service providers or who are not exercising the right of establishment, will require work permit approvals in the respective Caricom territories, in advance of travel."

The ministry said, too, that Jamaicans travelling to Caricom countries for business, study, tourism, or personal affairs, must be in possession of the following:

* A valid passport with at least six (6) months validity;

* A return airline ticket as appropriate to the purpose of the visit;

* An adequate amount of money to meet living expenses during the visit;

* Information (name, complete address and contact details) for their accommodation, whether hotel or private residence;

* The name and full details of their host or sponsor;

* Where possible, documentation confirming the purpose of the visit; and

* The name and telephone number, preferably the mobile number, of anyone meeting them at the airport.

"The ministry wishes to also inform the public that the immigration authorities in that country routinely conduct spot checks and persons found to be working without a permit, or illegally are placed in the immigration detention centre pending removal or deportation."





Tropical Storm Erika forms overnight

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tropical-storm-erika.jpgTropical Storm Erika is approaching the Leeward Islands from the Atlantic, and forecasters say it may gain strength.

The storm's maximum sustained winds Tuesday are 45 mph (75 kph).

Tropical storm watches have been issued for portions of the Leeward Islands including Montserrat, Antigua, Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla, Saba, St Eustatius, St Maarten, Guadeloupe, St Martin, and St Barthelemy.

A tropical storm watch means tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours.

Erika is centered about 730 miles (1,170 kilometers) east of the Leeward Islands and is moving west near 20 mph (31 kph).

Meanwhile in the Pacific, a tropical depression is forecast to become a tropical storm later in the day.The depression has maximum sustained winds near 35 mph (55 kph).

It's centered about 1,565 miles (2,520 kilometers) east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii, and is moving west.





Musicians in Guyana are seeking modern copyright laws and a 50 percent quota for local music on the state-owned radio station.

The Guyana Music Network (GMN) made its intentions clear at a meeting on Tuesday evening where GMN founder, Burchmore Simon, said he would seek a meeting with President David Granger and ask for an increase in the number of hours that Guyanese music is played on the radio stations run by the National Communications Network (NCN).

Eddy Grant, who was born in Guyana, was also in attendance and called on musicians to picket NCN to pressure the company into giving airplay to locally produced music and to persuade the Minister of Culture to support the playing of Guyanese music.

He urged the musicians to see themselves as a powerful and influential constituency who can decide the outcome of a general election.





BERMUDA: Jamaican prisoner wins landmark case

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A Jamaican prisoner, who claimed his constitutional rights were infringed because he was not allowed to apply for parole after serving a third of his sentence, has won a landmark victory in the Bermuda Supreme Court .

Leighton Griffiths was convicted in 2007 of importing 480 grammes of cocaine that was hidden inside an air compressor.

He was initially sentenced to 14 years in prison, but this was later reduced to 12 years by the Court of Appeal.

Earlier this year, Griffiths, who is married to a Bermudian, launched legal action because, as a foreign national, he was denied the opportunity to be released on licence. This after serving a third of his sentence, even though he was otherwise qualified for such early release.

Griffiths claimed that the provisions of the Prison Act 1979, which set down the rules surrounding prisoners' access to parole, breached Section 12, which prevents discrimination on the ground of place of origin, of the Bermuda Constitution.

In a written judgment, released at the end of last week, Chief Justice Ian Kawaley ruled in favour of Griffiths, saying his constitutional rights had been infringed.

"The provisions of the Prisons Act 1979 relating to parole as applied to the applicant as a Jamaican national, who presently has no opportunity to apply for any form of early release, discriminate against him on the grounds of his place of origin, in contravention of his rights under section 12 of the Bermuda Constitution," Chief Justice Kawaley said.

Bermudians, and people with an unrestricted right to reside and work in Bermuda, are able to apply for release on licence in Bermuda after serving a third of their sentence. Nationals originating in some countries, including the United Kingdom, are also able to obtain an early release on licence because their governments have agreed to supervise them on their return to their countries of origin. However, Jamaica has not agreed to accept prisoners released on licence.

As a result Griffiths was required to remain in prison for twice as long as those prisoners who were able to obtain parole.





ANTIGUA: Ban on importation of plastic bags

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plastic-bags.jpgThe Antigua and Barbuda government has announced a ban on the importation of plastic bags into the country.

Health Minster Molwyn Joseph said the ban would come into effect on January 1 next year and would involve all plastic bags, except for those used for garbage collection and disposal.

"January 1, 2016 was established as a ban to allow for further consultation across the board and to give the business establishments the opportunity to prepare for the transition," Joseph said.

He said the Ministry of Health would further prohibit the use of plastic bags by mid 2016 and during the period, the authorities will be working with partners in the private sector to find alternatives. Joseph said that the government would be willing to waive duties and other taxes to assist the private sector as they seek alternatives to the use of plastic bags.





TRINIDAD & TOBAGO: Greater fire power for cops

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greater-fire-power-for-trini-cops.jpgThe Trinidad & Tobago Police Service (TTPS) is beefing up the fire power of its personnel.

The Police Service recently signed a multi-million dollar deal with a firm to equip all police officers with some of the latest hi-tech guns to match the fire power of some of the criminals they are now confronting.

The Trinidad Guardian has reported that two of the main guns to be purchased include the SIG (Zig )PRO and the SIG (ZIG) Sauer P226 Pistol.

The latter-will be assigned to every "ordinary" police officer in the Trinidad & Tobago Police Service, while the SIG PRO will be assigned to officers in the Special Branch Unit.

According to the newspaper, Special Branch has already been issued with new firearms. That particular weapon is used by counter-terrorism specialist firearms officers

Social and Welfare Association President Anand Ramesar said the acquisition of new guns for officers was long overdue.

Mr. Ramesar told the Trinidad Guardian that the Association has been clamouring for this change for a long time, and gave his total endorsement and support to the Commissioner of Police on the initiative.

He said some of the guns being used by the TTPS date as far back as the early 1970s.





TRINIDAD: More trouble for Jack Warner

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jack-warner-photo-1.jpgEmbattled former FIFA vice president Austin Jack Warner continues to find himself in more 'hot water' after he was ordered by a high court judge to pay 900 thousand dollars for defamation.

The court ruled that Warn er a politician in Trinidad and Tobago should pay compensation to former cabinet colleague Anand Ramlogan for defaming him.

The judge ordered Warner to pay the money for alleging on a political platform in October 2013 that the former attorney general had corruptly obtained 51 properties.

In a 57-page judgment, Justice Mohammed ruled that Warner had failed to provide proof of his allegation.

However attorneys for Warner who is facing corruption charges for his role in the latest FIFA scandal say they will appeal the decision.





Three members of the Georgetown City Constabulary in Guyana have been dismissed for becoming pregnant.

The dismissals took place, in apparent violation of the Constitution and the Prevention of Discrimination Act in Guyana expressly prohibiting discrimination on the ground of pregnancy.

The dismissal letters state that the pregnancies were a violation of a department policy that prohibits female constabulary officers from becoming pregnant during the first two years.

Several female constabulary officers told Stabroek News that the prohibition against pregnancy in the first two years of service has always been the policy of the constabulary.





trinidad-jailbreak-jul-24.jpgA police officer was killed in a shootout with escaped prisoners in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago on Friday.

Police constable Maynard was fatally shot in the shootout outside the Port of Spain General Hospital. Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan says the hospital is still on lock down.

The hospital shooting occurred after three inmates escaped from the Port of Spain Royal Gaol prison. At about 12:30 pm, there was a rapid exchange of gunfire between police officers and the escaped prisoners outside the casualty area.

police-station.jpg

Police spokesman ASP Michael Pierre explained that the prisoners - Allan "Scanni" Martin, Hassan Atwell and Christopher Selby aka Monster - were assisted in their escape by a van which crashed in front of the jail.

Police sources confirmed that Scanni was shot and killed and police are searching around Port-of-Spain and environs for the other two.

The streets surrounding the hospital have since been cordoned off.

Pierre appealed for calm from the public, stating that police has the situation under control.





abu-bakr.jpgYasin Abu Bakr, the leader of the Jamaat Al Mulimeen group that staged an unsuccessful coup in 1990, has been detained in connection with the murder of prominent attorney Dana Seetahal, according to media reports here on Monday.

The reports said that Bakr, 73, had been taken from his home on Monday morning, by police as they continue their probe into the assassination of Seeathal on May 4, last year.

One radio station reported that Bakr had questioned the police who staged the pre-dawn raid on his home in search of guns and ammunition and was told that his detention is in relation to the murder of the former president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago.

Seeathal was killed as she drove to her apartment in the capital. Two vehicles are reported to have pulled alongside her causing her to come to a stop and the occupants fired several bullets at her, hitting her in the head and chest.

The police have so far issued no statement regarding the arrest of Bakr, who in 1990 led more than 100 men in an attack on the Trinidad and Tobago parliament in a bid to unseat the then ANR Robinson administration. Bakr also refused to appear before a Commission of Inquiry that probed the circumstances surrounding the failed coup.

In February this year, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) distanced itself from media reports that at least six people would have been charged in connection with her murder. In a statement, the TTPS said that the reports in the media 'are inconsistent with the progress of the investigation thus far and manifest obvious distortions with material facts of the case".

The TTPS said it "considers it extremely irresponsible the naming of any officer/individual from any agency or organisation who may or may not be assisting with the investigation".





Sections of the Eastern Caribbean and Guyana were rocked by earthquakes shortly before noon on Thursday.

The Seismic Research Center at the University of the West Indies confirmed that tremors occurred in St Lucia, Barbados and Martinique.

The first that measured 5.7 while the second, felt in the same region four hours later at 11:16 am, measured 6.4 occurred at 7:01am.

In St Lucia, the earthquakes were particularly heavy in the north, but there have been no reports of damage.

In Guyana, the tremor was rocked sections of the Essequibo Coast and the villages of Bartica, Buck Hall and Mabaruma.





TRINIDAD: 4 members of one family murdered

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Four members of a family were shot and killed in Chatam in south Trinidad on Wednesday night, police said.

While they have not given details about the incident, the father of one of those killed, has been on radio providing details.

Patrick Joba has identified them as his daughter Grace Toussaint Baptiste 55, her mother, Lena Toussaint, 75, his grandson, Jeremie Toussaint Baptiste 24, and his son in law Peter Baptiste 59.

"I found the bodies this morning. I had been calling them to attend a prayer meeting for somebody that was killed and I got no answer. I went to their house and I saw the door open and my grandson lying on the ground," he told radio listeners.

He said a threat had earlier been made on the lives of the family. He gave no further details.





TRINIDAD: No guns allowed in court

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gun-crime.jpgThe Trinidadian Judiciary says it is baffled that police officers on Monday refused to enter the Arima Magistrates' Court because they were not allowed to take their service weapons inside.

In a media release yesterday, representatives of the judiciary said the practice was not new and was implemented in accordance with international best practice years ago.

However, police officers, who had matters at the court on Monday, queried the procedure and eventually refused to enter the court after they were told they would have to be subjected to scans and could not go in with their weapons.

This reportedly led to confrontations between the officers and court security personnel.





causion.jpgAtiguan singer Causion says his next album is the most heartfelt he has done since he began recording over 20 years ago.

To be released late this year, The Mission in Progress will be the artiste's fifth album. The set contains the song Faith, which Fort Lauderdale-based Causion wrote and recorded two years ago when he was going through 'traumatic times'.

"My mother died in New York from cancer and it was a very tough time. Faith is saying, 'no matter what the grief we have to move on'," he said.

Causion lost his father one year earlier, also to cancer. Faith, like most of The Mission in Progress, is co-produced by Causion and Maurice Gregory, keyboardist with Third World.

That band's guitarist Stephen 'Cat' Coore and bass player Richie Daley, also contributed to The Mission in Progress. Causion opened for Third World on their recent tour of the United States West Coast.

Known as 'Antigua's Reggae Ambassador', Causion is from the English Harbour area of Antigua. His previous album, Stella's Kid, was released in 2010.





The alleged beating of a visually impaired man in Barbuda, has prompted the president of the Antigua and Barbuda Association of Persons with Disabilities to call for the suspension of the police officers who were involved in the incident.

In June, Malcom Cephas, 21, alleged that he was beaten all over the body by the police with what he believed to be the butt of a gun.

Cephas said he was accosted by an officer during a night out and because he couldn't see who was manhandling him, he defended himself. The next morning the officers came to his home and took him to the police station where the beating occurred.

According to Bernard Warner, president of the Antigua & Barbuda Association of Persons with Disabilities (APAPD), the alleged incident should be seen as a human rights violation.

"How could you beat a blind person so severely that his face was so badly bruised?"

Warner told the Antigua Observer that he is also calling on the public and the relevant authorities, including the Caribbean Council of the Blind, the commissioner of police, and Attorney General Steadroy "Cutie" Benjamin to take action against this type of police brutality.

"We need to now enact the policy of the UN on the rights of persons with disabilities. It protects and ensures that this does not happen. I'm calling on the Government to suspend the officers who have been alleged in this matter."

Police have said that the incident is under investigation.





trinidad-p-m-kamla-persad-bissessar-photo-1.jpgPrime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has served notice she has no intention of responding to the constant attacks levelled against her by corruption-accused Jack Warner.

At a meeting in Debe on Tuesday, Persad-Bissessar said Warner and People's National Movement (PNM) leader Dr Keith Rowley are a "tag team", and she will not go along with their plan to distract from the real issues of the general election campaign.

"No doubt you have detected I am fed up of the gruesome twosome of Rowley and Warner, and tonight I want to serve notice that I have no intention of engaging in their script, in their play, in their comedy, in their soap opera. I have none, no intention," said Persad-Bissessar, as the audience applauded.

"I serve notice further I will not respond to the lies and the fabrication coming from Mr Warner, and every one of those I will place in the hands of my lawyers, who will deal with him in the court of law. That is the one place he 'fraid, the court of law, but he cannot escape it. He will have to come in to that court of the land," she added.

"I repeat my point. I serve notice to you and to all the media and to all the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago: I will not be distracted, I will not be engaged in the script, in the game and in the play of Warner and his tag team Rowley.

"Instead, I will focus on the priorities, on the policies and the programmes to bring up Trinidad and Tobago into the new Trinidad and Tobago," she said.





kamla.jpgPrime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar of Trinidad & Tobago has accused her former national security minister, Austin Jack Warner, of having sought to blackmail her into reinstating him as a government minister.

Mrs Persad Bissessar was responding to the latest release of tapes and documents on Tuesday by Warner, claiming corruption and criminal conduct within the coalition People's Partnership government that faces a general election on September 7.

During a news conference, Warner played the tapes, again claiming he had to warn the country about the Prime Minister, since, according to him, she was "unfit for office."

Warner was fired from the Cabinet in 2011, amidst an earlier corruption scandal, relating to his role then as a vice-president of football's world governing body, FIFA.

Warner is currently on indictment by the US Justice Department, relating to football corruption charges, and is awaiting court hearings to determine whether he should be extradited to face those charges in the United States.

Seven current FIFA officials, including Caymanian Jeffrey Webb, were arrested in Zurich, Switzerland last month on similar corruption charges, and are awaiting extradition to the United States as well.





trinidad-p-m-kamla-persad-bissessar.jpgWith the Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams denying the existence of any report on the discovery of marijuana at the Prime Minister's home in 2013, Jack Warner held a news conference this afternoon, to "reveal all the details".

The news conference, attended by local and foreign media, was held at Mandela Hall, Centre of Excellence, Macoya.

Warner played three tape recorded conversations between him and a man sounding like former National Security Minister Gary Griffith, and an email exchange in which Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar and the alleged marijuana find at her home, was the subject.

In an interview with Express Chief Reporter Joel Julien on Tuesday afternoon, Griffith confirmed he was the person whose voice was heard in the taped conversations. Griffith said he is leaving it to the population to decide the kind of man Warner is for secretly taping him.

He however dismissed Warner's "bombshell", saying everything remains as is and that Warner was the only person who ever mentioned a situation of marijuana being found at Persad-Bissessar's home.

Speaking with reporters in Tobago on Monday, Williams was asked about the Sunday Express report, in which Warner, in a statement submitted to a Justice of the Peace last week, claimed that on Friday April 12, 2013, former deputy Commissioner of Police Mervyn Richardson came to the Parliament and informed him (Warner) that a packet containing four ounces of marijuana was found outside a window of Persad-Bissessar's private Phillipine residence.

Warner, then the National Security Minister , claimed that he called Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal who advised him to contact the Prime Minister who was in New York at the time.

Warner claimed when he contacted the Prime Minister, she was surprised and enquired whether she should return home immediately and resign.

He claimed that he advised Persad-Bissessar to not resign as he and others- Richardson, Moonilal as well as former national security adviser Gary Griffith - would cover up the ganja find.

In the Sunday Express article, reporter Denyse Renne said she was shown a copy of a police diary extract which stated that 113 grammes of marijuana were found at Persad-Bissessar's house during a routine patrol at around 7am on April 12.

Richardson, Moonilal, and Griffith have all since denied the claims by Warner, who is fighting extradition to the United States on multiple charges of corruption, money laundering and racketeering brought by the US Department of Justice, linked to alleged wrong-doing while he was a FIFA Vice President. A check by the Express also found that Persad-Bissessar was in the country on April 12, and left for New York two days later.

Acting Commissioner Williams said he sought to verify the claims made by Warner "and there is no report recorded in the police service concerning a matter like that. I was head of the police service at that point in time and that matter was not brought to my attention".

Williams said he had also spoken with the operational head of the special branch named in the report. 'He has publicly already said he nothing about that report and he has confirmed that position to me"

Regarding the existence of a police diary extract concerning the marijuana find, Williams said "there is no recorded report based on the check and verification"





Regional banks listed in US FIFA probe

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fifa-scandal.jpgSix regional banks including the JMMB Group owned Intercommercial Bank in Trinidad and Tobago, have been listed in the U.S. indictment against 14 people including present and past FIFA officials for racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering.

The U.S. indictment said Intercommercial Bank, First Citizens and Republic Bank - all based in Trinidad and Tobago - were used to complete wire transfers of large sums of money for FIFA officials.

Trinidad's Express Newspaper reported that two of the transactions in the US indictment including an alleged US$10 million bribe paid to former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner to host the 2010 World Cup passed through banks based in Trinidad and Tobago.

It also said the banks processed another US$1.2 million alleged bribe from Qatari billionaire Mohamed bin Hammam, for Warner's facilitation of the May 2011 CONCACAF meeting where the cash-for-votes scandal occurred.

The other three banks that were cited were First Caribbean International Bank operations in the Bahamas and Barclays and Fidelity banks in the Cayman Islands.

None of the banks has been charged with any crime or regulatory violation.





jack-warner-photo-1.jpgThe media frenzy surrounding former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner continued on Sunday as a reporter from UK news station Channel 4 was asked to leave his office.

Jonathan Rugman and his camera crew went to Warner's constituency office on Sunday to question him over an alleged US$10 million bribe.

Rugman was curious as to why they couldn't question him and stood in his office to film the video, while Warner sat in silence behind him.

"We've been given permission to film Jack Warner in his constituency office this morning but we've been told we cant ask him any questions, we can't ask, for example, whether he was part of a scheme to receive $10 million in bribes to rig the location of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, that is the allegation," he said.

In response Warner asked that they respect his privacy, eventually becoming exasperated and stood up at his desk, while his security asked the Channel 4 team to leave.





CAYMAN: Acting head of fire services suspended

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cayman-john-bodden-acting-chief-fire-officer.jpgJohn Bodden, acting Chief Fire Officer of the the Cayman Islands, has been suspended, with pay, pending the outcome of a police investigation against him.

Cayman Islands Police have confirmed that Mr. Bodden remains on bail on suspicion of dangerous driving and leaving the scene of an accident in January, but he has not been charged with a crime, so far.

Mr. Bodden was arrested last Thursday and his vehicle seized as part of the police investigation.





cayman-islands-premier-alden-mclaughlin.jpgCayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin has defended his nation's reputation in the wake of the FIFA bribery scandal, saying his government takes a "zero tolerance approach to anyone carrying out illicit activities."

The internayional spotlight has been thrown onto Cayman, following the arrest of Caymanian Jeffrey Webb, a vice-president of Fifa and President of the regional governing body for football, Concacaf.

According to Premier McLaughlin, local law enforcement agencies are cooperating with the international investigation into allegations of corruption at world football's governing body.

He also asserted his confidence that the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority was taking "appropriate action" following allegations that some bribery payments were routed through Fidelity Bank Ltd. in Grand Cayman.

He said, "The Cayman Islands has a reputation for engagement and achievement of very robust global standards in relation to the regulation of domestic and cross-border financial transactions."

Against that background, he said his government did not intend "to compromise the hard work we have done over the past couple of decades and the good rating and reputation we have earned."
In that regard, he reiterated that Cayman has had a long history "of cooperating with global, and in particular, U.S. authorities and there is no doubt that we have and will continue to fully assist in the investigation and ultimate conclusion of these matters."

Mr. McLaughlin said government had been monitoring developments since the arrest of Webb along with other FIFA officials, including former Cayman Islands resident Costas Takkas, in Switzerland last week. Webb is one of 14 businessmen and sports marketing executives accused of negotiating bribes in return for television and media rights for international football tournaments.





T&T: Extradition request for Jack Warner

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jack-warner.jpgTrinidad & Tobago Attorney General Garvin Nicholas has confirmed that the US State Department has requested the extradition of former Fifa Vice President and CONCAF President, Jack Warner. Nicholas says the matter will go through the court system in the twin-island republic.

This development followed an announcement by US Attorney General Loretta Lynch at a press conference on Wednesday that the investigation into wide spread corruption at FIFA will continue, and hinted at additional arrests.

The indictment also alleges that officials took millions of dollars in bribes, over 20 years. Fourteen persons are under indictment while seven were arrested in Switzerland last night. Six of those indicted have current ties to FIFA, while another, Jack Warner, is a former vice president and ex-president of CONCACAF.

The indictment alleges Warner took US$10 million in bribes from the South African Government for the 2010 World Cup. Lynch declared the next step in the the FIFA investigation would involve extraditions.

Officials would not comment on the investigation into FIFA president Sepp Blatter, the man widely regarded as the most powerful person in sports. One federal law enforcement official said Mr. Blatter's fate would depend on where the investigation goes from here.

Meanwhile, Warner who is seeking re-election to Trinidad & Tobago's parliament has responded to corruption charges levelled against him by US authorities. In statement issued on Wednesday, Warner said he was aware that he was being sought in connection with the criminal probes underway. However, he said he was innocent of all charges and had fought fearlessly against all forms of injustice and corruption. He added that he has not been afforded any due process and has not been questioned in the matter.

Warner stated that the actions of Fifa no longer concern him, having stepped aside more than four years ago. He noted that the cross-border coordinated actions come at a time when Fifa is assembled for elections to select a President who is said is universally disliked by the international community

He said it was his experience that it was times such as this, that large world powers typically take action to affect world football. Warner's two sons are among four men who have already pleaded guilty in in the U.S. football corruption investigation involving bribes totaling more than US$100 million. However Jack Warner said he was not aware of his sons' guilty pleas.

The guilty pleas were unsealed at the Justice Department Indictment. According to the Associated Press, those who pleaded guilty are Daryan and Daryll Warner, Chuck Blazer, former Concacaf general-secretary, who for nearly two decades was the most senior American official at FIFA, and Jose Hawilla, an executive of the Brazil-based sports marketing firm, Traffic Sports.

Blazer has been accused of pocketing millions of dollars in marketing commissions and failure to pay taxes. He has been a cooperating witness for the FBI since leaving football in 2013 and has forfeited almost $2 million. US officials say Hawilla has agreed to forfeit more than US$151 million.The men face maximum jail terms of 20 years. Some of the charges include racketeering, wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy, money laundering and obstruction of justice charges.

Concacaf head and Fifa Vice President, Caymanian Jeffrey Webb, was among several senior officials at Fifa who were arrested in Zurich, Switzerland this morning. Webb is also president of the Cayman Islands Football Association.

Cayman Television said a statement is expected from Webb's CONCACAF office in George Town.





T&T: Video shows cops beating unarmed man

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video-shows-cops-beating.jpgPORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (Trinidad Express) - A video purportedly showing armed police officers kicking and dragging an unarmed man has gone viral on social media site Facebook.

The 52-second video begins with a marked police driving on what appears to be a football field while some sort of event is taking place.

As the vehicle comes to a stop, a bareback man is seen running. He is followed on foot by two uniformed officers. The officers are walking.

The man picks up a plastic chair and launches it in the direction of the officers and tries to run away. Another uniformed officer exits the ¬vehicle.

As the man tries to escape, he trips near the parked police vehicle.

At this point, the three officers surround the man and appear to be kicking and cuffing him while he is on the ground. He is then dragged by his feet by one of the officers, while another continues to kick him.

Onlookers who were heard laughing at the beginning of the video try to appeal to the officers to exercise restraint. Some people are seen rushing to where the officers are holding the man.

The man is then placed in the back of the police vehicle.

A DJ plays the refrain "look trouble now" from soca artiste Machel Montano's 2015 Soca Monarch and Road March song, "Like Ah Boss".

The caption of the video states "No man watch that alyuh cah be kicking an dragging people like dog so".

The Express yesterday contacted the general secretary of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Social Welfare Association Inspector Michael Seales for a comment on the ¬situation. He, however, said he had not seen the video in question.

This is not the first incident in recent times where police officers have come under public scrutiny for their action caught on camera and posted on social media.





GUYANA: President David Granger takes office

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guyana-president-takes-the-oath.jpgBrigadier-General David Granger was sworn-in as the new president of Guyana on Saturday, witnessed by a large, enthusiastic crowd.

Granger led a grouping of parties, headed by A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC), to victory over the incumbent PPP/Civic, which had been in office for 22 years, in Monday's elections.

Figures released by the Guyana Elections Commission gave APNU/AFC 206,817 votes, compared to 201,457 for PPP/Civic.Incumbent president, Donald Ramotar, had appeared unwilling to accept the preliminary results and called for a complete recount.

As the post election tensions mounted, the European Union, and the governments of the United States, Britain, and Canada, all releases statements calling for the results to be respected and praising the Gunana Elections Commission for the work it had done in conducting the elections.

The EU and the three influential government all made it clear that they expected any grievance over the result to be addressed through legal channels. Moses V Nagamootoo, leader of the Alliance For Change, is the Prime Minister-designate.





The Bahamas: Jamaican club owner charged

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Jomo Campbell, the attorney in the Bahamas representing nightclub owner Omar Gordon, accused of facilitating 14 women dancers, 12 of whom are Jamaicans and an additional two who are Bahamians, is denying the allegations brought against his client.

"My client has been granted bail from the Supreme Court. He has denied all the charges," said Campbell.

The 40-year-old Gordon, who is Jamaican, faces charges for having a business opened beyond licensed hours, playing loud music, refusing to allow peace officers on his premises, and 14 counts of abetting the women. These charges stem from a raid on his Madeira Street club, Club Pure, on April 25. The police, acting on information, went to the nightclub and, upon their arrival, found women allegedly hiding in a secret room, according to the Bahamian Tribune.

They have been charged with committing gross indecency.

The women, along with Gordon, were taken into custody concerning infringements of immigration and business licence laws.

All individuals are to return to court on July 15.

When Campbell was asked if there were any incidents of human trafficking involving Jamaicans, he said there were none.

"I actually spoke with the ambassador; there is no indication of human trafficking. I can tell you that those young ladies were involved in no prostitution at all. There is nothing to indicate that there were any acts of prostitution," Campbell said.





Barbados is struggling to deal with large amounts of foul-smelling, brown seaweed piling up on beaches, officials on the tourism-dependent Caribbean island said Monday.

Sargassum seaweed washes up every year along many coastlines in the region. But some officials in Barbados say this is the largest amount they have ever seen.The island organized a national cleanup effort over the weekend to help clear the seaweed that is affecting some two dozen beaches.

"This year, the volume has increased to such an extent that it is challenging for all of the agencies combined to deal with it. We all need more resources," said Ryan Als, technical officer responsible for beaches and park management.

Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association CEO Sue Springer described this year's seaweed pileup as "exceptionally bad." She said bookings have not dropped so far, but some beach-loving tourists are unhappy.

However, Janet Harper, a retiree from the English city of Sheffield, said she wasn't letting her two-week vacation be ruined by the mats of seaweed and the buzzing flies they attract.

"They've done a good job trying to get rid of it, but it's just one of those things," Harper said.

Fishermen in Barbados say the thickness of the floating sargassum clumps has led to diminished catches and a recent drop in earnings, despite the fact that it serves as floating habitats for various marine creatures.

"This is impacting on the livelihood of the fisherfolk," said Vernel Nicholls, head of a national union of fishermen.

Although many perceive it as a nuisance, scientists say washed-up seaweed is an important part of the coastal ecosystem and helps stabilize beaches. The drifting seaweed comes from the Sargasso Sea, a sprawling body of warm water in the Atlantic known for its thick mats of brownish algae.





A Jamaican drama teacher residing in The Cayman Islands who admitted to indecently assaulting three boys was sentenced to three years' imprisonment,

Charged with one count of gross indecency, three counts of indecent assault of a male and one count of possession of an indecent photograph of a child is 33-year-old Delroy James. He pleaded guilty to the offences.

According to Cayman 27 - a Cayman Islands based news service - James also showed pornography to two of the 15-year-old boys and instructed one to expose himself and demonstrate how to put on a condom.

It is reported that James asked two of the students to let him measure their private parts.

The court ordered James to be deported back to his homeland upon completion of his sentence.





st-vincent-pm-ralph-gonsalves.jpgBarbadian authorities have launched an investigation into an incident involving St Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves at the Grantley Adams International Airport.

Gonsalves was reportedly headed back home from Guyana and was due to connect on a LIAT flight when he was not recognised. He was ordered by a female G4S officer to return for further screening after his bag went off during his initial security check, Barbados Today reported.

But Gonsalves, one of the most recgonised leaders of the region, refused to follow the guard's orders. It was after she called for back-up that another security guard recognised him.

It is customary for protocol officers to accompany prime ministers and other dignitaries, but no one was reportedly present for Gonsalve's arrival.

Senior officers at the airport subsequently issued an apology to Gonsalves for the guard's error as well as the lapse in official protocol arrangements.





st-lucia-gay-teen-facebook.jpgAuthorities in St Lucia have launched a search for a Jamaican man who they say is a person of interest in the murder of an 18-year-old male on Tuesday.

The teen, Anthony Augustin of Grand Riviere, Gros-Islet was reportedly an open homosexual; local media reported the teen went missing after leaving to meet a young male he met earlier on Facebook.

Augustin's body was fished from the Trouya Beach at around 1:30pm on Tuesday. He was found with a laceration to his throat and 56 stab wounds. A post mortem, conducted on the body yesterday, concluded that he died from hemorrhagic shock secondary to a stab wound.

No arrests have been made in connection with the murder but Police are trying to locate a St Lucia-based Jamaican man who has been identified as a person of interest in the investigation.





LIME Anguilla ambassadors for New York concert

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british-dependency.jpgNew York, NY (April 14, 2015): Recently named LIME Anguilla Brand Ambassadors, British Dependency will travel to New York to perform at the launch of Caribbean Dreamers Live concert series on May 12, 2015 at Le Poison Rouge.

British Dependency fuses various genres with their three-piece ensemble, drum, guitar and bass. There's, a unique and eclectic sound appeals not only to those with a discerning musical palate but also those who are avid reggae fans. Adding to their vintage sound is a fresh take on the overall feel and look of the band which consists of Anguilla's first female bass player, Joyah along with drummer, Jaiden and lead vocalist and guitar player, Ishmael.

Pat McKay, Program Director at Sirius XM Radio, who will also serve as host of Caribbean Dreamers Live once remarked, "It's exciting to get to know the group who, at this point in their growth, already have much of the tangible - they make original music - and intangible factors - multiple-creative-skills, looks, intellect - separating them from the pack. I feel very hopeful this group represents where the music is heading so get on board!"

No strangers to the Tri-state area, fans can expect the Band to perform singles such as, "Do You This," "One," "Wisdom," "Selah," "Casket Closed," and "Small Minded People" from their debut album Finding Wisdom which was released on November 20, 2013, as well as single "Close Your Eyes" from their sophomore album The Conversation, slated for release later this year.

Caribbean Dreamers Live is a concert series that showcases the unique sound and talent of artists in a live setting. With New York, 'the city that never sleeps,' as the backdrop, concertgoers are transported to the Caribbean with live unfiltered music of the tropics in the form of Reggae, Soca, Calypso and Compa, among others. To catapult the experience globally, the concert is streamed live via www.CaribbeanOneTV.com.

The concert will also see performances by Leon and the Peoples, Trinidadian/French artist, NAILA, Dutch artist, Tasha's World, Soca artist, Jadine and reggae artist, Mr. Kool with an appearance by Ky-mani Marley.





Cuba to be removed from terror list

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US President Barack Obama has decided to lift the U.S. designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism.

In a message to Congress on Tuesday, the White House said that the long-awaited decision effectively removes the principal impediment to establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, as pledged by Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro last December.

Congress has 45 days to consider Cuba's removal from the list before it becomes effective, but cannot interfere with Obama's decision without voting separate legislation, a measure that the White House has deemed unlikely.

At a news conference Saturday, Obama said that the majority of the American people, as well as a majority of Congress, approves of his opening to Cuba.

Cuba was first designated a state sponsor of terrorism in 1982, at the height of the Cold War. Cuba's removal would leave only three countries on the list--Iran, Sudan and Syria.





PARAMARIBO, Suriname (CMC) - Suriname law enforcement authorities have confirmed that two police officers involved in a fracas at the Guyana embassy earlier this month have been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation.

Over the weekend, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Lackin apologised to his Guyanese counterpart Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett after Georgetown said it wanted an expeditious explanation from its Dutch-speaking Caribbean Community neighbour after the police attempted to arrest the chauffer of its diplomat on the compound of the Guyana Embassy.

Guyana said that the incident occurred on April 1, when an unidentified Surinamese national parked his vehicle in front of the gate of the Guyana Embassy in Paramaribo, in clear sight of a "no parking sign".

It said during the fracas the shirt of its Ambassador Keith Gorge was torn.

The Corps Police Suriname (KPS) said the police officers involved in the scuffle at the Guyana embassy had been suspended and that a thorough investigation of the incident will follow.

"Management of KPS regrets the actions of the policemen on the premises of the Guyanese embassy and will take disciplinary action, based on the outcome of the investigation," the KPS said in a statement.

The police said that while it regretted the incident, non-diplomatic personnel of the embassy were also at fault when they assaulted the motorist and damaged his car.

It said that that is why the officers tried to enter the embassy to arrest embassy personnel, which indeed was in violation of the Vienna Convention.

"(Just) a few weeks before this incident, a memo was sent out with special instructions regarding the rules that apply to diplomats and buildings of diplomatic representations that fall under the Vienna Convention," police said.





barack-obama-and-raul-castro-in-panama.jpg

History was made in Panama on Saturday, when President Barack Obama of the United States and President Raul Castro of Cuba met for discussions on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas.

This was the first meeting between the leaders of the two countries for more than half a century. There had previously been no such contact since the Cuban Revolution which brought Fidel Castro, Raul's older brother, to power in 1959. The failed Bay of Pigs invasion, supported by the American CIA, and the decision to establish a communist regime in Cuba at the height of the Cold War, accentuated by the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the imposition of a decades long American economic embargo, have characterised the bad relationship that has existed between the two neighbours ever since.

Mr. Obama described the recent improvements in relations between the two countries, with several measures announced in December, as a "turning point." While there has already been a significant easing of some economic restrictions, the embargo officially remains in place, and on Saturday Mr. Castro has called for the lifting of the US economic blockade.

President Obama reiterated his Administration's position that it was time to "try something new" and that it was important for the US to engage more directly with the Cuban government and the Cuban people. He added that over time it would be possible to "turn the page" on old divisions but he acknowledged that there were still significant differences.

Mr Obama said that immediate tasks include normalising diplomatic relationships between the two countries and opening a US embassy in Havana and a Cuban embassy in Washington DC.





Five April Fools' Day Facts

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April Fools' Day 2015 is here. That is no joke.

April 1 is famously the day when jokers and pranksters get their kicks by conning the unsuspecting and gullible among us with sometimes cruel but always fun tricks. If you get satisfaction from fooling others, this day is for you. If you're one of those people that gets easily fooled, you might just want to call in sick that day and not leave your house or interact with the outside world at all, for that matter.

But who would create such a potentially dastardly day, and why would we continue to celebrate it? Unfortunately, like many holidays and customs we observe every year, no one really knows the exact origins of April Fools' Day. However, there are plenty of theories as to how this day came about, although who's to say which are legitimate and which may be jokes that keep on getting told? Well, that's the fun - and frustration - of April Fools' Day, I suppose.

In any case, these five facts about the history and origins of April Fools' Day are sure to help you celebrate the holiday right.

1. It May Have Religious Origins

Though April Fools' Day is not a religious holiday, its origins may be related to religion, which is surprising, considering this day encourages activities you probably wouldn't learn in Sunday School. Many trace the origins of April Fools' Day back to 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII adopted the Gregorian Calendar (yup, it's named after him), effectively moving New Year's Day from the end of March to Jan. 1. Though the change was widely publicized, some people didn't get the memo, while others simply didn't want to transition to the new calendar, so they continued to ring in the New Year at the end of March. Those who didn't make the change were mocked for their folly and called "April Fools."

2. Everyone's Got A Theory

As with most traditions that are ingrained in our culture today, some don't think this calendar change was the start of April Fools' Day and have offered up other theories. Some believe that the origins of April Fools' Day go back to the Ancient Roman festival of Hilaria, which celebrated the resurrection of the god Attis and involved dressing up in disguises. There were several other renewal festivals like this in Europe that April Fools' Day may have grown out of because revelers played pranks and there was a sort of "anything goes" attitude adopted. However, the fact that some April Fools' Day origin stories are pranks in and of themselves doesn't help.

3. It Really Took Off In 18th Century England

April Fools' Day as we know it today became popular around 1700 in England. Without Netflix, what else were they going to do for fun?

4. Celebrations Aren't The Same In Every Country

Americans know that on April Fools' Day, it's either prank or be pranked. However, countries around the world bring their own unique flavor to the revelry. The holiday is known as Poisson d'Avril in France, which means "April Fish" in English. Accordingly, children tape a picture of a fish on the backs of their classmate and wait until they discover it. Scotland's version of April Fools' Day is a two-day affair with Hunt the Gowk Day on April 1, where people are sent out to deliver fake messages, and Taily Day, which is all about pranks involving people's behinds and may have inspired the "Kick Me" sign. The 13th day of the Persian New Year known as Sizdah Bedar usually falls on April 1 or April 2 in Iran, and people have reportedly played pranks during this holiday since 536 B.C. On this holiday, which is usually celebrated outside, it's also customary to throw away green vegetables called sabzeh, which represents getting rid of any bad luck for the coming year.

5. People Have Gone Crazy All In The Name Of Pranks

People get really into April Fools' Day, you guys, and these famous pranks throughout history are mind-blowingly good. In 1957, the BBC fooled viewers into thinking that the Swiss were not only growing spaghetti on trees, but that they also had a shortage of the crop. Since 1986, a press release for a phoney April Fools' Day parade in New York has circulated. Taco Bell took out a full-page ad in six of the country's major newspapers in 1996 saying that the fast food chain had purchased the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell, which many Americans did not find amusing. I can't wait to see who offends, I mean, makes us laugh this year.





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BASSETERRE, St Kitts (CMC) - The St Kitts and Nevis Government has expressed regret at the death of Canadian athlete Daundre Barnaby who died while swimming with his teammates here on Friday.

Sports Minister Shawn Richards says all efforts to assist Barnaby were unsuccessful when he encountered difficulty after he went into the ocean. After a three hour search, Barnaby, a native of Jamaica who became a citizen of Canada, was recovered from the water.

"All efforts to assist Mr Barnaby were unsuccessful. An extensive search and rescue effort was immediately launched by the Royal St Christopher and Nevis Police Force, the St Kitts-Nevis Coast Guard and local diver, Mr Kenneth Samuel," Richards said.

"After more than a three hour search Mr Barnaby was recovered from the water. Tragically, the attempts to resuscitate him failed."

Barnaby had travelled to St Kitts with 20 other athletes and eight officials for the team's annual training camp, Canada athletics reported. He was swimming recreationally with teammates when he disappeared and reports suggest he apparently lost his footing and was dragged away by an undertow.

"He chose to give of his skills and competence in sharing with his peers and with the youth of our Federation. This speaks volumes of a young star gone far too soon," the sports minister said.

"It was Tuesday of last week that I met with the staff and team members of Athletics Canada and realised firsthand the family-like spirit of interactions; I am truly touched by their loss; by our loss."

Barnaby, 24, a 400-metre specialist, was from St Ann, Jamaica and became a Canadian citizen in time to compete at the 2012 London Olympics.

The runner, from Brampton, Ontario, last represented Canada at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland.





Trini Carnival ranks 3rd in world

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trinidad-carnival.jpgFat Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday. Mardi Gras. No matter what you call it, the last day before Lent's 40 days of repentance (between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday) brings out a wild side in populations around the world.

As the party season of carnival nears its end, events heat up and online travel adviser Cheapflights offers its top ten list of places to enjoy a last fling with hedonism before it's over for 2012.

Reuters has not endorsed this list:

1. Mardi Gras - New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Thousands of tourists flood The Big Easy annually for Mardi Gras in New Orleans, deemed "the biggest free party on earth".

The entire city loosens its (already loose) reins, and douses itself with endless strings of beads, colourful floats and costumes to celebrate the naughtiest time of year. Floats of all sizes roll through the streets in spectacular parades for two weeks prior to Mardi Gras. Endymion (Saturday), Bacchus (Sunday), Orpheus (Monday), Zulu (Tuesday morning) and Rex (Tuesday night) are the most famous of the parades, drawing rowdy attendees to partake in song and dance free of inhibition.

2. Carnival of Binche - Binche, Belgium

It's an honour for a man from Binche to be picked to join the Gilles on Shrove Tuesday.

Gilles are clown-like performers, dressed in fanciful costumes, wax masks and plumed hats, who dance throughout the city starting in the wee hours and lasting through the night.

The 1,000-plus men are the centrepiece of Binche's carnival, named a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

3. Trinidad and Tobago Carnival - Trinidad and Tobago

Its vibrant history and French roots set the tone for Trinidad and Tobago's most significant celebration each year: Carnival. The Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday draw the Caribbean destination's population to the streets to show off elaborate costumes that groups take months to create. Bands compete against one another for the title of Band of the Year and claypsonians vie for the prestigious Calypso Monarch title.

4. Carnival of Brazil - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

There's really no comparison when it comes to Carnival celebrations when Rio is thrown in the mix. Brazilians take their weeks before Lent very seriously, putting on large-scale parades and festivities that in 2011 drew nearly five million people. The most famous holiday in Brazil features samba schools, or large groups of dancers and performers, who build spectacular floats and compete in one of seven divisions based on music, costumes and theme. Individual neighbourhoods more and more are seeing smaller-scale parades, blocos, which feature drum parades, samba and other high-octane sights and sounds.

5. Mardi Gras - Sydney, Australia

Sydney takes the opportunity during pre-Lent celebrations to support its LGBT community through more than 60 must-attend events at Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. The most popular spectacle, of course, is the evening parade down Oxford and Flinders streets. Other musts on the lineup include drag races on Bondi Beach, Fair Day at Victoria Park, a sunset cruise, and a harbour-side dance party on Sydney Harbour.

6. Notting Hill Carnival - London, United Kingdom

It's not until August, but London is the place to be in 2012. Though the Olympics will be most folks' focus, the Notting Hill Carnival will come a close second for more than a million visitors. Trinidadian and Tobagonian Brits lead the charge, directing musicians and participants clad in colourful costumes through Notting Hill's narrow streets.

Claustrophobic travellers should consider staying at home - Caribbean-flavoured festival lassos large crowds over the course of two - typically hot - summer days.

7. Quebec Winter Carnival - Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Quebec City comes to life every February for the Quebec Winter Festival. Outdoor sports like snowboarding and dog sledding, snow sculpture contests and masquerade balls are all on the schedule each year as Canadians celebrate a winterised version of Carnival. Visitors bundle up during the coldest time of year for a reason: zip lines, concerts and ice skating make for tons of fun for kids and adults alike. Like with most pre-Lent celebrations, the parades - both during the day and at night - are the highlight of Quebec's ode to Carnival.

8. Carnival of Venice - Venice, Italy

Beginning 40 days before Easter, thousands of Venetians and visitors to the City of Water alike disguise themselves in ornamental masks, a site to be seen for anyone planning a trip to Italy. What used to blur the lines among social classes has evolved into a festival that could rival any other Carnival in the world. Fashion designers from around the globe sit on a panel to vote for "la maschera piu bella" or "the best mask" as events like the silent water parade and the Flight of the Angel take place across the city.

9. Mardi Gras - Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida, USA

Though Orlando may not be the first town that comes to mind when you think of Mardi Gras,

Universal Studios puts on a celebration of beads and live music that the whole family can enjoy. For nearly two months on Saturdays and certain nights, the park entertains with headliners like Kelly Clarkson, and dishes up Cajun treats like jambalaya and shrimp gumbo - a wonderful homage to New Orleans' French Quarter.

10. Carnival - Montevideo, Uruguay

Uruguayans have the longest Carnival celebration in the world, letting loose for more than 40 days every year, most vibrantly in the country's capital, Montevideo. Theatres throughout the city are assembled and locals take to the stage to present the social and political climate of the country through operas known as tablados. Taking the real spotlight, though, are two colourful parades where musicians show their skills - and African roots - through the drum-based rhythm known as candombe.

- Reuters





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"I am so happy to reach T&T for this pilgrimage."

Those were the last words of Tobago Baptist leader King Shepherd Carlton Callender yesterday as he collapsed seconds after walking out of the VIP lounge of the Piarco International Airport after arriving for a function. Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration Rodger Samuel told the T&T Guardian that he had only minutes before embraced Carlton upon his arrival from New York, along with a 120-member contingent, including Consul General Nan Ramgoolam.

The group arrived for the start of a pilgrimage on the occasion of Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation Day. Callender was scheduled to give greetings last evening at the Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar's dinner function celebrating Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation Day at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann's. Samuel said Callender took three months to plan the pilgrimage.

"It was his dream to get people of the faith from New York to come here to T&T to experience our celebrations here and King Shepherd was looking forward and very excited. It is shocking to me knowing that I just hugged him and we spoke and laughed together," Samuel said.

After collapsing, Callender was taken to the Arima Health Facility where he was pronounced dead. Up to late last night ministry officials and some members of the American contingent were at the facility. Samuel, on behalf of his ministry, extended condolences to Callender's family and fellow members of the faith. Archbishop Barbara Gray Burke, in her greetings at the function, reminisced on the time she met with Callender in Brooklyn. She said she believed he had fulfilled his assignment here on earth and was prepared for the journey in the afterlife.





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Reports out of the Turks and Caicos Islands says US authorities have issued an extradition request for former Olint boss, David Smith.

According to the Turks and Caicos Weekly News, the request arrived on Monday.

An extradition hearing has been set for April 8.

David Smith was the mastermind of the Olint Ponzi scheme, which fleeced thousands of depositors of over 2-hundred-million US dollars.

He was sentenced in 2011 to 30 years in a US federal jail, after pleading guilty to 18-counts of money laundering, 4-counts of wire fraud and 1-count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

After the sentence, he returned to the Turks and Caicos Islands to finish a previously imposed jail term.

He was expected to spend six years in a Turks and Caicos prison but was released early this year, reportedly on good behavior.





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A man says he is hurt after a Seventh Day Adventist Church in Antigua refused to baptise him because of his dreadlocks.

The man, 43-year-old Austin Kirby said he's offended and feels more "hurt" and "disappointed" than he has ever been all his life, Antigua's Daily Observer reported.

Kirby, a father of four, was inspired to answer the call for all those who wished to "surrender (their) lives to God", during a crusade in the town of Jennings in the Eastern Caribbean island.

His decision was much to the delight of his Christian wife. He excitedly informed his two oldest children that he was changing his life and would baptised on the weekend.

Kirby, a farmer and a mason, eagerly prepared for his baptism and was so excited that he could not sleep the night before.

However, on the day the rite was to take place Kirby was informed that he could not be baptised because he had dreadlocks.

"He said I am from a cult and another religion and my hair is a problem," Kirby told the paper.

Kirby argued that he believes in the same God and could be a good example to others out there who may be involved with the "cult" to which the pastor referred, but the pastor stood by the decision not to baptise him.

"The Bible says 'Come as you are.' It didn't say to go buy a suit, dress up, cut your hair or put on weave. It says come as you are. 'Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires the water of life without price.' I got a calling that I should be baptised, and I went," Kirby said.